Free Spec Work?

Free Spec Work?Creatives are often asked to do FREE work, especially Spec Work.  There are grandiose promises of future work, at a reduced rate of course.  Especially when we are starting off, or hungry, we will agree to almost anything.  Don’t be tempted.  Not only does it hurt you but in undermines our industry.

I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on training, software, hardware and other things that have made me better at my craft.  Why should I, and you, get paid as any other professional?  When I hear from a potential client that a friend of theirs will do it for FREE, that doesn’t motivate me to under sell my craft, and it shouldn’t you either.  Also, please don’t shoot weddings for $300-$500.  You’ll lose your shirt and you hurt the industry.

Adweek just posted this article and video that we, as creative professionals, and our potential clients should take a look at.  ENJOY!


People in other industries don’t provide their would-be clients with “spec work” for free. That would be asinine. So, why do advertising agencies continue to do it?

It’s not a new question. (This Adweek story from August was just the latest assessment of a practice that goes back decades.) But Toronto agency Zulu Alpha Kilo really illustrates just how ludicrous it is—in the great video below, in which a guy approaches real men and women (not actors) in other businesses and asks them to provide him with a product or service for free, to see if he likes it before committing to more. [read more]

The Band Is All Here

What do you do when you have to deliver photos for a Jazz Band concert program but you have no photographs of the Jazz Band?  The default it getting some stock photos of other bands but that doesn’t really fly.  We I got the assignment to design the Fall Jazz Concert for BOSS (Bands of Santiago Sharks) I had not a single photo of any of the 3 jazz bands.  I had plenty of photographs of their marching band but that wouldn’t do for the tuxedo clad jazz band.

BOSS Jazz Trumpets

My solution was to focus on the instruments rather than the faces. This gave the essence of the band without having to need to show the entire band in their tuxedos.

BOSS Jazz Trumpet

Shooting over the shoulder, focusing on the music (which they will be performing that night), again, gives the photo a ‘concert’ feel.


In some cases I captured minor views of the musicians faces. This, again, gives the essence of the concert feel without the viewer knowing that it was a rehearsal photo.


The program was designed by 3 Penguins Design.

The Ultimate Panorama – Mont Blanc

Take a look at the In2White project, which is an astonishing panoramic photograph of Mont Blanc.

Altitude: 3500 meters
Images: 70,000
Gigapixels: 365Temperature: -10°

The Concept

How to celebrate Her Majesty the Mont Blanc?

We just wished to represent it as it shows to our eyes : major beauty, astonishing magnitude, pure elation.

We were brave, crazy and ambitious enough to think about a gigapanoramic picture, to seize every single detail of the mountain.
We are Filippo and Alessandra, passionate of mountain, beauty and photography: here’s our concept, our tribute to the Mont Blanc.

But we were not alone in this challenge: we built a Team of dreamers and passionates from all over the World, that shared with enthusiasm our same vision and embraced our project.

Best partners, best technology, best result: the highest high definition panoramic picture ever taken now is available for you.

Enjoy it and be part of our dream!

Should Weddings Ban Smart Phones and Selfie Sticks?

Personally – I say YES!!!!  The wedding is NOT about the attendees, it’s about the two people who are getting married.  I ask myself, what is SO important that you, as the attendee, feel that you must use your phone and a selfie stick to capture the moment – often ruining the shot for the pro photographer that they couple has hire to take the pictures.

wedding-selfie--670x446I saw a great article on this very subject.  It was so popular that it broke their website.  As a result DIY Photography re-posted it.

Many photographers don’t appreciate the fact that wedding guests use their camera and smartphone to take photos during a wedding. This is mostly because those many times interfere with the work of the photographer.

The post below surfaced on Facebook and was massively shared gaining around 4,000 shares and 5,500 likes in the course of three days:

I rarely get this upset, but this has me upset. I don’t want to ever see this happen to our clients photos ever again.

This just has to stop. Over the years it’s become harder and harder to fight the occasional over zealous guest with a camera phone. Now with the invention of the selfie stick it looks like we’re just losing the battle.

Brides and Grooms, please have an unplugged wedding ceremony. Please tell your guests to put their phones away. Please tell them to leave their selfie sticks at home.

Guests, please have respect for the wedding you are attending. Simply put, the Bride and Groom pay a lot for professional photography. You have no right to ruin it for them. Sticking a selfie stick out in the middle of the aisle during a processional in a church is so completely selfish. Think twice, think about your friends and their memories. Just put the phone away and enjoy the day.

In fact the post has become so popular that the photographer had to take it down as it was taking the page’s attention from her wedding photos to a bigger and heated discussion.

We contacted the photographer who agreed to share the post and asked not to be mentioned by name to keep focusing on her work, rather than the facebook status.


Aperture – What is in focus?

© Joe Randeen :: 3 Penguins Photography

F 2.2 – 1/4000 – ISO 500 | © Joe Randeen :: 3 Penguins Photography

When I teach photography, one of the common questions is that of aperture. It’s a part of a larger subject – exposure. Exposure is the relationship of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. We are not going to tackle that in this short post.

The other day I was shooting an event. I saw these 3 sisters and asked them to gather together. If you notice, they are staggered from front to back. I opened up my aperture to f 2.2, which is relatively wide. As such the only thing that will be in focus is what I focused on and anything on that same plane.

I focused in on the sister in the center, resulting that they other two sisters are out of focus. I did this on purpose, for effect. I had plenty of light (speed was 1/4000), so I could have closed my aperture down to 8 or more and had all three girls in focus.


Depth of Field

So, what this photograph illustrates is that the larger the aperture the smaller the focus depth.

If you’re taking pictures of more than one person, you’ll have to either have both people on the same plane or reduce your aperture size.

Hope this helps.

For more information about private or small group photography instruction contact me via

Photography Is No Longer a Crime in Los Angeles

Jo/L.A. Weekly Flickr pool

In 2011, Long Beach Post reporter Greggory Moore was detained by cops for taking photos outside a courthouse. Eight sheriffs deputies detained, frisked, and interrogated him, saying his actions were suspicious.

In the wake of 9/11, the Los Angeles Police Department established an anti-terror laundry list of 48 suspicious activities, including taking pictures with “no aesthetic value,” that could be used to stop people for questioning.

The spirit of that list was, for the most part, adopted by the L.A. Sheriff’s Department and the Long Beach Police Department, and officers from those organizations have been accused of detaining legitimate photogs for snapping shots of what law enforcement deemed to be sensitive sites, such as courthouses, refineries, jails and tall buildings. [read]

On mothers, cancer and zombie photographers

This morning I read a wonderful article by photographer Olivier Duong. Please take a read, it will inspire you.

Plato said “The unexamined life is not worth living” and it’s a quote that is pretty deep. It’s the reason that you do something, the “Why” of things that separate living people from zombies.

Your purpose in photography……What are you trying to do with your images?

If you don’t have a reason for your photography, you won’t fight for it, because deep down you probably don’t think it’s worth a damn. [read Inspired Eye]

Composition is King

Despite the fact that this article is about composition within film, there are lessons to be learned here about storytelling in still photography.  You’re photographs can go from good to excellent with dramatic composition.

The subtle, well-composed frames of Ida prove that composition is amongst the most powerful visual storytelling tools at our disposal.

In recent years, the Oscar category for Best Cinematography has been dominated largely by flashy VFX-heavy films. Many of these films are also heavy on camera movement and incredibly complex lighting schemes. This year, somewhat surprisingly if I’m being honest, the Academy’s cinematography nominations trended back towards traditionally shot films like The Grand Budapest Hotel and Mr. Turner (plus another nomination for Roger Deakins).

However, a fantastic Polish drama called Ida, shot in stunning high-contrast black and white in a 1.33 aspect ratio by Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski, is perhaps the most surprising choice of all, and it’s a choice from which we can learn a great deal about just how important composition can be to the image creation process. [read No Film School]


Buddies - Joe Randeen © 3 Penguins Photography

“Bubbies” is a set of 6 shots taken (in succession over about a minute of time) of two friends hanging out.  They were watching the performance of a middle school band playing on a stage at Disneyland.  A conversation ensued during some loud percussion.  I love their expressions.  Nothing that could be set up.  It happened.  Goes back to what nearly every photographer will tell you – “Always have a camera ready to shoot.”


Tamron, Sigma & Canon 70-200 f/2.8 Portrait Lens Review

The 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is THE workhorse for portrait and wedding photographers. If you don’t own one and are thinking about purchasing, finding objective information about the different makes (Canon, Tamron and Sigma) is nearly impossible. I have read countless reviews, spoken with pro photographers and most of them become a little crazy when giving their opinion.  That said, if you are a pro, make your living with photography, particularly if you’re shooting weddings, professional sports, the Canon is the way to go, without a doubt.  The lens is built like Fort Knox.  But, if you’re wanted to save nearly $1500 the Tamron and Sigma and viable options.

I finally found a review that is not a knee-jerk reactionary tirade. Check it out for yourself.