Editing down a portfolio with Don Giannatti and yours truly – LIVE Webcast

This Sunday 8/4/2010 at 9pm EST (6pm pacific) Don Giannatti has been kind enough to do a live portfolio review with me on the air.  We’ll be talking about making the final cut of images, and finalizing a portfolio.  Maybe a bit about design and branding and style as well.  Should be fun – tune in at:


see y’all there!

edzstudios and adblocker

Just a PSA – I noticed recently that my galleries werent loading properly when I viewed them… after briefly troubleshooting I discovered that a recent update to the firefox extension “AdBlock plus” was blocking them (without really giving any indication).  So if you’re reading this with ABP turned on, you might want to disable it for the site… I don’t have any ads on it anyway 🙂

new portfolios

I’ve been watching Zack Arias’ series of critiques over at zarias.com, and even though he didn’t critique my site directly, I took a lot of the general points he made to heart.  Specifically he commented a lot on the need to convey a focused vision through your portfolio.  It made me start thinking about my own port, and what I was trying to say with it.  After some brainstorming and feedback I basically tore down everything and decided to redo my portfolios from scratch.  Less of “my own work that I like” and more of “who I am as a photographer”.   I broke down my work into my commercial/editorial work – separated by “environmental” work and “studio” work, and put all my personal work into it’s own section.  I like the “flow” of the portfolio much better now – it still needs some tweaks but, overall I’m happy.   I’m still deciding whether to put in a separate section just for tearsheets, or incorporate those into the regular galleries.(   I also am thinking of doing one of those videos of my physical book (all the cool kids are doing it…)

I’d love to hear some feedback on the new ports -love em? hate em? don’t care either way?  Click on over and let me know what you think…

And the winner is…

Bryantsphotography for his “Sunset Bride” image.

Sunset Bride

I really like this image on a few levels – one, the lighting.  This was the “Exciting Lighting” contest so obviously use of lighting was a big part of the criteria.  Bryant has done it very well – creating dramatic, yet not “over the top” light, well balanced with the ambient.  The backlighting makes the veil “pop” and prevents the dark shadows that would have otherwise crept in the back of the dress/train.  The shadows are subtle and non-invasive, in fact they even work with the scene overall – creating the “pool” of light that surrounds the bride.

Secondly the composition.   Bryant has made good use of the classic rule of thirds, – I also really like the strong diagonals in the composition:


(sorry for the hack job!)

The colors are saturated and dramatic, but not the “hyperreal-neon-glowing” colors we see far too often (besides, it’s a wedding shot, it’s allowed to be a bit “poppy” in the color).  still, skin tone looks good (at least on my monitor) and the splash of red from the bouquet is a nice touch.

The pose is great, and the whole scene just exudes a sense of exuberance and joy.   I’m sure this was posed, but it looks like a great moment anyway.

Anyway, congrats to Bryant – well done, and enjoy the free registration to the Digital WakeUp Call tour!

1 week left for the exciting lighting contest!

Just a quick reminder – Just one week left to get your entries in for the “Exciting Lighting” contest

Doesn’t cost anything to enter, and the winner will get to go to to David Ziser’s “Digital WakeUp Call tour” for free!

Just head on over to the f/1.0 flickr group, add you photos with “Exciting Lighting” to the pool, and tag ’em with “F10DWC” – that’s it!

There’s only a few days left, so get those shots in!

Digital WakeUp Call and the Exciting Lighting Contest!

As mentioned yesterday,  David Ziser’s Digital WakUp Call tour looks to be shaping up to be a pretty great event! I got a sneak peek this past Sunday and if you are even remotely interested in improving your lighting skills or your business chops, you’d be crazy not to sign up.  The best part? Chances are, David is going to be right in your town! – 58 locations all in all!  Can’t beat that for a lousy 79 bucks.

(in my best TV pitchman voice): BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!!!  As a special offer for F/1.0 readers, David is offering 20 bucks off registration if you use the following code:   ZEZDWC09. what a guy!  Especially considering that just for walking in the door you get:

  • Tour Handbook including: program notes, photography, marketing and more
  • 2 Hour DVD with extended program content
  • $100 Rebate from American Color Imaging
  • 1 year membership to WPPI and Rangefinder magazine, a $99 value
  • FREE 3 month membership to DigitalProTalkPlus.com, a $45 value
  • FREE 3 month subscription to PPA Magazine, a $15 value
  • FREE PPA Indemnification (no-fault) insurance for all new PPA members, a $50 value
  • Over $2,500 in door prizes awarded each evening
  • And a chance to win 1 of 4 Grand Prizes worth over $5,000

Still not satisfied? Ok, how about getting in *for free*.  Yup, that’s right – 1 lucky reader gets a free pass in whichever city you choose!   How?  Well, The digital WakeUp tour is all about Lighting, so how about an “Exciting Lighting” contest!   Here’s how it works:

  1. Create a Flickr account (if you don’t already have one)
  2. Join the newly created F/1.0 flickr group
  3. upload your best photos using off-camera lighting to you flickr stream
  4. Tag said photos with “F10DWC” (for f/1.0 digital wakup call)
  5. Add them to the F/1.0 group
  6. Please limit 3 entries per person – if you tag more than 3 images with “F10dwc” I will simply consider the first three tagged to be the entries!

That’s it!  The contest will run until noon (EST) on March 25th.  After the contest is closed, we will look over the entries and select what we consider to be the best image (based on overall style, composition, technical skill, and creative use of lighting).  The winner will be notified via flickrmail, and will have their winning entry featured on F/1.0, in addition to receiving the free pass to the Digital WakeUp Call tour!   Costs nothing to enter, so start submitting those shots!

B&H with David Ziser!

So this past sunday, I was lucky enough to get a seat at the B&H event space to see none other than the inimitable David Ziser presenting.   (for anyone who’s been living under a rock, David is the wedding photographer & blogger extrordinaire who runs DigitalProTalk)

Yours truly (left, with the hat hair), and Mr. Ziser (right):


His presentation was apparently a “dry run” of the material that he’ll be doing for the upcoming Digital WakeUp Call tour,  And if this was any indication it’s going to be a great one!

Lighting, Lighting and more Lighting.  Without tooting my own horn – I’m no slouch at lighting, but David is definitely a master, particularly when it comes to the kind of on-the-fly, quick-and-dirty techniques you need to know in a fast paced environment like a wedding.  I definitely jotted down a few notes on some techniques that I will be adding to my repitoire!

Business, business, and more business. David also shared a *ton* of info on the more mundane aspects of a photography business, giving insight into his digital workflow, sharing tips and tricks from some of his favorite sofware suites (including the best layout program *ever*, Lumapix FotoFusion), and great ideas for marketing, promition and client service.

Suffice to say, it was a great presentation even in it’s “rough” form, so the final Digital WakeUp Call version should be fantastic.   Definitely worth getting my butt out of bed at 5am and hauling up to NYC for!

And if that doesn’t make it sound good enough – stay tuned tomorrow when I’ll tell you how you can win a chance to go attend the Digital WakeUp Call tour in your city *for free* !

how about them apples? 🙂

A new look!

I was thinking that the blog layout was kind of cluttered, so on a whim I started working on a totally new layout. I wanted to focus on having good whitespace (err… Greyspace) and a generally minimalist/ clean feel. I liked the shade of grey look, I think the photos look good on grey.

Anyway, pretty happy with it overall. Next up is a dedicated/personalized client area coming soon.


So I was going to make a quirky pun on new years resolutions and camera resolution, but I’m just not that witty… 🙁

…but as for resolutions, I do have a couple – one of which being a new feature on this blog I’m tentatively calling “Making the Image”. Basically I’ll take one of my shots and break it down, from concept to lighting setups to execution to post processing – detailing the how and why for each step, and then obviously the final product. I know I always find such things useful (seeing the breakdown of a shot/shoot), so hopefully some of y’all will find it helpful as well!

Taking fewer pictures.

As 2008 winds down and we begin another year, we get to do the whole “new years resolution” thing. One of my resolutions for the upcoming year is to take fewer pictures

[wait, what?]

Yup, that’s right – *fewer* pictures. I’ll explain – Digital cameras make us lazy. When I pick up my camera, I have (for all practical purposes) an unlimited number of shots available to me. It becomes far to easy to simply point the camera at something vaguely interesting and “spray-and-pray” hoping an image turns out. Now while I don’t think there’s inherently anything *wrong* with doing this, I feel that it definitely makes it easier to adopt a lazy attitude – thinking less about composition, form, nailing the shot, and just relying on sheer number of images to produce the end product.

Consider the following account of Drew Gardner, a photojournalist covering a firefight in Kosovo with a single roll of film. (I guess when getting a second roll means potentially getting shot, you make do with what you have!)

Talk about making every shot count! The point is that back in the days of film we were limited by the amount of film we could carry. How many rolls did you carry around with you on a daily basis? 4 or 5? Maybe 10 if you were going heavy? That’s 360 frames at the most (less if you shot 120/220). Heck, I know photographers now who shoot 360 frames in 10 minutes! Imagine if you knew you were limited to 50 or 100 frames for an entire day of shooting. Would you consider each shot more carefully? Of course you would. And in the end that makes us better photographers. Refining our eye, *really looking* at each composition, considering each subject carefully and critically. These are skills that may be in danger of going extinct as machine-gun-gazillion-frame-per-second SLRs take over. Sure it may be useful for somethings (sports, and well… sports) but when I see photographers on the forums with galleries full of cat and baby pictures arguing how they absolutely cannot use camera X because it is *only* 3fps and they *need* 10fps, I just have to laugh.

Further there seems to be an attitude that if you *aren’t* taking gobs of pictures you are somehow “shortchanging” the client or yourself. My attitude is that if I get “the shot” on the first frame, why am I going to waste 100 more on images that I know will simply sit in a dusty corner of my image library, never seeing the light of day.

Anyway, the point is that my resolution is to make *more* images, but take *fewer* pictures – I want to make sure that every frame that comes out of my camera is deliberate and considered. Each image should be thoughtfully arranged, deliberately composed and have a considered subject.

Why not try it? Go out for a day of shooting with an old memory card only big enough to hold a few images (128/256mb or so). Or even an old 35mm or 120 film camera (holgas or lomos are cheap!) and 1 or two rolls of film. After doing this a few times I gaurantee you will notice yourself composing more carefully and considering each shot – making it count. Much like my old post about why I love prime lenses, the principle is the same – imposing a creative restriction on your photography forces you to adapt to the situation, stretching yourself creatively and improving your skill. And in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Anyway, happy new year to you all from all of us here at Ed Z Studios (meaning, well… me) and wishing you all many great images in the year to come!