Book Review: Tell the World You Don’t Suck

Tell the World You Don’t Suck: Modern Marketing for Commercial Photographers by Leslie Burns Dell’Acqua

I’m a big fan of marketing and advertising my business. I really try hard to put my work, my business and my name out there as much as possible. With that said, sometimes I get stuck. Getting stuck in your marketing is no different from getting stuck creatively. It happens to all of us and learning how to break out of that rut and into more productive areas is important for any business owner.  It’s at times like these that books like this one come in very handy indeed.  Sometimes we need a creative kick in the pants, sometimes the foot is more business oriented. (more…)

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Lesson Logs and Other Mnemonic Devices

I’ve always believed that one of the keys to being successful in any venture is to know your own strengths and weaknesses. Gnōthi seauton or Know Thyself as the ancient Greeks would have said.   Me, I was blessed with the ability to remember all kinds of useless, small items. What was the name of that makeup artist on the shoot three years ago who complained and whined all day?   I can still remember it. As a result of this freaky ability to remember stuff I was able to go through school and my early career without really having to right stuff down, keep to do lists or any of the other basic things that we should really do in order to lead productive lives.

Fast forward 20 years. I’m no longer in my early career, but in the heart of it. I have a family, a mortgage, bills, a dog, bills, a lot more clients than I used to and a whole lot less memory. I don’t know if it’s simply a function of getting older, not having enough sleep, or having too much on my mind, but to be honest, I don’t really care. The long and short of it is I need to get stuff done. If I can’t remember it, I need to write it down. So now I’m a firm believer in the power of the pen. I have to do lists all over the place: on my desk, in my wallet, on the computer. iCal and I are new best friends and I probably couldn’t function without my Blackberry. (more…)

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Hey, photography is legal, how about that!

Anyone who’s ever tried to do some serious photography in public places has had to deal with curious, and on occasion, concerned people interested in what you’re doing. At times some of those interested parties have badges, whether official government badges, or private security badges. Sometimes those badges come with demands that you stop shooting, explain yourself, move on, hand over images, get on the ground, etc. (more…)

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How to shoot for an art director

… Or other commercial clients

There are many differences between shooting for yourself and shooting for others. Many of these are obvious, many are not. Of course the biggest change is that you’re shooting to please someone other than yourself. This in no way means you should subjugate your vision or visual style to fit the job, after all, it’s your vision and style that got you hired in the first place. But you do need to understand that the images you shoot may have great and varied lives after you’ve delivered them.

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Product Review – Wacom Bamboo

As someone who’s been using Photoshop since version 1 I’ve had my share of bad days with a mouse. The occasional forearm and wrist numbness that come with a long session of silhouetting and clipping paths is becoming more and more common. (Those long sessions of Call of Duty don’t help either.) I’ve never been one for the pen/tablet tools though. After all, my abysmal hand skills are one reason I got into photography in the first place. But about a month ago I got an assignment that was going to require some pretty heavy use of layer masks. About the same time I came across a display at the local office supply store of the new Bamboo (Small) Pen Tablet with Pen Only line from Wacom. Wacom is the leading brand when it comes to pen/tablet input systems, they’ve also got the Cintiq line of pen/monitor systems that are a lot of fun. But since I’m not an illustrator, and rarely do heavy retouching or manipulation, the pen systems haven’t held a lot of sway with me. (more…)

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What I look for in an assistant

One of the tried and true methods of learning about the photography industry is to spend time as an assistant. Even with a formal education in photography, time spent as an assistant is critical to learning the industry and business, as well as learning a bit about yourself. Sure the hours are long, the pay is bad, and you may very well spend the day picking up turkey poop or standing in triple digit heat for eight hours (both of which I did while assisting) but you’ll also get to see things and do things that make most normal people jealous. (more…)

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Raising Prices

I understand that things are tough right now for a lot of creative professionals like us. I know several photographers who are really struggling to make ends meet, a couple who have gotten out of the business completely, and a couple who have branched out into completely different fields to stay afloat. I also know several who are so busy they’re turning away work. Regardless of your particular situation a periodic review of your pricing structure is part of doing business. Many times that review will lead you to the conclusion that you need to raise prices. But knowing your pricing is too low and implementing a price change are two distinct steps.

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Color balance

or, learning to see like your camera, part 2

Let’s start by saying that color is a science. It’s a big science. It’s so big that there are entire institutes full of people so smart it makes my head hurt, all studying color. So I think it’s safe to say we’ll not be comprehensive here. We will cover the basics of color balance and differential color temperatures, as they pertain to shooting. Color management on the back end, calibrations, color profiles are for another time.

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Exposure Basics

or, learning to see like your camera – Part 1

Today’s cameras are pretty smart. They know when you’re shooting outside, or in. When you want to shoot a portrait or a close up. They can tell that you need to use a flash, and in some cases, will even find a smile and shoot it for you. But even with all of the advances in digital camera technology, the smartest camera is still not as smart as you are. The human brain is incredibly adept and nimble, and with a bit of training you’ll begin to see things differently when looking through a viewfinder.

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