Bridal Show Brochures from Bay Photo

January 5th, 2017

It’s that time of year!! Bridal show season.

Are you ready? Are you ready to show your brides something that stands out? Sure, you are going to be in your booth, talking to them, meeting with them – but what are they leaving with? When they get home – how will they remember you from the other photographers? What is your leave-behind?

A flimsy piece of photocopy paper with your pricing on it?

Good luck!

And what about when you meet face to face? What are you giving them? Every business in the world understands this concept of a leave-behind. Why don’t you?

It’s inexpensive and sends the right message to your clients.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF BAY PHOTO DISCOUNT

25% Off Press Printed Magazines – Promo Code: SAL25MAG – Expires January 15th.

Also – Check out our St Louis Wedding Photography brochures below.

Click to make them larger.

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Organize Your Photographic Chaos in Lightroom CC

January 1st, 2017

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Organize Your Photographic Chaos in Lightroom CC

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

Working in photography can be chaotic without a certain level of organization. Once the shoots are all over for the week and you are ready to start feeding your images into your computer system, you have to make the decision to be organized. Trust me, the struggle is real. I just want to plug in the card reader, copy the images to the computer, and start culling and editing. Having to worry about storage and backup is not a priority, right? Or it’s just too much of a hassle to deal with—your clients need their images like yesterday! Well, if you don’t have a solid plan and are beyond unorganized, those clients might not get these images because you either lost or accidentally deleted the only copy of them. Get out of your own way and design an easy plan for your files.

Lightroom is a great program for organization, and even a lot of post-production. So stop using Abobe Bridge. Are you still using Photoshop CS1 as well? Stay away from operating system file applications like File Explorer (PC) and Finder (Mac) to copy/move files or build folder trees to organize. Learn to love Lightroom—it’s your friend! By understanding some fundamental components of Lightroom, you will be able to create a plan that works for you.

Import Into Lightroom

Whether you just bought Lightroom and are opening it for the first time, or have used it in the past, we have to start with a catalog. Creating a master catalog is a great way to organize everything into one organized archival space. Let’s do that: Create a catalog and start from there. For current Lightroom users, you may have a file lingering in your Pictures user folder named Lightroom Catalog.lrcat already; if you do, copy that file to a new location and rename it. Name this file “Master Catalog” and open it.

Now we have an empty catalog with which to begin building our organizational plan for the thousands of files scattered across multiple hard drives and memory cards. Take a deep breath. There’s a lot to learn, but it’s simple to execute.

The easiest way to import images into Lightroom is to drag and drop the device or folder from your operating system’s file application, File Explorer or Finder, into the Lightroom Catalog. This quickly allows Lightroom to automatically locate those files. You can even add other folders to the import. By holding CTRL or CMD and clicking on folders under the File section listed in the Source panel on the left-hand side of the Import module, you can add content to import.

I recommend doing this for memory cards as well to enable the ability to import from multiple cards; if you have only one memory card, choose the card under the Devices section in the Source panel. Once the files are selected, we are ready to examine the types of import options available.

Copying Files

At the top of the Import module, we must choose type of import. These options include Copy and DNG, Copy, Move and Add (6). The Copy options are necessary when we need to pull data from one source and store to another.

Ingesting your memory cards is a perfect scenario. There’s a big decision to make: create a DNG or copy the Raw? I avoid creating DNGs because I want the proprietary camera Raw copied so I can work from it, which saves a step and makes my workflow more efficient. I could argue until I am blue in the face with the post-production gurus out there about DNG versus Raw. DNG files embed metadata rather than using a sidecar file like Raws do (called an XMP file). DNGs are recognizable in older versions of Adobe Camera Raw, whereas Raws are less flexible. Read up on it if you want to use DNGs—don’t just take my word for it.

Copying requires you to choose a location or destination for these files. In the right side panels, the Destination section automatically expands. Let the file organization begin! We can create a new subfolder, choose to organize by capture date folders or choose a preexisting folder on the destination source drive.

I have my storage drive setup for clients with a folder tree of Year < Type of Event < Client Name. I create subfolders as follows: Originals, Export and Working. I generally don’t veer from this folder tree organization. For personal work, it’s a whole other monster, partially because my wife and I import images of our son separately. Unless it’s a special event like his first Christmas or yearly progression, I organize by date in a subfolder called “Raw Originals.” We keep things simple for the tens of thousands of images we have so far.

Move is the next option in the Import module; this is available only for folders listed under the Files section of the Source panel. The Destination panel opens and requires you to choose a location for the file transfer. This option is useful when you have imported files to a temporary location on site at a shoot or if you are archiving files to another storage device. The options for the Destination panel are the same as Copy import.

Building Raw Previews

Add is the only option for simply adding files to your catalog without copying or moving them from the source. As you noticed, the Destination panel disappears and you are left with only the File Handling and Apply During Import panels. Under File Handling, you can choose to build Previews. Understanding how Lightroom renders previews for your files is important. Minimal is the best option for a quick import to begin editing; you will notice that each file you click on has to load in order to view or edit it. Zooming into an image can take even longer; we will get into that in a bit . The next option is Embedded and Sidecar, which work similarly to how Photo Mechanic works. These load quickly but do not render the previews good enough to even cull images seamlessly.

Standard previews are the way to go when you want to begin culling images in the fit-to-screen view within minutes of the files being imported. These load quite quickly and actually automatically generate when develop changes are made to your images. Remember that previews in Lightroom are generated based on settings in Lightroom with the Raw file linked. If you edit an image, Lightroom must rebuild a Standard preview.

The same goes for 1:1 previews. These allow you to zoom in at 100%, which is important when culling images to check sharpness. Building these larger 1:1 previews can take 10 images about a minute to load. That is a long time when you shoot thousands of images for a wedding. Are you on a tight deadline to get the work out the door? If so, build Standard Previews first and, by changing some of your catalog settings in preferences, you can cut a lot of time out preparing your catalog to cull. Lower the Standard preview size and quality so rendering takes even less time. Then you can build 1:1 previews for the selected files and walk away from the computer for an hour.

We haven’t even mentioned Smart Previews, and these are awesome. You have the ability to build these at import as well. This is a whole other type of preview generated in Lightroom. Smart Previews are actually low-resolution DNG files saved within the .lrdata file to allow you to work offline. No, I don’t mean without Internet; I mean without the original files connected. This makes Lightroom lightning fast and more versatile for mobility or working on multiple machines.

Nonetheless, you still need to build Standard previews like any other image file. Also, the old routine was to unlink the Raws by either disconnecting the drive or relinking to a folder not containing the Raws, so the Smart Previews would kick in. Now, Lightroom finally gave users the performance option to choose how Lightroom uses these previews over the originals.

Thank you, Adobe, for finally doing something about the lag in Lightroom CC. You Lightroom 5 users upset about CC know what I am talking about.

Adding to Collections

This is my least used option at import, mostly because I import large groups of images at once. You can create Collections and Collection sets as well as add images to your current ones. This groups the images together into a virtual sorting option that only reads in Lightroom. This is unlike applying attributes like star ratings, color labels and flags that can be saved with the other metadata of the file.

Backup at Import

Now you have a hidden option in the Import module to back up files to a second source location as well; this feature is so important. It’s listed under the File Handling panel. Check the box and click the file path below to choose the backup location. Not every ingest software has this capability—before Lightroom, I would use Apple’s Image Capture until realizing Nikon Transfer that came with my camera was the way to go. Forget all of that—I can back up in Lightroom along with copying, moving and adding files as I go. There’s no reason not to back up; it’s common sense.

Applying IPTS Metadata and Keywords

IPTS metadata includes copyright, studio name, URL (website), job name, keywords, location and date. This is an overlooked process when ingesting photos into your computer. Copyright, for instance, is a big topic for many of us. Adding copyright information after capture saves your contact information for permissions and usage. Keeping your guard up with digital images becomes difficult when you post them online or deliver thumb drives to your clients. You should get into the habit of adding this information at import.

Post Import File Management

You should never move imported files outside Lightroom. This causes chaos for your catalog. Move, rename and remove files in the Library module of Lightroom. Moving and creating new folder trees on your hard drive can be done in the Library module on the left-hand side under the Folders panel. Click the “+” button to create new folders or subfolders.

Select the appropriate parent folder; access this by right-clicking on the current folder displayed and choose Show Parent Folder. Now click the “+” button and choose Add Folder or Add Subfolder. You can preselect files to move for a fast transfer, or simply drag and drop selected files into the new folder created. It’s very simple, and should be done only in Lightroom.

Collections can be very versatile for organizing files beyond attributes, keywords, dates, etc. Adding these is as simple as moving files in the Folders panel. Click the “+” button in the Collections panel to start making Collections and Collection sets. Think of these as smart folders that exist only in Lightroom. They do not tamper with your file structure outside the catalog. They can be very handy when you need to refine your currently organized folders. I created some for my son’s first year. We add images to Collections each month to make them easy to sort, rather than using the Library filter by date and all the drop-down folders. That is a nightmare.

Quick Culling Process

There are so many ways to cull images in Lightroom. I could write an article explaining how each one benefits the user. I am going to make this short and sweet. Part of organizing your images is to cull out the losers. Flags are the easiest way to keep track of images you want. They also provide a way to signify you have already reviewed these images by giving them a rejected flag. This is brilliant and can remove added work to your already stressful workload.

When culling, I start in Library module. I double-click an image and tap the “L” key twice. It’s lights-out mode for selecting, also known as Loupe mode. I can then add flags by using “x” for rejected flag, “p” for keeper flag and “u” for unflag. Hold CTRL or CMD and arrow down to add a rejected flag or up to add the keeper flag (37). I find it easiest to not have to hold down a button the entire time. To cull, I select out the bad ones only and strike the “x” key. If I make a mistake, I hit the “u” key. Then I choose the Library filter “Flag,” select unflagged, select all and strike the “p” key.

Things to Keep in Mind

Staying organized with Lightroom can mean the difference between causing chaos and controlling it. Beyond the simple time-saving factor involved in managing your files, you can rest easy when it’s all said and done.

I get it: You jump on the computer and you just want to cull/edit already. Starting at import, you set the tone for your entire file management structure. Just remember to make an organization plan that fits your schedule and workflow.

These are simple tips I have developed for myself. They are not meant for every photographer. Any way you do it, get organized to get out of your own way.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

Make 2017 Your Year

January 1st, 2017

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Make 2017 Your Year with Sal Cincotta

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

Stop wishing for better times. Stop hoping. Stop thinking that the gods are going to bless you with an incredible year and newfound wealth and success.

 

It doesn’t work that way.

 

It’s about busting your ass day in and day out. Put your time in and plan for success. Success is not an accident. It’s the result of hard work and some serious planning.

 

Every year, we step back and assess the year before. We look at what we did right, what we did wrong and what we need to fix. We look at new opportunities and how we can take advantage of them before our competitors beat us to the punch.

 

Below is your cheat sheet to putting your team through this exercise to ensure you maximize your success in 2017.

 

Take a couple hours of your day to sit quietly. No email. No TV. No distractions. You are about to plan your entire year: Give this the time and attention it deserves.

 

Now, grab a sheet of paper. Create four quadrants and label them Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

 

Let’s start with an easy one.

 

Strengths.

 

This should be somewhat easy for you. What are you doing right? What are you good at? This is no time for modesty. This is about you beating your chest. Surely this is something you are doing well. If not, it might be time to call it a day and move on to something new. I doubt that’s the case, so let’s think about this.

 

What should be listed here? Here are some things we have listed for our studio.

 

// Customer experience. Something we pride ourselves on is being very attentive to our clients. We quickly respond to all requests. We treat our clients to gifts and subtle gestures throughout the process.

 

// Turn times. Our clients see their fully edited images in two weeks. This is a huge competitive advantage for us.

 

// Distinctive style. Every day, I work hard to ensure my style of shooting and editing stands out from the crowd. This ensures we can charge a premium in the overcrowded marketplace.

 

Weaknesses.

 

This one is going to be tough for you. It requires brutal honesty. A lot of artists can’t handle the truth. They operate in a touchy-feely world where everyone gets a hug and a trophy. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s not how the world of business works. If you want to grow professionally and personally, it’s time to put your big-boy pants on and get down and dirty.

 

What should be listed here? Where are you weak? What are your clients saying? If you are in business, one thing is for sure: People are complaining about something. I operate under an 80/20 rule. If a single complaint comes in, I am unwilling to make changes to my business. But if I start seeing a trend, I start investigating.

 

Things to look at.

 

// Turn times. How long does it take you to get images to your clients? Anything over two weeks is too long. Anything over 30 days is suicide in today’s instant and insatiable marketplace.

 

// Response times. How long does it take you to respond to client emails and phone calls? It should be less than four hours.

 

// Product offerings. Do you offer your clients relevant products? What’s that, you say? You are not offering products? Then you are an idiot. Sorry, but in photography and business, you are not living up to your potential. Are you offended? Good. You should be. I am offended for you. You are a business owner! Your job as CEO is to make intelligent decisions for your business. So make them! You cannot earn a sustainable living in this industry if you are shooting and burning. It is that simple. You need product to sell to your clients. Otherwise, they are going to take your files and buy products from someone else. Stop convincing yourself that people don’t want product. They do. Our studio is built on that assumption.

 

For those of you who get it, make sure you are staying relevant and looking for new products to offer your clients. Prints and canvas will always be a staple, but there are lots of other products in the marketplace that clients want. Look at metals and acrylics. Our clients love them.

 

Opportunity

 

Every day I wake up looking for new ways to grow my business. There is opportunity everywhere. Executing that opportunity is an entirely different conversation. You always must decide on your top five. You need to look closely at both the financial opportunity and opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is the cost of choosing one opportunity over another.

 

From time to time, I am willing to take some risks and pursue an opportunity that isn’t fully baked, but one that I see a ton of potential in. I have to know that pursuing this opportunity might cost me in the short term, because I will have to pass on another potential opportunity. Hence, opportunity cost.

 

So, where does opportunity lie for you? Here are some things you should be looking at.

 

// Vendor relationships. Want to grow your business? I’ve got news for you. You won’t grow it alone. Start investing in vendor relationships. Try doing some free stylized shoots. Work with vendors to build your portfolio. Give them your images to use for their own marketing—with the appropriate photo credit, of course.

 

// Expand your offerings. Are you a wedding photographer or a baby photographer? Maybe it’s time to expand past that. What about high-school seniors? What about offering headshots to local businesses? There is a huge opportunity there. I don’t know a single business that doesn’t need updated headshots.

 

// In-person sales (IPS). Are you still shooting and burning? Maybe in-person sales is the opportunity you have been looking for. Make this the year you try IPS, and then watch your sales go through the roof.

 

// Customer service. This is an opportunity for all of us. Look for ways to improve your turn times. Maybe send a thank-you card after a client books, or even a bottle of wine to your top clients.

 

Threats

 

Every business faces threats. It’s foolish to ignore this fact. You need to be aware of those threats. It’s like anything else in life. Acknowledging the issue is the first step.

 

So what are the threats to your business? Here are some things to consider.

 

// Low-cost competitors. There will always be the low-cost provider in any industry. How do you plan to compete? What will you do to stand out from the crowd? If you don’t have a competitive advantage, you are just another person with a camera.

 

// Consumer preferences. What consumers want today is completely different than what they wanted two years ago. Is your business adapting? If not, this is a huge issue. Your photography style, editing style and product offerings all matter.

 

// Indifference. Indifference to good photography is one of the major threats I see to my business and our industry. People are okay with shitty pictures for some unknown reason: “I have a friend”; “I only need a few pictures.” Statements like this send chills down my spine. How will you deal with this threat? We have to educate our clients on why great photography matters.

 

If you invest the time in this exercise, you will, without a doubt, come up with a matrix of action items you will need to implement for the upcoming year. Meet with your team, or just lock yourself in a room and review your action plan. How will you execute it? You don’t want to wait until the end of 2017 to evaluate your station. Constantly reevaluate your plan 30, 60, 90 days out. Keep staying on track to your most successful year yet.

 

2017 is your year. Make it great.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

Finding Your Style in Glamour Photography

January 1st, 2017

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Finding Your Style in Glamour Photography with Craig LaMere

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

When you hear the term family photos, you know what family photos are; when you hear the term business headshot, you know what a business headshot is; and when you hear the term newborn pictures, you know exactly what that is. Two genres that are harder to pin down because they are always evolving are boudoir and glamour. This month, we look at my idea of glamour photography and some of the ways I shoot it.

 

Glamour to Me

 

When I was growing up in the 1980s, glamour meant denim jackets with raised collars, lots of makeup and hair teased to the moon with a gallon of hairspray. Nowadays, I look at glamour as a hybrid of boudoir and fashion. Some say glamour is more of what you would see in Maxim or Playboy, but that is not the definition I have adopted. Glamour has the sexiness associated with boudoir and the clothes associated with fashion. The two meet in the middle to create something unique.

 

I know a lot of women who feel confident in who they are, who embrace their age, who are proud of their position in life and who are comfortable with their sexuality. They want beautiful images of themselves, but do not want the stylizing that goes into a fashion shoot. They don’t want to be half naked, like in a boudoir shoot. For these clients, our version of glamour is the perfect genre. Glamour in my studio is all about making our clients feel sexy, beautiful and awesome by combining killer hair and makeup with dresses, gowns and lighting—but in a more conservative atmosphere than that of our fashion and boudoir sessions.

 

Hair and Makeup

 

For our glamour line, hair and makeup is one of the most important components to creating killer images. It sets the mood. One of the most powerful parts of boudoir for most clients is when they come into the studio as their regular self and, in a few hours, they are a whole new them.

 

This is the same for our glamour clients. They come into the studio clean-faced, no makeup, hair in a ponytail. Then they sit in the chair, and my badass stylist goes to work on her. We turn them into supermodels. They love it.

 

All woman want to feel pretty and special. That’s what we give them. Our clients are well taken care of. For many, this is their first time doing a session like this, so they are a little nervous. But this is also an opportunity for them to relax and let their nerves settle.

 

The actual hair and makeup is pretty standard: smoky eyes, big curl and, at some point in the shoot, we do an updo.

 

Clothing

 

We do a presession consult to gather the important information about our client. We find out hair type, skin type, body type and their overall comfort level for the shoot. We also start planning their wardrobe.

 

Wardrobe is where the hybrid nature of our glamour product starts to show. Most of our clients want to be sexy and show some cleavage and some leg, but they do not want to show off all the goods. Clients bring different dresses, mostly evening gowns.

 

I tell my clients that the clothes themselves, while important, are not the most important part of choosing wardrobe. The most important part is to make sure they can be 100 percent comfortable. Your client could show up with the greatest dress on earth, but if she does not feel good in it, you will get just okay images because her mind will be on everything but the shoot and she will never relax enough to kick ass.

 

Lighting and Backgrounds

 

My glamour product is more portrait-based than fashion or boudoir. So, even though my clients have great wardrobe, I’m focusing more on them than their clothes. For that reason, I also use very simple backgrounds and very soft lighting.

 

For glamour, I use hand-painted muslins. I love their tones and textures. I have about every tone and color of muslin you can imagine. The color of clients’ clothes doesn’t matter because I have a muslin in every tonal range. I like to keep everything in the same tonal range so my client is the focus of the image and is not competing with the drop.

 

Our lighting setups are very simple. We want soft and elegant images, which means big diffused light or directional diffused light. Elegance is about using a light pattern that flatters every body and skin type, which to me is loop light. To create the loop pattern, place your light at a height so that the middle of your box is above and 45 degrees down on your client. Then all you have to do is bring the light around till you see a little loop shadow on the side of the nose and light in both eyes. If you want a little more drama, pull the light back around until the shadow on the nose extends and connects with the cheek, which is a Rembrandt pattern.

 

I use constant florescent lights in a 3×4 box. The light from the constants is so buttery soft and forgiving that you can’t take a bad image. If you do not have constant florescent lights, use a large softbox—a 4×6 or a 52-inch octa—to get very pretty, soft light.

 

If you want more directional light, use a strip with your constant lights; the light source is so diffused that it does not become specular in the smaller box. This is one of the only times I do not use a grid with my strip. If you want more directional light with your strobe, use a small box, maybe a 2×3, but be very carful using a strobe with a strip; a strobe is too specular, making your light way too hard.

 

Though glamour has many definitions, my version works for my studio and my clients.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

Applying Glamour Techniques for Stand Out Weddings and Headshots

January 1st, 2017

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Applying Glamour Techniques for Stand Out Weddings and Headshots with Phillip Blume

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

Use your best James Cagney impersonation while reading the following: “Mmm, those dirty rats! They’ve hoodwinked us, see? They made us believe glamour was only for the bedroom. Well, I’m sick of carrying cameras and shooting naked women!”

 

If you aren’t sure who James Cagney is, get some culture, ya filthy animal. On the other hand, if you aren’t entirely sure how to define glamour photography, I might find it in my heart to forgive you. After all, its meaning has changed a lot over time.

 

In the era of Cagney’s gangster films, glamour was associated with the bright lights of Old Hollywood sets. Imagine almost any frame from an Ingrid Bergman or early Audrey Hepburn film, and you can envision the high-contrast black-and-white glamour of classic Hollywood. Long before cinema was born, the word glamour meant a magical spell that made reality look different to its targets.

 

That’s how I prefer to think about glamour photography—not as erotic photography, but as a set of magical techniques early Hollywood used so well to lift subjects out of the everyday and place them on a pedestal of perfection. Perhaps they were not what they seemed, but they represented an ideal.

 

With that in mind, let’s look at a few of those techniques and how to apply them for “perfection” in our wedding and headshot photography.

 

  1. Greater Contrast Ratio

 

Old Hollywood largely relied on bright lights to illuminate stages for low-tech cameras that struggled to see in the dark. The result was that iconic high contrast, a mix of both dark shadows and well-exposed highlights in the same image. The glamorous light conveniently suited the melodramatic themes of classic cinema. What is exciting about today’s high-ISO cameras is that they allow us to achieve the same look, whether we use supplemental off-camera strobes or stick with natural light.

 

But where do you find that kind of light? You have to know where to look.

 

When shooting available light, look for naturally glamorous light anywhere indirect sun is filtering in from one direction. Look down an alley, under a low-hanging tree bough or in a large entryway. The important thing is to make certain the light is coming into your space only through a relatively narrow opening. An awning over a long walkway is probably no good since light is still coming in from all around. The point is to not block overhead light, but to leave your subject mostly in shadow and underexposed. Deep shadows create a sense of mystery in glamour photography. A singularly controlled light, then, allows you to draw attention only to the most flattering and desirable elements of a face or body.

 

Remember the inverse square law? It’s crucial to getting your lighting ratios right. As light travels, it loses its power a lot faster than you might expect. Wedding photographers pay homage to this principle in ugly getting-ready rooms every time they shoot a portrait by window light.

 

You learn quickly that if you want that trendy bright and airy bridal portrait, you have to move the bride farther from the window. If you’re too close to the light source, the front of her white dress looks blown out, even as the back of the dress (farthest from the window) disappears into shadow or ugly orange hotel light.

 

For glamour, though, you want that quick falloff. Move your subject closer to the light source and expose for the highlights. You’re not trying to show everything in your glamour portrait. Let the background go dark and crop away the unimportant bits. This is your perfect opportunity to light those glamorous details, too.

 

I love the control I get with portable strobes, which allow me to create glamour light in any environment. Don’t get confused: High-contrast light is not necessarily the same as “hard light.” In fact, I tend to shoot through an umbrella that is as close as possible to my subject. This creates softer, flattering, romantic light without a hard edge. But because the light is close to my subject, the falloff is still quicker. That means more shadows, more specific points of interest left in the light and more glamour.

 

  1. Higher, Faster, Farther

 

Now, where to place your light for a glamour look? Think “higher, faster, farther.” Subjects tend to look more glamorous under a more elevated keylight, which accentuates the shape of the face and cheekbones, casts shadows down the nose and neck, and brightens the eyes.

 

If you’re totally dependent on natural light, this might mean waiting until the perfect moment before sunset, or “golden hour,” when the sun is overhead at a 45-degree angle to your subject (or even higher, but never directly overhead). To complete the effect, have your subject face the sun, but turn her face aside until a shadow is cast along one side of her face. An overcast day will also get in the way of this look; the last thing you want is omnidirectional light filling in your shadows. Look for direct sunlight, and feel free to soften it with a diffuser—as long as you keep it directional.

 

As the sun drops lower, you can create a unique but equally glamorous shot using sunlight behind your subject. Now that the sun is near the horizon (too low to cast those shadows down the cheek and neck), turn your model around. Keep the sun itself out of frame to reduce flair, or place your subject’s body directly between your camera and the sun to obscure it entirely. Either way, your model is now glowing with a seemingly celestial light. You can bring in a reflector (high above your model’s eyeline but not so high as to leave her eye sockets dark) and direct the sun’s rays down across her face. For glamour, a silver cover on your reflector works wonders—it increases the power of the reflected light and magnifies your high-contrast look, plus it lends additional specular highlights reminiscent of Old Hollywood.

 

The point is to make sure the main light is farther from you, always coming in from a different direction than your shooting angle. Your camera and the light need to stay farther apart, so this is not a genre for on-camera flash shooters. (Well, that’s only partly true, as I’ll demonstrate in the video below.)

 

If you’re using a strobe, place your light farther around the side of your model than you’re used to. Get used to extreme light angles. Again, raise it higher and point it down more sharply. Have an assistant lift the stand and dangle it over your subject, aiming it at the ground in front of them. This technique, known as “tabletopping,” shapes cheekbones dramatically. If you use a softbox or umbrella, the indirect rays coming through the modifier will light your subject, while the middle of your light (pointed toward the ground or a reflector below) will bounce back up and help fill any shadows that are too deep with lost information.

 

The “faster” part comes into play with strobe, too. For manual strobe, you’re limited by your camera’s shutter sync speed. You can’t shoot faster than about 1/200 second on most cameras, so don’t shoot any slower than that, either. In general, you want to keep out as much ambient light as possible, guiding your viewer with the light you’re adding to the scene.

 

  1. Multilight Setups and Natural Direction of Light

 

I’ve heard it said that effective commercial photography is often the result of “more flashes, more specifically focused on more elements of the image.” That’s certainly the case for many old and glamorous films, and for cinema today. For glamour photography, it doesn’t hurt to get brave and make the big jump into multilight setups. For now, though, let’s just touch on the value of using at least two lights.

 

Glamour requires something the art world calls “sprezzatura.” Your subject should look unaffected, distant and transcendent. One way to make any model seem “above the fray” or even otherworldly is to subtly defy the laws of nature.

 

A photographer should generally position any off-camera light to illuminate his subject from the same direction as the natural light visible in the image. In other words, if the clouds and trees in your background are lit by the sun from frame left, you should also light your bride from frame left. Although the lighting now looks beautiful, it’s not too good to be true—you’ve created the illusion that all the light in the image is natural.

 

Glamour gives you the opportunity to learn the rules so you can break them. So mix things up and try a cross-lit pattern—a hair light from camera left, a keylight from camera right. Or, while shooting outdoors, set up so that the setting sun paints your background directionally from camera right, then light your subject from high camera left. The composition can be stark or subtle, but it leaves the viewer with that glamorous flavor in her mouth, as if the subject is unaffected by the laws of nature, illuminated by celestial light.

 

  1. Set the Scene (Props, Locations, Play of Light)

 

Finally, keep in mind that glamour techniques are not suitable in every situation. If you’re shooting portraits or a wedding at a classic art deco building, you want to pull these tricks out of your bag. But while shooting a barn wedding, not so much. I like to play with glamour style during the individual bridal portraits and groom’s portraits on a wedding day. During a headshot session, I always get my standard, well-lit money shots first. That’s what clients are paying for. But I never miss the opportunity to create more stylized glamour shots to keep myself creative and impress the client. These images aren’t about smiling at the camera; direct the expression (as I’ll show you in the video below) to add to the mood. The more glamorous shots are often what clients choose for book covers and album sleeves.

 

Glamour photography may sometimes seem like an advanced, unobtainable genre with too much fancy technique. It’s the very glitz and glamour of this style that makes celebrity look unobtainable. That’s the power of perception. But it’s one of the best genres in which to explore and perfect light. It is a bold and unapologetic genre, full of extremes. Learn this, and then you’ll be ready to move on to the nuance and subtle techniques of any other genre.

 

To download a free behind-the-scenes lighting video shot on location with Phillip Blume, visit www.blumephotography.com/light-live-demo (this month only).

 

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Pageant Glamour: 4 Tips for Shooting Beauty Queens

January 1st, 2017

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Pageant Glamour: 4 Tips for Shooting Beauty Queens with Moshe Zusman

 

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Second to the world of modeling, the world of beauty pageants takes the cake for all its glitz and glamour. Photos of contestants need to be a step above a regular portrait.

When pageant girls step into my studio, they’re looking for a final image that represents who they are in the most fiercely confident and over-the-top, gorgeous way possible. In addition, the girls have complete trust in what I’m doing because I’ve been both a pageant photographer and judge, and their confidence in my expertise always helps.

Here are my top four tips for delivering great pageant shots to clients every single time.

  1. Set the Mood

We know this is important when we photograph any client. We have to create an environment where they can feel at ease in a normally uncomfortable situation. With my typical headshot clients, I do this by making small talk, offering them something to drink and so on. With my pageant girls, I do the same, and then some.

In addition to making them feel comfortable, I need to make them feel “confidently beautiful” (a theme of the Miss Universe pageant), and that doesn’t always come easy, even to beauty queens. As an added way to make them feel as beautiful as they are, I have a hair and makeup stylist on site. Stylists primp and make her feel like she’s being taken care of. Getting the right makeup artist is key to this because they also need to know how to make the subjects feel amazing.

Music is the final key to mood-setting. It’s always amazing to watch how quickly the right music can bring people into the right mindset and drastically change the expressions I’m getting from my subjects. On pageant shoots, I have upbeat music with a hint of sexy in it, which works every time.

  1. Lighting

When I photograph headshots, I usually start with a butterfly lighting setup. With fashion and pageants, I go for a more glamorous look, so I start with a clamshell setup and work my way from there. I use a Profoto D1 1,000-watt strobe just above my client’s face with a 2×3 softbox positioned horizontally. I use my 1,000-watt light because I want to shoot with higher apertures to get the most detail and sharpness as possible throughout the entire image.

Then, I have either a reflector or another Profoto D1 250-watt light just below her face with a 1×3 gridded softbox also positioned horizontally. It’s a run-of-the-mill beauty light setup that creates a gorgeous catchlight in the eye and highlights the subject’s cheekbones for a glamorous lighting pattern on the face.

Depending on the look we’re going for, I throw in a hair or rim light with my Profoto D1 500-watt strobe. I adjust the clamshell setup to utilize my Profoto soft-white reflector (beauty dish) instead of the softbox, and have fun from there. The key thing is to remember to never lose the catchlight in their eyes and watch for any harsh shadows underneath the chin.

  1. Posing and Props

There are two types of pageant shoots. I take photos for girls who need them for their application to the beauty contest, and that they’ll use in the pageant program and for judges’ eyes later during the competition. I also photograph the titleholders: girls who have just won a competition and need their winning photo session results. Their photos will be used for publicity and for the next-level competition (Miss Maryland would then be competing for Miss USA).

For submission images, the photo needs to be representative of how the woman looks in person. The judges see this photo before meeting her, and if it’s overly retouched to the point that they don’t recognize her when she walks into her interview, it will annoy the judges. The photo should be posed naturally, not too sexy, and accentuate her best features. If she has great teeth, have her show off her beautiful smile. If she has great hair, highlight that. You want to create an image that is beautiful and more than just a headshot, but also one that is a true reflection of who the girl is and what she looks like.

For titleholders, we add sashes and crowns. It can be a little tricky to work with props like these without making the image look cheesy. You’ll develop your own style. I take the traditional image of the winner wearing the crown and sash, then play with her positioning, putting her anywhere but where she is supposed to be.

In contrast to the submission photos, titleholder photos should be over-the-top sexy and glamorous. Concentrate on her best features, but add more sultry posing and varying expressions. Whatever the girl is good at, go for it. The only caveat is to know the difference between a Miss and a Miss Teen. Teens shouldn’t look too sexy, while more mature contestants can be a bit more provocative.

There is also a difference between Miss USA and Miss America. Miss America is like the “girl next door,” while Miss USA is the girl you wish lived next door. You can’t go too sexy with Miss USA.

  1. Post-Processing

Again, remember what kind of shoot you’re doing. Submission photos shouldn’t be overly retouched or alter how a girl looks since judges don’t like deception.

Titleholder shots can be retouched more heavily. Go to town with the retouching. Lower the shoulders to extend the neck, smooth out the skin, and brighten the eyes and smile. Take care of any blemishes and flyaway hairs. Nip and tuck as you see fit. These photos will be used for the next level of competition, and judges look for flaws first.

Want to see how we work firsthand? Get yourself to ShutterFest 2017, where I’ll be doing a live beauty queen photo session complete with music, hair, makeup and everything I talked about here. It’s going to be the most talked-about session at the show, so don’t miss it.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

10 Things You Need To Do For Your Business in 2017

January 1st, 2017

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10 Things You Need To Do For Your Business in 2017 with Laurin Thienes

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Welcome to 2017. For some of you, it may feel like the photography world is closing in on you, and closing in fast. But as we start the new year, if you have ever felt that you are like a fish out of water in this wild and crazy industry, there are ways to stay away from that feeling the world is collapsing. Hopefully, one or all of these 10 tips for keeping your head in the game will help you create your best year yet.

 

Keep a sharp pencil.

 

It seems simple to record your expenses and your income for your business, right? Wrong. The number of conversations I have with photographers who do at least one of the following is staggering: keeping a separate business bank account, mixing personal expenses with business expenses, not knowing profit margins, thinking they’re making money when they aren’t…. The list goes on. Running into financial issues creates the wrong kind of stress, both personally and professionally. There is a simple way to avoid it: Know where your money is going. It doesn’t need to be a complex model. Just tracking your income and knowing whether or not you are profitable is half the battle.

 

Cut out the cancer.

 

This topic alone could fill a book. Let’s break it down with this one simple sentence: Remove the people from your life who hold you back and are not helping you get to where you want to be. I feel like I should be yelling that statement from the rooftops. Every entrepreneur has people around who are negative, who are jealous of your successes, and who love to rub salt in the wounds of failures. You don’t need these people around you. It’s a simple test to ask yourself: Are you a positive person in my life? If yes, they can stay. If no, cut the cancer.

 

Make “laser focus” the new standard.

 

I’m an artist with attention deficit disorder. Focus is not my middle name. Hell, focus is barely in my vocabulary. And I know I’m not alone. Laser focus has to be a priority. Focus on your mission every day. Set your goals for the year. Then, once a month or once a week, refocus those goals. As part of your daily morning routine, reflect on what you will do that day to further those goals. And stick with it—no matter what else is going on, no matter how big or small the task, always be doing something to better your business.

 

Shoot for yourself.

 

It’s easy to get into a routine where the only work you shoot is paid work. Making money is all fine and good, but making images for you can be creatively liberating. Maybe it is test shoots to try out new poses or conquering off-camera flash. Maybe it is getting a press pass and shooting a college sporting event. Maybe it’s setting up an elaborate fashion shoot. Whatever the concept is, shoot for you. The most successful pros in the world make time to shoot for themselves. This sets the stage for honing your skills and advancing the quality of your work.

 

Create a yearlong project.

 

This idea is not for everyone. A yearlong project takes shooting for yourself to a whole different level. This is where planning, concept and technical skills all mix and are taken to the extreme. Think visual art. Think conceptual ideas. Think thought-provoking imagery. It can really boost your skills and vision. Perhaps this even turns into a gallery showing at a later date. Any publicity is good publicity.

 

Upgrade your gear.

 

Everyone wants the newest, greatest, most expensive toys. But it’s easy to forego buying new equipment because you don’t “need” it. While I am the king of justification, sometimes adding a new lens or lighting equipment can be a boon to your business. Can that new piece of glass help you think differently? Capture different images? No, you probably don’t need it, but it might force you to leave your comfort zone and create things you never thought possible. Purchase something that you normally would not think you would use regularly, such as a tilt shift, fisheye or Lensbaby, and challenge yourself to use it on every shoot.

 

Outsource.

 

Come on, you knew this was coming. I love outsourcing. But surprise, I’m not just talking about outsourcing your post-production (yes, do that too!). What do you do today that distracts you from your business? Do you really have to spend two or three hours on yardwork each weekend, or is the few bucks you pay the neighbor kid a better use of your time? Should you be trying to manage all your bookkeeping/accounting needs, or is that better left to the professionals? How much time would that save? Can that time be reinvested in your business? Recognize the value of your time, and focus on things of bigger value—both quantifiable and nonquantifiable.

 

Invest in your brand.

 

Does your website look like it was made with Geocities? It’s like a bad dad joke, but many photographers and business owners have not embraced the 21st century. What about your logo? does it look like it was designed in Microsoft Paint? Whether you have a big or small budget for a new logo or website, these two things can almost always use an upgrade or refresh. As you look inward, are there other things that can change your client’s experience? Better packaging? Betting communication? Better products? Just because it’s what you’ve always done does not mean it is the correct or best way.

 

Network.

 

The first part of the year is always full of great trade shows and conferences. I’ll shamelessly plug ShutterFest as one of these. Go there. Have conversations with peers. Play with gear and products you would normally not be able to see, touch or feel. Most importantly, create a network of people you trust, a network of photographers you can ask questions without feeling awkward. To network, you have to push through your shyness. Your local chamber of commerce is a good place to start. If not there, many cities have small-business groups that you can get involved in to meet other small-business owners. Draw on their experiences, and, who knows, you might find your next whale client.

 

Invent a better you.

 

I’m not a shrink and I don’t necessarily buy into the “me day” mantra. But what I do know is that all of us can always become better people and better business owners. Communication with those around me is a constant cause of tension. It is easy to put all my energy into the business day to day, but then fail at communicating elsewhere. I strive every day to improve my communication skills.

 

Learning (and sticking with) fundamental business skills can be life changing. Even though change is hard, learning these new skills will help you become a better version of yourself. Can you be a motivation to those around you? Can you learn the skills to become that motivation?

 

Hopefully you are able to apply some or all of these ideas to help focus and shape what 2017 looks like for your business. I apply them every day to myself and my business. Some I apply better than others, and I constantly strive to better those weaker areas. Each year that passes gives us more time and experiences to reflect on—to look inward at what went right, what went wrong and how we can come out the other side better.

 

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Edgy Black & White Fashion Lighting

January 1st, 2017

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Edgy Black & White Fashion Lighting with Michael Corsentino

 

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Working With a Team

 

When you work as part of a team focused on a common goal, the results are almost always far better than those produced working alone. Collaborations are the de facto workflow for fashion, editorial and commercial shoots. Your team typically includes one or more models, assistants, a wardrobe stylist, a hairstylist, a makeup artist and the client.

 

When you’re tasked with producing images based on someone else’s concept (which is standard with fashion, editorial and commercial work), communication is key. Mood boards can help keep the team focused on the desired result. These are collections of images grouped together by category. You can use PDFs, Word documents, folders in Dropbox or a Pinterest board. It doesn’t really matter how you do it, as long as everyone is clear on the mission statement for the shoot and the expected deliverables. Make sure everyone on your team is in sync.

 

The Concept

 

The concept for this editorial fashion shoot for wardrobe stylist Rachel Nicole Velez was “androgyny.” Rachel emailed two mood boards to me, our model Audra Seay, and our hair and makeup artist Evelyn V. Ruiz Resto. One board was for the lighting and general mood, and one was for hair and makeup. The boards conveyed a strong, masculine look in the lighting, wardrobe, hair and makeup, and the model’s poses, movement and expressions.

 

We all agreed that to create visual tension, we needed to juxtapose Audra’s strong femininity with a more masculine styling. We also decided to use edgy lighting, contrast between black-and-white elements, and a strong use of patterns for the hard-edged look we wanted.

 

Light Design

 

Now that I knew the desired look for the images, choosing the tools and techniques to create that look was straightforward. This is the value of having a plan—you’re not flying blind. The look for the shoot called for black-and-white final images with a harder, contrasty quality of light. My plan was to shoot a variety of images, from tight to wide, of each of the two looks we’d be capturing. I needed to create a lighting plan that illuminated both the face and garments for head and shoulders, detail, three-quarter length and full-figure captures (see “Varying Poses for Layouts” below). These considerations helped me create a lighting roadmap to achieve these goals.

 

Choosing the Right Lighting Tools

 

I chose a Mola Softlights Sollo beauty dish for my keylight and an Elinchrom 20×51-inch Strip Softbox for fill. We placed this second light just below the keylight to help create even illumination from top to bottom, especially useful when capturing full-figure images.

 

The Mola has a highly reflective silver interior with a deep conical shape and a white opal glass diffusion disc in its center. This modifier creates beautiful, cool-toned, contrasty light with a slightly softer center core owing to the diffusion disc. It was the perfect tool for the edgy black-and-white fashion look we wanted.

 

When you use this kind of modifier, more light will be thrown onto the scene. This is known as the efficiency of the modifier. The more reflective the interior, the more efficient they are at delivering the light from the strobe inside.

 

I’d initially planned a separate lighting zone for the background comprising four 500WS strobes, but ended up not needing them. I call that a win. By keeping the model and lights relatively close to the background, I was able to achieve the look I wanted with a much easier-to-manage two-light setup that also required a lot less space to execute.

 

We placed the keylight and stripbox 7 to 8 feet away from the subject, who was 2 feet from the background cyclorama wall. This arrangement provided the coverage we needed to capture everything: full-figure movement shots, head and shoulders, and detail images.

 

Using a Meter

 

Readers of this column know I’m a big fan of handheld light meters. I use one on just about every shoot, especially if that shoot involves strobes. You can spend 15 minutes fiddling with your camera settings, repeatedly adjusting your lights and endlessly chimping. Or, you can use a handheld flash meter and capture a perfect exposure the first time you click the shutter. There’s no better way to inspire confidence in your clients, talent and team than showing them a prefect image the first time you step behind the camera.

 

Unlike your DSLR’s built-in light meter, handheld meters allow you to measure light in two ways: by taking an incident reading or a reflective reading. Your DSLR relies on less accurate reflective metering. What that means is your camera’s meter measures the light being reflected off whatever you’re photographing.

 

In the images in this feature, you see a tremendous amount of variation in the amount of light reflected from the white and black elements in the same picture. Here we have black fabric, dark skin, a white background, white clothes with black stripes—all of these elements reflect very different amounts of light.

 

With the incident readings possible with a handheld meter, all of this becomes immaterial. This is because incident readings measure the light falling on the scene rather than being reflected from it. Consequently, incident readings are far more accurate and less prone to error in high-contrast situations like this one.

 

Directing Models

 

When directing models, the photographer is like a film a director. You’re trying to create a mood, feeling or look. Learning to interact with and direct your models is essential to getting the expressions, poses, movement and attitude you’re after. You must be proactive. Being a wallflower simply won’t cut it. Take baby steps—it gets easier. Coach your models. Reassure and praise them throughout the shoot.

 

Varying Poses for Layouts
I’ve touched on this in previous articles, and it’s worth repeating. Regardless of the type of photography you’re doing, variety is king. If your end product is a magazine layout, a series of ads or spreads in an album, you want variety. By creating an assortment of images—some wide, some tight, some detail shots—you give yourself or your client the options needed to create much more interesting layouts. By pairing tight shots with wide ones, full-figure images with detail images, head shots with three-quarter images, you’ll create the contrast of scale between images you see constantly in editorial work. Your client wants options, the designer wants options, you want options—so shoot tight, shoot wide and shoot details.

 

Creating the Right Black-and-White Look

 

The great thing about applications like Capture One Pro and Lightroom is they allow you shoot tethered, which I always do. But it gets even better. Not only can you shoot tethered, you can also do it in black and white or anything else your heart desires.

 

These applications let you create or select a preexisting black-and-white recipe that’s applied to your images as you’re shooting them. This way, every image that pops up on your monitor or laptop is already being displayed as black and white. This is indispensable, saving a ton of back and forth when refining the final look of the images with your team, because you’re doing it on set in real time.

 

Using Capture One Pro, my team and I were able to select a black-and-white preset we loved from a variety of awesome styles, and have our processing look nailed down right out of the gate.

 

This is helpful for tweaking your lighting as well, because different black-and-white conversions impact the shadows and highlights very differently. If you know going in what the finals will look like, it makes dialing in your lighting that much easier.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

21 Tips for Getting the Most out of Photography Conventions and Trade Shows

January 1st, 2017

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21 Tips for Getting the Most out of Photography Conventions and Trade Shows with Skip Cohen

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

It’s suddenly the new year, which means trade show season is about to kick off. Most of you will make it to at least one convention or conference between now and the end of April. Sadly, many of you will also waste time and money from the minute you walk into the convention hall to the time you get home.

 

This isn’t a new topic for me to share. Having spent over 35 years attending conventions, both as consumer and exhibitor, I’ve learned the return on your investment is only as good as the planning you put in before you start the trip.

 

It’s time to put together a complete recipe for success at every conference you attend.

 

  1. Why are you attending?
    Before you commit to any convention, think through why you want to go. “To thine own self be true” should be your mantra. Think about where you need the most help. Think through your goals for 2017—what do you need to achieve them?

 

  1. What companies are you working with?
    Make a list of every manufacturer and vendor whose equipment or services you use. No matter what role they play in your business, put them on the list.

 

  1. Who’s exhibiting?
    Every company and association that hosts a convention publishes the exhibitor list online well in advance. Review the list and isolate those companies whose products/services you use. They’re a must-see at any trade show. This isn’t about just knowing their product line, but about building your network. At some point, everybody has a crisis. A great network is key to getting the help you need as quickly as possible. Every product and service you use should be represented by at least one contact name of somebody you’ve met.

 

  1. Need new equipment?
    If you’re in need of specific equipment, know your financial strength before you walk into the show. What’s your budget for 2017? I’m a huge fan of renting and leasing equipment. It doesn’t tie up your cash flow, and you get to use somebody else’s assets without depleting yours.

 

  1. How’s your skillset?
    Every conference offers an extensive list of programs, but people often flock to the most popular speakers simply because they’re entertaining. Once again, it’s about being true to yourself. Think through what you’re missing in your skillset. What techniques do you need help with? The complete platform of speakers/classes is available online. Review the list and pick programs with topics in which you need the most help. And always attend at least two programs completely out of your comfort zone.

 

  1. Exhibitor activities
    As you review the exhibitor list, check out in-booth programming. Many exhibitors have guest speakers presenting in their booth on the trade show floor. At a convention last year, Profoto had 22 speakers over a three-day period. In-booth mini-workshops allow you to meet industry icons face to face.

 

  1. Pre- and post-show events
    As many of the conferences have grown, so has the availability of excellent education. Look for special events going on before or after the convention. The key is to get the most bang for your buck, and if you’re already on the road, why not expand your education with another day or two of education? ShutterFest, for one, offers “Extreme,” which is an intense hands-on experience taking place after the general conference.

 

  1. Schedule meetings
    If there is somebody you want to meet with at a convention, set it up in advance. There are few things more hectic than a busy trade show. You’ll only be disappointed if you try to schedule a meeting with someone you bump into at a conference.
  2. Print a postcard
    There’s nothing worse than working a busy trade show and having a photographer put his iPad in your face and start showing you his portfolio. It’s not a problem if it’s a scheduled meeting, but this sort of “cold call” is the wrong way to go. Instead, print up a postcard-size piece showing three to five of your very best images on one side, and your contact information on the other. I’ve always liked oversized cards. While they’re more expensive, you’re not printing thousands of them. Also, don’t forget your business cards.

 

  1. Don’t be a storm trooper
    Something strange happens with too many of you in the chaos and excitement of a convention: You forget your most basic manners. If you see a person you’d like to talk to but they’re already in a conversation with somebody else, wait your turn. When you get their attention, ask if it’s a good time to talk. Be willing to come back later or call them after the convention.

 

  1. Breakfast, lunch and dinner
    Never eat alone. Meals are the perfect time to network. The social side of a convention is incredibly productive, but not if you’re only spending time alone or with people you already know. Find a balance between friends and potential associates.

 

  1. Never miss the bell
    You snooze, you lose. There are few things as fun as going out with friends and barhopping in a convention city. But you’re at the show for a reason, and if you need to sleep in late the following morning, your evening out with friends might become the most expensive investment you make in the show, especially if you miss appointments or presentations.

 

  1. Reservations
    If you’re attending a larger convention, make a few dinner reservations in advance. It’s no fun when you’ve worked to get people together for dinner and can’t find a place to eat within a decent timeframe.

 

  1. Walking the trade show
    Start in one corner and work every aisle. Technology changes so fast. You never know what new companies and products you might find. You don’t need to stop at every booth. Just keep your eyes and ears open for products and services that might help you build a stronger business.

 

  1. Meeting the icons
    My buddy Brian Malloy wrote this in a guest post about conventions a few years ago: “Keep an eye open for your heroes, and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to them. I have met photographers whose work I have admired for years, and finally got the chance to chat with them and thank them for inspiring me.”

 

  1. Evaluate each day
    At the end of each day, look over the literature you picked up at the show. Write down who you met that day. List anything you promised somebody you’d mail to them when you get back, return phone calls, etc. This is also the perfect time to look at your progress on your hit list of companies and people you wanted to meet.

 

  1. Follow-up
    When you have been lucky enough to get time with somebody, especially an exhibitor, send them a thank-you note when you get home. Yep, a good old-fashioned thank-you note. It’s even better if you use customized stationery with one of your images on it.

 

  1. Photographs
    Take a decent camera. I know everybody has a cellphone, but you just might find something here and there that deserves better. My camera of choice is the LUMIX FZ300 with a 25–600 zoom, perfect for anything that comes along. Whatever you travel with, just make sure you can get great images suitable for publishing or sharing later.

 

  1. Publicity shots
    Take a few shots of you interacting with other photographers and vendors. Good images like this are perfect for publicity releases after the convention. If you meet with a new album company, get a shot of you and the vendor that you can use later in a press release announcing the new products to your clients.

 

  1. Network
    The greatest benefit of any convention is expanding your network. At every program you attend, talk with people around you. Introduce yourself, exchange business cards and discuss why you’re at the convention. Afterward, follow up with people you hit it off with, and keep in touch.

 

  1. Comfort
    I made a mistake 20 years ago at Photokina in Germany, where I wore a brand-new pair of loafers. I was limping after just two hours. Wear comfortable shoes. Don’t worry about making a fashion statement. You’re going to be on your feet all day. Stay hydrated. Pick up a bottle of water each morning on your way out of the hotel.

 

Here’s the bottom line, the reason I’m emphatic about planning every convention trip: Time is your most valuable commodity. You’ll never have enough of it. Attend every possible convention, conference and workshop you can. Plan your experience in advance, and then evaluate each one when you’re home.

 

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