Archive for Tips & Techniques
Being so obsessed with photography, friends and family tend to think of me as an expert in the field. I’ve got the gear, they love the pictures and I live and breath the medium, so the credentials as far as they know add up. With this perceived status comes the occasional question regarding the craft from folks who are just getting into it and being that I love to geek out talking about photography, the question will be fielded with the utmost respect and interest. Let the perception become reality, even for just a moment!
Last week a friend at church asked a good one; one that tied him up with me for a good 10-20 minutes that he’ll never get back for sure. He had some experience with film in the past but had been away from photography for a while. Earlier this year he purchased his first DSLR (a Canon Rebel I believe) and along with it bought a book on composition. He liked landscapes, portraits and macro. His question: “How do I get started?”
That was a first for me. Some folks say they want to learn more about their camera or ask how to take great pictures, but this question was totally different. How do you start? Where to begin? I don’t think he expected me to ramble on like I did after asking the question, but I was really sort of feeling for the answer – it was not something you chalk up in the front brain shelves like, “get down low” or “add a strong foreground element.” It required me going back to the beginning, filtering things forward and seeing what was left. After thinking about it a few days, I thought it would make for a great topic here at Current Photographer, so here goes. Read More→
When you own your own business, you often want to take on the world. You want to constantly do new projects, take on new assignments and launch new stuff. Over committing and over extending comes from good intentions. But, it can often leave a trail of frustration and disappointment for yourself and for others involved.
I adopted this mantra for my own business and even my personal life a few months ago. So far, I’ve stuck to it with steadfast dedication, and it’s unbelievable how helpful it’s been to me. So I wanted to share it with all of you, too. Here it is:
Do what you say you’re gonna do.
Simple, right? Actually it’s not, and here’s why. When you follow this mantra you are unable to commit to doing anything you’re not going to do. It puts an end to empty good intentions and starts every decision with a serious conversation on whether or not I’m going to commit. And if I can’t commit, saying no is hard. But, I remind myself that I’d rather say no than let someone down. And when I say yes, I mean it. When I commit, I do it.
This mantra has one other level to it. I have found that when you over commit to something (or to many things), you skim the surface of what’s expected. You might complete tasks late. You might not give them your all. In the end, even though you made an effort, more than likely you’re disappointing someone by not approaching it with the unbelievable passion you might be capable of if you had only hand selected the things you’re willing to 120% commit to doing… and doing amazingly well.
Make every day within the business much more satisfying and rewarding by following these simple guidelines.
Here they are: Read More→
Being a fan of High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography, I’ve become very intimate with the Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) function on my Canon camera. What I’ve come to realize is that obtaining the entire tonal range of an image at 1 EV increments can be difficult if your AEB settings will only allow 3 exposures to be produced. Sometimes -2, 0 and +2 are just not enough. If you have an extra $300+, you could purchase a Promote Control which offers amazing bracketing controls, but it’s hard to justify that kind of purchase for some of us.
Then, there’s Magic Lantern. It’s a third party software for Canon cameras (sorry Nikon) that sits on top of the camera’s firmware and adds awesome flexibility to DSLR video shooting, but also gives up to exposures for HDR bracketing and a cool Autodetect feature that takes some of the guesswork out of bracketing. I’ve been flirting with downloading the product onto my 60D for some time, but finally pulled the trigger a couple of weeks ago. The video below will take you through the options for bracketing on the 60D prior to having Magic Lantern, then will show how things have changed with it. Take a look.
Let’s face it. We all want to land that dream client. We want that fantasy photo shoot. We think about what it would be like to be there, on set, camera in hand, shooting the photograph of our dreams.
When we ponder our photography marketing and wonder if it’s working for us, it’s critical to make sure our efforts are directly targeted at the type of work we dream of. How do we get from here to there?
Step One: Define the dream client’s persona
We cannot attain the shoot of our dreams if we haven’t formally and fully defined the persona of the decision maker we need to win over. In other words, we may have fantasized about what it would be like to be there. But do we know the exact person (or group of people) who will make the decision to hire us? Do we know where they hang out, what websites they read, what influencers they have, what things they dislike? If you don’t know, spend some time researching, talking to other similar individuals and determine all of the possible attributes that make up this decision maker’s persona.
For example, a sample decision maker’s persona might be described like this:
- eats on the go
- loves small dogs (she has two)
- lives and works in the city
- works late at night often
- goes to charity events (at least once per month) with coworkers
- collects vinyl records
- price of photography isn’t an issue / not reason for deciding
- works for her clients; she is the decision maker, but the client must love her choice
- her shoots are rapid and she needs someone who she can book quickly
Step Two: Be where they are Read More→
The digital age has definitely become a part of who I am, connected to the internet at every turn, but I am far from being an expert at any of it. Social networking, blogging, websites, etc. – I know a little about all of it, but that’s about it. If you’re similar to me in this way, then you can understand how difficult it was to go through the process of designing a totally new website. But I did it and am totally happy with the results (see for yourself here), so I thought it might be helpful to share some of what I learned with the other Jacks of all trades, but masters of none out there who plan to go through the same pain in the future.
You might be asking, “Why would someone who has been blogging for sometime now want to go through a total redesign?” That’s a great question and one that we should all address before actually going through with one. Jeremy Cowart was doing a website review for some of the folks at the Lifefinder Tour (Awesome – please go if you can) here in Minneapolis earlier in the year and the same thing kept coming up with each review – your website needed to reflect who you are as a photographer, not just the pictures you take. And it needed to do it quickly, because visitors are not going to stick around if they’re looking for something and you’re not showing it.
This hit me pretty square in the face being that my website was 100% my blog, which is primarily one picture a day and not one that interacted with the business I was trying to build (family and event photography). If my website was going to mean anything to helping my business grow, it was going to have to change. The decision was made.
Unfortunately, this decision to do a redesign was just the start of the hard work. The next step was to decide who I was as a photographer and how to brand myself. I had never done that before and had put little thought to it, but if your website was going to be you, a decision needed to be made of who you are! The first thing we see and think of for most businesses is their logo or a trademarked product, neither of which I had, so that was the starting point.
For a long period of time, I tried to come up with my own logo design, but as stated in the first paragraph, I am no expert at anything so this turned out to be a spinning wheel kind of thing and lasted much longer than intended. I finally contacted a designer who had put together some of my friends’ logos and worked with him to get one put together. The key, once again, was for the logo to represent who you are. I needed something simple, photo related, somewhat informal (no BOLD type) but unique. I think we hit pretty much on the head.
My favorite restaurant in the entire world is right in my city of Philadelphia. It’s a tad pricey, so my husband and I treat ourselves twice a year to a night out for dinner there. One night, about two years ago, we booked a reservation and headed into Philly. We checked in with the hostess and she swiftly brought us to our table. We sat down and noticed something right away.
The chair cushions on the seats that were once spotless and firm were dingy and sagging. I remember thinking, “that’s odd.” The restaurant was a homey place (not stuffy). The kind of place where the head chef takes pride in his work and visits a table or two a night to speak face-to-face with his customers. The food, no matter what you ordered, was always impeccable. The drinks were always fabulous. But, while the furnishings were once clean, quaint and cozy, now they showed a bit of wear.
The furnishings. The seats the customers sat in. Those seats went unnoticed. Why would the head chef ever need to sit at one of the tables? He was always, always on his feet. And this is unfortunate. He never took a minute to sit at a customer’s table. To see what they see. To feel what they feel.
Your Photography Business Is No Different Than This Restaurant
Take some time to experience your business from the customer’s vantage point. Come at things from a different angle, from a different seat and you may notice some glaring things that desperately need changing. Read More→
One of the latest additions to the last revisions of Lightroom and Aperture is somewhat of a game changer in my book, and that’s the ability to apply a white balance setting selectively. Being an Aperture user, I have not experienced how the Lightroom option works, but based on the many discussions and posts people made when version 4 came out, I’m guessing it’s quite good.
The latest update to Aperture included a few new options for white balance, such as three types pertaining to how you’d like for the temperature of a picture to be adjusted: Natural Gray (new), Skin Tone (new) and Temperature and Tint (previous standard). The two new additions allow you to use a brush to selectively apply the effect.
For most folks, the big reason for using this new tool is when you have competing light sources within the same picture, like having both incandescent and natural window light in the same image. You can shoot for one and apply the other in post, evening out the image. My first experience, however, was from more of a creative need. Let me show you.
The image below is an 8 second long exposure taken at the Mississippi River in St. Paul Park, MN. That’s the Blue Moon in the sky reflecting off of the river and some rather interesting tree roots sticking out from the bank. There were two things in the image I wanted to make standout, the great blue and magenta tones in the sky (and watert) and the gnarly roots on the bank. I started with the sky colors.
This week’s session with one of my Healing with Photography groups was all about the Law of Attraction and how to allow it to work for you and how it does work; what you think about happens.
What helps more is if you act as if you already have what you want, letting your imagination put you in a place of it already having been done. It’s really important as if you believe you already have it your vibration is already in the right place and attracting even more.
So I was sharing with my group how I really want a Ferrari 458, and how important it is that I imagine I already have it. I was telling my group who know that I currently drive a Polo, how when I’m driving I imagine it’s my 458 Ferrari.
I imagine that the leather seats are cuddling me; I imagine hearing the roar of the beautiful engine as I pull away from lights and drive down the road. I imagine that the steering wheel has the paddle gear levers on it and in that moment and I am grateful for my Ferrari. This image brought huge belly laughs around the group and it was a really nice moment and it got the message home. Read More→
As I’ve started to make approaches to businesses abroad I’ve become aware of just how easy it is to really make the business as global as I’d like it to be without having to leave the country.
My web designer has been teaching students in America online how to do web design for years and until now, it’s something that I’ve not given too much thought to. However there are a couple of organisations that I follow in America who are doing some very important work and I know that my work can help their clients. This will be either by licensing my courses once they are filmed, edited and uploaded, or by doing group calls via Skype or over the telephone. The world is definitely becoming more accessible.
Every time I’m doing something like my monthly mastermind call where we connect via Skype, or when I’ve done the interviews recently for the ‘Finding You’ blog series I have been able to make the connections via Skype. Generally the initial contact has been made via social networking or emails. It’s making me aware of how much smaller the world has become that we can reach people on the other side of the world with ease and low cost. Read More→
I think one of the most difficult things about being a visual artist is how “in your face” the competition can be at times. I don’t mean in an aggressive way. I mean in a literal, all-present way. They create amazing work; you feel defeated. They score an unbelievable opportunity; you feel jealous. They brand themselves beautifully; you feel lessened.
Sometimes it’s enough to make you feel like packing up your toys and going home. But despite all of this downtrodden negativity, I’ve got good news.
There is something that you were granted. There is something they absolutely cannot do better than you.
It sounds a bit hokey. Possibly even overplayed. But one thing that your competitors cannot do as well as you, is be you. We, as humans, are all made up of our own experiences. We all have our own abilities. We all have our own views of the world. So while you might appreciate the abilities of your competitors, you are required to build upon your own. You are required as a visual artist to be better than you were yesterday.
What do I mean?
Rather than focusing outward on what your competition is doing, turn that focus onto yourself and your own business. Rather than grasping a rich understanding of what they do well, spend that time grasping a rich understanding of what you do well. Believe me, it’s not easy. Yes, it’s much easier to look outward than inward. But every time you look outward, you are unfair to yourself and your business. Each minute you spend on them you spend one less minute on you. Read More→