Interview in Popular Photography Magazine

For their February 2013 issue, Popular Photography Magazine interviewed me about one of my more challenging and technical pictures from my portfolio. I always get a little nervous when when speaking about how I did something, but I’m very happy with how the article came out. Attached are the tear sheets and full text is below.

Lincoln Barbour in Popular Photography Magazine February 2013

 

Lincoln Barbour in Popular Photography Magazine February 2013

ONE-MAN BAND

Depicting an original metaphor for sameness

THE TEXT for an advertisement promoting a new housing development asked, “What would life be like if everything was the same?” Lincoln Barbour, a Portland, OR-based commercial shooter, took on the creative challenge of answering that question visually in a series of images that included this shot of an all-tuba high-school band. “The ad agency hired me based on my personal work, which is quiet, subtle, and candid,” Barbour says. “So the hardest thing for me was finding my personal voice in the shot while meeting everyone else’s expectations.”

Barbour’s first challenge? Simply finding enough kids who had band uniforms and tubas. Unfortunately, he couldn’t. “We had six tubas and ten kids,” Barbour recalls. “I had to shoot the same picture three times and move the kids around with the different tubas, and then Photoshop it all together so it looked like one photo.”

Working with the agency’s art director, Barbour determined that the frames to be composited would need to be captured from the back row to the front in order to get the right overlap. “I shot six people at a time with tubas, and there was always one person on the next row below, overlapping so I could line them up as we went along,” he explains. “We had to think about the kids and where they’d be in the picture, and, yes, there are two or three repeated musicians, but who’s to say they weren’t twins?”

Barbour also faced a tough task in getting even light and lots of depth of field in the cavernous gym. He used four Profoto 7B packs and heads with magnum reflectors, bouncing the light off the high ceiling at full power. The light stands were placed at the four corners of the frame. The exposure on his Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II was 1/125 sec at f/11 and ISO 320. The lens: a 24–70mm f/2.8L Canon EF zoom at 57mm.

“When this job came in, I took it on myself to do everything— all the production, prep work, location scouting, and prop building. I was exhausted when it was over,” he says. “I learned a lesson here: Next time, I’m going to hire stylists, a location scout, and a tech guy for all the Photoshopping.” No more allowing himself to become a one-man band!

—Laurence Chen

Interviewed on PhotoShelter

As you may or may not know, I’ve been a PhotoShelter customer for several years now. I love their service. It is, by far, the BEST way to show proofs to clients and deliver high rez finals. It also easily fits in to my digital workflow with Lightroom via a plugin, so using it saves me tremendous amounts of time and energy. Time and energy that I now spend focusing on my business, rather than mundane tasks that waste countless hours like creating Adobe web galleries, FTPing files, or (cringe) burning DVDs.

Every job I’ve delivered since 2010 is online high rez. Not only can my current clients redownload their images at any time, but I can quickly share and relicense available images to new customers. As a bonus, it also serves as an offsite backup in case something every goes terribly wrong at my office (knock on wood).

Anyway, when Lauren Margolis of PhotoShelter asked me to do in an interview about my architectural and interior photography, I jumped at the opportunity. I was totally flattered and I think the interview came out really great. Click the link below to read it on PhotoShelter’s blog:

Architectural Photography: Just Like Playing Tetris…Right?.

Featured Photographer on Photoshelter

If you’ve worked with me anytime over the last few years, you’ve probably interfaced with my Photoshelter Archive. It’s the best service out there for online delivery and storage of photography assests. All my proofs galleries and high rez files get uploaded to Photoshelter. This gives my clients 24/7 access to their photos without having to get in touch with me. Plus it’s great way to see what I have available for stock. It also integrates perfectly with my website and it’s super easy to sync with my Lightroom catalog.

Recently, the staff of Photoshelter interviewed me for the featured photographers section. Click here to read it and learn more about me and why I think Photoshelter is so great.

Starting Out as a Photographer

Around this time of year, I get a lot of emails from photo students about to graduate. I think part of their curriculum is to go out and ask photographers they like how they got their start.

So, when Andrew Torres emailed me a few weeks ago, I decided to make a blog post out of it. Hopefully this answers his questions about how to start out as a photographer. At least it tells my story and I can reference it again the next time a photo student emails me.

AT: How did you get started in photography and what education/training did you receive?

LB: I learned the basics of photography in high school and did it as a hobby for a number of years. In 2001, I quit my web design job and started working as a studio manager/1st assistant for an architectural photographer by the name of Philip Beaurline. I knew some Photoshop from my design days, but I know nothing about professional photography. Everything I know today I learned by working for him.

It was a very lucky time to make the shift into photography. He was still shooting film and he was shooting with a view camera primarily. I learned to load film, label shot rolls, and how to set up a view camera. After the shoot, the film workflow became my responsibility. I took it to the lab, made selects on a light table, drum scanned the selects, cleaned it up in Photoshop, made prints and CDs, and then delivered the job to the client. So not only did I learn all the nuances of film and the look of film, but I also learned all the digital post production side of things, how to interact with clients, and to know how to properly deliver a photo shoot. It was really an amazing experience and I don’t think I would have learned as much had I just freelanced as a photo assistant.

AT: Would you recommend internships or assisting before starting your own business?

LB: Absolutely. I think internships are good place to start. It gets your foot in the door and there’s not a big commitment on either part. Once you move into assisting, make sure you assist a photographer who you admire or for someone who shoots the subject you’re interested in. If you like architecture photography, assist an architectural photographer. If you like food photography, assist a food photographer. If you like travel photography, assist a travel photographer. If you like all three, you can assist me.

AT: Are you a member of any professional organizations and would you recommend joining?

LB: Definitely start by joining ASMP. The main things you get from it are tons of business materials ranging from estimates, to copyrights, to legal documents; a national network of photographers that you can reach out to for help or advice; and amazing discounts on everything from computers to business Insurance. After that, if you want to shoot editorial, I definitely recommend joining Editorial Photographers (EP). The member forum has helped me so much throughout my career as a photographer. If you want to go more commercial, APA is a good place to be as well. They have a great find an assistant listing program as well as invaluable information and discounts.

AT: What piece of equipment could you not live without for your type of photography?

LB: Besides a computer, Lightroom and Photoshop, I could not live without the Canon 24mm TS-E II and the Canon 17mm TS-E. The TS means Tilt-Shift and these lenses allow me to shoot architecture almost as well as if I had shot it with a view camera. Architecture photography is all about perspective control. These lenses allow me to keep my camera level, yet rise and shift the lens to compose the without getting keystone distortion. Not only that, but these lenses are incredibly sharp and show very little (if any) chromatic aberration.  I just hope Canon release new editions of the 45mm TS-E and the 90mm TS-E. Nice lenses, but not sharp enough with for a 20MP digital SLR.

For digital, I’d say your lenses are more important than you camera. For film, they’re both important.

AT: What are the advantages/disadvantages of working out of a larger area like Portland?

LB: Portland (and Oregon) is fortunate to have all the support you need to pull off a really big production. Everything from an international airport to professional camera and lighting rental can be found here. Plus there are some amazing rental studios and great locations all over town. There are some great stylists living here as well. There’s a strong creative vibe here and I feel lucky to be a part of it. The downside of working here is the cost of living is pretty low and there are A LOT of photographers and assistants moving here all the time. With this much competition, you really have to work hard to make yourself stand out. I would not want to start my career here. Start someplace smaller and build up your portfolio. Then move to a medium sized market like Portland.

AT: What have you found to be the most effective ways to market yourself?

LB: You just can’t do one thing and expect it to be effective. You have to market everywhere and it has to be consistent of what you shoot (your brand). You must have an easy to use and fast loading website, a carefully edited portfolio, email marketing campaign, direct mail marketing campaign, social marketing network, all of it. It’s not cheap and it takes up a lot of your time. So you have to build it into your cost of doing business. Also, word of mouth is so important, so make sure you do a good job, deliver on time, and work well with others.

AT: Any other words of wisdom you would offer a photography student nearing graduation?

Being a working professional photographer is a job. It’s not romantic, it’s not glamorous, and you’re probably not going to make a living at it for about 5 years. But it’s a fun job and it can be very rewarding personally and emotionally. So, if you don’t have any business skills, start getting some. You’re going to need it.

Also, do your cost of doing business every year. I can’t stress enough how important it is to know the real costs of running a photography business.