Saturday, February 27, 2010

Acute stomach surgery, and a few words on insurances



Syringe, screenshot from the Burlak Obsession video

I’ve been away from the blog for a few days, infact I’ve been away from most of my everyday life since Wednesday. Wednesday evening I started feeling a rather intense pain in the lower right part of my stomach. The pain intensified during the night and the following day so by Thursday afternoon my girlfriend took me to the hospital. My symptoms were very typical for when you have an inflammation in the vermiform appendix, i.e appendicitis, and after a minor examination and a blood sample my doctor drew the conclusion that that’s what I was suffering from. It’s a fatal condition if not treated in time but it’s also a very common condition (10-15% of the population gets it).

It’s best treated with surgery, removing the vermiform appendix, so that was Thursday night for me. It all went very well and by Friday the doctors could send me home with three holes in my stomach, some pain killers and instructions to take it slow a few days and especially not strain my stomach. When I started this blog I decided not to make it to personal, everything I would write here had to have some sort of connection to my photography or my photographic endeavors. I did take some pictures of my stomach holes but on second thought I decided not share it here, it’s definitely not fashion or conceptual portraiture.

I will connect this adventure to the business of photography by talking of insurance and other security measures you should take as a freelancer. Summary in swedish and full post when you click here:

Even if you are a struggling photographer (or other freelancer) in the beginning of your carrier you have to be prepared for the worst. I’m not telling you to always envision possible disasters, but you don’t want your business or worse your life to depend on entirely on chance. Usually this type of security comes down to three things, insurance, redundancy and backup. By insurance I’m not only talking about medical insurance, I have insurances covering damages to my gear and also a business responsibility insurance. If, during a job, I would be the cause for an accident damaging someone or someone’s property my insurance would cover most of that damage.

I’m also making sure to have extra camera bodies, lenses, lights etc and my computer is constantly backed up via Apples Time machine, I also store important backup files at my parents house in case of a fire or a brake in at my place. This is by no means a complete listing to the last detail of what you should do, but I think it’s good in a general sense. And no I wouldn’t claim this is my personally developed strategy, it’s just plain common sense that any business owner would share if asked.

What’s also common sense is to calculate how much your precautions cost you in time and money and make sure that your fee reflects that. Most starters uppers charge way to little thinking it’s the only way to enter the market, the problem is that if you charge to little you won’t afford the security I talk about above and you won’t be able to make a living from it in the long run. And you also undermine the market for everybody else, including other starters uppers (like me).

A final comment: I know I have complained about the cold and dark climate in Sweden but it sure is a great country when it comes to social security. Some think we pay crazy high taxes, (25% VAT around 33% income tax etc. etc.) but I don’t think of it as money wasted. I paid 35€ (about 45$) in administrative fees for my surgery, and that’s it. I’ve no idea what it would have cost me otherwise, and I have no idea what a “no limit” medical insurance would cost me per year in for example USA, but I’m quite sure I wouldn’t be able to afford it with my personal economy right now.

P.S can I really use the term “starter upper”?

Information på Svenska fotograf Mårten KeijserSummary in Swedish/ Summering På Svenska:

Jag har inte varit så aktiv på bloggen de senaste dagarna, det beror på att jag hade blindtarmsinflammation under veckan. Blindtarmsinflammation ger en ganska kraftig smärta i magens nedre högra del och det är dödligt om det inte behandlas i tid. Blindtarmsinflammation behandlas oftast med en operation och jag hade min i torsdags. Allt gick bra, så nu ligger jag hemma och försöker läka såren så gott som möjligt.

Med anledning av detta lilla äventyr så fick jag idén att att delge lite tips på hur man kan minimera skadan av om olyckan skulle vara framme. För er fotografer (och andra frilansare) som är i uppstarten av era karriärer är försäkringar och backup det viktigaste att tänka på. Jag har försäkringar som inte bara täcker min utrustning utan också en ansvarsförsäkring utifall jag skulle orsaka en olycka under ett jobb. Som svensk medborgare betalar man ju sjukförsäkringen via skatten så den behöver man inte tänka på.

Något man måste tänka på dock är såklart backup av både utrustning och data. Jag har alltid ett extra kamerahus, objektiv som överlappar varandra och extra ljusutrustning, utifall något skulle paja. Sedan ser jag alltid till at ha backup på mina filer i datorn via Apples Time Machine. Jag har alltid en hårdisk med de viktigaste filerna sparad i mina föräldrars hus om jag skulle få ett inbrott eller det skulle börja brinna hos mig.

Det jag listar här är ingen detaljerad steg för steg guide men den beskriver hur man bör tänka generellt sätt. Och nej, det är inte direkt min personligt utvecklade strategi det är helt enkelt sunt förnuft som de flesta etablerade företagare håller sig till.

Något som också är sunt förnuft är att räkna med den kostnad och tid dessa säkerhetsåtgärder kostar dig när du räknar ut hur hög avgift du tar av dina kunder. Många frilansare som är i början av sina karriärer vågar inte ta skäligt betalt och det leder oftast till sämre säkerhet för både dig själv och kunden samt att du inte kan leva på dina uppdrag. Det innebär också att marknaden undermineras vilket gör det svårare för andra både etablerade och sådana som vill in (typ mig).
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Interview with stylist and designer Emilié Karlberg, about clothes



Aspiring designer and stylist Emilie Karlberg.

As a fashion photographer you are never alone. Of course the model will always be part of the team. The same goes for the makup artist. This blog post will focus on a team member that’s at least as important, the stylist. I’m very fortunate to have found the aspiring designer and stylist Emilie Karlberg.

We have done plenty of projects together for example the latest project that I published on this blog. Emilie did not only choose the clothes for that project, she actually designed and made them. Melissa Rodwell, established fashion photographer and writer of the fashion photography blog, often points out the importance of doing your homework and actually educate yourself about fashion if your aim is to be a fashion photographer. Personally I’m working hard with that and in the spirit of sharing knowledge I asked Emilie to describe the clothes from our latest project with you blog readers.

Swedish translation and the full interview after the jump click:



Emilie Karlberg:
Heute Couture is almost always the basis for my design, and that statement holds for this skirt as well. The skirt is made from a burgundy colored damask fabric that I draped using a dummy and the design is actually inspired by a Giorgio Armani design I saw in a magazine. The jacket is sewn in suede imitation polyester fabric.


The jumpsuit came into existence during the space age era with films and TV-series like Barbarella and Star Trek. I like the jumpsuit as it represents the very cool unisex fashion of the 70s and 80s. This one is made of damask fabric and the top is sewn with smocking. I would like to direct some attention to the French designer Pierre Cardin who brought the jumpsuit to the catwalk in 1964."


Information på Svenska fotograf Mårten Keijser In Swedish / På Svenska:

Du är aldrig ensam som modefotgraf. Att modellen alltid är med i laget är uppenbart, för många är också makupartisten en självklarhet. Den lagmedlem som det här inlägget är dedikerat åt är minst lika viktig, nämligen stylisten. Jag är väldigt lyckligt lottad som kan sammarbeta med den aspirerande designern och stylisten Emilié Karlberg.

Vi har gjort många projekt ihop bland annat det senaste projektet som jag publicerade på bloggen. Kläderna för det projektet är inte bara utvalda av Emilie det är också hon som designat och sytt upp dem. Melisa Rodwell som driver ”the fashion photography blog” poängterar ofta vikten av att du som aspirerande modefotograf gör läxan och lär dig om mode. Med tanke på det bad jag Emilie skriva ihop en liten text om kläderna och den kommer här:


Emilie Karlberg:
Heute coutur har nästan alltid legat till grund för hur jag jobbar med min design och denna kjol är en typiskt heute couture kjol, designen är inspirerad av Giorgio Armanis stil. Kjolen är i vinrött damasttyg som jag har draperat på en docka. Jackan är sydd i polyester tyg med en känsla av mockayta.

Jumpsuiten kom till under ”the space age era” då rymdserier och filmer som Barbarella och startreck dök upp i tv rutan på 60-talet. Då jag är ett stort fan av 60-talets jumpsuit som också hade en betydande roll i 70 och 80 talets unisexmode, så föll valet på att sy i upp en egen i damastvävt tyg med smocksydd överdel. Som en liten notis vill jag uppmärksamma den franska designers Pierre Cardin som lyfte fram jumpsuiten på catwalken 1964.



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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Using Google Buzz as a photographer


I was a bit skeptical about google buzz when it was released a few weeks ago, but as I have a ridiculously loyal relationship towards the products of Google so I decided to try it out.

Today I've set up a buzz profile where my twitter tweets and blog posts and images and youtube vids etc will be published. When I think about it sounds pretty much like this blog but with uglier layout and more interaction capabilities from other buzz users, As a fashion and conceptual portrait photographer with a blog I'm sure it can be of some use.

The link to my Google Buzz page is: www.google.com/profiles/marten.keijser

Information på Svenska fotograf Mårten Keijser Summary in Swedish / På Svenska:
Jag var ganska skeptisk mot Googles nya tjänst Buzz som lanserades för någon vecka sedan. Men eftersom jag har stort förtroende för Googles andra tjänster så bestämde jag mig för att ge det ett försök.

Så från och med idag har jag en Buzz profil där mina twitter medelanden och blogginlägg med mera kommer samlas. Förhoppningsvis kommer det vara till någon nytta i min roll som mode, porträtt- och artistfotograf.

Adressen till min Google Buzz profil är: http://www.google.com/profiles/marten.keijser




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Friday, February 19, 2010

Retouching; My philosophy and a before & after vid


For the latest project I did the aim was for a rather toned down look. The presence was supposed to be with the model and especially the clothes of the model, not the lighting, the makeup, the composition etc. Hence the retouching couldn’t take over. Adding strong colors or contrasts would contradict the entire message. Toning down the retouching doesn’t mean toning down the workload though. I worked very hard in Photoshop with the final selects; to complete the 7 images I invested about 8 hours (not including the time it took to import, render previews and select the final images). The short video below shows three images before and after retouching from that session. It’s not meant to describe the process or function as a tutorial but it visualizes the importance of retouching as a tool for achieving a final look.



The rest of this post is dedicated to explaining some of my philosophy about retouching or photoshoping and hopefully my insights and ideas can help someone in some way. To read it click:

I am saying, without hesitation, that retouching in some form or another is a major part of any successful fashion photograph.

Back in the days the photog would choose film and carefully create strategies for developing it in order to match the feeling or look he was going for. That meant it was even more important to know before the shoot what the final images would look like. Even though the technology of today gives us crazy headroom for alterations after the shoot and even though you can hand of your files to a professional retoucher it’s extremely important to have a clear idea of what you are aiming to achieve.

I’m not pulling the kind of big budget gigs that allows for external retouchers (yet, today most of my projects are personal portfolio-projects) so I have to rely on my own skills in PS. Learning more than the basic contrast and saturation changes, have allowed me to work with photography in a whole other way. When I discuss with a designer or stylist about the look we are going to aim for I’m not limited to only think about the lighting and composition etc. I can let my creativity go all the way to and beyond the retouching. And usually before I take the first picture I always have a clear idea of how to retouch the images.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fashion shoot with Cornelia


Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography
Model: Cornelia B. Elite Model Management
Makeup & hair: Emmy Ö.
Styling & design: Emilie K.

Here are the final images from the fashion portfolio shoot I pulled off last Monday together with the team above. For this project I stepped back as a photographer, toning down the lighting and retouching, in order to achieve a softer editorial fashion look than I’m not really used to. This was an important project for me as I’ve long felt my portfolio to be lacking this type of images. I’m very glad that I managed to pull the team above together and especially the model who matched the look perfectly.

For you who are curious I published some behind the scenes images over at my facebook page, some of the images shows the rather simple lighting setup I used. I also captured some behind the scenes video from the shoot, hopefully I will find the time to edit that material soon. There are some more pictures in the full post, click:
Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography

Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography

Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography

Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Current music video favorite


Here's my favorite video of the week, a music video that really manages to tell a story, It's been online for some time and is crazy popular but I thought I'd share it anyways. As usual the full list of my favorite videos is here.

Cinnamon Chasers - Luv Deluxe (Music Video) from Saman Keshavarz on Vimeo.


P.S Had a fashion shoot yesterday and there's some material under way for the blog but if you are very curios I've already published some BTS images on my facebook page.




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Friday, February 12, 2010

My Fashion portfolio as of feb 2010


Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography

If you don’t have a love-hate relationship with your portfolio (or body of work) you are probably not a photographer (or artist). This post is about portfolios but it’s more of a personal post than general, I will however try to round up some of the best advice I have received and online sources for advice regarding portfolios for a later blog post.

As I stated in my very first blog post I started this blog not only to share the results of my ongoing projects or the tricks I use in Photoshop etc. I also want to share my struggle (and hopefully my progress) in building some sort of a career as a fashion and conceptual portrait photographer.

Click the “read the full post” link to see all the images I use in my printed portfolio, some of my thoughts about it and the critique I received when I showed it to the fashion director of one of the major (i.e internationally recognized) Swedish fashion magazines.

Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography

I have yet to do a real gig for a fashion magazine and even though there’s not any real money in editorial fashion work it’s a measure of how commercially valuable you are. It’s also a good way to be seen by industry people. So as an aspiring fashion photographer getting published is a major and obvious goal.

To my experience getting noticed by an art director or art buyer is an art in itself, but to get booked is all about the portfolio. My feelings towards my portfolio changes every day, but those feelings are always very passionately, I either hate it or love it.
My sad and bitter truth is that, in order to improve as an artist, you have to hate your work more than you love it. If you can’t find annoying things to improve you won’t improve. Another equally important truth is that your technical skill is a very very tiny part of what’s possible to improve.

A big problem when you hate your portfolio, or body of work in general, more than you love it is that you will naturally feel very reluctant to showing it to anyone. I have only showed my printed portfolio once and I don’t want to give out the name of the person or magazine in question, as I didn’t ask if I could share the comments I received.

A summary of the feedback I received: The pictures were well worked through; I had done my technical homework. But, some of the images didn’t show professional “fashion looking” models or styling and that brought down the overall impression. It was to polished or commercial looking, giving a rather shallow and unmeaning feeling, which doesn’t fit an editorial portfolio.

All I can say is that I found it to be very true and since that interview I’ve had 2 portfolio photo shoots and changed around in my selection and below you can se the images I have in my printed portfolio today. It still needs a significant bump in quality and I have big plans with many portfolio projects this spring and so far it looks very good. Stay tuned via RSS, Facebook or Twitter if you want to tag along.
Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography Fashion and conceptual editorial artist portrait photographer Marten Keijser Solna Stockholm Sweden Internationall, mode och konceptuella porträtt musik band artistporträtt, film video DOP director of photography


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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winter in Sweden



My original plan was to make a post complaining about the weather, or rather the winter here in cold and dark Swe. But than I thought: "Why? Complaining won't make anything better." So instead I decided to share some of the benefits of the Swedish winter. The pictures I show here are taken a few weeks ago near my parents home some 250km north of Stockholm.

A few more pictures after the jump, click the link below or in the header.





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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Burlak Obsession, official video now online



Woho! The official video for the band Burlaks first single Obsession is now officially online! We filmed it in oktober 2009 and it's been on hold awaiting the bureaucracy surrounding the release of their first album. The release is bound to be within weeks now. It's my first big film-project and maybe it's not perfect in every aspect but I don't think I will give a cr*p about any such notion, for now I'll just be proud of it.

If you have the screen and graphics card for it (at least 1920 by 1080 pixels and native h.264 support), please do bump it up in full resolution it's quite awesome, and it's even more awesome when you think about the fact that it's youtube that's providing such a high resolution.

There's a "the making of" video in the pipeline but it will probably be a couple of weeks before it'l come online. And yes I've added this post to my list of favourite music videos online



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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hair n' Horns fashion shoot, BTS n' retouching video



Model: Elle F.
Horn/Hair-stylist: Camilla M.
Makup: Christina C.

The picture above is from a recent portfolio shoot i did with the crew listed above. I must admit I was quite amazed by the hair horn thingies that Camilla made. I’ve never worked with such advanced hair styling before and as a photographer it was quite a challenge to get the right feel for it. I actually had to relight the scene halfway through the first styling as I realized it didn’t work 100%. I’m happy I did because the results are totally ok in my opinion.

Above is my first ever blog published BTS-video so I hope you all appreciate it. Unfortunately I don’t have the simultaneous capacity to film myself while shooting so it shows only some of the styling and prepping of the model as well as the full tour in Photoshop afterwards. As the final look of these images rely quite a lot on the retouching I think the video gives a very transparent view of how they were realized.

Mor video stuff and images after the jump, click the link below or in the header to read the full post.

The film is quite long and yet the Photoshop part is speeded up from about 40min of work to ca: 3min of video. If you want a longer more slowly paced version please check out my Facebook fan page where I have uploaded a 9min video of the Photoshoping for you who would really like to analyze how I achieved this look. While you're browsing the fan page, please take the 2 seconds it takes to click the become a fan button, it's on the fan page I will publish more in depth BTS material among other stuff.

I’ll be the first one to admit that this video is not the best PS-tutorial on the internet but if you know your way around in Photoshop you should be able deduce and reverse engineer most of the steps involved. I wish I could spend more time on explaining all the steps in detail, but as it won’t pay my bills I’m afraid I can’t. And for the record I'm using PS CS4.

And to finnish up this post, here are a few more final images:




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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Beckmans "in a perfect world" fashion videos


In a perfect world… life is not a problem to be solved from Beckmans College of Design on Vimeo.



"In a perfect world" is a project arranged by Beckmans Collage of Design in Stockholm. It's a film based collaboration between the final year students of fashion design and commercial and graphic design. It's a bunch of great films of which all of them are worth to check out in very high resolution over at Beckmans official site. The fashion films are also published via Vimeo here.

My favorite video is the one on top but I also found some, according to my eye, pure gems that I will share after the jump, click the link below or in the header for the full post.


In a perfect world… independence is tributed from Beckmans College of Design on Vimeo.


In a perfect world… unpredictability is absolute control from Beckmans College of Design on Vimeo.


All the videos as well as the clothes are displayed for a few more days (until feb 7) at PUB in stockholm. Personally I wasn't to impressed with the exhibition, a crowded and noisy department store is not the perfect arena to display such a project.

When I first heard of this project I felt very inspired. I'm convinced that this is the beginning of a new trend, correction, standard for the fashion industry. It's my prediction that still images will always dominate but video will be more a rule than exception when it comes to displaying fashion to the wide internet audience.

I've been working on a similar project on my own, but I need to wait for the spring before it can be realized, have I ever before mentioned that I'm really bugged by this cold and extremely dark period of the year called winter?
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Monday, February 1, 2010

Current music video favorite


Here's my favorite video of the week, a music video that's totally brutal, I can't really describe it in any other way. The full list of my favorite videos is here

Metal on Metal "BASTARD" from The Glue Society on Vimeo.

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