Business with Priorities

In our society we do not consider the events in one person’s life would much affect the operation and earnings of a business because we think of businesses being large corporations and not being run by one person or family.

I write so that you might consider the important dynamics of building your business. Have a back-up system or support in operation so that you are not losing business.

Questions to answer are:
1. What needs frequent updating?
2. At what frequency must they be updated?
3. For what length of time can these things sustain themselves?
4. How can I most effectively support these things that are updated weekly?
5. How long can they be supported?
6. How can I most effectively support these things for the period of a month?
7. What things could take me from the business?
8. How long could I be busy with these things?

Be sure to base your plans on length of time away and not on the event to avoid confusion. It may be that you will only use 1 week and not 1 month because you can conduct your business from a distance. Thus all the time that is required is to switch from one internet connection to another.

What are the 4 basic things you must use for doing business?

I have looked into my business and the operations involved within the infrastructure. Here are my 4 basics:
1. Internet connection, laptop and power source
2. Photography equipment
3. Web-host, web site software and e-commerce
4. Writing material

It is amazing how small things can become big problems in a short time!

Workflow – Part 3

Workflows as we discussed in Workflow – Part 2, is supposed to be a logical progression from start to finish. No worries if you do not understand the process outlined in Workflow – Part 2. While the principles will work in whatever project you apply them, the logic or thought process may not be yours. Allow me to give another perspective of this process so that you can break it down for yourself.

A workflow is “a process designed to stop detail loss; to produce the best quality product in the least possible amount of time.” This is my working definition of “workflow”; a dictionary definition gives this meaning: “progress of work: the progress or rate of progress of work done by a business, department, or person”. I have described this at the level of a personal project but will become business if you use it for your photography studio and departmental if your studio hires employees. See how quickly this expands?

Let the progression be your own, but be careful to include the details. In my experience working in the corporate world, one practice run on a workflow is good and two is better but three is wise. I have run it through on paper the first time, working out the major problems. The second time I run it through with friends, explaining to them the details: I ask for their questions, understanding and critiques. Third time through, I take a test product through my process making notes of snags and problems.

Make no mistake, by this time I am tired and ready to quit. This is the point at which you are closest to letting the workflow do your heavy lifting. You are doing a great job!

One of the best ways of making certain your workflow has everything you ought to have in your completed product is to write these details on paper. Documents are your friends!

Simplicity – Made Complicated…

I am just kidding about simplicity being made complicated.

My goal as a photographer is to capture images that make a clear statement. My integrity, character, skill, morality and intent respectively should not/cannot be with-held or disguised. This is not a case for a lack of discretion but rather the purpose of clarifying our visual communication.

Visual communication is vital to many areas of life, like business, self-preservation and interaction (both personal and professional). Communication by hand signs is called Sign-language. Sign-language combines motions or gestures that give intuitive and definitive meaning as well as a visual alphabet. These signs are simple and distinct from any other sign making its meaning clear.

This is purpose we want to have in photography, so several things should be brought to its least complicated form to communicate well.

Glass trinket box

First, what is my object or subject? What about my object or subject am I communicating? What draws out the subject? What clarifies my point of communication? What distracts from my subject? What obscures my point of communication? These questions seem tedious and a waste of time, however I can assure you that as soon as these questions become sub-conscious and your actions to correcting these issues are instinctive your image quality will rise with all haste.

The picture above of a glass trinket container is an example of keeping the setting simple. This image communicates the object is the glass container and that the design is important because of the glass clarity.  The surrounding set-up is designed to support the showcasing of the glass container and its design. The lighting of the object is important or there would be no exposure to see the container or its design.

A simple surrounding, focus on the object, light the object well and if necessary add intriguing lines. Enjoy!

Portraits – Property

Little things that might otherwise never be considered in portraits are good to keep accessible. These little things should target a purpose for the photo.

  • Is this a yearly portrait session?
  • Is this special birthday session?
  • Is this a business portrait session?

These three examples are a start on the purposes for portraits but what kind of session do you most often shoot? Which session properties will be the most valuable to your business or in-formal shots?

Property or “props” are added elements which suggest motion, share information and set the mood within the photo. Listed below are some “props” which may help you get your “prop” inventory started.

  • Numbers – Numbers apply to birthday and yearly portrait sessions by signifying the age of the subject or the year the portrait was taken. This is the basic use of numbers in a shot, but what other ways can you bring the number into a portrait?
  • Letters – Most commonly a letter is used to state the first letter of the subject’s last name.
  • Umbrellas – Making a statement to Weather or femininity, umbrellas are incredibly versatile! Umbrellas range in design from large to small, dainty to rugged and sporty to fashion.
  • Bean-bag chairs – Styrofoam pellet stuffed chairs give the ultimately conformable property for the wiggling young child or relaxed appearance for older children and young adults.
  • Large stacking blocks – Boxes made of wood or other solid materials can create fun variations on a set. Making impromptu stairs for your subjects to ascend or a small pattern to partially separate activity in your photo frame.
  • Picture frames – Picture frames can be a visual reminder to the viewer of the portrait’s focus in an artistic way or even offer a pictorial time-line with a photo inside of a previous event. (For instance; during the bridal portrait session the bride could hold her favorite picture of her engagement portrait session.)

These are all suggestions which I hope inspire you to use things I have never thought about. I look forward to hearing your success stories and the “props” you use!

Learning Your Equipment – Part 2

Asking questions can open a whole new set of opportunities to you and not just in learning your equipment, but also for the availability of “pre-designed studios”. Allow me to explain: Friday afternoon I was in the local IKEA store, and with my camera over my shoulder I kept seeing one stock shot after another. So I found a floor sales assistant and asked for permission to take photos in-store. After some checking up the chain of command I was given the “okay” to take photos of the store product and section design.

Now, please understand this is a casual business agreement. Because I want something to push my business ahead, IKEA or any other company you ask for this kind of  permission will also want something in return. This is a kind of business bartering and be ready to handle it with care and wisdom. IKEA obviously does not want me to obstruct the shopping experience of their other customers, and so I carefully choose which pieces of equipment I will use while taking photographic shots.

Also, IKEA appreciates name publication and rightly so! Each company in a free market thrives on word of mouth recommendations and name recognition. I as a business owner and sole operator understand this and I am willing to give them what publicity I can in exchange for my ability to profit of photographing their store design and product layout.

As a benefit to me and a method of contact for the store management, I gave the employee my business card. In case you didn’t catch it, I just got publicity and name recognition with this employee which IKEA has asked of me by handing out my business card. Now, this is not a game of “one-up-manship”, but on the contrary; this is “I help you for helping me” business. A kind of “Thank you for permission”, “And you for your consideration.” Beautiful business assistance.

Photographing Jewelry

I do not want to sound as if I were driven by spontaneity or a business owner who makes impulsive decisions, because that would not be accurate; however I will say that when it comes to writing blog posts my plans do change. When planning the possible topics for the blog, I sometimes form a temporary schedule for publishing which take on new priorities after some time away giving me time to reconsider their publishing order. So let me tell you why I think this post is better published today versus Friday: This post will inform you of many different ways for setting up the lighting for your photographic subject.

The photo you see below is one that I took as I found some good techniques on my own with the equipment I had available.

I will list here some of the best techniques to be used in the jewelry section of photography.

The best lighting set-ups:

  • Back Lighting
  • Diffused and Direct Lighting
  • Direct and Reflected Lighting

Shooting techniques:

  • High Aperture / Long Exposure (Larger Focal Plane)
  • Moderate Aperture / Short Exposure (Moderate Focal Plane)
  • Low Aperture / Fast Shutter Speed (Small Focal Plane)

Setting additions:

  • Wax to hold pieces in place.
  • Glass or Lexan (surface for reflection)
  • Modeling Services

Of course there is always the option of hiring me and my services. *Grin* Okay, enough of that. Get ready for the specifics on the lighting set-ups in the subsequent posts!

“Its not what you see…”

You remember the phrase in business “It is not what you know that most often opens opportunities but who you know”? In this post I will share some unique ways of looking at a topic of photography by bringing into perspective who you see and not what you see.

I enjoy watching people. Taking photos is my job, so I am constantly on the look out for a great sports move to capture in the immortal moment of fame or simple beauty of a flower everyone else passes by. Although I take special interest in watching people with cameras to see what they see and how they will capture what they see.

Often there is an equal desire to have scenery and relational interest in the photo, so the people will be a fraction of the picture with an abundance of scenery. I do not write this to be disparaging to the photographer! This is their photo and they will get the exact photo they want. Good job! Since I write this blog to help parents as they photograph their children or hobbyists who want to improve their skill I will give some tips to make those shots even better!

The next time you have the camera in you hand, take note of what you see on the display or through the view finder and just how wide of an area it really is.

Now zoom in or move closer and notice the change in viewing area. Get used to being closer in to the subject of a photo. It will be this change that draws your attention more to the subject. If the picture will be understood just as well without including the entire stature of the person, zoom in a little further and really grab our attention with that cheshire cat grin. Limiting the amount of objects that accompany your subject in a photo will make your message be read all the better!

So you see, “it is not what you see in the picture, but who” that makes the difference.