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Archive for February, 2012

On Shooting Neurochromes – Guest Post By Skip Cohen

I finally arrived in Vegas at 5:30am after an 18 hour bus ride, and no sleep (I thought it was going to be nice adventure at the time…STUPID). After I grabbed a bite to eat I arrived at the Going Pro workshop two hours early. There was no one there, but a guy setting up his projector. To my amazement it was one of the speakers (the other is Scott Bourne) I traveled so far to see, and a man I’ve admired since the beginning of my photography journey. It was Skip Cohen. If you don’t know Skip he’s a writer, and was the former president of Hasselblad, Rangefinder Magazine, and WPPI. After telling him my nightmare travel story he was kind enough to give me his only book Going Pro and signed it! That was worth the travel pains. He also was kind enough to be a guest blogger on PWB.

So often a scene unfolds in front of us and we’re caught without a camera. So, what do you do? You can’t just walk away. The only thing you can shoot is a neurochrome. Neurochromes are pure memories occupying every little corner of your brain. They’re permanent memory “chips” not affected by any manufacturer. They have unlimited capacity. They’re never on back-order and they’re always free. You’ve got unlimited inventory, but you have to stay alert or, just like a wedding photographer who’s not paying attention, you’ll miss the moment.

Image by Cantrell Portrait Design

I spent three days with my folks last week. They’re in their eighties and my mother has fairly advanced Alzheimer’s. The moments when the “sun peaks out from behind the clouds” so you can have a conversation, are happening less and less. My mom and dad have been married for almost 64 years and through that entire time, they’ve been each other’s very best friends.

The other night we watched a little TV and like so many previous trips I had fun “tucking them in”. As I shut off the light I noticed they were holding hands. It wasn’t just a couple holding hands, it was my dad saying, “Don’t worry I’m here!” as my mother replied, “I know. If you let go I’m lost!” There were no words spoken between them, they just held hands, smiling and said good night.

No camera, no film – I could only shoot a neurochrome. But the image of the two of them, like a Hollywood scene of a lifeboat on rocky seas, hanging on and supporting each other without a single word ever spoken, left an image for me to cherish. The image was so strong, that in spite of people who will tell me this is an inappropriate post for a photography blog, I wanted to share it with you anyway.

As photographers you’re trained to capture memories. Your entire business model is about seeing those moments your clients might miss. Everything you do with a camera in your hands is about being somebody else’s eyes. It’s an incredible responsibility because neurochromes, while some have been known to stay vivid forever, most eventually fade. However, as photographers your images don’t need to disappear as long as you never compromise on the quality and effort you put into capturing and producing them.

I’ve got this wonderful vision of dad and mom holding hands and the expressions on both their faces. It’s a neurochrome and only mine to view. Do I wish I had a photograph of them holding hands? Absolutely, but there isn’t a camera on the planet that could have captured what I witnessed!

Photo by Gregory Heisler

You can follow Skip Cohen at Skips Photo Network.

Part 1: Top 4 things to understand about people shopping on Craigslist

This will be a four-part blog on creating a strong, enticing, and effective ad on Craigslist. I’ll cover understanding the people who will look for your ad, what to leave out of your ad, what to add in your ad, and finally how to create a simple effective ad.

I have advertised on Craigslist since the beginning of my career (has it been 12 years already?), and over the years I’ve seen a lot of great ads, and a lot more bad ads. Let me start with a fact that Craigslist has a reputation for having inexpensive, and beginning photographers. That’s not a criticism on the photographers that advertise there, that’s the stereotype that the general public, and the press have created. That being said, that doesn’t mean all advertisers on CL are beginning or inexpensive. On the contrary, there are a lot of really good photographers there.
You just need to take that stereotype and use it to our advantage. A great example of taking advantage of your position is Avis. Hertz was the leader in car rentals with Avis a distant second. Instead of trying to fight for first place they admitted Hertz as number one, and Avis second, so they focused on being second only makes them working even harder for your business. Their slogan, “We Try Harder” is celebrating its 50 year anniversary.

Another way the CL Stereotype works to your advantage is if your work is of good quality then the “beginning” and “amateur” photographers will help make your work stand out. They actually serve a great purpose for you.

Many times people looking for a photographer (no matter their financial situation) start looking on CL. They just want to see what’s out there. Also, many people who look for photographers on CL, it will be their first time looking for a photographer. The key is crafting an ad that’s eye-catching, creative, thought provoking and positive. While sculpting a powerful Craigslist ad keep in mind these four things about potential clients looking for you.

1. Viewing at least 10 other vendors – Sadly, no matter how amazing your ad is people are shopping, that means they are comparing one vender to another. That’s why it’s critical that your ad follows the tips in part 2, 3, 4 of this blog. If your ad is better than 9 other vendors then you have a chance that a client will contact you. Of course the better the ad the better chance.

2. They are busy – This is understandable, the people that have the money to spend on you no matter how little it is either have a job, a life, a family to attend to, or all the above.

3. Don’t want to read a novel – I’ve seen so many ads that spill their guts on a photographer’s history, approach, pricing, and any other thing that they feel like adding. Really!? I’ve yet to find an ad that was amazing enough to read a full page of their services, history, approach, etc. Frankly, people don’t care enough to invest that much time on any ad.

4. Looking for the best value for their money – That’s why they go to Craigslist to see what they can get for the least amount of money, and to use it as a measuring stick if-and-when they look beyond CL. It makes sense for people with a budget to start at the “bottom” and see if they can find something that suites their needs at the economical level.

Ashton Boni

Interview: Benjamin Edwards

I got to finally have a conversation with a photographer that within the past year has inspired me, and change my photography direction for the better. He has done so much by giving back with his camera. He is the founder of Emote360 and runs a successful wedding, portrait, and commercial  business out of Bend, Oregon named Benjamin Edwards Photography. I hope you enjoy my talk with Benjamin Edwards.

Podcast Interview with Benjamin Edwards

Benjamin and the team on location in Africa

A small sample of world images from Benjamin

A small sample of Benjamin’s wedding work

Goal Setting: 5 Easy Steps

Happy New Year! This is the time of year when we all think about what we accomplished last year and what we want to accomplish this year. It is an important part of successful business planning. I was asked recently what my goals are for 2012. A mental list popped up in my head and I rattled off a few things…what I would focus on, income goals, technical skills to perfect, family time. That was a good start, but now what? How do I get these ideas in motion?

Having a sales background, January has always been the month my manager e-mails out the “goal sheet” for all of us to fill out. With photography, you are your own manager. No one will ask you to fill out your goals for the year. You have to create your own list. Here are some steps to creating the list and achieving results.

1. Write them down – A no brainer, right? The biggest mistake people make is not writing them down. The reason is that once we write them down, we are now accountable for them. Now we have to work at it. My most successful years have been when I have written my goals down in the month of January. One trick I learned was to write them on good old-fashioned paper. This way I can post them in front of me at my computer, I can put them in my bag, and I don’t have to open a program to look at them.

2. Make the goals attainable – Baby steps….don’t try to put too much on your plate. If your goals are small they will be attainable and you will check them off your list! Attaining your goals creates a momentum, it boosts your self-confidence, and your work will show for it.

3. Set Daily Goals –Procrastination will railroad your productivity. The internet can be your best friend, and your biggest distraction. You can lose yourself on the internet, with a click of a mouse. With photography we are often on our computers when we’re not out on a shoot doing research, editing and marketing, but the trick is to stay focused on the tasks you are working through. By setting small daily goals, it makes it much easier to stay on task and finish the work you need to do.

4. Be flexible - Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your goals throughout the year. Sometimes life may start taking you in a new direction. You may get thrown a curveball and you might have to switch gears. A new opportunity might present itself and you may find yourself writing a completely new list. You might also find that you are crossing goals off your list quicker than you thought. If this happens, you will have to evaluate where you are in your career path and add or change your list.

5. Don’t forget to have personal goals as well – If you are healthy and happy, everything else will fall into place. Having health, family, and spiritual goals are all part of the big picture of being a success. Well-rounded goals that cover all aspects of life are the key to being the best you can.

Get out a piece of paper and start writing! Regardless of what direction your goals take you, it’s having them that will make the difference between being good and being great

Jessica Ford