Archives for November 2009

How To Fail In 12 Easy Steps

How do you define success? As a small business owner, I’ve had my shares of success. As I sat down over the weekend to write about success, I discovered something interesting:

Every time you meet with a big success, there are several failures that lead up to that success.

So in essence the more you fail, the more you’ll succeed.

Building a successful photography business

Here are 12 of my top failures that actually helped lead to my success.

1. Talk is cheap.
Spend a week listening to what you say. Do you tell your co-workers, “Someday I’m going to start my own business.” Or “I really want to work from home to spend more time with my family.”

What have you done to work towards that goal? If you truly mean what you say, then you need to create some action steps to make sure you accomplish it.

“Someday I’m going to star my own business.” Is completely different than “I’ll have my first client for my own business by April 1st.” Give yourself solid goals with timelines you can manage on your current schedule.

2. Listen to your own advice.
Ever heard the phrase, “A shoemakers children have no shoes?”

What advice do you give your clients regularly? Do you follow your own advice?

For me, I always talk about creating systems and making sure you have everything in place to run effectively. Yet I still have to stop a couple of times per year and analyze my own business to make sure I have my own systems in place. It’s easy just to do things yourself, and put off creating an easier way of getting things done. But in the long run its this small tasks that will end up eating away all of your time.
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Photography Disaster Protection and Recovery – Are You Prepared?

Being a photographer means you have many dollars worth of valuable equipment and inventory. Camera bodies. Lenses. Meters. Tripods and light stands. Computers and flash cards. The list can go on and on.

Have you ever thought about what would happen if your studio burned to the ground, your bags were stolen from your car, or you left a bag at a reception site? Photography Disaster Protection and Recovery

While all of your equipment should be covered through your business insurance policy (that’s your first item to check), there are other things you can do to make sure recovery and replacement happen quickly.

Start by inventorying everything you have. Create a list of:

  • The piece of equipment – brand, make and model
  • Serial number

Also photograph each piece, and keep the photographs together in your file.

While it is important to keep this list handy, make sure it’s secure and separate from your equipment. If you store it on your computer in your studio, make sure the backup is off site. Google now offers up to 20 GB of storage for only $5 a year, which definitely can be an affordable solution for you.

Like most photographers, there are the occasional times when you are in a hurry, and move from one location to another quickly.

When you’re out photographing, another tip is to get camera bags with specific compartments. Our favorite has always been the Porter Cases with wheels – they give you the flexibility of pulling in multiple bags with their special cart feature. Always make sure each compartment is filled before you leave the site. Also count your bags in your car before leaving to ensure you have everything with you.

image source

Developing a Raw File with Photoshop

As a photographer, do you shoot in raw capture mode? According to some of our recent surveys, the majority of photographers do. Raw images take large camera sensors and plenty of storage. But with todays digital equipment, file storage has become incredibly inexpensive.

Raw files allow photographers to adjust settings like exposure, color and saturation after the image is captured, giving you the ability to always go back to the original file if you decide to do something different. If you are new to processing Raw images, check out this video. Processing can take time; but with a little knowledge and expertise, you can quickly finish editing and move on to your next photo shoot. Check out this video: [Read more…]

8 Keys To A Great Engagement Portrait

The holidays are upon us. The time for celebrating, spending time together – and gettin’ engaged.

Engagement portraits are more than just a quick shot to have something available for an announcement or a display at the wedding. They are a way for the bride and groom to get to know you as a photographer. It’s an open invitation to learn more about how you operate, and what type of customer service you bring to the table.

Keep these 8 things in mind before you book your next appointment for an engagement portrait session.

1. Never include your engagement session as a part of your wedding package. By making it a separate entity, you are giving it more value, and you are also taking away the bargaining chip for wedding clients that may not want or be able to use an engagement session.

8 Keys To A Great Engagement Portrait

2. Many photographers have different pricing structures for weddings and for portraits. Keep your pricing structure the same for any enlargements within the engagement shoot as you have for your weddings. The last thing you want to do is confuse a bride and groom on pricing when they are deciding on whom to hire for their wedding.
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How To Find A Portrait Location Anywhere

One of the most difficult things for some photographers is finding great locations to shoot a portrait. When you are photographing one person, or even a couple, the world is your backdrop – you just have to look a little.

On a recent outing, I was looking for a new business portrait to use for a few new things we’ve been working on. So we thought it would be fun to show you how any location can become an amazing backdrop for you.

We started just a couple of miles from our home in a strip center mall on a Sunday so the walking traffic was at a minimum. Here’s the location we settled on:

choosing a portrait location - mall area

Choose a location for the lines, columns, stairs, color and decorations. Because its winter, there are no flowers in the pots, and snow was lying around in different areas.

By concentrating on just a few of the areas, and watching the angles, we came up with dozens of different images I’ll be able to use.

business portrait Lori

Any location makes for a good backdrop – you just have to see beyond what most people see. The easiest way to “see” differently is to head out and practice.

Make sure you’re in a location where security won’t stop you – public places are your best choice. And have fun with it.

How To Find A Photo Assistant For Your Next Wedding or Event

Do you photograph your weddings and/or special events as a lone photographer? How much more could you do with an assistant?

As wedding photographers, Andrew and I offered our clients two packages: one photographer or two.

how to find a photo assistant

But even if they chose one photographer, or if we photographed together, it was still nice to have an assistant along that could handle, well, more of the assistant type work. An assistant typically:

  • Tracks your equipment, making sure you don’t leave anything behind.
  • Sets up tripods and light stands.
  • Has cameras and lenses ready when shooting begins.
  • Organizes groups of people, and heads out to find missing people.
  • Loads and unloads car.
  • Manages flash cards and computer equipment.
  • And yes, occasionally shoots too.

Typically we found our photographer assistants in one of two ways:
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3 Lessons I Learned Building My Wedding Photography Business Past the $100,000 Level

A few years back I started doing research for a book I was writing on photography. And I was shocked to learn that in the photography industry, the top 10 percent of all photographers earned in excess of $53,900 per year. That meant 90 percent of all photographers where earning less than this. I knew then something had to change, and my entire VirtualPhotographyStudio concept was born.

building a wedding photography business

Inevitably when I teach or am around a group of photographers, someone always asks about my lessons learned.  “What do you wish you knew as a start up that would have helped you jump to the Six Figure faster?” So here are my top 3 lessons learned.

1. Getting To $50,000 is much harder than getting to $100,000
The most difficult thing about building a photography business from the ground up (or any business for that matter) is figuring out what it takes to make it a full time success. If you are earning $10,000 or $20,000 per year from your photography, you have to have a supplemental income from somewhere. But once you hit the $50,000, you’re beginning to look at it more with a full time status. (Yes, there are still all of your expenses you have to subtract, but you’re still earning a pretty decent fee.)

In order to grow from $0 to $50,000, you have to put your systems in place. You have to build your marketing materials. You have to build up a good clientele. You have to have your prices and your products well defined. And you have to devote enough time to everything in addition to your supplemental income source.

Once you move past the $50,000, things are in place – it’s just a matter of taking it to the next level. If you’re struggling now to break into the $50+ level, what do your plans look like? How are you going to achieve it? Make sure you’re thinking at a full time level to achieve full time success.

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Face Off With A Deadly Predator

Sometimes it’s amazing looking into another world. In the chilly waters of Antarctica with camera in hand, Paul Nicklen, a photographer for National Geographic, describes his encounter with one of the largest Leopard Seals he’s ever seen. This story really makes you wonder how all animal life is really connected. And it also makes you wish you could experience even a fraction of this on assignment, camera in hand.

Why An Ezine Is An Important Part Of Building Your Photography Studio

How often do you make contact with your prospects and customers?

If you simply have a website, and expect people to visit when they are ready, you’re missing a ton of opportunity.

Marketing statistics show that less than 1 percent of all people that visit your website will make a decision to connect with you at that point. The other 99+ percent drift away and eventually forget all about you.using ezines to build up your photo studio

To turn those odds around, an ezine (electronic newsletter or magazine) may be your answer.

Most people have access to email. And even if they aren’t ready to talk with you about your services, they may want more information. Your ezine allows them to do this with just an email address.

Once they supply their email, you have access to delivering them as much content as you see fit each month. Try monthly to begin, they shoot for weekly. Find out what people want, and deliver it in a timely manner. The top reason an ezine is successful is because of the relationship it develops. You can provide a ton of helpful tips, and keep your name in their minds at the same time. You can build up your rapport and your expertise with tips and with your images.

Here are suggestions for getting started:
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Photoshop Retouching Tutorial

It’s fun presenting a portrait to a client where they absolutely love the results. They look good. They wore their favorite outfit. And they loved the entire process.

Part of creating an amazing portrait is retouching. Blemishes, stray hairs, small lines and wrinkles all can “disappear”, giving the client more than they bargained for in the process.

As photographers, its not enough to know how to take beautiful portraits; you also have to be a whiz at Photoshop too. To help understand how to use many of the retouching tools, we found a Photoshop tutorial on image modification.

Thanks AdobeTV!