I'm not sure I've ever shared a post as loaded with content as this one today. And, while I know blog posts are supposed to be short, and singular in topic, it's tough to do when there's a lot of good stuff to talk about.
Giving Back Campaign With NILMDTS
If you've followed me over the years then you already know I'm a big fan of finding ways we can use photography to give back. For me, in terms of the industry, it started with selling Ansel Adams Cadillac to raise money for Photographer + Friends United Against AIDS in the early 90's and later Ansel's camera gear to shock jock Don Imus for $100,000 with the proceeds going to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Center for Creative Photography.
Over the years there's been a growing list of non-profits we've talked about here at SCU, including my involvement with the Senior Friendship Centers in Sarasota who are responsible for providing health care to thousands in the community along with over 250,000 meals each year to the elderly...and the list goes on and on.
And, here's where the fun of a blog like this comes into play.
Teaming Up With Westcott
SCU is a Westcott Affiliate. That means for every piece of gear you buy through the SCU/Westcott portal; we would normally get a 10% affiliate credit (commission). Effective immediately and at the very least through the rest of 2019, ALL of that commission is going to NILMDTS. Looking for great lighting gear? Here's an excellent and easy way for all of us to help the NILMDTS community and at the same time, raise the bar on the quality of your images!
More inspiration is just a click away
Great Expressions? Yeah, we've got that!
I can't think of a better way to launch our new giving back campaign than with Peter Hurley's latest video and a great list of gear he's helped design working together with Team Westcott!
I do hundreds of website reviews each year, and when it comes to looking at galleries, there's an immediate quality in the images that tell a lot about each artist - the expressions on their subjects. Natural expressions are a sign of exceptional quality in an artist - the ability to build trust. And, when you're doing a headshot, your time to build trust is often so limited.
In the words of Carly Simon's old hit, when it comes to Peter Hurley, "Nobody does it better!" The video below is jam-packed with great content and includes Peter's set up for this particular sitting. He shares a lot of great insight. But think about it, his advice is perfect for all kinds of people photography, including weddings! So, don't think just because you're a wedding photographer, for example, you won't learn a few new tricks to bring out the very best expressions with your bridals and "groomals."
And, when you purchase any of Peter's gear through the SCU portals, 10% of everything you buy goes back to helping NILMDTS!
How to Get the Best Facial Expressions for Portraits with Peter Hurley - YouTube
All of you are looking for ways to make your work stand out from the competition. It takes more than just great marketing - you've got to be able to walk the talk. There's no better way than making sure every image in your galleries is a "wow" print - in other words, they're so good you'd only have to show one to get hired.
Images copyright Peter Hurley. All rights reserved.
I love the way Peter brings out the best in his subject, Kerstin. He shares a whole series of images of her in the video, but listen to his comments, especially when he finds out her father is in the studio. And, all along the way, he's giving us great tips on how to make it all happen.
But maybe most important of all, Peter and his clients are have fun in the process. Remember, "fun?" It's a word so often lost in business today and buried underneath the day in day out stress of decision making. However, being fun to work with and capturing images that exceed client expectations are two of the very best building blocks for your reputation and brand awareness.
Check out Peter's primary gear from this video with a click on any of the products below. And, if you make a purchase through the SCU portals below 10% goes to NILMDTS.
Peter Hurley is one of the finest and most recognized educators in professional photography. Check out why by attending the newest boutique conference in photography, ClickCon. It's all happening in August in Chicago - use "ccskip" in the discount box and save $50.
It's Mirrorless Monday with a special guest post by one of my favorite people, the "mad scientist of imaging," Don Komarechka. Some of the most incredible images ever shared in the SCU blog have been thanks to Don, and over the years, even though we've still never managed to meet in person, our friendship has grown.
Today's guest post is unique and remarkable because Don captured the image below with the new LUMIX S1R and without a macro lens. Thanks to his love for sharing and education, he takes us through each step of the process.
The tagline for Panasonic's LUMIX family of cameras, "Changing Photography," has never been more accurate! Check out more of Don's work with a click on either image to link to his website, blog, and newest projects. And for more LUMIX images, meet the Ambassadors. They're a fantastic group of artists with an unmatched love for imaging, education, creativity, and mirrorless photography!
NEW! LUMIX S1R Kit, Digital Mirrorless Camera with 47.3MP MOS Full Frame, 24-105mm F4 L-Mount Lens Click on any thumbnail for more info
by Don Komarechka
Our gardens are filled with Forget-Me-Nots, such a delicate and tiny string of flowers, so small that they would make a great companion to a water droplet. Walking around the flowers between rainstorms gave me the idea!
This image is shot with a novel approach: using the high-resolution pixel shift mode on the Lumix S1R to create a 187MP image, and then cropping in on the central area of interest. This has a few benefits, one of them being that a macro lens is not required. This was shot with the Lumix S 24-105mm F/4 lens! No extra attachments, no extension tubes, just a high quality crop in from a very high resolution image.
Another benefit is that shooting from farther away from your subject will yield a greater depth of field. Focus stacking an image such as this would normally take me around a dozen images, but only five were required here. The end result is an image around the 30 megapixel mark, so the crop is significant but even still I have more than enough detail to make large prints of this.
The high resolution mode of the S1R takes multiple images, each with slight shifts to the sensor to create a final image with four times the resolution than the camera would normally have. This could be useful for a number of things like landscape photography, artwork reproduction or product photography, but macro photographers can benefit as well. Since the depth of field in your image becomes shallower as you get closer to your subject, intentionally being farther away with all other things being equal will increase the amount of depth you have over your subject. Sure, I’m throwing away a lot of pixels in the process, but it’s a valuable technique!
The droplet was placed very carefully with a small gauge hypodermic needle, and it held on just long enough to take these images. The flower inside the refraction might appear to have a line running through it – this is actually the surface of the water with the flower half-way submerged, and you’re seeing the top of the flower reflected to mimic the full flower. The position of the forget-me-not flowers gives the droplet space, and the bottom blue flower is deliberately touching the surface of the water so that the surface tension creates a different angle to reflect more of the magenta petals of the gerbera daisy placed in behind.
The entire scene is lit with a bright LED flashlight positioned over my right shoulder, continuous light being required for the high resolution mode. This is also one of the rare times you’ll find me using a tripod for this type of photography, because it is easier to find the right angle than hand-holding the camera. Different techniques require different equipment, and this high-resolution mode is a real winner! Skip's Note: All the secrets of water droplet refraction photography as well as most other aspects of macro imaging will be covered in Don's upcoming book Macro Photography: The Universe at Our Feet, currently being funded on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/donkom/macro-photography/ - if you’d like to support the project and help the book be an even better final product, you’ll also get a copy of the book in time for Christmas at a price much less than retail
I started writing Sunday Morning Reflections as a way to help me keep my sanity by taking a break from the business and marketing of photography. Thanks to your feedback and encouragement, I think I've only missed 1-2 Sunday's since I kicked off the series so many years ago. And while my life has changed over the years, the passion for writing on a quiet Sunday morning just keeps getting better. I guess today's post could be as appropriate for a Throwback Thursday as it is wishing all you Dads out there a Happy Father's Day today.
The back story is short and sweet - for my fiftieth birthday, my folks took us for a long weekend to a great little hotel/inn on the Chesapeake Bay. We had a really nice dinner one night at the Inn. Although these days, putting a suit on to go out to dinner is so rare. And, check out the width of those ties!
However, sitting out on the patio behind the hotel, in a suit after a great dinner, and having a cigar with my Dad was a perfect memory-maker. Dad and I talked about our lives, careers, business, and it made the evening perfect.
Well, it's Father's Day and while my Dad isn't around that doesn't change the profound impact he had and continues to have on my life or the love I feel for him every day. And, thanks to this industry all of us are a part of, I've got plenty of photographs to spark the memories and send me on a trip down Memory Lane whenever I want.
So Dads - I wish you a day filled with peace, lots of smiles, and the presence of people around you who you love the most. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I always write about, and in the process, think about how much meaning your kids have given your life. Happy Father's Day!
Welcome back to Fast Food Friday. These posts are all about things you should be doing to build a stronger business. They're intentionally meant to be short and relatively easy to implement because so many of you are right-brain off-the-charts creative types. You'd much rather be creating than running your business, paying attention to the numbers, or planning the year ahead!
Today's topic has been hit before, but with ClickCon being a brand new show, I thought it would be good to highlight some of the key aspects to this unique event and get you thinking about how to get the very most out of the trip as well as any other conferences you attend. Attending any conference, convention, or workshop is an investment. Just like investing in new business ventures, you need to do your homework and know what you're spending money on. Unfortunately, too many of you head off to a conference without spending any time thinking about why you're going in the first place.
For me, it's about networking and collecting ideas on how to be better at your craft - both technically and in business and marketing. In regards to ClickCon, you want to be headed home after the event with new ideas, both long term and short that you can implement right away. And with this new show's venue, it's virtually guaranteed to give you ideas so you can thrive, not just survive in 2019.
Maximizing Your Time, Value and Experience at ClickCon
What gets me excited most about this new show is just that - it's a NEW show. And, it's in Chicago which is outrageously easy to get in and out of, whether you're in the air or on the road.
Because it's new - there's something special about being one of the attendees at the "first" of anything, and especially in this industry where building relationships is so meaningful. Plus, because there's a lot of hands-on shooting, Chicago will provide a pretty fantastic backdrop to help you further build your portfolio.
Timing: August is an ideal time. Whether you realize it or not, you'll need to recharge your battery before the fall. This is why I always scheduled Skip's Summer School at the same time of year.
Get to know the speakers BEFORE you get there. The ClickCon website is loaded with great information about each speaker and descriptions of their classes. Plus, if there's somebody, you don't know, but you like the description of their class wander over to YouTube. Use the search box to find out more, and I'm betting you'll find just about every instructor. Also, visit their websites and get to know their work.
New companies and products: Thanks to ProCam, the main sponsoring retailer, the show has one of the most extensive lists of sponsors in any of the smaller boutique conferences. Most of these companies will have a presence in the trade show, and if not exhibiting their partnership involves speaker support.
Set up time in advance to meet with people or companies you especially want to talk with. And, you should be making it a point to meet somebody from every vendor whose product or service you use if they're on the list above.
Plan your meals, and never eat alone! Conferences like this are perfect for networking and building relationships. Put the social in social media and find out who's headed to Chicago from the various Facebook forums in which you participate. Nothing beats meeting somebody face to face who you've been talking with in cyberspace, but never formally met.
Talk to the icons! Every instructor at ClickCon is there because they value teaching and education. And with this show, you're meeting some of the very best in the industry. So many of you get intimidated and find it hard to talk to the instructors. Remember, we're all here because we believe in education and networking, and want to help you.
SAVE MONEY: If you're headed to ClickCon use "ccskip" for your discount code and save $50...register through my speaker portal with a click on the thumbnail to the right, and I'm giving back my speaker commission of 10% with half going directly to the attendee and the other half to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. That puts your net cost for admission to the two-day event at $113, and if you're attending both the two days and the MAX day, your price is down to $284. Plus, you'll be helping to raise money for NILMDTS in the process.
Shoes, business cards, and a handout: Wear comfortable shoes. You're going to on your feet a lot. Bring cards, even though it might seem like an outdated request. And, I love photographers who do a small printed handout of their work and bring it along, instead of a big portfolio or trying to get somebody's time to view their work on a phone or iPad. Create a leave-behind piece for the key people you'll meet.
Are you adequately insured: You know the expression, "shit happens." Well, nothing could be more accurate at a trade show or conference. If you're relatively new as a professional photographer, your home insurance does NOT cover lost or stolen gear being used commercially. Just trust me and make a phone call to your insurance agent, and make sure you're covered.
"Growth only happens outside your comfort zone!" As you look over the programming, think about where you need the most help. And, an ideal approach is to always pick a couple of programs entirely outside your comfort zone. You'll learn so much you can add to your skill set.
There's very little in this industry better than a convention to help you recharge your battery, but to maximize the value of your time away from the business you've got to plan a little in advance.
It's a Throwback Thursday post back to sometime in 2003, and it brings up the perfect reason to take a walk down Memory Lane and look at old photographs.
Unfortunately, my relationship with my kids disappeared over the years. The things we all did wrong are irrelevant. What's important here is how old photographs allow us to time travel to when life was different. This image takes me back to a time when there was no such thing as too much time with my grandchildren.
Here's the backstory. The image is me holding my grandson Zachary at around age 2 or so. It's captured with whatever was the low-end point-and-shoot Fujifilm digital camera at the time and was window light and a lamp behind him. Whatever quality the image has was purely accidental.
Zack was the first grandson on both sides of the family, making him the focus of thousands of photographs and videos. Plus, because he was born at the front end of the digital revolution, I have hundreds of files of him in those early years.
And speaking of old files...
As I was searching for an image to share for Throwback Thursday, I ran across this chuckle my son mocked up in 2006. Sports have always been a big part of life with each of my grandsons, and mocking up a headline on Zack's soccer game at age 6 was a classic.
Whether you share images on your blog as a marketing tool to remind "Mom" how quickly her family is growing up, or you just wander through old photographs for your own memories - take the time!
I was actually looking through an old backup drive when I hit the mother lode - pictures of the kids, Molly as a puppy and photographs of me and my Dad. I quit looking when the tears started to flow, which brought me back to one of my favorite quotes.
Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. Dr. Seuss
It's "Wednesday's with Westcott," and with ClickCon coming up in less than two months I thought it would be fun to share four classic short how-to videos** from Westcott's Top Pros who are also teaching at the Chicago event. Each video is thanks to Westcott and one of the photographers above. Each one is short, but packed with great content.
These are just four of the ClickCon speakers who have videos on Westcott's YouTube channel. You can add Lindsay Adler, Clay Blackmore, and Will Cadena, Westcott's Top Pros who are also teaching at ClickCon.
There are over fifty of the most recognized educators in photography today, and they're all going to be at ClickCon, and supported by many of the finest companies in photography who believe in education. Westcott never slows down in helping photographers raise the bar on their skill set and the quality of the images they deliver to their clients. And, Westcott will be exhibiting at ClickCon, giving you a chance to meet more of their team and check out great lighting gear!
Use "ccskip" to save $50 on registration and register through my affiliate portal. Plus, I'm sharing my registration commission with each of you together with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. The affiliate commission is 10% of whatever you pay for registration - so half will go to you in cash right at the conference and the other half to NILMDTS. Just click on the banner to the right for more information.
Meanwhile, enjoy the four videos I pulled from Westcott's extensive YouTube library. And, if you're looking for a little inspiration...check out WestcottU with a click on the banner below.
Easy Lighting Setups for Boudoir Photography - YouTube
Lighting isn't complicated when you understand the process - with Jen Rozenbaum
Meet the HurleyPro H2Pro Bag - YouTube
Peter Hurley's new H2Pro bags
Creating Unique Camera Angles with Jerry Ghionis (Ice Light Master Series) - YouTube
Part 4 of Jerry Ghionis' Ice Light Master Series
How to Create Cross Lighting for Portraits with Joel Grimes - YouTube
Creating Cross Lighting with Joel Grimes
** Now if only I can figure out why Weebly and YouTube cut a 1/4 inch piece of the video off when posting! LOL
This is our sixth episode of Tamron Recipes, and it's been a pretty incredible journey. I've written before how Chamira Young and I thought it would be a fun idea to try, but in all honesty, we completely underestimated the insight each "chef" would share. We also never thought about the diversity of the subject matter - from landscape to macro to babies, birds and critters and storytelling with just one photograph, and always with Tamron lenses.
Each "chef" has opened their heart and shared a wealth of knowledge, taking the recipe for a single image and expanding it to include their recipe for success in business, well beyond their photographs. With every post, we always share this quote about the recipe for success. We all know the expression, and there are four primary ingredients:
What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of a team. B.F. Fairless
Missed any of the previous Tamron Recipes? They're just a click away!
We're in the Tamron Kitchen today with Marcie Reif. These posts and podcasts always start with a phone call or two. In my first conversation with Marcie, it was obvious she's entirely focused on her love for portraiture. She builds relationships with her clients, never doing anything just halfway. She loves her career choice. Like a world-class chef, she's always looking to be creative and is always looking for the precise moment to capture the personalities of her subjects, and she's part of an incredible team, the Tamron family.
About the Image and the 35-150mm F/2.8-4 Di VC OSD lens: This new Tamron lens has become one of Marcie's favorites.
The 35-150mm lens "is based on the new concept of allowing you to concentrate on a wide range of portrait compositions without the interruption of pausing to change lenses. The fast F-stop offers F/2.8 at the wide end while maintaining a bright F/4 at the telephoto end."
To the core I love photographing the joy of kids and families. Creating a strong and authentic portrait of their pure joy has definitely become my style and what people come to expect from me. This lens gives me a lot of room to play with that. Sometimes I need to be close to them to tickle them or sing. Sometimes I need to be farther away and it's their parents that can bring out that joy in them. Either way I can be close or far away with this lens. M. Reif
Click on the banner below to find out more about this outstanding lens.
About "Chef" Marcie: Based out of Atlanta, one trip to Marcie's website and she sets the stage for her expertise as a family photographer. From her opening statement about being a "wife, mother and artist," to her description of her style of photography, there's no question of her goal to meet each client's mindset.
My goal is to deliver you a unique set of images that are artistic, natural, and warm by mixing childhood images with connections to love. My style and heart lead to very natural photographs. I always try to deliver my clients images of their family “being” a family. This may mean singing, dancing, playing together, or maybe just some ginormous hugs! I LOVE to capture kids being themselves because best moments come when you set them up, sit back, and wait. M. Reif
Stay tuned for Part II of Marcie's recipe coming next Tuesday with her podcast. She'll be sharing a lot of great insight into how she's built her business and reputation. She's a passionate artist with outstanding listening skills allowing her to better define each client's goals and relationships with a solid foundation of trust.
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III Lens: 35-150mm F/2.8-4 Di VC OSD Lighting: Natural Light Location: Bow Ditch Beach, Fort Myers Beach, FL
The Recipe Specs: F4.0 @ 1/500 ISO 500 Focal Length: 150mm
What a kick this new series is to build and share each month. Join us next Tamron Tuesday when we share Marcie's podcast together with more of her images. Things never slow down in the Tamron Kitchen!
It's Marketing Monday, and this is a topic I've written so much about over the years, but there are still many of you who just don't get it!
In the last few weeks, I've read a lot of "About" pages on photography websites and 90% of you are taking the wrong approach. This is a short post this morning, but hopefully, well worth your time.
Stop talking about your gear! Most clients don't care what you shoot with.
Stop talking about your awards! Unless you won a Pulitzer, talking about print competition awards especially will have little or no impact. Most consumers don't know what PPA, WPPI, and a long list of other associations are!
Nobody cares how you got started! I know it seems harsh, but the average consumer doesn't care who gave you your first camera.
Remember, women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire most of you. That means "Mom" and brides are the ones looking at your work. When you write about your background for your "About" page, remember your target audience. Here's what they want to hear:
Talk about why you love being a photographer.
Share your passion for people and capturing memories.
Be sappy - this is an opportunity to show your love for the craft.
Write about your dedication to exceeding client expectations and building relationships.
The biggest question new clients have is whether or not you can be trusted to capture the kind of images they want. Will you be able to meet their mindset?
Last but not least - write it all in the first person and include a signature. (With security issues these days, a facsimile of your signature is fine.) Write your "About" section as more of an artist's statement and stay relevant to what your target audience is looking for.
Every visit to your website is a potential opportunity to start a new relationship or expand an old one. Exceed consumer expectations right out of the block with great images in your galleries, followed by a strong "About" section!
Image copyright Shiv Verma. All rights reserved. Click on image to view in the SCU Lightbox
It's Mirrorless Monday and the perfect day to share an image captured by my good buddy Shiv Verma. Shiv's a LUMIX Ambassador and always sharing images that leave so many of us wanting more.
He was in the Palouse, and I grabbed this explanation from Wikipedia:
"Traditionally, the Palouse region was defined as the fertile hills and prairies north of the Snake River, which separated it from Walla Walla County, and north of the Clearwater River, which separated it from the Camas Prairie, extending north along the Washington and Idaho border, south of Spokane, centered on the Palouse River. This region underwent a settlement and wheat-growing boom during the 1880s, part of a larger process of growing wheat in southeast Washington, originally pioneered in Walla Walla County south of the Snake River."
The image was captured in Washington state, south of Spokane. Shiv wrote:
The fields of the Palouse photographed along the road about midway to the top of Steptoe Butte. It started with cloudy skies, but then the sun peeked through providing lovely light.
Captured with the Full-frame LUMIX S1R and the LUMIX S Pro 70-200 mm f/4 lens at 200mm. Exposure triad: f/11, 1/40 sec, ISO 200. Click on either thumbnail below for more information.
It's only a typical Sunday morning in that I had no idea what I wanted to write about. I started scrolling through my Facebook home page. About ten minutes into checking out what people had shared I struck gold finding Jeff Schewe's post about the Epson produced video below featuring Paul, and John Paul Caponigro called "Two Generations."
However, for me, the power of the video wasn't just about their passion as artists, but the bond and respect between father and son. The title "Two Generations" is so appropriate - not only as father and son but as silver-based and digital technologies. They've both made it a goal to never compromise on the quality of their images, their relationship, or their love for the craft.
Just trust me and take the time to watch and listen to the video!
The Caponigros - Two Generations - YouTube
I suppose the video and their relationship is hitting me a little harder this time of year because Father's Day is next weekend, and I find myself thinking about my Dad.
My Dad was a businessman. As a kid, he had a wholesale candy and tobacco business. His company sold everything from ribbon candy for fundraisers to schools and non-profits to the candy counter at local stores and vending machines in northeast Ohio. He had a warehouse full of candy, which I had access to and is probably the reason I never got into candy that much, because I had all I ever wanted. I've always regretted that Dad and I didn't share the same focus on a career path, like Paul and JP. He left the candy and tobacco business when I was in my teens, and went into commercial and industrial real estate until he semi-retired in his early 70's. Seeing JP, together with his Dad in the video, sparked memories for so many moments, my Dad and I enjoyed.
While we didn't share the same career field we shared the same passion for life. Even in our focus together on my Mom's Alzheimer's, we found time to create a few memories and even a photo-op or two. A few years back the Senior Friendship Centers used a photograph my good buddy Bob Coates helped us with. They ran us in a full-page ad in the local paper and magazines. And, that brings me full circle to my point this morning:
The video Paul and JP did together, with Epson's help, is a gift to all of us. But, there's a much bigger point than being about photography and printing. It's about an incredible bond between father and son. It brought so many great memories of my own to the surface - like the richness of heavy cream rising to the top.
My Dad passed away almost four years ago at 93, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him. But thanks to photography and printing, I've got so many memories I can hold in my hands. We can't stop time or turn back the clock, but each photograph and video gives us the ability to time travel, and that's the magic of this industry.
Wishing everybody an incredible day ahead and time to appreciate your parents, whether they're still by your side or not. Take the time to look in your rearview mirror and cherish those moments that helped make you who you are. Sadly, I have no relationship with my own kids today, but that doesn't change the smiles and memories of the past before life got unnecessarily complicated.
As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs, especially with your folks. We can't stop time, and they won't be around forever - don't miss the opportunity that's there for you right now. Happy Sunday, everybody!