Member Jeff Blumberg of pikthis, LLC‘s love for photography started when he was just a young child, shooting with his mom and their Leica! His first wedding shoot was his cousins over 16 years ago and he’s still going strong today. Jeff feels there is one word more than any other in the business that is misused and misunderstood, find out what it is and learn about his style, what he offers, the books and courses he recommends, and more in this edition of Behind The Lens.
1. How and when did you get started?
My love of photography started as a young child. My mom used to drag her Leica around and shoot slides. She always had a light meter in her hands. The slide carousels are in my office so I get to relive my childhood occasionally. I still have black and whites from my 3rd grade field trip to Washington DC and from Boy Scout camping trips. I have always been an artist. My passion was realism and I spent years drawing people. I could never draw as I saw things, so I rarely shared any drawings with anyone.
I started photographing weddings 16 years ago at my cousins wedding. It was so much fun and the images I captured are still displayed on their wall. With a camera I could capture people,places and things that most people didn’t notice. A slight smile, an unique angle or an obscure location differentiate my images.
2. What is your photographic style?
I get asked this a lot from potential clients. I think that photojournalism is the most misused word in photography today. Tilting a photo and making it black and white is not photojournalism. My style could be classified as directed portraiture. I find good light and great locations and direct my brides and grooms to be themselves. This allows us to capture who they really are. My associate Linda shoots from different angles while I am discussing new shots and directing. We have so much fun during photo sessions with clients and make sure that it is very enjoyable to them. The results are priceless!
3. Describe your typical day at work.
There are not typical days at work. A professional photographer wears many hats as a successful business owner. I spend lots of time in front of my computers editing images and designing albums. I have used Photoshop since version 1 on a Mac Plus which I still have. I have also had the pleasure of studying with several Photoshop Experts including Eddie Tapp and Kevin Kubota. My dual monitors are my palette where the images come to life. We embraced the digital world years ago and have enjoyed the artistic freedom that the computer darkroom has afforded!
4. What is the last workshop or seminar you attended and what did you learn?
Neil van Niekerk held a lighting seminar in Philadelphia and the knowledge that I gained was priceless. Neil’s flash techniques opened a new door for me as far as bouncing flash, balancing flash with ambient light and reducing post production from sub par files. I’ve always been blessed with “seeing” the light and a Monte Zucker seminar years ago opened my eyes to the light available from many sources. But Neil’s workshop fit my style of quick and easy without lugging around strobes and backdrops. Photography is all about light so I am thankful for great teachers!
5. Any books or courses you would recommend to new photographers?
Books that I can’t live without:
Neil van Niekerk- On-Camera Flash
Tom Ang- Tao of Photography
anything by Scott Kelby including Photoshop and Lightroom
Take as many seminars and workshops as you can afford. You will always gain knowledge and learn to think outside of your comfort zone with different perspectives. I studied with Eddie Tapp, Kevin Kubota, Monte Zucker and Carl Caylor at M.A.R.S (http://www.marsschool.com/). I have attended numerous one or two day workshops with renowned photographers. Study, learn and teach! You can never learn enough!
6. What piece of equipment would you say is most important to you?
Not including my eyes as a piece of equipment, my first choice would be the Canon 1D MKIII’s, which are the perfect wedding cameras. The color balance, the ai servo and the flash compatibility are incredible after going through many generations of digital cameras. If I had a 2nd choice, it would be the Canon L glass that I own. Tack sharp and reliable. I have owned 2 of my lenses for 16 years and they still perform flawlessly.
7. What do you offer that is special or unique?
We try hard to run our business on rapport and word of mouth. Everything we offer is custom. I hand design albums to meet the needs of the brides, not relying on other companies or templates to do the work for me. We also do not believe that brides and grooms should be packaged in gold, silver or platinum. Each consultation offers our clients exactly what they want within their budget. Each wedding is an unique experience for us and our clients, so why try to categorize them?
8. What is your biggest challenge as a business owner?
Our biggest challenge today is meeting the demands of a very impersonal society. We are dealing with a generation of kids that are adept at social media, digital technology and text communication. Our business model is constantly changing to meet these demands, but we find it challenging to portray our uniqueness through these avenues. Getting a bride to call or meet is a huge obstacle, so we continue to change our on-line presence towards this.
9. What do you love most about your job?
I love the art! Meeting new people and photographing their memories means so much. I wish I had more photos of my relatives that have passed and could share them with our newest family members. Whether we are walking outside in a park with clients, or sitting in a junkyard we are constantly trying to push the envelope to new visions. Linda and I capture wonderful portraits that grace our clients walls!
10. Is there anything you would have done differently during your career that could be advice for others?
In today’s market, a strong business background is as important as a keen eye. I would definitely go back and take business and marketing courses. We currently are studying email marketing and search engine optimization. These are key to the future. A photographer wears many hats including sales, artist, business manager, marketing manager, accountant,…
11. What new and upcoming technologies in photography (camera equipment, editing software, etc) excite you?
I’m pretty excited about the fusion between video and still photography. The newest cameras allow the artist to capture video at 1080i as well as high resolution images. There are numerous times during a wedding where a small video clip can be priceless. Working this into the budget in a economic downturn is the challenge, so we don’t educate the brides too much on this. It is on the horizon!