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January 21st, 2016

Photography Resolutions for 2016

Posted by liveBooks

We can’t believe that the first month of 2016 is already more than halfway over – is it just us or does time go faster each year?! Since now is the time to take inventory over the past year and make changes for the new one, we thought we’d get into the spirit by sharing our top photography resolutions for 2016.

Ask Others for Feedback

It can be scary and daunting to put yourself out there and ask others for feedback on your work – especially something as close to your heart as your craft. However, asking a trusted source to critique your work will allow you to see things from a new perspective and open your eyes to new ways of doing something, ultimately allowing you to hone your art. Some questions to have people think about when viewing your photos: What do you like? What don’t you like? How does it  make you feel?

Keep a Photo Journal of Goals – And Accomplishments

Many of us keep journals for all sorts of things; this should be no different for your professional life. Take the time to write down your goals, hopes, and focuses for the year ahead. But also use your journal as a way to track your progress throughout the months and make sure to account for your accomplishments, successes, and praise yourself for goals that you achieve. Looking back at all of the things that you have worked hard on will not only keep you motivated, but it will help you hold yourself accountable for the goals you still have yet to conquer.

Try Something New – Venture Into a Different Type of Photography

Many photographers are especially drawn to one or two specific types of photography. This is great; it allows you to hone your skills all while photographing something that you really love. However, sometimes, it also allows you to become complacent and narrows your horizons over time. This year, try a completely different type of photography that you’ve never done before. Are you typically a wedding photographer? Try out sports photography! Gravitate toward landscapes and nature? Try your hand at portraiture. You never know what skills you may learn from a completely different genre that can translate into making your art even better.

Commit to the Best Gear Possible

One thing we see all the time is photographers that have beautiful, top-of-the-line cameras, yet their lenses, tripods, etc aren’t fit for the job – or vice versa. This year, make sure you budget accordingly so that your gear is fit for your job and the beautiful imagery you create. Allocate plenty of time to do research, read reviews, talk to fellow photographers, and shop around before committing to a piece of gear.

Print and Frame Your Favorite Photos

While this may seem a little silly, you (hopefully!) became a photographer because you love creating beautiful imagery. This should be for you, your friends, and family to enjoy as well! Show off your favorite and best shots around your home or office. This will also be a great way to remind yourself each time you see them why you love doing what you do and inspire you to get out there and find your next favorite shot.

Embrace Technically Imperfect Photos

And lastly, while it is so easy to be harsh and critical of your own work, sometimes the technically imperfect photos make for the most breathtaking shots. Be kind to yourself; there’s a balance to be struck between striving to be better and never thinking your work is good enough. Sometimes a little bit of motion or blur can add interesting elements to an image that you never knew would work. Don’t be afraid to experiment – you never know what you’ll find!

What are some of your photography resolutions for 2016? Sound off in the comments below – we’d love to hear what your goals are!

As 2015 comes to a close (we can’t believe it, either!) we are looking ahead to the new year. Website design trends change rapidly in this day and age – so we wanted to get a head start on what will be popular in 2016. Check out our list below and feel free to leave your predictions for trends in the comments!

Responsive Design

We know, we know – this is nothing new. But we think it’s important to reiterate that with the rise in mobile devices/tablets to conduct Internet searches, responsive design isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, mobile Internet traffic has now overtaken desktop traffic. Many businesses used to have to maintain two separate websites (one for desktop and one that was mobile-friendly) however, with responsive design and the use of HTML5, your website will automatically scale to fit the size of the device someone is using to browse. liveBooks’ new platform – liveBooks8 – is built entirely on HTML5 and allows you to easily preview what your website will look like on any type of device.

liveBooks8 allows you to preview what your website will look like on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

Unique Usage of Image Galleries and Layouts

With many website design companies offering templates to create your website, it is easy to feel as though your site is “cookie-cutter.” The good news is that 2016 will see a rise in unique website layouts and usage of galleries (and liveBooks8 has some pretty cool options for customizations!) that will allow you to tailor your website to completely fit your business. Plus, these new options for unique layouts will give the user an entirely original experience when browsing your site – automatically making it more memorable.

Focus on Typography

Google Fonts has made finding a font to fit your business readily accessible (and free!) – and expect a lot more emphasis on font styles, sizes, and weighting in 2016. Customizing the typography used on your website not only allows you to make those templates your own, but can add a ton of value to how users and potential clients perceive your website and business. With the new liveBooks8 platform, you will have access to Google Fonts directly in the edit screen.

Full-Bleed Photos and “Hero” Images

With the updates in technology and the fact that most websites can now support high-resolution photos without compromising load time, full-bleed images that span the entire screen and hero images will conttinue to be a trend in 2016. The idea is that these large, high-quality images grab the user’s attention as soon as they hit the site – and by choosing the images on the homepage you can direct your audience’s attention to the things that are most important about your business.

Social Media Integration

Just like responsive design, the integration of social media into your website is not a new trend. However, in 2016 and beyond it will be almost imperative that all websites have a way for users to engage on social media. Having your social icons (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) on every page of your website will give your audience more ways to keep consuming your work in different types of settings. Allowing for a “Pin It” button on your images will make it incredibly easy for potential clients to get your photos on their Pinterest boards. Bonus: the “pin It” button will automatically link directly back to your website when someone clicks on one of your images on Pinterest.

What are your predictions for design trends in 2016? Are you making any new updates or refreshes on your website? We’d love to hear about them!

Guest Blog Post By Chris Humphreys

In late 2010, an old high school friend contacted me asking if I’d be interested in shooting sports. He worked for USA Today Sports Images and they were in need of more shooters out in Denver. Up to that point, my business had been focused almost exclusively on weddings and I had virtually no experience shooting sports. However, the idea of trying something different appealed to me, so I made the leap by purchasing a Canon 400mm f2.8 and bravely entered a whole new world.

To say the experience of going out to shoot sports is different than shooting weddings is, well, quite the understatement. In both activities you attach lenses to cameras, you dial up exposures, look through your viewfinder, and hit your shutter to take pictures. And while there’s also the pressure to perform, knowing that you don’t get a second chance if you miss a critical  moment, that’s about where the similarities end. Whereas at weddings you are constantly interacting with the bride and groom, family, wedding party, and guests, at a professional sporting event interacting with a player is likely to get your credentials revoked. I’m always amused when folks ask me if I “know” Peyton Manning once they find out I photograph Broncos games from the sidelines. (The answer to that question is a resounding “No.”)

Further, at weddings you of course want to dress up nicely, in order to look professional and blend in with the crowd. On the other hand, with sports, it’s safe to say that I’ve never exactly worn a suit and tie to a game. In fact, I have an old tattered ripped up pair of jeans I refer to as my “football jeans.” I only wear them for football since I end up kneeling in the grass on the sidelines at a lot of Broncos and college football games and I would never want to subject a good pair of jeans to the punishment those take over the course of a season.

Despite all the differences between weddings and sports, I wholeheartedly profess that shooting sports has made me a better wedding photographer. Here are some of the things that I’ve learned (or become much better at) since shooting sports.

Anticipation

Without a doubt, this is probably the biggest lesson you must learn when you start heading out to professional sporting events. If you only expect yourself to be able to react to what is happening instead of anticipating it happening ahead of time, you will almost always be a step behind the action. Professional sports simply move too fast to expect yourself to react to what’s happening. You have to be constantly thinking ahead to what is most likely going to happen and where you need to be, before the play even begins. For instance, if I’m shooting baseball and there are runners on bases, I don’t usually follow the ball once it’s hit. I move my lens to where the final play is going to be. The speed of the game is simply too fast to try and follow with your lens.

Chris Humphreys

With football, if it’s 3rd down and 20 yards to go, I’m thinking like a defensive coordinator and am probably going to follow the best wide receiver on the field with my lens because I know there’s a very good chance the ball is going to him. If I try to keep my lens trained on the ball from the time the quarterback has it to the time the wide receiver catches it, I will miss the play 95 times out of 100.

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It’s amazing just how many times I’ve applied this lesson to weddings. When I’m photographing toasts at a reception and I’m listening to a funny story the father of the bride is telling to the crowd, I begin to anticipate at what point in the story everyone is about to laugh. And when that happens I’m already focused on the couple’s faces to capture that moment.

Chris Humphreys

Or when the bride is walking down the aisle and I quickly move my camera to capture the groom’s reaction to seeing his bride for the first time, I’m also out of the corner of my eye looking to see if the mother of the groom is reacting to her son because there’s a very good chance the groom’s mom is probably more focused on her own son at that moment than the bride walking down the aisle. Who knows, if you’re lucky maybe the mom even gets out of her seat to give her son a hug as he tries to control his emotions.

Chris Humphreys 4

These aren’t hard things to do, but they take practice, and more than anything they require a photographer to always be aware of what’s going on around him/her and thinking several steps ahead.

Stop Complaining About the Rules

I’ll admit as a wedding photographer I’ve privately rolled my eyes after getting a lecture from the “church lady” who tells me that I can only photograph from behind the last pew, that I can’t use flash, or that I can’t even be at the bottom of the aisle for when the bride comes down the aisle. After all, I want to provide the best photographs I can for my client and these “silly” rules keep me from doing that. If you start photographing sports however, particularly at the professional level, you’ll realize that you’re constantly restrained by rules. Rules about where you can shoot from. Rules about where and when you can move. Rules about what you can do with the images on the internet (and particularly social media). Rules about how some photographers from some agencies can shoot in specific sports, and photographers from other agencies can’t. Each league has it’s rules and beyond that every venue has certain rules as well. Some make total sense, others seem very arbitrary.

For instance, at Coors Field photographers can only walk on the field from one photo well to the other after the top of the 4th inning (photo wells are the on-field position in baseball where photographers shoot from – usually located next to the dugout). Any other time you have to walk up the stairs to the concourse and carefully weave yourself through the throngs of people as you make your way around the stadium, and then proceed to walk down the stairs (again dodging more throngs of people) to the photo well on that side. But why is it only after the top of the 4th inning can you make the much easier and quicker transition from one side of the field to the other? Why not after the top of the 5th? Or the bottom of the 7th? What difference could it possibly make? Other MLB baseball stadiums don’t have that restriction on photographers. Why does Coors Field find it necessary to make photographer’s lives harder?

I’ve come to the realization that these are simply dumb questions to ask. The fact is it doesn’t matter. Those are what the rules are and if you want to photograph at that venue you follow the rules. Period. (Breaking rules while photographing sports is never a “better to ask forgiveness than permission” type of situation. Always, always, always ask for permission if you think there’s even a chance you might be breaking a rule at a sporting event at the professional or collegiate level.) If you’re lucky enough to photograph a higher profile event such as an All Star game, a Superbowl, or a Conference Championship game, fully expect even more rules to magically appear. Again, just accept them and learn to live with them.

Most importantly, figure out how to create stellar images working within the rules. Because while you’re focused on complaining about the rules, some other photographer is focused on figuring out how to make great images working within the rules.

Chris Humphreys

Tell the Story of the Day

Maybe this seems obvious, but for those who have been shooting weddings for years and who feel they’ve “seen it all” it’s very easy to get into a rhythm and go on auto pilot and to get the predictable shots you know work well and look good. In doing that though, you may completely miss capturing what the really important images are to the bride and groom because you’re just busy focusing on the poses and the types of images you’re used to getting.

One big misconception is that sports images are just about capturing amazing action shots. Certainly, that’s a part, but it’s not everything, You have to be aware of what happened during the game. Editors at newspapers and sports outlets expect you to know what ongoing story lines are going on with a team and who the most important players are for that game. It’s important to note that doesn’t always mean the star players. It could be the small forward who came in off the bench and managed to get a triple double. Or the right fielder who normally isn’t a star hitter and bats eighth in the lineup, but today had 4 RBIs and scored the game winning run.

Chris Humphreys

Sometimes the story of the day is told in an emotional moment (either happy or sad). Capturing emotions and reactions are a huge part of sports photography and unlike at a wedding where photographers tend not to shoot the rare moment when someone is upset or disappointed (because what kind of bride wants to see images of people looking sad at her wedding), those types of moments tell the story in sports just as well as images communicating victory or triumph.

Chris Humphreys

Chris Humphreys

Sometimes, it’s about going a step further and trying to find that unusual image that tells the story of the day that you think other photographers aren’t capturing. This is particularly important with sports where you want to try to do something to differentiate yourself from the dozens of other photographers capturing the exact same event. Back during the 2013 AFC Conference Championship game, I captured an image of a Broncos cheerleader making snow angels in the confetti after her team’s victory celebration. There were easily over 30 photographers photographing the game, and so coming up with a truly unique image that not many other of the highly talented experienced photographers would have captured that communicated the Broncos winning was difficult, but that’s the job.

Chris Humphreys

At a wedding there aren’t usually 30 other professional photographers that you’re competing with to get great images (hopefully not anyway!) but that should have no less impact on our desire to capture wonderfully unique images that tell the individual story of each couple. At one wedding I was at, the bride’s father had passed away when the bride was quite young and her grandfather was not only like a father figure for her, but clearly one of the people she was closest to in the whole world. Had I simply gotten stunning pictures of the bride and groom, but had failed to get great images of the bride and her grandfather, I would have completely failed at my job that day.

Chris Humphreys

Sometimes the story of the day doesn’t revolve around a person or a specific relationship, but is instead something that goes wrong or unexpected like the weather. No matter what it is, if it has an impact on the day or is something you think the bride and groom will remember when they thing back on their wedding, make sure you have a picture that tells that aspect of the day.

Chris Humphreys

Regardless of whether you ever have the opportunity to shoot sports, the important point is to step out of your comfort zone and try shooting something completely new. You might surprise yourself and discover new lessons for how to better photograph a subject or genre you’ve been covering for years.

Based out of Denver, CO, Chris Humphreys travels across Colorado and the rest of the United States photographing weddings for discerning couples who want their weddings captured in such a way as to be true to who they are.

In addition, when Chris isn’t photographing brides and grooms, he also freelances for USA Today Sports Images. Chris’ images have been featured in Sports Illustrated, USA Today, ESPN.comCNN.com, The LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon among others.

Chris is also a sought after speaker and teacher for other photographers.

Chris H

Designing the perfect website to show off your work and style can be overwhelming, daunting, and extremely time consuming. Here at liveBooks we strive to make it as easy (and fun!) as possible to create your website. While there are many things you can do within your editSuite, in this blog post we have narrowed down the top five things to do to get your website ready to go-live in one hour.

Portfolios and Libraries

As photographers and creative professionals, one of the most important aspects of your website will be showing off your beautiful work. The first thing you will want to do within your editSuite is name your portfolios and libraries so you know where to put your content once it is uploaded. One thing to note: libraries are for organizing and storing your images within your editSuite and do not appear on the user-facing side of your website. There is no limit to the number of libraries you can have on your site, and you can always add more than the default amount given. Portfolios, once you have added at least one image to them, will show on your website.

Check out these Support articles to learn more:

What Is The Difference Between Libraries and Portfolios?

How Do I Use The Name Portfolios and Libraries Module?

Upload Content

Once you have your portfolios and libraries named, you will want to upload your photos. Your first step will be to prepare your images according to the Image Prep Instructions. Once you have uploaded the images to your site, they will appear in the acquire area of your “Upload Image” page and you will see thumbnails as the images appear. Note that these images will remain in the acquire area until they are moved into a library for permanent storage (which is why naming your libraries ahead of time is a good idea.) Once images are moved to a library, you will then have the ability to place them into a portfolio for viewing on the front end of your site.

Some additional helpful articles:

How Do I Use The Upload Images Module?

How Do I Use The Upload Images Module For Scaler?

Name Your Pages

After your photos are uploaded, you will want to make sure that the rest of the pages on your website are correctly named and filled with some content. Typical names include: Home, About, Contact, Video, Blog, etc. Once you have renamed your pages accordingly, add some basic content and links so that they are not blank when you go-live.

Additional Resources:

How Do I Rename One Of My Pages?

How Do I Use The Pages Module?

Choose Homepage Photo(s)

One of the final steps to get your website go-live ready will be choosing your homepage photo (or photos, depending on the type of template you choose.) These will be displayed when a user first lands on your page and is really the first impression that people will have of your work and style.

How Do I Change The Images In My Homepage Slideshow?

How Do I Create And Control My Homepage Gallery?

Go-Live!

Once the above steps are done, you have previewed your website, added some brief content, and activated your account, you will want to submit a Go-Live request so that your beautiful website can be seen by the world!

Have any other to-do’s before going live with your website? Sound off in the comments or shoot us an email at social@livebooks.com!

You spend hours upon hours getting the perfect photo. You love everything about it and can’t wait to showcase it everywhere possible – your website, blog, Facebook, Instagram, Google+. Then your worst nightmare as a photographer happens – a few months later you notice your photo is being shared around, but with absolutely no credit to you as the photographer. In the digital age we’re living in, this scenario happens all too often. How do you protect yourself against this type of situation? Watermarking images is a constant debate in the creative community. In this post we will explore the pros and cons of watermarking. We will also lay out a few other easy options to protect your work.

Pros of Using Watermarks

Beyond helping to protect your images from theft, watermarking your images can serve a few other purposes:

  • Free Marketing – Photos get shared on the internet (and social media) at an alarming rate. Having your logo, name, or website URL in a subtle place on the photo can act as free advertising for you. This is especially effective for wedding and portrait photographers; people will always share their wedding or family photos on their personal social media pages, which in turn goes out to all of their friends, and their friends’ friends. Having that watermark not only gives you credit, but drives potential customers to your work.
  • Professionalism: Watermarks (if done correctly) have the ability to make your photos look more professional. Watermarking adds a layer of commercial into your work and can help establish your branding, especially if you have worked hard to design your logo and want it to be immediately recognizable.

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Cons of Using Watermarks:

  • Distraction – If a watermark is not subtle enough, it can distract the viewer from the main subject of your photo and can sometimes look amateurish, cheap, or arrogant.
  • Doesn’t Always Protect Your Images – While watermarking does add an extra step for would-be thieves, it does not completely protect your photos. Even someone with very little Photoshop experience can easily remove most watermarks from images and pass them off as their own.
  • Less Sharing – Watermarks are a great way to get some additional advertising for free; however, people are less likely to share heavily watermarked images on their social media accounts. Furthermore, the people who are most likely to steal your photos probably never had the intention of paying for them in the first place, watermark or not.

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Watermarking the Right Way:

In an effort to combine the best of both worlds, here are some quick tips for watermarking your images in a way that allows you to enjoy all of the pros and experience few of the cons.

  • Subtlety Is Key – Place your watermark in the bottom right-hand corner with a low opacity. This method mimics what famous artists such as Picasso have done in the past to sign their work unobtrusively.
  • Class It Up – Another option is to place a strip at the bottom of your image that brands your name with a nice font but isn’t disrupting the actual photo itself.
  • Don’t Overload – Having your name, website URL, logo, copyright symbol, etc is overload for a watermark. Choose one of these items (your URL is a great way to drive people to where you actually sell your  photos!) and use only that on the image.
  • Hide Your Logo – If you want to get really fancy, you can incorporate your logo into the photo somewhere where only you can find it. This will probably only work if the images you create are very unique, less so for everyday photos.

Other Alternatives:

Let’s take a look at some easy alternatives to watermarking your images that will still provide you some protection from theft.

  • Don’t Upload a Full-Resolution Photo Online – For social media sites where sharing is rampant, this is extremely important and in the event that your work is stolen, will be an easy way to prove the original work was yours. If you sell your photos or prints on your website, you can always upload higher-resolution files there.
  • Utilize Your Camera – Most DSLR cameras will allow you  to add some metadata directly into your photography via a menu on your camera settings. This can help make sure that every shot you take has your name, copyright, and URL injected straight into the digital thread of your image.
  • Description + Google Alerts – Most digital thieves will not bother to rename your photos, so using a description that is personal to you and setting up a Google Alert for that exact description can help let you know immediately if someone has tried to publish your work online.

Lastly, make sure you are educated on the tools out there to help you keep track of your images. TinEye is a service that allows you to submit an image to find out where it came from, how it is being used, and if modified versions of the image exist. Google Image Search is also an easy and free way to track your images – you can enter the URL or upload your image to see where it’s been or see any images that look similar to it. Whether you choose to watermark your images or not, it is always best to make sure you register your photos with the US Copyright Office.

Sources:

Why You Shouldn’t Watermark Your Photos

The Pros and Cons of Watermarks

To Watermark, or Not to Watermark?

How to Protect Your Photography Online

Watermarking Your Images: Pros & Cons

 

April 24th, 2015

Ten Portfolio Review Tips for Pros

Posted by liveBooks

Guest blogger Manuela Marin Salcedo is a research and development team member and content developer at Momenta Workshops. Her expertise is in visual communications and social media. In addition to her work for Momenta, Manuela is working on long-term, independent multimedia projects. Her work has been featured at LookBetween 2014, Fototazo and Light Work. She was also chosen to participate in the 2014 New York Times Portfolio Review.

As creatives we tend to work in a vacuum. So how do we combat this? With community, collaboration, and connections. How do we get that in today’s modern world? By participating in portfolio reviews!

Portfolio review opportunities seem to be everywhere nowadays. You can get your work reviewed at places like The New York Times Annual Portfolio Review, FOTOfusion, Photoville, NPPA’s Northern Short Course, WPPI, PhotoPlus, and even at workshops such as ours, like The Project Series: Working with Nonprofits. Showing your work to others can be daunting. However it will hone your presentation skills, refine your vision, advance your craft, put your work in front of new people, and spark personal growth.

In an effort to help you better prepare for your next portfolio review, the team at Momenta has compiled a list of portfolio review tips to keep in mind.

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Chris Usher (far right) gives constructive feedback to student, Stephen Van Seters, during Project New Orleans 2015: Working with Nonprofits workshop, hosted by Momenta Workshops. Photo © Jaime Windon/Momenta Workshops 2015.

Research your reviewer

Before going into the review, you should have conducted some background research on your reviewer’s personal and photographic journey. Having an idea of their experience and body of work will help demonstrate your appreciation for their time and consideration for discussing your work with them. It will also help you ask better questions.

Always have a non-digital backup of some kind

Imagine this scenario: your computer freezes, and you are unable to access the image folder on your desktop. As you try to log into your website instead, you realize the hotel WiFi is not working. Quickly you pull out your iPad, and, as if things couldn’t get any worse, you realize you did not bring the right charger and your battery is at 10%. This example is a pretty terrible and unlucky sequence of events – yet it is also completely probable. Technology has been known to let us down, so don’t tempt the tech gods to strike down on your review. Bring a print backup if possible and be prepared for anything!

Include a variety in your images, but never put in anything you do not love

Think of your portfolio as a symphony and each image as a note. Now think about this: if you play the same note throughout the symphony, you are likely to lose the attention of your audience. The same goes for your body of work. If each image is a note, you should attempt to hit different ones. That said, if your portfolio is a symphony, remember that the notes should work together to create a cohesive whole.

Do not be afraid to put in a personal work section

Personal work, or work that has not been commissioned, is just that: personal. While commissioned work demonstrates your level of responsibility and ability to do client work, your personal projects may better demonstrate your vision and style.

Include title slides to help differentiate between singles and stories

As you are presenting your portfolio, it can be helpful to include simple title slides to signify the end of one project from the beginning of another. This can also aid the flow of your presentation and help avoid confusion. Furthermore, if you have a short amount of time, title slides can cut back on lengthy explanations on your part.

Do not be defensive or overly confident about your vision

At the beginning of the review, the reviewer may ask you to talk a bit about your journey and your work. In doing so, remember to take note of your tone. There is no need to be overly confident or to become defensive when being asked why you chose to shoot in a particular way. Being open to outside opinion and commentary about your work will inevitably help you grow as an image-maker.

Do not talk while the reviewer is talking, and don’t interrupt

As a follow up to the previous tip, remember your good table manners. One of the predominant reasons to sign up for a portfolio review is to get another professional’s take on your work. As such, your role is to listen actively, not to talk over the reviewer.

Take notes

Most reviewers will not mind if you take notes while they comment on your work. In fact, they will probably encourage it. Taking notes will help you remember what the reviewer said about certain images as well as give you a general feel for their take on your body of work. It is also a physical demonstration of your engagement and helps to show how much you value and appreciate the reviewer’s time and opinion. You may even consider recording the session as a voice memo on your smartphone.

Bring business cards or leave-behinds

This tip goes back to the notion of being prepared. By meeting the reviewer to show your work, you have already created an impression and, if you are lucky, established a connection. The next step will be to keep in touch. Having business cards or leave-behinds on hand will aid in this process and help make you memorable. At Momenta, we recommend our students look here for promotional ideas and inspiration.

Send a handwritten “thank you” note

No, this does not mean a “thank you” email. Taking the time to hand write a personal note to your reviewer shows how much you appreciate their effort to help your career grow. If your handwriting is terrible, you can always ask a friend or colleague to write it for you. No matter what, a little piece of mail is the perfect follow-up; it will keep you on the reviewer’s radar and put yourself above the rest with a classy gesture.

Momenta Workshops offers one-day, five-day, and two-week documentary, photo, and multimedia training workshops, including the popular Project Series: Working with Nonprofits held in collaboration with Leica Camera. By teaching storytellers to expand their technical and business skills, Momenta explores how to use the camera as a force of change. To learn more about Momenta Workshops, please visit www.momentaworkshops.com 

Award-winning photographer, author and educator Michael Corsentino gives us his tips for getting the most out of the Photo Plus Expo. Follow these simple recommendations and you’re sure to have a productive show!

When it comes to the end of October most people are thinking about their latest Halloween costumes and stocking up on candy for the parade of ghouls and goblins about to descend on their doorsteps. For those of us in the photo industry the end of October is also the time of year when 22,000 photographers and enthusiasts from every corner of the country converge on the Jacob Javitz Center in Midtown Manhattan for the annual PhotoPlus Expo in New York City! With tens of thousands of square feet, 220 exhibitors, 80 conference seminars, myriad special events, and a ton of parties, attendees have a lot of ground to cover in just 4 short days. As a longtime denizen of PhotoPlus, here are my top 10 recommendations for getting the most out of this great expo:

1. Pace yourself
As mentioned above and below you’ve got a lot of ground to cover during PhotoPlus, there’s a ton to take in. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day, take it slow and resist the urge to try and accomplish everything the first day. Slow and steady wins the race here.

2. Bring snacks
Full conference and expo days easily top 10 hours, definitely qualifying them as endurance events. You’ll need energy and hydration to keep up, brave the crowds, stay on your feet, and explore the miles of exhibitors without falling over. Cover your bases and bring snacks like protein bars, apples, nuts, and bottled water to provide the fuel you’ll need.

3. Staying on track
An iPhone is my go-to tool for staying organized and on point during the show. At a glance I can view the expo schedule, keep track of planned meetings, locate exhibitors, take notes and photograph cool new gear to reference later.

4. Layer
In late October early November the weather in New York starts getting chilly and windy so come prepared. During the expo you’ll be dealing with two temperature zones, one outside the show where it’s potentially cold and windy and another inside the expo where it’s not! In this situation a backpack to stuff an overcoat or a few extra pieces of clothing into is your best friend. This way you can layer up and down as needed. A backpack is also indispensable for holding show collateral and snacks.

5. Go for comfort
This isn’t the time to break in that new pair of killer shoes you’ve been dying to show off. Comfortable shoes rule the day during PhotoPlus! That doesn’t mean you can’t be stylish if that’s your thing, just be sure and choose shoes that are well broken in. Consider using a padded insole for extra comfort and pack a few bandaids just in case things get dicey with your dogs.

6. Make a plan
With so many classes and exhibitors all in one place knowing where to start can be overwhelming. It’s easy to miss the important and get diverted by the trivial. Make it a point to have a plan and prioritize. Let the exhibitors list be your guide. Map out the manufacturers who’ve got that must have gear you’ve been considering. This is your chance to see it all up close and personal, get your questions answered, and take advantage of show discount specials!

7. Take at least one class
PhotoPlus isn’t just the place to ogle the newest lust worthy gear, it’s also your opportunity to meet and learn from your photography heroes. Consider arriving prior to the trade show to take advantage of one or more of the many great classes being conducted. Be sure and reserve ahead of time, seating is limited.

8. Network, network, network
PhotoPlus is your chance for some rare face time with everyone from photography executives, marketers, manufacturers and other photographers, famous and not so famous. If you’ve been dying to get on someones’s radar this is your opportunity. Bring your A game, an iPad portfolio and plenty of business cards!

9. Affordable lodging
Accommodations in NYC typically run the gamut from expensive to very expensive. However there are deals to be had if you know where to look. Many people prefer the Pod for reasonably priced digs, but if you’re a good camper like I am and don’t mind a shared bathroom arrangement, you’ll love Larchmont Hotel in the West Village. At about $100 a night it’s hard to beat. Airbnb is also a great option and the one I opted to use myself this year. For $70 a night I was able to book a room in a clean, modern, well reviewed apartment with a full kitchen located in midtown, a stones throw from the Expo.

10. Enjoy NYC
Fall is one of the best times of the year to visit New York. Set aside some time to enjoy the city and all it has to offer. Explore the beauty of Central Park, check out a museum, take in a show, hang in the village, dine in Tribeca, take a ride on the Staten Island ferry – there’s no shortage of options in the city that never sleeps.

Bonus tip!! Don’t forget your Badge
I hate wearing a badge almost as much as I hate forgetting my badge back at my hotel! There are a lot of things you can do without during PhotoPlus, your badge isn’t one of them. Save yourself the headache and double check to make sure you have your badge with you before leaving for the expo.

If you have other suggestions please leave them in the comments below. And don’t forget to visit the liveBooks team at Photo Plus in booth 566!

September 23rd, 2014

Shooting on the Edge

Posted by liveBooks

Have you ever wondered how did they get that shot? Corporate industrial photographer Nick Souza tells us how he is able to create and produce compelling images while navigating a dangerous work environment.

As I carefully work my way to the tip of a 300 foot crane boom perched 200 feet over the water and swaying mightily as it unloads a giant container ship, my biggest challenge is to not smash a camera against one of the huge steel girders that surround me. More importantly, be careful not to slip on the minefield of grease blobs that wait to slam me into the sharp metal catwalk that is below my feet.

Subic Bay Container Terminal in Manila, Philippines

A vessel is assisted by a tug boat as it departs the Subic Bay Container Terminal in Manila, Philippines. Image courtesy of Nick Souza.

Surrounded by giant machinery that will roll over you in a matter of seconds or alternately drop their 2 tons of cargo right where you are standing, my work environment can be extremely dangerous. An ear splitting array of sounds in the midst of controlled chaos, a container terminal plays a roll in our daily lives that most people have no idea about.

The vast majority of our clothing, household goods, electronics and even some of our food are shipped around the world in 40 foot steel boxes on ships longer than four football fields. For twenty years as a corporate industrial photographer I have concentrated on this specialized world. The incredible scale of the ships, the colorful containers and the opportunity to travel captivated me immediately. With a background in photojournalism, telling my client’s stories was easy, but it was doing it dramatically that became my signature style.

Combining my storytelling ability with a strong artistic approach, I create images that are driven by their composition, color or quality of light yet still successfully illustrate the theme or message that they were ultimately created for. This concept has become my brand, with my client’s relying on a unique vision of their industry to differentiate themselves from the competition.

SPRC Container Terminal Cartagena Columbia

View of the front of a Reachstacker which is designed to move containers in multiple directions. Image courtesy of Nick Souza.

My approach to an assignment always begins by gathering as much information as possible. Very simply, I ask a lot of questions! Working on location is about finding solutions to challenges and still producing the best possible images. In an environment where shoot sabotaging last minute schedule changes are the norm, and cooperation is the key to my success, knowing the right questions to ask is what enables me to produce the types of images that I do. Armed with information, it is easier to make decisions about what I am going to shoot and plan for potential opportunities.

Speaking the lingo and having a great deal of knowledge about what I am photographing has served me well in being able to do things that would usually be greeted with a resounding NO! I am persistent and have been given some incredible access to produce some very difficult shots.

I have been on a lot of cranes, but on an assignment in Cartagena Columbia for the manufacturer, I really wanted to shoot from a different perspective. Making giant steel structures look as impressive as they are in person, showcase my client’s brand, throw in some bad weather mixed with uncooperative local authorities, just another typical assignment!

When working in a setting that has massive scale, finding an elevated vantage point is my favorite way to create a dynamic image. Shooting from on top of a container crane is the simplest way to get above this giant world. My client’s crane in Columbia offered a potentially incredible vantage point that I have never shot from before. A small platform at the tip that was actually below the boom, difficult and dangerous to get to while the crane was working, became the place that I absolutely had to shoot from.

SPRC Container Terminal Cartagena Columbia Kalmar STS Crane

Gantry Cranes unloading a container ship at the Port of Cartagena Columbia. Image courtesy of Nick Souza.

While I work in dangerous environments, I am not a daredevil and safely doing my job is the number one priority. Noticing several minutes of lag time in the cycle of unloading containers, I realized it might be possible to get to my elusive vantage point without risk or interfering with productivity. I was just going to have to convince my escort who really didn’t want to be up there in the first place, that everything would be fine! Utilizing the always-effective bargaining tool of time, as in “we will only be there for a few minutes” I was able to make an image that offered an amazing perspective of my client’s product in operation.

One of the more unusual aspects of a typical assignment is that often I will be shooting for more than one client at the same time. I discovered many years ago that if a project or assignment involves multiple companies, it works very well to combine everyone’s needs into one assignment. Interconnected as vendors or customers of each other, sharing production/travel expenses is always appealing to them. On this type of shoot I provide each client involved with their own custom set of images mixed with selections that are useful for everyone.

Adding this additional level of complexity to my normally challenging assignments has actually enabled me to be more creative. Focusing on the different needs, I’m seeing the situations that I’m shooting in ways that may have been missed. During a recent shoot documenting the delivery of five gigantic automated cranes in New Jersey, I made one of my favorite images by seeing my subject a little differently.

Konecranes ASC/RMG delivery at Global Container Terminal New Jersey USA

A fully assembled automated stacking crane is unloaded from a heavy lift vessel while a supervisor looks on. Image courtesy of Nick Souza.

In an environment that is filled with giant impressive industrial machinery, it is easy to focus only on that. To enhance the story, I will often include people in the frame adding both scale and a connection. On this particular assignment everything came together when the project manager for one of my three clients put himself right in front of me, blocking my shot. With this extremely large man obstructing my perfect angle, I was just about to move when suddenly I saw a great shot. Placing this giant man clad in yellow coveralls in the center of the frame with his back to me while the action happened beyond him told a great story. It would have been really easy to not see one of my now favorite images when the shot I had in my mind was completely obstructed.

With persistence, luck and a lot of patience, I am constantly searching for more interesting ways to photograph an industry that I have been looking at for a long time.

August 17th, 2014

Win Clients With Your About Page

Posted by liveBooks

If the top priority for your photography website is to get your best images out there for the world to see, next on the list should be having a unique About page. Your About page is your chance to incorporate a little extra personality into your work which will help you stand out from the competition.

About page

For many of us it’s second-nature to shoot, shoot, and shoot some more, but when it comes to talking about ourselves and writing a few paragraphs about what we do we often just throw something together about our education, qualifications and experience. This is a huge lost opportunity!

Imagine, as a potential client, that you’re looking for a photographer for your wedding day. You’ve narrowed it down to two photographers with comparable talents at the same price range, but one has a typical About page and the other shows some personality and makes you laugh. Who are you going to choose?

Photographer and director David Emmite's About page. www.davidemmite.com

Photographer and director David Emmite’s About page. www.davidemmite.com

Clients are getting savvier every day, and with a run-of-the-mill bio you risk looking like someone merely going through the motions rather than a photographer full of ideas and energy who is ready to deliver amazing photos. Don’t be afraid of posting something a little quirky and off-beat. A little something different is a breath of fresh air.

In addition, from a photographer’s standpoint, having a unique About page works great as an extra level of pre-qualification. We all know that the best, most rewarding shoots are the ones where the client shares our tastes and sensibilities and therefore trusts our vision and judgment. By having a unique About page, you will attract clients that see the world as you do and also weed out clients who may not be the best fit. We’ve heard from countless photographers that people who mention their About page in their initial contact are almost always on the same page as they are when it comes to stylistic choices for their shoot. In this age of fast, fast, and faster, with so many decisions being made based on what can be found online, a unique About page is critical to help you stand out from the masses.

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. More »

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