Monday, December 31, 2007

Marketing. What works?

You can't imagine how many emails I receive in the course of a day from young and new photographers seeking advise about equipment, lighting and marketing their business.

The vast majority of the questions I receive are marketing related questions. I'm constantly asked how I market my business... "How do you get your jobs?"

Marketing your business or services is a complicated matter and the method you use will depend on the clients your serving. If you are a portrait photographer shooting families and seniors for example or you shoot weddings, your method will differ vastly from that of an adverting or corporate photographers.

I've worked as a corporate photographer for more than 24 years and have tried many different methods to market my business. So many so, that I feel that it might take several posts to get through all of them and to offer the many avenues available in today's business world.

I've used SOURCE BOOKS, DIRECT MAIL and the INTERNET to advertise or market my business. Source Books are hardbound directories that photographer advertise in, Corporate Showcase, AR-100 and Black Book would be examples of those. Direct mail would include collateral material like post cards and brochures. The Internet might include banner ad's, pay per click advertising and emails.

When I was starting in business 24 years ago, I used source book directories as my main source of advertising along with direct mail. Quite honestly, I can't say that I had much luck with source book advertising over the 8 or 9 years I advertised in them. I felt I had better luck using a direct mail campaign in the form of post cards.

Each month I would send out 500 post cards to clients and potential clients, I believe the consistency of those mailings where the key to their success. I had a years worth of post cards printed at one time which forced me to a schedule. Near the end of each month, my wife and I would sit in front of the TV and attach mailing labels and stamps for the monthly mailing.

After 18 months of post card mailings, I'd get bored and tried something else. I'd do a small brochure or some other type of mailing just to do something new. It is really hard to say if one particular mailing worked or was it a accumulation of all that finally landed a job? Hard to say.

If you are thinking of starting a direct mail campaign, I can point you to a very inexpensive printer that does a nice job. Try looking at Vista Print I've used them recently and have found their service to be very good.

In future posts I'll discuss the Internet and how it has changed my marketing and research for clients. Knowing your market and where to find new clients and many other marketing related topics .

Let me leave you with this final thought: Clients are not going to just fall in your lap, you need to be proactive and seek them out. Learn who your potential clients are and pursue them with your marketing efforts. Marketing your business takes time and money but, by using various marketing efforts you will slowly grow your business to the money making machine you want.

I wish all of my readers a happy and prosperous New Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New FAA/DOT rules in place

New rules for taking lithium batteries on planes. Starting Jan. 1 2008, The new FAA/DOT rule limits individuals to bringing only two extended-life spare rechargeable in their carry on luggage. Read more about this HERE.

For more info about this I found an extensive article at Flying with Fish Blog.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Proofing with portable DVD

This was the last assignment for 2007. I was asked to photograph 9 executive head shots as well as environment portraits. This short video shows the set-up of the head shots as well as one of the environment portraits we had to do.

I've been using a portable DVD player on location in order to see a larger image than what is provided on the back of the camera. I find it a lot easier for my clients and subjects to review the images than crowding around the back of the camera. Have a look here. DT

Friday, December 21, 2007

It Arrived One Snowy Eve...Late

I'm waiting for UPS to delivered my new camera. I ordered a new Nikon D300 a few days ago and I'm waiting for it arrive. I've been standing by my front door waiting for UPS to arrive, it's been snowing today which has delayed his normal arrival time of around 5:30 pm. I'm still not certain that UPS will arrive tonight, it's getting later and later.

My wife has dinner on the table, yet I wait by the front door in order to get a photo of the delivery for this post. If it does arrive tonight, I'll be forced to shoot at ISO 1600, which is at the extreme end of the scale for my G9.

We have all read the reviews of the new Nikon D300 and I for one am looking forward to shooting with it. I'll let you know my thoughts once I've had an opportunity to work with this beauty.

7:00 pm. Dinner is done and still no UPS, the latest Harry Potter DVD has been put on the "tellie" and I continue to sit at the island in the kitchen looking out the front door into the cul-de-sac waiting...

Since I'm waiting, I'll tell you that I ordered my D300 with the optional battery grip through B&H photo. I've been dealing with B&H for most of my professional career and I find them to be the best to deal with. I might mention that I am a member of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) and my membership provides free shipping when ordering equipment through B&H. If you have not seen Photoshop User Magazine you need to take a look at it, if you join you too can receive their magazine and free shipping through B&H photo.

8pm: I fear that UPS will not arrive tonight, perhaps it's the snow or what ever. My wife just looked out the front door and shook her head, "There not coming tonight" she stated. I hate hearing that, she's usually right! You know how that is.

8:10 pm: I've just checked online with UPS tracking, it till shows that my package is still out for delivery. I know all of you have waited breathlessly for a delivery, you know what I'm going through!

I had hoped to have a UPS truck in this photo, I give up!
No UPS...

9:15 pm it arrived! WoW!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Merry Christmas-My Wish for You.

I want to take this time to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas or Holiday Wishes and a very Happy New Year. Thank you for all your wonderful well wishes and comments to this blog throughout the year.

This past year has been a hard one for me. As my regular readers know, my father and step mother both passed away earlier this year. I miss them both dearly. There is not a day that go's by that I don't think of them both, particularly my dad. I often find myself wanting to call my dad and than realize that his gone. Instead, I just do it mentally.

This will be my first Christmas without my father and I find it hard. I know over time this will lessen, but it just doesn't help this year. My father and I had a very close relationship, he always encouraged me and provided moral support when I was starting my business and when things got slow. My dad was my biggest fan.

I encourage all of you take the time to tell those in your life that you love them. It's a lot easier to do now rather than later, you know what I mean. Anyway, let me take this time to thank each and everyone of you for reading my blog, I appreciate all your comments and I hope you continue to read my posts in 08.

I want to wish my wife Debbie and son Chris a Very Merry Christmas, thanks so much for all you do for me. I'd also like to wish my 3 sisters Merry Christmas as well, I know this has been a tough year but things will get better, so they say...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What Makes Good Composition?

As photographers, we have the ability to control our viewer's eye through several creative techniques at our disposal. It's not good enough just to say, use good composition.

Good composition is made of several element working in unison. Focus is certainly important, actually it's the use of use of depth of field rather than the actual subject your focusing on. Another is the use of Light within the photo to direct the viewers eye. Our eye usually go to the brightest object within the photo. By making your intended subject the brightest object in the photo, your view will be directed there. Finally there is the uses of Leading Lines to guide your viewer eye through the photo.

Using leading lines to guide your viewers eye is what I would like to discuss today. It has been my experience that using a wide angle lens is a good and easy way to accomplish this. Let’s take a look at a few examples to illustrate this point.

This particular photo was shot for an oil & gas client just east of Denver, Colorado. There are actually two elements being used to draw the viewers eye to the worker in the photograph. Light and Leading Lines are both being used to direct the viewers eye. The graphic lines of the lower pipe moving into the photo as well as the upper tanks descending lines. We also have the bright sunrise at the horizon working for us, our eye's will first go to the brightest spot within the photo and than leading lines will keep you there.

Let's take a look at another photo illustrating this point. Again I am using a wide angle lens to create more leading lines within the photo. I've exaggerate the size of the computer screens by placing them close to the lens. As the screens move further away from me, they become rapidly smaller thus causing a directional line leading to the operator at the controls. I have also used Light to draw the viewers eye to the operator as well.

Seldom will it be just one element used to create a photograph with good composition.

I'm constantly looking for these different elements available to me when photographing. Often having to put objects into my shots to achieve my desired results. When your lighting a scene you obviously have the Light issue in control. As far as spotting or creating those leading lines, being familiar with the various effects that your lens can achieve will help greatly.

In an earlier post Using Foreground Elements, I discuss using foreground elements to direct the viewers eye. Take a moment to review that if you like. Hope all of you had a wonderful weekend. DT

Friday, December 14, 2007

Funny How Things Happen

It was the work of Ansel Adams which got me interested in photography back in the late 60's. I taught myself the zone system and B/W printing, his work was and still is an inspiration to me.

Back when I was 18 years old during summer brake, I went shooting along the California coast for a week by myself. I was sitting in my car in a parking lot at Point Lobos State Reserve on the Monterey Peninsula when just behind me, Ansel Adams pulled up in his car with the license plate ZONE V. He was there in the park shooting with Marie Cosindas, they were where testing SX-70 Polaroid film.

It was a thrill for me to meet him and to have him sign the books of his I had with me at the time. What a wonderful experience it was to talk with such a talent, I will never forget that moment.

I bring this up because I've just had another one of those wonderful experiences. Do to a typo in my last post, I received an email (actually 2) from a photographer who's work I have admired for years. That email was signed, Bob Kirst. I thought to myself, this can't be Bob Kirst the photographer, could it? Not many photographers named Bob Kirst you know. I linked to the url listed at the end of his email, and to my surprise it was "The Bob Krist".

Besides pointing out my typo, Bob said that he was a big fan of my blog. Honestly Bob, that blew me away. I've been a big fan of Bob's work for years, I never imagined receiving an email and such a nice compliment regarding my blog. I took this opportunity to pick up the phone and call Bob directly.

We had a wonderful conversation and a few laughs. What a great guy.

Earlier in my career, I found a book that Bob wrote regarding location lighting. The book was an inspiration to me, I learned a lot reading his book. The book title is "Secrets of Lighting on Location". Do yourself a favor and pick up this book if you don't already have it in your library. I've read and re-read this book countless times when learning location lighting. I know you'll enjoy it.

It's strange how life is, you just don't know what the day will bring! It's so wonderful to meet/speak with people you admire, and it was a pleasure for me to visit with Bob Kirst.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

They're So Young

I've spent the last 2 days talking with high school students at a school close to my home. I spoke to 3 class totaling about 65 students, perhaps a handful full appreciated the info I provided. It was a good few days and I'm happy to have had the opportunity to do so.

Looking into the faces of those young people reminded me of my early beginning's shooting on the high school paper and yearbook. I left each class the advise to follow their passion what ever it is, they'll be happier with their life if they do.

Tomorrow I'll be taking my nephew (my intern) to The Camera Obscura Gallery in Denver to see an exhibition of photos by Steve McCurry.

Steve's work has graced the covers of major magazines as well as National Geographic. I'm sure you remember this cover shot on NGS, one of my all time favorites.

Steve's career was launched when he disguised himself in native garb and crossed the Pakistan/Afghanistan border into the rebel-controlled Afghanistan just before the Russian invasion. Steve emerged from there with rolls of film sewn into his clothes with the first images showing the conflict. His coverage won him the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad.

After visiting the gallery, we'll be heading over to the Denver Convention Center to view portfolios of this years graduation photography students from the Art Institute of Colorado. I'm invited every year to attend, the kids enjoy working professionals coming in and reviewing their portfolios and the hope that we might employ them after their graduation.

I also wanted to take just a moment to thank all of you that have left comments on my blog. I appreciate all of your comments, I truly enjoy hearing from each of you. DT

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Go for it!

I'm very fortunate to have a career that I love. I don't dread going to work at 3 am when I have an assignment to shoot and I don't count the days of the week looking for the weekend.

There was a time in my life, like most everyone, when your uncertain as to what career you'll pursue or what you'll do for a living.

Will that choice of career be the right one for me or not? We all know someone, maybe even yourself who has studied and graduated with degrees that are not being used in their current careers. Sound familiar?

I've been thinking about this a lot recently. I have a lot of opportunities to speak with young people about making career choices and I enjoy doing so. I enjoy sharing my experiences and the choices that I've made in my life and career. One group of people I enjoy speaking with are high school and college students. I remember what a confusing period of time it was for me.

This is a very competitive world with vast opportunities everyone. I know that I would rather be doing something I love as a career than dreading going to a in some office cubicle M-F, that's just not for me. I want young people to know that they can follow their dreams and be happy doing what they love, whatever that is. Being a pro ball player, sale associate, doctor and heck, even a photographer. The important thing here is that you pursue something that you are passionate about. Life is to short not to do what you love.

This coming week I will have an opportunity to speak to 3 groups of high school students studying photography. I met with their teacher several weeks ago, I was very impressed with their program. The students are developing their own film and printing in a professionally equipped darkrooms.

I contacted the school in regards to speaking with their students. I know, that if I had met someone like myself when I was their age, I may have found myself sooner than I did. It wasn't until I was 27 years old that I discovered what it was that I had been looking for. The short story about my start is HERE.

When I was in high school in the early 70's, the only people coming to career days where the armed forces. If only I had met a working professional photographer back than and learned that you really could make a "good" living shooting pictures...who knows where I'd be today. Life works out in funny ways. I don't mean to ramble on, but it is my hope that I will make a connection with some young individual that is looking for some direction in their live and may began considering a career in photography.

I remember clearly the time when I "KNEW" what I wanted to be when I grew up. A tremendous weight was lifted off of me, and I had direction for the first time in my life. It's not easy growing up, as I stated earlier, the world is very competitive but there are so many opportunities available to all of us.

If your a young individual seeking a career in photography I'm excited for you! There are so many areas of specialties in the field of photography to consider, wedding photography, portraits, editorial, advertising and corporate. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know where my interest are. You can see my work HERE.

I chose corporate location work for the following reasons. I love to travel, I love the challenge of often creating something out of nothing, I love to learn new things and I love the "creative freedom" that corporate work allows me. The majority of my work is self directed, meaning that I rarely travel with an art director or other creative representative. My clients hire me because I am very pro-active when it comes to taking photos. I don't wait for things to happen, I make them happen, I'm hired to create images. I'm given some general direction for the photography that the client or design firm is looking for and I am expected to deliver. Quite honestly, I consider myself an art director with a camera.

Another reason why I like corporate work is that there seems to be more stability. Companies will always need their assets and personnel photographed. I believe this is particularly true when it comes to corporate annual report work.

I know you've seen those posters before, "If you dream it, you can become it" or something like that. Just do what you love and the money will come.... You'll be a happier person for pursuing your dreams. Just do it!

Friday, December 07, 2007

iPod MoJo

If your a traveler like I am, you've seen this view before. Why is it I always sit over the wings? and I'm not talking about the exit row.

I spend a lot of time flying around the country on various assignments which leaves me with lots of free time on my hands. While I was on my most recent trip, I realized how much I use my iPod while traveling.

I currently have a video iPod which allows me to download video podcasts and store photos on to it. One of my favorite past times while flying is watching podcasts and listening to music (Van Halen of course).

What I like about the podcasts is that it is a way to continually educate myself about a verity subjects. I love learning new things all the time. One of my favorite podcasts has to be "Lightroom Killer Tips" hosted by Matt Kloskowski. Matt works with NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) You can find his podcast through iTunes. It's great to learn new things while having to sit on an airplane. A few other podcasts that I enjoy watching are Radiant Vista and PhotoWalkthrough, both available through iTunes.

Another wonderful use for the iPod other than podcasts and music is the ability to store your portfolio on it. You never know who you might meet during your travels, perhaps someone who hires photography services. It could happen! I have a complete portfolio of my images stored on my iPod for just that occasion should it happen. If you don't know, I use to be a flight attendant and a passenger on my flight (professional photographer) changed my life! You can read the story here. So you really don't know who you might run into, when opportunity knocks, be ready!

The screens on these iPods look great, and now apple has a larger touch screen version. I looks much like the iPhone with a larger screen. I've put a link here to see it. At some point I may pick one up, I hope my wife is reading this.

I can't stress enough how important it is to continue your education. I've been shooting a long time and I still seek out new information regarding photography. I actually have plans on attending two workshops in the next few months. I've been signed up for months and can't wait to attend. I'll let you know who's workshops I'll be attending in later posts.

More to come. DT

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Quarry Video

I finally found the time to put this latest video together. Been running crazy for the past several days. As I had mentioned on a previous post, I only have video for the second day of our shoot at the quarry. The first day, the G9 (which we use to film) was left in another car and we were to busy to retrieve it. This video is showing the sunrise photography only, I'll try to remember to keep the camera closer. I hope you enjoy it. DT

Wednesday, December 05, 2007 Spotlight

This morning, "" has posted a featured article about me in there Spotlight section. I'm honored to be featured and I hope you take the time to read the article.

I want to thank both Michael and Bruce Snell for the post. They have a wonderful site and I hope you take the time to look it over. DT

Building a Ring Flash

I've had a lot of comments regarding my earlier post about the ring flash I built. A lot of you wanted a step by step tutorial on how I made mine. That being said, here we go.

My first step was a visit to my local Home Depot store, straight to the electrical department. Here you will find a standard 10.5 inch utility light.

The next stop was the heating department, ventilation stuff. I found a 4" X 5" coupler for what I believe is for a furnace vent of sorts. This item is shown below.

This heating coupler is the part your camera lens will be shooting through. The smaller end of this coupler will end up coming through the top of the light dome. This photo below should give you the idea how things will be fitting together.

The next step is to mark on the top of the light dome where you will be making the opening to fit the two pieces together. In this photo you can see this step. You will also notice that I have put my first coat of paint on it as well. Remember, it is the small end of the coupler I'm sizing as it is this side which will be coming through.

As you can see from the photo above, I'm marking the inside diameter of the coupler. I would rather enlarge the hole later than try to make it smaller, you get the point. After marking the top of the dome, I now have a visual on where to make my cut. Before doing so, I drilled small holes around the future opening. This made it easier when I started using the tin snips to cut the opening. Here are a few more photo to show the process.

The next step is to cut out the top part of the light dome. I use a pair of tin snips I had in my work shed. Here you can see the process.

Now that I have the top off, I can fit the heating coupler through the opening. You may as I had to, cut additional portions in order to fit the coupler through. Warning. don't make this hole to large, make it just fit. Have a look here.

In order to secure these two parts together, I used JB Wield. I'm sure some other epoxy would work fine. Before using JB Wield, I used a small hammer to try to close any excess metal around the coupler for a more snug fit.

After the epoxy has dried, your ring flash will start to resemble the final product. This is getting exciting isn't it!

One very nice thing about using this utility lamp is that the inside is already shinny, no tin foil or other reflective material to fashion together. Now you need to make a place for your flash to enter the ring. I've made two of these, one for a Nikon SB-800 and the other for a Nikon SB-28. The photo below is showing me making a template for my strobe.

Cut out the template and place it near the forward edge of the lamp. Tape the template to the dome and began drilling hole like before. Use your tin snips to cut away the opening. After opening this hole, I hammered the rough edge and than taped it with gaffers tape.

Now we need the diffusion material for the front of the ring. I just so happened to have this material available in my studio. I used a material called, Trans-Lum from Calumet. I have visited there web site looking for this material and I can't find it. Anyway, the material you need is something thin, strong and something that will not hold back a ton of light. Here are a few photos showing this material and the fitting of it.

On the second ring flash I made, I tried to glue the diffusion material to the front of the lamp with Gorilla Glue. This did work some what, it has a cleaner look than using the black gaffers tape on the first ring flash, your choice.

The next step is to find a way to mount the strobe and ring flash together. Here again, I had odds and ends around to fashion this rig together. I used a camera mounting plate which came with a bogen flexarm for the bottom of the camera. Shown here.

On to this I attached a mounting stud, shown here as well.

On to this, I attached a small ball head. On to this, I attached a flash shoe mount to hold the actual strobe. I used two fashioned together to give me additional length to reach the hole for the front of the strobe. I understand that most of you will not have these items laying around for your use. I would recommend using a series of L brackets to accomplish this part of the project. I have seen other mounting systems that you might be able to employ. Try looking here and come up with a solution that works for your particular flash and camera combo. I actually starting building Richard Melanson ring flash before I came up with this design.

When my flash is pushed up into the bottom opening, the back of the ring flash is tucked up under the prism housing on the camera. This system seems to work well.

I do want to point out the following points. When I hold my camera, my left hand is under the strobe and my right is not only holding the camera I am resting my index finger against the back ring. This feels very natural to me and the camera and flash ring works as a unit.

Please take a look at my other post on this ring flash, it will show you more photos and samples of the photo results. I hope this post was helpful and you have fun building your own ring flash. DT

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Monterey & San Francisco Photos

I was recently asked by a reader of my blog, if I could post some of my personal shots from my recent assignment. After shooting the Quarry in the Salines Valley, Erik and I headed to Monterey and San Francisco for some personal shooting. So here are a few of them. This photo was shot in a cemetery Pacific Grove. I shot this with my Canon G9 which I just love.

This next photo of a lighthouse was taken just across the street from the cemetery. The gate to the pathway to the lighthouse was locked, so I had to stand on a trash can to get this shot. This photo was also taken with the Canon G9.

What a beautiful pant this is, I don't know the name but I just love it! I was driving by some very expensive homes along the shore just south of point Lobos. I was checking out all the beautiful homes and my eyes saw this plant. I used the G9 on macro, hand held. WOW.

These next few where shot in San Francisco, I was shooting with my Nikon D2X. I had driven

up to the Coit Tower, on Telegraph Hill in downtown S.F. I was shooting south to this building and happened to catch 2 birds flying between the two up rights and a person in mid stride on one of the floors. I shot this using a 80-200mm f/2.8 lens.

From here, Erik and I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to photograph the city from the other side of the bay. I had never taken any photos from this area before, but have seen countless numbers of them over the years.

The weather was just perfect, clear with lots of ships passing under the bridge. I used all types of lens here, 12mm - 300mm f/2.8 San Francisco is such a special place, I love visiting and photographing this city.

Here are the images shot from across the bay, all where shot with the Nikon D2x except for the last image of the sunset. That photo was taken with the G9.

I sure do appreciate hearing from all of those who post comments on my blog. I just don't know who's reading and how many. Or if anyone is really interested in it at all. I started this blog as a dairy for myself, I never really keep a journal of all my travels and assignments earlier in my career. But now with the internet, I can not only write about my photography but I can also share my photos. The internet wonderful, I just love it.

Also, look for a profile write up about me on That's My Monkey:Digital Photography Tips & Tools in the next few days. I've been told that it should be up tomorrow or the next day.

Anyway, here are the last of the personal photos taken on this last assignment, enjoy. DT

Additional work can be seen at my website TEJADAPHOTO.COM

I've specialized in annual report photography for Fortune 500 companies for 24 years.