Monthly Archives: March 2009

Build a Film Developing Kit for Under $50

12-step bathroom-sink-darkroom program
Creative Commons License photo credit: willsfca

The intent of this article is to present a list of one-time expenses for developing your own black & white film. I would guess that many people shy away from film photography because of the cost or difficulty. And I agree that it can get quite expensive if you have somebody else develop your film (if you can manage to find them, especially b/w).

But film photography doesn’t have to be expensive. We’ve already shown that there are a huge number of film cameras out there for under $50, and I wanted to see if I could put together a list of film developing supplies for the same price tag. After a few minutes of research, whad’ya know? Again, for under $50, we can put together a set of black and white film developing equipment. So let’s dig in!

THE BARE ESSENTIALS

LARGE MEASURING CUP

You’ll need at least one of these measurement cups (or beakers) to measure out the water for your chemicals. I’d suggest getting a 600ml version so you can use it for double batches or 120 film. You can get 3 of these (1 for each chemical solutuion), but if you’re cheap (like me) you can use old plastic cups for holding the chemicals after they’ve been measured.

$9
SMALL GRADUATED CYLINDER

This guys is used for measuring out the concentrate chemicals, since you might be needing anywhere from 10-100ml of concentrate (if you’re using liquid concentrate supplies). Just be sure to rinse between chemical pours and clean very well before measuring out the developer.

$3
THERMOMETER

These cheap-ass thermometers work just fine. They take a while to register the actual temperature, but they work. They’re also a handy little stir stick.

$5
FILM REEL

The cheap film reels will bend-up pretty easily, but something is better than nothing. Just like lenses, buy the best you can afford (you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration).

$10
DEVELOPING TANK

I’m hooked on the steel tanks. You can beat the hell out of them and they keep on truckin’. You can really slam them down on the counter to knock the air bubbles off of the film after your inversions.

$10
HANGING CLIPS

I use these clips for film and print. They’re pretty gnarly, but they have quite a grip. Useful for when you’re wiping down the film at the end.

$6
DRYING CLOTH

I’ve tried the film squeegees, but they always seem to leave a bunch of water spots. I like to wipe down the non-emulsion side of my wet film with a good clean micro-fiber cloth to take care of water spots.

$5
TOTAL $48

OK, so those are the absolute minimum equipment requirements for developing your own black & white film. There are definitely some other items that will make your life easier, but those things aren’t always necessary. Again, these things above are the one-time equipment costs. Immediately below, you’ll find a list of consumable items that you’ll have to buy up-front and periodically throughout your film developing adventures.

CONSUMABLES

DEVELOPER

Use whatever developer you want, but I prefer to use Ilford’s Ilfosol 3 solution for most of my film. The stuff works great on fine-grain film. The only downside is that it’s less versatile than other developers… and it’s a one-shot.

$8
STOP BATH

Stop baths aren’t as important as the developer, but they do a critical job. I like to stick with the Ilford stop bath just for consistency. * Water can also be used if a stop bath is not available.

$6
FIXER

Like the stop bath, fixers aren’t extremely important, but I like to stay with my brand. You can choose whatever fixer you want. * To clarify this statement, I meant that which specific fixer you choose isn’t as important as which developer you use.

$10
WETTING AGENT

For those of us with really hard water, a wetting agent can be a life saver. This little solution helps to clear your film of hard-water deposits while making it dry faster.

$8

* Added for clarification based on reader comments

Remember, these are things that you’ll use-up over and over again (in addition to film). They’re actually pretty cheap, but you have to remember to keep them stocked so you don’t run out and inconvenience yourself. In addition to these consumable items, I’ve got a list of “luxury” items below that might make your “film developing” life easier, but they aren’t completely necessary (unless you’re a film addict).

LUXURY ITEMS

CAN OPENER

These are nice to have when trying to pry the bottom off the film cassette in complete darkness. But you can also use some types of regular bottle openers to get the job done.

$11
DELUXE REEL

Like I said before, buy the best reel you can afford. Get the cheap ones and you’ll be fighting with the film after a couple of rolls. These expensive ones are built to take typical abuse.

$20
DOUBLE TANK

If you shoot a lot of 35mm film (or medium format film), you might consider buying a double tank rather than a single tank. These guys will fit two 35mm reels or one 120 reel. Handy for saving some extra time and effort.

$14
MEDIUM FORMAT REEL

And of course if you’re shooting medium format, you’ll need a medium format film reel. These guys are easier to load than the 35mm reels, but sill buy a decent one.

$13
CHANGING BAG

Changing bags are helpful if you don’t want to seal off a whole room (which is a requirement for loading film on a reel). I don’t have one of these, but it sure would save me some time.

$16
ARCHIVE SHEETS

Of course, after you develop you film you’ll need somewhere to put it. Use archival quality sleeves to preserve your negatives. And use the 7×5 sheets so you can make contact prints later in your career (yes, I made the mistake of using 6×6 sheets and I’m now regretting it).

$10

I could probably go on and on about all the other pieces of equipment that would make developing easier, but we’ll cut it off right here. The point is, you can shoot and develop your own black and white film for a relatively inexpensive upfront cost. Operating costs beyond that are fairly minimal, with the actual film being the most expensive component.

PhotoDump 02-15-2009

More great stuff from the Epic Edits Flickr Pool! This selection of photos is from those entered in the pool between 2/8 and 2/15.

Sunset for the Birds by Brian AuerThe Cola Truck by kwerfeldeinSkin Deep by Blush Response by the_wolf_brigade3 Steps to Nowhere by Chris FarrugiaA Mecca for ghosts by essjaytWinding country road by neilcreekHollow by Colour Voidstranger by Mike WiacekEye, Gabriella.... by Ryan OpazGot Stairs? by BelpoThe Kiss by sebastian.yepes.inTarabuco Market, Bolivia by Magical PlacesSemi-Precious Weapons @ Bottom Lounge by Tasha {Redwall Photo}chairs by xgrayStairs by ZozmanBeach Photographers by Brian Auer by the_wolf_brigadeWalking Home from Hogwarts by rh89en pointes by Kate FerraraDigging by Håkan DahlströmSteampunk Princess by cabbitLeafless Tree with a Foggy Background by Steve G. BisigDaydream by {Tasha}plug by xgrayLos Angeles Skyline at sunset with snowcapped mountains by secondcareerSheep Barn by cliff2ntrees in the cold by gottofrThere is hope by visuellegedankenWindmill in the Fog by Steve G. Bisigcurly q. by lifeography™Not an Entrance by Maureen Bondcool summer underwater feet by javiyFishing off the Pier by Brian Auer30 Weeks by Kaged Creekorange chairs by cjw333

Photography Business: The Next Level

This article was written by Tasha Schalk of Redwall Photo. Read on for great information and details on a project (with prizes!). And be sure to read her full bio at the end of the article.

You know how to take great pictures, you get a lot of praise on Flickr and from friends and family, but what next? How do you market yourself as a photographer? How to do you start up a small business? Photography and marketing are two completely different talents, and it can be daunting to make the leap from amateur photographer to semi-professional. Below are a few steps that might make the transition a little easier.

Also, in the spirit of start-up businesses, I am providing a $25 gift certificate to Moo.com and Tracy of Three Heart Photo is donating a 50% off gift certificate for select design services at Three Heart Design. Both of these prizes will go to one winner – to enter, either leave a comment or a link to a blog post about your photography business goals for 2009. What is one thing you want to accomplish in 2009? It can be anything from second shooting at a wedding, to booking a certain number of paying shoots, or to creating a portfolio. Let us know! Brian, Tracy, and I will be chosing the winner.

PROJECT DEADLINE: MARCH 20, 2009

And remember, a comment and/or a link to a blog post will enter you in the contest.

1. Branding

From wikipedia, “a brand is a collection of symbols, experiences and associations connected with a product, a service, a person or any other artifact or entity.” Branding is important because it conveys what your photography and style are all about in one brief glance.

The first step is to devise your company name. Many photographers base their business name off of their own name, others chose something a little different. Whatever you chose should reflect you and your style of photography, and it should be concise and timeless. Pick something that you will not get tired of.

A logo is an important step in branding. The colors and style of your logo should reflect who you are as a person and an artist. For example, if you are a maternity/baby photographer, your logo might be comprised of soft pastels. If you are an event or corportate photographer, you would want clean lines and neutral colors to communicate your professionalism and flexibility.

An extension of a logo is a watermark. A watermark is placed on photos to mark that photo as yours. Many people also employ watermarks as a deterrant to theft. I am a fan of watermarks, not so much for the theft issue, but because it constantly puts your name out there. There are several types of watermarks – those that are intended to deter theft and cover vital parts of the image, and those that are small and unobtrusive along the bottom of an image or in a frame. Which watermark you chose to use is up to your priorities.

2. Business cards

Business cards are a necessity. They are an old-school form of marketing, but effective and cheap. You never know whose hands a business card can fall into. And even better, give friends business cards so that they can hand them out when they run across someone that needs a photographer.

Much of business comes from word of mouth and referrals, so make it as easy you can for people to refer others to you.

3. Get a website/portfolio

Portfolios are necessary so that those people that you hand your business cards can see a showcase of your work. A portfolio should have no more than 15-20 of your absolute best images, with your strongest image at the end, and your second-strongest image at the beginning (first and last impressions are the most important!). Try to show diversity in your images (if possible, only one image per shoot), but remember to make sure that the photos represent your style.

Photoshelter recently released the results of a survey that they conducted on image buyers. The report is a good resource to use when designing (or buying) a photo site design. The report can be found here.

If creating your own webpage, a few cheap and reliable hosts are godaddy.com and 1and1.com. If buying a pre-made portfolio, bludomain.com is popular for higher-end portfolios, while carbonmade.com is a cheaper (but not as flashy) solution. If creating your own website, simpleviewer and autoviewer are easy to use and customizable flash galleries.

Also, don’t forget to get a domain name to match your business name!

4. Network, network, network

Everyone knows someone. Talk to everyone you can. Sign up for social-networking sites such as Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. Get your photos out there, so others can see your talent.

Always be on the lookout for photo-ops – this can include businesses and individuals. For example, if a business is having a grand opening, contact a manager to see if they would like photos throughout the day. If you know of someone that is graduating, ask if they would be interested in graduation photos. Once you get a large enough client base, word of mouth will travel, and you will have offers coming in to you.

Along with networking comes networking with other photographers. Do not be afraid to refer clients to other photographers if you cannot cover an event or job, not only will other photographers begin to refer jobs to you, but you will also have a client that remembers you for taking an interest in their needs. Part of being a professional is also ensuring that you can deliver whenever you book a job. If you do not have experience in a specific area, do not book the job (refer the job to a fellow photographer!). Your clients will respect and trust you for maintaining high expectations for your own work.

5. Pricing

This is one of the hardest areas of starting up a small business. What to charge? You want to charge enough to make it worth your time, but worry about driving away clients with too-high prices. The short answer is that there there is no definite answer.

One way to figure out how much to charge for a shoot is to develop an hourly rate that you would like to earn, then multiply that by how many hours it will take you to plan the shot, take the pictures, and edit and deliver the shots. Don’t forget to figure in travel time/costs if the shoot is not local. Then add in 10-15% for gear wear-and-tear and other unforeseen expenditures:

Rate * (planning + shooting + editing + travel) * (10% incidentals) = PRICE

Remember, that fee is just for shooting – you need to figure in licensing costs and printing fees if you are licensing or printing images.

Also helpful is a program called FotoQuote that provides quotes for a variety of types of photography.

Finally, once you have your prices figured out, create a concise, but complete, rate sheet that shows your prices and packages that you can either post on your website or can send to potential clients.

6. Legal mumbo-jumbo

If you are working with clients, it is important to have a contract that outlines what both parties have agreed to. These contracts should (at the least) outline what work is being delivered, dates and times of shoots, what the price is, and what reproduction rights, licenses, and copyrights the photographer and client have. A fantastic resource for basic contracts is the book Business and Legal Forms for Photographers by Tad Crawford.

Also, insurance is highly advisable. Most major insurance companies will offer business insurance, which will not only cover theft/damage of equipment, but will also offer medical and liability insurance for when you are on-location on a shoot. In my experience, the piece of mind that business insurance brings is well worth the relatively low fee. For more reading on business insurance, check out photo.net’s info page.

Conclusion

Above all, be professional and have fun. Nobody wants to work with someone who does not return phone calls and emails, or shows up to consultations in their pajamas. On the flip side, photographers most often shoot joyous or exciting events, so potential clients want someone that will enjoy their day with them. If you are enthusiastic about your job and work, then others will get exited about your work!

If you have any other tips or invaluable resources, please speak out in the comments!

About the author: Tasha Schalk is a professional photographer in the Chicago-area and owner/photographer of Redwall Photo. Her passion and specialization is music photography, which is evident by her sleep-deprived eyes and arsenal of fast lenses. She also is the full-time photographer for Concordia University Chicago, where she is laden with assignments for event, editorial, and portrait photography. She spends way too much time online, frequenting her Flickr, Twitter, and Myspace accounts.
About the sponsor: Tracy Tesmer is the owner/photographer/designer of Three Heart Design and Three Heart Photo. She helps photographers, artists, designers, and independent businesses market and re-brand. She is an eco-friendly studio and designer with a background in painting, set design, makeup design, photography, and drawing. Three Heart Design can be found on Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook.

Digital WakeUp Call + Photo Contest

Digital WakeUp Call

Learning about photography online is a great method for improving your game, but real-live instruction and interaction is far more valuable. I’m excited to announce that David Ziser will be traveling the country (to 58 US cities!) and sharing his great knowledge of photography, lighting, post-production, and marketing with his Digital WakeUp Call.

The class alone is worth the entry fee of $79, but David is taking things a step further. Everybody will receive $350 worth of extended content and giveaways. PLUS, he’s got $3,500 in prizes to give away at each session and $6,000 in grand prizes for the whole tour!

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

David Ziser is a master of his trade, and he’s a well established photographer and educator. The class is aimed at wedding and portrait photographers, but it will certainly be useful for any type of photographer. In this program, he’ll be covering three main topics over the course of a full 4-hour evening:

  1. Lighting Techniques
    An intensive session on creative lighting and exciting composition, for both on-camera and off-camera flash.
  2. Post-Production Workflow
    A discussion of five major workflow techniques, tips, and shortcuts aimed to reduce your time at the computer and improve your quality.
  3. Business Strategies
    A discussion of creative and effective business strategies, no matter what level you’re at with your photography business.

$20-OFF PROMO CODE: ZEEDWC09

If you want to register for the program, just visit the Digital WakeUp Call Tour website, find a location near you, and register for that spot. Be sure to use the promo code above to get a $20 rebate on the registration fee! That brings the price down to $59 — totally worth it for what you’ll be learning!

COMPETE FOR A FREE PASS

Not only is David giving out $20 discounts, he’s also offering a free ride for one reader of Epic Edits. We’re doing this as a photo contest, with the topic of “Exciting Lighting”. Just submit your image or link in the comments below — 1 photo/entry per person.

Here’s the only catch: the image must have been created using a portable flash. It could be on-camera or off-camera, either way is fine. The contest is open to US residents only (David’s tour isn’t international this year).

I’ll pick the winning image in one week — March 12, 2009.

SO REMEMBER…

First and foremost, visit the official Digital WakeUp Call website to read all about this program. If you’re interested in attending, use the promo code above to save yourself $20. Or if you want to try for a free ride, post your best “Exciting Lighting” photo in the comments of this post.

And for you photography bloggers out there, check out David’s recent blog post for more information on offering your readers the same $20 discount while getting yourself a free pass to the program.

I’ll definitely be attending the San Diego session on May 21. Though I’m not a wedding or portrait photographer, I know that I’ll learn a ton of great stuff from David.

Link Roundup 02-28-2009

A bit late this week with the links, but we were having a few things worked on with the server so I figured I would take a break until everything went back to normal. Here are your selections of the week:

  • Tips for Better Self Portraits
    Nathan’s Favorite New Flavor
    Self portraits are tough — I’ve tried my fair share of them! Here are some tips to improve your skills in this area.
  • 10 Excellent Open Source and Free Alternatives to Photoshop
    Six Revisions
    There are a number of open source (and completely free) programs out there that do much of what Photoshop can. In this collection, you will find 10 excellent examples of open source and free alternatives to Adobe Photoshop.
  • Digital Black and White Photos
    Photodoto
    Here are a few good tips for creating black & white photos from your digital captures.
  • Capturing Urban Decay
    Photocritic
    Getting good photos of urban decay is not necessarily hard; it is more a matter of patience and understanding of the subject. So what is it that can help you become a better urban landscape photographer? Here are 10 tips for great urban photos.
  • Watermarks: Evolution of a Watermark
    JMG-Galleries
    In this article, Jim shows us the evolution of his watermark and reveals the reasoning behind each one. Very interesting for those considering the addition of a watermark to their photos.
  • 10 Easy Steps To Advanced Photography Skills
    Smashing Magazine
    By Trey Ratcliff (aka Stuck in Customs), one of the most famous and renowned HDR photographers on Flickr. In his article Trey describes some professional insights and useful photography tips that he collected over the years of his career.
  • Catacombs of Paris – The Real French Underground
    Zoriah.net
    I’ve heard of these catacombs under Paris, but I’ve never seen them like this. Zoriah takes to the caverns with some local cataphiles and shows us a different side of these historic entities.
  • D3A – The Best Photography Contest Ever
    DIYPhotography.net
    Wow! DIYPhotography.net is 3 years old! To celebrate, Udi has lined up some great prizes for the readers — and all you have to do is submit photos to his Flickr pool to be eligible for the contest.
  • Lessons I Didn’t Learn in Photo School
    Photoshop Insider
    Here are some really great lessons for photographers — definitely not anything you’ll find in a textbook.
  • 100 amazing iPhone photos
    Photocritic
    Camera phones can be pretty fun to use — especially high-end phones like the iPhone. Here is a huge collection of great photos taken with the iPhone.
  • How To Photograph Rock Concerts – The Basics
    digital Photography School
    Interestingly, I found this article the day after I shot my first concert. I can definitely say that the tips are helpful for those of us with less experience in the subject.
  • Filters in the Digital Age
    PhotoNetCast
    Lens filters can be difficult to comprehend in the digital age — so we chat about the different options and uses for the various filters available.
  • Pulled over by Los Angeles Port Police
    All Narfed Up
    My pal Bryan Villarin is quickly becoming the next Thomas Hawk when it comes to photography related run-ins with the authorities. His latest story involves being pulled over while shooting photos from a freakin’ boat!