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Category: PortraitPhotography

Studio photography with Askia Bennett and the new Sony A7riv in New Orleans

December 2, 2019

I was late to the game in purchasing mirrorless cameras mostly because a large part of my business is shooting headshots and portraits at my photography studio on Magazine Street. I have a very specific workflow and a way I like to work that allows me flexible creative freedoms with light and lens while also keeping my subject relaxed and focused. I hadn’t seen many videos or talked to anyone personally about how they used their studio workflow with their Sony mirrorless.

After attending the Sony Creative Space in New York, speaking with Sony portrait photographer Tony Gale, I had a better sense of what the Sony could do for my business and creativity.

 Askia Bennett at my studio. Here I used a prism filter set to bounce light around into my lens.

Askia Bennett at my studio. Here I used a prism filter set to bounce light around into my lens.

I was mostly concerned with the Sony mirrorless technology not allowing me to shoot as quick and see instant results. Once I dove in without hesitation, I was able to make some simple adjustments to conform to my new-ish studio workflow. As I am still figuring out the best settings and Custom Buttons, I still feel that the basics (Aperture, Shutter, ISO, Focal Length) are still easily changeable and work in the context of my strobe settings. I do find some differences in Custom White balance that I am still exploring…like, 5200K in the Sony is NOT 5200K in Canon Mark4. Yes, different processors doing different things, so I make sure I shoot with my x-rite Color Checker Passport and spot check my WB later in Lightroom.

 Askia Bennett photographed at Zack Smith Photography Studio in New Orleans. ©Zack Smith Photography

Askia Bennett photographed at Zack Smith Photography Studio in New Orleans. ©Zack Smith Photography

Myth busing the Sony mirrorless strobe problem

I do have to say the myth did keep me from going in on mirrorless over the last year or so. I have heard from online sources and folks in the know that there is a ‘significant lag in shutter completion and image return when shooting strobes and mirroless’. So to make short work of this – I can’t full disagree but I am going to say that the feeling is…different. Everything is different with mirrorless and especially with the Sony A7r4 you have such a large resolution popping off so fast (10 frames per second RAW files) that it is sometimes hard to stop and take a breath.

I do have to say, the means of composing and focus are different than with DSLR’s but I notice no change when using strobes if we are really going to talk about reaction times. The way I view, real time edit, and shoot again changes…but the mechanics and tech of my Sony ->Paul Buff->Sony relationship is unchanging. Even at 10 fps, I can lower the power on the Einstein, put it in Sport mode and the strobes keep up, with some lag in power around strobe 3-6.

 Captain Ivery and his wife Glenda photographed at City Park.

Captain Ivery and his wife Glenda photographed at City Park.

 Captain Kenneth Ivery, US Coast Guard. Shot at Zack Smith Photography Studio.

Captain Kenneth Ivery, US Coast Guard. Shot at Zack Smith Photography Studio.

All in all I am extremely happy with my Sony A7riv and I do feel I am just scratching the surface on how to let this camera do more in the workflow of my business. I am just finding out how to be creative at the same time serve the visual needs of my clients in a confident way.

 Photo of me in front of my headshot and branding studio on Magazine Street by Matthew Seymour.

Photo of me in front of my headshot and branding studio on Magazine Street by Matthew Seymour.

Why New Orleans Musician Portraits Matter. Right. Now.

October 8, 2019

Everything good is possible through my viewfinder.

 Guitarist and singer Harry Barton of The New Orleans Johnny’s on Decatur Street. 2019.

Guitarist and singer Harry Barton of The New Orleans Johnny’s on Decatur Street. 2019.

Let’s get political. Political…I wanna get political. Yea, I guess that doesn’t make sense if you don’t sing it to the tune of “Physical” by Olivia Newton John. Go ahead, try it. Does it make you see the same thing I do? No, I don’t see Rep’s n Dem’s with headbands deep into some NOLA-Jazzercise (btw I hate the word NOLA, stop using it now please) vision quest. I see the countless dollars spent by politicians and PACs to flood the TV screens and radio waves with attack ads and polished PR campaigns. As I have been in the ad and commercial photography world for so long I see it for what it is. Repeat the same message and hopefully swing voters forget what they stand for and take on your ideal. Well, I am here to say that the real things that matter is New Orleans music. New Orleans musicians. New Orleans sounds.

Make Portraits Not War. New Orleans Portraits Now.

I can think of a ton of mottos to get me inspired. Right now it’s all about turning off the TV and grabbing some strobes and a camera and taking over the streets, the alleys, the bar rooms of this city and making art. Do you feel sucked in by the negativity? Don’t know where to turn? Listen up…here’s my story: I was so thankful to have the opportunity to photograph The New Orleans Johnny’s for their new press shots last month. Harry Barton had a few ideas but pretty much let me run wild with my imagination on this one, and I went straight old school. Let’s gel a few cans and shoot in the night streets. Yes, you see my lingo, and that’s how I felt. We had a blast on Decatur Street doing portraits while holding up traffic and throwing light all over the block.

Catch the band near you soonhttp://www.neworleansjohnnys.com/

 Prism photography with The New Orleans Johnnys in the middle of Decatur Street, New Orleans 2019.

Prism photography with The New Orleans Johnnys in the middle of Decatur Street, New Orleans 2019.

When in doubt, Jazz Party. Ok?

 Delfeayo Marsalis photographed at his home, New Orleans 2019.

Delfeayo Marsalis photographed at his home, New Orleans 2019.

Over the last few years I have had the privilege to photograph trombonist and band leader Delfeayo Marsalis and his MANY musical projects. The guy is a machine – cranking out quality, fun, and danceable music at a pace seldom seen. As a New Orleans portrait photographer I get my share of gigs that may not feed the soul as much as I want, but a call from Delfeayo ups the ante every time.

 Willie Green, David Pulphus, and Kyle Roussell photographed for Delfeayo Marsali’s “Jazz Party” album

Willie Green, David Pulphus, and Kyle Roussell photographed for Delfeayo Marsali’s “Jazz Party” album

I had the pleasure of photographing portraits and sections of Del’s band and go to meet so many musicians I had only heard about. Willie Green, David Pulphus, Kyle Roussell are a few. All good dudes, sharp, and man…on time! I love that.

Check out Delfeayo’s new album “Jazz Party” out soon! – https://www.dmarsalis.com/

 Terrance Taplin, 2019.

Terrance Taplin, 2019.

 Roger Lewis, 2019

Roger Lewis, 2019

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