Harrisonburg photography

Corporate Photography in Harrisonburg

I've written about what it's like to be a wedding photographer in Harrisonburg, but what's it like to be a corporate photographer here as well? Well, let me answer that question with a lengthy blog-post ;)

Just like wedding photography, shooting corporate photography is also incredibly satisfying. I really enjoy telling stories through pictures, so applying that concept to businesses is just as rewarding. Every business offers something unique, and its my goal to figure that out and share that fact in a visual manner. Let's take a look at a few different shots and see what we come up with.

First, here's a photo of a heart surgeon beginning his case. When someone thinks about 'heart surgery', what do they normally think? I'd assume they usually think that their chest is open and someone is poking around inside. Blood. Guts. All sorts of nastiness. Since that's not the type of work this doctor does, we need to tell his story to make his prospective patients feel at-ease. He works with technology, he's serious, its incredibly modern, and he looks calm (and not covered in a mess of organs). That's our story, that's what we need to convey.

Corporate Photography in Harrisonburg Heart Surgeon

How about this lawyer? When someone thinks 'lawyer', they think lots of things, and most of them aren't positive. But what if we show this lawyer not as a stereotype, but rather as a person. Let's show him in his work environment, his degrees, and smiling as if he's greeting you through the screen. If you're looking for a lawyer, and you found this one online, you've already broken the proverbial ice and hopefully you feel comfortable before you meet him in person. 

Corporate Photography in Harrisonburg Lawyer

How about this one? A young architect. 'Young' typically indicates a lack of experience. 'Architect' is a very demanding and detail-oriented profession. By knowing that those are possible thoughts going through our viewers' minds, we need to address them immediately. In these photos, 'young' now means full of life instead of inexperienced. We can see that he's working in an unorthodox area to do his sketches, but that's all that's different about the way he works. The second shot should clear up any misconceptions about his abilities as we can see the attention to detail and the number of drafts he goes through to design something for a client.

Corporate Photography in Harrisonburg Architect
Corporate Photography in Harrisonburg Architect 2

Finally, we have a local coffee shop owner. This one image summarizes almost everything you need to know about his coffee shop. The owner works the register, he serves you with a smile, you can see the brand of beans he stocks, and you can see the equipment he uses for brewing. Images convey information as well as emotional responses. The information part was the first part, the emotional response should be this: warm, welcoming, friendly, nice, enjoyable, etc. The images should leave you with a sense of warmth.

Corporate Photography in Harrisonburg Coffee

I love telling stories, corporate photography is another avenue to do just that. 

What DSLR Cameras Get Right

I've been highly critical of DSLRs for dragging their feet when it comes to innovation. Before I write a couple posts blasting the big companies for thinking inside the box (no pun intended), let's look at what they do actually get right.

  1. DSLRs can produce top-notch images. There's no arguing the image quality these pieces of gear can create.
  2. They're very reliable. A 'cheap' DSLR shutter is typically rated about about 100,000 shutter actuations, some 150,000, and the best (and most expensive) are rated to last 300,000 actuations. These cameras will likely not die on you in the middle of a job.
  3. Their iTTL/eTTL flash metering systems are excellent. For run-and-gun assignments where you need the flash to 'just work', DSLRs do that very well.
  4. Their auto focus systems are incredible. Others might get close, but nothing can beat a DSLRs AF abilities as of this post going up. 
  5. When speed is essential, they can deliver. Between their typical 6-8 frames per second shot rate, and up to 11 on the super high end bodies, they can shoot incredibly fast. Not to mention their buffers don't fill up very quickly so you can actually take advantage of that shooting speed. 
  6. They've had time to mature. This is probably the DSLRs greatest strength and weakness simultaneously. The DSLR is a carryover from the film days, when it was just an SLR (Single Lens Reflex) which meant it had eons to work out the kinks, master the mechanical processes needed to make a great camera, fine-tune the ergonomics of the body, etc. Time is incredibly important to a product like a camera. When these things went digital, it's easy to think it was an overnight success and that all they did was add a digital sensor instead of film, and then they can ship the product. It wasn't like that at all. The first DSLRs were met with a huge amount of negative reviews, especially from film purists who didn't even like the idea of using digital as a medium. Bottom line, they weren't as good as their film counterparts...for a while...and then they got better with time. Time has been a huge asset to the DSLR platform. And now that time has been kind to the platform, changing technologies are once again at play and we've reached the end of the product's peak. No matter what anybody says, the DSLR is no longer ahead of the technology curve - it is fundamentally tied to the SLRs of yesteryear (in both design and capabilities) and without removing the mirror, it will never have a chance to compete with the cameras of tomorrow.

Why I'm In Love with the Fuji X-T1, Knowing Fully Its Weaknesses

Mirrorless Mirrorless, On the Wall

The Fuji X-T1 is my favorite camera to date. I'm not even sure where to begin with all of the things I love about it, so let me just point out the things that separate it from its DSLR counterparts.

Size and Weight:

The X-T1 is probably the perfect size. That may sound weird, but let me explain. We live in a world where companies continue to make things smaller and thinner, and there doesn't seem to be any end to this trend in sight. A was recently talking to a friend of mine who purchased his first interchangeable camera, the Sony NEX-5TL, and he said it's actually a little too small for comfortable shooting. He's constantly pressing the shutter release button with his thumb because the grip in the front doesn't accommodate his normal-sized hands. Cameras can be too small. The also can be too big. These aren't exclusively subjective qualities. The X-T1 is the right size and the right weight. It feels very comfortable in my hands and doesn't weigh me down. Fuji hit a home run with this design.

The Electronic Viewfinder (EVF):

Every review you'll read about the X-T1 will tell you that you have to see the EVF to believe it. And they're right. It's huge, it's bright, it's informative. When you rotate the camera into portrait orientation, the shooting information rotates with you so you're not reading it sideways. When you take a shot, the image review shows up in the EVF. That's italicized because it amazing. You can have it show you the image for a specific duration, or not at all, it's totally up to you, but I highly recommend everyone try this feature out at least once because it'll make your production workflow that much more efficient. Imagine not taking your head away from your camera anymore to review images. It's a dream come true because the image comes to you, not you to it.

Quick Aufofocus (AF):

The AF system packs a punch - it's super fast and accurate. I can't tell you the number of times my DSLR has thought it was in-focus, but the lens AF-finetune had shifted ever-so-slightly, so now all of the images from that shoot were a hair out of focus. It makes me want to scream to the heavens when that happens. We don't have to worry about that sort of stuff with the X-T1. The AF system isn't perfect (in fact, one particular part of the AF is on my weaknesses list), but it does 95% of what I want incredibly well.

Physical Dials and Switches:

Having hardware access to the ISO, Shutter Speed, and Exposure Compensation on the camera (plus aperture on the lens) makes shooting a very physical and mechanical experience. It doesn't feel like a computer - you don't need to dig through digital menus to change settings. I'd also argue that the traditional way of changing settings like ISO through the use of a function key (meaning you press and hold a button, then turn a dial) is one step removed from the way Fuji mapped it out on the X-T1. I like doing a single thing to make a single other thing happen. It's a pleasant way to interacting with the device.

Articulating Display:

Really comes in handy when shooting video or high/low angle shots. I typically use the EVF almost exclusively, and that was the same on a DSLR as well, 99% of my time was spent looking through the viewfinder, not at the back of the screen. However, since the screen tilts out and pivots, I've found it to be very useful in specific cases. Articulating displays aren't new, they're just new to DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras. See, when the display pops-out and pivots, it makes two important compromises: durability and weather protection. These screen can be weather sealed on the back, it's just more difficult for manufacturers to do so - it drives the cost up. The durability issue is the biggest problem. When the screen pops-out, it does so on hinges. These cameras are frequently bumped on objects, scuffed, tossed around in bags, etc - if that display is out when those seemingly insignificant things happen, the entire camera can break. The responsibility is really on the photographer to take care of it when it's popped-out.

Firmware Updates:

For DSLRs, once the camera is shipped, it is exactly as it will be until you break it, sell it, or both. Minor firmware updates are issued to resolve programming errors, but almost never introduce new features. Enter the Fuji X-T1's firmware update scheduled to drop on December 18th (link). I'll do a separate post about this once the firmware ships, but in the meantime, we're being promised a new electronic shutter feature (for silent shooting up to 1/32,000 of a second), the Classic Chrome film simulation, Natural Live View, and a bunch of other tweaks. It is so darn refreshing to see a firmware update bring something substantial to the table.

Now for the Drawbacks

As many know, nothing can have all strengths and no weaknesses. Meaning if something is great at being small, its weakness is it not being large. The Fuji X-T1 is not exempt from the natural order of things. Here are the two main areas where the X-T1 fall slightly short in my opinion:

Autofocus in Low Light: 

As I pointed-out in the previous section, the X-T1's AF performance is great. But here's the thing, DSLR's are currently the king when it comes to AF. They are fast. No wait, they are super-fast. And super accurate. The problems I have with DSLR focusing is the AF Finetune adjustments, the fact that they push and pull in and out over time, and it's a pain in the butt to maintain them. It doesn't mean their AF is bad, it just needs attention. The X-T1 doesn't have as good of an autofocus system as a DSLR, period. Especially in low light. That being said, I've shot events in what appeared to be near-darkness and it performed admirably. It's just that the DSLR would have been faster. We need to give this some time to grow and develop. Mirrorless autofocus has come a long way in the last few years. Give it another year or two and I think we'll be where DSLRs are today.

No flash in Continuous Motor Drive:

This is a weird one. A really, really weird one. Almost a deal-breaker for some. The Fuji's flash can ONLY fire in Single Shot drive mode, not Continuously Low or Continuously High. It can fire regardless of the AF drive, meaning it can be in single or continuous autofocus, but not more than one shot at a time. This is sort of annoying. And maybe its because the pop-up flash, the EF-X8, will overheat. It could be as simple as that. I've tested it with multiple radio triggers in the continuous drive modes with no success, so it might be a limitation until Fuji releases a flash that could keep up, then they allow it? Again, it's weird. It's a guess at this point as to why it can't do that when every other camera can. Maybe we'll figure it out with the next firmware update.


Expectation vs Reality

I saw this video going around and thought I'd share it here...

Since this video isn't mean-spirited, I don't really have a problem with what its saying. It's true, most people buy a camera, take terrible photos, then it sits on their bookshelf. That being said, everyone has to start somewhere. I remember getting my first DSLR, it was a Nikon D40. I couldn't afford anything better than the D40, but truthfully, it didn't make a difference. This same website has a video series challenging professional photographers to take their best shot with terrible, god-awful cameras. And guess what the conclusion is: the camera doesn't matter. So the video pokes fun and is worth a laugh. Just remember that everyone has to start somewhere and the gear ultimately doesn't matter, its the photographer.