About wizwow

This is a place for photographers.

Hi, I'm wizwow - also known as Don Giannatti. Photography has been the focus of my life for most of my adult years. I have written three books for Amhearst Media (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble: keyword 'don giannatti'. Lighting Essentials is my flagship blog and e-zine with a slightly different slant than most photography related sites. If you are interested in becoming a better photographer, check out Project 52 Pros.

Thanks for visiting.

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Here are my most recent posts

What I’ve Learned So Far: Twelve; “Nice Shot… Who Cares?

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Back when I was first starting out in this business, I shot nearly every day. Maybe for an hour or two, maybe only for a few minutes. When I wasn’t shooting, I was in the darkroom developing film, making contact sheets or printing.

Lots of printing.

There was a lot to learn, and the curve was sort of a hockey stick configuration. It was fairly easy to learn how to spool up a roll of film and develop it in chemistry as the directions explained. But once that hurdle was passed, creating more beautiful and tonality laden negs began to be something that resembled alchemy and magic – and a lot of damned hard work fraught with failure after failure.

And then that image gets printed – the one where I finally got it right. More tones, more depth, more feeling… magic.

After what seems like a lifetime – and tens of thousands of dollars later – the work was technically meeting some measurement of success.

I assembled a “portfolio” to share with the advertising exec a few doors down. He had hired me for my first ever gig, and I wanted to show him my brand new portfolio.

He took the book from me and sat down. He then flipped through it at a pretty fast clip, closed it and handed it back to me.

I sat there waiting for him to say something and finally he did. “Hey, you wannanother beer?”

I was kinda dumbstruck and asked him if he had anything to say about my book, my baby, the culmination of a few years of hardass work?

He stared at me with a kind of a wry smile and said, “nice shots… who cares?”

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What I’ve Learned So Far: Eleven; “They Don’t Pay Me Enough To…”

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Have you ever heard someone say this?

“They’re not paying me enough to do my best work.” Possibly some variation of that?

What a terrible, awful, self-defeating way of doing anything. It’s an amazingly stupid, self-absorbed sense of entitlement that brings nothing but disappointment and failure.

When I hear someone saying that I can only feel a twinge of pity for them, and a sharp desire to smack them up side the head.

And fire them on the spot.

Why?

Because they agreed to do the job. At the rate that was offered.

The “job” is to deliver the best image possible. The rate was there to accept or deny and they accepted it.

Did they tell the client “Well, I will do it for $200, but I am only gonna give you 50% effort cause it is worth more than $200?”

No, of course not. They took the job and then did a crappy job because they felt entitled to more than they charged. And that is not only a deceitful, petty way of cheating the client, it is unethical and will lead to eventual failure of the photography business.

Look, no client wants a crappy job. They want the best they can get. That is what they are expecting when they hire a photographer to do the work.

The photographer wants to project an image of being the best available creative. They want to be seen as the solution to the problems and challenges that clients have.

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What I’ve Learned So Far: Ten; Listen to Your Gut

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… it knows what the heck is going on. That place deep inside you where you just know something is not right. Listen to that feeling. It is right more than it is wrong.

Now I know that your head will be arguing with you the whole time. There is a reason for that is ego, romance, “passion”, a fondness for gazing at one’s own navel… the list is too long to imagine. But all of those things make it difficult for that ‘gut feeling’ to get through. And it is the one that is the most important.

And perhaps your initial gut instinct is wrong. Fine, by listening to it you can make better choices, investigate the situation and come to a more rational conclusion.

For instance…

I often see posts by people who have gotten an email that reads something like; “I have seen your work online and it is perfect for us for our project. We have not been able to find a photographer that we like as much as you and we need you to do this for us…”

Right.

Because we know how difficult it is to find the ‘rare photographer’ out there in the world.

And when the email comes from somewhere in LA or New York, it of course makes everything perfectly clear. There are no photographers in LA that can shoot ‘the project’ like you can. This is true even though you have never met the ‘clients’, they do not know anything about you, you live 2400 miles away, and no one has even mentioned what the damn project is. Nope – YOU and YOU ALONE are perfect for this ‘project’. It says so on the email.

Your gut says… “WTF” and your ego says “Wow, this major corporation/agency thinks I am better than all those LA photographers. Yeah! Sucks to be them!” A good thing to do is to ask your FB friends how to proceed now that you have been anointed into world class at-least-better-than-them-LA-fools status. They will offer loads of good ideas on how to land this big fish client.

But your gut says “wait – this doesn’t make any sense. All I have is a Model Mayhem account with 11 hand-bra shots of girls in stripper heels posing on railroad tracks with caution tape wrapped around them and there are certainly better photographers out there in LA who have done this ‘project’ work before…”

Yes… that is absolutely true – however your head is all wrapped in the stars. And your ego.

Now. Listen. To. Your. Gut.

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What I’ve Learned So Far: Nine; Loyalty Should Be a Brand Attribute

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I am a pretty strict believer in loyalty. I live it and I demand it. Not in harsh, ‘kingly’ sort of way, but more of a gentle ‘I am way too busy for your call’ way.

I can list loyalty as one of my strong traits. I may sometimes be loyal to a fault. I have always felt it was something that was valuable not only to me, but to those around me.

Loyalty to my friends, coworkers, vendors, and clients is a powerful part of my personal brand.

Expecting that loyalty to be returned is not something I can expect, but it is something I do recognize as being very important to me.

What is loyalty?

To me it means I can trust those around me to be considerate when they discuss me and my business to others. It means lying and gossiping about me is limited to the good stuff. No, I’m not kidding about this. I do not gossip about my friends, although I may be candid about situations that we have mutually agreed on whether agreeable or not. Telling someone that my bud Dave doesn’t like the ‘snapshot’ aesthetic which I do enjoy is not the same as telling some dark and potentially damaging bit of knowledge I may know about him. Arguing over aesthetics in photography is fun, and it is open for all.

Those things that are private are easily known. If you know something about someone and have a question as to whether you should share it, you already have your answer. No. You should not.

Loyalty to my clients means billing correctly and on time. It means plugging them at every opportunity. It means arranging a meeting between them and another client who may be a perfect fit for their product or service.

And it means I do the best I can at every single thing I do with them.

Loyalty means honesty too. You cannot be loyal to someone and lie to them at the same time. Not. Possible.

I find that loyalty begets loyalty in most cases. The people around me are those who recognize this attribute as being something that is important to them. And they expect the loyalty they give to me to be returned.

It’s a win-win deal for both sides, and it brings great rewards. Both in business and in our personal lives.

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What I’ve Learned So Far: Eight; Life – Through a Lens…

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… is different – depending on what lens you choose. Choose wisely.

One of the joys of photography is being able to use a different lens for a different perspective. Something very far away can be brought ‘closer’ by a long (telephoto) lens. We can add depth to a flat scene with a shorter (wide) lens.

Interesting though that the scene itself doesn’t change. Only our ‘perspective’ of it does. The scene is a reality that exists whether we are photographing it or not, and all we can do with it is choose our POV.

Kinda like life.

A very talented photographer who is just starting out recently noted that he may be a failure after spending a year and not making any money at it. That was his lens of the moment.

For the last few years he has spent a ton of money on getting the best equipment that he could afford – without being extravagant or a gearhead – and working at his craft with great commitment and passion. Hell, I wish I could shoot as often as he does.

But work had not found him, and he was feeling the pinch of that telephoto lens. That’s the one that reaches out and magnifies the small things on the horizon making them look quite large to the viewer. Large and formidable.

In reality they are hardly noticed when standing there without the camera and scanning the scene ahead for a possible composition. We choose the telephoto to reach out, grab that small, insignificant element and by doing so elevate it to the “hero” of the photograph. The isolation of the subject removes much of the context, so it is without a relationship to that which is around it.

Kinda like life.

In life we put those telephotos on our minds and reach out to find the small things, the little incongruous parcels of our life and we magnify them to ‘fill the frame’. What was a single incident is magnified into ‘the way it is” in our minds. What was small and perhaps inconsequential becomes elaborately framed and presented as THE star of our focus.

Now if we stayed in that telephoto mode, most of our lives would be filled with small, tiny fractions of our life enhanced by magnification into massive failures, huge challenges and a resignation to defeat.

Hey… let’s not do that shit, OK!

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