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What’s Your Photography Goal: Affordable, Original, or Best?

In my opinion all photographers can be identified into these three categories. We all start at the affordable and then find our way to Original, and for a small few become the best in our industry. There are advantages and disadvantages to all so let’s break it down:

One of my favorite living photographers Joe McNally


3 Other “important” Settings On Your Camera

Most photographers that are worth their salt are familiar with the three primary setting controls; aperture, ISO, and shutter. But, there are other settings that will dramatically help in shooting events and keep you as agile as possible.

Shot using burst mode, Spot Metering, and 1st Curtain


Where Do I Find Inspiration

Every once in a while my creative tank gets low on nitro, and I have to refill it. For me inspiration is being in a state of mind where nothing is impossible. It always comes in the form a trigger. It’s like the domino effect, one idea influences something and so on. Here are some ways I find that first domino.

Rembrandt, Monet, and Michelangelo


The Camera Looks Both Ways

First of all I’m so sorry for being behind on my blog posts. I’ve spent the last month in the Philippines. I’ve had little to no Internet service, and a tight and busy schedule while I was over there.

Edzen at the Bellevue Hotel, Manila

Part 2: Top 9 things you should leave out of your Craigslist ad.

Now that you understand what’s going through the minds of people who are looking for photographers on CL, and what your ad must present, lets look into the things you should leave out of your compelling Craigslist ad.

 1. Boasting – When you boast about how good you, and your services are is that really what kind of photographer your client wants to hire? Lets look at a few.

  • “ Great photos from a top rated photographer for all dates in 2012” I thought “great photos” is up to the client to decide. If your “top rated” why is your calendar wide open for 2012? If I’m questioning your statements then you better believe a potential client will be questioning your statements too.

  • “Top Rated Photographer” According to who?  I didn’t know we had a rating system.

  • “The best wedding photographer around” – You’re just setting yourself up for failure with this one.  It should be re-written, “Hire the most arrogant photographer around” because that’s what you’re asking them to be around for their wedding day.

  • “Best of Craigslist” I’ve looked all over CL and I’ve never found a way to vote on who’s the best on anything.

2. Clichés –  Of course you’re “passionate.” Of course you’re “artistic.” Of course you’re “creative.” I wish I had a dollar for every time I saw these words. Sorry for the cliché phrase, but you understand what I mean. Be more creative to express your uniqueness, and personality. 

3. “Award Winning” – In a nutshell, NOBODY CARES. It’s merely a powerless marketing phrase.  As Scott Bourne said, “If you gotta rely on awards, keep your day job.”

4. I’m Cheap – Stay away from words like: low budget, affordable, inexpensive, etc. You’re just asking the potential client to look at one thing and one thing lonely, price.  Is being the cheapest the reason why you got into this business? I hope the reason you got into photography is because you believe you have the talent, skill and professionalism to handle the job not because you’re cheaper than everyone else. Price yourself with the value you provide, not what you think people can afford.

5. A novel – If you can’t entice a potential client within the first screen shot then your saying too much. Remember your goal with your CL ad is to be captivating enough for a client to contact you via email or phone call or want more info via website.

6. Hide Email – That’s the auto email link at the top of your ad. Spam spiders contact you this way. If you opt “hide” email then you won’t get spam.  We’ll talk about email contact on Part 3.

7. Showing your price – This is a tricky one. I understand one of the main reasons to include a price is to qualify people, but again is price the only factor to hire you?

 8. You do everything – There’s an old saying, “jack of all trades, master of none” We all know that we as photographers can photograph more than just weddings, sports, kids, etc., but clients don’t feel that way. They want to know they are hiring a “master of one.” Would you feel comfortable hiring a “general mechanic” to fix your Ferrari or a person who specializes in Ferrari’s?

9. Criticizing your competition – This is just wrong all around. I’ll spare you examples of this one. It should just be common sense.

Coming soon, Part 3: Top 6 things your Craigslist ad must have



Greatness, Talent , and Skill

I know everyone (including myself) struggle with these three words, some more than others. I believe if we keep listening to those that we believe have these traits, we can figure out how to achieve them for ourselves. Here is something I found on a poster of Mohammed Ali.

Everyone has Greatness, talent, and skill, take it from the Fresh Prince of some affluent city.

What Photography Takes From You

I thought long and hard about what the first blog post for PWB would be. Should it be a photography tip? Should it be an interview podcast? Should it be some inspiring words from a famous photographer or maybe a contest?

I decided to focus on a statement I heard a while back. I was watching one of my favorite photographers giving a three-day workshop online. It was the usual amazing words, and tips, and I was writing down every important statement (which is a lot). On the third day his wife came on the set to speak about his family life. He said (roughly), “Everyone talks about what photography gives them, but no one really talks about what it takes from you.” That statement hit me hard, and everything past those words was a blur. I had to reflect on my own life, and what photography has taken from me.

I knew coming in 12 years ago what photography was going to give me, an opportunity to create, a chance to see new places, romantic accolades from friends and strangers, but I never stopped to seriously consider what it was going to rob me of. One thing it took was time, time NOT spent with friends and family. Time from watching my children grow. Time NOT spent listing to my wife’s needs. Time NOT spent enjoying life around me. Time NOT spent on caring for my health.

Another thing it took was money. I knew this journey wasn’t going to be cheap, but I didn’t realize how much money it takes to be successful or attempting to be successful. I can’t tell you the countless times I’ve told myself, “do I really need this?” Do I really need this much car insurance? Do I really need this extra box of cereal? Do I really need this much gas in my tank? I sacrificed common sense to feed my stubborn obsession.

The most important thing photography took from me was my marriage. I had an amazing, giving, kind, and loving wife who needed me to be present. I wasn’t. I was too busy caring-on trying to find that elusive “perfect” light. I was too busy creating the next “favorite” image. I was too busy obsessed with the next best tool that would help me create better photographs. I know, it wasn’t the sole reason for our divorce, but my photography “distraction” was a big part of it.

So the next time you’re thinking of making photography a career think again. Think about your wife, kids, husband, dog, cat, friends, and how much time your taking away from THEM. Think about how much money you have saved in the bank now and how much money you’re going to have five years from now and imagine it all going to go to photography. Are you ready for that? I wasn’t.

I know what your asking, “is it worth it?” I know I don’t see me doing anything else in life. I know the excitement I feel after taking an image that I know I will share with the world. I know I get down on my knees and say “thank you thank you” every time someone trusts me enough to pay me to take photographs of them. I know how blessed I am to travel to other countries taking photographs. I know how my heart races when I’m around a team of talented people. I know a bad day shooting is always better than a good day doing almost anything else. I know how good I feel when I fight through my inner voice telling me, “Your not good enough.” So do I think it was worth it? I’ll let you know when I get over the pain of loosing my wife.

This post is dedicated to Stephanie, Zack Arias, & Meg Arias.