Happy New Year! Sum.tv + Photography + Technology + Gear. What else?

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope that the holidays treated you well.

So how was your 2013?  Mine was crazy - but crazy good.  I had a lot of accomplishments this past year: launching a new company, launching my own photography business, playing with new technology & gear, and so and and so on…

Here’s a recap of a few of the highlights of my year:

Sum.tv - my new company that I’m a Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer

Many of you don’t know about this company that I’m one of the Co-Founders of, nor the story of how we started.  As we near launch, I feel that it’s only appropriate that I give a little bit of info about us, what we’re going to do, and a little of the history.

We are a social network for video collaboration and consumption.  What does that mean?  Well, exactly how it sounds.  We are going to empower people to collaborate on video content, in an effort to be able to create passion projects, high quality videos, or just have fun working together on projects.

I met the 2 other Co-Founders when I worked at MySpace.  When it was cool. Ron had this amazing idea, he recruited David, whom is one of the brightest guys in the industry, and they recruited me.  The amazing thing about our team, is that we each have diverse experience that we bring to the table: Ron with digital media and enterprise solutions, David with publishing and digital, and me with Entertainment and content.  Together, we are going to completely disrupt the content marketing industry.

Over the last year, our company has gone under many changes.  We started out as a complex creative resourcing platform.  We watched the industry evolve, user behavior change, and technology get better, and we were able to laser-focus on creating this robust social network for video collaboration.

in 2013 we were able to complete our branding as Sum.tv.  What does Sum mean, you ask?  Well, we have an amazing detailed brand narrative, but to paraphrase it, “Creativity is NOT the domain of one.  It is the SUM of its parts."  You know…collaboration.  From that, we got a killer logo that represents "sum" and collaboration.  I truly love this branding and what it means.

We also have been developing an AMAZINGLY beautiful platform.  You all have NOT seen a social network like this one.  Just wait.  Seriously.  Our goal is to give people the ability to express themselves again, and really show who you are.  We are going to give the power back to the creatives.  Creativity and self expression will shine on our platform.  We also have awesome tools to get your videos and ideas made.

We are currently on-boarding creatives for our private beta.  If you are interested, either shoot me a note, leave a comment, or visit http://www.sum.tv and register for our private beta.  

Jayson Oertel Photography

As most of you know, photography has been an major hobby of mine over the last few years.  At first, my main focus was on travel/landscape photography, specifically, HDR.  You can read all about my start HERE.  I loved it.  I learned a lot about my camera, lenses, framing, technical aspects, post-production, etc…but one thing was missing.  People.  I wanted to shoot people.  

I followed my favorite photographers on their social channels, blogs, and in trade articles, and was always fascinated by their awesome pictures.  Always perfectly exposed.  Beautiful composition.  I needed that.  In true Jayson fashion, I studied the shit out of portraiture.  I watched hours of YouTube videos, hours of instructional DVDs, hours of test lighting with me and my daughter.  Workshops, classes, assisting friends on shoots, you name it, I did it.  It was now time for me to step into this new world of portraits.

In July I decided to get off my ass and do it.  Zack Arias had a great blog post that helped me get off my ass and do it.  I posted up my services (for free) as I was building my portfolio.  I made sure my branding was solid, and did it.  I shot quite a few people.  At first, they sorta sucked.  I persevered through, and started getting into a flow.  I was cranking out great portraits and head shots.  Great exposure.  Great framing/composition.  My clients were happy and asking for more images.  It was now time to charge.

Here I am a half a year later.  I’m regularly booking people, I have a website that I’m really proud of, have clients even booking multiple shoots with me, and have perfected my lighting and post processing workflow.  I’m in a groove now.

My goal for 2014 is to expand my photography business out a little bit more and to start my personal passion project, which I already have 3 high-profile, semi-celebrity people committed to being photographed by me.  Stay tuned for that.

If you’re in LA or the Bay Area of CA and need some portraits, visit http://www.jaysonoertelphotography.com for info and to book a session.

Google Glass

Earlier this year Google came out with Google Glass.  The hype and response was overwhelming.  Everyone was signing up to become a Glass Explorer, and to get Google Glass in an effort to apply it to their industry.  Google was very smart at creating buzz through scarcity for this.  They chose “influencers” as the first batch of people to get Glass, including myself.  I guess, yes, I am considered an “influencer” due to my Twitter following of about 8k.

I’ve had Glass now for almost a year now, and is it life changing?  No.  Does it do anything that my smart phone can’t?  No.  Not yet, but it will as they continue to develop apps for it, and make it available to the public.

What do I use Glass for?  Well, I used it on a trip I went to in Washington DC over the 4th of July.  I used it from start to finish of that trip to really see if it made things easier, which it did.  It all started in the airport as it gave my continual, real-time updates on my flight.

I then continued to document my trip through photos and videos.  Many of which can be seen on my Google+ page.  I was able to use it to guide me around DC with the navigation, give me info on points of interest at the Smithsonian, and help us find places to eat.  It was pretty useful.  I just wish it looked a bit different, because it draws a lot of attention.  I wouldn’t say bad attention, but many people wanted to look at it.

Since then how have I used it?  Well, occasionally, I wear it to do a behind the scenes of certain photo shoots. Eventually, I will edit portions together for instructional videos on specific lighting setups and technical challenges I was able to overcome.

It’s cool, but I can’t wait to have the design evolve on it.

My Fujifilm X-Pro1 - the best camera I’ve ever owned.  I truly love it.

If you have been following me lately, you may have noticed my recent posts/updates about how much I love my X-Pro1.  I’m not joking either.  It’s truly a fantastic camera.

I’ve owned many cameras over the year.  My starter camera was a Canon EOS Rebel 1.  Upgraded to the Canon 7D as I learned more and needed more of a workhorse of a camera.  After another year or 2 of shooting, I needed full-frame, so I bought the Canon 5D Mark 3.  In addition to my main camera, I’ve always loved having a smaller, mirrorless carry-around-everywhere-camera.  I started out with the first Fuji x100.  A great camera, but at the time, wasn’t too keen on having a fixed 23mm lens.  Sold it, upgraded to the Sony NEX-7.  Great camera, but still didn’t have that “oomph” that I wanted.  Sold it, went back to the new and improved Fujifilm X100S.  Much better.  I was now more skilled as a photographer, and knew how to shoot.  Sold it, went back to the NEX-7. Sold it and went to the X-Pro1 after Zack Arias and David Hobby convinced me.  

Best decision EVER!

This camera is tack sharp, fun to shoot, and has every feature that I need.  Well, I take that back…I do wish it had brighter focus peaking and the ability to choose a different color.  Fuji, are you listening?????

Anyway, I wanted to mention this camera in my 2013 wrap up as it has really impacted my photography in a positive way.

What else?  I’m sure I’m missing a shit ton of stuff to talk about, but whatever, I can just do another blog post.

Oh yah, here’s a little fun thing…I pinned a killer photo of Andrew Garfield on my Pinterest page.  The photo was taken by the amazing photographer, Platon.  This post sorta went viral-ish.  It’s gotten a lot of repins and likes…I know this because my notifications blow up all day long it seems.  Here’s a link to that PIN.

I’d love to hear from you people.  Leave me some comments below and don’t forget to follow me on my social accounts:

Website: http://www.jaysonoertelphotography.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jaysonoertelphotography

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jaysonoertel

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jaysonoertel

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JaysonOertel

Fujifilm X-pro1: A True Workhorse…and my favorite camera for portraits right now

OK, so I’ve been using the Fujifilm X-pro1 for about a month now, and it has by-far exceeded all my expectations as a mirror less camera.  

This camera is amazing - from the image quality all the way to the retro design and ergonomics.  Did I mention that the image quality is freakin’ amazing?!

So, I first got the X-pro1 about a month ago (end of October).  It took me a little bit to get used to it, and learn its ins and outs.  I’ve been shooting on a Canon 5D3 for over a year now, and a Sony NEX-7 as a backup.  This transition took some getting used to.

I decided to go with a very basic kit: the X-pro1 with the 35mm 1.4 lens.  I chose this lens as it’s about a 50mm with the crop factor, and the reviews were incredible about it being tack sharp and fast.  It is.

The first time I took this camera out was actually on a paid job for a portrait session.  I was shooting outdoors with my Canon 5D3 with available light, and decided to put this one to use and see what all the hoopla was about that Zack Arias, David Hobby, and others raved about.  Again, outperformed my expectations.

Here’s a few shots from that session with notes:

So yeah…talk about a win on my first paid job with this camera…

I’ve been shooting studio portraits/head shots a lot lately, and one of the things that I definitely wanted to try, was to use the X-pro1 in a studio environment with strobes.  Zack Arias raves about throwing a Pocketwizard on this thing, and making some beautiful photos.

I updated all of my Pocketwizards…the MiniTT1 and my TT5s to make sure that channel 2 was set to “trigger” so it would work.  I then corralled my 3 year old daughter to be my willing (sorta) victim, er, model.

I set up my home studio with my Alienbees B1600 strobes, Westcott 28” soft box, and Canon 580EXii’s…and a lot of patience.  Here’s what I got:

As you can see, these images are tack sharp and beautiful.  There was very minimal post production on these.  The Fuji performed like a beast.

If you are on the fence about Fujifilm products, well, you need to get over it and buy one.  This is hands down the best, I mean the BEST camera I’ve ever owned.  I’m excited for the new firmware update to come out in the next few weeks.

One thing though, Fuji… can you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE release a firmware update that allows us to change the color in focus peaking, make it stronger and add the split image display?  PLEEEAAASEEEEE?

Shifting to portraits, playing with new toys, and an introduction to Thumbtack!

I haven’t blogged in a while.  I’m not even going to make the typical excuses about being busy, starting up a new company, or even chasing around my toddler.  I just flat out, haven’t blogged.  I know I know…no excuse.  I HOPEFULLY will be blogging regularly again.

Shifting to Portraits

 Anyway, as I’ve mentioned a few times in the recent months, I have been shifting my photography to focus on portraiture.  In between working, I’ve been scouting willing victims, er, models to sit to get some head shots or portraits done.  Slowly but surely, I’m adding to my new portfolio that I’ll roll out when I feel I’m ready, and have a balance of great shots.

If you know of anyone up in the bay area or Los Angeles, here’s what I’m looking for:

• must be over 18 years old
 • specifically looking for people with interesting looks/styles
 • looking for a mix of ethnicities
 • looking for people with interesting jobs/careers where we can capture that with your portrait
 • looking for actors/actresses looking for head shots
 • looking for elderly
 • looking for military/police officers/firefighters
 • looking for musicians

New Toys

So, I’m a gear head.  I love gadgets, but more importantly, I LOVE things that make my life easier.  I just recently made the jump to studio strobes from my hot shoe flashes.  WHOA!  They are incredible.  

Don’t get me wrong, a Canon 580 EX II can do wonders with a soft box or umbrella, but man oh man, my Alienbees b1600’s with my new PCB 22” beauty dish completely changes my photography game.  I can’t wait to put it to use!


Photography (right now) is only a super hobby of mine.  Yes, I’ve made a few bucks off of it, and in the near future I hope to make more.  Eventually, I hope to do some commercial shoots, and be commissioned to do some other portraiture work for magazines, etc.

Until then, I’m trying out Thumbtack.  They’re a service that helps people find local services, and photography is one of them.  It’s pretty cool…I registered, created a profile, and I basically get requests of photography needs that people near me have.  It sends me an email and a text message when a request comes in.   I can then respond right away with a budget/proposal, or I can ask further questions for clarification.  It’s a great service.

Here’s how you can find me on there: <a href=”http://www.thumbtack.com/ca/pacifica/portrait-photographers/portrait-commercial-photography”>Portrait &amp; Commercial Photography</a> 

Personal Project

So, I also am embarking on a really aggressive personal photography project.  I can’t/won’t go into details about it, but there will be VERY recognizable people that I’ll be photographing.  I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to get some buzz from it once I’m done.  Unfortunately, I think it’s gonna take about a year to get the shots I need.  Oh well. 

I’ll tease more about it as I get further along.  I’ll probably even share a few of the photos along the way.  I just got my first commitment from a celebrity to shoot them.  I’ll be planning that in the next few weeks/months! 

So, what’ve I been up to?

So far, 2013 has been a crazy busy year for me.  I moved up to the Bay Area in California from Los Angeles.  Became a co-founder for a new content marketing company that is going to disrupt the premium video content business.  And somewhere between life and work, I have tried to find time to shoot.  I’m really dropping the ball on that last part.

The last real shoot I did was to photograph the new offices for LA-based digital and social marketing agency, Social Envi.  The photos were used to highlight their new digs for a company called Office Snapshots.

The shoot was pretty straight forward.  I had to capture the unique interior and furniture design that was done by LA’s MFEO, which is an awesome company that specializes in repurposing materials to create a sustainable lifestyle.

Here are the shots and a link to the article


Outside of this photo shoot, I have started planning my official transition to portrait work.  I’ve been studying lighting techniques, doing test shoots, and now am getting ready to seriously recruit models to shoot for my new upcoming portfolio.  In order to get the new portrait portfolio up, I need to shoot about 15 people and play around with a few post-processing techniques that will give me the desired look of those portraits. 

Oh yeah, I also successfully upgraded my website to a new platform that is a LOT easier to manage.  I’m excited to have this clean slate to start with once I’m able to rebuild my portrait portfolio. 

I do have a few commercial/portrait shoots coming up that I’m excited about.  I’m hoping that they will be good portfolio material. 

I’ll leave you with a few more shots I’ve taken in the last few months.