Having some fun, taking time to smell the resin

It seems to me that I am always on the go, from photographing weddings, events, portraits, to prepping sites that rested all winter under a blanket of snow and a myriad of home improvement projects that come with of having a home. Well this weekend we ditched all of that and headed South to Chicago for some FUN and don’t worry we didn’t leave any clients hanging.

Normally when I take some time away from photography as a job I normally don’t take my professional gear with me, I’ll take my point and shoot or just use my phone and try to be in the moment and kinda be a tourist. Though weekends like these are a little different, this past weekend marked our yearly trip with friends to C2E2.  For those of you not familiar with this it stands for Chicago Entertainment and Comic Expo. Think of it as the Midwest’s answer to San Diego’s Comic Con, except it’s better cause it’s close to home.

As hard as I try I cannot seem to leave the camera at home when I come to this event. The time and effort cosplayers put into their costumes is truly astounding and a camera phone or a point and shoot does not seem to do their attire justice. Q’s necklace was hand made and Tank Girls gun is not something you can buy off a shelf. Over the past few years one of my favorite piece was a green sparkling jewel made from a green beer bottle. Also with the advent of 3D printers being more readily available already amazing costumes are being taken to the next level.

So below are a few of my favorite cosplayers I’ve found over my Saturday trip to C2E2.

 

Look, Listen and Live!

Look, Listen and Live –

As a photographer, we are here to create lasting images that our clients will love forever. In today’s world though it seems we have forgotten about keeping them safe in some circumstances. I will be the first to admit I will go to almost any lengths to get the precious shot my clients want.
Though a recent horrific event for one photographer has been a reminder for most to stay away from active railroad lines. Per CNN on March 16 a young aspiring model was struck and died from passing by train (full story) in Texas. Occurrences such as this happen more than I would ever like to admit.  Tragic events like this seems to make the news at least once a year and it runs the same, a model or photographer were killed by a passing train while photographing on the tracks. Also, through online messages boards or magazine stories, close calls happen way more frequently than most people know about.

I grew up around railroad yards in Central Wisconsin and as a kid we played around the railroads which was a big no no. As I got older, I learned that our normal waitress at a place called the Little Pink Restaurant had lost her leg while playing around the trains as a teenager. Also, there were several incidents in the early 90’s where trucks would go through the railroad grade crossings and get taken out by a locomotive from the Green Bay and Western or the Chicago and Northwestern and later on the Wisconsin Central.

Having grown up around events like this has made me appreciate the fact that we as photographer should offer something different to our clients. Yes, it is easy to go to a set of steel rails polished by hundreds of trains a week or to a trestle with a scenic view where you don’t know the schedule of the intermittent trains but it’s not safe and it is a major risk we take. As big as those giant work horses of industry are, they are fairly quiet and can sneak up on you quickly. At first one hears a light humming in the distance and then the next before one knows it right there and you might be left without a place to run to, too get out of the way.

In 2016 according to Operation Lifesaver and the FRA, in Wisconsin, we had 46 vehicle vs train collisions resulting in two deaths and 15 injuries as reported. Which raked Wisconsin in the top 15 in the US, while this isn’t a lot but it is significant but it is down overall. Granted we were lucky and didn’t have any people vs trains due to trespassing in our state in 2016 in Illinois they had 22 person vs train related deaths due to trespassing on the rails. But here is some food for thought for photographers from 2015 to 2016 there was increase in trespassing on the rails by 14.5%, deaths were up by 12.8% and overall injuries by 16.4%. Also, the fines are not cheap fines according to Wisconsin statute 192.32 starts at $100 a person but can vary by county/municipality and go up from there. So, if it’s you, a model and assistant the fine can be as little as $300 in total fines. Also in some locations in Milwaukee and some other major cities you could end up in jail plus a fine.

For that photographer in Texas I feel so sorry for them because it something they have to live with and I hope like hell it never happens again to any photographer.
As events like these become more prevalent why don’t we as a community say, hey we’re not going to work in those locations anymore? Is it worth it?

Pelican 1450 Review

In today’s blog we discuss carrying your equipment in the Pelican 1450.

Recently I was invited to a weekend in the U.P. to ride snowmobiles with friends through the beautiful back country of “Pure Michigan” (I always thought that was a great slogan). Of course, I jumped at the chance to be out in the back country with an opportunity to photograph some hard to access areas and to get away from the hustle and bustle of living just outside of Milwaukee.

After some planning and trying to come up with how to transport my camera gear one Nikon D-800, a 24-70 F2.8 and a 70-200 F2.8 Nikon lenses and two Lume Cubes, I concluded that placing them in my NatGeo camera backpack or my shoulder bag was not the best equipment to do the job and I risked serious damage if anything happened. After some research, it was decided that buying a hard case was the best option for this trip.

I invested in a Pelican 1450 medium case which was just large enough for the gear I was taking (if you live in the Greater Milwaukee area I recommend Mike Crivello’s Cameras). It cost me around 150-160 dollars but safely protecting your gear is worth the cost.

1450 it comes with pluck foam, which is great you can pull out what you need to fit your camera and lenses so they will fit nice and snug without any movement inside the case.

It’s also water proof which was perfect for what I was doing because being attached to the back of the snowmobile meant it was bombarded by snow and ice flying up from the track of the snowmobile and other passing ones. I can say that after 350 miles of riding over the weekend there was no moisture inside the case.

The case is also made of a think hard plastic which makes it a little bit on the heavier side but it is worth every bit of the extra protection it provides as I can attest to.
In addition to buying the case for the trip I figured I would build a rack for the case so the travel bags could still be attached beneath my seat. The rack worked great, it held the case and kept it right where it was supposed to be until about mile 75, then though vibration and metal fatigue (note Aluminum is not the best to bend without reinforcing) causing the case to fall off with the rack and bounce down the trail and into an encounter with a trailing snowmobile. After fearing the worst, we recovered the case unlocked it and to my surprise everything was still where I left it and in great working condition like nothing had ever happened. It then got strapped with a 5-dollar ratchet strap to the back of my sled and stayed there the rest of the 200 miles we rode the first day.

After some serious hard testing of the Pelican 1450, I can say the case/brand is something a photographer should consider investing in. The ability to securely hold your gear, to be locked shut and the fact that it is water proof are all great pluses. The only downside is the weight, it’s about 7 LBS with the foam and no camera gear. Once I added my camera gear it weighed around 12-14 LBS but the weight does come because of the thickness off the plastic which keeps your gear safe.
The case measures about 16.5″ x 13.00″ x 7” which it not all that large, it will fit under the seat of an airplane if you are traveling it also fits quite nicely under the seat of a truck or larger SUV so it can be hidden from sight of would be robbers. I cannot say if it will fit under a car seat seeing as I do not have access to a small car.
Pelican say it will float with about 30 LBS of gear in it but I am going to take Pelicans word on seeing as I don’t wish to put 30 LBS of weight in it to test it out.
The case also comes in an array of colors I went with the standard black, but it also comes in gray, yellow orange, green and tan.

If you’re planning a trip to the back country where it might be  bouncy, dirty or wet and a backpack or satchel bag won’t cover it consider investing in a hard case. You make look like you’re carrying the nuclear launch codes (as my friends said on the trip while stopping in a pub) but at least your gear is as safe as those codes are.

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. www.vbphoto.co  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

 

Believing in yourself and finding new opportunities at taekwondo camp

     Over the weekend we had the joy of taking Vagabond Photography on the road and teaming back up with our friend Alyssa Fencil. Our project destination was a taekwondo camp hosted by Five Rings Martial Arts with special guest Rio Olympian and part of Team USA, Stephen Lambdin. It was a great multi day event and being able to be a part of it was enlightening and fun as always.

I always say you need to love your job and if you love your job it will never feel like work. Covering events like this is what I mean by it. To be around so many energetic people who want to be where they are at that point in time is really eye opening and refreshing. I cannot say enough about the owner of Five Rings Martial Arts Steven Decker and Olympian Stephen Lambdin. Watching them work with students from the ages of six all the way to the mid 40’s, one can see they believe everything they talk about and it’s not something they do because they feel they have to. The one on one time and direction is something truly amazing and you can see when what they say is actually getting through to the students. At the end of the day, through Stephen’s talks and workout/training sessions, everyone was able to come away with something to help them become better.

“Believe in yourself and at first if you fail you have to get back in there and try again” is one thing I took away. Another is “It is okay to lose. It lets you know what you need to work on.” That second part is something that is vital I think to most photographers. This is something we should remember when we enter into photographic competitions. It’s not that we are horrible photographers but it shows us there are parts of our craft that we need to work on.

In the end the best memories from this weekend’s events are the laughs, the sounds of feet meeting outstretched pads, and the few bruises or badges of honor (which I was sent a photo of earlier today) that we take away until the next time we gear up to do it again.

Sweet Water Clean Rivers Clean Lakes Con

This week was a very fun week for Vagabond Photography we had the opportunity to team up for a second time with a great non for profit group call Sweet Water (http://www.swwtwater.org/). This time we were covering their Sweet Water Clean River, Clean Lakes Conference at Discovery World on the Lake Michigan water front. They are a fun and insightful bunch of people, trying to do a wonderful thing by organizing groups and companies and raise awareness to help clean up the Greater Milwaukee Watershed to bring it back to swimmable and fishable conditions.

The reason why we really like what they are doing over at Sweet Water besides the obvious is because it gives us the ability to photograph our clients in new(to us) and cleaner locations, in the past we would of passed by because of how dirty and unsafe they were.

SweetwaterSumit0260.jpg

Also while at the convention two of the afternoon presenters were from Detroit and Toronto. They both went into detail on how cleaning and restoring/reshaping the water shed in their cities brought people back to the waterfront and revitalized the area. We think this speaks to what Sweet Water is trying doing in our area which we believe can greatly benefit people in general and especially our clients.

The other part of why we this think this is a great thing is, in being good stewards of this blue spinning marble we all live on it is our duty to keep it clean for future generations so we don’t just flush our lives down the proverbial toilet.  In our free time at Vagabond Photography we like to spend our time fishing, swimming and hiking around local waterways so groups like this have a special place near to our hearts. Having grown up around the paper mill belt along the Wisconsin River we can remember times when cleaning operations were under way we would not think about swimming or eating a lot of fish out of the river. Though now it is a great river to go out and have fun on year round. So it’s nice to see several groups trying to clean up the Greater Milwaukee watershed.

We cannot encourage people enough to go over to their website and see what they are trying to do to help clean up the Greater Milwaukee Watershed.

SweetwaterSumit0003

Summer Travel & on Site locations

At Vagabond Photography we are known as a on location photography company. If there is something we love to do whether it be with work or personal time, its travel. Traveling and scouting for new locations is something we just like to do in our free time when we are not working on photo shoots, editing or that dreaded thing called paperwork. Over the years the great thing we found out about traveling to a location is you don’t necessarily have to go far to feel like your half a world away from your daily responsibilities.

This is something we also like to work into our photography sessions as well. When talking with our clients we like to get a feel for who they are where they like to travel to and relax and play. Especially if it is some place close by in Wisconsin and we can find a way to work it into our clients session for their senior portraits, engagement session, family shoots or something that is just for fun.

Below is a few of our favorite places we like to work at during our photo sessions. In the comment section below we would really like to hear some place in Wisconsin or anywhere that you would like to have a photo session at.

Spring is here, finally and hopefully summer is not too far off which means some of our favorite locations are about to be usable again. Which means we can finally start photographing on and around Wisconsin many lakes are waterways. We love Lake Michigan beaches on the western shores because they are great for sunrise photos especially if you go just north of Milwaukee. We also have Lake Geneva with is beautiful shores and nice small town which is best if you shoot a session there before memorial day or after labor day before all the school gets out or midweek during the summer months. Also we have the Wisconsin River between Steven Point and the Wisconsin Dells the rock formations along many stretch of this beautiful river.

As for urban areas we really enjoy working in and around the greater Milwaukee area. We like to work around Discovery World, Riverwalk, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the historic third ward. Now we understand there may be some concerns with all the reports of violence over the past year in Milwaukee but we can assure you that we work in safe and secure areas.

We also like to spend our time in nature and in southern Wisconsin we really like to spend time in and around the Kettle Moraine State Parks, the trails around the ATV routes around Black River Falls.
In the Kettle Moraine we really like to use Paradise Springs Park just North and West of Eagle. It’s a great place because of its streams, old bath house and large prairie land across from the parking lot. Pewits Nest around Baraboo and the Wisconsin Dells is another great place that we love to use as a shoot location its tall water carved walls give great texture and depth to pictures.

Those are just some of the areas we like to work on with our sessions. We would love to hear from your our friends and perspective clients on plaice you like to travel to and some places that you would love to do a photo shoot.

Have a great weekend it’s finally supposed to be nice out in Wisconsin.