America’s Next Top Drama?!?

I normally try to stay away from talking about television shows, but this one relates to a photo shoot, so…

I’m not sure what to think of this story, regarding America’s Next Top Model:

It basically states that the media is furious over a recent episode of ANTM, where the models are asked to be “transformed into different races” and photographed. Then, the story compares this action to a recent Australian “blackface” television performance that upset Harry Connick, Jr. and much of America.
Now, I haven’t watched the full episode of ANTM, so I may be way off here. Maybe there was a secret scene where Tyra Banks requested the models to mock and degrade the race they are portraying?!? As you can tell by that sarcastic remark, I seriously doubt it.
This is NOTHING like the Australian blackface incident (they were obviously over the line, as they made fun of the Jackson 5’s skin color). From the segment I saw on the internet, this ANTM episode seems to be more of a teaching experience and a focus on awareness. How in the heck can AOL TV complain that Tyra is putting her models in blackface?!? These images look sincere and the clip appears to be teaching a sort of “walk a mile in my shoes” sort of lesson.
I work in the media and have to wonder if these few publications trying to demonize Tyra Banks have gone mad? Most legitimate publications wouldn’t even dare to call this episode racially-charged. Is this another case of a few dubious media outlets trying to gain ratings by causing a big stink?

Youtube, and why I hate it so very much…

So, everyone knows how easy youtube is to use. You make a video, click a few buttons, and it is up for the world to see. I prefer using it and embedding the video in the blogs I do for clients over wrestling with all the steps each different client has to put the video directly on their server.

Well, I covered a concert for a client recently, and I needed to get the text, pics and video up right away. So, what do I do? I toss the 42 seconds of video on youtube and embed the video into the blog. What happens? A couple days later, the video gets flagged and locked down for copyright infringement!
By the way, I’m not going to mention the artists or the publication, because they are innocent in all of this. Youtube is the evil entity here and Motown Records is semi-moronic for flagging the video to begin with. And, I know what you are thinking… How is Motown stupid for flagging a video, if they had no clue it was embedded in a legitimate publication that had approval to shoot the content in the first place? Let me answer that with a common sense statement…
The video was professionally shot (it sure didn’t look like a camera phone took it), it was only one verse of one song and they could’ve EASILY sent an email or inquiry to me first. The fact that it was obviously shot from the photo/video pit and not the crowd, should’ve been their first clue. The fact that I was following normal editorial guidelines and publishing an incomplete song (normally media is allowed to shoot and display 30 to 45 second snippets of songs, so it doesn’t interfere with regular album and video sales) should’ve been the second clue. And the third… what ever happened to civility? A quick email asking about the video would’ve been much quicker than going through the hoops of a copyright infringement claim and then a counter-claim.
So, now I’ve started my counter-claim, which is filled with steps to complete and hoops to jump through. I thought about just pulling the video and uploading it to the publication’s server, but at this point I’m on a mission against Youtube. It’s the point of the matter that I uploaded legal video and they blocked it without asking questions first. Then they make it an uphill battle to get it unblocked. This is why I’m fighting it. It shouldn’t be so hard for their users to prove their innocence.
Maybe I should just mess with the extra hassle of uploading the videos directly to my clients’ servers? Or, maybe I should check out and the other video hosting sites that people seem to like more than youtube?

A year of covers…

Quick took a look back at the last year in covers, after going from daily to weekly last October. The cool thing is that 31 out of the 52 covers were my photos! Pretty cool, huh?!?

More Macro…

I shoot news, PR, event and marketing stuff all the time. Even though pictures of the mayor or the new president of the Dallas Bar Association (lawyers, not bartenders) pay the bills, it’s not what I would shoot for fun. So, I’ll often break out the camera on my day off and shoot the kids or play around in the backyard or at a park.

These images were shot nearby at the Dallas Arboretum at the beginning of October. I used my Canon 5DmkII and my macro extension rings. And, let me tell you… shooting a butterfly is a lot more fun and relaxing than shooting a corporate CEO!

Jason Janik vs. Pie…

I like Patrick Michels. Sure, he’s the competition over at The Observer, but he’s a genuinely nice guy. He was there covering the recent pie eating contest at the new Norma’s Cafe location that I shot for a new client. I liked his pics, and you can even see me in one. Just when I thought it was safe to go outside, it’s me vs. those huge pies again…

You can see me on the far left in photo 10 of 16 on their slideshow.


Are you familiar with Modern Postcard? They have serviced our industry for years, and they provide a great product. And guess what… they currently have a killer deal on their postcards.

Yup, a postcard, mailer, promo… whatever you want to call it. Photographers mail them to potential clients, have them set up at a trade show booth, pass them out at networking functions. It’s basically a big 4×6 or 5×7 advertisement, filled with pictures. It works a lot better than a business card, because you can fill it with your images. And right now – I think through the end of October – Modern Postcard has their fancy tri-fold cards at 40% off. Just use code OBE-OCT40 to get the discount.
I am in no way affiliated with them, and I receive no compensation for this endorsement. I’m just passing along a deal from a company I’ve used and trust. I hope this little tip helps you out!

Macro time in the backyard…

It was a Sunday and I had a rare weekend off. I spent Saturday at the in-law’s house and then went to the sporting clays course (if you’ve never shot clays before, it is a LOT of fun). Sunday was mostly spent around the house, or at Target (they get so much of our money, it isn’t even funny).

The two oldest boys wanted to play outside, so I took my camera and extension tubes along with me for fun. This is what I found in my backyard to keep me entertained:

For all you tech junkies, I’ll give you some photo details. All of the images were shot using my Canon 5DmkII, 50mm f1.4, and my EF 12 and EF 25 extension tubes stacked. Most of the images were shot at f8.

The ultimate “cheap” ring light case…

As promised, I have revealed my suggestion for a good, secure and reasonably priced travel case for your ring flash. It is no surprise that my google analytics shows “ring flash case” and “ring light case” has been a high search topic. The first thing I wondered after buying my Profoto ring light was “how the heck do I store and travel with this thing?”

Well, I didn’t see any cases sold by reputable companies specifically designed for any ring light. I didn’t see any blogs or forum posts that suggested anything other than a Pelican case with a custom insert. I had already blown around six grand on lighting and wanted to keep any further purchases to a minimum. Then I had an idea…
A drum case!!! I’ve worked with musicians a ton, and saw their sturdy travel cases, designed to carry round objects (cymbals, snares, etc) safely. They came in all different sizes, so maybe one might fit the ring flash and its cable? So, I went to Guitar Center, one of the biggest music stores in town. I found this in their percussion section for $50 or $60:
The case is made my SBK, a company that I trust. I’ve purchased their hard sided golf club case and their guitar case before, and they were both tough as nails. I forget the exact size of this awesome little drum case, but you can do like me and take your light into the store to test fit it.
The following two pics will give you an idea of how the ring flash head fits inside the case…
The case is soft and padded on the inside, and the lid is secured tight. If you were really worried about your light (and who wouldn’t be? These little Profoto heads aren’t cheap!), you could also stuff a small pillow or towel in the case to keep it from moving at all. As it is, that light fits snug, so I feel confident.
There you have it. My little secret for the best ring light case you can find, without having to break the bank!