Intro by Skip Cohen
Suzette Allen is back this week with a terrific point to remember; less is more!
If you look back over the last decade of many of your images, you'll see a variety of trends. I remember sitting in WPPI judging at least 12-14 years ago and the judges commenting on there being too many "filter junkies." Just because you know how to use the hundreds of tools in your image manipulation bag, doesn't mean you have to use them all, and too often there were dozens used on the same image.
Well, to Suzette's point, "less is more" applies to video and your slideshows as much as not being a filter junkie applies to your still images. And, less can be more when it's appropriate, providing you have the skill set to capture quality images to start.
Photodex is all about the tools to help you become a better storyteller. They never slow down on their focus to help you raise the bar on your business, presentations and finding new ways to help you streamline the creative process. Visit their blog where you'll find outstanding new content being shared every day. The SAVE20WITHSKIP code is still active - so, put it in the code box when you purchase any Photodex product for a 20% discount.
Minimalism is definitely in vogue these days, along with tiny houses, straight hair and reclaimed wood. Fashion makes waves from colorful to drab, bouncing between solids and raucous prints. The overabundance because-you-can becomes the extreme minimalism because-you-can! There’s always an appetite for something fresh, no matter what season you might be in.
Keeping it fresh can sometimes be just over-simplifying. Looking at fashion photography and posing, I see that the interesting poses are now replaced by skinny, shapeless models (and similar clothes) standing with arms straight down and feet together. Completely static. It’s a matter of taste, (not mine) but the big thing is it makes you look because it is different. I guess with marketing, that’s half the battle.
When it comes to slide shows, I know all the cool transition and bells and whistles of fabulous effects are great, but just for something fresh I decided to try one with Zero Motion and just Hard Cuts or Dip to Black. Of course, it helps to have a dynamic subject for a dramatic shift like this to the overly-plain format. But here’s what I found. It’s clean. Clean lines, clean message, fresh appeal. Kind of like walking into an Apple Store. There’s a comforting sterility and simplicity to it all, and it usually means quality. No fuss. Just beautiful, exquisite value.
So today I decided to try that with ProShowWeb. It actually meant I had to purposely make it plain, but now that I have done it, I like it, and I think perhaps I will try using the Zero Motion Theme more often! It may not be a lot better, perhaps even less interesting, from a slideshow wizard’s perspective, but fresh and clean, nonetheless.
So challenge yourself today to try something in a new way, perhaps overly simplified. Go after the core message instead of the embellishments. Choose a simple message and be bold. If you don’t like it, you can always go back, but in the process, you might get some new eyes on your work or appeal to a fresh new market that hadn’t seen you before!
Fast Food Fridays are all about specific things you need to do to make your business and presence stronger. Each week I'm sharing a new "brand-builder" to help you make 2018 your best year yet. I get that everybody is busy, but I also know that just working on your imaging skill set isn't enough to make your business a success.
For the most part, you're "right-brain" artists with little interest in focusing on the operational side of your business. So, just like a diner with a daily blue plate special, I'm breaking the business down into small doses of fixable challenges. This is number seven in the series, hitting another easy to fix component of your business.
On the menu for today is relationship building, not just with new clients, but your past customers. As you're strategizing on how to make your business stronger, don't forget those people who have already worked with you and know you.
Your Past Clients Are Your Most Valuable Resource
I've heard so many of you talk about the need to find new clients when most of you are sitting on a gold mine and don't realize it - your previous customers. I'm not suggesting you shouldn't be looking for new clients, but let's take care of the best ambassadors you've got first!
Assuming your past clients liked working with you and were happy with the results, they're the first place you need to start to reinforce the potential to grow your business. Spend the time to support your own database before you move into new territory!
One of the best books about marketing I've read to date is UnMarketing by Scott Stratten. There's a new revised/updated version now available co-authored with Alison Kramer, but the tagline on the original book still says it all - "Stop Marketing and Start Engaging." Of all the marketing tools at your fingertips, in a world that's impersonal with communication being driven by texts, emails and social media, NOTHING is stronger than relationship building!
You've got to look for new clients wherever it makes sense, but this one group, your past clients, is so ignored. While most of what I suggested would go in a personal letter, don't forget about using the phone! It's another forgotten tool, too often over-shadowed by the craze of social media. There's very little that trumps a personal phone call to catch up with a past client.
Your past clients are your most valuable resource - treat them right, build relationships with them and don't forget how powerful word-of-mouth can be as they share their experiences of working with you with their friends.
"Loyal customers, they don't just come back, they don't just recommend you,
they insist their friends do business with you."
Missed any of the past lunch specials? They're just a click away!
I've shared a few of these pages from the Graphi Studio "Day in the Life of WPPI" albums over the years, and here's one more. These are from 2007, the last year the show was at Bally's and Paris. It's also one of the few pages where I recognize everybody in the images!
From top left to right - Cherie Steinberg and Hedley Jones, Mike Colon and David Jay, David Beckstead and Gary Fong and Vicki and Jed Taufer. And they were all photographed by Catherine Hall, who was one of four photographers featured in that year's book together with Calvin Hayes, Jim Garner, and Victor Sizemore.
In the second image, we've got Joe Photo and Marcus Bell in the front row. I think that's Brook Todd on one side and Parker Pfister and a hotel staff member in the middle - my guess is it was in the very early morning hours at the hotel. After all, nobody buffs the floors in any Vegas hotel during "rush hour!" And Catherine, as always, captures the essence of enthusiasm!
The whole idea behind the project was to document each convention as seen through the eyes of four different artists. The concept for the album was thanks to Maureen Neises at Graphi. The book became a milestone for me each year. It was the perfect way to document the event and capture so many different memories.
Throwback Thursday images are one of your very best marketing tools for your blog every week. Use throwbacks to help remind "Mom" that it's time for a new family portrait. Use your old photographs to talk about how fast time goes by and the importance of capturing those important memories. It's the perfect way to put those old photographs of yours to work planting the seeds for new business today.
And, if you're not blogging about them, take a walk down Memory Lane for your own enjoyment. There are few things to put a smile on your face faster than looking at old photographs!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Image copyright Jesper Grønnemark. All rights reserved.
I've spent my entire adult life, or at least all the time I was expected to act like an adult, in the photographic industry. I have to admit there are times when I think I've seen it all, but then someone comes along with an accomplishment that just can't be topped, and I'm left speechless!
It's time for you to meet Jesper Grønnemark. I've shared a lot of videos and posts over the last few years about Profoto's Off-Camera Flash System, and the ability for their gear to go ANYWHERE! Well, Jesper's taken it to a place the majority of us would NEVER think of! On Profoto's blog he's described as:
Jesper Grønnemark’s work is characterized by power and speed, conveyed through the subjects he shoots, the choice of location and the unique angles he pursues. As a sports and action photographer, Jesper is not afraid to stray from his comfort zone. In this recent shoot, Jesper took the power of the B1X to new heights.
What a kick to watch this video! It's hard to believe how much planning and execution Jesper and the team pack into the next three minutes. The idea to try and get a studio feel to an image of a skydiver is right at the top of the charts, especially when answering the question, "Can Profoto gear really go anywhere?"
"I only have one shot and one jump, and that's it!"
While Jesper's mind's eye vision is remarkable, so is the reliability of Profoto's equipment. He had one chance to get the shot he wanted. Just the risk of missing the shot and the planning that went into the jump was enough to work through without worrying about his gear. He had to have equipment he could completely trust.
To read the entire post, Profoto's blog, "Inspiration" is just a click away.
And, if you haven't visited your Profoto dealer, it's time for you to find out what all the buzz is about. Click on the B1X below to visit Profoto's worldwide dealer and rental house listings, then click on the image above to visit Jesper's website for an adventure in sports and action photography!
I read a great quote recently:
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Neale Donald Walsch
And so does creativity!
Image copyright Monica Royal. All rights reserved.
We all have our favorite artists who we admire, and often it's more than their skill set or the way they turn their mind's eye visions into reality that's hooked us on their work.
I've been a big fan of Monica Royal's work since doing a short podcast with her three years ago. She's a regular contributor and has shared several images here on the SCU blog, including her episode of "Why?" featuring one of her favorites in 2016. But, we had never met in person until the recent WPPI show, where we had a chance to talk about something different I wanted to try with one of her images.
Where the "Why?" series shares stories about artists and their favorite images, my idea was to share an image and talk about the how-to technique involved and why the image was created. As always with Monica - she over-delivers and exceeds expectations.
Today's post is a great reminder that life isn't always smooth sailing, and how the creative process can became a tool to move from a challenging even ugly place in life to one of hope. Monica couldn't have been more open and honest in the process she went through to create the image above, "Almost."
I love sound bites with images and blog posts in general. If Monica had just written her story, it would have been flat, but talking "live" about the process of how creativity transported her to a more positive mindset sets a standard for insight, her love for imaging and the creative process.
To see more of Monica's work, just click on her image to visit her website.
Here's the scenario - a few months ago you started to think about your marketing plans for the Spring and your head was full of great ideas. There was no rush - you had plenty of time. Well, here we are coming up on April, and you're still procrastinating, and not sure about what you want to do. It's time to start turning those ideas into reality!
So, the time to do something is NOW! Here are some ideas to hopefully light a fire under you and get a few things going before you fall victim to a you-snooze-you-loose scenario! And remember, nothing has to be forever, but at least if you have a foundation for some marketing programs you've got something to build on.
To start, women make 98% of the purchase decisions when it comes to hiring a professional photographer, (wedding and portrait categories). The time to plant the seeds for a family portrait, updated portraits of the kids or a kid's on location/day-in-the-life session is now, just ahead of Spring seasonality.
Think about it, Spring brings a complete change in everybody's attitude, especially if you live in a colder climate and are tired of being hammered by "Old Man Winter"! Plus, May and June bring us Mother's Day, prom season, graduations and Father's Day - all opportunities for you to promote family portraiture and your storytelling ability.
With Mom making the purchase decision, how are you going to reach her? There's no one perfect vehicle - You have to weave a web around her and get your name out there in several places at the same time:
The window of opportunity is still wide open, but it's closing fast. Don't go into the busy season without a plan and there's still time! A well-executed promotion can put you and your business on the map, but the most critical key ingredient in getting programs launched is YOU!
Now and then a workshop comes along that should be on everybody's bucket list, even if you're not an outdoor/landscape shooter. Time to learn about the Spring 2018 Palouse Photo Tour.
It should be on your wish list for two reasons:
First is the location. It's the Palouse region in SE Washington State and Northwestern Idaho. It's incredible with landscapes unlike any other parts of the country. The second reason and maybe it should be the first, is working with the Palouse Guy himself, Gary Hamburgh and Scott Bourne.
Here's an opportunity for you to not only photograph one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring locations in the United States but "study" with two of the very best artists in photography. Plus, the tour is limited to just twelve people, and nothing beats a workshop/photo tour with a small group for fun, camaraderie and a learning experience.
Just click on the banner below for more information and then register for what's virtually guaranteed to be a life-changing experience! But you need to hurry - there are just three spots left!
Image copyright Mark Toal
It's "Mirrorless Mark Monday" and my good buddy is back with more great experiences hanging out in the mirrorless world. One of the things about Mark that sparked our friendship is that he always walks the talk. I love his habit of starting and ending each day with a camera in his hand.
I also love his camera choices in this new post, the GX85 and LX-10. I love the GX85 not only because of its size, but I can switch lenses at any time. And, while it might look a little strange to have a small camera body with a long lens, the combination is perfect for traveling light and never missing a shot!
Thanks to the technology in every LUMIX product, I'm almost never without a camera. From their weight, to compact size to low-light capabilities to in-camera features like focus-stacking and 4K video they've helped me raise the bar on the quality of every image I capture.
Mark Toal is on the road all the time and never without a LUMIX camera. Check out more of Mark's images and follow him on Facebook and Instagram.
By Mark Toal
Ten years ago, when Panasonic introduced the Mirrorless G1 camera I was shooting Nikon DSLR’s. I had been a Nikon shooter all my life and loved them. Like most people, I thought the small sensor and electronic viewfinder in the mirrorless camera were interesting but would never replace my DSLR.
I quickly realized the size of the camera was changing my style of photography. I found myself taking this small camera everywhere instead of “going out to take photos” as I did with the larger DSLR.
Don’t get me wrong, the Nikon DLSR had better image quality at that point, but all of a sudden, a whole new world of images opened up for me because I had this small camera with me almost all the time.
Fast forward ten years and I now travel all over the country talking about Mirrorless cameras. One of the things that keeps me sane and somewhat healthy on these trips is the small Lumix GX85 or LX10 camera I always have with me.
Before work in the morning and after work at night I head out from my hotel to explore whatever city I’m in. I take one camera and one lens and just walk and take photos. This photo was taken on an escalator at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas on the way to dinner a few weeks ago.
In my next blog post, I’ll talk about how wi-fi has made traveling with a small camera even better.
Family isn't always blood.
It's the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are.
The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.
I was recently asked how I keep coming up with something to write about each day. In all honesty, just like many of you who are constantly in search of the ultimate image, I'm no different with topics to write about. It really comes down to loving what I do.
As photographers, at least those of you who have been at it a few years, you love what you do. Images often come together naturally. Your creativity starts to flow, and you begin framing a new subject and composing images in your mind's eye long before you click the shutter. Well, it's no different with those of us who love to write.
It's a typical Sunday morning, and I had no idea what I wanted to write about until I sent a text to a terrific friend, Suzette Allen and at 4:00 am her time she responded. That set off a hysterical volley of text messages that started with me asking, "Why are you up now?" And, it gave me the perfect topic for Sunday Morning Reflections.
This isn't a new topic for me, just a reinforcement about the best part of this business, that aspect of our friendships where we help each other. Helping each other, contributing to each other's lives and watching each other's backs is all part of being in this industry, and the longer you're at it, the better it gets. You eventually get to a point where it just becomes part of your daily process.
At the risk of embarrassing Suzette and husband, Jonny Yoshinaga, here's how it's all rolled up into one terrific friendship over the years:
Suzette and I have known each other for probably twenty plus years, but the friendship was just a friendly hello at any conference we were both attending. The friendship started to ramp up when I got more involved with Panasonic, and she was one of the first LUMIX Ambassadors.
Then we were all teaching in Nebraska at Marathon's MAP Getaway. More quality time together and the first time we were all able to have dinner together several times, including the night after the conference was over when Bruce Hudson was also there, adding to the mix of friendship.
Last year we started working on a project together, sharing her photography tips, especially on hybrid videos for Photodex here on the SCU blog.
If there was a turning point where she and Jonny became "family," it was last year when, after a conference in Florida, she and Jonny finally accepted an invitation for the weekend at "Skip and Sheila's B&B."
A couple of years ago I made a new year's resolution to get more quality time with good friends and getting them here for the weekend was all under that umbrella. Well, this is where Jonny and I got our first quality time hanging out together too.
During that weekend I released a post featuring Molly the Wonder Dog in her own short 4K video, thanks to Suzette filming. And, just like they say you become a better tennis player when you play with somebody better than you, hanging out with Suzette and Jonny at the Saturday night drum circle on Nokomis Beach added another dimension to the friendship.
Since then we've worked together on the LUMIX Ambassador Album - a stunning oversized album thanks to Marathon Press. Each double page spread features the work of another LUMIX Ambassador, and there are twenty-five in all.
And that brings me full circle and finally to my point this morning; great friendships are a testimonial to the individual investment of time we all need to make more of. Your network is essential, but it's the people in that most inner circle you're closest to where there needs to be a little more care and feeding involved. Life often gets in the way, but if you make a stronger effort to stay in touch, it's amazing how rich your life can become.
Wishing all of you a wonderful Sunday and one filled with time with those people most important in your life. It's those friends who have become family who give our lives more substance, meaning and plenty of smiles. Take those eleven-second therapeutic hugs whenever the opportunity is there and don't waste a minute today thinking about Monday morning - this is your day to kick back and chill!
Happy Sunday everybody!
PS The reason I sent a text to Suzette was to help another good buddy, Kevin Gilligan, who had a question about LUMIX cameras and 4K video. I consider Kevin a very good friend even though we have yet to meet face to face, but enjoy a friendship that's been built on a foundation of phone conversations, emails and his support of SCU with several terrific guest posts. We're an industry that revolves around each of our extraordinary friendships.
I first heard the expression twenty years ago from a friend who was an outstanding outdoor photographer. Since then I've used it numerous times, usually in reference to photographers who spend too much time trying to fix a bad image. In fact, a few years back somebody sent me the link to a Mythbusters episode where they proved you could!
Every day I look at websites of professional photographers, and I'm shocked at how many artists compromise on the quality of the images they share.
They seem to fall into a few different categories:
Having galleries with great images is essential. You don't need a lot of images to show your skill set. And, if you don't have the skill set yet, then stop calling yourself a pro. Your galleries have got to look better than "Uncle Harry's." If they're not, you're building a weak foundation for the brand awareness you're working so hard to establish.
Sadly many of these artists do have the skill set and the passion for the craft, but early on they wanted to fill their galleries to the max. They never went back to update their galleries. They didn't take the time to do a "lifeboat drill" on their images and decide which ones get saved and which ones need to be trashed.
When I was a kid, I had a red Mustang, and I was trying to sell it. It had a fairly significant dent in the door, but I didn't want to bother fixing it. Everybody who looked at the car loved it, but not the dent. My Dad finally took the keys, got the dent repaired and sold the car for $200 more than I was asking. He sat me down and gave me a life lesson I've tried hard to never forget,
"Whatever it is your selling, don't set yourself up to have to apologize for anything!"
Think about how that applies to your business. Whether you're showing images to sell your photographic services or a house for that matter - don't compromise. Don't show people anything that would require an apology, excuse or an explanation as to why it's not their best choice.
If it's a lousy image, don't show it! Never show less than your very best work. Never compromise on quality. Only show "wow" images - images so good you'd just have to show one of them to get hired! Most important of all, be consistent in everything you deliver!
Two years ago, almost to the day, the first Bill Hurter Memorial Award was presented to Vicky Papas Vergara, a phenomenal artist from Australia. Over the last couple of years I've caught up to Vicky on Facebook a few times, and just recently Profoto released this video of her in action. She's a phenomenal artist, and Profoto captured a little of her creative process in this short video.
There's very little that tops being able to watch another artist work. I especially love Vicky's comment in the video about catchlight and the importance of the eyes. If it's true that the eyes are the gateway to the soul, then Vicky is the ultimate gatekeeper!
If you haven't checked out Profoto's Off-Camera Flash System, it's time to wander into one of their dealers. And, to see more of Vicky's stunning work, click on either image above to visit her website.
I started Fast Food Fridays after taking a scroll through the SCU archives. Seeing how much content has been generated on topics to help you build a stronger business over the last five years, it made sense to do something a little more concise.
Knowing how so many of you are artists who hate to focus on the operational side of your business, I decided to break your business down into small doses of fixable challenges. Well, here we are with the sixth installment, hitting another easy to fix component of your business.
While your website is about what you sell, and your blog is about what's in your heart, with many of you it's hard to tell the difference, especially when it comes to the logistics of your website. For example, why make it hard for people to contact you? If they love your work, then stop making them jump through hoops to get more information.
On the menu for today is your contact page. There's no such thing as giving people too much information when they're excited and want to reach you!
Cleaning Up Your Contact Page
I'm not against contact pages, just the limits so many of you put on them! Think about the last time you wanted to contact any company and how good it felt when you could communicate with a live body. Knowing that, then why limit contact to just a template form? We live in a robotic-default-choice world when it comes to communication, and here's a chance to put yourself ahead of most of your competitors.
I completely understand if you don't want to put an address down if you work out of your home, but give people a phone number to call and an email address, if they'd like to write to you directly. Then, give them the third option of filling out an online response form.
If you're going to use a template form, then let's keep it short. Some of you have decided to sneak in a survey and ask for everything from "How did you hear about us?" to requests to fast for 12 hours before submitting a blood test! Yes, I'm exaggerating a little, but just use the contact form to make contact. Personally, I would keep the form as simple as possible and save more detailed questions once you talk with the client.
Years ago a good buddy of mine passed away unexpectedly, and a bunch of us took to the phones. One well-known professional photographer had moved, and we gave up trying to contact him before the funeral. There was no phone number on his site and no new address.
Months later I saw him at a convention and mentioned how we couldn't find him because there was no number on his site. His response still blows me away,
"I don't want people calling me! I haven't got time for phone calls!"
There's not one ounce of embellishment in this story. He really just wanted contact via email. For the rest of you though, how great would it be to have your website so fantastic that your phone rang non-stop? Give people a phone number and if you want to impress them even more, your cell number as well. Then give them your email address.
It's a straightforward lesson to remember and one that your grandmother probably taught you years ago - treat people the way you'd like to be treated. It's so easy to be accessible!
Missed any of the past "lunch" specials? They're a click away!
Working together with PhotoShelter in January, Chamira Young and I launched "Beyond Technique" a podcast that's quickly becoming extraordinary. What's making these podcasts so worth listening to is the insight being shared by each guest. Each photographer has shared different aspects of their journey to date, and always with relevant topics to think about.
Todd Spoth joined us on this new episode. While Todd is all about people, one scroll through his galleries and you'll see a variety of work. On his website, he's described as...a photographer and multimedia producer based out of Houston, Texas, USA. He specializes in editorial, corporate, and advertising photography with an emphasis on creative portraiture. One look at Todd's work, and it's obvious how much he enjoys what he's doing.
In this new episode, Todd shares a lot of great insight into relationship building, paying attention to the details of your business, education, networking and how PhotoShelter has helped raised the bar on how he shows his work.
Pay close attention to the layout and how clean his site is. Your website today is the equivalent of a bricks and mortar location just a few years ago, but with the potential reach of a magazine or newspaper. Your site is all about the services and products you offer, and the PhotoShelter team makes it so easy to have an excellent presentation.
Click on any one of Todd's images in this post to link to his website and see more of his work.
Start your 14 Day FREE trial of PhotoShelter with a click on the banner above.
Plus get 20% off a Standard or Pro Account for a year.
Use the coupon code PHOTOFOCUS20
Images copyright Todd Spoth. All rights reserved.
Missed an episode of Beyond Technique?
Just click on either link below...
Tamron USA is back with the third educational installment in the One Location, One Lesson, One Lens series and I love the way they pack so many great tips into each episode and all in just three minutes. I'm also a big Ken Hubbard fan, because he always walks the talk, never compromising on the quality of his images or the information he shares online and in-person if you've been by Tamron USA's booth at any tradeshow.
This episode has him at the Golden Gate Bridge with tips at sunrise, sunset and late in the day. He's shooting with Tamron's ultra-telephoto high-power 18-400 mm lens. It's a pretty remarkable chunk of glass as Tamron year after year has set the standard for outstanding optics.
For more information about Tamron's 18-400 Di II VC HLD lens click on the thumbnail to the right. Tamron never slows down helping artists raise the bar on the quality of their images. They're also sharing a lot of great content on their YouTube channel!
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life,
and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.
And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.
As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.
Every morning at 7:30 am EST I tweet a quote that's relevant to business, life, creativity, marketing, etc. I was once told it's a great way to build Twitter followers, but after all these years the truth is, it's a great way to start my day. Reading relevant quotes first thing in the morning has become as important to my brain and heart as breakfast is to the rest of me. I just need something to feed my soul every morning and get me going.
I caught the quote above this morning, and it hit home. There are too many of you out there who have "settled." I'm not suggesting you're going down the wrong career path, only that you're spending too much time dealing with something that keeps you off-balance. You need to do a little fine-tuning.
Here's a better analogy. Everybody has worn a pair of new shoes that needed to be broken in. They hurt your feet, but after a few times wearing them, they got comfortable. Well, guess what - that's not what happens with your career choice. If something hurts, doesn't feel right or is creating more stress than positive vibes then you need to adjust.
Don't settle! Don't just accept that if you find a compromise position, you'll eventually get used to it and continue to grow. In fact, it's the complete opposite...it'll stunt your growth as an artist and business owner.
And, one more quote I tweeted this morning that fits so well right here:
It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.
Photo credits: © Creativa Images
Intro by Skip Cohen
Now and then I meet a photographer at a conference or online, and I'm amazed at the potential paralysis over making a mistake. The pure fear of worrying about so many aspects of their business from capture right through to marketing sends them into their own "No Fly Zone."
We all make mistakes. They can't be avoided. Depending on what you do with them, they can stunt your growth as an artist or just the opposite, create a growth spurt. It's all in how you look at the mistakes and if you choose to learn from them. Norman Vincent Peale wrote:
"Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles, they toughen and make them strong."
Scott Bourne wrote the following post a while back about making mistakes and as we leave the slow season, and business starts to pick up again, it's the perfect time to share it once more. While a couple of points have been updated by new technology and now auto-reset, it's still a great list to review and develop a habit of how you shut down after each shoot and make sure you're in good shape for the next one!
No matter how seasoned you are, the pressure of business, the economy and new technology all change the game, and suddenly you find yourself buried in mistakes you never used to make. Scott's put together a solid check-off list for cutting out one critical variable in your life, mistakes with your gear.
by Scott Bourne
No matter how experienced, we all make mistakes. Sometimes we go out to shoot and nothing works. We’ve forgotten to reset the ISO from 3200 (shot the basketball game last night) to 200 (for the landscape shots at Mt. Rainier.) Or sometimes that odd custom white balance we set at the art museum gets saved and used for the next wedding. Oops.
Whatever the mistake, mistakes have a way of cascading. And it’s easy to get frustrated to the point where you simply can’t do anything right. When you reach this point it’s time to give up and start over – “reset,” as Joe McNally says.
To do this, you need to establish a baseline for your gear. Here’s my baseline. Your situation may be different, but this works for me...
1. Camera bodies off
2. Camera batteries recharged after each and every shoot – no exceptions
3. Flash(es) off
4. Flash(es) batteries recharged after each and every shoot – no exceptions
5. Set ISO to 200
6. Set aperture to wide open on all lenses
7. Set shutter speed to 1/125
8. Set mode dial to Aperture Priority
9. Turn off IS/VR on all stabilized lenses
10. Set all lenses with focus stops to focus maximum area of focus
11. Remove any and all filters
12. Check that the camera body and any/all lenses are set to autofocus (unless you just always use manual focus – in which case disregard.)
13. Set white balance to AUTO
14. Set exposure compensation to “0.”
15. Reset the focus point to the center.
16. Set motor drive to high speed advance
17. Make sure mirror lockup is disabled
18. Make sure to run camera’s auto sensor cleaning after each shoot, no exceptions
19. Do quick visual examination of the camera to look for damage defects
20. Reset additional gear like tripods, light stands, etc.
After bringing everything back to default condition, you can take a deep breath, find your subject, and start building the next shot knowing you’ve done all you can to be ready.
Remember, we all make mistakes. Even the pros. It doesn’t mean a thing. Fix it, reset, reshoot, repeat. You’ll be fine.
"When you find yourself in a hole. Stop digging!"
I wanted to share these short videos about the Palm Springs Photo Festival for several reasons. First, there are a lot of conventions, conferences, and workshops in our industry. Some of them are great, others mediocre and a couple I've heard are terrible. Well, each one has their own personality and benefits for attending. Jeff Dunas has been a friend for a lot of years, long before he realized his dream of founding the Festival. Thanks to Jeff and his team, the Festival has grown to be one of the GREAT events each year, and needs to be on your radar to attend.
Second, watch the videos and pay attention to the way they explain the story. How would you tell your story? And, could you do it all in 2 1/2 minutes like the first one?
Last but not least, unlike other annual events in our industry, the Palm Springs Photo Festival is truly a festival. It's a celebration of imaging, education and networking. One of its unique characteristics is the energy and the pure joy in the air...all the time. This is about the passion for the craft from each instructor, speaker and attendee.
For more information and to register for the event, just click the banner at the top or either of the two Festival images.
"I like to think of it as a renaissance. Everybody inspires everybody else."
Intro by Skip Cohen
For the past several years I've been shooting exclusively with Panasonic's LUMIX cameras. Yes, they're SCU partners, but that has little to do with my love for the craft, yet everything to do with my love for mirrorless technology. Panasonic's tagline is "Changing Photography," and for me, nothing could be more accurate.
Thanks to the technology in every LUMIX product, I'm almost never without a camera. From their weight, to compact size to low-light capabilities to in-camera features like focus-stacking and 4K video they've helped me raise the bar on the quality of every image I capture.
But it's not just LUMIX that's changed photography for me, but the friendships from working with the LUMIX Ambassadors and the staff. Recently at WPPI my buddy Mark Toal and I were in the Panasonic booth and talking about the fun of working on something together. Well, here we are, launching "Mirrorless Mark Mondays."
Mark's on the road all the time and never without a LUMIX camera. We've started this new series to share his thoughts and his images, starting with today's post. And, just to help you get to know him a little better check out his "Why?" episode from September 2016. And, you can check out more of Mark's images and follow him on Facebook and Instagram.
by Mark Toal
Who am I and why am I here are two questions that I ask myself every morning when I wake up.
My grandfather worked for George Eastman at Kodak for his entire career. I’ve been in the photo business since my first job out of high school selling cameras in a department store in Miami, Florida. After years in the photo processing industry and a short stint as a working photographer, I went to work for my current employer, Panasonic. I’m a technical support rep for LUMIX cameras and based in Portland, Oregon.
The intent of these blog posts is to show my love of photography that has only grown stronger over the years. I use only LUMIX cameras, but I’m not here as a representative of Panasonic. As a disclaimer, I have to say that the views in these blogs are my own and not Panasonic’s. I appreciate Skip giving me this small corner of the internet to share my views. You can see my previous blog posts at MirrorlessPhotoTips.com .
Let’s start with a new photo since this blog is hopefully more about taking photos than tech talk about cameras. I love small mirrorless cameras because they allow me to take a camera with me everywhere that I go. I came across this Airstream trailer on the street in downtown San Jose, CA.
My cameras are always set to Program, so I’m ready to shoot without thinking about the settings. I quickly changed the ISO to 2500 on my LUMIX GH5s. I was shooting with the Leica DG VARIO-ELMARIT 8-18MM, F2.8-4.0 lens and snapped this photo on the way to dinner.
Images copyright Lewis Kemper. All rights reserved.
I launched the first episode of "Why?" because I was teaching a workshop and nobody knew who Mary Ellen Mark was. So, I went off on a quest to feature the movers and shakers in contemporary photography. Well here we are almost two years later, and we've not only learned a little more about each artist, but there's always been great insight and lessons being shared. These lessons have been as diverse as the artists themselves.
Lewis Kemper joins me as the 100th artist in the series. He's a photographer, printer, writer, educator and never slows down in his passion for wildlife and the outdoors. In fact, he's been teaching and helping photographers capture/create better images for over forty years.
Click on his "Why?" photograph to visit his website. And, if you've got an interest in attending one of his workshops click on the collage to the right.
The story he shares about his "Why?" image reminds me of a quote about patience:
"Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action;
it waits for the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way."
Fulton J. Sheen
Losing Chuck Westfall this week has me pondering the meaning of life combined with the pride of what we do as an industry. We help people stop time, turning the intangible into tangible with moments they can hold in their hands for a lifetime!
Chuck's death got me thinking about some of the incredible people we've lost over the years, but not in a sad way but as a celebration of their lives and the legacy they left behind. Each one touched our lives, and their memories are captured in their images and the lessons they did their best to teach us. I'm not sure there is a deep meaning to life except to live it to the fullest; be kind to each other and cherish every moment we have with those people most special to us.
We all watched the news this past year and witnessed the world in crisis, from Mother Nature's wrath of hurricanes, floods, fires, mudslides, winter storms to flu epidemics to man-made disasters of school shootings, bombings and most recently a bridge collapse. In every crisis, lives were cut short without warning, and the grief of the survivors is deafening.
So, here's my point this morning...
As an industry, we have a responsibility to those survivors frantically clinging to their memories of lost family and friends. Their videos and photographs whether in an album, a picture frame or even on their cell phone need to be preserved and always of the highest quality.
As professional photographers, just like doctors, you've taken an oath to never compromise on the quality of any image you control. You've made a commitment to be the eyes and the hearts of your clients when they're too busy to notice the world around them and most important of all to listen and understand their needs when you've been hired to capture those fleeting moments of their lives.
Every couple of years I share this video from an old Kodak commercial/project. It's off of YouTube, and the quality is terrible, yet it's the very best story ever made about photography. If you've never seen it, take the time to watch it and appreciate your role as an artist. And, if you have seen it, trust me and watch it again! It truly brings the value of photography into perspective. I've teared up every time I've watched it, because it does such an incredible job of reminding me of the importance of what we all share in our love for the craft.
The video is called "Live Forever," and that's exactly what we allow memories to do. That means we each have a responsibility, no matter what our role is in photography, to exceed expectations with every image we capture.
Wishing everybody a Sunday filled with memory-making moments and time with the people you love most. Stay focused on what's truly important in your life and stop wasting time on the small stuff. If you live your life to the very fullest, you'll never be looking back or "shoulding" on yourself. And as always, go for those eleven-second hugs - time is your most valuable commodity and spending time in a therapeutic long hug is one of the best ways to remind people how important they are in your life.
And to Chuck Westfall - We're going to miss you buddy, but your legacy of kindness and integrity are in good hands!
Happy Sunday everybody!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.