Great Reads: October 2014 Releases

FullSizeRenderI don’t know very many photographers who do not have a large collection of photo books. Mine fills an entire double walled shelve system and is still growing.

I love books.  I love photographs.

Nothing better than to grab an old book, a cup of tea and peruse the imagery contained on pages that I turn. I like looking at photographs on screens, but I love looking at them on paper.

I think of them as gear for our brains.

So here are some new books on photography. Take a look and enjoy.

“Stephen Shore has had a significant influence on multiple generations of artists and photographers. Even for the youngest photographers working today, his work remains an ongoing and indisputable reference point. Stephen Shore: Survey includes over 250 images that span Shore’s impressive and productive career. The images range from 1969 to 2013, with series such as Early Works, Amarillo, New York City, American Surfaces and Uncommon Places, among others. Stephen Shore: Survey elucidates Shore’s contributions, as well as the historiographical interpretations of his work that have influenced photographic culture over the past four decades. The narrative of the catalogue is conceptualized around three particularly revealing aspects of Shore’s work, including his analysis of photographic and visual language, his topographical approach to the contemporary landscape and his significant use of color within a photographic context.”

“After World War II, the American road trip began appearing prominently in literature, music, movies and photography. As Stephen Shore has written, “Our country is made for long trips. Since the 1940s, the dream of the road trip, and the sense of possibility and freedom that it represents, has taken its own important place within our culture.” Many photographers purposefully embarked on journeys across the U.S. in order to create work, including Robert Frank, whose seminal road trip resulted in The Americans. However, he was preceded by Edward Weston, who traveled across the country taking pictures to illustrate Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass; Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose 1947 trip through the American South and into the West was published in the early 1950s in Harper’s Bazaar; and Ed Ruscha, whose road trips between Los Angeles and Oklahoma formed the basis of Twentysix Gasoline Stations.”

“At the end of the 1950s William Eggleston began to photograph around his home in Memphis using black-and-white 35mm film. Fascinated by the photography of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eggleston declared at the time: “I couldn’t imagine doing anything more than making a perfect fake Cartier-Bresson.” Eventually Eggleston developed his own style which later shaped his seminal work in color-an original vision of the American everyday with its icons of banality: supermarkets, diners, service stations, automobiles and ghostly figures lost in space. From Black and White to Color includes some exceptional as-yet-unpublished photographs, and displays the evolution, ruptures and above all the radicalness of Eggleston’s work when he began photographing in color at the end of the 1960s. Here we discover similar obsessions and recurrent themes as present in his early black-and-white work including ceilings, food, and scenes of waiting, as well as Eggleston’s unconventional croppings-all definitive traits of the photographer who famously proclaimed, “I am at war with the obvious.”

“About Exiles, Cornell Capa once wrote, “Koudelka’s unsentimental, stark, brooding, intensely human imagery reflects his own spirit, the very essence of an exile who is at home wherever his wandering body finds haven in the night. ” In this newly revised and expanded edition of the 1988 classic, which includes ten new images and a new commentary with Robert Delpire, Koudelka’s work once more forms a powerful document of the spiritual and physical state of exile. The sense of private mystery that fills these photographs–mostly taken during Koudelka’s many years of wandering through Europe and Great Britain since leaving his native Czechoslovakia in 1968–speaks of passion and reserve, of his rage to see. Solitary, moving, deeply felt and strangely disturbing, the images in Exiles suggest alienation, disconnection and love. Exiles evokes some of the most compelling and troubling themes of the twentieth century, while resonating with equal force in this current moment of profound migrations and transience.”

“The Decisive Moment originally titled Images à la Sauvette-is one of the most famous books in the history of photography, assembling Cartier-Bresson’s best work from his early years. Published in 1952 by Simon and Schuster, New York, in collaboration with Editions Verve, Paris, it was lavishly embellished with a collage cover by Henri Matisse. The book and its images have since influenced generations of photographers. Its English title has defined the notion of the famous formal peak in which all elements in the photographic frame accumulate to form the perfect image. Paired with the artist’s humanist viewpoint, Cartier-Bresson’s photography has become part of the world’s collective memory. This new publication is a meticulous facsimile of the original book. It comes with an additional booklet containing an essay on the history of The Decisive Moment by Centre Pompidou curator Clément Chéroux.”

“In Partida, Robert Frank continues the journey through his archives, presenting us with a new series of images of friends, colleagues, interiors, of quiet still lives and snap shots of both ordinary and unexpected objects and situations. Frank’s visual diaries constitute an important part of both his later work and the ongoing art of the photo book.”

Photographers You Should Know: Marc Hauser


A Series on Photographers Who Influenced My Work and Life…

When I started photography, I looked for photographers that resonated with me. I found Marc Hauser’s work in a small bookstore in Tempe, and immediately fell in love with this simple, classic, intimate portraiture.

I bought the book “Halloween in Bucktown” and it is still one of my favorites.


I am not going to bio the photographers you should know series, there has been so much written about the photographers I will be featuring. I will, however, link out to some articles that should introduce you to his creative vision.

“Hire him they do. Hauser, a friendly, rotund man who wears a four-carat diamond in one ear, grosses more than $1 million a year from his labors. The “Upstairs at the Harris” ads are his, and the portrait ads for Rolling Stone. He’s captured Fred Winston for WLS advertising and University of Chicago professor Benjamin Bloom for Psychology Today.

Hauser snapped Oprah Winfrey for an airline magazine cover. “We had a pretend screaming contest in my studio during the session,” says Hauser, “to see who could scream the loudest.” The resulting image, featuring Oprah in a purple dress with the outlines of movie cameras behind her, turned into her publicity still.”

Chicago Reader


‘IF YOU CAN’T DO IT RIGHT, DO IT BIG’ from Chris Cascarano on Vimeo.


“His good–luck streak snapped about seven years ago. The Chicago photographer was badly injured while shooting a TV commercial on a golf course (he fell 40 feet when a crane crashed through a screen over a sprinkler system). He shattered a leg and lost the vision in his right eye, a catastrophe that evaporated his savings and bookings.

Some shooters would fade away. But Hauser focuses “on the positive,” he said. He has since endured a series of reconstructive surgeries (the most recent was Monday), switched to a digital camera, and trained himself to frame portraits with his left eye.”

GO (Times Media)


“Marc also has a reputation for suddenly yelling while photographing you, to get a reaction. Anything beyond the usual smile. As I took my place and he adjusted the camera, I was prepared to do whatever he wanted. Marc works fairly close to his subject. I like that. It keeps you in the moment as a subject.”

Billy Sheahan Blog


Google Image Search.


Marc Hauser Photography



Photography: Too Many #%*#$ Rules!

katleyn-on-the-docks-smI was talking with a couple of photographers this week and we were discussing their output… or lack thereof, and I was commiserating a bit with them. I have been mired deep to the elbows in stuff that doesn’t involve cameras for the last six weeks. Very little shooting, lots of other stuff that HAD to be done.

I realized after I had spoken with them that what we were all talking about were the rules we have put on ourselves for the creation of our work. We couldn’t just pick up a camera and make images… nooooo, we have rules in place that dictate exactly when, and how, and with what that should happen.

We have rules that say we only shoot on road trips, or that there is too much going on, or that there is not enough time or not enough access to models or we don’t have the newest camera so our pictures will only have 18MP instead of 24MP so they will automatically suck the suck out of suck.

We need to follow all the rules before we shoot anything.

“I would love to make a photograph today, but I am unable to find the model I need to make the photograph so I will not make a photograph, but instead go on FB and make light of the situation all the while NOT making any photographs.”

There’s this ‘rule’, you see.

The rule of ‘if what we plan doesn’t pan out, we stop doing ANYTHING AT ALL. Because… err… well… uhh”

“I wanted to do some photographs this weekend, but my trip to Payson was put on hold for a week so I am unable to venture up there with my camera. So – I know – I will just mope around and kick rocks off the driveway because… because… rule! I can only be creative when on road trips to places I want to go to because… Tuesday.”

Rules are a form of self talk… self smack-talk that is. We have set up some litany of bullshit bullet points that must be met in order for us to, you know, be creative.

That’s like scheduling “Spontaneous Thursdays – from 9am – 10:30am, all middle managers must attend” meetings in the culture of cubicles.

Rules are resistance at work. Rules are insidious forms of resistance – and what makes them even more vile and disgusting is that we made them up.

We made them up from nothing other than a desire to not perform at the moment. So we let resistance form itself into some sort of limiting rule. Of course that is redundant… all rules are by nature, limiting.

We begin to let the rules live inside our heads for a just a little while, and they begin to make themselves right at home – rearranging the furniture of our mind until it is theirs and then they stop paying rent. They squat there in our brains, forcing themselves into our minds like drunken bikers at an open bar. And every time we think about doing something creative, they begin tearing up the place and bashing stuff with cue sticks and bar chairs.

I would love to make some photographs today, but:

“My camera is too old.”
“I don’t have lights.”
“I don’t have time for a road trip.”
“Not enough time to do a 10 course meal shoot.”
“If I had the props I wanted, it would be better.”
“No time to find a model, so what is the point?”

Each are examples of ‘the rule’.

THE rule.

“If things are not optimal, there is no reason to attempt anything at all.”

One rule to, err… rule them all. (sorry)

If things are not perfect, ducks lined up like a North Korean military band, there really will not be any reason to attempt anything at all. It is all so much simpler when we follow the rules.

Rules, resistance, excuses… whatever we want to call them, force themselves into even the most creative amongst us.

We call it writer’s block, or photographer’s block, or “in a rut-ism”.. or a dozen other names for the fact that we have a rule in place that is stopping us from doing something we want to do…

And the worst part, the absolute worst part of this whole thing?

We created that sonuvabitch ourselves. We made the rules that are now keeping us from what we want to do. We crafted and molded and polished and finessed them tlll they were custom-made just for us and fit like a glove.

Good move, us.

Of course those of you who know me a bit know that I don’t get along well with rules. I hate them… telling me there is a rule is like waving a red flag in front of bull named “Widow Maker”. I will always try to find a way around the so called ‘rule’ and create almost in direct opposition to it… because rules are generally made for breaking.

(And don’t get me started on the ‘rules’ of photography itself… that would be a six-pack plus of me blustering on about how they are fabricated by statists and such… nawww… we’ll go there another time.)

I hate rules.

However, I will confess to you guys that I have succumbed to the rules in my head as well. I am now in the midst of spring cleaning and calling the Sheriff to get them evicted – and the Sheriff in my county is one bad mutha. I work on it first thing every morning. I listen to my brain tell me what I cannot do because of whatever and I methodically work to get rid of those ideas. I force them into the open and then force them to disappear.


Action. Taking action will always make the rules fade into the background.

I think it is easier than ever to let the rules get implanted and ingrained. Social media, websites, the idolatry of the celebrity, the overwhelming amount of ‘information’ that simply couches more and more rules. We begin to believe that we truly cannot do _______ because we currently do not have _______ and our work will simply suck because ______.


It is all BS.

I taught workshops with a Rebel. I used my Rebel on the first CreativeLIVE I did. Why? Because of the ‘rule’ that you had to use a ‘professional’ camera to make good images. I never wanted my students to think that gear had anything at all to do with lighting and creating photographs that speak to the viewer. I wanted to show by example that those rules are simply marketing and bluster and elitism marching in lockstep.

I ‘broke’ that rule pretty well.

Now let me ask you something.

What ‘rules’ are manifesting inside your head and keeping you from doing something you want to do. And be careful when identifying them… they are not all based in photography.

“Too old to do something?” BS rule.
“Not enough time to do something?” BS rule.
“Wrong time to start something?” BS rule.
“Not enough ____ to be successful at _____?” BS rule.

Take action against them. Look for the examples where the rule was broken, then take the same or similar action yourself. (NOTE: There are examples of people breaking those rules and being successful all around you.)

It is not easy, but it is also not THAT hard.

It simply requires some action.

What action will you take today?



As we do every year, the meetup / party is scheduled for February 6-8 and the trip north is from February 8 – 15.

There are no creative or workshop fees attached. Only a per person share for van rentals, gas and a few consumables. We will have information on local hotels and booking info ASAP.

The weekend starts Friday with a trip to the Superstition Mountains, some incredible mountain vistas, lunch at Tortilla Flats and great comraderie. Saturday is spent in town at the studio.

If you are a current or past member of Project 52, you are welcome to attend. I will need to know if you are for sure coming by December 1, and will base all bookings on that number so late entries may be difficult to accommodate.

Project 52 Members… JOIN US!

More information on this page.

Josh Ross on Marketing and the Life Cycle of a Product Shoot

My friend Josh Ross and I got a chance to talk a bit about marketing and project life cycle of a product shoot. This was an invite only (Project 52 members) and you will hear some questions at the end of the webinar. This is NOT a flashy look at photographs webinar, it is a listen and learn webinar.

Find Josh at his website and these social media places.






Here is the previous discussion with Josh and me.

New Directions, Multiple Channels

New Directions, Multiple Channels

A few things have caught my attention lately. I mean really caught my attention. One was the great chat we had with my friend Rosh Sillars on how to price a gig in the new economy, and the other was his discussion we had off mic about photographers being able to do more than just a still image.

Now before anyone gets their feathers all ruffled out of place and sheds them all over the carpet, let me explain that I love and worship at the sanctity of the still image. I think it is my favorite form of art. And I will continue to develop my skills toward that end, hoping to become pretty good at it someday.

But just as changes in the way jobs are billed is becoming something to think about, so is the offering we make to our clients. Possibly this is something for you to think about as well.

Channels of creative output. Plural… ChannelS…

I have always been afflicted with a high degree of ADD (thank the Lord) and it keeps me looking for things to do and creativity to work with. I am a designer and a writer as well as a photographer. I play the drums (once good enough to be in a band or three… these days I simply scare the cats) and am learning how to play ‘standards’ with a jazz groove on the Tenor Sax.

I make money from photography, designing and writing. The other stuff is for fun, but I practice pretty hard. Ask the cats.

We all know that video is now a staple of the digital DSLR, the Mirrorless cameras, P&S and phones as well. Video is the newest channel to offer itself up for our additional channel of creativity.

A lot of us do not want to get into video for variety of reasons… some good. Some rather stupid. Mine have been on the ‘rather stupid’ column for too long. I need to add motion to my work, and the more I see of this new intersection of stills/video/writing the more I see how I must integrate it into what I do.

Do I want to make movies? Nope. Nor do I want to do commercials… but… still shots that move… yeah, that kind of has me intrigued.

And that intrigue took a big dose this week when I stumbled upon “Hollow” a Documentary about a single county in West Virginia. Once the richest county in America it now rates as one of the poorest counties.

A group of writers, photographers, audio techs, videographers, cinematographers and producers descended onto this unique place in the universe and produced a fascinating look into the places and lives that make up this small, rural, extremely poor county.

Through the use of the medium of a website, the power of ‘scrolling’ and visuals that ensnare the sensibilities, this ‘experience’ piece simply knocked me into a new mindset.

I must learn more about the video/motion side of things. This type of thing is one of the directions I would like to go… story telling. Rich, fantastic, sensory story telling.


A rich blend of audio, video and still photography, Hollow is the new direction for long form story telling.


Using Parallax scrolling the images move vertically and horizontally and slowly reveal more and more content to the viewer.

See more at Hollow Documentary. (Be prepared to spend some time.)

Another example of this deep story telling is found on the (now famous) NYT website. It is called “Snowfall” and tells the story of an avalanche in Washington that killed several snowboarders. The in-depth reporting, character studies, charts, graphs, video and stills bring life to a long content text piece. Where Photojournalism is going, I believe.

Take a look at this one about a shipwrecked boat and the Geopolitical importance of it. “A Game of Shark and Minnow” mixes journalism, blogging, photography and video into an in-depth look at this very interesting, and possibly explosive area of the world.

While “Snowfall” was one of the first of this type of presentation, and represented hundreds of hours of work, we can now do them rather quickly and with less effort with WordPress and the many different plugins available.

Here is a post on one of my favorite blogs, Elegant Themes, about the new forms of Storytelling using WordPress.

And here is a plugin for WordPress that facilitates this type of technology… for free. The “Aesop” story engine allows nearly anyone with a WordPress website to produce a content/media rich story. And that can be a game changer for some of us.

So how does this impact us still shooters?

Well, it does give us some new channels for creating imagery. It allows us to show our story telling abilities if that is something we want to do.

And it gives us a unique way to show a portfolio, to show our work as a ‘story’ instead of a group of disparate images.

A food shooter may choose to do a ‘story’ on a fictional (or non-fictional) area and illustrate it with wonderful still shots, some video of pouring wine or cheese tray fun… add some audio recorded on his iPhone with RODE mics and we have something different, something more robust… for simply showing the still shots.

A fashion shooter could have a ‘documentary’ of the prep of the shoot (and not a cheesy BTS video of the makeup artist painting lip liner… give it a rest, will ya…) along with audio and text… then show the images that were created much in the same way a portfolio would be shown now.

Introducing a product / portrait portfolio with some audio, some BTS, a few shots of the photographer at work, some video of the careful placement of props… then the still shots. Or intersperse them with video intros of preparing the shoot.

CAVEAT: We are not talking about videos that exist to show other photographers how to use a boom or the 10 smart ways to make a white background ‘pop’… we are showing clients what it is like to work with us, our attention to detail, our commitment to excellence while still having a fun and relaxed environment.

The stuff that beginners and CL shooters don’t do. We set ourselves apart with the way we present our work.

(And we subtly introduce the idea that we do motion into the mind of the buyer… heh. See what I did there?)

Look, I don’t want to tell you what to do. I only want to introduce you to my ideas and things that I think could really work out for creating something new, something different and possibly more interesting than what we are doing now.

I suggest you develop better writing skills, video (motion) skills and think about the different ways you can present your work… tell a story, even about telling the story.

Until next time… make photos.

Dennis Dunbar: Retouching Secrets of the Pros


In Charlotte, NC, October 25

Presented by APA Charlotte

If you are in the area, you should check it out. Dennis is an excellent retoucher.

“Dennis Dunbar is a Digital Artist with extensive experience in digital issues and techniques. Since 1991, he has been working extensively in creating finished artwork for movie posters as well as commercial ads from his studio, Dunbar Digital, in Santa Monica, California. On Saturday, October 25, APA-Charlotte will be hosting a workshop, conducted by Dennis entitled, Retouching Secrets of the Pros.”

Saturday October 25, 2014
Doors Open: 9:30am
Workshop: 10:00am – 2:00pm
Water will be provided and there will be a 45-minute break for lunch (not provided).

UNC Center City • 320 E. 9th Street • Charlotte, NC 28202


Building A WordPress Photography Site (Santino)

My friend Bob Knill wanted a bit of a hand on building his site. He chose the them Santino, and I did these videos for him, and you, to see how to build and maintain a WordPress website for photographers. We will add additional movies as we go through SEO, but this will give you a good idea on how to set up a WP theme.

NOTE: All themes are different, but most are pretty similar in function and tech.

Let’s get started:













Hey, They Want You In the Arena… Are You Ready?


Would it surprise you that what we think is more powerful than reality? That mere thoughts can be as powerfully uplifting or critically damaging as what we actually do?

“I don’t think I am ready to get out there and show my book” he said to me.

It didn’t matter that he was indeed ready to get out there. He did have a good book to show. Hell, it wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t have to be. It had to be as good as it could be for the place he was in his life.

And it was.

But he had convinced himself that it had to be as good as some of the photographers on his list… the ones that are shooting every week. The ones that were ‘ready’ ten years ago. Or twenty. Or five.

He wanted to ‘catch up’ to them before going out with his wonderful work. Catch up is not possible, as there is no race involved. No comparison between his work and any number of others was valuable in any way.

Except to convince himself that he wasn’t ‘ready’. And not being ready means we have nothing to fear. We can never lose if we never try. We can never face the pressure to succeed if we choose not to bother succeeding.

Choosing not to be involved can be rationalized a lot of other ways as well. We have heard them all, haven’t we?

“Terrible time to start a business…”
“Economy sucks.”
“Photography is dead.”
“Everyone is shooting for free, so there is no hope for me.”

I am so tired of reading about the death of photography I could bang my head against the wall. While I guess the theme serves a purpose for link-bait posts on PetaPixel and DSLRLounge and other online publications, the reality is that photography is growing in leaps and bounds.

Unfortunately it is not growing as fast as the excuses, reasons, fabricated mythologies and link-bait articles about impossible success is are.

You know there is an entire industry out there devoted to keeping my friend from thinking he IS ready? No, they don’t have an association or annual meetings, but the reality is that they coordinate in insidious ways. And we can see those in action if we look closely.

From “pop-culture” to the news organizations to the specialized media that we tune into because we THINK they have our back.

And they may have our back on occasion, but there is no guarantee that they will be there when we are in need. They are not in business to help us succeed, they are in business to sell advertising and advertising likes big reach and nothing gets big reach like whining about failing.

The ones who have succeeded are turned into pop-stars. Bigger than life celbrities that are really succeeding because – well, they’re special. Special people make it. Special people get to be celebrities and have groupies and you…

… You are not special.

NOTE: Have you ever seen a sitcom or movie or play where the actors have to play the part of a ‘regular’ person who has to appear in some sort of ‘acting role’? The part calls for the ‘regular person’ to appear on TV or in a play… and the actor portrays them as fumbling, moronic, stupid and absolutely incapable of that ‘small part’ they are asked to play. Do you think that is by accident? Or could it be that they want you to think that acting is such a demanding, incredible, nearly impossible art that regular people are simply incapable of even attempting the smallest of parts.

Because ‘regular people’ are not special.


You are as special as anyone, as capable as anyone – all you may lack is the PR department.

But this fear of being thought of as not ‘special enough’ can keep us cozy in the knowledge that we probably wouldn’t have been good enough anyway, so trying to would just have proven it and why prove it if it is just the way it is… – even better in the voice of Eyore.

We choose not to play in the arena. We choose not to engage. We choose not to flex our creativity but instead to hide it, bury it, and ignore it. For fear of being found not special enough to have it.

Brene Brown told Chase Jarvis something in his interview with her that stuck with me like glue. “Unused creativity becomes toxic.”

Think about that… unused creativity becomes toxic.

Hiding behind that wall of uncertainty, failing to enter the arena of challenges, and staying cozy in the warm blankets of ‘status quo’ can actually be dangerous and poison the mind.

“Hold on there, Don… what if we truly are NOT ready…?”

Oh that can certainly be the case. Beginners are not ready. The ones that open their ‘studio’ after shooting for 11 months on auto and have no idea at all about how the world of photography works are not ready. (They will be featured on one of the online forums of an example of why you shouldn’t think YOU are special and try it because they did and they failed and if they can fail you most assuredly will too. Because Craigslist!

Getting ready to enter the arena means knowing what you can do, and how to do it. It means being open to learning – and learning quickly. It means giving up things that may not be of value to you as you engage. It means understanding what I mean by that.

We are all as ready or as unready as we prepare ourselves to be and tell ourselves we are.

And let’s be really honest. We KNOW when we are ready. It is not rocket science. It is not mystical… and it is not something that only ‘special’ people know. The folks I am talking to here are the ones that know all they need to know, and find excuses to somehow ‘need’ more… the never ending, all encompassing “I’m not ready…”

Is my friend ready from a photographic standpoint? Yes. Is he ready from a business perspective? Yes. Is he capable… of course.

But what is stopping him is not those areas, it is the fear of being found wanting. The fear of failing publicly. The fear of being branded… a loser.

I just read something interesting. In Silicon Valley there is a group of venture capitalists looking to invest in the next big thing. Criteria to get in front of them… you must have failed TWICE at a business and lost more than a million dollars in each. They wanted someone who had risked it all, lost it all, RISKED IT AGAIN and LOST IT AGAIN… they wanted a fighter, a scrapper, a dreamer with some hard won STEEL in their gut. Someone they would feel confident was ready to enter the ring with the scars and broken bones of failure.

We may not be that guy, but we can enter the same arena. Rocky didn’t win. They went a bridge too far. The Ronin saved the reputation of their master.

Let’s gear up. The arena of life calls.

(Watch this video of Chase Jarvis and Brene Brown having a discussion about vulnerability, critics and putting yourself in the ring… consider it homework for the soul.)

Perfume Shot To Layout

At Project 52 last week we had an assignment to shoot a specific image of a perfume bottle. You can see the assignment here.

These are some of the great images the students shot for this assignment.

Environmental Portraits

The crew at Project 52 (2014) shot some environmental portraits last week.

Thought I would share them here.

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The Internet Changed The Proposition of Value: Here is How to Fight Back

“Where photographers can succeed is if they abandon the consumers and editorial world who has been over-run by these value perception changes, and instead turn towards the same brands that still pay developers premium salaries for exclusive solutions. As Paul Melcher wrote those brands will drive the future of pay-to-play professional photography in the next decade, feeding photographers who successfully reinvent themselves.”

Jan Klier, photographer, NYC

One Light Portraits: A Collection

The assignment was to shoot a portrait with one light.

Studio Portrait: Clean background, Simple Light; Forceful, Expressive Portrait


A very clean portrait shot on a flat field background (wall, seamless, cyc, material, cloth, canvas…) Tightly focused and stylistically within your style. This image should be created to show how you handle strong personalities in front of your lens.
There should be special attention placed on the expressiveness of the portrait: Sadness, pain, angst, joy, humor, intensity… ENGAGED.

We want to see more than a smile, more than a beauty shot. This is a glimpse into the soul of the subject.

It is important to make the lighting something that enhances the look / feel of the subject. Whether it is soft or hard, single light or multiple strobes, natural or mixed or whatever, the light and the subject should be something that makes sense – to you.

To me, one light is a way of presenting a subject free of the hand of the photographer. A light is a light, and the subject has a relationship to that light that is in many ways more organic than when additional lights are added in. Of course, I am referring to lights on the subject, not background lights or ambient or location specific lighting.

This week the August group took on the “one light portrait” challenge:

“Here is a photographer that is infinitely patient, and interested in the stubborn core of things. Her images are captured in single exposures of up to half an hour, then painstakingly printed in her darkroom on large format, silver gelatin paper. The methodology is unapologetically old-fashioned, and the results extraordinary powerful.”

Read more

It’s A Numbers Game: Part Two


“The Numbers”: Part Two

It’s a numbers game… part two of our series.

Find Part One here.

Last time we discussed the numbers of getting people to see your work, and how that is so important to build a business. It’s been two weeks since that post.

How many of you:

1. Made the minimum commitment to getting to 6 people per day for three days (Tue/Wed/Thurs)?

2. Exceeded the minimum commitment and got to more than 18 people in those three days. Which means you have contacted 36+ people about your work at this point.

3. Found excuses and other things more pressing to get done.

No judgement here, only asking you to face resistance in the eye and either kick its damned ass or continue being acquiescent to it.

Resistance is NOT your friend… and if you found every reason under the sun not to do the minimum of 3 emails and 3 calls over 3 days, then you know what you have to work on.

Today’s discussion is on the numbers of contacts you make to individuals who you want to work with. We need a number of people to see our work, but we also need to touch those people more than once to get that work.

It is a process. A journey. A vision quest.

OK, so it may not be a vision quest, but it is still a process.

“Only 2% of sales occur at a first meeting

People in business often hope and expect to do business the first time they meet a prospect. Yet studies reveal that only 2% of sales occur when two parties meet for the first time.

The 2% who buy at a first meeting tend to be people who have already looked into the subject matter, and already know what they’re looking for. If they meet someone who ticks all the right boxes and they get on well, then business may well be transacted. But that is far from the norm. The other 98% will only buy once a certain level of trust has been built up.

Why 8% of Sales People Get 80% of the Sales.

Read through the link above. Giving up because there is no sale is counter to what you want to achieve. Remember, the people they are discussing above are selling something the client needs or wants.

We are selling ourselves to be considered for something the client can get from a whole host of other talented competitors. We aren’t really ‘selling’ in the traditional meaning of the word, we are promoting ourselves, sharing our work, becoming acquainted with the AD/PE/CD… not ‘selling’ them toner cartridges or accounting.

We cannot really ‘sell’ our work anyway. If there is no gig at the agency that is right for us, or no gig that is requiring photography, no amount of sales techniques or tricks or secrets can get us into a purchase order.

There is NO work that day for us.

So why go?

Because we want to be top of mind when a job DOES come in to the art department. When they think of a photographer to shoot tractors, we want to be the one that comes to mind since we shoot farms and farming equipment so dang well it makes cows give more milk.

THAT is the purpose of the meeting. The touch point.

Top of mind and becoming the one they think of when the time is right.

To do that takes more than one showing of your portfolio.

(Right about now someone is sitting out there saying “Yeah, you ain’t seen MY portfolio… I will show it and get the gig.”)

Yes, you are probably taking the reigns of your unicorn and heading out over the rainbow freeway about now too.

That rarely happens. Really rarely.

Instead what happens is that there is a slow and steady courtship of sorts. You show your work, they ignore you (or seem to) and you keep on showing your work. They may keep on ignoring you… or not.

That ‘or not’ moment is the first of several milestones.

They call you in to see the book. And to size you up.

Are you fun to work with? Are you neat and orderly about your work? Are you trustworthy? Will you be on time and on budget and not insult their client or get drunk with the models and run off to Bermuda with all the cash in hand.

Hey… it happens.

So you go. Show the book. Meet the people.

Entering phase two:

Now there may be more showings in the works, some email contacts, some phone calls, coffee meetings for new work… all kinds of direct mail.

“Once a response form has been filled out, now is the time to engage in peer-to-peer discussions with the prospect. Start by building a relationship. Launching immediately into the BANT questions (Are you the purchaser? Do you have approved budget?) is a turnoff. First leverage the digitally collected information as a bridge to determine where the prospect is personally. Open-ended questions (rather than buttons on a web form) will accelerate this qualification process. What problem is the prospect trying to solve? Where does it hurt? What is going on in their world that triggered the need? What would be their perfect solution if they could describe it? Are they collecting information for a team? What’s their timeline they are working with? What information would you need from us to be considered as your solution? Great phone/social skills are a huge plus here. And for most Sales teams, the earlier your prospect is in the buying process, the better—it gives your team a chance to be consultative and influence the specs, thereby gaining the inside track. Once you have enough data to determine BANT, try to move the prospect toward meeting with a sales rep. As a result of this process, most real prospects will see the meeting as a mutual best next step, and that’s where most Sales teams want to be.

Read more:

The article above is relating to traditional sales, but there are some great points to be made in there. Read it.

Some say it takes 7-8 touches by a photographer before you get called back. Some say it takes ten or so.

I say it takes more than five and less than 1,247. (Note, if they haven’t contacted you after about a hundred, it may be time to pull them from your list and move on. But for those of you really, I mean REALLY committed, 1,247 is the magic number.)

So what counts as a ‘touch’ for a client?

  1. Portfolio review.
  2. Thank you note.
  3. Direct mail.
  4. Email.
  5. Phone call.
  6. Promotional item.

What may not count are tweets or RT’s, facebook “likes” or pinning their latest designs to your pinterest boards… seriously?

This is why making the process INTO a process makes sense. Have a way of working that allows you to think about the amount of touches you make with a prospective client. And keep them coming, as there can always be new images and things to share.

NOTE: Spamming them is as bad… no, it’s worse, than seeing them once and never going back cause you are all butthurt over not getting that $100K gig you wanted.

Consider what you think of as being too much.

Yeah… don’t do that.

Sales tools and automated sales software. I don’t use it. I still use a simple spreadsheet in Excel. And my trusty notebook. That is not to say you shouldn’t, only me confessing it takes so long to learn all the things about those software solutions that I lose interest too fast.

Been doing it my way for way too long… heh.

So let’s get real here for a moment.

You make a contact with an art director… this means you have a conversation with them. Whether email (OK, but not best) or a personal review (best) and then you start the count.

Show the book, leave a piece for them at the showing, send a thank you card (print?), send a follow up email (2 weeks or so) with another photograph attached. Then wait 6-8 weeks and send another email, and a direct mail piece. Repeat that until you have some new work to show. I count four ‘touches’ there… five with the follow up a few weeks out.

Numbers. Then…

Call for an appointment to show the new work.

Show new work. Send thank you card, follow up email… you know the drill now.

You are making new work, right?


Especially you guys who didn’t make the lousy 18 touches per week… it is because you were heavily shooting… right?

Riiiiigggghhhttt… :-)

Look, this is not the easiest profession you have chosen to go down. Not sure what that would be unless you like delivering pizza in your Nissan, but this one will wrap you up, chew you to a nub and spit you out in the time it takes that pizza to get cold enough to deliver free.

The winners fight for it. The winners put in the hard, droll, and sometimes messy work of doing what others don’t.

92% of sales people quit after the first ‘no-sale’ show.


Be the 8%… it’s a numbers game.

Ten Free Photographs for Bloggers/Marketers



Briana and I spent a lot of time making photographs all over the country. We have decided to give some of these away to creatives who may want to do something with them. Our first freebie give away are ten shots from all over, and we have no idea what you all will do with the images.

But if you do use them, you must link back to this page, and give credit to Briana Austin and Don Giannatti. That is important and we have the following details for you to consider.

All ten images are in a zip file, and you are free to use them for any online use, even commercial.

You may use these images for online publications, websites, blogs or ezines.
You may not use them for print publications (we’re working on that for the future).
You may not include them in any collection or as part of another product that is licensed for sale (website template for instance).
You may not alter the photographs by any digital means other than to resize them for your usage. you may however, use them in designs with typography over them. Cropping is also allowed.
You may not refer to them in derogatory manner, nor use them in correlation to pornography, hate sites, or in any way denigrate the model. We are very serious about this.

Send us what you have done with the images on your blog or website.




Bri Don Image Giveaway #1 .ZIP