2009 product of the year update!...

I just received an email from Jed Taufer and really wanted to share this phenomenal opportunity with you:

"From here on out The Evolution collection will include FLO. Beginning January 1, 2010 the entire collection will be just $499, however, today and tomorrow (December 30 & 31), we are offering it for just $299 as an end of the year special."


This is an incredible deal that I hope you take advantage of.

The Weekly Photo Tips product of the year!...

Of all the outstanding products we have had the pleasure of getting our hands on this year only one could be selected as our product of the year.

The winner, Weekly Photo Tips 2009 product of the year is "The Evolution Collection with FLO" from Jed and Vicki Taufer of V Gallery Haven.

The Evolution Collection with FLO is the most complete "studio in a box" that you can get and contains enough information (16 gigabytes of how to videos, templates, actions, presets, edges, overlays, marketing tips, workflow techniques, forms, price lists, relationship building with vendors and clients, fund raisers, and so, so much more...) that if you use the information contained on the 4 DVD's you will be assured of success.

Take a look at the results that Jed and Vicki have had in the small town of Morton Illinois (population 15,000) using the same information they've shared in their "studio in a box".

I love getting involved in fund raising events, it's a win for the studio, a win for the organization, and a win for the people they are trying to help. Jed and Vicki give you ten different plans (with action plans, ads, posters, brochures, sample images, press releases, and FAQ's) for getting involved, helping your community with the added (and secondary) benefit of helping yourself.

One of my favorites is "Dog Days of Summer". In exchange for a 25 pound bag of dog food (donated to local animal shelters) folks would receive a free mini portrait session and a free 5x7 print of their pet. The results of that day was over 125 bags (3,200 poinds) of dog food donated, cover stories in in three different newspapers, and because so many folks wanted more than the free 5x7 print they ended up with over $10,000 in sales!

So for doing something good for their community Jed and Vicki ended up with new clients, free advertising, and sales for one day of shooting that would make Donald Trump envious.

In my humble opinion, if you can't build and run a successful, profitable photography studio with The Evolution Collection with FLO chances are good you were probably meant to be do something else.

So, watch the video to get my full review, but this is not the last you will hear of it, this will be the longest review we have ever done. Once a month for the next year we'll report on how we've used The Evolution Collection, what new thing we've incorporated into our practice, and how it has improved our studio.

As usual, if you are a subscriber you'll need to return to the blog or head over to YouTube to watch the video as it does not get pushed through with your subscription.

National geographic photographer Joel Sartore...

"At Close Range with National Geographic" follows the exploits of photographer Joel Sartore.

This originally ran a couple years back and is now being shown again and if you want to see some stunning imagery, peak behind the scenes of National Geographic photography assignments, and meet a truly interesting man, you really should watch this.

At the very least it will make you want to travel to (and photograph) Nebraska. Seeing "Nebraska's Big Rodeo" has been added to my list of things to do before I die.

After watching the show I visited Joel's website, the fact that he is an outstanding photographer was reinforced and but the best part was learning more about him as a person.

You can read his essay on his wife Kathy's battle with cancer and how it changed his life, Joel's insightful words will make sit back and take pause.

"Now, forgive me for saying this, but cancer can also be a blessing. An amazing experience that forces us to make amends, to set things right, to concentrate on living. To pay attention.

Cancer made me a better father. My work had made me a stranger to my three kids. They got along just fine without me. I was so bad that I once tried to get Kathy’s midwife to induce labor to get me back out on the road the next day.

But now we’re both changed, for good."

You can read the rest here.

Ordering his book "Photographing Your Family" will help me keep one of my New Years resolutions.

Day 3 with Joe McNally - repeating flash...

Here is day 3 with Joe.

Now I understand that most people don't have the number of flash units Joe uses in the shoot (when I saw the table with all 14 laid out I got tingly all over!), but it is cool to see the thought process and work that goes into a shoot like this.

See you on Wednesday when I will be reviewing our product of the year.

Joe McNally - part 2 of "Controlling color"...

Today is part two of "Controlling color" from Joe McNally.

3 days, 3 videos from Joe McNally...

For the next three days I will be posting lighting videos Joe McNally did for Nikon School.

Yes Joe shoots with Nikon but please don't let dissuade you from watching, because it doesn't matter if you use Nikon, Canon, or candle light, light is light and when Joe takes the time to show us something it is not a Nikon moment, it's a learning moment.

Today is part one of "Controlling color".

See you tomorrow for part 2.

We wish you a Merry Christmas...

A vey Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

It is our sincere hope that you are surrounded by those most important in your life and that you feel truly loved.

Kevin Kubota holiday giveaway's...

Every day from now until January 1, 2010 Kevin Kubota is giving away some really cool (and really valuable) stuff.

The gift bag includes the Kubota Pro Pak with Dashboard, a Kubota formula book, Kevin Kubota's "Digital Photography Bootcamp" book, and "The Fast Track Photographer" from Dane Sanders.

All together worth $690.

Follow this link
to sign up and good luck!

Joe McNally is insane...

This is probably the most amazing photo shoot I have ever seen and absolutely proves that Joe McNally is either the bravest or the craziest man I know.

Maybe a little of both.


Enjoy the following video.

Chase Jarvis: The Portrait Sessions Vol. 1...

"Chase Jarvis: The Portrait Sessions Vol. 1" ($21.95) are the second set of cards released by Trade Secret Cards, the first set was "Strobist Favorites" ($19.95) and you can read our review here.

All the things we liked about the first set of cards remains unchanged:

1. You'll get 22 cards with a phenomenal image on one side and a lighting diagram, tips, and insight on the other.

2. The cards are printed on UV protected thick stock so they are durable and will stand up well to being carried in your pocket or your camera bag from one shoot to another.

3. Shipping is inexpensive, only 99 cents flat shipping fee (regardless of how many sets you buy).

4. Shipping is fast.

5. Customer service is outstanding.

The only difference between this set and the first is the content that is covered.

The first set of cards leaned towards portraiture and product shots, the latest set is more about fine art and commercial photography.

What I like best about these cards is that they are a great learning tool, as you recreate a scenario from one of the cards it really makes you think "I wonder if I..." or "If I moved this light here and..." your creative juices start to flow and you end up with a vision that is all your own.

You really can't go wrong buying either set of these cards, they are well thought out, well made learning tools.

Their name may be "Trade Secret" but they are not dong a very good job keeping that secret, and we as photographers are better off because of it.

This makes me squeal like a little girl...

There is a new and FREE lighting diagram creator application for the iPhone and the iPod Touch called Strobox that has me pretty darn excited, but then at my age it doesn't take much.


It is a great tool for jotting down your lighting setup when you are on location or in the studio.

There are a couple things I wish it would do, like edit saved diagrams or make a diagram that is larger than the existing screen (it's not scrollable) but it really doesn't bother me that I can't do these things and I doubt it will bother you.

Don't tell the developers but this is an app I would have been happy to pay for.

This really is a handy dandy tool and you should rush right over to the App Store and download Strobox now!

Woo Hoo!

While checking my stats I saw that we have topped 1,400 subscribers... what a pleasant surprise.

Thank you!

Great holiday deals on memory cards...

Here are some great deals on memory cards, all of them come with free shipping! Ho, Ho, Ho.

SanDisk 4 GB Extreme IV Compact Flash Memory Card - Pack of 3 - screaming fast at 45 MB/s! $59 ($149.95 with a $90 rebate).

SanDisk 8 GB Extreme III Compact Flash Memory Card - Pack of 3 - 30 MB/s - $69 ($149.95 with an $80 rebate).

SanDisk 8 GB Extreme III Secure Digital High Capacity Memory Card, Class 10 - Pack of 3 - 30 MB/s - $169 ($259 with a $90 rebate).

Here is the link to the downloadable rebate form.

Some very good news for photographers...

This past year saw the birth of "DTown TV" a show dedicated to all things Nikon digital hosted by Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski.

I can't tell you how many really cool tricks I learned by watching their weekly episodes and how sad I was when the final episode aired last month.

Well, the show has been resurrected but instead of being about Nikon the new focus is "all things DSLR", studio lighting, on location lighting, post processing, gear, and lots of special guests.

So tune in on January 7th for a brand new season!

Help Portrait Day in Biddeford Maine...

Mark and I decided to focus our attention on a local food pantry, so we gave 50 "free portrait" certificates to the director and asked her to hand them out to both volunteers and clients.

So that we didn't have everyone show up at the same time (and better control the flow for the day) we also gave her an all day schedule with open time slots in 15 minute increments, as the certificates were handed out they could pick their own portrait time (the schedule thing worked out real well and something you might want to consider should you do a similar event).

The certificates had instructions on when and where to come to get their free portrait, directions, a map, and contact information should the have any questions.

We received a call from from a woman just before our day was "scheduled" to begin and said that her friend had very recently had a baby and did not have her own certificate and she wanted to know if she could she give her certificate to her friend because she really wanted her friend to be able to have a portrait with her new baby.

We told her to keep her certificate and simply bring her friend and new baby along, that they could all have their portraits done.

There was a moment of silence and then a very tearful voice came over the phone, “thank you, thank you, thank you”.

Another man brought his son in for a portrait and after we handed him the print he stared at it for awhile and shook our hands thanking us (repeatedly), explaining this was going to be a Christmas gift for his wife... the only gift he was able to give her.

We took 26 portraits Saturday and only 2 people that were scheduled to come didn't (but they did call to tell us they had sick children and couldn't make it).

I was touched at how warm, how genuine the appreciation was from the good people who came to our studio.

Probably the most surprising thing for me was when the day was over and I had gone home, I started to tell my wife and my mom the events of the day and was suddenly overcome with emotion, I had to pause a couple times and then finally I just had to walk away.

It was a very good day.

Things we will do differently next time:

1. Get the word out sooner, it would've been wonderful to have done more portraits.

2. Print 5 x 7 images, the "choke point" for us was actually printing out the 8 x 10 image to give to the client, so a smaller image will print faster.

3. After hearing some of the stories, framing their images may prove difficult, so next year we'll see if we can get a craft store to donate frames.

Here is a short video from our day, if you are a subscriber you will need to return to the blog to view it or follow this link to YouTube.

Help Portrait...

Today was Help Portrait day, we shot from 9 this morning to 6 this evening, edited, and printed out their 8 x 10 portrait before each person left so they could take it home with them.

It was the first project with my new partner (and long time friend) Mark Hensley. It went extremely well.

I am tired physically and mentally.

I really feel like crying.

But mostly I feel blessed.

There will be much more to follow.

Moonlight in Vermont...

I had the pleasure of spending two days in Vermont at the photography workshop "Studio Success from K to V" with Kevin Kubota of Kubota Image Tools and Jed & Vicki Taufer of V Gallery Haven.

This seminar covered it all from soup to nuts, the goal of the seminar was to provide a frame work for managing a successful photography business starting with capturing the images and ending with marketing, promotion and sales.

By the time the seminar was over the goal was more than met.

If you have a chance to see these folks, either together or separately, you should jump at the opportunity.

I have seen Kevin before (on video), interviewed him, and reviewed several of his products (like here, here, and here) so I was really looking forward to seeing him live over an extended period of time and with the ability to interact (and ask questions as he went through the two days).

My very first impression was that this was not his first rodeo, he was obviously comfortable in front of an audience, he was funny, informative, and connected well with the group. Add to that the wealth of information he brought to the table from getting the shot, processing images to client relationship and studio management and it was pretty darn impressive.

The coolest thing I learned from Kevin (though not the most important) was the time to get the shot of "the kiss" was not when they were actually kissing, but during the "pre" kiss, when their lips where just a fraction of an inch apart.

I can't tell you how many times I've shot people kissing and too often it doesn't look as good as it should, noses bent, lips askew, and one person is always more hidden than the other.

But if you hit the shutter just before their lips meet, it is a much more impressive, emotional picture. Try it and see for yourself.

Kevin shared the stage (and the two days) with Jed & Vicki Taufer, who I had just seen the month before at WPPI on Boston, so I knew exactly what I was in for and looking forward to it.

Vicki is the photographer and Jed is the technology obsessed graphic designer behind the scene.

I swear Vicki can talk for a half hour straight without inhaling, no stuttering or rambling, just information packed purposeful speaking. She knows a great deal and is more than willing to share what she has learned (including mistakes) with you.

When Jed takes the stage, he has a slow and deliberate way of speaking, and is much more low key and laid back compared to Vicki and I know the first time I saw him speak I was wondering what I was about to get. What I got was a wolf in sheep's clothing, the man is brilliant.

It was fun to watch the audience the second time around, it only took them about 2 minutes to sit up, take notice, grab their pens, and start writing feverishly.

Jed's focus is on efficiencies, what I learned from him is that I need to stop doing things that aren't profitable for my studio and if there is something I do more than twice it needs to have an action and a well thought out workflow.

Much of what Vicki and Jed talked about over the two days is part of their "studio in a box" which I am fortunate to have and will be reviewing on the blog next week.

It is the most complete package of information for running a studio I have put my hands on, and though it is one of the most expensive items I have reviewed I'll share why you should elbow your way to the front of the line to buy yourself a copy. So be sure to come back next week for that.

So to summarize, it was the kind of seminar that you left with a notebook full of ideas and a head bulging with knowledge.

The following quick video will hopefully give you a little taste of what transpired during "Studio Success from K to V" seminar.

Some Disney birds...

Here are a few birds I photographed while on my recent Disney vacation.

You can view any of these images larger (and in a new window) simply by clicking on it.

10 + 10 + 3 = Great Lightroom tips...

Recently Scott Bourne wrote his "10 Things I Wish I Could Tell Every New Lightroom User".

Scott Kelby followed with his own 10 tips list, then it was Matt Kloskowski's turn with "Scott's top 10 (+3 of my own)".

Even if you are not new to Lightroom you really must go and read all three of these posts.


Why are you still here, you should be there by now.

A reminder for this coming Saturday...

Last month I posted about the program Help-Portrait has put together for photographers to use their skills to help those in need.

The "big day" is this Saturday, December 12th.

If you are here in Maine and looking for a way to contribute you can check out what the Portland Group is doing or contact me directly if you would like to help out here in Biddeford, as we have invited 50 families to come to our studio for portraits and could use the help.

Hope to see you then.

Breakfast at Disney...

Not to be confused with breakfast at Tiffany's.

This is the kind of stuff I have had to suffer through all week.


But it's time to say goodbye to Mickey, we're off to North Carolina today, then to Maine tomorrow (Saturday).

It's been an incredible two weeks vacation but it will be nice to be home, surrounded by my "stuff", especially my dogs.

Marketing that will blow your socks off...

I come from a large Italian family and one of the things I love about getting together with my family is that each of my aunts will bring her best dish to the gathering.

Every bite of every dish is exquisite.

The master photographers marketing series is the same way.

What you get is 16 one hour presentations from some of the most successful photographers from around the country and they all bring their best dish to the gathering.

They share (in detail) their marketing specialties, what they as a studio do best - from building relationships with their clients, their studio workflow, how they market to seniors and families, strategies for social media marketing, building strong vendor relationships, charitable marketing campaigns, and more.

Here is just a partial list of the presenters:

David Ziser

Kevin Kubota

Tim & Beverly Walden

Vicki Taufer

Rod Evans

Kent & Sarah Smith

Lori Nordstrom

There is a lot to be impressed about with every one of the photographers, not just what they have accomplished, but if you look at where they did it it, many of them have studios in very small "Mayberry RFD" size towns. It would be relatively easy to eak out a living in New York City or LA but when your studio is in a town that has a population base of 10 or 12 thousand people and you are blowing the doors off your checkbook, you must be doing something right.

I listened to all 16 hours as I drove from my home in Maine to Disney World in Florida (still here, its 84 and sunny right now!) but I you really do need to listen to this somewhere where you can take notes, because the information and ideas come fast and furious and there is no way you are going to remember everything they say. To make it easier it comes with a 16 page outline, one page for each presenter, that has their talk highlights and space for you to jot down
your own notes.

Over Thanksgiving my cousin and I talked a great deal about photography, it has been a long time hobby for him and he is now getting more and more paying jobs and I (strongly) suggested to him that he plan as if he is going to have the largest studio on the east coast because if he doesn't he will not have the resources and strategies in place that will support and sustain growth. He will have to un-learn bad habits and continually "re-invent the wheel" each time he hits a growth spurt.

The master photographers marketing series will give you new ideas, new insights on how to grow your photography in a way that will be successful for you AND your clients.

And here is where I was going to end this review but as I read and re-read it I knew I had to share one more bit of information.

I know several of the presenters personally and at the risk of offending them I have to pull out Tim and Bev Walden for special mention, their presentation alone was worth the price of admission. As I listened to them talk about their studio and their client relationships I would keep hitting pause and sharing with my wife what I had just heard, and instead of the usually glazed look, nod of the head, and "mm hmmm" she actually looked interested and responded with words that had vowels!

But seriously, they shared things that simply blew me away. I want them to be my photographers!

The master photographers marketing series is usually $99 but if you use the code "TELE95" you will receive a $5 discount at checkout

If you are serious about your business, this is a serious business tool.

Now, it's off to see Mickey. If you see a news a story about a Disney Dining Plan member exploding, it's me.