Monday, 29 September 2008


As a photographer, your website is your greatest marketing tool. For most clients it is the first impression of you they will get.

Whether you have phoned an art director to drop off your book, or emailed an editor requesting an appointment, the first thing they will do is ask to see your website. They’re not going to waste their time seeing you work in person unless they like your site,. So you want to have something that looks slick and professional, and presents your images in the best possible way.

Robert Benson has provided a handy summary of the photographer-focused website packages on the market at the moment. I agree with his assessment of Fluid Galleries – the package we both use. It works pretty well, but I would like to have bigger images and be able to bulk-upload images, rather than one at a time as I am forced to do now.

Well worth a read if you are in the market for a new site.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Laforet releases 5DII video

Ok, Vincent Laforet has finally convinced Canon to release the video he shot with the new 5D mark II. I have to say that for $5,000 and less than 48 hours from conception to editing, it is pretty impressive stuff. The artistic and technical quality is superb, and I’m sure Laforet will get offers to shoot video for clients because of it. So for him this will have been $5k well spent in my opinion.

See the full video here. See behind the scenes here

The popularity of the video has convinced Smugmug, who are hosting the film for him, to set up a $25,000 funding for him to pull together a team to produce his next he’s already on his way.

The main lesson to take away here: if you make great work and get it front of the right people then good things will happen. But you need to do both – there is no point shooting beautiful pictures is nobody who can hire you ever sees them. Likewise, when you do meet with a potential client, only ever show them your very best work.

Friday, 19 September 2008

The 5D Mark II is here at last

So after months of speculation, including some of my own, the most highly anticipated Photokina announcement came out on Wednesday. The Canon 5D Mark II is here, boasting a 1Ds Mark III equalling 21 megapixels in what Canon are calling their most advanced sensor yet, and shooting up to 30 minutes of HD video to boot.

If I had phoned up Canon and asked for my perfect camera, this is pretty much it. The killer improvements for me are the combination of high resolution in a small, weather sealed body.

Travelling with 2 1Ds mark II bodies is a hassle, and their height means they don’t fit easily into some camera bags, including my Lowepro Pro Roller. A pair of 5D Mark IIs will be significantly lighter and less bulky, along with smaller batteries and chargers.

I haven’t been using the current 5D because I was not prepared to give up the higher resolution and weather sealing of the 1Ds. Now I don’t have to. It will also be nice to have the additional features of the latest generation of cameras such as 14-bit colour, 3-inch screen and automated sensor cleaning.

A friend of mine was surprised it only had 9 AF points. But that seems plenty to me. My 1Ds has 45 focus points, but I use a custom function to reduce it to 11 as otherwise it takes too long to select the one I want.

And finally there is the ability to shoot video. I’ve never shot video in my life before, and I’m sure I won’t be using it professionally – at least in the medium term. But I’ll certainly play around with it and it may well prove to be ideal for grabbing some behind the scenes footage from my shoots to post on the blog.

So it will finally be time to say goodbye to the trusty 1Ds IIs.

Monday, 15 September 2008

New Zeiss primes for Canon

It is a fact these days that camera manufacturers are obsessed with zooms. So I am delighted to hear Zeiss has announced it is releasing prime lenses in Canon EF mount. The advantages of primes are numerous, but mainly they are smaller and faster than a zoom that covers the same focal length, and more resistant to flare. It also used to be the case that they were sharper than zooms, but these days I think high-end professional zooms are just as good. I started out with primes and still have a soft spot for them now.

When I first started to take photography seriously I spent 6 months travelling around South America with nothing but a Nikon FM3a, 24mm, 45mm and 105mm lenses and 150 rolls of film. The whole package was so small and light that I took it everywhere with me. The amount of gear I would take on a similar trip today frightens me.

Looking to recreate that "fast and light" feel today there are not so many choices for a Canon shooter. I'd love a nice 35mm f/2 as a walkaround lens, but the Canon version is one of the original late 80s designs with a buzzing micro motor and plasticy feel. Sure you can get the f/1.4L version, but it is enormous and costs £900. The same with the 24mm, and the 50mm.

So it's great to see the new Zeiss ZE lenses coming on the market. Can't wait until they release a 35/f2....