Meet a new member of my network and more importantly a new friend, Michael Anthony. After ShutterFest last week he sent me an idea for a guest post, but it was a little too long. So, a quick phone call and he was off and running!
What I love about this post is the simplicity of how easy it really is to make new friends at every conference or workshop you attend! However, the biggest challenge is all about taking action. You can't just talk about doing something, you have to, like Nike's tag line, just do it! Michael shows that he can walk the talk in this guest post and in far more detail on his blog!
The point is, networking is one of the most important reasons you should attend every conference you can make time for! As I've said before, you can watch the parade go by and stand on the sidelines or you can be in it!
Grab shots of Michael with Taylor Cincotta, me and Sal Cincotta. First rule - always get some pictures at every conference!
I have been to many photography conferences over the years and have found the best part of them is meeting new people. Are you having trouble with this? Are you shy or nervous? Guess what?! So is everyone else! Here are a few ideas to help you make a new pal!
1. Say hello. Fairly simple concept right? In the age of web communication personal interaction can be hard. The stranger next to you in a seminar is likely out of their element as well. Count to three, take a deep breathe, and just say hi. Don’t be scared you’ll have nothing in common; you're already in the same place.
2. Make 3 new friends. This is much easier than it sounds. In fact it is as simple as following the first tip. Carry your conversation beyond the obvious and take a few minutes and get to know the new person you are talking to. You may just become BFF’s.
3. Befriend the vendors. If you are a pro or a hobbyist chances are you have used one of the vendors at the conference. Most purchases we make are online in multiple areas of our businesses. Wouldn’t it be nice to put a face to the company? Plus, you never know when you might get hooked up with some free swag!
4. Grab a bite to eat. Your conference is probably located nowhere close to your kitchen. Ask one of your new pals or a complete stranger if they want to get lunch, dinner, or a late night snack after partying. This is a great time to build on your already budding relationship.
5. Don’t get star struck. The speakers at the conference are not rockstars (for the most part). They are people just like you and me. Go get a picture, ask them a follow-up question, or ask them to grab a bite. See how this works yet?
6. Follow up. So things went well, you exchanged business cards, you had some wonderful conversations and maybe you had a meal or two. Don’t make this a one convention-stand. Shoot your new friends an email or better yet, give them a ring and say how nice it was to meet them and keep in touch. You never know when you might be able to help each other out.
Intro by Skip Cohen
There are so many people and companies you should get to know in professional photography and this post involves three of them, Amanda Eddy, Kay Eskridge and Photodex. It originally ran on the Photodex blog and has so much great information. I wanted to share here at SCU as well.
Amanda...as the Public Relations Manager at Photodex, Amanda is involved in dozens of projects throughout our industry, but it's not just her enthusiasm that represents a great company. Her dedication to helping photographers raise the bar on their skill set is just about unmatched!
Kay..one of the leading portrait artists in professional photography she's helped inspire thousands of photographers. She's always pushing the edge of the envelope on creativity, not just with her images, but her involvement in the industry, how she promotes her work and her enthusiasm to build her business.
Photodex...working with Photodex isn't just about great presentations and developing new products to strengthen your business. Photodex was one of the first companies to stand behind copyright issues, especially for photographers and musicians. In fact, it was Amanda and their president who first introduced me to the team at Triple Scoop. We all like working with companies who walk the talk and over and over again Photodex has shown their dedication to professional photographers all over the world. Check out the newest contest SCU and Photodex are doing together - we're searching for the Ultimate Storyteller and who knows, it just might be you!
This guest blog post comes from photographer Kay Eskridge, owner of Kay & Co. Photography portrait studio in Phoenix, AZ. We’re thrilled to have her share her expert tips on getting started in maternity photography on the blog today! Amanda
If you have a passion for maternity photography or are thinking about adding maternity sessions to your photography business you have to remember the #1 most important thing…it’s all about ‘her’.
Her comfort, her desires and her connections.
If you can tap into all three of these points you’ll be well on your way to establishing a prosperous maternity division to your business. Here are three easy steps to learn, follow and get you started.
Let’s talk first about her comfort and the elements needed to make your studio (home office or retail location) a place where she feels she is being taken care of. The following are steps you need to consider:
Next let’s talk about her desires and what items you can offer to help your sales averages grow.
Images as Art for the Nursery
One of the most obvious items to present to your maternity clients would be images as ‘art’ for the nursery. Black and white images are always a huge hit as well as a ‘Watch Me Grow’ type option which would carry you into the Newborn and First Year baby years. You could include images from the maternity session, newborn session and the first year of the baby’s life. It is a ‘growing’ type of plan so images would be selected after each session occurs guaranteeing more sessions than just the maternity. These images can be designed as a collage, multiple album options and video slideshow (see a sample of one we put together).
Beautiful Belly Albums
Another option would be to create and offer a ‘Beautiful Belly Album’ that would include images from just the maternity session. As a follow-up you could offer a second book from the newborn session as well as sub sequential albums from later sessions – creating a library of the baby’s life. Now you have an opportunity to make them ‘Clients for Life’ by introducing them to the many photographic opportunities you offer such as: My First Year, Birthday’s Rock, When I was one, two, three. A Day in the Life or whatever you call the specialty options you provide.
Creative Birth Announcements
Creative and unique Birth Announcements are also an option for you as the images you’ve captured now become a work of art the family would want to share with loved ones and friends. We use WHCC for their press printed products and LOVE the options provided for options of style and shape. The bottom line is that you have to continue the relationship you’re forming with them by giving them reasons to spend their money with YOU!
The third tier of this plan is to tap into her connections so you can reach other expectant mothers. You’ve made her happy and she’s hooked so now it’s time to ask her to refer you!
Many times we fail to do something as simple as this. ASK her for her referrals! Who is her pediatrician, her fertility specialist, where did she shop for her maternity clothes, where did she register for her baby shower… do you see where this is going? Tap into the places pregnant women frequent and that is where you want to spend your time and focus with advertising dollars to make it pay off.
Ask for the name of the owner or manager of the stores she shares with you and then use a letter of introduction with her name on it so you have a verified connection method instead of a cold call. Follow up with a phone call to arrange a ‘person to person’ meeting and then show them how this relationship will benefit both businesses. Talk to them about partnership marketing cards you can share as well as the option of displaying your work in their business. A Partnership Marketing Campaign is a win-win in today’s economy when everyone’s bottom line advertising dollar has become smaller and more guarded.
The next step is to ask your happy clients for referrals to their group of friends. Using facebook, Twitter and blogs you can post images and video slideshows that your happy moms will be able to brag about and send new clients directly to you. They’re proud of the blessed life they are now experiencing and if you can give them a photographic reason to share you’re setting yourself up for a gold mine of other expectant mothers.
As a wrap up, remember it’s her comfort, her desires and her connections. Hit all three and you’ve reached the tri-fecta of maternity photography. Implement them effectively and you’re sure to move this portion of your photography business into a successful direction!
Introduction by Skip Cohen
Last year one of the best guest posts of 2013 was written by Liz Huston. What made it so remarkable was the honesty with which Liz described her own burnout. She couldn't have been more candid in talking about recognizing the signs that her passion an artist was on its way to drying up.
Liz wrote: "This is uncomfortable to admit. As creative professionals we want to believe that our passion is inexhaustible, enthusiasm is our fuel, and talent is natural. When we bump up against the places where it’s not fueled by passion, it can get a little frightening. The questioning begins and one has two choices; to look for inspiration or to simply give up."
Well, it's been almost seven months since that first guest post from Liz and once again, she's returned to Peru and provided us with a great dose of inspiration, but there's a little more to the story. Here's the background on these images and the post:
"For this piece, I went experimental.... A few weeks ago I went back to Peru. This time I ventured deep into the Amazon jungle, housed in a very remote area, on an ecological preserve. I took a big risk, artistically, in that during my trip I shot only with film. I used my Tamron 2.8 24-70mm on a Canon EOS 2000 35mm body. I had no idea if this combination was going to work, as the research I did before I left gave little information. Imagine my elation as the film came back to me late last week, and it totally worked!
I realize that I'm taking a big chance by writing a post like this, because it's a bit from left field, more nostalgic than modern. But maybe it will inspire other film lovers to experiment with film and Tamron."
Thanks Liz, you did exactly what you promised!
A big thanks to all my friends at Tamron USA for great glass and bringing Liz into our lives! You can check out more of Liz's work on her site. You won't be disappointed.
My photographic journey began in a time before digital cameras. Shooting with film was a magical process; made even more special in the darkroom. I would spend hours in that dark space, watching with bated breath, as the images came to life under a dim red bulb. That was over 20 years ago.
In the decades since, my photography slowly transferred to digital, as is the case with most photographers, until I shot exclusively with my DSLRs. The ease and clarity of the digital images quickly won me over, but still, I kept a refrigerator full of my favorite films, hoping that one day I would find the time and the inclination to pick them up again. I watched, as the production of my favorite film stocks were increasingly cancelled, and the film canisters in my refrigerator became like precious jewels.
A month ago, I traveled to the Peruvian Amazon jungle for vacation and rest. Prior to the trip, I was playing around with an older 35mm Canon rebel SLR body, wondering if my favorite modern Tamron lens (the 2.8 24-70mm) would be compatible with it, since they are both electronically driven, as opposed to the older, mechanical types. My trip was coming up in a couple of days, and in a decision rooted in the spirit of curiosity, I decided to take the risk to shoot entirely with film.
Armed with my Tamron 2.8 24-70mm lens, the EOS 2000 35mm body, and a dozen rolls of new and expired film stock, I set out on a 20 hour flight deep into the jungle; a vacation turned into an adventure rooted in the spirit of photography.
Once the film was processed and the proof sheets returned to me, I was pleasantly surprised at the performance of this modern lens in such conditions. The expired film had issues with light leaks and exposure sensitivity, but yielded a few happy favorite images. Most of my favorite images, however, were shot with new 200 ISO black and white infrared film stock.The infrared film aspect added another unknown variable, which, in the field, only increased my interest and curiosity.
Shooting under the dark jungle canopy, I rarely moved my aperture from 2.8. I shot in full manual mode, however, just in case, and using the shutter speed to change my exposure. While bathed in darkness under the large trees of the primordial forest, I pushed the 200 ISO film two stops, shooting it at 800. It was difficult to capture the brightness of the light filtering in through the tops of the trees, while simultaneously exposing for the dark dark ground, as sometimes there was 5 whole stops difference between them, but ultimately I am pleased with the results.
One of the challenges was that I had forgotten what it was like to commit to an ISO, for the lighting conditions quickly changed once we reached a magical place the locals call, “The Lost Lake”. No longer under the thick canopy of the rainforest, the sky was a cloudy and bright white, illuminating the landscape in a nice even light. I could have easily captured great images at 200iso - but I was locked in at 800 for another 15 frames.
The exercise of precious limited exposures, the commitment of the ISO choice, the manual focusing and manual exposure calculations were a wonderful exercise in the qualities that drew me into photography in the first place. I am not giving up DSLRs anytime soon, but also will not hesitate when the inclination arises once more, to experiment with film.
Intro by Skip Cohen
My daughter and son-in-law manage one of the largest day camps in the Boston area and recently started working with a social media consultant, Blake Sunshine. I had a chance to talk with Blake and because of her extensive background after working at Facebook, she's a wealth of information, especially on establishing stronger reach.
Business is business and it doesn't matter what your specialty might be, the issue is the changing landscape for Facebook. In this outstanding first guest post, Blake jumps on the challenges we're all discussing and dealing with.
Blake spent over three years at Facebook helping brands meet their business objectives with social media. Combining that experience with memories and lessons learned from ten summers at camp, Blake has put together a comprehensive social media program to help summer camps reach new campers and increase revenue. Blake is also exploring how social media marketing can be used in all industries, including photography. Blake is a graduate of the University of Texas and currently resides in Austin.
The excitement for me is the way this applies to professional photographers. In fact, while Blake's core business is working with summer camps the demographics of her target audience are the same as professional photographers. Remember, 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a photographer in the portrait/social categories are made by women and it's the same for a family deciding to send a child to summer camp.
Recently articles have been swirling around about the end of organic reach on Facebook. You may have seen this article in Forbes, where data shows that only 6% of your fan base sees content from your Facebook page. This number is even smaller for large pages with over 500,000 likes (around 2%)!
From the article: “And the unofficial advice from Facebook sources to community managers noted in the report? Expect it to approach zero in the foreseeable future.” ZERO. This leaves all of us in a very, very tough spot. If we won’t be able to reach our own Facebook fans, how will we get the message out about our photography services? In order to figure this out, I have been asking myself a bunch of hard questions to understand how I should move forward with Facebook for my business.
Here are the tough questions I have been asking myself about Facebook.
So, what should I do?
In my opinion, we will always face challenges from social media platforms as they change their organic structure. This has already been true for Facebook and Google and will likely be true for all platforms eventually. The best defense against these changes is to develop a paid strategy for your business on Facebook. Here is what a paid strategy on Facebook looks like for me:
Now that I am ready to test my paid Facebook strategy, how do I go about doing it?
Don’t boost your post, learn how to create an ad!
Most people don’t realize that there is a very specific formula for creating an ad on Facebook. Boosting a post on Facebook is very easy, but in many ways it limits your targeting options. I always recommend creating an ad if at all possible. Here are the simple steps to create your first ad.
1. Download Facebook’s Power Editor and create your ad from there.
2. Create a Page Post Link Ad.
3. Upload one of your best photos for the ads.
4. Drive the ad to a section of your website with a clear action.
5. Target the ad toward your area and add in any additional targeting, such as moms only.
6. Display your ad only in Newsfeed.
7. Upload your ad to Ads Manager and let it run!
Here are some additional levers that will help improve your Facebook ads.
Creating a paid Facebook strategy can seem difficult at first, but as organic reach continues to decline, it is imperative that we are able to drive our business objectives forward. A paid Facebook strategy drives real ROI for businesses, so why not test it for yours?
Intro by Skip Cohen
There are so many of you who feel overwhelmed at times understanding social media. Think of it this way, social media is just a doorway. Done the right way, it's your access to meet hundreds of great people who share your passion as an artist and your frustrations as a business owner.
I called it a doorway, because that's all it is. The real fun comes when you step through that doorway and pick up the phone to talk to somebody you admire and if you're lucky, actually connect with them socially over lunch or dinner. Well, meet Bryan Caporicci.
I "met" Bryan when he asked me online if I'd be willing to do a podcast on Sprouting Photographer. That led to a phone conversation and yesterday, since he was on vacation just a short drive away, Sheila and I grabbed lunch with him. There's the most fun benefit of social media - being able to take it to the next level and start to build a friendship.
Bryan has written some outstanding posts on his own blog and one of them was about pricing. So, I asked him if he'd have an interest in sharing more of his thoughts here at SCU. Pricing is one of the biggest challenges and was the subject of a rant I did a couple of weeks ago.
Now, Bryan has given you some concrete tools to make sure you're on the right path. As Sal Cincotta said in his video on pricing, "...nothing can destroy a business faster than bad pricing!" Bryan should definitely be on your radar. Follow his blog at SproutingPhotographer.com.
Pricing is a topic that most photographers will cringe at the thought of. While it may not have the same appeal as the creative side of being a photographer, it is an inevitable and crucial part of running a photography business.
Often photographers will get into photography because of the love for the art and creativity, but unless we can get paid for our work, photography will be nothing more than a hobby for us. Making a sustainable living as a professional photographer is certainly a realistic possibility, but you need to make smart decisions along the way and set the foundation right. Pricing is a big part of that foundation.
Many photographers will set their prices hastily without putting real thought or attention into the reasons why they set those prices. This article, written exclusively for Skip here at Skip Cohen University is all about pricing and the influencing factors that you should consider when setting your prices.
Pricing: Influencing Factors
There are five main factors that should influence your pricing. They are as follows:
When exploring these factors, it’s important to note that the first three (quality, perceived value, confidence) are intangible factors and are therefore subjective. The fourth factor (competition) is one that should also be taken with a grain of salt (more to come on that later). The best way to start, therefore, is by establishing a price based off of your cost-of-goods and then working through the other four factors to adjust your price if necessary.
Price Influencing Factor #1 (The Base): Cost-of-Goods
The only real measurable way to establish your pricing is by calculating based off of your cost-of-goods. Cost-of-Goods are the direct costs involved in producing a product or service, including material and labour costs. That last point is important – you must include labour (time) in your cost-of-goods calculations. Many photographers don’t factor in their time when establishing their pricing, and that is a sure way to not make a living with your photography business.
The mechanics of this discussion can get lengthy and tedious, and I have written entire articles around these mechanics:
If you’d like to know more about the how and why of this method, I suggest checking out some of the articles I linked above. You can also take advantage of the free tools and calculators that I have created over on SproutingPhotographer.com where you can plug in your own numbers to establish your own prices. The calculator links are as follows:
Price Influencing Factor #2: Competition
As I mentioned earlier, you certainly don’t want to look at your competitors pricing and simply copy their fee structure, but you want to at least be aware of what other photographers in your area are charging. If the price that you arrived at after calculating your cost-of-goods is much higher than your competitors and you don’t think that your market will bear those prices, then you’ll need to do some adjusting. You need to be realistic with your pricing for your local area. The converse is true as well, if you arrive at a price after calculating based off of your cost-of-goods and your price is too low, then you may want to consider increasing your price to be more in line with your market.
Price Influencing Factor #3: Confidence
Your ability to sell yourself will largely dictate your success as a photographer in business. You need to be confident and sure of your pricing structure, and you need to present it in such a way that instills confidence in your client. If you don’t believe that what your selling is worth the price you’re charging, then why should they? While it is important to separate yourself from your prices, if you truly cannot get over the prices that you’ve arrived at after calculating your cost-of-goods, then you need to make adjustments. You need to believe in your own prices.
Price Influencing Factor #4: Perceived Value
The value that a client assigns to a product or service is directly related to the price that they are willing to pay for it. Perceived value for our photography can be established and influenced in various ways, such as:
As a general rule-of-thumb, if you create a higher perceived value for your photography and your products, then you can demand a higher price for those products and services. Therefore, if you want to create a higher perceived value, look to refine your products and services through the factors above, and then adjust your prices as necessary.
Price Influencing Factor #5: Quality
The quality and artistic measure of your work will have a healthy influence on how you can price your photography. If you are newer to photography and still learning, then you will want your prices to reflect that. Conversely, if you have been photographing for a while and are producing some of the finest work in your market, then you will want that to be reflected in your prices.
Your Prices, Your Way
It’s clear to see now the subjective and flexible nature of most of these factors (quality, perceived value, confidence, competition). It bears repeating that the only real measurable and repeatable way to establish pricing is by going based off of your cost-of-goods. Start there, and then you can use these other four subjective factors to adjust your prices to a point where both you and your clients will be happy.
Illustration Credit: © waldemarus - Fotolia.com
Bryan Caporicci is an award-winning wedding and portrait photographer based out of Fonthill, Canada. Bryan is a Fuji X-Photographer. In 2011, he was awarded his Craftsman of Photographic Arts (CPA) designation by the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC), making him one of the youngest photographers in Canada to receive this level of achievement. Bryan can be found at bcapphoto.com
Intro by Skip Cohen
There are so many aspects to this post that make me want to share it with you.
Let's start with Levi Sim, a talented photographer who I met several years ago, primarily through social media and a few phone calls. Since then he's become a good friend. He's spoken at a couple of conferences; is always putting together a photo walk; redefines the meaning of the word "networking" and in general is proof that hyper-active kids grow up and get jobs!
This post covers all of those topics starting with taking Profoto's new B1 out for a major test drive...actually several drives. It's an amazing piece of gear and Levi along with new and old members of his network put it to the test.
From Wikipedia.org: "Craic" (/ʔkræk/ krak), or "crack", is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland.
Ever have a day when everything goes well and you just have fun? That was Sunday during WPPI for me. It started with a text from Skip inviting me to meet him at the Profoto booth on the trade show floor where everyone was working hard to get their booths setup for the next day's show. Amidst all the fork lifts and crates and workmen, Skip introduced me to Mark (President of Profoto US) and Cliff who handed me a backpack, gave me some simple instructions for use and sent me out to the desert.
The backpack carried two B1 off camera flashes, remote triggers, a monopod, and I grabbed a beauty dish on the way out of the booth. I had to hurry because there was a herd of photographers, models, and a hundred thousand dollar car waiting for me. My plan was to make some great pictures of a Tesla Model S and use the B1's to help light it, maybe bring some stunning models into the frame, and have a great time shooting with friends. It went well, and the B1 made it so easy to shoot that I ended up with more than I bargained for.
My new friend, Eden, is the local sales manager for Tesla Motors, and she was good enough to let us capture images of this fine vehicle. If you haven't heard of Tesla, you gotta do a little Google and get excited—they are the future of transportation. I lit this with one B1 behind the car, one inside the car, and one speedlight off to the right of camera for a little lift on the wheel.
I was shooting with several photographers, including Tyler and Rachael Austin, who were also running around capturing great images before the daylight failed, like this one:
I use strobes all the time, both studio sized mono-blocks and speedlights, and I often take my strobes out doors with a battery pack, which eventually give results similar to what the B1's give. However, the B1's have no cords going to battery packs, and the modifiers fit on and off so easily that it makes setup and moving really simple and fast, which is liberating. They take all the work away and just leave the fun and with a quality of light that's unmatched.
Marty and Cindy Quinn, Jewels and Jeff Gray, and Beverlee Barthel were all out shooting with me, and we'd made several different setups, and we moved pretty quickly. We'd photographed the car, we'd photographed Rachael (in an incredible dress from Lindsey Adler's new collection from Dream Shoot Rentals), and we still had plenty of battery power, so I photographed Marty and Cindy, too.
And then there was still time and power, so I wrangled Eden in front of the lens, as well. For Eden's portrait and the Quinns', I brought the light in close with the beauty dish attached and added a sock diffuser to the front. It was a pleasant surprise to be find the right spot for the reflection of the dish in the hood ornament, too.
By the time we'd finished the portraits, it was quite chilly and Marty was dying to drive the Model S, so we headed back to town. The afternoon had been a great success and I was ready to go the BayPhoto/Canon party at Hakkasan. Boy, did I have a great surprise ahead of me.
BayPhoto had asked me and three other photographers from the Photographers Adventure Club to shoot during the party, that they'd then share with attendees. Well, Nick Pappagallos Jr., Cusi Taylor, and Scott Alack are much better event photographers than I am (see those party pictures here), so after a few minutes of event images, I ran back to my room, grabbed the B1 backpack, the beauty dish and a small light stand, and I boogied back to the party where I set up a portrait booth in one corner. This was really only possible because the B1 doesn't have any cords and it's so well balanced that even the lightweight stand worked fine.
I've got an ongoing project making portraits in the style of the portrait Albert Watson made for Steve Jobs. In fact, it's the mainstay of my photography business, and I love doing it. During the party I photographed 80 people and there was a line around the room! Here are a few of the portraits we made:
Unfortunately, the club kicked us out at 10:00 to let the public in. So, I quickly struck the booth and invited anyone else to join me downstairs in a few minutes to do it again. I set up in an alcove of the MGM and we made a few more portraits. Again, it was so simple to setup—much easier even than using speedlights.
As you can see, we had a fun time, and then decided to go get some dinner. What do you know, but we ran into a few more people willing to make a portrait, so I popped up the booth once again near Wolfgang Puck's place
Are you getting the idea that it was easy to do this, setting up and striking over and over? In the past I've had ideas about making portraits in this guerrilla manner, but I've been daunted by the prospect of hauling things and setting up and breaking down. I don't know if you've ever shot in Vegas before, but casinos can be pretty unwelcoming toward photographers staking a claim. But this was so fast that no one even had a chance to approach me!
Well, we had a nice dinner, and it was late, and I was heading across the street toward my hotel when I found myself walking next to three slightly unruly Irishmen. They had converged on Vegas from Ireland and Australia for a stag party and were just walking back to grab something from their room before getting back to the club. Well, we talked on the way, and they, too, agreed to make a portrait with me. So I set up right there on the porch next to the Valet and made portraits for Jason, Gibbons (the engaged one), and Gary.
As I was finishing up, the fellas tried to pay me (always a nice gesture, to be sure), but I told them that tonight I was just having fun, not working. "Money makes it work; let's just have fun." That's when Gary turned to the others and said, "You hear that, boys? He's just in it for the craic!"
"The craic was ninety" and it's all thanks to my fellow photographers plus Skip, Profoto, and Tesla Motors Las Vegas. Follow this link to see all the portraits I made during WPPI.
Intro by Skip Cohen
We don't have a lot of technique guest posts on the SCU site, because there are so many places you can find that kind of help. However, every now and then there's a post that makes so much sense to share. In this case it's thanks to Moshe Zusman and the crew from Profoto USA and a recent Photowalk while at WPPI in Las Vegas. (Note: there's a three minute video below of the Photowalk. Check it out and then put the 4th Annual Photowalk on your calendar for next year!)
Lighting is typically one of every photographer's biggest challenges. How many times have you heard a photographer profess about how much they love natural light? Do some research and you'll probably find, while natural light is wonderful, most of them haven't taken the time to learn to use other light sources or understand posing and composition.
In this short and to the point guest post, Moshe is going to give you five simple steps to help you raise the bar when shooting outdoors. Using strobes adds an easy complexity to your skill set that can seriously raise the bar on the quality of your images, but nothing can happen if you don't practice!
Getting that perfect portrait outside can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. While at WPPI this year, we set out on our 3rd annual Photowalk to demonstrate how to use strobes outside to get that perfect shot.
5 simple steps to consider when shooting portraits outside with strobes:
1. Composition. Be mindful of your backgrounds. Don’t blow them out – use the background to add drama and set the scene. Then expose for the background.
2. Pose. Know your subjects and keep in mind the rule of thirds. Don’t be afraid to try something edgy. Most of all, keep it fun.
3. Expose. Use your shutter to control the ambient exposure. Use your aperture to control the exposure of the light on your subject. Expose for the background – as though you are shooting a landscape. Then add your subjects and off camera light.
4. Light. In our photowalk, we used one Profoto B1. Keep it simple – a one to three light setup - and use grids to help shape the light. Adjust the power on the light and fine-tune your settings, pose and composition to get the shot.
5. Post. Keep images looking real and pop the color a little. Try creating a preset in Light Room that adds some contrast by making the tone curve a slight “S curve”, boost the vibrance slightly and add a little sharpening, a slight vignette and that's it!
Want to join the original photowalk?
Intro by Skip Cohen
The world is definitely getting smaller and thanks to Facebook and Skype, I've got a good buddy and growing friendship in the UK with Simon King. In fact, he's written a couple of SCU guest posts in the past. Here's one that's in the all time favorite collection, Time to Act Like a Head Chef.
Well, Simon is back with great images and some terrific guidelines to help you ease into sports photography. I'm betting many of you are already rolling your eyes, because it's not something you think you'll ever be asked or have a desire to do. However, you need to at least be diverse in the challenges of everything you photograph, because you never know when you just might have a request to shoot something out of your comfort zone. And, while it takes years of practice to become adept at any photographic specialty, this guest post will at least help you appreciate what's involved.
Looking to check out more of Simon's work? His website is just a click away.
If you are a fan of sports and a keen/serious photographer then there can be no greater joy than attending a sport you love with a media pass. When I was younger my main passion in life was rugby, playing at a reasonable level until I retired. When I stopped playing I looked for something to fill the void, at first I qualified as a coach but that didn’t fill the void. I eventually decided to take up photography and soon found my new passion. Little did I know where it would take me.
Fast forward a few years and I find myself a sports, portrait and wedding photographer. Meaning I now am paid to pursue my passion of photographing people and sports. I have photographed cycling, boxing; cage fighting and rodeo, but most importantly (for me) rugby.
So how did I get into sports photography, well in truth a combination of luck and hard work! Although I do abide by the saying the “harder I work the luckier I get”. The luck was bumping into local sports photographer Ian Cook who is one of the best in the UK. Ian lives about a mile from me and we were both at a local photographic society's presentation. I approached him and asked if I could shadow him to get some experience in photographing sport event.
Ian showed me the ropes and soon trusted me to work solo at some prestigious sporting events, for example Heineken Cup Rugby, which is the premier club competition across Europe. The hard work involved understanding my camera and lenses and practicing in the right environments to ensure I could get the shot under pressure. Ian and I are now close friends and work together for some UK based agencies at a number of different sports.
So what are the keys to sports photography, for me they are:
1. Understand the basics of the sport you are at, the better you know the sport the more able you are to anticipate the play;
2. Practice at low key events to ensure you are prepared when it matters;
3. Don’t just focus on the action, some of the best shots show the emotions in sport winners and losers;
4. Remember you are not a spectator you’re there to do a job. This means respecting the people that have paid money to attend the event and respect the participants and officials;
5. Use the best equipment you can afford;
6. Get the story behind the action;
Know the Sport
If you have at least a basic understanding of the sport and its rules you can better follow the action and ensure you don’t miss key moments. You can also use the crowd to help you, whilst the play is away from you and out of range you are typically reviewing and tagging images for uploading. But if the crowd around you starts to shout you know that play is coming your way. Also in Rugby you would know that when a try has been scored there will soon be a conversion attempt. After the conversion play will head to the other end for a while. This is the time to check for images of the try and conversion to ingest onto your computer, tag caption, crop. tweak and upload. For this I use Photo Mechanic by Camera Bits and Photoshop (for cropping, sharpening and tweaking exposure). In this way key moments of the game are available within minutes of the action actually happening.
It is important to identify who did what in your photographs, you can’t be expected to know all the players. But before the game you will be given a team sheet with the names and numbers of the players and officials. But in Rugby players only wear numbers on the back of their shirts so it is critical to shoot through the play until you get the players number.
Whilst it would be nice to start your career at the top games, it really isn’t likely. So, go along to your local team and ask if you can take pictures for them. Once you have a portfolio you can start to approach agencies or other photographers to see if you could work for them. In this way you can learn how to get the best from your equipment and how to capture the best shots.
Don’t just focus on the action (shoot through)
Often the most thought provoking and enduring sports photographs aren’t of the action, but of the reaction. The celebration after a try, the victorious hand waving after winning the race. Or the more poignant devastated looks and emotions of the losers, especially if the result was close. So don’t start "chimping" too soon. Keep shooting until there is nothing left to shoot.
Recently I was at The American Rodeo (with some help from Skip Cohen) and after the event I reviewed some of my pictures.
In one I have Wade Sundell after his winning Saddle Bronc ride doing a dance back to the stalls (after he leaped from the horse). I can see a photographer on the dirt looking at the back of his camera whilst that was going on right in front of him. That picture had as many comments, likes etc. as any of the action shots.
You’re not a spectator
You are there to do a job and get the shots bottom line, but that is no excuse to be rude or ignorant. Be courteous to staff and spectators alike. With staff they will warm up to you if you are polite and respectful and may go out of their way to help you. Spectators have paid to see the event so always respect that. Even when they are drinking a beer within a few (vertical) feet of your prized cameras and laptop.
Sometime after a game I can’t really recall how the game played out, because I’m focused on what I’m doing. So any play at the far end of the pitch doesn’t really register. So it’s not a free ticket to get to the game and see your favorite team.
Whilst we may not all be able to afford a 1DX or D4s with a 400 f2.8, sport does require high quality equipment. That means reasonable cameras with long range fast lenses. I started with a Canon 7D and 70-200 F2.8 (note you don’t need IS as the shutter speed you’ll need will render that pointless). You simply won’t be able to get away with a point and shoot or slow/short range lenses. So from that point of view there is an element of investment.
You may not be able to afford the top of the range equipment, but buy what you can and upgrade over time. Also don’t discount used equipment, most second hand gear will have been well looked after and have many years use left in them.
Get the story
Whilst it is key to capture the action don’t forget to get some more documentary or creative shots. So get shots of the crowd, participants warming up, etc. These can be used to tell the whole story above and beyond the action.
It’s not all glamour and top end locations. One day you can be at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington the next you might be on the seafront in South Wales, freezing cold and covering a Duathlon with the public walking in front of you as the winner is coming into view. But, if you love sport you will enjoy them all the same and get as much of an adrenaline rush whatever the event.
You may not be lucky enough to have a great photographer on your doorstep who is prepared to help you get started, but there will be sports photographers within a reasonable distance and teams nearby. So if sports photography is something you want to do, there are no excuses just get started.
The eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted the fact that I have photographed Rodeo, not something we have a lot of in Europe. I have only been to one, but it was the biggest one-day rodeo ever. That was the American held at the AT&T Stadium home of the Dallas Cowboys. I want to thank Skip for helping me get a media pass for that event. That event is just the first step in a project I am working on over the next twelve months (watch this space).
Images copyright Simon King. All rights reserved.