Archive for Photographing
You know all of those leaves and flower petals that fall off your stems as you use them? What do you do with them?
I don’t usually take the time to reset them or glue them back on. I toss loose pieces in a small bucket. They make great bits to scatter on the floor of a set for children.
These loose leaves add texture and interest to a normally flat backdrop floor.
Thinking more about the concept of putting the customer first and being more empathetic, I had a recent experience that occurred to me might be a good example of what some of our customers might feel like.
I have a horse for sale that was a difficult and emotional decision for me. The night I dropped her off to be with the trainer who is going to be her agent, he was so busy trying to impress me with all of his other horses in training. He was so busy bragging, and maybe thinking he was going to sell me another horse right away that he totally missed what I really needed from him. I really didn’t hear a word he said about the other great horses, I was in a daze, I was stressed. I was selling my sweet, funny horse and I was sad. His mistake was not focusing on me and being helpful.
This experience got me thinking, do we as photographers do that to our customers? Possibly. Do we forget they are nervous about their photo session? Absolutely! I wonder if we are so busy being salespeople and photographers that we might be overloading our subjects with too much information about us. We get real busy showing all of our images, our awards, and all of our products we offer. Or maybe we simply do this at the wrong time of the process.
I really hope that a portrait experience is not as emotionally draining as selling something you really like or even love. But in reality, for some people it might be. They have clothes to pick out, schedules to coordinate, and maybe power struggles within the family to deal with. We might win bonus points in their eyes if we can concentrate more on them than ourselves.
Do you have a similar example from being a customer somewhere yourself? I would like to hear about it.
2012 Barb Gordon Photo Coach
You can add a great deal of artistry and interest to your images by using other f-stops that are available. I actually do know a professional photographer who only uses F8. Really!
It is especially easy outdoors to shoot at wide open settings like this image that was shot at f4. Of course you will want to use manual settings and take a meter reading like a pro. (If you are unsure about how to do this, I offer a manual you can find out more http://barbgordonphotocoach.com/products/beyond-the-manual-beyond-the-photography-instruction-manual )
The boy’s mom said, “Oh, I like the background.” the minute she saw this portrait. She also ordered this pose. Why did it seem so interesting to her? It looked different to her because F8 is close to the amount of depth of field of the human eye so we are very used to that. Anything more detailed or less detailed will get our attention.
So to add variety to your photo sessions, use different f-stops for a variety in the looks you show your customers. It just might increase your sales too!
Why use a flash outdoors? I am sure you have seen many images where people’s eyes were dull and lifeless. Eyes need a catch light, that little reflection that makes them look alive.
Many photographers underexpose a subject’s face especially with outdoor portraits. A reflector is a good answer when you are working with one or two subjects and you have an assistant to hold the reflector but when you have a family group you need something more.
I have tried small flash units held off to the side of the camera but they never had enough power and the recycle time was so slow. Keeping them stocked with batteries was yet another chore.
This little unit is small, light weight, and still enough power to add sparkle to a family group’s eyes.
I got the green one at http://www.paulcbuff.com/b400.php (And might I add that they have great customer service!)
I would strongly suggest a test run in any space you are considering to see if you really fit the way you want to. Take your camera, lens, lights, and even a model to do a test. I should have done this with the building I purchased. I did not really evaluate how problematic the pocket doors would become. I was too taken with the possibilities of a charming old building.
Get the width.
Make sure your camera room is wide enough to get your lights comfortably off to the side. Unless you have other rooms near by available, you will also have backgrounds to store as well as props to accommodate. As a minimum figure at least fifteen feet. You will be happier with about twenty-five feet or more.
Get the height.
Depending on what kind of studio lights you use, you will want enough ceiling height to be able to get the lights at a 45-degree angle from your subjects. I would suggest nothing less than nine feet do this comfortably.
Get the length.
For my style and lenses I use, I am able to work comfortable in about a thirty foot long camera room.
North window light.
This is a bonus as not all buildings have north windows. If you are designing a studio with north light windows, make them as tall as possible so light can fall down on top of the subject’s head as well. My new window is five foot by five foot and two feet off the ground.
Do some comparisons with other photographers who have north light windows before you start designing.
The walls and ceiling need to be white. You don’t want funny colors bouncing around affecting your subject’s skin tone.
Be sure you have the privacy you need from other tenants interfering with your peace or from you disturbing theirs.
Fortunately we photographers are creative and can make great things happen in most any conditions!
The main light-
Raise your light to a 45-degree angle for more flattering light. Placing the light at the subject’s eye level and too close to the camera makes for flat lighting equivalent to a passport.
Use a reflector for a fill instead of a fill flash. A large silver reflector will do a nicer job and not leave a second, unnatural catch light in the eye or over expose the shadows.
Use a hair light, or kicker light, for separation between the hair and the background. Make sure this is not brighter than your main light. A stop less (depending on hair color) is a good place to start.
Behind the subject-
A background light is a must to create depth in the image. A quality background will come to life with a light a stop less than your main. If you don’t have room directly behind your subject for a flash unit, pump it in from the side. It still looks good.
The right lens-
Use a portrait lens instead of a normal or wide angle for nice compression. I like to shoot between 150mm to 200mm.
Not too sharp-
Use a shallower f-stop to keep the emphasis on the subject’s eyes. Too much background in focus, especially outdoor scenes, detracts from the image being a portrait. I like to use f5.6 or wider.
Meter it right-
Record the correct exposure at the time of capture. Do not rely on “fixing it in post”. This is not only unprofessional but time consuming and detrimental to the file’s quality.
Correct color temperature is critical for printing images with pleasing tones. This is especially critical for portraits.
Depending on your camera, you may still need to do a little tweaking in your imaging software like Photoshop. If you have done all of the above, you shouldn’t need to spend too much time in front of the computer. I find, however, my files need a little contrast and deepening of the blacks.
We photographers tend to forget that our subjects very often are nervous at their portrait session. We have so much experience that the process is natural and easy for us. We might even tend to rush them without thinking about things from their perspective anymore.
A relaxing massage or spa treatment is out of the question, so what can you do?
If you think your client is nervous, go ahead and ask them. Sometimes just acknowledging the fact helps a lot. Do not down play the fact that they are nervous by saying, “don’t be nervous.” This does nothing to remedy the fact.
A better response is something reassuring like, “I understand. You are not alone, many people start out nervous.”
At the start of a portrait session remind your subjects that you are very good at posing and will totally help them. Assure them that they can not do anything wrong and that you will always tweak everything so they look fantastic.
Be a good host.
Make sure that your clients are comfortable with their surroundings. Nice mood music, a tidy studio, and a well stocked dressing room are a must. Provide bottled water or other refreshments. A welcome gift bag of treats is also a welcome surprise.
Keep your attention on your client. Do not answer the phone, text message, or even glance at your cell phone. This sends a strong message that your subject is not number one. Being interrupted during a photo session can kill the momentum and creative line of thinking. Keep the phone out of the camera room.
Start the portrait session with the easy, basic head and shoulders yearbook looking poses first. This will get you and your subjects warmed up to get more creative as the session progresses.
One Sneak Peek.
Early in the session, show your client one image on the back of the camera. This goes a long way in building some confidence. They have no idea that they can look so good with proper lighting and posing. All they see is all of the lights, light stands, cords, etc.
Remember to assure your portrait subject that they are doing a great job. Build up their confidence by telling them how great they look and how much fun they are to photograph.
A relaxed portrait subject is key to getting a natural photograph they will want to purchase and share with their friends and family. Master the art of relating with people and watch your sales soar.
Before I get into the six myths about starting a frame service, let me tell you that I have observed photographers who are letting thousands of dollars a year in additional revenue walk out their door by not offering some level of a framing service.
I have heard all of the myths, excuses, or fears and I can assure you that they are easy to overcome.
“I can’t afford it.”
Many of the frame corner samples and mat corners can be free and you need less than $100 in tools to get started.
Your first frame sale should pay for the cost of the Photographer’s Complete Framing Guide and you will continue to profit every sale you make for as long as you are in business.
“I don’t have time.”
You already have the customer in your studio! It costs you nothing to market to them as a framing client. The time you spend will result in additional sales with only a little more effort.
“I hate math.”
Math is not my favorite thing either. But I have five tips that should help you.
- I make sure I am not hungry before I start. I have learned that I get impatient and make more mistakes when I am due for some fuel.
- I make sure that I am not frustrated with something or someone else.
- I make sure that I have uninterrupted time.
- I tell myself that I can do math. Positive thinking gets me a lot further than negative.
- I double check my figures. If I am in doubt or too tired to think clearly, I simply come back to it another time.
“I am not perfect.”
Well, goodness sakes neither am I! I do not even consider myself a perfectionist, but I have my clients fooled.
It simply takes a few right tools and a little knowledge to produce a beautifully framed portrait.
Custom matting is often cut by hand so it is never perfect. It must be good, it must be neat, but it will not be perfect. You can, however, order your mats pre-cut from your frame vendor if you decide not to tackle cutting mats yourself.
“I can’t sell.”
I have been inviting my clients to look at frames for more than twenty years and have made it easy for you to get started in my manual available today. I share exactly what I say and when I say it to successfully plant the seeds for a sale. You will not feel like you are selling.
“I don’t have the space.”
You don’t need a lot of dedicated sales space. You can start with a small selection of frame corner samples in a box, drawer or on the wall. You don’t even have to carry any inventory. What could be an easier way to add thousands of dollars to your income?
I will show you the fast and easy steps you can take right now! Get the Photographer’s Complete Framing Guide now. It is available as an instant download so you can get started right away. Find out more right now and be making more money next week.