How To catch a Terrorist? (funny)

Hilarious!. For all you military readers of my blog.

Latest editions to the 1:1 project

This is an ongoing project I have been working on. The project
involves taking upwards of 150 to 200 images with a macro lens and
then putting them back together again. I finally took some much needed
time to put these faces together. It takes some time and effort to
match the photos because of so many different variables these each
come together differently every time. One thing that is really hard to
show is the grand scale of this project so I will explain a little.
Just think of a file size that averages over 110 inches by 120 inches.
On this file 150 to 200 separate 12 Megapixel images are put together.
When completed, each file ends up being between 5 to 8 GB in size
(depending on the size of the face and amount of images). It is in
hopes that when I have a final selection of images, I will start
pursuing having extremely large prints made. The way I want to see
this is for a print to be in excess of 10 feet tall and a viewer to be
able to walk close to the print and not see ANY loss in quality.
Why do this? I am fascinated with the human body. Every one is
different. Skin color, texture, hair, complexion, etc. We live as a
society where we all want to be meet some sort of criteria. We also
live our lives by showing the world what and who we are from a certain
distance. NOBODY sees another from this close except for ourselves in
our bathroom mirrors.

The follow on to this project is to start photographing body parts in
the same way a person would photograph a mountain scene. Even better
would be to shoot the entire body in such a way. Who knows. I'll show
you when I got it.

Muscovy Duckheads

Time management is something that everyone must master at one point or
another. Making decisions to stop and take a break to focus on
personal projects is sometimes hard, but extremely necessary. These
get your creative juices flowing, motivate you to do more things and
help to keep you happy when you did something that was yours.
I recently took a break from tons of time spent on the other
responsibilities (meetings, negotiations, marketing and other business
crap) to focus on my personal backyard project. For the next few days,
I have decided to focus on some guys that are all over the place in
south Florida. The Muscovy duck. These ducks are native to south and
central america, but have become a very large population throughout
south florida. They are pretty tame animals, but fairly skittish when
getting too close to a human. Because many families enjoy feeding
them, they automatically assume everybody is wanting to feed them so
sometimes when you are simply sitting in a chair in the yard there is
a good chance they will show. These guys are very distinct with very
diverse amounts of 'caruncles (or comb) on their heads that looks more
like tumors than anything else. This nasty looking texture is what
makes them more distinct than any other bird.
There are about 10 to 12 that hang around our apartment complex and we
have been watching regularly. Today we took advantage of them getting
used to us and caught a few. One at a time, I would grab one and then
safely have Anna hold them while I photographed them. Although they
didn't give me much time to work with them, I was able to get a few
shots of each before we let them back outside. We shot three today and
hope to get more tomorrow and Sunday. So how are you spending your

Stacy Pearsall on Oprah Winfrey

Stacy is a wonderful woman and powerful photographer. More importantly an amazing 'person' to know.
She was recently on Oprah Winfrey show. Here is a clip I edited of her interview.

Joey Lawrence's series called Abyssinia

I have mentioned Joey Lawrence before and how amazed and impressed I am. Not only with his incredible talent and ability to light, but more so on the fact he is 18 (or 19 by now). His name came up in a discussion I am having with someone as to an age limit on members of the ASMP. I brought his name up as a perfect example of someone who can (in my opinion) outshoot even the best, oldest and most experienced of them.

I saw images from his recent project called Abyssinia (the old name for Ethiopia) and completely floored me. I am awestruck by this man. He is really one of my favorite photographers of this generation.

Visit his site at and click on the personal link and then on Abyssinia.

AMAZING!!!! I can only hope to mentor someone that grows this fast.

ASMP Responds to Facebook T&C

I just received this from the ASMP. It couldn't come at a better time with regards to other issue I have been speaking about and the push I have been making to other photographers to get off their ass and get involved with ASMP. This is why...

ASMP has sent the statement below regarding the Facebook user information policy decision this week to media outlets nationally, including newspapers, television, radio, business publications, photography trade publications, and wire services. We are asking our membership to support our position and to be vigilant about the terms and conditions governing the sites you patronize. You can also be involved through blogging and talking about the issues. Blogs have formed including Facebook Owns Your Photos and The People Against the New Terms of Service. Other blogs include The Consumerist, an advocacy blog, news blogs etc. ASMP is also coordinating with the Copyright Alliance, who will use our statement on its blog.

ASMP Responds to Recent FACEBOOK Decision to Reverse User Information Policy

ASMP applauds the decision of Facebook to reverse its recent policy change concerning ownership of user information. We encourage other networking sites to review the ownership issues raised and how this may impact members and users.

The important subject of copyright ownership of uploaded material has been underscored by the outcry from thousands who were galvanized by Facebook's new Terms of Use language granting itself permanent rights to users' photos, posts and other information – even after accounts were closed. We are pleased that Facebook reported on Wednesday it would delay changes while it works to resolve "the issues people have raised."

ASMP hopes that the Facebook licensing controversy will bring attention to the important issue of image ownership and control. We encourage our 7,000 + media photographer members across the country to inquire about the terms and conditions of the sites they utilize, and we have asked them to patronize only those who respect the rights of creators to have their work valued and protected.

ASMP is the leading trade association for photographers who create images primarily for publication. ASMP has 39 chapters across the country and over 7,000 members including the world's premier photographers. Founded in 1944, ASMP is a leader in promoting photographers' rights, providing education in better business practices, producing business publications for photographers, and helping to connect purchasers with professional photographers.

How do you deal with copyright infringement? With knowledge, preparation and excitement

Some have always thought of me as weird with this thought process, but I have always been one to welcome new experiences. Both good AND bad. This is what makes us who we are. It is how we deal with the bad things that make us more appreciate the good things. I have always been fascinated by the idea that if we learn from our elder's mistakes then we can grow much faster than them and advance further. Of course everyone touches the hot pot no matter what. We all eventually repeat mistakes, but the more aware and educated we become on them the less likely we will have the same or worse results.

Yesterday we became victims of copyright infringement. This is our first time experiencing this. I am sure it will not be the last either, but the more we know about what is right, wrong, legal and illegal the better we are in attacking this misuse.

Background: A few months ago, Anna and I went to the Polish American Club located nearby. It is a fairly large club with many members of the Polish community who attend various events, concerts, parties, etc. Anna being Polish, gives us an opportunity to meet new people and possibly new clients. One day we obtained permission to photograph at a party they were having. We brought the lights and cameras and figured to have some fun, take some photos and meet some people. As a thank you we listed a few photos for purchase and made a montage for the club's main webpage. By our standards, it wasn't something we saw as portfolio worthy, but something of a small advertisement for us. As you can see in the photo that we put a fairly large photo credit and website on the bottom of the image. It is pretty large, but since it was free to them (aside from free drinks and a good time) we saw it as a fair trade.

Months later, and because of our work with them, we were then interviewed for an article in the Nation's leading Polish American newspaper, The White Eagle. With a combined circulation of 100,000 (5,000 in Florida), We saw that our small investment paid off. The article was two full pages and used many photos. Success!

But when we were informed two days ago, by the Vice President of the club that our image was stolen and used in another article, we were upset and then excited. You see, because we know copyright law and take it very seriously, we saw this as an opportunity to use our education.

The newspaper was writing an article about how the club elected a new president and the plans they had for their future. They had illegally downloaded the image from the website and used it as the main photo on the top of the article. What was worse was they cropped the image to remove the photo credit that was on the photo. They didn't even give us the dignity of putting a photo credit anywhere else. This was wrong in all aspects.

First we made attempts to contact the newspaper with no answers. That is until we sent an invoice for the use of an image. We generated the amount through an estimating program called FotoQuote . Once they got our email and invoice it was less than 5 minutes before we received a call from the senior editor. He was extremely apologetic and asked for a few days to find out how this happened.

Today we got a call from the Journalist who was trying to justify himself by saying he wrote a big article about us previously so why are we attacking them for using this image. The simple answer is this. Does he write one story for a cost and the others for free? Does the printing company charge for every other print run? How about the delivery truck drivers?

To top it all off, he even went so far as to say that we didn't have permission to take pictures in the club or to take pictures of the people in the photo. We were very happy to then provide him with the property release and model releases of every person in the photo.

How's that for covering the bases.

Heed me now, believe me later. The market is flooded with similar circumstances and issues. Many cases are even worse. If photography is your business or not, you still have to be aware of copyright laws and what is yours. My wife an I survive on our photography. We don't have side jobs, this isn't a hobby. Even if it where, the case would still be the same. I mention in a previous blog about the news of AP suing Fairey for using a photo for a poster which ended up being a huge campaign for Obama. If he would have simply licensed the photo for a small cost, then he wouldn't be in this situation.

The big problem we have today is that nobody sees photography as an art. Because everyone has an ability to capture an image they dismiss the value in it. I say to you this, because I can go to an art store and buy a canvas and paints, does that mean what I paint is no less important than any other painter?

My suggestions to you (Don't you dare call me an elder).
1. Read and learn about the Orphan works.
2. Become a member of the UsePLUS
3. Learn about how to register your work on a quarterly basis.
4. Be prepared through knowledge. Join ASMP!!!

Facebook joins the effort to TAKE EVERYTHING!!!

It's all over the news. Well, at least in back pages. Facebook
recently made a change to their terms and conditions that basically
gives them the right to use whatever you upload for anything.
advertising, marketing, etc. In easier terms to understand, they can
take your image of your kid and license it to coca-cola to use on
billboards around the world and you would not see a dime.

Is that understandable enough. But then again, we still all like
facebook so what do we do. Well, start imbedding your copyright info
all over the image. There are tons of options out there. Ones I use
are Photo Mechanic ( ) and Aperture (
) where you can export and the program will slap a big obnoxious
copyright info or name on the image.

Be careful, before they own everything in your library. Here's the

Backyard Treasures book project realized

I wanted to share my latest book project. Using I was able to create a 72 page full color hard bound book in less than a few hours. It came out great and I can't wait for my copies to come in. There are tons of book publishers out there. From Apple books, My Publisher, etc. In my opinion, there are three that meet a professional standard and for three types of uses. One is Asuka book. They use a 6 color printing process that is frankly amazing. Unfortunately they don't print larger than a 10x10 and their prices are pretty high. Not something to give away to just any agency to keep. There is no book program to get lost with which is good. You download blank photoshop pages and lay it out the way you want. 
For giveaways, I use Mpix. They are pretty amazing with their option to use linen paper. I order soft cover 8x10 books all the time, and the linen paper gets attention. Their program for loading images sucks, but the cost ($25 for a book) is pretty nice so I deal with it.
But then there are those times where you need something a little better than an Mpix book, but don't want to go spending the time and money on an Asuka book. That's where I decided to start using Blurb. They are pretty popular and have a fairly easy book layout program with nice and clean templates. The price is a little higher than MPix, but not something that is too terribly bad. One bit of advice is to not bother paying the extra $10-12 on the premium paper option. I recently ordered two books (one with premium and one without). I had to email customer support because I could not tell the difference. Their response was the premium paper is a bit thinner and the colors where a bit deeper. I literally had to put each on a scale to see the difference. In my opinion a waste of money. 
The best part of Blurb that blows every other company out of the water is their option to put your book up for sale. Now that is smart. I not only get to publish a prety cool book to show to clients, but I have the ability to sell to family, friends and fans. Not to mention one more thing that gets searched by agencies. Sound like a great marketing to me.
Nature photos of f...
By Aaron Ansarov

Bresson was right (for his time)

This entry is based on a few curious coincidences in conversations lately.

"Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst." - Henri Cartier-Bresson

This quote has always meant something to me. I have the proof sitting in a huge box of negatives that I will probably never go through. When mentoring people I would always say this quote. In fact, I was speaking to one of my best friends last night and he was referring to one of his first experiences when he was trying to get mentorship from someone that told him, "You wanna learn something? Put some damn film through the camera." Now that is a somewhat irresponsible mentor, but in one way he is right. You can learn theory all day, but if you aren't practicing it, then how the hell are you supposed to truly learn. 

Then I was reading the Apple Pro Training Series on Aperture 2 (ISBN: 0321539931) today because I decided to attempt to become Apple certified pro. I am paraphrasing, but the author speaks about how (understanding how photographer to photographer may vary) the shooting ratios between a photographer in the days of film and the days of digital is about 20:1. This means that since the advent of digital and the ease of capturing hundreds of images on one card, a photographer now captures an average of 20 times more images than he did when he was shooting 36 frames on a roll of film.

So if we take this opinion and compare it to Bresson's quote of 10,000 photographs (film days) being the worst, then wouldn't that mean Cartier (had he been around today) would be better saying your first 200,000 photographs are your worst?

I believe it. The path of photography isn't simply found overnight and accomplished without making a few mistakes and if we really think about how much an average photographer can shoot in a day, that really isn't an unrealistic number. Now to go back to what my friend was told when he was young, that doesn't mean to just go out and shoot wildly like a madman shooting an uzi with his eyes closed. There has to be some thought behind what you do. Learning something new with every frame that is captured/created. Finding a mentor to point out the faults and successes in your shots so you can go back out and learn from those mistakes and successes. 

It isn't just about pointing composing your background, filling your frame and waiting for the moment like Bresson used to also teach... or is it?

Another one of my friends is definitely learning that this year. He is currently going through the military's advanced photojournalism program at Syracuse. When I first met him (3 years ago), he didn't even know what the 'P' stood for on the camera. In the two years before becoming one of four Navy photographers to be accepted to Syarcuse, he shot his butt off. I am sure, like me, after he graduates, he will put all those (200K) images he shot prior to Syracuse in a box and probably never look at them again.

With that I will refer you to a small snippet of Bresson on youtube.

Eddie Adams workshop accepting applications

The Eddie Adams workshop has to be one of the most incredible, most coveted events for any up-and-coming photographer. Unfortunately for me, I never had the opportunity to go as a student because of my military commitments. The rules at the time didn't allow me to apply after Syracuse. I was however privileged enough to participate as a Black Team member for one year and hopefully in the very near future. The event happens from October 9 to the 12th and is very intense. But I cannot see a better opportunity to be taught by the world's best photographers. Really, if you are eligible and do NOT apply, you are an idiot. I make no apologies for that. There is no excuse for applying. Here is one guarantee I have that no one can argue.
If you apply, you have a chance. If you don't apply, it is 100% guarantee you will not go.

Here is the link to the site where you can get all the info.

The best way to be humbled as a photographer. Be outshot by a snapshot

I found this photo in old files and just had to use it as a blog entry. The story behind this image was pretty funny and is a perfect example of how no matter how good you may be, there is still a little but of chance and luck in it all. I was fresh out of Syrcacuse University. Recently transferred to the Navy's premiere magazine, All Hands, as the ONLY photographer on the west coast. Hell, I even had my own car issued to me for travel. Everything was perfect. Couldn't get any better. I think you could say I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder.

So one day I found out there was to be a major missile test where three ships where going to participate in a joint missile launch. The plan was to actually launch all at the same time. I was invited fly out to a ship and be the lead on the shoot and to have unprecedented access to photograph the launch. Needless to say that chip got a bit bigger. 
But one thing no one ever knew was how fearful I always was of failing. I never shot a missile launch before, but everybody expected I had shot tons. So once I got to the ship, I immediately started thinking about how I could shoot this in such a way that would blow people away (no pun intended). So I found a ladder. I got permission to get a ladder and to lean it against the hangar bay doors and to shoot from such a position to see the missile launch from the lower angle and the other ships launching in the background. It would be the coolest shot ever. I got halfway up and said this is perfect. But then I got a little nervous and said, I better go higher.

Meanwhile this young sailor came up to me and told me he was an aspiring photographer. He was asking all kinds of questions like a 5 year old. It was funny. I never turned him away. Chip or no chip, I was given the directive a long time ago to "Pass it on as freely as it was given." So I helped the kid. I taught him a few things that he could do with his point and click film camera. It was literally something like a next level up from one of those throw away plastic cameras that you put in the bag at wal-mart and get the prints after. 

The call was announced to prepare for the shoot so I left the kid there and said he could stay by the ladder and take a picture of his friend if he liked. His friend was holding some device to track the missiles. He was out of my hair so I was fine. The missiles launched and the job was done. The helo arrived later and flew me back. I shook the kids hand, wished him the best and offered to look at his images when he got back expecting I would never hear from him again.

So then I finally get my film processed and had an incredible surprise. You see apparently, I was so high up on the ladder that I was being zapped by the radar and didn't know it. Literally, every single frame was only exposed on the bottom half. The top half of each frame was fogged. I was blown away (again, no pun intended). I couldn't believe how stupid I could be. The entire shoot was lost. Of course like many photographers do, I blamed the photo lab. It actually worked and furthered my justification to increase the budget to get a better lab.

A few weeks later, here comes that kid. prints in hand and smile on his face like a kid with his hat in his hand. I gave him a cordial smile and asked if I could help him. I couldn't remember who he was. He reminded me and asked if I got anything from the shoot. I gave him the same story about the lab and such. He said, "Can you look at this and tell me if this is good." Needless to say, my mouth dropped. Such composition, the precise moment, THE EXPOSURE WAS PERFECT!!! 
All I could do was shake my head and laugh. I was just put in my place and outshot by a snapshot. I asked if I could scan it and sent it on to the chain of command. Where it went from there I don't know. If it got filed somewhere or what. But as far as I am concerned, I have a copy to always remind me.

That was 10 years ago. Now just think. The advent of digital, 7 megapixels in a phone camera, now HD video in a $600 SLR. How many guys out there are there that have a passion, don't know what they are doing yet, but just going by pure gut and instinct??? Tons. 

To me this is my most humbling experience and one that I will always cherish. Hopefully it will help someone else realize. 
Need another example? How about one for video. This is a video taken by a tourist in Africa. It was so good that National Geographic did an entire one hour special on it.
There was a comment made by someone that Photographers spend years in the field with tons of gear hoping to get a shot like this and some tourist with a video camera gets it. How humbling.

Is Shepard Fairey the new Richard Prince?

Before reading this article look at the full version of the  photo 
It has been all over the photo community the outrage on so many sides over who can get their greedy little fingers on Shepard Fairey's rednition of the AP (or Mannie Garcia) photo of Barack Obama taken by Mannie Garcia. First Fairey screwed up by saying he took the pose from a Mannie Garcia photo. The actual full frame shot was of Obama and George Clooney at a Press Club. The shot was just that. A shot. No big deal by any standards (aside from the subjects). Not to mention the flag pole coming out of the top of Barack Obama's head. When Mannie took the image he was not thinking he was taking the most incredible image of Obama in history. He did not think his image would be used for anything more than what he got paid for, the standard freelancer day rate that AP gave him. Nor did AP think they had an incredible image either. They saw the image as just the same way anybody else would. Just one more shot of a celebrity and a presidential hopeful. One of millions that where flooding the earth. 

Then came Shepard Fairey. He knew what he wanted to do from the start. Before he even saw or knew of Mannie Garcia, he knew that he was going to make a poster of Obama. Where Fairey screwed up was in saying he got the idea and angle from Mannie's shot. Where AP screwed up was in not taking that proof and suing him immediately. Where Mannie Garcia screwed up was in doing ANY FORM of work for hire. So now what. Mannie is out of the picture. He gets nothing. In the same way Alan Diaz's photo of Elian Gonzalez in the closet went around the world. Who made the millions? AP. Not Diaz. Diaz however did win the Pulitzer which does carry a nice cash prize, but that doesn't come close to the huge amount of money the AP monster received. Alan was the one sneaking in front of armed men putting his life at risk to get the shot. I wonder if there have been any paintings made in Cuba based on this photo.

Fairey is not the first artist to make a rendition from other artists. That is why I associate Shepard Fairey to Richard Prince. Because he is essentially doing the same thing. Richard Prince is most known in the photo community for being a 're-photographer' or 'Appropriation artist.' He stole photos that others had taken. It would be as if I where to take a photo of Joe Rosenthal's raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, blow it up really big and then call it mine. Prince's art was more obvious. But then again, his photo of the Cowboy sold a Sotheby's a few years ago for 3.4 million dollars. The most a photograph has ever sold for. So who is right?

I believe both are.

One of my mentors once told me, "If you stand 20 photographers in front of the same tree and tell them to photograph it, you will have 20 different point of views." 

I think the image of Obama cannot be copyrighted. He is out there and advertised just as if he was a can of Coca Cola or Campbell's Soup (enter Warhol). He is as public and iconic a figure as anything else. I honestly think that the amounts of photos taken of the man, you could put together a 3-d version of him that would be flawless. But whose version would that be? The artist(s). The creators of the rendition. So should God be suing because he created Obama. Should the parents. How far back do we go? 

The argument as to whether Fairey should have licensed the photo by AP or Garcia or even tell anybody he used Garcia's photo is null. The painting makes no resemblance to Garcia's true image in the way it was taken. Not the way Garcia took it. In my opinion, this is what I t6hink should happen.

1. Mannie should take advantage of this and market the hell out of the image. Try to work out a license with AP and get some kind of cut from the 'newly cropped' photo. If not, he should still market himself to put some kind of name out there. This is a huge opportunity for him to get credibility. Look at his website and you will see he has been around. Maybe someone should tell him to join ASMP. BTW, did he license the photo that he is using on his website? Or the Fairey posters?

Also, maybe the new agencies should stop running the cropped version of Mannie's photo. It is giving the wrong impression and is manipulating the audience to think Fairey's poster is an exact steal. Especially when the caption reads A poster of President Barack Obama, right, by artist Shepard Fairey is shown for comparison. (AP)

2. AP should try to sue Fairey for the rights of the photo that he used, but they should win/loose. By this, I mean since Fairey admitted he used an AP photo and copied the likeness from that, then he abused copyright and profitted from it. BUT if you watch the Colbert Report (true journalism) you will see he admits that he gets no profit from the sale of the poster. What is hilarious is that when asked if he is going after people stealing the poster he stated "Only when people try to use it for profit do I go after them for copyright." When asked if he was making a profit, he said "Someone is."

3. Fairey should not be making any profit if he says he is not. If so, he should relinquish his share appropriate to AP. I don't like it. I think Mannie should get a share, but that is what happens when you do something stupid like work for hire. AP is the copyright holder, Fairey said he used the image for the poster, he did not license the use of the image. it is cut and dry. If Fairey was the noble one, he should have already listed the item as a public domain and free to everyone. I doubt he did so since he only pursues people that are making profit from the poster.

Finally. If AP wins this case, maybe every owner of all the other works of art that Fairey stole from should come out of the woodwork and try to get their pound of fat. Maybe this will spark some artists to get off their ass and realize that the first artist is just as important or more important than they are. Fairey is an accomplished  artists and a true artist. but he is also a plagiarist. His work is not original, and screams of anarchy at best. But who isn't a plagiarist that makes a painting of Jesus or pretends to be a famous president or any of the like. Maybe it still all comes down to the fact that a photographer is not really ever treated as an artist. That should "CHANGE".

Oh by the way. Did anybody notice he was recently arrested for vandalism.

Here are a few links to look at.

Very good article about Fairey's work -

Another blogger who has done more research than me -

Shepard Firey -

How we did it.

I would be remiss in showing a bunch of cool shots from my last shoot without showing what it took to get them.
So here are a few working shots. For my photo equipment I use all Nikon. It is reliable and in 15 years I have not very little complaints on the abilities. 
For shoots like this, I rarely use a tripod because I am moving too much. I am never satisfied with one angle, but when I do use a tripod, I am all about Bogen. My tripod of choice is the Manfrotto magfiber 055MF3 with a 322RC2 head. The tripod and head combined weigh a little over 5.5 pounds which is extremely valuable for me. Since I have a bad back, I need to have gear that is light and easy to move with. A little note. I purchased two mounting plates and have them on all my cameras so I never take them off and don't have to worry about loosing a small plate that, if lost, makes the tripod useless.
For lighting, I use all Elinchrom. Swiss made and very durable. I have one battery kit called the Ranger RX Speed AS. The battery in these things lasts for hundreds of shots. I have a spare battery and hardly ever use it. It travels very well. I can fit two heads and the power kit in a rolling carry on. I used to carry them on the plane, but since the new change in battery policy on planes, I am checking them in until I can get TSA to reply to my questions about taking these on a plane. But I digress.
With the battery kit, I use a variety of modifiers ranging from 18º degree grid to super huge 8 foot Octabank. The octabank is simply the best investment I made. It is amazing how many times I see photographers with Profoto gear and connect them (with an adapter) to an Elinchrom Octabank. It surrounds the subject with light. I can't say enough about how cool this monster is. I only hope in the near future to have two of them.

For stands I use Avenger Century lightstands. Another note. There is a difference between the A255SCB and the A205SCB and it isn't the price. The A255SCB has removable legs. The 205 's legs are attached. This is a HUGE advantage if the stands ever plan on leaving the studio. 

One more thing that I think is important is how I carry all this stuff. Aside from Lowepro Commercial AW bag (which is awesome to fit 2 bodies, 4 lenses, 4 SB-800s and more), I recently purchased a hard case by SKB. This company isn't too known for photo gear, but I have to say, after seeing the Golf travel case in an airport, I just had to stop the guy to ask the brand. The ATA Deluxe Golf Travel Case  fits an Elinchrom octabank, an Avenger lightstand with riser, black backdrop, and more. I can get all this stuff in there and be below the 50 pound weight limit for airports. It has a handle on the top and good wheels for dragging easily. What's even better is the fact that the three clamps that close the thing are TSA approved locks and easily replaceable for all those monkeys at the airport with no concern. The case is super light and very sturdy. From their website "molded from ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, the material specified by the U.S. military for cases and containers."

Taxidermists gone wild

Last week I had a wonderful opportunity to photograph a private
collection of animals. Not typically what I am used to. Mine are are
usually alive. These where stuffed. Nonetheless it was pretty
interesting to be able to photograph these beautiful creatures in such
a way. Don't let the small size of the images fool you. That is a
massive Hippo and yes that is a 8 foot tall Ostrich. Many of these
creatures are award winners in their size and taxidermy expertise. I
take very little credit for my abilities in this. Most of the art was
first God for creating such beautiful creatures, then the other artist
is the artist who stuffed and mounted these animals. I just did my
best to try to give these guys a little bit of life back.

The pursuit of happiness

My friend and mentor, Jay Dickman, once said to me. If you are doing what you love there is nothing else (or something like that). I always believe the path I took was a tough one, but always the best one. There are so many ways I could have arrived here. I chose one and went with it. Mine was 14 years in the Navy as a magazine and combat photographer. Others chose college, assisting, newspaper, freelancing, weddings, etc. Whatever the path there is one main goal. BE HAPPY!!!

I am inspired to say this after reading an article about Dawn Jones-Garcia who incidentally was mentored by another friend and mentor of mine, Eli Reed. I know Eli from years of participation in the annual DoD Military Photographers workshop where he volunteers his time as an instructor. I can understand Dawn's passion and how easily it was for her to make the decision after meeting such a mentor. Eli has that impact on people. But no matter who touched and affected Dawn. She was on a path, but she knew wasn't the right one. Whether she makes a successful career or not. Whether she becomes the next big name or just a small town photographer. There is one thing that is undeniable. She will have a happiness that many people spend their entire lives never understanding. 

No matter what your path is (Photography, car mechanic, air crewman, cop, etc), be happy and find your passion in it. It is the gift of passion that God gave you. Trust me. I found mine and I would do nothing else. Nobody said it would be easy. If it was easy everybody would be doing it. The world is filled with these similar stories. One that comes to mind is Howard Schatz who was a very well known retina specialist before dropping everything to be a photographer.

Obama should walk around with a '©' on his lapel.

This is an important issue to follow and be aware of...

I knew it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. Those who do not know the artist Shepard Fairey should. He was pretty popular for the underground movement of Andre the Giant stickert campaign and 'Obey' posters he pushed. There was detailed instructions on how to print the photo and how to post the print everywhere. Now he is stuck in the middle of this love (more like lust/greed) triangle over the likeness he made of Obama which is arguably one of the most influential likenesses to help the Obama campaign. I recently saw him on an interview where he said that he isn't making any money from the poster which I somehow doubt. What is hilarious is that now, Associated Press is wanting to pursue the artist for compensation and credit for Mannie. How noble of AP for wanting credit for Mannie. But now if you go to this Facebook page, it looks like there is a group put up called Stand up for Mannie Garcia. Apparently Mannie was not 'under contract' when he took the photo. 

So this looks like Mannie is pursuing AP and AP is pursuing Fairey. 
Boy if there was ever a point to make here about becoming a member of ASMP and learning the business of copyright and contracts, now is the time. You see, if Mannie was working for AP and he WAS under a "Work for Hire" contract, then whatever he shot is not only property of AP, but also as if AP took the photo themselves. They own the copyright. According to other interviews I read, Mannie was not under a contract (staff or freelance) for AP and therefore owns the copyright. Discussions are underway.
Now, unfortunately for Mannie AND AP there are already too many judgements out there to show that an artists impression from a photo is therefore property of the artist. Don't quote me!!! I am not a lawyer, but I read a few things here and there. One case that always astounds me is the recent sale of a Richard Prince work of art. A "Rephotograph" blow up print from a Marlboro cigarrette magazine ad. The first photo in history to sell for more than 1 million dollars (I think it was more like 3 million). Who the hell knows the name of the true photographer that took that cowboy photo, because it was owned by Marlboro. This case started in 1977 and dealt with four photos he took. 

Think this can't happen to you? be careful. There are a lot of overseas companies now that are offering to do your post-production for a cost (mainly targeted to wedding photography). "Send us your RAW images and we will do the rest." But what they fail to mention is when they make the adjustments they then submit the work as theirs for copyright.

Be careful and safeguard your work. To confess, I did one job for a client last year where they insisted I do a work for hire contract and they would own the copyrights. In an effort to try to make a good impression, I took the job thinking the images would not be a big deal. I was wrong. It was a mistake. I will never do work for hire again. 

Look into the ASMP resources on their web site for more on this and many other issues.

I would have included photos to this entry, but don't have permission and don't want to get sued. 

Here are a few links on the issue.

YES YOU CAN get better deals elsewhere!

So now we have three new big issues to avoid talking about at a bar.
It used to be sex, politics and religion. Now it is the environment,
terrorism and the bad economy. For me, I tend to avoid talking about
all (except for sex), but today I feel it is necessary to speak a
little about a recent decision I made. When it comes to gear,
everybody has their own plan. Buy it as soon as it comes out and worry
about paying for it later, establish a yearly (or bi-annual)
replacement plan, etc. For me it has been, 1. TAKE CARE OF YOUR
We all would love to have that new fan-dangled cool gadget, case,
light, etc. I tend to believe that when we were using film a person
could own a manual camera and it could last for years. Now, you buy a
digital body and you know that 6 months later it will be outdated. Not
to mention will also have to match the camera with the latest computer
to process.

Back to the point. Every now and then you might get into a tight
budget and want to save a few bucks by either buying a used lens or
imported instead of USA version, or go with some fly by night company
and take a risk to get what you are paying for. I tend to believe that
I should always make an attempt to get the best price for the best
gear always. I recently did this by taking the 'other' company route.
I have some friends who insist on using the B&H or Adorama route
simply because they are HUGE company. This does not mean that they are
perfect. I have had problems with both over the years (Although I do
prefer Adorama when I can), but in today's day and age, we are quickly
realizing that our dollar needs to be stretched or maybe not
stretched, but rather increased (Case in point Nikon's 8K D3X). Trust
me, there used to be a day when business owners would actually come
down on a price to make a deal. Those days are coming back. We should
not be held captive to set prices. Other businesses don't assume
photographers to hold them captive on prices do they? But if you walk
to Wolf or Ritz camera and ask for a 14-24 lens they will have no
problem in telling you the price is $300 more than anywhere else. This
lens goes for $1650 at BH and Adorama (1900 at Ritz). I recently got
the same exact lens AND 5 year extended NIKON warrantee for 1500. No
fake, no gimicks, no nothing. And I received it within the week. There
are deals out there. You just have to look for them.

Amtrak photographer

Colbert Report nails a train photographer

I know this is funny (hilarious), but also brings up an important point on us loosing freedoms through ignorance of rights. Blame it on 9/11 all day long. In the cold war era, did we really have to worry about someone with a camera and a tripod taking pictures in the open? No, it was super secret shoe cameras or hidden pen cameras or something. Now it seems that everybody has the right to call you a suspect if you have big gear. In all actuality it is the most ridiculous idea ever. Do you seriously think a terrorist is going to bring attention to himself with anything bigger than a D90 kit or something even smaller? 
If we are not careful, these rights we have are slowly going to be taken away. It is important to know what they are.

With a massive multi-million dollar home, how can you do too much???

I met the owners of this beautiful Villa a few months ago on another assignment and they loved our work so much, they called us back to photograph their home. They where very clear that the other photographer that photographed their home, did not do a good job at all. The images where 'tired' is what I was told.
I am not a person to bad talk any other photographer. Many times what happens is when a person does the same thing over and over again, they see the same thing and get lazy. I am always reminded of something Henri Carterr Bresson once said about taking a different way home every day. That way you see things different. I believe that philosophy can be expanded in so many different ways. In this way, it is the ability to experiment with new techniques and ideas. It is a further emphasis that if you seriously want to be able to be a photographer as a career, you cannot stop learning and being passionate about what you do. In this day and age, YOU WILL get replaced.

For this 'shot' I took about five different angles. Each angle was also shot in a bracket mode of 5 different shots (at 1/7 exposure increments). I then processed each five shot angles through the program called Photomatix ( I recently installed a plugin that allows me to create these in Aperture without having to go and find the files and do it manually.
Once I had each HDR image, I opened them up in the new photomerge version of Photoshop CS4. I used to think of the photomerge capability in the older versions of photoshop to be nothing more than an overrated gimmick, but this new version simply ROCKS!!! I was completely amazed as to how seamlessly it blends. It takes a while (especially when merging 5 large HDR images), but is very worth it. All I can say is seeing this image on the blog does absolutely no justice.