Photographing the White House

In October, I was fortunate enough to be selected amongst a group of photographers and Instagram enthusiasts to visit and photograph the White House. The majority of my time was spent photographing some of the rooms within the East Wing of the White House.

To give a little bit of context, there were over 40 people on this visit so I had only moments to take these handheld photos as tripods and flashes weren’t allowed and nearly every photo you see is either seconds before or after the last person entered or exited the room.

One of my dreams is to go back and photograph the White House properly, in its entirety, and if I am lucky – with each new administration.

See more photos from my DC trip and from the White House on my Flickr feed (that I hardly use :).

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DJI Phantom and accessories for sale

The minute I learned about these things, I had to have one. I invested around $1300 in this whole kit and got my moneys worth within a few flights. I crashed it this past fall and one of the motors needs to be replaced (very, very cheap – I just don’t have the time) have replaced the motor – thought it is not soldered, so if you want to do that you certainly can. It is flying once again though. The Phantom itself is in very, VERY used condition (NOT NEW AT ALL) with some modifications (drill holes and all), but flies just great. Did I mention this thing is in very used, but working condition?

Because I simply don’t have the time to fly, update, or clean it I have decided to sell it to someone who has been wanting to pick up this hobby.

I am selling the following:
– Phantom 1 (as is – dirt and all) ($500 value if brand new)
– HPRC 2700 case w/ foam cutouts – ($170 value)
– 7 DJI Phantom batteries and charger ($150 value)
– Extended legs ( work, but broken )
– Prop guards ($10 value)
– Tarot T-2D Gimbal ($155 value)
– Fatshark Predator FPV Goggles ($359 value)

*I am willing to sell the case separately, but everything else must go together.
**I am willing to throw in the GoPro for an additional $200

To buy all of this new would cost you roughly $1300. I am willing to start the bid at $300 OBO. Please email me through the contact form on the website if you are interested and we can make a deal.

Here is a short video of some of the flights I ran, and photos below:

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Best of Houzz 2015

From Houzz.com:

Jordan Powers of Mankato Receives

Best Of Houzz 2015 Award for Architecture & Interior Design Photography

Over 25 Million Monthly Unique Users Rated Top-Rated Images and Photographers in the United States and Around the World

[Mankato, MN], January 21, 2015 – Interiors and Architectural photographer Jordan Powers of Mankato has been awarded “Best Of Houzz” by Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The owner of Mankato Home Tours, and Jordan Powers photography was chosen by the more than 25 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community for Architecture and Design Photography and Customer Service.

The Best Of Houzz for Architecture & Interior Design Photography is awarded to photographers whose images were most popular among the more than 25 million monthly users on Houzz, known as “Houzzers.” Winners will receive a “Best Of Houzz 2015” badge on their profiles, showing the Houzz community their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners and home professionals identify popular and top-rated professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

“Professional photography is instrumental when it comes to showcasing the work of professionals on Houzz and building their company brands,” said Liza Hausman, Vice President of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “We’re delighted to recognize Jordan among our “Best Of” professionals for photography and customer service as judged by our community of homeowners, home building, remodeling and design professionals, and design enthusiasts.”

Follow Jordan Powers on Houzz http://www.houzz.com/pro/jordan_powers

About Jordan Powers

Jordan Powers is a Minnesota based commercial photographer and video producer specializing in interiors and architectural photography. To see more of his work, visit www.jordanpowers.com.

About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin and Sydney. For more information, visit www.houzz.com

Pricing for interiors and architectural photography

The first question I am always asked outside of my availability is “how much do you charge”?

So many factors go into pricing for interiors and architectural photography that it is nearly impossible to give a flat answer without a little bit of clarity on the scope of the project.

Some of the questions I ask in return are:

– What is your budget?
– How many photos do you need?
– What will you be using the images for?
– Will I be limited on time?
– How soon will you need the photos?

The way I price my work always starts with time. How much time will this project take me from initial inquiry to delivery? I have to take all things into consideration including the time spent planning, answering emails, driving, the shoot itself, editing, getting licenses prepared, answering more emails, and delivery.

I have been doing this long enough to where I know that one single standard image will take about an hour of my time in total. If there is more than one image in the same room, that time gets cut significantly. For example, I could take 5 images of one room and it would take me a total of two hours total, but if I take 5 images of three different rooms, that could take up to 4 hours total. If it is a twilight image, that could take several hours depending on the complexity of the shot.
Interiors & Architecture for 26 Danbury Court, North Mankato, MN

From there I have to pick a wage for myself. How much is an hour of my time worth? I would love to say $500 per hour… but that just isn’t realistic where I live. $100 per hour is where I settle (depending on the job), but it is more realistic depending on the complexity of the shoot. Roughly half of that goes to the government, 25% goes toward my business, and the other 25% goes to my checking account.

$100 per hour may seem like a lot initially, but in that fee includes the equipment I use:
Canon 24mm TS lens ($2000)
Canon 16-35mm lens ($1200)
Canon 50mm lens ($400)
Canon 70-200mm lens ($1600)
Canon 5D Mark II (paid $2500+ for it, but since discontinued)
Canon 7D (Paid $1200 for it, but since discontinued)
Manfrotto Tripods and Heads ($500+)
Flashes (5 flashes worth over $1000)
Computer ($2000)
Misc tools and accessories ($1000+)
Adobe Creative Suite ($60/month)
Website ($10+ / month)

And probably hundreds of dollars more of other miscellaneous expenses and tools I didn’t cover here.

If a client is willing to provide their budget for a certain project, I can fairly quickly say what I can do for them within that budget. That is my preferred method of setting up a shoot (wink, wink).
Next comes the licensing. Why not just give the photos away since they are paying for the shoot? Well, because this isn’t wedding or portrait photography, but commercial photography. When it comes to commercial photography, the photographer is hired to make images that are displayed with the intention of bringing business to the client, they aren’t usually for personal use.

Licensing is the tricky part because it all depends on where and how the photos will be used. If you plan on just using them for Facebook or your website, the fee is pretty low. Each image can be licensed for anywhere between $20-$50+ depending on the image. Twilight images are always more expensive due to the amount of time involved in them. If you plan on using the images for advertising purposes, the fees get slightly higher because they are being used for a wider audience… and so on, and so on.

Hopefully that sheds a little light on how I price my work. Other photographers in different markets may work slightly different, but the fundamentals are usually the same. If you have any further questions on this, shoot me an email or comment below and I would be happy to help.

Jefferson Good People Award

Last year I co-founded a project called “Made in Mankato“. We are a group of independent filmmakers who highlight a local business each month by creating a mini-documentary on them. I was contacted by our local news station, KEYC, to do a small piece on what I do.

While this was a great honor, it is important to me that the entire team is recognized for MIM, not just myself. I play a pretty big role in the project, but without the team this project would have died off within months of starting. Thank you to Ted & Tonya Wittman, Ryan Frederick, Caleb Curran, Judy Ebel, Ty Leyrer, for sticking with this month over month, and dedicating a ton of your free time to this project. What we do is making a huge impact in our small business community, and hopefully we have all sparked some inspiration in others to do something impactful with their talents that helps strengthen our community.

Click HERE to view the video.

Data Backup Solutions

It is crazy when I stop and look at the amount of data I have accumulated throughout the years doing photography and video.  I wanted to share a couple of tools that I have used over the last 5 years that I would highly recommend to anyone.

The first one is Drobo.  I started with the original 4 Bay Drobo in 2008 and upgraded to the Drobo S in 2010.  The way it works is you simply buy hard drives, plug them into the Drobo, and the send your files to it just like you would any other hard drive. What the Drobo does is it creates a redundant backup on itself so that if one of the hard drives fails on you, you lose zero data. Just take the bad hard drive out and put a new one in. In 5 years, I have not lost any hard drives or data that I didn’t chose to delete on my own.

This is what one of the screens on the Drobo Dashboard looks like:

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I was only a few gigabytes away from capacity, so I did some spring cleaning and got rid of un-used files to save myself a terabyte.

It isn’t safe to have all of your eggs in one basket, so I also do a cloud based backup solution called Backblaze. Not sure of the cost now, but I pay $50 a year for unlimited storage. It automatically backs everything up I specify on the Drobo and the computer. Depending on my bandwidth, it can backup up to 40gb per day. I can access the files from anywhere using my phone, tablet, or another computer – which is an added bonus, although I haven’t had to use that feature yet.

Here is a screenshot that shows an overview of what I currently have backed up:

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I just wanted to post a short and sweet recommendation of two of the products I use. This is not a review by any means. They have both been great services, but they also come with their share of headaches.

What do you use for your backup solution?

RANT: Video editing

I have been doing a lot of video work lately.

Most of you know me as a photographer, but truth is – I was a videographer long before I ever picked up a DSLR.  I was editing video back in 1998 as an intern for a commercial multimedia studio using Media One.  In 2001/2002, I was using Adobe Premiere to edit personal projects with friends, etc. We would film mini movies on the weekends.  It took a long time and you had to be very, very patient.

Within the last year, I have been doing a lot of video production through my work and business.  I only plan on doing more, and they will be getting more and more intricate as time goes on.

I have been using Final Cut Pro X to do my editing.  It is very easy to use. Almost too easy. Sure, there are some quirky things about it that I could do without, but overall I enjoy it.

When Adobe announced their Creative Cloud I got excited. I have been wanting to give Premiere another shot, especially since a number of my friends have made the switch to Adobe.  My initial experience is that it is too complicated. Granite, I have only used it a handful of times – but it has already crashed on me once, which is extremely frustrating because you can only auto save in pre-determined increments. Since I forgot to change the default from 20 minutes, I lost 20 minutes worth of editing because it didn’t auto save.

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I am still going to give it a fair shot – but I am not thrilled at this point with how little Premiere has actually appeared to change over the last 12 years. One thing is for sure – the interface is much more professional looking.

 

*** UPDATE / EDIT ***

I definitely jumped the gun on this. In all fairness, I have not given Premiere enough of a chance to justify the complaints I mentioned. There are definitely a lot of new things about Premiere that have changed over the years that are really impressive.

 

*** UPDATE / EDIT #2 ***

Ok, I was obviously very cranky the day I wrote that first post.  Premiere is just fine. It definitely gives you plenty of more options over compared to FCPX. There are things that I will use both programs for as they each have their strengths.

Making some lemonade

It is mid-april in Minnesota. It snowed today, and it wasn’t “supposed to”.  I made it a point to not complain about snow this year being that I chose to live here. Today I decided to go out and take some photos of it and appreciate it.

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I am slowly learning to only complain or worry about things that are within my realm of control.  Maybe this post will encourage someone else to do the same.

App Review: One Second Epic

As a photographer and general creative junkie, I enjoy documenting and sharing as much as possible.  The more I get into video, the more I find ways to fit it into my every day workflow.

I stumbled across an app called One Second Epic.  What this app does is allows you to record 1-5 seconds worth of video, compile these video’s, and throw them together to make one movie.

The thing I really enjoy about this app is that it allows me to journal small memories I want to capture each day.  There are no filters you can apply, no witty comments or emoticons, just straight up documentation.  Once a video is compiled, I can literally spend a few seconds and relive memories from each day.

The goal is to do one every day for a year.  I am considering posting one every month, but knowing my level of dedication to regular posts… we’ll see how that goes.  In the meantime, here are some highlights from January:

 

Overall this app is incredibly easy to use.  In two clicks, you are recording.  You can also bring in clips that you didn’t record with the app.
To get ahead of the learning curve, my suggestion would be to just record video normally, or at the 5 second limit, and then edit out the 1-5 seconds you want to use in your video.  Otherwise, if you don’t feel like fussing around with all of that and just want to document life at random, set it at 1 or 2 seconds and be on your way.

Anyway, 4/5 stars.  I know that they will continue to improve this app over time.

Favorite things about this app?

  • The ability to mindlessly document life.
  • The ability to relive memories in small bursts. While recording something full length will always have a place, this app allows me to pull from my memory what led up to, or happened next in the events captured.
  • Ease of use. Three clicks (open app, capture, shutter button) to make a recording.
  • Good design – even though the whole aperture-logo-thing is overdone.

Some suggestions to make it better?

  • Allow users to re-arrange the order in which their epics appear.
  • Allow users a way to specify the length while in a recording.
  • Allow button functionality for the shutter, or create an option for lefties (or people with no right hand) to put the shutter button on the left instead of the right.
  • While in capture mode, the menu to select which epic you are recording to doesn’t function unless the phone is pointing forward (opposed to down).
  • Give some different profile icon options. This is petty, yes, but for whatever reason, I would like some more options to choose from.

Review

There are millions of New Years posts out there, the only difference in this one is that it is my first one ever and it is unique to me.   I wanted to do this because I thought it was important to sit down for a few hours and really reflect on my last year, and also really think about what it is I want to accomplish this year.  In the past, I would just sort of reach into the air and pull up some “resolutions” that I would plan to do, but of course – fail to do them.  I think many of us do the same.

So, here it is.  A review of some milestones, realizations, and intentions for 2013.

Travels:

  • New York (Rochester, NY / Niagra Falls / Philadelphia, PA)
  • South Dakota (Badlands NP / Mt. Rushmore / Black Hills NF)
  • Wisconsin (Some B&B in a million dollar home)

Ventures:

  • Made Lucas Kay Photography official.
  • Shot last wedding and closed down the wedding blog.
  • Began doing much more video work

Joined:

  • Men’s Fraternity (a men’s group that meets every wednesday morning to discuss man stuff)
  • Canon Professional Services gold member
  • Realtors Association of Southern Minnesota – affiliate member

Technology Arsenal:

  • iPhone 4S and iPhone 5
  • Canon 7D
  • iPad 2

Life:

  • Bought a house
  • Made some great friends
  • Learned a lot about myself

Books I read:

  • Good To Great
  • The Art of Non Conformity
  • Searching For God Knows What
  • Through Painted Deserts
  • The 4 Hour Workweek
  • The $100 Startup
  • One Up On Wall Street
  • The Power of Habit
  • What EveryBODY Is Saying
  • Doctrine: What Christian’s Should Believe
  • FREE: The Future of Radical Price
  • The Call of The Wild
  • Talk And Grow Rich
  • Made To Stick
  • The Referral Engine
  • God’s Voice in the Stars
  • Wheat Belly

Some favorite photos I took:
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7 Mile Creek Park In The Snow
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Just A Preview

Things I learned about myself:

  • I am very cynical. This is unhealthy for myself and whoever has to hear it. I need to discover the root of this problem and do my best to tackle it.
  • I need to be more in tune with the needs of others, instead of assuming I already know their needs and that they are being met.
  • I am selfish, and I think I am more important than I really am.  I think most people are this way, but it really hit me this year how bad this is.
  • I know very little about anything beyond technology and art.  If the electricity went out forever, I would be able to get us by for a few weeks.
  • While my beliefs and opinions are more based on what I have studied and learned on my own, I am heavily influenced by the ideologies of others.
  • I am incredibly opinionated and I want people to believe and think as I believe and think.  I am learning to let go of this and be more accepting.
  • I am losing my ability to hold conversations with people.  I believe spending too much time on social media is contributing to this.

Skills I Sharpened or Developed: 

  • Better understanding of photography fundamentals (light, composition, exposure, etc)
  • Video production
  • Self-awareness

Things I would like to accomplish in 2013:

  • Learn basic survival skills (growing food, tying knots, building stuff, marksmanship, preparing game, etc.) Not because I am paranoid – but because I know none of these things, and I think that is unwise.
  • Read more books
  • Tackle at least SOME of the things I learned about myself in 2012.
  • Double my photography and videography income.
  • Document life BETTER.  Stop aimlessly taking photos and posting, but document intentionally.
  • Drop my weight to 190 or better. Currently at 220. I am going to work to heavily reduce my wheat intake. Become more healthy.
  • Strengthen my relationships (God, Wife, Family, Friends, Work, etc.)
  • Reduce my social media intake to 25% of what it is now.
  • Schedule my day to day better.
  • Become better at thinking before I speak or act.

That is all for now.  I may update this as time goes on.