About wizwow

I am in love with light.

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 Amherst Media (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble: keyword 'don giannatti'. Lighting Essentials is my flagship blog and ezine with a slightly different slant than most photography related blogs. If you are interested in becoming a better photographer, check out www.project52.org. Thanks for visiting.

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Here are my most recent posts

ReBranding With Photography

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This was an interesting week.

An old friend and colleague reached out to renew a friendship and to discuss some epiphanies she had recently experienced.

Lunch was near my studio and it was with a bit of trepidation that I had agreed. While I think the world of this person, I also know that our working together can be fraught with frustration and no small measure of much needed patience.

I suck at patience, and life is too short to continually haggle with people. It simply is. We can be like water and oil at times… she with a close eye for microscopic detail, and with a heavy background in corporate people management, me with a ‘big picture’ approach, and eschewing nearly every corporate culture meme there is.

Lunch was always fun with her though… terrifically smart, very focused and with a zest for finding out everything about everything, she can match wits with most.

I was not expecting her exuberance to have faded in the last two years, and I was correct. But now there was something a bit different going on. She had found her voice, her ‘thing’ so to speak. That part of her that had made her so frustrating before was now morphed into a sureness and solidly focused professional.

“You were right,” she said almost at the beginning. “All the things you said I needed to do, were what exactly what I needed to do. I just wasn’t ready to commit to myself. I must have driven you crazy, huh?”

I smiled and brushed off the driving me crazy, although that nail was punched right on.

I had encouraged her to find her voice, find the thing that would make her, and her fledgling business, more unique and reflect more of her authentic person. Write like she speaks, be as personable on the page as she was in person. In short, be herself and stop trying to be what others thought she should be.

I am so proud of her now, that all of those frustrations are simply no worth thinking about. She has gone from a corporate ‘manager’ to someone who is confidently managing herself… and a whole slew of private clients that have been attracted to her systematic, well thought, and successful approach to her business.

We have set up a few projects together, and one of them involves an idea to share with you all.

One of the things we must remember is that what we package is sometimes not as interesting as HOW we package it.

Some of us older guys will remember the ads in magazines for the ability to “see through walls”… yes, this device would allow you to actually see through walls and doors. Like magic.

It was the little thing we put on our doors to see who is on the other side. He had purchased a warehouse full of them, and selling ‘door peepers’ just didn’t have the punch that “See Through Walls” did. He became a multi-millionaire.

Social Media, Personal Branding Photography is our package. And as of today, we have at least 5 shoots on the books for February. At a very decent rate for sure. (For sure I have mentioned it before… we have now been able to put a tighter ‘brand’ on it.)

What is included:
2 headshots: one ‘natural’ and one ‘professional’.
A full length shot to be used for purposes where that would make sense.
Two half length shots, and something with a strong environmental feel.

Uses:
Facebook header – need interesting wide shot.
A Twitter background – tall shot for left hand side of twitter page.
An About.me page.
A YouTube header.
A shot for their “About Me” web page.
Web Header images for their site.

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We are taking a full day for the photography, providing styling and hair/mu where appropriate. Most images to be shot on location, with only two images in the studio.

Well researched up front, I will know what dimensions their social media images must be, so I can shoot to “layout” so to speak.

All of the scheduled clients are entrepreneurs and business people who are discovering their social media impact and want their brand to be consistent across platforms.

And while shooting photographs of someone is not new, knowing exactly how they will be used and shooting for the disparate formats that they need them for is somewhat refreshing. No more cropping out or filling in areas on haphazard iPhone shots… we shoot FOR their social media and website presentation.

A professional and creatively presented, cohesive set of images.

A win for our customers and a win for us.

Just thought you would be interested… take it and run with it in your town if you are so inclined.

 

Going Back in Time

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The great shooters of Project 52 Pros, 2014 just completed an assignment I would like to share.

The work was to be shot in a style or period and be as faithful as possible in presentation. The reason for the shoot was to introduce them to the special difficulties of finding props/locations that could be used for something of a previous era. We excluded any era forward from the 60′s/

I think they did brilliantly.

Big Ambitions? Where Do We Start?

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I want to ride a bike across the country. I want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
I want to photograph the heartland… from an old Indian motorcycle… with a view camera.
I want to do a photo story on Ecuador and Peru and the percussionists of South America.
I want to be able to do the ‘Quick Step’ on the dance floor.

Big ambitions. Especially the dancing… LOL.

Where do we start? What is the first step?

We can all have big dreams and big plans, but the hardest thing we have to do is to break it down into the smaller chunks and then granularize it even more to a set of actions.

Do this.
Then this.
Then this.

We don’t set off one morning heading for a donut and a cup of coffee and figure, oh what the hell, let’s go ahead and walk all the way to the other side of the continent. Right?

Right?

Lately I have been thinking it is similar to building a body of work in photography. I am thinking that there needs to be as much planning in our work image wise as would be in an epic shoot of drummers in Peru.

And that planning should have the same structure as the planning of riding a bike across country. Where, when, contingency plans for snow and rain… life.

We have all ridden bikes before. I do it a lot these days. Grab the bike, head out the gate and think… where am I gonna go today. And it is usually within the neighborhood. My bike is not a road bike, it is a beach cruiser so it only has one speed… whatever I pedal.

So distance is measured by how much of a workout I am going to commit to, and what my time frame is.

Short little jaunts in the immediate neighborhood. Safe. No need for planning at even the granular scale. Ride away, turn around, ride home.

Photographically I have been doing the same thing. Safe, comfortable… out and back again imagery that works nicely and I enjoy.

Time to get uncomfortable again. To ride farther than I normally do.

Planning a photographic body of work, what I want to accomplish this year in images is a rather new endeavor for me. I have always been led by my instincts, the clients I had, and the fun of making images that I like.

Nothing wrong with that until it becomes less comfortable and less fun. And one looks back on a year of images and realizes there was no direction, no cohesiveness… no ‘body of work’ that can be discerned overall.

Glimmers of a direction, and some fine shots… but a disappointing year of work for me leads me to be more deliberate this year.

Deliberate… not sloppy, or crude, or slap-dashed, or semi-planned, or sorta-in-a-way… DELIBERATE.

This has been top of mind for me for the past six or seven weeks. I want to create images that are both deliberate in construction and as a collection – cohesive and tight and planned for reasons that can be articulated… even if just for me.

Where do I start? What comes next?

Identifying the problem was easy, and a bit painful… now it is time to set forth on the corrective path and the myriad roadblocks that usually hide in the mist are making themselves highly visible.

Old habits… die hard.

New habits are even harder to create when we are not certain how to proceed to begin with.

I have been planning a lot of new teaching materials, and teaching plans for this year. And not all are revolving around the technical aspects of photography. I am planning for some philosophical and artistic discussions, perhaps a workshop or meeting of the minds as well. That planning goes well for me… it is in my DNA to plan that sort of thing.

Now I find myself having to plan out my work as well. And I am struggling against forty years of discipline in a craft in order to break away and do something different… something without a different set of disciplines. Or at least a new set of challenges.

It is possibly one of the more challenging things I have done in a long time… well, I haven’t completely done it yet… still in the opening throes of it.

I know when I must start… today. Every day is today.

Every day is the opportunity for something new… now to find the courage to grab on to a corner of that fleeting opportunity and take it for a spin.

Just around the neighborhood… I can always turn around and go home. It’s safe.

And one day… I may just decide to keep on going.

I’ll keep you posted.

 

“What is Wet?” – Project 52 Assignment

Some beautiful work from the Project 52 assignment on ‘wet’.

From the assignment:

WET…

Shiny, smooth, liquid… wet is – well, wet.

And we have to show “Wet” in a photograph. For a client who wants to keep things dry.

You can approach this one in three ways:

You can show something very, very wet. And make the photograph speak to the power of being wet, and how that may be a challenge down the road a bit.

You can show something very, very wet that is purely for the fun of being wet… as long as it shows the detail of the ‘wetness’.

You can show something repelling the wetness from it’s surface. Like a deck protectant, or a sealer for cloth.

The title of the shot would be “Wet” and obvious to anyone looking what that referred to.

How do we show “Wet” – in a photograph?

Wet things are shiny. Wet things have highlights and speculars that show them to be shiny. We will have to have some context around them – or within the subject itself – to make the call that it is indeed wet and not ‘just shiny’… and that means probably some added detail to the wet areas.

We want to see big, ‘liquid’ highlights on this shot – so softbox, scrim or overcast sky with lots of control. White cards are important, and your subject should be chosen with care. (Note… natural wet areas do not count… lakes, streams, rain etc… unless there is a reason or context present in the subject.

Get More Info on Project 52 Summer 2015 here.
Enrollment starts July 3, 2015