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|| News Item: Posted 2008-12-21

My Top 5 Cool Things for 2008
By Robert Seale

Photo by
1. The coolest new piece of gear I found this year was something Hurricane Ike forced me to buy. We went 16 days without power, so, after thinking “I can handle this” without one for 5-6 days or so, I finally decided we needed a generator. Then it became a question of, do I want to be like most of my neighbors, and pick up a $500.00 - $750.00 unit at Home Depot, or do I want to buy something nice, that I could legitimately use on a shoot (and therefore write off!).

After talking to some friends and doing some research, I settled on buying two Honda 2000i generators. These little gems weigh in at a mere 46 pounds each, aren’t much larger than a 5 gallon gas can, are incredibly quiet, and ran for 10 hours at a time on a single tank of gas (less than one gallon) and cost about $1,100 bucks each. They incorporate an inverter, so you can safely use them with computers as well as power packs for strobes. I also bought the parallel cable for them, so you can run them together for 4000 watts when needed.

I haven’t used them extensively on photo shoots yet, but I’m looking forward to them as an essential piece of gear, as well as a backup power source for the inevitable next hurricane.§ion=P2GG&modelname=EU2000i&modelid=EU2000IAN

2. The next cool thing started well before last year, but in 2008 it fully transformed my business. Using Lightroom for my workflow has allowed me, even with commercial clients, to deliver a tight, edited, cropped, and tweaked professional-looking web galleries as an email link. When I left the Sporting News two years ago, everyone was delivering Photoshop-generated contact sheets and discs of high-res and low-res files to edit from for almost all commercial clients (in nice binders, no less – just like the film days...). With Lightroom, and the slick customized web galleries, I’ve been able to work smarter, save time, and ultimately deliver only what the client needs (usually via FTP), and streamline my workflow. The time savings has been enormous, and everyone’s happier.

3. SB2. ASMP’s Strictly Business 2 was a great experience that I would highly recommend to anyone trying to make a living in photography. Imagine getting to spend a weekend with John Harrington and other leaders in photo business practices and learning from them firsthand. Unlike other programs, ASMP does not hold the SB conferences annually – only every few years, so next time, do yourself a favor and make sure you attend. If all of us attended these conferences we would have very few of the under-pricing and WFF issues that seem to dominate the conversation too often on I’m as much of a gear nut as anyone, but being a successful photographer ultimately means learning about other things beyond the latest photo gadgetry.

If you want to get a head start before the next time SB rolls around, in addition to John’s excellent book (which you should all already have!), check out the great titles by Allworth Press ( There are many great ones, but my top three would be: ASMP Professional Business Practices (7th addition with Newman’s Picasso on the cover), and two books by Richard Weisgrau: The Real Business of Photography, and The Photographer’s guide to Negotiating. If you read all four I just mentioned, you’ll be well on your way to running a great business.

4. Our ASMP chapter was able to bring in some great speakers this year (with help from Canon). One of the coolest was Harry Benson. It was great fun for our chapter to host such a legend, take him out for Mexican food, and invite photographers from all over the area to hear him speak, soak up the great stories, and get our books signed at the end of the evening. Check out his website, which has a great selection of his historic work:

5. I shot some great subjects this year....CEO’s, famous athletes, rappers, Miss America, a Nobel prize winner, but ultimately the most interesting shoot was with a famous philanthropist and socialite, Lynn Wyatt. Imagine the challenge of photographing someone who has been a muse for the likes of Karl Lagerfeld (a very good photographer, btw...). Imagine walking into a house and seeing multiple Andy Warhol paintings of your subject... then looking at a portrait of your subject on a desk in the study and noticing that it was taken by Horst P. Horst!... then walking into the downstairs powder room and noticing that it has, oh, I don’t know....10 –12 inscribed pictures by Helmut Newton of the person you’re about to photograph. A little intimidating, no?

In the end, she was very happy, I made a picture I liked, and I received one of the coolest phone messages ever.

Related Links:
Seale's member page
Book: The Real Business of Photography
Book: The Photographer's Guide To Negotiating
Book: Best Business Practices for Photographers
Book: ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography, 7th Edition

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