On a recent trip to the grocery store, I decided to pick up a magazine. I do this once in a while, most typically when I am travelling. I know I need to learn more about photography though, and magazines are a more conducive format for reading at home. Much better than breaking out the laptop or anything like that. So I looked at the selection. As I recall, there were probably 5 or 6 titles on the shelf. For some reason, Shutterbug stood out. Well, not just “some reason”. The cover was intriguing, and the big focus of the month was on lighting, which I have been wanting to know more about. And this is where they kind of lost me.
I am well aware that I know next to nothing about photography. I am more than willing to admit it to anyone. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn. I appreciate the problem that the magazine faces – they need to be applicable to the widest possible audience. But there are subtle things they could have done in their lighting articles that would have really helped a noob like me, and that experienced readers could have glanced over pretty quickly. A sidebar, or even a one page article, on how to make a lighting system work with your camera, would have been huge. When it comes to lighting, I am still as lost as I was before I bought this issue.
That isn’t to say that the whole thing was a waste. The story about the MyStudio 20 Internet Photo Studio (a very useful mini studio for small product photos) was very valuable, and told me all I need to know to use the product (and yes, it convinced me I need to own one). There was a good article on posing your subjects for portraits, as well as one on “Helping Clients Hire You.” One especially helpful article (entitled “Location Shoot: Studio Results”), talked about the different commercial products for diffusing light – including the Gary Fong Lightsphere, Hughes Soft Light Reflector, the LumiQuest Soft Screen Diffuser for on-camera flashes, Photoflex Litediscs, and my personal favorite (which I will be buying soon) – the LumiQuest ProMax System.
As I sit here going back through it right now though, a strange trend just popped up. Most of the pages I have flagged are ads. Even though I happily peruse B&H Photo’s website all the time, products aren’t displayed in quite the same way. You pretty well have to know what you are looking for which, as a newbie, I do not. These ads are hugely valuable to help with that.
Other companies that I flagged include ShutterbugStoreFront.com (for selling images), dotphoto.com (also for selling images), BayPhoto.com (I want to try them for Greeting Card production), Meridian Professional Imaging (for print fulfillment), DigiLabs (for coffee table books), PhotoArtsUSA.com (for stock commissions), Photographers Edge (for greeting cards), Golden Color (free 16×20 with order), and more (I am tired of typing links).
So even though the lighting articles didn’t help me as much as they could, I think the magazine still holds value. In fact, I am likely going to subscribe. Most of these businesses I mention above are not ones I would have seen in a Google search, nor would I have seen their banner ads if they even had them. But the print advertising worked, and for that I am happy. Now if I can sell some more images so I can afford all the stuff I want to buy now. Wait, today is my birthday – maybe I’ll treat myself to a present…