PhotoDude.com

The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

You can contact me at . I can promise you that your e-mail will be read, and I will do my best to respond. But the reality is that life's priorities often leave unanswered e-mail. Some of the questions I'm asked are similar, so I've created the below list of Frequently Asked Questions, which may contain the answer you seek.

· Can I really rent the stain in the upper right corner?
· Can I have a Gmail invitation?
· What digital camera do you recommend?
· Who was your guide at Monument Valley, and how can I hire him?
· Who was your guide at Antelope Canyon, and how can I hire them?
· What kind of film/lenses/exposures did you use to shoot at Antelope Canyon?
· I'm working as a [insert unsatisfying job here] and am thinking about quitting and becoming a photographer. Can you give me advice and tell me how the Atlanta market is?
· I've just downloaded Textpattern, and I can't get my site to look like yours. How do I do it?
· Are you the Reid Stott who [a] went to Sanderson High School in Raleigh, NC, class of 76, [b] went to Wake Forest University 75-77, [c] worked in rock radio in Winston-Salem or Macon/Warner Robins, GA?

Can I really rent the stain on the right side of each page of the site?

Well, I guess you could. Maybe if you were selling coffee. But my thought was that prime right column real estate might just be a place I could use to make a creative sponsorship deal with an advertiser. If you think that might be you, email me, and let's talk it over. If not, it may become a place for a recurring joke of some sort.

Can I have a Gmail invitation?

Yes, please. Take two, they're small. And as we all know, Google never rolls out their betas. So Gmail will always be by invitation only. Really. So you need an invitation, right?

What digital camera do you recommend?

First off, I'm a Canon Guy and have been since 1987, so take a couple of grains of salt. I use the Canon 5D, and prior to that, the Canon D60.

Secondly, I don't follow the fast moving field of digital releases nearly as close as you'd like for someone giving you advice (try dpreview and PhotographyBlog for that). So I can only tell you how I've spent my own money, and therefore how I recommend you spend yours.

My advice? You should either [1] spend $400 or less on a "point-and-shoot" digital camera (minimum 4 megapixels), or [2] jump to $700+ and buy a digital SLR. To me, the "in between" just doesn't make sense.

Of course, it depends on your needs. If all you want is a nice portable camera that's easy to pull out and quickly grab a shot, and your end usage will either be an 8.5x11 print or a web display, a 4 megapixel point and shoot will meet those requirements. That's just what my wife wanted, and last Christmas I gave her the Canon A85 (like I said, I'm a Canon Guy, but Nikon and Olympus also make excellent point-and-shoot digitals).

But if you want to learn more about photography, if you want to make prints bigger than 8x10, if you want image quality that is five times better than a point-and-shoot and rivals film, spend the extra bucks and get a digital SLR. The Canon Digital Rebel and the Nikon D40 and D70 are both excellent reasonably priced units. Tremendous bang for the buck. You'll also have to spend more money on some quality lenses to put in front of it, but if you're into photography, you hopefully have faced the facts by now: it's just damn expensive, as a hobby or a profession. But when it comes to a digital SLR, it's money well spent.

Who was your guide at Monument Valley, and how can I hire him?

His name was Tom. And you can find him here.

Who was your guide at Antelope Canyon, and how can I hire them?

Antelope Canyon Tours. I recommend the extended tour.

What kind of film/lenses/exposures did you use to shoot at Antelope Canyon?

I was shooting Fuji Velvia (ISO 50), on a tripod (an absolute must), and usually either the 20mm or 28mm lens. It is surprisingly dark in the middle of the canyon, and you may even need a flashlight just to focus. Exposures varied, but were in the range of 15-30 seconds at f/4. Bracket like crazy, at least a full stop either way from your meter reading, and you'll probably be OK. And be sure to pause from your shooting and make some "mental images," as film and RAW files can never capture the dynamics of light your eyes can see in that very special place.

I'm working as a [insert unsatisfying job here] and am thinking about quitting and becoming a photographer. Can you give me advice and tell me how the Atlanta market is?

Sure. In the past six years, my income has gone from 80% photography and 20% web design to 80% web design and 20% photography. Only partially by choice. Over the past several years of economic turmoil, many well established and experienced photographers in town have suffered greatly, and even gone out of business. If it had not been for web design work, I would have been among them. Meanwhile, every three months, multiple schools in town spit out dozens and dozens more photography students willing to work for a day rate equivalent to a week's supply of Cheetos and Mountain Dew.

Sure, jump in the pool. Just don't expect to get too wet.

I hate to sound so cynical and pessimistic, but that's the reality. And here's another. A few years back, I was talking to someone who was considering the jump into photography. He had a well paying job, so much so he could afford the digital SLR that I could not back then, as well as trips to lovely places to use it. Meanwhile, I worked on photos of honeybuns to pay the bills. And I wondered, "who is better off?"

Here's the reality of the photo business (and any business). It's commerce. You will not be making art-for-hire. You will be working collaboratively to give people what they want, a photo to sell a product or service. And they will want things you don't. What you want, your "art," your "pleasure," has to come on the side, in your spare time.

And this will be true no matter what you do full time. If photography is a passion you cannot control, so be it. I empathize. But is very hard to get paid for passion, and very easy to seek it out on your own.

One final reality: though you may complain about your current job's stagnation, the increasing demands of your bosses, the lack of opportunity for advancement, the lack of a chance to earn more income, and the increasingly repetitive and dreary nature of the work, I can point you to professional photographers who say the exact same things about what they do. The grass is not greener on the other side, it's just newer to your eyes. In the end, it often grows up the same.

It's only the passion that will sustain you. If you don't have it, I mean really have it to the point of being willing to completely give up your current lifestyle to get it, then you're better off where you are. Find a way to make more spare time to pursue it, and you'll likely be happier than you would struggling to get by shooting honeybuns.

I've just downloaded Textpattern, and I can't get my site to look like yours. How do I do it?

In a way, I'm reminded of a story I heard about Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Some young guitarist in a new band cornered him and asked, "hey, man, we're recording our first album, and I need to get that Texas grunge sound you've got. How do I do it?" Gibbons told him, you spend about two decades trying everything you can think of in every combination until you find the one that works ... call me back in 15 or 20 years and let me know how it's going.

The point being, I didn't get here overnight. I had eight years of code slingin' and experience with three previous blogging tools under my belt when I switched to Textpattern in April of 2004. It was June of 2006 before I got to the current design, with some other variations along the way.

Even though I was experienced with Blogger, Greymatter, and Movable Type, it took some time to wrap my head around the way Textpattern works. In the end, it is a far more flexible and elegant system, and has allowed me to get four years of content under one roof.

So while I can't help you make your site look like this, you'll find some wonderful templates you can download and install at Textpattern.org, a fine site of resources and links to All Things Textpattern, and more fine templates at TextPlates.com

Are you the Reid Stott who [a] went to Sanderson High School in Raleigh, NC, class of 76, [b] went to Wake Forest University 75-77, [c] worked in rock radio in Winston-Salem or Macon/Warner Robins, GA?

Yes.

Did I miss a question? Um, e-mail me.

Contact me to find out more