Friday, February 28, 2014

Featured by Mtl Blog, as one of Montreal's Best Concert Photogs!?

Yes, you read correctly!  Ooouuuu... really?, one of Montreal's Best Concert Photographers?  Hahaha?  I find it "cute" (at best), that people that have never met me, or even spoken to me, and that most likely have never seen my work (or at least, knew that I had shot what they've seen), can properly asses who should make the cut on such a list.  Still, I'll take it (with a grin).  ;)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What are you paying for, when you hire a Pro Photographer?

Since very few people realize what is involved in providing clients with quality images, we thought it might be a good idea to shed some light on the topic, and divulge the Behind the Scene "tools", that are necessary to conduct this art, as a profession.

The Photographer
Indeed, this person has an artistic nature, but does that suffice? Experience, hard work, and schooling is also necessary. This experience comes at the expense of trial & error, training through lengthy & costly courses, and the time spent acquiring the tricks of the trade, in becoming the professional, they are today.  When hiring a Pro, you are getting all that knowledge, from years of perfecting the art, without being subjected to any of the downsides or associates costs.  With some, you also obtain someone that is reliable, on time, of good-nature, bilingual & provides a prompt finished product.  Lucky you! ;)

The Space
Whether your photographer has a dedicated studio, or even a home studio (some of us have both), space doesn't come cheap.  In most cases, yearly rental fees are upwards of the $15/sq ft range. That, along with the necessary studio equipment, insurance, heating & lighting, and the photographer has a decent expense to make up for at the end of the month.  There are risks involved with the commitment of signing a lease, and none of those risks are passed on to the client.  Again... what a relief!

The Gear
I'm not aware of many trades that involve as much investment, as photography.  If a photographer is active in various fields of his trade, gear can reach phenomenal amounts, well above $100K.  In addition to several camera bodies and infinite amount of lenses, there's also high-speed memory cards, filters, flashes, goal-cam enclosures, tripods, monopods, remote triggers, articulating arms to consider. Studio equipment tends to be just as demanding, financially, as flash heads, soft boxes, beauty dishes, umbrellas, reflectors, plexi's & backdrops all add up very quickly.  It should be quite a relief to know that the client only pays a very small portion of all that investment.  Fiou!  

The Logistics
Coordinating and getting to a shoot, whether it is local or abroad, demands a method of transportation, along with the expense of the "vehicle" and travel time, comes...  

1. Vehicle, maintenance, insurance, fuel, parking
2. Coordination & juggling of dates/bookings
3. Coordinating assistants, make-up artist, stylists

When you hire a photographer to do "on-location" images, a lot more goes into it, than someone showing up with a point & shoot.  For instance, if the shoot is outdoors (wedding), proper timing is necessary to have the best possible natural light of the selected location. We use the Lightrac App for this, by the way.  There's scouting of various areas, estimating quotes, writing proposal, and follow-ups.  If your project is out of town, bookings are involved (routes, hotels, flights. etc...), these are somehow absorbed in the overall pricing structure.

This is a topic, that I was eager to discuss!  Since this part of photography is usually done away from the shoot location, very few people are aware of the time & equipment that is involved to accomplish a finished product. A photographers workflow is very particular, and to his own taste, but nonetheless takes time and requires a minimum of performance equipment.  A powerful desktop computer, 1 (or more) large HD screens, back-up systems, Photoshop/Lightroom software licenses, FTP software, Ultra-speed Broadband internet, digital tablet, etc...

Downloading, selecting, and most importantly... editing images, takes considerable time.  Depending on the type of shoot, editing a single image can be as quick as 30secs (sports), or as long as several hours (Product/Jewelry).  It shoudn't be taken lightly, as most of the work is done during this process. 

In other instances, some clients prefer having some of the images while on location, and during the event.  This requires additional equipment, such as a laptop or an iPad, along with Eye-fi cards, and either a Wifi connection or creating a personal "Hotspot" with your iPhone.

Photographer have a good list of contacts of their "entourage" in their database.  In some cases, the photographer is asked to provide a "turnkey" service, and help assemble, or even supply the entire team of people required to conduct a shoot - make-up artist, stylist, and models (through agencies).  Although time-consuming to coordinate availabilities, contact a numerous amount of people (on more than one occasion), book, confirm & invoice, this is one less headache for the client to worry about. 

A Quality Product
When hiring a Professional, you assure yourself of a quality product.  With todays technology, there's no reason why a client shouldn't take the time to go through a photographers website, portfolio, etc...   

What easier way is there, to determine if the potential candidate has the capability or certain style that meets the clients expectations!?!  

A Pro photographer will be consistent in supplying his client with the quality product that is being asked of him, especially if precise indications are  provided to him prior to the shoot.

Rights Of Use
Since November 2012, when Bill C-11 was passed in Canada's supreme court of law, photographers detain ownership of the images captured, for life.  That being said, clients are given rights of use depending on their needs and the agreement between them and the photographer.  It's always best not to assume and have a written contract/release form between all parties.  Usually, the photographer provides such documents, to be signed by the client.

It goes without saying, that all Pro Photographers should have a website. There's no better "window" to showcase current work. It should be maintained, and up to date, and contain all the services such photographer has to offer.  

It's also a great way for clients to go through the photographers portfolio, and determine if the style and complexity of the work being done by this photographer, meets the mandate they have in mind. Our website can be seen via this link >

It was brought to my attention, that we also have liability insurance, which in turn gives added peace of mind to our clients. Any photographer worth hiring, usually has a minimum of $1,000,000.00 coverage, in form of a liability insurance umbrella.

All things considered, when you summarize the Experience, the Gear, the Logistics, the Post-production, the Quality and Rights of Use, the Peace of Mind..., utilizing the services of a professional isn't that expensive, at all!

We hope the information in this post was informative, and helps you understand what is involved for us to provide our clients with the very best quality imagery possible.  On that note, please respect your photographers and their art.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nikon D4s Unveiled!

For those of you shooting from the "Dark Side", Nikon has finally unveiled it's long-awaited new flagship camera body, the D4s!  Nikon promotes it as a cleaner "less noisy" & faster version of the D4.  

A complete overview can be seen on the PetaPixel site HERE

The complete specs can be seen on the DPreview site HERE

We're eager to see what Canon will come out with, to "respond" to this new product.  We all agree that Canon should be coming out with a combined "Sports/Studio" unit, boasting ultra-speed and more MP.  Speculated units can be seen on the Canon Rumors site HERE

Monday, February 24, 2014

Kings of Leon - Bell Center

A few images from the Kings of Leon concert, held at the Bell Center, Feb 24th 2014 > HERE

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Photography CODB (Cost Of Doing Business)

You're thinking about being a full-time photographer, and you're wondering if financially, it's a good move or not?   You don't know where to start, and what equations to juggle, to see if you're making a sound and calculated decision or risk?  Been there, done that!

So, here's a little insight on the CODB (Cost Of Doing Business), surrounding the art of being a photographer as a profession, what expenses you can expect to be faced with, and what type of income you'll need to generate, in order to make it out there, in the real world.  

Before you can price a product or service, you need to know your costs to provide it. This CODB calculator is one tool to help you get a handle on those costs. It lists annual expenses independent needs to account for. But it's only as accurate as your inputs, which can be hard to estimate. 

Err on the high side, since unexpected things can catch up with you, and as you bill more, your expenses almost surely will increase. As high as totals from this calculator may look, experience will probably prove them low.

All things considered, Photography as a profession, (like all businesses ventures) is only as viable as the income/profit you can generate from such activity.  Selling at cost, (or less than cost), or having to much overhead, will prove nothing else than eminent closure of your business is in your future.

Personally, I took a different route to calculate my "Overhead", but the outcome was very similar.  I added all my gear, along with the life-expectancy of each piece of equipment, and came up with a yearly cost and depreciation for that gear.  I added the all usual expenses, insurances, office gear/supplies, software, broadband, cell phone fees, vehicle, etc..., and came up with an hourly burden rate.  It costs me approx. $32.00 per hour to work, based on the amount of yearly available assignment days.  Yes, conducting a business properly, is costly.  Take the time to do the math for yourself, then list the steps to make sure all "i's" are dotted, and "t's" are crossed, and take charge!

Be smart, prepare a business plan, approach clients that have a decent budget aside for such services, and don't sell yourself short.  Remember..., "exposure" doesn't pay the bills, and in the end, you need not only to survive, but make a living as well.  Good Luck!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


J'ai eux le privilege d'avoir comme mandat, d'aller photographier le nouveau spectacle de Francois Morency.  Si vous n'avez pas encore eux la chance de le voir, il sera partout au Quebec pour les mois a venir... Gatez Vous!   
Quelques images du spectacle peuvent etre vues ICI

Friday, February 21, 2014

Andreanne Malette - "Boheme" CD Launch

Andreanne Malette launched her new album "Boheme" at the Club Soda on Thursday February 20th, to a packed and gleeful crowd.  A pleasant and talented artist that deserves to be discovered by all of you.  We wish her all the best, and great success with this album.

A few images from her concert at the launch, can be seen HERE

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Canon 300mm f/2.8 IS USM * For Sale *

Canon 300mm f/2.8 IS Telephoto lens for sale - Great Condition!   This awesome telephoto lens comes complete with Lens Hood, strap, Hard case, paperwork, etc...

You won't find a better condition lens, unless you buy a new one (at more than double the price).
Link to website > HERE

Serious inquiries only!
Firm Price: $3,500.00 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Another "canvas" added to the "GOT INK?" project

As many of you may already know, we have an ongoing tattoo photo project, called "GOT INK?".  Although it's a personal project, it has for purpose to demystify the urban legend that "Ink" is most popular amongst Bad Boys.

Our mandate is to photograph 100 people, (both men & women), with as many different occupations as possible, in order to demonstrate that this type of art, can be for everyone.

We've just added Eric Gregoire, a Carpenter/Form Builder to the project, making him #36/100.  If you have a good quantity of ink, and would like to be part of this project, please let us know!

You can view some of the entries so far > "GOT INK?"


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Review

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | S

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSMHere's a review of the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sport, a high-end super telephoto lens with a versatile zoom range and a wide constant aperture of f/2.8, designed for wildlife, sports and portrait photographers. This is the third generation of the lens. Its predecessor, the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 EX DG OS APO HSM was released back in 2005 with very similar optical design. 

What has changed, is the exterior built and appearance of the lens (along with the tripod collar and tripod foot), the new rigorous quality control that Sigma has implemented on its new lines of high quality lenses, and the ability to attach a USB dock for fine tuning the autofocus operation of the lens. You can see the complete technical specifications below.

The Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 is a very interesting lens, not only because of its versatile zoom range that is not found on any other lens on the market, but also because of its large constant aperture of f/2.8. To date, no other manufacturer has produced a comparable lens. Nikon has a 200-400mm f/4 constant aperture superzoom in its arsenal that costs approx. $7,000 USD, while Canon offers a 200-400mm f/4 lens with a 1.4x built-in teleconverter, at a much heftier price of close to $11,000. Both offer more reach, but sacrifice 1 full stop of light. And once you compare them to the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8, which becomes a 168-420mm f/4 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter, you will see why it becomes such an attractive choice for many, especially with its current market price of $3,400. (Prices listed here are approx., based on a single dealer)


Lens Specifications

Main Features:
  1. Large aperture with great zoom range
  2. Includes technology such as a HSM & OS
  3. Accessories include: Lens Hood (LH1220-01) & Carrying Case.

Technical Specifications:
  1. Mounts: Sigma, Nikon, Canon
  2. Focal Length: 120-300mm
  3. Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
  4. Minimum Aperture f/22
  5. Maximum Angle of View: 20.4° – 8.2°
  6. Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 1:8.1
  7. Lens Elements: 23
  8. Lens Groups: 18
  9. Image Stabilization: Yes
  10. Diaphragm Blades: 9
  11. Distance Information: Yes
  12. FLD Glass Elements: 2
  13. SLD Glass Elements: 1
  14. Autofocus: Yes
  15. HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor): Yes
  16. Internal Focusing: Yes
  17. Minimum Focus Distance: 1.50m
  18. Focus Mode: Auto, Manual
  19. Filter Size: 105mm
  20. Accepts Filter Type: Screw-on
  21. Dimensions (Approx.): 124 x 291mm
  22. Weight (Approx.): 3.39 kg
  23. Supplied Accessories: Lens Hood (LH1220-01) & Carrying Case

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Accepting credit cards, from anywhere!

With today's ever-growing technology, there's no reason not to accept a larger variety of payment methods.  Back in the day, you'd make an invoice, send it out via "snail mail", (which would take 3-4 days to get there), wait 30+ days for payment to be processed, another few days for the cheque to reach you, and once received, go and make the deposit at your local branch.  Then came email invoices, direct payments in your commercial account, and even PayPal to take deposits on reserved studio time, which reduced the time-frame considerably.

Now, Square Reader gives you the luxury of taking credit card payments, (Visa, Mastercard & American Express) from ANYWHERE, as long as you have either cell phone or Wifi coverage.  How crazy is that!?!  If you have an iPhone or iPad, nothing can be easier than using the Square Reader.  It's convenient, accommodating, fast, secure and extremely easy to use.

Whether you're selling prints at a venue, doing a maternity/modeling shoot, or working a social event, why not make it convenient and easy for everyone involved to do business with you?  Whether your client is using a personal or corporate credit card, if you're in business, you should be able to oblige that simple request.

All you need is to procure yourself a Square One credit card swipe unit (worth $9.95 at your local Apple Store), and in a few minutes, you can receive payments into your account.  Yes, It's that simple!  To my surprise, the package even contained a $10 rebate card inside the package, that is deposited in your account upon your first sign-in.

Do yourself (and your clients) a favor, and keep up with today's technology, while making it all the more convenient to doing business with you. 

There are no monthly fess, no "inactivity" fees, only a small percentage per transaction. (2.75%)

Friday, February 7, 2014

High Performance AA Rechargeable Batteries

To keep this post, short and sweet, we will restrict the topic to high quality/high performance, NiMH/NiZn AA rechargeable batteries, with 2200mAh and more. This will reduce confusion, and focus the discussion on items worth mentioning.

As photographers, we need to power flashes, and they consume a lot of "juice". Most of us have realized the impact of discarding such a large quantity of standard Alkaline batteries, and have made the switch to using rechargeables.

But, what company offers the best product, when it comes down to...
1. Quality (Construction)
2. Power (mAh)
3. Duration (Qty of charging cycles)
4. Self-discharge rates (Percentage of power after period of time without use)?
5. Cost-effectiveness (Value)

Here are the companies that have made the cut towards being considered the industries best rechargeable AA battery, readily available in our location (North America).

1. Duracell PowerPix NiZn (1.5V, 2450mAh)
2. Powerex IMEDION AA NiMH Batteries (1.2V, 2400mAh)
3. Eneloop XX (1.2V, 2400mAh) 
4. PowerGenix PGX-4AAZiNc (1.6v, 2500mAh)

In addition to the quantity of full-power burst in a Canon 600EX flash head, we also found data in form of a Ragone Plot, of various battery cells, demonstrating that there's a considerable difference in performance between each type.

The Eneloop & Imedion were the top 2 batteries, but what was the determining factor was the number of cycle times rated by Imedion (number of times that they can be recharged), as well and the fact that they can retain a higher % of charge, after being inactive for several months.

Going to rechargeable battery cells, makes a whole lot-of-sense, whatever make you decide on using.  It's both Eco-friendly, and in very little time... cost-efficient!

On a last note... All of the above-mentioned fabricators offer a decent quality charger, but they are limited to 4 cells. I met a photographer from the UK at an event last summer, that boasted the VAPEX VTE-8000 8-cell charger.  I had a hard time locating one, but after having used it for over 8 months now, I can honestly say it was worth the trouble.  It is fast, reliable, accurate, and it's small size makes it very convenient for travel.  It charges both AA & AAA cells.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Respect Isn't Free!

A few months ago, a friend and fellow photographer contacted one of his regular clients here in Montreal about a (then) upcoming assignment in Europe. The client was thrilled the photographer was available to go. But after consulting head office, the client found out, and told the photographer, that they didn’t have a budget to send a photographer. Instead, they were going to hire a local freelancer in Europe.

Shortly after this, it turns out, another Canadian photographer contacted this same client and offered to cover the same event. This second photographer was told the same thing: there’s no budget to send a photographer and a local freelancer in Europe was going to be hired.

This second photographer then said he would pay his own airfare, his own hotel costs and all other expenses, and would be happy to cover the event for the same pay as the local freelancer. The client refused this offer. By the way, the pay was equal to about half the airfare cost.

So, this second photographer essentially offered to work for free and to lose a few thousand dollars in the process. Great business strategy. (Not!)

The European event was not unique nor a chance of a lifetime. All the wire services and local newspapers covered the event. Resale value of the pictures would have been minimal, if anything at all.

All of this begs the question... “Are you crazy?!”

Why would any “professional” photographer offer to pay thousands of dollars to work for free?  The client was so surprised at the offer, they called my friend, (the first photographer), and said, “Do you know what another photographer just offered to do?”

Even though some clients may expect photographers to work for free, many clients do not. Most worthwhile clients really do understand the value that a professional photographer brings and creates. Furthermore, these clients are shocked when a photographer offers to work for free or at a ridiculously cheap rate. When a photographer makes such a silly offer, the clients opinion of that photographer falls through the floor.

If a photographer doesn’t value or respect their own work, chances are, neither will the client.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Mirror-less Interchangeable Lens Cameras (MILC)

A large quantity of Mirror-less Interchangeable Lens cameras [MILC's] have entered the market in 2013. In fact, to the point where one must wonder why they've become so popular, amongst professionals & enthusiasts alike.  This post will touch base, on some of the advantages a MILC may have, as well as list which models were the most popular last year.

Personally, I'm looking forward to see the unit Canon has in store for us, the EOS M2, that has been rumored to be unveiled early 2014.  :)

There are several advantages (and yes, a few disadvantages) to mirror-less camera systems. Let’s look at some of the great things about this new digital camera technology.

1. Weight - The MILC unit, without a mirror assembly, has a net weight advantage over DSLR cameras, making it more prone to be brought on trips, and having it with you more often.  Let's face it, the best camera will always be the one you have with you, when you need it most!

2. Shhhh - Yes, MILCs are quiet, in fact... silent!  This can be a keen advantage if shooting birds, professional sports, such as golf & tennis, where you are prohibited to take images before the athlete has made contact with the ball, because of the noise.  With an MILC, you could get images others could not.

3. Size - Most MILCs are much smaller in size than the Pro DSLR units, leaving more space in that camera bag for additional lens, filters, flash heads, etc...  But don't let the smaller size fool you.  A good size sensor, with a quality lens will provide you with great images.

4. Less Moving Parts - Finally, because they do not have a hinged fixture inside to move a mirror, MILC’s also have fewer moving parts than traditional SLR-style cameras. That means that they are sturdier and less likely to break over time.

On that note, I think that even though we often have more than one DSLR camera body, having a mirror-less as an additional unit might not be a bad idea!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Deal with a Pro, for your Images & Touch-ups!

Whether it be for a portrait shoot, wedding, or modeling portfolio, most (if not all) Photographers will include touch-up services in ones of their packages.  All too often, this service is less than desirable.  Do yourself a favor, and before hiring any photographer, go through a checklist, and see what he or she has done in the past, including touch-up work.  We suggest you expand the image to see the differences in the below "Before" & After" image. (Removal of loose hair, blemishes, fatigue under eyes, slight softening of skin, change in jaw structure, and a bit of sharpening of the eyes, all while keeping it all very real).

(Higher Resolution HERE)

Here's a quick list that might yield insight on the person/company that you are considering hiring, proving them to be (or not to be), a valid choice;

1.   Go through their Website, Blog, Facebook Page, etc... See if their style matches your taste.
2.   Ask to see samples of touch-ups (Original out of the camera, versus the final product)
3.   Inquire about how long they've been in business, and see their evolution
4.   Has this photographer kept up with the times in regards to gear/equipment
5.   Make sure the person you hire is the person you'll obtain, not someone he sends in his place
6.   Meet with this person face to face.  Personality goes a long way in dealing with someone
7.   Price range - If they're are too cheap, BEWARE!
8.   Delivery - How long after the project, will you be seeing the product
9.   Contract - Ask to have a contract for any project of importance and/or value
10. This point, I will not stress enough.... Don't be shy to ask for several references!

If you don't go through a good enough screening, you might end up with something this THIS!  Yes, it's Funny, (unless it's your project).