Pictures and animals , not as easy as it looks.

Shooting pictures with animals is not as easy as it looks.

cf009241Recently I was asked to make pictures of a Pet Clinic. At a first glance, an easy job; taking interior shots with a dog here and there and its done.


Reality is something else. When I met the Veterinarians, it was obvious that they had no idea on what was to be portrait. So we started to talk , and defined what was possibile.

The pictures had to be animal friendly, showing the openness, good care and professionalism of their bussines . Covering the operations quarter, medical check-up, nursing facility, waiting room and so on.


I visited the Pet Clinic and explored the possibilities, learning what a Vet does and tried to picturize their job and how I could convey the message into pictures.

Selecting dog actors

I needed animal actors with the right doses of coddling . So, why not a dog, cat and a few kids. That always works.


It’s fundamental that the dog is calm, relaxed, controlled, obedient, well behaved, sweet and lovely. After all, the dog will act as the patient and be placed on the examination table, the X-ray scan, aspiration apparatus and so on. A lot to ask for, especially since most dogs do not like a Vet or the Pet Clinic just like a child  doesn’t like the dentist.


Selecting the right breed is crucial, considering the strange environment, the people and kids that will be part of the shoot.

There are many breeds, all lovely and gentle if raised properly. Yet the public opinion has characterised or should I say stigmatized certain breeds as dangerous. Despite the fact that this is only a perception. It needs to be considered as it will set the public opinion.


Hence the selection of the right breed is essential for a successful shoot. The choice fell on a Border collie.

The Border collie is an intelligent dog  widely considered to be the most intelligent. Although the primary role of the Border collie is to herd livestock, they are becoming increasingly popular as a companion animal. They are playful, and energetic eminently trainable.



I invited a Border Collie owner  for a meet and greet, and see how the dog reacts to kids, people and camera /flash gear. And most of all if the dog has the stigma and character to act. Good control over the dog is essential (by the owner). Border Collies tend to be very agile, and because of that behaviour it didn’t work out with the first selected dog.


With the next Border Collie things were very different, the meet and greet session was a pleasure and we decided to visit the Pet Clinic.

A time and place for the dog to explore and get used to. Remember that some dogs just freak out at the Vet’s place. If they do, then you need to look for another dog despite the fact that all else was great.   It’s always good practice to take two or more dogs with you , belonging to the same owner and part of the same group. It creates an at-ease feeling for the dog who will act in the shoot.

The day of the shoot;

Invite all the dogs and people way ahead of the actual shooting time (at least 1 hour). Make sure that the dog owner exercised the dog before the shoot so that they have drained some of their energy.


Let the dog and people socialize to the Pet Clinic and each other . Let the dog run around and have all participants to meet the dog. Show the dog the camera, let them smell at it and see how they react to flash light.   Do this in a playful manner and let the dog owner drive the meet event as he or she knows what the dog likes and what not.


After the play and meet time elapsed, start with all the participants the rehearsal of the different scene’s. Including placing the dog in the different positions. Explain to the owner what you expect from the dog and let the owner position the dog.

Obviously the people that will be part of the scene will need to participate, and especially when the dog owner steps out of the scene.

Talk to the dog owner where he should stand and what kind of attention you want from the dog. For instance if the dog lays on the operation table, you don’t want the dog to look up. So ask the trainer to sit low. So that the dog will look down.

Once the different scenes have been exercised the real work will start.


Start with one scene, be calm and relaxed as dogs will react to your own behavior. If you as a photographer are afraid of dogs, then don’t do a shoot like this as it will not work.

Place your lights (flash units) in the scene, adjust the light. Place the camera on a tripod and focus where you want to have the focus. Yes, I know nobody is in the scene yet. Focus on where things will be. Lock the focus and take a shot, check the histogram and framing, if all is good, get on with the next step.


Place the people into position, have them to take a pose the way you need it to be. Tell them to hold that position. At the last moment let the dog owner place the dog in the scene and wait for the right moment.

Don’t wait too long as the dog will not be that patient. If need be, start all-over again and give the dog a break.   Don’t get nervous as it will rub off onthe dog and that will be the end of the shoot.


Take your time and work through the scenes.


Making pictures with animals is very rewarding and joy-full as long as you have patience, lots of patience and love animals.   If you have no patience nor love for animals, then don’t shoot this kind of pictures as it is not going to work.

Thanks for reading

Lake Powell and the Hanging Gardens

_dsc4912After having driven hundreds of kilometers along the unforgiving desert, we took the last hill. In front of us , Lake Powell a vast artificial lake. Blue as the sky. A lake in the middle of the desert dug in a sea of red rock. It’s Breathtaking, beautiful and mystic.

Lake Powell was built to store water from the Colorado River and is one of the top tourist destinations in the Southwest. With approximately 3200Km coastline and a vast choice of water sports.


Carl Hayden Dam

A visit to the Carl Hayden Dam is worth the time, with the visitor center right next to the giant Dam. The Dam blocks the water from Lake Powell  from entering the Grand Canyon.

The Carl Hayden Visitor Center is located on the west end of the dam, approximately 110 feet above its crest.


This beautiful, modernistic building whose circular, glass-enclosed east end juts out over the dam, provides a sweeping panoramic view of the dam and Lake Powell behind it.

And, in this day and age of high energy costs and government waste, the Carl Hayden Visitor Center is actually a great example of energy efficiency as a result of retrofits made in 1994 and 1995. There are wonderful exhibits, photographs, dioramas and a beautiful relief map of the dam, Lake Powell and the surrounding area.


The initial blast took place on October 15, 1956 to the last bucket of cement poured in 1963.

Descending 110 feet takes you to the crest of the dam , a magnificent view over the Colorado River 500 feet below.  Descending another 528 feet takes you to an unusual sight: 86,000 square feet of grass that lies between the dam and the power plant. The grass provides a cooling effect, much the same as an evaporative cooler, which aids in reducing temperatures inside the powerhouse.


And, for the piece de resistance, you will have a spectacular close up of the eight hydroelectric generators, which generate an average of 451 megawatts of electricity and have a maximum capacity of 1320 megawatts. By the way those are build in our country (Belgium).

_dsc4900Personally, we enjoy more nature. Next to the Dam there is the trail of the hanging gardens. One you should not miss, and if possible attend a guided tour provided (free) by the Park Rangers at sunset.

Glen Canyon

The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area preserves and protects 1.2 million acres of the Colorado Plateau, a vast landscape of colorful buttes, mesas, canyons, and cliffs. Arid to semi-arid, the region supports a complex and often fragile ecosystem. Plants and wildlife have developed unique adaptations to the hot, arid conditions of their environment and contribute to the rich diversity of life in the area.


The wildlife of the Colorado Plateau desert have developed unique adaptations to the arid conditions of their environment and are a part of the rich diversity of life in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area . Wildlife in Glen Canyon is a reflection of the Colorado Plateau, changes in land use, and changes in the environment caused by the completion of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963 and subsequent filling of Lake Powell. In addition to playing vital roles in the desert ecosystem and animal communities, wildlife also provides recreational opportunities such as bird watching and fishing.

The Hanging Garden in Ribbon Canyon

A magnificent 8 miles walk takes you through the red rocks and a bit of climbing to the Hanging Garden of the Ribbon Canyon. We took the hike at sunset, guided by a Park Ranger. The golden sunlight on the red rocks creates a feeling of tranquility and peace, as we have never seen before.


Water sources in the desert are rare. When present, it hosts lush and green vegetation, creating a stark contrast to the dry surrounding desert landscape. Perhaps the most unusual form of spring-supported plant community on the Colorado Plateau is the hanging garden.


Hanging gardens are spring-fed colonies of plants clinging to the vertical wall of a cliff. They often form in alcoves or “glens” where conditions are cooler and moister than in the surrounding desert.

The water is derived from winter precipitation. This water supply moves downward through the porous stone and cracks. When the water reaches a less permeable layer of rock, it cannot move downward any longer and begins to flow sideways. If this lateral movement continues to the wall of a canyon, it begins to seep out of the stone and flow down the sides of the cliff. This water source allows a rich array of plants to grow directly on the cliff face and on the ground below the seep.


The name “hanging gardens” is refers to the famous hanging gardens of Babylon, where artificial gardens were built high up on walls and roof tops. Hanging gardens support an amazing diversity of water loving plant species, such as ferns, lilies, sedges, and orchids.

Hanging gardens are very fragile and must be enjoyed with care. Foot traffic from humans and livestock will erode the soil and trample the delicate vegetation in these distinctive oases of the desert, causing erosion, and increasing risk of introduction of exotic plant species.

The landscape

Environmental processes such as climate change, fire regime, weather, and geological processes that shaped the Colorado Plateau are recorded in rock formations. Which are the storytellers of the region’s history.


Canyons carved out by the Colorado River and its tributaries expose rock layers deposited on top of each other over time; the youngest rocks at the top and the oldest at the bottom. These rock layers reveal fossils and traces of past life forms, principally from the Mesozoic Era, 248 to 65 million years ago.


Fossils preserved in the rocks of Glen Canyon are evidence of the life and changes that occurred during the Mesozoic Era and add to our understanding of biodiversity and evolutionary history.


Thanks for reading , Steve & Martine


The Phase One, XF camera with Single Focus point is old fashioned – Busted

xfRecently Phase One released a brand new Phase One Camera, the XF. It replaces the DF-645 and DF-645 + , which were actually Mamiya camera’s.  The XF is engineered and build from the ground up and has many features, but most of all a newly developed focusing system based on a 1Mpixel focus sensor (Honeybee) .

See my video on this here:

Immediate after the release of the new camera critics were received on the Focusing System. Many were expecting multiple focus points, like on standard DSLR’s. Much to their dislikes, the XF has a single central focus point.

honeybeeI can’t say that I agree with the critics, as I have been using the new XF and before the 645df+ body. Both have a single focus point, located in the center of the lens.   So, allow me to put down some words in defense of Phase One.

There are several reasons why it is engineered the way it is, and like anything else it is a well considered balance between features and quality.

Focus must be fast, accurate and reliable.

All Mirror Reflex camera’s (DSLR’s and Phase One) focus either through phase or contrast method.   It is measured on a special CCD (focus CCD) and mounted inside the camera body along the normal mirror down light path. After all light travels through the lens, hits the mirror, reflects in the prism and hits the eye on the viewfinder.

The Focus CCD provides the needed details on contrast to a compute engine which than drives the servomotor in the lens to increase or decrease the focal length. After each small step, the contrast is checked again. Until full focus is achieved.

multiThose DSLR’s with multiple selectable focus points (Nikon, Canon etc…) use only a part of the focus sensor.   The focus sensor is partitioned and each partition matches to the selected focus area on the viewfinder. Hence only a sub set of the pixels (focus sensor) are used to track and hunt the focus.

A Phase One camera (single focus point) uses the full 1 Mpixel focus CCD to calculate and acquire focus. It makes it far more precise and accurate then any DSLR.

Furthermore, the Phase One XF uses a central focus point. This delivers the best and sharpest focus, as optical lenses are at best at their midpoint.


There is an usage disadvantage of having only a single center focus point , however that is by far outweighed by the superior focus .

Shooting with a single central focus point results in centric pictures. Not at all pleasing to look at, as we all appreciate the golden cut or 2/3 rules. Of course you could focus on the eyes of a model, and then lock the focus and reframe to a 2/3 kind of arrangement. That works well in most cases, however one can lose the focus especially with 1.4 or 2.8 lenses as they have a very shallow DOF.

With a multipoint focus system like the DSLR, it is easier to selected a single focus point at 2/3 of the picture frame and place it on the eye of the model.   However the focus will not be that accurate as you are off-center and only a fraction of the Focus Sensor is used.

Never the less, the Phase One single focus point performs far better, and if you can’t get the swing of reframing without loosing the focus then shoot center stage. There is plenty of image pixel real-estate to crop in post processing (50,60, 80 and 100 Mpx image sensors).

xf-100mp-camera-system-two-screen-web-croppedThe bottom line is, the Phase One XF central single focus point uses the full focusing sensor resulting in accurate and very fine adjustments , combined with the best optical performance of the lens ( center).

In the future, we might expect live-view methods. Whereby we will be able to tap on any area on the viewer display to acquire focus. That will be possible without the mirror box and Focus sensor.   The image sensor will be used for both the Image Capture and Focus Sensing. Note that Phase One already has an electronic shutter capability.


Thanks for reading.


Mid Format camera’s, snobisme or real value.

Mid Format  (MF) camera’s, snobisme or real value.

There are many articles on the internet that compair the Mid Format camera’s such as Phase One and Hasselblad versus the DSLR’s of Canon and Nikon.   However comparison means nothing, it all depends on what your specific needs are and that is for me the bottom line.

_dsc7748-1Many DSLR shooters enviy those that shoot with Mid Format Camera’s . They will not admit it, and will turn their head when asked accompanied with a snear as it is snobisme. True a Mid format camera is very expensive and five times the price of the top high end Nikon or Canon DSLR.

I have been , and still am a DSLR shooter. But I am also a Mid Format camera owner . Both have their place in my work.

We can discuss the pro and cons  of both systems, and finally wonder if the extreme high cost of the MF  camera warrants the quality difference.  I believe that professional work with high quality demands can only be achieved with the MF camera. Especially when details, color and the overal feel of the final picture are critical.


However , for what I believe there will be a zillion disblievers.   So lets put all this asside and look at just a few facts of a MF camera.Don’t wurry , I am not going to make comparisons. I will just state why it works for me.

Why Medium Format?

  • Bigger is simply better. The unique look along with the unparalleled depth and detail are just some of what makes medium format stand out.
  • Full Frame DSLR’s , Medium Format and Large format all have their own specific characteristics embedded and constrained in the design of the device.
  • The technical characteristics of the optics and sensor size of a MF camera are the enablers for the resulting images. It creates a feel and look . That sets the results apart from the ordinary and creates a mood that draws you in, engrossing the viewer in rich detail and enthralling perspectives.

Depth and Detail, Bits and F stops.

  • Medium Format technology strives for Image Quality perfection.  Sensors that provide unparalleled true 16 bit color depth , whereas a top notch DSLR have 14 bit .
  • MF camera’s have an unmatched dynamic range of 15 stops. All the result op the pure surface dimension of the sensor and pixel density. Real estate that technically cannot be matches or achieved on a Full Frame Sensor.

Bigger is better.

  • High resolution is only a small part of the advantages having a sensor 2.5 times larger than the ones found in high-end DSLRs.
  • It delivers advantages in depth of field over more compact system as well as quality advantages when it comes to the scale of your final image output.

medium_format_vs_dslr_sensorLens range quality and leaf shutter.

  • Building on decades of experience in high-resolution optics and Leaf Shutter lenses delivers some of the sharpest results of the highest quality.
  • With better optical accuracy and performance than smaller systems, Medium Format optics paired with Medium format sensors is as close to perfect as anyone can get.


Sticking out in the crowd.

I know, this smells like snobbism. But it is not, it is simple business.

Going out on a shoot with a top notch DSLR  and having  to listen to the comments made by the customer that he or she has the same camera as you is not all that uncommon.  Not a very pleasant situation, although the ownership of a camera does not say anything of the use and skill set of the photographer.  Never the less it kind of marks your business.

It’s a bit like a taxi driver, one drives a volkswagen and the other a BMW seven series….  it just attracks another type of customers.


Thanks for reading.

Kapitalisme , de grondslag van de industrialisatie.

Industrialisatie van het verleden.

De industrie verdringt definitief de landbouw als voornaamste activiteit.  De loonslaven hebben zich inmiddels leren verengingen en hun acties krijgen eindelijk resultaat. Het algemeen meervoudig stemrecht en de eerste sociale wetten ontstaan. De levenstandaard stijgt drastisch, huisvesting en hygiëne worden beter. Dit is echter niet alleen het gevolg van de acties van de arbeiders , maar vooral van de enorme opbloei van het kapitalisme.

De kerk verliest haar greep op de ontkerstende arbeiders en de pendelarbeid brengt zelfs de nieuwe ideeën naar de dorpen. De katholieke onderneemt een poging om een deel van de arbeiders uit socialistische handen te houden.

De verzuiling is compleet 


Kapitalisme , de grondslag van de industrialisatie.

Zonder twijfel was het kapitalisme de grondslag van de definitieve doorbraak van de industrialisatie . De nijverheid kreeg het overwicht op de landbouw, en binnen de industriële sector kreeg de machine fabricage de overhand op de ambachtelijke sector. Het ritme en de intensiteit waarmee die evolutie zijn beslag kreeg verschilde van streek tot streek.


Wallonië het bolwerk van de Industrialisatie

Steenkooladers werden vooral aangetroffen in de provincie Henegouwen, in het westen de “ Borinage”  of “couchant de Mons” . Charleroi in het Oosten en tussen beide in “Le Centre “ Luik.

De metallurgie en koolindustrie vierde hoogtij. Mechanisatie was niet te stoppen en in 1842 waren er 317 stoommachines in gebruik in Wallonië . Een absolute toonbeeld van industriële vooruitgang . Vooral Seraing groeide uit zijn voegen, gelegen op een zeer smalle strook langsheen de rivier de Maas was bezaaid met hoge industriële schoorstenen . De uitlaatpijp van de metallurgie.


Boortorens en terrils van steenkoolmijnen verschenen in het landschap. Deze industriële ontwikkeling werd verder aangewakkerd door de opmars van de spoorwegen. Jaarlijks kwamen er tientallen kilometers spoor bij, en het wagen en locomotief park werd jaarlijks met vele eenheden vergroot.

De metaalnijverheid en de steenkool productie draaiden op volle toeren. De fabrieksarbeider en mijnarbeider verdrongen stormenderhand de ambachtsman en landbouwer.

De productie bleef stijgen, rijke industriëlen zwermden met hun kapitaal en hun `knowhow` de wereld uit. Hoogstnodig want men zag de bui reeds hangen. Gaande weg stelde men vast dat de productie van de steenkool verzwakte en dat het ijzererts zo goed als uitgeput raakte.   De industrie werd afhankelijk voor de grondstoffenbevoorrading van het buitenland.


Het beschikbaar worden van elektriciteit bracht nieuwe mogelijkheden en de chemische en de eremetaal industrie nam gestalte.

Een uitputtingsslag voor de arbeider

Het aantal werkuren lag hoog, het was niet ongewoon dat een arbeider uit de metaal sector s ‘morgens om 6 begon en de dag eindigde om 19.30Hr. Dagen van 12 werkuren en meer. De kompels in de koolmijnen werkten 10 tot 11 uur en de textiel arbeider 13 to 14 uur per dag.

Twaalf en meer uren per dag werkte de arbeider in ongezonde, tochtige gevaarlijke gebouwen, verpest door rook of allerlei uitwasemingen van teer en lood of chemische preparaten. Of hij werkte in de mijn. De mijn waar je eens beneden, nooit zeker bent ooit het daglicht terug te zien. Zoals de mijn van Marcasse in de Borinage.

 De mijn van Marcasse in de Borinage

Toen een van de oudste mijnen in de streek. Vele kompels vonden er de dood bij het afdalen door, mijngas en ontploffingen, het invallen van mijngangen . De mijnwerkers zijn er vermagerd en verbleekt door de koorts, zien er vermoeid en uitgemergeld uit , verweerd en vroegtijdig verouderd, de vrouwen vaal en verlept.

Rondom de mijn , armoedige mijnwerkerswoningen, met een paar dode bomen, zwart gerookt en grijs, afval en ashopen, bergen onbruikbare steenkool   enz.


Verlaten mijngangen, uitgeput en achtergelaten. In de nog in gebruik zijnde mijngangen werken de kompels in cellen, anderen laden de kleine karren, die op rails als van een tram vervoerd worden. Kinderen duwen en laden de kleine karren. Jongens en meisjes, er wordt geen onderscheidt gemaakt. De zondag was de enige rustdag, dan kon het gewroet en labeur in de fabriek even worden vergeten. Maar veel tijd om te nietsen is er niet.

Voor al dit labeur verdiende de arbeider een hongerloon. Het laat hen nauwelijks toe het allernoodzakelijkste voedsel te kopen. Om het gezinsbudget aan te vullen moeten vrouw en kinderen mee de mijn in: evenveel uren in dezelfde miserabele omstandigheden en voor nog minder loon.

In 1869 werken er nog 3000 kinderen beneden de 12 jaar in de Belgische mijnen, pas vanaf 1886 daalt het aantal kinderen in de mijnen.

Een toenemend aantal arbeiders werkte in deze mastodont-bedrijven. Hun leven dat vroeger door de seizoenen werd geregeld, wordt nu door de machine bepaald. Bovendien was de vrijheid van de arbeider in sterke mate beknot door een aantal rechtsregels die de almacht binnen het bedrijf in de handen van de patroon legt.


 Tijden zijn veranderd, spijtig genoeg is het equilibrium van Patroon en Werknemer nog steeds niet in balans door invloeden van vakbonden en zuilen.

Bedankt voor het lezen.

Religion a curse for mankind ?

As a mortal world citizen, I often wonder how far religions are responsible for the evils of the world? I have been accused for my inadvertent behavior in my crusade against religion and their institutes. However the fact cannot be so easily ignored in view of the bomb blasts , murderous attacks, and terrorist activities that are happening across the world . Causes that constrain and limit the way we live in the free world.

So why should we not ask the question “ How far religions are responsible for the evils of the world? “.

A question that should not be asked nor addressed by many believers .

Private_Property-2And yet, we need to face the issue with an open mind without airing our personal allegiance to a particular religion. Maybe it is easy for me as an none believer, never the less all people should be able to raise above their own religion and take a critic stand.

Yet it seems that a majority of religious people are not prepared to listen to the objective criticisms made by others, let alone be generous to admit if something is wrong with his or here religion. To me, that ignorance, is an act of self-preservation.

I am a strong believer (ironic isn’t it as none believer) that Religion is a drug for the poor and ignorant, keeping them under control and happy with false projections and promises. Where as most Intelligent and secure people don’t seem to have the need for a Religion.

Religions are exclusive as they claim to be the one true faith. As a consequence only one of them can be correct. Hence, and since there are thousands of different religions, past and present, the likelihood is that all religions are wrong.

Lets face it; Religion is essentially designed as a means of oppression. Kings and Queens, collude with priesthood to create an environment that is safe for them to continue to exist in the lap of luxury whilst the poor endure hard living conditions. Making them believe that God has placed them in their place and that their reward will come in the afterlife. A means to avoid a revolution, we have seen it in the past and even today (think ISIS).

So far, Religion has been the cause of the world’s problems in the past and present

DSC_0294-Edit-Edit-Edit-3In general God is represented by organized religion, created by man in his own image and has the sole purpose of maintaining the rich in their comfortable life and the poor in the gutter. To me it seems that religion is not much more then a lie, a tool for those who are in power and want to keep that power and control over mankind.

As religions are divisive by nature teaching prejudice and bigotry, Its no wonder that it is a major cause of world conflicts. Just look around the world today and past. Religion has and is a major cause of war and hate. And don’t tell me that it is the people and institutions and not the religion itself. After all religion is made by man.

DSC_1257-Edit-Edit-EditReligion might have been in the far past the glue that kept a society together within boundaries of an acceptable behavior pattern. Today, in a globalized world those practices have no longer a place, and hence Religion has become a private aspect of society. Under no circumstances should it be sponsored or be involved by or in state affairs.

Religion has become completely irrelevant in the modern age, created to abstractly explain what man could not understand, yet it has inadvertently caused much pain and suffering. The Church murdered early scholars because they believed that the Earth was orbiting around the sun.   Today ISIS does exactly the same by instructing and brainwashing self destruct terrorist, with the promise that they become a martyr and it is 2016 !

dsc_1127-edit-2-edit-edit-2Religions are now being run much as commercial enterprises complete with executive scandals. The appearance is that religions are saying keep giving us money; and do as we say, not as we do.

To conclude, Religion simply goes against one of the most fundamental and admirable features of western secular thought: the ability and readiness to critique Ourselves, to hold discourse.

Thanks for reading..

The art director calls the shots

Most ordered shoots be it for commercials or editorial purposes are to be executed according to the directions given by what we call an art director. This means that the photographer is to follow certain guidelines and instructions. `don’t be surprised if the art director is looking over your shoulder, and it would not be uncommon to receive remarks and critique during your work. Don’t blame him or her, they are responsible for many aspects of the production and photography is just one element.


Reality is that commercial work is always based on a work-order, placed by a customer. The role of the photographer is simple to deliver photographs for which the customer is willing to pay.

Because of the financial aspects, the customer has a major say in what and how objects are photographed. It is importend that the customers expectation is understood, so don’t hesitate to have a profound discussion and exchange of idea’s with the customer. Don’t be surprised if the art director calls the shots, what ,where and even how. Your freedom as a photographer is limited. You are their to make pictures, not to be creative.

Editorial shoots are less constrained. The boundaries wherein the photographer is expected to work is in most cases only limited  by the amount of shots per page, a summary of the article, the context and the overal feel and touch of the article.


Art Directors and Designers

Art directors and designers have gone through a lengthy creative process long before the photographer gets the work order. They have listened in the first place to the customer, created multiple idea’s and plans, final layouts and the overall commercial out-line. The whole process takes days if not weeks to develop. Creativeness finally results in one selected approach, and once decided the rules are set.


It is of the utmost importance that the photographer understands the goals and instructions of the art director. Both have to work as a team, and a team is only possible when they can work together at the human and business level. The photographer will have to work according to a well defined layout and plan. There is no room for personal creativity.

The layout is defined by the art director and designer , a framework that defines exactly where the picture will fit on the page, what text goes where, keywords and the overall appearance  , feel and touch of the article or production . It is very rare that the art director adapts the layout to the photographers work. Generally , the art director knows exactly what he or she wants, and the photographer is to follow. Like it or not.

There are many aspect related to the artwork for which the graphical designer and art director are responsible, including the feasibility of the work, the cost and production effort. So don’t be wondering why things are the way they are… there is a reason.


During the first brief, the photographer will be informed about the requirements and expectations of the target picture. It is not uncommon that the customer will ask for a price estimate for the shot (picture). Once approved , the photographer will be given time to plan the shoot.

This planning includes all the elements needed for the final shoot. It is expected that the photographer judges the feasibility of the task, if it is even practical possible , if it is affordable and if it can be realised within the budgetary and other imposed constrains. The photographer has to be a man of all trades.

Now its time for the photographer to arrange the location, artefacts, models etc. My experience and advice is; chase all aspects and keep them on a short lease until its shooting time.


Go and scout a suitable location, check it at different times of the day and look at the light. Figure out the best time of the day to shoot. Don’t forget that certain locations will require a permission to shoot. Ask way in advance and explain what the purpose is of the shoot, what wil happen on that day, and what special arrangements are needed. (e.g no cars on the parking lot). In some cases you might need to pay for the use of the location.

Watch out for certain objects that are under copyright, it sounds strange, but the design of certain architectural elements such as houses can be protected by copyright assigned to the architect who designed the structure. If you are not sure, always ask. The only thing that can happen to you is a No. So ask. The days that a photographer was a curiosity are long gone, we are more of an announce nowadays to many people.


Once the location is agreed and arranged , plan for a date. A date that suits all, however there is one uncertain element and that is the weather. Unless you live in a tropical paradise, or the north pole always check the weather forecast.

But even when it all looks good, plan for an alternative location just in case it rains like hell on the day of the shoot. Be prepared for the unexpected, because it will happen.

Prepare and plan your equipment, workout the light set-up and scene. Make sure that you have for each piece of kit a back-up. It has happend to me, shooting with a 40K$ camera and the thing died on me…. .
Show , share and coordinate the work during the shoot with the art director. Don’t forget that despite all the planning, he or she might change ideas. That is the moment to show flexibility and adapt swiftly to the new situation. If you can not, then you are in the wrong profession.
Review the shots with the art director , while you progress through the shoot. It will create synergy..


A misunderstanding can happen. No, it wil happen. And when it does ,don’t get stubborn. Talk , communicate and try to understand what is required. Put aside your own opinion and taste , as it is irrelevant in this type of work.

However, once the synergy is going don’t hesitate to come up with subtile hints an tips for improvement. Drastic changes will not be received very well , not because the art director does not agree with you. It’s because he or she has created a concept and idea that has been sold to the customer. That customer has an expectation and focussed on what was agreed and presented during the creative phase.

If you are asked  to photograph a dog in front of his dog-house, then don’t be surprised that your idea to shoot the dog in a jacuzzi is going to be rejected. After all the customer expects a shot of his dog in front of a dog-house . No matter how nice and cute the jacuzzi shot could be.


Framing and format

As I stated before the photographers creativity is seriously constrained, and to make thing worse, the picture format and framing are also predefined. After all the picture will be used in a magazine or book as a spread, single page,  nested or whatever. Pending the final format of the publication , the shots will have to be made in portrait or landscape format. Not always easy to remember to stick to, as photographers tend to lean towards one or the other orientation.  Portrait photographers are so used to shoot  vertical , where as landscape photographers are framing more horizonal . The urge will be there, so pay attention.  And if all that wasn’t already bad enough there is more.
You will be told where to leave space for the text in the scene, so consider this and apply the proper framing. It might seem odd when looking at the shot, but once the text is in place it will look much different and all will fall in place. Now that we mentioned text, you need to work the Depth of Field and create a background or text zone in your picture that is not to busy, a place that allows the text to be placed without distraction. That distraction can be color, patterns , objects etc.
It is always good to shoot a few shots of the same scene, with closer and wider framing. It is easier during post processing to remove something in the picture then adding something that is not there.

Enjoy shooting, I do . Despite all the constrains. Consider them as a challenge