Eleven years. That’s how long long I’ve been shooting for one of my oldest, newest clients — a decade plus one. What is an “oldest, newest client”? Maryland Association of Realtors (MAR) was the first client I obtained under the new business — DC Event Photos. Not the old business, Gatty Communications, my mom’s business. In other words, they were “my client” — the first of my contribution to our client base — vs my “mom’s clients”, which, up to this time, comprised our client base. So, in a way, MAR was my first real client.
And in that 11 years, I’ve had seven cameras. I started shooting MAR with a Nikon D70. Then, the D300. Now, the D700. I’ve been using the D700’s for years — I’ve owned six? Eight? I’ve lost count.
Two D700’s were stolen in the World’s Suckiest 5 Star Hotel in Los Angeles as I shot for General Mills.
I was working MAR when FAKT Newspaper contacted me to photograph Lech Walesa.
I was working MAR when Matthew called me and asked me out on a second date.
I was working MAR when I was making plans to move in with Matthew a few years later, and move out of HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED.
And, tonight, I worked MAR.
We always do couples portraits on the night of their big awards gala. Usually, it’s a grey background, and every year, they outgrow the background. They don’t make a grey background that’s 20 feet long. But they do make a green screen that’s 20 feet long, or at least, I had one CUSTOM made that is 20 feet long. I set that green screen up tonight for MAR.
I photographed couples, groups, and put them on the beach (the event is held in Ocean City, Maryland, about 30 minutes from my house in Lewes, DE) These green screen photos were my version of beach portraits. Some of the couples danced. They were dancing on the beach. Then, participants were able to upload their photos directly to Facebook, Twitter and email using a bank of my iPads. Do you know I now own 8 iPads. EIGHT. That doesn’t count my personal iPad, which I am using right now to type this blog.
MAR didn’t really know we were planning on doing this green screen event. I just decided to do it. Why not? They’ve been really good to me. They’ve kept hiring my mom and I even when the economy for real estate tanked. There are cheaper photographers out there — I know that — but they decided to stick with us.
And you know what? I had as much fun tonight as the participants. It’s not every day I get to photograph people dancing on the beach.
The set I erected to pull this event off was comprised of some major equipment. The screen was manufactured to my specs in Hollywood. So was the scrim frame that held it up. 8′ tall, 20′ wide. A custom aluminum frame supported by two custom c-stands. In front, I erected a light truss, with three strobes across the top, and 3 umbrellas. All triggered by remote triggers. The laptop, my new Samsung ultra-book, was at my finger tips on my custom designed laptop table (complete with drink holder). The iPads: I used 4, all with blue tooth keyboards. All 3rd generation. The setup was sweet! And perfect. It was what I use on a major shoot. Read: expensive.
Compare this to what I used when I first started 11 years ago. A grey, muslin background, pulled taunt with spring clamps (UGLY). Two umbrellas. Groups that quickly outgrew the 10′ backdrop. A headache. Lights that cast shadow from one participants head onto the other’s face because the light stands weren’t quite right. Sync cords triggering the lights, which were easy to trip over (and bring down the lights on your head).
Think about what’s changed in photography in 11 years. Cameras have gone from 3 megapixels to 30. Laptops from running just plain Windows to (remember?) Windows 95? to Windows 8 (though I hate Windows 8 and stick with 7). I’ve always tried to stream photos live — about 5 years ago, that was done using an “eye-fi” card. I practiced the technique on MAR. I hired my first assistant about this same time, I trained him at MAR. Or, was that 6 years ago? Honestly, I don’t know. Now, I have staff all over the country. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. I have staff in Vegas and Dallas and soon to be in Orlando. 11 years ago, I had me, my mom, and that’s it. Now Matthew’s a partner of the business, just like he’s my partner in life.
With Eyefi, It took about 10 minutes, maybe 20, to upload the photos to my web site. Now, time from click to upload? Maybe 8 seconds. Maybe. When I’m using the iPads, the web site is avoided completely — the photos are emailed right to the participant, or posted right to their social media. Instantly.
Social media didn’t exist 11 years ago. Facebook didn’t exist 8 years ago, and was nearly unheard of 5 years ago. Think about that.
Internet cards sucked. Now, suddenly, I have 4G coverage anywhere I go.
Eleven years. How the hell did that time go by?
And, of course, that begs the real question:
Where will we be 11 years from today?
Maybe on a beach. A real beach, not a green screen beach. Or, maybe, just maybe, a 3-D beach…just sayin’. Hmmmmm……