Mobilis in Mobili: Change in the Changing

I am more than a little sleepy after spending Thursday night photographing an important Paderno photograph for an upcoming CostCo magazine, and it was a late night. I went through every lens I own [about ten] to try to properly frame the five pots on my stove without too much crop or too much extra area in the frame. It was a nightmare, but I ended up with a solid shot for the ad.

One challenge with a session like this is how do I make my kitchen into a space worthy of shooting a national ad in, while the other is how to showcase what each pot does by featuring a realistic food presentation? My answers this time through were colours and shadows and bokeh.

By using bright coloured vegetables fresh from the market as a contrast to the shadowy darkness, I was able to create a modern, but still warm and inviting photograph. These particular cookware pieces are my favourites from the Paderno line, so I wanted to make certain that the food looked good.

By using bokeh, the Japanese term for depth of field blur, the focus moves away from my nice, but wearing old, kitchen and back to the pots themselves. To be able to create bokeh requires shooting with a wide open aperture, which then requires your studio lights to be just using the modelling lights so as to get a proper exposure. It is difficult, but it is a style that has worked well for these types of sessions.

The tough part is setting up the studio around a kitchen while I cook a full dinner in five pots so that every piece of food looks fresh, but is cooked well enough that I can eat it immediately after the final photograph is cooked [I eat everything I cook, because food should never be wasted in a world with so much hunger and poverty]. I ended up turning to my Hasselblad 50mm CFi lens on a Fotodiox adapter for the Canon EOS 1DmkIII for the main shot, and a Lensbaby Composer with Double Glass Optic and f11 insert for the up-close shot. The funny part is that one lens is worth about $5000 new, while the other is more of a toy lens.

The tougher part is realizing that, after three years in business, I am now at the end of my business plan, and that means that I have to decide whether to continue photography as a business. At this stage I have accomplished so much more than I would have thought possible [book cover, cd cover, catalogue work, magazine advertisements, contest accolades, and portrait sessions for websites/babies/musicians]. I have averaged about $20 000 in invoices each year, paid my bills, travelled, bought a pretty complete set of Hasselblad cameras and lenses, and I have had 22,045 views on While We Can. I have also had to do all of this at night while working a more than full time job as a teacher and travelling the world every single free moment. Whew.

There are also financial realities to consider: the Canon 1DmkIII is getting old for professional work like I have been doing. Coming in at 10MP it is below current standards by about half. Still, it is a beautiful camera and has little wear on it other than shutter actuations. So…do I quit or buy a new camera for the business? A Hasselblad CFV50 is about $20 000, but has 50MP and will work on all of my Hasselbad gear and the Linhof View Camera . A Canon EOS 1DsmkIV is probably in the works for 32-50MP and would run about $9000, and that would allow me to carry on as usual without much workflow disruption. Hmmm.

Then there is the whole “artist” scenario. At this stage I have collected enough photographs from my travels to mount a pretty serious exhibition. I have been on the road shooting with film for three years and have done work that stands out from what others have been doing, and I believe that it would sell. But film is dying slowly here in Toronto, so I do have to learn how to develop my own work or use alternative processes.

Finally, there is the money. It has been expensive to travel. It has been expensive to buy proper professional equipment. It is expensive to do a good job. I have to consider what might happen if I lost my regular clients, and whether I would become tight for money. In this world climate, only a fool would toss abandon to the wind, and I need to decide whether to get out while the going is still good and my work is still on the top of the game.

Many things to consider, and a few decisions to make. I have given myself until the end of November to make those decisions, as that was when my first inkling of becoming a professional photographer was born on a plane coming back from Vancouver. I like circular closures and beginnings.



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