4.21.2015

"Please pay your income taxes!" My government says to me. And then they ask me to give them other valuable stuff as well. Would I work for free for the U.S. Government? Not any more than I already do....Thanks.


I am a generally patriotic U.S. citizen. I pay my taxes without cheating. I keep my lawn clean of refuse and I pay what I think are enormous property, sales and income taxes every year. And I rarely ever complain about it. In fact, this will be the first time I've complained about my money and the government on the blog.

But this is what happened this morning:

I opened my e-mail program and found an e-mail from an employee of the Voice of America Online. It's part of an agency that's sponsored and funded by the U.S. government to disseminate good propaganda about our country in the hopes that people overseas will believe it,  won't really hate us, and won't try to kill us. The VOA gets about $200,000,000 per year to "spread the good word."

The e-mail referenced some images I had made of a mall in Austin being renovated for re-use by a local college. You know, transformation story. Good stuff. The images I did of the project ended up on Atlantic Monthly's online site. The VOA saw them and thought they would like to use them to reach some of their 40,000,000 yearly unique, page viewers. But here's the problem....they wanted to use them without paying for them. Not a red cent. No trade of value anywhere on the board

.....except they did toss me one little bone.... in accordance with copyright law they would go ahead and give me a credit line. If I gave them the use of my valuable content free of charge.

I counter-offered and suggested a very reasonable $250 but the woman I was negotiating with told me very clearly that editorial clients NEVER pay for content and that everyone else is VERY happy to have this valuable credit line.

Of course I find it exhausting and counterproductive to work for free, especially for a government that I already financially support (no tax refund checks here...) so I asked the woman a few questions.

1. Are you a volunteer for VOA or do you get paid for your work?

2. Do you receive benefits and retirement credits at your job or must you provide those from your own pocket?

3. Aren't you ashamed to be asking a struggling, middle class artist, who's trying to put his kid though college, to provide you with valuable creative content for free? If you are not you should be!

I may be missing a good bet here. I'm certain there is a prince in Nigeria who frequents VOA Online just searching for a nice photographer to split his fortune with..... Yeah. He'll see my credit line. For sure.




My short, sassy review of the Samsung NX-1. A hybrid that's good in both camps: photographs and video.


Disclaimer: In the past Samsung's P.R. agency has sent me cameras to shoot with. If I agreed to participate in their program, Imageloggers, and post weekly images on their social media site I could keep the cameras and lenses they sent along. I did so in 2013 and for part of 2014. While some of the cameras were wacky (two different white cameras with heavy "selfie" credentials) and some were half-baked (like the Galaxy NX---Android OS camera) there were two that stood out as competent shooting cameras. One was the NX 300 and the other was the NX 30. Both of these cameras could and did generate really nice files.

Last Fall I kept hearing about an amazing new Samsung camera coming down the pike. I waited and waited but it never seemed to come. I wasn't disposed to continue on with Samsung's program or to make any sort of wholesale switch to using their cameras instead of the Olympus and Nikon cameras I preferred (compared to the Samsung cameras available at the time) and so I stepped away from the program and gave away most of the cameras I'd been sent. Then Samsung launched the NX1 camera and, on paper, it looked fabulous. The two lenses that Samsung paired with the camera also looked pretty sweet. One was the 16-50mm f2.0-2.8 which had been out on the market for a while and the other was the brand new 50-150mm f2.8. If I had no other equipment investments these two lenses might be enough to entice me into the system....

When I looked at the initial specs for the camera I'll admit I had a few feelings of regret for exiting their Imagelogger program before I could actually get my hands on the camera we'd all been waiting for. It seemed to be everything I wanted and had talked about over the years. It has a big, bright, detailed EVF. The resolution is class leading for APS-C cameras. It features in-camera 4K video and it shoots fast. What's not to like?

The way I saw it this camera might be the camera of choice for one part of the market; it would be great for people who weren't invested in an interchangeable lens system yet, who also wanted their camera to be a true chameleon. A state-of-the-art still camera and a production ready video camera. But in the end the camera will probably appeal most to people who are looking for a less noisy but similarly priced competitor in the 4K video market, when compared to the Panasonic GH-4.

Having exited their program (amicably) I left a message for the folks at the P.R. firm and requested an evaluation copy be sent along. I wasn't seeing a lot of reviews and I thought I'd run the camera through its paces and see what we'd come up with. It took a long time to get a review copy. A really long time. By the time it showed up my enthusiasm had cooled a bit and large swaths of the market were already moving on to the next big thing. It's a fickle gear market, that's for sure... but I am happy I had the chance to put the camera through its paces.

I'm not going to detail the specs and stuff because you can find that at DPReview and if you have any interest in this camera I'm sure you've already read their review. I'm just going to quickly cover how I feel about the camera.

Here's the good: If this camera had come out a few years ago Samsung would have trouble ever keeping it in stock. Right now it matches most of the best points of the mature APS-C products on the market, like the Nikon D7200 and the Canon 7D2 with little concessions on each side. The image quality of the 4K video files can be quite good. As a video camera it would considered an insane bargain but for one short term glitch (which I'll cover below). The files from the NX1 are very detailed and rezzy but the trade off is a bit of dynamic range. The frame rate is terrific but the focusing acquisition in low light levels leaves a bit to be desired (by comparison). The camera handles well and feels comfortable and the battery life is good.  The image quality is very good and while the color palette is different from the Canon and Nikon cameras I doubt that any of them is a reference standard for true color. I actually appreciate having some choices in color response.

The bottom line is that if you are in the market for an APS-C format camera that's a great all around photographic performer and you like using the raw format for shooting stills, and you go with the two, fast, f2.8 zooms you'll most likely be just as happy with this camera as you would be with the competitors from Canon and Nikon. If you are keenly interested in video you'll be even happier. The 4K video is really very good and relatively noise free up to 1600 ISO. It's a fair and even alternative for many uses that currently fall to the GH4 from Panasonic.

But here's the bad: My first observation, and it's one area in which I strongly disagree with the reviewers at DPReview.com is about the EVF. While I love the idea of EVFs and I enjoy working with good examples the NX-1 I've been loaned isn't seamless. It jutters and jitters a bit, visibly, when I pan it. And I'm not panning like a  centrifuge, just a nice, easy pan.  I thought I might be having a too critical moment so I grabbed the EM5.2 out of the bag and did the same pan with the same equivalent focal length and confirmed that the EVF on the Olympus is  smoother and less plagued by refresh lag than the NX-1 when panned in the same fashion.  The EVF on the NX1 is also darker by default but can be adjusted. When I mentioned this to the folks at Samsung they were concerned since they hadn't had the same complaints from any other reviewer. I'm presuming that the camera I had in my hands has an earlier version of the firmware and that this has been remedied. But the careful buyer might still check.

Samsung seems to be following a good trend in that the firmware fixes are coming fast and furious for this new camera. It's always nice to see new features added and performance improved on a camera you already own!

To put it into perspective the EVF, as it is now, is fine for most of what I would use the camera for. That's video. No one does fast pans in video. More like slooooow pans. In all other regards the EVF image is quite good. I just have to be honest and say "ouch. let's not too pan fast.

(edit: After some feedback from Samsung I re-tested the EVF. As shutter speeds go higher the effect subsides and lag becomes almost invisible. The critical juncture seemed to be at 1/125th of a second. To put it all into context most fast panning will be done trying to capture sports and that will be done at shutter speeds of 1/500th and higher where this camera performs as well as any EVF camera on the market. At very low shutter speeds I stand by my original assessment. ) 

On video: Samsung is like that guy who comes to the party and gets just about everything right but ends up accidentally sticking his hand in the punch bowl and then wiping his hand off on the white tablecloth. The guy who gets the up to the podium, delivers a great and riveting speech and then knocks over the microphone and trips over the cord. For some reason they've always made decisions that end up compromising the products that should have done well. To my mind having an optional EVF would have made the NX300 a wonderful and very cult-y camera. With  the stinky baby diaper hold rear screen only it becomes just another good performing snapshot camera. The Galaxy NX was also an interesting product and might have succeeded if not for the 28 second start up time and the ever intrusive nature of the Android OS. It was a camera for God's sake, not a downmarket laptop... But the screen on the back with a hood to block sun would have been a videographer's dream if that camera had done video like the NX1 does....

And it looks like they've done it again. They created a camera that's competitive with the big guys in the market for almost all kinds of still imaging. They came out with two really great lenses to hang on the front of it. The brought out a sensor that has the resolution, dynamic range and the high ISO performance people want. It even has 4K video that can be saved in camera. On memory cards.  If we stop there we'd all love the camera. Really good 4K video and great still image quality? We can overlook a little bit of low light focus anxiety.  After all, the Nikon D600 and D610 were no great shakes when the light got low. We might  be able to overlook the EVF's problems (in my sole experience) with fast pans.

But Samsung didn't stop there. They just couldn't help themselves. They seemingly just had to stick that crazy hand in the punch bowl. They decided that instead of suggesting that potential 4K users buy good, fast memory cards they chose to use a brand new video file standard called H.265. The advantage of this "codec" is that it creates really small, very compressed video files that fit onto SD memory cards. You could write lots and lots of minutes of good 4K video on smaller, slower and crappier cards. People could use cheaper, older SD cards --- and that would be good?

(Edit: One of my video buddies took me to task for being unfair to the NX-1 and Samsung's choice to use the new H.265 codec. He pointed out that the power users in video are now looking for cameras which can output a clean (no words on screen) and relatively uncompressed (much bigger) file over HDMI. That makes the in camera codec more or less meaningless to the group that will use this camera for many and more complex projects. He also pointed out that Samsung could have (and perhaps may in the future) used the new codec in a different ways, leaving the file size on card the same as the competition but doubling the quality of the footage. Apparently there are choices within the codec. Okay. So, with an "inexpensive" Atomos Digital recorder one could pull uncompressed video out of the camera that should be amazingly good. That's a plus, not a negative...)

But there's no free lunch. If you use a new compression scheme to write tiny files to the camera's card at some point the files have to be converted/expanded to something else in order to be edited in one of the two 800 pound gorilla editing programs, Adobe Premiere and Apple's Final Cut Pro X. Both of those programs run optimally with a codec called ProRes. It's almost an industry standard. But converting those H.265 files requires a few things that those programs don't provide. The first is a conversion or transcoding application. The second is a super fast, insanely powerful computer with which to crunch lots and lots of data during the conversions.

Remember those little foam dinosaurs that came in little capsules and the advertising copy that accompanied them which claimed that if you soaked them in water they would magically grow to 100X their size? Well the Samsung 4K, H.265 files do just that when you convert them into something you can edit with like ProRes. They seem to grow to about 10 times their original size.

All of a sudden you've got about three times more storage needs than if you'd have shot the same 4K files on a Panasonic GH4 camera with it's nice and easily editable 4K files. But the files don't just take up space--it takes lots of time to do the conversion. Running our liquid Nitrogen cooled Cray CS Cluster Super Computer with 80 processor nodes the conversion time was still daunting. (Sheer hyperbole! It's not really that bad...). To be fair once you convert H.264 files to ProRes they too vastly increase in size...

This critique is the hit a company takes when they decide to be the first adopter of new technology or new standards. I'm sure, in a year, lots of other makers will offer cameras with the choice of H.265 because the quality can be stunning or the space savings effective (but not both at the same time) and apps will be optimized for the workflow required. But right now it's an issue for anyone who has cobbled together a good workflow with existing video file types. And according to my very professional and hardworking video expert many clients are now asking for shooters to use cameras that output ProRes directly! But I think that's a bit crazy too.

Wrap up. The NX1 can be very good. Many who started with other brands will find the human/machine interface a little eccentric but we can chalk that up to familiarity versus change. I can tell you that I mastered the NX1 menus about ten times faster than the Sanskrit Encyclopedia that is the Olympus OMD menu system... There are some little operational glitches but most can be cleaned up with future firmware updates. If you are starting from scratch and have no preconceptions about how cameras should handle or how menus should work this is a good, feature rich camera to look at.

If you are really into video and lust after a cost effective 4K tool with a bigger sensor than the one in the well regarded GH4 this is also a good video camera for the money. The same operational issues plague it as plague Nikon and Canon and most other DSLRs that are pressed into service as video cameras; to wit, the menu driven control functions like microphone levels instead of external dials---so we can't be too critical. The NX1 trumps Nikon by having focus peaking in the system and trumps both Nikon and Canon by offering very pretty 4K files right out of the camera.

On the dreaded forae the most often dredged up stick against the NX1 is the lack of lenses available natively for the camera. I think that's a red herring for most people, including working professionals because most will be very well served by the two professional quality zooms for 90% of their work, and the holes in the system can be plugged by using third party lenses or lenses from other systems that are adapted with lens adapters. Again, a key advantage of most of the mirrorless systems.

If I could change one thing on the camera what would that be? I would ask the engineers at Samsung to offer a choice of both H.264 and H.265 codecs in video. That way people who need to move quickly could use the camera in their current workflows. This would let the user decide where to place the efficiency versus storage fulcrum. And seriously, UHS-3 cards are already dirt cheap.

The Bottom Line: Would I buy one?

Let me hedge a bit here. I might buy one. If I did it would be solely for the video capability of the camera. The features of the still side of the camera are ones that don't really interest me or which I have covered well enough by other systems. I don't care at all about NFC since I'll probably never buy coffee at Starbucks with my camera. I don't care about wi-fi as I'm probably not going to share unedited corporate video over the airwaves. I don't care much at all about fast frame rates or "the world's fastest autofocus." I'd buy one to get around the few caveats I have about the GH4. The Panasonic is a beautiful and useful camera but one that has a fairly high noise floor and which shows noise in shadows from ISO 400 onward. The NX-1 yields a less noisy file that still looks good, sharp and detailed. The camera offers most of the same video usability features as the GH4, including: headphone jack, external mic capability, focus peaking and various set up controls.

I figure that adding a body only and a Nikon lens adapter gets me into a 4K video camera with a lot of capabilities for a fairly low price along with the ability to use an endless supply of manual focus lenses with hard focus stops and physical aperture settings. The bigger sensor and the lower ISO noise can be real benefits and the camera is rugged and seems solid. You could produce good video with this set up. If you want to see a creative piece done with one go here: https://vimeo.com/121238971

With a few more firmware upgrades and a bit of time to let body only prices drop we might just have a killer video production tool on our hands for around $1300 bucks. A bit more than half the price of just the digital recorder you'll need to get actual 4K video out of a Sony A7s..... interesting value proposition, yes?

Oooh. Nikon's 50mm f1:1.2 lens on the front. Lots of big, soft directional lights, acres of detail. I'm guessing that's what Samsung had in mind from the beginning.  Hmmm.

Test the GH4 and the NX1 side by side and it really becomes more about preferences than superiority of one over the other. It's an interesting niche for both of these cameras because it's a clear indictment of Canon and Nikon's foot dragging where performance in video is concerned.

I've finished with my review and I've boxed up the camera to send it back. Just waiting for the Fedex.


The Visual Science Lab clocks in the 2,300th blog post since 2009. Have you read them all yet?


Every time we hit another century mark here I like to call it out to my readers. It always feels like an achievement. At least it's a lot of practice typing...

So I've just posted the 2,300th blog post earlier today and I'm amazed that I'm still enjoying the blogging, the writing and photography in general. Things are no more sure in our industry today than they were six years ago when we started. We rode the crest of the high wave of cameras sales back in 2008-2008 and we've been sliding down the backside of the wave ever since.

When I started writing I was toying with Olympus E series cameras and now I'm happily playing with the m4:3rd series. I'm on my second go around with Nikon's cameras. I've tried a lot of others in between.

I hope you've enjoyed what I've written and you'll support the site by commenting and checking in when you can and think it appropriate. If you need something from Amazon you can support the site by clicking through our links to buy your stuff. If you have something fun to say we'll probably post it.

My tolerance for snarky, anonymous commenters hasn't increased but I am having more fun just clicking, "Spam." when I come across mean copy-grunge. I figure the troll-y ones will give up sooner or later if their handiwork flies off into the void.

I'm not sure how much longer there will even be an audience for traditional camera based photography blogs but I'll keep writing until the daily page views dwindle down too far and then we'll pack it in and shut it down.

For now I'm happy with the frequency and the audience and I'm interested. I hope you are too.

Happy 2300. 

Today I spoke at a Society for Marketing Professionals, Lunch and Learn session. We talked about how to leverage good portraits in the Enterprise space. (Written a few weeks ago...)


I wrote an outline for the presentation and within the outline was section called, How clients screw up portrait sessions. The marketing folks were intrigued so I thought I would share it here now.

The idea is that companies go to a lot of trouble and spend good money setting up on location portrait sessions for their executives and key personnel. They bring good photographers onto the location and they proceed to hobble the whole process through a series of missteps and erroneous assumptions.

Here's what I know:

1. Too Small. I'm not talking about format size or focal length here, I'm talking about the fact that after talking all about things like shallow depth of field and large, soft light sources the photographer walks through the front door of the business and is ushered into a microscopic conference room. By microscopic I mean something like 10 feet by 12 feet with ceiling heights that must be the minimum which city codes allow. As the client is saying, "I hope this room will work. It's a crazy day around here today. We have clients in town and it's the only conference room we have available." you are wondering where you can put the lights and what to do with the conference room table that takes up over half the floor space. And that table? It weighs a ton.

You hear the client again and she's now saying, "So can we do that technique where the background goes completely out of focus and we don't even see what's on that white board right behind the subject???"  You look for your 85mm f.009 lens but then you realize it never got invented.

2. Scouting that presumes daylight never changes. Or traffic. Over the years you learn that every location needs to be scouted. But every once in a while you drop the ball---or the client is so tight on budget that they only can afford for you to start your car twice. Once to drive to their preferred location and once to drive back to the studio. And if you could take the bus they'd love it.

I learned again the hard way. The client raved about the really nice lighting and the sweet background she saw for the location she scouted. But when we showed up the location was in full sun with shadows from the sparse foliage of the almost dead tree dappling the entire scene. The sweet background area was totally backlit by this point and the area filled with cars.

I asked the art director when she scouted it. Seems like it did look pretty nice about four weeks ago in the early morning. Before daylight savings time. She got to work the morning morning she scouted at 7:30 am but our shoot with people is scheduled at 9:30 am today. The cure? Bag the whole thing and remember to do your own scouting next time.  Or get the scrims out and the big flash and the big reflectors and go to town. But it won't look like Waldon Pond no matter how good your technique.

3. Location Greed.  This one is probably partially your fault. You were talking to the A.D. about the backgrounds and maybe you suggested that more than one background would be useful to keep everything from looking too homogenous. You were thinking maybe two or three different locations with different backgrounds that could all be rendered out of focus. If you shot twelve people during the day you'd have four in each location and the variation would be nice while the style of shooting would surely tie everything together, aesthetically.

Your client took the idea and ran with it. If a little is good then more must better, would be the thought process. She's figuring that if changing backgrounds makes everything better than we might as well change for all twelve images. Doesn't really matter to them if the location only has three good, different views. That's surely your problem and not theirs. Hmmm. Twelve different portrait set-ups. That will sure keep you moving all day long.....

There's no cure for this one. You have to kill it in the planning or scouting stages. Otherwise you are doomed to a day of dragging gear and people around and around.

4. Massive wardrobe malfunctions. It all sounded so wrapped up when the client asked you for suggestions for wardrobe. It's a big corporation, most of their clients live in the northeastern U.S. and wear button down shirts and leather shoes with laces. Everyone agreed that coat and tie for men and smart business outfits for women would be the safe way to go. You talked about shying away from trendy fashions and loud colors, talked about the issues that might jump up with detailed patterns in clothing, even remembered to ask that the men shave a couple hours before their portrait sessions and then the day arrives and the CEO has forgotten to wear a suit but thinks the promotional, logo-ed polo shirt might just cut it. Angie in accounting has decided it would be a good day for a bright magenta blouse. Hedrick in customer support is in his third day of growing a quite "iffy" and uneven beard. Joe in legal is wearing a light colored suite with a herringbone pattern that's so defined it's already moire-ing before you've even looked through the lens. The CTO is wearing the awkward, shiny dress shirt in which he slept; for the second night in a row.

Although we stressed consistency in the memo we've got some execs who feel like a T-shirt makes any suit sparkle and others who just gave up and wore just the staid but ill-fitting white shirt with no tie and no jacket. Althea in H.R. spent the lunch hour crying and comes in with eyeliner drooling down her face and that guy in programming has on his Fantastic Four T-shirt over his long sleeve thermal.

While everyone else is happy to be photographed in front of the stark background we all chose together there's always that one key executive who read somewhere that outdoor photographs are all the rage and demands that he alone be allowed to do his "headshot" in the little patch of nature given over to the people who still go outside to smoke cigarettes. It's cold. He wants to wear his down vest...

And there is absolutely nothing you can do about any of this. You deliver a web gallery and wait as each person in each corporate silo contacts you individually in order to get a "private appointment" to re-do their image at your place. Just make sure you process their credit cards in advance...

5. Changing direction after the fact.  "Every photo we want taken is to be used on the web as a horizontal. I want to make sure you give me landscape images, okay?!" Asks your direct contact. You nod in agreement and as you shoot images all day long you marvel at how cool everything looks at a horizontal with some "air" around the people. It's a nice look. The web designer is happy and starts using the images all over the website. And then the nonsense starts. First off it's the assistant to the CEO who is calling to complain that when they "right clicked" on the CEO's image on the website and cropped it vertically and re-sized it to run on the cover of their printed annual report the image looked "all digital and blocky." Can you fix it right away?

Remember the long discussion with the guy who wanted his "headshot" done in the smoking gardens? Well now he would like his shot to match those of the rest of the senior executives. Can you just drop in a new background? And make the lighting on his face match?  At the same time five of the execs saw the image you did in the smoking gardens and would like to have the stark background dropped out and a "nice, garden-y" background dropped in to their photos. And could you make the light on their faces match.

"Ooops. That group shot where we asked for full lengths of all the people? Right? Well wouldn't you know that Bruce wore brown pants with a blue jacket and he wore brown shoes. Could you change the pants to black, lighten his jacket for some contrast and change the shoes to black?  Since you already have the file open in PhotoShop could you also change a few other pairs of shoes we don't like?"

6. Scheduling Nightmares. If you are an experienced photographer I'm going to guess you'd like about an hour at the location just to unload your vehicle, get the gear inside the building, get to the (hopefully) huge conference room where you'll be shooting and get your lights and backgrounds set up. Right? You probably talked about that with your client far in advance.

But many times we'll arrive and discover that no one has informed security that we'd be there. Even worse, no one has informed security that we would be bringing in cases of equipment. Sometimes it snowballs from there. Your liaison chooses that day to run late. Security can't do anything till they hear from your liaison. Someone finally untangles the security issues and you're frantically pushing that cart full of gear down the long, long hall to the conference room---when you are joined by the marketing director (your contact's boss). He wants to know if you can be set up in five minutes because the CEO's schedule has changed and, well, he wants to be photographed, now!

You rush to get everything set up and to move the furniture around and test whatever you can before the big man steps in for his headshot. You moved mountains and got everything ready as fast as you could and now the big man is a "no show." The original, appointed start time for everyone else arrives and there's still no CEO. You have the regularly scheduled people starting to show up early but the marketing director has everyone in a holding pattern, waiting for the boss of bosses to show. An hour into the holding pattern someone gets a text and the announcement goes out to "stand down." The CEO has re-decided to come at his scheduled time. But your original requestor is now miffed that you are no longer on schedule. You spend the day making up for lost time.

A corollary to this is the time crunch.  When asked about scheduling you let the original requestor know that a good portrait takes time. Everyone is different and getting the right look from some folks (sales people?) can be a quick and easy thing while with others (engineers?) you'll need to work for a while to get a pleasant and natural expression. You ask for 20 or 25 minutes with each person. The first two people to show up are former models as well as professional actors who each hit their marks, flash you the perfect smile and give you thirty frames apiece of real gold. Your requestor takes this two person statistical sample, extrapolates and starts slashing the time for each session down. Then the difficult subjects start to show up. The pathologically shy. The incredibly obese. The relentless blinkers. The "deer in the headlight" people. The "glowing" sweaters.  Suddenly it takes more time to get something good for each new arrival, and again, the requestor is miffed.

There is a variation on this and it's one we don't indulge at all any more. It goes like this: As you get better and better at making portraits you are able to put people at ease, light them and get good images more reliably and you actually can go a bit faster than you might have initially scheduled. This is a good thing because the gaps allow you time to rush to the restroom or grab a bottle of water. The gaps in time which you create through your expertise and experience allow you to double check the work you're doing and continually fine tune stuff. Maybe you even have time to personalize the light for each face! You're bringing value by being good at what you do. If you finish early that means you've saved some valuable time for your client. They can get back to their desk and get more work done and the people who came to sit for portraits can head back to their offices to do more online shopping or other mission critical work.

But some clients don't see efficient expertise as a plus. They have some strange concept in their heads that revolves around the idea that they are just paying for your time. That time elapsed is the only measure of productivity.  If you get done quicker they consider it their mission to find more people to photograph. Many more. Your well planned and well executed shoot devolves into a cattle call. This is something you need to nip in the bud.

With portraits comes the need for lots of post production work. Each person's images will have to be edited, ingested into your system, labelled, globally color corrected and put into a web gallery so someone can select the right frame. Once the frame is selected you might need to do a little or a lot of retouching. I recently retouched a female board member's selected photo and even though I've been working with PhotoShop for several decades it still took the better part of twenty minutes to get just right. If you multiply that by ten or fifteen people you'll easily find that however much time you spend on location you'll spend an equal amount of time in post production. And someone has to pay for that.

We don't charge by the hour anymore. We charge by the person. Add a person and we add a fixed amount to cover our time, usage and post production. There's a minimum charge to go out to a location and set up but after the minimum it's a "per head" charge. If your client understands that it will cost them an additional $XXX for everyone else they put in front of your camera they slow down the gushing pipeline pretty quickly. And if you do finish early you still got everything done you said you would.

I laughed when someone at a corporation I don't work for (and probably never would) told me about a photographer who assured the company's marcom people he could do "a day's worth of portraits for a dayrate of $800." Turnkey. Including "quick retouching of selects." My acquaintance went on to say that the marcom people lined up enough people to form a line that rivaled the lines at an Apple Store on the first day of a new product release. The poor photographer probably shot 60 or 70 people that day, spending a couple of minutes with each person, then spent days and days post processing. It's an unwinnable situation.

7. Privacy and the public theater of getting your headshot done. In the world of medicine they have laws called the HIPA laws that ensure patient privacy. No one will be standing at the door of your hospital room goading you to share your X-rays or to laugh along at your current prognosis. But for some reason the culture at some companies is one that allows employees to stand at the door to your makeshift studio and yell over to Bob from accounting, "Hey Bob, don't break the camera!" "Smile because (fill in the blank)." And yes, the hoary, "Say Cheese!!!"  I guess these folks think that they are helping you get a dignified smile from Bob by making bizarre faces and questioning Bob's sexuality in a very public venue but really it just means we have to get Bob mentally back into the process over and over again.  We try to make it a rule to keep the doors closed and the onlookers to a minimum but when the top guys in the company come in to play "frat house" with each other it can be hard to control. You might want to discuss this with your original requestor. The extra time between sessions also helps to control lingering. H.R. might want to send along a message not to leer at the cute persons of the opposite sex as well. You'd be amazed.....

Clients will be clients but it might be a productive thing to discuss some of these issues with them. Do it nicely and figure out the reward for them at each step. It might make your life easier and your portraits better.

One last piece of advice.... As soon as the last person on your list steps out the door of your makeshift studio start breaking down and packing the gear. Don't stand around and chat with the client. For some reason they can't stand to see the gear set up and ready and no one being photographed. So help me, if you leave it set up they'll keep finding people to stick in front of your camera. If you pack now you might just get out in time to actively participate in rush hour.