This year has brought about a lot of changes at Pictage, in the Community Team, and on this blog. We started out as the Pictage Blog, developed a new editorial direction, and are finishing the year as The Photo Life, an educational resource for professional photographers.

We’re proud of what has been built this year and are excited for what the new year brings. As we reflect on 2010, we’re thankful to the many blog contributors that have taken the time to make The Photo Life such a great resource for professional photographers. Before 2011 begins we thought it would be fitting to look back on some of the blog posts that represent The Photo Life and the fabulous contributors that have made it what it is today.

If you’re interested in becoming a contributor to The Photo Life blog, visit the “Submit” page.

The Community Team

Christa Meola- Top 10 Ways to Increase Boudoir Sales

1. Make it Meaningful
Keep in mind that you aren’t just taking pictures — you are
creating how your client wants to be remembered… and the more you nail that, the more she’ll love it, the more she’ll value it, and the more she’ll want to pay for it.  Customize each shoot so that it is unique and full of personal details and emotional elements that will be meaningful to her.

You can start during the first phone call by asking questions like “What do you love about yourself, your body?  What do you think is sexy? What are some of your favorite things that make you happy? What does your husband love about you?” etc. and use all of those personal details to create an emotionally meaningful story told through your pictures.

I could do a whole other Top Ten list on how to make a shoot personal and meaningful – this is obviously my favorite part of my job.

Jared Platt- Using Target Collections in Adobe Lightroom 3

Collecting images for various uses is made even easier with the addition of the Target Collection feature in Lightroom 3. This is just a quick tip on how to use this new feature. I use it to collect images for clients and vendors alike as well as for workshops and examples, etc. It is a fantastic feature, small as it may be, it really is a great addition to the Lightroom.

Jason Aten- #1 Way to Simplify Your Workflow- Shoot Less

1. Shoot Less. Seriously.  If you’re shooting 1,500, 2,000 or more images at a wedding, you’re shooting too much.  I know I just made enemies with half the photography community, but hear me out.  If you’re shooting too much, you’re spending too much time editing through images.  And your time is valuable.  Your time COSTS you.  Time you spend in your workflow is time you can’t spend doing things that help you build your business – like meeting with new clients, or shooting other events.

I know that digital SLR cameras made it easy to machine-gun it at weddings.  I also know that often, we are afraid that if we’re not constantly shooting, we might not “get the shot.” If you’re afraid you might miss something – slow down.  The camera can only see what you see.  What ever happened to composition, lighting, and shooting the RIGHT shots.  More does not equal better.

Spend your time shooting the right things, and move on.  You don’t need 20 exposures of every group formal.  You don’t need 50 shots of every detail.  Shoot them right, and move on.

Jessica Del Vecchio- Running a Photography Business and Having a Day Job

It is easy to become a workaholic and spend every waking hour when you are not at your day job working on your business.  This is the fast track to burn out.  I make sure to schedule trips to visit family and friends out-of-town and nights out with friends regularly.  I schedule these things in advance and have committed to not reschedule play time for work time.  It keeps my work/personal life in balance and I know from experience that play time is just as important as the hours I spend behind my camera or my computer.  When the balance gets out of whack, it is easy to become overwhelmed.

I also know my limits and stick to them, even though this can mean turning down business on occasion.  I know that I cannot shoot 2 weddings in one weekend and be ready for work on Monday morning.  I know that if I shoot 10 portrait sessions on the weekend, I cannot promise my clients they will have their proofs in 7 days.  Being realistic about what I can do and realizing I am not Superwoman was a hard lesson learned but one that has made a huge difference in my sanity (and the amount of sleep I get!).

Justin & Mary Marantz- Top Ten Tips for Getting Ready Wedding Pictures

1. Start slow. Don’t come right in with guns blazing and start firing off a bunch of shots right away. Usually the bride & bridesmaids don’t have their hair or makeup done yet, so they aren’t going to be a huge fan of having a camera in their face yet. Instead, Justin & I will usually come in first without our gear. I’ll hug the bride, meet and hug her mom (who is usually already a fan from the engagement shoot) and get introduced to the bridesmaids (whose names I will already start to try to memorize for the bridal party pictures later). Only then will we go get our gear, and even then we start with shooting the details (dress, shoes, jewelry, a grandmother’s something, bouquet, etc).

Justine Ungaro- Top Ten Tips for Posing

1. Don’t fight the couple’s personal style. We are inundated with all sorts of fashion-inspired wedding imagery these days. Many of them are stunningly beautiful. Many of them are so because it is a stunning couple in a stunning location. But we all have clients who don’t necessarily look like models. Our clients come in all sorts of various shapes and sizes and ages and they all deserve to look great in their wedding images. When shooting wedding-day portraits our job is to bring out our clients’ best features and minimize their flaws while hopefully conveying something about their love and their personality as a couple. So why would we do the exact same poses with every couple we photograph? A great wedding photographer needs to be flexible & creative, to read their clients’ personalities, and make judgments about their comfort level with their bodies in order to decide how to pose each couple in a way that is flattering to them. For example, I’m not going to pose a young, energetic couple the same way as I might a sophisticated couple in their 40′s. Your job is to convey who this couple is in a flattering way. Try to avoid making them look silly doing things that are embarrassing for them. Asking a couple to give you a few descriptive words about who they are or how they envision their wedding can be extremely helpful. (these 3 examples are couples in their 20′s, 30′s, & 40′s/60′s).

Mike Larson- Mastering Reception Lighting, Forever.

I’ve had this problem for years when it comes to an entire wedding collection I would post on my website.  Great getting ready, great portraits, beautiful ceremony, and the light is sweet, then we grab the stellar sunset shots and then the reception hits and I’m left with horrible lighting when the DJ turns the lights down low.  I was never really happy & satisfied with the quality of the light on the images with my on camera flash and therefore I just hated to use the images.  So my slideshows stopped with the first dance.  As the years went by I got on camera flash down, but off camera flash was always touch and go.  I could get some of the shots to turn out great, but when the action kept moving and people got in the way of the flash units, things just didn’t come out consistent enough.

Olympia Flaherty- How I Am Making the Transition from Shoot & Burn

When I came home I did my first ‘after action’ report, on a shoot that I had done the day before. I wrote the pros and cons, and what I would do again, what I would do differently, where I was lacking and needed to fix. I watched Youtube videos, I saved and went to seminars, and I trolled the internet looking at photographers identifying what I liked, whose work I identified with and why. I was constantly measuring and qualifying my work, so that when I raised my prices, it was truly in line with where I was ability wise and I never felt a bump. My work automatically attracted the next level of client.

If you’re going to be a photographer, you have to put checks and balances in place. You have to have a method of measuring yourself, against your competition, against your peers. You have to develop ways to assess yourself so you can progress. You have to identify how you’re going to pay for all this because as nice as I am to my UPS guy he won’t just bring me a Mac for the fun of it, or a D700 for that matter.

The Youngrens- The Youngren’s Wedding Photography Schedule

There’s nothing better than a stress-free wedding day when everything runs on time, people are ready to take pictures when you need them, and you have creative freedom to do your job well. Can I get a ‘fo-sho’ from my wedding peeps out there?

And you know what the best part is? There’s a lot that you can do as a photographer to make sure that these kinds of wedding days happen more often than not, which is a pretty sweet deal if you ask me. In fact, the photographer and the wedding coordinator have the most control over how a wedding day is run, which means two things:

1) You get to create the best photography schedule to help make you successful
2) You need to figure out the best photography schedule to help make the wedding successful

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