How to Make Everyday Shoots Extraordinary

how-to-make-every-day-shoots-extraordinary

There I was with Beth and her family at Balboa Park in San Diego, their faces bursting with joy as they ran around being kids, playing games and laughing. But it wasn’t always this way; my early photos often showed people looking nervous, waiting for guidance on what pose to do next, with fake smiles.

Then, I decided to make a change. By encouraging people to make every day a celebration, the “UPA” (Unique Photo Adventure) was born! By taking the time to connect with my clients as they connect with each other, I can create images as if I wasn’t even there.

This is no traditional “portrait studio” appointment. Equipped with a variety of ideas, clients are inspired to make the experience all their own. Unique Photo Adventures allow participants to free themselves from being behind the camera, disconnect from their cell phone or other distractions, and really be present in …

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Make More Money with Event Cards

customeventcards

If you’re an event photographer, there’s no better opportunity to reach your target market than at an actual event. No matter what kind of event it is — a wedding, mitzvah or birthday party — most of your client’s guests are potential NEW clients for you! Traditionally, client communities consist of similar socioeconomic classes and aesthetic preferences. So, the guests at that event this weekend are prime examples of your target market! And if your client liked you enough to hire you, then many of their guests might too. Don’t pass up an opportunity to market directly to them.

Spread the word at the event – use event cards! Not only will you give them a take-away with your contact information, but you’ll also give them the keys to access the photos from the event.

Many companies, like Pictage, provide turnkey solutions for event cards. Or you can make them yourself. Here are …

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The Power of Realism in a World that’s Addicted to Perfection

the-power-of-realism-in-a-world-thats-addicted-to-perfection

We live in a world where people expect perfection. We are fed perfection through the media, through magazines and advertisements. Pressure to be perfect, look perfect and act perfect are everywhere. So, what’s the power of realism in a world that’s addicted to perfection? I didn’t realize the expectancy of our role as photographers until I photographed a client with a roll of film. She seemed less confident, unsure of herself and didn’t like the idea of not having Photoshop to ‘touch up’ her images afterwards.

I assured her; I told her she was beautiful and not to worry about changing a thing. Afterward, when the film was developed, she looked at them in awe and was excited to see that she loved how she looked with no “touch-ups” at all. It was like she was surprised to see herself in a ‘real’ light.

I see this mentality not only in my clients, but …

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How to Create a Home-Based Photography Studio: Part 2

In Part One of this series, I talked about the merits of having a home-based business and shared reasons why you might want to have a studio space for your home-based business.

Now, let’s get down to details: how can you create a home-based photography studio?

The short answer is: SPACE. You have to have some kind of space that you can create or convert. In the beginning, I converted a spare bedroom into a studio; it was tiny, but it was better than nothing! Now, after three years of planning and construction, I have over 450 square feet dedicated to my photography business.

Throughout these two processes, I spent months analyzing my business and trying to identify ways to address my needs and my clients’ needs — all while staying within my budget and physical space constraints.

The following inventory can help you analyze your own studio needs. Your budget, your existing …

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Shooting for Story: How to Make Your Portrait Sessions Tell a Complete Story

©Kate Botel

I love shooting for, designing and selling albums to my family portrait clients (and then visiting their homes and seeing them proudly displayed on their coffee tables.)  In my third year in business, over half of my clients opted for an album and many ordered “bundles” – multiple copies to gift relatives and/or leave at the office – and I anticipate those numbers growing.

I’ve been told that what made my albums such a hit is that they tell a story. As a former television writer, my scripts had a clear structure, bookended by “Fade In” and “Fade Out.” When I transitioned into portrait photography and found myself producing album after album, I realized that I needed to shoot like I wrote, and approach each session like a day on a television set to ensure that a clear, beautiful and loving story would be told.

I constantly hear from clients how much their …

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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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5 Tips to Get Clarity: Specialize To Save Your Sanity

A year ago, I battled a monster of my own making: burnout. I had just completed my eighth consecutive wedding weekend with five more ahead in the season. On my schedule for the week were two high school senior sessions, one newborn session, and a family session. This wasn’t an unusually busy week. It was part of my new normal; behind on work, overwhelmed and constantly exhausted.

On paper this looked like the success I aimed to achieve. I was working hard, making great money, my schedule booked to the max. I loved my clients and I was making them really happy. But my happiness was missing from the equation. Somewhere between “I love photography so much that I want to make a living doing it” and actually making it happen, I had taken a major wrong turn. If I couldn’t get back on track, I was ready to give it …

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The Nutcracker Challenge: Part I

Parris Whittingham

“Even in the works of the greatest master, the organic sequence can fail and then a skillful join must be made.” – Tchaikovsky

Several months ago, a childhood dream of mine came true. My Mom and I saw the New York City Ballet perform The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. Growing up, I was enchanted by this world of sugar plum fairies, whimsical music and indoor snow. Nearly two decades later, these childhood fascinations were re-energized.

After the show, I became curious about why The Nutcracker is such a commercial success and how it became the most popular ballet in the world. Exploring this story offers deeper understanding about creating a “Nutcracker” within your photography business.

Create Space for Listening In 1892, the first production of The Nutcracker was staged at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. Unlike the production I witnessed at Lincoln Center, the original show was a commercial failure. Critics …

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Lifestyle Baby Photography Part Four: The Session Overview

In my last three articles, I expressed my beliefs regarding the beauty of real life and I detailed ways to overcome client insecurity. With this philosophical platform under our feet, let’s discuss the session itself!

The only way these types of sessions can be effective is if the photographer believes the ‘Real Life is Beautiful’ mantra. Each session must be approached as an opportunity to capture something special, regardless of how mundane the subject matter may seem. If the photographer doesn’t truly believe that reality can be beautiful, he will be focused on all of the things that do not matter, rather than on capturing the things that do. To effectively orchestrate a true lifestyle session, a photographer must give up his desire to control and create, and allow himself to enjoy the opportunity to observe and document. With that in mind, I’ll share my approach to lifestyle sessions.

Prior to my …

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Lifestyle Baby Photography Part Three: Overcoming Insecurity

Real life is beautiful.

We established that in Part One of this series. But although this philosophy sounds wonderful, it can be hard to follow through with, particularly when it’s personal. In my last installment in this series, I explained that I believe there are two major barriers to overcome in Lifestyle Photography – ignorance and insecurity. I outlined ways that I work to combat ignorance by cultivating true relationships with my clients. Once the barrier of ignorance has been removed, and people become aware of Lifestyle Baby Photography, we are still left with their insecurities. Even if my potential clients embrace the concept that Real Life is beautiful, in a global sense, they have probably not truly grasped that their Real Life is beautiful. My job is to prove this to them. I have to help them see beauty in their own everyday experiences.

My clients are amazing customer evangelists. (Side note: …

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