Red Beans & Rice

Red Beans & Rice

Been workin on my red beans recipe for a while. Can’t get pickled pork outside New Orleans, so I substitue boiled ham which I fry up with the trinity. This time also couldn’t get a ham hock, but ham shank seemed to work just as good. Next ima start working on a gumbo recipe.

Photography for Free: No Pay Only Shots for Portfolio

“Do you want to work this awesome gig?”

“Hell yes.”

“Great, you’ll be on the list with a press pass.”

“Cool, whats the pay?”

“No pay, just shots for your portfolio…”

Too often this dialogue transpires for the emerging photographer. The responses vary but all photographers feel the same way: USED. Clients in this situation are taking advantage of something new in the freelance photographer’s market: everyone has a camera and to some degree know how to use it.

What clients do not understand is the difference between the amateur and professional. A professional photographer will shoot an event and take, lets say 100 photos, of those 100 maybe 75 will be “keepers”. Had an amateur covered the same event and taken the same 100 photos maybe only 25 will be “keepers”. For my purpose the actual ratio does not matter, it is simply the difference between the two.

A pro photographer is like a lion waiting to pounce on moments and situations using a carefully crafted balance of creativity and skill to capture and create. Unlike the pro, an amateur will approach the same situation optimistically yet without the confidence, knowledge, or experience necessary to get equal results. What ends up happening is moments/photographs are missed (to a variety of reasons) or overall quality suffers. Simply put, a pro MAKES photographs, an amateur TAKES photos.

Because of the advancements of modern cameras, anyone is easily capable of getting good to excellent photos (in ideal situations) without any working knowledge/experience, but in order to do this on-cue repeatedly requires a professional. Sure there are times when there is no budget and a student must be found on craigslist who will work for exposure/experience/something-to-put-in-their-portfolio, but this is an inherent risk to the client. Before looking for a “free photog” you must be absolutely willing to receive sub par results. If you require quality, you must hire (pay) a professional. And please, do not give me the line, “to better your portfolio”, I do that everyday.

*Side Note*

To ALL photographers: You have a skill and should be paid well for it. Wether or not you consider yourself qualified you must understand that the service you are providing is not cheap and anyone cannot do it. Find out what other photographers are charging. If you want to be cheap, be cheap, but don’t sell yourself, and the industry, short by working for nothing. Many potential clients like my work, but can’t afford to hire me. I always try and work with a client and their specific budget, but there must be a point of no return. No one likes to turn down work, but this is how we make our living. Working for free is not better than not working.

City Park New Orleans

Now that summer is finally upon us it’s time to get outside. There are two major parks in New Orleans: Audubon and City Park. For comparison’s sake, City Park is much better. Audubon is a beautiful park in uptown New Orleans with many attractions including a golf course, zoo, track, and riverfront chill spot but offers no way to “get away form it all”.  Since Katrina, City Park has lost its golf course, which is now an excellent off-road bike heaven. But without a zoo, golf course, or Mississippi River view City Park offers enough space (second only to Central Park, NY) to lose yourself for hours. And for all you dog lovers, City Park has a brand new dog park!

Somewhere inside of me there is a little country kid from the coast of Maine. Only in City Park can I feel like I’m not in the city for a while. Amidst its many bike/walking trails, winding bayous, and lush gardens are a million spots where you can hang without running into anyone. For those looking for “things” to do, City Park offers Storyland for the kids, Botanical Gardens, and the New Orleans Museum of Art as well as Pan American Stadium, Tad Gormley Stadium, and a running track. If there is one spot that makes City Park special it’s the Peristyle. Like something out of ancient Greece, this temple-like building is a great place to take a few photographs, feed the ducks, or just watch the clouds go by.

Jazz Fest 2010

Another year of Jazz Fest is upon us. As usual, ticket prices have risen to $60 per day (thanks Quint Davis) and beers are now $5 a pop. Expensive as Jazz Fest is, it’s still worth every penny to see Simon & Garfunkle, My Morning Jacket, and eat Crawfish Monica with a side of Crawfish Bread. 2010 Jazz fest began with rain, but by Saturday the clouds parted and the sun finally poked through during Better Than Ezra.

As happens so often at Jazz Fest many were faced with an awful decision, “Do we see the aging Simon & Garfunkle reunited after so many years, or do we catch My Morning Jacket, a band in their prime?” I opted for the latter and was not disappointed. MMJ played a flawless set complete with popular classics and obscure favorites.

Next week I will be missing my favorite Jazz Fest act of all time, Van Morrison, who will be playing directly before the Neville Brothers close out the fest (expect a quest appearance from Van the Man). Instead I will be in Colorado catching NOFX @ The Aggie in Fort Collins.

Tipping Etiquette

My friend is always chewing me out about my tipping etiquette. Today we grabbed an iced coffee at a local place and I paid with my credit card. As we leave he asks, “How much did you tip?” Well, I didn’t tip, and didn’t think twice about it. He said he would have tipped $2. I think it is ridiculous to tip for a $3.75 coffee. If I pay cash I usually leave the change, but businesses are getting out of hand with the tip line on credit card purchases. To my relief someone else is not crazy.

When I have a sit-down meal I tip anywhere from 15-20% based on the service (not the food). I tip a bartender a buck or two every time I order a round, not $5 for 5 drinks… As a rule I don’t tip for take-out, as I don’t tip at a drive-thru!. The same friend thinks I am being “cheap”. I think he has his head in the clouds, coincidentally so do the folks at MSNBC.

I do not feel the need to prance around town proving that I’m not cheap. A freelance photographer’s budget does not allow me to tip for my morning joe!

iPhone Photography and iPhone 4G Wishlist

When I first got my iPhone 3GS I was utterly disappointed with the camera. Being a photographer, my expectations were not exactly high, but I did expect on having a usable camera in well-lit situations. On first inspection I immediately wrote the “3 megapixel auto-focus camera” off as nothing more than a gimmick. For months I seldom used the camera for more than MMS, which was cool for pranks and what not but nothing worthy of Flickr.

Recently I have been pushing the iPhone further trying to squeeze some quality out of its nanosensor. It actually is quite good if the right tools/technique are used. The trick to the iPhone is holding it steady. Darkroom (free) is a great app that uses the accelerometer to shutter release when the phone is steady. Also know that the iPhone’s shutter fires when you lift off the button not when you press it.

The App Store as many free or cheap apps to post-process your iPhoneography. My favorite is Photogene, which really is the closest thing to Photoshop for the iPhone (sorry Mobile). Photogene ($1.99) is the one stop shop for exposure levels, RGB levels, crop/straighten, and sharpening. Sharpening is probably the most important aspect to processing iPhone photos. The photos are always soft.

Is the iPhone a toy? Yes and no, it does toy-like things and smart-phone things, but the camera really is a toy. Toy cameras have always been the smallest, cheapest, most quirky cameras around and they produce fantastic one of a kind results. The iPhone is similar to a Holga or Lomo in that you never really know what your going to get. For more creative aspects of iPhoneography check out CameraBag ($1.99), which offers many toy camera filters, Polaroid borders, and other one-touch effects.

The all-in-one app is Best Camera, whose slogan says it all, “The Best Camera is the one thats with you”. The guys at Best Camera hit the nail on the head, the iPhone is excellent for being unnoticed. Paul Strand used to use trick lenses so his subjects didn’t know he was photographing them. Regardless of whether or not this type of photography is exploitative or dishonest the iPhone is perfect for this. Street photography is about timing, confidence, and speed/preparation. The “problem” with street photography is that once your subject sees a camera pointed at them the scene is often lost. The iPhone allows you to snap photos of people unknowingly anywhere. People are so accustomed to seeing iPhones they don’t think twice about it. Best Camera ($2.99) offers exposure filters, creative effects, and crop/border tools.

That said, the iPhone 4G camera should have some obvious additions. I would like to see a quicker controllable shutter, 5 megapixels would be nice, ISO control, and if possible a larger sensor (yeah right). There are other more gimmicky things I don’t really care for. Likely additions are a flash (a sensor that small will always be useless in low-light), auto-focus tracking, or even a front facing camera for video chat, digital zoom (a one way ticket to horrible photos). Who knows? I am looking forward to see what Apple comes up with.

French Quarter Fest

Just a quick triptych from this weekend’s French Quarter Fest. Live music, food, and great weather make for a perfect beginning to 2010 festival season in New Orleans.