Meet photographer Pablo Conrad Part 1

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of wonderful photographers online.

I’m going to introduce you to 2 former news photographers in the coming weeks.

There is another reason as well.

I’m thinking a different perspective or take on photography is always good.

So to start this off, please welcome a very generous friend  professional photographer Pablo Conrad who lives in the Bellingham, Washington area.

I’ve asked Pablo a few questions, the Q and A will be posted in 2 parts.

A spectacular sunset over grazing sheep captured by Seattle photographer Pablo Conrad

Is a formal education in photography necessary?

No. But it doesn’t hurt. Many photojournalists have a degree in something. Sebastio Salgado studied economics, James Nachtwey graduated from Dartmouth College with degrees in political science and art, just to name a few.

I know from my alma mater Western Kentucky University that there are at least 10 Puliters winners and numerous Pulitzer Finalists.

What I believe any education will help you with is critical thinking. It will help in innovative ways to problem resolution.

If you are already a decent photographer, then taking business classes to help promote your business will definitely help you.

If you only had a budget of $5K and you wanted to start a business doing freelance photography, what would you buy?(assuming you have the necessary software and computer already).

His Holiness the Dalai Lama blesses a scarf for a little girl behind the Benedict Music Tent on Saturday afternoon July 26, 2008, after finishing his talk in Aspen, Colo. His Holiness leaves after being the keynote speaker during a three day symposium on Tibetan culture at the Aspen Institute. (AP Photo/The Aspen Times, Paul Conrad)

First and foremost, I believe it’s not the cameras and gear, it’s the photographer. Pulitzers have been won by amateurs with “amateur” cameras.

The 1996 Pulitzer in spot news photography was won by amateur Charles Porter, IV, of his image from the Oklahoma City bombing.

In 1954, amateur photographer Mrs. Walter M. Schau won when she captured a rescue in Redding, Calif., in which a truck was hanging from the bridge and the driver being pulled up.

With that in mind,

Camera body

A good mid-range body of about 12 megapixel. Those will run you about $1500. But you want a good camera body so spending at least 2K on one is a good happy medium. With a 12 megapixel camera shooting in raw, you can get a file size of around 72mb. That’s large enough for a 20×30 print at 200 dpi.


For lenses, it depends on what you plan to shoot. But, what you want are high quality lenses.

To save a few bucks on lenses, you can get good quality refurbished and used lenses from reputable dealers for half the cost of a new one.

Or buy equivalent lenses made my Sigma or Tokina. There are Sigma and Tokina lenses that have been rated better than the kit lenses available.


As for a portable strobe/flash, buy a good one. I prefer to stick to the camera manufacturer’s flash as the electronics are more compatible.

Also, buy an off-camera cord. Learn to use it as it will make your lighting look more natural and improve your pictures.

Camera bag

A forerunner crashes a gate during the begining of the 2008 Aspen Winternational Woman’s World Cup in Aspen, Colo.

Don’t forget to get a good bag. Something that will protect your gear, but is also comfortable to carry. Look for sales.

I bought a new LowePro Mini Trekker for $50. It’s a great bag. I’ve had it for about 8 years and it’s still in great shape.

Some photographers prefer to use UV filters to protect the lens, others think they degrade the image.

Personally, I use UV filters as I’ve had a few instances where not having one would’ve destroyed my lens.

One time I was shooting a welder building a guardrail and the torch blew hot slag everywhere.. When I got back to the paper, I noticed the UV filter had a bunch of spots where the slag melted the glass.

Without the filter, I would’ve had to buy a new lens. Not good since it was only 6 months old.

The key it to buy good lenses. The bodies will be superseded about once a year. But as your business improves you can invest in a better body, then more lenses.


Seattle’s Space Needle photographed against the Super Moon

You have to have a website. It must be HTML based and not flash. Flash is dead.

Smartphones cannot read Flash sites and when the website reads the device you are viewing from, it will switch to that version.

So if you have a flash based site, it won’t read it. Remember: 75% of web traffic can come from smartphones as consumers now shop with their phones.

HTML also has better (Search Engine Optimization) SEO and what you could only do in flash at one time, you can do in HTML5.

Photoshelter and SmugMug have great templates to get you started. You have to have something to get your name out there.

And the web is the way to do it. I have a Smug Mug Pro account which costs me $150 a year for unlimited uploads and the ability to sell through my site.

Hire a good designer to create a logo. You can create one yourself, but it will look so much better if you get a designer to help out. Make sure they also know SEO so you can be found rather quickly.

Also, get a good HTML based website. Smartphones cannot read Flash based websites.

As smartphone get more ambiguous, having a site anyone can access from their phone is imperative.

By having a well designed, simple and clean site, you’ll get more traffic. Also, HTML is much more SEO friendly than flash.

Pay for advertising

Get your name out there. If you want to shoot weddings or portraits, then you need to let people know about you. Having a great website is great. But you still need to promote it to increase traffic.

Create a good presentation package. Send it to people who do the hiring.

Call local magazines and newspapers to find out who does the hiring for photography.

Don’t e-mail a link to your website. Rather, find out who does the hiring and make an appointment to drop your work off and talk with them.

Don’t talk about what you are able to do, rather, tell them how you can fill the gaps in their coverage.You will be surprised of the outcome.

In case you want to purchase a print of Pablo’s wonderful work, do head over to Pablo’s website.

Next, we’ll ask Pablo what skills are necessary
Peter Phun Photography

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