Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Meeting of Talents Midst Everyday Life

James Burns is one of the photographic talents that makes up Robert Gebbie Photography. Jim has been a driving force, a cheerleader, a positive attitude and influence in our small company. Here, he shares the story of how he came to work with us.

Artistic things have been an interest of mine ever since I can remember. Even as a small child, I would draw cartoon characters to see how close I could make them look like the original. I remember one time I drew one of those “Tippy the Turtle” draw-me cartoons you see in the back of comic books and things. I must have been about 12, I think. I sent it off, happy I had done a great job. I received a rejection letter, telling me I should not trace the image. I was shocked! I would never trace an image! I drew it by hand! Well, I neglected to read the instructions completely, I was to make it bigger than the one provided. So off I went to redraw this turtle, determined to do a good job. The next letter I received was a congratulations letter, telling me I had won the prize. But I could not accept it, as it was for an art school in a different state. Class was paid for, but travel and housing was not. But that was not important, I had drawn the turtle, and it was good!

As I grew to an adult, my artistic talents showed themselves in the form of metal sculptures, oil paintings, and recreating WW1 and WW2 artifacts. But there was still more, still a vision, still something else I wanted to share. I was working a regular job and one day I was introduced to a new co-worker, Robert. It was an ordinary experience, showing him the workflow and casual chat, getting to know each other. Along the way a friendship emerged from this working relationship. Our conversations got deeper, experiences shared.

After a few years, I developed an interest in photography. Although he had put his camera down for whatever reasons life had given him, I knew Robert’s 25 years of being a photographer would be a good resource for asking questions. I started with some inexpensive digital cameras and started to play around with taking pictures. Through the progression of picture taking, and asking Robert questions about camera settings, I evolved from an amateur picture taker into a photographer.

Now I am able to take stunning images that make the viewer say “Wow”. My “Flowers at Night” series is a good example. I look at flowers in a whole new light, so to speak. Using lighting, I’m able to create a drama, an intensity in the image. The flowers take on an emotion all their own.

There is also the instant gratification we have with current technology. I can literally take a picture now, and within a few minutes have it uploaded and for sale on the internet. This is the power of the new wave of instant media gratification. This also keeps me motivated to share more and more of the beauty I find around me.

So with my attention to detail, artistic eye, and just the enthusiasm of good photography combined with Robert’s similar abilities and determinations, we have teamed up to show others like us what your dreams and inspirations can accomplish if you set your mind to it.

I enjoy working with, and creating works of art with Robert and his wife, Lori. Together I think we may actually have a good chance at making it in this overexposed media based world.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Best Camera I Ever Owned

When I was three my parents gave me a Vintage Fisher Price Toy Picture Story Camera No. 784 for Christmas. It had a big plastic rotating cube on the top and a fogged up clear plastic view screen. That was the best camera I ever owned.

Some time between my third and fifth grades my mother purchased a new Kodak camera, passing down to me her old Kodak Instamatic camera with “magic” cube flash. For two years I shot as many of the stray cats that would follow me home, as my allowance would permit. That was the best camera I ever owned.

My sophomore year, I was lent a camera by my father on the pretense that I take a class so I could teach him how to use it. Topcon, manual settings only with 3 lenses, 35mm S.L.R. with an ugly green shoulder strap. I took a class, learned that my photography was just a further tool that I could use to create my art in my vision. You couldn’t wedge that camera from my hands the entire year. That was the best camera I have ever borrowed.

In a not so subtle ploy to have his camera returned my father bought me a new 35mm Pentax K-1000 camera outfit with 2 lenses. Most of my early work was photographed with this camera. I don’t remember the year it was stolen but I do remember shooting my very first official paid model session. That was the best camera I ever owned.

Today I shoot in the new digital age, my medium format camera in it’s grand silver case next to my 35mm equipment snuggled tight in their cases, gathering dust on the studio floor, waiting. Today I shoot with an Olympus D.S.L.R. E-510, it is the second Olympus digital camera I have owned. It’s predecessor, the Olympus E-10, travels with me as a back-up and is used when my wife wishes to shoot alongside me on one of my outings. Attached to me like a third limb or extra eye, the Olympus E-510 goes everywhere I go. It is the best camera I have ever owned.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

An Insiders View to a Dream

Loree Morris has been a friend of ours for several years. Recently, between jobs, she started working with us. She helped with uploading our backlog to the Microstock agencies we are part of, and began to help with outside sales. Loree had to find full time employment, so she no longer works regularly with us, but she’s always here to lend a hand when we need her! Here, she offers another piece of our story:
I met Robert and Lori several years ago and was privileged enough to be let into their lives. Robert at the time was working at his j.o.b and although I knew he had been an artist and a photographer, he wasn’t really actively pursuing it at the time. I could see a special light in his eyes when he’d talk about his art or show me something he had created in the past, but a look of sadness often followed it. I don’t think he even knew it happened.

As life events unfolded and took us in separate directions for a while and I eventually left the country for an extended period of time, we didn’t get a chance to communicate as often, but still kept in touch from time to time. When I returned from over seas, life events allowed us to spend more time together and I remember the first time I saw them.

They had just started on the path of micro stock photography. Robert was behind the camera again and had that light in his eyes again, only this time it never faded to the sadness look I had seen in the past. They started telling me about what they were doing. Both so full of passion that it nearly brought tears to my eyes. They showed me the websites and explained their idea of what they wanted to build. They showed me what Robert had been shooting and even asked me to get in front of the camera for them.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve had a chance to get a very in depth view of what they are creating, the learning, the struggles, the joy, the sorrow, the stress and the amazing creation of some of the most artistic pieces I’ve seen anywhere.

Robert has an amazing ability to create art in away that captures the very soul of what or whom he’s shooting. I’ve seen him take a few simple objects and display them in such a creative way that the photo is amazing. When he shoots a model, he has such a natural way of putting them at ease. He makes you feel as if you’re the most beautiful piece of art he’s captured. He see’s beyond the physical…he see’s true beauty.

Lori is also very creative and has taken some beautiful shots as well, although their styles are different, they both bring such a creative eye to everything they shoot. They balance each other in many ways artistically. The man Series is my favorite. Not only does it show the raw emotions of Robert, Lori’s eye while shooting that was amazing. Her ability to capture those emotions is just an example to me of the passion they both have for what they do.

The business has gone in avenues neither of them expected at first and they’ve had such great accomplishments in such a small amount of time. The knowledge they’ve learned and the growth I’ve witnessed myself amazes me every day.

I’m truly glad I’ve gotten to see this Dream from the inside, two amazing people, creating such beautiful artwork. Sharing a passion that is rare in this day and age. I can only see this Dream being a reality!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Creation of Man: How To Legally Shoot your Husband

We needed more models. We had our friends in front of the camera, and they were good for commercial images, but we needed something more. We had a sense that we were headed into something special, but we weren’t quite sure what it was going to be.

I decided to put Robert in front of the camera. You see, I adore my husband. I find him quite handsome, but not in your traditional sense. He has more of a rugged handsomeness, rather than traditional beauty. He would play a good cowboy, or bodyguard. Robert is also an ex-bodybuilder, he trained all natural for almost ten years. We have a home gym, and I have spotted him a number of times. I am always impressed by muscle memory and how, after just ten minutes, the blood rushes back and his muscles fill out. It’s very exciting to watch his body go from extremely lean to very nicely ripped. But we didn’t want to do a body shoot just yet. We had some other things in mind.

Robert and I are extreme opposites. But we do connect completely, and we share a passion I’ve never known before. We rolled down the black background, he took my hand, asked if I was ready, and gave me a kiss. I took a few test shots to make sure we had the lighting we wanted, and we began.

We started with contemplation shots, Hard Life shots. Robert drinking his coffee, staring off deep in thought. Then we started to roll. The shoot was mostly silent, no words were needed, I was an extension of him. I watched through the lens, and was allowed to document this personal side of my husband, the side that only I saw. The side of him that he hides, the part of Man that exists, but dares not peek out.

I dare not speak of the driving force for the emotions he felt, that is not my story to tell. But it was a great loss, and a heavy heart, that drove the shoot. I peered through the lens, stopping only to wipe the tears off the camera so I could see to focus.

Finally, we had to break from what we were doing, we were both mentally and physically drained. Robert went in to take a shower, and I went back to working on my computer. When he came out of the shower, he shaved down bald. Then we began shooting the Man Series. Completely nude, he twisted and bent his body in emotional poses, crippled from pain and depression.

What may not be evident at first is Robert is a very tall man. He stands at 6’4”. To capture his full height is sometimes impossible to do, me being only 5’7”. But this was magical, emotional, inspiring. I cannot take full credit for the shoot, in fact, Robert was the one who had the ideas, and held the poses so I could shoot them. But I do know that no one else could have done that shoot with him, it was too raw.

We created Man in the barest of all emotions. Grief, loneliness, despair, heartache, sadness, pain, turmoil, depression; we touched them all. And the pain transfers, the images grab at you. You can feel the pleading, the pain, the hurt, the loneliness of Man.

To date, this series is our best seller. I can only credit this to the passion and commitment Robert has to his Art. He is Artist. He is Photographer. He is Man.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Photographing the Essence of Woman

Through my years in the business, I have had the pleasure of photographing thousands of people, and most of them have been women. And there is one truth, which is universal amongst them. Women want to look beautiful in their photos. Whether it’s for Corporate Identity, Fashion, Family Portrait, or a Glamour shoot for their significant others. If they don’t look great, you won’t have a successful shoot.

Preparation – Before the Shoot: (Apply for every shoot)

1. Have A Solid Concept – Know what your client wants. Whether shooting portraits, or an
advertisement for a commercial magazine; you cannot produce the right image if you have an unclear vision.
2. Now Work It – Be prepared with some ideas of your own, you are the artist, and that is why the
client hired you. Incorporate your style and ideas into the general theme of the session.
3. Check, Check, and Check Again – Check your equipment out, make sure you have an empty card, make sure your batteries are fresh enough to get you through your planned shoot time. Running to the store to buy batteries for your strobe in the middle of a session leaves a bad
impression, not to mention ruining the atmosphere you created.
4. Know Your Stage – Whenever possible, take a pre-session look around your staging area. Know what props are available, things you may want to bring close or have on set so the mood and rhythm is not interrupted. Blankets or small pillows to sit on, blinds for a makeshift dressing area, water close by, music set to a comfortable level. The more comfortable you and your subject are, the easier it will be to get the desired results.

Introduction – When the Model Arrives:

1. “How Do You Do?” – Sit down and have a conversation with your client. Don’t be in too big a rush to get your subject on the set. Take a few moments to be personal, ask how they are, how their day has been going. Compliment them, no need to overdo it, a simple “You look nice today” or “What a nice smile!” can go a long way in putting you both at ease. Give her a few moments to settle and get used to you.
2. Show and Tell – Discuss your plan, let your client know the general flow of how you like to direct and work with your subjects. It is much easier to instruct a person when they have a general overview, and it makes specific instructions
during the shoot much simpler. Give them a general feel of what to expect, get their input on poses they may want to try. Discuss wardrobe changes, and how many you might want to try.

The Shoot – Connect and Capture:

1. Connect – To capture the essence of a woman, and the elegance of the female form, you must work well with your subject. Remember, you are trying to
Connect, Relate, and Capture, so interact with her. Speak softly and smile a lot, don’t shout out directions like a military drill sergeant, take your time and be patient. It may take several dozen shots or (depending on your assignment or goals) several sessions to draw out that essential spark from your subject. It is her essence you are trying to capture, that true beauty, the piece of your subject that goes much deeper than surface appearance.
2. Give Me A Break – Take breaks in your session, have water, coffee, or soda available. Give her and yourself a few moments to relax. Be aware of your subject; don’t make her hold a difficult pose
for too long. Let her shake off the tension and reset the pose. As you proceed, ask “Are you comfortable?” or “Do you need a moment?” It is very hard to “relax” and “give me that look that only your husband sees” when her arms or legs are cramping, or the position makes her back ache.

Wrapping Up – Before the Model Leaves:

1. Thank You – Appreciate your subject. Thank her for taking the time out of her day to work with you.
2. Who’s Props? – Take a quick walk around and make sure she’s gathered her things, check the changing area for her makeup and accessories.

In Conclusion

At all times, even when it’s the uncomfortable Mother-In-Law portrait, from the moment you pick up your camera to start your session there is one thing to remember. The woman in front of your lens is a Lady and a Princess, if only for the next 15 minutes.
As an Artist and Photographer, the true secret to making a woman beautiful is to see more than the surface beauty. If you can do this successfully, you may have also shared a moment, a look, or a deep expression in her delicate beauty. This is this spirit, this essence that is in every female, and you must connect personally to see more in her than she could see in herself.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Operations Manager Introduction; Hello

As a form of introduction, this is contributed by Lori Gebbie, my wife and partner.

We started RGP on accident. Robert was working at a j.o.b. and needed an outlet for his creativity. Jim decided he wanted to buy a camera, and started asking Robert about photography. The bug was planted. They discussed theory and practical matters. Jim did some research and found Microstock, and this is where I come in. I joined a forum, found a few stock sites, read their forums, looked at legal documents, read through submission requirements, and wondered what the heck I was reading. While considering myself a photographer, I am more of a hobbyist. And I had no idea what overblown highlights, purple fringing, or artifacting was.

Through a severe downsizing at work, Robert was laid off in the second wave of layoffs. This is significant, because I wasn’t working, either. I was devoting my waking hours (literally) to learning Microstock and what the heck this keywording thing was all about. We decided we had been given a gift of opportunity, and took it. We went full time into Microstock.

It has been a very trying time. We’ve had great successes, and severe disappointments. We’ve almost thrown it in a few times. We’ve almost thrown our relationship in a few times, too! But we’ve grown stronger and more determined in every way to make our company, and our lives, successful.

I’ll be contributing from time to time on this blog, sharing information about our workflow and tracking systems. And giving out some of the information that I wish I had found quickly and easily when I was first starting out. Like the importance of a good title and accurate keywording. And how to embed information into your image. And what was required with a model release. And so on, and so forth.

I’ve learned a lot in the last year. I still don’t know how to set up lighting or how to work the F-stops, but I’m confident in my job as final pass/fail before the image goes up on a site. With over 80% acceptance rate with the Big 5, Robert is confident as well.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Brief Introduction

Hello and Welcome! I guess an introduction is in order. My name is Robert Gebbie, and I am the owner of Robert Gebbie Photography. I am Photographer, Artist, Illustrator, Designer, and all-around Creative. A handyman of the arts, one could say, learning most of the time from necessity, as much as from interest. It has been twenty-five years since I took my first studio portraits professionally under the instructing eye of Scott Weston, my teacher, mentor, friend, and in my opinion, master photographer.

For most of my life, the field of Art has held a significant draw. Photography and Illustration were always focal points, but I never stopped growing, learning a little from curiosity (or need) along the way. If it catches my interest, it’s fair game. From Fantasy illustrations to carving Briar Wood Tobacco Pipes, web design to Photography, if it was Artistic, I had my hand in it. While never claiming to be the best at what I do, I have met with moderate success, and I invite you to visit my gallery to make your own decision.

Since this is my introduction to the world of blogging, I hope you will have a look around, enjoy what you see, and come back often. I will often refer to my team. My team consists of my wife and partner, Lori, my best friend and 2nd Photographer, Jim, and a small handful of others that help with sales and other office functions. In future postings, I plan on telling a few stories, give a little advice, and generally discuss the things that I find interest in. Hopefully, you will learn a little, laugh a little, and maybe even think a little. So warm up the coffee, put on your big fuzzy slippers, relax and enjoy what my team and I have to offer.