Photography for Webmasters: 1


I have seen a growing trend in the online adult business where Webmasters, who once happily created online businesses that resold the content produced by countless photographers and agencies, have decided to pick up the camera and try their hand at creating their own content. I see this as a very positive step in this industry.

Content that is licensed to many sites has a limited appeal and shelf life. Content that is uniquely yours and models that work primarily (or exclusively) with you is the kind of porn that will retain members. As the porn consumer becomes savvier the quick jerk off that many commercial sites provide will no longer do the trick. Exclusive content will give your site the appeal that this new breed of client is looking for.

I have put together this short primer for the Webmaster who is picking up a camera for the first time, and has a variety of questions, like: What equipment? How much money will it cost? Where can I find models? The choices here are endless. Hopefully, armed with a little knowledge, this step into the content world will not look as daunting.

Film vs. Digital
Film has been used for content generation for years, and there are a few advantages to using it over digital, and I will list them here briefly just so you are aware of them. Film cameras are generally cheaper than their digital counterparts. You could buy a cheap used 35mm body with a good lens and start shooting right away, for under $300. The only other advantage that 35mm gives you is very high resolution. The resolution locked into each 24 by 36 millimeter film frame is far in excess of the highest film scanners resolution. This resolution is really overkill for every Web application I have ever encountered.

The hidden costs to shooting 35mm are; the ongoing expense of feeding the camera film, the processing of that film (which comes with its own set of difficulties unless you learn how to process it yourself) and the scanning of your work into digital form. Over the space of one year, these costs will far outstrip even the most expensive digital camera.

Digital offers you the immediacy of being able to proof your work as you shoot. There are no costs associated with digital beyond the cost of camera and media cards. When starting out, you are going to make a ton of mistakes. Go for it, make them. The more mistakes you make the better a photographer you are going to be. Learn what works by actually doing it. You will discover very quickly if you have the skills or if you need to take courses. With the current digital technology, electronic auto focus lenses and programmable exposure settings it has never been as easy to take good pictures.

Ok, lets decide on digital as the path we are going to take. There are a plethora of cameras out there all of which take decent pictures. There are really only two things you need to look at when choosing a camera for content creation; external flash sync and a large buffer.

The external flash sync is for synchronizing your shutter to an external flash source. This could come in the form of a connector on the side of the camera or as a hot shoe on top of it. You want this because at some point you are going to get into complex flash situations. You may want to try shooting a flash in concert with daylight coming from a window or adding second or third slaved flashes.

The buffer is a piece of internal memory that holds your shots while you keep shooting. Writing to the memory card is a resource intense process which will cause your camera to pause. When shooting you want the flow of shots to be smooth and consistent. Waiting for your camera to write to the memory card will seriously impact the number of pictures you can shoot within a limited time frame. We had a Nikon 5000 and my personal Kodak DC290 at work... the 5000 made the shoots very slow because of its poor buffer. Shooting the highest quality that the 5000 could produce was impractical due to the 30 seconds one had to wait between shots. The 290 allowed 3 - 4 maximum resolution (res) shots before starting to write to the memory card.

If you are just looking for a cheap solution that will yield good results, take a look the Kodak DC290. It’s a discontinued older camera which you can get off of eBay for around $300. It takes good pictures, has external sync and it has a nice large buffer.

Any consumer level digital camera is going to have one final flaw which you will need to work around or invest in camera gear in the $3000 range... shutter lag. This is the time between when you press the shutter release and the shutter actually releases. This "feature" is annoying as hell and responsible for many missed shots. Just before Christmas I took the plunge and leased a Canon D60. The camera is worth every penny and I am now happy and shooting fast as blazes.

Now that we’ve looked at some camera selection basics, stay tuned for Part 2 where I will discuss lighting equipment and how to find models...