Sunday, April 29, 2012

Professional photographers: they are people trying to make a living, like the rest of us

From a professional photographer friend:
If there's one thing I could tell everyone about what I do, it's that it's NOT easy money. Yes it's fun- when I get a wonderful family who loves each other and invests the time and energy in making their session theirs. But what my clients see is only a fraction of all the work involved- countless hours responding to inquiries via email and phone before booking (I book about 20% of my inquiries, which is about the right number of sessions for full time work), editing the images shown in the client's gallery (as a perfectionist I am always editing!), placing and delivering orders and doing followup.

I do love what I do- it's incredible to be able to capture the first moments in a new family's life, and witness the bond of a parents and child in a tender moment. But no, I don't photograph my own kids often enough (and they are usually OVER being photographed before I begin!), I don't get to spend all my time with them, and I can't "leave my work at work". My prices aren't arbitrary, they're set based on what I need to earn- after taxes, insurance, equipment, supplies, and cost of goods- to pay for the mortgage and childcare. - Lisa Hoang
Folks, just because someone has a fancy camera does not mean they should be considered a photographer. They are 'camera owners.' I still consider myself a camera owner, aspiring (wishing, wannabe) to be a 'photographer.' To be a professional photographer is a whole 'nother level on top of that; it is a lot of planning, preparation, HARD WORK, follow-up, marketing, advertising, paying fees, taxes... sound familiar? They are business owners; they WORK. Hard. On top of that, they have to take your pictures, too! They pay attention to the details; minutiae can all ruin an otherwise wonderful image.

When a professional photographer quotes you a price, it is a fair deal, factoring in all the costs that go into that quote. If they allow "a la carte" pricing, that can be a great deal; accept it if it works out for you. If the deal seems to be a "too good to be true," it probably is; be careful. In this business, you get what you pay for. Put another way: before you try to bargain your way to a lower rate, consider your answer if someone asked if you would work for less pay. Same thing.

Passion drives these people. The professionals in this business pride themselves on delivering a quality product; their pride will allow no less. If they turn you down as a client, it is because they do not feel they can deliver the product you are looking for at the quality they demand of themselves. There is no such thing as "good enough."

Being a professional means they will deliver what you contract them for; they will do you right. Do your part; pay the rate you agreed upon, with the expectations you signed for. If you have any questions, please ask them BEFORE you sign the contract. And do NOT assume anything; this only leads to misunderstandings and hard feelings. Leave nothing to interpretation; they understand that contracts are scary, and should be happy to explain everything to your satisfaction. It's a part of being professional and a business person.

Oh. Unless you stipulate otherwise in the contract, the photographer owns the copyright to all the images. This is U.S. copyright law. Please do not demand that they hand over the high-quality images without appropriate compensation; it will be very steep. DO expect to pay for quality prints; printing is a complicated thing, and they will ensure you will get the best quality print for the size(s) you want.

Now, go find yourself a quality professional photographer that will deliver what you are looking for. Most importantly, have fun; they love that!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

So, why bother with a blog?

"I wish I kept a journal.  I want so badly to remember the last normal day I had." - Jen Ozawa
Anyone that is following Jen and Ryan Ozawa's blogging of her current ordeal know these words. Amazingly powerful opening line to a post. And Ryan's post today highlights how hard, but important, it is do continue doing so, with focus.

What does this have to do with me? Well, I have recently had that "life's elbow in the ribs" moment. No where near what the Ozawas are going through, but enough to make me stop and think.

I am guilty of having put off any kind of journaling of my life "to tomorrow." Frankly, I don't think I'm interesting enough to record. But it is MY life, however boring. Watching how others journal their lives, whether through a blog, Facebook, Flickr, now Google+, even Twitter... I am still not comfortable speaking about myself. I am definitely too, um, verbose, to go 140 characters at a time, though.

Catching up & Catharsis

The Event. So. It seems I am a head case. Had an event a little over a month ago. Thought it was a cold, frankly. A little dizzy, occasional cough. Fine; stay home, it will clear up and life is normal. Whatever that is.

But it never quite went away; seemed to get better, went to work, got worse, out again. For days. Rinse, repeat. Then, there was that incident where, I am at work standing in front of my co-workers, and they basically tell me I look like shit. Which pretty much matched how I felt, including the tummy doing flip-flops, a near "white-out" and the body and limbs are buzzing. Agreed that it was time to go. Interesting that the further away from work I got, the better I felt.

3 days later (Friday), I find myself at the Queen's emergency room with a rather high (is 208/115 high?) blood pressure, and they can't get it to come down. EKG indicated that I have been under duress for some time; just a little thickening of the left ventricle. Blood tests showed no markers of a heart attack. CAT scan (I have confirmed the existence of a brain-like object in my skull) showed no problems. Admitted that night. Getting blood thinners as belly shots, and not the fun kind; yellow splotches and firmness all over the belly fat for a week. Taking meds to keep the blood pressure down. "Get some rest. Oh, we'll be poking and prodding every 5 hours. Got to sleep." Oh, hey. Have to say. The floor staff at Queen's was awesome. Friendly, knowledgeable, attentive. Freakin; busy, but stopped to answer all your questions, within bounds. Forwarded stuff they couldn't answer to the attending physician. Big mahalo to them.

Attending physician wants to "blow the pipes" (induced stress test) to be sure there are no blockages, but it is the Kuhio Day weekend, and that lab is closed until Tuesday. Which kinda worked out, because I got myself worked up and they wouldn't have released me at that time, anyway. Induced stress. A "fasting" procedure; no caffeine for 24 hours, nothing by mouth after midnight. So glad she asked for that, since I don't think a treadmill would have been good at that time. Tracer and picture-taking aside, the procedure felt a lot like that incident; monster body flush, buzzing, tummy doing flip-flops; hey, I've felt this before. If I had eaten, the floor would have been a mess.

In the end, I am physically fine. My "at rest" vitals are a touch high, my cholesterol is not bad, blood sugars are fine. But my stress ("fight or flight") response seems to be on a hair-trigger and amp'd up. Annoyances, aggravation, getting lectured at, being argumentative (oh, oh!); apathy, ignorance, stupidity are my "hot buttons," and some people push them all without trying. I have to learn to control the trigger; the doc recommended a book, "The Relaxation Response" by Herbert Benson, M.D.

Dr. Benson is a cardiologist by practice, but explored alternatives to pumping drugs into patients for problems that patients may be able to address themselves. Boy, the pharmaceutical companies must be pissed at him. Anyway, it's the transcendental meditation variation to try and get you  to exert control over your body. A decent try at writing, but I don't find it interesting enough to hold my attention. Still, the concepts make sense, and I need to find a way to incorporate them into my lifestyle.

Lifestyle. Well, I am currently on maintenance meds, to hopefully cap my blood pressure from bursting through the roof. It still gets high, and I am learning to listen to my body, to feel the difference between a stress-response and exertion. No problems with exertion, by the way. Long walks are not an issue, once I get off my fat lazy ass. I am (hopefully) getting better at dealing with my stress response; not autonomous, and it take awhile, but I can force it back down. But I haven't faced my "demon," yet; my co-workers know what I am talking about. Soon. It  will tell me where I am in the recovery process. Yes, the big trigger is at work. And it's not as simple as "well, quit then!." Which is another part of the problem; feeling trapped. Still looking over options, and my employer has been gracious in extending help. Thank you.

Originally posted at the Todd Maeda Photography
Facebook Page
Photography. Pretty much at a standstill. The D|SLR has not left the house for over a month. Do try some puttering with lighting, or found things, but nothing serious. It has been smartphone work. *sigh*

Something that I need to get back into. Clears the head of the cobwebs and b/s at work. Maybe use the time to assess where I am in this rather expensive hobby of mine. Time to figure out what I have, and how to best utilize them. Time to figure out what MY photography is. Not someone else's perception of what my photography SHOULD be.

Food (versus Lifestyle). Food is important to me. Not in the "I'm hungry" mindset, though; I can eat one meal in a day and actually be okay with it (wonder if that's a problem.). I'm a "Live to Eat" type. But these recent events may put a little bit of a damper on the amount of that activity I may indulge in. You see, I am NOT on a dietary restriction. However, it is RECOMMENDED that I look at a lower sodium/heart-friendly diet. Um, a lot of that is "flavor." Not "salty;" that's actually a junk flavor. But salt, properly used, is a flavor enhancer. Like fat is a flavor transport. Thanks to a note dropped on me by a Facebook friend, no all is lost. I do prefer sea salt; living in Hawaii, it is my salt of choice. So happens that I can get my "salt" without adding as much sodium, Yay! But everything in moderation, so I need to to watch for times of high salt intake, and balance that. And water. Oh lordy, I feel like I slosh, now.

Alcohol! It's a food group, right? I've had one shot in 5 weeks. Sadness. Again, not a restriction, just a nod to a warning. Well, I generally don't drink to get drunk, so that is good. But I need to watch out for when I do choose to drink.


So. Where am I? Possibly still lost, and wondering if I can keep this up. I lack things to say, unless I am talking about others. Maybe promote what others are doing. Maybe I need to start baking again.