Refining Your Craft

The Harris Gallery at the University of LaVerne

As a professional image-maker I work at my craft several times a week. This is the easiest way for me to bring value to the marketplace. The photograph above would have been impossible to achieve using traditional analog methods. All sixteen sculptures and the back wall were lit independently in order to achieve the depth required by my vision. Using a traditional lighting approach would have resulted in crossing shadows and a rats nest of cables to contend with. The many hours spent rigging lights, adjusting for distance, scrimming and flagging (not to mention the power consumption), would have been tremendous. Instead I used a small Canon speedlight, a camera on a tripod, multiple exposures and simple compositing techniques using Layer Masks.

The Gallery In Ambient Light

Sculptures With Highlights Applied

The Wall Lit And Transformed To Fit The Perspective

The Wall With It's Layer Mask

All in all I spent less than 60 minutes photographing the gallery and less than 90 minutes working in Photoshop. So for 2.5 hours of effort, I was able to produce an image worthy of my portfolio. Now of course what this really represents is 30 years of professional photography experience distilled down to 150 minutes. This is where my value comes into play. I would normally charge $1500.00 for a photo like this. And guess what? I’m still charging that amount. Only now it’s spread across 2.5 hours instead of 8? 10? 6? Who knows how long this would have taken me. Plus I would have needed a more experienced crew than the one person who only had to trigger the shutter release. As a bonus, I don’t make a mess at the client location, I don’t consume power and I don’t blow any fuses. This equipment light approach to location work is a tremendous selling point when I present my photography services. My profit margin increases because my time decreases.

Be sure to click on the photos to see them enlarged. I will be making a video soon that explains this process in more depth. Be sure to subscribe to my youtube channel.

I challenge all of my readers to look at your working methods and experiment with ways to achieve similar time-saving, profit-making SECP techniques. If I can do it, you can do it too!

Good luck.


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    Michael E. Stern
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