Be a Better Second Shooter

September 1st, 2014

Be a Better Second Shooter

Be a Better Second Shooter

For many people, myself included, being the primary photographer on a wedding day is something of zero interest. That doesn’t discount the passion to shoot, however. For me, second shooting is the perfect outlet to be creative, be engaged and support the primary shooter, giving that person every opportunity to get the amazing shots she needs to wow her clients.

I have been training under Sal Cincotta over the past three years, and continue to learn new techniques and practices with every wedding we shoot together. We have a flawless system that we never steer away from on a wedding day. For me, there are three key points I had to learn to make sure I am the perfect second shooter for Sal: a firm understanding of the role, the types of shots needed and the gear.

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Finding the Right Clients

September 1st, 2014

Finding the Right Clients

Finding the Right Clients

Do you know who your ideal client is? Most photographers I meet have no clue who their target demographic is. It’s incredibly important that you have a handle on your client base. I’ve become really good at finding and connecting with my chosen demo.

Try this: Write down four or five descriptions of your ideal client. Now let’s look at some basic factors to consider. I’ll be curious to see if your definition of “your client” and the process behind getting to your client will change after reading this article. You might find that you have selected descriptors that are either not important or are not geared toward honing in on your client. Below are my criteria for my target demo. Just keep in mind that, while I encourage you to learn from these criteria, your demo descriptors should be unique to you and your business.

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The 6 Steps of Marketing Your Weddings on Social Media

September 1st, 2014

The 6 Steps of Marketing Your Weddings on Social Media

The 6 Steps of Marketing Your Weddings on Social Media

“I have bad news: Marketing is hard, and it keeps getting harder. But there’s no time to mourn the past or to feel sorry for ourselves, and there’s no point in self-pity anyway. It is our job as modern-day storytellers to adjust to the realities of the marketplace, because it sure as hell isn’t going to slow down for us.”

–Gary Vaynerchuk

I wanted to open up with this favorite quote of mine from Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook because it’s so relevant to how photographers run their businesses. Gary wrote this portion of the book last because, after he finished writing the entire book and was getting ready to send it to print, Instagram added the video feature and he had to add on a whole new section on this new development. How incredibility frustrating, right? How often do we feel the same way when learning to market our photography? Especially with weddings, when the demographic we’re trying to target is the one that changes the most rapidly. If you’re like me, you’re in constant marketing flux trying to find out what works and what doesn’t so that you can put food on the table.

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Building Relationships

September 1st, 2014

Building Relationships

Building Relationships

No matter what you’re shooting, if you’re building a business, it’s going to be built on relationships. Consider everything you think you know about marketing and branding, and start thinking about building relationships—with your community, clients, vendors and other photographers. The success of your business, right down to the quality of your images, is built on the strength of these relationships.

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” –Damon Richards

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Controlling Natural Light

September 1st, 2014

Controlling Natural Light

Controlling Natural Light

As we lighting geeks often say, “light is light.” Readers of this column know I’m a big believer in the importance of knowing how to use artificial light from strobes, speedlights and constant light. But through my involvement in several online forums recently, I realized I’ve been neglecting the very important and fundamental subject of controlling and shaping natural light.

Forums are a great place to take the pulse of the community and find out what people are thinking. After posting questions on several Facebook group pages asking what lighting challenges people needed the most help with, I was surprised by how many were asking for tips and techniques to help control natural light, specifically how to shoot in harsh sunlit conditions. It dawned on me that I’d totally forgotten to address these basic natural-light skills and had instead been focusing almost entirely on strobe techniques. The other common thread was that people wanted recommendations for tools to control natural light that were portable and affordable, and that would allow them to work without assistants.

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20 Ways to Make Marketing Fun

September 1st, 2014

20 Ways to Make Marketing Fun

20 Ways to Make Marketing Fun

Marketing can be scary, but usually it’s not so much the marketing itself, but rather having no idea where to begin. I hope that a couple of these ideas will give you a good head start. Just choose two or three ideas from these 20 that feel good to you. You’ll be surprised that if you can just get the ball rolling, it will grow and grow—just like a snowball. You might even decide that marketing is fun.

These are my favorite 20 ideas for getting (and staying) in front of the right clients and keeping them coming back.

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She’s Got the Glow: Quick Bridal Retouching

September 1st, 2014

She’s Got the Glow: Quick Bridal Retouching

She’s Got the Glow: Quick Bridal Retouching 

If you shoot weddings, you get paid to make your bride look like a million bucks on her wedding day. That’s no easy task. Through all the tears, flower-girl temper tantrums, crazy parents and wedding planners, the day (and your mission) can easily become unattainable. If you aren’t blessed with the perfect wedding-day scenario, in which all aspects of the big day miraculously come together, read on for some tricks that you can do after the wedding day that will help you make your bride shine in her portraits.

I love adding a subtle glow to a bride to give her that dewy look, kind of like she’s lighted from within. Let’s use this beautiful bridal portrait that Greg Gibson took as our first example image. I’ve done some slight skin smoothing and a few touchups so we can get right to the glow effect.

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A Wedding Timeline

September 1st, 2014

A Wedding Timeline

A Wedding Timeline

There are basically two philosophies behind shooting weddings. Photojournalists tend to say they don’t like creating a timeline for pictures, that they are only there to capture the day as it is. They don’t believe there should be setup shots or the flow of the day should be affected by photography. Then there are photographers who believe there should be an organized timeline so they don’t miss any crucial shots.

I’m a fan of organized timelines. Some of my most prized wedding images are the ones with my family. I have been married for nearly eight years, and our families have changed drastically. New family members have been added, some are no longer with us. Everyone looks so young to me, and that is what dates the image for me. The family images that will always hang in my home are sacred. These are the people I love the most. Without a wedding timeline and taking time to set up those images, I would not have them.

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Man vs. Machine – Glidecam vs. Movi

September 1st, 2014

Man vs. Machine   Glidecam vs. Movi

Man vs. Machine

Glidecam vs. Movi 

Time for a friendly competition between Glidecam and Movi. Full disclosure: Freefly Systems, which makes the Movi, is the sponsor of our NYC Photo Plus workshop this fall, but I have no contractual obligation to tell you how great the Movi or Glidecam is, so fear not: You are getting a 100 percent honest opinion. I also realize there are other name brands that compete with Glidecam and Movi, so when I say “Glidecam vs. Movi,” you can throw in their worthy competitors. (Maybe this article should be more politically correct and state “handheld manual gliding tool vs. handheld electronic stabilizer.”)

The question on every filmmaker’s mind is what stabilization tool to purchase and invest time and energy in for the best results. My goal is to help you make a buying decision.

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