The Freeware Photographer's Blog

Here I muse about assignments and plans and my experiences being a free photographer in and around Antwerp. Unlike the rest of this site the Blog is only available in english, since it will be of interest to a wider audience anyway and would be too much bother to keep up in two languages.

Added RSS feed

Created Sun 16 May 10 16:48 by Mathias

I've added an RSS feed for anybody who wishes to keep up with this blog and my activities as the freeware photographer.

RSS feed

Upcoming assignments

Created Sun 16 May 10 15:38 by Mathias

As I briefly mentioned earlier, I suddenly got several more contacts, which resulted in a couple more upcoming shoots. Next weekend will be quite busy, in fact.

First I will be going to Limburg on friday for my first away shoot. An aspiring model has asked me for help to expand her portfolio. Logistics are tricky on this one, as it's an evening shoot quite a distance away from my studio, but I still want to take most of my lights (due to the nature of the shoot). Also it's not clear we'll have a location to shoot in. In retrospect I should maybe have waited with doing such a distant shoot until I had more experience, but I said yes, so yes it is.

Then on Saturday is the photoshoot I've talked about previously: the mother with her two little girls. This is in the studio so should be easier. I've seen some cheap pink polka dot cloth in a store nearby which I might get as a background.

Finally on Monday (a holiday here in Belgium) I'm having a professional model over who also wishes to expand her portfolio. I'm quite nervous about that, but hopefully by then I'll have a bit more experience. The photo session with Tamara actually boosted my confidence quite a bit, because while there's a lot I need to improve at, the results aren't too bad either.

Other than that I've nothing else in the pipeline. One other parent has contacted me for a family portrait, but a date hasn't been set for that yet. If I don't have any other contacts in a week or so, I might look into some other avenues of spreading the word.

Some pictures from the first assignment

Created Fri 14 May 10 22:08 by Mathias

Tamara, the "client" (I need to find a better word for this) and model for the first photoshoot graciously allowed me to post some pictures on here after all. It's too late to comment on any of them (it's just past midnight now), so I'm just putting a handful up without explanation.

First photoshoot

Created Fri 14 May 10 16:45 by Mathias

Since last update, a lot has changed. I suddenly got a lot of interested people and three more assignments. Two of these will actually be before the first assignment I announced earlier. The really first (firstest?) assignment was today. In fact, I just finished it.

The assignment: a 20 year old woman wanted some nice pictures of her. She wanted a mix of portraits/glamour/fashion.
Sadly, she didn't check the box on the agreement allowing me to post any pictures here (which is fair enough, by the way), but I wanted to share some of the things I learned.

And learned I did. During the shoot we did a great variety of shots: portraits with all kinds of lighting, full body shots standing, sitting, lying down. I also brought in several props, including an ornate second hand chair I just bought for this express purpose.

The first thing I learned was not to preheat the studio. It'd been pretty cold the past few days so I'd warmed it up some, but that combined with the heat from the lamps really made me sweat. I'm sure it wasn't too comfortable for the model either.

More photographically related, I have to take more care with checking the lighting of each picture. Overlit is easy to see, but underlit is hard to judge on the small review pic. Checking the histogram solves this, but that makes it harder to check composition. Sadly there's no quick toggle between those modes.

I also learned that using a single spot with a conical snoot aimed at a gold reflector makes for quite dramatic and warm portraits. I'll have to experiment some more with that.

Adding in a normal flash on top of the studio strobes, however proved a bad idea. The picture got very flat that way.

On the good side, using props worked very well, I thought. I used some paper rose petals which added quite nice detail to break up the white paper roll.

I do have to work on researching poses so I can guide the model. In this case neither of us really knew what to do and we made it up as we went along. I really need to improve here.

Oh, and the gray wall and red curtains are much better for portraits than the white paper or the gold curtains.

Overall, I think it was a successful session. Both the model and I had fun, and I think she liked the results when we reviewed them on my monitor. Now I have to start developing the raws, doing some post processing and burning it to DVD.

A first assignment

Created Tue 11 May 10 12:32 by Mathias

My first assignment has now been scheduled: saturday the 22nd of may I will be shooting two little girls (aged 14 months and 2.5 years) in my little studio.

The brief is quiet simple: their mother wants some pictures that show both their lively spirit as their kinship. Other than that, I'm free to use my own judgement.

Of course, I don't have all that much judgement yet, seeing as this will be my first assignment, but at least I have some experience with my nieces (the youngest of which is about 21 months now). Using them as a reference, I think the biggest problem will be to keep the children relaxed and happy. They will be in unfamiliar territory which will probably make them shy and maybe even afraid. My job will be to counteract that and cheer them up, but without getting them hyperactive (which would make picture taking ... challenging).

First order of business will be for me to dress in brighter colours. I usually wear blacks, but I fear that may scare them, especially in the confines of my small studio (not to mention I'm very tall). I'm pretty good with children, which will help. I'll also borrow one of my mother's handpuppets. She's got bright bird handpuppets that make a noise when you squeeze them. This will be great to get their attentions and get them to look into the camera.

I'm also going to look into some alternative backdrops. While the white will be good for some of the shots, I feel that to show their liveliness something more cheerful will be needed. Maybe some big colourful flowers. Speaking of flowers: I've found some paper rose petals which I think may be perfect for two little girls like this. I'm also planning on getting a hairclasp that I can use to put a flower in their hair.

For the youngest I'm going to look for some wicker basket. It may be cliché, but I feel I need to learn the clichés before I experiment too much.

Getting some reactions ...

Created Fri 7 May 10 8:54 by Mathias

Well, it's been about a week now since I linked this site on some local ads pages and I've been waiting (in)patiently for some reactions. So far I've had three people contact me, which is good, but they have not yet replied to my replies, which isn't as good.

So far, the requests I have gotten:
- A pregnant woman wanting outdoor pictures of herself (with big belly) and her older son
- A woman wanting pictures of her 4 children
- A girl wanting some pictures taken (no details yet)

I hope at least some of these will go through. Each brings its own set of interesting challenges.

We're live.

Created Fri 30 Apr 10 7:30 by Mathias

Yesterday I registered the domain and moved the dutch version of the site onto that. Today I placed a little ad for it on, which is basically a belgian version of craig's list.

Now it's just waiting to see if anybody has any photos that need taking ...

Trying the studio

Created Wed 28 Apr 10 14:24 by Mathias

The freeware photographer project is all about expanding the scope of my photography and improving my skills. For much the same reason I turned one of the rooms in my newly bought house into a small studio. Studio photography isn't easy, and I'll have a lot to learn, but I'm sure it will be great fun (I've always enjoyed teaching myself).

So far I've had two short sessions in there with my wife as a model and learned quite a bit. One of the things I learned was that I still have a lot to learn (well, actually, I knew that already :)).

Here's some samples from those two shoots:

Coming soon?

Created Thu 8 Apr 10 17:35 by Mathias

This is just a first post to make sure there's something in the blog. Right now I'm still trying to find out whether this is a good idea and polling some other photographers for their opinions.