Thursday, May 24, 2007

Advice for aspiring photographers...

I was recently asked what advice I would give photographers just starting out. As you have probably figured out, I like lists, so here's a list of my advice!
  • Follow your passion. Shoot in a the way that you like and inspires you. Don't get caught in the trap of "the way things should be done."
  • Be yourself. No matter how much you like a particular website, a person's work, their choice in music, or the clever way they wrote their "About me" page, DON'T COPY IT. Being inspired to a better level is good, but be yourself.
  • Learn about light and learn how to see light.
  • Don't be afraid to screw up. I throw out 3 out of every 4 images I shoot. I make mistakes on purpose just to see if I might get something cool.
  • Learn the "rules" of composition. Sometimes they help to make things interesting. Other times, just throw them out the window to try something interesting.
  • Be a good business person. If you have trouble with some aspect of business - reading a profit and loss report, marketing, or anything else - figure out how to do it better. Whether that is by reading a book, finding a mentor, or hiring someone that does that well.
  • Show people what you want them to hire you to do. If you love to do traditional portraiture, show books and images that highlight that. If you don't care if you ever do another family group photo, why have an album filled with them?
  • Backup gear is important.
That's my list! If anyone has something to add to it, post it!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I quite often get questions about what kind of gear I use. I'll happily tell you all, but first I have to get on my soapbox.

The most important piece of gear you will ever have in photography, is the gray thing sloshing around in your noggin! Gear is just a means to an end. Great photographers can create great images with cheap gear and horrible photographers can buy all the gear they want and it won't make any difference!

Here is the gear I use at almost every wedding:
-Canon 30D & 20D cameras
-Tokina 12-24 f4
-Canon 17-55 f2.8 IS
-Canon 50 f1.4
-Canon 85 f1.8
-Sigma 70-200 2.8 HSM
-Canon 550EX x2
-Canon 580EX

I have a whole bunch of other stuff that I sometimes use, but this makes my main kit.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Business - Make more money and provide better service!!!

Many times I've struggled with the idea of sales and trying to sell more to my clients. I don't like to feel pushy or like I am trying to milk people for more money. My attitude towards sales has changed significantly in the last couple of years. Namely, I no longer assume that my clients work with the same budget that I would have.

I believe this new attitude towards selling things has actually increased my clients overall satisfaction. I still don't like the words sales or selling, because it sounds like I am pushing things that a client might not want. What I actually do is show my clients what is possible, tell them what I think would be really fun and cool to do with their photographs, and see if they have any interest in doing it. Instead of thinking, "They have spent quite a bit, do I show them something else?" I think, "What would be really fun to do with this couple (or these images) would be to..." Then I let them decide.

To give you an idea, I have a couple that wanted some engagement portraits for their local newspaper. Because I thought it would be cool, I showed them an album that I have done with engagement portraits. They loved the idea and are making a book. They are happy because they get a cool album with their engagement portraits. I am happy because I get to make something cool with their portraits. Also, my bank account is happy because I made a profit on it.