Put That Bloody Thing Down Or It Will Fall Off

Welcome to Thursday’s Tribal Talk – this week “Have we lost the art of conversation?”

It seems everywhere we go people are head down connected via their screens instead of what’s in front of them – a meeting, a conference, on the train or at the airport, watching TV or even at the game – we seem to be interactiing on the device and not looking at what’s happening around us.

We’re connected in so many ways yet are we hiding behind the device?

Why do we feel safe and the need to post our photos and status on Facebook and the world on Twitter yet not introduce and speak to the person sitting beside us?

Isn’t the aim of these technologies to connect people? or do these devices and applications simply fill the awkwark gaps of silence, or dare I say our boredom with the day to day.

Is it just another escapism like mindless TV watching or maybe, the online experience is richer, more informative and engaging?

Are we defining ourselves by our digital footprint and interactions?

Yet, today many relationships first begin online.

The world of knowledge at our fingertips. 

How (and where) are you reading this post now? Is it via a Twitter feed link and your mobile or a subscription via RSS to your PC. Maybe a Facebook link or from a search engine.

We live in interesting times – now put this down and take a look around for a minute before you jump back in.

Imogen and Twinka

From Wikipedia

Much of what we think today as “normal” will be challenged tomorrow.

This photo was taken in 1974 by Judy Dater – pictured are 91 year old master of portraiture Imogen Cunningham (one of the first and greatest American portrait photographers) and model Twinka Thiebaud.

The photo caused a shock wave in America’s art world which found itself forced to rethink the female nude. It was the first adult full frontal nude photograph published in Life magazine.

Many of the images taken of Twinka at this time are in international private collections and have been shown in galleries and museums around the world, for example, the Uffizi in Florence, Italy and in New York‘s Museum of Modern Art.

It seems amusing that a Jay Lo nipple slip can capture mainstream news. 

Lighting and the Inverse Square Law

A Tuesday weekly geek out on photography.

A Click and Shoot Portrait

A single flash on top of your camera is rarely going to generate a good portrait photo – the reason being either “red eye” or the fact that the light is direct – that is, like standing in front of a spotlight.  Yes, most cameras will have a red eye adjustment but for a better result use another main light and look for a fill flash setting on your camera.

You also want to aim for a shallow depth of field (around F5.6) and make sure the eyes are in focus (that’s where we almost always automatically look)

Off camera lights

More fun (creative) is playing with off camera flash and lights – usually a main light (called the key); a fill light (called the fill) and maybe a hair (with a snoot & honeycomb grid) and/ or a rim.  It doesn’t have to be expensive lighting (but it does help when you get a bit more schmancy and want to colour correct, easily adjust) 

If you’re shooting a portrait then rule of thumb (and rules are meant to be broken) your looking for a couple of f-stops difference between the left and right sides.  That means either moving the light back and forward; adjusting the flash settings; adding filters (anything from a GEL to a piece on material) or using reflectors.

A very simple light test.

Take 1 x light source (in this case a 1000w PAR 64 stage light) and measure the change in the aperture required at each 1m interval to get a correct exposure.  Shutter @ 1/100th and ISO 200 remain constant.

The aperture effects the depth of field – in a nutshell what’s in focus.

Light adheres to the inverse square law.

“In physics, an inverse-square law is any physical law stating that a specified physical quantity or strength is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source of that physical quantity.” (Wikipedia)


Easier – An object (of the same size) twice as far away, receives only one-quarter the energy (light).

Full F-stop values

f/# 0.5 0.7 1.0 1.4 2 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16 22 32 45 64 90 128

(If your camera is like my 7D it gives 1/3 f-stops that can initially confusing).

It’s much easier to understand f-stops if we look at the surface area – or the amount of light going through the hole.  You see that each stop is 1/2 the predecessor.


So, if I’m right,  if I move the light that is 1m @ F11 away to 2m away then I need 4 x the amount of light or opening up the lens aperture 2 x f-stops = my dersired F5.6

Now when you add other lights it begins to get even more tricky – light is addictive.  Hmmm are  two lights hitting the same spot twice as bright?

Destination Is Never A Place

Your photo has just seconds to connect with your viewer – it’s in that “blink” moment a decision is made whether to either move on or delve deeper – to browse, tag, comment, short-list, share, contact or even buy.

Your photo portfolio providing more information – the scope of your work – aimed to resonate or reinforce with your targeted viewer / audience.

We all start somewhere – when you’re beginning/  learning, it’s shoot – shoot – shoot – what works sticks in your mind.  It’s like learning guitar or travelling – you play a hundred different artists until you develop your own style – influenced by the shoots, the artists before.

No one portfolio is perfect – like all forms of marketing what works depends on your viewer and what they are looking for.  A photographers perfect portfolio will be different than an agency-signed fashion model than a traveling glamour model than a fetish model.

No matter what business your in it helps to understand the customers customer, all the way through the supply chain. 

Modelling Agencies want to see very specific photos for their girls, and these photos are pretty standard head shots, 3/4, full body.

If you have the right look, you need almost no portfolio – word of mouth referral and recommendation, your reputation proceeding you, will always be the best form of marketing.

If you’re starting out there’s a lot of competition – How do you get cut through?  How do you differentiate or provide something the potential client needs right now so they pick up the phone?

Does it get you the job; win you (or the client) the award; showcase who you are or is just a bit of fun – a hobby – something explored?

But remembering, llike travelling “Destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

Increasing Sales Through Better Photography

Surfrider Beer Ring

In a blink a photo communicates a message to us and we instantly subconsiously decide whether to either ignore or investigate further?  The photography or headline grabs our attention, the first paragraph tells us what we hope the gain, if we’re interested we’ll click or read more.  If the image connects we’ll read, share, comment or might even buy/ subscribe.

Welcome to first Saturday Shopper Showcase segment of maxysphoto daily blog.  This segment hopes to focus on how photography can help you sell – either you, your products, your idea, your business.  It’s the “commercial photography” side of things looking at examples of great campaigns through to you creating or interpreting a creative brief and online stores we love (or not). 

Any communication is like that – advertising, meeting people, reading an article.  The headline designed to capture your attention, the first paragraph the key WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).  The key here is “relevance” and does it “resonate”?


Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Sydney, Australia
Executive Creative Director: Andy Dilallo
Creative Director: Mark Harricks
Art Director: Brendan Donnelly
Copywriter: Guy Futcher
Retoucher: Cream
Photographer: Adam Taylor

Yosemite and Ansel Adams

The second in maxyphotos Friday Featured Fotographers (Photographers) series where I look people past and present who have helped influence my photographic journey.

I’m at #Mostreet (Montgomery St Cafe at Kogarah) this morning for a social Tweetup (a Twitter driven social gathering) where my video director mate Chris has just got back from a Californian road trip which included Yosetime National Park.

He was in awe of it’s beauty and from a photographers perspective, you can’t mention Yosetime without mentioning legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984)

A Google Image Search

Ansel Adams


Adams was the co-developer if the Zone System – a photographic technique for determining optimal film exposure and development. The technique is based on the late 19th century sensitometry studies of Hurter and Driffield. The Zone System provides photographers with a systematic method of precisely defining the relationship between the way they visualize the photographic subject and the final results. Although it originated with black-and-white sheet film, the Zone System is also applicable to roll film, both black-and-white and color, negative and reversal, and to digital photography.

Sex Sells or at least gets your Attention

This is first of Tribal Thursday – where we showcase a client or a fan.

Where best to start then those closet.

Naked Buddha

Yesterday my girl told me she wanted to have an End Of Financial Year Sale for her shop and could I make up an ad ASAP.

Yep, no time for planning or a creative photoshoot – it was about being quick – understanding her businesses target audience (99% women); the message (Winter Fashion Sale 80% off); trying to create something that would capture attention and resonate with her audience – hopefully make them laugh; smile; comment; share & maybe buy.

An hour later, a stock photo sourcedView My Portfolio (ideally this would have been one of my shots); edited and uploaded to her Facebook Fan page.


Within minutes the image shared amoungst her fans and a flood of comments.


Hmmmm, I can’t understand why?



We are all naturally attracted by beauty and in the advertising game “sex sells”.  More importantly it’s all about you; marketing and getting results through attraction, creating desire, interest and action (AIDA).  From a maxyphoto point of view that means you subscribing, commenting, sharing/ retweeting, liking, purchasing the print, an inquiry or booking a photo shoot.

Wicked Wednesday’s aims to be a bit more sexier and confronting (but still stylish) – I hope you like it.

The Portable Studio – Equipment List

Ok, the first article “Tuesday Technical Tips”.  Where to start?  Well, first of all being a photographer is not about what camera and equipment you have that matters most – “a fool with a tool is still a fool” – though

  • like a guitar, good equipment in the right hands certainly makes a difference.
  • like Apple fans – product fans will tell you it’s THE MOST IMPORTANT thing that matters.
  • good equipment should increases your creative options and capabilities.

The ultimate compliment being “wow you must have a great camera! (smiles)”  

At the end of the day you’re just painting and capturing light – and although amazing results can be achieved with just a smart phone and a small torch you’d hate to have to depend on it.

What equipment you need very much depends what type of photography you want to pursue, how much money you’ve got and how much desire you have to get technical.

In many ways a photographer is a bit like a chef knowing how the ingredients combine to make, bake a deliver a beautiful cake – about trying to understand all the technical elements simultaneously involved – customer need; image composition; what are the myriad of settings on your schmancy new DSLR; what’s happening when you change the fill in strobe (flash) aperture of 2.8 to 5.6 (and move it back double the space); what’s the best work-flow from camera to computer; what editing package; getting the images to web or print.  Yes, it’s practically endless.

What matters most for you?


For me, being mobile is always a consideration and that itself has degress – there’s “global backpacking bush trekking mobile” to “get around in the car mobile” through to I’d love a big studio with heaps of stuff in it “non mobile”.  

For me, it’s “I carry it on a plane mobile” – ie maybe a camera bag and another carry bag.

Power and weight

Camera; strobe units; computer – all require power.  The batteries are probably the heaviest parts of what you’ve got to carry.  I like to try and shoot outdoors – that means I’m sometimes carrying up 25kg of equipment.


No need to say anything more – if you spend one dollar will it make you two (and how long before it pays the $2+)?  There’s always equipment creep.

My Equipment

Like any new project it’s worth taking a quick note of where you are now and where you want to be so you can move forward.  Let’s take a look at my current (and fairly limited) equipment.



Canon 7D 

Upgraded last year from an Olympus E-330 – it was a good place to start but now with the 7D – it’s a beautiful piece of kit.  Several reasons for selecting this camera –

  1. We’d just won a big CLIVE studio job (low light) and the old camera was strugglng with a lot of noise at higher ISO settings 
  2. Wanted video capability as part of our CLIVEvideo projects.
  3. Standard camera base amongst friends allowed for lens and accessory sharing
  4. Software system interoperability – basically means becuase of popularity and major brands then device drivers etc are available immediately

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens Review


EF-S 15-85mm and a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM

The 15-85 came standard with the camera and is OK.  As my primary focus at this stage (excuse the pun) is portrait type photography then I wanted a great lens – the 24-105mm L is simply great.  For portraits a wide angle (less than 24mm) will make someone look like you’re seeing them through fish eyes and is not very complimentary.  A long lens removes any distortion.  A wide aperature (ie f/1.4) = more light the better and creates narrow depth of field – nice highly desired “bokeh” effect.  The 7D has a 1.6 cropping sensor – I’m told that makes an 60mm lens deliver a 100mm result.  I tend to shoot f/5.6 and do my blurring in post edit Photoshop.  

Yes, there are a few more lens on the wish list.

Fader ND Filter ( ND2 to ND400) 77mm Neutral Density


77mm Fader ND Filter This filter gives me the ability to create darkness on a bright day.  For example, a blurred waterfall shot (slow shutter) and small aperature.
Speedlite 580EXII front

Strobes (Flash units)

Canon Speedlite 580EX II; Canon Speedlite 430EX ii; Olympus FL-36 The Speedlights give me the ability to quickly add a flash to the camera and using the automatic E-TTL Flash Metering, get quick quality results but now I’m nearly always shooting off-camera flash using triggers and the flash units set up manually based upon light meter readings.  Three flash units gives me 1 x main key light; a fill and a hair or rim option.
Item image

Strobe Triggers


RF602 RF-602 for Canon with 3 receivers

As this was my first entry into flash triggers I did a fair bit of research on the pros and cons of these relatively inexpensive units. Feedback – still learning and nothing to compare against but seems to work so far.  Can also be set up as a remote camera trigger.
Sekonic L-358

Light Meter

Sekonic L-358 A critical piece of equipment once you start experimenting with multiple off camera flash units.  Combined with the remote triggers you can instantly see what imact changes in flash settings is having on light striking your subject.  Also a cine feature for our video production projects.


Manfrotto 055




After years of tripods falling apart on me I decided to get something solid and picked this up on Ebay for about $100.  It’s old, sturdy and heavy and doesn’t quiet fit my specification of backpack mobility but it’s solid and there’s no movement.

Camera Bag

Kata DR 467i Everything above (excluding the tripod) can fit into this bag including my laptop. 
lighting accessories

Lighting Accessories

LightPro BK-2K Accessories Kit

The LightPro Strobist Accessory Kit is a good start it includes: Studio Adaptor, 40x40cm Speedy Softbox, Small Pro Globe, Small Snoot, Barndoor Grid Set, Umbrella Reflector, 32” Shoot Through Umbrella and Extension Arm.   Yes, there are many more items on the wish list.

I’ve also got some sandbags; clips; reflectors; stands.

Photoshop CS5


Photoshop CS5


Photomatrix Pro


For every one hour taking the photos there’s usually another 2 hours or more involved with editing.  I go with Photoshop because that’s the tools the pros use.  If you’re going to invest your time in developing software skills then best to develop where there is a market and user base of knowledge to draw upon

Iphone Photography Applications


Future post.

Next week we’ll start to look how these elements come together for a shoot.

What Makes A Great Model Portfolio

G’day, good to see you – this blog entry came about in response to a model casting call for a fashion photo job for a friends clothes shop.

Picture this – you’re the photographer, you’ve got the job and now the client has asked you to find a model.  In the old days before the Internet then casting used to be mainly done by a casting agent or modelling agency – they were the conduit between client, creative and talent – the Agency knew what/ which model was good, available, the right price and had all the contact details – they saved the client the hassle (for a price) and provided work for the model.  Plus in those days, opportunities were limited – they  were the days when movies, TV, magazines and print dominated advertising revenues and expenditure.

Still today, the higher up the project ladder (the bigger the job), the more things generally stay the same.  Big business likes to do business with big business – from a corporate business perspective it’s elephants dancing with elephants.  The big brands like to deal with big agencies.  The big agencies like to deal with proven reputations and influence.  It’s all about returns and reducing risk (for a price).  

BUT, apart from all that, there are thousands of opportunities out there and as a model at some point you need to start – just like Justin Beiber via Youtube – the world is just waiting for you.  

When it comes to models starting out and everything below the big jobs then today’s highly connected digital age now provides a range of services that empower the client, the photographer and the model.

You’re the photographer (and casting agent) – you put a call out via your normal channels for example – Starnow; Model Mayhem; your Facebook fan page.

“Fashion Model for Clothes Shop – Ramsgate, Sydney  

TFP – Fashion Model for Clothes Shop – Ramsgate, Sydney”

Even for a TFP (Time For Print provides not for payment collaborative Win Win Win for all parties) the response is high – over 50 models have shown interest – there’s some great talent – some of which is great but not suited for this job – you flag them for other possible projects.  

Now comes the hard and time consuming bit – shortlisting.  

Shortlisting is a process of looking at a portfolio and trying to imagine if the models look will help sell the clients products.  That means for you as the photographer and then as the casting agent trying to understand and knowing what your client is selling; who your clients’ customers are and what type of model and photography will get results.

A search on Google finds some great tips on the the Perfect Portfolio 

Model Shortlisting – here are some tips on the perfect portfolio (in no particular order). 

  • Competition – modelling is a highly competitive business – As a model you’re a product and service as much as the client, the photographer and everyone else involved.  Like every product or service as a model you need to stand out from the crowd.  The objective of your model portfolio is to get you shortlisted and then a contact interview/ the job.  
  • First impressions – We’ve all heard you only get one chance to make a great first impression – means only have great and WOW photos – “OK” or “good” photos don’t cut it – yes this may seem way to obvious but you’d be astounded by the number of portfolios that have average quality images.  You’re only as good as your worst image.  We’ve seen main profile shots were the models face is nearly completely dark, blurry etc. 
  • Whatever market/ style  you’re interested in then get some professional shots taken – that tells the buyer you are professional  and professionalism means less time stuffing around and hopefully better images.  Either TFP or we’ve basic model entry package (the only selling reference in this blog)
  • Less is often better than more – ie quality over quantity – be ruthless in your selection.    
  • Style – Unless I’m specifically looking for promo talent then I don’t want to see crappy snappy candid shots of you drinking a beer at the V8’s. If it’s a lingerie casting I want to see lingerie shots; if it’s fashion then show me fashion;  swimwear swimwear – you get the picture.
  • What? – New model (6-12 shots will surf ice) – a range of head-shots and full body.  Some black and whites OK. Show me you can smile.      
  • Replies to callouts – read the brief and reply without writing a novel, people are time poor – spelling, grammar and punctuation does make a difference (but good photos will always take priority).
  • A website and testimonials – casting sites like Starnow provide other client feedback – have no doubt this impacts decision making as it reduces client risk.
  • Persistence – keep developing, learning and have fun.
  • Check out your competition – understand why you like their portfolio.

Hope that helps

Some of the better porfolios replies so far (for this job)

Mikaela Dombkins  · Susann W · Mika · Audrey  · Cassie · SoulFlyKiss 

Now time to schedule some shoots.  We’ll keep you posted on how this project progressess.

25/06 Update: What a shamazzole! Model yesterday didn’t front for shoot; others short listed not replying to emails; those that reply don’t have transport or available for the dates stated.  We’ll see how we go with the others.  

Thoughts – it certainly lends itself to

  • Getting a budget  
  • Making sure the brief is very clearly defined/ outlined
  • Only relying on referrals