Photoessay: Claryssa

Finally got the chance to shoot with two people I've been wanting to work with for a long time. Shot less than a day after I got off an international flight!

Model: Claryssa Humennyj-Jameson @claryssahj

HMUA: Wanda Waller @makeupbywanda

 

BTS: Hasselblad Masters 2016

So it's official- I won! I thought I'd post a quick BTS series of snaps to show how the final image eventuated, because it took a whole village to produce it.

I grew up in Papua New Guinea, and in spending 5 years there, I feel a very strong connection to the land and culture. The representation of PNG as a dangerous, lawless and brutal place always frustrated me- the side I saw was one of kindness, dignity and community. Last year, I decided to shoot a set of images there. I took the fisherman image on the first day of the 2 weeks I was there. I was staying at a family friend's place, and one of them, Eroli, kindly offered to be my assistant for the day!

We drove to a settlement (that I actually flew past on my way to PNG) outside of Port Moresby before running into a bored-looking group of guys. we got chatting, and because it was the weekend, they had nothing to do! I started shooting- jokes were cracked and profile pictures taken. I always find it funny how in a settlement without any running water or electricity, everyone has a Facebook page!

Taurama from the air

Taurama from the air

And en route!

And en route!

Shooting

Shooting

Spectators!

Spectators!

After messing around for a while, someone mentioned that there was a nice beach just down the road. A 4WD materialised out of somewhere, and we all bundled in the back.

My number of assistants seems to have grown..

My number of assistants seems to have grown..

I begun taking pictures on the (gorgeous) beach. When I was taking a child’s portrait, I spotted a group in the distance, in the water.

You can see the fisherman in the background here!

You can see the fisherman in the background here!

After explaining quickly what we needed to do, me and a few of the guys I met earlier waded out- one with the battery pack, one with the light and me with the Hasselblad! The fisherman was out with his family, and had just caught something. He was on his way back, and let me take one photo of him, before shaking hands and disappearing- it felt almost ethereal.

going out
The moment I shot it. Huge thanks to Eroli for getting some of these BTS shots.

The moment I shot it. Huge thanks to Eroli for getting some of these BTS shots.

As I said, it takes a whole village. I'm so grateful to all who helped me (and there were certainly more than a few), and I'm thrilled that this image won. Hope you appreciated having a story behind it!

Jake

Photoessay: Maja

Escaping a hot summer's day with my last shoot of 2015. Maja had one of those magnetic looks, and it was amazing how quickly she could switch between modelling and her normal friendly, goofy (in the best way) self.

HMUA: Eevie O'Shea @eevie_mua

Model: Maja Mircic @maja_mircic

Photoessay: Coffee in Papua New Guinea

Melbourne, where I live, is crazy about coffee. It's sourced from what seems like every corner of the globe. I was lucky enough to get an inside look into what happens before a moustachioed barista makes your latte!

This is just a little set of doco images I produced in the highlands of Papua New Guinea earlier this year, while working on my portraiture series. Super encouraging to see the economy that develops around coffee!

A quick update, plus 5 pricing tips!

When chatting to other fairly new professional photographers, a common source of trouble is how to price work.

I figured I'd just blast a quick blog post out covering my pricing strategy (which is far from perfect, by the way), as well as a few things to watch out for! Sorry for another wall of text, I promise that my next post will have some eye candy!

1. Value your work appropriately.
For most this people, this means DON'T WORK FOR FREE! As a whole, photography is usually a vastly under appreciated and undervalued profession. I can't count how many times a potential client has approached me asking for my services, in return for "good exposure", "credit" or "referrals". You wouldn't expect a lawyer or plumber to work for free, so what creates this pervasive idea that photographers are happy to work for free? We spend an awful lot of time learning our craft and a heap of money purchasing our equipment. Valuation starts with the photographer, and especially when just starting out, photographers are afraid to say no to work. As much as it sucks, learn how to do that. If not, you'll build up an image in the client's mind that you're the 'free photographer', and it becomes ten times harder to get paid for your work for that particular client.

2. Do the maths.
You're running a business, so conduct yourself accordingly! Don't leave anything out. You might think the client doesn't want to see a detailed breakdown of costs, but trust me, they do. Think about catering, equipment, models, permits, retouching, travel, time, archiving, go the full Monty! The client is going to be reassured that you're spending THEIR money wisely, and not just pulling a figure out of your behind. When it comes to the murky waters of licensing, using software like blinkbid and fotoquote can be invaluable in giving you a ballpark figure.

3. Communicate.
Before the shoot date, get your quote set in stone. No-one likes things being changed after the fact, and as a photographer, you're not going to go up to the client after the shoot and ask for more money for whatever reason. Not being clear on budget, as well as allocation, can be detrimental to both parties. Sit down for a chat about who's going to be taking responsibility for what- you don't want a shoot with two caterers, but no models!

4. Deliver what the client wants, then deliver what the client needs.
It happens to everyone. A client contacts you with an idea in mind. It might be a crappy idea, but they're paying you, so it's your responsibility to shoot it. Don't turn around and shoot something completely different from the brief. Shoot what they want, and in your own time, AFTER their quota is filled, shoot what you think would result in a better photograph. However, be respectful if they want to stick to their original concept- it's their money and their brand after all.

5. Manage client expectations.
A budget is a guide, not a quote. With every job, there are three options: one that comes in below budget, one that hits the budget, and one that exceeds the budget. It's up to the photographer to outline each of these options! Just because the company has a huge budget doesn't mean that you have to use it all if you don't need to. While it seems counterintuitive to suggest a cheaper option, sometimes that's all the client needs. Continuing work and a client base needs a foundation of trust, so if you show that money isn't the only thing on your mind, you may be able to reap benefits associated with a regular client- artistic freedom anyone?

Just like lighting, there is no one-size-fits-all pricing strategy. It requires a bit of forethought and planning from the photographer. The more you do it, the better you get at it!

Until next time,
J

7 tips for assisting photographers

Assisting is underrated- it can be a valuable learning experience, and it puts money in your pocket through interacting with the industry. It sure beats working at McDonalds! Despite my movement towards being a photographer, not an assistant/digital tech/retoucher, I genuinely enjoy assisting on large productions, working with well-established and well-known photographers, and tapping into their wealth of knowledge. Over the time I’ve been assisting, I’ve picked up a couple of invaluable tips that I’d like to share. 

  1. Get there early, get out late.

There’s a saying which goes “if you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late, and if you’re late, you’re dead”. This is absolutely vital if you want to get chosen to assist again- 9/10 times photographers are going to choose consistency over raw talent. Usually when you’re assisting, the bulk of your work is at the start and at the end of a shoot- when all the gear needs setting up or packing down, or when computers and drives need to be fiddled with to make sure that the shoot is stored correctly. By rocking up late, the whole day can stall, and by leaving early, you dump a whole bunch of extra responsibility on the photographer, which is the last thing that they need at the end of a long shoot. Without a second pair of eyes or hands, things are going to get broken, misplaced or forgotten. If a photographer books you for the day’s shoot, you should give them the day. 

       2. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Trust me, the photographer you’re working for doesn’t care if another photographer you assist uses CaptureOne instead of Lightroom, or if Canikon have just announced the whizzbang d6x. Often, the people you’re assisting are going to be a lot more experienced that you are, so leave your ego at the door. Unless there’s a serious problem in their workflow, keep your mouth shut, and learn how to do things the way they do. It just makes the day run smoothly for everyone involved. Before the shoot, it’s okay to check with the photographer about what equipment you’re using, and you should familiarize yourself with it through reading manuals on the web, or whatever, before you waltz into the location. All of this goes triple for cords- learn to wrap them the proper way, or find someone else to show you on the day. 

       3. Don’t play Candy Crush.

The photographer is paying you to be present, and it’s a very rare occasion where you have nothing to do on a shoot! No clue what else needs doing? Quietly clean up the studio, get the art director a coffee, go check sharpness on the computer, recharge batteries, read the call sheet, anything. You don’t need to be checking your Facebook every two minutes, and you definitely don’t need to be constantly ducking out for toilet or smoke breaks- let someone else know if you leave the set. Mid-shoot emergencies erupt more often that you’d expect, and it’s always better to be standing there the second something goes wrong with a fresh card/battery/camera, instead of being absorbed by your friend’s totally hilarious post. Seriously, it can wait a couple of hours.

       4. Carry around as much as humanely possible.

Stuffing your pockets full of gum, batteries, memory cards, duct tape and random bits and bobs will make you the unsung hero of a shoot if anything goes south. In a similar vein, a little bit of common sense and foresight is always good. While it’s okay to ask the photographer if you don’t understand something, bugging them every second with questions about what you should do, or what’s happening, when you could’ve figured it out yourself, gets very tiring very quickly. Some people say that there’s no such thing as a stupid question- I disagree wholeheartedly. Try to stay switched on during the whole day/s, instead of slipping into autopilot mode. 

       5. Look at the little things.

The photographer might’ve accidentally set their camera to 1000 ISO instead of 100, might’ve had it set to JPG instead of RAW, there might be a distraction in the background, a lens that’s not sharp, or any other of a zillion things that might not get picked up by the photographer. That’s why you’re there- point those little things out surreptitiously to them. Check that the van’s locked, keep an eye on the clock, remember phone numbers- your job is to make the shoot as uneventful as possible, so be proactive. 

       6. Shut up.

Don’t go and solicit the client for work, even if they approach you and ask for your business card, direct them to the photographer, as it’s ultimately their decision, as you’re on their set. I’ve heard a lot of confidential things on shoots, and as amazing as that information might be, assume that there’s a complete NDA written up, unless explicitly told otherwise. Don’t go blaring out on Twitter/Facebook/ Instagram about this incredible bit of information that you’ve been told, or overheard. Privacy is paramount. If in doubt, don’t post it- it’s way better to lament not being to post a potentially cool thing, than to be called up by an angry producer or publicist. 

 

       7. Don't panic. 

 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, going out there and getting experience is going to teach you things that 100 blog posts can’t tell you, so go get on the radar of photographers and production companies! This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list, but these observationscome from my involvement as both a photographer and an assistant. Stay tuned for the next post, which is going to be a little more technical, dissecting images of mine, with plenty of tech talk, and full BTS shots and inclusion of lighting set-ups. 

Until then,

Jake