Friday, April 22, 2011

Always thinking green

I love nature and I love the outdoors. I love gardening and watching things flourish from a tiny seed into a fully ripe fruit or vegetable. Most of all, I like being green and making as little waste as possible, hoping this somehow makes our neighborhood a little greener.

My 15-ft Blue Jay sail boat on Irondequoit Bay.

I really developed this appreciation for nature while sailing. As you know, when you sail, you harvest the power of the wind and use that natural energy to move your boat. It's fun, challenging and unforgiving when you make a mistake. You are also having lots of fun for free because you're using renewable energy, swimming in clean fresh water --breathing fresh air, and enjoying the serenity and aesthetics that only nature can provide. This is where I really experience nature's beauty and maybe even God.

When I got married and moved out, I realized that now my wife and I are just another couple that uses our planet's limited renewable resources – we produce trash, which takes up space. (I know, this sounds pretty bad, but it's the truth.)

In the future, I would love to drive a hybrid, use solar/wind energy or use geothermal/hydrothermal energy to power our home and business. However, until that day, we as a house hold try our best –not just on Earth Day, but year round-- to do our part and help the planet. How?

For starters, we recycle what we can like paper, cans, cardboard, and plastic. It's as easy as throwing one of those items into a recycle bin as it is into a garbage bin.

Veggie clippings for compost pile. Decomposable things like onion and cucumber peels, tomato bits, and radish clippings make awesome earth worm food. And earth worms help the garden.

When we prepare food we save the clippings and peels for my compost bin. This reduces what goes into trash and makes excellent fertilizer for my garden. Plus, the earth worms love munching on that stuff.

Blooming sunflower in my garden. In the summer sunflowers attract bees, and in the Fall feed the birds.

In the summer time, I grow a garden. It's fun! It really is. I love getting my hands dirty. I enjoy waking up each morning and seeing how much the fruits and veggies have grown. The garden also attracts and feeds insects like bees, butterflies and birds. It really gives me a sense of belonging in the whole scheme of things. The byproduct of all this, are fresh, delicious and nutritious fruits and veggies literally, right outside our doorsteps.

Tomatoes as they start to form.

Saving electricity. This is a big one. All of our light bulbs in our home are compact fluorescent lamps. As you know, CFL's use much less energy and provide more light than conventional light bulbs.

Taking out the trash. I see a lot of our neighbors take out their trash cans to the curb each week. I doubt they are full. We take out our trash can to the curb when it's really full, and when both of our recycle bins are full. This, I believe saves the garbage truck time and fuel making that extra stop to pick up a half-empty bin. Maximum efficiency is our goal.

Buying local. This is another easy one. We support local farmers and buy fruits and veggies grown locally from a farmers market. This cuts down on the amount of fuel the farmer uses to ship their produce. Plus, it supports our local economy, and that's important too.

Vampire electronics. I'm sure you've heard of this one; it's those pesky electronics that draw power even when they are off and when you don't use them. For us, it's not leaving our laptops plugged in when they're not in use. Turning off the power strip to the TV, DVD, Internet, WIFI, cell phones, battery chargers, coffee maker and etc. Why leave them on when we are not home or sleeping?

There are a million other little things we all can do to to be conscientious about our environment. It can include, using rechargeable batteries, using refillable water bottles, and not throwing trash out the car window. I know these are not revolutionary ideas, but they are a step in the right direction. And we all need to start somewhere.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Value of Personal Work

So, the other day I'm thinking about the value of personal work and how great it is to do something that fulfills that hunger to create.

Generally speaking, I have a hard time distinguishing personal work and commissioned work. Why? because both are created by me and whether it's personal work or commercial/editorial work I still give it my all. However that is not what defines personal work.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday morning I was sitting at my computer and had this innate desire to shoot something that would allow me to spread my creative wings and fly. However, it was raining so the flight would have been short. So I grabbed my lighting gear and headed over to my parents house, (garage more specifically.) The plan was to shoot my brother with his guitar and maybe invite his drummer buddy and have a shoot with them together. I thought I'd capture them in a cluttered garage like the garage band they are. However, his friend couldn't come over, so I shot my brother instead. In my opinion this idea wasn't epic, it was just an idea, and besides I was doing something that I really loved. I knew that through trial and error creativity would lead from one thing to another to the third and forth and hopefully to something visually interesting.

A few weeks later I had to shoot high school player of the year all stars, where I was to shoot them in a make shift studio vs. on location. I immediately knew there was one shot I wanted to recreate. It originated during this personal project and now was super easy to recreate. Plus, the deadline to create these images was supper tight... they literally had to be shot in minutes!

The lighting set-up, composition, post production and so on, all came out of this self funded, self inspired personal project. The lesson being here, is that if you grab your gear and shoot an open ended project, you may discover something that can be very valuable. It may not come to fruition tomorrow or even in a week; however, you will have your back against the wall and many eyes burning at your back. It will also be the time when you reach for that specific technique and knowledge that you've discovered while working on your personal project.

Friday, July 2, 2010

My First Billboard

If you recall my May 27th Twitter post it read something like this, "Just got confirmation that one of my pics will be used in billboard ad (my first!) in June. Im not kinda excited... but EXCITED!" Few days later on June 2nd I posted a sneak peek of what the billboard ad will look like via TwitPic... I was pretty exited about this and I still am!
Me next to my first billboard along RT 332 in Farmington, N.Y.

So the other day I'm driving down the road to a colleagues house and unexpectedly I see my photo on a billboard ad. Did I just see what I thought I saw? I wanted to slam my breaks, pull over and run over to the billboard ad and get a better look. And maybe give it a hug or something.
Billboard along RT 332 in Farmington, N.Y.

A month before this, I knew my photo was going to be used for a billboard ad. I was excited! I was trying to imagine how I would feel and react when I would finally see my photo blown up for a billboard ad. When the moment came I was still surprised and did a double take. The following day I went over to the billboard just to stand next to it and see it up close and take photos. Even more so I was curious to see how well my photoshop work held up as the image was blown up from the original 9.5 inches to 7-8 feet tall. Everything looked good!
(PDF of the billboard design.)

If you are wondering how this came about. In February 2010, I was recommended to photograph of Mr. Rayburn and Gibson when Mr. Rayburn made a significant donation to Wood Library (in Canandaigua) for the $4 million expansion and renovation project. The original use of the photos were for public relations use. Later on I was asked if I could prep this image for a billboard ad.... this was the time when I really did a double take and reread the email a few times.

The original photo of Mr. Rayburn and Gibson.

I'm not sure how long the billboards will remain up, but if you are driving north on Rt. 332 in Farmington, N.Y. the billboard is nearly by Loomis Rd. and the railroad overpass. The second billboard is along West Ave. in Canandaigua, N.Y. on the west side of the railroad overpass.

Smaller banner as it hangs outside Wood Library in Canandigua, N.Y.

A view along West Ave, in Canandaigua, N.Y. with billboard to the left.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Vasiliy Images Tweeting

Well, it has happened... Vasiliy Images is now on Twitter! How cool is that??? At Vasiliy Images we are trend setters! (Just kidding!) I'm actually somewhat anti-social media.... I think because I like the face-to-face contact more.

But, as everyone knows, the species that survives is not the strongest one, but the one that is able to adapt to changes in its environment. Under that idea Vasiliy Images is giving Twitter a try to see how it goes. Plus, it seems to be the thing that the cool kids are into.
But yeah, Vasiliy Images now has a Twitter account. Now you can become one of our followers and get updates when ever this blog is updated, or when my account is updated, or anything else that interesting happens. I haven't figured out for what and how we'll use Twitter.... but we'll learn and figure something out as we go along.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rochester, New York

I'm a photographer and Rochester is my hometown. I have lived here longer then in my home country of Ukraine. Rochester is a beautiful city and it's a really special place in the context of the continental United States both past and present. There is no other place like it.

Recently, well, over the last year and a half or so, I have been exploring and learning about my hometown, not from the evening news, but from first hand experience.
As I was becoming a photographer I thought I would be traveling to the most remote corners of the world covering all kind of important social, economical and political events. I look back those seven years and I am still in Rochester, and not at some most remote corner of the world covering those important social, economical or political event. And in a way I'm glad to be doing that here without having to travel much.
As one can imagine, looking at a picture and actually standing in time as the picture is being taken at are two different experiences. When you take pictures, this first hand experience is quite personal and depends a lot on your upbringing and on your interpretation of it. I often wish I could share the magic of that experience with my viewers, but I can't. One must literally walk or bike through those same neighborhoods smell the air, cross those busy streets, meet the people and feel how the neighborhood reacts to your presence. It doesn't take long before one starts to pick up on the subtleties, culture and values of the neighborhoods as well as how each neighborhood differs from one another.
Many of these neighborhoods captured my imagination and I would even find myself daydreaming how the neighborhood may have looked those 10, 20 or even 50 years ago, or even before the land was developed in relationship to what it looks like now and what it may look like in the future. Looking at something from those points of view and with so many layers gave me an appreciation for where I was standing, where I have been, and where else I may end up going and doing.
As I was creating these images I would frequently pause, look around both low and high, near and far, and sometimes return to the same spot at a later time. Sometimes I ran into people who were really friendly and educated me about the neighborhoods and the city. Other times I'd have people dodging me or yelling from across the street not to get them in the picture and others were just dying to be in the picture. I even had kids asked me if I was a cop and had residents follow me down the street to find where I was from and what I was doing in their neighborhood.
Although I have lived here more than half my life I thought I knew Rochester. However, most of my views were based on other people's negative stereotypes of the city. Those views were not really my own but I was starting to accept them as my own. For me, it was such a pleasant experience to see a different side of Rochester that was vibrant, changing and growing. It made me proud that this is my city and that it has contributed so much to the fabric of America. It is also a host to so many beautiful hidden nooks and crannies that hardly ever get publicized. If they do it's in a negative light due to a shooting, stabbing, robbery, arson and so on.
As I was starting out as a photographer I was hoping that by looking through the camera's viewfinder I would be a witness to all kinds of joys and sadness and all kinds of beauty and ugliness. I wanted photography to change me through that first hand experience. I wanted photography to take me out of my comfort zone and literally teach me something that I would voluntarily not want to learn. My expectations were big! As I'm growing and maturing both as an individual and as a photographer much of my local and world view is a byproduct of looking through that little viewfinder sometimes literally with one eye closed.
This was photography taking me out of my comfort zone and opening my eyes to my own back yard, which might have been that remote part of the world that I knew nothing about. Some of the neighborhoods that I went into I did not want to step out of the car, while other neighborhoods I did not want to leave. As a result, this experience has changed me and my view of the city, which has allowed me to capture these images of it self being vibrant and full of life.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vendor Client Relationship....

If you haven't see this Vendor Client Relationship video you probably should because it's sooooo funny! Plus it's only 2:20min long so you can probably watch it like.... right now! The guys at Scofield Editorial, Inc. have really hit the nail on the head with what we deal with sometimes on weekly bases at Vasiliy Images. Maybe not to the same extant but surely along the same lines. And who knows.... maybe you do too with your business? Enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Copyright? The Hell With It!

I often get asked why I charge for copyright when other photographers in this region don't. My response to that is simply this.... wanna guess?.... No! It's not to make my client's life more difficult. It's because I want to stay in business!
By charging for the "right to copy" intellectual property a photographer (or any other creative) is able to sustain his/her craft as well as remain competitive against those who give their copyright away for free. As well as remain competitive against those who do charge for the right to copy. However, more importantly I do so because I would like to continue working as a photographer. If I surrender my copyright then I'm at a disadvantage. Besides, why give something away for free that is protected under the United States copyright law?

When I lost my first bid for a project because of the “terms and use” I was pretty upset with myself. And recently that happened again and it didn't phase me at all. Because more often then not, the client and I are able to sit down re-negotiate the “terms and use” and successfully complete the project.

I realize the value that photography (not just mine) brings to any project and that's why one can't (and shouldn't) just deliver the images to a client and let the images go without any preconditions. Why? Because what ends up happening most of the time is that the image(s) end up doing a lot of work for the client for many years while the photographer doesn't.
Photographers who chose not to control their copyright are hurting them selves as well as the photography industry through bad business practice. Consider what happens when a photographer retires, or can't shoot any more, but his/her images are still being used with out generating them income? Controlling the copyright is the backbone of any successful photography business... like Vasiliy Images.

What value does this bring to the client? This brings a huge value to Vasiliy Images clients. If I'm a photographer who controls and depends on the income generated through copyright, then I'm more motivated to produce images that have a longer shelf life and have a broader appeal to the client. More so then lets say images created by a photographer who seek to get paid only once for the life of his/her work. As a photographer, the better images I can create, the higher my chances are of re-licensing my work after the term is up, or even licensing the work to a third party.
For example, over a year ago I shot a re-dedication ceremony for a client and during that time we created some really nice images that can never be recreated again. The event included fireworks over the campus, huge event tents on the back lawn, alumni reunion from about 40 years ago, elected officials, ribbon cutting, students from other countries, architectural shots of the building that was renovated and rededicated and so on...) these images hold great historical significance and value to the client and to me. If I just gave my copyright away I would probably never see another penny for my hard work. However, now once the two years are up the client is interested in re-licensing some of the images. With this, I'll be able to continue with my craft because two years later the images are still generating me income. While the photographer who sold his/her work as a commodity will be out of work. Why? Because that client will not have another rededication ceremony after those two years or ever again of such proportion or historic significance.
This further benefits my clients and my relationship with them because lets say in that two year time as my equipment ages and starts to break down I'll be able to update or repair my gear and grow Vasiliy Images. This will in tern allow us to perpetuate our relationship with the client and deliver even better images and quality work as never before.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Images to "Enjoy The Journey"

Recently, a friend of a friend of mine completed her meditation site featuring images that we at Vasiliy Images created of her. I'm really impressed with her website. Not just because how her webmaster Brian Orner incorporated the images into the layout but also with the overall look, feel and ease of navigation.

All of these images were shot during two sessions. The first session was at Hadlock's home studio, and later the same evening at some brook at some park. (I don't know where the park was... I just followed her vehicle that evening... it was probably in Victor, NY.)

The other session was at the beach at dusk (just before night fall.) My thinking for this project was to incorporate earth, air, water and wind into the whole theme however, that wasn't what she was going for so some of the pictured didn't make it onto the site. So ha! too bad for her! (just kidding, lol) But, that's ok.... it does not mean those images won't see the light of day. Here are few of them below.... and as always.... enjoy the journey!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My "In The Bag" Feature on

Have you ever wondered what kind of gear we use at Vasiliy Images to create and deliver high quality images for our clients? Or maybe you are a potential client and just curious how we approach our assignments? Well, if you have wondered (or not) now you have a chance to find out.

Recently I was asked by, an online community (that I'm a member of since October 2006) that provides resources for sports photographers and other working photojournalists if I would be willing to talk about what kind of gear I use, how I use it, and how I work and think behind the camera. I gladly accepted this opportunity. And today August 8, 2009 the piece is being featured on the main page of the site as “In The Bag: Directing A Key To Good Portraits” you can read it there, or you can read it below.

In The Bag: Directing A Key To Good Portraits

By Vasiliy Baziuk, Messenger Post Media

I remember our photography professor at Monroe Community College telling the class something like, "If you are going to be a photographer, you have to learn to photograph people, because people are interested in other people."

As we were learning lighting, he said something like, "When lighting your subjects, it helps if you see your model as an object --- just don't treat them like objects."

These things stuck with me. And when you work at a newspaper, you have to learn to photograph people.

I approach portrait photography with that mentality. I know that some people don't like to be photographed, and half the time it's not the equipment but the attitude and people skills that help make an interesting image. This ability to get them to relax, laugh and smile, and hopefully trust you and give you the time to do a good job on their portrait, is crucial. Also, the ability to direct is a key skill. A motion picture director tries to get the best performance from his or her actors --- that's what a photographer should do in a portrait session.

And oh, almost forgot: The ability to persuade and motivate your subject to do the same thing over and over -- or something radical -- until you get the perfect moment when everything clicks. Other times, getting the person to buy into your crazy idea is all that it takes.

Creative Inspiration
My favorite way to create portraits is to go for the raw visual impact. For this I spend a lot of time researching and looking at different ideas and creative concepts by artists, photographers, designers and colleagues whenever I can; as well as brainstorming those concepts and possibilities with friends, colleagues and clients.

I visualize the process from start to finish before a single exposure is made. Also, literature --- and other things that may have nothing to do with photography --- help the imagination stay busy and hopefully creative.

For me it's always a exciting to see what Chase Jarvis, Drew Gardner, Adam Pretty, Aaron Goodman, Joey Lawrence, John Harrington, Brent Stirton or Scott Hamilton of Hamilton Productions are creating. As well as members of Sports Shooter community, a few favorites include Donald Miralle, Al Bello These guys have an interesting way of communicating through light and concept, and are masters of their craft both in the field and in the studio.

My First Light Bag
My first light bag --- this is a little over a year ago --- was a baseball bag with three to four Nikon SB-80DX Speedlights, two to three Pocket Wizards, two Nikon SC-17 Sync Cord, Quantum Battery 1+ and two Manfrotto light stands. The light stands fit nicely in the baseball bat compartment, and everything else fit in the main compartment including a Manfrotto tripod.

I even built cardboard reflectors to control the output from the Speedlights. (Yeah, you can laugh!) These were great training wheels, because this was extremely portable and lightweight, packed a lot of punch, and were ready to go at a moments notice. Most importantly, this was all I had access to, so it had to work.

Later, I went all out and added a Westcott Mini Apollo small hot shoe softbox to that kit, and it worked beautifully: great for a one-person or two-people portrait, or for a hoop-side setup for a high school basketball game. Of course, sometimes it's not the gear you bring to a shoot but how you use it.

My New Light Kit
Little more than six months ago, I started to build a new light kit centered around the same mono-light principal but with much more power. Something that I can bring with me on location and not be limited to shooting with a f/2.8, something where I could easily overpower the sun and not worry about running out of battery power. These factors, along with cost considerations, led me to three Alien Bees 800, new light stands, and a new medium Photoflex softbox, location careening case, and extension cords.

Also in the same kit are several 3'x4' and various other smaller foamcore bounce boards, and a 5-in-1 collapsible reflector kit. This new setup is fantastic and is worth every penny. It works great when I have to shoot a portrait or light interior architecture. I love it. I feel like a real photographer now.

In The Belt
I don't carry a bag; instead, I use a Lowepro S&F Deluxe Waistbelt. It's the weight off my shoulders and my hands free while working with a Nikon D300 or the D1H while providing easy access to the following:
Sigma 15mm f/2.8 fisheye
Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8
Nikkor 1.7TC
Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8
Quantum Battery 1+
Nikkor SB 80-DX
Several Compact Flash Cards
Note pad and pen
New Lighting Kit
A generic 36'x16'x9' light case.
Three limited edition flame orange Alien Bees 800
Three Manfrotto light stands
One short Manfrotto background stand
One Photoflex LiteDome 293 medium softbox
Two to Three PoketWizard Plus II Transceivers
Westcott Mini Apollo small hot shoe softbox
Nikon SC-17 Sync Cord
SP Studio Systems 5 in 1 Reflector Kit
Extension cords
Spring clamps
And assorted lengths of wires, connectors and adapters.
Manfrotto tripod, gaffers tape, color gels.
And flat bed cart to log all this around.

Extra Things
2 Super Clamps
Manfrotto 486 ball head
Manfrotto 3232 tilt head
Ewa-Marine underwater housing
PocketWizard pre-trigger remote camera cord.
Nikkor 50mm f/1.4
1200 Wat Power Generator

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Interior Architecture: Yes, this is exactly what it looks like...

Those who are familiar my work know that it revolves around people in one form or another... that seems to be my specialty. Now, I can say that architecture and interiors are a feather in my cap too!Recently, I was given a chance to photograph unique interior architecture for three new clients. I was enthusiastic and welcomed the opportunity... as I always do. However, I have never photographed architecture or interiors to this capacity. And just like that upon securing the contracts I had my work cut out for me. I now had to do my homework. After some creative thinking, planing, research and advice from colleagues I was ready to start shooting.
Along the way I learned that shooting interiors and architecture is hard work! Harder then it seems. It's intense, and I love it! We had to approach this type of photography with a whole different mindset because techniques that work for portraits and people don't necessarily work for architecture. My constant challenge was that I could never be far back enough against the wall, or at the rite eye level where everything aligned perfectly. There was always a compromise to make. Glare and reflections were another issue, sometimes that worked to our advantage, most of the time it didn't. In comparison to working with people, we had to slow down our production time because for many of the images multiple exposures had to be made in order to render detail in both the highlights and in the shadows. So, with that in mind here is how we created these images...

  • Photographed to incorporate ambient light.
  • Introduced our own light with respect to the room ambiance.
  • Like with portraits, found the photogenic side of the room.
  • Photographed the interiors while eliminating as many distractions as possible.
  • Preserved integrity of the structure as architect/interior designer intended.
Much of this was achieved on location and the rest was achieved in post-production.