Times Are Tough

“Times are tough”. I have heard photographers make this complaint since the very beginning of my photography career. Times are tough it’s true but our business practices can make things a lot tougher.
About a week ago I sent two emails to a company asking about repair to my flashes. I’m thinking of sending the three I have for service. There is nothing wrong but I use them so much that every three years I send them in for a “tune up”. I was also ready to buy 2 new ones. My emails went unanswered. So did my 2 voice mails. In contrast, when I called Canon to ask questions about their flashes I spoke to a technician. I decided not to send the flashes in to that company for service and bought two Canon 600EX-RT units.

Two days ago I sent an email to Quantum Instruments. They make the popular Quantum Flashes and Power Packs. No Answer. Perhaps they did not get it so I called them and left a voice mail. An hour later I received a call back and all my questions were graciously answered.
I just ordered one of their Turbo SC Slim power packs and I will continue to be a loyal Quantum customer because of the way I was treated. I know I can always count on their support. What about the other company? I am told times are tough. You know, on account of the Chinese, Mexicans, Martians, and Vikings.
How can any company stay in business when they totally ignore the customer? Are you accessible? Can your customers and potential customers easily get a hold of you? There was a time when I did not answer the phone on a Sunday. Times are tough so now I do. I realize if a caller does not get a hold of me they can probably get a hold of someone else. I return calls within an hour or same day.

Are times tough for your business? Are you doing everything you can do to be of real service? If not times could get even tougher.

eBook on Composition

Just took some photos for an ebook I am working on. “The Power of Composition” should be done and online in about two or three months. It will cover compositional technique from the simplest to the most advanced. It will have plenty of examples and photos making it very comprehensive. Knowing composition and how to use it effectively will empower you with the ability to see what others don’t. The best thing about composition is that you don’t need to buy any more equipment to utilize it. You just have to recognize it and point the camera differently.

Winning at Print Competition

 
Last night I had the pleasure to be one of three judges at the Suncoast Camera Club annual print competition. The prints entered were already winners during the past year. This is their yearly best of competition. The prints presented were very good to excellent.. It is unfortunate that you can’t give first place to more than one because there were three prints that were fantastic. I felt badly that the other two could not also get first place. There were two surprises for me. First that the level of quality was as high as it was. Second, that after it was over nobody asked the judges why we gave their print that particular score.

When I was active in print competition I would always ask the judges why they scored my print the way they did. This was not to challenge them because they new more than me. They had their reasons for giving a print a high or low score. I just wanted to know so next time I could make adjustments. It didn’t matter if the print had won first place or nothing. I always wanted to know why.
In any competition you are playing by rules that someone else has written. This is why you can love a print that you have made but it might score low. It is being judged by their rules not yours.
If you want to constantly score high in print competition wait till it’s all over and then take your print to the judges and ask them what they thought and how you can improve the image. Do this and your prints will always do well.

Pictured with me is Jeff Donald and John Sagert, the other two judges. During the judging our “phasers” were set on stun so as not to hurt anybody.

To Do A Bridal Show Or Not

I can’t seem to make up my mind when it comes to Bridal Shows. Should I participate in them or not? I have had good results and no results. I just participated in the Rusty Pelican Bridal Show. This year I tried something new. Instead of bringing prints and books I brought books and a 50 inch TV screen. Prints and frames are expensive and after a few times get damaged or dated or both. Putting a slide show on a 50 inch screen is impressive but I almost broke the TV in transit. Either way Bridal shows are expensive and time consuming. On the up side you get to personally talk to couples about their needs and how you can be of help.Although I once booked 3 weddings at a show I usually don’t book any on the spot. Most couples will call at some point in the future. One couple called me a year after they saw me at a Bridal show. You just don’t know what the outcome will be till you go to one.  Even offering a “Show Special” doesn’t seem to do much to get couples to make a decision. 

So should you participate in one? If you expect to walk away with 10 contracts no. Except for that, I would say yes because all other form of advertising is passive. Bridal Shows are interactive. 

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah. Whatever you are celebrating we wish you a Holy and Healthy time Manny, Daniela, Dora Domenic

Don’t Let The Lightmeter Fool You

Scenes like this will really fool your light meterToday my daughter received her BA in German. The ceremony was inside at the University of Florida Sundome. When I went to take photos of the alumni under the tungsten lights my light meter kept telling me I was under exposed. That’s because all it saw was a sea of black gowns. I was exposing for the faces witch were about 2 to 3 f/stops brighter. Had I left the camera on AUTO the faces would have all been grossly over exposed. The meter wanted to make all those gowns a neutral grey. Always be mindful of situations like this. If your subject is against a white or black background or clothing your sophisticated camera meter becomes brain dead.

Capturing the fun and excitement with Diagonal composition

Let’s Trash The Dress!

One of the newer trends in wedding photography is the “trash the dress” photo session. Although it’s been around for some six to eight years just now it’s beginning to catch steam. This is a photo session that takes place after the wedding day. It’s a little bit of a misnomer because the goal is not to destroy the brides’ wedding dress. The goal is to take photos that on the wedding day might have wrinkled, dirtied, or possibly damaged the dress.
After the wedding you can take photos of the bride that would be off limits on the day of the wedding. As an example I have always wanted to take a photo of a bride on horseback. The problem is that when she gets off she might end up smelling like one. The bride and her father walking into church smelling like a horse would probably kill the ambiance.
I recently took my first trash the dress photos. We went to Weecki Wacchi Springs in Florida. The groom dressed up as well so we got photos of both. I have to tell you that I really enjoyed it. We took photos of the bride and groom seated and laying down. We even took photos of the bride and groom in the river. Any photos that will get the dress wet should be done last. First do everything else you can think of. Once the dress gets wet it will take hours to dry it.
One thing to always keep in mind is safety. Doing things that can’t be done on the wedding day doesn’t mean doing things that could be dangerous. When going into the water I made sure there were no currents or fast moving water. I also chose a place that was only two foot deep. 
If you have someone that is open to the idea try it. It really does free you from the worry that the dress will get dirty. I still have not gotten a photo of a bride on horseback but I am working on it. When I do I can tell you it will be phenomenal.

Manny

Television Appearence

On Saturday, November 17 at 8 PM I will be a guest on Studio 10. This is a Tampa based CBS station. They are having a Christmas Special and I will be talking about getting better holiday photos.

Studio 10 interview

What Does Freedom Mean To You?


I recently came back from a trip to New Jersey. My family and I were guests at a wedding. I had a little time to myself and went to take photos of the new Freedom Tower in New York.
What started as a singular task soon turned more detailed and meaningful. As I was taking photos of the New York skyline with the Freedom tower in it I noticed a monument. I was at Exchange Place in Jersey City. The monument was dedicated to the Polish people and the massacre at Katyn, Russia. The Russians under Stalin murdered around 15,400 Polish Police, Intellectuals, and Military officers.
I am sure there is some symbolism or significance as to why the rifle is upside down. The officer is being stabbed in the back which is how cowards murder the innocent.
I placed the Freedom Tower in the background as a reminder that we are the beneficiaries of all whose blood has been spilled in the pursuit of freedom.
I then went to Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. From there I could get a different angle of the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty. I had just gotten there and was setting up to photograph a WWII statue with the Freedom Tower In the background and this elderly gentleman walked up and stood in front of the Statue. He leaned on his walking cane and put his head down.
Realizing he was a veteran I quickly took a photo. No sooner had I done so and he moved away. I ran up to him and asked if he was a veteran and he said he was. I thanked him for his service.
This photo speaks volumes to me.

The statue is if a WWII soldier carrying a victim of the Holocaust. The gentleman is leaning on his walking cane with head down in respect and possibly reflecting on his experience of war. The statue is looking down at him as if to say ” I know what you suffered”. I believe non of us truly know what a soldier who has seen combat has sacrificed or suffered. In the background is the Freedom Tower. This is what they fought for, our freedom.

So what photography tip can I give you today? Learn composition and lighting and using your camera on MANUAL. Practice till your camera becomes part of you and you don’t have to think about it. You just do it.  Some photo like the one of the statue and veteran last for only seconds. If you are not quick because you are fumbling with settings you will miss it. It will be like that fish that got away.

One last thing, next time you see a soldier thank him or her. It’s because of them that you are reading this in English.

Night Time Is The Right Time!

More and more I find myself taking engagement photos at night with the city lights as my   backdrop.

Night time sets the mood

 

I like the excitement and mood of the night life.  It looks very real and believable to me. I like the idea of capturing a couple going out on the town and having fun. Taking photos at night gives an entirely different feeling to the photo. It also opens up all new possibilities.

Use the buildings and the architecture as backdrops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I usually start the session an hour before sunset. This allows me to get photos using the buildings and architecture. I always compose for the background first and then add the couple. As it gets dark I like to capture the out of focus lights in the background. 

Remember to shoot wide, intermediate, and close up

Whether in daylight or night I like to take three types of photos. Wide angle, intermediate, and close-up. This gives variety to the photos. If the photos are going into a book you’ll have an endless possibility as far as placing them.

The more photos I take at night the more I want to take. It’s a whole new world.

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