BL Blog

BLCast, Episode 4 – An Interview With Ivan Makarov

BL News

Welcome to Episode 4 of BLCast, the official podcast of BorrowLenses.com. In this episode we interview photographer Ivan Makarov, the man behind the Google+-based Plus One Collection and Magazine.

Meet BorrowLenses.com – Jo DeGuzman

Photographers
At BorrowLenses.com we have some incredible people behind the scenes that help make us the best online camera and lens rental service. This post is the first of a series to introduce you to members of the BorrowLenses.com team who tap into their passion for photography, videography and the arts daily in an effort to provide you the best service possible Today we’d like to introduce you to Jo who leads our front desk team and is often fielding customer service calls.

In case you have yet to walk into our headquarters this is Jo, our Front Desk Manager. Jo and his team make sure your orders are ready for pick up and take calls to help customers. Whether you have questions about your order, equipment, accessories, etc. Jo’s team is there to provide answers. In fact they pride themselves on tackling any question you have for them to help you get the most out of your gear and lens rentals.

What’s your role here at BorrowLenses.com?
I am the Front Desk Manager.

Are you also a photographer and if so what is your expertise?
I am a photographer, but I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a “pro”. I love to shoot, photo and video, whatever it is. I like to push the boundaries of what I shoot, taking the unconventional approach to my subjects. I once had a photo shoot using black light. Light in itself is a beast to manipulate but shooting with a black light was really challenging. My expertise? I would say it is video. I like capturing not just a moment, but moments. Video allows you to feel emotion through time. I like having that extra dimension in my work.

Have you shot with all the cameras at BorrowLenses.com?
Pretty much. We are a little spoiled here, sometimes we are forced to shoot with a 1D Mark IV instead of a 5D Mark III. Who can complain about that? But having access to all this gear allows us to be educated and being educated here is really, really important. We get tons of questions, whether its on the phone, or people that walk in. We have to be ready to answer anything that is thrown at us. I enjoy having access to all this gear, but at the same time, I enjoy teaching people what I’ve learned.

What can you say your experience as a photographer brings to your role?
Going back to the last question, I enjoy teaching people what I’ve learned. Working with all this gear, I’ve run into pretty much every problem you can encounter during a shoot. Why is there a black bar across the photo when using a flash? Why doesn’t this camera not auto-focus in video? Why does the camera stop recording after 10 seconds of recording? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Being here allows us to work through the problems so that you don’t have to. I’m not the only one that possesses this knowledge, my team does as well. When I’m out on a shoot, I’ll ask the Front Desk team to come along with me. That way we can all learn together. When the time comes one way or another I or a member of my team can answer even the most challenging questions for our customers.

Of the thousands of customer service requests we receive a month what have been some of the most rewarding problems you’ve helped resolve?
I can’t name one specifically, but what I find most rewarding is seeing and helping our customers grow I enjoy knowing that I’ve helped someone learn more about photography and/or videography. One day, a customer walks in renting a Canon Rebel T1i to shoot a friends music video, a few months later, they are renting Sony FS100’s to shoot a big name artist. That is the most rewarding part: the progression. When our customers grow, we grow. There’s nothing more satisfying than feeling like you’ve helped someone. I’m not a parent, but I’m sure that’s what it feels like when you impart knowledge on someone and you see them succeed with the knowledge you have given them.  Seeing that growth, that’s the reward.

What one thing would you like BorrowLenses.com customers to know about Customer Service that perhaps they might not know?
We’re not here just for the paycheck, it’s more than that. The BorrowLenses staff is a community of photographers and videographers. We’re not just a website where you can rent gear from, we’re a resource you can learn from. I’d even compare it to a sort of school. You call here and no one will turn down a question. If they don’t know the answer, then someone else here will. Iron sharpens iron. And that’s what we do here on a daily basis. We are a wealth of knowledge at your disposal.

Photo Finds – June 11, 2012: Zack Arias

Photographers
Zack Arias

Zack Arias

Welcome to Photo Finds, a feature where we point you to some of the best photography around the web.

This week’s Photo Finds is a very specific one. We’re not just going to talk about a specific photographer; we’re going to talk about a specific photographer shooting a specific genre.

A lot of you have already heard of photographer and teacher Zack Arias before. We’ve certainly mentioned him on our blog repeatedly, and his lighting workshop on creativeLIVE ranks as one of our top lighting resources to date. He’s also easily one of the most eloquent and honest photographers I know of.

That same honesty and eloquence has, of late, manifested itself in a style of photography that’s pretty different from the portraiture that brought Zack his initial acclaim. Yet, despite its difference, there’s something uniquely Zack about it, and that’s why I’m talking about it today. (more…)

Cool Stuff – Week of June 9, 2012

Cool Stuff

Welcome to Cool Stuff, a weekly feature where we post our favorite links from the past week, including our favorite articles and how-tos, videos, images and more.

  • We start this week by talking about one of our favorite photographers, Zack Arias. Zack was just named one of the top 50 street photographers  around today by Complex magazine. His response is – as are most things Zack writes – engaging, entertaining and thought-provoking.
  • Speaking of great photographers, Steve McCurry, the man who captured what is perhaps National Geographic’s most iconic cover, has posted an outstanding gallery of monsoon images.
  • NASA seems to have a knack for releasing jaw-dropping imagery that smacks us upside the head when they do. Here’s some star trails, taken from the International Space Station.

    Star trails, captured from the ISS

    Star trails, captured from the ISS

  • The folks at PetaPixel have a great piece with some very practical advice for photographers. Yeah, we know, there’s lots of these types of articles around, but this was was actually pretty good.
  • iPhone users, rejoice! You already knew the iPhone 3GS could be a usable camera in a fashion shoot (albeit with lots of studio lighting, etc), thanks to Patrick and Lee over at FStoppers. Now, the always amazing Nick Fancher follows it up with a more minimalist answer to the original FStoppers video, this time with an iPhone 4S.
  • And speaking of great videos, this one showing the ridiculously fantastic Dan Winters photographing Jack Nicklaus for the cover of Golf Digest is definitely worth your time.
  • Street fashion photography Scott Schuman – better known to some as The Sartorialist – has a particular affinity for capturing great fashion on the streets of some of the world’s most glamorous cities. Here he is in Madrid, shooting for Loewe.
  • We leave you this week with, well, we’ve run out of superlatives, so just watch this video about the creative film Marmalade…

That’s it for this week’s Cool Stuff. As always, questions and feedback are welcome in the comments below.

BLCast Episode 3 – An Interview With Andy Biggs

BL News
Andy Biggs

Andy Biggs

Welcome to Episode 3 of BLCast, the official podcast of BorrowLenses.com.

Taking a photo safari through the African wilderness is something that every landscape and wildlife photographer thinks about. Andy Biggs was so taken with the idea that he eventually left a cushy job to spend more time exploring the continent with his camera in hand. Today, he’s a premiere landscape and wildlife photographer specializing in Africa, leading extensive photo tours through countries like Tanzania, Botswana, and South Africa.

Elephants and Clouds, from Andy's "Timeless Africa" gallery. Image Courtesy and Copyright © Andy Biggs.

Elephants and Clouds, from Andy's "Timeless Africa" gallery. Image Courtesy and Copyright © Andy Biggs.

I caught up with Andy just before he left for an extended series of back-to-back safaris that would start in South Africa and eventually end in Namibia. Andy was kind enough to talk turkey about his photography, his travels, and his company Guragear, which makes some of the best photo bags on the planet.

Andy Biggs’ website is http://andybiggs.com. His blog can be found at http://www.theglobalphotographer.com/. His company, GuraGear, makes some amazing photo bags, so be sure to check them out as well. Andy is also active on Twitter as @andybiggs, so be sure to follow him there.

Lion Siblings, from Andy's "Timeless Africa" gallery. Image Courtesy and Copyright © Andy Biggs.

Lion Siblings, from Andy's "Timeless Africa" gallery. Image Courtesy and Copyright © Andy Biggs.

You can listen to the podcast right here via the embedded player, or you can subscribe to the BLCast feed in iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blcast-official-podcast-borrowlenses.com/id509556349.

Android users (and iOS/RSS users using third-party podcasting apps), we have a feed for you too: http://borrowlenses.libsyn.com/rss.

As always, questions and feedback are welcome in the comments below.

Photo Finds – June 4, 2012: Michael Cali

Photographers
Mike Cali Self Portrait in Dubai. Shot with the X-Pro1. Photo Courtesy and Copyright © Michael Cali.

Mike Cali Self Portrait in Dubai. Shot with the X-Pro1. Photo Courtesy and Copyright © Michael Cali.

Welcome to Photo Finds, a feature where we point you to some of the best photography around the web.

When I picked wedding and portrait photographer Michael Cali as the person I wanted to talk about in today’s Photo Finds feature, I didn’t remember right away that he and last week’s Photo Finds photographer, Brad Moore, had something pretty significant in common. Both Brad and Michael have served as assistants to one of the most amazing photographers alive today, Joe McNally. Brad is his former assistant (he works for Scott Kelby now) and Mike is Joe’s current assistant. (more…)

Cool Stuff – Week of June 3, 2012

Cool Stuff

Welcome to Cool Stuff, a weekly feature where we post our favorite links from the past week, including our favorite articles and how-tos, videos, images and more.

That’s it for this edition of Cool Stuff. As always, questions and feedback are welcome in the comments below.

Op-Ed: The New Horizon(tal)

Tips & Tricks

Landscape mode or portrait mode? This Op-Ed makes the case for breaking traditional molds and shooting more subjects in landscape orientation. The new Horizon(tal) is here.

5 Things I Learned at the Google+ Photographer’s Conference

Tips & Tricks

Last week we had a great time at the Google+ Photographer’s Conference. As an event partner and sponsor we had a chance to meet a lot of great photographers in attendance. The conference had a great energy to it. With photographers being so active and social on Google+ it was rather effortless to pick up conversations in person with photographers of all stripes and experience levels. It was for this reason alone that attending was an amazing experience. Beyond meeting with great photographers there was a lot of great information shared amongst attendees and speakers alike. The 5 takeaways that I came back with that all photographers on Google+ could stand to benefit from included:

1. Focus on Community
The community on Google+ feels like the Flickr photography community of old. There is a constant flow of photos with many photographers you’ll find familiar and many more that will likely be new to you. It’s a great time to explore and network with photographers of all backgrounds, experience levels and expertises. In fact there are numerous sub-communities on Google+ focusing on various photography niches. Google+ makes it super easy and fast to find information in alignment with your photographic and non-photographic interests.

What made the Google+ Photographer’s Conference so special is the fact that this virtual community became tangible. If you follow someone on Google+ it was all the reason you needed to introduce yourself. It was great to be able to pick up conversations previously confined to posts and comments. Getting out to talk and photograph with your compatriots from abroad made for an extremely special time.

2. Engage
Google+ is a great place to connect with a community, but it’s only as good as you make it. Find great photographers and interact with them. You never know when someone is active online so don’t let it phase you if your comments go unnoticed at first. Keep commenting and interacting and before you know it you’ll be conversing with photographers you thought you’d never talk to.

3. Hangout: Join One, Start One
What sets Google+ apart from other social media web sites is their ability to support group video chats. It is by far one of the most novel features added to a social media site that I’ve yet to see. Conveying text updates in real-time is great, sharing photos is also great, but being able to talk and see each other in real conversations is extremely cool. It has its moments of getting bogged down if your connection isn’t the fastest, but its still a great experience. Over time it will no doubt improve, but in the meantime there is nothing that should stop you from giving it a try.

Guy Kawasaki Presenting at the Google+ Photographer's Conference Highlighting is BorrowLenses.com HQ Tour

Guy Kawasaki Presenting at the Google+ Photographer's Conference Highlighting is BorrowLenses.com HQ Tour

Guy Kawasaki Presenting at the Google+ Photographer’s Conference Highlighting is BorrowLenses.com HQ Tour

4. Chrome Plugins
Above and beyond my previously recommended chrome plugins (see 5 Highly Recommended Google+ Chrome Extensions) Guy Kawasaki shared his 3 favorite plugins at the conference. They may not all be of use to you, but I bet at least one is. Take note that “Replies and More” will help you with Lesson #2 (see above) as tagging someone in your reply will send an email to that person. It’s a great way to reach out to someone above and beyond the average comment.

  1. Do Share allows you to schedule posts.
  2. Replies and More simplifies responding to authors and commenters.
  3. Nuke Comments streamlines reporting, blocking, and deleting comments in a single click.

5. Hashtags to Explore
Hashtags are a great way to see running threads of conversation across broad pools of people that you may or may not yet be following. Some hashtags are used to note photo themes and others to note discussion topics. In either case if you see a hashtag (ex. #gpluspc) click on it and you’ll find posts relating to that topic in less than a second. With a little deeper searching you’re sure to find new people to connect with.
A great photography hashtag list to start with is from Eric LeslieDaily Photography Themes on Google+  You’re bound to find something of interest here and its a great catalyst to start interacting with some great photographers.

Now that you know, we hope to see you on Google+ and be sure to visit us on our G+ BorrowLenses.com page.

Tip of the Week – Replicate Photographer Peter Hurley’s Signature Look With Strobes

Tips & Tricks

Want to learn how to replicate famous headshot photographer Peter Hurley’s signature look, but with strobes? Check out this edition of Tip of the Week!

Photo Finds – Week of May 28, 2012

Photographers
Brad Moore

Brad Moore

Welcome to Photo Finds, a feature where we point you to some of the best photography around the web.

This week, we bring you the work of concert photographer Brad Moore, from Tampa, Fl.

I met Brad briefly at the Google+ Conference for Photographers in San Francisco. He was there as part of the organizing staff, as he’s conference organizer Scott Kelby’s assistant. Brad has also appeared on a few shows produced by Kelby Training, such as The Grid and D-Town TV. (more…)

Hanging at the Google+ Photographer’s Conference – Part III

BL News

We’re still reeling from the Google+ Photographer’s Conference experience, but I thought I’d put together a few final thoughts on this unique experience.

Photographer Erik Valind teaches a class on lighting.

Photographer Erik Valind teaches a class on lighting.

This was two days of jam-packed sessions that started at 9am and ended at 9pm, with everything from panels to live shoots going on at any given time. The conference was relatively intimate, held in a space that, while spacious enough for everyone, wasn’t sprawling. You didn’t get exhausted walking from one room to another, nor were there so many attendees that you felt like you got lost in the crowd.

Moose Peterson looks on, larger-than-life, during Trey Ratcliff's conversation with Scott Kelby

Moose Peterson looks on, larger-than-life, during Trey Ratcliff's conversation with Scott Kelby

Photographer Ivan Makarov said it best: ” It seems like my whole G+ feed was there live, and instead of +1 or re-sharing stuff, I was able to talk to them in person.” That’s really what it felt like to us too.

Scott Kelby talks to Trey Ratcliff in "An Evening With Trey Ratcliff," the final session of the conference.

Scott Kelby talks to Trey Ratcliff in "An Evening With Trey Ratcliff," the final session of the conference.

We’re used to seeing Trey Ratcliff, Scott Kelby, RC Concepcion, Catherine Hall, and Brian Matiash pop up on our G+ feeds. Seeing them in person was another experience altogether. It was a reminder that, for all of the social media activity we all engage in, photography is a pursuit that’s carried out by real people, in real life (IRL).

Colby Brown, Trey Ratcliff, Brian Matiash, and Catherine Hall on a conference panel.

Colby Brown, Trey Ratcliff, Brian Matiash, and Catherine Hall on a conference panel.

The sessions at GPlusPC reinforced this. Every speaker who had a session on Google+ talked about using it to forge real connections, with real people. Even the conversations on building brands and developing strategies focused on connecting with people, rather than creating marketing plans.

Scott Kelby, wrapping up the conference.

Scott Kelby, wrapping up the conference.

You got this sense that there was an effort to explain to folks that Google+ isn’t necessarily where you market to your clients, but rather, where you connect with other members of the photo community. I saw no sessions on how to increase your revenue or reach new clients – this was a conference about connecting all of us through Google+, then using those connections to become better photographers.

We had a blast at GPlusPC, and we hope they bring it back next year. We look forward to meeting folks there, but in the meantime, make sure you follow us on Google+ as well!

 

Cool Stuff – Week of May 25, 2012

Cool Stuff

Welcome to Cool Stuff, a weekly feature where we post our favorite links from the past week, including our favorite articles and how-tos, videos, images and more.

Tip of the Week: Get Better at Google+ With “Google+ For Photographers”

Tips & Tricks

There’s a new resource to help photographers make the most of Google+. Photographer and educator Colby Brown has released a book called “Google+ for Photographers,” and whether you’re new to GPlus, or have been around for a while, you’ll find something useful in this book.

Sergey Brin Drops in on the Google+ Photographer’s Conference

BL News

If you haven’t seen in yet, Google’s working on magic glasses.

Project Glass is something Google has in the oven that brings computing to users in a very new and novel way – through eyeglasses. One component of this tech is a camera embedded in the device that gives new meaning to the words “What you see is what you get.”

Project Glass Technical Lead Max Braun came on stage and gave a short talk and demo, and then surprised everyone by introducing Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Sergey came on stage and spoke a bit about Project Glass, which he described as “not in beta, or alpha, or anything,” just an idea with some prototypes in various stages of working.

We were in the presentation, and got some shots of Max and Sergey on-stage.

Project Glass Technical Lead Max Braun

Project Glass Technical Lead Max Braun

Google co-founder Sergey Brin

Google co-founder Sergey Brin

Google co-founder Sergey Brin

Google co-founder Sergey Brin

Sergey Brin turns the tables, shooting at the

Sergey Brin turns the tables, shooting at the

 

Update: our own Jim Goldstein got some hands-on time with Google Glass, and got a chance to talk to Sergey Brin backstage after Sergey’s talk.

Sergey Brin backstage at the Google+ Photographer's Conference

 

Jim Goldstein tries on the Google Glasses.

Jim Goldstein tries on the Google Glasses.