Friday, October 30, 2009


The newly released "Learn & Explore" iPhone/Touch app from Nikon gives you access to information that was previously only available on the Nikon USA website.

You can read an article on getting the most from travel photography while you’re on vacation, adjusting depth of field or selecting the right shutter speed when taking photos at a sporting event, or advice on the right aperture for indoor photography.

Photography information at your fingertips and on the go.

In addition to articles on the fundamentals of photography and shooting techniques, you can read the latest issue of Nikon World magazine, complete with images and audio slideshows.

It also comes with a complete photography glossary.

And best of all, it's FREE!



Thursday, October 29, 2009

Senior portrait resources from RangeFinder...

Get ready for some serious reading.

Below is a list of articles from nationally recognized photographers that specialize in senior portraiture

Each article is a printable PDF and when selected will open in a new window.

Kurt Brewer - Kurt Brewer Has a Way With Seniors

Dan Brouillette - From Science to Senior Portraits

Beth Forester - Tattoo Your Seniors

Beth Forester - What's the Buzz all About?

Chris Nelson - Location, Location, Location—Redefined!

Cabel Noteboom - Back to Nature

John Ratchford - Empower Your Seniors

HernĂ¡n Rodriguez - From Classroom to Catwalk

Tim Schooler - The Portrait Experience

Tim Schooler - Variety is a Must

Jeff Smith - Senior Sessions

Kim Sparks - Hanging with Kim Sparks

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back in the saddle...

I was hoping to post more while at the "Studio Success, from K to V" seminar held in beautiful Sugarbush Vermont, but days were long and the information was abundant (over filling my head).

You can expect several posts about the seminar, the things I learned, and the goodies I brought home from it in the near future.

Tomorrow I will get back to the topic of senior portraits.

See ya then.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Give Lightroom 3 a free try...


Adobe has announced the public beta of Photoshop Lightroom 3.

You can check out several videos on what's new here, NAPP has already put together a Lightroom 3 Learning Center, and check out what Terry White has to say in his "first look".

Well, it's off to day one of my workshop in Vermont, I'll post a run down of the days activities this evening.

I hope you have a great day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Something you will want to watch...

I'm interrupting our series on senior photography to share this 3 minute movie with you.

As usual, subscribers will need to return to the blog to view this as videos are not pushed through.

Turn on your speakers and hit play...




Thursday, October 22, 2009

Senior Portrait Artists DVD Review...

I was fortunate enough to get a copy of the 3 DVD set from the Senior Portrait Artists 2009 convention and it has transformed my thinking (and practice) about senior portraiture.

There is no doubt moving forward my senior business will be done differently (and better). Translation = more bookings + more print sales = more revenue. The added bonus is that many of the marketing ideas and practices will improve my overall photography business.

"SPA at the Rock 2009" is three DVD's packed with 4 1/2 hours if information from start to finish. No fluff here.

DVD 1 is all about shooting, shooting at different locations, with different challenges, some sessions are in brilliant mid day sun and others in overcast cloudy days. There are also many "breakout" sessions done in and around the hotel where the event was held. During each training session photographers like Bob and Krista Ashmun, Ken Kneringer, Kevin Harrington, Tim Babin, and Fuzzy Duenkel walk us through how any photographer can not only overcome each situation specifically, but also how to overcome obstacles in general to get the best possible shot with what we are presented.

DVD's 2 & 3 take us to "business school" where Kirk Voclain, Kent Smith Photography, Kia Bondurant, Nancy Nardi, and John Ratchford share with us the business ideas and practices that make them some of the most successful senior studios in the country (and Canada). What makes their stories even more impressive is when you learn that some of these studios are in communities of only 15,000 people yet despite the small population they are still wildly successful.

The final 30 minutes of DVD 3 is a "round table" discussion with some of the attendees of SPA at the Rock 2009 where we get to sit in and listen to the challenges they face in their studios and how they will take what they have learned from the convention and apply it when they return home.

One person in particular drove home the reality and credibility of the presenting instructors, it was photographer Sarah Smith, who told two stories, one that impressed me, the other that moved me.

What impressed me was her way of thinking and presenting things in a positive light, she shared a story of how one studio in her area would warn seniors that if they were 15 minutes late for their session they would lose one outfit (some photographers set senior sessions by the number of outfits worn), Sarah tells her seniors that if they are ten minutes early for their session they'll receive a $10 credit towards their prints. Both want to accomplish the same thing, having the client arrive on time, but which one does a better job and has the added benefit of presenting a positive? You really don't have to answer that, it was kinda rhetorical.

:)

What moved me was when Sarah talked about the challenge of shooting a "heavier" senior, she did it with far more sensitivity than I am able to put into words. It gave her great credibility as a person and made everything else she said even more believable, more impressive.

I am a self admitted frugal person (my daughters are less generous in their descriptions), so I know many will pause when they go to the SPA order page and see a price of $599 for this DVD set, but all it will take is one senior session to make back that money and moving forward every session you ever book, every print sale you make because of the techniques you learned from this DVD is money in your pocket you otherwise never would have had.

If you can't take anything away from this DVD to improve your studio you are either already wildly successful, or should think about doing something else.

Here are a couple videos that will provide you a good "sneak peek" for what is contained.



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reader question on Senior Portraits...

A reader asked for details regarding the images I used in yesterdays post.

So let me give you some general rules I use for all of my senior shoots.

Keep in mind there are two types of senior shots, the image they will use for their yearbook, and the image that the parents will hang on the wall of their house, the latter being a much more "staged" artistic photograph.

So the details I am about to share are for the those that are intended for the yearbook.

1. I have never had a senior as happy with indoor shots as they are with those taken outdoors, so I will always start shooting outside and it's not that uncommon that we never make it inside.

2. When scheduling I look at my appointment book first and then at the forecast second, if it's going to be a sunny day I schedule the shoot during "the golden hour", if it is an overcast day I select the first available slot.

3. During the session I shoot with two bodies, one has a 28-70 lens, the other has a 70-200, this way I'm not swapping out lenses (making it a quicker shoot). If I don't have to change lenses while shooting outdoors, especially when at the beach, I am a very happy guy.

4. This is the part that is going to give some camera snobs heartburn, but before I start shooting the client I will quickly grab a couple sample images using different settings (checking exposures) and quite often end up shooting in "P". For the most part my camera does a great job metering and adjusting for an outstanding outdoor image (I shoot with a Nikon D300 and a D3). I want to be absolutely clear that this only applies to shooting outdoors, I never shoot on "P" indoors!

Here is a good example of an image shot during the "golden hour" and how nice it makes the skin look:

These two images are examples of why I use two bodies/lenses.

This image was shot with a 28-70, notice the railings in the background.

The image below was shot with a 70-200, the background is much more blurred giving the image a more "abstract" background.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Senior Photography...

This week we are going to focus on senior photography, I will share some of my work from this "senior season" but more importantly I will share with you some really informative and useful resources that are specific to shooting seniors, but can be applied to any type of photography.




These images are of Andrew, the first set are your "standard" senior shots, in the second set the sun had almost completely set and I asked Andrew if he felt like "having some fun", we broke out the flashes, shot away and we were both happy with the results.

Click on any of the images to view larger and in a new window.




Sunday, October 18, 2009

One week from today...

Next week on this very day I will be hitting the road for Warren Vermont to attend the workshop "Studio Success, from K to V".

It is 2 (full) days of Kevin Kubota and Vicki & Jed Taufer teaching, branding, positioning, creating a buzz for your studio, photography techniques for weddings and portraits, live photo shoots: portraits with Vicki, Weddings with Kevin, selling without selling, and promotions that really work.

I have long been a fan of Kevin Kubota and just saw the Taufers at WPPI Boston (they were outstanding) so I am really looking forward to this.

Learn more about the seminar here, the hotel where the event will be held here, and more about Warren Vermont here.

Hope to see you there.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Maximizing your photography sales...

I was thinking of labeling this post with a really outrageous title like "Sex, Sex, Sex!" because I wanted to make sure that every photographer who sells (or hopes to sell) prints to their clients reads this post.

"How to Sell" from Joyce Smith will help you do it (the sell part, not the sex part).

But before I tell you what the guide contains, let me tell you how it made me feel.

It starts out with a story fraught with obstacles and hint of desperation.

Joyce had just moved from New York City to Pennsylvania, she did not have a drivers license (so her husband had to taxi her from place to place), she had a new baby but no baby sitter and she did not have a studio, so her only option for making sales was online.

And if she didn't make those sales Joyce would have to return to her "real" job, teaching.

So there she was - with more than her share of obstacles (certainly more than most of us) and the motivation to overcome them.

As I read the guide it wasn't as if I was reading the words of just some photographer, who was somewhere else, I felt like I was sitting down with a friend. I felt like I knew Joyce and she was sharing her experiences with me over lunch.

So before I even got to the first tidbit of information I was feeling good, good about who was talking to me, and good about her message.

The "norm" for me when reading something like this is to have my trusty highlighter and Post-It tabs, so when I come across a "gem" I highlight it and then mark the page.

I quickly abandoned the highlighter as it would surely run dry it just a few pages, then about 20 pages in I abandoned the tabs, as I realized I was tabbing almost every single page.

Here is an excerpt from "How to Sell" that Joyce considers an often overlooked but crucial component to solid portrait sales, whether online or in-person: confidence.

"I am not a gregarious person by nature, nor am I the life of the party. Swear. I don’t love meeting new people and trying to win them over. I could never, ever be a telemarketer or sales rep. I say this lest you believe that I possess some sort of inherent charisma that makes clients want to buy from me and hire me over and over again; in other words, what I know is not something that is specific to me and unteachable. My personality, lovely as I like to think it can be to those who know me well, does not magically lead to instant sales.

Regardless of my cautious, sometimes reluctant-to-speak-up nature, I still possess something extremely invaluable to what I do, and that is my overarching philosophy--my unshakeable, sincere belief--that what I do has meaning. We have all heard “You have to believe in your work,” and yet how often do we sit back and watch the “rock stars” of photography and think, “Good for them, but I could never be that confident”? But confident you must be if you want to impart the important message of “Yes, she’s so worth it” to your clients. Please note that I don’t mean you need to brag. On the contrary, you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard. Rather, you are someone who knows that he or she is in demand, both valued and valuable, and doesn’t need to boast about it (not too loudly anyway!). When you truly believe in yourself and your work in this way, clients will perceive what you do as more desirable. This is true whether your target market can spend $500 or $5000 with you.

While this may seem all a bit too Anthony Robbins and Rhonda Byrnes’ The Secret for you, I‘ll be darned if it doesn’t work! When I first started out I was confident about work that now makes me cringe a little inside (we have all been there, and we will be there again as we continually improve!). Nevertheless, I knew the type of photographer I wanted to be and I carried myself as if I had already arrived. It was clear to me early on that I needed to come from a place of confidence. I knew that projecting any whiff of desperation to my clients, any air whatsoever of “Gee, I really hope you like my pictures. I really do think I’m a bit better than The Picture People, don’t you think?” would be the kiss of death. Did I sometimes think these less confident thoughts in the back of my mind? Sure! But did I allow them to pervade my thoughts and, consequently, my client interactions? Not for one second.

If you are someone who struggles with this concept (and you probably already know if you have this innate confidence or not), it’s helpful to think of your images as a product that you are very excited about. You can trick yourself somewhat into thinking you’re not selling yourself per se. Couldn’t you talk enthusiastically about the newest Bugaboo stroller or the latest Pampered Chef gadget that’s made your potato peeling drudgery infinitely easier? Haven’t you told friends why they simply had to go see your latest favorite movie? Then why can’t you get excited about the latest artist who is THE photographer to go to? Isn’t she fabulous? Oh wait, she’s me!

All kidding aside, while I do believe that we are our brands--clients will remember how their sessions felt and how we interacted with them as well as their images--this sort of mental distancing exercise can be fruitful if you’re struggling.

If all else fails, slightly shift focus to your wonderful subjects. “Wasn’t it so wonderful when we got this shot?” you ask your client when she picks up her order. “Oh, that little one was so sweet and the light was perfect that day,” you effuse as you show sample session albums to your new client. After all, we should have no problem whatsoever being effervescent about what it is we purportedly love to do! Once you fully embrace the idea that you provide both treasured images and a memorable experience to your clients, the respect you show yourself will infuse each interaction you have throughout the process and the sales you desire will follow.

With this said, here it is: my sales process with each client and the many ways, both overt and subtle, that I attempt to influence the final sale . . ."

If you had just $95 left to spend to improve your business, "How to Sell" is where you should spend it. Seriously.

In the near future we will be reviewing "What to Write" and "What to Wear" but they will so help improve your business that you might not want to wait until then to make the investment.

To learn more about Joyce and to see her beautiful work be sure to visit her website and blog.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's horn tootin' time...

Guess who was number one on OnlineClasses.org list of "100 Best Blogs for Photography Students"?

Nope, wasn't Weekly Photo Tips.... but we were number twenty five!

Thank you to Online Classes for listing us, and thanks to our readers for making Weekly Photo Tips what it is.

The only problem, if my mother reads this post I will be getting a cuff in the back of the head for "tooting my own horn".

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Our R-Strap YouTube Video...

A couple weeks back we reviewed the R-Strap from BlackRapid and have produced a YouTube video addressing a concern we read on the forums that (just) a few people had about connecting a camera strap to the tripod mount of their camera.

This video addresses that concern.

If you are a subscriber to Weekly Photo Tips the video does not get "pushed" through to you, so you will need to come back to the blog, or check us out on YouTube to watch the video.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Maternity Portraiture...



Here are a few shots from a session this past weekend.

The two images above were taken with window light only, and not bright/direct sunlight, but a northwest facing window.

Below are three shots taken with a (my) standard three light setup (SB-800's fired by Pocket Wizards).

Click on any image to view larger and in a new window.



Monday, October 12, 2009

A great shooting opportunity this weekend...


If you live here in the northeast you may want to consider spending this coming Saturday (October 17th) in Keene New Hampshire.

Saturday is the annual Keene Pumpkin Festival, where they have been setting world records since 1992 for the most carved pumpkins lit at one time.

Bring a pumpkin, bring your camera, but most importantly, bring your inner child.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Healthcare in America...

Another weekend, another off topic blog entry.

But my fear is I am about to commit blogging suicide by touching the "third rail" of politics, but the importance is bigger, much bigger than me.

If I could ask one thing of my readers, it would be to take the five minutes and watch this video.

Should you be moved by it, share it with your friends, if not email me and tell me I suck.

Thank you.

video

The entire show "Profits Before Patients" is about 45 minutes long and can be viewed by following this link, because bottom line, whatever comes out of Washington under the guise of "reform" will impact every single one of us.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Stand by me… part II...

I had no intention of posting this weekend, holiday weekend, scheduled shoots, blah, blah, blah...

Made my coffee, sat down at 5:30am to check email, but just one came through (which kinda surprised me, I usually get more, not because I'm popular but the spammers do love me).

I won't betray their confidence with the details, but it was a thank you note, explaining that a post I had made six months ago had helped them through a extremely difficult time.

Driving home the point that we never know when something we do, even something quite simple, impacts the life of another.

The follow is the (short) original post:

“no matter who you are, no matter where you go in your life, at some point you’re gonna need somebody to stand by you…”

(if the video does not come through on the feed, you'll want to stop by the blog to watch it)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Doing business AND doing good...

It's one thing to wear something pink in an effort to raise awareness of breast cancer (much like the NFL players did this past weekend wearing pink cleats, gloves, and wrist bands), but it's a "whole 'nother thing" to reach into your pocket and pull out hard earned cash in support of a cure.

CoffeCup software is doing that and more, they are raising awareness of the fight against breast cancer, they are donating money to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, AND they are putting a little bit of money in your pocket too!

CoffeeCup Software creates software that anyone who has an online presence can use to make their website better.

Here's the deal, buy any (or all) of the 30 pieces of software on this page and CoffeCup will give you 10% off the purchase price AND donate 20% of the sale to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

It's nice to see a company that does business with people at the bottom line, not profits.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Finding & photographing fall foliage...

If you are interested in photographing (or just taking a nice ride to view) fall foliage, we have put together a bunch of links that will help you in that endeavor.

First, the links on shooting fall foliage:

1. Here are tips and answers to questions about shooring foliage from About.com

2. Quick Tips on photographing fall foliage from Canon

3. The state of Vermont has put together a page on fall foliage shooting tips

4. You can learn what Filters will enhance your Nature Photography here

Now, onto where (and when) to find the optimal time to shoot in your area:

1. The weather channel has put together a national and regional maps tracking peak foliage

2. VividLight.com has put together a great number of links tracking (and shooting) the changing of fall colors

3. Yankee Magazine has anything and everything to do with fall foliage on their site, daily reports, scenic drives, tours, and even a kids section

4. VisitingNewEngland.com also has a great deal of useful information on fall foliage

Below are state by state fall foliage links, tips, and videos, all specific to your state

AL
- AR - CA - CO - CT - DE - GA - ID - IL - IN - IA - ME - MD - MA - MI - MN - MO - NH - NJ - NY - NC -OH - OK - OR - PA - RI - SC - TN - VT - VA - WA - WV - WI

And we'll end this post with a video tutorial, lesson 1 of shooting fall foliage (here is lesson 2, lesson 3, and lesson 4):

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Google releases Picasa 3.5...

Picasa 3.5 is not your parents photo album, it now has name tags (which performs more like facial recognition), you can perform geo-tagging with Google Maps, they have an improved import room, and much, much more.

As if facial detection/recognition wasn't enough, after you've tagged an image with a name it will search your Google contacts and match the two together.

You can download Picasa 3.5 here, find out what's new in Picasa 3.5 here and get help with Picasa and Picasa Web Albums Help here.

Here is a two minute video showing you what's new in Picasa 3.5.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ten Photography Tips from Rick Sammon...

Here is a quick 5 minute video from Rick Sammon giving us 10 general "rules" to think about when we head out to shoot on location.

You can see other videos from Rick here.

And you can get more of Rick at his website and at his blog.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Shaking a soldiers hand...


When a soldier returns home from Iraq or Afghanistan they pass through an airport in the small town of Bangor Maine.

It will be the first American soil their feet will have touched after having been away for too long.

And the chances are really good that the first faces they see... the first hands they will shake will be those of the Maine Troop Greeters.

The Maine Troop Greeters are men and women committed to welcoming every soldier returning home from war and to give a proper send off to every single man and woman heading overseas.

They offer a warm handshake, provide a free cell phone so they can call loved ones, a snack to keep them going, and hug to let them know we care.

Since they started greeting flights in May of 2003, the Maine Troop Greeters have welcomed over 3900 flights, more than 800,000 service men and women, and 172 military dogs.

This heart warming story has been turned into an award winning documentary film called "The Way We Get By" written and produced by Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly.

Check the schedule to see if there is a screening in your area, if there is, please don't miss it.

Stories like this move me, deeply.

But I am embarrassed to admit that there is this small place within me that's just a little bit envious.

During the "Vietnam Era" we were warned not to travel in uniform, especially when passing through airports, because it was not uncommon to be heckled, or worse, spat on. Seriously.

Some forty plus years later there are those still waiting for their welcome home.

If you’re a subscriber and the video did not get “pushed” to your email, be sure to come back to the blog to see the trailer for "The Way We Get By".

Friday, October 2, 2009

Review of the R-Strap from BlackRapid...

While I was waiting for my new R-Strap to arrive I was wondering what to expect, though to be honest, I wasn't holding out much hope because I've had more than my share of bad relationships with camera straps. In fact I will soon be opening the worlds first "bad camera strap" museum.

I have spent so much time (and too much money) looking for a good comfortable camera strap. I have them straight and contoured, I have them cushioned with soft foam and bubble air pockets, and regardless of the strap I used it was a pain in the... well, the neck.

If you have ever had a camera strap around your neck (and if you're reading this blog, you have) you know exactly what I am talking about.

As if the camera isn't heavy enough, add glass, and the faster the glass the heavier it is.

So if you are shooting with a heavy camera and a fast lens you have a bunch of problems, you have a weight pulling down on the back of your neck and pulling you forward at the same time, and if that isn't enough, your camera is tipping forward and down, let's add a flash to this scenario and things really get worse.

As you move the camera is swaying (and you're trying to prevent it from banging into things), and you feel like you are being swung around by a rope attached to your neck.

If you shoot with two cameras you have all these problems plus you have to keep the straps from sliding off either shoulder and your gear hitting the ground.

Getting a taste for how miserable the traditional camera strap has made my life? I am sure this mirrors many of your own experiences as well.

It was with a little hope and much trepidation that I opened the box from BlackRapid the day it arrived.

I took it out and was immediately impressed with the quality of workmanship, but brought myself back to reality with "quality does not necessarily equal comfort".

So I grabbed a camera, attached and adjusted everything and just stood there.

It was comfortable. I bounced up and down a little. Still comfortable. I wasn't be pulled in any direction, I still had proper balance, my neck didn't hurt, my camera was in perfect position to grab and bring to eye level.

So far so good.

But I was standing still, what if I threw more movement into the equation?

I moved, I walked, I bent over, I squatted, I moved as if I were really shooting and the R-Strap was still comfortable, still holding my camera where it needed to be.

It was then I realized I was falling in love.

;)

Then my teenage daughters started arriving home from school and as they walked through the door I would accost them with the details of my new R-Strap, they politely nodded and walked by, surely thinking to themselves "my gosh man, could you be more boring".

Two weddings and many portrait sessions later nothing has changed, this is the camera strap I have been waiting for.

I shoot with two cameras and rumor is there will soon be a new 2 camera R-Strap.

Can life get any better!

The slogan for the R-Strap is "The Worlds Fastest Camera Strap", if I had my way it would be "The Worlds Best Camera Strap".

You can learn more about the R-Strap here and watch more of their videos here.

Here is a quick introductory video on the R-Strap, enjoy.