Random Bytes 130225 is a powerhouse collection of interesting posts and sites that recently came my way. You will find noteworthy workshops, photo biz tips, and more. Enjoy!

Peter Read Miller Sports Photography Workshop

David Cooper Dance Photography Workshop

30 Things You Should Know to Help You Start a Photography Business

Creative Photography Business Cards—31 Examples

New Video Codec Announced by ITU

Rich Harrington: Creating a Shot List for Photo & Video Projects

Copyright Alliance: A Huge Resource for Creatives

Luxi Incident Light Meter Adapter for iPhone on Kickstarter

Peter Read Miller Sports Photography Workshop—Sports photographer extraordinaire Peter Read Miller will hold his 11th-annual spring weeklong workshop April 8–14 in Denver [workshop FAQ and workshop registration]. Peter has shot eight Olympics, 26 Super Bowls, 14 NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup Final, the World Series, the Kentucky Derby, the NCAA Final Four, and 100+ Sports Illustrated covers. This is an amazing opportunity to spend a week shooting with and learning from one of the industry’s best. If you can’t make it to Denver, the workshop will be held in Atlanta next fall. Sign up for Peter’s mailing list here.

David Cooper Dance Photography Workshop—David Cooper will hold his dance photography workshop on June 2 in Vancouver. If you’re interested in creating images of any type of athlete frozen in mid-air, this will be a day well-spent. If you’re captivated by dance, consider this a must-attend. David shoots for the best dance and theater companies throughout North America. You’ll find the workshop info here. Check out David’s portfolios here.

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Photo © 2013 Tony Arena & Syl Arena, all rights reserved.

I believe that photographers should work for free. I also believe that photographers should not work for free. Knowing when to work for free and when not to is an important milestone in becoming a pro. Here are the aspects that I consider when deciding to shoot for free.

Commercial Value: photographers should not work for free when there is a significant commercial value to the shoot. If the client is going to make money from the project, then the photographer should too. If your prospective clients do not value your relationship that way, then find new prospects.

Value of Your Skills: Just because your client can buy the same digital camera you shoot, does not mean that he can do the job you do. Remember, it’s the photographer and not the camera that makes the photo. Your expertise and time have value.

Next Time: Anyone who says “do this one for free and you’ll absolutely get paid when the next job comes around” is lying. You should counter with “pay me for this job and I’ll give you a discount on the next one.”

Photo Credits: Anyone who suggests that you’ll benefit from the photo credit has not tried to pay for groceries with photo credits.

Not-for-profit Clients: Photographers should not work for free just because the client is a not-for-profit organization. Non-profits have normal operating expenses just like for-profit enterprises: rent, payroll, utilities, etc. Creative efforts, like photography, web design, copyrighting, etc. can all be considered normal expenses for non-profits.

Who Will Get Paychecks: Ask the folks who are asking you to work for free if they are getting a paycheck. If the answer is yes, then you should too.

For me, the work for free decision happens when several of the following criteria are met:

  • the cause is one that I believe in, meaning I’d write the organization a check
  • my work will help the cause take a big step forward
  • the subjects/situations/locations for the shoot are ones that otherwise I would not have access to
  • the subject is someone/something that I’m truly interested in
  • everyone involved with the project is working for free

I’m looking for worthy projects to shoot for free

For 2013, I’m looking to shoot a couple of worthy projects for free. So, if you’ve read the above and know of a worthy project that could use a photographer, please get in touch with the specifics. I travel a lot, so location might not be an issue. You can reach me at the address you see below.

Bonus info: my comrade-in-arms Zack Arias talked about when and why he worked for free as a commercial shooter in this webcast. If you are a student or an emerging pro, you should give Zack’s insights a listen.


Canon’s Digital Learning Center recently posted the video of my December presentation Mastering the Speedlite 600EX-RT. I had a great time at the Canon Hollywood Professional Technology Center. Thanks to all the Speedliters who attended.

If you’re looking for tips on how to maximize the potential of your 600EX-RT or wondering whether you should upgrade to the new Speedlite system, click here to watch it. The video is divided into eight sections. So it’s easy to jump to the topic of greatest interest.

  • Overview
  • The Menu System
  • Radio Wireless Flash
  • Understanding Group Mode
  • Menu-based Speedlite Control
  • Light Modifiers
  • Remote Shooting
  • Real World Radio Wireless Flash Q&A

Random Bytes 130211 highlights the work of so many talented photographers. Enjoy!

Zack Arias: If I had to start my photo business today

Shannon Jensen: A Long Walk

God Made a Farmer: Super Bowl Commercial Shot by Ten Photographers

Photograph (eMag): Issue 2

Digital Convergence Podcast #108: Dean Sherwood on Making Music Videos

Location Lighting (eBook) by Michael Clark

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I’m convinced that we are turning into a world of scanners. Everyone wants to know more, yet wants to read less. I think this evolution is due the fact that we carry the WWW in our pockets these days. My response…I just rewrote the bio on my portfolio site.

My previous bio talked about me in the third person (even though I wrote it). “Syl does this and that…” My thinking was that the narrator’s voice sounded more authoritative than my own. The content talked mostly about my photographic abilities.

My new bio is in the first person. I want prospective clients to know me as a person first and as an imagemaker second. So, I lead off with the fact that my wife, Amy, and I met when we were young kids. It’s a memorable point. I want the folks who read it to remember me.

For the scanners, I now use paragraphs with one or two sentences. The old bio had three blocky paragraphs. The new bio has ten streamlined paragraphs. It is 38 words shorter than the old one (174 vs. 212 = 18% reduction). Yet, it says so much more about me.

The more time we spend online, the more important it is for photographers to market themselves as real and memorable people. Whose voice are you using? What is it saying about you?


A quick announcement to NYC-area Canonistas that I’ll be speaking next week in the B&H Event Space. The two-hour presentation is suited for anyone interested in how I use my Canon Speedlites to create off-camera flash. Click on the pic below for more details. Hope to see you there!



I receive many questions about the batteries that I use in my Speedlites. Here is the exact gear that I use to keep them well fed and happy.


Eneloop AA Rechargeable Ni-MH Batteries—If you’re a power Speedliter, then rechargeable batteries are the only way to go. I use Eneloops because their chemistry–low-discharge, nickel metal-hydride (Ni-MH)–means that they will hold their charge for an extended time. Regular Ni-MH batteries (like Powerex) will discharge over time when not in use. The last thing I want is for my Speedlite to not fire if the batteries I have in my bag have not been charged for a couple of weeks. If you cannot find Eneloops, other brands of low-discharge Ni-MH batteries often have pre-charged, rechargeable on the package.
Eneloops on B&H
Eneloops on Amazon

Regular Alkalines—If you are not a power Speedliter, then regular alkaline batteries are fine. So grab the Energizers and Coppertops when you need a fresh set of batteries.

Avoid Lithium Batteries—Lithium has the ability to hold onto electrons for a very long time. You may have noted that the Use By dates are often a decade away. However, under heavy loads, such as a Speedlite firing again and again, my tests have shown that lithium batteries get extremely hot. In one test, I measured their temperature at 165ºF!

Remove the Batteries—If you are not going to use your Speedlite for a few weeks, remove the batteries to protect against random battery leakage.

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Last week was a great week for image-centric blogs. Here is a random run-through of several of my favorite posts from the blogs I read.

Inside the Camera Bag of Peter Read Miller: Super Bowl Photographer

Catch Magazine #27 (Fly Fishing Photography_Film)

World Press Photo 2013 Multimedia Contest Winners

HurlBlog: The Small HD Story

Joey L: Killing Lincoln—Test Subjects vs. Real Subjects

PhotoShelter: Photographers Outlook on 2013

Chris Orwig Webinar: Creating Compelling Photographs

NY Times Free Portfolio Reviews


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Save the dates: August 4–10 and August 11–17, 2013. I have two weeklong lighting workshops scheduled at Maine Media this year. Midcoast Maine + August + playing with light for a week = Summer camp for lucky adults.

My Canon Speedlites Demystified workshop runs Aug 4–10. This will be the third summer that I teach this great session that focuses exclusively on…you guessed it, Canon Speedlites. We start the week with an exploration of one-light techniques and end the week with everyone shooting multiple Speedlites. Even if you hardly know how to use a pop-up flash, if you shoot Canon and want to learn flash, this is the workshop for you. Check out the details here on the Maine Media site.

My new Creative Lighting on Location workshop (Aug 11–17) is for shooters who already have a working knowledge of flash photography and want to push into using mixed lighting and strobes (Einsteins, Profoto D1s, etc.) on location. Of course, what’s a strobe good for without a toolbox of modifiers? So, we’ll also play with a range of softboxes, grids, gels, etc. as we shoot portraits on a wide range of indoor and outdoor locations. You’ll find the details here on the Maine Media site.

And yes, if you are looking for an excuse to spend two weeks in the beautiful central coast of Maine, then consider Canon Speedlites Demystified as a great way to get up to speed for Creative Lighting on Location.


Canon Lenses Speedlite Instant Savings ending Feb 2

Canon has a great instant rebate program on now for 40+ lenses and several Speedlites (including the 600EX-RT). Hurry! These deals expire in a couple of days (on Feb. 2 to be exact). Click here to take a look.