Tuesday, February 10, 2009


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Thanks Bryan

Monday, February 09, 2009

So you want to be a freelance photographer?

Ok so it’s been over a week since I’ve posted. Last week was crazy and I just never seemed to make time to fit in blog posting. I didn’t shoot too much but when I did I was off and running. Here is an example with the assignment to get the chef photo.

It was a Tuesday and I was working on a wedding book. I got a call from the News somewhere between noon and 1:00. Can I go shoot a chef at a restaurant cooking on a grill showing a bunch of flames? Ah yes, I think, let me call you back in 10 minutes. Ok, so my kids are in school. One has to be picked up at 3:30 and one at 4:30 which I normally do since my wife doesn’t get home from work until 5:30. But on this day she was at the doctor because she was real sick and felt like death. So I call her first to see how it was going, no answer. So I don’t know if she can pick up my daughter at 3:30. Plus if she is feeling really bad I don’t want her to have to watch the kids. Taking care of young kids when you are sick is no fun.

Ok, I call my mother in law. She said she could come up but had some errands to run as well. Ok then I thought of another idea, so I will call her back. Our neighbor also picks her son up at 3:30 at the same school as my daughter. So I call to ask if she can get my daughter, she can. Ok one down.

So I will get my son at 4:30-4:45. Doesn’t give me much time to shoot but I have no other option right now. I called my mother-in-law back and told her she didn’t need to come up, it’s an hour drive for her.

Now, call the News back, yes I can shoot. When do you need the photo? They need it by 6:00-7:00 PM. OK! So its now around 1:00 I think. I need to leave by 2:45 or so to get to the assignment.

I get my gear packed up and try to finish up some of the wedding book. Oh crap, what about dinner for the kids. I don’t want my wife to cook or the neighbors to have to feed them. I’ll stop for pizza.

Now my wife walks in the door and it turns out she has pneumonia. Ugh!

I need to go get her prescription filled and a couple other things. So I’m off to the Target Pharmacy. I’m there about 1:50 and the pharmacy is closed until 2:00 for lunch! So I go get the other things and then wait. They say it will take 15-20 minutes. So I wait more. Then they tell me they are to busy to ring up my other things. Ok, I’ll pay for the script here, and then go to the front to pay for the rest. I then run the medicine home for my wife who is in bed and feeling terrible. I’m back out the door a little before 3:00.

I get to the restaurant, find a parking spot, grab my gear and get in about 3:30. So I have about a ½ hour to figure out where to shoot, set up lights, shoot some test shots, shoot, tear down and get out of there to get my son. I know I want to shoot several shots because you never know exactly what the fire will do. I also shoot extra in case the strobes don’t fire every time, which they didn’t.

So I shoot, get packed up and get back to the car at around 4:05. Ok, the freeway will be all backed up so I need to go another route.

After what seemed to take forever I get my son around 4:40. We stop and pick up pizza, drive home and walk over to the neighbors where my daughter is so everyone can eat. It’s about 5:10 at they have to leave by 5:50 for a class. So we eat and head home. I tell the kids they need to be real quiet because mom is sleeping but they can watch the rest of a movie they started the night before.

So I upload photos to the computer and start editing. The one shown here was the frame I liked best but there were a few others that worked ok yet nothing I really liked a lot so I would send them several to choose from.

But of course now my computer is running real slow and I have to reboot. It’s around 6:30; I need to get these photos to them. The kids are jumping and yelling and I have to keep stopping to go tell them to please be quiet so they didn’t wake up my wife. My blood pressure is up. So I get several images to the paper by around 6:45 and I now have to get my kids ready for bed, read to them and maybe get some dinner myself.

I was stressed out!

So you see taking the photo is the easy part of being a freelance photographer. It’s not this crazy everyday but I do get last minute calls and the craziness happens more then you would think.

Friday, January 30, 2009


The Detroit News writer Charlie LeDuff got a phone call about a man frozen to death in a block of ice in an abandoned building in Detroit and wrote about it in Thursday's paper, read here. Today he found out who the man was and tracked down his brother, read update here.
This is how it relates to me.

I was at McDonalds for dinner with my son Max watching him in the play area while I flipped through the most recent issue of News photographer Magazine. I got a call from the photo desk at the News asking, "What are you doing right now?" So I told them and asked what was up. They said they tracked down a family member of that man that died in the ice and could I go get a photo of a photo he had and a portrait of the brother. BTW the man that died, his name is Johnnie. So I told them I could possibly make it to his house by 7:00 but probably more like 7:30. So I dropped my son off at home just as my wife got home with my daughter. Mapped out where I was going. Mapped out the closest place to transmit like Starbucks, McDonalds or anywhere with Wi-Fi and started to drive.

On the way there I was wondering how I would shoot this sensitive situation. Available light, strobes (off camera of course), take in a light stand and umbrella, just use a small reflector, what? I didn't want to be a pain in the ass depending on the mood of Johnnie's brother Homer Redding. So I wanted to keep things simple. I wanted a nice looking portrait but this wasn't about how cool of a photo I could shoot but how fast I could get a nicely lit portrait and be on my way.
I had to call when I got to his street because I couldn't find his house and it turns out the wrong address was written on my assignment sheet. I was worried he was going to say he changed his mind about being photographed which would be understandable.

Mr. Redding welcomed me in and he had been painting so his furniture was all in the middle of the rooms and not in their normal places. So simple would definitely be best. I did take in a light stand and umbrella, set it up while he looked for a couple of photographs of Johnnie for me to shoot. I shot a few simple images of some old photographs and then ask Mr.' Redding if he would mind holding one of the photos so I could take a shot of that. I already had the lights where I wanted them and did two test shots on my hand so I was ready to go. I used a 285 in a shoot through umbrella camera right and an SB800 in slave mode for a back light camera right and behind Mr. Redding.

Then I asked him to set the photo down so I could get a portrait of him, I told him he could look into the camera if he wanted but didn't have to so he would feel more comfortable.
I shot a few wide shots with one camera body and lens and then had another camera body with a long lens for a couple other shots.
I did have a problem with the lights though, that batteries were weak. But instead of taking up more of his time to change them I just worked through it and shot slow. Sometimes they didn't fire but he was very gracious and put up with me for a few extra minutes.

I joked with him and his nephew about goofy old photographs as I quickly packed up my things. I the told him thank you for allowing me and the paper in. I also told him that I get to meet many people in my job and I was sorry for his loss and we had to meet under these circumstances. I shook his hand and said maybe we would meet again someday under happier conditions.

One more thing. As I was driving my son home he heard me talking on the phone to my wife about what I was shooting. When I hung up he asked my, "dad, why did the man freeze?" I have talked to him in the past about how some people don't have much money, many things and some are homeless. So I reminded him this is why we should always be grateful for what we have and that we have people who love us.
"Didn't anyone love him?" he asked.
If you went to the link above and read the story you might think no one did. I had a tear in my eye and told my 4 year old, "I'm positive some people loved him and I'm going to take their picture so everyone else knows there were people who loved him but sometimes some people just have some bad luck." Thanks Mr. Redding, Thanks Max.

Monday, January 26, 2009


What else can you say when this happens. We'll I had a couple other words but had to keep those in my head because there were kids around.
I was shooting hockey and features of people watching hockey. The lens fell off one of my camera bodies. I almost caught it but then "crash" on the cement steps. I had changed lenses about 10-15 minutes earlier but it must not have clicked all the way on.
So off to Nikon it will go to find out the cost on repair and if its worth it because the lens is getting old. I am in need of a new 17-35 and would love a 12-24 I just don't have the extra cash right now. But the repair cost might not be worth fixing it.
I do have camera insurance but have had 2 claims in the last5-6 years and they keep increasing my fee. Insurance is such a scam unless you "really" need it. And then the problems that caused you needing it are usually big problems you would have much rather not had. Ok I better stop now before both feet or on my soapbox!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I was sent by the Associated Press to photograph people gathering to watch and listen to the swearing-in and inauguration speech of President Barack Obama on large screen televisions at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan today. It was just one of many places all of the country and world people paused to watch. Despite your politics it was historical. And even though I wasn't in Washington, which I would have not wanted to be, I felt I was a small part of history. That is one of the coolest things about being a photojournalist in that no matter how big or small most all of the moments we shoot are history. I didn't get any earth shattering images but I noticed the image below of people watching in a mock drive-in theater at the museum was used a part of an online story AP sent out to members. Example HERE and HERE. Cool to record a tine part of history. Then I shot basketball tonight for the Detroit News, see below. Oh and CLICK HERE to see the best photo of the swearing in. It took a ton of work and negotiating to get this photo but it was worth it.

Monday, January 19, 2009


A horror show? No, well maybe for some. Yes it was screaming girls but for the boy band The Jonas Brothers. I shot the show last night for the Detroit News, (gallery, write up), and I'm glad I wear ear plugs to shows now. And this time it wasn't for the loud music but the ear piercing, VERY high pitched screaming girls. Is this what it was like for Elvis? Last January Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus was in town. I didn't shoot that show but remember talking with another photographer who did and he was telling me how it was the loudest concert hey had ever been to. Come on, louder then AC-DC, Metallica, Dio? "Yes", he said. "The screaming!" So I popped one of my ear plugs out for a few seconds and I couldn't believe how loud and high pitched it was, insane! How could these guys not have a huge ego?
Anyway the light wasn't the best and I would have liked a better shot of all three of them. Also I wish I would have focused more on the fans and came away with better shots of them. I would have liked those better as well as the editors. But I also know fans want to see the boys in the paper not other fans. I didn't feel like I was getting enough good shots for a photo gallery so I had to change my original plan of shooting photos of fans during the third song. Yes those who want to be in the pit shooting photos up close you get 3 songs and then you are escorted out. I hope I don't have to take my daughter to see her favorite boy band but I'm sure I will. Except she doesn't like loud noise! (Please remember all photos are copyrighted and may not be used without permission from me and the band. PLEASE do not post them anywhere else on the web. I do check on this.)

I don't know if this was a dad or arena security but I liked the shot.

Probably my favorite shot of the night.

The best I got of all three.

This one was just for the Joe Jonas fans.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Yes they are getting older but Metallica still rocks. The put on a big show, they look like they are having a blast and they look like rock stars. How they look on stage is why every guy out their has wanted to be a rock star at some point in his life. It was challenging to shoot because the stage was in the round and they moved all over the place with constantly changing light. The whole first song was lit by lasers, which I was able to make one cool shoot. And we only got our usual 3 songs. I was real concerned with what I was getting and I way overshot. But it paid off and I was real happy with my take. It was a good night. The only bummer was I had to leave after the 3 songs because of the cameras and I was on deadline. This is the one show I would have liked to watched the rest of as a music fan.Go HERE for bigger images. (Please remember all photos are copyrighted and may not be used without permission.) Adam Graham's, of the Detroit News who I shot the show for, review of the show is HERE, and a gallery of my photos. Same photos that are on my gallery, actually mine has a few more.