Friday, December 31, 2010

See you next year...


When I was a boy I found a time stamp and as I rolled through the years between my fingers I came to the last year on the wheel "1978".

I remember thinking "1978!?... Holy cow, I will be ancient in 1978!".

Now the wheel is about to roll over to 2011 and I still feel like that same curious boy who thought 1978 was so far off it would never arrive, though sadly the mirror is telling me a very different story.

:)

If I have learned anything (and some may argue I haven't) it's not the passing of time that's the issue, it's the wasting of time... now that's the real problem, the avoidable sin.

If I could make a wish for all of us it would be that we not squander that most precious commodity.

In 2011 don't wonder "what if?", put it all out there.

Live, laugh, love, be loved, and gobble life up with both hands.

Don't assume that the people in our life know how we feel about them, let's tell them, leaving nothing unsaid.

Be slow to anger and quick to forgive.

We should put more effort into being happy than we do into being right.

Be the kind of friend we wish we had.

And as often as we can, let's perform an act of kindness for someone who has no way of paying us back.

Thank you for spending time here in 2010, your presence has enriched my life, and I look forward to seeing you in 2011.

A happy, hopeful, and healthy New Year!




Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Something old is new again... Trade Secret Cards...


We have reviewed Trade Secret Cards in the past (the Strobist version here, the Chase Jarvis version here) and as you read the reviews it is pretty obvious I LOVED them both.

What I liked about them was that they were not meant to be copied exactly as displayed, but to inspire. By seeing the final image AND the complete lighting setup it's easy to follow (and understand) how things were done (how a lighting effect was achieved), what could be done with light (the possibilities), and to stimulate your own creative juices enough to go out and try something new, different, and adventurous.

Well Trade Secret Cards have been improved in two (big) ways, first the size... each lighting "card" is significantly bigger. When it comes to old men like me bigger (print) is better and second, because the old version were individual cards you could more easily "misplace" a card.

The new cards are bound in book form, but each page is also perforated as well so if you prefer to remove one (or all) you can, the best of both worlds.

One thing has not changed, the quality. The cards are done on firm card stock, they are beautifully printed, and are also coated so should the need arise you can wipe them down without the fear of harming them.

And even though they are now bigger and better, the price has increased only slightly, so please, head over to Peachpit Press to check them out (and order yourself a set). You can also find them at Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble.

Below is a video we did demonstrating the difference between the old and the new cards, I also show how I added my own little hack to the new cards so please check it out.

And for you subscribers, perhaps one day Blogger will push through video with your subscription, but until then you will either need to return to the blog or head directly to our YouTube channel to watch this video.



Friday, December 24, 2010

A very Merry Christmas to you!...


I love this time of the year, for different reasons as I grow and age... when I was a child... when I got to see Christmas through the eyes of my children... and now the simple joy of being the kind of person I wish I was all year round.

But it all started because of my mom.

She was a single parent with 5 children (2 girls, 3 boys) and we were poor, real poor (though I didn't know it at the time). We lived in the projects in Boston and my mom would struggle to make ends meet with some pretty crappy jobs, cleaning other peoples homes and taking in their laundry.

Two things I remember, being happy and the hope of a wonderful Christmas. No matter what the year had held for my mom, when Christmas came it was magic. It seemed no matter what we had asked Santa for, we would find it under the tree on Christmas morning.

I knew there had to be a Santa because there was no way my mom could afford to buy us these things.

When I got a little older and knew the big guy was more myth than man I couldn't figure out how my mom did it... because by then, I knew we were poor.

Then one day stumbled upon five envelopes that were rubber banned together. One had my name on it and the others had the names of my brothers and sisters. Each envelope had the exact same about of money in it, all in one dollar bills and change.

Then it hit me, these were Christmas envelopes, after a long day of cleaning houses my mom would take some of that money and split it evenly between those 5 envelopes. And she did this after every basket of laundry, after every dirty house, all year long. So by the time Christmas came, my mom could make the magic happen.

Though at the time I understood the process, I could not truly appreciate all her hard work, her sacrifices, and the things she did without until I was older. As I write this it still amazes me.

It was then that my happiness no longer came from the gifts, it came from knowing how much we were loved.

I hope the same for all of you, that your life is full of love and family.

I hope there is always food on your table and those you hold most dear are sitting around it.

I hope your home is warm and your heart is happy.

I hope as you look back you see happiness and as you look forward you see nothing but joy.

I hope... because hope is a lesson that my mom taught me.

In closing, a picture from a not to distant Christmas past... when my girls were believers... and they left goodies for the big guy and his reindeer.

Merry Christmas everyone.



Christmas images from our readers...






Here are a few of the images that some of readers have added to our Flickr group as part of our Zack Arias giveaway.

You can find our more about the contest here, find our Flickr group here, and how to join us on Flickr here.

There is just a week left in our Zack Arias OneLight Workshop giveaway so don't dilly or dally.

Ho, ho, ho... Merry Christmas!




Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas gift for you...


The good folks at SmugMug have given us a 20% off discount code to share with our readers.

SmugMug can be used simply as your secure online image backup solution or your full service (fully customizable) online sales solution.

Using the discount code "WeeklyPhotoTips" will lower your price for any of the three account options they offer, $32 for a basic account (normally $40), $48 the power account (normally $60), and $120 for their pro account (normally $150).

You have until January 2nd to cash in on the savings, so between now and then use (and share with your friends) the discount code "WeeklyPhotoTips".

Follow this link for a complete list of options and features for each of the three accounts they offer, and here is where you can sign up.

Thanks to SmugMug for offering these holidays savings to our readers and a special thanks to Markham for pulling this together and making it all happen.

HO, HO, HO!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What a long strange trip it's been...


In the five years I have been writing this blog there has NEVER been such a long gap in posts. Prior to this eight day drought the longest period of silence had been three days.

I will spare you the details of my absence but suffice it to say I am happy to say it's over and you can expect posts to be coming fast and furious.

Thanks for your patience, and yes, I really did miss you.

;)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another great Christmas idea... A canvas wrap...

You have heard me talk about Canvas on Demand before (here, here, and here) and now you have a great opportunity to purchase one for yourself, or someone you love, for a ridiculously low price.

A 16 x 20 canvas wrap for just $45!

No, that is not a misprint, I said $45. These canvas wraps usually sell for $127 and this is a phenomenal deal.

It too good for me to pass up and I just bought one.

The catch? The deal expires at midnight tonight (12/13) (but you have until June 30 2011 to use it) so follow this link to get yours before it's too late.

Here are three of the prints I have bought.






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

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The wreaths have arrived at Arlington!


Below is a video of the wreaths from our humble state of Maine arriving at Arlington National Cemetery.

What a pleasant surprise it was to see the number (and diversity) of people who went to lay wreaths at the headstones of those for those who gave the last full measure.

Thanks to them, to you for taking the time to read (and watch) this, and a huge thanks to the
Worcester Wreath Company
(Wreaths Across America) without whom this wonderful annual event would not be possible.

I sent my aunt in North Carolina a wreath from them and she called last night to rave about the beauty and quality of the wreath.

If you have trouble viewing the video here just follow this link to watch it.

(subscribers will need to head back to the blog to watch the video, as it does not get "pushed" out.)




Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas gift suggestion for photographers...

Chances are extremely good that if you read Weekly Photo Tips you are a photographer (going way out on a limb on this one, I know) and if your family is anything like mine they love it when they get one of my photographs as a gift.

If you are wondering what to get someone you love for Christmas Photo Weavers just made the process so much easier.

I ordered a blanket for my daughter as a Christmas gift and was so happy with everything about it I wanted to share it with our blog readers.

The ordering process was easy, delivery was incredibly fast, and the final product was outstanding.

And right now you can save 35% with the discount code “tellafriend” which is good through this weekend (12/12), after that you can save 30% off anything you order at Photo Weavers by using the discount code “myamericandream”.

To learn more about how their products are made follow this link, and to see the products they offer head to this page.

Below is a video of me gushing about how happy I was with my blanket.

(Subscribers will need to return to the blog or head over to our YouTube channel to watch the video)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Our latest contest, and it's a big one!...


If you would like a chance to win the 2 DVD "OneLight Workshop" from Zack Arias (read our complete review here) here's all you have to do:

1. Join the Weekly Photo Tips Flickr Group (details on how to join can be found here)

2. Upload one (or more) portraits of a person, a pet, or any Christmas themed image to our Flickr Group

3. Leave one (or more) comments on any blog post on Weekly Photo Tips

The contest starts today (December 8th), it ends December 31st, and the winner will be randomly drawn from all contest entries and will be announced here on the blog on January 1st 2011.

I will mail the OneLight Workshop DVD's that we received for review to the lucky winner.

The rules are pretty simple, you can enter as many times as you like (one comment + one image upload = one contest entry), all ownership rights of all images remain with you the photographer.

The only thing we will use them (the images) for is to show as occasional "samples" of images we receive as contest entries and to announce the winner.

Lastly, the contest is open to everyone world wide, if the winner should be outside the contagious 48 United States, they (the winner) will be responsible (only) for the cost of shipping.

Good luck everyone.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Today is the (big) day...


Today, for the 19th consecutive year, 200,000 wreaths are leaving Maine to adorn the headstones of American veterans.

24,000 wreaths are heading to Arlington National Cemetery with some 20 stops and rallies between Maine and Virginia (check here for a complete schedule that start today and end on December 11th), the rest of the wreaths will go to all 50 states and overseas as well.


This most wonderful tribute was started by Morrill Worcester, the founder of Worcester Wreath Company, when he and his workers wanted to do something to honor the fallen.

You can learn more about the The Arlington Wreath Project on Facebook, and if you would like to see more images be sure to check out Patrick Hughes site "Christmas at Arlington".

If you are interested in sponsoring a wreath you can get more information here.



Saturday, December 4, 2010

A pleasant surprise... and a little hope...


Last night I had to make a stop on the way home and as is customary this time of the year at the front door of the store was the red kettle and the sound of a ringing bell.

As I walked towards the door I dug for a dollar bill and went to put it in and at first thought I had missed the kettle opening and then realized I hadn't missed at all, the problem was that the kettle was so full that there was very little room left for my humble dollar.

I walked through the store with a silly grin on my face and a warm feeling, not because I gave a silly dollar, but that in this economy with soooo many people struggling just to keep their heads above water, folks are digging deep to help others.

Sure, it's not a scientific evaluation on the state of charitable donations, but for me it's better than that.... it's hope.

Hope that we can convince those who think they are alone, that they are not.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Unbeatable customer service...


This is another one of those unintended posts, but the results from a recent customer service interaction was so outstanding that I just had to share it with you.

We use ProSelect portrait studio software for "in house" presentation of client images (though the software is much more than just that) and you can read my review that was done back in January.

There are a lot of reasons to use studio presentation software in general (sales, sales, sales) and ProSelect specifically (it's the absolute best at what it does), buts that's not why we are here today.

I often us the quote "long after people forget what you did for them, they will remember how you made them feel". If you eat at the best restaurant in town but the service stinks, or have a product you love but can't get support, you won't remember how good the food was or how great the product is, what will linger is the bad taste in your mouth and you will likely share it with others.

So finally, here comes that point of this post, the phenomenal support I just got from ProSelect.

I bought a new laptop and needed to move ProSelect software from the old to the new machine and opened a support ticket asking how best to do it. I kid you not, within 45 minutes received a response with the information I needed along with related links to their knowledge base.

Now one of the things unique about their support system is the client closes the ticket when they are satisfied that the issue resolved.

Well, 48 hours after receiving their initial response I receive another email saying they noticed that my ticket was not yet closed and wanted to make sure I had all the information I needed and asked if I needed any further assistance.

Does it get any better that that? I don't think so.

Before anyone thinks "of course you get good service, you write this blog"... I promise you, there is no way that a person looking at my account info would know I write Weekly Photo Tips. The service I received is the exact same service all of the other ProSelect customers receive.

You will love what their software does for your clients and you'll love what their service does for you.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Simple, elegant, DIY studio under $4...

I was doing my typical web surfing one day and came across the blog of Sandra Marek "My 365 Days of Reality".

I really liked her images and the thought that was behind them but what I liked even more was they way she talked about family (and other things that are truly important like friends and life in general).

So I took the time to dig deeper into her blog and found a post she did about Isabella's birthday and shooting a bracelet using a hardware store light that cost her under $4, some white cardboard, and a reflector.

Below are two shots from that post but be sure to check out the entire $4 DIY studio post as she shoots the bracelet several different ways, when you are done you will want to look around "My 365 Days of Reality" and Sandra's website as well.




Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Stuff you just can't make up...

Let me start out making it perfectly clear that this is NOT an attempt at dark humor... it's a weird, freaky, extremely unfortunate event.

This happened in Italy where at a wedding, while the bride and groom were posing with a gun, the wedding photographer (45 year old Calogero Scimeca) was accidently shot dead (full story here).

It's a story a read a few days ago (and had no intention of blogging about) but it just has lingered with me, a little because here's this man kissing his wife and kids goodbye to head off to photograph a wedding (where's the danger in that) but never comes home.

And maybe because I have photographed a few weddings myself that have involved military and law enforcement and these weddings also involved posing with firearms... just makes you think, maybe that's not such a good idea.