Women Who Changed The Face of Professional Photography – Part 2

As a lover of the history of photography, I greatly appreciated Rachel LaCour Niesen’s post profiling Women Who Changed the Face of Professional Photography. As women and as photographers, we stand on the shoulders of these trailblazing photographers. Here are a few who most inspire me and my work.

Frances Benjamin Johnston

Frances Benjamin Johnston wrote the manual for women photographers, literally. In 1897, the Ladies Home Journal published her article “What a Woman Can Do with a Camera.” From art to business, so much of her advice is as relevant today as it was 115 years ago. On the art of photography, Johnston wrote:

To those ambitious to do studio portraiture I should say, study art first and photography afterward, if you aim at distinction and originality…Any person of average intelligence can produce photographs by the thousand, but to give art value to the fixed image of the camera-obscura requires imagination, discriminating taste, …

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Marketing Through a Charity Means Defining Your Mission

“How were you able to start marketing through a charity?”

This is such a great question and one that I am often asked. Although my involvement with the March of Dimes came from the local director reaching out to me, there are some steps you can take to utilize your photographs in a charitable way to market your studio.

Here are my top tips for marketing through a charity by defining your mission:

Be passionate. Regardless of the charity you choose, you have to have sincere passion for the cause. What do you love? What touches your heart? Is there a cause that reaches close to home, or that has affected you personally? Be proactive. Charities always need photography of their events. I got started with the March of Dimes by using the director’s point-and-shoot to document the event, since the “official” photographer was a no-show! Be inventive. Have meetings with the director(s) to ask …

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10 Tips for Making Beautiful Bridal Portraits on the Wedding Day

Gifted photographers approach making beautiful bridal portraits on the wedding day in myriad ways. Drawing on a long tradition of wedding imagery from the past, some are classical in style; some are fashion-oriented, creating images that are grandiose, theatrical and sexy; still others focus on an unobtrusive, authentic documentation of events and wait for impromptu portraits that do not require any staging.

For every approach, there is an optimal client who resonates with and appreciates the style of work that is made. Our diversity in approach is what creates connection with specific clients. Regardless of what approach you take when making bridal portraits on the wedding day, there are several simple ways to improve your work.

As I thought about the specific strategies I have developed over the past decade to facilitate a creative and efficient portrait process, I arrived at a list of ten. Thus, I humbly present to you 10 …

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“Mutt Mugshots” The Art of the Dog Portrait

If you’ve heard of fabulous lifestyle and wedding photographer Jules Bianchi, you’ve probably heard of Olive, Jules’ four legged side-kick. Jules’ love for her dog is well known, and many clients who feel the same way about their furry children have commissioned her to photograph their weddings and families.

Dog portraiture can be a rewarding and lucrative genre of photography, as well as being a blast! Jules started photographing Olive over 14 years ago, when she adopted the tiny puppy who was only 4 weeks old. Olive has been her muse for every new lens and camera, a new lighting situation, or just because Jules can’t stop capturing her favorite subject. She started “An Olive A Day,” presenting a daily picture of Olive on her own blog, as a personal project to keep herself fresh and to do something fun. It grew into a book, “Olive Goes to Hollywood,” which won …

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5 Ways Wedding Photographers and Filmmakers Can Work Well Together

Ego checks go both ways.

Every photographer has a story about videographers with multiple tripods, camping out in the aisles taking all the best angles, let alone getting too close to the couples. Likewise, every videographer has a story about a flash-happy, rapid-fire shutter photographer. But are tripods, flashes and cameras really the problem?

Since most of us serve the wedding industry, it’s no mystery that over 50% of marriages end in divorce. Statistically, the most common reason listed for divorce is communication breakdowns! As professionals, we can make our lives much easier, and make our clients happier by not going down that same path. Let’s put our egos aside, and learn to simply respect the other artists we work with on wedding days. We are in fact, kind of “married” to each other on a wedding day, as photographers and videographers are stuck with each other that day whether we like …

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5 Simple Steps to Prepare for Professional Photography Workshops

Which professional photography workshop should you attend? It’s hard enough to sift through the overwhelming number of workshops available. When you actually choose one, you need to prepare so you’ll get the most out of your investment.

Step 1: What type of education do you need? Hoping to learn to shoot in manual mode, build a successful brand, market your studio, master off-camera lighting, explore workflow systems, practice posing techniques…the list goes on and on. The critical step is identifying which specific topic you need to learn in order to improve your photography and your business. Make a list and review it a few times with a colleague or mentor. Ask them which topic seems to be your weakness. Constructive criticism will also prepare you for a good workshop experience.

Step 2: Decide what environment is most conducive to your learning style. Classes online, seminar environment, or my personal favorite, workshops! Workshops are …

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5 Popular Posts You Might Have Missed!

Today we’re taking a look back at some of the most popular posts published on The Photo Life to date. Check them out to make sure you didn’t miss any the first time they were published. From boudoir to better lighting, these posts are full of helpful tips and tricks for professional photographers.

If you saw them the first time around, they’re worth a second look! You might even find a new nugget of information.


1. If Everyone’s a Photographer, What Makes us so Different? by Spencer Lum “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 …

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How Pinterest Can Help You Maximize Your Brand

We spend our days helping photographers build stronger, sustainable brands. Part of our process is helping companies maintain consistency across all online platforms. These include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, websites, blogs and, yes, even Pinterest! As a business owner, everything you put on the web affects the perception people have of you.

Here’s how Pinterest can help you maximize your brand:   

Build Brand Consistency A common missed opportunity for brands across social media platforms is the ability to deliver a clear, consistent message. Pinterest is no exception. Consider it an extension of your brand. Your boards should:

Reflect your style as a photographer. Appeal to your ideal client. Reflect things you and your ideal client care about. Be clearly titled (in other words, don’t be cryptic or clever unless that’s your schtick). Include a description that reinforces the value behind the board’s content. Have a compelling board cover. (If you want to get a gold star, all of your …

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Employees or Contractors? Hiring for your Photography Business

For photography business owners (and any small business owner), having people on your team is a natural part of growing your business. Whether you have other photographers shooting with you, people editing your images, or someone handling administrative work, it’s likely that at some point you’ll pay someone else to do work for you.

The biggest question, then, is whether these people are employees or contractors. There are two primary considerations you should be aware of before deciding.

Tax implications based on your decision. How this decision affects your working relationship with team members.

Hiring an employee means withholding state and federal income tax, Social Security tax, and Medicare taxes. In most situations, you also pay unemployment taxes too (there are some exceptions).

Hiring an employee means paperwork! You’ll need a W-2 and an I-9 completed for each employee, records of their wages and hours, documentation that you’re complying with federal labor regulations, and the …

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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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