Year in Review 2016

As the year draws to and end and I sit here and enjoy the last breakfast of the old year and eagerly await the beginning of the new, it’s time to sit back for a minute and reflect on what a good year it has been for Vagabond Photography.

Vagabond Photography had a good year with some ups and downs. While at Imaging USA in Atlanta in January, I decided it was time to start writing down some of our experiences in the photography industry. This has turned out to be a good way to communicate with you our clients and readers.

Bookings didn’t come in quite as quick as I had hoped for, for weddings and senior/portraits in the first half of the year but we did have a large expansion into the Corporate photography niche, with this new area now comprising about a quarter to a third of our business.  Something that I learned from my father is that even though you may have intended for your company to serve/provide one style of service, sometimes it can take on a life of its own and move in a different direction.

In April and May we had the joy of teaming up with two non profit groups in Milwaukee called Sweetwater and the Water Council of Milwaukee. They both have a great mission Sweetwater aims to help clean up the Milwaukee River, Menomonee River and Root River basins. While the Water Council of Milwaukee looks at ways of restoring our aquafers and delivering clean water to the area. It was such a great experience to be able to work at both of their conferences, I learned a lot even though I was just there to document the day for them.

Over the summer, we saw the launch of our new website for Vagabond Photography.  For many years, I used and loved the hosting company Zenfolio, they have great layouts and custom designs but with diminishing returns though search engines and a lack of being able to do customized SEO, I decided it was time to make a move. After some research beginning in late July I decided on moving our hosting duties to Square Space. It took a little while to get everything set up and also, I had to find a new hosting platform for our client galleries and for that we settled on a little-known company called Pixieset. I was able to integrate both platforms to create a seamless new website that I think looks marvelous.

As the fall approached we moved to the last of our Senior Portraits and a few weddings. It was so great to a part of our wedding client’s special day.  I really love fall weddings so much more than summer weddings. There is such a great wide range of colors from golden hues of yellow, fiery reds, hazelnut browns and every other color in-between.

At the end of October/beginning of November I interviewed with an auto auction company called Mecums to possibly photograph cars for them part time while still being able to run Vagabond Photography full time. It didn’t pan out but I am thankful for the time to learn from there master photographer David Newhardt. I always love to learn new things and in a couple of days photographing with them it turned into a great learning experience. Learning something from a gentleman that has photographed classic cars for over 40 plus years is a great treat.

As Christmas approached we moved back into our Corporate Christmas season. I was great, to have our friends at MUZA Metals in Oshkosh ask us back for a second year even though getting there it did happen on one of the more hazardous snow storms we have had it Wisconsin in a while. But it was fun, they all were but this one stick out in my mind the most because the getting there was just as interesting as the actual event was.

Christmas was spent back in my home town with my family and it was great to have some down time and to be able to be with friends and family for a few days.  I keep telling myself one of these years I need to bring my gear home with me and photograph a Gumz Family Christmas on Christmas Day but I have yet to do this. It’s a great time with mom and dad on my dad side of the family all the aunts and uncles show up with all the cousins and it turns into a great time when you stick 75 to 100 people into a town hall with the same last name. I guess next year should be the year to do that before the family starts to dwindle.

As we look forward to the new year it comes with hope and a little apprehension of the unknown. I cannot wait to get to San Antonio in the first part January for Imaging USA’s annual convention and trade show and to escape part of the cold Wisconsin winter.  We are still working on bookings for 2017 and I would love to be a part of your wedding or collaborate with you on your senior or family portraits. No idea is too big or too small for us. For our corporate clients, we would enjoy teaming up with you and photographing your summits, meeting and conventions and we can work with you based on your business size.

Have a great and safe New Years Eve folks, if you venture out tonight and you find you had a little too much to drink call a friend or a family member because a little lecture is better than not having your presents to enjoy. And as my favorite character Sherman T Potter from Mash says “Here’s to the new year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one, and may we may we all be home before she’s over.”

I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in the New Year.

Best wishes,

Tim Gumz
owner and principal photographer


Turn the screen off & treat it like film Challenge

A little Challenge:Turn the screen off & treat it like film

I went out in the city of Milwaukee last night to scout a few locations for an upcoming session and I noticed a few other photographers out and about doing their thing and having a good time.

The one thing I noticed though is almost everyone out there was looking at the back of their cameras on the LCD screens to see if the photograph was the way they wanted it every time they clicked the shutter button. It got me thinking I started with film and moved too digital and now I do the same thing, kinda interesting how the times have changed. Also it’s a little sad because there was a time we could not see what our images looked like until we developed the film and then went into the dark room and created out prints or had that dreaded Walmart develop our prints for us. I do miss the darkroom some days.

So what if we found a way to turn that little screen off or temporally black tape over it so we cannot instantly see the result to know if we have to shoot it again or not? Think of it as getting it right in the camera without the instant gratification like we used to have back in the film days.

I’m not saying to do this right off the bat on a payed gig but on a test/fun session just to see how things turn out. I’m willing to bet the first time or two we might need to go back and possibly try again or modify it in Photoshop or your current editing software more than you needed to over just looking at it on the screen. I think in the long run it would give us a more intimate understanding of our cameras and accessory gear.

Give it a try so for one or two fun sessions I encourage you and I will try this myself to only look through the viewfinder and not at the LCD screen on the back, wait till you get home to see if you got it right like in the days of film.

I would love to see what you come up with right out of the camera leave a photo in the comment section below.

Tim Gumz

Magmod Product Review


Complete-Kit-632898983Back in January while at ImagingUSA I was introduced to a company call Magmod. They are a company that produces light modifiers for hot shoe flashes.

Magmod has a great concept that use magnets embedded in a thick rubber band (Mag Grip) that attaches to your flash head to make it easier to switch out the different modifiers needed on a regular basis.  Currently they offer several different attachments from snoots, grids, spheres, bounces and a few different sets of gels. With a new product called a Mag Beam in development.

I have purchases and used for Vagabond Photography the snoots, grids, gels and sphere. When I first started to use them I noticed the Mag Grips seemed tight on my Nikon SB-800s and I did have a slight fear that it might somehow damage the flash head. My fears were unfounded before putting them on I stretched them out a little and have had no issues. They have been attached for two months with no issues. As I stated they do fit quite snug which is a good thing cause when you a moving around the flash head one does not want them to slide off or back causing the modifier to fall off.

Each attachment that I have bought does have the ability to place a gel card into each unit. This is a big money saver, by not having to buy a separate Mag Gel 2 kit if you want to run a gelled light on more than one flash head.

The snoot is also very versatile by being able to change the distance from the flash head one can change how broad the light striking the subject is. It is also very useful in hair lighting when you are trying to pop ones subject out from the background.

The only slight down side I have found is the Mag Grip does add about ½ to ¾ of an inch to the left and right side of the flash head which being used in conjunction with my traveling soft box(SDMV Diffuser) makes it hard to fit though the hole in the back of the soft box.

In the past I have used grids and gels that use a velcro and heavy cloth to hold in their grids and gels to the flash head. The problem here was over time the vibration and movement would cause them to fall off and slow our sessions down. After dealing with this issue though two other companies I decided the switch to Magmod was and has been the correct choice.

I cannot recommend this company enough, if you have the time check them out and take the time to use and get to know their product line.

*Please note that we at Vagabond Photography has in no way been paid or sponsored to give reviews about products or companies read in our blog postings.

Why Buy Prints?

“Why should I buy prints and not just digital negatives/files?” This is a question I hear more and more among photographers interacting with tech savvy clients and an ever growing younger client population in my area.

So here’s the emotional answer, because you cannot put a price on memories or emotions.

Yes, I do sell/provide digital files, if that is truly what you have your heart set on, this way you can share them with any/everyone. But here’s the follow up question I like to ask my clients when asked the first question. Once you upload those photos to the cloud, other storage devices or onto a social media website how often are you actually going back to look at those precious memories if you are not going to print them yourself?
I know for myself the answer is, rarely.

There is something about being able to pick up a framed print from your desk and run your fingers over it or thumb through a photo album that sits on your coffee table or gaze up at a print on the wall, which evokes the memories of the day, those images were created. Maybe it’s not that captured moment from the image you are remembering but the in-between moments, between images that weren’t captured. This is something, I as a photographer want my clients to experience to slow down and relive that moment and hold onto it. I’m not in it to sell you an overabundance of photos you may not need or want but to help you pick the right amount for your home.

The reality is we live in a fast paced world and I can completely understand wanting to be able to look at your cherished memories at any point in time throughout the day. I myself spend most of my day with my face buried in some sort of a screen or through a viewfinder. The reality is, we get distracted, easily. So even though you are intending to open said images and look at them, chances are you might get an email or notification that distracts you, pulls you away, if even for a second and doesn’t allow you those few seconds or minutes to truly relive that moment.

The best way to sum this up is to give you an example of an interaction I had two weeks ago on the 11th of February.

While working a corporate event for the Non-profit group Sweetwater. I ran into an old college friend and he asked me if I could get some photos printed for him. He had taken them while traveling abroad that meant so much to him. Some were taken with his camera and some with his phone and he had a concern the photo from the phone might not print well from his local W store. For the print size he was asking for I didn’t see any problems with getting those printed and not having them be fuzzy.
Through the course of our interaction I asked him why after several years he was finally looking to get them printed? The answer I was given was amazingly simple, “I just don’t want to be able to look only at them on my phone or computer anymore, I want to be able to see them when I walk in my door.”