Thursday, November 29, 2007


I photographed some roughnecks, as they call themselves, working on an oil rig near my house for the Detroit News. Ya, who knew there was oil drilling in southeast Michigan, I didn’t. Good guys! I always like photographing people with tough, dirty, manual labor jobs. They have tough jobs out in the cold, about 25 degrees, mud, ice with physical backbreaking work. They love it too! Maybe I like them because my dad was a tradesman working as an electrician, until he retired a year or so ago so I grew up knowing “the working man” and respect what they do. I can relate somewhat working on horse farms when I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and started learning about photography. I remember working in the winter with temps in the teens, wind chill below zero caring for the horses and working the farm. It sucked many times but in a weird way was also cool. So being a photographer does take skill but is a cushy job compared to guys like these. I don’t miss the manual labor but I do miss it. I think it also helps me in my photography with not minding to get dirty, get wet and do physically challenging thins to get a shot. Read story here.


"...freelancers dont get days off, they just have days when they are not making money."
-Tim Smith

Tims sports shooter pager HERE.

Monday, November 26, 2007


This shooter, Brian Cassella, is a really good sports photog.
Check it out.
His BLOG and images.


If you have become engaged recently or think you might over the holidays I just wanted to let everyone know I still have openings in June of 2008 and a couple in October of 2008 the two most popular wedding months in Michigan, for me anyway.

So if you want true photojournalism for your wedding photography please shoot me an email,

And check out my main website,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Including Samuel

Dan Habib's documentary film Including Samuel (currently in production) examines the educational and social inclusion of youth with disabilities. The film is built on the efforts of Habib and his family to include Samuel, 7, in all facets of school and community. Including Samuel also features four other families with varied inclusion experiences, plus interviews with dozens of teachers, young people, parents and disability rights experts.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Ok so after my post earlier and the talk on the web I had another one fall through again today. The email/phone call discussion goes a little like this.

An editor/picture buyer is looking for a photographer so I call to get details. (I’m not going to say who is was but it’s not a small business but a very large big budget buyer IMO.I get voicemail and leave a message to email or call me with more details of what they need shot.

I get this email:
Hi Bryan. Thank you for getting back to me yesterday, and for following up this morning. Here's what I'm looking for. I need photos of a couple at their residence shot next week. This will include candids of them interacting with representatives from my office and possibly a few posed shots of the two of them. If you're available and interested in the job, I'd like to know what you'd charge. Also, do you charge for travel time, and if so, can you estimate how much that would be for this shoot? Do you provide all images on CD? I'm also happy to answer any questions you might have for me, as well.

I respond with this email:
Thanks for getting back with me.
If needed you can view my work at I am available to shoot on next week. It sounds like a PR, type of assignment.
FYI my fees are based on the creative fee to shoot the assignment and on usage of photos, not on time. Yes I can provide images on CD as well as via email or FTP. I usually do an edit to the best images of the shoot (photographer selects) and provide high resolution JPEG's, cropped, toned and sized ready for use. If you would need something different, just let me know.
So I know the what, where and when of the assignment but have a couple more questions.
What is your deadline to have a photo CD or photos sent by email/ftp?
How would you like the photos delivered?
Who, what company(s) will be using the photos?
How will the photos be used? (i.e. newsletter, website, press kit to newspapers, advertising, promotion)
What rights does your department like to license for the photos? (i.e. one time use, multiple uses)
Do you have a budget for photography associated with this assignment?
I am heading out to shoot an assignment but will look for your email after lunch and then email/call you. After looking your answers over I can email you a contract/estimate for the
I will talk to you soon!
Bryan Mitchell

They send this email:
Hi Bryan. This is indeed a PR-type assignment. We'd likely use the photos multiple times in company (name changed by me) magazines, with a press release, and as a personal gift to the subject. It would only be used by the company (name changed by me), unless another media outlet picked up the story from the press release, which is possible but not very likely. We may also keep the portrait on file and use it in the future. There's no strict deadline, but I think
receiving the photos within a week or so would be great, if that's not too much trouble. Delivery via CD or FTP would be fine -- FTP would be faster, obviously, but if it's more costly, we could wait for a CD. We have several photographers in the area who we often work with
on these types of shoots, and we usually pay about $150 for this kind of assignment.
Hope this helps you come up with the estimate. Let me know if you need more information. Thanks.

I always ask about their budget because many times they will tell you, some don't. Gut it tells you how serious they are. So at this point I know is probably not going to happen.

I send this email:
Attached is my estimate/contract for the photo assignment. It takes into account the creative fee for shooting and all the usage you requested. (unfortunately I can not shoot this type of assignment and usage for $150.00 that you mention) Otherwise if the estimate looks fine to you I would need you to sign the estimate and fax it back to me at (my fax #) along with the details of the assignment like the subjects names, your people, the location, who should be in the photos and confirm the date and time. I will supply a variety of images for you to choose from.CD or FTP does not matter to me. Whatever works for you, FTP is faster I agree. If you have questions please let me know. If you call and reach my voicemail or email I will get back with you by 5:00 PM today. I look forward to working with you! I hope you day is going well.

They send this email and end it:
Hello, Bryan. Thank you for getting back to me with the details. In this case, we are going to go with another photographer after all. I do like your work and appreciate your cooperation, though, so I'm glad we made contact. I will certainly keep your name in my rolodex and be in touch if another shoot comes along that I think you'd be good for. Thanks again. Have a wonderful weekend.

So for $150 they want:

  • A photographer to drive, set up, shoot the assignment, tear down, and drive back.
  • Using your own equipment, overhead.
  • Prepare photos and FTP or burn to CD selects, time and equipment.
  • Use the photos multiple times in different magazine both print and online
  • Send the photos out in press kits to other media outlets
  • Have prints made for the subject
  • Use the photos in the future whenever they want.

In my estimate I said I would do it for $300 plus expenses like mileage and shipping. This is still low. They could have the above uses for 2 years, which is VERY generous. I retain the copyright and no other parties could use the photos. I knew they wouldn’t take it. But it still amazes me buyers don’t even counter offer anymore.

Look I really need the money in these hard times as much as anyone but come on at $150 is basically 0 profits and I might even lose money. Wait I did lose money becasue of having to take time to email, call and write an estimate! Shame on them for only paying someone $150 for this and shame, shame on the photographer who does it!


Well the big game is this weekend. Well it was bigger when OSU was undefeated and ranked #1 plus Michigan lost their first two games and they both lost last week. But its still big and will decide the Big 10 championship as usual. We sold our tickets this year and I have not shot a game in a long time. I did shoot the game in 1997 where I got the above photo of QB Brian Griese after the game. The fans stormed the field and this guy was jumping up on Griese to be in photos. Not a great photo but it has the QB, the fan, the score, the rose. But in the crazyness on the field trying to find the top players and all it works. I do remember being in the middle of all the fans and players on the field knowing if I tripped me and all my gear would be trampled. It was a little creepy. So the team was ranked #1, went to the Rose Bowl and were co-National Champions that year. I have not had the chance to shoot a lot of big events but I always liked it.


Check out this video interview with writer Harlan Ellison. HERE. (NOTE: he uses some rough language so be warned if you are easily offended.) He is very ticked off and IMO rightfully so. Us freelance photographers, myself included, deal with the same thing every week. I just don’t get why so many people think photographers should work for free, for very low fees or don’t think photography is a real job. I’m glad some still see the value in professional photography especially all my wonderful wedding and portrait clients. I’m also glad I have a great relationship with the assignment editors and photo editors at the Detroit News. Thanks guys! But I’ve lost count on the number of photo jobs (mostly magazines and companies) I have lost out on this year alone because the client wanted everything for almost nothing. It seems now days they don't even want to talk or negotiate. As soon as I start talking about the fees, rights and how the photos can and can not be used, they just stop returning emails and phone calls. I don't feel I'm looking for out of line fees, only fair for what the job is. And if anything I'm still below the average. I use to wonder if its that that my photography isn't that good. But many tell me how much they like my work and my style. I use to say being a freelance photographer gets harder every year. Hell it gets harder every week. Then there are the photographer want-to-be’s who have “real” jobs, so I’m told, to support their habit. Well maybe another day on that one I need to go take a time out before my head pops off.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I had a short article feature me and the "trash the dress" trend in the local paper, The Northville Record. GO HERE for the online version. Thanks Tony for grabbing a shot of me photographing Lisa that they could use. Sorry the cropped is kind of bad but it looks like they needed to fit that spot on the page. It happens. The shot to the left is Lisa having her dress spray painted. She has several quotes in the article.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I was riding on Tuesday and this section of trail still had quite a bit of yellow color left so I decided to call a friend and go shoot some today. I was way to busy editing to go but went anyway. It was probably the last nice day her in southeast Michigan for awhile, it was in the lower 60's in November! I shot just for myself. No real direction, no deadline, didn't have to worry about getting paid, just for me and what felt good at the time to shoot. I have not done that in a long time and it was nice. Its always good to get out and shoot just for the fun of it sometime. The images are not great, ok but not great, and thats ok. It was a good day as a photographer.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Some of my images can now be licenced by at the New PhotoShelter Collection website. The above promo card was sent out to 1000's of picture buyers and has one of my photos on it. (Top, middle) This will be a great thing for photographers and my self to get more work published that has not yet been published. Search my photos HERE!

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Photographed the Neil Young show at the Fox Theater in Detroit tonight for the News. We got to shoot 2 songs but it was Neil Young so that was much longer then 3 or 4 songs for any other performer. The problem is it was an acoustic set so you couldn't get anything much different then a close shot and a medium shot. Just watch for facial expressions but he had his eyes down most of the time. I could have gone back for the second set with the band for 2 more songs but would have had to wait an 1 1/2 hours outside and I am still sick and wanted to get home. Not a big Neil Young fan but its always cool to listen to just a guy and his guitar play.


I shot high school playoff football last night and call this shot an almost because it was one of the bigger plays of the game, maybe the play, and I missed it. Livonia Franklin (in white) was losing 10-7 and driving with about 3 minutes left against Livonia Stevenson (in blue). This was a pass play up the middle and I had a good read on the receiver and was following him. A Stevenson player picked it of, look closely in the photo, to stop the drive. Funny thing is if the pass would have gotten through and the Franklin player caught the ball it probably would have been a touchdown to possibly win the game. Would I have had a great photo? Probably not but I would have had the winning play.

Shooting sports has quite a bit of luck involved. But part of that luck is being prepared and making the right decision on where to shoot from. That comes with practice. I’m frustrated with my sports photography because I feel like I’m rusty at it from not shooting sports several times a week like when I was a staffer. I always loved to shoot sports because of the action but also because of the emotion. I use to think I was good at it back then but now I wonder if I was ever good at it or just got lucky once in awhile?

I was also a little frustrated on how the photo ran in the paper today. The shot used was not the best shot, IMO, and it was cropped to a square and was quite boring. It was suppose to be the game of the week but only one photo ran small. It could have been for several reasons (space, decided the other game was bigger, to much digital noise in the photos which is a whole other topic) but maybe the editors just didn’t think they were good enough and they were all boring. And based on the photo that ran I would think the photographer wasn’t very good at shooting football. My wife basically said the photo sucked. Oh well, I just have to keep shooting and today is a new day. Sorry for the babbling post. It doesn’t seem to have a point. Here are a couple more and there are some on the gallery at the Detroit News.

Lead photo with story.

How it ran in the paper.

Touchdown on the next play from above their only TD of the game.

Nice catch across the middle.

This ended up being the winning field goal with the final score 10-7.

On a cool note. The player on the left made sure the player on the right got to hold the regional championship trophy first because he was injured and knocked out of the game. I thought it was a good team thing to do and you don't always see that anymore.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I photographed Mary and Jeremy tonight for their "save the date" cards they will send out for the holidays for their upcoming wedding next July. They wanted their dog Snickers, who they rescued, in the photos with them. Cool idea. So we shot a few portraits of the three of them at their house. Then we went to the parking structure in Royal Oak to try and get something different. They were on a time crunch so there wasn't much time to shoot but I like how the above photo came out. Kind of like snickers is their bodyguard. I shot the below photo real quick for fun and think I would like to shoot at this location again and work this shot some more.
I also still feel like crud so a quick shoot tonight was good for me as well. Oh BTW the photos were shot with available light in the parking structure. I didn't feel like getting the strobes out and I liked the mood. Shot at 1600 ISO. I am really loving this Canon 40D and look forward to switching over all the way.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Ok so I am sitting here in McDonald's transmitting photos back to the Detroit News after shooting some election photos in the small town of Richmond, Michigan north of Detroit. I know, I know this food isn't good for you. But most McDonald's now have wi-fi and I'm to cheap to buy a high-speed data card and plan for my laptop. Besides I'm feeling under the weather, well actually I feel like crap, and when I don't feel good I crave fast food or junk food. Anything to comfort and try to feel a little better. But as a freelancer there is no calling in sick unless you are throwing up or in the hospital. As far as the photos go I got a couple usable images but after almost 20 years all elections look the same and its a challenge to get a different looking election photo. Plus I just wanted to get in, get a few shots, transmit and get home to bed so I didn't feel to creative tonight. Now I have about an hour drive home.

Not great but the main issue in Richmond for voters was three school millage proposals and Darrel, on the left, is a senior at Richmond High School and a first time voter.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


I shot an event for Make-A-Wish last night. It was a bit challenging because the light at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor is awful and the production manager insisted I didn't use flash or set up any strobes because they didn't want it to bother the dancers. Since these were armature volunteer dancers for the most part it made sense so know one was distracted and got hurt. (On a side not if this was a paying gig I would have gone to the location the week before to work out lighting details.)

So they showed me the lighting and it was not good. I would need to shoot at least 1600 ISO, if not more, to get at least a shutter speed of 100 wide open at f2.8, ugh! Not good to stop action. Also the high ISO on my Nikon D2X just sucks and I don’t have a long Canon lens yet. So I just shot the hell out of the dancing knowing I would need only one usable image of each couple and hoping it would be an interesting looking image.

The good news is the light ended up being brighter then they first showed me so I got closer to 1/200th for a shutter speed as long as I shot the dancers in the middle of the stage. Also even with the high ISO the photos will look fine on the web and luckily Make-A-Wish doesn’t use photos real big in their newsletter and other printed publications. So for what they needed I ended up with some decent shots.

One last thing. I can’t stress enough what a great organization Make-A-Wish of Michigan is and I’m glad to help them out with my photography. If you can donate time or money please visit their website and contact them!

Friday, November 02, 2007


I shot this image in 94. The South Lyon Michigan high school football team just lost in the state playoff semifinals. This player was crying and being comforted by his girlfriend. I stayed back some and shot with a 300 2.8 which aloud me to crop in tight which helps the photo I think. One of the best dejection sports images I ever made. My wife chose this for me to enter in The Michigan Press Photographers Association Pictures of the Year contest for 1994. It won first place in the sports feature category. The only first place award I ever got, but then again I never entered contests much and haven’t in at least 10 years.

My wife was always a good judge of what made a nice photo.
I use to shoot a ton of high school sports on a weekly and even daily basis for years. I loved it. I miss it.


Jack –O-Lantern photo lighting details.

I carved the thing with my kids. Not to bad I must say! LOL

Shot with a Canon 40D camera body.

I have a Canon 580 strobe on camera powered down 3 stops for a small amount of fill light but mostly to trigger the Nikon SB800 strobe in the pumpkin pointed out.

I bought a cheap fog machine at Target ($20 and probably on sale now).

There is a hole in the back of the pumpkin to shoot the fog through.

I wanted the eyes to glow more and the mouth to be more orange like fire so that worked out well. Shot several frames to get something where the fog (smoke) looked the best.

Halloween is so fun!

Another shot. Same light basically, just with the light and fog behind the pumpkins instead of inside.


Max photo lighting details.
I like to keep things simple most of the time.

Photo 1: Available light (overcast) with a gold reflector just out of frame to camera left.

Photo 2: Available overcast light.

Photo 3: Available light as fill, main light is a Nikon SB800 bounced from a white umbrella triggered by a Canon 580 on camera strobe powered down 3 full stops. (My cheap eBay radio remotes died)

Photo 4: Available light as fill, main light is a Nikon SB800 hand held to camera left with Omni bounce diffuser on triggered by a Canon 580 on camera strobe powered down 3 full stops. (My cheap eBay radio remotes died)

Photos 4 and 5: Available light as fill, main light is a Nikon SB800 on a light stand to camera right and slightly behind Max with an Omni bounce diffuser on triggered by a Canon 580 on camera strobe powered down 3 full stops. (My cheap eBay radio remotes died)

Photo 6: Available overcast light