Zack Arias’, “Photography Q&A” is really an interesting and atypical book for photographers. The book is really the culmination of a number of questions and answers associated with his own personal blog and covers a number of topics, the most important of which is his straight-shooting responses in regards to the business side of photography.
While I can’t say that I know Zack personally, I have actually had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with him for a little while a couple of years ago when I attended his One Light Workshop at his studio in Decatur, Georgia. It was the night before the workshop at a mixer that he and his wife sponsored and it was a great opportunity just to set down and talk about photography and art before the workshop and get to know Zack and a few of the other participants that showed up that night a little better.
The workshop itself was a great experience of shooting but I found the most helpful part of the workshop was the final segment in which Zack just opened the floor for questions and proceeded to answer them, much is the way he does in the this book.
There are a lot of professional photographers out there on the “tour circuit” that will tell you what you want to hear about your entry into the world of pro photography because it will help their bottom line. Zack, however, is not one of those guys. He’s a straight talker that’s not afraid to share his own mistakes and stumbles in an effort to help others find there way in professional photography. He also has a concern for helping people not make the same financial mistakes he made when he started out, which is something that I think is really commendable.
While a lot of people might not like what Zack has to say, or how he goes about saying it, I think he really stands out as an excellent resource for new photographers and ones like myself who have been doing this for a while but are still looking for ideas and guidance on where to go next.
This book, I think, is kind of extension of his workshops, and therefore, I whole hardheartedly recommend this book. I also highly recommend you check out Zack Arias’ website to see his work and spend some time browsing through his blog where he has some really great education content. A direct link to the book on Amazon.com is provided below . . .
Continuing with my personal goal of making sure to challenge myself whenever the opportunity presents itself … I received a call the other week from a local college that I used to shoot for regularly to cover some upcoming sports action. Because of budget limitations the school decided to turn their sports photography coverage over to student shooters. Given current economic times that’s certainly understandable and fortunately I have been able to still to have a good relationship with the college even though I don’t regularly provide their sports photography coverage any longer.
This opportunity presented itself because the school’s student photographer was unavailable for the weekend so I was very excited to get the call to cover their sports action again. Under normal circumstances I would just cover one or 2 events, which wouldn’t be a big deal. However, the specifications for this job was that I needed to cover 4 different sports (softball, baseball, women’s basketball and men’s basketball) all in the same day with overlapping start times. Fortunately, softball and baseball play in the same complex so I only had 2 locations to travel between which were reasonable close in proximity.
The key to successful coverage in a scenario like this is threefold:
3. More organization.
Fortunately, the weather was quite cooperative on this unseasonably warm Satuday afternoon in Upstate South Carolina. I arrived at softball and baseball complex first to check in with the college’s SID and to make confirm my shooting schedule and stratedgy and to see if there were any special requests.
There were a couple of the particular challenges in covering field sports and indoor sports on the same day, besided the overlapping start times. First, as anyone who has shot these sports before know, the differences in the games of baseball and softball versus that of basketball are starkly different. Softball and baseball are sports where the ball is controlled by the defense and the action is quite predictable since you can usually track the movement of the ball and players quite easily. Basketball, on the other hand, is one of those sports where control of the ball is constantly changing and the action can be coming at you and going away from in a split second. So the photographer frame of mind to shoot these difference types sports is really quite different. But when you’re hired to do a job like this you just have to do your best to be organized and go with the flow as best you can.
The other main challenge between shooting these differing sports was that I would be using radio-triggered strobes at the arena for basketbal. That meant that I would need to set up my lighting for basketball ahead of time and then be ready to shoot immediately as I arrived at the basketball arena.
After checking in with the SID at the baseball/softball complex I made my way over to the arena to set up my strobes, triggers and battery packs. Fortunately there were some players already on the court shooting baskets even though gametime was a couple hours away. Satisfied that everything was set up and ready to go, I headed back to the softball stadium to check in with the team’s coach so I could begin my day of shooting there.
Fortunately, this particular school has a very good online presence for live sports so I was apply to pull up the play-by-play progress of the others sports. This helped me time my departure from one sport to the next in a very precise manner so I could insure that I had an adequate amount of time shooting each sport.
Here’s the breakdown of the day’s schedule:
1. Softball (about 1.25 hours);
2. Second half of women’s basketball action;
3. Baseball (about 45 mintues);
4. Second half of men’s basketball action;
5. Baseball (abou 45 minutes).
I really lucked out in that the baseball team was playing a doubleheader. Given the average length of a baseball game and the break in between games that really gave me some much needed flexibility. I returned to end the day with baseball just in time to see the hometeam (the team I was covering) come from behind and win the game in the bottom of the 9th inning.
All and all it was a very challenging day of shooting. I thing there are a couple of lessons learned in my experience to be passed on. First, don’t shy away from challenging assignments when they present themselves. In fact, I would go as far to say that if you’re just starting out and not receiving paid assignments, get out there and create your own personal assignments and work up a complex scenario like this and work through the organization challenges of the the self-assignment so that when the opportunity does present itself you’ll already have some experiences.
Second, as already mentiond, organize, organize, organize. Go through the process in your head over and over again to make sure you understand what you need to accomplish and try to foresee any potential problems and plan, plan, plan.
Finally, don’t burn any bridges. If a client decides not to use you anymore for some reason, don’t hold a grudge against them. A lot of times it’s a budget thing like in my scenario. Sometimes it’s just a personnel change and you get passed up for someone else that the person calling the shots prefers. It’s probably not something personal and it’s a good reminder of the importance of building good relationships with others. Make sure that you keep that relationship open even if it doesn’t look like you’ll ever have another opportunity because things sometimes do change and you get another opportunity, just like in my experience. In fact, I took the additional step of offering my advice to any student photographer that needs help on how to create better images for the college. That not only has the potential to help them out but it also helps me out in sharing information, which I think helps improve my own skills, and it also is a type of community service.
Even if I don’t have the opportunity to shoot for this college again I know that by taking good care of them they are likely to share my name and work with other schools that might need my services in the future. In a nutshell, building good relationships in your community is what it’s all about.
Well, after couple of months of going through thousands of my images and trying to decide on a new direction for my main website at www.shawnmknox.com I have finally pulled everything together and the new website is now live.
Part of the “go live” of my new website is also this new blog. In addition, I have also given my event photography website at www.sports2art.com a much needed facelift as well. This website caters to my work for local schools, organizations, businesses and special events in the Abbeville/Greenwood, South Carolina area.
My intention with this new blog is to discuss my creative interests that inspire me in my current work in sports photography, commercial photography and design. While most of my main interests are in the genre of photography I am also taking a lot more graphic design projects as of late so I am also finding a wealth of inspiration in other fields creative fields such as graphic arts, illustration, cinematography and animation.
Many of the posts that following the future will discuss my personal thoughts and adventures in photography and design but most of the posts on this blog will focus on other creatives that have created work that truly inspires me.
While this particular blog site will cater towards the interests that fuel my professional services in commercial photography and freelance sports photography and design services, I also welcome those that follow and support my local ventures in the Upstate of South Carolina. Material from many of those events will, no doubt, find there way onto this blog from time-to-time.
Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog site. Please feel free to add comment as you see fit and contact me with any feedback you might have. If you know of a creative resource that you’d like to share with me or others, then, by all means, feel free to pass that information along to me so I can consider it for a future blog post.
I’m really looking forward sharing future posts on creativity and design. Hopefully you, too, will also inspired by the information I share on my own work and that of others.