Thursday, December 19, 2013

Conversations with LUCIMA: $10k Lenses, Outsourcing Retouching, Stolen Workshops

Our new Conversations with LUCIMA here! Trying something new!
* 30 minutes
* 3 short topics
* a few familiar faces :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Conversations with LUCIMA: Gear, Nudity, Steve Jobs, Fear

From today's conversation! Trying out Google+ Hangouts On Air.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Therein Lies the Rub

We played a little game on my LUCIMA Facebook Fashion Photography Workshop page yesterday.

The game goes like this: The following set of images come from 2 films and 1 digital source. Which is which? Could you tell what films I used?

Under full disclosure, I actually don't know the answer to the question. I have to reference my Lightroom catalog to tell you the answer. But therein lies the rub. Does it matter?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Conversations with LUCIMA: Gear and Stylistic Change

Conversations with LUCIMA - Gear and Stylistic Change from Charles LUCIMA on Vimeo.

Analog Retouching Effects Rebroadcast Update

I uploaded an addendum video for all those that purchased the Analog Retouching Effects Webinar Rebroadcast. Basically a short step-by-step video covering the light-leaks I employ in some of my images. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Conversations with LUCIMA: Photography Style Reactions

Hi Charles,

Your comment about selling out hit a nerve.

It reminded me of when I first head this song back in the day:

This was Queen bemoaning the state of the music industry in the 1970's. From Miley Cyris' recent comments, nothing much has changed.

I guess my point is, how far are you willing to bend to make a living?

Queen obviously did bend. Songs such as 'Bicycle Girls' and 'Keep Yourself Alive' were paltry crap compared to their early heavy rock work laced with soaring harmonies. Blue Oyster Cult is another group that comes to mind, when thinking about how far from their core musical sensibilities they went in order to have hits on the radio.

Creatives are a dime a dozen as far as the power brokers are concerned. It does not matter what art form it is, all they want to do is figure out how to squeeze the most cash out of the creative and bend him/her to that goal.

Conversations with LUCIMA: Photography Style

Conversations with LUCIMA - Photography Style from Charles LUCIMA on Vimeo.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Next on Conversations with LUCIMA: Photography Style

So let's talk photography/retouching style next Monday afternoon at 5PM PDT in our next iteration of Conversations with LUCIMA. Here's the premise:

Everyone wants to have their own unique style and yet so few people ever develop their own style. Why? Where does style come from? Why do photographers seemingly struggle with finding their unique look? What is style? How did I develop my "look"? What's the best way to develop a style? How much of others' work should I be looking at?

I'm going to keep pushing to keep these sessions short. Last time we ended up around 40+ minutes. Come ready to participate! First come first serve as usual.

1. Please join my meeting, Oct 28, 2013 at 5:00 PM PDT.

2. Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) - a headset is required. Or, call in using your telephone.

Dial +1 (213) 493-0601
Access Code: 774-071-677
Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting

Meeting ID: 774-071-677

Conversations with LUCIMA: Pilot Episode

Join us for our next episode!

Conversations with LUCIMA from Charles LUCIMA on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Next on Conversations with LUCIMA: Pilot Episode

Who is available in 4 hours (3:30PDT) and signed up on the "Workshop Notifier" (where the subscribe button is)?

I wanna try something new. Opening it up to the few of you guys here first before making it "live". Basically a live discussion podcast style. Don't ask technical questions like "how do you do this effect" etc. It's a general discussion.

How to join:

1. Say something in this thread.
2. Join the "workshop notifier" subscription on my website because I need to email you the login details.

The discussion will only be 30 minutes. So you snooze you lose :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Some of you guys are taking the whole "being inspired" thing too seriously. The whole point of being inspired is so you can then go out and create. Some of you are making "being inspired" the end goal. A purpose all by itself.

The same is true of "perpetual students". Students that learn for the sake of learning. They never graduate. They just stay in school and keep taking classes. Of course there is nothing wrong with that as long as you're not in debt up to your eyeballs. But when all you're doing is learning but not producing/creating anything with the knowledge you've acquired, I fear you've failed the point of learning. You learn so you can do.

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's NOT Magic IV

Some more great responses. Here's one from Patrick from Belgium:

I understand what you are saying but why would you have your own images build around circumstances that happen outside your own free will? In other words why let other people influence your work as it is your work!

I mean isn’t it the photographer who is the artist and follows his feeling and evolves around himself trying to find his own way, rather than letting other people have an effect on your work?

Let me explain myself, my mother is a painter and has been all her life she is actually pretty famous in her area of expertise, watercolour. When I was a kid she painted winter landscapes and this sold like it was for free they were hot, and people loved them all around. I told my mom to start painting more winter landscapes this was what people wanted to see... She said I don’t want to paint what people want to see I want to follow my own road to wherever it leads because it is my road to travel.

I want to do what I like to do it is my passion not anyone else’s! I think that’s when I realised my mom was an artist.

It's NOT Magic III

The more I think about the "It's NOT Magic" discussion, the more I realize I am a product of my "circumstances". Each of which have a unique effect on my images. Here are some examples:

1. Trying to validate my career choice by making more money than I did at my previous job.
2. Realizing that a model's willingness to collaborate could trump her absolute look.
3. Obsessing over perfecting skin.
4. Getting yelled at by agents at modeling agencies.
5. Tiring of the standard model images which led me to...
6. Shooting faster which caused....
7. Having to look through too many pictures which caused...
8. Getting backed up on edits and trying to cut down on edits.
9. Getting told no by magazines that I'm still trying to get to this day

Saturday, September 14, 2013

It's NOT Magic II

The previous post stirred up some responses. Here's one that I thought was quite insightful. Attached is my response:

After reading the article - a number of times today - I thought I'd comment if I may. I've done two workshops with you, and probably close to ten workshops total. I've vowed to stop doing workshops. Ill explain later. To be honest I've walked away from your workshops and others very disheartened - but never at you; but because I didn't make the most of those moments. Sometimes I'm too nice to others, I don't push harder to get the image i see, I put a wall up, I lack confidence in front of others, I tire quickly because I stupidly fly to the events without rest. I walk in with a preconceived notion, I focus on one aspect, and neglect the bigger picture..I.. I.. I make excuses. And no workshop image will ever really make me feel complete - because it's not really mine, not completely. But it's a stepping stone. In the same way, mimicking someone's style is not me. Granted I gravitate toward certain aspects, certain styles. But the truth be known - my photography doesn't not resemble me - or the best of me. It's a watered down version because I'm mimicking others and I lost me along life's journey. I became something others expected, but never good enough. I lack the confidence - the truth of me.

There's a point you really need to stop chasing and make a stand.

Charles, you freely give all the information - but many times the student may not know himself / herself well enough to be asking the right questions for them.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's NOT Magic

Or is it magic?
I teach private workshops.

On more than 1 private workshop I have disappointed my workshop photographer/student.

They always say the same thing.

"I keep waiting for you to show me that one thing that you do that makes your pictures the way they look"

Am I pulling punches? Am I afraid to give away the secret sauce? Am I hiding the magic bullet?


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Audioengine A5+ vs. Emotiva Airmotiv 5

An atypical post on my part but indirectly related to photography since many of us listen to music while editing. I wanted to upgrade my sound setup in the office and auditioned the Audioengine A5+ and Emotiva Airmotiv 5.

Here's the setup:

MacBook Pro
TOSLINK to Mini cable
Schiit Bifrost DAC "Uber board"
RCA output

Friday, August 2, 2013

10 Things Millenials Won't Tell You

Yup, this pretty much captures the essence of the millenials.

Social commentary is a consistent theme on this blog. It stems from the fact that the industry is chock-full of young people, most of whom are millenials. The unrealistic expectations and poor professionalism married to a high level of independence and creativity is confounding at best.

So when I came across this article, I had a read through it. It validates many of my suspicions and sadly does little to refute my problems with the millenials.

For the record. I lie just outside the Gen Y lines. I think they consider me Gen X. But I see lots of myself in Gen Y.

Here's the problem with each finding. I think it's implicit but the article doesn't go far enough.

1. Millenials blame the parents for the way they are. Sure. You can blame the parents. You can blame the world. But at what point does someone assume responsibility for their own actions, their own life, their own results? You're misunderstand? Bitch, please.

2. Millenials wanna be the wealthiest 1% of the population. And I want a pony. The thing we have in common is neither of us are working towards that goal.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Medium Format Satire

I have a consultation with a private equity firm about the medium format camera industry. Lots of what I'm going to say is personal. But most of it is founded in cold hard facts. So if you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen. Here are the Q/A talking points:

Q: Key selling points – which features are most important for you as an user?

A: I preface this answer with my philosophy as far as cameras go. The camera is a tool. It's function is to facilitate in executing my vision. The more "invisible" a tool is the better. That is to say the tool should create a frictionless and seamless experience in performing its primary function.

As a professional the camera has many functions. Even serving to impress clients. However that is not its primary function. Regarding a medium format camera's primary functions I want 35mm dSLR "speed" and "usability" combined with medium format quality imaging.

Speed. A word used to describe just the speed at which a photographer can capture a scene. Often used to describe lenses with large apertures. I use this term very fluidly. It describes low light (high-ISO) performance. Frames per second. Responsiveness in operation (e.g. zooming into an image, scrolling through pictures, focus-point adjustments, etc.). Large frame buffer and ability write to disk. Rate of shooting in frames per second. Large-aperture lenses. Autofocus accuracy and acquisition...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Truth about Lightroom Develop Defaults Settings II

In response to my last post, Sehmuz wrote the following. If you guys don't know, Sehmuz is very technically sound. I would think twice before challenging his technical knowledge if I were you :)

Q: I take it that you're not using the LR5 yet, cause with that you wont even get the exclamation mark. And LR5 comes with 2012 raw processing that you have to convert to and it is really good :)

Anyways I disagree most of what you said about LR4 (it is same RAW processor is as CS6 ACR btw).

LR4 converted me back to Lightroom from Capture One, cause it actually deals with all aspects of the image histogram properly (at least in the Basic Settings). No more ambiguous Exposure vs Brightness crap, or Fill light or Recovery BS. And you can actually 0 out the settings (even though you may not like what 0 is, but they are actual 0s from the processing perspective ). And since the LR3 basic settings were overlapping and ambiguous the conversion from LR3 settings to LR4 settings are not what you want to leave to Lightroom. It does a good job in some cases but messes up in most. You need to build your new default setting manually if you want to see a specific look from LR4 rather than autoconverting the default preset. I find LR5 does a little better job in the autoconversion but any localized adjustments may be zeroed out.

If you want to achieve the same look I suggest the following:

1. Create Virtual Copy
2. Change Processing to the latest version in the Virtual Copy <-Lightroom will apply default settings 3. Zero out the settings in Basic and curves (other than the Color Balance) 4. Go up to the histogram, and match it as much as you can to the original histogram by simply moving it around, the sliders will adjust automatically 5. Fine tune the sliders, at this point should be easy because each slider directly moves one specific part of the histogram. 6. Fine tune contrast through slider or tone curve.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Q/A Paid/Unpaid Testing and Revenue Streams

Q: Hope this message finds you well. I am definitely a fan of your work, not only in your portfolio but also with your marketing. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't see your avatar here on MM. Great job!!!

I do have a question about your line of work I hope you can help me out. Like you, there are other very well known photographers who are constantly shooting with well known and beautiful models. My question is, who is making money in these shoots? Are models charging you, are you charging them? Since I consider both your models and yourself to be equal in talent and a high stage in your careers, do rates cancel each other out and you basically get together and shoot w/ no compensation? I'm really interested in where the source of income comes in from. Right now, I'm shooting friends and also booking TF shoots with models here on MM who like my concepts... but at some point either party has to make money!

Just feeling a bit confused and naive about our industry at your level. Hope you can clear things up for me.

I truly appreciate you!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Truth about Lightroom Develop Defaults Settings

If you've taken any of my fashion photography workshops then you know that I'm a big fan of the photographer making his/her own decisions. That means not allowing in-camera JPEG (or RAW) settings to affect what you see. That means making sure your camera back (and monitor) display is not set too bright or providing too much contrast. The point is to see the shot accurately represented rather than sugar-coated with enhancements. Why? Because if my tools are fooling me into believing that the shot is different from what it really is (e.g. more contrast), then I can't make proper adjustments at the time of capture.

The same thought process applies to editing.

Lightroom is a digital asset management tool that builds in many basic Photoshop adjustment functions. I understand that for most users, Lr is the "final destination" and thus Adobe makes it easy for users to batch process multiple images and even applies basic default adjustments that make 95% of users "happy".

I'm not one of those 95% and I am very unhappy with the default Develop settings.

I've always had gripes about Lightroom's default adjustments. I noticed this in Lightroom 3 but thought it more of a pet-peeve than a violation of "free-will". Upon converting to Lightroom 4, the curtains were pulled and I saw Lightroom for the puppet-master that it really was.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tip of the day: What to do when people don't like your work

Skyfall. Perhaps the most "unique" image I've shot in recent history

Usually these posts are technical in nature. How to do something specific. How to read a histogram. How to select good models. Etc. Or at least I think those are some of the posts from past ToTD. Today I want to talk about what you should do when people don't like your work.

The question stems from a Facebook message I got from a photographer asking the following:

Q: Is there any style when photographing runway? I ask for many reasons. One is that some other people tend to discredit my work, while claiming that it lacks interest. I enjoy shooting runway, and have a passion for it, yet these concerns are brought forth to my immediate attention. From your perspective, in this fashion industry, are there many other photographers trying to get or take advantage of other photographers to get ahead?

CL: Why do you think people claim that your work "lacks interest"?

Q: Well, a couple of people brought it to my attention that my work lacks sophistication. And then tore apart my magazine, saying that it has no style and that a 12th grader could have done the text. Is it just jealousy or envy?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Scalable Storage and Backup VI


I've renamed my 2 most recent posts with the "Scalable Storage and Backup" header so all 5 previous posts should be searchable if you want to read about this crazy journey.

You can also read about the original set of posts under "File Storage Upgrades" via the search bar on the right.

Let me reprise the premise. I have a lot of media that I need to access. My first and foremost concern is security and secondly speed.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Goals & My Year in Review

I wrote the blog post below with the intention of sharing it in January, but low and behold life happens and never got around to finishing this until now.
Hi, I'm back for another contribution to the LUCIMA blog!

At the start of a new year I like to look back, revisit where I've been and what I've done.  I'm constantly pushing myself to new heights and levels. I don't want to be at a point where I'm complacent with my work. I like to set goals for myself.  Goals that are attainable, but still tough enough that I have to work for it.

I'm going to bring it back to 2011 to set the tone with how my 2012 went.  I'll make some references to 2011 so bare with me.

Back in December 2011 I was talking with my wife about goals to set out for the new year.  The conversation went something like this "I want to get published in another print magazine, become an agency approved photographer for X and Y agencies and start shooting video with a DSLR."  To me those were some lofty goals.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Photoshop CS6 Liquify RGB vs. B&W

I don't know how I didn't notice this before. Perhaps it's because I don't typically export B&W images from Lightroom to edit in Photoshop. That is, I usually convert to B&W in Photoshop. But I've recently discovered that Photoshop liquifies my images differently if they're in natively in color versus if they're natively in B&W.

This is my setup. Lord knows I could use more than 8GB of RAM on my mid-2010 model MacBook Pro.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Oh dear...

Never talked about artistry before. Honestly it's never interested me. Because I never thought of myself as an artist. I always thought it was pretentious to say,

"Yeah, I'm an ar-tíste"

After all, I'm missing the Mario moustache, the horn-rimmed glasses, the beanie and/or the emaciated physique.

Oh wait, that's a hipster.

In all seriousness I hadn't thought much of artistry because I never felt like I understood what artistry was. Four years into photography however, I finally think I have an idea. And it's not what I thought it would be. I thought it would be responding to some divine calling. Voices in my head. Seeing visions that I would have to magically etherealize into art.

Nope. Turns artistry is just being poor and hungry all the time.



Meta capture

This is a post about blogging about blogging. Hence the title meta-blogging.

Writing is important to me because it allows me to organize my thoughts. Sometimes I start a post only as an initial reaction to something but not knowing exactly how I want to conclude the article. Those posts are often the most insightful into my own thought processes, my belief system, and most "revelating" (revelate is not an actual word) in general. My final take on these posts will often surface late in the process of writing; a process which is very much an internal and rhetorical debate.

But my best posts are the ones that I can finish in a single sitting. If it takes more than one sitting, I find that I lose my train of thought and/or I introduce new lines of thought, arguments, opposing ideas even. Not good for the reader. Often more confusing than revealing.


Booking a direct flight to Tatooine now ;)

Now if I could only figure out where in Tunisia the set is exactly...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cavalli Photoshopping Beyoncé: Who's to Blame?

I don't often read the news but I saw this in the news recently. "Cavalli announced via email that Bey wore a special Roberto Cavalli "created exclusively for her 'The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour'" at her recent concert, a multicolored silk gown with gold embellishments and cutouts."

And with this they attached the image above.

Oh no they didn't!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Podcast: Instagram and Retouching (the lost podcast)

For those of you that have been to my fashion photography group workshops (or webinars), you've undoubtedly seen the desktop of my computer which is cluttered with drives, pictures, and random folders. As I was cleaning up my desktop today I stumbled across 2 podcasts that I never uploaded. I listened to them, they're intact and ready for consumption.

Hope you enjoy our brief discussion on Instagram, retouching, creating styles, and much more!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Intel's new Haswell processor

In contemplating a new MacBook Pro I've been anxiously awaiting the release of the Haswell processor from Intel. It looks like a modest bump in speed but even more impressively with better efficiency. Read on to see why I'm so excited!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Disk Utility and Invalid Content

A partition on my 2nd OWC Elite Qx2 disappeared off my desktop and then failed to mount. Not sure why this happened but it had me worried for about 15 minutes. These following links helped me resolve the issue:

While I was in Disk Utility I also took the time to verify all of my drives/partitions and repair some permissions just to stave off future catastrophic failures. Toying with the idea of a single 8-bay RAID to combine the media servers and then repurpose them for other duties. Needless to say I'm outgrowing my infrastructure... again!

Chicago Sun-Times

More proof that the photography world is changing quickly. The Chicago Sun-Times has recently laid off all their staff photographers and is switching to freelance photographers and reporters. And they are emphasizing the importance of future news on video.

What does this mean for me and you?

For starters this doesn't really affect me at all. It's basic business and economics. Cut costs or increase revenues to increase net profits. Supply and demand dictate the going rate. Looks like there are too many photographers and not enough jobs. I'm not surprised. Everyone with an iPhone is now a photographer. As of March 2011 there have been 108MM iPhones sold.

That's a lot of potential reporters.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Scalable Storage and Backup V: Western Digital Caviar Green versus Seagate Barracuda

Another one bites the dust...

I have 2 OWC Elite-Al Pro Qx2 sitting on my desktop. They safeguard the library of photos and videos that I have created over the years.

The first OWC Elite-Al Pro Qx2 houses 4 Western Digital 1.5 TB Caviar Green drives. Since inception I've had 2-3 drives fail.

The second OWC Elite-Al Pro Qx2 houses 4 Seagate Barracuda 1.5 TB 7200.11 drives (ST31500341AS). Since inception I've had nearly 10 fail.

I've had the RAID enclosure with the Western Digital drives almost twice as long as I've had the RAID enclosure with the Seagate drives.

I've sent the OWC Elite-Al Pro Qx2 housing the Seagate drives back to OWC twice to have it checked for problems. Each time OWC has sent me a new (refurbished) enclosure.

Without a doubt in my mind the Seagate drives are not RAID worthy. They definitely don't play well with the OWC Qx2 enclosure.

It's no one's fault. I'm not blaming Seagate or OWC. I probably shouldn't have used a non-RAID specific drive in a RAID box.

It's nice that the WD Caviar Greens are so reliable though. Love them.

Update: Looking through the shipping receipts I last received warranty returned drives from Seagate on 11/6/12 and 5/3/13. One of them was NOT a ST31500341AS but rather a ST1500DM003. The ST1500DM003 has 64MB cache versus the 32MB cache ST31500341AS.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

More on Creativity and Inspiration

Lance never admitted this but he basically discovered the drug otherwise known as, "Asshole".

This is a continuation of the Q/A from the post below:

A: About your current progress. I used to think that being in the game for 2 years was a long time. But as time progressed I realized that quantifying what I had learned in years and months was not only pointless but also unfair to my personal growth. Why? Because I knew photographers with 30 years of "experience" that were absolutely lousy. Similarly I knew photographers with 4-5 years of experience that were simply amazing. Time is not equal for everyone. But regardless of such, if you truly want to be a fashion photographer, you have to be willing to dedicate your entire life to this journey!

And with that being said you need to give yourself time. Time is your best friend right now. Especially since you aren't "responsible" to anyone for creating anything. One day you'll miss the days when you didn't have external expectations and pressures to create!

Q/A Inspiration, Fundamentals, Model Direction and More

Landfall with Brianna. A combination of a few inspirations that have helped me lately.

Q: I really really like your work. I have followed it for quite a while now would like to know if I can schedule the workshop mentioned. My dream is to become a photographer! I am pretty tired of dreaming now! I have been shooting for a year now, have read what feels like a million books and studied so many images, but I know I am missing something that I am hoping I can learn from you after seeing the results of different photographers you taught. I would like your help if you would offer it, I am willing to pay just in hopes that I can get a date to have a session in June. I would also like to know how much more the one-on-one option for this course would be and what exactly I would need to bring in regards to equipment.

A: The one-on-one option is best described this way.

As far as equipment you don't need much. In fact you probably have everything you need. I recommend a 50mm and a digital SLR body. That's it. No lightmeter, no white balance cards, no doohickeys and whatchamacallits.

Let me know if you have any other questions I can answer! What specifically would we focus on?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Skyscape" Post-Processing Video Commentary

Quick analysis on the challenges of the image I titled "Skypscape" taken at the Lautner-Goldstein house

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lautner-Goldstein Epilogue

Skylights with Corrie

I remember saying to my wife on Saturday night that I gave myself a 7 out of 10 for this performance.

I arrived at the location at at 1PM. The sun had already moved to its 1 o'clock position. My initial reaction to the house was, "This is a lot smaller than it appears in the pictures". Likely a result from all the wide-angle shots.

As we entered the "skyscape" designed by James Turrell, I remember thinking, "Now this is a lot bigger than I thought it would be!"

The property itself spans 4 different lots of land and requires a little bit of hiking to navigate if you are outside the main structure. The landscaping is lush and rain forest like and apparently has flora from something like 8 different climates. Elevation changes throughout the property is drastic since the entire property resides on the side of a hill. I spent a fair amount of time hiking up and down stairs throughout the day.

Our property manager/guide Dave was very hospitable. He helped us with whatever he could do to accommodate our shoot. There weren't any unforeseeable circumstances or surprises on that front.

But let's get specific.

Lautner-Goldstein Prep

What's in the bag for the shoot?

There's so much to like about the Sheats-Goldstein (aka Lautner-Goldstein) residence. The fact that it has made numerous appearances in movies (e.g. Big Lebowski, etc.) and countless magazines make it a "well-shot" location. Meaning that the obvious shots have already been done before.

The house is chock-full of glass. One of my personal favorites at locations in general. With glass comes transparency and reflections. Depending on the shot, I'm happy to have the opportunity to leverage the transparency (and opacity) with some circular polarizers.

Transparency is an interesting thing. The residence is built on layers (3 if I count correctly for the main building) and has been remodeled since James Goldstein took ownership of it in 1972. And since John Lautner's death in 1994, the residence continues to expand (with Goldstein's guidance) with the same stylistic brushstroke since its inception. On one hand it's completely consistent with the original concept and on the other hand it has taken many revisions and iterations to get the property to where it is today.

Kudos to Goldstein for dedicating endless time and effort on this quest for perfection.

Back to transparency. It's both really simple and complex. Like layers and of glass there is significant transparency but there is also the complexity behind the reason for its existence. For example, the master bathroom's sink is made out of glass so that it does not obstruct the view. The ceiling in the living room is semi-transparent with 750 drinking glass skylights in the coffers. Throughout the house glass slides in and out on command, to remove what little stands between you and the rest of the world.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Lautner-Goldstein Recon

aka Sheats-Goldstein Residence but I prefer to call it the Lautner-Goldstein Residence

When I say do your homework, this is the kind of homework I'm talking about. I can confidently say that I know my way around this place without having ever stepped foot onto the property before.

You're probably thinking, "What's the big deal? It's just pictures of the location..."

It took me 4 hours to find all the images, sort them, watch the videos, and then compile them into the stitched image above. The blueprints and models took a while to understand because there are several iterations of the property throughout the years especially with the development of the new entertainment  structure.

Click on the image above for the original sized image.

Next I'll decide how to shoot the location before arriving.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

RAW Adjustments as part of the "Balancing" in the LUCIMA Workflow

RAW Adjustments as part of the "Balancing" in the LUCIMA Workflow from Charles LUCIMA on Vimeo.

This is just the beginning of the "Balancing" act (pun intended).

And it (the intro video above) covers only what I do with the B&W versions.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lighting-Retouching Video Commentary

I receive emails with questions from time to time and sometimes I make it a Q/A session that I share here. I have been toying around with the idea of making these Q/A posts more educational by recording them as blog videos posts and leveraging the power of imagery to enhance what I'm trying to say.

Here's the additional email that went with this video response:

More Imagination II

Here's the epilogue to this little story which is the educational value of this whole exercise:

Antonio: I apologize for the inconvenience Lucima, I meant no disrespect with the Kate Compton video replication. We didn't expect it to gain any traction as my videos aren't very popular. I saw your beautiful video and tried to replicate it.

I sent the idea over to a model and we loved it. We wanted to give it a shot. I'll take it down if you'd like. I meant no disrespect whatsoever. I'm a really small fish lol and a really big fan of yours.

In my description of the video, I posted that it was inspired by you.

Pleas let me know how you'd like for me to proceed. Keep in mind that right now, I am sending a message to one of my friggin IDOL's in this industry lol

Sunday, May 5, 2013

5 things you don't know about Charles LUCIMA

I can't say that this picture doesn't make me a little queazy...

I sometimes dream that the baby is going to fall off the bed. Which causes me to jump out of the bed and try to catch her right as she is going over the edge. Except she's not on the bed. She doesn't even sleep in our bed. Needless to say, my wife does not appreciate my middle of the night antics.

My heart is capable of 184bpm for 26 minutes. I'm 34 years old. This was self-induced and recorded on Within those 26 minutes I averaged 188bpm for 11 minutes. Yes, I thought I was going to be sick.

I have a bottle of Gillette aftershave that I purchased in 1992. I still use it from time to time.

I've gotten food poisoning from eating Costco hot dogs three times in a row (all from the same Costco). I'm contemplating going back for a fourth attempt to prove that those three occurrences were merely isolated coincidental experiences.

On a regular basis I neither wear a watch nor any other jewelry (including my wedding ring). I don't want to scratch the photography equipment or the computer equipment.

I haven't checked my twitter account in months.

If I had 2 weeks to live, I would live my dying days out on Bora Bora.

More Imagination

A Facebook photographer sent me this and said this reminded him of a video I did a while back.

Nope, doesn't look familiar at all.

LOL :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Q/A The Business of Fashion Photography II (10-week Masterclass)

Iso. Shot and edited for the Ice House Fashion Photography Workshop in April.

Q: It's funny that you responded today b/c I was just considering sucking it up & registering for the NY Film Academy 12-week evening course. It's roughly $5,000 starting June 10th. I would like to be able to add Fashion-Editorial films to my tool belt. The problem is I really haven't identified a market for my services yet. So every dollar spent feels like a sunk cost. I can also see the industry changing quite a bit due to saturation and reduced creative spend. Shooting part-time doesn't help matters. These are all things you must have experienced and successfully navigated at some point in time.
With that said, would you say your masters class is a right fit for me or someone with more commercial experience?

A: I taught at NYFA here at Universal Studios to their 2-year MFA students. I have met the 1-year program photographers as well. What does your 12-week class cover?

I understand your financial/business assessment of the classes that you're considering. If you get a chance read this article.

With someone that's goal-oriented I doubt that anything learned would be wasted. For someone like you, being too purpose-driven might actually be a problem. You don't do things unless you see the end vision. But sometimes you can't see the end game though. Sometimes the end game doesn't reveal itself until halfway through the current project. Of course being able to course-correct and navigate to new goals is paramount, which I'm sure you're capable of. So instead the question becomes, "Do you have the faith and the drive to sustain yourself from one goal to another?"

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Q/A The Business of Fashion Photography

And Personal from the LA Splash Cosmetics shoot

Q: I'm very interested in learning more about your workshop dedicated to the business of fashion photography. If you have further information on line feel free to point me to it.

My region has a small but building community and some of the designers are getting noticed appearing in Fashion Week NYC and South Beach. I have a good working relationship with some and there are four local agencies here. By happenstance in the last few months a few women who are represented have been appearing at my door step for shoots.

I noticed that you do test shoots for Ford (envious) but your style, skill, and experience show your worth. I'm not kidding myself. I still have much to learn but have been trying to seek out the best teachers and mentors who are doing what I aspire to avoid common mistakes, get on the fast track of learning all while paying my dues.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Enduro shot and edited for LA Splash Cosmetics.

SCE (Southern California Edison) just shut our power off an hour ago and my drives are off, display is off, printer is off (not like I print much anyway as I'm patiently awaiting a new Canon PIXMA 9500 MKII printer head and ink), and admittedly it's kind of nice having all these "distractions" turned off.

Running on battery power on the MacBook Pro and tethered to the iPhone for Internet. Maybe I should disconnect from the Internet too?

Now that would really feel like "old times".

I loved this shot. I haven't talked at all about this shoot and I probably will shortly in a web video or video journal. I'm starting/trying something new but it's still too early to unveil anything. I'm not even sure what's going on but as I mentioned last night, "something is happening".

Quickly on the retouch of this shot. It took me at least 3 sittings to finish this image. Cracked/dry skin, overdrawn lips, difference in exposure, eyebrows, etc. each face required at least 1.5 hours to edit and since there are 3 faces I spent at least 4.5 hours on this shot when it was all said and done. I liked this shot but I'll be the first to tell you that editing beauty shots of multiple faces is tough!

One Reason For Less Posts

When I posted about the new webinar video I suddenly realized I hadn't posted anything here in weeks. It's not that I don't have anything to say. I have plenty to say. I don't post as often because I'm not sure this is the proper medium for my posts.

It was certainly easier to talk about my journey as a photographer when I was anonymous. I didn't have to think about the repercussions of my posts. I didn't have to consider how this content would be received. In essence I would post whatever I wanted whenever I felt like it. My posts would be half-baked thoughts, summaries, random ideas.

These days I feel like I have to offer more complete ideas. Better educational pieces. Bullet-proof arguments. Questions with solutions. I have to be responsible to the audience and to the brand.

But that sense of responsibility hinders my ability to produce content on a more regular basis. It means that there are several unfinished and unpublished posts on this blog. It means I can't share all the ideas that I have in my head.

But what it really means is that weeks can pass without any activity on this blog.

But let's start here. I'm not sure what I want to do with this blog. All I know is that change is coming...

Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Model Direction/Interaction Webinar

It's finally done. Today's webinar is now part of a 3-part (soon to be 4-part) Model Interaction/Direction webinar. It took 3 tries but today's was arguably the best yet. Thanks to Kevin, Mark, Rodney, Joel, Gianni, Matt, Jim, and Ken hopefully I didn't forget anyone but thanks again to all the workshop photographers.

As you can see the video is uploading as we speak. It will take a good 1/2 day so check it tomorrow (if you're registered) and it will be done.

I'll be emailing the slides now to all enrolled in this webinar!

For non-registered photographers please see here for the registration page!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Waste of Time

Reminiscing the days we used to run de_dust 24/7 on

My dad once said that if I spent as much time studying as I did looking for love, my grades would be a lot better.

Yeah, that was high school.

Since then I've held odd jobs and odder hobbies. But looking back at my previous experiences I can identify where I acquired each of the skill sets I now use to run what you know as LUCIMA.

In late 1999, I started playing a game called Counter-Strike. A first-player shooter built off of Valve's Half-Life physics engine, Counter-Strike was IMHO the first rampantly played multiplayer FPS (I think even before Team Fortress became popular... well at least it overtook Team Fortress quickly!). Considering that it was a mod of Half-Life is truly impressive. Basically 2 guys (Gooseman and Cliffe) in a garage modifying the Valve code into a different framework that had a different set of objectives, weaponry, and scenarios. Originally a free download on top of the Half-Life game, Counter-Strike was eventually sold to Valve (for probably a substantial amount of money) and sold directly via Valve as a standalone game.

Monday, March 18, 2013

When to Hold 'em and When to Fold 'em

My past life...

Been reading a post on ModelMayhem about giving up on photography:

I have committed to photography full time now and it seems as though I will never see the light at the end of the tunnel. Looking for any encouragement from full-time photographers and would love to hear about any rough times they had and how they got through it.

And as I was flipping through some of my older blog content I found a post about an Avedon quote about Maniacs.

I read it and was fired up to write a similar post. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, "You gotta know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em" and perhaps that's a greater lesson than just learning pure persistence.

Here's an example of knowing when "to hold 'em".

It took me 16 hours for me to finish Ironman NYC.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Highlight Recovery

No highlight recovery for you Leica M-Monochrom!

I never asked the question, "How does highlight recovery work?" or "How does Camera RAW know what lies outside the histogram?"

It wasn't until I was reading up on the Leica M-Monochrom that I learned that highlight recovery comes from getting data from one of the other channels that aren't blown out.

Silly me. I should have known.

From the M-Monochrom preview on

There are drawbacks, of course - the 'headroom' found in Raw files comes mainly from the fact that bright regions have usually only over-exposed one of the three color channels, with usable data still available for the other two channels. With a true mono sensor, any overexposure is absolute - once the channel has clipped to white, there's no chance of recovery. Equally, anyone who has got used to producing mono images by converting color images, with all the selective color mixing that brings, will have to get used to pulling the correct color filter out of their camera bag at the point of capture.

This also explains why recovered highlights don't always look "optimal" sometimes there's still something muddy about the detail recovered especially when 2 channels are blown. And apparently not all cameras are created equal in their ability to recover highlights. Read this for more in-depth explanation on how highlight recovery works.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tip of the Day: Exposing Your Weaknesses with a Mountain Bike

So I wrote this blog entry a while back about using an iPhone4 to expose you photography weaknesses because of the limited dynamic range, shooting speeds, write speeds, controls, etc.

Today I'm going to tell you how you can further expose your weaknesses but not with anything camera-related. But instead, with a mountain bike.

Yesterday, my friend Billy and I were in the local mountains (above Jet Propulsion Laboratory) riding a well-known trail. The climb uphill was uneventful as usual. Coming down, Billy was right behind me the whole time as I could hear his brakes squealing like a stuck pig. Ending our descent, I entered the landing area (called the Saddleback) where we usually regroup. I slowed to a stop and turned the bike around fully expecting to see Billy come shooting out of the trail into the landing area.

But he did not.

A minute passed and I started to get worried. It made no sense that he hadn't shown up yet since he was hot on my tail earlier. Wondering if maybe he took a spill, I rode up the trail to find him.

I didn't have to go far before I found Billy hobbling onto his bike.

"What happened?"

"I didn't see the log"

The aforementioned log is a fallen tree that runs exactly perpendicular to the trail and looks like the one below but bigger/taller and you can't go around it (we were on a singletrack).

Monday, March 4, 2013

D800, PhaseOne IQ2, Thoughts

Thank you Ken Rockwell for your contribution to this blog :)

Shot all day with the D800 yesterday.

After configuring the camera to my preferences the first thing that I noticed when reaching back for the D3 was that the screen size on the D800 was slightly bigger. Noticeable? No. But when I switched back to the D3, the screen seemed smaller.

Settings and interface mostly the same. Nothing to write home about. The camera felt a little plastic to me though. It certainly wasn't as heavy as I thought it would have weighed. Not sure why. Felt consumerish and not pro. Mounting some of my non internal focus lenses made the whole unit sound loud and rickety. I suppose that's the difference on a pro body.

The missing vertical grip killed me. I never thought I would "need" the vertical grip. I was wrong. Furthermore the missing LCD *on* the vertical grip with the WB info and the ISO information was very unpleasant. There are buttons there too. If you aren't familiar with the backside of the D3 take a look above. Not being able to see immediately the format and the configuration of the dual card slots was annoying too.

Speaking of dual card slots, they write at different speeds (particularly when the cards are set to write different formats and the cards have different speed ratings). You pop in 2 cards and make them write stuff simultaneously and you're waiting for BOTH cards to finish writing once you run out of buffer. Sure, one is faster than the other. But you're waiting on the slower one to finish writing (usually the SD card) before you can shoot again. That makes for an annoyance if you want to shoot faster. Get rid of 1 card or don't write to both or get a uber faster SD card.

It was nice to have Nikon build in that D3-type redundancy into the D800 though. That's definitely a pro feature.

Friday, March 1, 2013

How Do You Define Success?

"Fire and Ice" The location for our next fashion photography workshop!

Q: I hope you're doing well, and congratulations (!). I love all the new work, and look up to you as I try to progress through this very strange world of fashion photography.

I wanted to ask you for a little advice. I'm having a mini-crisis of faith. I've been shooting fashion and tests for a year or two. I'm very critical of my own work, but I see some improvement. I was shooting free tests for a couple of small/medium agencies, and occasionally booking some shoots through MM. I have only one publication in a print (small teen fashion mag) which I got through a casting call on MM a year ago. I usually shoot on location, mostly because it's interesting, but also because it saves money. Sometimes the agents ask me to pick up and drop off the girl. Generally they seem happy with my work, since it ends up on their board and they send me packages whenever I ask for them.

I just started testing with HMM. When I set up the first test, I didn't mention pay and neither did the agent/booker. It's not that I have to get paid, but it would nice, and seems like it would mean I've reached "the next level", where people pay to shoot with me. Maybe I'm wrong about the symbolism.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Shots That Are "Not Obvious"

Laguna Beach Ice House

Q: I see you promoting the Laguna Workshop and, as always, you've caught my attention. That said, you've now had the pleasure of my company for a couple of workshops. Hopefully gotten a sense of who I am as well as a sense as to where I am with my photography. Is the Laguna workshop something that I should be interested in attending or should I be considering something from you that is more tailored to me?

No right or wrong answer here, but I figured that the educator in you would have an interesting perspective.

A: So this is a good opportunity for me to evaluate you and for you to evaluate yourself without the knowledge of the content of the class (just yet).

And no worries, I won't cheat and tailor the group content to you :) I've already decided what the subject matters are.

With that said, the topics for my group workshops are typically broadish and appeal to the masses. It's just the nature of the beast. Kind of like a fortune cookie giving you something everyone can relate to :)

But please tell me what you need to work on?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What Is Your "Super-Power"? Part II

Simplicity at its best.

Honestly, I don't know.

(As an aside, I love disclaiming that I don't know because honestly I so often do not know!)

Mine (I wonder) could be an ability to reduce things to it's most basic form and to make things utterly transparent?

Whether it's being able to ask basic questions to really understand what drives people? Drivers that most people aren't even aware they're governed by.

Whether it's being to pull off the mask of society and explain exactly what pretenses we live under?

Or whether it's my own relentless honesty that I reveal myself to people on a regular basis? The same relentless honesty that holds me to the standards I have to live up to.

It's even in my photography. I run a no frills enterprise. I don't use elaborate props, setups, makeup, wardrobe.

That's all I could think of lying in bed. I have this undying curiosity to understand things and what makes things tick. Whether it's people, places, situations, expectations, etc. It's not exactly a thirst for knowledge as much as it is a desire to connect on a more fundamental level. I just like seeing what's behind the curtain and what's really going on behind it all...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What is your "Super-Power"?

What is your "super-power"?

One of my workshop photographers asked me this question and I wanted to share with you his original article. While I have a response to this question I wanted to direct you guys to his original post so you "get the full effect" before I dilute the question with my own answer.

As you guys know, I'm a huge advocate of self-discovery. I believe that questions like this are critical to our success or lack thereof. I behoove you all to think about your own "super-power"!

Props to Oliver for writing this masterpiece!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Death is Life's change agent

As I'm thinking about life, change, and death I suddenly remember Steve Jobs' Stanford commencement speech,

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Listen to Steve.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Q/A Analog Retouching versus Lighting?

Oceans Away II

Q: I am wondering if you are planning to touch on lighting and how it affects how you retouch a photo in this workshop. In our prior email Q&A, you stated that a photographer needs to think about he is going to retouch an image when he sets up his lighting, so I'm hoping to get some more insight on this relationship.

A: Fantastic question.

The short answer is no, and I'll explain why.

When I look at my entire workflow, as an artist I do not differentiate between the beginning and the end. My workflow takes all things into consideration somewhat simultaneously. It's vertically-integrated but non-linear. It does not define boundaries between where one consideration starts and another ends. For example, when I retouch a shot like the image above I don't think in terms of step 1: cleanup/fix, step 2: balance the image, step 3: enhance. Instead, I experiment. Originally I thought this would fare better in B&W. But with the couch colors and the skin tones, I felt that I lost more than I gained by going B&W. And with the color processing, I still wanted to emphasize contrast but I didn't want the over-the-top contrast that screams "I used a digital camera and processed the hell out of it in Photoshop". So throughout my processing I went back-and-forth between layers. I'd try something, then adjust another layer, then go back and adjust the original one, then add a new one and rebalance the whole equation. The final product was the result of a lot of "negotiation".

And this works as an artist. But it doesn't work as an educator because no one can understand what the hell you're doing.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Location Scouting. One of the many perks of being a photographer.

This is not a post about improving skill sets.

This is not a post about being more efficient in any function of photography.

This post is about how we as human beings are either "efficient" or "inefficient" in our chosen professions and how that translates into rewards, whether those rewards are monetary, status, or something abstract like happiness.

Q/A Model Direction and Lighting

Q: The biggest issue I have is giving direction to models. Experienced models are not a problem, but communicating the poses and expressions I'm looking for to inexperienced models is kinda a challenge.

The next issue is lighting with strobes. I have a bit of a background in video so I'm confident working with tungsten lighting and gels. Strobe lighting on the other hand is kicking my ass. The link I sent is from a shoot where I shoot over a thousand pictures. I shoot that many mainly because of trial and error when working with spots, flat lighting, dull colors, so on.

A: The first issue you raise is an abstract issue. That's like asking, "How do I make my unmotivated employees more productive?" There are THOUSANDS of books on that topic and there is no "right" answer.

And likewise, all I can do is show you how I do it! I have a bag of tips and tricks and many suggestions to aid you in this endeavor. I have shot my fair share of "newbies" on my journey. But I'll be the first to admit, I'd rather shoot an experienced model any day!

Strobes. That's a technical question. This is more right versus wrong. I do believe that there are definitive answers for this subject matter.

Let me first suggest (and please don't take offense) that perhaps your understanding of lighting via your video work is not as solid as you might believe and thus creates the challenges you are experiencing. For example, I know many a wedding photographer that thinks he/she knows "lighting". Yet their solution for any shot is to find shade and hope for an overcast day and NEVER shoot at noon. False, false and false.

Being good at lighting means being able to articulate what makes good light and what makes bad light. This (verbal) articulation gives us grounds to make the light "better". The problem is that most people can not verbally describe the difference between good and bad light. To most people it's a "gut feeling". They'll say, "this picture just looks better than the other". But they can't explain why. Which is fine for ordinary folk but that's not good enough for us as photographers. We have to alter the light to make it "better". But it should only be trial and error for a few test shots. It should not be an ongoing experiment with no end.

Hot spots, flat lighting, uneven exposure, etc. are all symptoms but the real source of the issue is the understanding of light.

This I can help you with as well!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Q/A Location Workshop versus Business Workshop

Desert Black

Q: I like the topics covered in your business workshop. But I would like to do a private location workshop (with the Desert Black photo). My question is, can we combine the topics from the business workshop with the material from the location workshop? Or would this be too much?

A: I designed the 9-hour (DESERT BLACK) location private workshop to alleviate all fears of shooting outdoors. Whether it's with the sun or against the sun, with or without reflectors, with or without strobes, cloudy or sunny, we cover the fundamentals of shooting outdoors so you can confidently shoots on location on your own.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Q/A Modeling Agencies and Fashion Nudes

This particular fashion nudes test was booked via the modeling agent/agency

Q: How you deliver the photos to the agency and the models? You just email them, or do you have a web site where they download?

I have gallery shows of some of my work, and then I would have to look at paying as the artwork would be sold. I am wondering if you can give me a ballpark what standard rates might be for this sort of thing. I saw previously that you have had agency models for workshops. What types of rates were you looking at for models for this type of work? I just want to get a general idea of prices I may be looking at.

Do you think fashion nudes are more acceptable in LA than NY? Of the blogging photographers, I see you and Kesler doing a ton, and none of the east coast blogging photographers (Billy Kidd, Michael Donnovan) seem to be putting out the volume of fashion nudes that you west coast guys are ... unless I am missing someone. Other thoughts on NY vs LA?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Q/A Skin Techniques and Frequency Separation

Q: I tried to read the whole thread on high pass sucks, and its very long winded. The most of what I got was that the technique is called frequency seperation. Am I right?

I've tried it a few times. Maybe I'm trying on a basic level as I always have issues on the low frequency side trying to even out colour. I find clone stamping not all that good. Is this the technique you use for skin smoothing?

A: Yes, this is the technique that I use for skin smoothing when it is necessary. For the low frequency side of things, I wouldn't use clone stamp. For luminosity unevenness you need to dodge and burn the skin tones out. For color unevenness I often use a brush on color blend mode to "paint" in the proper color. What's the proper color? I sample from nearby tones.

The overall action is very good but it requires a lot of "fine-tuning" and other manipulation in order to get it to work correctly. I have used it with great success on over 1,000 images. I have also developed a good pre-workflow to skin smoothing that works in conjunction with frequency separation. By itself the frequency separation tool is just another average tool. But knowing the proper pixel parameters and providing the right "pre-treatment" produces the best results. After all you know the saying, "Garbage in, garbage out".

Friday, January 18, 2013

Q/A Suggestions for Actions/Presets

Or you could always experiment with different mediums. iPhone of D3 camera back.

Q: Hope you are keeping well. Still enjoy so many of your images.

My photoshop skills are improving a lot, but still finding I'm missing an edge. I use the curves a lot I got from your workshop, the velvesqia, proviaesque and so on. I find they are very useful. I really like a cleaned up image but then with the look of film or a colour over the top. Still playing around with photoshop for this but keen to see effects already out here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Focusing on Results

Old school D&B

While I was editing this morning, I heard Amy Dresser in my head. In a webinar I watched years ago, a viewer asked Amy about the dodge & burn tool and why she used this tool over a non-destructive alternative (such as curves + masking).

Her response lingers my head,

"If you didn't want to alter the pixels you wouldn't be (re)touching them in the first place"

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Less is More? or More is More?

Well it depends.

Sometimes less is more. Other times more is more.


A long time ago when I started retouching, I'd often take things too far. Whether it was the overcooked colors or the plasticizing skin treatment, I'd often wind up too far in one direction or another.

Fast forward about 4 years.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Constant State of Change

Wayne Brady on The Chappelle Show.

It's been weeks since I've been able to sit in front of a computer and write a post. Blogging takes a lot more time than you'd think. I spend 1-2 hours per post. A full-figured post takes me well over 2 and sometimes 3 hours to write.

To complicate matters, I've been in Asia for nearly 3 weeks. I have a lot of family and friends there. In fact I have no blood relatives here in the US. I spent 1/2 my life from the time I was born until I was 18 in Taipei, Taiwan. So I travel there about once a year.

This year we took our daughter to Taiwan for the first time. She's now 7+ months and it has been a huge process bringing her back to Taiwan. Actually it's been a huge process just having her around. Life with a baby is different. Hell, let me just say it bluntly. Life with a baby is hard. Lots of you have kids so you understand. Some of you don't so you have no clue how trying the process can be. As an example, I haven't slept since Saturday night. The kid is still on Taiwan time and went to bed at 6AM this morning after torturing us all night.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Q/A Pricing Clients Using High-End Cameras

Straight off the back off the Hasselblad

Q: I hope you're having a great New Year! I wanted to ask you about how you price your services when you're using high end equipment.

I recently purchased a Red Epic (I have a lot of friends in production who work on projects with shooters operating Epics, I had the cash to invest, Epics came down in cost, and I thought it'd be a good investment moving forward). I've been running tests with models and trying to come up with a workflow that's robust, reliable, and consistent so I can bring my services to market responsibly and with confidence.

I recall a previous post of yours where you talked about working with the Hasselblad. I couldn't find the exact post, but if I remember correctly, you said that you don't give the client a choice as to what equipment you use because you didn't want to create different price points based on that. I get offers to shoot fashion films and various other kinds of video for clients, and while I'm not currently ready to shoot paid work on the Epic just yet, when I am, I'm not sure if I should still make shooting video on the 5D MKII/7D an option or not. I feel like if I shoot on the Epic, it's much easier to justify higher price points, and I'd like to shoot more work on the Epic, but at the same time, I don't want to miss out on job opportunities with the 5DMKII with clients who don't have the budget to support a Red (and I feel like I'd be undercutting myself if I went to the trouble of shooting and handling Red footage under market value--assuming it's a client that isn't really offering any alternative value like experience, exposure, etc.) I'm sure in some shape or form I'll continue to use both cameras for different projects, but I'm just trying to figure out what kind of balance I should reach between my regular equipment and the really high end stuff.