Can the Shoot Now Focus Later Lytro Camera Change Photography?

Do you feel like a creative pioneer? Then the new shoot now, focus later Lytro camera might just be the gift from the gods of tech that you’ve been waiting for. This little gem, whose full commercial name is Lytro Illum, might just be a game-changer on the photographic scene, whether you like to think of yourself as an artistically-inclined amateur, or a professional with significant experience in wedding photography or other business niches. There are many amazing things worth mentioning about the Lytro Illum and we’re going to delve into them below, in a quest to figure out if it really has the potential to change the future of photography.

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The shoot now focus later Lytro camera is powered by Light Field

Getting the focus right is one of those challenges that photographers are faced with at all levels of experience, which is why Lytro set out to solve this conundrum. They came up with an innovative technology called Light Field, which is basically the foremost innovation in the shoot now focus later Lytro camera. Until Light Field came around, one could ‘trick’ the focus into the image post-factum, but this technology allows you to do so without any additional means, such as photo-editing programs. You get to do so in-camera!

A camera, not a toy

Before the Lytro camera was released, in late April of this year, Lytro had also developed several tube-like devices, which looked more like slide-viewers than actual cameras. In came the bytecam, as they call it, which looks entirely like a SLR is supposed to. Its body is made of magnesium and aluminum, it comes with a fixed lens, and an 8x optical zoom, which is the equivalent of a 30-250mm lens. The f/2 aperture is constant and the shutter speed is 1/4000. The lens also has an extreme macro capacity, which allows you to take macro shots from almost no distance at all. There’s also a hot shoe for external flashes, a 1in image sensor, a 4in tilting display in full color, a glass touchscreen and a 480 x 800 px resolution.

It’s all ‘bout the software

Aside from Light Field, the shoot now focus later Lytro camera is able to pull off this feat thanks to the software it contains. It comes with a “Lytro Button”, which basically enables the photographer to see all the depth-of-field options each shot contains. You can play around with the focus, the perspective, the d.o.f., and the tilt, in ways in which conventional cameras would never allow you to, since they would be fixed. Additionally, you can create 3D images, change the focus with the movement, for animations, and export .jpeg images. Bonus: the camera is fully compatible with Lightroom, Photoshop, and Apple Aperture. It also comes with an unprecedented 40 megaray resolution, an upgrade from its predecessors’ 11 megarays.

The shoot now focus later Lytro camera understands light differently

All of the above sound great in theory, but what is it that makes this camera unlike anything that came before it? It’s actually the way it ‘understands’ and processes the light that passes through the lens. With regular cameras, light is processed as a sum of rays that illuminate each pixel captured. This one, however, captures much more information. It analyzes all the rays of light that are present in a scene, hence allowing for post-shooting modifications. So, does it stand a chance at changing the way we take pictures? Its supporters certainly believe so and the camera is being marketed as a “transformational concept”. However, some of its more vocal critics remain skeptical, mainly due to pricing reasons. They considered the initial Lytro camera expensive and this new one costs almost four times as much. Does it compensate, in terms of abilities and design? Time alone will tell.

Why The $99 Payment Plan Is The Future Of Photography

Your car is a few years old. So you head out to find a new one. Do you look at the price tag on the sticker? Of course not – what does that truly mean? Instead you look at the payment amount. Does $495 a month work for you? Can you negotiate it to a lower price – a price that fits more within your budget? How about $395 for 60 months? Sure, that works, sign me up.

In today’s society, we live by the payment plan.

Combine your phone, Internet and cable together in one easy payment plan – $129 a month.

Mobile technology? No problem. Add up to 5 mobile devices, unlimited data, 500 minutes and we’ll give it to you for $179 a month.

New house? Sure. With an ARM loan, we can get your payments down to a low $1,500 a month. Does that work for you?

The payment plan is now a part of just about every industry in existence. Furniture. Energy. Even my daughter’s college offers an interest free payment plan.

So why not photography?Why The $99 Payment Plan Is The Future Of Photography

Lets say you design a portrait opportunity with all the bells and whistles. They get a morning session with you, inside and outside portraiture, unlimited clothing changes, lots of poses and combinations that separate your family into groupings. You provide creative framing options, coffee table albums, lots of options when it comes to display. Sure they can ala carte it all out. But what if you offered one complete “package” that includes everything from the sitting fee to the final images – all for the unbelievably low price of $199 a month for six months – no interest payment plan of course. Doesn’t that sound more reasonable than a $1200 package? It does to your clients.

Have a wedding photography business? What is the average amount of time a bride and groom will be on your books before you shoot the wedding? 6 months? 12 months? 18 months? Instead of selling them $2,500, $3,500 or $5,000 packages, what if you created monthly payment packages instead?

Lets say you offer an all-inclusive wedding coverage. Unlimited time. Unlimited images. Albums. Framed prints. Extras. Whatever you choose to include in the “package” covers the entire event, beginning to end. Now lets give it a price tag of $5,000. Yes, a lot of brides and grooms will panic when they hear $5,000. But what if we changed it around?

We offer a 6 month, 12 month or 18 month wedding plan. A 6 month payment plan of $833 a month, a 12 month payment plan of $416 a month, or an 18 month payment plan of $278 a month.

All of a sudden the pricing seems a whole lot lower, right? And it does to your clients as well.

Plus you get the added benefit of guaranteed income in the coming months, which also means you won’t face the age-old photographers’ nightmare of high season and low season, feast or famine when it comes to incoming clients and payments.

Have you tried the payment plan? How is it working for you?

What Mobile Apps Say About The Future Of Photography

Just the other day, I stepped away from the office for an afternoon, and didn’t bring “the office” with me. Meaning I didn’t bring any of my mobile devices with me that would allow me to check email, voicemail, etc.

And while it was wonderful to “disconnect” for a while, it can be nerve-wracking for clients.

“I emailed an hour ago – did you get my message?”

“I really need to make my decision today – can I get your thoughts?”

Everyone is connected these days. Every commercial you see or hear asks you to follow the company via Facebook. Every advertisement shares their Twitter address. And more and more, companies are asking you to download and use their mobile apps.

A recent ad for a local bank told me that I could now bank with them anywhere, at any time with their mobile app. If I forgot to deposit my checks before heading off for the weekend, it no longer matters. With their app, I can snap a picture of both sides of the check, and the funds are deposited. Just like that.

In many ways, this new technology is making our lives easier, simpler and much more effective. I’m in touch all the time, no matter where I am. [Read more…]

What Questions Will Define The Photographic Future?

Never before in time has the world traveled so fast. What you learned as a kid, simply no longer applies. Much of what I learned throughout my college career is obsolete. And technology I bought a mere five years ago can bring chuckles from 16 year old daughter.

It’s easy to look back and see what’s changed along the way. But how do we look forward and predict what’s going to happen?

One great place to follow future thinkers, and learn what they think the future will look like is TED. TED brings out new videos every week from the greatest minds in the world. And occasionally they hold TED conferences that bring many people together in different locations. This week, TED is hosting TEDGlobal 2011 in Scotland. And one of the things that caught my eye from their blog was not a video, but instead a question they asked the audience.

What trends should we be watching?

And the answers bring a lot of insight into the direction we may be heading.

“The internet is a huge platform to leverage citizen participation in the world.”

“I see three institutions going away in the next ten years: marriage, schools, and hospitals.”

“There is a growing and dangerous trend of reducing complex ideas to simple ones.”

“Technology has outstripped imagination; let’s bring imagination back to the forefront.”

Is Photography Imagination?

When you work with technology, things tend to be black and white. You do something and get an expected response.

And that tends to be how a lot of photographers operate these days. The term “spray and pray” comes to mind. Instead of knowing what you want to capture, what story you want to tell, you simply jump in and take dozens of pictures, hoping you capture something that’s “workable”. Then you had back to the office and work in Photoshop for hours, until you attain the look you were going for.

In order for photography to be a true art form, you have to think first, and click the shutter second. Take a look at this video by David Griffin, photo director for National Geographic.

In it, David talks about the “flashbulb moment” – the moment that lives in your mind for eternity – what you saw, what it was like, how it smelled, what you felt. Pictures don’t give you a flashbulb moment. But a photograph can, and it can convey that message not only to the photographer, but to every person that views it.

And that ultimately is the difference between an amateur and a professional. An amateur takes one or two flashbulb moment photographs; a professional creates them all the time.

You have to have storytelling power. Instead of showing knowledge of what’s happening, you must showcase empathy. You must go beyond the superficial, and expose the reality of the situation. No matter if you are capturing a child’s first birthday portrait, or showcasing the plight of animals in the wild.

4 Trends That Will Shape The Next 10 Years Of Photography

Imagine a world where …

That’s the way a recent report I read started out. The Intuit 2020 Report: Twenty Trends That Will Shape The Next Decade is a great read, and brings up a wide array of ideas that will impact business in the future. Some are fairly easy to predict:

Customers control the relationship

Some may bring up ideas you’ve never though about:

Work shifts from full time to free agent employment

And some are in between:

Niche markets flourish in the new economy

If you currently run a business, you know times are changing. And in order to remain successful, you have to change along with it. Even if you are successful today, without watching what’s happening in the economy can be the death of your business in just a few short months. Which is why I love to keep a handle on future predictions, to see what leading thinkers in the world predict, and how I can stay on top of those predictions.

Lets take a look at 4 of the predictions within this report, and see how they can affect your photography business in the future.

It’s a She-conomy

Its predicted that 870 million women globally who have not previously participated in the mainstream economy will gain employment or start their own businesses by 2020. 47 million will come from North America, Western Europe and Japan, with the rest coming from nonindustrialized countries.

Women will dominate college graduation rates and professional workforce entry, expanding into all areas of work, management and technology. They will look for flexibility as they remain connected to families and children at home, and the needs of creating an income.

This also means they will be looking for services that cater to them. I featured Christina Morassi about a year ago, and her idea rings even stronger today. As women become more active in business, they need to develop a stronger persona around their ideas and concepts. What better way than to create a personalized photo shoot that builds confidence as it creates dynamic images that will help them attract new clients into their businesses? [Read more…]

What Will Photography Be Like In The Future?

What will the future hold for the photography industry? Will everything be in digital format? Will photographs hanging on walls defer to photographs embedded in everything we use?

I found this interesting video made by Corning that shows life in the not too distant future. Its worth the 5 minutes to watch what people are already working on – what people are already projecting life will be life in just a few short years.

Even by watching a video like this, you can start putting together your own ideas for the future of your business.

Will photographs be important? Or is it the ability to control an image and use it for what you desire?

Will apps help you become more successful in selling your concepts?

Are current, traditional packages the way to build your business? Or do you need to include something new?

What technology do you need to learn today to be successful in the future? Is now the time to go back to class to learn a new skill?

Photographs – Self Focused and Self Deleted

Want to get a really good look at the state of the photography industry? Play tourist for a couple of weeks. We spent two weeks running around all over California, and as we sat in rides and shows in places like Disney, Universal and Sea World, I began to really look at how people were taking pictures.

With either a point and shoot or a phone camera, they would hold the camera out at arms length, and shoot a picture of themselves with a friend or two, or maybe flip it around and use flash to capture a quick snapshot. Everything is focused on what is happening right there in front of them. No focus on telling the story, only on capturing a quick snapshot of them in a situation.

Add in the fact that most pictures probably never make it off the flash drive or card, or make it out of the cell phone. A few weeks or months down the road when a person needs more space, it’s simply a matter of “delete”.

When I went on vacation as a kid, I always had a roll or two of film, and couldn’t wait to get them developed when I got home. A week or two later, it was like living your vacation all over again. You remembered exactly how that cotton candy tasted. Or how excited you were to see that koala bear at the zoo. It felt like you were there again. And it made you smile as you looked through your photos, shared them with family and friends, and put them into your photo or scrapbook. And if you pick up that scrapbook today, I bet you still can remember some of those same feelings.

So what will change in 10 or 20 years time? This current period of time will produce very few memories.

People now are missing the one element that photographs bring to the experience, and that’s the final output. They love the instant feeling of being able to capture a memory anywhere, anytime. But they don’t follow through and put that memory into a storable, achievable format that will last throughout their lifetime.

Now let’s look at what a professional photographer offers his or her clients. When I head out and look at a variety of sites, I see the same things again and again:

We’ll shoot your [wedding, baby portrait, family portrait, business portrait, commercial products, etc] and hand them over to you on a CD/DVD. You get the files, and that’s it.

So what’s separating you as a professional from what a person is already creating with their digital products?

Being a professional photographer isn’t just about shooting an image, it’s also about creating an experience AND providing a touchy, feely product your customer can look at, feel, and pass around to their family and friends.

They can bring a beautifully designed leather album with them to a family event. A CD will gather dust on their desk.

They can hang a framed portrait above their fireplaces. A CD may get lost or broken over time.

Value isn’t just in the first half of the process – the shooting. Value is in the entire process from beginning to end. And if you are only providing half the process, you can only expect to take in half the fee.

Are You Creating Your Own Future, Or Waiting For It To Come To You?

A while back I read some interesting statistics.

“Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can’t make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street.” source

I’ve kept that in my draft folder for blogging for the past few months, and have read it at least once a week. And every time I look at them, I wonder if it all can really be true. I know the answer is yes. I myself know many people who have been unemployed or underemployed for well over a year now, and really no end in sight.

I’ve also talked with a bunch of these unemployed or underemployed people, trying to find out a little more about their mindset. And while I would never classify everyone into one category, I did start noticing a trend – people become focused on how they perceived their lives from the perspective of several years ago, not from where we stand today. So if they have a degree in engineering, and worked as an engineer in a traditional environment for a number of years, they can’t pull back the mindset and find a different direction to go now that things have changed.

Have you ever read the book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” Great book. It follows the life of four little mice and men – Sniff and Scurry, Hem and Haw. While they all work in a maze of cheese, two realize that the only way to get more cheese is to find more cheese. If a room empties of cheese, you have to find another room. Two take the opposite approach; if the cheese was here in the past, it surely will come back at some point. So they wait and wait in the empty room, knowing someday the cheese will return.

Of course the “cheese” is meant to symbolize anything you choose it to be. Jobs, relationships, opportunities – you name it.  If you wait around for the old way to return, you will surely be disappointed. But if you always realize change is going to happen, and you’re out looking for a new way to do things, you’re sure to find opportunity.

Right now things are changing. We will never go back to the way things were even five years ago. Jobs have changed. Business has changed. Marketing has changed. Education has changed.  Financial security has changed. Even the way we live and approach our lives has changed. And the change isn’t over yet.

Which means the only way to move forward is to change and find a new way to approach things.

Just as many people become millionaires in good times as in bad. Just as many people are building successful businesses right now as they were ten years ago. It all depends on how you look at things and how you approach them.

So how are you looking at your future in photography? Are you looking at it as a way to make a few bucks until you get a real job? Do you see it through the way you knew photography to be five or ten years ago? Or are you looking for a way to change the way people perceive photography?

Do you truly see photography as your key to success over the next five years? Or do you see it as side venture until something better comes along?

There is a difference. And it will affect how well you do today, a year from now, and five years from now.

The Future Of Photography

As a professional photographer, do you really need to understand:

  • Posing
  • Lighting
  • Camera settings
  • Exposure

Or can you snap a quick picture, bring it into Photoshop for manipulation, and expect to create a dynamic image that someone is willing to spend hundreds on?

wedding images

Is the future of photography going to be in the hands of people that have an artistic eye and know how to take a great image? Or will it be in the hands of a person that is great on the computer and can turn anything into a work of art using the computer?

[Read more…]