A Portrait Session…..MAKING SOMETHING OUT OF NOT MUCH

•August 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Whether in Wedding Photography or Portraiture it is easy to forgive problems in lighting and posing when there is a spectacular sky line or sunset behind the subject.  I see many images that have a main light provided by an “On Camera flash” that happens to be off the camera and looks less than professional, with posing that is unimaginative, but is still an interesting image because of the beauty of the skyline as a background.  But as a portrait or wedding photographer, we are in the business of creating beautiful portraits of people not beautiful landscapes that happen to have people in them!

The same things happen in the studio with complex sets and full length images.  The smaller the facial size, the less noticeable poor lighting is, the smaller the body appears in the frame, the less noticeable poor posing is and the more interesting the background, the less you will notice poor lighting or posing, which is probably why so many photographers do it!

When you practice your lighting and posing, start with a blank canvas, a solid white or black seamless background.  Make the subject look beautiful using only the tools of lighting and posing.  With a plain white background, mistakes in lighting and posing are very noticeable and won’t get overlooked.  So many photographers have a handful of poses and only one or two lighting styles they use for everything.  Try new poses and practice getting them down during test sessions, not with paying clients. (For new posing ideas you can buy one of my books or DVD’s or simply look in any bridal or fashion magazines).   Try different lighting styles with different types of main lights to increase your knowledge of your craft.  During this session, we used a our more traditional lighting (Halo as the main light  with a reflector or floor box underneath the main)  A Beauty Dish fitted with barn-doors, a strip light as a main light source and Butter Fly lighting .  I use different style of lighting during each session I do to produce different looks and styles of portraits.  When you use multiple lighting styles you find that subjects that might be hard to photograph with more traditional portrait lighting, might look amazing with a different lighting style that has a different lighting characteristic.

The one major problem I see with studio lighting is using a light source that is too soft and doesn’t provide an adequate shadowing.  They say that light is our paintbrush, which isn’t true, it is the contrast between highlight and shadow that is our paint brush and the transition from highlight to shadow is how we create depth and realism in our lighting and ultimately in our portraits.  For this reason I use many types of main lights that produce a harder lighting characteristic than a typical soft box.  The size of the main light sources are also smaller than most portrait photographer use, because the larger the light main light source the less control you have over the where the light will go on the subject, the larger the main light source the less control you have over the shadowing of he image.

 

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What Kind of Life Does Your Photography Business Provide You?

•August 7, 2012 • 1 Comment

You had to invest a great deal of money in equipment and a great deal of time to perfect you talent to a point to offer a professional service.  You have put a lot into your business, now it time to ask what your business is giving back.  Do you have health care, Dental or retirement?  For all the hours you put into to your photography business (including the hours sitting in front of a computer editing your images) does your business pay you what a teacher or truck driver or grocery store clerk would make?  If not…..then why not?

Photography is a great career, I have been in it for most of my life, I have love every minute of it, however if photography didn’t provide me an income to enjoy life and provide my family the basics of health care and me retirement, I would do something else.  I realize that some photographers are in a unique position of having a wife or husband with a great job, maybe they have a large trust fund, so they can play at photography to have something to do, but for the majority of us, we invest so much time into our businesses, we have to expect, no demand that our businesses take care of us, because there is no time left for other money-making opportunities.

Many photographers struggle because they don’t set up and run their business as a business.  They base their prices on what others are charging, not on what their costs are.  They don’t shoot to make a profitable session or wedding, they shoot like  an excited high school kid that was just given a camera and a cute girl, without any thought of how much time all those images are going to take to edit.  Marketing, sales and the way in which they present their images are a mixed-matched process learned by others, that may or may not have been successful or even knew what they were doing or why.  Photographers that would die being seen with an older camera, flash or piece of equipment, have no idea how to answer or handle the most important piece of equipment to the success of their photography business……THE PHONE!  In today’s world you can’t let all your phone calls go to voice mail and book sessions, you will lose 40 to 60 percent of your callers to other photography businesses that actually answer their phones.  Losing that number of phone calls it pays most photographers that don’t have a staff to get a service to answer their phones for them.

You have to run your business like a business and you need to be given the tools to make it all work.  Now…you can get to the tools you need to succeed at your photography business!  After 14 books and over 25 years of success in this profession, you can learn how to set your prices, market, convert callers into clients, shoot sessions and weddings for profit and present/sell for maximum profits.  Order your DVD Now!

HOW TO PRICE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY AND RUN YOUR BUSINESS!

•August 4, 2012 • 5 Comments

After 14 books (3 on business) I have been asked by many younger photographers (as well as some older ones) to come out with a business DVD that deals with Pricing Your Photography and running a profitable photography business in Today’s Market.  I just finished, literally moments ago.  And before you think the title of today’s blog post was misleading or self-promoting, I have included a link to a FREE VIDEO SEGMENT of the DVD that is on YouTube which deals with pricing your portrait photography.  In this DVD I discuss everything from Pricing your work for profit to low and no cost marketing, handling the telephone properly to increasing the size of each sale.  There are so many talented photographer in the marketing place today and yet most of them are not making the kind of money they want and some not making any at all.  This DVD has everything I know about running a successful portrait and wedding photography business!  YouTube Video Segment

POSING THE HUMAN BODY….a photographer’s challenge

•July 29, 2012 • Leave a Comment

After writing 13 books (many on posing) and talking with photographers all over the country, I can honestly say that posing is one of the most challenging aspects of professional photography for the average photographer.  While lighting a portrait can learned quickly, posing takes time, it takes study and it takes constant practice.  Many photographers that struggle with posing generally turn posing over to clients and try to capture something that looks good.  The “stand over there and walking toward me”….”Jump up in the air” or “go sit on that rock” posing I see in many photographs reflects the struggle that most photographers have with taking control of this area of photography.

Posing well requires you to study the human form, learning what makes a pose look feminine or masculine, business-like or sexy.  You have to understand the how the lines of the body translate visually into a look or project an overall feeling (example-a woman’s body in an “S” curve visually translates into a very feminine, very alluring feeling for it accentuates the curves of a female, at least a woman who has curves in the right places…excessive weight tends to put curves in the wrong places or diminish the typical hour-glass shape).

In my books and DVD’s I stress learning how to pose each part of the body, to look it best, and finally learning how to bring together all the individual parts of the body into an entire pose that produces the look and style you are trying to create.  Even the hair and eyes need to be considered or have “posing” that they look best in.  As you pose a woman, you need to look at the way in which the hair flows, as well as the eyes to see the direction of the pose (relative to the main light) and provided an area for the hair to naturally flow.

As you study posing, look at posing each part of the body, rather than trying to memorize specific poses.  When you remember specific poses, you have difficulty modifying the pose to each client, as some client will look good in a pose and some won’t (without some tweaking!)  Issues like age, flexibility and weight will change or alter posing strategies, so you need to be able to adapt pose to fit each client.

Finally, the single biggest bone-headed problem I see is photographers practicing posing on models or wannabee models that basically pose themselves and look nothing like the clients that you work with everyday.  When you practice posing, work with people who are just like your clients (slightly over weight, stiff, nervous and/or uncomfortable in front of the camera)  While these types of practice sessions are much more difficult, they train you for what you are supposed to know!

Want Inspiration…Clear Your Cluttered Mind!

•July 23, 2012 • 1 Comment

Talk to any successful person and they will tell you their greatest ideas have come to them when they are still and quite.  Great ideas tend to come to us when I mind is clear.  The questions is how can great ideas come to the majority of the people when most people must fill every second with texting, Facebook, Twitter, video games and television.  Most people have become so accustom to stimulation, they don’t know what you do with themselves when they at least don’t have their phones to keep themselves entertained.

Photographers pay good money to attend my workshops and seminars and yet at least a few will sit in their seats playing with their phones.  How crazy is it to pay good money to learn information that could change your business and your life, but being so neurotic and so addicted to Pinterest that you just can’t put it down.  How are great ideas supposed to come to you, if there is no quite time.  You go from work to family to Facebook.  Before you email me in complete disagreement, put your phone down for one day, a 24 hour period of time.  The only thing you can do with your phone is get phone calls ( just in case something important comes up).  No texting, no Facebook, no nothing (and don’t try to be clever and just switch to your laptop!)  I think it is reasonable to say if you can’t go 24hours without something (other than food and water) you might have a problem!  Sex is the greatest motivator of all time and you can go 24 hours without it (Hell, there are schmucks out there that probably pass up the opportunity for sex so they can Facebook!)  Quite your mind and you will find the greatest that you have within!

Educated Competition is Tough, Uneducated Competition is Tougher!

•July 21, 2012 • 2 Comments

 

 

Educated competition are those professionals in your area that understand profit and loss.  They are those photographers who have taken years to perfect their craft and realize they can do nothing and break even, they don’t have to work to lose money.  Educated Competition realizes that every time someone accepts a photography job that is priced  way below the industry standard it lessens the value of what we all do and ultimately reduces the price that professional photographers can charge.  Educated competition realizes that while a “low-ball” job or assignment might put a few dollars in their pocket today, it is reducing the value that the buying public has of what we all sell.   Educated photographers sell their clients on the concept of buying the image that was created, while uneducated competition gets clients looking at the number of files on a DVD or the price of an 8×10 as the primary reason to base your decision on selecting a photographer.  When the buying public selects their photographer based on the image they create, it elevates what we sell to a form of art that clients are will to pay handsomely for.  When clients look at our work based on the number of files on a DVD or the price of an 8×10…we are screwed.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see an 8×10 at Costco is about a buck.  With that mindset, even $7.50 for an 8×10 sounds pricey!

To some degree I blame the photographers of my generation for all the uneducated photographers of today.  For years photographers of my generation guarded any and all information they might give to young photographers like they were protecting the “Holy Grail”.  Successful photographers acted as those they had found the secret to success and they weren’t sharing.  While I really don’t expect business people to reveal all their business secrets and train their competition, it is always the job of the current group of professionals to teach, advise and help those who are coming into the profession.  We all now see the price of not helping those coming into the profession.  Many young photographers have a “screw them” attitude because of the frustration they feel toward the established professionals about trying to get direction, advice and/or encouragement from working professionals who only worry about today and don’t want to take the time to help plan for tomorrow.  The problem with this “screw them” attitude is that they are really only screwing themselves, because the future of this profession is really based on what the younger photographers make of it.  Sooner or later the delusion of photography being so much fun you would do it for free starts to wear off and you realize you can’t live on your mother’s sofa or on the kindness of your wife or husband forever.  To be considered a “real grown-up” you must make money for the work you create.  At this point, the profession that all of us have created is the profession you will have to live with….or leave!

WHEN BUILDING YOUR PORTFOLIOS OR GALLERIES SELECT YOUR MODELS/CLIENTS CAREFULLY!

•July 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I see many young photographers (especially men), put together their work in portfolio or an online gallery for potential clients to see, but the overwhelming majority of the photos are young local models, wearing as few articles of clothing as possible.  This works if this is your target market.  If this is your target market, you might want to re-think things. While young models are fun to work with and photograph very well, they typically have minimum wage jobs and want to trade photography for modeling time.

You show potential clients the type of work you are trying to sell to them.  If you want to market weddings, show weddings!  If you want to market Boudoir Photography, then show boudoir photography with subjects the same age as the average client you intend to sell it to.  A thirty something mother of two, has a little more spendable income than a 19-year-old model.  A potential boudoir client won’t be impressed by looking at boudoir portrait of college age girls.  She will look for a photographer who shows women just like her.  We are in a visual business, so what you show, is typically what you get!

The same is true for the locations, scenes and backgrounds you display or show.  You take photos in a cool location you can’t get to with a paying client, you are asking for headaches.  People will see the unique background and say, “I want to go there for my portraits!”  Then you have to explain they can’t.  Basic rule of professional photography, only photograph what you can sell!  Because as a photographer, if a portrait is beautiful they will want to show it and if you show it, they will want to do it!