Blog Archives

A Photographers Travel Checklist

It’s that time again when I must recheck and recheck again to make sure I have all the necessities before packing the camera on a plane and traveling off to a location not-so-close to home. I will soon be in Iceland with a few photographer friends and while packing light is always the priority — having enough to get by for a couple weeks is a concern as well.

My pack list from my American Southwest adventure this past fall proved to be successful but I must admit with all the restrictions and frustrations of travel — I do miss the days when all I had was a small pocket camera.

Virgin River, Zion National Park, Utah

Today’s Image – Virgin River in Zion National Park

In the spirit of travel and because I’m not yet in Iceland, today’s image is flash back from my November trip to the Southwest National Parks. The first stop was Zion National Park and here I am along side the Pa’rus trail (N 37 12.894 W 112 58.524) in the Virgin River looking south.



The Handcuffs and Temptation of Stock Agencies

Someone finds your work on Flickr. They contact Getty Images to buy it. Getty Images contacts you for permission to sell it to their buyer. Do you do it?

Yesterday, I received two more requests from a potential Getty customer wanting to license my work for commercial use. I’m not told the price in advance. They simply want a yes or no answer.

But it’s not a guaranteed sale either. Whether it sells for $20, for $400, or maybe not at all, you loose the right to ever license that image or any other similar images again without going through Getty. At this point, Getty now owns the exclusive distribution rights with a no competition contract. A tough pill to swallow but maybe I value my own work too much.

To date, I have had 27 requests but have only accepted one as a “what if” test. I offered Getty that single image and while it did indeed sell, the royalty margins are the typical low. The Flickr collection is all royalty free and in this particular case, Getty licensed my image for their standard price of $382.50. They keep 80% of it leaving me with $76.50 before the IRS steps in (Canadians can file to get it back) and claims another 30% of that earnings dropping my payout to $53.55. I suppose $53 is better than nothing?

Turning down sales and commercial publication is very hard but the value Getty offers for 80% on a royalty free sale could be argued. But what do I know? I have local photographer friends that were able to quit their day job due to sales through iStockphoto alone — and those royalties are as low as $2 per sale.

On the flip side, the Parks and People Association are releasing a book next month to celebrate the 75th anniversary of PEI National Park and it has several of my images inside. If I would have accepted all 27 of those requests, I would not have been able to offer the images I did for this publication.

The “what if” temptation is strong and something I have now resisted for a very long time. While the argument can be made for both sides — it is hard not to wonder what would have happened if I uploaded all of my work, gave away my distributions rights and accepted the 80/20 business model.


The Dance With Wildlife

It can be challenging at the best of times to come close enough with wildlife. There is always that dance to position yourself in the hopes you do not disturb or scare the bird into flying away. You repeat the cycle of slowing moving closer as they slowly move further away. With each step closer, you fire off a few frames just in case it’s your last.

This small Red-winged Blackbird was special and tolerated my presence more than usual. However, what I was not expecting, was right before I got to that “I can almost fill the frame” distance, my cell phone started to ring.

Coincidence or not and now patent pending — this little guy answered the call.

Red-winged Blackbird



Prince Edward Island Prints

I have been enjoying printing so much with the new printer, I mentioned last week that I would mail out a free print to a random commenter on Facebook. I had a hard time selecting only 1 — so I selected 4 names from the 161 entries I received (If I could, I’d send something to everyone). After copying all the names into a spreadsheet, I asked my soon-to-be-wife across the room for 2 random numbers and then I used to select two more names. The 4 recipients by random draw were Paula Hughes, Wendy Mumma, Noel Clancey and Amber Phillips. Thank you to all those that were interested.

Lets do this again in late June but here on the blog to avoid the no contests on Facebook TOS. Subscribe to this blog by email or by rss if you would like to stay informed of future print give aways.

If you would still like a print now, for the next week until May 27th 2012, I will ship any 8.5×11 print you want for a reduced introduction price of $20 (shipping and taxes included).

Visit for complete details.

Prince Edward Island Prints

Today’s Image – Prince Edward Island Fine Art Photography Prints

All prints are created on a heavy 300+ g/m² fine art acid-free paper using the latest in Epsons Ultrachrome K3 inks. Printed on 8.5×11 sheets with large white borders, the dimensions of the image are custom to the artist and will require custom matting. To make this truly fine art, I do not want to be hand cuffed by pre-determined paper or frame sizes. 8×10 is just not acceptable for everything.

Examples on how to mat are listed here:


Changing of the Seasons

Spring is well under way and with the snow and ice long gone — temperatures often still require dressing fairly warm with hats and gloves. The water is moving, shades of green are filling in and before long, summer will be here and I’ll be complaining how hot is it. ;-)

Island Spring Stream

Today’s Image – Island Spring Stream

Nature at times can be quite a mess of details and colours. Here’s trying to organize and make sense of it all in a single image. There is a fair bit to absorb in this one.


2012 Canada East Wrestling

This past weekend, wrestlers from as far away as Ontario gathered in Charlottetown for the 2012 Canada East Wrestling Festival. Over the course of two days, several hundred matches took place and I joined Spin Photo Sports Photography and The Picture Guy as an additional shooter on the mat.

After 8 hours of not stop coverage shooting from mat level, I feel like I might have been in a match myself. This and the next 25 images are some of my favourites from what I shot on Saturday.

Canada East Wrestling Tournament - 2012 Charlottetown, PEI

The color files and prints are available from the Spin Photo website.



A Co-op Photography Art Gallery in Charlottetown?

When I’m in Halifax, I try to stop in for a visit at the ViewPoint Gallery on Barrington — a shared street level gallery space operated by a hand selected membership. It’s kind of like an advanced photo club and part of me is slightly jealous a similar concept doesn’t exist in Charlottetown.

I was recently invited over to Truro to speak at a morning seminar to the ImageMakers Photography Club and took the opportunity to keep going into downtown Halifax to attend the opening reception of a show at ViewPoint sponsored by Atlantic Photo Supply. Photographers from around the maritimes of all skill levels showcased 155 powerful images in commercial, wedding, portrait and fine art categories. The basis of the show was to celebrate the expansion of Atlantic Photo Supply.

If you are in Halifax before June 3rd, this months display at ViewPoint is a collection of infrared images by the always popular Eric Boutilier-Brown. I’m going to miss it but was lucky enough to be in Halifax for Eric’s previous two shows Frozen Light and Symmetry in Stone. I would like to point out this one single image “The Gift” and it’s description. The photographers in the crowd will enjoy the technical specs.

North Rustico Harbour

Today’s Image – The Power and Importance of the Buoy

Here, I am playing in the water at North Rustico (N 46 27.362 W 63 17.408) trying to frame and illustrate the role of the red and green buoy that fishing boats must enter and exit between. On either side is shallow and lined with unforgiving rocks.


In a world gone digital, are prints archival?

Now that I’m committed financially to producing my own fine art prints (I’m giving some away via facebook btw – spread the news), I have participated in many friendly debates about the file vs the print and how several photography studios still consider the print the be all and end all of preserving memories. So many studios still refuse to sell files but those same studios may also be trashing the files after only a few years. So my question for everyone that shoots for clients, either it be portrait, commercial or weddings, if you do not offer the sale of files, do you archive them forever?

With the level of photo restoration happening today fixing water damaged or sun faded prints of grandparents at young ages – there should be no reason to have this problem with the images being made today 50 years from now. The general public is smarter and more aware of managing their digital life and unlike the negative which was also analog, a digital file is much easier to duplicate and archive properly. And also unlike a painting, the ability to reproduce more prints is an artificial limitation. With each year that passes, printing technology advances and improves. What is possible today was not possible 10 years ago and oh, how I wish I could simply reprint prints made 50 years ago.

So before you create that sales pitch for you website on why “hire a professional photographer” with the standard bullet points — are you making a long-term product or a short-term one? And if you are the client hiring a photographer, are you hiring to create a print/image for the short-term or the long-term?

Whether the business model fits it or not, digital files are here to stay but let’s not confuse this with the validity of a print. The print is still the standard for presentation and enjoyment but it is no longer the best method of archival. The print may have the most value today but the file has the most value 100 years from now.

And before you argue that files will be lost or hard drives will die — you can argue all the same points about taking proper care of prints. It only takes a single accident to destroy a piece of art. The big difference is that you can’t back up a print even if you wanted to.

Fine Art Prince Edward Island Prints

I’m Now Making My Own Prints

Before transitioning to photography in 2001, I grew up with pencils, brushes, inks and paints. I keep saying artist first photographer second but there is something missing if your work never makes it to paper. And since going digital, I have printed so very little. Now after all these years, I *think* my work has matured enough to be worthy of paper again.

Why have I printed so little until now? For starters, you send your file away, and a week or two later, a package shows up in the mail. To some degree, it’s not really your product at all. It’s a product of the lab created with your artwork. If there is a mistake, you reorder and wait another week. And for low volume printing — shipping is expensive. The second problem is that labs charge a very high premium for art paper which is what I’m mostly interested in.

That’s about to change because I’ve setup my own little home printing lab. It started with the use of a friends printer a couple months ago that has ultimately led to buying one of my own. Which means, reasonably priced open edition signed collectable prints on archival heavy weight papers are coming soon.



Supermoon Over New London

Due to the moons orbit, it’s distance from earth varies by approximately 50,000 kilometres over the course of a year. Comparing the two extremes, this difference makes the moon look 14% bigger and 30% brighter and earns the name supermoon. With super in the name, it must be fantastic! But for the most part, it is visibly not that much different than any other full moon. Especially the night before and night after. The idea of a closer moon is very cool but the media hypes it up a bit with camera trickery. Using long lenses, shooting a city a mile away to make it look smaller in relation to the moon is what we see. We are made to believe we missed this enormous moon that filled the sky. I would like to see those same shots on a regular full moon night for comparison.

New London Lighthouse Moon

Today’s Image – New London Lighthouse in French River

For much of the weekend, we had a heavy overcast on Prince Edward Island. The only view of the moon this year for me was the night before as the moon started to rise about 1 hour before sunset.