comfort zone

Challenges and Limitations

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As a photographer sometimes we face challenges on set while we are shooting. Whether it be indoors or outdoors, it could be weather, lighting, wardrobe or even camera gear.

Now, to overcome these challenges sometimes we need to be quick on our feet and improvise.  Sometimes we just have to roll with the punches and somehow make it work. I personally enjoy the challenges that pop up from time to time because it keeps you thinking, keeps you sharp and pushes you outside your comfort zone which is great for growth as an artist and as a person. Now that’s not to say I don’t like when shoots go smoothly and come off without a hitch, those are my favourite kind of shoots for sure.

Sometimes the limitation of our gear presents a challenge although this is a challenge I really welcome. I am speaking about lenses in particular. As we know, different lenses have their weaknesses and strengths as some are more suitable types of photography while some aren’t so versatile.  Being a boudoir/portraiture/headshot photographer, I have my go-to lens, which happens to be a 50MM lens.

Currently it’s the only lens I have for my full frame camera so if I want to shoot with my full frame I have no choice but to accept the challenge and limitation of said lens. Sure I could shoot with my cropped sensor body and have multiple lens options but I like shooting with my full frame and frankly love the challenge of using my 50MM for boudoir shoots.

I find it helps me grow as a photographer by forcing me to think about my shots before I take them. I have to use different angles, really think about my lighting and use it the best way possible. I have to move around my subject more and get multiple shots out of one pose.

Now you should be doing that anyway but with a fixed lens (no zoom capability) you are left with no choice BUT to make it work. This is one of the challenges that I face every time I shoot but I love being challenged that way.

I find it’s constantly helping me grow and ALWAYS pushing me outside my comfort zone!

Looking Back on 2017... A Year in Review

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If I were to look back on the year 2017, both professionally and personally, I would have to say that overall it was a pretty fuckin’ EPIC year!

I got to see my oldest daughter graduate from high school and starting the next chapter in her life. Undoubtedly, one of the proudest moments for me as a father and I must say ranks right up there as the best of my 2017.

The year started out with me working full time at Ernst & Young but had long entertained the idea of moving on to pursue my photography business full time but at the beginning of the year, it became more of a serious consideration. I was growing tired of the corporate life.  My heart and mind just weren’t in it anymore and I knew it was time to move on.  Midway through the year, with the support of my wife, my kids, my family and friends, I finally decided it was time to jump ship.  To my surprise, I ACTUALLY did it!  I forced myself to step outside my comfort zone.   This is NOT something I do!   This was scary as all hell!  Leave the security of the 9-5?  NOT ME! The best part about it: I am still here to talk about it!  I didn't break and I didn't die from it!

I had my biggest year in business selling 6 pieces of my artwork to Ernst & Young.  My work to hang on the walls of their brand new building. Being able to have something I created hang on the walls of a Big 4 Accounting firm was quite an incredible feeling.  As I had worked there for many years being able to leave a legacy, my legacy was just an indescribable feeling.

Another great moment for me, being featured in my friend Skip Cohen’s blog post. For those of you who have no idea who Skip is: he is first and foremost an incredible human being but he is also an amazing educator, speaker and writer who is very well known in the photography industry and I am proud to call him a friend.

Three of my boudoir images were selected to be in a magazine, which for me was an incredible accomplishment since I am new to the boudoir genre. That was definitely a highlight of my year, I am very proud.

I was awarded the Standing Ovation Award 2017 from my peers and fellow photographers in my AIBP group. The AIBP organization is the Association of International Boudoir Photographers. They are an amazingly talented group of photographers and an amazing community of people.  To say I am honoured and over the moon excited is a gross understatement. Words cannot express my gratitude for this award.

Overall, I accomplished quite a bit in 2017 and am very proud of what I managed to do. I know there is a ton more work to do as an entrepreneur.   There are many more challenges to overcome but I am so looking forward to taking on 2018! It’s going to be a kick ass year, I can just feel it!

I borrowed the following from a fellow photographer/friend of mine but this is how I am going to look at 2018:

Be A Fucking Wolf.
Be A Fucking Lion.
Take No Shit.
Set Goals.
Smash Them!
Eat People's Faces Off.
Be A Better Person.
Show People Who The Fuck You Are.
Never Apologize For Being Awesome.
Stay The Mother Fucking Course.

In this coming year I urge all of you to do at least 1 thing that forces you outside your comfort zone.  Trust me, you won't regret it. You only live once, what do you have to lose?  Challenges and roller coaster rides as an entrepreneur and business owner…I say BRING IT ON! I am here and I am ready for ALL of it!!!

Spreading My Wings - Trying New Things

Anyone who knows my style of photography or about the genre of photography I typically shoot, you know I am an urban exploration shooter. This is my passion and my love. I know photographers can make money at this by selling prints of their work but let’s be honest, how many urbex shooters do you know make a living selling their artwork? By no means am I saying this is impossible to do however let’s say it’s not commonplace.
Over the past year I have been thinking about how I can branch out. Ideas swimming around in my head. Personal projects I want to work on but mainly I wonder, how can I start making some real money at this? I have settled upon doing portraiture and headshots. It seemed very fitting seeing as I am currently the headshot photographer at my full time job. It was a no brainer. I truly enjoy the interaction with the client while shooting. Dealing with people and photographing them. Bringing out the best I can in them.
Recently I have found inspiration in watching some training videos on mastering the perfect headshot as well as other educational videos on different methods and styles of shooting headshots. One in particular by a photographer whose work I really admire, Peter Hurley. He has inspired me! I just love to watch him work and learn from him. He is a master at his craft and seems incredibly down to earth and to be honest, a very cool guy. Seeing as I don’t have a half decent headshot myself it would be a thrill to meet him and have him take my headshot. Seems pretty strange for a photographer not to have a really great headshot, I know.
Watching his videos has inspired me to not only branch out and try a new avenue to generate revenue but to experiment and pursue a new method of lighting to incorporate into my headshots. I gave this method a shot a couple of weeks ago for a friend of mine who is a real estate agent here in the Toronto area and I must say I am quite pleased with how they turned out. I know he is happy with the end results as well. Spreading your wings and branching out and trying new things can be very scary at times but the risk can be well worth the reward. I know I still have to practice and work on my technique but I am excited about this new journey I am embarking on in the photography world and I look forward to learning and developing my style as a headshot photographer.

Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone - Make Yourself Uncomfortable

This past weekend, I attended an amazing boudoir workshop with the incredible Jen Rozenbaum as the instructor put on by Henry’s Camera. Over the past few months I have become interested in and fascinated with boudoir style photography. I have even toyed with the idea of exploring it as a genre of photography to add to my skill set/repertoire.

First, let me say that Jen is an absolute master of her craft. She makes it look so easy and believe me it is anything but. There are so many moving parts to a boudoir shoot. Most importantly of all of them I believe to be giving direction, posing the model correctly and communication. Being able to communicate with the model is integral in order to produce the best possible images and get the best effort out of your model.

I am new to this genre of photography and even more so to giving people direction. This definitely took me outside my comfort zone. It was a tough thing for me to do however I did come out of it completely unscathed and alive. I must say it’s an incredible feeling to accomplish something by pushing yourself past the point of being uncomfortable. One could argue that unless you are pushing yourself to the point of discomfort you aren’t progressing. I can honestly say I wholeheartedly agree with that argument.

There was a point in the workshop where I wasn’t feeling comfortable getting up in front of 15 people and giving the model direction or instruction on how to pose so I decided to sit the session out. Jen came and sat beside me and asked why I was sitting this one out? I told her I was brand new to this type of photography and I was incredibly nervous about standing up in front of all these people and directing our model. She turned to me, very simply and matter of factly said to me “That’s ok, I still get nervous sometimes”. This really resonated with me and made me think: If this woman who has been doing this for 6 years full time professionally and still gets nervous, then hell yeah it’s ok for me to be nervous too!

Stepping outside your normal routine, your comfort zone, is a very beneficial thing in more ways than one. I recommend that everyone do it and do it often. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Yes, you will definitely feel nervous, scared and uncomfortable but this fear can fuel and push you to new heights and discoveries about yourself. What’s the worst that can happen? You learn a few things, experience new things!?

This was an incredible experience and I am glad I pushed myself to experience and take part in this workshop. I look forward to doing more stepping outside my comfort zone a living a little more in my yikes zone. Try it and enjoy the ride!

Change - Why Are We So Scared Of It?

Nobody ever said it would be easy, but they also say nothing worth having comes without a fight! Sometimes we need to make changes in order to attain the things we want.

Change is a very difficult thing for us to deal with. We as humans are inherently creatures of habit and most find that change can turn our worlds upside down. Most people don’t deal with change very well. I think part of the resistance to change and probably the biggest component is FEAR. The fear of the unknown scares us to death. The fear of shattering our comfortable little world and existence we have built for ourselves or cocooned ourselves in.

I myself am guilty of this reluctance to embrace change, as I am sure many of you may be as well. I am here to go on record and say, it’s time to break this spell I am under. No more letting fear paralyze me into staying in my comfort zone. It’s time to do this in all aspects of my life: work, art, relationships and everything in between. I am going to start embracing change and doing the things that will take me out of my comfort zone. Good things can come from this and I urge you to join me in this rebellion. No more being in a box! Step outside and see what kind of things can open up for you! Open your mind and embrace it!

Next time you are presented with an opportunity or something out of the ordinary, take it upon yourself to give it a shot. You will be happy you did and you never know what may come of stepping outside your comfort zone. Remember the old adage, nothing ventured…nothing gained.

Image courtesy of arttherapyblog.com

Making Changes - Shaking Things Up

As artists we should always be looking for fresh new ideas and ways of creating our art differently and expressing ourselves. Some people like to go drastic with the changes and completely re-invent the wheel others like to make minor tweaks, that’s more my speed. Creating the same thing over and over could become quite boring and cause us, as well as others to lose interest in our creations.

I myself have recently decided to take this advice and apply it to my own work and methods. I was out on a shoot a few weeks ago and usually I rush home after I have been out shooting and load my images from the day’s adventure onto my computer and get right down to editing. Well this time I did indeed load them onto my computer and briefly looked though them to see what I had captured and then I decided to shut my computer down. I figured I would let them sit for a bit and walk away instead of jumping right into the post production process. I wanted to let the images set into my brain and think about them and the shoot. I wanted to think carefully about how to approach the images and edits. I sat on the images for a week or so and finally decided to sit down at my computer and begin working on them.

As I began to edit I decided I wanted to try on a new look for my work nothing major, just to create a bit of a different look and feel to the images. Try to pull the viewer into the images a bit more, engage them a bit more and make them really think and want to be taken to these beautifully decrepit places which I photograph. I want the viewer to create THEIR own story in their heads from what they see in the work. After all it is our job as artists to pull the viewer in and make them part of the art, to engage and peak their interest. If you can capture your audience in that manner, I would say you are doing pretty well.

I would urge and encourage you and artists alike to try something different. Break out of your comfort zone, and break all the rules. You may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome and even pick up a few new admirers in the process. The reward could very well be worth the risk.