Shooting Furniture

(and other large products)

At one point in my life I considered being a furniture maker. I had the woodworking bug. I read books and magazines on the subject. I built really, really bad tables with drawers that didn’t work quite right — all of the things we do when we first start a new endeavor, we screw up. After a close call between my finger and a table saw I rethought things. I’m fine with that. But I still really like good furniture. Having tried to do this myself, I have a great respect for those who do it well. Over the years I’ve had several furniture clients, some of whom make great stuff, others not so much. The clients who make great furniture are still around. (more…)

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Cause Marketing for Photographers

As we move towards the coming new year many of us are beginning to implement a new marketing plan. Also, as the holiday season comes to a close many of our thoughts are on giving. Cause marketing is an opportunity to combine the two. For those unfamiliar with the term, cause marketing is a form of marketing that allows two organizations, one for profit, and one non-profit, to work together to further each of their individual marketing/development goals in a cooperative fashion. Think of the (product) RED campaign, or the partnership between the NFL and United Way.

Cause marketing can be as simple as offering a sponsorship to a local charity event, or as involved and complex as you care to make it. Below are some examples of actual cause marketing campaigns I’ve seen photographers in my market employ”¦

  • A local portrait/wedding studio holds quarterly workshops for photographers on various business practice issues. They host at their studio and usually bring in a guest speaker. They don’t charge attendees directly but ask that they make a donation to a specific charity ($40 to the local food bank or so.)
  • A commercial photographer sponsors a hole-in-one contest at a charity golf outing. If a participant scores a hole in one, they win $10,000. He gets a bond each year to cover it for about $100. He’s at the tee of that hole, shoots a photo of the foursome and mails each of them a print (with his logo and web address of course.)
  • A fine art photographer gives 25% of sales of a series of images of the Chesapeake Bay to a local environmental charity.
  • In lieu of holiday gifts for his corporate clients, an industrial photographer makes a donation to the USO (many of his clients are in the defense industry and are veterans). He then sends the clients a note thanking them for their business and letting the client know that he’s made that donation. (more…)

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End of year number crunching

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get into photography because I love business management. The whole idea of pouring over spreadsheets and sales reports really is one of my least favorite activities associated with running the business. But this is a business, and we do what we must.

One thing I’ve been able to glean from my years in business is to know when things are slow, and when they’re not. I know that starting Thanksgiving, and ending when the kids go back to school – we’re pretty much dead here. We’ll have a few jobs but it’s generally a good time to do the management tasks that goes with having your own Federal ID number. I choose to do this now, less because it’s year end (our corporate year is the calendar year) but rather since it’s slow right now. (more…)

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Printed Portfolios

Even in this world of online meetings, websites and blogs we need a printed portfolio book to show prospects. I’m in the process of re-doing my books so I’ve been researching this pretty heavily.

My old (current) book. Moab Chinle 8x8
My old (current) book. Moab Chinle 8x8

The format and styling of your book will depend greatly on who you’re marketing to as well as your own personal style. A wedding book is not going to be anything like a commercial book which won’t necessarily look like a pj book. In general here are a few nuggets of wisdom I’ve been able to scrounge in my research. (more…)

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TimeLapser app for iPhone

One thing that many buyers of commercial photography like to see are behind the scenes videos of a shoot. It allows them to get a sense of how you like to work and what kind of shoot you might run if they were to hire you. Even for photographers working in the retail and personal fields, behind the scenes video can be a great marketing tool, showing potential clients and customers what their shoot might be like.

Of course, like photography, productions vary widely. You can shoot a scripted narrative with voice overs and scores. You can shoot a time lapse of the shoot and simply post that. The latter is certainly the easiest to shoot, and the TimeLapser app is designed to make that easy.

TimeLapser uses the built in camera to shoot individual frames, at a user-determined rate and resolution, then stitches those images together into a .mov file (at a user determined frame rate). At its heart, it’s basically an intervalometer that will combine the individual files together for you. (more…)

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Sunrise & Set Pro for iPhone/iPod Touch

Like many in this industry, I started as an assistant to other photographers. One cold and wet afternoon while cleaning the cases of one of my clients I came across a curious set of plastic laminated cards with the word “Sundicator” printed on them. Being the complete geek that I was (am,) I recognized the terms Azimuth and Inclination and figured that these cards were a way of estimating where in the sky the sun would be at a particular time and place. Each card was specific to a range of latitudes on the globe. In order to use the set properly you needed the correct card for your latitude and a compass. It’s worth noting that this photographer had lost the card for our home latitude.

Jump ahead 15 or so years and you have the age of gps and hand held computing. Hence the iPhone app Sunrise and Set Pro. This wonderful little app will read your current gps location and tell you the Azimuth (heading) in inclination (angle above horizon) of the sun for any given time. It will also give you sunrise and sunset times for that location on any given day. The app automatically computes daylight savings time issues which is great because I can never remember whether to add or subtract and hour. And it will also allow you to save custom locations for later review. This is a great option for location scouting. With saved locations you can easily change dates and times of shoots from home and know what the sun will be doing before arriving on location. (more…)

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DSLRemote for iPhone and iPod touch

In order to be successful in this business you need a lot of tools at your disposal. I mean not only physical tools like gear and software, but also intangible tools like a positive attitude and a penchant for keeping clients happy. Also, the ability to keep clients in awe of you is always a big help. I’ve stated here many times that I’m not a gear head. I’m perfectly willing to spend money on necessary gear. But my bar for what I deem necessary is very high. It’s a rare day when I’ll go buy something just because I think it’s cool or fun. Last week I made an exception to my “˜not unless it makes my work better” rule and purchased DSLRemote Pro for my iPhone. (more…)

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Perfect Photo…

From your iPhone?   Well maybe not perfect, but certainly better than what you’re able to do with the stock camera.   Last week I reviewed the Best Camera app and one of my complaints about the preset filters was the fact that the user can not edit those filters. The Perfect Photo app does allow more fine tuned control over the image.

Like most camera based apps you can either shoot a new picture right from the app or load one from your saved images. From there you’ve got the ability to edit several aspects of the image.

You can…

  • rotate/flip
  • crop
  • adjust alignment (i.e. fix crooked images)
  • adjust brightness/contrast
  • adjust gamma
  • adjust exposure
  • increase shadow detail
  • increase highlight detail
  • adjust levels
  • adjust hue, saturation and lightness
  • adjust color balance
  • adjust color temperature
  • sharpen
  • remove noise

There are also several preset effects: (more…)

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The Best Camera…

…is the one that’s with you. Or so says commercial photographer Chase Jarvis and his merry band of programmers. The Best Camera is primarily an iPhone app that allows users to enhance and share photos shot with their phone, right on their phone.

Now those of you with an iPhone know that it’s camera is pretty good, but not great. It’s certainly not going to replace your primary camera and I don’t see you shooting your next assignment with it. But it’s always with you, which makes it great for those little moments when inspiration strikes. If you’re anything like me, nothing goes out into the world without at least a little clean up in Photoshop. Small contrast moves, color correction, etc. So the ability to do it right there on the phone certainly justifies the meager price tag for this app. ($3.)

Shot with the iphone, enhanced with Paris filter from "the best camera" app
Shot with the iphone, enhanced with Paris filter from "the best camera" app

(more…)

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