Drew Doggett and Elliot Ross are both award winning photographers who utilize their tremendous skills to inform and educate, as well as take our breath away with stunning visuals. They each uniquely blend fashion, portraiture, and landscape work, and have traveled the world to capture compelling stories with their lenses. Their visions have quickly found homes in places such as The National Geographic, The Atlantic, and even The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art’s photographic archives, where works from Doggett’s Omo: Expressions of a People series now resides.
Both craftsmen choose to shoot with Canon’s 5D series and most recently with the 5D Mark IV that was released in September 2016. The Mark IV brought significant upgrades to the already power packed full frame DSLR line. While both artists have abundant skills to create beautiful images, we wanted to find out their journey with this camera as the tool that gives them what they need to continually create fine art quality images.
The EOS 5D started the full frame compact DSLR camera line and soon practically doubled key features like the ISO and megapixels as it went to a Mark II. Live view became a feature to covet that would go on to see great improvements in the Mark IV. The Mark III introduced improved AF, a new sensor, and better weatherproofing. Rugged, yet compact, the 5D series offers cameras that have comfortable grips, ease of use with all the key features at your fingertips, and longevity. The improvements with every edition offer substantial upgrades that are greatly appreciated by photographers everywhere, such as being able to capture images in low light like never before.
The new AF system is a good improvement for shooters like Ross and Doggett who are continually on the move and want to grab shots in changing conditions. We caught up with each of them before they were individually flying out once again.
How long have you been shooting?
Elliot Ross: I started shooting when I was a child. My allowance as a kid was a roll of film a month. I savored each picture. You know, I had 36 a roll, so that is about one a day. I got my first camera when I was seven – the first camera that was mine, and before that, my grandmother would give me disposables from the time I was four years old.
Drew Doggett: I became interested in photography at an early age. I soon realized I could combine my interest in making images with my love of exploration and travel, and from there I had my mind set on having my own photography practice. Of course, I put in many hours of working and learning with others before my first, career-defining trip to Nepal.
What was your first Canon Camera?
ER: A silver Canon Rebel. I bought the 5D Mark I after that. It changed my life. At that time, I was shooting a lot of music. I wanted to be a rock and roll photographer. That’s what I did all through college. I paid my bills through shooting live music and getting deep into that world. I loved the lifestyle and the 5D opened a lot of doors because it was my first full frame and I could do things in low light that my Rebel couldn’t. I bought a 50mm prime lens and suddenly could shoot at 1:8 and I still have that lens, only now I have the L series, so it just sits. I chose my first Canon 5D because it was easily the best camera I could get my hands on for the low light environments, which was real important at these shows and these venues that were so dark, and I could just imagine how many more possibilities I had.
Now with the Mark IV I could reproduce a photo at 1300 ISO, or if I want to freeze motion of a singer spitting vodka in the air and being caught by the back light and I want to freeze those droplets of alcohol I could, whereas before it would be a blur.
I saved for another couple of years and bought the 5D Mark II and used that until I ran it into the ground. That was when I moved to New York City and bought a Mark III.
You’ve had them all.
ER Yeah! That was the first camera I started shooting things for actual money on in terms of post assisting career and shooting commercial jobs. I bought another Mark III, so I had two. One with a 35mm on it and one with a 50mm on it and that is how I still shoot most jobs. I have two Canon DSLR’s on me. I only use prime lenses so having two camera bodies allows me to quickly change between perspectives when shooting commercial jobs. I own many of Canon’s lenses but those two get used often. The Mark IV is now my primary camera.
DD: My first pro series Canon camera was the 1DS Mark III, which was my go-to, reliable companion for many, many years – really since the beginning. We’ve seen a lot together.
What made you upgrade from the Mark I to the Mark II and from the Mark II to the Mark III and now the Mark IV?
ER: Again, pursuing the possibility of working in low light. That’s really the most important thing to me. My favorite time of day to shoot is about 45 minutes after sunset. The last light on the horizon. You get beautiful deep cyan with magenta and purple. Those are the environments that I like to work in. That blue channel is hard to work with to begin with. It’s noisy, so always needing that incremental boost in low light is incredibly helpful in opening possibilities of what I can shoot. I was really hungering for that incremental jump and pop which motivated my upgrading between each camera. It’s also why I shoot with prime lenses because they open to 1:2 so I can shoot in those low light situations.
Did you notice that the new 30.4 MP sensor has changed things for you?
DD: Definitely file size. In my line of photography, I am often blowing up pieces to 110” or more, and the resolution is essential to retaining the integrity of the file in large scale. Details are a huge part of my images and are achieved through a lengthy editing process, so it’s imperative that they come through in the prints. The Mark IV’s ability to retain all the information I work so hard on is crucial. Also, the faster DIGIC 6+ image processor offers more dynamic range than previous versions.
ER: Yeah, it allows me more versatility. It’s great because more and more with the work that I do, I am cropping to a different aspect ratio so I’m using the 6:7 format and the 4:3 format so I’m losing resolution. I’m losing the top sixth of my frame and the bottom sixth of my frame so having that added resolution really does help.
For commercial work, I can crop in and I can deliver for all sorts of dimension needs. Some of my clients need in store displays that have odd dimensions. I also need that resolution in case I didn’t shoot a detail and I need to crop it out and treat it as a separate image.
It’s giving you something you needed with the camera you like using.
ER: Canon has the best ergonomics on the market. It’s so intuitive, it makes sense, I love the big wheel where you don’t accidentally press buttons. You don’t have to go to the menu to change any settings on the camera, which is huge for me. There are a lot of custom buttons on the 5D and they are all set up to do the things I need them to do. They are all within easy reach, and for me, the camera is an extension of me. I don’t have to think about it. It’s the right size for my hands too. I carry my Canon everywhere I go.
Have you found that the expanded AF vertical coverage gets you focused faster? Has it helped you compose more efficiently?
ER: It does. I like it especially with lifestyle work. Being able to reach those focus points. I use auto focus for commercial work. I also like to manually focus through live view quite a bit. Live view is one of my favorite things. A lot of my work is very fun and playful, and you have to be fast when covering events or have people running around. The AF has gotten a lot better in low light, I must say. Canon’s low light AF performance is easily one of the best I’ve come across and it’s made everything more seamless. It does what I need it to do.
DD: When I’m shooting a moving boat from a helicopter there is no time to recompose after focusing so the expanded coverage can mean the difference of getting the shot or not. While the Mark IV has the same number of AF points as the Mark III they fill more of the frame, which is essential to being able to capture the compositions I seek. The orientation linked AF points also enable me to switch between horizontal and vertical orientation quickly.
How are you utilizing the built-in Wi-Fi?
ER: I use it a lot. There are several projects where I don’t have the space in my bag to carry a laptop. Say I’m going to a refugee camp for a week and I don’t want to be encumbered with a laptop and have someone steal it or have it break, but I still need to be sending photos to editors or even just to post to Instagram and having that ability to beam an image off to my phone is huge. It was one of the biggest things that I felt was missing for a while. It’s critical. I do most everything I do in camera, so the images are ready to go.
You don’t do much retouching?
ER: I do a little bit of color tweaks, but I also use the custom color settings within the body, so if I’m shooting a raw image it will apply that profile to the jpeg that it’s processing out to my phone.
With the 100- 32,000 and expandable to 50 – 102,400 ISO coupled with the AF system that is sensitive down to -3EV what’s it like shooting in low light now compared with your previous cameras?
DD: From the sun rising over the dunes of Namibia to the horses galloping through the Camargue marshland at dusk, I often find myself in low light situations where it’s imperative to dramatically increase the ISO while also stopping motion. Given my large output size, I need to feel comfortable pushing the ISO without losing the level of detail and dynamic range I require. The 5D Mark IV allows me to do this at a whole new level.
ER: It allows me to do a lot more hand-held work. I have pretty steady hands, so I can shoot up to a thirteenth of a second hand held, if my subject isn’t moving, and then with a wide-open L series, like 1:4 or 1:2, I can shoot in really dark situations, which I haven’t been able to do before. Most noticeably, when I was in Europe during the migrant crisis, in January, I needed that. I used the camera to its limits.
Also, the new image stabilization has been really helpful. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t need a tripod for 99 percent of what I shoot now. The ISO has improved significantly and very noticeably like when I use lenses such as the 70-200mm. Canon’s improvements have put more tools in my toolbox. It’s allowed me to push and experiment more in realms that I wouldn’t have been able to digitally before.
One of the reasons I love shooting with Canon is color. Sure, the ergonomics and all that is a huge part of it, but it’s the color. There is something with how Canon lenses and Canon’s sensor work together makes the colors…. there is something with how Canon renders skin tones and also skies – the blues, that others don’t do. I am looking to recreate that film colors and Canon gets me the closest to it without any sort of modifications. In low light, color rendition is still good. Again, all around, this camera does what I want it to do.
Do you utilize the 7.0 fps continuous shooting?
DD: Yes, in certain circumstances – especially with moving subjects, like horses, when it’s imperative to get several frames quickly. When I was shooting my Sail: Majesty at Sea series, for instance, this allowed me to capture the waves splashing over the bow at exactly the right time.
Drew, you shoot video. Was that always something you were interested in or did it evolve as your equipment evolved? How did you get started with that?
DD: I always aim to tell a story with my work, so it was a natural progression that the story include film. Video allows me to fill out a more robust experience of the location. The incorporation of video into the 5D system is really what began my interest in making films in addition to my photographic series.
In my recent films, like my latest work from Sable Island, I often ask myself what my locations or subjects would say, “If they could talk.” I needed the Sable film to encompass what I couldn’t fulfill in my still images, and a big part of that was relaying the emotional experience of this isolated, miraculous location. To evoke that near-indescribable feeling of otherworldliness, the creative device I often use is slow motion and the Mark IV can help me realize that with HD up to 60 fps. The new touchscreen also allows me to pull focus from one subject to another while keeping the transitions nice and smooth.
Lastly, when trekking somewhere like the Himalayas you need to have as little equipment as possible, so having 4K video like on the Mark IV means I can shoot film without compromising weight. The farther you get from home, the more helpful it is to have a camera that can do it all in a versatile size and with an impressive resolution.
Do you ever grab a still from a video shoot?
DD: I grab stills from video quite frequently and use them for social media and on my website. They are an important part of telling a well-rounded story and promoting the work. At 8 MP, the file sizes of the stills I can get from video on the Mark IV are more than enough for social media and other public facing outlets. Being able to grab these directly from video saves me from switching between video and stills.
In what ways is the new GPS function helpful?
DD: On a recent trip to Kenya we visited countless villages to take portraits of the residents. We had to move fast – from respecting the negotiated agreements we had with the elders and the scorching heat we had limited time. All this information about our locations is used in my series, whether for museum and educational partners or for social media campaigns, press outlets, or my blog – and we often need to move so quickly that it’s hard to perfectly record it all. The new built in GPS function allows me to save location data so I can focus more on shooting.
Report: Dramatic Drop in Sales Canon Cameras
Finding and Writing Grants for Working Artists
How can a photographer get a grant, and what kind of photographs do you have to take? This article will explain it and give you resources to finding and writing your first grant proposal.
The images for this page are from a young professional photographer who goes by the moniker, Shiva, for his art work. His images reflect some of the core issues in photography. Like most photographers, Shiva must decide whether to sell images or find funding for these images, photo excursions, materials and more. How does an artist-photographer create an income?
Believe it: a simple Google search can be incredibly helpful. Most grants come from non-profit organizations, so pay attention to the web address; while not a hard and fast rule, more likely than not, most foundations will have a “.org” website as opposed to a “.com.” If you are unsure about a site, do your due diligence before sending information or money.
Another excellent resource for searching grants is The Foundation Center, nonprofit which advances awareness of philanthropies around the globe. From their homepage, you can search any topic you can think of to source pre-vetted grant foundations without worrying about their legitimacy. Another such resource, Praxis Center for Aesthetic Studies of which I am a founder, offers an extensive resource page where you can find open calls, residencies, and of course, grants. The page is curated regularly and I highlight a few opportunities each week.
Of course, it’s no secret that you will not get every grant you apply for, so while quality is key when submitting a grant, quantity also plays a significant role. The actual writing of a grant is an acquired skill, and over time you will become more comfortable with the process. That said, if there is one thing that can make or break your application before you are even out of the gate, it is failing to read through your grant and follow the instructions to the letter. If your grant asks for a 500-word statement explaining how your work relates to the mission statement of the foundation, do not under any circumstances fail to deliver exactly this. Be sure you know the grant inside and out and do not fail to submit exactly what you are being asked for in a timely manner. The fastest way to be out of the running is to fail to follow instructions, and every grant is different.
That being said, not every grant will be right for you. Perhaps your work simply doesn’t relate to the mission statement of the foundation offering a grant you may have found. That is okay, and it is better for you to move on than to try fitting a square peg into a round hole.
As a working artist, finding and writing grants must be part of your regular practice. You must give it some level of priority, because this is a true part of any artist’s bread and butter. Once you get started, and once you begin to feel more comfortable with the process, you will be finding and writing grants on your own, and won’t even remember why that ever seemed so overwhelming in the first place.
Brainard Carey is an artist, educator, and author. He has written three books for artists on developing their professional careers. He hosts a radio series on Yale University radio where he interviews artists, curators, and writers. He also founded Praxis Center for Aesthetic Studies, which offers classes for artists to develop their careers, from finding a gallery to writing a grant.
Focus On Marketing
The days of meeting clients face to face are dwindling, now that social media has taken over as the number one marketing platform for growing a successful photography business. So, if social media is so hugely important, why do so many photographers continually get it wrong?
All too often, photographers don’t fully understand the concept of social media. But when you begin to explore the concept, it’s not that hard to get your head around. The clue for a start is in the name—social media.
Advertising has changed dramatically; we must no longer be set on trying to sell to our prospects, and this is where social media differs from printed press advertising. To sell on social media, you must first earn the trust of your followers. Engage with them using informative and useful content that they will like and interact with. That, quite simply, is the “social” part of social media. First build a following by earning viewers’ trust, and in return they will develop an admiration for your brand and become your loyal community of prospective customers. Once you have a loyal following, they will buy from you, review you, recommend you, and share your content with their own following of social media friends.
Now that you understand the first rule (don’t oversell) you are ready for the second: be sure to post content that is relevant to your social media audience every single day. I find it a lot easier to do this by scheduling my posts on Facebook every Monday for the full week ahead. To some photographers, that may sound like a lot of posting, but don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be strictly your original content. In fact, far from it. Try sharing other content from the Internet, but always add a few lines of your own comments above the shared article. For instance, if you are a wedding photographer, you could share someone else’s post of the latest trends in wedding table decorations or amazing ideas for themed wedding cakes, adding a few of your own suggestions.
Another great way to enhance engagement is to start a good debate on your page by asking a question. I once uploaded an image of two wedding cakes and beneath it wrote, “I’m a traditionalist myself; you can’t beat a good fruitcake at a wedding. What do you prefer, fruit or sponge?” It was surprising how much interaction this comment caused. The brides on my page were certainly passionate about their preferred style of wedding cake!
Don’t give in to the temptation to upload too many images in each post. For maximum engagement, try uploading two or three images from, say, the bridal preparation on the wedding morning, and tell a story about those images. People love stories on social media, and by tagging the bride and her bridesmaids in the photos, you’ve created an immediate audience. Tag the venue in the post along with a compliment, and again you’re creating a second generation of audience. The following day, you can upload a few more images from the same wedding, perhaps this time from the ceremony, telling another story about that part of the day. As before, tag the guests in the photos. Feed your audience with small, bite-sized chunks, and at the end of each post, you can say, “more to come tomorrow, so be sure to keep following.”
To really boost your page and website with search engines, try adding a few keywords to the bottom of your post along with your website address. For example, “fine art wedding photography New York, www.yourwebsite.com.” This way, every time your post is shared, Google recognises that as a piece of authority for your website. The more authority you receive, the higher the search engines will rank your website and social media pages.
Earlier we discussed posting relevant content on your page. Never forget who your audience is, and write for them and them alone. The second biggest mistake photographers make on social media is not posting their entire content to just one audience. Use the “Insights” tab at the top of your Facebook fan page to gain an insight as to the demographic of your current audience. To do this, select “Insights” and then navigate to the “People” tab on the left-hand side bar. Here you can find useful information about the age, gender, and locality of your audience. For example, on my own wedding photography page, I know that my audience is 92% female aged between 22-34 with the majority living in the Northeast of England.
Over the years, I’ve grown to know my audience; for instance, because of my pricing bracket I find a lot of my followers will react to posts about fine dining, country getaway breaks, or romantic holiday destinations. They are also interested in fashion and designer brands, and I can always guarantee likes and shares if I post content about pets or newborn portraiture. In contrast, commercial photography would likely be of no interest to my audience whatsoever, so why would I post it?
Should you wish to showcase your commercial or fine art photography, LinkedIn is the ideal forum to do so. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to create one. The more niche you can make your profile and the more targeted your audience, the greater the results you’ll achieve.
I personally work with hundreds of different clients from many industries around the world, helping them turn their marketing around and grow a large and profitable following of clients via social media. However, on LinkedIn I market my marketing and mentoring services to photographers alone. In fact, because I choose to ignore everyone else and niche my profile and content solely to marketing photography, the results have been nothing short of amazing. Each month I receive hundreds of messages from photographers who are keen to turn their business around and want to learn about my services.
To really work your magic on LinkedIn, you must be totally niche as mentioned previously. This could be great if, say, you are a wedding photographer, but you also offer commercial photography service. Keep your wedding photography on your Facebook page and build your LinkedIn profile around your commercial photography only. But you can go even deeper than that.
LinkedIn works much better when you can target a market directly. For example, if you’ve a passion for cars or a good portfolio of work based around motor dealerships, then consider photography for the motor trade and base your entire profile around this niche, and become the “go-to person” for this kind of photography. Post only content and images based around the motor industry; classic cars, motorsports, enthusiast rallies and such, and connect with as many people as you can in this market. This could be dealerships, manufacturers, race teams and sponsors. Just make sure you connect with the decision-makers, such as the MDs, managers, and business owners. You can also target enthusiasts, private collectors, and owner clubs and groups on LinkedIn as well.
To be a real success with social media, your first step is to consistently post interesting and informative content that your audience will love, always go niche and write for your audience alone and no one else. Once you’ve built up a following, analyse your audience to allow you to further refine the content you choose to share. Be sure to post daily, and only ever post one sales post for every seven to ten info posts. Build trust before trying to sell to your audience, and encourage your followers to leave five-star reviews every time they use your services.
Jeff Brown is a professional photographer and marketing consultant living in the UK. For more than 15 years, he has helped others by combining his knowledge and experience into an information-packed Skype Success Mentoring and Marketing Masterclass for photographers who are serious about turning their hobby into a success story. For more information and to learn how Jeff can help you develop a winning marketing strategy, email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for more ideas, check his LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/in/jeffbrownphotographymarketing.
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