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Still Life Photography

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Lou Bopp 11

I am a still photographer and director based in St. Louis and New York City. My aesthetic is driven by authentic, textural, emotive moments, whether I am shooting stills and or motion assets. My style and feel of the two assets are consistent, which is paramount for most brands.

Like most people, I loved taking photos growing up and got my first break by being in the right place at the right time when the Berlin Wall came down, which led to a freelance gig at a newspaper, a wire service, etc. The next big break was landing the highly coveted internship at Sports Illustrated. That brought me to NYC and killed the drive of wanting to shoot sports. From there, I assisted for 2 years and the went out on my own and curated a clientele base and honed in on my personal aesthetic, which is always evolving.

I specialize in shooting authenticity-driven imagery for regional to global brands and agencies, working on projects such as: image brand libraries, advertising campaigns, editorial, digital assets for web, print, outdoor, broadcast, etc.

Partial client list includes Mississippi Tourism, Marley Coffee, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, AMD, Deutsche Bank, Intel, Nike, AMEX, American Airlines, GE, Disney World, Time Warner, Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, J. Walter Thomas, People Magazine, AG Edwards, CDW, Y & R, Fleishman-Hillard, McCann-Erickson, FutureBrand, etc.

And I have an image on the USPS stamp…to be introduces and issued on March 31st, 2017.

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Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

LB: Intuitive. Clean. Informative.

Time is precious for any client and we didn’t want people to think about how the site works, it needed to be intuitive. The goal is to be sensitive to people’s time and let them view the images efficiently. Gone are the days, with us at least, for sites with all the bells & whistles, sound, moving targets to click on, etc. Art buyers/creatives have enough going on in their lives, it’s our task to help them and we believe that ease and simplicity is key.

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Q: How often do you typically update your website?

LB: Pretty often, at least once a month if not more. It has to be updated and be fresh. It’s alive, it’s a living breathing organism and we have to keep feeding it!

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Q: How do you choose the photos that you display on your homepage?

LB: I yield to my agent and then we discuss. There are images that tend to rise to the top of the heap.

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Q: What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks8?

LB: The backend workflow is a lot deeper than before. The SEO is key, the rotating home page, it’s faster all around. That’s a few of the faves, hard to pick just one…which is good!

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Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website?

LB: For me, the backend workflow is key. If I’m going to update content as often as I do, it has to be a good user experience, not something that I dread. I’ve had those dreaded websites and blogs in the past, think WordPress, sigh.

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Nicole Sanchez is a visual artist, photographer, and videographer. Her publications, documentaries, and solo exhibits have received countless awards. To see more of her work, visit her liveBooks8 website: www.nicolesanchez.com.

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I am a Dominican-German photographer. I started studying Photography in Germany at a very young age. After I finished my education, I moved to the Dominican Republish where I worked on commercial photography. Eventually, I started making personal projects which resulted in 8 books, 7 solo exhibitions, documentaries, and countless pieces; some of which have been recognized by experts in the field, the media and museums like the Museum of Modern Art in Santo Domingo. My work is part of a personal evolution. It changes as I change. Every day I feel more identified with social issues, human reality, drama, and beauty.

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Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

NS: Personal, clean, modern.

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Q: How often do you typically update your website?

NS: It varies a lot. I can upload a series of images at once and/or take down a whole portfolio. Whenever I feel I have an image I want to share, I do it.

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Q: How do you choose the photos that you display on your homepage?

NS: I try to vary my homepage often; sometimes it is the newest image I have created, sometimes it is just a certain feeling or mood that I have and want to share.

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Q: What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks8?

NS: My favorite new feature of liveBooks8 is being able to display all the images of each portfolio in one page.

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Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website?

NS: Choose the images that best represent your work; it is better to show the right pieces rather than just publishing a lot of them.

Nicole Sanchez 6 Nicole Sanchez 7

Have a website you’d like us to feature? Email us at social@livebooks.com.

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How does one become a better photographer? To find the answer I decided to ask industry veteran Gerald Ratto. For over half a century Gerald has used film photography to capture the world. Gerald is a former student of Ansel Adams, Minor White, Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston; the list of industry legends he has worked with is extensive. His work has been displayed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and his client list includes some of the largest architectural firms in the world.

Gerald has worked with film since he was 12 and began photographing with a 15-cent box camera. Many of his most celebrated images (See his Children of the Fillmore and Vintage Collections) were shot traditionally. I began by inquiring about what differences exists between photographing with film and digital.

“Photography is really about seeing. We are in an age where people confuse photography with image capturing. When you hold up your phone or high megapixel camera are you really being a photographer? I don’t know. That depends on how intentional you are in the process. It’s easy to capture a huge amount of space today and then use Photoshop to retroactively tell a story, but something is lost in that process. You can make adjustments in Photoshop but you lose some of the expression because you didn’t really consider the content and the story that is being told.”

Is there any correlation between the physical developing process and the creation of an authentic photograph?

“Developing isn’t really a huge part of the process because of previsualization; seeing the story in your mind before you capture it with a camera. If you are doing it right you already know what the story is once you capture it. Then, it’s about going through a process to bring it from a small format to something people can see and display. Each camera is really the same. Each is simply a different instrument. If your process is the same then you can use different instruments to more accurately tell the story.”

Herein I realized the error of my initial question. The question is really not of whether we gain or lose something using film or digital methods, the question is how we remain intentional in an age where technology removes our limits. What are we doing as photographers to keep our content intentional and relevant?

I ask what advice Gerald can provide for how to stay relevant as a photographer.

“Photography is like discovery; every time you look in the viewfinder you’re closing in on an image that is part of something bigger—a little vignette of the greater world. You don’t want to go into any project with preconceived notions of what you are going to capture because by doing that you impose yourself upon the subject. Authenticity is the key to staying relevant. Allow the subject to tell the story and use your mastery of the instrument to capture it.”

Gerald’s work over the last 50 years showcases many different thematic elements; a testament to the depth of his abilities as photographer. I encourage you to take a look at Gerald’s portfolios and pay special attention to his mastery of light. From architecture models to portraiture, Gerald’s work showcases the breadth of his abilities as a photographer. As we finish up I ask Gerald what his favorite photo is. He smiles and replies, “The one I’m taking tomorrow.”

Gerald Ratto and his wife Marla manage a studio and reside in San Francisco, CA. You can view more of his work on his liveBooks site; www.geraldrattophotography.com.

liveBooks wants to know: how do you view your work as a photographer? What tools/best practices do you use to stay relevant? Share a comment on our blog and start a conversation. “Like” us on our facebook page and be the first to receive exciting liveBooks news and content.

There aren’t many photographers who are also branding consultants or art directors at a successful design firm. Since Steve Coleman is all three things, we thought he’d be the perfect person to help photographers understand and strategize their branding efforts. His first post explained exactly what a brand is (and isn’t). This one will help you define your brand attributes.
One of Peter Lik's "destination" galleries showcasing his landscape photography.

One of Peter Lik's "destination" galleries showcasing his landscape photography.

As I explained in my first post, a brand is not a logo or a website or a design. A brand is a promise, what people trust, feel, and believe you or your product to be. Branding is how you express that promise to people. Here’s some tips to help you define your brand — only then can you express it through branding.

First, your brand will ultimately be defined by other people, mostly your customers and potential customers. They will make up their minds about you and you will usually have to live with it. Your job in building your brand is to try and influence them before their minds are made up. It is easier when they don’t yet know you and harder when they do.

Therefore, your brand can not be just anything you want it to be. It needs to be based on some truth about you, as well as client needs. Otherwise your brand will be rejected as not credible. Your brand also needs to be flexible so that it can evolve as you or the market change over time.

For example, while Polaroid’s brand was successfully built around innovation in instant imaging, its brand become too closely associated with chemical imaging in the minds of consumers and has struggled to stay connected with people in a digital world.

“When they need what you’ve got, you want them to know exactly who to call.”

Second, be clear about what you need your brand to achieve at a strategic level. For most people this will be to set you apart from your competitors, to make you top of mind and memorable. By default, a brand should also say who you are not. A strong, healthy brand never tries to be all things to all people. Strategically your brand offers a way for clients and potential clients to quickly and easily categorize you. When they need what you’ve got, you want them to know exactly who to call. Ideally your brand should also make you look like the original or the best solution, making it hard for others to copy you.

Here are some great examples of photographers who have done this successfully.


Terry Richardson has one of the strongest brands I have ever seen. He has no logo and no real design to his website. Yet he stands out. He is unique, highly memorable. He shoots some of the world’s most famous people with a small, inexpensive digital camera. Why is his brand so strong? In a world full of smartly presented photographers who all look, shoot, and feel similar, Terry is distinctly different. (Check out the video, where Terry talks about his approach and his new Belvedere Vodka campaign.)

Another example is Australian landscape photographer Peter Lik. In a market saturated with great landscape photography, much of which never sells, Peter’s business generates more than $30,000,000 per year (US!!). Peter’s photography, while brilliant, is hardly the sole reason for his success. The essence of Peter Lik’s brand is the creation of a photographic experience. In particular, his galleries are must-see destinations. What you buy is not just a beautiful picture but a small part of everything that you experience in Peter’s world.

The critical third stage in defining your brand is determining what the attributes are that make up your brand. Attributes are like brand DNA. These are the tangible and intangible, emotional and functional characteristics that you and your business, product, or service are — or could credibly become. If expressed and managed correctly, these attributes become the reasons for people to trust and do business with you.

Here’s an example. I asked 10 people who know of Peter Lik to give me 20 words that describe what they believe him to be. I put every word, including those repeated, into Wordle, which creates a prioritized word cloud showing most-used bigger and least-used smaller. This this is a visual representation of Peter Lik’s brand attributes, according to these 10 people.

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You’ll notice that the functional description of him as a “landscape photographer” is rated low. From a brand perspective, this is excellent because being a landscape photographer is just the cost of entry, it is not enough to define him as unique. Peter has purposefully built his brand around the attributes that help set him apart. That is how a strong brand works.

So, how do you determine your attributes? Here are eight questions that will help you find them. More »

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