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Foto Care shares Tips on Renting Photography Equipment


Today, we’re interviewing Fred Blake, Business Partner and Manager of Foto care Rentals. Fred, having been in the photo industry for many years, has a particularly broad knowledge base incorporating both the shooting, manufacturing and retail sides of the photo industry. Fred has been with Foto Care for fifteen years.

First off, why would a photographer consider renting equipment?

Many reasons:

For the professional, if they’re in need of a product they may not currently own, or perhaps a piece may be too expensive for them to purchase at that time; this is where we can help out. Other times, we may have a photographer that’s called to do a very particular type of job where they may only need specific equipment once.

For passionate amateurs, renting allows them to take various gear out for test-drives to see what works for them. While at the same time, it gives them access to a broader range of gear when special occasions like vacations, weddings, births or graduations come up.

Most of the time it’s more economical, technology moves faster than the time it takes some equipment to pay for itself (especially digital and hybrid video cameras)

How do I choose a good Rental Facility?

Honestly, price shouldn’t be the primary consideration. Most rental houses are in the same ballpark. For us, we pride ourselves on working with our customers based on their budget restrictions or working within the specific budget for the project at hand.

Proximity and accessibility should be factored in as well. There may be times where on site training on a product may be the best way to learn.  Most importantly, a facility’s breadth and depth of its equipment is the leading reason as to where one should rent. Can a facility support what it rents? Can a facility suggest the best tools for the job? At Foto Care, this is what we pride ourselves on.

Talk to us about your staff’s knowledge:

Our staff has been with us an average of eight years, with some having been here for decades. The fact that we’re all passionate techies makes this not seem like work. We go out of our way to test drive every piece of equipment. It’s amazing how eager everyone is to get to know the hardware as soon as it comes in.  Plus, part of our job is to be able to troubleshoot with our customers over the phone so we all need to understand the ins and out of each piece of gear we rent.

All of us have our particular areas of expertise but everyone seems to have jumped on the video bandwagon in a big way. We are becoming video hybrid experts. Things have been moving so fast that keeping up is critical. Video is just exploding. We’re adding microphones, special lighting and lenses that we’ve never had before based on demand and interest.

Talk to us more about the depth of equipment you offer?

Having the newest/latest equipment available for our customers is critical. And not just one or two either. Our depth of equipment and inventory (usually having 10 or more of something) is key. For example: We have more then 90 broncolor powerpacks; more than anyone in the country.

Foto Care has built a reputation on Outstanding Customer Service. How does that apply to Rentals?

It’s always been important, I remember one time Avedon Studios called from India with a problem:  They were shooting the Dalai Lhama in 8 x 10 format with very limited time restrictions so every piece of film needed to be usable. With exposures all over the map, they needed to process the film by inspection so we ended up finding them night vision equipment to help them process their film.

These days, some of our newer customers will call to discuss various lighting scenarios they are considering and ask for our recommendations. Helping problem solve with them is one of the highlights of our day. In fact, often we’ll set up lights here at our facility to show them a particular setup. Fortunately, our facility is quite large and allows us to show a variety of setups to our customers. The time investment for us is important because this is their job at stake, and we see ourselves as a trusted partner in their business. And this doesn’t just apply to the working professional. We want all of our customers to be comfortable with the gear they rent from us. That’s why they keep coming back.

What can a customer do to ensure they get the best results?

1. Call orders in advance:

Most errors are made when under pressure. If this is unavoidable, check your equipment before you leave. Ten minuets at the counter can save you two hours in set.

2. Ask questions:

We’re not just handing out a box with no support. We expect our customers to ask us questions. In fact, we encourage it. We’d rather help answer all your questions when you’re placing an order or when you pick it up as opposed to when you are out on location or back in your studio. And b all means, keep asking questions until you are comfortable and satisfied. In photography there is more than one way to achieve most goals.

What do you recommend for customers consistently ordering over the phone?

If you start an order over the phone, get the name of the rental technician. This way, if you call to follow up with questions, there is continuity by dealing with the same person. We also except orders via email. Really, its whatever works best for you as a customer.

When picking up an order, what should customers know and do?

Go through your equipment. Look at it. We try to pack orders as accurately as possible but there can be misunderstandings. Sometimes funny ones:  Someone the other day asked for a “Gary Coleman” C-Stand. Huh? Hadn’t heard that one before. What they wanted was a short 20” C-stand versus a 40” stand. With all the slang in our industry, it’s easy to misunderstand what folks are sometimes looking for.

What are some of the things to keep an eye out for?

Clean, maintained equipment, especially clean sensors. It’s a matter of pride with us. You can tell a lot about a rental facility by how clean and well maintained their inventory is.

Anything else people need to know?

All rental houses in NYC require deposits, valid identification, and, in some cases, proof of insurance. It’s a very good idea for photographers to have insurance. This not only protects the photographer but the rental department can take a reduced security deposit for the value of the deductible.

Is there anything else you want customers to know?

Foto Care constantly offers seminars and lectures for continuing education of our customers so check our website and sign-up for the Foto Care Newsletter which comes out twice  month.  And get out and shoot.

Featured broncolor Photographer Tarun Khiwai

18 years of relentless experimentation and perseverance have made the photographer, Tarun khiwal, who has won numerous awards in photography and is the first and only recipient of the coveted Hasselblad Masters Award in India to date. Although an engineer by education he became a photographer by choice and now has become one of the most sought after photographers in India.

Tarun’s simplistic approach to photography combined with a touch of glamour is what characterizes his personal style.  Tarun  has been constantly setting benchmarks in the fashion and advertising circuits of India for many years.

Tarun has had no formal education in photography, however he has been the inspiration for many young photographers to relocate from all over the world to assist him and his protégées have all emerged as successful photographers themselves.

Tarun’s client list includes Chanel, Emaar, Dior, Royal Sporting House, Lakme, Ponds, Dove, ShopperStop, Nokia, Pepsi, Coca-Cola Motorola, Nestlé, Sony, Samsung, Nike, Reebok, Adidas, etc.

Tarun’s critically acclaimed editorial work appears regularly in national and International Editorials like Tank, Vogue, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, L’Officiel, etc

Tarun Khiwal is a passionate photographer who is obsessively basic in his approach towards life who is fueled by his family comprising of his parents, his wife Ritu, seven year old son Garvit and his two year old daughter Urvhii.

“I have been a broncolor user for 2 years now and I must say these products have been sincere workhorses that have never let me down. I own two Grafit A4 RFS and the Mobil A2R along with the broncolor Pulso G lamphead & Ringflash C, Softlight reflector P, Flooter and various other light shapers. (I also own the broncolor HMI 575.800).


Being predominantly a fashion and advertising photographer I have greatly benefited from the extremely fast recycling time & the fast flash duration of the Grafit A4 RFS, which are only some of its many features. The Mobil A2R battery pack is a compact, fast recycling, lightweight battery pack that has not let me down in the toughest of locations.
broncolor’s extensive range of light shaping tools are “state of the art” and have been developed after a lot of R&D giving the photographer a wide range of options to experiment, facilitating creative lighting. broncolor equipment is available to rent almost anywhere in the world including India and above all the after sales service has been very reliable and forthcoming. Purchasing broncolor has definitely been an investment for me”.

Awards:
Marie Claire Fashion Photographer of the year 2009
L’officiel Luxury Award, 2008
Hasselblad Master – 2005
Epson Masters Worldwide Epson Pro Programme
F Award – Fashion Photographer of the year 2005
Asian Photography Award: Photographer of the year 2005
MTV style Lycra Award 2004
Kingfisher Fashion Photographer – 2004

http://www.tarunkhiwal.com

An Interview with broncolor Featured Photographer Elias Wessel

We caught up with Elias Wessel on a shoot this week.  Here’s what he had to say:

CK: How did you become a photographer?  Describe your career development?

EW: I would have to say that graffiti was the catalyst for my love of art. At the age of 16 meeting Sigmar Polke at his huge retrospective in Bonn, Germany made me even more interested in fine arts. Following that, I started to draw and then  had paintings exhibited about 2 years later.   Also during that time, my best friend, who I had a crush on, moved to London.    Our only source of communication was through mail. I wanted my mails to look good and make her feel special on top of what I wrote to her.   I created my own envelopes by cutting out my favorite pictures out of hundreds of magazines.   I collected thousands of tearsheets and still remember vividly pictures by David La Chapelle,  Guy Bourdin,  Jeff Koons and others who caught my breath.   Since then I have always wanted to be able to re-create these wonderful feelings that those pictures gave me and started to draw pictures and take photographs of everything I loved.

CK:  More specifically, was there one or more life changing moments that helped you move to the next level and become the photographer that you are now?  Perhaps a big break, a perfect mentor, a movie, a mystical moment?

EW:  What incredibly changed me and my work was the break up after 8 years with my former personal and professional friend and partner in 2008.   I had to start all over and ask myself what makes me unique as a photographer.   I figured the only possible answer can be:  Myself!   Beginning with my “Falling Up” story my work tells so much about me and that what makes it special.   However I am very often asked how I consider myself as a photographer and my style. There’s no straight answer which feels totally adequate to me.   You can say it is the way I play with time and freeze a moment or a motion.   V magazine recently published a selection of my work and wrote “When time stops, your pose had better be fierce”.   You can mention the saturated colors or the sort of magical realism.   It can be cheeky happiness,  subliminal concepts,  beauty or sensitiveness.   It always depends on the content of the story I am working on.   Those who know me can say it may be my personal experiences which are always somehow reflected in my photographs. I would say as everything changes and develops in life all this can change and develop from picture to picture as well.   There are moments every day which make me and my work more and more sophisticated.   You just have to be aware of them.

CK: How do you learn your techniques?

EW: Working at advertising agencies, design bureaus as well as assistant, production and studio manager made me understand the different parties who are involved in the process of creating photographs.   I know about their expectations, their thinking, their needs, their fears and about the whole process from the point of view of all participating sides.   Studying with a huge focus on theory helped me to achieve a general idea about any field of the arts, a basic knowledge about anything which deals with art, visual communication and its reception.   It can be a deep source for new ideas. Schooling didn’t really teach me about the technical side of photography or lighting.   That is something I learned by assisting and working in the fields of photography but even more by realizing one personal project after another.   It taught me how to create, communicate and realize ideas. And it can give you the time to experiment and to develop.   A while ago I met David La Chapelle here in New York and I remember how he reminded me how fortunate I can be of being able to do my own thing.   Even if it is not without a struggle.   Studying also taught me to get up and motivate myself every single day to work on my ideas because nobody really cared about what I did.   It can be dangerous depending of what kind of character you are but it also can teach you confidence in what you do and that you are the only one who is responsible for anything you do.

CK:  Who are your photo heroes? Or who has inspired your career?

EW:  There are so many.   It wouldn’t make sense to drop names.   Most of all I´m inspired by the reason why I´m doing this. I want to experience a feeling, that goes into bowels.   But I also want to create a transcendency so that this feeling reaches the viewer.   I also find very interesting the intersection between fashion and fine art photography and how to merge those genres. Typical fashion images focus on beauty and clothing as their central elements.   To me it is not fashion itself but the image that suppose to fascinate the viewer.   I believe that this is what appeals to clients who really care about being exclusive. At the end it all comes to the feeling you get from the picture you are looking at, not just the picture of the product.

CK: What is the worst part about doing what you do?

EW: If I could I would be out there taking pictures everyday. A huge part of photography deals with everything else than creating and taking pictures.

CK: What is the best part?

EW: All my works you see in this story have given me the most satisfaction because there are a lot of photographs that don’t make it. Every picture I’ve taken is from the past but it is the ones in the future that I’m looking forward to taking most.

Learning from the Pro

EW:  What are we going to shoot today?

“Falling Up”. A personal project which will be exhibited in New York and also be published as editorial. Falling is something involuntarily. Something threatening you get forced to.   In contrast “Up” is a synonym for success.   This aporia results out of the two contrary moving directions: Down = falling and Up = Up.   A conflict which was indissoluble at that current period of my life.   “Falling” as well as “Up” relate to my very private and professional areas of life which were strongly linked over 9 years.   “Falling Up” is based on personal experiences, thoughts, symbols and metaphors. Analogies to “Mary Poppins”, “Rumpelstiltskin” and the “Shock Headed Peter” finally allow to express my emotions as well as making a statement about the current art and fashion industry.  “Falling Up” is a modern fairy tale out of my personal past, present and future.

CK: How did you learn how to do what you are about to show us?

EW: It’s probably the same answer I gave when asking me how I learned my techniques. To sum it up in one word I would have to say it’s experience.

CK: What tools are you using to make this image?

EW:  503 CW Hasselblad with a Leaf Aptus II – 7 with lenses from 25mm to 150mm. SBI ParaFb 170, Pulsoflex 80×80, Verso A4 and A2, beauty dish and P70 reflector, 2 Pulso heads, Ringflash P, the sun, clouds as well as my heart and my brain.

CK: Why did you choose these tools?

EW: “Falling Up” was shot on location in Long Island City, New York with a great mix out of different set ups including day and night shots. So being flexible without sacrificing quality and to be able to control every situation on set
was my first priority.   I took advantage of the para 170 using it as a soft filling light. With the heads and reflectors I was able to adapt to every single situation, setting highlights, focus on different parts of the scene. The Verso allowed me to add crunch and a little magic at the best possible speed.

CK: Did you use competing products in the past? What made you change?

EW: I worked with pretty much all available lighting and camera equipment and used everything from 35mm to large format cameras – film and digital.   I’m in the lucky position that I got into photography by using film and digital equipment at the same time. The experience of working in the dark room, processing my own films, making my own contact sheets and prints help me to understand what happens in digital photography and post production. Same with the lighting gear.   I always like to test all equipment which might be of any interest.   Currently I prefer working with the 503CW Hasselblad and the Leaf Aptus II always in combination with broncolor lights.   It just works for me and gives me the consistency and flexibility I need. The decision of the equipment I use as well as the decision of shooting in studio or on location depends on the pictures I have in mind. Not the other way around. The cooperation with Bron Imaging Group is based on how I use my lighting which plays a big role in my work and gives it it’s consistency.   No matter if I have a huge set up of lights or just a bare bulb in combination with available light. It always defines the look of my pictures and bron recognizes this.   But this cooperation is more than that.   The guys from bron are part of my team, part of my photo-family and they care about my work and about photography just as much as I do.   That is what really matters to me.

ELIAS WESSEL
VISUAL ARTIST / PHOTOGRAPHER
www.eliaswessel.com

Colin Anderson Dives Head First Into the Convergence

We recently caught up with broncolor user and super prolific photographer Colin Andersen after he shot soem new video footage.  We continue to see more and more of our community of still photographers making the jump into video bringing new and exciting perspectives to the moving image. – CK

By Guest Contributor: Colin Andersen:

I recently made my first steps into shooting footage.

Having never really shot anything more than home video – l had my fair share of concerns. The actual shooting was concern enough, but more of a worry was editing it all in Final Cut Pro – which l had absolutely no idea how to even launch let alone edit an entire sequence!

To compound the stress, this project was for a client, and it had to be done in just over a week. The video was to appear on the client’s web site while it was being rebuilt for a new launch. The clip was intended to be a teaser for the fall catalogue (which l am also shooting), and would be themed around a girl being shipwrecked.

To speed up production and make life easier, everything was shot at my home, which saved on permits and everything else that can cause headaches while shooting on location. Camera used was the Canon 5DMark 2.

CP video-colin anderson from Colin Anderson on Vimeo.

Here is a breakdown clip by clip on how it was created.

Pic.1 This was actually the last piece of footage we shot, basically because the light was nice this time of day, which was late afternoon. To create the blowing curtains effect we used a Bowens wind machine just out of frame and the panning motion was achieved by using a Foba studio stand, which has a very smooth fluid action. In FCP l ramped the speed down by about 50%. Lens-Canon 85mm F1.2

Pic.2 This was shot around 7:00 am, again to catch the nice light. The challenge of this shot was to get the models’ timing right so the gates closed just as she passed through them. A few practice runs through and we were able to get it pretty right. My intention was to have the model’s hair blow just as she passed through the gates using the Bowens wind machine. What actually happened on the very first take was the gates closed on the wind machine cord shearing it and tripping the safety switch which cut the power to the entire house, including the gates. Scrambling to keep working while the light was still nice we got the power back on within 10 minutes and ended up using my daughters jumping castle blower to replace the Bowens wind machine. Lens-Canon 80-200mm f2.8.

Pic.3 Again using my Foba studio stand as a dolly, l did the panning shot using natural window light. Lens- Canon 50mm macro.

Pic.4 A crucial element to the story is the shipwreck. Obviously not having the budget to create such a scene l decided to show it using a newspaper. I created the newspaper in Photoshop, printed it out and backed it onto normal newspapers. Using the Foba again as a dolly, l panned across the set while my wife followed shining a broncolor head (Scoro A4s Pack with a P45 reflector) through glass bricks. Lens Canon 50mm macro.

Pic.5 The two water sequences were shot on a pool ledge. The pool tiles were hidden by laying down black weighted velvet. A normal beach umbrella was used to shade the scene, as the sun was directly overhead and very harsh. In FCP l increased the contrast and pumped up the blues. Lens –Canon 80-200mm

Pic.6 Shot immediately after the water scene while the models hair was still wet, we moved straight into the studio. The model was positioned in front of a white seamless background and lit by two broncolor heads with P-45 reflectors. The lighting on the model was achieved by placing a Bron head in a Mola dish to the right and a broncolor bank light to the left. The great thing about this set up is the ability to also shoot stills by simply syncing over to flash.

Pic7. This was actually the very first piece of footage l shot because l thought it would be the most difficult. Luckily, it was fairly straightforward. Using fishing line hot glued around the bottle, l put it into the pool and using a fishing rod was able to keep it submerged and bobbing around. To make the waves we simply just used a big broom to push the water around as well as turning on the water feature (like a waterfall). In FCP l pumped up the blues, desaturated it, and then darkened the water for mood. Lens-Canon 85mm.


www.andersonproductions.com.au

Colin Anderson is a photographer specializing in conceptual and narrative based imagery. He also co-founded blendimages.com.

An Interview with Miami Photographer Andre Rowe

How did you become a photographer? Describe your career development?

My father was a photographer, a commercial photographer in fact. He did weddings as long as I can remember, but it was his portraits that interested me most. I sort of “tripped” into photography with all the photographic gear that surrounded me. What started as an ongoing hobby, turned very serious in high school when I was brought on to the Correspondent Staff of the Sun Sentinel, a major newspaper in the South Florida area. It was there that I saw my future, and paid keen attention to my desire to create images.

2. More specifically, was there one or more life changing moments that helped you move to the next level and become the photographer that you are now? Perhaps a big break, a perfect mentor, a movie, a mystical moment?

I had two muses from high school who from their abundance of images came an abundant flow of requests from people in their network. A network that grow to over hundred individual “models” durning my five year wedding spree. And “that” is where my creativity grew.

3. How do you learn your techniques?

The answer to that question both plain and still PRICELESS. I’ve learned virtually EVERY technique from actually making mistakes. Real mistakes that ended with me posing the questions: “Why did that happen?” and “What should I do instead?”. The latter question leads me to trial and error. Trial as in “intentionally” re-creating the mistakes (and any variance on them), and taking the time to identify the circumstances. Error as in directly avoiding the mistakes by doing perhaps the opposite when the circumstances arise once more.

In essence, my techniques come readily, easily, and successfully from a wealth of understanding “what not to do”.

4. Who are your photo heroes? Or who has inspired your career?

Easy – Patrick Demarchelier. His work is uncomplicated and beautiful. His images are achieved seemingly without effort. He seems to quickly establish a rapport with his subjects and is blessed with their best moods at the time of shooting. The end results are as minimalistic (in terms of editing) as the original state to begin with.

5. What is the worst part about doing what you do?

Editing. Yes, I could share my workflow with a retoucher, but that often means that the last hand to touch the work is not that of the original photographer. I have always questioned the merits of that. None the less, I do edit my own work, and because I dislike it so, I have developed several methods for streamlining my work flow so that I take equal to if not less time at the computer than during the actual shoot itself.

6. What is the best part?

The best part is either my actually “seeing” the image in the seconds before touching the camera, or “seeing” the reaction that the subject(s) have afterwards when showing them why I was so happy in the first place.

1. What are we going to shoot today?

Four poster images over two days for SR Perrott, Inc. who is the distributor of Miller Lite and Coors Light beers in the Daytona Beach, Florida area. The posters are promotional pieces for the 2010 Daytona 500 NASCAR event of which SR Perrott is also a sponsor.

2. How did you learn how to do what you are about to show us?

The simple answer is that I learned through years of experience. The more creative answer is that I learned through patience and the basic premise of focusing the lighting and camera on only what is important to the client, and leave the rest to the viewers imagination.

3.What tools are you using to make this image?

*Nikon D3 with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
*Verso A4 (x1)
*Topas A2 (x2)
*Pulso G2 lampbase (x2)
*Ringflash C
*Beauty Dish with diffuser (x2)
*Para 220 Soft with Ringflash P
*RFS Transmitter
*Sekonic L-758dr lightmeter
*Gitzo Systematic tripod
*Really Right Stuff Ballhead with bracket & various plates

4. Why did you choose these tools?

Because I don’t yet own any Scoro packs! The Ringflash C was essential to give me even light coverage across the surface of the image, with emphasis on the areas that the models encompass. Also, in order to remain softly lit throughout the image area, I had to use the beauty dishes in relation to the PARA 220 Soft. The reason that I chose the PARA 220 Soft is because despite the nature of the poster, the main subjects are the models of which are on a large canvas (the NASCAR). Otherwise, I would have used a greater number of heads with P65 reflectors to compliment a single Ringflash C as my my main light.

5. What features of the equipment that you use make it easier to do your job?

The PARA 220 Soft has a distinctly wide spread of light that works favorably with wide-angle lenses. The Ringflash C is just one of my favorites as an all-in-one light source. I love the robust nature of the Verso A4 and if only by appearance & audible sounds, lends itself to establish the feel of an intense photoshoot.

6. Did you use competing products in the past? What made you change?

This could lead to short novel. Yes, I started with Norman (over a decade of use and familiarity), then moved over to the Pro-7 line of Profoto (six solid years of use), before switching vigorously to Broncolor. I really would need a great deal of time to explain the decisions and nuances as to why I switched, but to sum it up – drawing from my years of experience and knowledge, Broncolor offered a superior product, and NOT by a marginal amount.

Andre Rowe
www.rowephotographyonline.com

Andre divides his time between NYC and Miami. Andre kicks off a traveling seminar series starting in the North East this month. For more information please email us at events@bronimaging.com