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Category Archives: Blog
A while back I talked with someone who has been involved in the photography industry for decades. This person told me that a “professional photographer” is someone whose full time job is photography. This got me thinking about what it means to be a “professional photographer” and what conditions are necessary for you to call yourself that.
It didn’t take me long to realize that I disagree with that person’s definition. Not many photographers these days make a living strictly from photography. Digital technology made it much easier for anyone to pick up a camera, use the automatic settings and get a decent image. This has resulted in a lot of people out there who call themselves “photographers. ” These amateur photographers often charge nothing or next to it for their services. This phenomenon has resulted in lower standards for image quality and a devaluing of photographic services. The ultimate result of this is that people expect to pay less for photography services and less work is available for the people who charge more.
But who charges more and why? Professionals charge more for their services, and they do this for several reasons.
The first is the quality of their work. When you hire a professional photographer you can expect to get back a high quality product; produced by a eye trained in composition, exposure and lighting techniques, with a vision for posing, styling and/or space arrangement, as well as expensive high-end cameras, lenses and equipment to back it all up.
Second on my list is service. A professional photographer will do much more for you than show up with his/her camera, snap a bunch of photos and then give you a disc. When you hire a professional, you can expect to get a comprehensive consultation in which the photographer will ask for all the details required for the shoot/event and then help you plan it by providing advice, developing a concepts and creating a plan to help you get the best results from your photography. A professional photographer will provide you with a detailed contract that outlines his/her obligations to you, your obligations to the photographer, licensing and ownership details for the images, delivery timeline, etc. You can also expect a professional to provide you with beautiful, high-quality prints of his/her images.
Professional photographers also market their services, pay taxes on their income, have extensive education and training in their craft, and quite often belong to professional organizations that offer ongoing professional development opportunities and have standards of conduct by which their members must abide.
You can expect everything a professional provides from Colin Payne Photography. The latter, membership in a professional organization, was lacking up until recently when I made the decision to join the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC). The PPOC is a diversified group of creative artists dedicated to the highest standards in professional imaging, with the vision to be Canada’s leader in developing and maintaining the highest level of photographic excellence. The PPOC aims to qualify and support photographers to become industry leaders and inform the public of the value of hiring an accredited professional photographer.
As a member of the PPOC, I have taken a pledge to uphold the PPOC Code of Ethics, which outlines not only my responsibility to my clients, but also my responsibility to my fellow photographers and the profession as a whole. My favourite item in the Code is:
3.) I will at all times endeavor to produce photographs equal or superior to the samples I display, apply my best efforts towards providing the best possible photographic services and assist in raising the general standard of photographic craftsmanship.
I am excited to be part of this great organization and providing my clients with consistently higher standards of photographic excellence and customer service. That is truly the hallmark of a professional photographer.
I am finally getting a chance to lift my head up and breathe some of the incredible September air, after a busy summer of wedding photography. I had a lot of fun creating great images for some wonderful couples over the past few months and I thought I would share this compilation of some of the best shots with you.
I’m currently taking bookings for 2013. If you or someone you know is looking for a great photographer please contact me today to book your wedding!
This past weekend my sister-in-law married my new brother-in-law in a beautiful ceremony and had a weekend celebration on the shores of Slocan Lake – one of my favourite places in the world. I had the honour and privilege of capturing moments throughout the weekend and helping them create a few through some incredible wedding portraits.
My wife and I also celebrated our first anniversary this past weekend, and the coinciding of the two events had a certain effect on me that took a while to figure out. With busy lives it’s easy to get caught up and the magic of love can get a bit lost in the process. But by the end of the wedding weekend, I felt refreshed and more in love with my wife than ever. And through that I realized that weddings (and anniversaries) are more than anything celebrations of love. They are times to revel in the love you have for one another and then to look back on as each anniversary passes and renew the love you celebrated on the your wedding day.
Due to a no-show, my wife and I didn’t have a professional photographer at our wedding. Thanks to some wonderful family members got some nice shots to remember it with, but many of the moments were lost. That is a feeling I would never want to inflict on another person, and it made me feel really good to make sure Wayne and Gabby would have great images to remember their wedding with. And that’s the feeling I bring to every wedding with me – an obligation and a duty to make sure that you have images that reflect all the beauty and joy of your wedding day; that will bring a flood of wonderful memories from your celebration of love.
Tapestri, who has an incredible talent and vision for crafting styled photo shoots to each person’s personality – right down to the tiniest detail. And there’s nothing I like more than capturing details and moments people will love and treasure for a lifetime.
So far we have worked on three shoots together: a beautiful winter wedding, a funky rooftop tea party graduation shoot, and most recently an engagement shoot with a gypsy/bohemian theme. Basically, if you have an idea – or even if you don’t, Andrea can put together a shoot complete with clothing, accessories, hair styling, vintage props, poses and more that you will love. If this sounds like something you would like, please contact me today to book your styled photo session. Sessions start at $395 plus HST for a basic two-hour shoot, and include pre-shoot consultation, props, makeup and hair styling, accessories, two locations, 60-70 images for proofing, online photo gallery, in-person ordering session, web files for sharing and $100 print credit.
I haven’t posted much on my blog lately and to some it might seem like all I spend my time doing is wandering around making nature photos. But in actuality, the reason I don’t post much is because I have been so busy doing other photography work.
Much of my time lately has been spent doing commercial photography for clients, mainly Selkirk College and Kootenay Lake School District No. 8 for their institutional marketing campaigns. Due to privacy issues, model releases, etc, I haven’t been able to post them on Facebook, so I decided to feature them on by blog.
I have some more work for some new clients coming up and will post in the future. If you’re a business owner looking for images for your promotional materials, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation!
My Buddha sits under this tree all the time, no matter the weather, the time of day or whatever else might be going on in the world. Sometimes it reminds me of my own inability to commit to sitting, but more often it makes me remember to approach whatever life throws at you with equanimity.
I spent some time capturing a shot of him today with some fairly heavy snow falling and this was the result. This is being turned into a poster for my office.
[Photo info: 1/ “El Sol 1″ – Sunrise over the Sierra Norte and Benito Juarez, from La Neveria. 2/ Unknown flower 3/ Farmer at work in his field, La Neveria. 4/ Cherry blossoms in January, La Neveria. 5/ A bromeliad grows on a post outside a home in La Neveria. 6/ Farmhouse, field and cow, with Benito Juarez in the background – from back of a pickup truck. 7/ Home in Benito Juarez. 8/ Statue of Benito Juarez, first indigenous president of Mexico, taken in the town named after him. 9/ Corner store near on back road near Benito Juarez. 10/ Mountain top view. 11/ “El Sol 2″ Sunset from high above Benito Juarez (3,000 metres). 12/ Last bit of a blazing tangerine sunset. 13/ Back in the valley at Tierra del Sol, centre for sustainable living. 14/ Prickly cactus everywhere. 15/ Lily in an artificial pond at Tierra del Sol. 16/ Said pond bathed in early morning light. 17/ “El Sol 3″ – Sunrise over Tierra del Sol field. 18/ Farmhouse at the end of a back road, Tlacochahuaya (la-choch-awaya). 19/ “Campesinos” – taken from the back of a moving truck. 20/ Farmer planting his fields. 21/ Sunset from the back of a moving pickup. 22/ Rural scene. 23/ “Field.” 24/ “Retired.”
It was dark when we arrived in Oaxaca (wah-ha-ka) City, a colonial capital of about 600,000 people perched on a high, dry plateau surrounded by towering mountain peaks that I could see silhouetted in the moonlight from windows of the plane. We landed in a small, but modern-looking airport. The air was cool but comfortable. Flowers and palm trees were all around.
Along with the rest of my group from Mount Sentinel Secondary School’s Quest for Community program I was immediately stuffed into a van and ferried off to our hotel. It was on the way out of the airport, as we crossed over a river, when my I got my first of many overwhelming whiffs of the stench of human waste.
It didn’t take long for me to get a sense of the contrasts found in Mexico’s poorest, but perhaps most-beautiful state.
Beauty and character everywhere
The next day I barely got a chance to see the city, aside from the insane traffic on the way out. We were off to the nearby Zapotec communities of Teotitlan and Tlacochahuaya where we visited small business owners who benefited from zero interest micro loans we provided them.
These towns were beautiful, and I got my first taste of Spanish Colonial architecture – with it’s mellow lines, brilliant colours and stucco texture. Signs for hand-made traditional rugs were everywhere in Teotitlan and signs all along the highway advertised many varieties of mescal, a liquor made from the agave plant. The Cathedral de St. Geronimo in Tlacochahuaya was my first Spanish Colonial Cathedral and I fell in love with the colours, ornate detail and gold-embossed lines.
But it didn’t take long to decide that these towns were very tourist-oriented. And while the people whose home-based businesses we visited seemed pretty poor at the time, in retrospect they were rather well-off compared to many people who live not too far away from them.
Much of the next few days in Oaxaca City was spent taking Spanish lessons and exploring the area around our hotel. The central part of the city is vibrant and beautiful. The blazing reds, yellows, blues, and greens characteristic of the Spanish Colonial buildings were even more showy in Oaxaca. They glowed in the warm light of the early and late day sun; an irresistible subject for photography.
I also fell in love with the many old, beat cars in the city – and particularly the uncountable number of vintage Volkswagen Beetles in every colour of the rainbow – such character in these cars. The only downside to them was when one started up just as we walked by – it farted out a cloud of stinky, black exhaust that would make a skunk cringe.
The Cathedral St. Domingo is a centerpiece of Oaxaca’s historic downtown area and a spectacle on the inside. Intricate religious imagery was bordered by patterns of real gold and lit by glowing stained-glass windows. But because there were so many people milling about, I didn’t spend that much time doing photography there. I just got what I could with my 50mm prime lens, mostly ceiling details, and went on my way.
Thunderous bangs and booms that set car alarms wailing permeated our time in the city and culminated in a parade and fireworks show to celebrate Black Nazarene (Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno in Spanish). I got the chance to follow the parade, weaving in and out of the crowd with my camera. Oaxacans seem to be quite the celebratory people.
The other side of the city
But during the time I had to wander about the city centre, it was clear to me that the area is very tourist-oriented and caters to more affluent aspects of Oaxacan society. Fancy restaurants, gift shops, and boutiques are everywhere, as are police. The downtown is peppered with uniformed officers carrying machine guns, hand guns or batons. There seemed to be few homeless people or beggars to be seen. I had to wonder if the police were there to not only give tourists a sense of security, but also to keep the “lesser elements” of society away from the downtown area and out of the consciousness of tourists? (Taking photos of the police is a big no-no in Mexico)
The longer we stayed in the city, the more evident the divergence became between the Oaxaca City we saw on the surface and the place as it really was. We got off the beaten path a bit one day on a walk and ended up meandering through some alleyways, where the houses and cars got undeniably shabbier. Some of them were crumbling brick and stucco, while a few were more like squatter shacks.
Then we visited Hijos de la Luna, a home for displaced children – most of whom are the children of sex trade workers and immigrants. Again we crossed the river of overwhelming stench and were clearly in an impoverished part of the community. Coco, the founder of Hijos de la Luna, takes care of more than 50 children with no funding at all from the Mexican or state governments. Right now she can only afford to care for them until they are 13. Then they have to go out on their own. Where do they go? I could only think of the dusty streets and shabby buildings that surround Hijos as the place they might end up.
Yet this whole time we were surrounded by a beautiful and unique landscape of cactus, scrub brush and high mountain peaks. A warm, energizing sun shone down on us through the day, and we slept in the cool breezes of the desert night. We ate good food, slept in clean beds and drank clean (though bottled) water.
It didn’t take long for the urge to leave the city to arise in me. I wanted to get into those mountains and see what they held. But I also wanted, more than anything, to see how people outside the city live – the poor and indigenous people, the farmers and campesinos – the real people of Oaxaca.
Keep an eye out for a story and photos from the second half of my trip to Oaxaca, when we head into the mountains and spend time at a rural farm.
On January 9, 2012 I left Canada and headed south with a group of 18 students from Mount Sentinel Secondary School’s Quest for Community Program. I joined them as a chaperone on their quest to investigate what makes communities healthy, vibrant and sustainable through two weeks of traveling, giving and working in Oaxaca – Mexico’s poorest and most culturally-diverse states.
We started our trip in Oaxaca City, a beautiful. bustling city on a high plateau, where we took Spanish lessons at Instituto Cultural Oaxaca, visited several small local businesses who were benefiting from zero-interest micro loans we funded through Fundación EnVia and spent time with the children of Hijos de la Luna, while taking time to explore the city and soak in the culture. We also visited Monte Alban, a vast architectural site and ruins of a once-prominent hilltop city of the Zapotec and later the Mixtec indigenous peoples – where we learned about an ancient community.
We soon left the city and headed for the hills – literally. We spent four nights and three days in the mountain villages of La Neveria and Benito Juarez – both at around 3,000 metres above sea level. The residents of these tiny communities are mainly of Zapotec heritage and live quiet lives farming the hillsides of the Sierra Norte mountains, just north of Oaxaca City. But they have also formed a partnership amongst the eight villages (Pueblos Mancomunados or Commonwealth of Villages) through which they govern themselves with direct democracy and promote ecotourism in the region that allows more young people to stay in the communities. While there, we pitched in to help local farmers with their corn harvest, gave gifts of blankets, toques and mitts to local children and also learned more about their governance and community structure.
Then it was time for the long descent back to the valley where we spent the final days of the trip at Tierra del Sol, a learning centre for sustainable living. Nothing goes to waste at Tierra del Sol, where they practice biointensive farming, build with the materials at hand, use solar and wind energy, and don’t accept any plastic or other types of waste from the outside.
We were there to learn the principles of sustainable living, but also got a rare chance to put them into practice while helping out a young family.
Mario and Sol live at the end of a dusty dirt road in an 8-metre by 8-metre mud brick house, with a tin roof and no walls inside. Before we got there, they were cooking outside over an open fire in the hot desert sun and using a hole in the ground for a bathroom.
With the help of Tierra del Sol founders Pablo Ruiz and Adriana Guzman Salinas and the volunteers who come to learn from them, we helped Mario and Sol learn the biointensive method of organic farming, built an earthen oven, and got close to finishing a dry toilet, shower and walls to block the wind – in two days. Our main building materials were corn stalks and mud made from the soil we were walking on.
And, it was an exercise that benefited everyone involved. We got to learn new, valuable skills. Mario and Sol were overjoyed at their new facilities, as well as the fact that so many strangers had showed up to help. And Pablo and Adriana got the opportunity to help spread the principles of sustainable living in their community.
On the final day of the trip, the Quest for Community kids held a toy-making workshop with a group of local school children. It was great to see how quickly they bonded and how much fun they had together.
This is the first installment of photos from our trip to Oaxaca. I will be following it up oon with my personal photos from the trip that convey my vision of the place and its people.