Sunday, December 21, 2008

More green flooring

Last Friday it was food packaging. This Friday it was flooring in NYC. This is one of Gary's lofts. He is a guy that has 2 floors on 36th Street and 3 floors in Brooklyn. Each floor has terrific sets of bathrooms, bedrooms and living rooms and are beautifully decorated. Gary rents the floors out to photographers, for launch parties and weddings.
The floors that were in this loft were terrific. They came from an old barn somewhere, and were very rugged with original saw marks and nail holes. Gary (from ATC hardwood flooring) is the contractor who put the floor down and Rich was the rep from Sika who makes the mastic that is used to stick the flooring down. My son Daniel assisted me, and the shots were great. It really is a nice way to make a living.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Green flooring

This job tired me out but it was nothing but fun. Hard work and fun. I think I have to get used to running up and down ladders and up and down stairs in these huge houses.
There is a company in New Jersey who tears down old barns, refinishes the boards and turns them into antique flooring. I met with the contractor who installs this stuff and the company that makes the adhesive to stick it to the floor. Everyone was new to me, but they were all just terrific. Even the homeowner was great. I don't mind the hard work. It's the people that can make a day miserable or fun. This job was fun. I think it was David Kelly of IDEO fame who explored the bridge between playing and creativity. We all had a very creative day.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Photoshop and More

I haven't written in a while.
September seemed to be the month of jewelry shooting. It took me around 2 days to learn the way these folks like their jewelry captured for proper printing but after that it's been full steam ahead. After 10 or so days, I'm through with jewelry for a while.
Then came this job...
It all began with an emergency phone call. I was asked to shoot 2 packs of gum and end up with them HUGE. First I had to run around and find the new gum design because there was no time for the client to send them up to me. Once I found them, it was just a matter of shooting them with a macro lens to fill the frame, shooting it raw, blowing it up to the proper size and resolution and then stripping them out and retouching them.
Not bad. Pretty quick and a happy client. Then he asked me a new question: "You are good with Photoshop, can you do one more thing?" Of course I said yes, so he sent me a jpg of a shot of a NYC news-stand. He told me he needed all of the too-sexy magazines replaced with different magazines and the man behind the counter removed totally. It ended up taking about 5 hours, but by 11PM it was done... almost. A quick phonecall, and I added some new gum packages to the front of the shot.
So all of the shots involved Photoshop, some more than others, and in the end, the client is happy. It's still a great life.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I have been very fortunate. The one thing I can't stand is boredom. I love to shoot but the high end jobs don't come every day. I landed a new free-lance job working for a high end jewelry catalog house. It's helping to fill in the empty days between the big jobs and keeps me doing the thing I love, studio photography. I've taken three days to fine tune my shooting to they way they like and now I think I'm ready to shoot for production. The company I'm working with is great. The people who work there are wonderful and the work is fun. Hey, it's making money with a camera. What could be better?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

On being "Green"

Eco-fascists - leave us alone!
I am happy to report that Bill Truran Productions is pretty green!
We have been increasingly digital since 1994.
Leaving film and processing behind has been a big help toward caring for our environment. Film used to involve acetate, silver and tons of chemicals. In the 1970's we shot a lot of Kodachrome 25 film because the colors were amazing. Kodak had to discontinue making the film because the chemicals used to process the film were deadly. Less scary Ectachrome and Tri-X used massive amounts of chemicals for processing. The labs that served commercial studios poured tons of chemicals down the drain in the 70's (who knew or cared?).
In 1994, we began the journey that was digital photography.
The first step was to replace film and processing with a digital chip and CD's. That was a big step toward eco-health. The chips capture an image with no waste. No film and no chemicals for processing. Digital cameras since 1994 have even greatly reduced their energy usage, from large AC power supplies, to fire-wire and rechargeable batteries. Today, there are many ways to recycle old computers. Not everyone loves old Macs like I do. We still have our first Apple 8100 (we don't use it, we just can't part with it).
I would say that in the last year or two, our industry has improved even more.
Each year between 1994 and 2006, we saved client's images to CD or DVD and Fed-Ex'd or messengered disks to them. We then printed out bills and mailed them.
By 2008, almost all of our clients access their image files from our ftp server (no waste) and accept bills vis email (no printing).
Our company owns just one lowly Taurus wagon. We've discussed it in past blogs. This car is set up to hold a gurney with all of our studio equipment, a photographer and one assistant. No truck, no pick-up and trailer. We just drive to the location unload and park.
I think we have eco-improved greatly, with no damage to image quality. It's a win - win situation that I am very happy with.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Something new

I just recovered from 3 days of location shooting for my clients at Gerber. I was exhausted! I did things I have never done before for any of my clients.
I've been shooting commercially since, well, for a long time (before disco!). In all that time, I have shot available light and I have shot using studio strobes, but I have never used an on-camera flash. I don't do weddings or parties, so I never really needed to use one. There is a Sunpak flash in my camera case however because it belonged to my dad and I took it. It's been in there for maybe two years and this week, for the first time, I used it. A lot.

I bought a new lens for this job
from one of my former students, Steve at Unique Photo. It's a Tamron 28-300mm zoom with vibration correction . I used it with my Sunpak flash and spent the days shooting meetings and parties for Nestle, the new owner of Gerber.
This job required three very long days. I worked with Kim Lime the coordinator for the meetings who arranged for there to be a room for me to set up as a portrait studio. I shot over 50 portraits, the opening meetings, the closing party, 7 breakout meetings, and a few other shots. 13 GB of files in all.
Aside from the portraits which involved a full studio set up (brought in on my gurney), for this job I used a 10-20mm lens, a 28-300mm lens, a Sunpak 333 flash, 2 sets of 4 AA batteries & charger, and my trusty Fuji S3.
Here is where the "professional" in professional photographer comes in. When you are a true pro, there is NO place for mistakes. For this job, I knew that I didn't know much about on-camera flashes so I assembled my preferred set up (28-300mm lens, flash and camera), and shot an informal dinner at our church on Sunday night. Everyone there knows I am a photographer and was patient as I made all of my mistakes and learned how the equipment worked. I discovered which settings were best, and that practice served me very well over the next three days on the real job.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


This week it has been corporate portraits. 68 of them over two days on location. Each lit, cleaned up, retouched and placed (by me) in a powerpoint presentation to be ready tomorrow for the foreign heads of this company. They are flying in to see the American company they recently purchased. We used our gurney to move our studio to the corporation, set up in a conference room and shot on Friday and Monday. The people, all of them, were great. It really is an amazing company. They work very hard, for very long hours but they are all very nice at the same time!
Here is a hint for present day and potential commercial photographers: Learn the software. As much as you can. To shoot, I have to be an expert with Photoshop, Lightroom and CaptureOnePro. I have to have a passing ability with Illustrator, InDesign, and Quark, and I have to know Word, Powerpoint and Excel so that just like this portrait job, I can be as big a help to my clients as I can.
Commercial photography is a service business. Service: the best photography, every time, and anything extra to make your clients life better. It's a great life!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Free tan!

This job was different (I guess every one is different).
This job came because a client gave my name to one of his clients and they hired me to shoot this job. Pearl Media does huge advertising displays just like the one above for Fox's new show Fringe. They wanted a lot of people around their display, so we shot during the All Star Parade (see the red carpet?). Even with over one million fans on 6th Avenue in NYC, my 6' tall 19 year old son and I (he watched my back and carried the laptop), got good spots in front of installations on 47th street and 57th street. The sun was hot and the day was great, the people were fun but nobody understood why I was shooting the buildings while everyone else was photographing the old baseball players. It's a nice way to make a living... hanging out on 6th Avenue in New York City on a beautiful day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I know this looks like an office window. It might (I hope) make a nice background for a corporate portrait. My client at Gerber is hiring me to shoot 2-3 days of portraits. The shot that is 2 entries back was for him too, but required a great deal of stripping and retouching to include an office window background. This image at 5x6 feet will save me a lot of effort and time when shooting many people.
It looks like a real shot, but actually exists nowhere but here. I took a picture of one slat of a small window mini blind. Next I shot an image outside the window of trees and sky. I rotated the mini blind slat 90 degrees, transposed it to fill the image vertically and copied and repeated it across the image. I added some walls above and below the window and soft shadows where the blinds cross the walls, not the window. This image will please a good client. This image will make my life a little easier. This image could never have been created if I wasn't so experienced in Photoshop®. There you have it. To succeed, a photographer needs to expertly control light and focus, and know Photoshop® very well.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Son of Sam

You never know what will happen when you work as a photo assistant...

"While most of the New York media dismissed the cult possibility out of hand as the ramblings of a crazy man, the demonic possession angle intrigued me.

The fact of the matter: Both of Sam Carr's sons died in the midst of the Son of Sam spree.

Michael Carr died in a single-car crash on a New York City highway. Far more ominous, John Carr died Feb. 16, 1978, at the Air Force base in Minot, N.D. It appeared to be a suicide, with a shotgun placed vertically from the ground up into his mouth. But conspiracy theorists to this day suggest it was murder."

The preceding is a quote from the New York Daily News web site. I have to laugh in a sad sort of way.

I spent two years with Michael Carr when we were both photo assistants in a New York photo studio. I knew at that time that Michael was a member of the Church of Scientology. I remember him continually trying to be "clear". The conversation that really stands out to me is when Michael said to me "Bill, you and are are the same, we're both very spiritual." I was a young Christian at the time, and said: "Mike, we may both be spiritual, but we're on opposite sides!"

He died soon after that in a car accident. The Michael I knew was very, very sad. He was abused by the photographers he worked for, and he was trying so hard to find happiness. Then he was gone. Cult? Church of Scientology? One in the same?

This all happened while I was working as a young freelance photo assistant in New York City. Maybe the next time I'm bored, I'll write about the time I walked into a Chemical Bank in the midst of a robbery.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Corporate portraits;
Here is the thing about being a commercial photographer. We are not a portrait studio but we shoot portraits. We aren't baby photographers but we shoot babies. When you are a commercial photographer, your job is to satisfy your client. That means shooting everything that they need for the jobs they give you. Here is a group portrait of three executives at an international food corporation in New Jersey. This client usually hires me to shoot food, but knows we can handle a portrait shoot of executives, do a great job, and not embarrass him in the process.
The original shot was against a gray muslin backdrop that I usually use. It can be easily color corrected to almost any color background. This time however, my client wanted an office/corporate background, so I stripped the people away from the background and put the window shot in behind. It was a fun day with fun people and in the end, we have another happy client.

Monday, June 16, 2008

It's a peacock!

Okay, this one is weird even for "the woods". It's dusk, cloudy, rainy and what walks across our front yard but a peacock! I guess one of the farms around here must keep them with the horses, but this male got away. It walked across our yard and off into the back woods. Bye peacock. Have a nice life.

The Bear

I live on the edge of the woods in a house we built 14 years ago. I live there with my family, some neighbors, the deer and the bears. It's a nice life. I like to drive into New York City with a car full of equipment, shoot all day and then drive home to my family, the deer and the bears. It helps to keep everything in perspective. Sometimes I need that.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Top Ten Trust List

This is my top ten list of trust. From most to least.
trust the most
1.) God
2.) My wife
3.) My family
4.) My clients
5.) Individuals
6.) Corporations
7.) Law Enforcement
8.) Most Higher Educators
9.) All Building Contractors
10.) Any Politician
trust the least

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Company Car

Well, we're back in the saddle again.
Here is what you get when you buy a junker, replace parts from the crashed car, and buy a few new ones (like a rebuilt transmission). I have to thank All Tune & Lube in Dover New Jersey who did the great work for a great price and saved the business some debt. Now we have a 24 valve Dura Tech engine, dual exhaust and even reasonable gas mileage.
A funny thing is that over the winter when this whole mess was getting straightened out, we only went on location once and took only minimal equipment. Since the car was fully rebuilt, we have been on location using the gurney 6 or 7 times. The timing was perfect.
Anyway, there you go. Nothing in life is ever easy, but in the end, it's always good.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dane Sonneville

Here's a tip of my hat to my great friend Dane Sonneville who passed from this world last Tuesday after a VERY full life.
My relationship with Dane began in 1982 when the awesome artist and art director Tim Barrall introduced us and he became my rep in NYC for 7 years. When we closed the New York studio he remained my friend for the next 20 years.
Later in his life, Dane lived half of the year in Sonora Mexico where he became a writer of novels and a painter of pictures which can be found on the Oovu gallery website. Dane will be sorely missed by me and his other friends and family.
As we walked the streets of NYC together, Dane taught me: "treat every human you meet as the most valuable thing in your life at that time because they can either move you forward or stop you in your tracks". I saw him live that as he treated every doorman, receptionist or creative director as the most important person to him at that time, and that made everyone happier, and propelled him onward.
As for the image above? That is what I call my 6 degrees of separation from Bill Truran. It shows that every one of my clients has come from another client. None have come from direct sales. And everyone has become a good friend. So my clients find me other clients and we are all friends. That's a great way to work, it's a great way to live. And I learned to live this way by walking the streets of NYC with my friend Dane Sonneville.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Money for Photo

When asked the question: "do you shoot...?" The answer is always: "yes!"
This time it's for a magazine about commercial flooring. I brought a small hand cart, bungied a light stand and light to it, put my camera case and Speedotron strobe on it and just rolled around from shot to shot. I had a shot list, but (as I was told) shot anything that looked interesting. I even went to up high on a forklift to shoot a big room. This shot is of the Seamless Flooring crew. No matter what language each of us spoke, we all got along and had a great time. Oh - and the client was very happy with the results. The answer was: yes, and I shot something for the first time and the client was happy. I already got a check, and now everyone is happy!

Sunday, April 13, 2008


This time it was cheese, lots of cheese, 64 shots of imported cheese, yummy cheese, all for the Arthur Schuman company with the delightful Melissa.
This is the way things work today: One full day of studio shooting, and then more than another day and a half, stripping and retouching. 100 years ago, tintypes and glass plates identified the photographer. Today, it is Photoshop® and image manipulation. These are the things that keep us working.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It's a crazy life!

It's a strange life for sure. Life seems to travel in cycles. For a while I was just a food shooter, next came a year or two of fashion, and lately it seems to be time for cosmetic still life. I now count three different clients from different agencies (one is Revlon's agency), all who send me cosmetic products to shoot. Hey - it's making money with a camera. What could be better than that?

Monday, February 18, 2008


People are still asking me where my cowboy boots have gone.
I've worn boots almost every day since 1975. Most of the time they are Noconas. They seem to fit perfectly from day one. I don't wear them the way you are supposed to. I wear the same pair almost every day and they last about three years, being resoled 2-3 times within their lifetime.
However, I have worn Nike running shoes for the last year. After walking all around Manhattan with my friend Mark (from Quad Photo) at the photo show in 2006, I started a hole in the bottom of the sole. By summer 2007, it was too bad to wear. Since then I have worn these running shoes while I tried to find someone near here who would resole these boots. No one liked the job done by the last guy in Ridgewood NJ, so no one near would do the work.
Finally, in February 2008, I dropped them off at the same old place for their last re-sole. They should last one more year, and soon, I'll be back in boots again.

I always wondered if I my 5'8" frame could live without the 2" heals the boots offer...
Well, after one year without, I guess I know I can.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


life is certainly interesting.
It's still January, and I have failed to be healthy yet this year. I have been on 2 different anti-biotics, and 2 different antihistamines and I am still deaf and a tiny bit pained (it's a sinus infection).
As for the car, the green wagon engine does not match at all the gold one, so we are trading the struts, wheels and tires, but my faithful mechanic is looking for a rebuilt trans so I can finally drive it home. The reason there is a picture of a Mercedes above this blog, is that my faithful mechanic lent me the one he is rebuilding for auto shows
while he fixes my car. It rides great and is a nice trade. Still, it will never be able to carry my gurney.
I did teach my new semester Wednesday night. It'll be a great class. Only 8 or 9 students (instead of 16), and we'll all learn a lot.
I've been uploading stock images to Almay (my stock agency). It's a slow grueling process involving keywording and stuff, but it fills the down times.
Oh, I have shot 3 jobs this month, it's a slow start, but it's not dead. Thank God!