Never Work for Free, Always Have Fun, and More Advice from Commercial Photographer Court Leve

Never Work for Free, Always Have Fun, and More Advice from Commercial Photographer Court Leve

Court Leve is a well-known and respected photographer in Northern California and  voted Best Photographer in the Lake Tahoe-Truckee region for 2010. Specializing in action sports, wedding, portraiture and pet photography, Leve combines a journalistic and traditional approach to his work that results in highly acclaimed emotional and captivating images. His work has been published in National Geographic Adventure, Powder, Ski, Skiing, Freeskier, Parade Magazine, ForbesLife Mountain Time, Spirit Magazine, Southwest Art, and The New York Post. His clients include The Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe,  LinkedIn, Sportmaster.ru, Warren Miller Entertainment, Canine Hardware, Points North Heli-Adventures, Astro Gaming, Clear Capital, Cebridge Communications, Squaw Valley, Panoptyx, Plumpjack, Zeal, Kombi, Helly Hansen and more. In this interview, he shares with us some of his insights and lessons learned in the notoriously difficult field of freelance commercial photography. BL: Describe your transition from hobbyist to professional photographer. CL: Becoming a professional photographer seemed meant to be. Ten or so years ago, I was shooting anything and everything I could as a hobby when my neighbor, who was trying to start a sports journal publication, asked if I wanted to photograph a local adventure race. The shoot took all weekend and I wound up meeting and working with the staff photographer of the Tahoe World newspaper out of Tahoe City, California. When we were finished with the job, I let him know that I was available if he ever needed an extra shooter  and he told me that, despite his guilt over giving shorter than two weeks notice to the paper, he was to moving out of town. So, as it turned out, I started my job...
Nikon D4s: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

Nikon D4s: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

Court Leve is a sports, wedding, portrait, and pet photographer. His work has been published in National Geographic Adventure, Powder, Ski, Skiing, Freeskier, Parade Magazine, ForbesLife Mountain Time, Spirit Magazine, Southwest Art, and more. He is a regular contributor to the BL Blog. Nikon D4s: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review by Court Leve Like most new iterations of Nikon’s pro bodies, the D4s is yet another leap forward in imaging. In my case, coming from a D3s to a D4s ,the improvements are quite noticeable. If you are a current D4 user, the differences will be more subtle but still noteworthy especially for those shooting video. It’s hard to believe a camera can make the D3s feel somewhat antiquated but the D4s does just that. While the D3s is more than capable for just about any situation, the D4s ups the ante yet again. The main areas of improvement are autofocus, low light capabilities, faster frames per second, and better handling. First is the handling of the camera. The added sub buttons are a welcome addition. The reach is shortened and response time quicker when selecting autofocus points.  The body has a few different tweaks and has a great solid feel. The new autofocus is simply amazing, extremely fast and accurate. While shooting a free skiing event I was capturing athletes coming towards me blind over a jump. I was able to instantly capture the skier in mid air while traveling towards me using my 80-400mm at 400mm and achieve nearly a 100% focus accuracy rate. Also helpful was the improved frame rate of 11fps and a nearly non-existent blackout time while...
Memorial Day Weekend Photography/Videography Shooting Ideas

Memorial Day Weekend Photography/Videography Shooting Ideas

If you’re lucky enough to have a long weekend coming up, seize the opportunity to get some valuable shooting time in. If you’re stuck indoors there are still a few things you can accomplish to make this short break a productive one. Here’s 10 great activities for new and seasoned photographers and videographers alike. 1) Get Reflective Avoid the traffic, the crowds, and the madness for awhile and spend some quality time with the ones you love: your camera and lens. Fire up some new romances while you’re at it – after all, Memorial Day is a free rental day! 2) Build a Photobooth Photobooths are one of the more efficient ways to capture the life of any get together without having to be the “event photographer” the entire time. If you’re new to photobooths, now’s the time to practice (your family and friends will love it even if it’s your first one). Try our  Photobooth Essentials to get started. We also have a swank Drop It Modern backdrop you can try. 3) Get Some Exercise Want a workout? Rent a rig. You’ll build some muscle in no time while harnessing creativity. 4) Pack Well If you’re air traveling, don’t check your gear! It will end in tears. Get a bag that is carry-on approved. 5) Embrace Your Inner Hybrid Cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and GH4 are fantastic at shooting both stills and video. Becoming versatile with both will improve your marketability. 6) Learn to Light Paint Light painting is fun and requires inexpensive materials to accomplish. Check out this tutorial by Olympus Trailblazer Jamie MacDonald on how to enhance your everyday pictures with this unique lighting style. 7)...
Sony RX10: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

Sony RX10: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

Court Leve is a sports, wedding, portrait, and pet photographer. His work has been published in National Geographic Adventure, Powder, Ski, Skiing, Freeskier, Parade Magazine, ForbesLife Mountain Time, Spirit Magazine, Southwest Art, and more. He is a regular contributor to the BL Blog. Sony RX10: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review by Court Leve Coming from a background in SLR cameras, and owning a number of point-and-shoots over the years, it was interesting to have a chance to use the new Sony RX10. It’s the first ‘bridge’ camera that I’ve used and I was somewhat skeptical about how it would perform. In short, this camera is very impressive and makes for a great all-around camera and an excellent choice as a travel camera. The RX10 is easy to use in either full automatic or manual modes. The design is simple to navigate with the most commonly used controls quickly accessible without having to dive into menus. If you have used the RX100, the RX10 will be a short learning curve. Even if this line of camera is new to you, it will still be a pretty quick study with shutter speed, aperture and ISO controls in logical places. Even when I needed to navigate the menu system it was very straightforward. I used the camera in a number of different situations ranging from a conference in extremely low light, landscape images, portraits, and on my recent trip to Cabo, Mexico. For my trip, I brought my RX100 along with my Nikon D800 with a number of lenses but I wound up only using the RX10 while traveling. The size, weight,...
Photography Lessons of 2013 Plus 20 Inspiring Photographs

Photography Lessons of 2013 Plus 20 Inspiring Photographs

Congratulations on one more trip around the sun as a photographer! Shots were taken, lessons were learned – both good and bad. Here are 16 words of wisdom from working photographers along with a favorite shot they took this year. May they inspire you to form a great New Year’s Resolution for your work flow in 2014! “No matter how gloomy it looks, it pays to be on location at sunrise or sunset. For this image, it was grey and completely cloudy, looking like it was going to rain. At the perfect moment, however, a gap appeared in the clouds, letting in two minutes of glorious red sunrise light. Just as quickly as it came, the light disappeared and then it began to pour!” – Ian Plant “2013 was a big year for me. I moved to Los Angeles and had to start all over again. Within the first couple of months, I have been connecting with local creative professionals and have already shot for the December issue of LA Fashion magazine and photographed a couple of personal projects. The main lesson I have learned is to not be afraid of big changes. Staying positive, staying pro-active, seeking opportunities, and making connections is key to success. The harder I work, the luckier I get”. – Julia Kuzmenko McKim “In 2013, I learned a valuable lesson not only about my photography but about myself. No matter who you are, you can help make a difference. This year, I have been leading workshops for The Giving Lens. We work with non-profit organizations in foreign countries in a variety of ways. At the end...