I really wanted to have a ceiling fan in the basement studio, but the ceiling is only 7.5′ high. I didn’t want to keep catching my light-stands on it every time I set up to do a portrait shoot. Therefore, I made a non-rotary, low-profile ceiling fan from six computer fans and a super-low-profile, high-output LED light. It’s only 4″ from the ceiling at the tip of the light dome. It’s not perfect, primarily due to the fact that I used scrap birch plywood and a Dremel to do most of the cutting; but it’s quiet, creates a noticeable breeze, and was built for less than the price of a cheap ceiling fan.
A couple years ago I was living in Brooklyn and stifled by the “thick air” in the summer time. I had this great idea that I was going to start an epic campaign to help people lower their carbon footprint ratio by raising their oxygen production. The way I was going to do this was by selling little business card sized, seed-impregnated, paper planters and call them Sownow.
I researched which plants that grew the fastest with minimal care and nutrients. I studied how to press plant-food into a paper-like structure to make into a Sownow card. I wanted to save the world from people. I wanted to save people from themselves. I wanted to make cash doing it. It was a grand scheme about getting paid to spread easy to grow plants all over the nation. I might be remembered as the Johnny Appleseed of my generation.
I was on fire with the project. I made up a business plan. I tested the product in my own apartment window box. I got excited. I designed a logo, ad, and color theme. I found others who were trying something similar. I saw they hadn’t found a paying market for their product. I got bored. I bailed on the project before I sunk any real money into it. I forgot about saving the world. I moved.
I just found the graphics while cleaning out my storage drive. They still look nifty. I live in Portland, Maine now and we have the cleanest air in the country. There is no market here for anything like Sownow because there’s already trees. There’s no market in New York because there’s no open ground. It’s still a good idea. I’m just never going to follow through on this one.
I share it with you for posterity.
Sometimes, all you need is a fresh perspective. For this creativity challenge let’s read a book about our favorite topic, but this time try to find an author with an opposing viewpoint. No matter how outrageous the author’s view of the subject may seem it always helps our own mental elasticity to try to understand a topic from an alternative point of view.
I decided this past week to attempt to travel via air with a decent approximation of a portrait photo studio packed neatly into my standard luggage. Since the airlines limit standard baggage to 50lbs it was a challenge. I was in Milwaukee for an auto show for ten days and had to pack normal clothing and supplies for that time in my checked luggage too.
Utilizing a bit of creativity, I was able to fit the following into my checked luggage: six t-shirts, ten boxer-shorts (answers that question), 11 pairs of socks, two pairs of dress shoes (required by contract), two vests, five dress shirts, two pairs of jeans, one leather belt, a set of scrubs with lab coat (always good to have on hand), track pants, slippers (a bit of home), and a dopp-kit. That wasn’t a surprise. What is a surprise is that I could fit in all my tertiary photo equipment: two light stands, a 24″ softbox with mount adapter, 18″ octagon, 48″ 5-way bounce, reflector clamp arm, 24″ 5-way bounce, 2 light-stand flash adapters, a wired mouse (for comfortable editing), and laptop tray (so I don’t overheat my baby while processing huge files). The whole checked bag, when packed, weighed in at only 46lbs and could be tossed around or stacked during transit without damaging anything. The interesting part is that the Dakine bag weighs at least eleven pounds when empty.
In my carry-on pelican case I packed all the secondary equipment like the tripod, secondary flashes, clamps, modifiers, adapters, batteries, chargers, and laptop. I also carry a Tenba Ultralight in which I pack my primary camera and gear including a secondary body, three lenses, my favorite flash, and a king size black sheet to use as a temporary backdrop or light flag. I packed the black temporary backdrop under the assumption that the hotel I was staying in would use white sheets, and that I could scavenge one to use as a white backdrop. The pelican case weighs in around forty pounds and the backpack is easily thirty. In case I have to gate-check the case, due to the jet’s size, I can remove the laptop and lock it. Everything else tumbles without damage.
I really only brought the equipment as a trial to see if I could. I figured it was better to try it in a no-pressure situation before committing to a future client (like you? ). I know I could always shoot on-site without the extra flashes, stands, and such by utilizing a local setting and daytime lighting, but there are no guarantees in weather forecasting.
At the top is one of the test shots I took of myself on the black background. I was just getting a bit goofy. Thankfully, I told my coworkers, in advance, that I planned on bringing my gear. I had a couple willing volunteers to test the set-up in exchange for free photos. As of writing this I haven’t touched up everybody’s favorites (’cause they haven’t picked them yet), but Heather of HeatherSkipper.com has agreed to let me use one of the shots as an example of the travel studio when used on someone more beautious than myself.
Hopefully, I’ll see you on the road in the future. I’ll be in Minneapolis this coming week and many other locations in the following months. If you’d like to discuss any photo projects you might need a shooter for, let’s talk. Just send me a note by way of the e-mails. firstname.lastname@example.org