Tuesday, June 26, 2012

it's been an astonishing month

I realize I have ignored this blog for a long time. The reasons aren't all that interesting, but in an effort not to dwell on it, I was in a tough spot job wise; working for someone I was rapidly losing respect for. If you know me, you've already heard my stories.

The short version of the story is that I had to quit, and as nervous as that made me, I couldn't see myself mentally surviving another season of shooting and editing weddings. Besides, the former boss man seemed not to understand that pay day shouldn't stretch to every 10 weeks... cause visa and the landlady expect to be paid every 4 weeks.

Just after that dramatic turn of events, I managed to separate my shoulder during my Krav Maga class. It was painful and now I have a misshapen left shoulder. Although I'm not overly happy about that, I did get the injury in the best possible way, fighting over a rubber knife with a good friend. He's just a bit heavier than me and my shoulder decided to give.

The fun part about pulling joints apart is that you get the painkillers not often handed out. It was a pretty fun time. And then it wasn't because I had nothing to do.

Just as the pain was beginning to drive me nuts, and lack of work was starting to worry me, I got a very exciting phone call from the one production company I've had my sights on since arriving in Vancouver, Paperny Entertainment. After multiple attempts, I finally got a real offer and though it was on again, off again, I finally was told to meet with a producer on Sunday with the possibility of being on the road for the Yukon by Tuesday.

So Monday morning, I arrived for my first assignment with Paperny. This was easily my shortest stint of unemployment on record. Less than 3 weeks.

The above picture is something I took as I drove a truck north up highway 37 to the sprawling metropolis of Jade CIty, BC, nearly the Yukon. It took 2 and a half days driving from Vancouver to get here. I've brought the population up to 39 people and I'll be here for the next 3 months or so following a gold mine operation. I live with a sound guy and a director/camera operator in a trailer.

A lot can change very quickly and that is hopeful. It's nice to catch a break... and though I don't want to mock anyone's special day, but I have never been a big fan of weddings and frankly, the repetitive nature of the subject matter is not what I was looking for when I signed up for camera school.

This is far better.

More photos and stories to follow.

Monday, February 6, 2012

this will be good for your portfolio

It has been a year since I started working in the wedding video and photography business. I never expected to be here and it happened mostly by accident. There is plenty to learn, not the least of which is how the photographer/film maker is viewed by the average client. I have watched the wheeling and dealing first hand, and I was surprised because the above youtube clip is exactly what I've seen happen in the boss' office. 

Craigslist is full of couples looking to have a wedding video or photos done for cheap. The usual approach is one of pity, as in "I didn't budget enough for photos. So if you have a car and a good camera kit, please respond." 

And then the demands start. They might have 100$ for the services, but you'd still better do a good job. "We want more than just 400 photos. We want professional photos please. If you can't do this, don't respond."

The final little quote from each and every whine from a demanding bride will inevitably be "THIS WILL BE GREAT FOR YOUR PORTFOLIO". 

To the new photographer: It will not be good for your portfolio. 

People asking for this will probably be the highest maintenance pseudo-clients you will ever deal with. Good posed photography requires some give and take with the subject - or I should say usually does. And as the hours drag by, you will not get those epic photos because you will now resent the couple. 

Ironically, the more a client pays for the project, the more respect they will have for your work.

The sad thing is many young photographers will fall for this. It makes life that much harder for themselves and for seasoned professionals. If you are this photographer, I urge you to intern for a proper photographer if you want to do it for free, and if you want to make a go of it, get hired on as an assistant. 

If you've gone to school for photography and want to be considered with respect, you shouldn't be working for free.Just because you have passion for your work (or art, if you prefer) it doesn't mean you do it for free. These same people will not argue with a lawyer, doctor, dentist or mechanic about the bill. At least make sure you are the one choosing the freebies you hand out. There are plenty of worthy causes that will benefit you far more than shooting a wedding for free.

To those of you planning to get married, read this with care. Photography and film making is not simply a matter of pressing one button. It may seem that way, since the technology involved mostly involves various buttons. But your wedding video will take a long time to edit because someone like me has to do each wedding one at a time and each second of footage has to be dealt with one at a time.

The conclusion of this little rant is this: you want something done right, you will have to pay for it and like a good meal or a fine glass of wine, you will have to be patient. And just like sitting in a fine restaurant, you will have to do all this with a high level of respect, otherwise you'll find yourself thrown out without tasting that wine.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Yesterday marked 3 years since my brother-in-law, Hitoshi Ikezaki, decided to take his own life. 

If you knew him, you'd know that he was not the sort of person who would consider doing such a thing. Everything I write about him comes out as a cliché. I love him and I miss him. He was a good man. Not everyone really is good, but Hitoshi was.

Here is what happens with a suicide. The people left behind spend an abnormal amount of time trying to figure out that most dangerous of all questions; WHY?

There is a lot I don't know, and I've speculated about a whole lot of other things these past 3 years since the phone call came in. 

What I do know is that he was a man of honour and professionalism. He was depressed for about a year, and I do think I know the reason. 

Hitoshi worked for a well known Vancouver clothing company and was to head the Tokyo division. If you live in North America, you will know this company, its logo and its corporate image. I remember that he was excited about this. I also remember that he and my sister-in-law were required to attend a weekend session of Landmark Education. That weekend did not go well.

I have not attended a Landmark Education forum. All my research indicates it is something that would make me very angry. They do seem like a very litigious group not very accepting of criticism. It's the sort of thing I steer clear of. It did have an impact on my sister-in-law and Hitoshi.

What happened when Hitoshi was in Tokyo is confusing to me still. The company in question asked him to go against his principles of leadership, honour and his ethics. 

He and I had spoken a year or two earlier about leadership. I had been in a position of authority a few times. I was well trained and then further mentored by the right people. The most important message I got was take care of those in your charge. Make sure they are safe, as comfortable as possible and as happy as you can keep them. Hitoshi treated his people with that in mind. 

He was told that he would have to lie to his people and ultimately they would likely see it as betrayal. It was not really in him to do this. It is certainly against the spirit of the public image of this company. They made him lie, and Hitoshi wasn't comfortable with lying. 

That ought to be a good quality. But apparently in the business world, even if the pseudo-yoga new age beliefs are printed all over the company's shopping bags, if this quality of honesty gets in the way of money, it is abandoned without a thought. 

Hitoshi Ikezaki made a choice that I will never understand completely. He was a good man. 

Though I can't  blame the company for his death, I believe their corporate behaviour led to a situation where good people were abandoned for the love of money and ego. One of those good people was my brother-in-law. 

I miss you Hitoshi.


Thank you for visiting. I live in Vancouver now, but I've lived in other places too. I take photos and make short films about things and people. Please comment and be argumentative. It amuses me.

My main website is schmidtandweston.com

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