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Professional Architectural Photographer Greg Wilson

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architectural photography tips

I consider myself one of the most fortunate people on the planet. I photograph interesting structures for talented, creative people and they pay me to do so, what could be better. 30 years ago my father, bored in his retirement, worked a deal with a local realtor to provide them with some black and white photos for advertising. I had done some amateur darkroom work in the past and dad asked me to help him in his new venture. At the time I had neither a darkroom nor a camera. From that meager beginning my current company developed.

architecture photography tips

We provided the still photos for a real estate television program for the 3 plus years it ran as well as advertising photography for a couple of regional magazines. Although we provided all types of work my real interest was in the architecture. I really enjoyed learning the art of balancing for various light sources and controlling the viewers eye by creative lighting techniques. Of course that was back in film days and we were using Hasselblad and Sinar view cameras. In order to achieve the results we desired we purchased our own drum scanner and started blending images together before the term HDR was in common usage.

Throughout the real estate bubble we spent well over half of our time in the western states California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas in particular. Our clients were shelter publications and national builders and of course the bust in 2007 left us without the clients we had nurtured for over 20 years. Thankfully we had been fortunate to have garnered a good reputation in the architectural community and from that we were able to reinvent ourselves through some loyal and talented architects, custom builders, ad agencies and publications. I must tell you that the collapse of the economy effected my business in a devastating manner, both financial and emotional. I know that I’m fortunate to have survived and still be in business.

architecture photography lens

Occasionally I’m asked about how to get into the business of professional photography. I have to admit to people that it is difficult to impossible to just break in and start making a living. Even assisting for established photographers is tough anymore. Everyone has felt the crunch of our collapsed economy. However it is possible to eventually “make it”. Today, we not only need to have a complete working knowledge of our cameras and lenses but all of us need to be expert in our computer skills, Lightroom and Photoshop in particular.

architectural photography jobs

I suggest you start by looking through all kinds of magazines and tear out the images that emotionally impact you, food, fashion, editorial, architecture etc. Eventually you begin to feel the kind of work that winds your clock. Then start shooting just that type of work and create it through your own unique style and vision.

When you have a reasonable body of work that you’re proud of start showing it to local magazines and agencies. Regardless of their reaction, keep shooting and sharpening your style. We only get better when we continue to practice and hold up our work to the benchmarks of those professionals that are being published.

5 Tips For Genuine Expressions by Kim J. Martin

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Tips For Genuine Expressions

Kim J. Martin is an award-winning wedding photographer based in Sacramento, California. She is inspired by couples who allow her to capture them as they really are: ridiculously in love. This inspiration is what drives her to capture authentic moments at each photo shoot. We’re excited to partner with Kim for this week’s guest blog post on how to capture genuine expressions.

My favorite thing about photographing couples is capturing their natural interaction and to have them look like themselves. I always knew I wanted to photograph people this way, but it took me years to really develop my style and figure out how to get what I wanted. There’s lots of things I think of while shooting, but these are my top 5 tips for getting genuine expressions during an engagement session, couple’s session, or wedding day portraits.

Personality Match

First things first, your clients should be people you would become friends with if you met any other way. The more you have in common, both in personality and interests, the easier it will be to get to know them and then be able to capture that in images. This isn’t to say you have to be besties with every single client, but having a good baseline of similarities will set the stage for awesome images. It will also make it easier to warm them up and get them comfortable in front of the camera if you understand their humor and have a good idea of things that would make them smile.

Let Them Be Themselves

This sounds vague, but it’s a huge part of what I do. I tell my couples at the beginning of their session that I will give them direction every step of the way; I will tell them how to pose, where to stand, etc…but if he feels the urge to hold her face and give her a big kiss, that moment will be better than anything I ever could have posed. You give them a starting point, but let them know that anything that comes naturally to them is absolutely encouraged. What they do on their own will always be more genuine than the pose you put them in.

Give Them Something To Do

There’s only so many ways you can have two people stand together before it starts to get stagnant, and no matter how well you know them or how many jokes you have, it will start to get boring. This is why it’s so fun to incorporate movement and activities, from simple things like walking all the way to giving them a scenario to act out. One that I love is having one person face their back to the other, and telling the one behind to pretend they just got home from work and they’re really excited to see the other person. Giving them open ended directions like this really opens up the opportunity to get some real, genuine expressions and allows them to show you how they would interact on their own.

Always Be Ready

A lot of times during a session, a couple may still be feeling awkward and posed, and in those situations a lot of times the perfect moment is right after they “break” a pose. In that moment they will often look at each other and laugh, because they feel like they’re just back to being themselves. That’s why so often, the moment right after a pose is the best image, when they’re shaking it off and feeling relaxed again. Hopefully as the session goes on they will be feeling more comfortable, so this is mostly applicable to the beginning of the session when they’re warming up. Just pay attention and be ready for those moments.

If It Doesn’t Work, Move On

There’s no cookie cutter approach for every couple; they’re all different, and that’s why our job is so awesome! There are poses and directions that I would give to one couple that I may not use with another couple. Sometimes you try to put a couple into a certain pose, and it just isn’t working. Sometimes they aren’t the right height (you can’t have the girl put her head on the guys chest if they’re the same height), or they look like they feel awkward doing it. I’ll sometimes do “Vogue” shots, and some couples totally kill it. Other couples feel totally awkward and end up busting up laughing, in which case I may do it again just to get some good laughter shots. But I’m not going to force them into a certain pose when it clearly isn’t working for them. I want the couple to show me who they are, not put them into a mold to get a certain kind of image. So pay attention to your couple and how they’re reacting to your directions. At the end of the day, it’s all about telling their story and giving them images that truly capture who they are.

Photographer of the Month: McKay’s Photography

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photography updates

Heather McKay, a Rochester NY photographer is one of those people that you just don’t ever forget.  I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at WPPI when we were doing some usability testing and customer feedback sessions on our new web galleries.  Before this I had only “met” her through Facebook but upon meeting her in person I felt as if we had known each other for years.

Heather started McKay’s Photography and said it took her, “years and years to finally fall into weddings.”  She has been a photographer since she was a child… she use to dress people up in silly costumes just to take their pictures for fun. Over the years she moved into Fine Art photography and swore off weddings.    “I wish I realized earlier that there are other people like me that don’t want the traditional wedding photos of the 70’s and 80’s,” said Heather.  It wasn’t until a friend of hers was getting married, and seeking wedding photographers that Heather started making the transition.  Her friend’s wedding is where it all began!   As Heather says “My goal has always been to photograph wedding as a photojournalist and as a friend.  To capture the essence of the person, as only a friend would know how.”

Now she is happily shooting weddings and meeting some amazing couples.

PS – Bring out that box of tissues – there is a moving story down there…  Seriously, get that box out, you are going to need it.

Describe your personal style:

A mixture of Eddie Bauer and Anthropology. Very functional, with a hint of modern trends. Someone recently described my work as artistically real.  I like that.

Which photographers inspire you?

Sebastiao Salgado, Joe Buissink, Gary Isaacs, David Williams, Julia Margaret Cameron. Toronto is churning out some amazing wedding photographers right now.

What gear or gadgets can you not live without?

My Fuji S5 cameras, Aperture and my camera bag. I guess I like the underdogs.

I would buy 20 more Fuji S5s if I could.  Aperture is the key to my album and print sales. My camera bag, which is actually a high end diaper bag, is the BEST camera bag I’ve ever owned.

Name a person, place or thing you cannot live without.

Everything is temporary.

I guess my health. I’m really active and can’t imagine not being able to move my body.

How does your studio set itself apart from the multitude of new photographers out there?

By trying to invent the next trend, focusing on pure quality of image without gimmicks, quality time with each client and selling wedding albums.

I do lose weddings because I don’t provide the digital files with wedding coverage, however I think this is the biggest disservice to my clients and their eventual offspring. Not to mention photographer’s bottom lines. My customers are SO happy when they get their heirloom wedding album. It is one of those things that you don’t know you are missing out on until you go through the process.

What is the biggest challenge you have had in your business so far and how did you overcome it?

I have had just one nightmare couple. Just one in 9 years! They taught me SO much about what I needed to have in writing and how to be preemptive. I would not be nearly as successful (with super happy couples) had it not been for them.

All of my success with albums is due to the chaos these people brought into my life. Now, my couples cry tears of joy when I deliver their final wedding album and they send me thank you notes! I even got a thank you note from a bride’s Grandma this year!

It is hard to explain here how important the album process is. For my business and for my couples. If it wasn’t for this couple, I wouldn’t have the backbone I have today with my policies and procedures. You live and learn, right?

What is the most successful marketing strategy you have implemented in your business?

I was a very early adopter of Facebook and it brought me a lot of business before other photographers caught on. Now I try to get as creative with it as possible and make it as easy as possible for my past clients to refer my studio.

Recently, my blog comments were switched over to Facebook commenting instead of standard WordPress comments. This has increased the comments dramatically and I just read an article about Google’s new ranking system where interaction is now key. Staying on top, or ahead, of these changes is important for staying relevant and ahead of the curve.

How does DigiLabs Pro help your business?

Oh, in so many ways. I was soooooo unhappy with my previous gallery host and spent months searching for the replacement. There has been nothing but puppies and rainbows with DigiLabs Pro ever since. My print sales increased immediately upon transitioning.

Currently, the albums are super hot with y couples. We are totally digging the Marina line.  One Grandmother of a Bride offered to buy the couple a new coffee table to put the album on!

What I love is that DigiLabs handles their business like I do…. Just enough of what is hot & trendy with keeping things as simple as possible.

Tell me about one of your biggest disasters from a shoot.

Well, there are several mini disasters that happen each year, right? My first ‘real’ wedding (where they found me through advertising) was the biggest. From start to finish, curve balls were thrown at me. It taught me EXACTLY what my strength and weaknesses were.

One situation, that taught me a lot, was from 2009.  I was photographing a wedding in a giant art gallery, Artisan Works. This place is huge (50,000 square feet!) and the lighting changes every 4 feet. On camera flash is a must. Of course, all of my Nikon Speedlights started to malfunction. Walking the distance to my spare camera bag/batteries/flashes is a hike and the DJ is announcing important events on the other end of the main room. Meanwhile I’m frantically trying to trouble shoot the different flashes, batteries, charging batteries, etc. Luckily, my Qflash was working, so I just used that. This was stressful for several reasons, but mostly because I typically take several candid images of each guest. Not really an option at this wedding.

It was time to leave and I was feeling this itch to stick around because the bride and groom were exiting to sparklers. I sucked it up and stayed late. After the couple left, I quickly photographed the guests with sparklers. The last shot of the night is one that will stick with me, and the family, forever.  It is of a 13 year old boy and his brother with fistfuls of sparklers and huge grins on their faces.   Four days later the 13 year old was hit by a car and perished. This is the last image of him – and an image of pure joy. Had I not stayed late and finished what I perceive to be my job (getting images of guests), this family would not have this image to remember their son, full of life. This was a reminder that though the rings and shoes are nice, the guest list is the MOST important detail….

What word of advice can you give to other (seasoned or new) photographers?

I know you hear this all the time, but be yourself. Do as much research as possible on business, posing, lighting, composition, design, marketing and taxes. And then infuse your personality in there. People do want whatever it is that you are selling… you just need to find the right people. If you do your homework and get your ducks in a row, everything will work out just fine.

Photographer of the Month: Matt Theilen Photography

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Photography forum for beginners

Our photographer this month is Matt Theilen of Matt Theilen Photography.  Matt and his wife TJaye, are a husband and wife team photographing weddings and portraits in the Lake Tahoe, NV area.   Matt discovered his passion for photography while climbing the walls of Yosemite valley.  He was so inspired by what he saw, and wanted to share it with friends and family that he became obsessed (his words).  He has not been able to put the camera down since!

At some point, the confines of his car became too small to support his photographic obsession, so he went back to school, got his BFA in photography and grew his artistic talent.  Over time, he has seen his artwork grow and has been placed in several prominent collections around the country and internationally.  He loves weddings because they are “infinitely challenging and dynamic” and he gets to meet some really great people.

Describe your personal style.

My approach to wedding photography is best described as a blend of fine art and photojournalism.  I like to capture the natural moments but I’m also always concerned about composition and creating images that I’d hang on my own walls.

What inspires you when shooting wedding after wedding?

For me the first inspiration always comes from the couple.  When two people are sharing themselves with each other and I get to be there to document it… well, it’s just amazing.

I cry at a lot of weddings and have to wipe my eyes while I’m shooting.  I’ll look over at my wife TJaye and she’ll be doing the same—this is how I knew we were meant to photograph weddings together!

What photographers inspire you.

Robert Frank

Lee Friedlander

Edward Burtynsky

Sally Mann

Avedon

What kind of gear or gadgets can you not live without.

My 4×5 and 8×10 cameras remind me to slow down every now and then – they are also a cool thing to bust out during a portrait shoot.  Also my Holga for when I just want to respond intuitively without any technical choices.

Name a person place or thing that you can’t live without.

My wife and partner in photography TJaye.  She’s the organized one and is a fantastic photographer in her own right.  Not to mention, she makes me smile all the time.

How does your studio set itself apart from the multitude of new photographers out there.

For me, it’s all about the images.  It’s about trying to see weddings through a camera in innovative ways to create unexpected photographs.  I don’t look at a lot of other wedding photographers’ work, I draw my inspiration from artists who are making interesting work.

How are you changing your business to incorporate things like selling the high-res images.

Let’s be honest – It’s 2011 and that’s what people want.  It made sense not to give our negatives away when we shot film because the negatives were our portfolio.  Now that we can make an infinite number of copies of the images, we just build the high resolution files into our packages.

The only time I don’t give out hi-res images is when I use my large format cameras to make portraits. I make prints and art objects out of those and keep the negatives.

How are you changing your business to incorporate social networking?

I post my latest news and updates to Facebook regularly.  I’ll post every blog post and all of my photographic projects.  My Facebook posts automatically posts to my Twitter account.

I joined Facebook about a year ago and it has been a great marketing tool for me.

How does Digilabs Pro help your business?

Digilabs Pro Rules!  The web galleries are simple and very effective.  I can create custom products and take payment directly through Digilabs Pro.  I also like that the web galleries are easy for people to view on any computer and don’t take forever to load.

Tell me one of your biggest disasters from an event you shot.

TJaye and I brought our couple down to the river to make some portraits during sunset.  I was hopping across rocks and getting the bride &  groom set up on a boulder right off the river bank.

Out of the corner of my eye I see a small ring flying through the air and plop right into the river.  All I heard was the bride using the groom’s full name in a tone similar to that of my mother’s.  I realized then that it wasn’t the bride’s ring… the groom just hadn’t quite got the feel for the ring so he was wearing it on his thumb (It’s a guy thing.)

So I kicked my shoes off and TJaye took over shooting while I waded into the river to try and get the ring.  It had fallen in between some large rocks and I didn’t want to lift them up and lose the ring forever in the murky bottom…So I told the groom exactly where the ring was and told him to come back in the morning with a mask and snorkel…

I got a text message the next day:  “We found it!”  So rad!

Best advice to give other photographers.

Be yourself and make images that inspire you.  People will hire you for your own vision, not just because they need a photographer.

Photographer of the Month: AMANDA JULCA Photography

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Largest photography forum

AMANDA JULCA is the perfect wedding photographer for the modern bride and groom seeking beautiful images to tell their lasting love story. Bouncing between Miami and Columbus (and abroad) Amanda creates expressive, poetic imagery with the sense that everyone, everything, and every moment is relevant and worthy to be documented in the form meaningful images.

Last year, when we started the DigiLabs blog we also created a twitter account, cause, you know,…everybody is doing it. Once the account was set up we needed to find some people to follow. I was given the pleasure of finding our customers on Twitter. It was a barrel of monkeys that lasted just long enough for me to find Amanda. Her tweets in particular really caught my attention because she was regularly posting a ‘Polaroid of the day’. I thought it was a clever way to keep her followers engaged and feature her passion for photography. I started waiting and anticipating Amanda’s next Polariod to see what event, adventure or travel she was on next. 

Check out AMANDA JULCA’s website and blog and feel free to become a fan on facebook & follow her ‘Polaroid of the day’on twitter. Interested in how she uses the DigiLabs Pro services? Well, take a peek at one of her galleries here.  Check out what she has to say as DigiLabs’ photographer of the month in October (her birthday month):

Describe your personal style. If I were a store, I would be West Elm. If I were a magazine, I would be Dwell. My style is a blend of earthy and approachable with a modern, clean consistency.

What inspires you when shooting your sessions? Honestly, my clients inspire me most. Be it a wedding client, a family or a singer-songwriter, I like to get to know my subjects for who they are. I think it helps me approach documenting them with a more aware eye. I am also highly inspired by film, magazines, traveling and other artists.

What photographers inspire you? There are so many to name but to name just a few: Ronald Bello, Denise Bovee, One Love, Philip Toledano, Hugh ForteAmelia LyonSarah RhodesTodd Richardson.

What gear or gadgets can you not live without? Aside from camera gear, my iPhone. Perfect for traveling- I can keep all my contacts, emails, calendar, etc with me at all times. I also use my iPhone to create what my Twitter and Facebook followers know as “The Polaroid of the Day” . Each day, I post an image I`ve captured during my day. I am actually currently planning the release of the Polaroid of the Day book for purchase.

{editor’s note: I know, I have already said how into this idea I am. I want to remind all of you out there that we have to give our potential and/or current followers a REASON to come back for more. Obviously these tools are used for self promotion but your content can be more than that & should be.  Amanda’s marketing plan here is incredibly simple and allows her to feature what she loves to do, even when traveling. This is something DigiLabs Pro keeps on it’s radar at all times and your studio should think about!}

Name a person, place or thing you can not live without? Family, friends and especially the comfort of my husband and our home. I believe in the value of a comfortable, peaceful living space to help maintain a steady balance in life. Between traveling every other week and working long hours, our home is a sanctuary of peace and inspiration for us, without that balance, I honestly don`t think we could keep the schedules or productivity that we do in our work.

How does your studio set itself apart from the multitude of NEW photographers out there? I often hear that my work feels “genuine” or “honest”- I think elements such as these are expressed in my imagery because the love and attention I offer to my subjects helps me discover their reality.

How are you changing your business to incorporate things like selling high resolution images? I think in order to stay relevant and fresh, I have to be aware of what the client is asking for. The modern client expects access to the image files. I think it’s important for all of us in the community to educate our clients on the value of those images if we are going to offer them.

For example, as a part of my Initial Investment for weddings, I include a disc of images with a nice, clean basic color edit- which is also the edit that is represented on the images in each web gallery. In order to show my clients that there is a value in owning image files as art, I also offer an upgrade to the basic edit, which I call the “Stylized Edit”- these images receive a lot of love through skin smoothing, eye brightening and a stylization that has become known as my signature “look”- this is the edit that is represented on my blog. Clients get really excited to see their images come alive with this edit.

How are you changing your business to incorporate social networking? Actually, my business was launched and is sustained thanks to social networking. With a very small advertising budget, I have used services, such as Twitter and Facebook to share my work. Over the course of a few months, I gained a decent following and am constantly updating both with information, inspirations and, of course, imagery. These services offer viral networking like nothing else can! For example, when I feature a session or wedding on my blog, I post it to both Twitter and Facebook. I tag clients and fellow vendors and they often repost the feature which also means all of their followers can now experience my work.

{editor’s note: AMEN SISTER!}

How does Digilabs Pro help your business? I post a web gallery for every client I work with, where they can view all of the images I have captured and edited. I often tell my clients that the web gallery, provided by Digilabs, is a chance to conveniently and efficiently retell their story as represented in the imagery. My wedding clients get excited to share the gallery with family, friends, coworkers so they, too, can relive the events of the day.

Tell me one of your biggest disasters from an event you shot. Knock on wood, aside from having a camera fail on me during a wedding or the occasional threat of being rained out, I have thankfully managed to stay disaster free!

Best advice to give other photographers? Stay fresh and relevant, be inspired and strive to inspire.

I think we all learned a lot here!  And we have Amanda to thank.  Check out AMANDA JULCA at www.amandajulca.com and don’t forget subscribe to her blog, become a fan on facebook and follow on twitter to keep up with her “Polaroid of the day”.

Have a question you’d like us to ask?  Let us know by leaving a comment below.  Until next time!

Secure Your Boudoir Photography With DigiLabs Pro Web Galleries

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Boudoir photos plus size

Believe it or not, but there are people out in cyber space who are constantly trying to snatch your boudoir pictures right off your personal web galleries; some hackers  will even go as far and share them with the world

Web Gallery and Photo Security can  be a source of constant headaches and even legal liability for many photographers.

Boudoir outfits for perfect shoot

To prevent this inconvenience, DigiLabs Pro has developed a five-layer  security feature . You can use as many of the security features as you wish while setting up your web galleries in your DigiLabs Pro Online Administration page. Use all five security features for top level security. 


This setup for security settings can be different for each web gallery:

  1. Force Login – This option ensures that everyone entering the gallery has to enter their name and email address, which of course has limited power as people can falsify this infomation.
  2. Hidden– When selecting this feature, the gallery will not be display in the web gallery list on your portal page, thus keeping it from prying eyes
  3. Private– This option will require that your clients enter the event ID (password) before they will be allowed access to the gallery
  4. Restrict Login – With this feature you have the ability to input email addresses in a field on your admin page.  Then only those that register for the gallery with one of the pre-entered email address(s) will be allowed access to the web gallery
  5. Secret Code– This option takes it one step further and allows you to create another password for the gallery, which will be asked when on the registration page.
Boudoir photography lighting

When combining all features and options, you can ensure that:

  • Boudoir galleries will not be present on your portal page with all of your other web galleries
  • Logging in will be restricted to specific email addresses only you setup
  • The log in will require two passwords (the Event ID and the Secret Code)

Obviously, these days when banks and national institutions are hacked no protection is bullet proof, but by having reasonable security measures in line, you are able to keep your photos secure and safe, good security is what you owe your customers and what you owe yourself !

What’s Your Good Side? by George Long

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Get my good side photography

George Long is an portrait and commercial photographer based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been a prime leader of the photographic community in New Orleans for over twenty years, with his portfolio ranging from corporate events and celebrities to maritime and food. His work has been featured extensively in international publications and he has built quite the portfolio of New Orleans stock images during his career. We’re pleased to partner with George in this week’s guest post.

There’s a scene in ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ where Butch is “auditioning” Sundance to join his Hole in the Wall Gang.  Butch throws a can out into the dirt and tells Sundance to shoot it.
Sundance points and misses several times.  All Butch can do is laugh. Sundance says quietly “Can I move?” Butch doesn’t understand. Sundance slips his gun into its holster then, fast as lightning, pulls it out, flips that hammer three times, pow, pow, pow, and the can goes hopping through the dust.

How to find your best side for pictures

That’s the kind of photographer I am. I’ve got to be moving.  Don’t make me put that camera on a tripod.  And studio portraiture, with all that posing, please don’t make me slow down.  That was a liberating realization for me decades ago.  The more I allowed myself to express my style and my vision, the more people responded positively to my work, the more successful I was, and the more I enjoyed the process.

But I’m a commercial photographer and, as a result, I’m asked to do a whole lot of headshots.  Here in New Orleans, I’ll photograph an event or convention and they want headshots of their Board while they’re all gathered in one place.  I’m expected to crank out 20 headshots in 40 minutes sometimes.  Under those circumstances, I’ve got to really know a face and how to light it quickly if I’m going to create results that the subjects, the client, and I all find worthwhile.  I have no interest in creating mediocre images. That’s not fun for me.

When they sit down on that stool in front of me, my fast assessment always begins with the inner question “What is their good side?”.  As far as I’m concerned, we all have one.  The deeper question is “What side of themselves are they most comfortable sharing?”. What most folks aren’t aware of is that the left side of our bodies represents the feminine energy within each of us.  The right side holds our masculine energy.  This has nothing to do with male and female or your sexual preference. It’s about the balance of these energies each of us carries throughout our lives.

Females are, indeed, most often more comfortable showing their left side and men their right but there are no hard and fast rules to lean on. The side they part their hair on may be an indicator. One eye may open more than the other.  The corner of their mouth may turn down a bit on one side.  Their smile may be bigger or just more natural on one side.  All may serve as indicators in helping you decide how they should turn toward your camera.  Few subjects have a conscious understanding of what’s their better side but they will sometimes respond intuitively.  When they sit, they will turn the way that’s most comfortable for them.

My best side meaning

Another important consideration is their level of self-confidence. Sometimes, even before they’ve sat down, they’ll say “I’m not good at this” or “I hate having my picture taken”.  If I’m to take my job
seriously, my response should be that it’s my responsibility to help change that.

My first goal is to help them feel safe and comfortable.  My demeanor is one of confidence and consideration.  I’m going to treat them with dignity and behave like an adult.  I’m not there to put on a show. I’m going to be vulnerable and open with them and show them I’m making a sincere effort to resolve their concerns and help them get to a place in their head and heart where we can work together to create an image that is, at the very least, good enough.

I show them the images on the viewfinder and ask if they can live with one of them.  If not, I make any necessary adjustments and shoot until they’re satisfied.  In post, I might narrow it down to five images or less and ask their preference before making the effort to clean up stray hairs or, if they paid for it, touch ups.

Headshots are obviously an essential in most social media.  People know that and they will usually make the effort, no matter how high their resistance.  In the meantime, I’m doing might part to help them share a piece of their soul.

Mile High Professional Photographers

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Mile high photography at DigiLabsPRO

On Tuesday Digilabs had the honor of sponsoring the Mile High Photographers Club June meeting!

The Mile High Photographers are a group of professional photographers in the Denver area that get together with the purpose of helping each other better their own respective studios!  It looks like this months meeting was a HUGE success & everyone had great fun!  It even seems that prizes were “raining from the sky”!  Sounds amazing! Thanks to KB Photography & Jessica & Kevin Bergthold for their help in this project!

Phillip Colwart Wedding & Portrait Photography

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Wedding photography description

Phillip Colwart Photography, located in Hammond, Louisiana focuses on wedding, portrait and commercial photography for the New Orleans area.  (I don’t know about you but, I am very jealous of the amazing locations he gets to shoot. )  A veteran in this budding industry, Phillip has been honing his photography skills since his teenage years in Uptown New Orleans.

Wedding photos list at DigiLabsPRO

A graduate of Loyola University, Phillip has enjoyed past careers as a radio personality, television camera man, corporate audio visual producer and more….  He began his photography career in 1993 and worked as a corporate photographer for Neill Corporation in Hammond, LA for almost fourteen years.  He opened his own studio in 2003 and became a full-time professional photographer in 2005.  Phillip has been a Certified Professional Photographer since 2007 and is working toward his Craftsman Degree.

Phillip enjoys giving back to the community and is on the board of directors at the Hammond Regional Arts Foundation, and has donated his photography services and artwork to non-profits including OPTIONS, TARC, NILMDTS, Junior Auxiliary, Richard Murphy Hospice and others.

He received awards from the New Orleans Fashion Council in 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2004 and was named the Greater New Orleans Professional Photography Guild 2008 Photographer of the Year.

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1. Describe your personal style.

For weddings, it’s a combination of posing when necessary and just letting it happen and documenting the event.  David A. Williams describes this as “asked for” shots and “found” shots.

My commercial work has helped me to bring straight, perpendicular lines to even candid images – being short (5’5”) sort of helps with this! My portrait photography has some elements of “breaking the rules,” but knowing and successfully executing the rules of portraiture is so incredibly important. Study the Masters and take the time to learn the standards that Monte Zucker so succinctly defined for us photographers.

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2. What inspires you?

Nothing inspires me more than the motivation that comes from being a one man show. I am truly grateful for the ability to do this work and to make enough money to continue. There’s great satisfaction in knowing that I am good enough, but I am driven to improve and get better.

My goal is to make a living while making a difference for people – these photographs will outlive us all, and we’re documenting the history of families. It’s very important work, and I consider it a great honor and privilege to be chosen by my clients to be their photographer!

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3. Which photographers inspire you?

David A. Williams, Hanson Fong, Dina Douglass, Jerry Ghionis, Storey Wilkins, and so many New Orleans photographers: Michael P. Smith, David Spielman, David Richmond, Bryce Lankard, and many more.

4. What gear or gadgets can you not live without?

The Hoodman loupe – for looking at your camera’s LCD screen. It works great under the full sun, has a built-in diopter for glasses wearers like me, and really helps in checking focus and compostion.

5. Name a person, place or thing you can’t live without?

Paul McCartney, the French Quarter and green tea. For me, Paul is one of the greatest living musicians/composers – his songs speak to me like nobody else’s. The French Quarter of New Orleans is a living, breathing neighborhood as well as tourist attraction. There is always something new there to photograph; I always find inspiration there. And green tea – a daily staple of my diet. Cannot live without it!

6. How does your studio set itself apart from the multitude of new photographers out there?

Tons of backup equipment, a great sense of humor, passion and knowing my business is in it for the long haul.  I am focused on customer service, reputation and providing a quality product. This includes being reliable, consistent and generally a good value.

7. What is the biggest challenge you have had in your business so far and how did you overcome (or are you overcoming) it?

Keeping the business end organized. My bookkeeper’s nickname is “The Babysitter.” She’s always asking for lost receipts and reminds me several times a month to bring my paperwork to her!

My office looks like the Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina…  if the idea, “messy desk, busy mind” applies to anyone, it would be me. I know where everything is, but – I guess we all need a little bit more organization in our lives.

8. How are you changing your business to incorporate social networking and/or new technologies?

Facebook is a wonderful marketing tool, and I totally believe in local business networking.  I am involved heavily in our local Chamber of Commerce, and I enjoy contributing to local charities with photography and silent auction items.  I also contribute photography to local publications in exchange for a photo credit.  I think so many photographers expect to simply have clients show up.  They forget, you’ve got to have name recognition (branding) and ask for the jobs. Always participate at all times in your own success story! Constantly sell yourself – and this includes email blasts, facebook and yes, lots of thank you notes.

9. What is the most successful marketing strategy you have implemented in your business?

Shoestring marketing, as laid out by Kammy Thurman in the July 2008 issue of Professional Photographer, the PPA magazine …

10. How does Digilabs help your business?

The Web Galleries Pro are easy to use and looks great! Love the new look. The customers really like the convenience of their web galleries, and I am a huge fan of Digilabs’ proof books. So are my brides!

11. Tell me about one of your biggest disaster from a shoot.

It was actually forgetting completely about a location session for a Mardi Gras krewe – formal court photos. I was forty-five minutes late! The queen was steamed, but as it was, the later afternoon light was an advantage. We finished indoors with strobes anyhow, and they placed several large print orders, and retained me to document their entire reign. I was never late again!

12. What word of advice can you give to other (seasoned or new) photographers?

To paraphrase Jerry Ghionis, and I loved how he said this, if you don’t have a personality for photography, you had better buy one or find one quickly. You’ve got to entertain your clients and subjects, keep them happy and smiling, and you’ve got to make them feel comfortable and special. I totally schmooze my customers! You’d think I was a standup comedian at times, but it’s great when the best man is telling me he hates photographers but I’m “okay…” or when the Mother of the Groom calls a couple of days after the wedding to thank me for handling her requests with such grace.

Photographer of the Month: Meghan Stewart Photography

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This month’s Photographer of the Month is Meghan Stewart of Meghan Stewart Photography.  Meghan has an amazing eye for art, which is apparently a family trait – her mom is an amazing painter.  Meghan tried to follow in her moms footsteps with painting and drawing but she quickly found out that she just did not have the patience for it.  Enter, the camera.  One shot and she was hooked!

Meghan has been shooting weddings, families, and children for over 4 years. As you will see in the interview, she LOVES getting to know her clients and watching their children grow.  Her personal touch shows in her amazing images.

She recently won two People’s Choice Awards for some photographs that she took while she was on a mission trip in Salta, Argentina and one of the Tanner’s shop in St. Augustine.

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Describe your personal style.

I consider my personal style to be comfy, casual, laid back, down to earth and a little goofy sometimes. I believe life should be fun and enjoyed – that is the same approach I take with my photography. I want each of my clients to be completely comfortable so they can be themselves – that way we get the best images. I love to laugh, play, listen and talk.

Life is important and beautiful and I strive to capture that story and be a storyteller with my images. Whether it be a wedding or a family/portrait session, my purpose is to tell the storey of the person in front of my camera. I believe every soul has a story worth telling… and it’s beautiful.

What inspires you when shooting wedding after wedding?

Even though I see wedding after wedding, this is the only one these two will have. It is my pleasure, and honor, to tell their story through my photographs. I also love to get to know my couples so that I can look for moments that will be special to them.

Really, because I’ve gotten to know them before the big day, I don’t feel like I’m going to work… but I am going to celebrate a great love and commitment between two friends. I can’t help but want to give them the best photos.  This way they can relive their big day over and over for many years to come.

What Photographers inspire you?

Jasmine Star, Studio222, The Schultzes, Jill Thomas, and Jose Villa, to name just a few (seriously – there are so many amazing photographers)

What gear or gadgets can you not live without.

Camera gear wise – hands down my 50mm 1.4 is a must at every shoot and rarely leaves the camera body. I feel lost without it. Then probably my laptop and my iPhone – I mean, I have to stay connected, you know?

Name a person, place or thing you can’t live without.

Person/people: Family and friends – because they love me no matter what, and they encourage me to continue following and pursuing my dreams.

Place: If I could never be near some sort of body of water again I think I might do the ugly cry. (Editor’s note: Please, get her to some water stat!)

Thing: Coffee in the morning.  It’s such a great pick me up but is also soooo comforting.

How does your studio set itself apart from the multitude of new photographers

out there that keep popping up?

You are probably tired of hearing this, but I really try to get to know my clients. Photographing their wedding isn’t just about me being there with a nice camera and knowing how to work in photoshop.  It’s about me telling their story. I can’t tell their unique story unless I know them. I have a fun little questionnaire for each of my clients to fill out so I can get to know them (and they learn a bit about me, too). It’s all about the relationship.

I also offer high quality products that clients are looking for.

How are you changing your business to incorporate things like selling the high resolution images?

In this digital age it seems as though we photographers have tostay on our toes to keep up with the times. I know that when my big day rolls around and I get married, I’m going to want my files for sure – so how can I deny my clients the very thing I would want? I do always advise my clients to print at labs, so they will get a better quality image.

How are you changing your business to incorporate social networking?

I am just so thankful for facebook because I am so not the the kind of person to go out and network. Facebook has made it so easy for me to tag clients in pictures, post notifications of when I’ve blogged, tell people about a sale, and just keep people informed on what’s going on with me. It’s all free… and I get to sit in my yoga pants and drink coffee while I network. What more could I ask for?! Now twitter – I’m working on that one.

How does Digilabs Pro help your business?

Digilabs Pro has been great for my business. It was really easy for me to set up and use and I love how I could customize my galleries to match my branding. I’ve never had any clients tell me that they have a hard time navigating around the galleries. Customer service is so important to me and DigiLabs Pro ROCKS!

Tell me one of your biggest disasters from an event you shot?

Honestly, I can’t think of any huge disasters… I do carry a wedding day emergency bag with things a bride might need, but forgets. You know, the pretty coat hanger, so I don’t have to photograph the dream gown on a less than attractive plastic hanger. There are other things in my arsenal like baby wipes, bobby pins, safety pins, mints, Tylenol, etc…

It definitely is important to make your bride feel that you are confident in any situation that might not seem perfect.

Best advice to give to other photographers?

Be you. I use to spend a lot of time comparing myself to other people – in photography, as well as in other places in my life.  In the end, I realized that I just wasn’t happy. When I finally decided to just be who I was created to be, and not worry about what others thought, life became more beautiful and enjoyable. This world certainly would be boring if we were all alike.

Remember, you are beautiful and we need you. I believe Andre Gide said it well when he said, “Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself.”

As Al Sacharov once said, “The key is to trust your heart to move where your unique talents can flourish. This old world will really spin when work becomes a joyous expression of the soul.”