by Skip Cohen
With every step in the evolution of imaging, there are always artists who hit the panic button. If you look at the last few decades of milestones, we had people upset when color came into the black and white world.
Then, we had photographers and even a few retailers upset when auto-focus lenses replaced manual focus. In the late 80's, I remember Calumet throwing Nikon out when it was announced they'd no longer manufacture manual focus lenses.
Digital came along, and once again, there was this quiet rumbling of discontent. I'm guessing it was the offspring of those artists upset over color, interrupting the black and white world who were most worried. They couldn't help it; it's in their genes.
Over and again, we've had moments when imaging has changed, as technology continues to push the evolution of imaging in other directions. So often, I hear artists upset because anybody can be a photographer today. But, here's the difference - It's not the gear that makes the artist - it's the skillset. "Uncle Harry" may have better equipment than you, but he doesn't have the skillset.
Photographer, artist, videographer, and educator, David Nguyen, made the point last week when he shared the video below all shot on an iPhone 11 Pro Max for a full wedding! He was a guest and wanted to put his iPhone through his own fun test. I'm not suggesting anybody should do this professionally, but David's skillset makes a great point. And as he mentioned, he was a guest at the wedding, not working professionally.
Technology isn't going to slow down for any of us, and "Uncle Harry" or "Debbie Digital" are going to keep getting in the way at weddings. Often they'll have better gear than you. But the difference is your ability to be a storyteller. It's your skill set in understanding lighting, exposure, and composition.
And in talking with David, when I asked for permission to share the video on the SCU blog, he reminded me of another important element that separates the pro from the hobbyist at a wedding..."As professional photographers, we also contribute by directing the portrait sessions, interacting with the people to create moments, and helping the B&G keep track of time." The intensity in relationship comes out of the trust established with the couple early on - usually starting in the engagement session.
Uncle Harry can only create an album - as a professional photographer, you can create the first family heirloom of a brand new family! There's a difference between great images and a great story that captures memories the bride and groom might have missed.
I've always had a problem with the way many photographers look at an album. For example, with a wedding album, it's not a book of photographs but the first family heirloom of a brand-new family. You're not selling pictures but tangible memories, and to the world outside the photographic industry, you're magicians.
Your clients deserve an excellent presentation of their images at a reasonable cost. At the same time, you deserve a reasonable profit margin. Well, Marathon's developed a full product line to help you increase business and profitability.
The team at Marathon has been fine-tuning and expanding their selection of Bella Albums, and the quality is excellent. Plus, you've got an infinite combination of paper stocks, printing formats, colors, textured covers, styles, embossing and the list goes on and on.
When we were fighting my mother's Alzheimer's, one of the greatest treasures was pulling out old family albums. She may not have remembered what she said five minutes earlier, but she looked at every picture. Each one took her back to that moment in time. Those albums brought back great memories and created new ones for us at the same time.
Your clients deserve great presentations of their images, whether it's a wedding, family sitting, or Day-in-the-Life shoot. Click on any image in this post to link to Marathon's Bella Albums pages. We're coming up to fall seasonality and the holidays. It's time you planted some unique gift ideas with your clients, and Marathon's team is ready to help!
I'm pulling this out of the SCU archives because so many of you need help with hand and ring shots.
Actively involved as an administrator in both the Facebook Wedding Forum and Advanced Wedding Photographers Forum, there are too many ring shots being shared that are mediocre.
Well, nobody did a better job photographing rings and hands than my old buddy Don Blair. And, while these classic shots might be twenty years old, they still set the standard. I know this is more about hands than rings, but Don's classic hand shot, showing the rings of the bride and groom, is still one of the best!
I apologize for the quality of the scans. I no longer have the original images, but they're good enough to make the point. These were scanned from a copy of the book we wrote together, Body Parts. (Contact Marathon Press for more information - I think they still have the ability to print copies.)
These images and tips should help you create your own classic hand shots. The image with the flowers has always been one of my favorites.
Don's tips were all based on simplicity.
With hands there really is no right or wrong, simply better or best. Don had two great rules for hand shots in general:
From Don Blair's Guide to Lighting and Posing Body Parts
Images copyright Don Blair and Skip Cohen. All rights reserved.
As a professional photographer, your work ALWAYS needs to be better than "Uncle Harry's." Your clients deserve the very best, and if your attitude is "That's good enough," then you shouldn't be calling yourself a professional.
Just because it's the "slow season," doesn't mean it has to be slow for you. Now is the time to practice and fine-tune your skill set. Your goal is to always exceed each client's expectations, and you'll never do that if you don't experiment and work to be the finest photographer you can be!
It's Throwback Thursday and while I shared these techniques many years ago, the more photographers I "meet" online, the more relevant understanding lighting technique has become. There are so many of you who could raise the bar on the quality of your portraits with better lighting!
In 1999, Don Blair and I published Don Blair's Guide to Lighting and Posing Body Parts. That's 19 years ago, and the information we shared in this book will never go out of date. The whole idea for a book like this started during one of Don's programs when somebody sitting near me said, "This is great stuff - there should be a book on this!"
Well, the sweetheart of Don's life, his wonderful wife Donna, had passed away a year or so earlier and the project started with a dual purpose - to help photographers improve their portraiture and to give Don something to help take his mind off the pain of a broken heart. I remember being on the road with him several times, and he'd always buy a rose and put it on the pillow next to him as his own tribute to Donna.
We did all the photography for the book in Las Vegas with models from the area because we wanted to introduce the book at WPPI the following year with a program that included the same models. Tony Corbell, Terry Deglau joined us as we storyboarded each page on the wall of the hotel room where we were shooting. Remember, there was no digital imaging then - every shot for the book was first captured on a Polaroid proof. Bambi Cantrell later added the finishing touch with the author's portrait for the back page on the right.
The fun of today's post has two parts. First, so many of you need to understand the basic principles of good lighting, and it doesn't get any easier than to share Don's examples, complete with diagrams. Second, what a kick to take this walk down Memory Lane. Even though I've shared some of the backstories about Body Parts before, "Big Daddy" was one of the most loved photographers in the industry. I think about our adventures together all the time. It's a great reminder why the memories we help people capture are so important!
If you need help in improving your portrait technique, technology has changed a lot, and Marathon Press can still print the book, but no longer have it in stock. If you've got an interest let me know in the comment section and I'll pass on the information.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Image copyright Jeremy Chan. All rights reserved.
At PPE in NYC a couple of weeks ago I met Jeremy Chan through my good buddy Matthew Jordan Smith. Since Matthew moved to Japan, we don't catch up as often as we used to and neither of us knew we were both going to be at the show. He introduced me to Jeremy.
Throughout the next couple of days Jeremy and I kept bumping into each other at various booths at the trade show. We're all part of a relatively small industry and sometimes it's surprising how many common friends we all share.
Getting home from PPE, Jeremy sent me a quick IM on Facebook, just to say hello. That led me to his Facebook page and a lot of stunning images. So, loving great images and appreciating how the Internet has helped make our industry a smaller place, I asked him for permission to feature one of his photographs.
Not only did he say yes, but he sent me the following:
San Francisco City Hall is a magical place to photograph. This photo is captured around 5 pm which is during sunset. So, the golden hour light is leaking in from the west side of the building. By combining the “yellow” light on the upper floor and the two lamps, the photo is made naturally with the warm color tone, which is exactly how I wanted it to look.
Check out more of Jeremy's images by visiting his Facebook page. Just click on his photograph above.
In the meantime, look at your schedule for 2019. One of the most significant benefits of attending every possible convention/conference you can work into your schedule is networking! And, there's very little that beats the power and fun of meeting people who you've only met in cyberspace, face to face!
Image copyright Feko Photo. All rights reserved.
It's no secret I'm a groupie. My passion in this industry is helping photographers with the business and marketing side of imaging, but I never slow down in following artists in social media, and it's even better when I meet a few of you on the job!
Meet Ryan Bassett from Feko Photo in Cleveland. We were visiting friends in Ohio and wandered over to Headlands Beach. It was late afternoon on an overcast and chilly day. Ryan was on the beach with a bride and groom. I started talking to the other photographer working with him on the shoot.
It's always a kick when I'm watching an artist working, and no matter what question I ask, I always get a response that suggests they think I'm another "Uncle Harry." They're always polite, but the look on their face says, "Go away amateur!"
For the shot above Ryan had the couple walking down the path to the beach through the tall grass and sea oats. I loved the way he was working with them. He was lying in the sand, getting as low an angle as possible. He came over to the car as we were leaving, and I know was wondering if I was legitimate or a stalker. LOL I asked him if he'd send me the shot. Well, he did, and there it is, and I'm betting his clients loved it.
There's no doubt the couple loved this image, and it's a perfect time to remind everybody of your biggest goals with every client - exceed expectations and make yourself habit-forming. Click on the image if you'd like to see more of Feko Photo's work, which includes both Ryan and his partner Al Garcia.
Ryan, thanks for sending me the image to share. However, you're living in Ohio and until Spring there's a good chance to get that same shot you'll be lying in a foot of snow. I'm happy to show you the beaches here in Sarasota any time!
It's Marketing Monday and the perfect time of year to share a post out of the archives about selling prints. I'm still surprised at the number of photographers who claim they can't sell prints, especially when we're got such a great selection of unique materials and technique available through the professional labs.
For example, two months ago I shared a post about Bay Photo's Performance EXT Metal prints. It's been outside my home in the hot sun and rain since then and still looks like it just came out of the box. It doesn't need to even be hosed down or cleaned and continues to be a talking point every time we've got friends over.
Well, it's October and the seasonality of the fourth quarter is on your doorstep. You've got an opportunity to sell more prints, increase revenue and bring the close of 2018 to a stunning ending by offering your clients new opportunities and ways to display their images.
But, it won't happen if you don't put in an effort to help educate them! It's up to you to help your clients understand the power of a print.
A few years ago at PPE in NYC, I got into a discussion with Bryan Caporicci and Rob Nowell of Sprouting Photographer. The topic was the importance of printed images. Bryan hit me with an idea that's brilliant. Listen carefully, because he's sharing it and invited all of you to steal the idea.
When Bryan works a bridal fair, he hands each bride a floppy disk, labeled with his contact information and says, "I'd love to show you some of my images. Here's a collection of some of my best!" The brides look at him like he's from another planet and ask, "What am I supposed to do with this?" They have no idea what to do with a floppy disk.
**POOF** Bryan's got an instant connection to explaining why printed images are so important. After all, who's to say a DVD is going to play on anything twenty years from now and who knows what a jump drive will look like. In fact, if you were to receive anything on a floppy disk right now, what would you do with it?
Need another tool? I've shared this in other posts in the past, but it's time to remind many of you again. Michele Celentano has offered every photographer the right to reprint "I Believe." She wrote it at least five years ago. She uses it as part of her presentation package. It's printed on nice stock and tucked into each folder she gives her clients. She talks very openly about why she believes in printed images in her "Mind Your Own Business" webcast.
Just click the screenshot of Michele from the webcast if you haven't heard Michele talk about the importance of printing your work.
So, here it is, you've got Bryan's floppy disk idea; Michele's "I Believe," which you can print and share with clients and the idea of framing a jump drive, which started as a joke to make the point. Here's another idea. In support of the whole concept of printing images, Bryan put together the one minute video below a long time ago, which again makes the point. All of you can make your own demo video, just frame some DVDs and jump drives!
And for those of you who like everything either black or white - it's never going to happen. Clients are always going to want digital files for their Facebook pages, websites, cell phones, etc. The Internet has changed the way we share images, but we don't have to give up on prints.
Printing images is absolutely NOT dead - everyone just has to do a better job of planting the seed with their clients.
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!
Intro by Chamira Young
We're into that glorious time of year again: wedding season.
As a photographer myself, I understand how dangerously easy it is to become hyper-focused on technical details, such as the latest camera and lighting equipment. However, just as important (and dare I say more important!) is to put yourself in your clients' shoes and understand your photographic services are just one part of a multi-faceted machine. This is especially true with weddings. Understanding what your clients are going through during their hectic wedding process is key, and it can give you an advantage over your competition.
This great post from the good folks at Photodex presents some interesting facts about wedding season that can help your wedding photography business. I'll bet there's a stat or two in there you didn't know. Also, make sure you read to the end, as they give some very useful tips on how to best present your photos to your clients in slideshow form. Revealing your finished work to the couple is an art form in and of itself, and can easily make or break sales.
It's time to put yourself into your clients' shoes. Let's get to it.
Wedding season is in full swing! Have you ever wanted an inside look at numbers and lists of everything that can possibly go into a wedding?
Here are some pretty interesting fun facts and numbers for anyone trying to get an idea of what goes into a wedding. You can also find all this information and more directly from the 2018 NewlyWed Report from WeddingWire. From social media announcements to planning to couples information, the list just goes on! Good luck to everyone working or attending a wedding, and congrats to those getting married!
Wedding Slideshow Tips and FXWe’d love to see those beautiful wedding photos and memories put together in an awesome ProShow slideshow. Follow these helpful tips and tricks to start making your best wedding, engagement, or rehearsal dinner slideshow. To make your photos pop even more try adding a few of our creative ProShow effects or a simple theme.
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.
Intro by Skip Cohen
One of the things I appreciate most about working with the team at Photodex is their neverending focus on helping you build a stronger business and skill set. This post by "Kathy" from last week is a perfect example.
For most of you, this is the slow season, but April is right around the corner which typically kicks off the start of the wedding season in the U.S. Wandering through Google, I found some interesting data on the SoundVision website.
The number that's always a mystery is the number of wedding photographers out there. The estimates are all over the place, but what we do know is that it's an incredibly competitive market. That means you've got to stay cutting-edge on your skill set. You've got to build relationships with your clients and your community. You've got to exceed client expectations and make yourself habit-forming!
So, I want to add a few suggestions to Kathy's list of great blogs. Wander into YouTube and search for videos from the leaders in wedding photography. All it takes is plugging names into the search box, and you'll be amazed at what you find. For example, type in Sal Cincotta and see what comes up! From weddings to Profoto lighting tips, to engagement shots and pricing - you'll have your own private support series to help you build a stronger business.
Keep on searching and look up Vanessa Joy, Justin and Mary Marantz, Roberto Valenzuela, Denis Reggie, Bambi Cantrell, Joe Buissink, Clay Blackmore, Jerry Ghionis and Yervant just to name a few of the leaders in the industry. Then search for photographers speaking at upcoming conventions you'll be attending.
So many of the most respected artists in the industry are sharing content every day on YouTube and in their blogs, and Kathy has picked out ten who are outstanding. You've chosen a career path where you can never stand still and simply rest on your laurels, and great content is right at your fingertips!
Check out some of these incredible wedding photography websites and blogs that are full of beautiful wedding photos and so much more. Browse through galleries, videos, and even tips if you’re looking for some inspiration as the one getting married, for a friend’s wedding, or as the photographer.
We’d love to see those wonderful wedding photos and memories put together in an awesome ProShow slideshow. Submit your slideshow to be considered for a spotlight on our blog.
Be sure to select the blog submission option.
Just to make sure you've got the right tools to exceed client expectations check out ProShow 9! With all of ProShow’s built-in creative tools like the automated wizard, instant effects, and the royalty-free music library you can make an awesome video slideshow in minutes. Get started with ProShow Gold 9 or ProShow Producer 9.
Don't forget to use SAVE20WITHSKIP in the code box when you purchase any Photodex product for a 20% discount. For a limited time, this special discount code is still active.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
It's rare that a first year conference has the power that ClickCon brought to the industry this past August.
The dates have been announced for 2020 at the Palmer House in Chicago. August 11-14!
What a kick!
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.