I was SO excited to find out that Doug McKenzie won the title of Drywall Artist of the Year! But I can't say that I am surprised. I may not know much about the technical aspects of drywall application and all the countless things and years of experience needed to do it right - but I do see many, many homes. And I can attest to the fact that Doug's work stands out immediately. I was blown away by the meticulous attention to detail and tasteful choices of various trim pieces and shapes. The work always stood out because of how crisp and refined it looked - almost like an architectural drawing or a designer's rendering. Except it's real!
And believe me - I am THAT guy... the guy with the camera... My job requires me to spot flaws in order to make the best images possible. And if I can't spot them on site, I can assure you I spot them peering over the pixels on my monitor while I edit the photos for my clients. And the camera SEES ALL! That's why I was really amazed at the quality of Doug's work, even under the anything-but-real-world microscope that is the monitor of a professional photographer.
I have to say it is truly gratifying to see people you work with accomplish such amazing things - and truly humbling to see how much commitment and dedication and just flat out hard work it takes. I had a unique insight into this because I was privileged to take photos of some of Doug's award winning work. For my small part in all of this, I am just really happy that I was able to provide images that convey the amazing work he does into photographs that can be viewed by the world.
Here is a link to the McKenzie Drywall Inc website, where you can check out more of their projects, and click here to visit the Instagram feed announcing the winner! Once again, congrats on being recognized for all your hard work, Doug, so well deserved!
I had the great pleasure of working with the folks from McKenzie Drywall Inc., making some photographs to show off the amazing work they do! It was a really great experience because they tackle all kinds of projects - from beautiful custom residential properties, through restaurants and schools all the way to huge multi-residential commercial properties! As a photographer, this is great: I get to take pictures "outside of the box", all with their unique challenges and rewards.
In my travels I see many homes, of all shapes and sizes, in prices ranging from entry level to "am I even allowed to be here?" kind of homes, so while I will never claim to be a construction expert, I certainly have an eye for the final results. I have to say, the custom work done by McKenzie Drywall is exceptional - you simply can not find fault with it no matter how close you look! And believe me, the camera is a harsh mistress - if there is a flaw, it will catch it! But in this case I was very, very impressed with the quality of the work!
And of course while the quality and scope of their projects were breathtaking, they are genuinely great folks to work with. Personable, attentive, really into their work, which is a pleasure to see - you really get the impression that this is not just a 9-5 job, and judging from the relationships they forge with their clients and the quality of the work, the passion for their work is genuine, and runs deep!
A place to call home at 72 Bannister Street in Bowmanville, and a warm welcome to yet another new client!
Had the distinct pleasure of working with Jim McKay of Right At Home Realty - this lovely home in south Bowmanville is literally minutes away from the lake, and near by sports facilities and parks. For those who commute, its very conveniently located near the 401, yet you would never know when relaxing on the porch or in the spacious backyard!
Jim was a consummate professional and the attention to detail in this property really showed. I can only say that very little will be left to the new owners of this home, just move in and enjoy!
Maybe it's a bit of a pompous title, maybe it sounds a touch pretentious - neither of those things could be further from my intent. That said, this is going to be a bit of an off-topic post, not directly tied to commercial photography per se, but I hope that by the end of it I will manage to ramble and meander my way to something resembling a conclusion and more importantly, a connection.
Photography, when done right, is an art form. It is a form of expression, it takes skill, and talent, and most importantly vision. As photographers, we all start out from that lofty place, but I fear many of us tend to lose our way. This job is routine, that shoot doesn't pay enough, when it's a higher profile shoot I will go that extra distance but for now this will do... I think we all get mired in this kind of thinking regardless of the profession, regardless of what trade we ply. And it's wrong. It's just backwards if you ask me.
I believe that a true professional should treat every job with the same dedication, attention to detail and creative zeal. There is an old saying: even a broken clock is right twice a day - what sets a professional apart is that they deliver results consistently, every time. That they bring the same preparation and effort to every job, that they wouldn't want to be associated with anything less, and that their clients can rest assured they are getting the best possible value for their hard-earned cash. And yes, when it comes to photography, be it for real estate or for the commercial needs of your business, I believe the same should be true. Anyone can point a camera and push a button - you should expect far more from your professional photographer! And that "something more" should be readily apparent when you see the pictures they made for you.
Let me reference a couple of examples. Lets momentarily remove the "commercial" aspect from our discussion. Lets just talk about art for the sake of art.
Anyone can go to their local Wally Mart or the Home Despot in their town or city and buy a framed "photograph" to hang on their wall. It may even be a pretty enough picture, and may even pass the "50/50" rule, meaning it looks good 50% of the time, from 50 feet away... Just as it does in countless motel rooms and office lobbies across the land. The photographer who made the photo has little or nothing to do with the final product, no human touch, no nuance has been put into the making of the actual piece you are going to hang on your wall. At best, it will be neutral and inoffensive, at worst it will look cheap and tacky.
On the other, polar opposite of that spectrum are real photographs, made by real artists. Crafted by hand, each one printed individually in sweat and toil, sometimes after days of making "working prints" to establish the exact exposure, the dodging and burning needed in specific areas to bring the subject into the exact light pre-visualized by the artist. No two are exactly the same, no one can make an exact copy by clicking a mouse button and letting their ink-jet printer do the rest.
Take my friend Chris Baczynski of Silver Soul Photo as an example. A consummate artist and true master of an increasingly rare medium, he creates beautiful photographs on film. His prints, both black and white and colour, are made by hand in a traditional dark room, and are absolutely striking. Each one is unique, each one has a little bit of his soul trapped in its grains of silver. When you hang one of his prints on your wall, you know you are in possession of a one-of-a-kind piece of his life, captured in that photograph just for you. Even another print from the exact same negative will never be exactly the same, as the artist always improvises in the dark room, much like a jazz musician playing a solo. It may be the same song, but if you go to see the show ten times, you will be treated to ten different interpretations. The advantage of a photograph is the fact that you get to keep that moment, and travel back to it every time you look at it.
But lets say photography is just not your thing, sure you may (I would hope, as a meagre shutter jockey, at your service) appreciate it, find it useful and hopefully see its value, but you're just not that into hanging it on your wall. It's ok, "some folks likes pork chops and some folks likes ham hocks, some folks likes vegetable stew", as the song goes. The same goes for paintings. I understand that here the issue gets a little bit muddied, as many "famous" painters are simply out of reach for the vast majority of the population. Only a very small portion of us will ever hang a Picasso in our sitting room, or admire a Vermeer in the privacy and comfort of our own home. And I certainly understand the appeal of the image, the beauty of some famous works which leads us to choosing a reproduction over nothing at all. I get it. But so many of us will go to one of the above mentioned "big box" stores and buy "prints" of paintings that quite frankly... have nothing to say, are mediocre by design, and their only claim to fame is that they were judged not to upset a vast majority of the population. You buy one of these things, printed in some industrial print house, most likely by under-paid, border line slave-labour in a far away land. OK, I don't want to drift off into politics, socio-economics and the like - but I will say, real living, breathing, creative, passionate individuals walk among us. You may see them every day and not even know it. Talented people who toil to produce real beauty out of a calling, a passion for their work, a desire to make our world a more beautiful place, a need to express something real, something profound and enrich our lives by doing so.
I will use an example of another friend of mine, Aga Niemiec, an Ottawa, Ontario based artist. If you had to label her work I guess you would have to say modern realism and abstract impressionism. She works mainly with oils, but I know she is quite adept at other mediums as well. You can even commission a portrait! How regal is that, huh? But really, none of that matters - what matters is that for really not much more than a quality, mass produced chain-store print, you will have on your wall, forever, for generations to come, a real piece of art. Each brush stroke made by a human hand, never to be repeated, unique, individual, beautiful in a way that only a piece of someone's creative soul can be. I can assure you, there is no chain motel or national brand hotel, or walk-in clinic that will have the same image hanging in it's lobby. You can't buy it at the beds, baths, or whatever is beyond... On a tangent, I always found the name of that store somewhat creepy. What do they mean by "beyond"? Do I want to know? But I digress.
The fact is, weather its an original photograph or a painting, I would argue that each one is a better deal than the mass produced "equivalent" (using the term very, very loosely...). I would stand firmly behind the statement that whatever the cost of an original work of art, it is but a small portion of its real value. Whereas that thing you bought from the monster store... well... I would say you overpaid, regardless of how low the price. It's a commodity. A simple wall covering appliance if you will. Its price is roughly four times its cost to produce, and those are the only factors in that equation.
I guess we are getting to that time when I should start making a point, aren't we?
Do you want your business represented by that mass produced big-box store trinket? Or by a work of an individual who leaves a little piece of him or herself in each thing they do? Do you think your business deserves a tired piece of stock photography for its website? Do you think your lobby is best served by an odds-and-ends sale piece?
I would put forth, for your consideration, that no. It is not. That no, you do not want that. In fact, I believe you should strive for the direct polar opposite. Unique work, just for you, from someone who pours their heart and soul into every project they undertake. Find someone who has an insatiable need to do every single job to the best of their ability, who thinks every thing they do is a calling card, a reflection of them. I don't care if it's the guy fixing your car, remodelling your kitchen, or photographing your business. You deserve the best, and your clients will see the difference. You will stand out above the crowd because the people you chose to work with would have nothing else associated with their names.
And buy some art for your home, your office. Something real. Something with a soul, a message, a little bit of someone's irreplaceable spirit forever contained within it. It will make you just a little bit happier every time you look at it.
That, I think, is the tip of the iceberg of the importance of art.
I can't think of a better way to close this post than with an image of an original painting by Aga Niemiec. The pixels of your screen can not fully convey the living beauty of an original work of art, but even in this, digitally diminished form, I am sure it will brighten up your day, make it just a little bit more beautiful. Enjoy.
I recently had a chance to work with Two Rivers Marketing on a photo shoot for a Bobcat dealer publication, and it was a great experience. I can't say enough kind words about Kendra from Two Rivers Marketing, an individual who is truly an asset to her organization. The business side of things was so well looked after, so efficiently and professionally handled that I can only imagine they have many, very happy clients. You can really tell a great deal about a company by the people they hire, and I know that the team at Two Rivers is top notch. Click on their name or here to check out their web site, they do some great work!
But now... why do I want a Bobcat? You know, one of those little construction machines that move earth, dig holes and do just about anything you can imagine? Yup, those are the ones! I have to admit, there is really nothing a photographer could really need a Bobcat for, but the gear-head in me (and to some extent the little boy playing with Tonka toys in the sand box... but lets just keep that between us) just grins at the prospect of one of these awesome little machines!
I had a chance to meet John Russell from Bobcat of Durham East in Courtice, who was the subject of the article along with his client James.
James Dennison is the owner of ASTONIA Landscaping, a company with a long and stellar track record - check them out, they have been doing beautiful work since 1975! Both gentlemen were a pleasure to work with. I could tell by the way John and James related to one another that the team at Bobcat Durham East really treats their customers like family, and that the support does not end with the sale. After meeting John and James I couldn't be happier to know that these two hard working guys will be highlighted in print and I am very proud to be able to play a small part in it.
Of course, it was an apocalyptic looking day, with 40 mph wind gusts and a sky the colour of lead, and water in various degrees of freezing was pelting us on and off, just to make things more interesting. Now, given the conditions, you could really excuse John and James for being a little less than impressed with having to stand there and listen to some guy with a camera taking time out of their day to tell them to shake hands yet AGAIN... But no. They were a pleasure to work with, handled all the challenges with great humour and a gracious attitude.
I can tell you, the old US Postal Service motto that "neither rain nor snow" etc., certainly applies to these guys - and to top it off they did it all with a smile. A big thank you to them for their time and a great experience.
And if I can somehow figure out why a photographer needs a Bobcat I will be calling John for sure. Seriously. If any of you can think of a way that would not raise any Revenue Canada eye brows, leave it in the comments. I know where I will go to buy one!
Professional photographers... we have earned a bit of a reputation, haven't we? Let's face it - we are those quirky "creative types". And the whole photo shoot is kind of like a glimpse into some sort of secret society... there is a lingo all its own, and devices that don't immediately make much sense to a casual observer... There is a lot to take in. And if YOU want to learn all that good stuff - drop me a line, will grab a coffee and talk photography. But, chances are, you're busy, you're paying me hard earned money to do what I do best, and you want the best possible value for your dollar, as well as the time invested - both yours and your client's.
With that in mind, I have decided to arm you with an on-line resource, a place where I will periodically add items - be it how-to guides, check-lists, helpful articles - that will help me help you. Like I always say - my success depends on your success! Well, with all the imaginary fanfare (please imagine a drum roll or something fancy), here it is: the new RESOURCES FOR REALTORS section of TwoSixPix.com
To kick things off, I have included some links to articles about real estate photography, studies on its impact on sale price and time on market - all that good stuff! Have a read, its a real eye opener! I intend to add to it periodically whenever I come across good stuff that may be beneficial to you, my clients.
Last but not least - and this is really, truly, something that EVERYONE who is selling a home should read - a PHOTOGRAPHY CHECK LIST FOR REALTORS AND HOME OWNERS!
The camera can be a cruel mistress - it sees all that's in front of it, so getting your property ready is essential to making the most of your professional photography shoot. Selling a home is stressful, INVASIVE, and time consuming - having a stranger traipse around your home with cameras, light-stands, umbrellas, etc., is not the least of that. Give the list a read, once or twice, and the whole experience will be smoother, quicker, more productive, less painful, and better looking in the end!
As always, I look forward to hearing from you with any and all questions you may have!
TwoSixPix philosophies, tips and tricks, and just a little peek into who I am behind the camera.