Friday, July 30, 2010

The Friday Fix - 7/30/10

You know how you get a song stuck in your head? When you wake up in the morning, there it is. When you're doing chores, there it is. Even though you listen to it, hoping that will satisfy whatever is going on inside your head, it's still stuck in there. It's actually called an ear worm. Not sure how they came up with that name, but that's what it's called.

Well, this week I've not just had a song stuck in my head, but an entire album. My mind randomly hops from one song to the next. I'll start humming one song and a few minutes later be humming another. Belinda says I'm weird. I say I've just got a family of ear worms.

This week that album was MGMT's Oracular Spectacular. This is an amazing album. Just about every song is ear worm-worthy. It's one of those albums that you listen to for the first time and feel like you've been listening to it forever. It just feels familiar. It's been playing almost non-stop this week.

Another little kick I've been on is the Basement Jaxx. Ever since I heard "Rendez-Vu" (from their Remedy album) on KCSU back in college I was hooked. Their sound is very distinct, but not in a weird way. It's the kind of music that you put on and people ask you, "Who is this?". It makes you feel cool (both the music and people asking who the music is). It's perfect for an energy boost or for a drive across town.

When I wasn't listening to MGMT or Basement Jaxx, I had Pig Radio going in the background. Ever since our beloved WOXY went away we've been looking for a replacement. While Pig Radio doesn't replace WOXY, it certainly has a nice playlist that doesn't get old over the course of a day.

That does it for this week. I'll be on vacation for the next few weeks, so I won't be listening to much music. Once I return, though, I'm sure I'll have plenty of editing to do, which means lots of music!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Abla - Overland HS Senior

When you head outside of the studio and shoot with natural light, you become a hunter. You're constantly on the lookout for pools of good light and when you find a good one the results can be amazing. Fortunately, during Abla's session we were flooded with good light and we've got the photos to prove it!

Abla is going to be a senior at Overland High School in 2011. When we sat down to discuss her photos, she had just returned from an out of state FBLA conference. She's the Colorado FBLA Vice President and her school FBLA president. She's also an honors student and a self-described "girly tomboy". Add a wonderful personality to the mix and you've got someone who you'd love to spend an afternoon with!

We spent our afternoon in downtown Denver, wandering around bridges, alleys and parking garages. Although it might sound a little sketchy, when you're hunting for light you never stray into the dark places. We were always skirting the boundaries between the bustle of public streets and the quiet of removed alcoves where the good light likes to hide.

Although there was a threat of thunderstorms, all we got was a gloriously thin cloud-cover to diffuse the sun and a little wind to stir up Abla's hair and cool things down a bit. To be honest, although our two hour session stretched to two and a half hours, I could have easily turned it into a four hour session. It was that kind of a day. Unfortunately, Abla had places to go and people to see.

We said goodbye and, as I got into my vehicle and headed home, I could feel my camera sitting next to me, calling me. I knew that there were some good photos sitting there, but I wouldn't be able to look at them until I got home. As I always do, I replayed parts of the day in my head while I drove. I thought of some should-haves and started to wonder if the photos were going to be as good as I had hoped. Once I got home and took a look at them, any fears or doubts I had vanished. We went out hunting for light. We came back with amazing images. See more here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bianca - Elizabeth HS Senior

Some people are just comfortable in front of the camera. They know how to smile so it looks natural and not cheesy. They know how to not smile and not look upset. They don't mind getting a little goofy and letting loose. And, most importantly, almost all of their photos look amazing! Bianca is one of these people.

Bianca is going to be a Senior at Elizabeth High School in 2011. When we first met, she knew exactly what she wanted from her photos: urban, graffiti, not in LoDo, not the typical senior portraits. She doesn't know it, but right then I was doing a happy dance inside my head. Not only did she know what she wanted, but she'd looked at my work and liked my style. Bonus! Not only that, but her dad's a cop in Denver and knows where the good graffiti is. Double Bonus!

We set a date for a Sunday evening on Santa Fe Blvd. Although it was a hot day, there was some nice cloud cover that helped keep the temperature bearable (as well as the light awesome). There were also hardly any people around, which pretty much meant we could shoot anywhere we wanted to.

To get a more urban feel, we spent most of our time in alleys. Alleys? Yeah, you know... dumpsters, graffiti, barking dogs, funny smells... not your typical senior portraits! To be honest, we stayed away from the dumpsters and really, when it comes down to it, there is some pretty picturesque stuff in alleys! As for the dogs, only a few barked at us and they really didn't seem that into it, kind of like they felt obligated to bark but could really care less what we were doing.

One of the things I liked the most about Bianca was that she never seemed to get tired. Her smile was still just as natural and not-cheesy when we finished as when we started. She seemed to think every idea I had was a great idea (OK, maybe that's a stretch, but at least she didn't complain). I don't think she even broke a sweat! I was trying not to melt into a sweaty mess and she's as fresh as when we started. After two hours of walking around alleys in the heat her photos still looked amazing!

All good things must come to an end and our shoot had come to a close. We said our goodbyes and drove away. Of course, I thought of a bunch of different shots while I was driving home that I wish I had thought of during the shoot, but that's just the way it goes. Fortunately, we're going to meet up for a studio session in the next month, so maybe I'll get a chance to try a few of them there. One thing's for sure: I can't wait to shoot with Bianca again!

You can see more photos here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tech Tuesdays - Wedding Photographers: Total Respect

I've always considered myself a reasonable guy when it comes to gear. Sure, there's gear out there that makes me drool and think inappropriate thoughts, but for the most part I'm happy with what I have. I don't ever want something new just because it's new and cool. If I'm going to spend my money on something, it had better fill a gap in my current lineup.

A few weekends ago I shot my first wedding. I had always said that I wasn't going to shoot weddings (at least until I had some experience assisting someone else), but that didn't stop my friend Jill. She insisted that it would be fine and that it was going to be a very laid-back wedding, so no extreme photography was needed. Finally, I agreed to shoot it. Although I walked away with some great experience and wonderful images, I also walked away with a lot more respect for wedding photographers.

I know that since it was my first wedding I was a little overwhelmed, but I was amazed at how quickly things happened! When you're sitting with the rest of the guests watching a wedding it all seems to go pretty smoothly (even a little slow at times). Let me tell you, when you're trying to capture the moments as they happen, things seem to move a lot faster! I almost missed certain moments when I was like, "Oh, flower girls! I'd better get a lot of pictures because they're so cute... click, click, click... hey, you're not a flower girl. You're a bridesmaid! Uh oh." I'm sure after a few weddings you get the flow down, but it probably doesn't get a lot easier, simply because every wedding is just a little different.

So what's this have to do with technology? Like I said at the beginning of this post, I've never wanted gear just because. Sometimes I see the gear that wedding photographers use and think to myself, "That seems like overkill. Do you really need $10,000 worth of gear to shoot a wedding?" After shooting my first wedding, I could confidently say that you might not need it, but it sure would help!

Let me start with the lenses. I use primes with the exception of my 12-24mm wide-angle. They're fast and they're sharp, but there were many times when I really could have used a different focal length but didn't have time to swap lenses. Additionally, they have to be fast zooms. You can't get a zoom as fast as my 135mm/f2, but I think I'd take a 70-200 f/2.8 at a wedding just for the ability to zoom. Same with my 50mm f/1.4... it's probably my favorite lens, and I'd still use it a lot at a wedding, but it would be nice to have a 24-70mm f/2.8 as well. Even my wide 12-24mm f/4 is nice, but the f/2.8 would sure be nicer so I don't get motion blur when people are dancing!

Now let's talk camera bodies. I shoot with a D90 and love it. I rarely get envious of other people's cameras because I know I can get amazing images with my D90 as long as I've got good glass on it. If I started shooting weddings on a regular basis, though, I'd definitely upgrade to a better body. The two big limitations I ran into were low-light autofocusing and ISO performance. With ISO, the D90 is pretty awesome, but I would have loved to have been able to crank it up and get another few stops of light during the reception (which, by the way, was outdoors in Estes Park and was only lit by strings of Christmas lights... probably the most challenging light I could have asked for). It would have also been nice to have a body that autofocuses better in low light. The D90 does a good job, but I found it hunting a little too often once it got completely dark and we were partying in the glow of Christmas lights. Of course, I could have switched to manual focus, but then a bigger viewfinder would have helped quite a bit.

As for all the other gear, I felt pretty good. My flash was great, spare batteries were helpful, lots of fast memory cards kept me shooting and my camera bag... well, there will be a post on that bad boy soon! As long as I keep shooting portraits, I think I'm doing pretty good on gear, but if I get into weddings the credit card will get quite a workout!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Friday Fix - An Introduction

I spend a lot of time listening to music during the week. Whether I'm in the car driving to a shoot, in the studio during a shoot or at home editing photos, I always have music playing in the background. Music has always played a big part in my life. I've never really been able to put on the radio and just listen to whatever comes along. I pick music to fit my moods, to enhance my productivity or just to listen to whatever is stuck in my head. I'm sure it's the same for lots of people.

In an effort to make this blog a little more personal, I thought it might be fun to share the music that's influenced me over the course of each week, so every Friday I'll put together a list of my week in music. Hopefully at some point you'll find something new that you like. Maybe you'll find that we share the same taste in music. Maybe you'll despise everything that I listen to. It's all good.

So, without further ado, here is what I've been listening to this week:

- Tracey Thorn: An amazing female vocalist. Her music is dance-influenced, but pretty chill. Her solo work is incredible, but she's also the lead vocalist in Everything But The Girl. I could listen to her music all day long.
- Everything But The Girl: A duo consisting of Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt. You'd probably recognize their song "Missing" if you heard it. Again, dance music with amazing vocals. Very listenable!
- Jonsi: This guy is probably one of the top singer/songwriters of our time. Never heard of him? If you've heard Sigur Ros, he's the lead singer. It's pretty tough to describe his singing, so just do yourself a favor and check him out. Perfect for calm, background music.
- Bassdrive: Every time Belinda goes out of town, I get on a Bassdrive kick. It's just drum and bass, 24/7. Pretty intense stuff to listen to for an entire day, but it sure helps with the productivity!

That's about it for this week. I had Bassdrive on for most of the week, so there's not a lot of variety here. I wonder what next week's music will sound like? Check back next Friday and see for yourself!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


When I shoot with models, my typical style is to have a loose concept before we start shooting but allow the shoot go where it may and just let the photos happen. It almost always works out great. Lately, though, I've been trying to come up with shots in my head that I want to recreate at a shoot. Such was the case with Grace.

For this shoot, I wanted a very graceful, elegant look (just a coincidence that her name is Grace). I wanted lots of white, very high-key, but retained detail in the face and fabric. Think dreamlike.

Fortunately, Grace liked the idea I pitched at her, so I headed out to the fabric store and bought a bunch of sheer white fabric. Who knew there was so much white fabric out there! A big plus for me was that it's wedding season, so they had a lot of it and it was all on sale! I hoped for the best, picked a few that I thought would work and left with a big bag full of white fabric.

Now, since Grace was kind enough to indulge my wishes, I thought it was fair to ask if there was anything she wanted to shoot. She said that she wanted to do something with fabrics wrapped around her head. I looked for fabrics at the fabric store (yes, seems pretty obvious), but couldn't find anything I liked (seriously?). So, I grabbed a few of my wife's scarves and brought them along.

For my portion of the shoot, Grace was awesome. She just went to her own place and let me move the wind and lights around until I got the look I wanted. I love the photos and am happy to say they're almost exactly what I wanted. Almost? Yes, almost. I think they're even better than what I expected.

For her portion of the shoot, she got creative with the scarves, wrapping one around her head and another around her body, and we switched to simple, fashion-y lighting. I think the photos came out great considering she was wearing two scarves and shorts.

Although Grace has been living the good life in NYC for the past month, she just got back to town this week. I think I'll give her a call and see if she wants to shoot. My wife got a few new scarves. ;)

To see more photos from this shoot, click here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tech Tuesdays - How's Your Website?

About a year ago I built my current website. It took me a while to get it looking the way I wanted it to look, but I was pretty happy with it when I was done. A few months ago I tweaked it a bit by adding some new pages, moving the menus around and updating my galleries, but it was still pretty much the same site. I thought I had it dialed in. Imagine my surprise when I found out I was missing one of the most basic pieces of content for any website!

I'm not sure how I stumbled across it, but I was trying to change some obscure setting when I noticed that I had no meta keywords. Meta keywords are the words you place in your HTML code that help search engines find and rank your website. For example, I would use words such as "Denver, portrait, photographer" so that if someone Googled "Denver portrait photographer" Google would know that's what I do. Although they have been abused in the past and there is currently debate on whether they're even currently considered by search engines for ranking a website, it doesn't hurt anything to have them in place.

This got me thinking about what else I have let slip or overlooked with my website? Is it as optimized as I thought it was? How much business have I lost by not maintaining my site? Is this why I don't show up in the #1 position on Google?! Yeah, about that #1 Google ranking, I'm going to need a little bit more than a few keywords to get there, but the point is still valid. What other little things can I do to that will add up to make a big difference? I don't know what I still need to do, so I'd better start digging around. Next stop... world domination!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Faith and Mark

I've been friends with Faith and Mark for a few years now. Just a little over a year ago, their son Tobin came into this world. Since Day 1, he's been one of the cutest kids around. He's so well mannered and is always smiling, I'd hang out with him any day. Because he's just so darn cute, I had been bugging Faith and Mark to set up a photo shoot so I could get some photos of Tobin... I mean the family. We finally got something set up just in time for Tobin's first birthday.

When they came into the studio, Tobin was as happy as he usually is. I couldn't wait and just started taking photos. What was really interesting is that he was so interested in the flashes. Most kids don't pay any attention, but Tobin picked up on the fact that something was going on above his head. Then he figured out that every time I put my camera up to my eye, the flashes would go off, so he started looking up as soon as I raised my camera. What a smart kid!

One of my favorite shots of the day, the one you see at the top of this post, came when Tobin didn't want to sit still and kept crawling towards me. I was sitting on the ground, so I was at his level, but he definitely got out of the sweet light and picked up a few extra shadows. I really like it because of all the extra definition his face gets.

I finally decided I'd better take a few photos of Faith and Mark, just so they didn't feel too left out. They were great in front of the camera, but were happy to turn the spotlight back over to Tobin.

Then, the unthinkable happened. Tobin got a little grouchy! I've seen him at events with hundreds of people and he doesn't mind all the noise and attention. For some reason, though, today he just got tired. You know what? That's OK. Kids get tired. They cry. That's part of being a kid. I just kept taking photos and got some of those big tears running down his cheek. We got a few more smiles out of him, but the end had arrived.

Now that we've done one shoot, I don't think it will be very hard to convince Faith and Mark to set up another one. This time I'd like to take them outside and get Tobin in a natural setting. I think that would just be super-cute! I'll get Tobin with some flowers, and Tobin in the grass, and maybe he'll see a butterfly... Oh, and I guess since Faith and Mark have to bring Tobin to the shoot, maybe I'll take a few photos of them while they're there!

To see more photos from this shoot, click here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It Might Get Loud - Inspiration From Guitarists

Sometimes inspiration comes out of left field and smacks you in the face so hard you don't know what happened. Inspiration like this can speak to you, it can scare you, it can motivate you and it can paralyze you. You know it when it happens, but since you're not ready for it, you never know how you're going to react.

Imagine my surprise when I'm sitting on my couch watching the documentary "It Might Get Loud" when out of nowhere I realize that I've just been smacked by some wicked inspiration with a dash of insight! First, how about a little background on the movie...

"It Might Get Loud" is a documentary about the electric guitar. It is basically a discussion with three amazing guitarists from three different eras of music: Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, The Edge from U2, and Jack White from The White Stripes. They all talk about how they came to play guitar, who their influences were and other topics you'd expect from a documentary. The twist is that it's not about the people, or even their bands, but about the electric guitar. This is where it gets interesting.

Because it's about the guitar, you hear these guys who are masters at playing the guitar talking about how it's all about passion, creativity and soul. Then, because it's about the electric guitar, you hear them talk about how they've been able to use all these different effects pedals and processors to get just the sound they're looking for. The Edge said that he'll spend hours getting the sound that's in his head to come out of the speakers, that the sound you're hearing his guitar make is really his voice. Jimmy Page mentioned that because of distortion, you could push the guitar to do things it had never done before. Jack White said that he likes to take guitars and modify them so that they produce a sound that they're not supposed to make.

Once it occurred to me that the electric guitar is different, not because of the way it sounds, but because of what you can do to the sound, it hit me. This is like the digital era of photography! It's not the fact that it's digital instead of film that makes it so amazing, it's what you can do to the digital files that has really changed everything.

If you take all of the tools in Photoshop and try to relate them to a traditional darkroom technique, you'll quickly find that many of them just did not exist before digital photography came around. Once you step outside of Photoshop into the world of plugins and other programs, you realize that we're not just on a different page, we're in a different book in a library across town!

Photographers now have the ability to take what's in their head and make it a reality. Through the use of different programs and plugins, coupled with patience and skill, previously unheard voices can now be heard. As with anything, though, there is a catch. You have to have mastery over your camera before you can fully take advantage of everything digital has to offer.

Let's take The Edge for example. In the movie he talks about how everyone plays an E-chord. He didn't want to play it like everyone else, so he found a new way to play it. It's still the same chord, but it's more raw and open. That, in my opinion, is the most important lesson here... not only knowing the basics of your craft, but knowing enough about the mechanics and theory behind it that you can manipulate the basics to create different outcomes to suit your needs. We're not even in electric guitar territory yet. Next, he wanted to take that chord and make it sound a certain way by manipulating the sound with various effects, which is only possible with an electric guitar. By combining effects pedals, processors, different pickups and even different amplifiers he is able to get exactly the sound he's looking for.

It's not much different with cameras. Having a basic mastery with a camera is important if you want to go on and create photographs with a specific look and feel. Sure, you can go into Photoshop and mess with settings and sliders until you get lucky and create something that looks cool. That's not a bad thing. It's called experimenting. You start running into problems when it's not repeatable and your results are seemingly random.

I've always loved playing around with the different develop presets in Lightroom and seeing the different results they produce, but I usually end up choosing a more traditional look for my photos. You know what? Traditional is no longer the only option! All of those plugins are just like different effects pedals for electric guitars! Distortion might sound great in one song but sound horrible in another song. Similarly, a model might look great with high-contrast light, super-saturated colors and orange skin. Try the same thing with grandma? Maybe not...

As with guitar, photography is not only a skill but an art. Anyone can pick up a guitar, a paintbrush, a pencil or a camera and create something. With a paintbrush or a pencil, it's pretty obvious if you don't have any skill. With a guitar or a camera, it's a little harder to tell. So you know a few chords and have some cool effects pedals for your guitar? Go ahead, start a band. Best of luck to you. Oh, you've also got a fancy camera and a copy of Photoshop? You can press a few buttons in Photoshop and make your photos have cool vignettes? Go ahead, put an ad on Craigslist. Best of luck to you with that as well.

I'm not saying I'm The Edge of the camera world. I'm not. In the grand scheme of things I'm much closer to the Craigslist guy than The Edge. But that doesn't mean I don't know the difference! Just because you can do something, it doesn't mean you're good at it. And even if you're good at it, it doesn't mean that you can't get better. And even if you get better, it doesn't mean that you can't tweak it just a little bit more. And even if you tweak it just a little bit more and you've finally created exactly what you wanted, it doesn't mean that it was easy. It just means that you had the knowledge and skills to know what you wanted and take the necessary steps to achieve it.

So, where's this inspiration I was talking about? Why am I just ranting about technology and pushing buttons and plugins? My real inspiration came when The Edge said this: "Jumping off, into the unknown... you hope and have faith that the next chord or the next few notes will come to you... on occasions you get nothing and you come out feeling like a complete idiot, like you don't know anything and you can't play guitar and you can't write songs..." If The Edge can feel like that, then I can feel like that. The catch is that you've got to jump, to take the chance, not knowing if you are going to fail or succeed. I think it's fitting that The Edge helped push me over the edge...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tech Tuesdays - Camera Bags: Lowepro Rover AW II

Unless you like to live life on the edge and you don't have much gear, if you own a camera you probably own a camera bag as well. They can be viewed as a necessary evil of photography, something that you need in order to be portable, but not much more than a means to an end. Or, they can be viewed as another tool in your toolbelt that makes you a more efficient and productive photographer. Heck, a camera bag is your toolbelt!

Having the right camera bag can make a huge difference to how you operate. Choose one that's too small or difficult to access and you'll find yourself not bringing enough gear or not wanting to change lenses. Choose one that's too big and you'll find that you don't spontaneously bring it with you as often as you should. Choose one that's just right, though, and you'll be a happy camper.

My first camera bag, the Lowepro Rover AW II, was exactly what I needed when I needed it. It held my camera and a few lenses, wasn't heavy and was something that I could take on hikes. It had some room up top for a jacket or some food and held my water bottles on the sides. It did what it was supposed to do and did it well.

So how about a little more detail? The bag is essentially a backpack. It looks like one your kid might wear to school, but just a little bigger. It's not big and boxy like some camera bags. The top section (upper half of the bag) is just an open compartment, exactly like a backpack. You can put whatever you'd like in it: books, food, jacket, camera gear, etc... I've fit magazines in it, but they get a little beat up, so that should give you an idea of the size. There's also a little zippered compartment inside here for small stuff you don't want to lose.

Moving down the bag, there's a zipper that goes around the middle of the bag that unzips to open the lower section which holds your camera gear. There's a center section for your camera and 4 smaller sections for lenses. These can be reconfigured if you need more room, but I never bothered. Depending on what I was shooting, I could fit my camera body with an smaller attached lens (up to a 55-200mm) and 4 additional lenses or flashes.

On the outside of the bag there are a few small zippered compartments that I used for filters and memory cards. There's a bungee-type strap that can be used to lash a tripod, umbrella or jacket to the outside of the bag. There are a few mesh water-bottle holders on the sides, but you could use them for lots of other things instead of water bottles. When it comes down to it, this bag holds a lot of stuff.

So what happens when you fill this bag up and then have to carry it? It's actually pretty comfortable! The shoulder straps are soft. They're not big and bulky, but that also means they're not super padded. They work just fine for a bag this size unless you really overload it. There is also a chest harness that takes some of the load off of your shoulders, but my complaint about it is that I could never get the harness where I wanted it and keep it there. The buckles kept sliding down the shoulder straps! There is also a big padded strap that goes around your wait and puts more of the load on your lower back. This is great for hiking or lots of walking, but it's really bulky and inconvenient if you just want to carry your bag a short distance.

Although this bag is all weather (that's the AW in the name), I never really got to test it in the rain. I took it in the snow pretty often and nothing ever got wet. It got sprinkled on with no loss of gear, but (thankfully) I never got drenched while wearing it. There's a big flap covering the zipper that accesses the camera portion of the bag, so I'm sure that would keep water out, but I wouldn't want to risk taking this bag to a really rainy area without an exterior shell.

Sadly (OK, not really sadly), I outgrew this bag. I had too much gear that was getting spread across multiple bags. I also added a laptop to the mix, which would be physically impossible to carry in this bag. It's still a great bag after 2 years of use and I don't plan on getting rid of it. It will still come with me on hikes and street shoots where I need to travel light and not carry much gear. It did it's time and served me well. Thank you, camera bags, for all that you do!

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Let me start out by saying that I normally do not enjoy shooting in the middle of the day. The sun is bright, the shadows are harsh and it's hot. But, when someone like Trang says that's the only time they can shoot, well, you go for it.

Trang is a model from Philadelphia who was out in Denver for a few days. We connected and set up a shoot in LoDo. I'd typically head straight for some open shade, but we decided to try a few different things including full sun. Her willingness to get out in the sun (and wind) show that she's willing to take risks, for which we were both rewarded.

We started out under a bridge with sunlight pouring in from all sides. This gave the images a nice glow. Of course, anytime you're shooting in downtown Denver you have a bunch of spectators. One of Trang's newest fans even came up and had me use his cell phone to take a photo of them together! After the bridge we moved over to Confluence Park where we had no shade to work with. Fortunately, the photos look great in black and white. The photo that leads off this post was taken in full sun.

As we worked our way into LoDo, the wind really started to pick up, but Trang just worked the wind and let it blow her hair around. Once the wind got to be too much, we ducked into Union Station for a few shots. I think the guard really enjoyed watching us shoot. :)

It always happens, even if you don't want it to... it was time for the shoot to end. We'd both been blown around, pelted with dirt and baked in the sun, but we still had smiles on our faces. Sometimes it pays to go outside of your comfort zone or against conventional wisdom and try something that people tell you you shouldn't do. In this case I'm happy we did.

To see more photos from Trang's shoot, click here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tech Tuesdays - Book Review - "Big Bucks Selling Your Photography"

I try to read a lot. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I get a lot of magazines. These help keep me current on industry trends and new technology that's coming onto the market. They also serve nice, bite-sized chunks of info that are easy to digest. Sometimes, though, you want a full meal of information. Instead of the sample-platter, you want to really get to know a dish and eat the whole thing. That's when I pick up a book.

I recently finished "Big Bucks Selling Your Photography" by Cliff Hollenbeck. When I first picked up this book, I thought it would be another cheesy book (there are lots of them out there) with very superficial descriptions of how to run a business. It's not. As I flipped through the pages I realized that the person writing the book had some experience and also had some really good things to say. Not only that, but his writing style is very conversational which makes it sound a lot less like a text book. I went ahead and checked it out from the library, knowing I could return it if I didn't feel like reading it.

Not only did I end up reading the entire book, but I read parts of it twice! There isn't a single picture in the book, so don't expect anything to greet you but a bunch of words. The book is broken down into distinct chapters such as "Photography Is Your Business", "Life and Death After Taxes" and "Successful Portfolios". There are a few chapters that I skimmed (I feel pretty comfortable not reading an entire chapter on computers), and some that I read twice (I thought it might be a good idea to re-read "The Insanity Of Freelancing").

I don't know how many times I was reading this book and just found myself thinking about ways I could apply what I was reading to my business. The combination of writing style, experience and ideas are so inspiring, you'll find it hard not to improve your business practices if you read this book. I've already taken a few simple suggestions and applied them to my current business practices.

I would buy this book. It's got enough good information in it to be worth purchasing and used as a reference for years to come, no matter at which stage of your photography career you are in. If you do decide to check it out or purchase it, be sure to get the most current edition (currently 4th Edition, 2008). Enjoy!