A Great Start!!!

At the end of 2013 I made a commitment to myself to not only grow as a photographer but to grow the business as well.  If January is any indication, I’m not going to have any problem growing the business.  I’ve already done 4 real estate shoots in the past week.  I’ve got 3 more scheduled for next week along with an event for the JDRF South Jersey Chapter, a wedding for Faymus Media and one more real estate shoot at the end of the month.   If everything on schedule comes through I will have more than doubled the number of real estate shoots I did last January.  Plus put another wedding under my belt.  The biggest trick is getting all of the future promotions and work together and getting my name out to more realtors.  This year I’m also going to put significantly more effort in getting my name to architects and designers.  I REALLY want to get into more architectural work.  It would be nice to spend the time really putting together a nice architectural shoot.  I love getting all of the details together for shoots like that.  The planning.  The preproduction. And the ability to really craft an image.  In the meantime I will continue honing my craft with real estate shoots.  Speaking of which.  I did a shoot last week for Charles Rappa.  A realtor based in Northern Delaware and SEPA.  He had me over to shoot a beautiful home of about 4500 sq. ft.  While I was getting set-up Charles mentioned to me that house had been on the market before with another realtor.  And that realtor had had the house shot several times because the owners were extremely picky in how they wanted the house represented.  All Charles said to me was that the owners said  “It’s all about the lighting.”  Oh boy.  Well, I did what I do and held my breath.  The owners were out of town and wouldn’t be back for a couple of days.  I completed the images and sent them off.  Fingers and toes crossed.  I heard back two days later.  The owners loved the pictures!  Thought that they truly represented the house.  YEAH!  Here’s a couple of examples from the shoot.

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Annnnnnnnnnnd We’re Off

The new year is here.  And with it all the hopes and dreams that it brings.  I look at the new year as an open book.  One that we write the story line.  One that we control the destiny of the characters.  I’ve mentioned previously that I was really going to dig in and grow my business this year.  Well it’s started.  And I really haven’t’ done anything yet.  While have been working on a marketing plan and moving forward with some promotions, the month has caught fire all of a sudden.  I have done 4 real estate shoots in the past 5 days.  I have 3 more scheduled for later in the month and I have a big event for the JDRF in a week and a half.  To say I’m happy would be an understatement.  This is  the best January I’ve had!!! And it’s not over yet.

I have taken the turning of the new year to change things up a bit.  I’m always on the look out to improve my skills.  So I’ve adopted some new techniques for my real estate work.  In the past I relied heavily on HDR for my images.  While I satisfied for the most part using this technique, I thought that the HDR softened and added some unwanted color caste that required extra time to remove.  But the biggest thing was the softness.  I’ve tried a lot of different sharpening techniques and multiple sharpening passes but a lot of times all they did was bring up unwanted noise artifacts.  So I took the plunge and ordered a couple Yongnuo 560-III flashes to compliment my 580EXIIs.  These are really awesome flashes and I’ve been very impressed with them.  For $75 they are truly incredible.  While they lack any TTL it doesn’t bother me.  I usually work in manual anyways.  I highly recommend these flashes.  The new technique I’m using involves multiple flashes and some compositing.  I will say I’m much happier with the results.  What do you think?

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What’s Wrong with Philly?

I am always on the lookout for ways to improve my photography.  I love the webinars and tutorials I find on-line.  I especially love Creative Live.  Their webinars are usually a two or three days with world renown photographers or Photoshop specialists.  These are absolutely awesome!  But to be honest I’d really like to attend a live seminar.  So with that in mind I went on-line to see if I could find anything coming to the Philadelphia area.  Know what I found?  Zip. Ziltch. Nada.  I could find plenty in NYC (of course).  I found a bunch in Washington DC, Atlanta and other big cities.  I even found a couple in Richmond, VA.  So it begs the question.  Why not Philly?  It’s not that I don’t like these other cities.  It’s not the cost of the seminars. (I believe that you can’t put a price on furthering ones career)  It’s the added cost of Hotels and meals for a couple of nights that often makes it hard to justify the cost.  Often times these factors more than double the cost of the seminar.  And while my business isn’t doing badly, these added costs push the price to a point where I just can’t justify the expenditure.  I know that there is a lot of photographers in the Philly area and it has a fairly active art community.  Is it just too close to NYC?  Is it seen by many as an outgrowth of NYC?  I do know that some commercial work is done by photogs from NYC.  Is it the misbelief that photographers in NYC are superior to those here in Philly?  So, what is wrong with Philly?

Portraiture and a Gift for Myself

With the beginning of the New Year my Christmas gift to myself arrived.  It is Gregory Heisler’s  50 Portraits.  I had been reading from all the photographers that I hold in high regard (Scott Kelby, Joe McNally and few others) that this was a MUST read.  I must agree.  I’ve had a really hard time putting it down.  It is well written and Gregory’s writing style is very genuine and flows effortlessly.  His description of each portrait is, to say the least, engaging.  After reading each of these descriptions I find myself examining each of the portraits with a fine-toothed comb.  Looking for all the clues to the lighting techniques.  But what I find is more than just lighting technique or high tech cameras at work.  (In fact most of the images are created with either an old school 11×14 view camera or an RZ67 medium format film camera.)  What it is is Heisler’s ability to capture the essence of the subject.  Whether and extreme close-up or a full length portrait of Al Pacino, his ability to connect with the subject.  With each subject placing their trust in this artist to capture them in a way that is not always about flattery but honestly.  If you are a photographer let alone a portrait photographer this IS a must read.