I can haz job now???

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by Stradawhovious, Mar 3, 2016.

  1. Stradawhovious

    Stradawhovious Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Some of you know me (well, know me "virtually") and some of you don't. Either way, here is a short back story.

    Been interested in photography all my life. Mostly only the technical aspect of it as opposed to the art of it, but still interested. I've been a member of this forum (with on-and-off activity) for a few years now and have learned a bunch. Lots and lots. I have tens of thousands of clicks on the D7000, tens of thousands before that on the D3000 and have slowly learned enough to be dangerous.

    Am I throwing my hat in the ring as a pro? Hell no. I'm nowhere near that level. I have a different goal in mind, and I hope that the good folks of this forum (and the not so good ones too) will help me along with it.

    Recently I lost my dog Hank. Hank was 11, lived a full life, and was a fantastic pup. It was only after he passed that I realized I didn't have any REALLY GOOD photographs of him. Sure, I had some snapshots, I had some of him posing for test lighting... but nothing I would consider REALLY GOOD.

    That's not going to happen with my new dog. Nope, my hard drives will overflow with professional quality photographs of that dog if it kills me in the process.

    Here's what I'd like to do. I've spend the last few years collecting gear. I have some lighting, I (now) have some decent glass, and I'm considering converting my garage into a part time studio. I would really like to help myself and my friends get professional quality images of their dogs (no cats or people, I hate them both equally)... and I have no shortage of friends with dogs who would gladly drink beer with me whilst I record the likeness of their pup.

    I don't think I'm that far off. I need some more gear such as backgrounds, maybe another strobe or two... I need a bit more practice with lighting, but I have the basic concept down, and I need a bit of practice in photoshop for post processing. I probably need a bit of advice on trying to get dogs to show up on film, well, because dogs. I've gone through the phase where I thought I could make money with my hobby, but I learned, and currently know better. This isn't about the money.

    First and foremost the reason I posted this in the aspiring pros section is that I aspire to produce professional quality images on a regular basis. I don't need to get paid for this (if it happens, it happens, I know how contentious of a point payment is here), I just need to have the knowledge and skill to do it.

    Here's what I was ask from the forum.

    #1. any tips on stocking a part time "studio" would be lovely. Right now I have a couple of strobes, a large handful of speedlights, some reflectors, a couple of backgrounds and other assorted stands etc. I'm looking into building a rig to hold muslin backdrops as well. That should all be done pretty soon. I'm also planning on building a fold away riser.. maybe 4'x8'x20" so I can get to "dog" level without laying on the ground.

    #2. over the next several months I would ask that anything I post in this "Aspiring Pros" forum gets criticized as if I were a professional, and make sure you pick all the nits. ALL OF THEM. I'm tired of producing mediocre images. I've shot a few keepers, but it's time to buckle down and stop playing grabass with this hobby. I will certainly remind folks of this desire any time I post photos for critique.

    I appreciate the knowledge of those of you willing to share it.


     
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  2. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    How tall garage ceiling? Usually home studios suffer from a lack of height for tall light stands.

    Are you planning to put the cars back in come autumn? So no photographs in the winter?

    Make a sloping ramp up to the stage so the doggies can walk up.

    I'd recommend paper backdrop if you can swing it. Get a light/medium gray if only one color, so you can make it nearly any color from white to black or gel the backlight to pink if you want.

    Bucket of dog treats.

    Clickers, bells, whistles.

    Print up some poster-size shots to frame up and hang where people will see them.

    Make up some business cards with a dog portrait on it. Be sure to name your price up front. (Free?)

    If you do "social media" get some dog portraits posted on there.
     
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  3. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    PS: my son and DIL live in the Linden Hills area just off So. France, and they might go for it, although their dog (a rescue dog) is a frantic, ill-behaved monster who will attack anything, so they might not.
     
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  4. pixmedic

    pixmedic I am the Lord thy Mod Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Haven't done much in the way of dog portraits, but aside from dog specific attention getters I imagine it's similar to people portraits.

    Muslin backdrops are good. A few off camera lights are a must. A table to put the dog on helps with not having to get to ground level.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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  5. jake337

    jake337 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Good luck and next time I get buddy all cleaned up maybe I could stop by.
     
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  6. Stradawhovious

    Stradawhovious Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    8' ceilings in a 24'x24' garage. I admit it's still a bit small, but barring renting a studio (which is financially out of reach at the moment) it will have to do. I figure 8' ceilings coupled with shorter subjects might give me a bit of wiggle room.

    Yes, it will still be a full time garage. I'm brainstorming ways to get the best of both worlds, but it will take some doing. Both cars are brand new, as is the garage, so there aren't any chemical spills to deal with, and the floor will be relatively easy to keep clean, also I'm planning on running a gas line out there this summer and rock it out (it's already insulated) so it will at least be presentable and warm come winter.

    Great advice! I will add that to the list!

    Paper as opposed to muslin... I can see the advantages as far as stains, dirt and smells... I will look into that. Shouldn't be much to hang a roller from the ceiling.

    Check. I have a house full of dogs, so I have a house full of that stuff. I was thinking that I would request that the dog's humans supply the treats though. I know my Berner has a sersitive stomach when it comes to store bought stuff, I'd be surprised if a few of my "clients" didn't have the same issues.

    I think I'm in "Crawl / Walk/ Run" mode on this one. As soon as I can achieve PRESENTABLE results on a regular basis I will start trying to drum up "business" through conventional channels. As it stands, I posted my last few portraits of Bocephus (the Berner with which I share my house) on the facepages and there are enough willing participants to keep me busy after I get a little more set up... although I'm kind of regretting posting those publicly now since they are still lacking. If I do this for people I don't know I will charge them. I will not feel comfortable charging anyone with out "WOWing" myself with the results... because honestly if I'm happy and think it's worth their money, I'm sure they will be too. I truly am my own worst critic in everything I do.

    Thanks so much for your thorough and well thought out response!!

    Sorry for the cross post of the following picture... but I think it's relevant. This is my favorite from my 1st Birthday shoot with Bo. I realize that it's lacking in a few ways, but I think I'm getting pretty close to presentable results... This one was shot in my living room which is cramped to say the least. The lights are too low and too close, fill light (left) too hot, he is far too close to the backdrop (which wouldn't have mattered if I would have shot it at f/8), and it was shot at f/11 where I was hoping to shoot it at f/8 for greater separation from the background (a function of the strobes being too close). Had it been shot in my garage I could have raised the lights, backed them off a little, shot wider and in theory gotten a more pleasing portrait.

    I think...

    Bo Bday7iwb copy.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016
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  7. Stradawhovious

    Stradawhovious Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Thanks! I currently have 2 300w/s strobes and a handful of speedlights that can be set as slaves. I'm planning on building a raised platform (20" give or take) to get the pups off the ground. I'm too old and fat to lay on the ground and take photos all day.
     
  8. OGsPhotography

    OGsPhotography No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thats an amazing portrait of your dog! You're going to do great.
     
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  9. pixmedic

    pixmedic I am the Lord thy Mod Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Be careful backing your light up too much. The closer your lights are, the softer the light, so you don't want your lights way back.

    Theres some math type equation thingy to explain it, but my Asian partner who usually maths for me is out today so I can't help there. I try to get my flashes as close as possible.

    Sent from my SM-N900P using Tapatalk
     
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  10. pjaye

    pjaye TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Best of luck with your endeavors. Sounds like you have a solid plan of where you want to go with this and I look forward to seeing your pictures.
     
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  11. MichaelHenson

    MichaelHenson No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well, that shot of your dog is incredible! I understand the drive to please yourself first as an artist, but I think you're underestimating your skills. I've seen several pet photographers charging GOOD money for their work and it's no better (if not even to your level). I'm looking forward to seeing more from you!
     
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  12. Stradawhovious

    Stradawhovious Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I totally understand. these were literally right on top of the poor pup though... I had them both dialed all the way back, and actually had to drape a white dress shirt between the softbox and the modifier on the fill in order to cut it down a stop. Having room to move around will at the very least increase my options, and I think that better (more versatile) strobes are in my very near future.
     
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