Using the Fujifilm X-T10 in Washington DC

Last November, my good friend, Dylan, invited me to travel to LA for the Adobe Max conference and am I glad he did!

Not only was the conference amazing (I'm already registered to go back in 2016)!  At the and of the opening session, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Photoshop, they announced that everyone in attendance would go home with a brand new Fujifilm X-T10 and 18-55 lens kit! As a Canon shooter, my initial thought was “That’s cool. Maybe I’ll sell it on Ebay and pay myself back for some of the conference.” But once I opened the box, I knew I was in love. It was built like a tank. The classic style, small size, a lens felt better than any Canon lens I own, and the dials—oh, the dials. It was such a departure from my Canon DSLRs where everything is on a screen. It was tactile, and although new, felt very familiar. I was smitten...I was in deep smit. 

Since then, I have purchased the 14mm f2.8, 18mm f2, 35mm f2 (LOVE), 56mm f1.2, 27mm f2.8 (probably gonna sell it), and the 23mm f1.4 (AMAZING) hand grip and thumb rest. As you can tell, I’m hooked. This camera literally goes EVERYWHERE with me. My wife and kids may be planning an intervention. 

I have read of many other photographers making the big switch from Canon or Nikon to Fuji. I’ve been tempted to do so myself. After bringing both kits along for a photoshoot earlier this year, the Fuji performed admirably in the field and I actually enjoyed shooting it much more, but the real test came when comparing raw files in Lightroom. In low-light (which all of this project was) the full-frame Canon had the Fuji beat hands-down when it came to noise and detail. That being said, I’m honestly not sure if my clients could tell the difference between the two files. As far as color and AWB, the Fuji was the clear winner. I barely had to make any adjustments in Lightroom. If I was shooting weddings or photo journalism and not as much commercial work, it would be a no-brainer to make the switch. I am now eagerly awaiting the Fujifilm X-T2 rumored to arrive this summer. If they can close the gap enough with Canon when it comes to low-light performance, it may be enough for me to make the switch this year. I’d happily sell my entire Canon system for something that brings me this much joy to shoot. And, at the end of the day, I'd say that’s the most important thing. 

Last week, my family took a vacation to Washington DC and, of course, the camera and lenses were with me for the entire trip, safely tucked away in my Lowepro Slingshot Edge 250 AW with Peak Design Capture Pro attached to the strap for easy access. Most of my photos were shot inside museums or at night and this camera, once again, blew my mind. 

As an aside, I also picked up a Fujifilm Instax Share Printer and printed photos for my kids along the way. It was such a blast! They are far too young to have any recollection of printed photographs, much less instant prints. The joy they got from watching the images develop before their eyes was worth the price of the printer and then some.

The Lincoln Memorial at night

The Lincoln Memorial at night

The Washington Monument, shot from the FDR Memorial

The Washington Monument, shot from the FDR Memorial

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress

The Capitol Mall

The Capitol Mall

The Martin Luther King Memorial at night

The Martin Luther King Memorial at night

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Dean and Deluca, Georgetown

Dean and Deluca, Georgetown

The Whitehouse, photographed from the top of the Washington Monument

The Whitehouse, photographed from the top of the Washington Monument

The Washington Monument shot from the MLK Memorial at night

The Washington Monument shot from the MLK Memorial at night

Window shopping in Alexandria

Window shopping in Alexandria

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court

The Lincoln Memorial at night

The Lincoln Memorial at night

This summer, I’m headed back to Cambodia and I CANNOT WAIT to bring this camera along. This is my fourth trip and in the past I have either travelled with a point-and-shoot or with my 5D MkII and 40mm pancake lens (still too big). To be able to bring a whole lens kit with me will be amazing! 

WOSU is in the studio today!

Special thanks to WOSU (Columbus' PBS affiliate) for covering Pinchflat this year. They came by the studio today to interview me and document my process in creating silkscreen printed art for the event. Next week they will be shooting us in the print shop as Leah Storrs prints the posters, then on to the event in May where they will be covering all of the action. The story will be featured on Broad and High in an episode airing later in the year. 

So come by Pinchflat on May 7 to support local artists, buy cool art, and get your smiling face on the show!

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Adobe iPad Pro and Pencil video

Dylan and I were invited to a top secret, invite only Apple + Adobe Geekfest at the Adobe Conference and were interviewed about our thoughts after trying out the unreleased iPad Pro. Then this happened:

Watch and hear what some of the world's most creative people think about using Illustrator Draw, Photoshop Mix, Photoshop Sketch, Photoshop Fix and other Creative Cloud apps on the new iPad Pro. The iPad Pro brings a whole new reality to doing real work on a tablet.

Why spec work is never a good idea

As a designer I’ve had the good fortune to design, rebrand and launch entirely new companies with an identity that literally reaches millions of people. It’s an incredibly gratifying and humbling experience. They are the kind of experiences you dream about when you run a small design consultancy. 

However, for as many opportunities we’ve been given to provide jaw-dropping creative services, we’ve also been slack-jawed at the number of opportunities that have eluded us. And it’s a problem that all of us in the creative community face. And often we lose not to the wrong agency or competitor, but to the wrong tactic: spec work. 

Considering that creative firms bank their reputation on producing compelling design assets for clients that enhance brand value, it shouldn’t be surprising that many come to the pitch table or respond to the bid or RFP with fresh ideas and designs. After all, this is what most prospective clients really want. They are eager to get to the destination, even if it means a shortcut in the journey and discovery process.  

And that is the real issue at hand: spec work devalues the strategies that we, as creatives, proclaim. Or put another way, getting something new or getting there fast should not trump getting something right.  

Worse yet, spec work suggests that having an in-depth conversation to understand the need for change, what’s working and not working, and doing a deeper strategic dive on what will resonate with key audiences is somehow not necessary. Good design is always about solving problems. Coming to the table with solutions in-hand says to the client that their unique problem is unimportant, that their experience with the brand doesn’t matter, and that a solution can be found without collaboration between client and creative. 

But here’s what we do know:

Ineffective creative will only lead to the desire for different creative. And anyone who has been in this situation will likely agree – that’s not a good use of time, talent or resources. 

Changing this is the responsibility of parties on both sides of the table. Here are three practical considerations that can help both the agency and the organization seeking creative services. 

  • Organizations shouldn’t ask for or require spec work. Organizations that are issuing a request for creative services should avoid asking for creative expressions to their challenges before they’ve shared the depths and data of the problem. Instead, ask creatives how they solved similar problems using real client examples. By understanding the context of a problem and the solution applied, organizations will have a better understanding of how any firm goes about solving problems. 
  • Creatives gain more by avoiding spec work. Proposals are a time-intensive endeavor for everyone. Cutting spec work does two things: eliminates time involved in creating mock solutions without a full understanding of the problem; and prevents prospective clients from being seduced solely by style rather than substance. In order for good design to work, it must be more than simply good looking.
  • Know thy bidder – and vice versa. Organizations should do their homework and have an idea of the talent they want to attract to their assignment and who they think might be a good match. Also, while creatives enjoy stretching their wings, doing so in an RFP is far from ideal. Rather, focusing on a relevant pitch highlighting a track history of success is one that begs to be noticed and makes it easier to land on the short list of finalists. 

If organizations and creatives are willing to commit to a strategic process that supersedes the shiny new thing, then solutions – as well as relationships – are more likely to stick and provide a real return on investment.