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A climber and visual storyteller, Cory Richards was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012. Cory’s camera has taken him from the controlled and complex studio to the wild and remote corners of the world, from the unclimbed peaks of Antarctica to the Himalayas of Nepal and Pakistan – all in the attempt to capture not only the soul of adventure and exploration, but also the beauty inherent in our modern society.

Cory dropped out of high school and was practically homeless by the time he was just 14 years old. His education came from observing what was happening around him and discovering the richness that comes from struggle. His video “A Tribute to Discomfort” takes you through his journey from recounting the avalanche that almost took his life and led to the moving self-portrait that appeared on the cover of National Geographic, to describing what drives him to tell stories of people and places.

“My job is communicate a real raw visceral experience. Despite the fact that we are experiencing massive problems as a human family we are still experiencing each other, loving and having a ton of fun. I mean life is fun.” – Cory Richards

A Tribute to Discomfort: Cory Richards from Blue Chalk on Vimeo.

June 3rd, 2014

Creating a Brand Strategy

Posted by liveBooks

Your company’s brand is one of its most valuable assets. It represents the core of who you are and why you do what you do. It’s about the promise you make to your customers to provide a product or service, to do so with consistency and quality, and to do it better than your competitors.

To build a successful creative business it takes more than artistic vision and talent. The reality is that you are a small business owner and as such you need to understand business. For many of us that’s not the fun part – but it can be!

If you have a brand then you need a brand strategy, a plan to manage your brand’s reputation in the marketplace. Here are some guidelines for crafting one in order to make the most effective use of your brand.

Brand concept on chalkboard

Define Your Brand

A lot of us rush ahead with a great idea and never get around to establishing a distinct identity and a clear purpose. At some point, it becomes necessary to define who you are before you’re defined by the competition. That means knowing the answers to the following questions:

  • What is our company’s mission?  
    State clearly and concisely who you serve, what you do and what differentiates you.

  • What benefits and features do we offer our customers?  
    Outline specifically what your products or services can do and why your customers need them.

  • Who is our ideal client?
    Write down the key characteristics of your ideal client. The more you can define this person or entity the easier it will be to figure out who your target market is and attract the right clientele.

  • How do we want customers to think about our business?  
    What is important is that you don’t attempt to be perceived as one thing and then deliver an experience that does not coincide with the perception you want to create.

  • What key messages do we want to convey to them?  
    This can go beyond your products or services and include education and personal citizenship initiatives. Including philanthropic contributions and involvement in your community are great ways to help build your brand.

  • What makes us different from everyone else?  
    For example, maybe you want to be known as an experienced, dependable business.  Maybe your enterprise is focused on offering cutting-edge alternate solutions. Do you see yourself as high-cost and high-quality or low-cost and high-value?  All these considerations go into defining your brand.  Write a brand bio to outline how you want to be viewed and include how do you give back to your customers and community.

  • What is your call to action?
  •  Define specifically what you want your customers and potential customers to do.

    Promise and Deliver

    Businesses live and die by the brand promises they make. If you consistently deliver, your brand and your reputation are strengthened in your customers eyes. That creates customer loyalty – and then your customers will become your brand advocates recommending your products and services to everyone.

    Have a Consistent Look and Feel

    Yes, your logo does have a place in your brand strategy. Your logo should evoke a set of desired thoughts and feelings in your customers, but effective branding only starts with an eye-catching logo. The look and feel you choose for all of your marketing materials should appeal to your target audience. More importantly, you must present yourself consistently across the board – online and in print.

    Integrate Your Brand Into Everything You Do

    Everything related to your business, from your artistic style and the work you produce to advertising and fulfillment, should be part of your overall brand strategy. Whether it’s direct mail, email or social media updates, every customer experience is an opportunity to reinforce your brand promise.

    Posted in Marketing
    May 30th, 2014

    What Makes a Moment?

    Posted by liveBooks

    Each of us defines a moment in a different way. For food photographer Penny De Los Santos a moment is where people, culture and food come together.

    “I am inspired by and in love with that space where a scene vibrates with an energy. And when it’s combined with light, composition and color – that’s when I make a picture of a moment.” – Penny De Los Santos

    In her TEDx Talk she takes us from a candlelit dinner table in war torn Lebanon to the grave of a loved one, asking us to stop, connect and take the time strengthen and honor the bonds between us.

    Brand Advocates can create some of the best value for any small business or emerging brand. Advocacy for your brand has a vital impact in driving awareness, creating conversation and generating more business. Cultivating brand advocates who are excited to share their experiences with others can be a low-cost, high-return marketing strategy.

    Essentially a Brand Advocate is someone who enjoys your product or service so much they are eager to tell others about it. Brand advocates can be online influencers with a large social media audience, people who are active or well-respected in their industry or your customers. Here are some ways to turn a customer or industry influencer into an active, engaged advocate for your brand:

    Focus on Relationships

    Consumers don’t fall in love with your brand and become Brand Advocates by being pushed into a sale – they fall in love with your work, excellent customer service and consistent experience. Befriend industry influencers and give them access to exclusive access or offers.

    Stay Engaged

    Building a network of brand advocates requires that you stay engaged with them. Focus on marketing strategies that create opportunities to engage over time in a variety of ways. This will increase the likelihood that one-time purchasers become customers that actively recommend your products and services to others.

    Ask and Listen

    Ask your Brand Advocates what they need, what they want, what’s missing, what’s working? Then listen to what they have to say and show you hear them by incorporating their ideas into your offering. By continually looking to them for feedback and recommendations you become partners.

    Help Your Advocates be Heard

    Advocates want – and deserve – to be recognized. Promote them and share their ideas with your communities. Feature their work on your website or blog, re-tweet and share their social media posts or invite them to speak at an event.

    Be Authentic

    People are attracted to what is real. When using a public forum don’t filter out negative feedback. Address all claims honestly giving your Advocates the tools to tell the truth about your brand. By being real you create trust and that can set you apart in a competitive market. These days potential clients and buyers are just as interested in who you are and what drives you.

    Posted in Marketing

    Award-winning photographer Michael Corsentino tells us how to create beautiful portraits using simple lighting techniques. As an author and an educator he generously shares his lighting and posing secrets, processing techniques, time-saving workflow strategies and shooting philosophies with other photographers. We’re thrilled that he’ll be a regular contributor.

    Keep it simple! I’m continually reminded of this tried and true maxim. Being a dyed in the wool lighting geek I like nothing more than throwing a ton of lights into a setup, and creating complex, layered lighting. It’s the puzzle solver in me. Sometimes that’s completely called for and the only way to produce the desired result. However solving the lighting puzzles doesn’t always have to involve a kings ransom worth of strobes, power packs, etc, quite the contrary. In fact, 90 percent of my lighting solutions end up using between just 1 to 3 lights.

    It’s easy for me, just like the next guy, to get caught up in the use of lust worthy gear and complex setups. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of great equipment at my fingertips so the temptation is ever present. However at the end of the day it really isn’t about the gear or how many lights you can throw at a project. It’s about the quality of your artistic vision and results you’re able to produce. The tools are only as good the person using them and only a means to end. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I repeatedly rediscover just how much is possible with a few simple tools, tools you know inside and out. Limitations beget innovative solutions and from innovation springs creativity.

    In future posts I’ll look at multiple light setups, post processing, workflow and more. But since I’m talking about keeping it simple, I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the point than looking at a few recent one light portraits. The following images were created using only one strobe or speedlight along with modifiers such as a beauty dish, octabank, reflector panel, subtraction panel, and v-flat. The importance of modifiers can’t be over emphasized. They play an important role in allowing you to shape and control the quality of your light, even if you’re only using sheets of foam core to reflect or subtract light. As you’ll see this is something I do often, either alone or in combination with an additional modifier on my key light. It all depends on the quality of light I’m after.

    Comp Card Fashion Portrait

    Fashion Portrait

    Comp Card Fashion Portrait courtesy of Michael Corsentino. Model: Makaila Nichols, MHUA: Annie Radigan.

    To create comp card portrait for model Makaila Nichols I placed a Profoto D1 500W camera left and modified it with a Mola Demi beauty dish. To open up the shadows, reflect light back from the key light and create a broad fill source I placed a white 4×8 foot sheet of foam core to the right of the model.

    Blaine The Mono Band Portrait

    Fashion Portrait

    Blaine The Mono Band Portrait courtesy of Michael Corsentino

    For this image of Orlando, FL based rockers Blaine The Mono I’m using 1 Profoto 7B and Pro 7 head at full power, placed camera right, 15 feet from the subjects and modified with a 7 foot octabank. I’ve placed one 4×8 foot sheet of black foam core on the left side of the band to subtract light and create a more sculpted moody look. The band members are Randi Stickles, Clifton Garner, Eric Joseph, Chris Culverwell.

    Self-Portrait Promo Image

    Fashion Portrait

    Self-Portrait Promo Image courtesy of Michael Corsentino

    For this self-portrait promo image I used the same lighting setup I used for the band portrait above. Except in this case I moved the light closer. With only one person to light the distance necessary to provide enough coverage was less. The set up was 1 Profoto 7B Pro 7 head at full power, placed camera right and modified with 7 foot bank. One 4×8 sheet of black foam core was placed camera left to subtract light from my left side.

    High Key Fashion/Glamour Portrait

    Fashion Portrait

    High Key Fashion Glamour Portrait courtesy of Michael Corsentino. Model & HMUA: Chelsea Brooks.

    It doesn’t get simpler than this. To create this high key glamour cover shot style image I used 1 Canon 600EXT Speedlite at full power fired into a white 4×8 foot foam core v-flat placed behind me as I shot.

    Many of these images have been featured in my monthly lighting column for Shutter Magazine. If you’d like to learn more about how they were created, see the lighting diagrams, and my instructional videos sign up for Shutter Magazine. This FREE monthly resource is loaded with tons of valuable educational content from today’s top photographers.

    It’s my pleasure to share with the liveBooks community as a new regular contributor to the Resolve blog. As a long time liveBooks customer I can attest to the positive impact liveBooks has had on my business and visibility in the marketplace. It’s my honor to now be in a position to give back and help others as they make their way along their photography career paths. It’s going to be an exciting ride!

    All images © Michael Corsentino 2014

    Michael Corsentino is an award-winning contemporary wedding, portrait, editorial and fashion photographer. A 2013 American Photo Top Ten Wedding Photographer nominee, Michael is an Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom expert as well as a Capture One Pro Certified Professional. He is author of the popular Canon Speedlite System Digital Field Guide, Canon 6D Digital Filed Guide, and forthcoming Capture One 7 Pro Official Guide.

    In addition to his busy shooting schedule, book and video projects, Michael is a contributing writer to Photoshop User Magazine. He writes a monthly lighting column for Shutter Magazine and serves as Tech Editor at Large and Photographer in Residence for Resource Magazine. A sought-after international workshop leader and speaker, Michael is based in Florida and has been shooting digitally since 1999. He made his first exposure when he was 12 years old and hasn’t put his camera down since.

    His 35-year love affair with the magic and science of photography is more passionate today than ever – Stylish, dramatic, edgy and modern images set Michael’s photography apart.

    Learn more at www.michaelcorsentino.com, follow Michael on facebook (www.facebook.com/corsentino) and twitter (@Corsentino)

    April 10th, 2014

    Tax Tips for Photographers

    Posted by liveBooks

    Dealing with taxes can be stressful. With April 15th just around the corner we wanted to share some helpful tax tips for photographers and creative professionals. As with any general advice you should consult with a qualified tax preparer.

    Staying Organized

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Staying organized throughout the year is the best way to be prepared for tax season. Utilize accounting software like Mint.com, Quicken or Quickbooks. Set aside time each month to download and classify the activity from your checking, savings and credit card accounts. At the end of the year 90% of the work required to prepare your tax return will already be done.

    Outsource

    If you can’t make time to keep the books yourself on a regular basis or if you aren’t inclined to learn an accounting software package, find a competent bookkeeper in your area with whom you can build a relationship. A good bookkeeper shouldn’t cost more than $40-50 per hour and depending on the size of your business you should expect to engage them for 3 – 4 hours per month.

    The Home Office Deduction – A Trojan Horse?

    The deduction for home offices sounds great at first – identify a discreet area of your home that is 100% dedicated to work, allocate utilities, insurance, rent or depreciation, etc to that area, and take the deduction on your tax return. The problem is that taking this deduction saves the average taxpayer no more than a few hundred dollars but because it is significantly abused it increases the average audit risk from less than 1% to more than 5%. The risk reward might not be worth it. Consult your tax preparer for more details.

    Can I can deduct that?

    When you own your own business you can deduct expenses that you might have thought were “personal” in nature. For example, internet and mobile phone expenses are legitimate deductions to the extent these services are used for business purposes. Allocate these utilities between business and personal usage and deduct the business portion.

    Documentation

    With a few exceptions, bank and credit card statements will serve as adequate documentation in the event of an audit. Go electronic and get rid of that box of receipts. Download and save your banking activity and stop saving boxes of paper receipts – your tax preparer will spend less time on your return and you’ll spend less on their services.

    Getting and staying organized on a regular basis is the best way to reduce the stress of tax season. Again, always consult with a qualified professional with regard to your personal tax situation.

    Posted in Business / Photography
    April 2nd, 2014

    The Fine Art of Travel Photography

    Posted by liveBooks

    Mark Edward Harris is an award-winning photographer, author and educator. His book North Korea was named Photography Book of the Year at the 2013 International Photography Awards. He teaches travel photography workshops at the Los Angeles Center of Photography, Samy’s Camera, and the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. These are his tips for creating fine art travel photography.

    How does one transcend the “I was here” imagery that is often associated with travel photography and create fine art images of places near and far?

    From the dozens of workshops I’ve taught on the subject and carefully studying the work of and talking with many of the great globetrotting lensmen and women in the field, I have developed a methodology, that when applied, should yield impressive and at times spectacular results.

    Ovahimba Village Namibia. Image courtesy of Mark Edward Harris.

    Ovahimba Village Namibia. Image courtesy of Mark Edward Harris.

     

    Big Picture Thinking

    I see a common failing with many beginning travel photographers. They are so focused on the fascinating subjects before their lenses that they forget about the basic rules of composition that make for a great photo. Look at the whole frame and use the space effectively. Ask yourself, “If I were painting this scene, what would I include? What would I exclude?” Treat the camera sensor or the piece of film you are about to expose as your canvas.

    Depth of Field

    I often shoot in the aperture priority mode so I can be acutely aware of what I will have in focus. You can lead the viewer through your image by careful control of the f-stop. Shooting with a minimal depth of field can yield dramatic portraits whereas a maximum depth of field can create its own unique perspectives especially for architectural photography. It’s important to remember that when you look through an SLR camera you are seeing the lens at its widest aperture which translates as its shallowest depth of field. This lets in the maximum amount of light which gives a bright viewfinder and allows for easy focus. But when you depress the shutter and the lens goes to the selected f-stop, those palm trees that were soft in the distance all of a sudden are growing out of the heads of your subjects like antennas. Most cameras have depth-of-field preview buttons to see what your stopped down lens will have in focus but with enough practice and awareness that knowledge becomes second nature.

    Time of Day

    Early morning and late afternoon have always been the favorite times for professional travel photographers to shoot. It’s not just the warm Kelvin temperatures that create an inviting mood, it’s the experience of documenting a town coming to life or transitioning to the night. Shadows from an angle are more pleasing to the eye than the harsh light of midday. The middle hours of the day are a great time to photograph people in open shade or to explore museums and other interior locations.

    Myanmar. Image courtesy of Mark Edward Harris.

    Myanmar. Image courtesy of Mark Edward Harris.

    To Flash Or Not To Flash

    It’s not always possible to be at the right place at the right time in terms of ideal ambient light. The use of a flash can reduce or eliminate harsh shadows under the eyes that are often referred to as raccoon eyes. I usually have a slight warming gel over my flash head in the morning or afternoon to create a correct color balance. Most flashes fire at a cooler, i.e., more blue color temperature, than the prevailing ambient light. I often also hold my flash at arm’s length off the camera and trigger it with a cord or a remote flash system. This further helps to create a more natural and realistic scene by making the shadows drop down behind the subject. I also often put a Gary Fong Lightsphere Diffusion Dome over the flash head to soften the light. At night, this technique can be used to replicate the light created by a dangling light bulb. Additional flashes can be added and triggered remotely for all types of creative possibilities.

    Shooting Contre Jour

    Rather then saying backlit, I like the French expression “contre jour” which translates as “against the day.” Shooting with the sun behind the subject eliminates harsh shadows and keeps people from squinting. In-camera meters can get thrown off by contre jour situations and underexpose the scene so it’s important to know how to utilize the camera’s exposure lock controls. This technique requires a lens shade and at times a hand to help block the direct light hitting the lens.

    Natural Frames

    Natural frames can create a 3-D feel in our 2-D medium. Architectural elements and flora in particular can be utilized in the foreground to lead the viewer into a given scene.

    Traffic Officer Pyongyang, North Korea. Image courtesy of Mark Edward Harris.

    Traffic Officer Pyongyang, North Korea. Image courtesy of Mark Edward Harris.

    Silhouettes

    Creative silhouettes can be created at any time of day by finding a camera position that puts the subject of the shot against a bright background and adjusting the exposure controls. It’s vital to have a strong contrast between the background and the object or subject you are trying to silhouette.

    Environmental Portraits

    Portraits of people in their environment, whether it is of a sheepherder with his flock or an artist in their atelier, adds an important human element to any travel story. Pros tend to use medium to wider lenses for this type of photograph with the goal of creating an image that transmits emotional content and engagement with their subject. When doing this type of photograph I direct the person to achieve the best angle (e.g. move left, right, back, forward, etc.) and to make sure that the elements of their environment I want to include are not being blocked or too out of focus to not be recognizable. I will talk to the person as a dentist talks to their patients, in other words saying things that can be acknowledged without the need to verbally respond past a simple grunt. Engaging in an active conversation should be done before or after a photo shoot, not during unless you want the person to be caught in all sorts of awkward mouth positions. It’s better to share a quiet human moment one-on-one and let the camera peer into the window of their soul.

    Night Exposures

    The legendary LIFE magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt was asked after returning from an assignment in Paris what he did in the City of Lights at night. His response was “Expose longer.” While he missed the meaning of the question he was of course right on with the answer photographically speaking. Many cities thrive at night and bring a completely different dimension to the travel experience. For cityscapes and architecture use a low ISO, lockdown the camera on a sturdy tripod, lock up the mirror, and use a cable release. This is especially important on exposures between 1/15th of a second to one or two seconds when the mirror on an SLR hasn’t had the time to settle down and will cause camera shake.

    North Korea. Image courtesy of Mark Edward Harris.

    North Korea. Image courtesy of Mark Edward Harris.

    Lowlight

    When photographing people in lowlight or nighttime situations I will use either a flash or a higher ISO with “fast” lenses. All my lenses including zooms are able to open to at least a 2.8 aperture. This allows for shooting in lowlight situations without the need to go to such high ISO that the resulting image is full of noise (the digital equivalent to grain).
    Shooting without flash is often required when photographing shows and in museums. A lot of work often goes into the lighting of these venues and the use of fast lenses can capture the feeling of what the person in charge of lighting was trying to create.

    Macro

    Detail shot using a macro lens or close-up filters can bring you up close and personal with a whole other world. A simple set of close-up filters can be carried in the camera bag. I carry a couple of setup and step-down rings so I can use one set with a variety of diopters with any lens.

    The Travel Photo Essay

    Creating pictures that tell a story have been the mainstay of travel magazines since their inception. Travel editors have a mantra that must be taken to heart before approaching a publication with an idea, “A location is not a story.” Look for stories that give the viewer an inside look into a culture by focusing on a person, a ritual, an aspect of history, the list is endless. The best photo essays are often the ones that come from a personal interest so search “inside” before you go outside looking for ideas.

    Iran. Image courtesy of Mark Edward Harris.

    Iran. Image courtesy of Mark Edward Harris.

    Mark Edward Harris’ (www.MarkEdwardHarris.com) editorial work has appeared in publications such as Life, GEO, Conde Nast Traveler, The Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, The London Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Playboy as well as all the major photography and in-flight magazines. His commercial clients range from The Gap to Coca-Cola to Mexicana Airlines. He is the recipient of numerous awards including a CLIO, ACE, Aurora Gold, and Photographer of the Year at the Black & White Spider Awards. His books include Faces of the Twentieth Century: Master Photographers and Their Work, The Way of the Japanese Bath, Wanderlust, North Korea, South Korea, and Inside Iran. North Korea was named Photography Book of the Year at the 2013 International Photography Awards. He teaches travel photography workshops at the Los Angeles Center of Photography, Samy’s Camera, and the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.

    March 26th, 2014

    How to Write a Photography Proposal

    Posted by liveBooks

    As a photographer being able to appropriately charge for your time and expertise is essential. Photographer Kelsey Foster breaks down what can be a challenging process and shares with us her tips on putting together an effective photography proposal.

    Writing a photography proposal is a learned process. I still learn something new every time I need to write one. Everyone has a slightly different way of doing things, so you have to figure out what works best for you.

    Writing an estimate is essential for large advertising jobs. Editorial jobs for magazines and newspapers often approach you with a predetermined budget. Wedding and portrait photographers often structure their form and fees differently. No matter what type of photographer you are, being able to appropriately charge for your time and expertise is essential. These tips will help you think about what, and how much, to charge a prospective client.

    I try to keep everything simple by dividing my estimates into three sections: project description, usage rights, and fees. Here is my proposal writing process. First, I describe the project I have been asked to work on. I try to get as much information from the client as possible by asking the following questions:

    1. How many shots will you need?
    2. When/where will the shoot take place?
    3. What is the concept?
    4. Who will provide art direction?
    5. If needed, who is the stylist?
    6. If needed, who will retouch?
    7. What is the deadline for the finished photos?

    Then I take this information and write a brief project description, so everyone involved in the project is on the same page. This also protects you from getting asked by the client to shoot more shots than you originally agreed to, etc.

    The second section is about usage rights for the images. Be sure to ask the client where the photos will be used. Will they be used on the web only? Print? A national billboard ad campaign? Obviously, the usage fee should be higher if it’s a national ad campaign vs. an email blast promotion.

    After you discuss where they’ll be used, ask them for how long they’d like to purchase the rights to the photos. I usually provide 1-year, 5-year and full buyout options. Most companies assume they want a full buyout, but in reality they probably won’t be using the same photos in 5 years anyway. However if they want it for say a 6th year, they can renegotiate with you at that time. fotoQuote and BlinkBid are good programs for getting some estimated numbers for usage fees. It probably errs on the high side, but it’s a good starting point if you have no idea what to charge! In the third section of my proposal I list all the fees I will be charging the client. A general fee list includes:

    1. Your creative fee/photographer day rate
    2. Post production editing time
    3. Digital technician or photo assistant fees
    4. Equipment rental
    5. Usage fees

    Be sure to list out and charge for everything! If you’re involved in model casting, charge for it! If you’ve been asked to location scout, charge for that, too! You may want to consider using higher-end estimates so that you have room to negotiate and cover additional expenses that may come up at the last minute. It’s never a bad thing to come in under budget!

    When thinking about budget, I usually try to get an estimate from the client up front. That way I know what I have to work with. Sometimes it’s not appropriate to ask, so use your best judgement. Also, consider the type of client it is. Is it a start-up company or a well-established brand? Just know there is not always a correct set amount to charge, because every project is different. Ask your photo community what they think, and realize that at some level writing a photography proposal is more of an art than a science.

    Lastly when presenting a finished estimate to a client, make sure it has an organized look and feel on a branded document. If they ask, explain your fees with confidence, educate them on how costs are broken down and how you are worth every penny!

    Kelsey_Foster_photography_proposal

    Kelsey_FosterKelsey was born and raised in Dallas. She received her B.F.A. in photography at the University of North Texas, and afterwards moved to New York City. She was named one of “Adorama’s ones to watch” in 2008, and also participated in several group shows. Recently relocating back to Texas, she continues to shoot for editorial and commercial clients by splitting her time between NYC and Dallas. Her portrait work can be seen on her website. In addition to photography, Kelsey also loves snow, traveling, and playing her banjo.

    Posted in Marketing / Photography
    February 13th, 2014

    Myanmar: Bridges to Change

    Posted by liveBooks

    Photographer, filmmaker, and climber Mark Fisher was asked to join an expedition that would make a first ascent of Gamlang Razi, Southeast Asia’s disputed highest peak. He created a film called Myanmar: Bridges to Change about the experience which will be released on June 14, 2014. In the meantime he has shared the trailer and these beautiful images with us. We can’t wait to see it in its entirety!
    Myanmar Bridge. Photo courtesy of Fisher Creative.

    Myanmar Bridge. Photo courtesy of Fisher Creative.

    In August 2013 a group of 7 climbers, 5 Americans and 2 Myanmarese climbers, traveled to the farthest reaches of northern Myanmar to make a first ascent of Gamlang Razi, Southeast Asia’s disputed highest peak. All told, the climbers traveled over 270 miles on foot through some of the harshest terrain on the planet, braving extreme heat and moisture, as well as the gambit of jungle creatures. Despite these challenges, they were rewarded with rare access to one of the most remote and untouched corners of this planet, living with villagers along the trail that have never seen westerners before. In fact, there have been less than a dozen or so westerners in history to have ever been to this part of the world, and only one climbing expedition in history have been to these mountains.

    Villager in Myanmar. Photo courtesy of Fisher Creative.

    Villager in Myanmar. Photo courtesy of Fisher Creative.

    Although making a first ascent of Gamlang Razi was their primary goal, they soon discovered that the actual peak was far less significant than the experiences they were having with the people with whom they were traveling, the villagers they met and stayed with, and in the country of Myanmar in general.

    Climbing Gamlang Razi. Photo courtesy of Fisher Creative.

    Climbing Gamlang Razi. Photo courtesy of Fisher Creative.

    As a country that is just recently awaking from over 50 years of military dictatorship and relative isolation, they were offered a rare glimpse into a culture unaffected by the rapid pace of globalization throughout the rest of the world. This film is not just a recounting of a mountaineering expedition, it’s a film about a people and a country that are on the brink of rapid change, and what this might entail for the future of this country and its people.

    Myanmar Bridges to Change from Fisher Creative on Vimeo.

    The film was directed, produced, filmed and edited by Fisher Creative. The world premiere of the fill will take place on June 14, 2014 in Yangon, Myanmar and be available to download via iTunes.

    Media-education blogger Amy Cobb gives the liveBooks community some tips on how to build your personal brand using Instagram without giving away your work for free.

    Is Instagram revolutionizing photography? This is a stale question at this point. We all know that Instagram owns the right to use your photo if you post it with their app, and that it has potentially democratized photography – everyone can be a photographer now, and the photographer with the most followers wins! (What they “win” we have yet to know). Nevertheless, while iPhone and Instagram-only weddings have occurred, they are still by far the exception. Photographers that hope to make money from their photographs – and not just from contests sponsored by corporations – can use Instagram to help establish their personal brand without giving all their work away for free.

    Behind the Scenes Content

    Instagram can be considered a portfolio, but if you’re serious about becoming a professional photographer, it shouldn’t be your only portfolio. As you well know, you can’t shoot with your phone in the same way that you can shoot with a DSLR, and very high-quality #latergrams don’t necessarily thrive in a filter-happy context.

    Nevertheless, photographers can use Instagram to connect users to who they are as a photographer. It can be a great home for behind-the-scenes shots or other quick peaks into how you work and what interests you. It can show how your eye operates within limitations, or even what colors and shapes that you’re drawn to. Instagram allows you to be a human social media user in addition to a professional, and this human connection is especially desirable when you’re being hired to capture one of the most important moments in a person’s life.

    hashtag wedding

    In order to connect your Instagram to the rest of your brand, make sure that your user name is your name or your business name. Include a link to your real digital portfolio or business website in your profile so your followers know where else to find you. Similarly, integrate your Instagram account with others that you’re using to build your brand, whether it’s your Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. All of these platforms are becoming increasingly visual, and your active participation can only bring you more fans and clients.

    Tagging Along with Relevant Communities

    Hash tags are now being used across social media platforms in order to reveal and connect related content. Instagram is no exception to this, and applying relevant hashtags to your photos will help to connect you to interested users. For instance, you could use the #weddingphotography hashtag to behind-the-scenes or sample shots from a wedding set. Additionally, you could come up with branded hash tags to use when appropriate.

    As you can see here, InkedFingers enhanced this engagement photograph with an #ifportrait hashtag, which Carli Kiene adds to all professional samples on her Instagram, which also includes a link to her site and personal photographs that give users an idea of what she is like.

    Learn from Big Brands

    Many of these ideas can be learned from looking at the Instagram accounts of big brands. My favorite example is J Crew. J Crew has done an exceptional job of using social media to create a community around their products. They don’t just post pictures of their clothing on their account – they picture objects and moments associated with the lifestyles of those who might buy their products. They know their target audience and participate in their communities online by responding to comments and hashtags.

    Also, if you take the time to follow big brands, you may gain their attention. Whole Food’s Dark Rye Tumblr has been known to reblog beautiful photos. Other brands such as Warby Parker allow Instagram “artists” to take over their accounts for a day or two in exchange for products. This gives these companies access to your innovative content at a reduced rate, but it also gives you access to these companies’ followers and the happy marriage between your personal brand and Warby Parker’s.

    In the end, no matter what your field may be, Instagram allows users to put a face to a brand which forges a desirable human connection. For photographers, Instagram can be a valuable addition to your digital arsenal and will undoubtedly draw interested users to your real portfolio.

    Amy CobbAmy Cobb blogs on all things media and media-education-related. Most recently she’s worked on cataloging the best photography colleges for Photography-Colleges.com. When not writing, Amy is thwarted by square foot gardening or playing with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Snarls Barkley.

    Claire Rosen is a photographer that blends a fine art sensibility with commercial work to create whimsical imagery inspired by fairy tales, fables, and other children’s stories. Her fashion art and advertising work touch on the bizarre and unusual with the themes of vintage circus, burlesque, magic, curiosities and natural science interwoven throughout the images. She tells us what her favorite moment was this past year and what she’s hoping for in 2014.

    What was your most memorable moment this past year?

    Taking an overnight train from Budapest to Bucharest…

    What is your main goal for 2014?

    To find gallery representation in NYC.

    What is it that keeps you picking up your camera everyday?

    Admittedly it’s not “everyday” but the adventures that my camera allow me to have keeps me picking it up as often as possible!

    Fine art fashion photographer

    Series: Pre-Raphaelite, 2013
    Locality: Bucharest, Romania
    Fashion Story
    Credits: Model – Marta mraModels, Styling – Raluca Racasan, Hair – Claudiu Alex Sarghe, Makeup – Irina Selesi, Location – Institutul de Arheologie

    Connect with Claire and view more of her work on her photography website.

    Fine art wedding and portrait photographer Karen Hill loves photography, the history of photography and shooting with film. She is known for her ability to create emotionally powerful images. Karen has shared some of those images with us in addition to what keeps her motivated.

    What was your most memorable moment this past year?

    There are so many memorable moments in a year of photographing weddings. It’s such an intimate job where so many things are happening all around you at the same time. It’s hard to name just one! So I’ve included a few of my favorite images.

    Photo by Karen Hill Photography

    Photo by Karen Hill Photography

    What is your main goal for 2014?

    To keep getting work and making my couples happy.

    Photo by Karen Hill Photography

    Photo by Karen Hill Photography

    What is it that keeps you picking up your camera everyday?

    What I love is the feeling I get when everything seems to align, when the perfect moment is in front of you, when the light is just right and the right camera and lens are in your hand. When the sun and the stars align perfectly, so to speak, to me, that’s photography magic and that’s what keeps me picking up my camera everyday.

    Photo by Karen Hill Photography

    Photo by Karen Hill Photography

    Connect with Karen and view more of her work on her photography website.

    Robin Layton is an award-winning photojournalist and renowned artist. Her exquisite work has been nominated for a Pulitzer prize and featured in the Smithsonian. She shares some of her favorite moments from this past year with us.

    What was your most memorable moment this past year?

    I’ve got a few! Becoming a Nikon Ambassador, the release of my second book, hoop: the american dream, and completing my 8th film for The Oprah Winfrey Network.

    hoop: the american dream

    What is your main goal for 2014?

    To keep growing as an artist and to keep creating art.

    What is it that keeps you picking up your camera everyday?

    I’m at a point in my career where I’m just focusing on creating fine art. After being a “hired gun” for everyone else my entire career it’s my turn. Finding out what I have inside me is very exciting! This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my career.

    To connect with Robin and view more of her work visit her website.

    Award-winning fine art photographer and instructor Craig Varjabedian recently won Best Art Book at the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards for his book Landscape Dreams: A New Mexico Portrait published by the University of New Mexico Press. He tells us about the book and what he is currently working on.

    What was the genesis of this book?

    My publisher approached me with an idea to create a piece that would celebrate New Mexico on its 100 years of statehood. But really, this book is a natural progression of my work. It presents a selection of my photographs, made over the nearly three decades that I have lived and worked in New Mexico. Some of the images are from my archives while others are newer, based on my desire to have a more complete geographical coverage in order to best represent the varied landscape of the state.

    Fine art photography

    Approaching Thunderstorm, Very Large Array, near Socorro, New Mexico, 2011. Photo by Craig Varjabedian.

    How did you come to love the American West?

    I grew up in Canada and came to US in 1970. A few years later, while attending the University of Michigan, I attended a photography workshop in California. The instructor suggested I drive back home through the Southwest. I immediately fell in love with the Santa Fe light. To this day I cannot find the words to describe the quality of light here. It has so deeply captured me and made me want to reveal its nuances in my photographs more and more. I ended up completing the thesis portion of my graduate work for RIT in Santa Fe and have been here ever since.

    Fine art photography

    Moonrise over Penitente, Morada, Dusk, Late Autumn, New Mexico, 1991. Photo by Craig Varjabedian.

    How do you decide whether to shoot film or digital?

    I’ve been making pictures for over 40 years. One tool is not necessarily better than the other to make images. They are just tools. While I like the look of film for many of the photographs I make, a digital camera allows me to create images in certain situations that I might not otherwise be able to.

    Fine art photography

    Newborn Goat, Picacho, New Mexico, 2010. Photo by Craig Varabedian.

    Who are you influenced by?

    I’m influenced by many artists. I like the old masters—Edward Weston Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Morley Baer, Brett Weston— they really knew how to make photographs. I love the current work of William Clift, Richard Misrach, and Robert Glenn Ketchum. And some of the work my students produce can be downright amazing. Perhaps my favorite photographer is Paul Caponigro who I briefly worked for here in Santa Fe. I’m drawn to the subtlety and the contemplative nature of his photographs. Above all I believe that in order to be a good photographer one has to truly love images and love what one is photographing.

    Fine art photography

    Golden West Flour Mill, Late Afternoon Light, Clovis, New Mexico, 2011. Photo by Craig Varjabedian.

    What are you working on now?

    I’m photographing the White Sands National Monument. It is 275 sq. miles of white sand dunes in southern New Mexico. It is very different topography than northern New Mexico. I’m thinking more about abstraction and the dunes provide an opportunity to explore that. It will be the subject of my next book.

    Fine art photography

    Black Tree and Orphan Mesa (Island Mesa), Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, 2005. Photo by Craig Varjabedian.

    What do you enjoy about being an instructor?

    When you teach you learn. I frequently learn things from students and working with them sometimes helps me clarify my own ideas about image making. And you have an opportunity to give back. As a photographer I often work alone so teaching, because I have the privilege of working with others, becomes counterpoint to my own work. It brings balance to my life and my work. You give and receive feedback and can react. I teach students to be honest in their work. Authenticity is important too; it makes you a better, happier photographer.

    Fine art photography

    Bill Dalley’s Windmill Collection, Portales, New Mexico, 2011. Photo by Craig Varjabedian.

    Why is it important to publish your work?

    Publishing my work is a very integral part of my creative process. Much in the same way that recorded music (in the past) was presented as a group of songs on a record album, publishing provides me a way to present a body of work, in a controlled way to a larger audience, that may never see the original prints. This provides an opportunity for the photographs to create more connections.

    The book is available at fine book stores and Amazon.com
    To view the Craig’s work check out www.craigvarjabedian.com

    As the end of the year approaches it’s an opportune time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the next. We decided to check in with longtime friend and sports photographer Matt Brown to see what his most memorable moment was this past year and what he plans to do in 2014. We look forward to keeping up with him!

    What was your most memorable moment this past year?

    My most memorable moment in 2013 was being named the Director of Photography for the Los Angeles Angels. Twenty five years of hard work paid off and I couldn’t be happier!

    What is your main goal for 2014?

    My goal for 2014 is to show the Angels in a new way. I want the fans to see more intimate, quiet moments away from the field. In this photo Los Angeles Angel Mike Trout gets a haircut 90 minutes before a game. Most fans didn’t know this even happened and very few people have seen this photo till now. Check out the Angels photo blog for more candid shots.

    What is it that keeps you picking up your camera everyday?

    I’m a super competitive person and that drives me to make the best photos day in and day out. Plus I get really grumpy if I don’t shoot!

    Keep up with Matt’s work on his photography website and of course on the Angels photo blog!

    2013 Season, Game 86: Los Angeles Angels vs Boston Red Sox

    Los Angeles Angels Mike Trout gets a haircut 90 minutes before a game.

    September 16th, 2013

    How to Leverage Your Contacts

    Posted by liveBooks

    how_to_leverage_your_contactsTaking time each week to leverage your contacts is one of the most basic things you can do to ensure that your business continues to grow. Even though they are already in your address book, maximizing your relationships takes time, consistency and focus. Your network includes past clients, current clients and all of your prospects.

     

    Mantaining Your List

    Did you know that 40% of creatives at advertising agencies change jobs each year? 40%! So that great Art Director that you worked with last month may not be there next month. Where did they go? Who took their place?

    The average family moves every five years, every three years for those under 30. So for those wedding and portrait photographers out there who are interested in developing a long term relationship – the so-called “photographer for life” – you have your work cut out for you as well.

    So take the time each week, let’s say Friday mornings from 9:00 am until 11:00 am, to do research and maintenance on your contact list.

    Identifying Prospects

    1. Draw four circles on a piece of paper
    2. In each of the four circles write down the name of one of your top clients
    3. Start with one of your circles and write down key aspects about the client such as their industry, their title, who else you met during the project
    4. Go to your favorite search engine and start researching other companies in their industry or associated industries, then the names of people with similar titles at those companies

    For example, let’s say that your client was Art Jackson, the Chief Marketing Officer at Acme Advertising. A quick search on Art Jackson Acme Advertising and his LinkedIn profile comes up indicating that he has also had major marketing roles at Main Street Advertising and Modern Marketing. He has recommended two Modern Marketing people on LinkedIn. You can send Art an email to say hello, mention that you saw he used to work at Modern Marketing and had recommended a few others from there, and wondered if he might make a few introductions on your behalf. You’ll also notice that Acme Advertising is owned by Agency X, so ask Art if there are additional people at the other brands within Agency X that he could introduce you to.

    Within minutes you’ve identified prospects that you can meet through someone that knows you, likes you and can vouch for your work style and professionalism. Repeat this every Friday for a few hours and your business is guaranteed to thrive.

    Starting a Conversation

    Once you’ve been introduced a new prospect you’ll need to start a dialogue. One way to begin developing a relationship that leads to new business is to offer help and counsel. Tell them you’ve enjoyed the chance to explore potential ways in which you could work together. Then ask them what initiatives they are working on in your area of expertise and offer to exchange ideas on how you can help. Offering solutions to their challenges or new ideas is a great way to demonstrate your value and develop a relationship.

    Staying Connected

    Now for the hardest part – staying connected. To be top of mind in our competitive world is very important. Part of your weekly routine should include staying in touch with your network. Here are some ideas on how to accomplish that:

    1. Send 5 thank you notes
    2. Schedule 4 catch-ups
    3. Make 3 recommendations
    4. Offer 2 referrals
    5. Write 1 hand-written note

    Leverage LinkedIn for your recommendations and forward relevant blogs and articles to let your connections know that you’re thinking of them.

    Remember the goal is not collecting contacts – it’s making business happen! What is it that you want with your business? Write it down on a piece of paper and put it above your computer. Why? Because success requires discipline and discipline often times is simply remembering what you want.

     

    Kike Calvo is an award-winning photographer, bilingual journalist and author represented by National Geographic Stock. The nature of his work is primarily cultural documentary and editorial. He has lectured at the Leica Akademie and is a freelancer for the New York Times. He shares with us a little about his journey as a storyteller, his most memorable moments, and what inspires him.

    Melissa Dubasik: How did you get started in photography?

    Kike Calvo: This question makes me sad as it was one of the worst moments in my life that drove me into photography. I was studying economics in Spain when my father, a radio personality and one of the most fascinating characters I have ever met, was diagnosed with cancer. I dropped everything and devoted that year to join him on his last journey through hospitals and chemotherapy. Before he died I promised him I would graduate. And I did.

    Kike_Calvo_Kyoto

    Traditional dancers in Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Kike Calvo.

    For me it was the beginning of an internal change, where photography became my way of coping with my grief. I received a scholarship and graduated with a degree in journalism and mass media from the University of Idaho with emphasis in environmental issues. As a result I became an intern at the Charles Darwin Station in the Galapagos Islands for several months. From there I moved to New York City to train at the photo unit within the United Nations Department of Public Information. Other interesting opportunities followed such as being the studio manager at the Soho Photographer and editor for the Graphics Department at the Associated Press for Latin America and the Caribbean.

    I am completely self-taught when it comes to photography. For the last 20 years I have been shooting all around the world from Antarctica to the Arctic. It is interesting how hard times in our life make us find new paths. I hope my story will be useful to someone out there who may be going through a difficult time.

    Classical ballerina at Yale

    Classical ballerina dancing inside a classroom at Yale University. Photo by Kike Calvo.

    MD: What are you working on now?

    KC: As I write these lines, I am currently sitting on a plane that is taking me from Siam Reap, Cambodia to Thailand. I still have 10 days to go on this photo expedition around Asia that has taken me to Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. I am compiling personal work. Documenting ethnic groups and traditional dancers in the region. It has been a wonderful opportunity to create images that will be represented by National Geographic Stock and my other agencies as well as developing content for my column on the National Geographic blog Newswatch.

    Kike_Calvo_dancer

    Kike and a young Mong girl wearing traditional wedding dress in Luang Prabang (Laos). Photo courtesy of Kike Calvo.

    MD: What is your dream project?

    KC: More than my dream project, my dream is to never stop dreaming. I am extremely happy with all the opportunities life has granted me. Truth is, I am a hard worker and I have been pursuing my dream of exploring and documenting the world and its people all my life. Do we need some talent? Yes. But we also need lots and lots of hard work and planning. I teach my students in my Business of Photography Workshop that as photographers we need to think, act and plan as a company. We are not just photographers. We are a business of photography. A business we love with all our hearts but in these harsh times it needs to be carried back to its roots.

    Hurricane Sandy, New York

    Aftermath of the tropical super storm Hurricane Sandy, Queens, New York, United States, October 30, 2012. Photo by Kike Calvo.

    MD: How did you become a National Geographic Expert?

    KC: Before joining the team of Experts from National Geographic Expeditions, I worked and photographed all around the world as a freelancer. The New York Times had been sending me on several occasions to Latin America to produce images for the 36 Hours travel section and I had just finished a project in Nicaragua for the United Nations UNOPS Regional Office in Latin America. It was a time when the US was opening its new people to people visa for Americans to visit Cuba and I was invited to join as an expert on one the first expeditions. I am now leading expeditions to Cuba, Costa Rica, and Panama. I will be leading a 20 day Lindblad-National Geographic Expedition from Salvador de Bahia, Brazil all the way down to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The journey will take us to many National Parks on the way down with a stop over in Rio.

    MD: What is your most memorable moment so far this year?

    KC: This year has been filled with a lot of joy and many unique moments. Its been an incredible year. Mother’s Day in Colon’s Cemetery in Havana, the Gion Festival in Kyoto, the stories of landmine survivors in Cambodia, immersing myself in the ruins of the Ankgor complex in Siam Reap, crossing the Panama Canal by boat, photographing dozens of ethnic groups and traditional dancers in many parts of the world, and documenting Hurricane Sandy in New York City. I remind myself everyday how privileged I am for being able to live my dream. I work as hard as I can to create images that I hope will become part of our photographic history. All the while trying not to loose my smile along the way.

    Cuban photographers, Cuban photographer Liborio Noval

    Cuban photographer Liborio Noval (1936-2012), holding a photograph of Fidel Castro smoking a cigar, was one of the most iconic photographers of the Cuban Revolution, at his home in Havana. Died in 2012. December 19, 2011. Photo by Kike Calvo via AP Images.

    I also got to visit the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN lab in Geneva as part of an interdisciplinary team of Yale University to explore dance, physics and photography. But above all, the opportunity I had to share a road trip with my mother and my brother driving for several days along the East Coast of the United States along with the love shared with me by all the students that attended my photography workshops was amazing.

    MD: What inspires you?

    KC: I am inspired by life. Our planet is the best stage anyone could find to capture stories and photographic moments. I hope my documentation of this earth will help us as humans become aware of the gift we have been given. I also get inspired by inspiring others to pursue their dreams. My favorite sentence, which I use to end all my mailings is “Never stop dreaming”. It is a wonderful feeling to see my students and those people I meet along my journey achieve their goals and harvest happiness from the seeds they plant with hard work.

    National Ballet of Panama

    Six ballerinas dance and balance on top of a Diablo Rojo in la Cinta Costera, Panama´s coastal highway. Photo by Kike Calvo.

    To see more of Kike’s work visit his website. You can keep up with Kike and his travels by following him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. And check out some of the cool products he has created for sale.

    Kike_Calvo

    Kike in Akihabara, Japan. Photo courtesy of Kike Calvo.

    For over a decade, award-winning youth photographer Rebecca Drobis has returned to explore and photograph on the Blackfeet Reservation in northwest Montana. Initially, the impressive mountains of Glacier National Park drew Rebecca to the reservation, but the children living in the shadow of those peaks keep her coming back. Grown Up West: Children of the Blackfeet Reservation documents the lives of the youth living on the reservation. Rebecca tells us a little about her project.

    Where the endless plains are abruptly transacted by the dramatic Rocky Mountains lies Blackfeet Country. A small community of people call this place home and this project is about the young people of that community. It is a glimpse into their world as they see and live it. Through my photographs, I want to show the triumphs and struggles that are unique to these youth. This project explores the power of place and illustrates how the natural environment and the challenge of reservation life affect a child’s experience.

    These challenges unite the community and further strengthen family and neighborly bonds. In the absence of material excess, the children’s imaginations flourish. Without tightly packed schedules of extracurricular activities or the latest video games, children are drawn outdoors to explore and adventure.

    Rebecca_Drobis_photography_website

    My goal in this body of work is to honor the enduring strength, resilience and wisdom of these youth. The project speaks to a universal childhood.

    The next step is to use this photo project as a foundation for advocacy. I want to give back to this community. I feel a profound sense of gratitude for having been allowed into their lives. And I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of that. Am I going to be able to help these kids somehow? I am looking to partner with an appropriate organization to further those efforts.

    Rebecca_Drobis_photography_website_1

    I am thrilled that liveBooks was willing to donate one of their beautiful photography website templates to my project. It brings new eyes to the Blackfeet Reservation – individuals who might not otherwise see this place or meet these powerful kids.

    Currently I am creating video interviews of some of the children. This multimedia approach is a much richer, collaborative dialogue where the kids will be able to speak for themselves. To keep up with these children visit my website Grown Up West: Children: Children of the Blackfeet Reservation.

    We had a great Q+A webinar with many members of the liveBooks community last Monday. Thanks so much to those who were able to attend!

    For those who weren’t able to join us, the focus of the conversation revolved around the future of the liveBooks brand, the state of our support team and the new features and platforms we hope to add to liveBooks in the future. To illustrate some of these items, we’ve listed some highlights below.

    • The liveBooks brand remains intact. You can expect to receive the same level of service as in the past and enhancements to the products and designs you love. We plan to increase the amount of resources dedicated to the liveBooks business to create even better products in the future. Our ultimate goal is to create a website that drives you and your business success for the long term.
    • We sincerely apologize if anyone had difficulty getting in touch with a liveBooks representative during the transition period. With the recent acquisition, we are working hard to bring the level of support back to that which you had come to expect from liveBooks. We have hired back many of the familiar faces from the support team, and will ensure that you receive timely responses and in-depth support. Thank you again for your patience.
    • We look forward to improving and creating new products to power your businesses including: responsive designs, HTML 5 components, open API and integrating workflow from LightRoom to liveBooks.

    If you missed the webinar and are interested in receiving a copy of the full recording, please email support@livebooks.com.

    Posted in Business / Photography
    July 16th, 2013

    Support Members are still here!

    Posted by liveBooks

    It’s been a crazy few weeks over here at liveBooks, and we are extremely grateful for your patience and understanding through this process.  In spite of all the exciting news, things are finally starting to settle down and return to life as we remember it.  While you may still have some questions about the acquisition (if so, we encourage you to join this afternoon’s Q+A webinar), rest assured that the liveBooks brand, team, and core values remain intact!

    From a support personnel standpoint, not much has changed around here.  Patrick, Luis and Laura are back online to help answer your questions and manage your accounts.  They are joined by Catherine, Senior Customer Satisfaction Manager. We want to ensure that we introduced you to her, in case you see her name pop up on any of our channels.  When Catherine isn’t managing our support teams, she is mastering the art of pilates (well… almost… she fell off the pilates machine yesterday.)  Catherine’s email is ccano@livebooks.com.

               

    We are excited to utilize our new resources to increase our offerings and deliver an even better product to all of you.  Please feel free to email Patrick, Luis, Laura or Catherine with any questions you may have (allow 48 business hours for a response).

    Patrick: patrick@livebooks.com
    Luis: luis@livebooks.com
    Laura: laura@livebooks.com

    Posted in Business

    Dear liveBooks Community,

    It is a huge thrill to be joining forces with the liveBooks team. Together, liveBooks and WeddingWire are able to take action with our shared commitment to continue the amazing work that liveBooks has been doing in serving photographers and creative professionals around the world. I wanted to share insight with you on where liveBooks is headed in the months ahead, as well as introduce myself and WeddingWire.

    Where We Are Headed
    Andy Patrick and I share a passion for helping small businesses succeed online.  As both of our teams work together, we are committed to providing you with the level of service for which liveBooks has been known.  In the coming months, our technology teams will work together very closely to build a more powerful liveBooks platform to serve your business needs for years to come. Whether you are a commercial photographer or creative professional, we look forward to delivering success to your website and your business.

    About WeddingWire
    WeddingWire is a company dedicated to helping small businesses succeed.  We have extensive experience in working with photographers, videographers, venues, and other small business owners and are focused on understanding their ever-changing business needs.  In fact, many members of our team are creative professionals themselves.  The company was launched in 2007 from my living room and has continued to expand in staff, space and innovation with a priority to serve our clients.

    We initially began by creating an online marketplace for the wedding industry, connecting consumers with event merchants efficiently online.  Today, WeddingWire.com is one of the largest wedding sites in the U.S.  Furthermore, our technology platform powers portions of leading industry sites such as Martha Stewart Weddings and CondeNast’s Brides.com.

    Next, we launched EventWire.com, dedicated to helping event planners find the best resources for their corporate and social events.

    We are always innovating our current offerings but most recently, we extended our software suite to include features like social media management, digital contract signing, online bill payment, mobilized sites and more.

    Today, our platform powers over 140,000 small businesses across the globe. We have become the leading technology company in the industry and our team is laser- focused on driving product innovation for our professional community.  If you’d like to learn more about our company or our products, please visit: http://vendors.weddingwire.com.

    On behalf of the entire WeddingWire team, we are incredibly excited to join the vibrant liveBooks community and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve you and your business needs.  I look forward to connecting with you over the coming months; however, should you have any questions, comments or concerns, please don’t hesitate to email catherine@livebooks.com and you will receive a response within 24 hours.

    Best,

    Timothy Chi
    CEO
    WeddingWire, Inc.

     

    Posted in Business

    We’ve been busy over the past few months preparing for some exciting news. liveBooks has been acquired by WeddingWire, Inc., which operates the leading wedding and event sites such as EventWire.com, WeddingWire.com, ProjectWedding.com and many more.  Furthermore, the company features a comprehensive online business marketing and management solution, called eventOS, which offers businesses the opportunity to enhance their marketing, customer relationships, reputation and more. We are confident that in WeddingWire, we have found a great partner and a steward of the liveBooks brand.

    Our sincerest apologies for any bumps you may have experienced during this transition period and for any inconvenience it may have caused you.  In tandem with WeddingWire, we are dedicated to making this transition as smooth as possible and we are committed to answering your questions.  Our staff is available and here when you need us.  We look forward to this new chapter as we deliver more value to YOU, our valued liveBooks customers.

    Here’s a note from Andy Patrick to the liveBooks community:

    We are thrilled to announce that liveBooks has been acquired by WeddingWire, Inc., the leading online marketplace for the wedding and events industry. They are an amazing group of people, passionate about being great stewards of the liveBooks brand, and focused on maintaining our leadership role in all aspects of the photography and creative professional industry.

    What does this mean for you?

    You’ll continue to receive the same great service as always. For anyone who experienced frustrations during this recent transition period, our sincere apologies. We will be working hard over the next few weeks to make the transition as seamless as possible. This week, support staff is in full force and ready to help with for your support questions, custom design and new site enhancements.

    liveBooks brand will remain.

    We’re excited to partner with the WeddingWire team to continue to serve the liveBooks community. The acquisition means more resources will be available for product innovation and we will be sharing the details of these developments in the coming months. We’re working to bring you more value as a liveBooks customer.

    We appreciate your loyalty over the years and look forward to this exciting next chapter—we’re committed to bringing you stellar business solutions to boost your online presence and success.

    Keep doing great work and having fun.

    All my best,
    Andy Patrick
    andy@livebooks.com

    For more information about WeddingWire’s platform for merchants, which includes lead management, social media monitoring, digital contracts and more, visit http://vendors.weddingwire.com.

    Posted in Business / Ideas / Photography

    Portrait photographer Jessica Washburn is especially gifted at newborn and family portraiture. It’s not easy to bring out the best in every member of a family simultaneously. Learn from a pro how to prepare parents for family portrait sessions.

    Family portrait sessions should be fun! As photographers we can do more than just create beautiful images for our clients – we can make sure they enjoy their time with us. Ultimately, the experience families have while they’re with us is what determines if we are gaining clients who will want to come back to us again and again.

    Family portrait photography

    Confession #1:

    Growing up, I hated getting our family pictures taken. Uncomfortable clothes, stressed-out mom, cranky kids, and someone almost always ended up crying.

    Confession #2:

    Until a few years ago, I dreaded taking my own kids’ pictures. I was the stressed-out mom, they were the cranky kids, and if someone was crying it was usually me. Why I decided to pursue family photography after all the itching and whining and the poking and the crying is anybody’s guess, but I’ve learned some things over the years, both as a mom and as a photographer, that have completely changed the family portrait experience. Now, I love family portraits – I love shooting them, I love being in them, and I adore looking at them after the session. My clients and my kids look forward to them. I’ve found that taking the time to prepare parents for their family portrait session can turn a potentially stressful situation into one that’s a lot of fun.

    Family portrait photography

    Manage your clients’ expectations:

    Make sure your clients know exactly what to expect from a session. Explain what will happen from the time they arrive at the session until they leave. Remind them that their children don’t have to be perfect at the session. The camera captures 1/250th or less of a second at a time – in between the wiggles and the goofiness and even the “I don’t want to!” there are always sweet moments. Ask them to trust that you can capture those.

    Help them focus on what they can control:

    I frequently tell my clients that I hope their family portrait session doesn’t cause them any stress, but if it does, all of that stress should happen before the session. Stress and tension have no place at a portrait session. Thoughtful selection of their photographer, their wardrobe, and a session date and time that works with their family’s schedule will definitely lead to beautiful images. However, once the session starts there isn’t much more parents can do to ensure success, other than having fun and showing affection to their kids.

    Family portrait photography

    Remind them to be flexible:

    Kids have minds of their own. Let clients know that you’ll try something for a while, and if it’s not working out you’ll move on to something else. Reassure them during the session that their child’s shyness or silliness is age-appropriate and that they’re not misbehaving.

    Portrait photography website

    Bribes and rewards:

    Bribing a child before a portrait session almost never works. I explain to parents that by offering a reward to children before a portrait session, they’re often sending the message, “This is going to be painful. So painful, in fact, that I’m going to have to take you to ice cream/buy you a toy/let you play video games to make it up to you.” The problem with bribes is that children under the age of 5 don’t understand delayed gratification, thus the reward is ineffective and can quickly turn into threats, “Uh-oh, no ice cream!”

    I believe a child over the age of 5 is completely capable of participating in the session without the promise of a reward. Ask parents to please not mention any rewards before the session. Find out prior to the session if they’re comfortable with you offering a small treat or prize to win the child over to get that last shot at the end of the session. Let everyone know that the session itself will be fun – no one needs a reward for having fun!

    Family portrait photography

    Encourage parents to keep it light:

    Remind parents that comments like, “This is really important to Mommy, we really want you to cooperate,” instantly gives the child complete control over the session. Instead, I encourage parents to say something like, “We’re going to go see Jessica today. She’s going to play some games with us and take our picture. It’s going to be so much fun!”

    Portrait photography website

    Take comfort into account:

    As the mom of many highly sensitive children, I encourage parents to make sure they’re not setting themselves up for unnecessary difficulty by asking their children to do things that make them uncomfortable. Sessions should be scheduled, as much as possible, when children will be well-rested and fed. Ask parents to make sure their children have tried on clothes before the session so that any problems resulting from uncomfortable clothing can be addressed prior to the session date. I also let parents know that we can always take a break from shooting if children just need a drink or a snack, a snuggle, or time to play for a bit.

    Family portrait photography

    Newborn sessions with brand new older siblings:

    Practice makes perfect. Ask your clients to make sure they let the new big brother(s) or sister(s) hold the new baby every day. If the older sibling is too little to hold the baby, he should be lying down next to the baby, kissing the baby, or at least talking to the baby every day. This gives the toddler or child a chance to get used to the baby. It also gives the parents an idea of how much cooperation they can expect from their older child or children. The clients will then come to the session with a much more realistic idea of just how cooperative the older children will be, which is especially important if the new big sister is still pretty much a baby herself.

    Family portrait photography

    Giving them just a little bit of guidance, we can help our clients avoid some of the common causes of family portrait stress. The less stress at the session, the more time there is for fun, and the more likely you are to win over a client for life.

    Family portrait photography

    Family portrait photography

    Family portrait photographyJessica Washburn’s images are pure, intimate, and above all beautiful. Finding and accentuating the beauty of her clients is always the inspiration for every session. While she enjoys photographing families and children of all ages, Jessica’s attention to detail, patience and absolute love for her subjects has made her especially gifted at newborn portraiture. Her newborn images display a unique sensitivity and sense of peacefulness.

    To see more of Jessica’s work visit her website.

     

    April 4th, 2013

    A Look Back at WPPI

    Posted by liveBooks

    After all the lead-up to WPPI in Las Vegas last month, it seems strange that it’s really over. But as I look into the rear view mirror, I see it getting smaller and smaller as we drive our brand forward toward new product launches and what will likely be a healthy wedding season.

    This was my first WPPI and everything that I was told to expect turned out to be true. The crowds were massive, the energy was high, the sessions were informative, and Las Vegas was the perfect town (and the MGM Grand the perfect locale), to host the event.

    Unlike Imaging USA in Atlanta last January, Pinhole Pro’s presence at WPPI was as an integrated brand beneath liveBooks, Inc. and alongside Fotomoto. For the most part those who were looking for us managed to find us just fine, and when they did they were pleased to note that all of the Pinhole Pro products they’d come to love were on display to touch and feel.

    You Asked. We Delivered.

    WPPI also marked the unveiling of our brand new Horizontal Panoramic album, which is now available in Pro Studio. Log on to check it out now. You can even save 25% off it and all other Pro Studio product through April 15th when you use promo code PROWPPI. Enjoy!

    All-Star Speaker Lineup

    We were fortunate enough to have a wonderful lineup of speakers at this year’s event, including Wedding Photographers Stacie Kirkwood, Barrie Fisher and Jared Platt, commercial photographers Michael Grecco and Mark Wallace, and liveBooks CEO Andy Patrick. Our own Patrick O’Connor walked attendees through all the great custom tips and tricks available to all of us in Pro Studio, and Fotomoto Product Manager Piam Kiarostami spoke about the benefits of Fotomoto. Speaking of which….

    Fotomoto_ecommerce_website

    Start Selling with Fotomoto

    Trade shows are nothing if not an opportunity to sample and demo product, and one of our major points of discussion at WPPI was the integration of Fotomoto into liveBooks websites. It was great to see booth attendees’ faces continually light up as we showed them how they can sell photos through their liveBooks websites for free. Think of it as an extra source of revenue that you can set and forget.

    For a sample of what I’m talking about, visit Jared Platt’s site and click the ADD TO CART button at the bottom of the screen. If you like what you see, and I think you will, I’d be remiss if I didn’t let you know that you can now save 50% off a Professional predesigned liveBooks website, which includes the integrated Fotomoto shopping cart option, by visiting liveBooks.com and entering promo code LBWPPI at checkout.

    Our next major industry event will likely be the PhotoPlus Expo in New York in October, but we are looking into creating a trimmed down booth experience for smaller shows throughout the spring in summer. Please be sure to ‘Like’ us on Facebook and check our Events tab to stay abreast of our upcoming appearances.

    Joe Franklin is the Director of Marketing at liveBooks and Pinhole Pro. When he’s not sending emails, optimizing landing pages and organizing events, he’s running the trails of the SF East Bay Regional Park district or shooting photos of whatever catches his eye.

    Being able to create and deliver an elevator pitch is fundamental to any good marketing plan. In the final installment of a 4 part series, liveBooks Inc. CEO Andy Patrick discusses the value in being able to state your elevator when it counts.

    Posted in Business / Marketing

    Being able to manage and grow your contact database is essential for all working photographers. In part 3 of a 4 part series, liveBooks Inc. CEO Andy Patrick discusses some effective ways to manage and grow your database.

    Posted in Marketing / Photography
    March 4th, 2013

    Photography, The Art of Selection

    Posted by liveBooks

    Learning to edit your work is essential in order to become a successful working photographer. Wedding and portrait photographer Jared Platt shares with us his tips on how to become a better photo editor.

    Jared_Platt_photography_website

    One of the greatest challenges new photographers face is learning to bridle their excitement to show everyone, everything they shoot. The difference between a good photographer and a great one is not what they shoot, but what they choose to show the world. Learning to edit your work is paramount to being a great photographer.

    Jared_Platt_photography_website

    In the last century, there was a buffer between the amateur photographer and the rest of the world: the science of photography itself and the cost of production and distribution. Expensive labs, chemical heavy darkrooms, and the complexity of publishing one’s work made it difficult to publicize. Those who were willing to make the effort and spend the money did so very carefully, with assistance from industry professionals to insure their work was well received. These hurdles to publication slowed photographers down and forced them to reflect on their work before displaying it to the public at large.

    Jared_Platt_photography_website

    Today, you don’t have to go through a gatekeeper to have access to the world. With the advent of Facebook, blogs and Instagram, the public is only a click away from seeing your latest shot. A photographer can snap a shot, alter it in Snap Seed and post it to the world in a matter of 60 seconds, for free, without any oversight, second opinions or editorial review.

    And the world will act as your editor by following and un-following your feeds. Now you (the photographer) need to learn how to be a photo editor. You can do it, you have the skills, but you now need the discipline to be your own harshest critic and to accept nothing but the best, even when it hurts to hit the delete key.

    Jared_Platt_photography_website

    After all, photography is the art of selection. When you are out in the field photographing, you have an infinite number of frame options available to you, and with your photographer hat on, you choose the location, the angle, the moment and even the exposure settings for each image you capture. When you get back to the Lightroom, you now have a smaller number of frame options available, but it is still the same act of selection that occupies your attention. The only difference is that the decisions you make in the computer can be contemplated over and are not as permanent as missing the shot in the field. If a photographer approaches the act of selecting in the computer the same way she approaches selecting at the camera (with confidence), the act of selection will be far less intimidating and much more fruitful.

    Jared_Platt_photography_website

    I offer a few suggestions for being a better photo editor:

    Comparative Review:

    First, photographers select in the field by reviewing options in comparison to one another. In the old days, we used to make our selections in the darkroom using a contact sheet with 15-36 images being compared to one another at the same time. Reviewing images one at a time will never yield quick or informed selection decisions. The art of efficient, accurate and quality selection begins with this comparative review principle: we make better decisions when we see our options in comparison to each other.

    Jared_Platt_photography_website

    Positive Selection:

    Second, photographers in the field take an infinite number of options and select images from that infinite set. When options are placed before you in comparison, one option will catch your eye and that is the option you will explore. Back in the studio, the selection process is hindered when photographers scrutinize every possible image. Instead, determine what you are looking for (i.e. children in action, brides dressing, politicians lying, etc) and set those images in front of you. As you compare them to each other on the screen or in print, let the great images jump out and grab you. Those that do not are unworthy of your attention.

    Jared_Platt_photography_website

    Kill Your Darlings

    Third, you must be willing to “kill your darlings.” Too many photographers keep too many images because it cost them time and money to produce. But if the image is not impressive, it should not be shown. Your goal as a self-editor is to promote your great work and, like the gatekeepers of the 20th century, deny entry to the rest. Shakespeare’s character Polonious reminded his son that “brevity is the soul of wit,” and I am reminding you now, that brevity is the soul of a potent portfolio. Protect your brand by protecting your portfolio.

    Don’t just think of your portfolio as the book you show your clients, or a website for potential clients. Your portfolio is anything and everything you put out into the public’s eye. This includes your printed products, magazine publications and advertisements, your Facebook pages, blogs, image galleries and Instagrams. This is where you make your impression on the public, which is why it is so important to be more critical of your own work.

    Seek Out Private Critiques:

    Fourth, find someone you trust to review your work on a regular basis. This could be another photographer, a mentor, your print lab, a portfolio review session at a trade show, a camera club or even a password protected web forum.  You don’t want a “yes” man to butter you up, but an honest and harsh critique. The public will be more than happy to critique your work, but getting that critique means that you have to show the world your mediocre work. Henri Cartier-Bresson said “showing your contact sheets is like taking your pants off in public.” Don’t take your pants off in public – it’s not good for your brand!

    The world knows that you are putting your best foot forward. So, when you share images that are merely good, you are telling your potential clients that this is the best you’ve got. If you are not willing to reject the good that is mixed in with the great, you will be seen as mediocre at best.  If you won’t judge your own work harshly, the world will.

    Jared_Platt_photography_website

    Jared Platt is a professional wedding and lifestyle photographer. He has lectured at major trade shows, photo conferences and universities on photography and workflow. Currently, Jared is traveling the USA and Canada teaching photography and post production workflow.

    Posted in Editing / Photography
    July 20th, 2014

    Protected: The Truth Told

    Posted by liveBooks

    This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

    Posted in Philanthropy
    April 30th, 2014

    Internet Explorer Security Alert

    Posted by liveBooks

    The following alert concerns any of our Pros using Internet Explorer as their browser of choice.

    Microsoft has admitted to a major vulnerability in the Internet Explorer browser over the weekend. This vulnerability allows users who visit a page with using IE (versions 9 through 11) to be open to hackers who aim to set up malicious sites in order to gain complete access to visitors’ PC.

    We know that some of our Pros access their liveBooks accounts using IE, so we highly encourage you to take the following actions in order to protect yourself from this vulnerability:

    1. Refrain from using any version of Internet Explorer until the vulnerability is repaired.

    2. Use Firefox or Chrome for your office needs (and personal use at home as well) and ensure that the browser is running the most recent version as well.

    There is always some risk in using the Internet and no browser is completely safe, but taking the steps above will help your business protect itself from hackers who are looking to access your personal information. You can use the links below to download the alternative browser of your choice:

    Download Firefox

    Download Chrome

    For more information on the security notes regarding this vulnerability, please see the list of additional resources below.

    United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team

    Vulnerability Notes Database

    Fire Eye Research Labs Blog

     

    Posted in Business

    You may have heard of a recently discovered security issue – called Heartbleed – that has impacted many sites on the internet this week, including liveBooks. Heartbleed affected OpenSSL, a type of technology websites use to keep information secure as it travels through the web.

    We took immediate action to fix the vulnerability in our infrastructure. And although we have not found any evidence of malicious behavior, it is a good idea to frequently reset your passwords.  The instructions to reset your editSuite passwords are below.

    When changing your passwords please remember:

    •  Avoid using simple passwords based on dictionary words
    •  Never use the same password on multiple sites

    Changing your editSuite username and password:

    1. In editSuite go to the Resources tab
    2. Select Account Info/Passwords
    3. On the right side select the user account that you wish to modify

    To change the password check the “Change Password” box and enter the new password in both password fields. It must be at least 5 characters.

    To change the username replace the current username with the new one.
    You must have an email address in the “Email” field as this is where the login page’s “Forgot username or password?” function will send information if you request it.

    To save your changes be sure to click both “OK” for the user account and “Save” in the lower right corner of the editSuite.

    We take information protection very seriously and will continue to work to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to protect your personal information. If you have any questions or concerns please email us at support@livebooks.com.

    For more information on this vulnerability, also known as “Heartbleed” visit http://heartbleed.com.

    Posted in Best Practices / Business

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