You’ve read all of the camera manuals, studied the lighting diagrams, and dissected the BTS Youtube videos. But, sometimes, what you really need to hone your craft is to take a few hours to break out your gear and use it in real world environments.
In the new Play Date series, we’ve taken care of the logistics for you so you can do just that. Each pop-in, pop-out play date will be hosted in the kind of location in which we, as photographers, are often asked to photograph. We provide the physical space and time, and perhaps a few pieces of gear, and leave the rest up to you. Arrive whenever you can, leave when you need to. Like a pick-up game of basketball, this is the time to keep your skills sharp and have fun with other photographers.
We’re opening the series at the soon-to-be-opened Dew Drop Inn in northeast DC, near Catholic University. Bars/restaurants can often be some of the most difficult locations to shoot in because of their use of so many indirect AND point light sources. Now is the time to figure out how to manage all of the variables, without the client in the room. We’ll have the run of the space, which includes a bar floor and a patio, from 11 am to 4 pm, and perhaps on into the evening. We’ll have some LED lighting and a few gels on hand to play with, so bring a tripod and a fast lens and let’s play!
Playing nicely with others. At APA, we try to make all of our events a win/win/win for the photographer, our chapter, and the location hosts who, in some cases, are donating the space to us. All we ask in return for this Play Date is that you show some love and tag the Dew Drop Inn and @APADC on social media in any of your shots, so we can help a small business get off the ground. We are not promising the use of any of our members’ photos to the host establishment, but you are more than welcome to work out a deal with them independently.
UPDATE : Jerry and f8 Rentals has come through again! He’s supplying a pair of LED bicolor panels, the Tokina 11-16 2.8 AT-X Pro (Canon full frame) AND the Canon 17mm Tilt/shift! The latter by itself is worth the trip! Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t note that f8 Rentals offers a 20% discount on all rentals to APA members with proof of membership. Email Erika (director at apadc .com) or Matthew (matt at apadc .com) for the code.
APA|DC’s Assistant Training Workshop, Part 2 of 3, 2/28, Silver Spring.
One of the most time-honored ways of learning to become a photographer is through assisting other photographers. While it’s a great way to learn the ropes, there’s a base level of knowledge that each assistant should have. This all-day workshop will cover the bases for most commercial or editorial shoots with a budget of under $10,000.
Picking up where Part 1 left off, we’ll jump right into the mix with this fully packed Saturday worth of information, tips, and ideas. We’ll be working at Photogroup/D.C. Studios in Silver Spring, the largest dedicated rental photography studio in the region with Profoto gear supplied by ROOT(EQ)and additional gear courtesy of f8 rentals.
As with part 1, students will be broken into two groups. Group A will learn the ropes in a studio environment, with a focus on larger modifiers, stands, and set management. Group B will learn about assisting in an office-type location, focusing on learning how to work efficiently and safely in a client’s space. The two groups will then switch so both groups get experience in both situations. After lunch, provided, we will have a short Q&A and a quick look at additional kinds of equipment that you might encounter on location. Afterwards, we’ll watch a live shoot unfold with a photographer and experienced assistants, make-up artist, models, and “client” on set. Students will be pulled in to help at various points and everyone will help to strike the set.
THIS WORKSHOP IS LIMITED TO 20 PEOPLE – REGISTER TODAY!
$60/current APA members; $75/general Public. Advance Registration Required.
10am Event begins at 10 am with check-in, coffee, group assignment and introductions.10:30 Hands-on experience with lighting equipment, grip equipment, and more in both studio and location environments.12:45 Lunch (provided)1:30 Q&A and look at additional equipment.2:00 Live Shoot, including scouting, multiple set-ups, stylist and more.5:00 Strike set(s). Room is returned to original condition. Informal Q&A.
* As per our usual, there is very likely going to be a social event occurring afterwards. Stay tuned for more information.
Please join us for this MEMBERS ONLY event on Tuesday, February 17th at Local 16
We know that one of the hardest things in this business is to meet and network with the creatives who license and use photography. APA|DC has teamed up with our peers at the DC chapter of ASMP to help you do just that! We’ve invited members of the DC Ad Club, AIGA, and the Association of Women in Communications, as well as other specific members of the advertising, design, and publication industries to be our guests at an informal, creative industry happy hour on February 17th, in DC. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet the people who use photographs on a weekly basis and who, more importantly, hire photographers.
This is an informal happy hour and the purpose is to get everyone to meet each other.
Here are some quick tips:
This is not the time and place to show off your images. (That comes later.) Bring your business cards but leave your promos, iPads and portfolios at home.
Art Directors often say that they want to like the photographers that they hire. Be the kind of person that you would want to hire.
Don’t lead with your business card. If you talk to someone and find you have a connection and/or could have a mutually beneficial business arrangement, by all means swap information.
Rehearse your elevator speech. Remember the key words and concepts that you want to convey– what makes you different, what your interests are, etc.– and practice saying them over and over in a slightly different way each time. This way you’ll have something to say but it won’t sound like a sales pitch.
Above all else, be positive. Enthusiasm is contagious. Always talk about your successes, not your failures.
The $15 ticket price covers one drink, light fare, and automatically buys a drink for a creative. Sorry, no guests at this event– this is your membership working for you!
You’ve worked hard all year– marketing, negotiating, shooting, processing, billling, [repeat]. You must be all tuckered out! Now it’s time for us to take care of you.
Please join us on Tuesday, December 30th at the Madhatter in Dupont Circle for a New Years Eve (Eve) celebration of our chapter and our members. Bring a guest and enjoy some light food and a few drinks on us. We’ll be sharing our members’ work, catching up on the past year, and making a few resolutions for the new one.
But, we need your help with decking the halls! Send us 5 of your favorite images from 2014 and we’ll put ‘em up on the big screen for all to see. Please size them at 2000 pixels on the horizontal axis and send them as a .zip file to Erikia (email@example.com).
One of the most useful ways to start a career in photography is by beginning as an assistant. But, the common problem persists, how do you begin your career as an assistant with no experience as an assistant? APA|DC is offering a 3-Part series on assisting to help interested students and new photographers make the transition. While no amount of workshop instruction can replace on-the-job experience, each session builds on the previous one and covers a comprehensive list of topics, ensuring that participants are introduced to standardized material, appropriate for each level.
* * * * *
Part 1 of the series is a basic introduction to assisting, comprised of a gear demo, presentation on roles and responsibilities, and a panel discussion with veteran photographers and seasoned assistants. It is designed for people who are new to the photography world and have no or little experience on a photography set. We’ll cover the basics– the sorts of things that you need to know whether the project is studio-based, architectural, or location portrait.
Attendees will immediately break into two groups for two 45-minute sessions of cursory- yet very fast-paced- information about the real world of assisting. There will be a lot of ideas, tricks, and know-how packed into these two sessions– attendees will want to take notes.
• The 1st section will give students a look at (and feel for) some of the basic photography gear that they would be likely to encounter on a small photography set, from cameras to lighting gear to grip equipment, courtesy of f8 Rentals. We’ll cover the proper way to wrap a cable, set a light, and secure a set as well as many other fundamental skills.
• The 2nd section consists of a presentation covering the rights, responsibilities, and general etiquette for assistants. We’ll go over an assistant’s tool bag, location etiquette, roles and responsibilities, and some strategies for billing and invoicing.
After the two sections conclude, we’ll all come together for a panel discussion with photographers Renée Comet, Jon Feingersh, and Max Hirshfeld, and several experienced assistants to hear stories, opinions, and thoughts on how it all comes together. Hear firsthand what photographers look for in assistants, what some going rates are, and a few anecdotes from the field.
Thursday, November 20th, 1200 U Street NW, Washington DC. (1/2 block from U Street Metro on the Green & Yellow lines)
5:00 pm Registration Begins
5:30 – 6:15 1st Section
6:15 – 6:30 15 minute break and switch sections
6:45 – 7:30 2nd Section
7:30 – 7:45 15 minute break, gather in auditorium for panel discussion
7:45 – 8:30 Panel Discussion with photographers and assistants
9:00 Must be out of facility.
This will be a very busy evening so all students must plan on arriving on time.
Students/APA contributor and supporter levels $25; General Public $35;
APA Leader, Professional, and Associate levels – FREE
The first thing you might notice is that we’ve moved the site over to a .org, where it belongs. This reflects our status as a 501(c)6 professional organization with a mission to help support professional photographers. With a completely new interface, this modern design is much easier to read and find out what APA is doing across all of our chapters. News, events, articles and more now appear in a tiled format to make browsing much faster. (We’re visual people, after all.)
It’s now easier than ever to find and take advantage of all your professional discounts and member benefits. Additionally, we have simplified and condensed our membership levels to make joining easier and to give our members the benefits that are right for them.
Another highlight of the new apanational.org will be new a partnership with Behance to host enhanced photographer profiles. This will complement, but not replace, our valuable “Find a Member” feature and makes it easier for clients to find YOU.
But, as we all know from Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.” All of these great new changes will require a teeny bit of work from you. If you’re a current member, you’ll have to log-in and update all of your information again. Think of it as some spring cleaning.
To do this, visit: http://firstname.lastname@example.org, follow the instructions, and if you’re on the monthly plan, re-enter your billing info. (Need a little incentive? The monthly payment will now actually be cheaperthan before!)
If you’re not already a member, now is the absolute best time to join. We’re offering a 20% discount for anyone who joins by May 16th! That means that the most basic level starts at $40 for the first year. That’s about the same as a large fancy latte at Starbucks. (Without tip, of course.)
As with any website launch, there might be a few bumps in the road. Please be patient with us as we work to make your membership a more valuable asset to your career. Feel free to email matt [at] apadc.com if you need any help and let us know what you think.
Share the news on twitter with @apanational or #joinAPA and bask in the glow of an interconnected world.
Are you an APA Professional member with a story to tell? Let us feature you on our website. Email matt [at] apadc.com to find out how.
They say that April showers bring May flowers. But what does April snow bring? The answer, aside from allergies, is a May co-hosted happy hour with the DC chapter of AIGA. Please don your fanciest shoes and get ready to rub elbows with one of the busiest chapters of THE trade group for professional designers. We’ll be getting our Gestalt on at The Board Room in Dupont for a relaxing evening of chitter chatter, probably followed up by an impossibly intense game of Mousetrap. (We can only hope that nobody loses their right index finger.)
This is a great time to meet other interesting and outgoing people in an adjacent creative industry. Pop in on Tuesday the 13th!
Tuesday, May 13th, 6-8:30 pm
The Board Room
1737 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20009
closest METRO – Dupont Circle on the Red Line.
Good times don’t have themselves.
AIGA advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage and vital cultural force. As the largest community of design advocates, we bring together practitioners, enthusiasts, and patrons to amplify the voice of design and create the vision for a collective future. We define global standards and ethical practices, guide design education, enhance professional development, and make powerful tools and resources accessible to all.
March 2014’s featured photographer Jim Darling, is one of APA|DC’s newest members. A DC-based portrait, interior and wedding shooter, Jim comes to the photo industry with seventeen years of graphic design experience, including stints on both the board of DC’s AIGA chapter and the Art Director’s Club. Aside from his professional work, he has developed a reputation for his mobile phone photography and is a founding member of the International Mobile Photo Group, InstantDC, and has lectured on the subject locally and at the Apple Store in New York City. Jim sat down with February Featured Member Jon Goell recently to talk about the transition from design to photography and much more.
You got your start in graphic design – Where did you study?
I went to school at SUNY New Paltz in upstate New York and graduated in December of ’91. My sister and her boyfriend had just moved down to Maryland from New York so I followed them down here February of ’92 – just days after the Redskins won their last Super Bowl, actually, so it’s been a long time. But I didn’t get a design job for a couple of months. I basically drove up and down from Gaithersburg to Rockville and Bethesda looking at graphics places and walking in. That’s how I got my first design job but I don’t recommend that as a strategy anymore.
So what led to the switch to photography?
I got a digital SLR in 2008 after joining Flickr in late 2007. I had point-and-shoot for a couple of years before that and I was starting to really fall in love with photography again. I just always had this in my head that I was going to be a graphic designer even though I felt like I really liked photography and I was really good at it. Ever since I first picked up a camera, I was drawn to taking portraits. So, it was always something in the back of my mind, but I think photography changed so much from ’92 to ’08, and I went a long time without even having a camera. But it was 2008 where I started to notice sort of a new passion arising.
When I was laid off at the Mortgage Bankers Association in March of 2008 I started a personal project, shooting street portraits of strangers. I was still working as a designer and had a series of short-term contracts and freelance jobs over the next two years, but all the while my photography was getting better and starting to get noticed within the local community. By the end of 2009 I noticed the imbalance between my passion for design versus photography – and photography was winning. I landed a part-time design job at the start of 2010 which allowed me the flexibility to also pursue work in photography, while still having the stability of a regular paycheck. The job ended last April and since then photography has been my only source of income. The relationships I had built with the design community over many years, as well as some exposure in local gallery exhibits, were integral in getting my foot in the door, especially with the designers that were now hiring me as a photographer.
So your connections came through? How did you build that network?
When I got into graphic design, I joined the local AIGA chapter where I ended up being a Board Member for 5 years. Then I was on the board of the Art Directors Club of Metro Washington, which now, sadly, is defunct. But having those connections in the graphic design community really helped with doing photography and getting jobs by word-of-mouth. But I didn’t really know about APA or ASMP or anything. I joined a social group on Flickr and got to know other photographers, hobbyists and professionals.
You started through Flickr?
I guess you could say that, yeah. I realized very quickly that there was a social aspect to it. I noticed local photographers going out on photo walks, doing happy hours, and putting on shows. I remember, after one of the DCist Exposed photo shows in the spring of ’08, sitting at the computer thinking, “Wow, I wonder if I could do that?” “I wonder how they got into a photo show; that sounds amazing.” Through Flickr I reached out to Kai Harth, one of the photographers I started following early on, and I asked him how I could get involved. He directed me to the ‘DC Social’ group and I went on my first meet-up with them in June of 2008. Some of those people are my best friends to this day.”
And a lot of this was also mobile phone photography…
I didn’t start until 2010, but quickly became involved with the mobile photography/iPhone photography genre when it was first coming up I was asked to join an international collective, the Mobile Photo Group, and I think that Flickr and Twitter got my iPhone work noticed. James Campbell, founder of InstantDC, actually tracked me down on Flickr because I was the only one shooting portraits on my iPhone in the area and that’s how our friendship started We put on a show and through that first show I met Greg Schmigel who was the founder of MPG, (Mobile Photo Group). I’ve been profiled on Mashable and done two talks at the Apple Store in New York City– all on mobile photography.
In those years, when you were starting to make the switch, did you do any photo workshops or get any training? Or are you mostly self-taught?
I guess you could say self-taught, or left over from high school and college. I learned 35mm and twin lens reflex and shot for my high school and college year books. I also studied some 4×5 view camera in college which I really enjoyed
That’s great. I want to backtrack a little. During any of these years that you were in design, either independently or working for other outfits, did you ever work with outside photographers?
I did. When I was at the Mortgage Bankers Association we had a photographer come in to shoot a stock library for us, using our staff. He did head shots and business lifestyle stuff and he probably shot over three days. Later, I worked with Thomas Arledge on an ad campaign that the MBA was doing. I learned the process of location and talent scouting, and was on the shoots with him and watched him light and art direct. Little did I know that I was going to go down that road. But working with him helped me learn that there was so much more to it than just buying pictures. That was really good. I’ve worked with him since and he remains a friend and mentor.
So, do you feel that your design background has a strong influence on your photography? If so, how?
I see my design influence in the way I compose a photo. Especially with environmental portraits, the space that the person is in and where they are in that space is very important to me. With fine art or landscape photography I’m constantly looking for interesting combinations of shape, color and texture.
Looking at your portraits now, you show a wide diversity of people in your personal work and an underlying feeling of sincerity and trust. How do you go about approaching a stranger on the street to photograph them?
I feel that one of my strengths is my sense of humor and my ability to connect with people, which is why I have always sought out portrait photography. [When approaching someone] I meet on the street, often times there is a brief interaction with the individual where I can quickly assess whether or not they’d be into having their picture taken. Even if there is hesitation in their approval you can usually tell that they are flattered at the same time. I’ll explain to them what it is I see in them that I think would make a great portrait. And I always give them a business card.. When I schedule ahead with the subject, like with corporate clients, they have time to prepare for the shoot mentally and I think that can make a difference. I do my best to explain my vision or scope and how long I think it will take. More creative shots, with people I know, we can be a lot more flexible and we take the time to try new things or just experiment with light, etc. And I can get their feedback while we’re shooting.
Who are some of the photographers, commercial or otherwise, who you admire and why?
I love Noah Kalina’s work. His environmental portraits are moody, mysterious, and beautifully lit. They have a Edward Hopper feel to them but can also evoke a slight sense of humor.
Also NY/San Francisco designer-turned-photographer Michael O’Neal. His work dispels any feeling that Instagram isn’t a place for real photographers.
How has the APA been helpful to you? What have you learned?
It’s been helpful to create relationships. Sometimes just the emotional support that comes with belonging to a group of photographers, even though I am new at this. I’ve learned a lot from different members, because they are open to helping me with questions that I have. I can call Matt Rakola; I can call Jason Hornick. Jason assisted me on a photo shoot with one of the Washington Redskins and that was really good. He was basically my lighting guy and that helped me focus on communicating with the subject. I’ve gone to them with questions about bidding and things like that. I think I learned through my involvement with AIGA and Art Directors Club that by belonging to a club you are supporting your industry, and that’s important to me. I’ve always been an advocate for personal connections. Even though you have followers on Twitter and Facebook, personal connections are still the most valuable to me.
So as you’re developing your own style you have to be thinking, at least a little bit, on where you want to take your photography. So the age-old question- “If you could get paid to shoot anything, anywhere what would it be?”
I would love to get paid travel to new places and spend time with the people that live there and photograph them and their environment. I think I could deliver a nice combination of portraits and landscape photos that tell a story. Basically be sent somewhere and be told, OK, find some street/stranger portraits here and come back in a week. Oh, And I’d like to photograph Tina Fey and come up with something hilarious but beautiful, like her.
On March 27th, APA|DC is happy to reintroduce everyone’s favorite educational series- the Brown Bag. For the uninitiated, the Brown Bag is a small informal evening focusing on a single photo-related topic. It’s a relaxed way to learn a little something new, meet some folks, and enjoy the photography community. This month’s BB features APA|DC Chair, Matthew Rakola, talking about compact location-lighting kits…
Photographers are frequently asked to complete editorial assignments that require multiple locations in a short amount of time– often without a budget line for an assistant. The key to making, well-crafted images in this environment is the ability to work quickly, flexibly and efficiently. Better low-light camera sensors and fast lenses allow the photographer to work with the ambient light, not against it. Add to this some new technologies and a handful of good-old fashioned tricks of the trade and a compact kit can be incredibly versatile. This is not a presentation about how to shoot a job on the cheap, but an overview of some of the new sophisticated equipment available today and a few lessons learned the hard way. While there is no single way to pack for a shoot, this evening is about swapping ideas and strategies and re-imagining the tools at your disposal.
Some things we’ll hit on:
Ideas on packing with an emphasis on portability and flexibility and speed;
Getting the most out of every piece of equipment in your kit;
Canon radio-controlled Speedlites, Elinchrom Quadra Ranger, “dumb” strobes, and other battery-powered lighting options;
LEDs and other alternative light sources;
Grip and modifier options and hacks;
Manfrotto QSS (Stacker) stands and other space saving light support;
shooting wirelessly to an iPad with CamRanger.
Thursday, March 27th
6:30- 8:30 pm. (Presentation starts at 7:00 pm)
Free for APA members/ $10 for the general public. No reservations required.
Light food and drinks will be provided.
Matthew Rakola is a DC-based photographer specializing in “real people” editorial, educational and institutional projects. More hustle than bustle, he believes that camera gear should never get in between the photographer and the subject. He’s spent the better part of 13 years figuring out how to bring the most amount of gear to a shoot with the least amount of sweat. His clients include corporations such as Fidelity Investments, publishing companies including National Geographic, non-profits such as the USO, and various universities around the country. His work can be found at www.matthewrakola.com and www.thelearnproject.com.