#Illustration Explorer | Part 3

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An anatomy conceptualization for a fictional animal.


Last month in Part 2, I examined the kinder gentler aspects of getting into the technical illustration (TI) field. There’s always two sides to every story though, right? This part of the overview is going to be a little longer. With continued help from highly respected tech illustrators Roy Scorer of Swindon, UK, who primarily works for the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD), and total freelancer Clint Ford, it’s now time for the bad news. Well, sort of.

Paradigm Shift and Professional Downturn

In my research, I have found that in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, some visual artists began to question whether or not TI jobs were becoming obsolete. This appears to have been because there was a major paradigm shift that many illustrators had difficulty adapting to. It’s the same shift that began to affect practically every other industry on this planet back in the late 80’s. That is the development, and reliance on sophisticated personal computers and powerful software.

There have been people who have worked many years mainly or exclusively as technical illustrators, and they did it the good old-fashioned way. They used architectural drawing compasses, plotter systems, mechanical pencils, technical pens, art markers, brushes, airbrushes, inks, pigments, white erasers, clear-tack erasers, erasing shields, circle templates, ellipse guides, French curves, splines, mill scales, triangular scales, protractors, set squares, T-squares, art knives, burnishers, paper and show card stock, page layouts, stencils, dry-transfer lettering, symbols, frames, vignettes and motives, adhesive tone films, adhesive graphics tapes, adhesive copy text, vinyl adhesive pictograms, drafting machines, pantographs, photo-mechanical transfers (PMT’s), opisometers (map wheels), photocopying screens, acetate overlays, spray fixatives, adhesive mounting, layout panels, presentation easels, drafting tables, etc.

Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, however, desktop computers, mice, tablets, magic pens, styli, Computer Aided Design (CAD/AutoCAD) and desktop publishing (DTP) platforms forcefully revolutionized the commercial arts industry at a lightning fast pace. The tech pundits of the early and mid-80’s said they would.

It was so hard for some tech illustrators to learn the jargon, constantly evolving and competing software, and myriad techniques of computerized illustration. It was even harder for others to get their heads around the idea that people who sought out illustrators and designers preferred and demanded state-of-the-art computer-generated creations over skillfully handmade art that required more tools, implements and media, took longer to make and was; therefore, more expensive. It seems to me that these are little spoken about factors on how jobs were lost in this field.

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Roy Scorer’s ghosted illustration of a 1985 Roush Ford Mustang GTO.

There was still more to it. I asked Roy if he thought that TI jobs did or had declined or if he thought that there wasn’t a decline but a revolution of the field due to the paradigm shift. He said, “The inevitable; as it has with a lot of things, technology happened. Draughtsmen, and design engineers now have CAD. So, a knock-on effect was 3D modelling software, i.e. Solidworks, was created taking place of the technical illustrator.”

“I started a thread in LinkedIn, ‘Technical Illustration, The dying art of the technical illustrator.’”

“Went down a like a storm. Colleges stopped teaching TI only a couple of years after I left college. 3D modelling is a lot quicker than a technical illustrator even if single line work images are not as good. So, the beginning of the end for TI. The UK has some requirement still, more for the upper end of goods, aircraft, sports cars and the USA regularly has vacancies for technical illustrators but only if you are a USA citizen.”

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Clint Ford’s cutaway of a Sealy Posturpedic Matress.

Clint, of Detroit, MI, US says, “Computers made it so that people who were not terribly skilled at illustration could get a job as an illustrator as the tools make it easier. From my experience, the shift from analogue to digital came in around the early 90’s. I remember my first job interview for a contract position at GM and there was a guy still inking on the board. My college education was split up so that the first half was all on the board and we took that to the computer for the 2nd half. There may be a decline, I’m not sure. All the guys I know stay fairly busy but I do know that there are not that many of us doing Technical Illustration, at least on the freelance level, which is good in that there is less competition.”

To many laypeople who don’t know the details, these issues, this simply looked like proof-positive that pursuing a career in the visual arts is only a one-way ticket to becoming a starving artist.

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Skull conceptualization for a fictional animal.

I think this shift even adversely impacted young art students. 80’s and 90’s high school kids who depended on their parents to obtain personal computers and software for them but didn’t get the goods, where severely handicapped for the washout periods of college and university art school courses. Computers and arts-oriented software were expensive; they still are. Some families couldn’t afford these tools which art students should have been learning to use before attending formal art school, never mind the professional art world.

Handicapping children wasn’t only finance-related either. It was also about poor communication. Many colleges and universities back then weren’t doing as good a job as they assumed in conveying to secondary education schools which computers and software were the most ideal for young high school art students to get their hands on.

For many years, the Macintosh personal computer was ridiculed as the “Monochrome-Mac” but after the Macintosh Color Classic came out in 1993 and showed its versatility in the visual arts fields, Macs became the go to standard for most artists for many years afterward. Apple Inc. owes much of its success to the world’s artists.

The technological information vacuum consequently made high school guidance counselors and teachers ineffective at advising parents and students as to what specific new art tools to invest in. A large number of students able to get into college or university art courses were unable to survive the washout periods of post-secondary institutions. Of course, all of this helped to perpetuate the myth of the starving artist in the minds of the general public.

The luckier art academy students went out and purchased the same computers and software that they were introduced to soon after getting into art schools. Those students graduated from their courses, and went on to have successful careers in the commercial arts.

“I have been very lucky,” says Roy when asked what obstacles or challenges, if any, he faced in becoming a tech illustrator. College for 4 years went better than expected. A bit short on cash sometimes but worked summer holidays to get sorted. The college Head of Department nominated me for a job interview with a few others, and I got the job. So, I left college and went straight into work.”

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Roy Scorer’s 3/4 ghosted view of the BTCC Proton; notice the thin lines within the car’s interior while the heavier lines shape the exterior.

Clint explains that the challenges he personally faced in entering the field also began during his time in post-secondary education, “My professor in college told us that we may only make $19,000 per year. I almost quit and considered a degree in graphic design. Again, I’m pretty sure my mom convinced me to stick to it. I was also not one of the best illustrators in class, maybe somewhere in the middle, so I had to eventually rely on other skills to get me to a higher level. Once I got out of college getting a job in the auto industry was pretty easy.”

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Details of the Patagonia Hybrid Sleeping Bag by Clint Ford.

The fact is, artists who adapted to the digital paradigm shift or were trained in art schools that taught the new ways survived, even thrived. TI careers really have never been in decline; at least in some parts of the world. They’ve largely just changed dramatically, even though there is a minority of tech illustrators that still make healthy livings producing work the old-fashioned analogue way. This has been the status quo ever since.

“All my work is digital but in an analogue style,” Roy told me. Corel Draw is the main application. I have not had the chance to use Isodraw or similar applications but this year I have started to hand paint an illustration of the M26 McLaren F1 raced by James Hunt in my lunch times. Going to take all year at least to complete. I still have all my tools, pencils, Rotring pens, ellipse guides which I am now using to help with the painting.”

“All TI work, not just locally but worldwide, is now dependent on using computers.”

Clint echoes today’s heavy electronic impact on his own work, “Now, it’s probably 99% digital. Only occasionally do I sketch out an idea on paper. I mostly go right into line art drawings in Adobe Illustrator now and just refine.”

There is still something important to be said about analogue art skills and techniques, nevertheless.

“A few years ago,” Roy continued, “I had a visit to Lotus F1 team HQ to show them the Ayrton Senna, Lotus 98T cutaway I had produced. The interesting comment from one of the team leaders, was that they could not produce that kind of illustration themselves as there’s just too many parts to put into the 3D modelling application. A room full of servers would not cope.”

“In my field,” adds Clint, “I would say it’s 100% digital.” Even the best people doing it are not working on paper but the best people doing it know the analogue skills. I don’t think you can be a high-level illustrator without knowing the basic fundamentals.”

Personally, I really enjoy hearing all of this but I had to ask Roy and Clint what illustration software they currently prefer or recommend.

“Corel Draw X6 is my main tool for the line work illustrations,” says Roy. He explains, “When compared with Adobe illustrator it has some tools that are much more helpful. For work, Corel Draw also has a much wider spectrum of file types it can import and export with. Adobe Illustrator has a much narrower list. The more complicated colour rendition illustrations are of course done with Adobe Photoshop CS6 with help of Adobe Illustrator to make masks and colour up small parts, then copy and paste into Photoshop using gradients for metals which are quicker than those in Photoshop.”

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Roy Scorer’s hand painted fade-away illustration of the McLaren M26 Formula One.

On the other side of the pond, Clint’s says, “I do the majority of my work in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I use Rhino for basic 3d modeling and to manipulate client 3d data for reference. I use Keyshot for rendering and animation and Poser when I need good reference to draw people.”

For anyone interested, Clint has an impressive online video tutorial on TechnicalIllustrators.org.

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Clint Ford’s boot illustration for Carhartt.

All things considered, I had to ask Roy and Clint how they would recommend someone; either young or an adult switching career paths, to go about pursuing a technical illustration career in today’s world.

Roy replied, “TI now seems to be an old man’s game as it is the design engineer who creates the final image. I would have no idea how to suggest to someone in what to do. No full-time courses that I know of. Purchase Isodraw it’s only £4k to buy, then get trained on that. Kevin Hulsey a fantastic technical illustrator in the USA has some tips and basic lessons on TI.”

“In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s motorsport magazines would often have colour cutaway illustrations as centre spreads. The TI that people would see would be the cream of the crop, not the illustrated parts lists for manufacturers. For anyone wanting a career in TI, they would either have to be self-taught or apprentice.”

From an American point of view, Clint advises, “If you can find a college program for Technical Illustration that would be the best start. If not, I would say just draw every day, build the best portfolio you can, reach out to other illustrators for advice or to see if they can send any work your way, it’s a great community of people who are willing to help each other out.”

I wondered what are either artists’ greatest current obstacles or challenges as tech illustrators. Roy explained, “With the day to day illustrations of vehicles and equipment for the military to be restrained in and under aircraft, the biggest obstacle is for manufactures to provide basic 2D drawings. Not CAD files, just a .pdf as our schemes are 2D, but the majority will not provide them so we have to take photos, measurements and create side and plan view illustrations from them. Not easy, and time consuming especially when it is a rush job.”

“For the race cars that I do, the biggest obstacle is convincing a current and prospective customer who loves the cutaway illustrations to be happy to pay more than the minimal wage for 150 hours of work. Everyone that has seen the race car cutaway illustrations comment on how good they are but there is no longer the interest in commissioning them unless I have not sent an email to the right person. Even motorsport magazines are not interested in using for free. So, unless I spend a small fortune on an advert or a stand at a prestigious event it will stay as it is.”

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A TDW (Tech Doc World) Magazine tear page on Roy Scorer’s technical illustration career.

Roy Scorer apparently remains gainfully employed in spite of the odds. He is not a starving artist. I, therefore, thought it was important to ask if he thought working as an artist for a firm is most rewarding or if freelancing is.

“For me, both working for the MoD and my freelance are rewarding. I am senior TI at the MoD, and I illustrate different vehicles and equipment every week.”

“Haynes contacts me when they need an illustration, so that’s a compliment”

“United Autosports (Zak Brown) wants his historic race car collection illustrated.”

Clint’s job concerns appear to be more emotive; “Getting through the slumps where you hate everything you do. Staying positive when you are working on mediocre projects or are dealing with challenging clients and being financially disciplined to handle the slow times.”

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Clint Ford’s anatomical illustration for an AAOS print ad.

I can identify with both of these artists but I empathize the most with Clint Ford on doing client projects that aren’t very stimulating to my brain. I don’t like war but I probably would enjoy illustrating military vehicles and weapons, as Roy often does, much more than designing instructions on how to use an electric hair curler. There are times when you just have to do what pays.

“I spent 15 years on staff for various companies,” Clint told me, “and now about 5 years as a full-time freelancer. Freelancing by far is much more rewarding for me. The variety of work makes it so you never get bored drawing the same thing over and over. The respect and appreciation from clients is also more rewarding most of the time and the money is way better.”

So, of course I had to ask both artists what they’re top 3 greatest rewards or benefits of pursuing a career in TI are.

“This is a difficult one,” was Roy’s response. “An MoD civil servant technical illustrator of 30 years earning the same as my kids in a factory. So, it’s not the money but I am currently illustrating some famous historic race cars which is a pleasure and very interesting to see how they have developed over the years.”

“I’ll come back to you when I know what the greatest rewards or benefits are.”

A fair answer.

“Becoming an independent business owner and defining my own career,” states Clint. “Having the ability to support my family and have it so that my wife doesn’t have to work and for her to be able to focus on our kids and her own education. The adventure of it all.”

A very special thanks to Roy Scorer and Clint Ford for their time and extremely valuable input.

Again, you can find Roy at his online portfolio www.royscorer.co.uk, and check out his Twitter feed @RoyScorerr770.

Clint Ford’s website is at www.fordillustration.com, and his Twitter handle is @clintford42.

You can link to their websites from the blogroll at the right side of your screen. Do check out the work of these top-quality illustrators.

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Skull conceptualization for a fictional animal.

Some Highly Important Words of Caution

So, although TI is not quite dead nothing lasts forever. The entire universe is in a constant state of flux. Today’s professional digital artists and hopefuls — tech illustrators or not, do need to keep eyes and ears open for the next paradigm shift; whatever and whenever that will be. Survival depends on it.

Thinking “out of the box”, as people say, just imagine artificial intelligence becoming advanced enough within the next thirty years or less that you, an artist or not, can verbally describe how you envision something to look like and function to a computer. That computer will brilliantly produce the illustration or 3D animation for you in a few minutes or even just a few seconds. Yeah, adapt to that!

So, You’re Looking for a #WeddingPhotographer ? | Part 4

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She’s Quite a Catch


Engagement photography can be a matter that potential clients and I may discuss quite early into a consultation for wedding photography.

An engagement shoot typically costs13% – 15% of a selected wedding photography package (see Part 3 for average costs). For some photographers, engagement work is included in certain or all packages. Other photographers leave it as a completely separate package that can be added if a client prefers.

Can you have access to your engagement portrait before the wedding so that you can display it at the wedding? The short answer is, yes. These days, a “no” is rare. Specify this during consultation so that it can be worked into your quote.

Nine-point-five times out of ten, an engagement shoot will be carried out on a date before the wedding day, so please carefully consider Parts 2 and 3 of this blog series.

For Modes of Flight clients who want to display their engagement picture at their wedding, it is highly advised that clients arrange for engagement photography to be done at least one full week prior to the actual wedding for sufficient post-production, framing and delivery time.

Why wouldn’t you want to show it off? You may have gone through who knows what in your life to finally find the one person in this whole wide world who can make you feel smart, strong, desirable, wanted, needed and protected all at once.

Maybe you’ve listened to a hundred people insist that it’s unrealistic to expect one man or woman to dedicate themselves to only one other person forever. Something deep inside; nevertheless, convinces you that you just don’t subscribe to their point of view. You simply have no need to share your life with anyone else but one person, and that special person feels exactly the same way about you.

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Vince & Leanne

Hamilton wedding photographer search selection guide tutorial tips course

Laura & Sean

Originality and Creativity

You’ve probably thought of, heard of or seen how some guys and gals get their friends or a videographer to record their actual proposal – totally unrehearsed, and upload the videos to YouTube. This has also become part of still photography wedding bookings. All emotional reactions are real; nothing contrived at all. If the betrothal ends in a “yes”, the resulting shots will be some of the best memories you’ve ever had recorded live. It still requires the groom or bride to consult with a photographer/videographer ahead of time, and take quite a risk.

How should you dress? Most people in North America dress casually for an engagement shoot but some do get all gussied up. It all works. Feel free.

It’s excellent for you to ask questions of your prospective photographer, just as a photographer ought to be asking you questions beyond the finance and business aspects.

Whether your preferred package may or may not include an engagement session, in a consultation. I want to hear your story. Knowing this helps me to get a sense of the personalities involved, and conceive how I’m going to photograph your wedding if you choose me.

While details are important, and you may have to break out of your shyness, you don’t have to share everything. For example, when I proposed to my wife, I was wearing nothing but a smile and towel. That’s all I have to say about that.

Yes, this is business but for the sake of creativity I want to emotively connect with the romantic and affectionate chemistry between the pair I’ll be working for. If you’re hiring a photographer to tell your love story through imagery, you should share even the backstory.

Do you want to be creative with your engagement shoot? Then, you should express yourself to your satisfaction. Costumes and regalia that you already have can work well aesthetically without overburdening your photography budget. Location is excellent to think about. Most of my clients leave this up to me but I like it when they have direct input for places to shoot. It feels more collaborative. Maybe they can easily get access to the roof of a skyscraper that I can’t. Set it up, and I’ll make you look like you’re on top of the world!

Can you see the possibilities?

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Abdul Loves Andrene

Engagement Party

Engagement parties are usually attached to big weddings. Events in which the number of invites of the big day is easily expected to exceed 400, although I have shot parties of weddings with a little more than 100 invites. When this is foreseeable, a party is held sometime before the actual wedding to celebrate the engagement of a couple and bring future wedding guests together. It may very well be the first real introduction of the parents, siblings and other family members of the wedding couple. Make sure there are less potential issues down the road when the knot is to be tied.

If you want to record your engagement party. A consultation is a great time to make certain that your photographer will know the date, location and length of the party and who to photograph.

This Bridal/Engagement Boudoir Photography Thing

Alright. Now that we’re all warmed up . . .

These days most people know what boudoir photography is; a fascinating mix of pin-up, glamour, portrait, fashion, erotic and sometimes fetish photography. A little less familiar is its sibling boudoir engagement photography, otherwise known as bridal boudoir, bride boudoir and engagement boudoir photography. It’s done in the same style as ordinary boudoir but surrounding a wedding engagement theme. It is still not as common as conventional engagement photography but it is growing in popularity in, at least, North America and Europe.

Does terminology really make a difference between bridal boudoir photography and engagement boudoir photography? I think most photographers will tell you that they’re exactly the same thing. Some others will still insist that the technical difference is that bridal is all about the girl, while engagement may include the groom.

Fair enough, except that while the term bridal works for lesbian pairs but engagement seems kind of like a blah label for male couples. If you prefer, try to neutralize it by calling it wedding boudoir (good luck with that).

You can certainly call it a tradition where brides are concerned. It’s mainly women with a grand sense of adventure and self-assuredness who seek to have engagement boudoir photography done. This type of photography is extremely rare when guys, gay or straight, get in front of the lens but even then, it’s a possibility. One has to be willing to try something nontraditional and beyond the comfort zone of most others.

Any kind of boudoir photography is for the girl or guy who feels saturated with sex appeal. He or she wants to show it off in this particular pop-cultured way. The final outcome is usually a special wedding gift to the future mate (I’ll talk about morning after photography another time).

The aim is to create images that depict romance, intimacy and seduction all at the same time. Models can be nude but do not have to be. In fact, total or partial nudity is rare in this artistic genre. Lingerie, costumes, bed linens, tapestries, fashion accents, fetish gear and plain clothes tend to be frequent features.

Wedding boudoir is certainly quite popular but I personally do not get many requests to do it. If asked, would I? Yes, I would but I usually leave it up to the couple consulting me to request it. Those truly interested in it are bold enough to open up the discourse on it. Other clients are likely too embarrassed, and I never want them to feel that way.

Engagement boudoir doesn’t mean that a couple has to give up their more conventional engagement photography either. One type can be proudly displayed at a wedding or in the home in a way for everyone to see while the other is likely to be shown off under much more restricted conditions.

It’s a very special and creative way of expressing one’s desire for another.

In spite of the engagement connotation, a wedding boudoir shoot can just as easily be executed sometime before or after a wedding. I offer it as a separate shoot, with its own price tag and agreement, to be added to a customized wedding photography package. This way, it’s easy to deduct the cost from a package if a client decides to not go through with it. This is totally understandable.

It can be a downright creepy and frightening experience acting sexually seductive for a photographer you barely know.

What will not happen with me is a hardcore pornography shoot. It’s understandable that most people still don’t know the difference between erotica (a.k.a.: “curiosa”) and hardcore. To many, it’s all hardcore and offensive. I won’t get into the details here but in short, erotica, which boudoir is associated with, actually is recognized as fine art in the Western art world. Hardcore is only recognized as one of the lowest forms of commercial art. Whether actual or simulated, and it’s usually actual, hardcore mainly differs from erotica due to its featuring explicit sexual imagery. This is not characteristic of erotica.

Pursuing engagement boudoir photography takes time, and will likely affect your budget so think about Parts 2 and 3 regarding when to search and book, and average pricing for a professional wedding photographer. If you’re really daring, consider what I said about “student and noob shooters”. I bid you good luck if you’re considering the prospects of “DIY and/or relying on guests”.

Apart from time, costs can rise if you aren’t prepared to do your own hair, makeup and wardrobe if you want a certain look. In such circumstances, I will subcontract a make-up artist and anyone else required, and defer those costs to my client. Maintaining client modesty and privacy is extremely important to me (despite the growing popularity of boudoir, people still undeservedly lose their careers, damage deep personal relationships and develop awful reputations just by starring in this type of imagery) but discounts are possible if I am able to use such images from a shoot for self-promotion.

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Where the Heart Is

#Illustration Explorer | Part 2

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A preliminary sketch for a fighter jet cockpit.


“Necessity is the mother of invention,” so goes the axiom. From time in memorial, our species have had a need to create things that work to improve, protect or simplify our lives or to understand the universe around us. It’s been how we’ve advanced through the centuries, despite our fallacies getting in the way at times; resulting in tremendous destruction and unnecessary pain and suffering.

Sometimes, we can’t simply build these things in our heads or theorize how our surroundings work. We first have to create models. I’ve used all sorts of things like wood, paper and cardboard, Plasticine and Lego to make three-dimensional representations of things I want to draw or paint. There are countless times; however, that no one can even make an actual three-dimensional mockup of anything without first creating a 3D representation through 2D media. This is technical illustration; sometimes referred to as product illustration. I’m going to start referring to it as simply TI.

This is just the first half of this overview. I’ll explain more about that in the end, and tip you off on what’s to come in the follow up.

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A comprehensive drawing for a VTOL gunship.

TI Earning Potential

I want to clear the air. There is good news and bad news about making a living creating TI. I’ll start with the good news. Being a fine artist is not a 9-to-5 job but being a commercial artist, such as any type of illustrator, largely still is. Whether hired by some company fulltime or contracted as freelance, illustrators spend a relatively fixed number of hours each workday on art projects, and get paid for each of those hours. That’s a steady income.

For those parents who get the crap scared out of them when they hear their children say that they want to pursue a career in the visual arts, in most developed regions around the world, being a technical illustrator is still a middle-income job regardless of what the middle-income currency range is within a given country. Technical illustrators include draughtsmen, architects, archaeologists, paleontologists, engineers, biologists of all kinds, set designers and others. So yeah, your kids will make money in TI. Tech illustrators are needed to create drawings, renderings and diagrams for or about practically anything. Well produced TI’s are highly important for communicating important concepts, plans, histories and other facts. TI’s are still necessary, so people are still needed to make them.

Mum and dad, it’s understandable if you have doubts but please don’t hold your visual art inclined youngins back with your fears. As a professional tech illustrator, he or she won’t be a dreaded, stereotypical starving artist. He or she will be a levelheaded, pragmatic and content commercial artist.

Born in 1965, Roy Scorer is a premier technical illustrator based in Swindon, UK. A specialist in freelance motorsport illustrations, he also regularly does work for the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD). I got the chance to ask him frank and personal questions about how he got into the bizz. How he’s been professionally and artistically inspired, and what support, if any, he had from his family.

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Roy Scorer’s precision ghosted illustration of a BTCC XTRAC main case assembly.

“Early 1982 visit to careers officer at secondary school before taking my O Levels. I wanted to be a PE teacher, but I was told I would have to teach a second subject. Easy, art or technical drawing but no, it would have to be a core subject so that ended.”

“Behind the careers officer there was a poster of a cutaway of an aircraft engine, I think. Pencil line one end, then thick and thin ink work finished off in airbrush. Wow now that looked cool. It was the advert poster for the technical illustration course at Portsmouth College of Art and Design. That will do, so I applied after borrowing the poster and showing it to my parents.”

“Parents must have been supportive, as I do not remember them being anti technical Illustration. It would mean leaving home a week after my 17th birthday but that did not phase me or give my parents any concern.”

“I guess parents were supportive, it’s been a few years. Dad was a long-distance continental truck driver and a big motorsport fan. He raced saloon stockcars in the late 60’s early 70’s, raced trucks for the haulage firm he worked for in late 80’s and repaired his own cars. So, Haynes manuals etc. were a crucial item. Full of technical illustrations, so must be a good trade to be skilled in.”

“No impact from parents on me personally on my choice of career. They have always been impressed with what I have done. I tried to become a motorsport artist in the late 80’s and when I had the idea of a stand at the London Olympia 1989 Racing Car Show, dad was happy to be guarantor for the business loan from the bank and also accompanied me every day on the stand, and I sold not a single painting but dad was still upbeat. Better to try than do nothing. That kind of thinking has stuck with me ever since.”

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A TDW (Tech Doc World) Magazine tear page on Roy Scorer’s technical illustration career.

technical illustration fine art marketing career guide tutorial tips course

Clint Ford’s RCA Record Player in full colour.

I was also able to interview one of the US’ top named tech illustrators Clint Ford, and ask him all of the same questions I asked Roy.

Based in Detroit, MI, Clint is a freelance technical illustrator, and he provides an excellent viewpoint of the profession from an alternate region of the world in comparison to his British counterpart. Here’s what he had to say when I asked him about his earliest motivations toward the field.

“I was a senior in high school. My mom and I were flipping through a course catalog trying to figure out what path I should take and after reading the description of the Technical Illustration program, I thought, that’s it. I’ve always loved to draw, especially the little details in everything. I didn’t know of any other illustrators, or even if this would be a real career, it just sounded like a good fit.”

“I was very lucky in that my mom was very supportive, she gave me a big nudge and really helped guide me towards a career that would be a good fit for what limited skills I did have. My grades were not impressive at all in high school and the only thing I liked to do besides ride dirt bikes was drawing.”

“My mom was a creative person and recognized my attention to detail. She probably also didn’t want me to join the air force, or at least, I didn’t.”

I love how both Scorer and Ford had the full support of their parents when they were young. I honestly believe it is critical as to why they have the success they do in their visual arts careers. It also helps when you have at least one loving parent who understands the instinctive need to express oneself creatively.

“It impacted me in a major way,” says Clint about his mother’s support. Without her guidance who knows what I would have done. I am constantly thankful to her for guiding me and putting me through college.”

Graphic design (GD) is another commercial art job that is closely associated with TI. It is quite common for job postings to be for filling TI/GD combined positions. This is because in today’s world, TI and GD are frequently applied in marketing, and market analysis and research. People who enroll in arts academies for GD or TI typically wind up learning the intricacies of both and other types of illustration anyway.

TI opportunities include working for a wide range of firms, and going freelance. Freelancing can be harder to do but can lead to establishing and growing a successful firm of one’s own with a team of subordinate artists. A career in TI can lead to amazing, expressive, freeing, inspiring, satisfying and lucrative paths in a visual artist’s life.

In Part 1 I mentioned Ralph McQuarrie. Prior to conceptualizing for Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and other films and TV shows; literally giving them the everlasting multi-million dollar looks they have, he was a technical illustrator for Boeing. Just think, you may have actually flown on an aircraft that he had a hand in designing.

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Conceptual ink sketch of a starship.

Now, in interviewing Roy Scorer and Clint Ford, I wound up with so much great feedback that I had to split this overview into two phases. I know that some of you don’t particularly like extremely long blog posts.

I hope that you’ll follow the blog into next month to read the conclusion. In Part 3, Roy, Clint and I will cover some of the controversies and benefits of being a technical illustrator. You’ll get to see the kind and quality of art they do that makes them highly sought-after artists. I think it will be a real eye opener for artists and non-artists. Get a real understanding of what it’s like to be this specific kind of professional.

Until then, you really ought to take some time going over Roy’s online portfolio at www.royscorer.co.uk, and his Twitter account @RoyScorerr770.

Clint Ford’s website address is www.fordillustration.com, and you can share tweets with him @clintford42.

Do check out the work of these high-level illustrators.

Happy #Canada150 !

Canada Canadian photography maple leaf urban landscape low light long exposure

The House of Commons, illuminated in the Maple Leaf flag.

Happy 150th Birthday, Canada!
Always beautiful!
Aging gracefully!
Still strong and free!
My home!

So, You’re Looking for a #WeddingPhotographer ? | Part 3

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We Have Arrived


Soon after I get into a wedding photography consultation with a potential client, the subject of cost comes up. Rightly so. Cost is without a doubt one of the most important and frequently asked questions, if not the most important and frequent. Money talks! Photographers and market reporters try to identify the average costs for a pro wedding photographer in magazine articles, blogs and video posts on YouTube. It is a shame that getting realistic numbers is so difficult. There are way too many variables that can affect the cost of a shoot.

I can tell you that no true pro in North America, Europe or Australia will shoot your wedding for the equivalent of CDN$100.00 or less (yes, this has been asked of me) unless they’re a really, really, really close friend or relative. Pro wedding photography is expensive; no ifs ands or buts about it. How expensive depends on what photography package you’re interested in. In Part 2 of this series, I listed the current packages of Modes of Flight (subject to change).

The best way to get a feel for what you’ll need to budget for is to consult 2-5 photographers that are within 40 km (25mi) of where you live (that’s usually substantial), go through their consultation processes and obtain price quotations on packages you are interested in and don’t commit to anything until the price is right.

Ask if the photographer’s consultation and quotes are free. Most are but occasionally you come across some that aren’t. I don’t charge for consultations or quotes, and I’m willing to re-quote until the cows come home. Bear in mind, however, that no photographer can devote an exorbitant amount of time re-quoting for a potential client when there are the needs of paying customers to be met. So, as with answering the “when to search and book” question, don’t waste time in your decision process.

Yes, I live and work in Canada, and throughout all of North America a couple should consider spending 10 – 15% of their overall wedding budget on wedding photography – varying packages also considered. This has been true since at least the late 1980’s, and appears likely to continue for many more years to come. In my research, this percentage range seems to be pretty standard around much of the world. The lowest I’ve come across was 7% from only one source in the UK.

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The Journey Begins

What does the 10 – 15% range mean in Canadian or US dollars? It translates to costs between $2,300 to $10,000 depending on available packages with a chosen photographer. Prices for the world’s top wedding photographers start at around $7,000. Given the aforementioned price range, overall wedding budgets should be planned to be in the $23,000 – $67,000 range. Depending on how fast you can pay your debts, your budget will dictate how close to or far away from your wedding day you’ll have to start planning for your event.

These general costs also depend on region. A $2,300 package (usually bronze; the cheapest standard package offered by a photographer) in Toronto is likely to cost $2,900 or more in NYC. Both, of course, being major cities. Smaller cities and towns tend to be less expensive if their photographers have low overhead and operating costs.

It also depends on the number of photographers covering the event. I generally work alone as a still photographer, I don’t do videography. Even when my wife is my assistant, I’m the only one shooting. A solo photographer helps to keep costs down for the wedding couple. The potential does exist; however, for me to call in a fellow solo wedding photographer on an event that I’m being hired for or assist a photographer if he or she needs an extra shooter. Of course, there are plenty of wedding photography firms that regularly employ a number of photographers and videographers to cover an event. More photographers, apprentices, assistants and media used, however, translates to greater cost to the couple getting married.

There are all kinds of other costs that could be factored in such as travel, work visas, work permits and applicable taxes if you’re hiring a photographer who is from another country or if he, she or they are from your region but must travel to another country where you intend to have your ceremony.

Again, the aforementioned price ranges are just standard ranges. It is still possible to find good photographers who can well undercut or exceed these numbers. I’ve personally done a number of cheaper weddings. Here’s a hint, they were all customized packages. Discounts have also played a part.

Obtaining references can be good. Some clients, although they’re satisfied with their photographer’s services, don’t want to be contacted by strangers looking for verification that a particular shooter is a worthy candidate or not, so if a photographer can’t provide any references, don’t be alarmed. You may be better off just seeing examples of their work online or in person at your home, in their home, studio, at arts and crafts fairs, bridal shows, etc.

To make it easier, I do recommend that you voluntarily provide your photographer a written testimonial; with your name, after all services have been rendered and you are satisfied with the outcomes (the photography and the service). Do it on paper, e-mail, the photographer’s online interactive reference page or even on their blog. No, it’s not tacky.

Do you have to budget for feeding your photographer? It’s wonderful if you do but no, you are not obligated to. I have shot weddings in which there was no soup for me. Today, most shooters are aware that if they’re going to spend hours recording someone’s nuptial events, they should be prepared to tough out not eating for hours, or take something with them with hopes to find opportunities to discreetly nourish themselves. This is especially true for photographers who are diabetics or don’t want to become diabetics. In my experience, most wedding couples don’t feed their photographers.

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Students and Noob Shooters

The price range causes many to question whether or not it’s worth it to have their one day nuptials recorded professionally.

As alternatives to hiring experienced pros looking up photography students and other shooters, who are new to wedding photography but aren’t someone’s apprentices, can be a good idea. Some are really talented, and are willing to work dirt cheap in order to get some experience and hopefully get their names circulated. The drawback is that some others are limited artistically, technically, even technologically and lack too much professional know how in the business sense.

Where do you find these people? Call up colleges, universities and check out online classified ad sites like Kijiji and Craigslist. Also, consider contacting local photography clubs. Besides these, you may know of someone in your family or in your workplace who is beginning to pursue wedding photography, or a friend of a friend who is.

Please keep in mind that if you’re determined to obtain references, the chances of getting any for a student or new beginner are slim to none.

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I Love You Mummy

DIY and/or Relying on Guests

Can you shoot your own weeding, with disastrous results? Yes. I don’t recommend it at all!

These days, the majority of photos taken at virtually any wedding are taken by the friends and family members of the wedding couple. Just about everyone can and does take pictures with all the smartphones, I-Pads, automatic cameras, DSLRs and more that have flooded the global market at a wide range of costs. For a short while, it even became fairly common in the early 2000’s for wedding couples to even place disposable cameras at the reception tables so that guests, with or without their own cams, can shoot to their hearts content. Many wedding couples swore that they were quite pleased with the results but this approach did reveal drawbacks . . .

  1. Most guests only “take” pictures. They don’t “make” pictures with the eye of someone who studies and practices photographic art. Acceptable photographic skills are also likely to go downhill fast if guests have had a little too much to drink before or during the ceremony or reception.
  2. If you put cams on the table, who will get stuck with the costs of printing images? You may never possess pictures that you were counting on being donated to you.
  3. If you put disposable cameras on reception tables, expect them to only be used during the reception. Don’t expect memorable images of the ceremony.
  4. Some disposable cameras are known to fail to operate (I’ve sporadically heard and read criticisms from guests and disappointed newlyweds).

While there are benefits to cheaping out and not using a professional photographer, there are also risks with it. A wedding is an extremely important time in your life. If you can, invest in a professional wedding photographer.

Arboretum Virtualis | XVI

Black and white tree forest landscape photography

Relaxing on the Beach

A blowdown fastigiate Lombardy poplar still able to bear new green leaves in springtime in spite of most of its root system having been torn out of the ground.

It was Anna Jameson (b. 17 May 1794 – d. 17 March 1860) who posed the question, “How do we know that trees do not feel their downfall? We know nothing about it.”

Although I have respected and benefited from forestry, I’ve never been able to fully put out of my mind that trees may experience some as yet undetectable form of suffering when they are dropped to the earth.

Although Jameson’s words were in fact in protest of industrial deforestation and lament for the great trees that were harvested, I have wondered the same on occasion. Even when trees are brought down through natural causes like this one.

#Illustration Explorer | Part 1

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The Soldier — graphite drawing.

WHAT IS ILLUSTRATION (and difference between it and Fine Art)?

Yes, yes, yes!  For those aware of the long-standing intellectual argument as to the perceived or actual difference between illustrators and fine artists, it’s been covered before! I don’t care. It’s a good place to start with this blog series because there are still many people who aren’t aware of the conflict, and it’s important that they find out.

It’s important because some of them will decide to become collectors of original or quality reproduced fine art, instead of picking up something relatively inexpensive or overpriced at Walmart or Ikea. Some who read this post may be novice or experienced amateur artists seriously considering pursuing art as a part-time or full-time career. Some may be concerned about what on earth is their husband, wife or kid getting into. Some may have no problem making a living as an illustrator but will have difficulty getting much of their work shown and sold in galleries. Some who get to the point of being able to exhibit in galleries and speak with invites may even need to convey to someone else that what they’ve created is an illustration; thereby making it clear that they understand the argument and are not pretentiously passing their work off as something it may not be. Some illustrators are going to come up against a high, thick and hard wall of art snobbery from certain fine artists, collectors, critics, historians, gallery owners, committee representatives and curators. I know that I have. Some may just be curious about this aspect of the art world without delving too deeply into it. These are the reasons why going over this topic again is significant.

Bear in mind that in spite of the argument that I’m about to shed light on, there are illustrators and fine artists who are well-aware of the conflict but really don’t regard illustration and fine art as all that different. That’s because they fully recognize and embrace the many aspects of creating visual art that is equally shared by both illustrators and fine artists. The stupid argument — that’s right I said stupid, is left to those who still insist on taking a side.

Firstly, here’s a quick definition of visual art:

They are art forms that create works which are primarily visual in nature, such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, and often modern visual arts (photography, video, and film making) and architecture (more definitions for you in my glossary near the top of the blog).

Getting down to it, illustration is any visual art that is created to enhance, explain, or beautify something. The explanative aspect tends to be my personal favourite when illustration is specifically used as a means to tell a story. Illustration is also frequently created for utility; hence illustration is also a commercial art. Hang on to that fact for the next section.

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Lowlands — created with digital 3D scenery generation software.

Understanding the Difference

It’s not always easy to tell illustration from fine art just by looking. Knowing the difference comes from understanding the motives and means behind creating and potentially obtaining a piece of artwork. Whether or not illustrations are what many refer to as fine art depends on who’s asking. It may even depend on who’s buying. I can tell you that the majority of the established art world — the world in which art is collected for various reasons and the appreciation of art is always highly subjective, largely holds that illustrations are not fine art. Whether you and I like it or not.

At face value I really don’t like this opinion but, in fair consideration, here’s why the majority of art — ahem! — experts, scholars and collectors don’t regard illustrations as fine works of art:

Illustration is commercial art. It’s as simple as that, and it really does make sense when you sweat the details of the matter.

Primarily, a work of fine art is supposed to be created and collected because of its emotive impact.

There’s something going on in an artist’s head; it has to be expressed. As far as visual art goes, it’s not enough to just say, write out or dance out what’s on the mind. It has to be drawn, painted, sculpted, photographed or “Photoshopped”; brought to light in some visually artistic way.

A true art collector sees the creative output of a visual artist, and is moved by the work. The art may evoke a sense of admiration or even disgust. It could be one or more senses of happiness, sadness, loneliness, whatever. Whatever that emotional impact is, it is strong enough to make the collector want to possess the artwork. This sentimental connection between an artist and a collector to a piece of work, is profound and the main reason — if not the only reason, why an artist will sell a piece, and why a collector would invest in a piece. It is because that sentimental connection is the prime — not exclusive, motive for producing and purchasing a piece — even when its price is sky high and the potential for a collector to auction it off later for even more money, is why a piece is one of fine art.

Many still conclude that fine art is art that is created with a high level of skill, and that’s what separates fine art from commercial art. This is a false notion.

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The Limb — a fictional world created with digital 3D scenery generation software.

The prime motive for creating an illustration is to sell it to someone or an enterprise that needs it to enhance, explain, or beautify something — as stated above. The prime motive for acquiring an illustration is so that it can be used to increase financial worth. This doesn’t mean that there’s no sentimentality attached. It also doesn’t mean that the produced work is of substandard quality to that which is considered fine. It also doesn’t mean that commercial art is less popular than fine art. It is about how the importance of monetary gain is placed in relation to sentimentality. If profit precedes sentimentality, then the art is commercial not fine.

It’s fascinating. The distinction actually has a sort of honour about it, doesn’t it?

The twist is that a lot of illustration happens to be created and purchased with sentimentality as the leading motive but this supposedly doesn’t happen enough to warrant illustration to be regularly regarded as fine art.

Just to be clear; I am proudly an illustrator who values fine art, has often illustrated purely in the spirit of a traditional fine artist and has sold such work as commercial and fine art. I fully respect and enjoy both, and I intend to continue doing as much of both as I can for as long as I can. Apart from understanding the arguments, I really could care less about the dissension. I think it’s ludicrous for artists and art lovers to be looking down at each other over this.

Apart from this, there are people who distinguish fine art from commercial art due to an assumption that fine art is strange; reveals unconventional thinking, and the more extreme the better. Another narrow perception, in my humble opinion, which limits creativity when the notion is clearly meant to convey and celebrate unlimited creative freedom.

For example, many people are now reasonably familiar with the work of the American abstract impressionist painter Jackson Pollock. His best known fine art comprises extremely large sheets of canvas, fireboard and other substrates with pigment dripped, splashed and poured all over them although with keen forethought — vision, as to how the overall composition was to end up. Techniques associated with what’s referred to as action painting. Your average person looks at work such as these, hears of the prices these sell for, and typically remarks something along the lines of, “@#?*&%! a four year-old could-a done it!” A completely understandable reaction but the art experts regard Pollock pieces as fine art because they show an eccentrically creative mind. Perhaps even a tortured mind. The prevailing hypothesis, without an official and public diagnosis, is that Pollack suffered from bi-polar disorder which he self-medicated with alcohol until he killed himself.

Really, I think the notion that odd or avant-garde art is fine art is used as a means to identify fine art for intellectual and even utilitarian purposes. After all, how else would you be able to distinguish illustration from fine art in a market that claims to create and collect art primarily for the sentimental appreciation of them?

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A cartoon panel for a recipe book.

So, consider the art of my all-time favourite American illustrator, Ralph McQuarrie. His best-known work are the conceptualizations and matte paintings used to create Star Wars films (other illustrators used to create matte paintings for the Star Wars films of the 70’s and 80’s include Chris Evans, Mike Pangrazio, Frank Ordaz and Harrison Ellenshaw). They are certainly created with vision and emotional pride, and are executed with tremendous skill. These specific works of art; however, never would have been created if McQuarrie was never professionally hired to create them for the production of movies — artistically creative in their own right, that have continued to generate phenomenal financial wealth for decades afterward. Instead, Ralph would have made other phenomenal illustrations. His artwork is commercial. They likely will never be regarded as fine by the majority of the fine art world.

A lot of times, aspects like subject matter plays a part in preventing an illustration from being regarded as fine art. Although they are categorized as contemporary art, sci-fi and fantasy art like those of McQuarrie, Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell (I like to include Olivia de Berardinis in these genres even though she leans far towards pinup, and whose work actually has potential to be collected as fine art) are still not considered fine art by the established art world. This is simply because such visual art is rarely likely to be displayed in highbrow galleries, not recognized and funded by governments as intellectual creations, not a major subject of study and discourse in art schools and aren’t recognized as being highly influential in shaping Western culture (although I do believe the latter is increasingly becoming true).

Timing also has an impact on the acceptance of a visual art as either a commercial art or fine art. Because William Blake existed when he did (b. 28 November 1757 – d. 12 August 1827), his work is regarded and collected as fine art. If he lived in our time, however, many of his paintings and drawings would be regarded as fantasy art and would unlikely be collected and fawned over by fine art connoisseurs. In fact, many of today’s art historians regard Blake not as a fantasy artist but certainly as the greatest inspiration behind fantasy art.

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Inferior Conjunction — digital illustration created with the use of three different software.

Now consider a profound occasion when illustration becomes collected and valued like fine art. If you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about comic books and graphic novels. I don’t know about you but I love them. Reading them, writing them, illustrating them, the history of them. I’m going to give you just one example out of many, a feel-good story, of how a commercial art can be valued like Blue Chip fine art. Maybe you’ve heard this one before.

Gustave Wenzel was a German immigrant to the US who became a fairly successful entrepreneur.  One of his businesses back in the 1920’s was the collection and sale of comic books.

Fast forward to 2012, America’s northeast coast was hammered by Hurricane Sandy.  The late Gustave’s grandson Brick Wenzel, and his wife Britta lost Salty’s, their Jersey Shore ice cream shop, to the storm.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) priced the loss out to be approximately $800,000US.  Brick and Britta were advised that they’ll have coverage paid by Christmas of that year.  Unfortunately, things didn’t go as hoped because on account of skyrocketing premiums, the Wenzel’s had cancelled their insurance shortly before the storm hit.  The Wenzel’s fell on financially difficult times.

While sorting through stuff that survived, more than 12,000 of Gustave’s old, and apparently well-protected, comic books were discovered after being locked away and forgotten for the past 18 years.  This collection covered all genres; sports, westerns, romance, satire, science fiction, fantasy, detective.  You name it, it was represented.

The books were appraised and auctioned off through Vincent Zurzola, president of Comic Connect.  A return of $300,000 was enough to get the Wenzel’s rebuilding a new Salty’s in Lavalette, NJ.  People do collect these things just as they would of fine art.

The one true concern that comes from all of this is that of bias. There is no logical reason to view these terms of fine art and commercial art as triggers to turn noses up against one visual art or the other, even though that’s the reality that is unlikely to change anytime soon. One should not be considered highbrow while the other as crude. Both are highly respectable, creative and valuable expression. Illustration is highly respectable.

Now, all things considered, the following questions are posed to you:

  • Do you regard illustration and fine art as completely distinct entities?
  • If you do, does it really matter to you; why or why not?

So, You’re Looking for a #WeddingPhotographer ? | Part 2

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The absolute best time to start planning any aspect of a wedding is at least a full year ahead of the actual wedding date. This includes, location, costs, everything; therefore, wedding photography is no exception.

In this world, it is rare but certainly possible to meet someone, fall in love and tie the knot in the timeframe of two months or less but nine-point-five times out of ten, it is not going to help you to get the picture-perfect wedding that almost everyone wants. Wedding photographers carefully keep schedules because we try to stay extremely busy, and much rides on our contractual and fiduciary commitments to our clients. If you’re cutting it close, you’ll likely find it mighty difficult to book a photographer for your special day, so planning well in advance is highly recommended.

Similar to having portrait photography done, when you seek out a wedding photographer he, she or they will have various standard packages that you can select from. Packages can make choosing so simple. Modes of Flight currently offers the following packages (subject to change):

Bronze Wedding Photography Package:

  • Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Post-Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location – garden, park, greenhouse, church exterior, etc.) – wedding portraiture is to be taken at this time.
  • Reception (clients must specify shooting location) – photography concludes after the cutting of the wedding cake.
  • Post-production digital studio work.
  • Proofs of all digital images (all proofs will be printed singly as borderless 4×6″ prints with matt finish).
  • Digital images provided by client choice of USB flash drive, DVD-R or CD-R (no printing, and USB flash drive will be the default choice if client prefers MOF to choose).
  • Estimated output; 100-200 images.
  • 1 Hardbound proof Book/Wedding album.
  • Expected delivery time, 3 months post-event.

Silver Wedding Photography Package:

  • 1 unframed Engagement Picture (clients must specify shooting location, and picture size of 8×12″, 11×14″ or 11×16″) – the image will be borderless.
  • Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Post-Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location – garden, park, greenhouse, church exterior, etc.) – wedding portraiture is to be taken at this time.
  • Reception (clients must specify shooting location) – photography concludes after the cutting of the wedding cake.
  • Post-production digital studio work.
  • Proofs of all digital images (all proofs will be printed singly as borderless 4×6″ prints with matt finish).
  • 1 unframed Wedding Portrait (clients must specify picture size of 8×12″, 11×14″ or 11×16″) – the image will be borderless.
  • Digital images provided by client choice of USB flash drive, DVD-R or CD-R (USB flash drive will be the default choice if client prefers MOF to choose).
  • Estimated output; 300-500 images.
  • 1 Hardbound proof Book/Wedding album.
  • Expected delivery time, 3 months post-event.

Gold Wedding Photography Package:

  • Engagement Party (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Bridal Shower (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Stag and Doe Party (in the case of separate Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties, clients must specify which party is to be photographed, and shooting location).
  • 1 framed Engagement Picture (clients must specify shooting location, and picture size of 8×12″, 11×14″, 11×16″ or 12×18″) – the image will be borderless.
  • Wedding Ceremony Rehearsal (photography is typically not performed on this occasion but it is advised that the photographer be included in this function for planning purposes) – clients must specify if rehearsal photography is desired.
  • Rehearsal Dinner/Party (photography is typically not performed on this occasion but it is advised that the photographer be included in this function for planning purposes) – clients must specify if rehearsal photography is desired.
  • Pre-ceremony (behind scenes) – typically concerning the bride’s preparation (clients must specify if groom or other half of partnership will be photographed instead, and shooting location).
  • Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Post-Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location – garden, park, greenhouse, church exterior, etc.) – wedding portraiture is to be taken at this time.
  • Reception (clients must specify shooting location) – photography concludes after the cutting of the wedding cake.
  • Post-production digital studio work.
  • Proofs of all digital images (all proofs will be printed singly as borderless 4×6″ prints with matt finish).
  • 1 Framed Wedding Portrait (clients must specify picture size of 8×12″, 11×14″, 11×16″, 12×18″) – the image will be borderless.
  • Digital images provided by USB flash drive.
  • Estimated output; 1000-1120 images.
  • 1 Hardbound proof Book/Wedding album.
  • Expected delivery time, 3 months post-event.

Customized Wedding Photography Package:

Clients are advised to contact MOF. A consultation is still a must when customizing a wedding shoot with me. My consultations, like my price quotations, are always free.

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Bearing Witness

Post-Production and Time

The hours a photographer spends photographing your engagement and wedding certainly add to your costs. Post-production, which is executed after the big day, is another major factor to consider. It has a profound psychological impact on your personal value system; things like vanity, is very time sensitive and; therefore, affects cost considerably.

Up until roughly the mid-1990’s, it was fairly common for newlyweds to wait 6 months to a year to receive their albums and prints. With digital photography sweeping the world at that time, competing wedding photographers have had to push themselves to curtailing package completion times to 3 and even 2 months. To do this requires photographers to invest in and heavily rely on quality image editing software. Even with the newest technology, these completion times can still be extremely tight.

Post-prod in wedding photography is broadly known as photo retouching. Photo retouching is not restricted to the images of famous actors, fashion models, beauty pageant contestants, sports figures, Fortune 500 moguls, major retail outlets, consumer product producers and politicians. You’d be hard pressed to find a professional portrait or wedding photographer today of any status who doesn’t touch up at least the majority of the photos in the packages of everyday non-celebrities to at least a small degree. Do clients fully understand this? It appears that most do but there are clearly some who don’t. Even of the ones who do, it seems there is some portion of them who only have a vague idea of what goes on to doll-up their photos. This is why some portrait and wedding photographers point that fact out on their websites, during client consultations, in their price quotations and sometimes in their consignment agreements. They’re trying their best to make sure that all of their clients are well-informed.

So, why bother “Photoshopping” the pictures at all? It’s primarily about supply and demand. When prospective clients look at the untouched sample photos of one photographer, and compare the results with the retouched shots of another shooter, most of the clients select the shooter who retouches. This happens regardless of if the client usually is critical of retouching, or even if the non-retouch shooter is able to charge less than the photographer who retouches. Clients have a perception of what is a better standard of portrait or wedding shot. It’s the standard that says this photographer will make beautiful images of me, my children, family, husband or wife. With this perception, clients will demand those results from select photographers who need and want to make money by supplying the type of images that clients want.

Additionally, retouching is done so that; dare I say it, photographers don’t get sued for not retouching enough or at all. Such suits are not yet common, fortunately, but modern society’s profound obsession with always looking good has definitely set the stage for it. Photo retouching is that expected now.

If you have reservations about having it done or are even interested in pushing the envelope, you should definitely advise your prospective photographer.

Do I retouch photos? Yes, and quite often. Converting colour street photography to black and white, and post processing them to make their blacks darker and their whites brighter is largely what happens there. Street photography is a genre that requires far more depictions of reality than glam and fashion images. I pull out almost all the stops; however, on most — not all, portrait and wedding photography while still making clients look natural (even I have my own perception of what is too much retouching). I also encourage retouching for those types of images to my clients. No one has complained once about it.

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Purple Rose

Extra-Creative Post-Prod and Time

Beautiful, is when clients want to push the post-prod envelope by heightening creative photography. For examples, their entire wedding has a feudal Japanese, medieval European, 1700’s European, 1800’s American wild west, cyberpunk or some other theme in which almost everyone is in costume. To top the aesthetics off, the couple wants 25 – 100% of their images post-produced with creative effects like bokeh, long exposures, HDR, rotoscoping, cross-process colouring, Infra-Red, Sabatier, Orton, tilt-shifting (seriously not recommended for wedding photography) and so much more. The downside to this creativity is that clients really should be prepared to shell out a lot more money for this level of creativity, and expect wait times of 6 months to a year.

Due to time and cost constraints, most photographers know to not even suggest this level of creativity to their clients. This road is only ventured down if the client asks for it, and the photographer is certain that he, she or they can deliver.

I originally learned how to shoot film in my teens but when I photograph a wedding, I shoot digitally and I will capture events by taking a combination of formal and informal portraits through an artistic and skillful melding of three wedding photography styles being, from the most relied upon to the least:

  • Illustrative

Western art is typically characterized as a random depiction of a person, place or thing with little context. It is why westerners use the phrase “Art for art’s sake”. When a person, place or thing is visualized in the context of one or more circumstances in a story or poem, however, that art; whether two-dimensional or three-dimensional, specifically becomes an illustration. Paleontologists, archaeologists and anthropologists have traced illustration back to when mankind communicated the events of our lives to one another on the walls of caves as a visual language. It is tried and true. As I am primarily an illustrator, this is my most used style for conveying the story of a wedding and the romantic circumstances surrounding it.

In illustrative style wedding photography, I think in terms of design elements by placing the wedding couple, their entourage and guests in settings of interesting and flattering compositions and backgrounds. Careful use of lighting is imperative. Separately before vows are exchanged or together after the ceremony, a bride and groom is encouraged to interact with their bridal party to produce spontaneous and natural images.

  • Photojournalism

A style that is quite commonly used in modern wedding photography, and largely following the curt or summarized story telling practices of news photographers, photojournalism is essentially a series of candid photographs covering the moments of an entire event. The cherished moments of a wedding are captured as they spontaneously occur.

  • Traditional

The traditional wedding photography style involves using creativity to pose the wedding couple and their party or stage endearing moments to be captured by the photographer. Standard wedding photography industry favourites and new visions can be achieved with this style.

Special requests and candid photography of family and friends can also be taken. The inclusion of various colour and tint-type images are best left to my judgement unless specified in the Wedding Photography Contract. Clients are encouraged to inquire about the possibilities of expressing their artistic vision through the free consultation. Post-production work to achieve their preferred look may include: colour balancing, colour blending, spot-colouring, black and white, duotoning, tritoning, quadtoning, hand-painted effects, filters, glamour retouching, Orton effect, etc.

So, if you want to get married start planning your wedding day as early as you can. Right down to your photography requirements.

Arboretum Virtualis | XV

Black and white tree forest landscape photography, Modes of Flight, #ModesofFlight, Art, Photography

@ModesofFlight featured in On Your Doorstep Mag

So, artists, art lovers and my most loyal followers may recall me explaining in prior posts what happened midway through 2016 that severely curtailed my MOF affairs. Just before that time Karen Thurman; landscape photographer and founder of GaiaGuardians, contacted me expressing her group’s interest in MOF photography. She had begun inviting artists, whose work she respects, to make submissions for her pending online magazine. It is because of my aforementioned setbacks, and efforts to reestablish myself in the visual art world why I didn’t get to see the result of my submission until early May 2017. I can now say and reveal my accomplishment of getting Arboretum Virtualis featured in On Your Doorstep, Issue 2, September 2016.

As issue 1 of 2017 is already out, I am proud to show the tear sheets of the issue MOF was featured in.

Black and white tree forest landscape photography, Modes of Flight, #ModesofFlight, Art, Photography

On Your Doorstep (OYD) is GaiaGuardians’ online periodical, beautifully edited by Lisa Dorenfest (@Dorny) and set to a Joomag digital publishing platform.

I know of no other environmentally conscious art publication that is as appealing, informative and non-threatening, and I’m looking forward to seeing the series grow.

Black and white tree forest landscape photography, Modes of Flight, #ModesofFlight, Art, Photography

Apart from these tear sheets, if you want to see the entire issue that Arboretum Virtualis was profiled in, click HERE. By clicking the hyperlink, you will be asked to subscribe to the magazine but it’s absolutely free, and hassle free. GaiaGuardians will not share your e-mail address, collect info from you, violate your privacy rights by any means, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time. That’s how things should be.

If, like me, hearing about environmental matters through the regular media stresses you out and makes you want to tune out, this magazine has the most creative though factual way of keeping people tuned in and reflecting in a positive way on their impact on nature. OYD is a beautiful, affable, contemporary and smartly delivered grassroots mag worth taking notice of.

Black and white tree forest landscape photography, Modes of Flight, #ModesofFlight, Art, Photography

Thank you Karen, and thank you Lisa.

#Illustration Explorer | Preface

illustration fine art marketing career guide tutorial tips course

“Where My Dreams Soar”—landscape art created with 3D terrain generating software.

Let me be direct!

It’s funny how things go. I grew up drawing, painting, writing fiction and illustrating them, and I’ve spent much of my adult life promoting myself as an illustrator. At the same time, I produced digital graphics and thoroughly enjoyed photography but because I didn’t promote myself as strongly in the latter two disciplines, especially photography, many people had no idea that I was quite capable of these other visual arts.

When I started doing photography almost exclusively, that’s when people started to notice that I didn’t just draw and paint. I even experienced certain sarcastic so-and-so’s, who thought they knew me, getting their digs in; “Oh, he thinks he a photographer now!” Now? Seriously, I’ve been doing it for many years. Just because I didn’t invite you along for the ride of my life so that you could see all what I’ve been up to, doesn’t mean that I’ve suddenly taken on something new.

The only now in this is that my photography has become so dominant in my repertoire over more recent years that I am coming across people who have no idea that I am originally an illustrator. Even some that I’ve previously told that I’m an illustrator completely forget what I’ve told them because they still haven’t seen that body of work from me.

It’s unfortunately true that for a lot of people, “Seeing is believing.”

Well, I’m still not giving up my photography but truthfully, it’s high time that I breathe new life into my illustrative roots. So, here I go.

This blog series is about facts about illustration. I won’t explore every type, style and movement of illustration that there has ever been, there’s just way too many. I’ll focus on those that are largely still practiced, and that I personally enjoy creating. Of course, I am illustrating this series.

From the outset, the first group of topics to be covered will be:

  • Preface (you’re already there)
  • Part 1 What is Illustration (and the difference between it and fine art)?
  • Part 2 Opening to an Overview of Technical Illustration
  • Part 3 The Conclusion to an Overview of Technical Illustration
  • Part 4 Figurative Illustration
  • Part 5 Dry Media for Figurative Illustration
  • Part 6 Figurative Illustration — What Kind of Drawing?

Now, if you’re a professional or amateur career artist, the topics I address may be a little humdrum for you. I’m very excited that you might tune in but I’m not concerned if you don’t stick around long. Here’s why . . .

This series also serves to give me the chance to spit on my favourite myth. The myth of the starving artist.. I really enjoy showing people that the label “artist”, whether commercial or fine, is not synonymous with “deadbeat”.

So, if you are not an artist but have kids who are, and are worried about their futures, this series is written especially with you in mind. It’s a chance for you to learn about the worldwide commercial arts industry, and how to help your child embark on a successful art career path.

There still are a lot of parents who don’t know the potential of their children as artists, and only fully believe the constantly perpetuated typecasts. In this series, I will certainly shed very bright light on the low points of being an illustrator. I will also, nevertheless, put my foot straight up anyone’s baseless negative assumptions.

Similarly, this series is for those of you who possess a profound natural talent for visual art from the cradle but, at some point in your lives, you resisted the need to nurture your talent out of some notion that it wasn’t going to get you anywhere pragmatic. I hope that this series inspires you to get back to one of your greatest forms of personal expression and liberty. I hope that it motivates you to try to market some of your creations as a commercial artist, a fine artist or both.

Finally, if you’re interested in becoming a collector of fine art, and don’t yet understand or are even aware of the differences and similarities between fine art and commercial art, then I hope this series will heighten your awareness in terms of aesthetics.

You’ve got only one life to live. Experience and absorb as much of it as you can, and enjoy it!

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