GREETINGS, DISCOURSE, BRIEF BIOGRAPHY
I welcome you to this short E-Guide which is offered freely and it contains years of experience and lessons learned. My friend calls it "The Portnoy's Complaint of Photography". I tried to make it more of a reader with lots of common sense, more so than a manual which many get turned off by and with very few endorsements or what I call “ Shilling”. “Shilling" is what most photo magazines do for ads and wannabes/PROS do a lot for free gear.
We will encompass relationships, processes, and tools you need to make it through a Wedding, sans gimmicks. No ads, no wasted drivel. The opinions expressed here are my own, I am very opinionated and if you differ from my thinking you are entitled to your opinion and you may keep it to yourself, thank you. Discourse, questions, solutions, gladly answered.
We do not accept payment for reviews, nor "door prizes" for good reviews about camera product but when I do comment on a particular item I will bring it to you possibly in a slightly sadistic and sarcastic written environment if warranted coining a new word "sardastic”. Bottom line, for the most part this guide about photographing Weddings is representative of the most monumental day in a woman’s life…and occasionally the worst day you might walk into.
I am old school, in my business dealings. I have rules for my small business which makes Battery power packs and accessories with a big emphasis on putting customers first and being old school does not mean being outdated. It means I follow the rules that have been successful in business and it also means I have concerns just like anyone else that things go right. I have a disadvantage because I am a small business and to keep costs down I don't have an advertising budget. Those who do not have big advertising dollars capture "word of mouth contacts” for future business and thus my best salesmen are my customers. Save that thought, we all learn from our past experiences and want to share with others.
I like simple communication and attention to what my clients, many who have become friends needs were. Thus no weird phone setups, no press "one or two," I just say, "hello" and we together can go on with the conversation in English. Today in business to be conservative means keeping up with progress, saving money, better deals, but it only works if the end product is GOOD and does what it is supposed to.
My name is on the products I build for primarily the wedding, event, and photojournalism shooters. My clients are frugal, smart, climbing in their league, building their business, competitive and they know photography. Not as trendy as you might think, they don’t run after every gadget on the market. If it works and makes you money don’t change it. The key word is repetition of good practices, elimination and identification of problematic situations and follow up with contacts.
However, I am brand neutral and have worked with Kodak, Aires, Graflex, Leica, Rollie, Minolta, Pentax, Nikon, Hasselblad, Mamiya 4x5, 6x7, Bronica 4x5, SONY and Canon. I have shot every format from 4x5, Medium format to 35 mm. Currently I am having a blast shooting SONY in my new slide project. By the way since SONY makes all the sensors and boards for the other guys, some SONY products are about a year ahead. And though I have owned just about any brand you may mention. I have gotten good mojo from most of the cameras on the market today. I will however slam bad stuff, really bad. When was the last time you saw a bad review in those magazines you get?
I am really not into the new social media. Most of it is nothing but anonymity for toxic social discourse. Or what I term, " the proving grounds for too many frickin idiots". I like the old ways, the phone and "face to face instead of farce to farce". I avoid wasting days on Face-Book and Twitter since few significant ideas come about. All I got were offers, scams and people with social problems I would rather not interface with. I keep very busy and am blessed to have many friends and fans that make up enough sociality for my world on the topics I choose to be interested in. I will tell you up front this portion of my website addresses weddings, events and slide conservation as a business. Casual players are welcome but much published here is about business. The best shooter in the world without a Gig is a waste of talent and resources.
Photography really started for me on a serious note when someone left a paper bag left sitting on a park bench in the Zoo area in NYC's Central Park. With no one claiming it, I stood on top of the park bench and yelled the sacred words "finders keepers". I had mischievously become the owner of an AIRES IIIL 35 mm Rangefinder Camera, the first of the excellent Japanese clones of a Leica Rangefinder. I instantly moved up in the world from my folding 127 Kodak roll film camera. The bag even contained a roll of film and the manual. I was fourteen, a junior, and was naturally, playing hooky from school, I artfully dodged the truant officers who carried my picture in their wallets.
Off to the Museum of Natural History. It took nice pictures of the timelines of the Dinosaurs and Cavemen exhibits at the Museum of Natural History in NYC. I was doing well interviewing one of the curators about these huge creatures till the guard wanted to see my school field trip pass. ooops… That camera saved my butt. When called to the Dean of Boys office, the Dean and I had a chat, sort of, he chatted, I listened. My defense was " I was doing something to help my education, not just playing hooky because my science teachers theory that the cavemen killed the dinosaur's was scientifically inaccurate”. Thankfully he had read DARWIN.
For penance, the Dean made me a deal, I had to give a presentation to the Science classes in HS about Dinosaurs, their disappearance and evolution. Two days later I proudly did thirty minutes stand-up, the 50’s version of a powerpoint, showed off my 2-1/4 x 3-1/4 prints. I was a success! Standing ovation! Had I blown it, the class would have eaten me alive, and that would have been the punishment. I nailed it. I got a reprieve since the Science teacher who taught "the dinosaurs got whacked by the cavemen" didn't last too long.
The Dean thought I did a good job and we worked a deal out to show my work to other classes for my salvation. I was hooked on photography, as it was and has been my form of creativity and communication. My other run in, at school was with my English teacher. We had to read aloud a page, something from any one of the novels by Shakespeare. I had chosen Julius Caesar, and I did the book report read aloud mentioning the unmentionable act and explanation in a conversation between Brutus and Caesar in class which brought the house down. Somewhere in George W. Wingate’s detention room, they made a directors chair with my name printed on the back of it…
THE GADGET MEISTER
I picked up a few nicknames, like "the Gadget Meister" starting my working career in an obscure camera repair facility, the best in the camera district of New York City. I started as a delivery boy. I gained a lot of knowledge in those early days as a kid working with, and meeting with some of the great building blocks of the analog era of photography like Marty Forschner and Joe Ehrenreich.
I was always building something and battery packs fascinated me. It was also where I first found out what happens if you forget to short a capacitor from a Honeywell 770 Strobe, and when I got too close to an Eveready 510 volt battery, it almost sent me to the ER. But I learned early what works and what doesn't work and that you don't get it all from school or books. You have to get out there and see for yourself. I also worked weekends for a Wedding mill in NYC as a run and gunner for several years to learn the business. I was Wedding shooter, maybe one of the youngest.
Shooting weddings in NY was a cornucopia of stress since the divergence alone in ethnicity taught me a lot about people, the wedding business, and managing a small business. Learning how to work with people on probably the single most emotional day in their lives, is an experience that should be welcomed, digested, absorbed and practiced. This is good, better to be prepared today for the emotional trauma days we sometimes have seen on TV. For me shooting weddings and batteries it was a natural. So was the draft board.
Maybe aviation was a better way to fly than self induced battery electrocution. I can thank the United States Air Force for that saving me from being a ground pounder. So I thought but thats another story. When I got out, I swapped big Boeings for Cessna and Piper, and a few trips in the Lear chauffeuring medical patients back to Canada. I retired at 65 piling up a few thousand hours over 28 years and the occasional heart over stimulation. I owned five aircraft that taught me quality control, maintenance, repair and fire fighting. If you own it, you work on it to afford it, you fix it, you fly it first, and it taught me about taking things for granted, like a blown Marbel-Snaubel inverted carburetor
I was lucky, spewing gas and flames fortunately within three miles of an airport with three others on board. Within seconds I closed the throttle, cut the fuel flow valves, placed the prop in the 90-270 degree positions, told the other three folks to cover their faces and enjoy the aerobatics. I was on automatic and just did what I had been trained to do.
"Best no engine landing on a displaced threshold," one instructor said who was on the tarmac when I declared an emergency. I had stopped twelve feet from the fire engine and got the foam bath. They checked the roof on the building at the end of the runway for tire prints, that close. And it worked, only 3000 dollars fire damage, and no injuries. It taught me about preparation, training, backup, knowing whats going on or situational awareness and redundancy… my apologies for hammering that time and time again here but I will.
My life? I was alive, though a few times in war I thought I had doubts about longevity, and decided being a bachelor was a good thing but it was still lacking something. There goes that “Divine Guidance” again. You learn a lot about people during a Wedding, good and bad. After a while the one you want to marry comes along at the strangest times. That was when I met the love of my life. Midnight, dancing at a upscale honky tonk in Clearwater, Florida. Blindsided, she knocked me on my butt from day one. Her name was “ Dolly" . Till she passed on, we had 31 wonderful years together. She made me a changed man. Never a day goes by I don’t miss her...
MASTER MACHINIST - A TINKERER EXTRODINERE
I remember the first tools I made at the brand new state of the art George W. Wingate High School (600 Kingston Ave for you Brooklyn fans) in the metal shop. We had Zip before the post office could spell ZIP.
Knives, Zip guns, those career decisions destined to make you acceptable at AU (Alcatraz University). The machine shop classes were cool. I could really show my skills. It was a totally unauthorized program and even today they still talk of the Jacobs Hubcap Remover.
I was in the first graduating classes at Wingate. Something new in 1955, it was the first racially balanced 50%-50% High school in the city of New York. It had Bedford-Styvescent to the north and a mixed neighborhood to the east. The expression no mans land comes to mind.
UPDATE: I had just learned that G.W. Wingate High School was being torn down or rebuilt into something else. Probably it’s location had something to do with it, George W. Wingate HS was recently closed by the City of New York Board of Education for lousy performance. It was one of those schools that needed to hold it’s Alumni gatherings at Riker’s Island.
The new improved HubCap remover It was one of my projects, not sold in stores, available in Midnight Black Only. You too can have a career in hubcap "restoration" for only $39.95. Make it back on your first job even if you only got the front ones! Comes complete with instructions for both domestic and foreign jobs and you can make a lot of money restoring Hubcaps to owners.
BUT WAIT! Order now and we'll send you my new book " Guide to the Great Bail Bondsmen of America".