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#OldFashioned #4thOfJuly in #Blaine: A #VisualOrgy

My FitBit said I walked over 12,000 steps or 5 miles, my face is sunburned, shoulders hurt, and shot 1500 images while writing 15 note pad pages of names. But it was damned worth it.

The noise of the crowd and the blaring of horns filling my ears, the smell of horse manure filling my nostrils, and my eyes flooded with the Red, White, and Blue as everyone celebrated Independence day.

Hooping it up:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - An energetic Alex Gehringer of Blaine entertains the crowd during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – An energetic Alex Gehringer of Blaine entertains the crowd during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash., on Friday July , 2014. Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year’s parade.

Yesterday I covered the annual Blaine’s Old-Fashioned 4th of July for the Bellingham Herald. And as much as I like to cover breaking news or sports, good features also get my blood going. Especially a parade.

Decked Out:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Maggie Breckenridge of Blaine hands out candy during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Maggie Breckenridge of Blaine hands out candy.

It was a visual orgy. It’s my term I use when it’s not difficult to shoot photos. Some use the term “like catching butterfies.” But let’s be real. Everywhere you turned there was a picture to be made.

It was a Visual Orgy. And yes, I’m trademarking it.

Canadian and Proud:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Canadian Aiden Mufti, 12, of Vancouver, B.C., watches the festivities during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Canadian Aiden Mufti, 12, of Vancouver, B.C., watches the festivities.

To begin with, H Street was full of people browsing the venders and food trucks. I did have an assignment to photograph poffertjes being made. However, the vender who made them was there. Scratch that assignment.

Family Celebrating:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Barry Dyck (cq) of Bellingham and his daughter Piper, 4, cheer as the floats pass by during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014. Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Barry Dyck (cq) of Bellingham and his daughter Piper, 4, cheer as the floats pass by.

That left me to concentrate just covering the masses. From the kids, to the classic cars, to the parade, to the entertainers, I had plenty to shoot. But, one must be smart.

You can go out and just “spray and pray” everything. Or you can stop for a few minutes, breathe, observe your surroundings, and then shoot methodically.

Equine Patriots:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Members of the Rodeo Cowgirls Drill Team entertain the crowd during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Members of the Rodeo Cowgirls Drill Team entertain the crowd.

For instance, rather than shoot 3 or 4 different things at the same time, Pick a subject and work that. Choose a vendor and photograph just that vendor as they make their product. Shoot wide, then tight, then work different angles.

The move onto your next subject. This keeps you more focused and on track when documenting large events.

Sharing the Pride:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - American Legion youth volunteers pass out miniature American flags as they work the parade route during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014. Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 entries meaner the route.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – American Legion youth volunteers pass out miniature American flags to the thousands lined along Peace Portal Drive as they watch the almost 100 entries meander along.

As the parade was getting ready to start, I walked up and down the route on Peace Portal Drive to find a few well decorated people. After “marking” a few areas I wanted to cover during the parade, I made my way to the announcer’s booth. This gave me a great vantage point to not only photograph from, but also so I could listen to what the entries were and make notes.

Belting Some Tunes:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Robyn Gillespie of Langly, B.C., entertains the crowd after the end of the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash., on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 entries of all types.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Robyn Gillespie of Langley, B.C., entertains the crowd after the end of the parade. The background was cluttered and lighting poor. I opted for a low angle and waited for the moment.

But, the difficulty with such a large and fluid event is that you have to be fast on your feet as well. I tried my butt off to get the names of the two little girls running around everywhere as they gave away American flags. I ended up bailing as I lost track of them.

One Nation:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Isabella Ramirez, 7, left, and Sandra Cortez, 12, with the Chicas Reina dance troupe out of Ferndale, entertain the spectators during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Isabella Ramirez, 7, left, and Sandra Cortez, 12, with the Chicas Reina dance troupe out of Ferndale, entertain the spectators.

One of the most intriguing subjects I photographer was 12-year-ol Canadian resident Aiden Mufti of Vancouver, B.C. He painted his face in the Stars and Stripes. I was a pretty cool feeling to find out our neighbors to the north appreciate We the People.

Proud Veteran:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – American Legion riders ready their bikes before the start of the parade.

As the parade continued, one entertainer had more energy than a perpetual motion machine. Blaine resident Alex Gehringer hula-hooped the entire parade route. As with most of the entries, he was very entertaining.

Smile!!!

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – As the parade was moving rather quickly, I ran in front of this float while firing a few frames. I did not get their names, but I like the photo.

Since the parade was over, I was able to spend a little time shooting the performers on stage. Sister duo Robyn & Ryleigh Gillespie were playing. They sounded pretty damned good.  Here’s their website for more information: Robyn & Ryleigh

As I worked them, I could not get a clean angle. So I opted for a low angle shot and worked the moment and guitarist Robyn played. It’s a pretty OK shot. Works.

As I was nearing my deadline, I opted to finish with that and head back to the paper to finish up. Made the front page and 3 photo package on page 2. Not bad.

And at the end of the day, instead of going out to fight crowds so I can photograph fireworks, I opted to stay in and enjoy a night at home. Plus, my feet hurt too much from those 12000 or more steps.

Click here for more photo’s from this year’s Blaine’s Old Fashioned 4th of July Parade on The Bellingham Herald website.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Beautiful Canon Advertisement;

Browsing about the web, I ran into this advertisement from Canon Australia.

It’s simplicity is stunningly beautiful.

To be honest, I’m a Nikon shooter. But I don’t care who shoots with what.

This video hits to the core the reason we love photography: everyone has a separate vision.

Enjoy!

Shooting the Blues: Portrait Session with Jill Newman at Gas Works Park

A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful photo session with blues guitarist Jill Newman of Vancouver, B.C.

She was looking for different poses and backgrounds that would differentiate her from the typical “standing between railroad tracks.” These were for her upcoming album and posters for venues she’ll be playing at.

Blues Guitarist Jill Newman:

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014.

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

A week before the shoot, I went with my wife Heidi to meet her at the Seaside Bakery Café in Blaine, Wash. Jill and Heidi began talking and as they did, I could see the Ideas begin churning in Heidi’s brain She came up with a great plan that Jill agreed to.

Jill was looking for something industrial and unique. Heidi recommended Gas Works Park in Seattle. It was open, had plenty of structures to shoot around, and was an industrial look she was looking for.

Getting Comfortable

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014.

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

The following Saturday, Jill and her partner Jordan, who writes the blog “Rain In Blaine: Tales of the Perpetually Soggy,” picked me up for the drive down to Seattle. On the way, I began texting my friend Earnie Glazener.

Fortunately he had the day off and wanted to come and help. Great idea. He said he’d bring some gear along so if I needed it, we’d have it.

Colorful Pipes

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014.

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

We met him in the parking lot to plan the shoot. Earnie brought his Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 remotes, reflectors, and his own camera gear.

We planned our shoot to begin in a set of concrete arches, go inside the main building, then end near the large outdoor structures. Basically, we made a big circle.

Inside the main building:

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography), bellingham portrait photography, bellingham wedding photography

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

It took a bit to feel comfortable shooting her. About halfway through the concrete structure, she and I began to loosen up. Earnie showed up about this time and used his reflector to fill in the shadow areas.

With Jordan playing security guarding the extra gear, we continued shooting and moved to the outside of the main building. There were some pretty colorful pipes that are on the outside which I used as a background.

Taking a Breather

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography) bellingham portrait photography, bellingham wedding photography

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

After that, we moved to the inside of the main building with all the old pipes and equipment. Using my SB800 and SB80 on remotes, I lit Jill with one strobe and Earnie held the reflector. We found a pair of old tanks and I positioned her between them.

With the Sun streaming into the main building, I used that as my main light source, Earnie held the reflector at my right, and we had a single flash on the left which I set 2 stops below to add more fill.

Back outside, the Sun was becoming lower in the sky making the light a bit more dramatic. Using it and just a reflector, we took a few around some of the smaller rust colored structures. Eventually, the Sun set behind Queen Anne Hill and put the park in complete shadow.

Against One of the smaller structures:

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography), bellingham portrait photography, bellingham wedding photographer

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

Not to fret, there is a technique I used a few times before that I thought would work great for these light conditions: Put the background in silhouette, under expose the sky, and use a powered up flash to light the main subject.

The Money Shot

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography), bellingham portrait photography, bellingham wedding photographer

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

We did a few of these then it began to get too dark. we wanted to shoot a few photos of her on the big “kite-flying” hill with the city as a background. As it was late, my thought was to shoot her with the city lights in the background. But we needed to wait a few so we went to dinner.

At about 7, the lights across Union Lake were bright and vibrant. I precomposed my shot, made a few test exposures which ranged between half to 2 seconds, then tested the strobes.

Lights of Seattle:

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography), bellingham wedding photographer, bellingham portrait photography

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

Dreaming:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. bellingham wedding photographer, bellingham portrait photogrpaher

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

We took about 20 or so photos with various poses. Then we moved to the main structure. Several years ago I shot the structure in silhouette with the city lights reflecting orange off the low clouds.

Using this and strobe, we took only a few photos. The shutter was about 15 seconds at f/4 and used a main strobe  on the right with one powered down 1 stop on the left.

City Lights Igniting the Sky:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014.

Blues guitarist Jill Newman for her new album at Gasworks Park in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Feb. 1, 2014. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

The “spots” in the one above are actually stars. I thought at first they were dust, but upon checking other frames decided they were stars.

Had it not been near freezing, we would’ve spent more time testing various shutter speeds, poses, etc.

Overall the images came out pretty good.

Do you know of a local band, musicians, artists, or performers in Bellingham, Whatcom County, or Skagit County that needs some images? Let them know I’m available.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

  1. Instagram: @PaulConradPhotography
  2. Twitter: @pabloconrad
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  4. Pinterest: Paul Conrad Photography

Paul Conrad is an award-winning photographer living in Bellingham north of Seattle, WA, in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and in Europe. He is available for assignments anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. Although his specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography The last rays of the setting Sun bathes the snow-capped peak of Mount Baker in alpenglow as the lights of the city of Bellingham, Wash., begin to turn on during evening April 23, 2013.

What I’ve Learned Working Retail …

… And how it relates to a Photography business.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography- -Folklorico Mexicano dance team member Ashley Ventura,12, of El Jebel, Colo., watches others rehearse at Basalt Middle School during Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

Over the past year to help catch-up some bills, I worked at  The Home Depot here in Bellingham, Wash. I started as just a cashier but worked my way into the electrical department. It wasn’t as if I was going into something I didn’t know as I was an electrician in the Navy and for two years afterwards.

Even though I was part-time, I took the opportunity to learn as much as I could about

  • customer service,
  • stocking,
  • ordering,
  • inquiring, and anything else to make that job, and this photo business run so much easier.

Customer Service:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Kit Tramm of Indianapolis eyes his target while fly fishing on the Fryingpan River near Ruedi Dam in western Colorado.

The term customer itself is self explanatory. It is someone who needs something according to their needs. Even though I am a photographer and in that business, the requirements for customer service are the same as retail. You are offering a product and a service to your potential clients.

To provide the best customer service I can, I ask a lot of questions: What’s your goal with the photos? What’s their purpose? Would you like studio or location shot? Would you be flexible for both?

That is why it is important to schedule a consulting session prior to the actual photography. Find out what the client wants. don’t leave them nor yourself in the dark. Answer ALL the questions necessary before moving forward.

Stock Up and Keep Samples:

Not stocking per se, but having samples so the client can actually see what your work looks like in an album or book, on canvas or metal prints, or see your editing and Photoshop skills.
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Samples of my canvas prints.

It’s difficult to explain to someone what certain techniques look like on prints when you have none to show them. It’s worth the money to buy prints of several sizes, surface textures, and mounting styles to show your clients.

Let them physically touch and look at how crisp a metal print looks and how it mounts to a wall. Or how they can compare what an image looks like on canvas versus metal versus paper. How glossy compares to matte.
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Samples of my metal prints.

It’s also good for them to be able to compare sizes so they can be a smart consumer and order what they need. Show them what 8×10 looks like compared to an 11×14 and explain the value of each.

Let them physically feel your products to help them better understand all the options. You will make more sales in the long run.

Ordering and Ensuring High Quality:

The most asked questions we got are “How long will it take?,” “Is it easy to order?,” and “If I don’t like it, can I return it?”

It’s so important to know what the turnaround for each lab you use. I use two labs and their turnaround is reasonable: usually under a week. However, I have the items shipped to my house so I can inspect them. If they are not up to my standard, then I return them for new ones. Usually I have no issues.

For smaller projects, I give the client a three week time frame. A week to edit and post process the image, and two weeks for printing. You want to add a little time in case you need to get them reprinted. But if everything is good, you can deliver them early and this makes you look good.

However, usually it takes about 2 weeks total time. My week to edit is just in case something may happen. And the extra 2 weeks in case I have to get the prints made again. A worst-case scenario so-to-speak.

For larger projects such as weddings, those range 4 to 6 weeks to edit, post process, and get printed.

Inquire and Fulfill Their Needs:

I guess the better way to say this is Constant Contact. Keep in touch with the client so they not only know what’s going on, but make them feel comfortable to call if they have any questions.

Never leave the client hanging. If the client asks a question, respond immediately. If you have a doubt, ask the client to clear it up. Again, never assume nor leave the client hanging.

If you don’t have an answer for the client, find one. Even if you discover you can not do the job, FIND a photographer you know the client will be both comfortable AND happy with.

Go Above & Beyond:

“An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.” – Mae West

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad PhotographyCoCo & Company make-up artist Antonio Cejudo finishes a client during the Seattle SMUG Cancer Survivor's portrait session at the Baroness Hotel in Seattle, Wash.

There is an old saying which I adhere to: “Promise nothing but deliver everything.” People are genuinely surprised when they hire me. I work hard, stretch my creativity, and deliver good images. I give them more than what they expected.

On the flip side, don’t make promises you can’t keep. The worst thing you could do is promise someone something and not deliver. It kind of follows the old adage “You’re only as good as your last photo.

Even though they hired you to do a job, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t deliver more than what they expected. After all, it will only increase your business and your reputation.

Thank the Customer:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Musician Mary Morley of Summit County belts out a few tunes with her group in Snowmass Village, Colo.

Be creative and find ways to thank your clients. Show them that you appreciate their business. It’s not enough just to do a good job, clients really appreciate it when you go out of your way to make sure they get what they need, and get a nice thank you for doing business.

Send them a nice thank-you card, send them a card during the holidays. Call them to make sure everything was up to their satisfaction.

Your job isn’t done when you give them their final product.  It’s really just beginning.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on various Social Networks:
Pablo Conrad Photography

“Like” my Page on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Me on Google+

My Page on 500px

Foto del Dia 30/365 Heavy Metal Hitters

The music was loud, thumping dangerously against my ear drums. But still, I continued to keep focused on the man screaming into the microphone. His face full of anguish as he shrieked the notes with force.

Lead singer Mike

The local garage band Nuk-L-Heds out of Cañon City, Colo., played at the Union Station bar in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Darrell strums some riffs to the joy of the congregation

Darrell, Eric, Mike, and Max entertained a nearly full bar. Rocking the roof off and blasting the crowd to the next planet.

Eric drums the horde into oblivion

Max the bassist