Last week I recorded an upcoming podcast for Profoto USA with Brian Marcus. I've literally watched Brian grow up in this industry and the podcast we did gave me a chance to get in some time talking about his background. The funny thing is, I've known and spent time with his Dad, Andy Marcus for close to thirty years, but never any quality time with Brian.
Brian's formal education is in filmmaking and his background in the industry, with both his father and grandfather, all started long before digital, in film. That built an amazing foundation for his skill set, his diversity and his understanding of the business. The podcast will air in the next few weeks, but in the mean time, I wanted to share these images of Brian's.
He never compromises on the quality of an image, his ability to tell the story or for that matter in any of his relationships. You can find more about Brian on his page and portfolio at Fred Marcus Studio.
Images copyright Brian Marcus. All rights reserved.
A few months ago I shared an image with you by Carey Nash that in my opinion was spectacular. Not everybody agreed and a few people didn't get it at all, but here's the fun of this industry. It doesn't matter if we agree or not - it's the client who really counts.
Well, yesterday, Randy Baughn posted this image in Advanced Wedding Photographers and I love it. To take it a step further, it's images like this that every wedding photographer should be shooting for (pun intended). On Facebook Randy just called it..."First look with dad. 85mm 1.2 with window light."
Well, I called Randy to get his permission to run the image on the SCU blog. He told me about a workshop he took years ago with my good buddy and co-author, Joe Buissink. Joe said something, that like so many of us, stuck with Randy all these years.
"There’s no such thing as the perfect picture, only the perfect moment."
Randy went on to describe what's become one of his signature images at every wedding - "l'm looking for that one moment of emotion that defines the very soul of the event."
A big thanks to Randy for allowing me to share this image in a blog post. And for those of you who feel the need to share your criticism, save it. Randy could have been off on his exposure and totally screwed up the color too and it would still be an outstanding image. This is what you're all supposed to be about - capturing images and emotions the bride and groom missed. It's an outstanding example of an artist's ability to capture a memory and literally stop time!
Intro by Skip Cohen
There's an incredible amount of terrific information on the Internet to help you build a stronger business. One of those sources is the Photodex Blog. Always great content with loads of ideas to help you raise the bar on your presentation skills and the products you're offering your clients.
This post, although it ran last year, has a lot of great information and is all thanks to my good pal, Amanda at Photodex. Many of you have met her at various industry events. She's always there to help and working with photographers is one of her most favorite aspects of her job.
For more great information, check out the Photodex blog. You'll never be disappointed.
Today’s guest post comes from Marlene Hielema. With over 20 years as a pro shooting sports, corporate and industrial photography, Marlene Hielema has become comfortable with the craft of digital output. Marlene enjoys relaying the practical uses of photo and video hardware and software that you might not find on the manufacturer’s or software publisher’s websites. Thousands have seen her work on YouTube and her popular imagemaven.com site where Marlene teaches photography and photo editing. Marlene is also a hybrid hero at discovermirrorless.com.
Events are probably one of the most popular things to photograph. They rank up there with travel and baby photos. It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur or a pro, or if it’s a family bar-b-que, corporate product launch, or the academy awards, it’s important to capture life’s events.
Events are mostly about the people who attend them, so always show those people in the best possible way.
Tips for Event Photography
Try the Video Button!
Sorting and Preparing Your Photos + Video Clips
Presenting and Sharing Your Photos Over the years I’ve presented photos to clients and family members many different ways. Some analog and some digital.
Here are the old ways of sharing event photos:
Now We Share Photos on Screens Now that we carry screens in our pockets and purses, there are more options for showing and sharing our event photos and video clips. If they are all assembled into one final piece that’s even better. We call that hybrid imaging.
I recently started using ProShow Web to assemble and share my event photos and video clips.
Using ProShow Web to create hybrid eProducts has many advantages. The biggest is that it’s an all-in-one software. You can combine your photos, video clips and audio tracks into one presentation using the built in templates and supplied music track. And you don’t need to be a video editor to create a video from the final show.
You can also create and share a hybrid show using only your iPad like I did on a recent trip to France.
Your Clients (or Family) Have Several Options to View Your Content
It’s the best of all worlds and your clients will love it because the distribution is built right into the final video piece. They don’t have to worry about what do to with the files, they just have to make the link to the final show available to their employees, and the employees can decide how they want to view it.
So the next time you’re shooting an event, keep these shooting tips in mind, remember the video, sort and edit your photos, assemble your piece using ProShow Web, and give your customers the option to view and share your photos conveniently.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Earlier in the week I posted a story about Erin Zahradka's photo camp for kids. The response was pretty amazing and a number of you asked for the specifics. Well, Erin has put together the complete recipe for what she's doing. It's a great post and perfect to think through over the weekend.
A big thanks to Erin for sharing so much information! For more information on things Erin is doing check out Z-pics.com and her boudoir group, AIBP. Both are loaded with helpful information to help you build a stronger business model.
Seed planted by email and Facebook...
I happen to have two kids, ages 6 & 8. I have ALL of the email addresses from their classmates' parents last year which we are allowed to use & we live in a neighborhood which has its own Facebook group. It has a few thousand members.
I designed a little camp invitation, & blasted it via newsletter so I could track it (I use Mad Mimi for newsletters) & posted it in our neighborhood Facebook group about two weeks prior to camp starting. While the newsletter & Facebook sounds like a huge audience, you can pretty much count on about 1-3 "Yes's" per 50 invites you sent, for something like this. Parents are busy, kids are over-scheduled, end of Summer is here... there will always be a reason for a small return on invites, whether it's "Christmas is coming, school just started, Spring Break Soccer, etc"
I received 4 emails saying "darn, we are out of town, please tell me when you do your NEXT one" & then 5 "YES" RSVP's. (NOTE: The ones that said "please tell me when you do your next one, will definitely be first on my list to invite next time. (That's essentially a call to action for follow up).
Thankfully the small number I had was perfect, & I will tell you why a bit later!
- Pick a date. I did four days. Send invite two or three weeks prior.
- Design a little invitation with Who, What, When, Where, Why, Cost, What they get. Think carefully on the cost. I charged too little- but now that the first one is done & was a huge success, I will charge about 25% more for the next one.
- Email parents the same day you post on Facebook in all of your groups. If you don't have kids or access to classroom lists, use your friends on Facebook to network FOR you.
- Past clients are ALWAYS a great invitee option as well
- Start thinking of supplies & the end result of what you want the kids to take away from this.
Supplies you might need...
One composition notebook for each child
One pencil or pen
Snacks for each day (Costco... just buy fruit or chips)
Small budget for end-of-week-photo for their take-home
Talk about a subject that is easy for kids that age to understand. Our first day we talked about EMOTION in images. I ripped out pages from a photography book that I have, & had each child write down five emotions THEY felt from the image, then five emotions the ARTIST may have felt. We took about 5 minutes per child to discuss why they felt that way & how interesting it is that we all came away from one photo with different feelings, & how beautiful that was to be able to tell a story ... then I had the children pass their photo one kid to their right, & do the same thing.
SNACK TIME! Yes, kids need a break & a snack. I'd say between ages 6-12 they will need a break from the heavy chat.
We did an activity. Usually it was leaving the house. We took a nature walk one day to collect items, then come back & photograph them. Each kid took the SAME items, rearranged them how they wanted to, then we all took turns photographing their arrangement, & they explained WHY they arranged them that way. It was fascinating how each kid REALLY thought of WHY they arranged sticks/berries/pine-cones the way they did.
LUNCH & free-time
Re-cap of the day, answered any questions, etc.
Subjects we discussed...
Mon- Emotion in images
Tues- "Supermodel" Day ... I brought the kids to the studio where they did their own hair & make-up, & photographed each other. They LOVED this day, especially because they were all girls.
Wed- Nostalgia in images...
Thurs- Architecture & Elements of Design
There are a million other subjects, things you can cover, films you can even show the kids if you want to eat up 45 min one day... National Geographic has a movie "Behind the Lens" that BOYS would love on NetFlix... that could even be educational.
Through EVERY walk, drive, subject... I brought it back to photography SOMEHOW. Girls this age can be easily distracted... but it was also easy to bring their chatter back to the meat of the day... for instance if they got on the subject of a singer-crush- I would say: "how fun would THAT concert be to photograph... can you imagine the hands waving in the air in black & white?" :-)
Requirements of you...
▪ like kids, at least enough to do a camp like this
▪ make sure what you're charging is worth your time...
▪ realize that kids are impressionable & if you relate what they love in life back to photography, things click much easier (pun intended)
▪ realize that parents do NOT care, for the most part, that you take a few breaks, let the kids go off-subject for a bit, etc. At young ages, it is about planting a seed & exposure. Parents are just happy to pay a relatively small fee to have their little ones entertained, safe, & learning something new for four hours, four days in one week.
▪ require that each kid have a camera. Whether it's a point & shoot, an iPhone or a 1D, they need their own tools
▪ relax, have fun, & realize that this is not something to be rigid about or over-plan... things will unfold organically the way they're supposed to.
▪ understand that there WILL be one or two kids that seem disinterested in certain parts. That's okay. Take that moment to call upon THEM for questions, or ideas for the next topic. If they still seem disinterested, just be "stoically unavailable to them" & move on. They will "come back."
▪ a "take away" at the end is very important. Kids this age totally love party-favors... so a collage that I made of their week, rolled up with a bow, was like a parting GIFT. Do something sweet like that at the end & the parents will EAT IT UP.
▪ post progress on Facebook so everyone sees how fun it is, that their kids are SAFE & smiling, & ENJOYING LEARNING about what you have to offer.
Now it's time to schedule your NEXT camp!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Last year I shared one of my Dad's guest posts here on SCU. I've talked him into writing two so far. This was the first, published on my original blog in November, 2010. I ran across it while cleaning up some files this week and loved how relevant Dad's experiences from business, starting over 70 years ago, are to the challenges we deal with today.
Having moved to Sarasota almost three years ago, so Sheila and I could give him and my mother a hand, we get to spend a lot more time together. There's a never-ending stream of conversations about business. Today's business meaning of words like trust, integrity, confidence and creativity have never changed, even though the way we communicate today has.
When Dad started out in business he didn't have Twitter or Facebook or for that matter the Internet, but he did have a telephone. He didn't have a lot of conventions to network, but he did have time to meet people, talk to potential clients. He didn't have workshops to go to, but he did have books to read and ideas to share with his associates over lunch.
Dad's going to be 92 this year and still does business on a handshake. He might be slowing down a little physically, but he's never compromised those standards my grandfather taught him so many years ago. As you think about 2014, everything he talks about is so relevant! Just pay attention to your business and stop worrying about everybody else.
I have been happily retired for many years, and unemployed for almost twenty. I am not a plagiarist, but I must quote my father who spent the last months of his life writing advice to his children:
“Conduct your business in an upright manner and remember, the most important thing in one’s life is to be honest with one’s self. Maintain the high standard and dignity that your business requires. Do not go into deals hastily and be visible in your business as much of the time as is possible. If you take time to play, do it away from your business, because your livelihood needs all the attention you can give to it.”
Early on, I concluded that the best testimonials came from my many friendly competitors. We didn’t really compete with each other, in the true sense. True, we were in the same field of endeavor, but we all knew we were there to help each other. Happily, the “tough competition” fell by the wayside.
I remember giving Skip driving lessons and I told him, “Watch the left front fender…..the rest will take care of itself!” I’ve found this is really true of everything in life.
An old axiom says, “If you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said.” That is all part of reputation-building. I found that, sadly, in the field of real estate, truth is hard to come by for many. In our case, it was a major building block in the reputation which we enjoyed, and helped us to thwart the competition.
Goodwill is all of the above, plus a lot of caring for your clients as well as your competitors. If life is a give-and-take situation, giving is the more important of the two. The taking will come with time and be far more appreciative. Just remember – you heard it here!
Ralph Cohen, Founder and 1/2 the Creators of Skip Cohen!
Designing a 46-page Album in Just 8 Minutes!
This week "The Becker" literally shared the secret to his fast, clean and simple method of putting an album together. I love simplicity, but I appreciate educators who share their "secrets" even more. If you know Becker then you know he's always trying to help you raise the bar on your skill set and make you more efficient, especially the time you spend in post-production.
With the help of four different companies, Becker puts together a 46 page album in 8 minutes. In fact, the entire video is under fifteen.
Obviously not every wedding will always go this smoothly, but you have to remember a few key facts...First, Becker is an outstanding photographer and his images are usually terrific, right out of the can. Second, he's shot hundreds of weddings and is not only a great educator, but a student as well. He never stops learning and testing the tools he needs to raise the bar on his own skill set. And last on the list, he absolutely loves this stuff. Spend five minutes with him and you'll understand how much he loves wedding photography.
The biggest point in why I wanted to share this video is simple, too many of you are spending endless hours in post-production when you should be freeing yourself up to do more marketing. Watching this video might just give you a few new ideas on how to clean up your current process.
A big thanks to Becker for letting me share this video with you here on the SCU site. For more moments of brilliance, check out his blog!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Mark Gunter is a part time photographer from Yukon, Oklahoma, who I met at Skip's Summer School. In fact, after the 2013 program he sent me a guest post, which was later published. Mark, like so many of you is dealing with the balancing act between his full time and part time jobs. There's no question he's passionate about being an artist, but he's got a skill set unique to most photographers, Mark can write!
With this post, which I almost lost in my antiquated email system, he wrote:
"I was getting ready to post in the Skip’s Summer School group and figured I might actually have something worth submitting for a guest post. The events I write about happened this morning. While my part-time photography business is doing well, it is a struggle. I think I am at a tipping point and things could change, but only if I act. This has been on my mind for the past few weeks. My encounter this morning, among other things, helped me to reset my thinking."
The other day I wrote a post that started with a quote from Milton Bearle:
"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door!"
Half the battle of building any business is turning your dream into reality, but the other half is recognizing that you have the control to make it happen. You don't have to live by that old line of, "Jump and the net will appear," because life doesn't work that way when starting a new business. However, with a little planning and insight into understanding your goals, you can create an incredible career path.
I'm genuinely excited for Mark, because he's got the passion, he's part of an incredible photographic community and a great network and he's already recognized the initial responsibility is all in his lap, which hits on another important quote I use a lot...
"To thine ownself be true!"
The small suburban pond behind our house plays host to herons, kingfishers, mallards, and geese. We see the occasional, lone egret, but they do not stay for long. On this sleepy Sunday morning, five Great Egrets were wading near the water's edge.
Carefully sneaking out of the house with my camera, I observed the birds for about 20 minutes. The egrets on either end were trying to fish while the three in the middle discussed politics. As I observed the action through my lens, I caught myself reflecting on my experiences at Skip’s Summer School, most notably, words of wisdom delivered by Scott Bourne in 2012.
What was I photographing here? These shots had nothing to do with passion. They had nothing to do with hours of research. They had nothing to do with hard-fought patience. These images were due to dumb luck. Right place, right time. I barely had to crawl out of bed to get them.
In a sense, I was stealing. I was relying on happenstance to provide an opportunity. This moment had fallen into my lap. In fact, if not for the keen observation of my seven-year old son, I would never have known these birds were there.
I am a part-time photographer. There is no shame in that. But what am I doing to make the most of the time set aside for that endeavor? Am I relying on the same dumb luck to build my photography business as well?
As I worked through these photographs, I found myself asking one question: What am I doing daily to make my own "luck"?
I knew the answer before I asked the question: Not enough.
Luck has nothing to do with success. It is simply a word used to describe that moment when careful planning and a lot of practice come together to create the circumstance that leads to the desired result.
Set your goals. Create a plan. Practice diligently those things you know need to be done. Stop waiting for the lucky break. Make it happen.
Images copyright Mark Gunter. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
It's another classic marketing piece thanks to my good pal, Amanda, at Photodex. So many of you work Bridal Shows, but often leave wondering if you really made the impact you'd hoped for. There are five great tips in this post, thanks to Photodex. And, if you're not a wedding photographer, there are still some great tips here to consider when it comes to promoting your work. The tips here are so strong...they really apply to virtually any specialty at any show where you have a chance to display your work to potential clients.
Bridal shows are a great way to get your name out to a ton of new brides-to-be, but in a trade show setting how do you grab attention and attract potential customers to your booth?
We sat down with photographer and ProShow Producer user Cristina Rijskamp to get 5 great tips on making the most of your next bridal show. Read below!
Video by Cristina Rijskamp. Made in ProShow Producer. Cristina Rijskamp is a Brazilian living in Finland and she’s been working as a photographer since beginning of 2010. Simply put, she photographs people… families, kids, social events, weddings, parties, etc. Visit her website at www.cristinarijskamp.com