Why Images Still Captivate Us

We ache for the genuine. To know there is the pulse of warm blood running through a body, full-throated and clear. To know that there are others out there, behind the veiled walls of data, pixels, and screens. To reconnect with a collective conscious that transcends the divisive chasm that is America today and find a yesterday that binds us.

In the here and now, there is no time for the still. Beats are measured in billionths, moments fray at the edges of distinction, and we speak in streams of 140. But the mythology lives.

God made a farmer.

We hear the words.

God made a farmer.

We hear it, and we respond.

That Dodge Ram commercial during this 47th Super Bowl was a sledgehammer, shattering time and space. There was the controversy, there was the commercialism. It was a deft, sly sell to be sure. But before …

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The Power of Passion

Never underestimate the power of passion. Passion moves us. It moves clients. It compels humankind as it incites connection, loyalty, and belief. Now more than ever, we want to know there are living, breathing people behind the things we buy.

But if it’s passion that powers movement and connection, then the trick is making it visible. Too often, we bury it under the weight of marketing and excess. We hide it in favor of style and conformity. To bring passion to the world, it’s not enough that we feel it ourselves. It’s not enough that we show our excitement in post after post after post. It’s not even enough that we find our purpose and show our value. We must evidence the full force of our conviction.

Passion is a thing that others see only at the edges of differentiation. It collapses under the weight of sameness. It melts in the light …

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How Photographers Can Take Their Sites from Functional to Unforgettable

The problem with most websites isn’t that they don’t look good. It’s that they don’t work well. Sure, you can see the portfolio, you can find the information – that’s all there. But being professional and fulfilling the basic functions of a site are the worst standards imaginable. These things should be the bare minimum a site needs to work, not the measure of success. The real question is how photographers can take their sites from functional to unforgettable. The most important question is, “How well you are connecting with your potential clients.

When it comes down to it, if you’re going to run a business, you’ve gotta do the legwork. Period. It’s all about going beyond where others have gone. In a competitive marketplace, where everyone is gunning for the same, good enough isn’t going to be good enough. Mind you, that’s not to say you have to blow through …

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A Good Photography Business is About You: Take Care of Yourself

In life, there are only going to be so many days – so many pictures to snap, so many memories to make, so long a career to have. And most wedding photographers won’t go the distance. Some will last. Some will find greener pastures. But shooting weddings is a job that burns through people like the industry burns through styles. In with the new. Out with the old.

I’ve been told you’ll walk about 14 miles over the course of the day plus or minus a few. You’ll raise and lower your arms and clench your fingers a few thousand times. You’ll feel the drag of a camera and weight of that precious glass some 18,000 minutes a year. And your body will be sure to tell you so. This is a job that permeates every part of your day and even your night. Has anyone not had the dream? That …

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The Difference Between Good and Mediocre

The problem with good is it’s always a leap of faith. It exists in stratified territory, where the new intersects with the enduring, and it is, by its nature, the unknown. Worse yet, the greater the ‘good’ is, the more it departs from convention, so the less likely people are to believe in it. And there’s not even a guarantee it will make you a dime. Not all things good succeed. Not all things that succeed are good.

But if good is bad, then the opposite is worse. When we refuse to budge or fail to move in the face of the empty unknown of the future, we are staring down a lifetime of mediocrity. This is the true opposite of good, and it is the worst of all options. At least bad requires nothing. It’s the alternative of least effort. It requires no dreams, it asks for no action. You …

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5 Lessons Professional Photographers Can Learn From USPS

I hate the post office. I hate the hours, I hate the response time, I hate the entire thing. And if there’s one thing worse than the post office, there’s the post office in New York. It’s amazing how much of a difference one small letter can make.

“Your package is shipping by UPS.” OK. That’s fine. I can live with it. I’ve had the random incident here and there, but for the most part, they get the job done.

“Your package is shipping by USPS.” What a difference an “S” makes. I suppress the fear welling up in the pit of my stomach. I tell myself it will be alright. But the sweat beads and my skin grows cold. It’s a $1,000 order. That matters. Especially when it’s an order I’m looking forward to! I curse under my breath, and I brace myself.

This is what I expect to happen:

The item will …

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If Everyone is a Photographer, What Makes us so Different?

You can’t walk half a block down Times Square without spotting a dozen red stripes on L series glass. A 24-70 here, a 5D there, and the intrepid tourist toting a new D800. And let’s not forget the mirrorless cameras, the point and shoots, and, of course, the ubiquitous iPhones. And it’s not just Times Square. In any corner in any place, where anything is happening at all, you can be rest assured that life will be documented. Exhaustively.

The question in the modern age isn’t who is a photographer. It’s who isn’t a photographer? And what makes us different?

Here’s what’s NOT the answer: Professionals don’t get better bokeh, sharper shots, luminous light, cleaner composition, and exact exposures. If that’s the answer, we are lost! Not because those things aren’t true, but because those things are not the human values of photography. Those are not the traits that elevate and distinguish …

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The Truth about the “Rockstar Economy”

Photo by Spencer Lum

Here is a fundamental truth: Nothing is equal. No actions, no thoughts, no ideas. Certainly no two people.

I would be lying if I said what works for me won’t work for you, but the more important and accurate statement is that what works for me won’t work the same for you. Not in the long term. In the short term, we may not see the differences, but over the course of a career, results will always vary, and not always in the way we want.

I could rattle off 5 tips to improve your business now. If they’re the right 5 for you, they’ll do something. But there are no ruby red slippers in real life, and there is no secret sauce. There is ability and the decisions you make. There are the thoughts racing through your mind in the middle of the night and the beat of your heart pounding …

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On Finding Your Voice

Making  your mark begins by finding your voice.

Every other guy who picks up a camera secretly has a dream of being a fashion photographer. There’s the girls, the money, the esteem, and the idea of living the glamorous life we were all entitled to before the world got in the way with all its prickly thorns. But there’s a simple reason that most guys will never be a fashion photographer. And it’s not the skill, the competition, or the personality. It’s much more basic than that. It’s that most men could care less about fashion. Because, when it comes down to it, you need to have something to say if you want to make your mark, and this isn’t a parable for fashion alone.

It is true for any photographer in any field. You have to care about your subject. And that begs the question: How much do we really care about weddings? Of course, …

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Power to the People – Put Your Clients First

We’re sold the dream. Being our own person. Owning our own lives. Maybe it’s the idea if you work hard, you’ll get there. Maybe it’s the idea that it’s a birthright for being who we are. Maybe it’s just a burning desire to get somewhere. But slice it how you like, one way or another, we’re always beholden to someone. If it’s not ‘the man,’ then it’s the planner who passes you the business, the client who posts the reviews, or the blog that features your images.

Forget independence. Forget freedom. Forget the notion that going for the gold means we’re a hop, skip, and a step away from strutting down easy street, owing nothing to no one. Because the question isn’t whether you own your life. The question is who you want to be beholden to.

My bet? Go with the client. I’m not saying to forget the partnerships, skip the …

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