Part 1: Trends. Sometimes, the next big thing finds us.
Usually, I spend half my time findiing the next thing. It might be the next couch, like I wrote in my last blog post (I seem to go through couches like Paris Hilton goes through panties, considering I’m never home to sit on it. The couch, not Hilton’s panties.) or it might be the next trend in photography, or the new socail network that’s about to replace Twitter.
You’d think a photographer wouldn’t have to be THAT into what’s new — and maybe I don’t. Certain trends I’ve decided to ignore. To me, they just don’t make sense.
For example, for some time real innovation in SLR 35 mm digital cameras has stopped. All the major manufacturers, Nikon, Cannon, Sony — are more concerned with incorporating video into the SLR body than improving still photography. Now, you might think that IS innovation — suddenly everyone is running around with their SLR taking video in much the same way as in the 1980’s when VHS camcorders hit the market and everyone was suddenly Steven Spielberg. And the video supply companies I deal with? (I buy much of my supplies from Hollywood suppliers) They have begun catering right to the SLR video market.
WHO WATCHES ALL THAT VIDEO? I once saw a guy video taping the info signs on a historical marker at a rest stop. Can you imagine how exciting that video would be? Did he score it with Beethoven’s 5th?
With the advent of built in video into the SLR, tons of photographers have suddenly become videographers. I half expect them to wear an Andy Wharhol style beret and walk around with their thumbs pressed together and their fingers flexed toward the sky.
What makes this even MORE surprising is — historically — video guys hate photo guys. It’s an instinctual cat and dog kinda hate. If a video guy can possibly decide to make your life miserable, they will. Somehow, they believe, they rule the event. Here they are, perched high above the crowd on their video platform, and all they are concerned about is where you are shooting. My favorite is when they AREN’T perched high above the crowd, but are on a person-level tripod. Then, they spend all their time yelling at me to get out of THEIR shot. Here’s an idea: invest in a platform and get above me. ‘Cause, otherwise, I’m very good at ignoring you.
My mom calls them “bat people”. She claims they’ve become such sour-pusses because they spend all their time huddled back stage in a dark room staring at their laptops. We both expect to walk back, look up, and see them swinging from their feet.
“VELCOME. PLEEEEEEZE. ENTER. DINNER VILL BE SERVED….”
But I digress. I’d love to learn the art of video — it’s a natural extension of still photography, after all — but just believe you gotta have more than a video capable SLR to make a good videographer. Maybe I’m wrong, I’ve seen some cool stuff out there captured by a Nikon SLR — but it’s not my cup of tea.
If I did video, I’d end up with a Cinescope and Imax camera. I know me. Or maybe a Go Pro. Those are neat. And innovative.
The problem (for me) is that while Nikon’s focus is on video, it’s not on still. It used to be ISO speeds doubled on every camera model. When 1600 iso became 3200, it was a huge deal. It changed how I captured images. And then, 3200 became 6400 and I couldn’t wait to see what was next. Again, I changed how I shot, able to rely more on fill light and less on flash — even when the fill light was a dark, romantic, candel lit room.
Then it stopped. When the Nikon D800 came out, there were two innovations: 1) Video 2) Built in HDR photos. Highest ISO? 6400. Sigh. (I totally ignore the push iso’s — to noisy.)
But those are BIG trends — trends you only have to look at the camera manufacturer’s press releases to keep up with. It’s the little trends that are more dramatic. And exciting. And lucrative. After all, if everyone suddenly starts shooting video — think what the price does. But if you find a trend that’s just starting to become hot, about 2 years before everyone else, well —
there is no price barrier. Or, at least, the only barrier is your client’s budget — not what other’s might charge for a similar service. It’s those new trends that I am constantly prowling for. Sometimes, you find them. And sometimes, they find you. That’s what this week will focus on. How the biggest trends in photography found me.
This week, I’ll be reporting from Mexico. I’m not used to working in other countries, but it seems I better get used to it. The trend, for me? A new client. One with 30 events — not in 30 days — but 30 countries. And it all starts tomorrow.
High ISO is the only way to get this kind of photograph. Here, I’m on 5000 ISO, with a small pop of flash (I use two, set to manual, both at about 1/16 power). Shutter speed is LOW, maybe 30, and F stop is LOW, maybe 2.8. Handheld. I’m standing on a chair.