For the past 8 months I have been exclusively shooting 35mm and medium format film. In high school I dabbled with 35mm film for a little bit but didn't take it as seriously as I did with digital. To be honest, technology was advancing and it became easier and a lot cheaper. But as time went on, I felt like I was losing sight of photography's roots. I would sit at my computer combing over hundreds of photos, only to keep a fraction of them. Over time I wanted to get back into film, and Craig and I would talk about it often. The discussion always ended with digital being so much easier and more cost effective.
Jessie Rand speaks on his experiences with the Venom image for the Super Hero Series.
If you are reading this then you probably know our work. If not welcome and I hope you enjoy what bit of information we will be tossing in your general direction. Now lets remember these are all my opinions and don't make them rules.
I have been a photographer and photo retoucher/editor for over 9 years now. I specialize in, fashion, glamour and conceptual photography. I have been serious about photography for the last 6 to 7 years and have worked with the amazingly talented Darren Paquette (my business partner) and Jessie Rand (fellow photographer and editor). Now that we have got all that goodness out of the way lets get to the meat of this blog post.
Gear and Your Abilty:
At Quroscuro we do strive to have high quality gear and always are adding new high end gear to the arsenal. But that has not always been the case and we really have a long way to go when it comes to gear. With technology and gear progressing at such a rapid rate a person must really think about what they are purchasing for now and the future. When we purchase new gear we make sure that it's going to last 5+ years or more. If it won't then there is no real worth of investing into the gear.
Now lets get down to the nuts and bolts. When I first started photography I went out and bought the Nikon d70s. By todays standards its a heap, but the thing is that the camera took beautiful images and got me going in the direction to understand photography, lighting and what style of photography I wanted to focus on. Did it take the sharpest images have the most megapixels and all that happy jazz? Well of course not, but as a starter camera it was in the right price range and it had the ability to take great images for what it was.
Ok so that was my first body and I had really crappy kit glass. I don't even think it was nikkor glass so it was really bad. But again people this isn't about the glass or the body it's that I was able to learn what I needed to take decent pictures. Lets move on, during this time is when I learned about artificial lighting, wait are you telling me I don't have to use the sun and lamps for my lighting? Yes I got some crappy ass 85ws monolight strobes, its been so long that I don't even remember the name, they had a couple umbrellas and it was alright. The problem that I had is that the lights didn't have enough power for me to keep my camera at iso 200 and take a properly exposed image. So I started using them as fill lights while using the sun. Ohh crap I learned around the limitations of the gear. So now that I knew the limitations of my gear I could then really focus on how to make good images from what I had available. Just so you know this all cost me about 1100 bucks total and I was off and running with something that could get me by. But most of all I could learn and progress and get my work out for to others to see.
Then came the first big issue I had. I booked my first wedding, only for like 500 bucks and the nice thing was that it was during the late afternoon so I could at least use the natural light of the sun to do most the work for me. Ohhh did I mention I busted my main lens about 3 days before the wedding? So now I am scrambling to get enough mula for a new lens and a sb800 cause I knew once that sunset then I was going to be screwed. The d70s is not a low light beast, actually it was about as bad as you could get. I never took that thing above 800 iso. So I scramble the money together and now have a new lens and sb800 to make it to where I don't completely mess up their wedding photos. The big issue was I had no clue how to use the sb800. So for 2 days solid before the wedding I spent every moment learning the ins and outs of the SB. Long story short I did manage to take care of the wedding and progress through it learning a ton during the process.
Now I know this is about gear and not my woes of my first wedding. But the point is that there is always a limitation and always a point where you will need more. I know there are people that are out there that just do natural light and all that stuff and that is all fine and dandy but there is more to this then just realizing that you are going to be that person that only wants to work during certain hours cause of the availability of the sun.
Lets continue then, I then joined forces with Darren and we created Quroscuro. At the time Darren owned a Nikon d90, now this camera is entry level also and is only 12mp and Darren eventually picked up a second one that is how good the camera was. It took amazingly beautiful images. Nice crisp clean images, we didn't have the best glass other then the old school 50mm 1.4 that was just stupid sharp. Well at least that is what I thought at the time. As a photographer and a person you are only limited by what you know. At the time we shot the d90 and ran with low cost lenses and the images still came out amazing so we didn't have a problem and we really didn't see a reason in looking at those fancy more professional camera bodies when the d90 did the work that we needed it to.
I guess you can say that ignorance is bliss, cause in the sense it really was. I had no worries what so ever, yeah the camera wasn't super fast but it was beautiful, and did the job (I think you can gather I love Nikon Gear). This was all till the first time I ended up doing a full high end photoshoot with the Canon 5dmkii and the 70-200f2.8 lens. Now I can't stand how canon feels but that is just personal opinion. The images tho!!! Holy crap what a difference from the d90. I couldn't believe my eyes, when I was in photoshop editing the images. So now I was a jealous cat having to drop back down the d90's quality. Now again I love our d90's but it just changed my entire thinking. Now mind you prior to this I did shoot with the Hasselblad h3d39 and it was absolutely beautiful and completely out of my means of price (so it gets excluded). So now that I knew the quality difference of a nice FX body and a nice lens I never wanted to go back, but alas I had to. Still thought the images were great but I could see the sharpness and detail difference and it drove me nuts. My edits on the canon images were far superior over the d90.
Ok maybe this is just me and the fact that I have always loved new and the best stuff. But come on the quality was so much different. So then I started borrowing/renting other peoples cameras to do my higher end client work which sorta worked till I could't find one free or the budget didn't handle the rental cost. Well then I was back to the d90. I will tell you this tho the quality of camera bodies dx and fx these days are amazing and shouldn't be scoffed at.
I ended up becoming a quality and sharpness nut with my work and it was probably the best thing I could have done till I got to looking at the pocket book. Time for an upgrade and we ended up getting the Nikon d4s and the Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 vr2 lens and boy do I love this setup. I found the sweet spot on the lens which is about f8 and boy is it super sharp. But for me it still wasn't sharp enough, so then I get the Nikkor 85mm f1.8 and omg its so sharp and such a beautiful lens (tad bit slow on the focus).
But what does this all amount to in the end? Cause now that I have got to the level I am out today and wanting to progress even further ahead means that I am just going to keep buying new and better stuff till maybe one day I will be happy, which if you know me probably won't ever happen. Was it the gear that made me better at what I do or was it me realizing what I could do and how to get to that point. I mean for me I have never been limited by gear. If I don't have something and need to create a look I find a way to do it no matter what. Image sharpness and quality is one thing but artistic ability comes from inside you not from the gear you use. The gear only enhances your ability, this is why there is no INSTA COOL IMAGE button in Photoshop.
I know this was a long dragged out process to get to explaining that its not about the gear is what you as an artist can do that matters. There is a reason for the long drawn out process and explanation of what happened over the years. It's to hopefully help you realize that it took years and years for us to get to this point and still have many more years till we get to where we want to be. If this is something that you want and that you are interested in then expect that you are going to have to work at it. Even if you have all the money in the world and can buy the best gear you still must learn to use it and to hone your artistic ability. Don't ever let your gear get in your way.
Now if you would like to know what we run to make our images the gallery below.
Hey everyone we are going to have a booth at the tattoo Convention this weekend. We are going to be rocking the place with Capital Ink Tattoo. We will be providing prints of some of our most popular Tattoo work along with the models signing their lives away for your copy. So if you wanted a signed copy of any of our Tattoo Photography now is the time to get them(limited supplies available).
We will also be taking photos with the lovely models. So if you ever wanted to pose with some of these girls then get your butt there and get your picture taken. We hope to see you there!
Event information Here
*Live Tattooing *Art Exhibits *Tattoo Contest *Live Music *Pin Striping *Motorcycle Stunt Show. . . and more!
Fri 5/16 2pm-10pm
Sat 5/17 12pm-10pm
Sun 5/18 12pm-7pm
Placer County Fairgrounds
800 All American City Blvd., Roseville, California 95678
All people that are creative do things differently, just like everyone else in the world. One of the big things that has always been in my mind as we progress forward in in our artistic ability, is how to keep the creative flow going.
I don't know about you but I am always coming up against road blocks as I work on different projects. This is a thing that can deter a good amount of artists from really progressing and expanding there talent as an artist. I have found many different ways to help with the creative process and how to keep the flow going. I will give you the tips and tricks that I have learned over the years that have helped me keep my head in the game all these years.
Remember that this is my personal out look on this stuff no one told me these things I just figured them out as I went along. Now for those tips.
1. Get Some Sleep - Now I know that this maybe be a duh comment but it really truly is amazing how much a good nights rest can help with the creative mojo. I don't know how many times I got a bad nights worth of sleep and the next day I had a big project. The job always gets done, but it takes a bit longer to put all the pieces together. The better rested I am, the faster the mind works while being creative on a set or while creating the piece I am working on.
2. Eat Some Food and Keep Hydrated - Another one of those duhs, however I don't know how many times I have been drawn into what I am doing so much where I don't ever think about eating or drinking. In fact I am so bad at it that while on sets for photo shoots and video work I always put someone in charge of making sure I eat and drink. Now I am that stubborn person that will want to keep working instead of taking the time to fuel my engine. You have to draw yourself away from your mind everyone once and awhile and take care of yourself.
3. Step Away for a bit - Now this is a hard one for me. But when you have your mind in the project so much you start missing things and they will become a blur. Just step away it's amazing what you can do when you aren't thinking about what your working on even for 5 minutes. You come back with a different perspective and will then have to regain your bearings on the piece your working on.
4. Know when to Quit - Look we have all have been there, especially when your a perfectionist. Sometimes you just have to call something done.
5. Trash - Don't be afraid to trash something. We all make mistakes, as long as we learn from those mistakes we will better ourselves. I am always trashing pieces or parts of pieces to go in a different direction cause what I had wasn't working. So take the opportunity and get something done and just throw it away, but here is the thing, DON'T LOOK BACK, don't dwell on the loss. Just pick up and keep moving forward.
6. Surround yourself with Creativity - I have had a saying for a longtime. Creativity breeds creativity, now I don't know if I picked this up from somewhere else or not but that is not what is important. Bouncing ideas off people and hearing what they come up with can help out the direction of projects. For most of my big projects I do a brain storming session with several of my creative friends. It helps me shape things out and get it moving the direction where it could possibly be awesome for everyone that sees it. Now this doesn't mean just people, this can be browsing the web and viewing others creative works. As long as you don't copy anyone you are good, it just needs to spark the creativity in you.
7. Pre-plan - With the previous one being about creative people the only better thing you can do then that is properly plan out your entire project or piece from start to finish. For almost all of my work I have a full understanding about what my end piece/s are going to look like. They go nice and smooth due to the tedious planning of the project. Now I understand that many people have a hard time with the planning side of things. However this is needed for any real sized project or you and everyone working with you will go nuts by the end.
8. Tunes - This might not be for everyone but often I turn on my favorite music and crank it up while I work on my projects. It's relaxing and keeps the mind focused on what I am working on. The music is just background noise so little things won't draw my attention away from what I am working on. I am easily distracted so to keep the flow going I crank up those tunes.
9. Pat yourself on the back - Yep I said it, we are our own worst critics. So sometimes you just have pat yourself on the back, say good job even if it wasn't your best work. We are creatures of habit, if we always put ourselves down we will continually keep ourselves at that level. Keep your head in cloud nine as long as you can, but due remember that reality is still here.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and we do hope this might help some out there. This is not for everyone but I am sure there are some out there that will see this, it might help them out, that is all that matters. Have a great day!