Overcoming the Challenges of Working at Home
This is mohr of not me teaching as much as we've gotta have a discussion about some of these topics and we have to talk about some of these points in order to get everybody ready and prepped for what they're about to do uh and there's not a real simple ways attack it on approach it but there is some discussions that I think we need to have been part of that is, uh what is the first step if you've made this decision, you're going to do this um I mean, obviously there's there's the step on the financial commitment to equipment which we can talk about that and I'll show you cem cem bare bones ways of doing this with a minimal amount of equipment a cz we step into the smaller small space later in the segment but then also there are some other pieces of equipment that just make life easier for you and they cost a little bit more but they might make life easier in certain different way, so we'll see what works for everybody don't get lost in the idea that you have to spend a lot of money to ...
do this. If you've got a couple of speed lines, I'm gonna show you how to do a couple of beautiful portrait in your home with a couple speed lines so that's sort of the idea and that's sort of the intentions that sound like that might be a good place to begin. Okay, this is yes, this is ok. Um all right, so, uh, first and foremost we gotta overcome the challenges of working at home that's our first the first challenge and for me uh I think you have to start off by having a discussion with your family, anybody that's in your home that lives with you, you need to sit down and say we need to talk and I think you have to establish what is it that you're going to do how you're going, how do you want to see this happen? Are you seriously look at this as a business or do you just want to shoot a couple of sessions a week with the neighbor's kids? I don't know what you have in mind. Uh what I do know is that if you're going to do this as a business, you need to set hours that your family can live with and that y'all can walk around with and when you know, if you got children so hours while the kids were school or while whoever is not in the home is gone so that you've got some quiet time that you can work with clients or friends or neighbors will however you're going, but I do think that we have to make very, very clear that this is serious this is not you know why you're in the middle of a session with a client? The last thing you want is the kids to come in after school with three of their friends hollerin mom, can we have some you know, I screen I'm working in here you know? You're trying to present a professional presentation to a client um but I do think that people more and more and this is something that we were talking about last week. People are more comfortable in many cases come into your home for a photographic session then coming to a building that you have your studio located it there's something more comfortable about coming into your home. Um I think it's pretty interesting my girlfriend mandy in oklahoma. Good morning, honey. Uh uh makes cookies. She has chocolate chip homemade cookies that she makes any time she has a sales session with a client that they're going to come in and they're going to sit down and look att spending some money she makes cookies so that it smells great when I walk in and that's that her studio not in her home her studio her studio separate from her home but I think it's a great idea and you've made your client feel comfortable and I think that's part of what the home studio does it makes your clients feel comfortable and I think that's a pretty big part of this so uh spend some time thinking about that and digging into the notion of time time is big you have to have time to set up you have to have time to get the session done. You have to have time for in many cases to bring your clients back in to sit down and review what you've done uh time is going to be a big factor and I don't want anybody to dispel the importance of that or not recognized the importance of that I think it's pretty pretty big time some of you been doing this for a little while now and you know that this is is a commitment on your part and you kept get everybody to buy into it. That's the main thing a lot of photographers have. The idea that working in your home may come across is unprofessional. Can you touch base on that? Yeah, I can something. Last night I went to the home of my number one right arm assistant there john cornyn teller here in seattle I went to his home and he his living room is a studio. It is as professional as any studio I've ever stepped into and they have made the commitment to make this a business and it is a serious studio with all the riding all the right equipment I think that there is, uh, there's something to be said for you not moving a coffee table out of the way while the client standing there, I think you have to be professional enough to, uh either set aside a space if you can, in your home to do this or have a place that you regularly do this where you know that you could get it set up pretty fast before the client shows up and get all the stuff out of the room that needs to be gone or moved out of the way and started getting all your equipment set up so that, uh, for me, it's all about when a client walks in, they get you one hundred percent attention, you get this thing done and you don't make him wait around while you're fumbling around with a lamp. You know, uh, I think that part is pretty important. I don't know that it I don't really know that it diminishes the professionalism that you bring to the to the game if they're coming to you anyway, there's something about you that they want to work with, they've seen samples of your work, you've been recommended by someone else, maybe a reference of referral or it's a friend or it's, a neighbor or someone that knows you uh in any case, this profession is you can't be as professional as you can, and I think that goes a long way um, I don't know if anybody else has any any stories about that that they want to share. But I know that, uh, for me, when someone walks in, they have my undivided attention when I start shooting and we talked about this in the lighting segment, when I start shooting, I am not stopping shooting and looking to back up my camera and going. I need to just this, and I need to fix it. I'm on them, and I am connected to them, and I want to minimize my time with them. Um, I tell the story about going into an executive's office and it's just like someone coming into your studio. Basically, I mean, I got a lamp, but I got a desk and chairs to deal with, and I got all that and he was running late and had to leave early both. So he literally said, I've got about five minutes to get this portrait done, and you either pass out or you think on your feet and go. How can I pull this off and I need to pull this off? Fast I need to do it with a smile on my face and look absolutely as if I'm not you know the old tv commercial don't ever let him see you sweat you know you've gotta look like you know exactly you know great well here's what we're gonna do we're gonna put him over here we're going to this and bam bam bam bam bam okay we got it thank you very much at the door he goes and you have to have the confidence in your shooting abilities so that you can think on your feet and move quickly and react fast all of that lends to the professional quality that you bring this game and I think that that's that's a great question and it's a great point to bring up uh I think done well and if you're doing your job appropriately and properly I don't think there's a problem at all with anyone thinking you're less than professional and and and of course you've gotta have the right uh presence whether it's a web, your web presence, your social presence, your samples in the market, your your your vendors in the neighborhood that you work with whatever it might be you've gotta have that professional presence uh but I see no issues there whatsoever we have more questions that are coming in about the space itself do you have any recommendations from yourself for what you've heard about the place within the home that that space should be so for example, up on the second floor in the back corner, vs in the basement verses, you know, close to the front door, yeah, considerations. So so that question comes at the perfect time if you'll notice on the keynote speaker that's exactly where I'm going next. I think this is I think this is a really good discussion point. Um, you know, some of you do have a bonus room upstairs in your home that is used sometimes a za guest room or is extra room for the kids to play or whatever it might be. Those are the those are great spots for this if you need the space and need some room, uh, but if you don't have that, if you've got a smaller home and you and you've got maybe one bedroom thatyou can devote to this, uh, you've got an eight and a half foot ceiling in the u s that's kind of a standard regular ceiling height is about eight, eight and a half that's it and so that's not you can't get a lot of big soft boxes in a room like that, and you've got a wit that's, you know, ten by twelve my great friend and fabulous photographer david edmonston sent me a note last night he turned in yesterday's show, and he sent me no last night, he said here's, a little thumbnail from one that I just did recently, and he said, I want you to know and you're welcome to pass this along that I did this in an area that was tempted by twelve feet and it's a beautiful portrait and it's well lit and it's magnificent, he also says, also, I did cheat on back out of the room and shoot from down the hallway, so don't discount the fact that doorways when doorways air open, you don't have to stay in that small room that's twelve foot by twelve feet, which is what we're going to set up over here. We're going to set up a scenario, but I have to be ableto for the video on for the crowd here in the audience, I have to be able to move a little bit for the shoot today, but at the same time in your home you have the ability to back up. Sometimes I've shot portrait's of people in their homes in the foyer of there, of their entry ways, with me out in their front yard, shooting through the doorway and getting magnificent like quality coming through the front door on their faces. But to be able to pull it off had to back up, and I'm now two steps off the ports, and I'm out the front yard. So, uh, that's kind of a different scenario, but still you do have the ability to back up often. So when you're looking in planning your position and you're planning where that face is gonna be, consider finding a room that you're gonna work in where the doorway is not on the far left wall are the far right wall, but met the doorway might be in the center because it gives you the ability to back up and that way on the left and the right, just inside the room, you can hide things you can hide light sources that makes sense. Okay, I do think that when you finish this, uh, this course and this thing that we're doing, I think go to your home and just walk around and just think and really think clearly how would I bring my client in? How does my house my home presented when they come into the room? Uh, for many, many people it's just going to be right there in their living room, and they're going to set up the living room as a studio when the client shows up? And when the client leaves they're going to strike the set, put everything away and bring the furniture back in uh in many cases if you're working by yourself uh it's a lot of work and it's not easy so you have to have a strategy for how you're going to get everything in and how you're gonna get it back out you know when you put it back into a closet or hide it down the hallway or in some other room while you're shooting so it does take a little bit of planning, but I'll guarantee and everybody's home there's a place there's a place and you will see as we go throughout our day tomorrow you will see that when there's nothing else you can do I'm gonna show you lots of things you can do in your garage uh without light with just ambient light so there's there's always options but I love working in the home and and it's just comfortable in its convenient obviously it's convenient uh but but it's gotta be set up right and it's got to be very profession when they walk in and they just have to know yeah yeah teo further that alongs the question from a guy named rest the question is, what tips do you have as who, how to best exude and position yourself as a professional to your new clients in your home so just kind of further that about not just the physical space, but your yeah, I think I think it's a good I think it's a good question, I think it's, uh, for me, our voice, even even when I didn't know what I was doing, I acted like I did, um, you know, we've all heard that phrase think it till you make it, you know, had a commercial client that I really want to shoot commercial work one time, and I wanted to stop doing so many portrait and, uh, so I took all the portrait's off my wall and I hung up all commercial prints all around my studio, and a guy came to drop off some cem prince of his wife, and he looked around the walls and he says, you do commercial work, I said, absolutely, he said, do you shoot aerial photography? And I'm sure I've never sought an aerial picture in my life he said, oh, he said, and then and then this was the best thing that I ever got from this he said, well, it's, probably a little bit more dangerous and regular photographer, you probably charge a little bit more for it, I said, well, yeah, I'd do a little bit thanks for the tip, you know? So he said, well, next tuesday I'd love to fly you upto I was in texas, he said I lived fly up in the northern northeastern oklahoma to do some photographs of some oil wells that we have can you fly it, then hover and helicopters and shoot some of these deep briggs we're drilling and and I was like, let me just check the calendar and I walked in the back room and I don't have anything on my counter for the next tuesday and I walked back and I said I had one session, but I think I can move it, so I got the job as soon as he left, I picked up the phone and called every photographer I know and said, how do you shoot aerials? And I got tips from five people on how to shoot aerials, so I walked in there looking like I knew what I was doing and I probably should not have done that and I wouldn't recommend that for everybody, but I'm pretty confident in my and my photographic skills uh I don't get caught off guard too often photographically I do sometimes I'm not a genius I just play one on tv uh sorry sorry, but I do think that I do think that confidence goes a long way so that so that I can and I think that I think that when you when, when that client has confidence in you, they're going to know that you're going to your best for them. There's a comment from I've got a I've got a great love and respect for cinematographers, and I'm a movie holic everybody that knows me knows I'm going to see a movie or two a week, whenever I can, when I'm not traveling. Uh, and I love to watch those cinematographers, and I found a video that interviews thirty of the world's leading cinematographers these are the lighting people, the dps, that light movies for a living, they are the best in the world at this, and one of them says, I want my actors to know that I'm going to present to them a lighting set up in an environment within which they can be stellar that's the way he worded it, and I thought, man, that's, what we need to do a still photographers, I want to create an environment and a mood and a confidence and a style and a manner, and in such a manner that my client knows they're gonna look stellar when they walk out of there. There's, no question that I am the pro and I know exactly what I'm doing, and they're never gonna look better than look today, and you just have to present that to they have to know that's coming across. So, yeah, this might be slightly a silly question, but I'm sure some people who have a home studio deal with this. What do you do about pets? Well, cats don't run him out. That's that's one question that's. Not on my list to cover that. So I'm glad you asked. I don't have a quick answer for you. I really don't know what I would do about pets. I don't, uh, currently have any, uh, so it's. Not an issue for me, but that is a great question. And it probably is a problem. Cats. Probably not so much you can put him in a bedroom, but a dog could be a real issue. Um, yeah, I don't know. Does anybody have that issue that they have to deal with you? And how have you dealt with it? Bacon daycare. Doggy day care? Yeah. There's. No thataway. So so do cinema it's. Not just a candle, but like there's. A daycare that have activities for them. And yeah, he has. He has a great time. I had a great time. We have the area in my house where I can shoot is it's in the very front of the home and so I have there's kind of like a hallway that we lead into the rest of the house on dh so you can just put up you know, a baby gate or something the dogs can't really get through I mean, it depends on the kind of dog you have, but I have two that are both about sixty pounds on dh they stay behind that in the client has no idea that they're there they're back in the it's the barking that would be the issue and if something sets him off and makes him bark then year on edge and you're not comfortable in the session well, it's really interesting that you ask that question because there are the folks in the chat rooms were also having that discussion and so and the topic was really around allergies as well and that what a horrible thing would be trying to take someone's portrait and they have allergic reactions so maybe having that conversation with your clients because even if you take them to daycare, that dog doesn't care what have you in which in that case, of course, if you've had that discussion with your client, you have to be able to say, listen, this might not best work in our home, why don't we come to your home for that session? So that would be my response to that yeah, we also have in that room that I used the animals. Will the cat kind of cats do what cats do? But the dogs are never allowed in there, and I also have somebody come and do, like a thorough cleaning. Mm, once a week or sometimes if I know a client's coming that's allergic, then I'll have him come in the day before justcause dog hair gets everywhere, but that seems I've never had a problem with a client coming in and having an allergic reaction, sure, but it's a great it's, a it's, a really great question that I hadn't I hadn't posed on this show. I haven't even thought about that. So that's really great that that came up, because that can be an issue. I know that if I'm trying to do something there's a barking dog in the background, it it really does change the mood in the mode of the comfort level of what I'm doing, because it's just really it's really interrupting it's really a an interruption, a disruption so that's, what I was hoping this morning would become is some great discussions about this we have. This is important stuff, and I know there's a lot of people that are seriously, I mean, some are career change folks that are taking photography on as a new career change you know they're not twenty one years old just getting out of a photo school there forty eight years old leaving a corporate job wanting to do this we have to have these discussions this is serious stuff and it matters it matters a lot so I'm glad that it's coming up one more important one that I've seen also people asking and talking about is safety for you as the photographer in your home and what some considerations might be around that yeah and there's a segment we're going to be discussing tomorrow about that little bit, but but we will talk about it a little bit first off, first and foremost, I will say this if you're if you're of the male species in your home working first and foremost my my recommendation issue uh be very, very clear and not be in your home by yourself if your photograph in a woman don't put yourself in that position, have her bring a friend or you have an assistant that might be a woman with you, but don't be in that room by yourself in your home that could be an issue and it could be someone's word against somebody else's word and if a problem ever arose of any type uh be very professional, very clear about that but in terms of safety, physical safety uh, or safety of your gear and your equipment. You do know that you're telling the world high I have a lot of camera gear here, and you're telling world if you're gonna break into somebody's home on this street, you might want to break into my house because I've got all the cameras, so make sure that you either have a safe or you have a very solid locking area where you can close and lock everything because you just told the world that you're a photographer it's kind of like one year my insurance agent, as I pulled into his parking lot in my old hometown, uh, he came out and met me outside, and I had a new uh s u v and I had big magnetic signs with my logo on my doors, violent magnetic vinyl that said, tony spent rv all that, and he said, do me a favor, it's what's that he said, every time you park this thing, will you please pull those vinyl things often stick him inside so you don't leave your car unattended with signs that say, steal me, I've got cameras in the back. You know, I hadn't even thought about it until then, so from from a standpoint of the safety of your gear, you have to be clear about that, um clearly, you have to be well insured and, uh and that's that I'm gonna hold off on that a little bit because we are going to talk about that this afternoon, but I do know that there are many, many of our photographic professional associations that can help you with that it is and it's less cost of if you did it on your own. So consider that, um, would that be kind of what they were talking about? The safety of the gear, specifically our physical safe? Do you think both both topics on and then again say you're a female photographer? You should you always have somebody with you, you know, it's it's going to be hard for you to always have someone with you if you're if you're working on your home because you're starting up and you're trying to save money anyway, but I think it's important, that whoever is coming to be photographed, maybe they bring someone with him, uh, and I think it might not hurt for youto have, uh, maybe it's maybe a little surveillance camera somewhere running, you know, I mean it's pretty inexpensive. Now you can put a camera up in the ceiling in the corner and hit record and it can record for an hour pretty inexpensively, and then, if everything's great no problems and you can erase it later reform at that card later but I think that might be something to be uh aware of it's probably not a bad idea tohave a running uh documentation of your sessions if you're if you're working in your home and your especially a little bit uneasy and especially if you're if you and and not everybody lives in a five star neighborhood not all of your shooting situations air in a five star neighborhood they may be in a two star neighborhood and that's okay just be safe and use good judgment uh as much as you can I think thank you yeah yeah um let's talk just a little bit about um building successes from working in small spaces uh if I'm going to work in a small space I am automatically telling myself I probably don't aren't gonna be able to knock home runs with my quality of work in shooting full lengths of brides are full links of fashion shoots that that almost negates that possibility if I'm doing something in a small studio in my home that's twelve feet by twelve feet it doesn't matter how wide my lenses it's not the point the point is I can't do a great job I could do an adequate job and that's it uh I don't think adequate enough for some of us some of us strive to do better than that s o I know that in working in the home and then it's certainly in a small studio, I know that you're already limiting some of the some of the the work that you can do some of the features of certain styles of tar fee you're just not going to do very well uh but there are some things that you can do and so when you, when you start doing this, make sure that you recognize some of the things that that you want to do and make sure that it matches up and marries up with the space that you have available uh for boudoir work that you do, you don't need a lot of space you really because you do an awful lot of in close work where you're in fairly close with your clients and you're showing not a whole lot of areas I think that that those were the site of the sorts of things that you can do head shots, actor head shots I know john does a lot of actors, a lot of photographs for a lot of the theaters and he shoots a lot of actors in place and I think those kind of things head shots there's, there's lots and lots of star for doing a lot of head shots and there's there's very decent money in that um but that's not to say that's all you can do there but just just know that there are good successes and from portrait that air in small spaces that you would never know were taken in a small space there's nothing to indicate that so I think that's something that just spend a little time making sure that you're comfortable with what the things that you might feel you have to give up and again for me you know, everybody's got a different plan of attack here and all six of you and everybody that's you know, these eleven people that are watching out there uh I think they all have a place got a different plan of attack and I think that everybody has one thing that they want out of this thing for me I really want to produce quality work I don't care if it's an award winning job I don't care if it doesn't what I want is for my client to look at it and go thank you. This is what I was hoping I would get you know, the greatest thing that ever happened to me was a client one time and I and I shouldn't tell the story because it sounds like I'm bragging, but this little old lady who was pretty elderly said uh when she saw her portrait siegel's well, clearly I stood in the presence of greatness and didn't recognize it she said I've never had a portrait that I like more than this and I thought that I don't ever need to take another picture again because I'll never be that I'm done you know I think that's what we want we want to produce a quality job that either evokes an emotion that brings a tear to an eye makes a husband go wow when he sees his wife's portrait or makes a mom and dad weep when they see this beautiful porter their daughter you know, I think those of the moment is that we that's why we got into this thing you know now let's let's not just get stuck in the world of the portrait we also we have to think about the world of the tabletop and the fine art photographer and the still life photographer and there are lots and lots and lots of things that we can do there and we'll show some of that tomorrow as well we shot a bunch of products last week it doesn't take a lot of space it takes a lot of thinking to pull it off but uh specially your pretty good shape with most things that you guys want to do some not but most things you want to do you can have great successes in a smaller area so many questions about that okay um groups yeah, here we go I keep thinking prison wrong button uh the light using basic light modifiers will help get you the best like quality and I say basic there for a reason there are uh there are so many choices in in ways of modifying the light uh and we're gonna talk about some of these things that we have behind me here some of these things that you find useful things around home in a little bit but uh but think in terms just just try to be clever I don't know how else to define uh my thinking but I tried to be clever and I tried teo you know when you're in photos school uh you know you're you're in a session and you got one the studios that you've signed out for and checked out for a time while you're in photo school and then you want to do a shoot and you go down the checkout room and check out the tripod you check out two lights and too soft boxes and goto studio well I need a third light you go down and check out a third lightning come back you know we should put two more lights in that corner okay so you go out and check out two more lights and come back and pretty soon you got seven lights on the set then you get out of school and you go into the same situation you could do that same picture and you've got one life that you can afford to buy and there's no rental studios where you live and now you've got to go uh think about that you have to be clever and I don't know how else to say that other than think through every worst case scenario and see if you can pull it off if the word this is this is I have a kodak executive one time that told me that he hired me for a specific job because he said, I know if the lights fail if the electricity is lost and you drop your camera somehow you're gonna come back with a picture because that's what I do I'm a blue collar guy I just work until I get this thing done and and I think there's something to that and sometimes it just means you've got to be clever you've got to think through every scenario in every situation are our content producer here jim kotecki who is one of my great friends now and we've become good friends over the last five or six years we were talking at dinner last night. I was in I was funny I was actually in seattle, south of seattle and tacoma on a shoot on a food shoot and I forgot to bring my gels and this this one background area of the shoot really called for a red burst of jell o and I didn't have any red jails and I'm just like I was just killing me that I didn't have my jails and I need just a little bit of red color and I'm trying to figure out how can I do this? How can I do this? And I couldn't stop and there was a grocery store next door and I told the assistant go buy me some gouda cheese go to cheese is always wrapped in red cellophane right? I have to think of everything so I came he came back with a red cellophane I taped it over my flash bam bam bam I got a red background and it wasn't ideal but it worked in the client went not bad thinking on your feet you know and that's what you have to do you've got to think on your feet a lot in the small business you don't have five advisors around you or people like john I can lean over and see john I'm stuck here one my supposed what was I gonna do with this? How am I gonna fix this? He's a great troubleshooter you don't have great troubleshooters around you every day, so you just have to think through and that's part of the reason for the discussion about blocking off time once a week for you to shoot and test and practiced and fail you're gonna fail and that's great fail fail fail fail because it it won't happen live after its failed when you were doing it by yourself you know, it's like the extra sink chords in the extra remote and the extra backup bulbs and the backup batteries which I forgot yesterday and backups of backups you guys know if you only have one of something you know it's gonna go down at some point and you're gonna get mad? Um, well, you said I had to any questions about that part of it, so I do have I have so much fun doing this? You obviously comptel, I'm pretty jazzed about photography, and I think that my, my enthusiasm for what we all get to do never wanes. In fact, my enthusiasm grows every year I'm getting more excited about photography now than it then I was when I started and then I was five years ago and three years ago, I am so more excited and I see more and more things that I want to be able to do and uh and I'm trying new things I'm a different photographer on the used to be I think my taste changes, I think all of us will change a cz you get older, you'll change how you see things and how you think about things that's great, so working in your home gives you lots of time to work in practice and test if you'll take the time to do that and be disciplined, turn off the tv you know, because when you're working home it's easy to just leave it on all day, so turn it off and go to work, okay? Lightning basics basic modifiers and we're going to talk about those a lot when we get to the next segment, we step into this little small square area er and we just gotta come up with clever ways it'll help in your small spaces if your walls are white it's not a requirement, but you can give yourself a little bit of help if you have white walls in that area if if you don't that's okay, but there's gonna be times where you don't have room for a certain tule or modifier you might with one person in that room, maybe you can get a pretty good size medium three by four soft box in there to do a head shot, but if there's a family of four, you've run out of space because you're with you just took up the with and you've gotta back up enough there's nowhere to put the box if my walls or why that convinced the light off the walls, I can get clever with using a reflector if I don't have white walls if my walls are are ten are beige erm all for whatever I can attach a white reflector or white foam core on that wall and still bounce into it aziz light source so there are options for that but think in terms of just basic modifiers you've gotta have lots and lots of tools uh the interesting thing for me about photographic equipment is that no matter what all of the stuff that that's out there in the camera stores and you walk in it is like that is disneyland for photographers I'm telling you I walk in tow a fully loaded camera store and I am just in my happy place you know and abi oh I buy so many bags I've had tohave garage sales just to get rid of my bags that I don't use anymore shoulder bags and backpacks and camera bags and rolling bags and bags I'm a bag aholic uh I'm kind of finally settling in with some bags that I really like it I'm happy with but um all of those products that are in the camera stores all of them have a right to exist they all do something that you need you know and so every time you see when I said I wanted one of those well course you that's why somebody made it they didn't make it in hopes they could talk you into it they're making stuff that we need all the gadgets and the widgets and the wedges and the little adapters and the umbrella adapters for a speed light for the slight stands and all of that stuff has we have to have it