GREETINGS, A SHORT DISCOURSE ON POLICY, BRIEF BIOGRAPHY
I welcome you to this E-Guide which is offered freely and it contains years of experience and lessons learned. I tried to make it more of a reader with lots of common sense, a few humorous episodes I lived through and more so, less of a manual which many get turned off by.
It has very few endorsements for gear. Gear has less to do about a wedding process than you think. This is a time and a place for thinking and planning. Gear talk can be found on any website, magazines, so-called teaching sites, and the often praised self succulation forums where the gurus hang around.
We do not accept payment in product for good reviews, about camera products 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 it warranted coining a new word “Sardastic”.
My logo says it all. NO SMOKE / NO BULLSHIT. If something is good, it gets merit, if it’s bad you will hear about it, I’m not shy on this subject. I also write a consumer column. I get enough threats from those I write about.
Back to the thinking and planning part. We will encompass relationships, processes, and tools you need to make it through a Wedding, sans gimmicks. But there are some low-cost accessories you can build or do yourself on this site and the tricks are free. No ads, no wasted drivel. The opinions expressed here are my own, I am very opinionated because mistakes are a hard teacher and I have made them. I also collect, modify and alter, and manufacture many of my own gear.
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, and if we differ you have the right to get your own site. This is not Facebook, nor Nit-Twitter. No faceless or nameless emails, put your right name on your email and we’ll talk. Ideas and suggestions to share, greatly appreciated.
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 if you are unprepared.
I am old school, in my business dealings. I have rules for my small business which makes my Battery Power Packs and Slide to Digital Equipment, many accessories with a big emphasis on putting customers first and being old school does not mean being outdated. It means I have survived and flexible enough to be here for fifty years.
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. Save that thought, we all learn from our past experiences and want to share with others. Including some surprises.
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.
After a brief stint as the house photographer at the Playboy club, I leaned more into Journalism and my roots which were Weddings. Thats David Chan, he was one of the first payroll shooters for the Playboy magazine and when Playboy had franchised clubs around the country. I worked for the one in St. Petersburg Florida which folded. The funny part was we were harassed by the commissioners and clergy who were some of our best customers…we didn’t want to flock up. I was very discreet. Check the suit out, it would even work today.
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.
Call them old school, they are the ones making money, I call them successful. 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.
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 8x10, 4x5, Medium format to 35 mm.
Currently I am having a blast shooting with SONY’s 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 and carried them in my store, I have gotten good mojo from most of the cameras on the market today. And I am not brand loyal. If I had a weakness in photography, it would be in the video end. I have experience in both retail operations and lab ownership, C-41, E-6, B&W and everything else.
Brand loyalty in the beginning shooter is the shooters acceptance into “ The Club”. I have seen Wedding business cards with Canon or Nikon logos proudly displayed. Like the frickin logo makes you a better representative of the industry. They are hiring you the shooter not Nikon or Canon. Brand loyalty by the pros is based on their results, the sidebar being mainly kickbacks and freebies. Major difference.
NO TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, OR FACEBOOK SOCIALLY
I am really not into the social media. Most of it is nothing but anonymity for toxic social discourse. I like the old ways, the phone and "face to face instead of farce to farce". I avoid wasting days on Farce-Book and Nit-Twitter since few significant ideas come about, and all I got were offers, scams and people with social problems and only God knows what else 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. My website addresses weddings, events and slide conservation as a business. Casual players are welcome but emphasis here is about business. The best shooter in the world without a Gig is a waste of talent and resources. The best camera you can own is the one in your hand when that shot of a lifetime takes place. Very true.
Photography really started for me on a unique note, I call it “Divine Guidance” 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 had sat near it for an hour, watching, 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. In brand new condition fixed lens and later models added lens interchangeability and the selenium meter built in. Pretty advanced.
It moved me 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 with a big number one on it stealthily taking every trail in the park not frequently used to hugely to the subway and make my escape.
A week later (my selfie scheduled hooky day) off to the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. I took nice pictures of the timelines of the Dinosaurs and Cavemen exhibits at the Museum of Natural History in NYC using flashbulbs. I was doing well interviewing one of the curators about these huge creatures till the guard wanted to see my school field trip pass after I told him I was on assignment. I got reported, he didn’t buy my story.
When called to the Dean of Boys office, the Dean and I had a chat, sort of, he chatted loudly, 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, no way, scientifically inaccurate”. Thankfully he had read DARWIN. And the teacher hadn’t read about the thirty-million year gap between T-Rex and T-Rump.
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-five plus minutes stand-up, the 50’s version of a powerpoint on Oaktag paper, showed off my 2-1/4 x 3-1/4 inch prints. I was a success!
Standing ovation from the kids in my class. I got a reprieve. It was then I noticed my Mother, the Dean and the Principal in the back row. At my age my success was great, the fact it was a near death experience wasn’t. My mother was happy and proud, I feared her more than the Dean of Boys.
The Dean thought I did an excellent 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 teacher who hated me after and totally understandable, transferred next year to a bible based Catholic school. I was hooked and wanted to further my interest in photography. I was also interested in the shops the school had. Especially the metal shop because I could make camera gear.
I remember the first tools I made at the brand new state of the art George W. Wingate High School in the metal shop. We had Zip before the post office could spell ZIP. You figure that one out.
I was in the first graduating classes at Wingate. HS as it opened in 1954, it was the first racially balanced 50%-50% high school in the city of New York as sort of a government equal opportunity experiment or project. This was a joint federal project.
It was on the border of two tough neighborhoods Bedford Styvescent to the North and the “Goodfellows” to the South. The expression no mans land comes to mind but more like the intersection of gang and gang.
This was the days of the book and Movie “The Blackboard Jungle”. The machine shop classes were cool. One of my pet tool projects in a totally unauthorized program is spoken about today, the Jacobs Hubcap Remover.
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UPDATE: I had just learned that G.W. Wingate High School was being torn down or rebuilt into something else. It 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 GADGET MEISTER
I picked up a few nicknames, like “ The GadgetMeister” starting my working career in a well known camera repair facility, the best in the camera district of New York City 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 Master Machinist Marty Forschner and the father of Nikon Mr. Joe Ehrenreich.
I was always building something and battery packs fascinated me. It was also where I found out what happens if you forget to short a capacitor from a Honeywell 770 Strobe, and an Everyday 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. Older, I worked weekends for a Wedding mill in NYC as a run and gunner for several years to learn the business. I was a Wedding shooter, maybe one of the youngest. Lots of experience.
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. I also learned about the draft board. It was a numbers game and my number was about to be up.
Maybe aviation was a better way stay alive than getting shot at in the jungle. I can thank the United States Air Force and when my tour was completed and could afford it, later in life, I swapped rides in C-123 providers, KC-135’s, B-52’s for Cessna’s and Piper’s. I took additional flying lessons, got my tickets, and retired at 65 piling up a few thousand hours over 28 years and the occasional heart over stimulation.
Over the years 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 fuel system spewing gas and in flames.
That was the bad news. Fortunately it occurred within three miles of an airport with three others on board. I stopped twelve feet from the fire engine and got the foam bath. “Divine Guidance” and training. Best no-engine landing I ever made.
My life? Being a bachelor was a good thing but it was still lacking something. There goes “Divine Guidance” again, like finding a camera. That was when I met the love of my life. Her name was Dolly whom I met on the dance floor at an upscale honky tonk in Clearwater, Florida. She knocked me on my butt from day one. I was blindsided. We were inseparable. Till she passed on from cancer, we had 31 wonderful years together. She made me a changed man. Never a day goes by I don’t miss her…
Fifty years later I’m still inventing building things for photographers…
ENOUGH ABOUT ME…