studio photography

portrait of Constantin von Jascheroff

Natural light portrait of German actor Constantin von Jascheroff in Berlin.

Constantin von Jascheroff by Jonas Jungblut

Constantin von Jascheroff by Jonas Jungblut

I was in Berlin recently and met up with Constantin von Jascheroff for a quick portrait shoot. We have been working on these portraits for over a decade now. Everytime I am in Berlin we meet and take some portraits. I’ll post some more over the next weeks, but this one stood out. We had shot for a while and ended up in this location (his front door with a long dark hallway behind him). He shaved his face except for his mustache for this last set up. and when he told me that he had just finished dubbing Tarantino’s latest release “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (starring Brad Pitt, Leo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie) I couldn’t help but tell him he reminded me of Pitt.

Natural light portrait

Natural light portrait of artist Nikola Bartenbach in Austria.

portrait of Nikola Bartenbach

portrait of Nikola Bartenbach

I am currently in Austria working on a few personal projects. One of those is portraying local people and recently I photographed artist Nikola Bartenbach.

This was photographed with no light modification. He was standing in a doorway with a dark garage behind him and the light just wrapped around him like this. Finding the right light for portraits is often times easier than one would think, or maybe I have done it for long enough to where it just seems to be like that.

When you are on the road and can’t bring light modifiers or don’t have access to any being able to see the light is essential. Travel portraiture mostly relies on the right light but the same practice can be applied to a more organized portrait. Just spending a few minutes looking around the area and locating a spot that is naturally suited for a portrait can make all the difference.

Social Media Photography

Shooting for social media and what to charge for it

It’s been thrown in to the usage for a while but I was thinking about it more recently and then started looking into what people charge for social media photo use at this point. Are people charging based on reach, engagement, time? The numbers are so easy to access for social media I was wondering if a post that will receive an average of 500K views will be priced similarly as an ad in a print magazine with a circulation of 500K or half that, or a quarter? Which is it?

I dug in a little and found this article on aphotoeditor.com. It’s from 2014!!! In social media terms thats ancient! Instagram had 300 million users then (It now has over 1 billion)! I was surprised, though. The rate was much higher than I would have thought. Also, take note of the graph: YouTube is huge!!! And it still is! Don’t forget about YouTube!

There was also THIS article, from 2014 as well, but still worth the read. The main thing I got out of it is that rates were rather all over the place at that point which makes sense. But what about now?

I found THIS article on PDN (from 2018). It has a lot of info in it and I suggest you check it out. One thing that I hadn’t considered as much, but this article talks about it, is this idea: Once a photographer posts an image endorsing a brand, competitive brands may not be interested to work with this photographer for an unknown time. Thus taking the photographer out of that marketplace which requires a higher rate to make it worth it!

Keating warns, “Understand that when you’re attaching your name to a brand that there’s a reasonable expectation that a competitor will no longer be interested in hiring you. It’s probably not forever but it’s a period of time, maybe a year, maybe less, it depends on the client.” While clients might ask for some exclusivity, she has to explain, she says, “This is why you need to pay more for this. They [the photographers] will be out of the marketplace for a while.” This applies equally whether the sponsor is paying the photographer a fee or bartering free gear.
— https://www.pdnonline.com/photography-business/photo-clients/how-photographers-charge-for-social-media-advertising-jobs/

I then looked at a couple photographers that came up in google searches for social media pricing. They were all local portrait/wedding photographers across the US who offered social media packages. Not really what I was looking for but still interesting to see. The average prize for around 20 photos was $1500. I don’t know what goes into those shoots but I would think they have small production if any. If you are a local photographer and do 3-4 of those a week you are doing pretty good!

It seems photographers have started treating social media for what it is: Advertising. There is still a lot of education that needs to happen out there but I was relieved by what I found. One thing that the graphs really drove home is the size of Facebook and especially YouTube. I knew the stats but seeing it in this graph really made me realize the power there.

I’d love to get some input on this from anyone who has it. Leave a comment!

Photographing 20 Strangers in Isla Vista

Step out of your comfort zone and photograph 20 random people on the street.

I studied photography at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara. Known for educating students on the highest level of technical skill when it comes to photography there was one (amongst others) infamous assignment that dealt with approaching a stranger in order to photograph them. This was obviously not intended to teach a technical but a communication skill. It also forced you to deal with your fears and doubts. It challenged your comfort zone. It was called 25 Strangers.
Basically you had to produce a portfolio of 25 random strangers. Build a pop-up portrait studio in a park, photograph the strangers in a bar, at the pool, the retirement home or at the law firm on the corner of your street. I don’t remember the specific rules of the assignment but I put up a white background and had each of my strangers add a word to a sentence on a small chalk board and then I photographed them with the chalk board. I called it: 25 Strangers build a sentence. Surprisingly they didn’t. The sentence was grammatically and logically just … not a sentence. No idea what went wrong there…?

Anyways. The other day I remembered this assignment and decided to revisit it. 15 years and many strangers in front of my lens, from celebrities to homeless people in the back alleys of Mumbai, later I figured I should be a lot better at this. But it still was challenging the comfort zone a little. No control over the situation and you have to talk a random stranger into taking their portrait.

So Hugo and I went into Isla Vista on a Friday morning and approached a bunch of strangers. Isla Vista is a blend of University students, homeless people and middle aged surfers. Generally a demographic open to random experiences. This worked in our favor I think. Still, it took a little time to get groovy with.

The amazing thing about doing this was people opening up and telling stories. As you can see in the video some of the strangers shared memories, vented or maybe simply wanted to chat. It was amazing to see how quickly one can dive a lot deeper into a community by simply striking up a conversation with random people on the street. And using a portrait project like this is of course the perfect ice breaker.

I do this type of thing on assignment all the time but it is different when you go into your own community and when there is no agenda or story that you need to tell. Just letting your ego go, the creative juices flow and welcoming any input with open arms. Fun!

NASCAR at Auto Club Speedway

NASCAR - photographing and vlogging a racing series like no other

NASCAR at Auto Club Speedway

NASCAR at Auto Club Speedway

I am a portrait photographer. I photograph people. Most of the time in a studio setting. Controlled lighting, background, props. But then I also travel quite a bit and shoot editorial stories for magazines. I have been all over the world to shoot editorial stories and photographed while riding an elephant, 60 miles off the coast on a fishing trawler, hanging off a vertical cliff, while having food poisoning, underwater, the list goes on…

So naturally I am interested in the story. I try not to decide what to photograph based on my opinion on the subject matter. Actually, let me rephrase. If anything, I like to explore topics I either don’t know much about or have an opinion on which isn’t based on first person experience. If you really want to learn about a topic dive into it and experience it.

Queue NASCAR.

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Through a close friend I was invited by Aric Almirola to watch the 2019 race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Full access to the pits and drivers area. This is how you go experience something you don’t know much about. Now, full disclosure: I had been to a NASCAR race before, in Sonoma. But this one was a track and not an oval. (Yes, both are in California and both are NASCAR races…).

So what did I learn? Well, you can watch the video linked in this post to follow along. Otherwise what I can tell you is that the viewer demographic is rather narrow. And it is what you would expect.

Aric Almirola at Auto Club Speedway in 2019

Aric Almirola at Auto Club Speedway in 2019

But there is something else I noticed here and also the first time I went in Sonoma. NASCAR is a racing series that operates like it is the 1970’s. While Formula 1 cars and teams are run by technology stock cars aren’t. They fuel the cars during pit stops by gravity fed canisters and they don’t have much data on the car while it is on the track. What this means is that the driver is mostly responsible to deal with the car. Driving as well as communicating how the car feels and if something may need adjusting in the pits. I call it out in the vlog, it’s good old driving. No readings on the screen in the pits and then a command on how to drive. The driver actually has to feel it out and do it. (Now going around an oval, which is the large majority of events probably doesn’t require as much input as a regular track but I wouldn’t know that… I can only assume. And assumptions can be dangerous.).

Aric Almirola taking off after a pit stop at Auto Club Speedway in 2019.

Aric Almirola taking off after a pit stop at Auto Club Speedway in 2019.

Sooo… what did I take away from actually going to a race and experiencing it myself? It’s a lot of things that you have to go experience for yourself. You reading my account is just like reading any other. My point with this whole post is that to really learn about something you actually just need go experience it first hand!

You should still watch the video. Do it! It’s fun! It’s entertaining! It’s NASCAR!!!

At the Bookstore

stock images photographed at a bookstore

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Finding a good bookstore these days isn’t that easy. In Santa Barbara we can call ourselves lucky to have Chaucer’s, an amazing bookstore. During a stock photo shoot a little while ago we were in the area and so we stopped in and I took this image of the model browsing the collection.

Encounter at the Salton Sea

when a photograph magically presents itself

fisherman at the Salton Sea by Jonas Jungblut

fisherman at the Salton Sea by Jonas Jungblut

A few years back I went on a photoshoot for L1 Premium Goods at the Salton Sea in California. I drove my Vanagon from Santa Barbara down there so it could be used as a prop. The moment I pulled up to the water’s edge this scene presented itself to me. All I had to do is press the shutter and take the photograph. The image was later selected by the Creative Review and printed in their annual book.

It’s amazing how having your camera always on your side can allow for images like these. In this case it was my Fuji Xpro1 rangefinder. The camera is small enough to just carry around with you all the time and I photographed many scenes with it and its follow up model, the Xpro2, simply because I had the camera on me when the image presented itself.

Santa Barbara trail running

photographing running on and off trail in Santa Barbara

trail running in Santa Barbara by photographer Jonas Jungblut

trail running in Santa Barbara by photographer Jonas Jungblut

I am lucky to have a solid runner as a buddy so we head out every now and then to photograph some running for stock or portfolio images here in Santa Barbara. The terrain is perfect for running of all kinds. From trail running to urban running, Santa Barbara has it covered. Difficulty from easy to painful, all here…

urban running in Santa Barbara by photographer Jonas Jungblut

urban running in Santa Barbara by photographer Jonas Jungblut

In addition to all the terrain, Santa Barbara also offers pretty ideal weather year round. Running in shorts and only a shirt is usually possible throughout the winter.

All these elements combined make for a perfect backdrop to photograph running around here.

trail running in Santa Barbara by photographer Jonas Jungblut

trail running in Santa Barbara by photographer Jonas Jungblut

Portrait of Santa Barbara Supervisor Das Williams for The Town Market

Photographing local politicians

Das Williams by Santa Barbara portrait photographer Jonas Jungblut

Das Williams by Santa Barbara portrait photographer Jonas Jungblut

I have been working closely with The Town Market here in Santa Barbara and part of what we have been doing is documenting (in this case taking portraits) of local people that are having an impact on the community. Das Williams came up and having run into him from time to time over the past decade I was excited to finally be able to photograph him.

We met at his house and I found a spot to put up this blue background. I lit him with a Profoto monoblock but then also decided to use natural light for a variation. The above portrait is the natural light version, it worked well with the pastel colors of the background and his shirt. Shot on the 501cm Hasselblad and Kodak Portra 400 film.

portrait of Kyle Korver

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Over the years Kyle and his family had become good friends. I documented a personal challenge that he was part of, stand up paddle boarding across the Santa Barbara channel, a 26 mile adventure. Other adventures and evenings around the dinner table followed.

I photographed him working out in the off season but I had never taken a proper portrait of Kyle. He is rather private and I wanted to respect that. It got to the point though where I just couldn’t hold back so I asked for a short session in my outdoor studio.

For what I had in mind there is only a 20 minute window of the light being right. That window is towards the end of the day, right around sunset. I built the studio to face north and direct light is not really the issue but right within those 20 minutes it just looks right. Anyways, there wasn’t a lot of time since I was also photographing Kyle’s wife.

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Kyle is tall. I am not. And shooting with the Hasselblad I lost another couple inches since I was looking down into it. So I was scrambling to gain some height with the help of apple boxes. We are comfortable with each other but he is not an extrovert so I was trying to find the moment, the opening. I chose a wider angle lens so I could get pretty close and gain access just by proximity. It’s hard to disregard something within 2 feet from your face. I also used a diy light panel so I was able to control the light on his face very precisely. I shot a few frames with my Fuji XPRO2 from a little further away and got what I would call a very clean and safe shot. It’s good but then I also added another light to the background that created a very random shape. I went back to the wide lens on the Hasselblad and I got this portrait that wasn’t so safe. Kyle had just come out of the NBA finals arguably bruised and this shot captured his state of mind a lot better. Vulnerable and under scrutiny but strong amongst a chaotic scenario.

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