Tuesday, February 19, 2013

An open letter to businesses and content creators.

Dear businesses and content creators,

Please stop relying on stock photography to represent you.

It may be cheap but so is the effect. It's often pristine but plastic and if clients and customers can't see or feel the tie-in to you, the images leave a bland aftertaste. Bland doesn't connect (in a good way), bland doesn't represent you well either. People crave real. Idealized, sure, but real.

I see so many articles, print materials, and websites that use beautiful shiny images of people beaming but there is no appreciable tie-in to that particular business. The connection isn't there and when the customer/client sees the disparity between those images and the reality, it leaves you looking deceitful. That's never a good thing.

There are quite reasonable and good uses for stock images of course, but be careful how and when you use them. If you need to simply describe an area, object, or occupation and it's an internal memo or school project, grab some stock. If you're creating actual promotional materials, manuals, or social media content, hire a photographer to create quality images that are also real. Authenticity is key and people appreciate being able to relate, connect, and recognize what they see.

Yes, photographers are more expensive, but you get more.

The images can be used not only for promotion but for record. You can touch things up but also have photographic evidence of the flaws and that can help you self-analyze and improve. If you're not willing to do that then you probably shouldn't be in business. Hiring a photographer for your business allows interaction and customization you won't get with a stock image. You get the benefit of their experience, you get someone to bounce ideas off of, and you get to support another business that will likely help promote you as they promote their work. When you calculate expense, factor in all the costs and consider all the added value.

There are far more than enough our there that just want to put out 100% idealized images that transcend reality while their core is hollow. It will be found out. Why not position yourself to bridge the ideal and the true. Show ideal in a real setting. Show ideal with your own people. Just don't show some other ideal and pawn it off as your own. I want better for you and I hope you do too!



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Children's portraits

It is always a fun challenge to photograph kids, as I'm sure any parents (and photographers) can attest to! A few weeks ago I was in Houston and had the opportunity to pop by a client's home to make some portraits of her boys in play in their element. I really do love this sort of photography as it is the sort that really capture memories in a place that both parents and kids will probably remember in varying levels.

As I mentioned though, there are challenges to this sort of portraiture... The first is of course the cornerstone of photography, light. When you go on location, especially to unknown ones, the lighting is a variable and that's a problem if you're not prepared. Thankfully I'm equipped with a lens that performs well in low light and also had some speedlights and lighting modifiers. The next challenge also affects everything, and that is the kids themselves. I'm guessing you already knew this but kids move. I'm not the sort that likes posing too much so moving the lights or swapping lenses quickly in time to catch that moment or two where light, expression, and reflexes all intersect is a workout!

These two young gentlemen were great though and while they did move, nearly constantly, we got some great shots. Still it amazed me how even in full midday sun that inside a home the light was still soft enough that in many locations I needed to use my speedlight and a softbox. Our eyes really are amazing in how they collect and process light in that what is a perfectly bright room to the eye is still stretching a camera's limits.

Another cool project came out of this shoot too, invitations to one of the boy's birthday party! I've designed some birthday and Christmas cards as well as a senior's graduation announcement so this wasn't completely new and I knew what to do. His mother had a couple design ideas that she liked different elements of so I created a mash up of the two with images from the session on a 5x7" flat card. The cool thing about these sorts of cards is that you have a large image or image collage on the back that doesn't have to be themed or have writing on it. That turns it into a gift memento as well as the practical invite or announcement.

If you'd like something similar done, now's the time to start planning it. Christmas is only 3 months away and I'm planning on having a session/card special ready soon!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Life flies by...

"Life flies by at the speed of light, at the speed of sound, and speed of memories made and remembered. Sometimes you're moving a half mile an hour and sometimes nearly six hundred. Whether you're moving or not, life is. Hang on for the ride, steer what you can, let the obstacles come as they will, and navigate around them as best you can. This process and the moments that process are your life. Commemorate the milestones to help show that movement and help you see how far you've come and where you're going..."

I think I wrote this about a month ago while in the middle of a super-busy time where in the span of 3 weeks we were in San Diego, on a road trip to and from Minnesota, and Houston. A wedding, a family reunion, and business were the reasons for travel and through the travels I got to capture memories of images of hills, valleys, beaches, rings, lightning storms, towers of clouds, farmlands, sunrises, and sunsets. Needless to say there are a lot of photos I've been combing through. Some shots I've already posted on my facebook page. I'll cut to the chase thought and post some of the shots from San Diego not related to the wedding. It was beautiful of course and my only regret is just missing the sunset on the beach. What will be will be...