“Photography is DEAD!” was what my friend said to me recently as I recounted the latest challenges as Creative Director of my own Photography business. Usually I’d have found a comment like this almost ridiculously laughable, especially with so very many pictures floating around us through every social media platform on the planet and people everywhere aiming their cell phones at whatever moment-du-jour, capturing millions of photos each and every day to be instantly uploaded to Facebook™, Instagram™, Twitter™ and various other online sites. But as Sam [not his real name] spoke, I couldn't easily dismiss his statement. Sam is a Photo School faculty member and Instructor at a prestigious Creative College. As such, I have a lot of respect for him. “What do you mean exactly?” I countered, thinking he was just trying to be clever as I know he is prone to be with his students. But what he began to explain was insightful if not even a bit alarming to me. He said that with the advent of Digital Photography and the many advances it has made, it has completely turned the profession on its head. There’s a photographer on every corner, in every city, at every church, and even in the building where I live, I count at least 6 so called “Pro Photographers” all jockeying for the next lucrative gig. (If only there were a photographer to capture the reality-TV dagger stares I frequently get in the hallways when I'm geared up and running off to see a client!) But the business, the work, ..it’s just no longer there. Sure, there are weddings and a few shoots for THIS & THAT happening if you are truly plugged into a good network and are actively advertising in the right places, but the vast majority of photo-journalistic jobs and editorial content are as non-existent today as they were aplenty a few short years ago. Not something I really wanted to hear!...
I went for an outing last night to Vancouver's biggest gallery, the VAG, to take in their latest rotating exhibition for Mr. IAN WALLACE, noted in the visual art world as the guy who was instrumental in creating the "Vancouver School" of art. His is a melding chiefly of painting and photography and for his many years pursuing his passions and vision, I was mostly struck by the simplicity of his various works, located on both the 1st and 2nd floors of the VAG.
From YVR > YYC > YOW > FLL > SJU > PUJ > MIA > PBI > DTW > PHL > CLT > ORD > PHX > SEA > SFO > LAX > PDX > JFK > LGA > ATH > FRA > STN > LHR > ..and back! >YVR:
*phew* That’s a lot of airports! And a lot of mobility, which has played a big part in my recent world of work for these past 18 months with Showtime Pictures.
It began innocently enough, with an interview in Vancouver for a part-time gig as a photographer for a show that was rolling through town. But within very short order, I found myself accepting the offer of employment for the Tour Manager and Supervisor for the entire photography subcontract for ‘Cirque du Soleil’s’ North American touring production of ‘CORTEO’. I had no idea what I had just signed up for, but it sounded ‘fun’ and of course Creative Type that I am (mostly signifying perpetual searching for the next paid gig), I was ready and looking forward to a regular paycheck once again.
Working alongside CDS was—how shall I say—very "interesting" and insightful. I picked up the tour in Vancouver as we made our way across Canada with our final stop of the tour in balmy Miami, Florida. And what a whirlwind tour it was! We ran 9-10 shows a week in each city, with most stops along the itinerary being average 8-10 weeks. With my new-found title came many new responsibilities, some which I naturally expected, some coming as a total surprise. I was charged to hire and train all staff for each city which entailed organizing adverts for interviews, interviewing candidates for a couple of days, hiring and training them in the ways of Showtime Pictures and Cirque du Soleil, along with overseeing every single performance to ensure our contract and mandate was fulfilled. To that end, I interviewed over 100 possible candidates for the duration of the tour, and personally hired approximately 80 people (It’s approximate since I can’t remember them all, and the turnover in some cities became quite problematic with rehiring and retraining midstream). I thank Cirque for their benevolence in giving us all a "Dark day"—when there is no scheduled show—which was Monday for our tour. The rest of the time and the rest of the days were filled with shows and thousands of Cirque fans and attendees coming and going not unlike the frenzy of a busy airport terminal. We always had 6 shows back to back starting early Friday afternoon, and ending at 10:30pm Sunday evening by which time I was completely exhausted and my staff looked ready to jump off the nearest bridge!
This week I had the opportunity to return to a location to work on a challenging HDR/LDR panorama of our fair city and while it’s sometimes hard to capture it all just at the right time, with the perfect weather on a relatively clear day, it’s equally elusive to make sense of it all in ‘POST’, stringing together about 30 images to form one magnificent picture of the entire cityscape from end to end in a way that looks seamless and most impactful. I use about 5 programs to do these types of shots and there’s a lot of importing and exporting, stitching and stretching, color correcting and finally outputting in the required formats. During the process, it’s hard to know really what to expect or even whether or not it will all come together according to the grand plan!