Fast Food Friday is all about ideas to help you fine-tune your business, including your website, blog, and marketing efforts. Just like a New Jersey diner, there's a "blue-plate special" every week. Most of the dishes are easy to eat - although now and then we meet somebody with a food allergy!
Here's the challenge for so many of you. You're working hard to become an artist and focusing on your skill set, technology, and production. You're on a quest for the ultimate image. So, it's understandable that you don't have the time or want to make the time to look at operational issues in your business.
Well, that's where I hope this series can help. We're serving up fast easy to eat ideas to help you raise the bar on your business. Think about it, what good is creating the most beautiful images of your life if you can't communicate with your target audience?
And there is today's special - working on your written communication skills!
A while back I visited a photographer’s site, and I had no idea what she was trying to say! I’m not talking about a typo here and there; I’m talking about trying to understand what her point was in her “about” section. Grammar, spelling mistakes and typos all contributed, and she just rambled.
Here’s your challenge: I know you’re an artist. I know you understand the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but that doesn’t mean you can own a business and sneak by without writing a little!
So, before you publish anything in a blog, website, brochure, even a letter to a client.
For those of you who used to English class...
You don't write because you want to say something,
You write because you have something to say.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Missed any of the past sixteen Fast Food Friday specials?
There's a lot of great content with each post covering another aspect of running a stronger business in photography. They're all just a click away. And, if there's a topic you'd like to see on the "menu," let me know in the comment section below and we'll turn it into a future special!
I shared this image a few years ago, but finding it in my archives recently makes it the perfect post for Throwback Thursday. Besides the fact that I had minimal gray hair back then, there are more significant points to appreciate.
The shot was taken around 1985 at a Polaroid Sales Meeting. It was the closing night's party for approximately 350 people who made up Polaroid's domestic sales team. I was given the assignment to put the party together.
We made it a safari party, and everybody had to come appropriately dressed. For props, we had a thousand rubber snakes and alligators all over the place. We had a twelve-foot screen playing the original Tarzan movies, even a tree house on scaffolding in the middle of the room for the DJ.
We needed one more great prop! My boss signed off on $5000 to bring in Zippy the Chimp for the evening. Zippy was a star from Letterman's show because he roller skated while taking pictures with a Polaroid One Step camera. So, in I walked with my celebrity date for the night, hand in hand with Zippy the Chimp.
But here's the first point this image brings back. For most companies, the days of spending $5000 on a "prop" for a party are long gone. In fact, Polaroid is long gone! Our industry is continually changing and along with it many of the giants who helped build the foundation for photography no longer have the presence they once did.
I remember a conversation with a good friend from Kodak many years ago about marketing budgets. There was one year, late 80's I think, where she had fifty-three million dollars in funding for special projects, books, education, etc. Imagine having that kind of money floating around in the industry today!
Those days are gone, but that doesn't change the power or the success of so many new companies, artists, and concepts today. Yeah, the big bucks days are gone, but as an artist, your glory days are right now. Done right, you can reach more people than a newspaper or magazine had ten years ago. You've also got the most number of creative tools in the almost two-hundred year history of photography. You've got creativity, reach and technology all at your fingertips.
Take a look at your images from just two years ago and look at what you're capturing/producing today. Your skill set's grown and if you're doing it right, so has your network. You may not have millions of dollars in your marketing budget, but you've got something better - you've got a network to draw from and an industry that's creating new opportunities for artists every day!
And, there's one more point this throwback image hits me with - it's the magic you guys bring to the world every day. It's all about the power of a photograph.
I look at this image and smile ear to ear. I can see the way we had the room decorated. I remember the two knuckleheads who came to the party with surfboards in surf attire saying, "We thought it was a surfin' safari theme!" I remember people I used to work with and name after name comes up as I wonder, "Where are they today?" I wonder if Zippy is still around - I have no idea how long chimps usually live. And then I wonder what happened to my black hair too.
So, the next time you think you're just a photographer - think again. You're a magician, capturing moments out of time and giving us a gift of an intangible moment we can hold onto forever, and that's what makes me so grateful to have you in my network!
Sometimes chasing my good buddy Lee Varis down is like doing a Where's Waldo puzzle, because he and his other half, Bobbi Lane are two of the most active educators in the industry. They teach all over the world, and there's no shortage of creativity in this family!
There are so many great programs available to help photographers raise the bar on their skill set. Well here are two coming up, not to be missed, with Lee in NYC, and with both Lee and Bobbi in Iceland. If you know Lee and Bobbi's reputations as great educators, these programs are guaranteed to be business-changing and maybe even life-changing!
Lee's teaching next month at the ICP in NYC July 23-27. It all starts on the evening of July 23 with four solid days of education to help you raise the bar on your Photoshop skills. Click on the description below to visit the registration page and see the complete schedule.
Two Spots Left with Lee and Bobbi "Chasing the Light" in Iceland
This is a Focus on Nature trip with Lee Varis and Bobbi Lane as the instructors. I can't think of a better learning environment than a small group of artists with Lee and Bobbi providing instruction whenever a little help is needed. This is one of those remarkable memory-making trips that belongs on every photographer's bucket list!
The trip is coming up September 23 - 30, 2018. Click on the image below to link to Focus on Nature's website for more information! It's time to scratch another trip off your list, but don't take too long to decide - there are only two spots left.
Images copyright David Akoubian. All rights reserved.
I love this series of short videos because Tamron USA has packed so much content into three minutes. It really is one lesson, and this video features one of my favorite outdoor/wildlife artists, David Akoubian. Watch the video and David will explain everything he's doing and why. Whether wildlife is your passion or not, David's advice could easily apply to other specialties.
To see more of David's work click on his image to the right to link to his website. And, while you're there check out his workshop schedule. "Out of Moab" in October is sold out, but there's still room in his January 2019 workshop, "Winter in the Grand Tetons."
David is no stranger to SCU and last year shared a particularly poignant backstory about one of his night sky images. Just like this series from Tamron, "Why?" is about One image, One Artist, One Backstory. Here's the link to David's "Why?"
David's shooting with Tamron's 70-210mm F/4 Di VC USD lens. It's a remarkable new lens. Click on the thumbnail of the 70-210mm to review the product specifications and check out the images other photographers have captured and shared.
Tamron never slows down in their commitment to photographers for quality optics and the tools needed to capture stunning images. Tamron's Tech Team is on the road all year long. Check out their schedule and don't miss one of their programs when they're at a retailer near you!
Intro by Chamira Young
Here's a great quote from master of creativity Pablo Picasso:
"Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist."
To say this is invaluable advice would be an understatement, especially in the case of composition. These days, it's all too easy to purchase a camera and proclaim your "professional" status before you even know what you're doing. In my humble opinion, there are far too many new photographers rushing to break the basic rules of composition before they have a clue how to use them.
Learn the rules first, and then master them like a pro. From recognizing lines and symmetry in your images to how you position elements within the frame, knowing the basic rules of composition like the back of your hand will elevate your work tremendously. Take time to learn and practice so that your artistic eye becomes that much sharper when you're out in the field. And then (if you so choose) have fun exploring and breaking some of these rules as you push the limits of your work.
The good folks at Photodex have outlined six great guidelines for mastering your composition. Whether you're a beginner or seasoned pro, it's always good to have a refresher.
Let's take a look.
By Kathy at Photodex
In photography there are more guidelines than rules to help you make the most impact with your photos. These few guidelines/techniques will help you enhance the composition of your photos for a better outcome.
After some time, you’ll naturally see these guides without having to think about it. The final photo will lead the viewers eye exactly where you wanted it to because of how you set up the elements. The more you shoot the easier it’ll be to see the best outcome possible.
1. Rule of Thirds
The most basic and commonly heard “rule” is the about dividing your shot into 9 equal sections. Within the grid you position the more important elements of your photo along the lines or where the lines intersect. It’s a simple way to avoid just centering your main focus.
2. Leading Lines
When we look at a photo our eyes are naturally drawn by lines. With a great pattern you can enhance your photo and affect where you want the viewers to be drawn in the photo.
3. Golden Ratio
A more complex version of the Rule of Thirds…also called the ‘Fibonacci Spiral’. Once you’ve divided your photo into squares you also add a spiral which is used to continue the flow of the image. For example, by placing your point of impact in the corner then the spiral continues the focus on the rest of the image naturally.
Want to draw the eye directly to the main focus? Isolate the subject from unwanted items with a natural frame. It could be a tree branch, windows, buildings, archways, or many other effective elements to use as a frame.
5. Symmetry, Patterns, and Textures
This is a great way to break out of the monotony of certain photo techniques. It’s a great way to add an eye-catching pattern, texture, or symmetry in the photo as the main focus.
Add some depth to your photos with specific elements in the fore, middle, or background. The way you set up the elements available to you can compliment each other or draw the eye away from the focus. The style you select also depends on the kind of shoot you’re going for like landscape or portrait. So blur your background, have subjects at varying distances, or compose your elements carefully to get that perfect shot.
What are some of your favorite photography guidelines? We’d love to know…leave a comment below.
Plus, show off all your improved photos using new techniques with a ProShow slideshow. Submit your video to be a spotlight on our blog. Be sure to select the blog submission option.
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.
Images copyright Andy Marcus. All rights reserved.
One hundred and two artists ago I started this series because I was teaching a workshop and frustrated by the fact that nobody knew who Mary Ellen Mark was. That got me thinking about the importance of more photographers knowing the people who like the early pioneers have blazed a trail in this industry. As the project progressed over the last two years, I expanded the series to include young contemporary artists who are setting new standards for imaging.
Andy Marcus joins me on this new episode of "Why?" I consider Andy covering both profiles of a trailblazer and a contemporary artist who is setting a standard for quality and creativity.
Fred Marcus Photography was his father's dream. Andy took over the business, and today Fred Marcus Studio is over seventy years old and still in the same NYC location. While the business of photography has changed a lot in seventy years, nothing has changed in the importance of building relationships and delivering an outstanding product to the client.
Andy's been a leader in the industry throughout his career but now let's take it a step further. He never slows down in adapting to new technology, and that's where I consider him a contemporary artist setting the standards of service, quality and exceeding customer expectations.
"Why?" is typically about one artist, one image, and one backstory but knowing the diversity of Andy's business I wanted to share a couple of additional images, which are below. Click on any of the photos to see more of Andy's work along with the talented team of artists and videographers who have helped build Fred Marcus Photography!
I found this post in the SCU archives, and considering that Monday is almost over, at least in the US - I'm sneaking it in for Marketing Monday. Many of my posts and guest posts are all about ideas to help you build a stronger business and increase brand awareness. Well, I found a great quote that says it all:
“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.”
Here's the perfect point to kick off a new week - great marketing is about building relationships. We're a service related industry of artists. None of you are mass merchandisers competing with other big companies to get people to buy a case of Coke at the best price point. (Yet you regularly launch discount promotions and risk turning your services/products into commodity items.)
As a photographer you've got to work to build relationships. You've got to be a people person and focus on your integrity, trust, keeping your promises and exceeding client expectations.
At least four years ago, my buddy Byran Caporicci sent me a copy of UnMarketing by Scott Stratten. It's an outstanding book and one I'd suggest you order now. His sub-title says it all, "Stop Marketing. Start Engaging." And in the new edition, co-authored with Alison Kramer the subtitle is, "Everything has changed and nothing is different."
That means you've got to be involved in your community. You need to build your blog on a foundation of helpful content for your readers. Answer every phone call and return calls as quickly as possible. Build a reputation on a foundation of responsiveness and being helpful.
You are your brand and nothing will help you build your business faster than establishing strong relationships with members of your target audience. Social media has given us all a level of extended reach that years ago only magazines had. Today, keeping in touch with past clients is all at your fingertips and Scott Stratten had another outstanding quote right in his introduction:
"If you believe business is build on relationships, make building them your business."
It's a typical Sunday morning. I'm working on this post, Sheila's still asleep and Molly is stretched out at my feet. The house is quiet except for the rolling thunder of a storm coming in. It was 6:40 am, and the sun was coming up. I don't usually grab a camera first thing, but the shot above is facing southwest, and the color was amazing, washing the entire neighborhood in the epitome of "sweet-light."
I started this Sunday Morning Reflections series because it's one of my favorite times of the week. Sunday mornings are always quiet, and it's developed into a time to reflect on the past week. Mostly I do an inventory of the week's memories. Just a few minutes ago I closed my eyes and thought about the last few days.
There's a quote I've shared before by Alfred Lord Tennyson, I am a part of all that I have met. Well, the memories of this week clearly support that. Everybody we meet becomes a part of us and in turn, create the memories we learn from and cherish the most.
And I guess this brings me to my point this morning - take the time to appreciate your journey and your memories. Check your inventory regularly - don't let special moments slip by as time served, but learn to savor everything and everyone who comes into your life.
As usual, I went searching for an appropriate quote and *poof* I was drawn to it immediately:
Why do we close our eyes when we pray, kiss or dream?
Because the most beautiful things in life aren't seen, but felt from the heart!
Trust me for a second. Find a comfortable chair and close your eyes and think about the highlights of this past week. No matter how much intermittent stress there might have been, there were moments of brilliance where your soul had a chance just to soar.
We're an industry founded on helping people capture memories they can see and hold on to. However, like the quote I found, your power as an artist isn't really in your photographs. It's in those beautiful closed-eyes moments that tug at people's heartstrings, thanks to your skill set with a camera in your hands.
Wishing everybody an amazing Sunday with memory-making moments that make your heart skip a beat. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with the people most special to you, and take the time to appreciate the face in the mirror! Everything you do today is a foundation for something tomorrow.
Happy Sunday everybody!
Each week I've been sharing ideas on marketing and business in the hopes these topics will help you fine-tune those areas of your business needing a little attention.
I called this series "Fast Food Friday" because most of you are right-brain dominant artists, and need reminders on building your business in the form of fast, easy to implement ideas. And, whether you believe in left vs. right brain theories, the point doesn't change. You're artists, and you'd rather capture and create great images than deal with the operational side of your business.
This week summer officially kicked off. The busy season is back and in full swing, but that doesn't mean you can kick back and ignore marketing.
Unlike a lot of past blue plate specials, today's topic is the equivalent of one of those big Las Vegas-style all you can eat buffets. The topic is brand-building and it's the big picture for every Fast Food Friday special to date.
Building a strong brand and creating top of mind awareness for your business should always be your goal. It doesn't happen by accident, so I'm going to give you a fourteen things to think about and then fine-tune wherever you feel they're most appropriate. Remember you don't build your business and walk away - a strong brand is about continually fine-tuning and creating awareness.
Fourteen Ingredients to a Stronger Brand
Over the last several years I've written about virtually every aspect a photographer needs to pay attention to when it comes to building your brand. Brand awareness is all encompassing and about every aspect of your business. This is a reminder that you can't put all your eggs in one basket, or even two or three. For example, social media is essential, but just a Facebook page isn't enough.
Building your brand and marketing is about weaving a web around your target audience. It's about being everywhere they are. It really is that simplistic, at least in terms of establishing stronger reach.
There are fourteen action items on this list, and within each, there are probably a dozen subcategories. Just remember, they won't do you a bit of good if you can't walk the talk! If your skill set isn't up to par, you'll create more problems that will weaken the components of the strong brand you want to build!
Photography is one of those career fields where your education never stops. Keep working to raise the bar on your skill set and at the same time build your marketing strategy. They all go together!
Missed any of the past Fast Food Friday specials?
There's a lot of great content with each post covering another aspect of running a stronger business in photography. They're all just a click away.
And, if there's a topic you'd like to see on the "menu," let me know in the comment section below and we'll turn it into a future special!
It's definitely true that time flies when you're having a good time! The new year is already half over as we share the sixth podcast in the "Beyond Technique" series. These podcasts are thanks to the never-ending passion for helping artists build a stronger business by PhotoShelter. On every episode, my co-host, Chamira Young, and I have learned a little more not only about our guests, but insight into business, marketing and photography.
Our guest today is Sedona-based photographer, Bob Coates. I've worked with Bob on a lot of different projects over the years and each time I think I know his work well, he surprises me with a new direction. His passion for the craft is unmatched, but it's his quest for education that's as remarkable as his work.
He never stops attending workshops to further develop his skill set, experimenting and pushing the edge of the envelope. Without question, when it comes to his work he follows that famous quote by John Burroughs:
Leap and the net will appear!
Individual images copyright Bob Coates. All rights reserved.
Besides his work ethic, integrity, diversity and skill set, there's another quality I've always appreciated - he believes in being involved. He's active with PPA both in Arizona and nationally. He's a print-judge and educator, just to name two of the hats he's worn. He's also a NILMDTS (Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep) volunteer photographer. And, his blog, Successful-Photographer is loaded with information to help photographers build a more effective business model.
Check out Bob's work on his PhotoShelter website with a click on any of the images in this post. You'll also find him along with the other LUMIX Ambassadors sharing great content on the LUMIX Photographers Facebook page. They're always sharing great "how to" content, taking many of us on a creative journey into new techniques, styles and technology.
And, PhotoShelter needs to be on your radar. They set the standard for Customer Service and being accessible. They're just a phone call away at 212-206-0808. There's always a live body to help you if you can't find the answers in their extensive Q&A. No robots in the PhotoShelter house - just a solid team there to help answer your questions - LIVE.
What good is working hard to capture and create the finest images of your career if they're not presented the best possible way?
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Missed a past episode of "Beyond Technique?"
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.