Monthly Archives: May 2012

Career: Photographer Motivation

I have been told that photography should always be a part-time gig and that you should supplement it with another job that is stable.

Yes, I would agree that more often then not, it sucks to always to be looking for your next gig.  Sometimes you don’t even know if you’ll get enough gigs to pay the rent.  So yes, I can understand why it’s important to supplement your photography career with something else.

At least until your photography career takes off.

When you don’t have a stable work, it’s easy to get side-tracked.  I’ve been guilty of wanting to stop doing photography and get a software programmer that’ll pay me 2-3 thousand easily every month.

In the end, I just value the freedom I have with photography more then anything else a stable 9-5 job could offer me.

The hardest part is self-motivation.  How do you keep on motivating yourself to do photography day after day, week after week, … especially when all you do is free photo shoots and you can’t really call something your career unless you can bank on it.

It also doesn’t help that you go on craigslist apply to 10 different positions and get nothing out of it.  Well, for the most part I do get about 5 responses.  Those 5 responses will ask what equipment I have, how much do I charge per hour, and a link to my portfolio.

For the most part, I feel like I have good equipment, my rates aren’t too high, but where I lack is my portfolio.

For example, a couple weeks back a company was looking for a full-time photographer to shoot buildings and architecture found in Dallas area.  They wanted someone with a wide angle lens with full frame camera, which I have.  They also said they’d be willing to pay 2-3 K every month for 40 hours of work each week, which is really good for a photographer.  But when I sent my portfolio, I noticed that I didn’t have that much buildings in my portfolio.  I still sent it anyways and of course I got no response.

The same also happened when I responded to a craigslist post for a convention shooter.  They wanted someone who could take pics of the speaker, the audience, and also of people networking at the booths.  I had the equipment, the  pay was already set, but my portfolio didn’t have any convention pics.

I could easily beat myself up for even trying.  It’s like setting myself up for failure, when I knew beforehand I had no experience.

In the end, I decided to use both these two no-response posts and future no-response posts as motivation.

If I don’t get a job as a convention photographer, I’m going to go out there and find some conventions to shoot for free.  So next time, I will have some convention pics in my portfolio.  I already have 3 different conventions this month that I plan on going to.  I plan on paying admission with my own money, shooting as if I’m getting paid, but end up with a more complete portfolio by the end of the day.

The same also applies to architecture and landscape.  I’ve been traveling around to different towns, driving around looking for buildings, structures, and landscape to take pics of.  I’m paying for the gas, shooting as if I’m getting paid, and making it hard for all my future clients to walk away from me.

Pushing myself anyway I can.

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How To: Break Bad Habits

Everyone has bad habits.

It may be something as simple as scratching our head when we are nervous.

Or something more serious such as smoking or lying.

Most habits are formed just through the process of repetition.  First you think that you need a smoke, you light a cigarette, and then you start inhaling and exhaling.

After enough times, you stop thinking about it.  You’re out in the open.  You automatically reach in your pockets and couple of minutes later you’re starting your second cigarette.

Many people have tried to quite smoking, but usually fail.  My dad is one of them.  I believe quitting cold, never really is the solution.

You stop, but you’re always thinking about it and eventually you crave in and smoke again.  Sometimes you smoke even more just satisfy the vacuum that was created when you stopped smoking for so long.

Because you tried to quit, you actually over-compensate when you start smoking and now instead of 1 pack per day, you do 2 packs every day.

I never really knew what the best way to break a habit was until I read this book “You Are What You Think” by Doug Hooper.

In this book he describes breaking a bad habit into a two-step process:

  1. Try to stop or cut down whatever you wish to stop.
  2. A vacuum is bound to occur when you cut back or stop, and this vacuum must be filled.  It is best if steps are taken in anticipation of this before the habit-breaking attempt is made.  If a substitute is not found, the vacuum will be filled by the very habit you have given up.

Everyone does step #1, but no one knows about step #2.  Or if they do, they can’t follow through.

What step #2 suggests is that instead of just stop smoking and hide in your room, going through withdrawals and constant thoughts of smoking.  Why not encourage yourself to start something new like running?

The new habit of running should be started even before you start to quit smoking, so it’s something that you can rely on.  The thought of running will come easily to you and you won’t resist it.

So when you do quit smoking, instead of locking yourself up in a room and trying to fight off your inner demons.  You are filling that vacuum inside of you with something healthy.

So now instead of spending 30 mins of your day smoking, you are spending that 30 mins exercising.  But this will only work if you have established a habit of running beforehand.

This whole habit breaking process of Doug Hooper reminds me of a Bible passage dealing with demons:

From Matthew 12: 43-45 “The Return of the Unclean Spirit.

  • “When an unclean spirit goes out of a person it roams through arid regions searching for rest but finds none.
  • Then it says, ‘I will return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order.
  • Then it goes and brings back with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they move in and dwell there; and the last condition of that person is worse than the first. Thus it will be with this evil generation.”

The way I interpret this Bible passage is that the unclean spirit is really our bad habits and addictions.

When we try to get rid of the unclean spirit, it leaves us but always comes back.  If we have nothing else to replace it with, it will come into our lives again.

The fact that it brings  more evil spirits itself just symbolizes that after quitting an addiction or bad habit, when we relapse into the bad habit again.  We’re more likely to smoke even more, to make up for our withdrawals.

More evil spirits just means our habits get worse then when it was when we initially tried to quit.

Website Review: Model Mayhem

I find many gigs through

For those of you who haven’t heard about it, it’s a great place for make-up artists, photographers, models, and designers to get together and work on projects.

Some of the projects are paid and some are TFCD (Time For CD).  TFCD just means in the end no one pays anyone anything and you are solely doing it to build up your portfolio.

It also allows you to post “casting calls” which just another way to say job postings.  If you are a model and need a photographer & a make-up artist, you create a casting call and include a description of what your project entails.

When you post it, it will show up when photographers and make-up artists start looking for gigs to do.   If they are interested, they will comment/message you and you move on from there.

It’s also free too, so there’s almost no risk in trying it out.   A free account does impose certain limits on you like how many messages you can send per day and how many pictures you can have in your portfolio.

You can always upgrade and remove some of these restrictions for a small fee.

I go on this website almost everyday to check to see what new gigs are being posted.

The following shoot were a direct result of a Model Mayhem Casting Call.

Bridal Shoot: Nikki & Bobby

I found this lovely couple through Craigslist.  Craigslist has plenty of people looking for photographers, but it also has plenty of photographers looking for gigs.

For me, it’s always a hit or miss.  I’d probably send out maybe 10 emails and maybe get 1 response.  You never know who wants you until they want you.

This couple has something special that I wanted for my portfolio which was a wedding dress.  All my other shoots were done in casual attire.  So I was extremely excited for this shoot.

In this photo shoot, I personally wanted to challenge myself through my equipment choice.

Normally, I shoot with a Canon T3i camera & my 24-105 mm f/4L series Lens.

The interesting thing about this combination is that the lens cost $300 more then the camera.  (Body ~ $700 & Lens ~ $1000)

I have two other lens:

  1. 18-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 efs  (~$300)
  2. 50mm f/1.8 (~$100)

For the longest time, I haven’t touched any of these lens.

Why would you use your second-best or third-best lens?

Well I’ve always known that the 50 mm f/1.8 is great prime lens and supposedly it’s great for portraits.  The only downside from using the 50 mm f/1.8 is there is no zoom.

That means if I want a close up, I literally have to run 3 feet away from the couple to get my close-up and if I want a shot with the whole landscape, I had to move back like 20-30 feet.  It can be a great workout if that’s what your looking for.

I decided to challenge myself by using only the 50 mm f/1.8.

I could always switch to my more expensive lens, if things didn’t work out … but I actually forbid myself to before the shoot.

No bailing out on the challenge.

This was a do or die situation for me.  Make the best out of the 50 mm f/1.8 lens or … waste the whole photo shoot and have a really sad couple in the end.

Sometimes I can be quite stubborn with my rules and my criteria.

As it turned out, the pictures came out great.

Here’s a couple of my favorite pics:

As you can see, all three pics are the same location.  I took pictures at other places too such as a pond, hill, and bridge … but this walkway is by far my favorite place.

Before, the couple came, I got a chance to scout out the area and found this little walkway that had perfect lighting.  The trees provided cool shade and the perfect natural frame for the couple.  While at the very end of the walkway, there was an open area that let in all the sunlight.

It’s the perfect combination of shade and lighting that allows the bride & groom to be in the spotlight.

By the end of the photo shoot, I was tired from running around with my prime lens but glowing with joy because I knew I had some great photos.

I was extremely proud of myself for sticking with the challenge of using only my cheapest lens.  It proves that you don’t need the most expensive lens to capture beautiful pictures.

This is a link to the whole album:

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