Pass the Pepto
I remember the sick feeling I had. I remember nearly vomiting from the anxiety that followed the “click, click, click”. I was twenty-seven years old and as an IT guy with a Photography habit, I was very familiar with the hallmark noise a hard drive makes when it has spun it’s last bit, byte or gig of data. This time however, the data in question was twenty-five hundred pictures from a wedding I had shot three weeks prior. My knee-jerk reaction was that I had lost everything from a very important day in someone’s life for which I was responsible (and paid to) memorialize. When my heart dipped below 160 bpm, I realized there was a good chance all the data was still on the card’s I’d shot with.
I had only been accepting money for my photography for a short time before this incident. Although I had been shooting for many years and even selling my print work to various area restaurants, hotels and coffee shops, it had always been on my terms. If I lost something, I lost it. I had also only recently transitioned from film to digital. My career in IT left me no excuse for not backing up my data and going forward that is exactly what I did. I have over 700 shoots backed up these days in three different locations including an “offsite” backup location (more on that below).
Whether you are technically savvy or not, there are some very easy ways to make sure you never have to experience the pit-of-your-stomach-loathing that is losing someone’s work. Even if you are not a professional photographer or a photographer at all, backing up what is important to you should be… Important to you.
The phrase “Local Backup” is a fancy term for keeping a copy of your data in the same place where it actually lives, in the case of my photography, it lives in my studio. This can be as in depth as a RAID based NAS file-server like I use (If you aren’t technical, that is gibberish) or simply another hard drive with an exact replica of your primary photography work drive. There are also many programs out there which allow easy backups of directories on a schedule so you never have to worry about whether you remembered to back up. OSX (Apple’s Operating System) includes “Time Machine” which is invaluable to the non-computer-geek photographer. Other applications also mimic this functionality and a quick search on Google for “Backup Utilities” will generate hundreds of websites that provide software for local backup scenarios on both Windows and OSX. If you are a photographer who uses Lightroom (and why wouldn’t you), during import you can simply check a box to “Make a Second Copy” to a location, that being your second hard drive. Should your primary drive fail, you now have your backup to copy all of your work from once you restore your primary, buy a new computer, etc.
Remote backups refer to backups that do not live where your primary data lives. This means if your computer is stolen or an earthquake swallows your home where your local and primary backup are, your data is still safe. There are many ways to do this including an example of a photographer I know who keeps a second backup drive in a safe deposit box and updates it once a week. That is a bit extreme and there are easier examples. Data storage is cheap these days and there are several companies that offer remote backups for less than $10 a month. CrashPlan and Backblaze are two. I use the former. You simply install a client, tell it what directories you want to back up and it begins it’s initial backup. As things change on your drive, it uploads them. Simple and a cheap piece of mind.
Why is a nearly 40-year-old-man posting about Miley’s Cyrus’ tongue you ask? It’s a valid question, read on!
If you have kids or even if you don’t, you are probably familiar with Miley’s “tongue face” from her recent press coverage. While reading Rolling Stone recently, I came across this little article which explains why she sticks out her tongue for pictures and *shocker*, I can relate.
I’ve been interested in photography since the eighth grade and a somewhat professional photographer since I figured out I could make a little spending money on it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard people yelling over a camera at me; “Kevin, stop using your fake smile!” and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been replying with “This is why I stay BEHIND the camera !” – I can’t smile. I just can’t. It’s awkward and more often then not I just end up making a funny face instead of trying to “smile for the camera”. It’s not that I DON’T smile. I do. Often. It’s just that as soon as someone sticks a camera in my face, I start over-compensating because I know I don’t have a good “photo smile”. I never spent time in the mirror perfecting my smile. I have to smile with my lips and face because my teeth are completely jacked up due to a bad chain of events (being corrected slowly but surely). The result is often a sneer or even a look of anger or boredom. I have figured out a few “smiles” that work for me which are not really smiles at all.
Do as I say, not as I do.
As a “somewhat professional” photographer, I often have to give advice to kids, models, clients, etc on what to do with their hands, arms and of course their faces. Being someone who has trouble smiling, this might seem ironic. Some of the worst offenders of the “fake smile” are kids. This is understandable to me because an awkward kid is exactly what I feel like when someone sticks a camera in my face. Adults have issues too as not all of us are blessed with that movie-star-grin. An old friend of mine who I’ve shot as a boudoir model, mom model and family model has the fake smile syndrome too. In her boudoir work I usually showcased her lines rather than straight on face shots because she, like myself, just goes completely jelly when faced with a camera. (She is now a photographer as well and probably deals with the same thing!) – Her natural smile is absolutely radiant but as soon as someone sticks a camera in her face…
Over the years, I’ve figured out a few ways to get subjects to relax and smile naturally on set (some of these work for me as well.)
- Breathe through your nose. People of the females persuasion rarely have issues with this but we mouth-breathing-males spend a lot of time neglecting our nose for breathing. This also keeps your cheeks against your cheek bones which helps with your smile.
- Set your shoulders back. In these days of computer chairs and terrible posture, people are used to being slumped over. Keep your back straight and your face and neck will follow.
- Jut out your chin very slightly. This pulls the skin of your neck and jaw tight and makes your smile look more natural. You see all those pre-teen girls taking bathroom mirror shots on Facebook from an angle above them? This is why, it makes the face look slimmer and lips more prominent
- Keep your lips moisturized. Chapped lips draw attention away from your smile and even after airbrushing, don’t look as natural as moisturized lips.
- Don’t tense your jaw. I have this habit. It makes you look uncomfortable and angry.
There are many other little tricks I’ve come across or heard from other PhotoG’s but these are the most useful I’ve found that work. At the end of the day, the more relaxed you are during a shoot, the better the finished product will be. Photographers and Photo Editors are magicians with camera and software but we cannot make you look comfortable if you just aren’t!