Monthly Archives: May 2013

All aspiring professional photographers should have a web site

 

Opinions will differ on whether you should have an html website or a flash website or a wordpress website. Each have there advantages an disadvantages. If you are just starting, ease in putting up a website is probably your main concern since funds may be a little tight. That’s one reason you might want to consider a wordpress site.

 

Develop a web site and a blog. WordPress is probably the most popular blog software and has tons of information available on how to set it up. Amazon.com has a large number of books on WordPress and some are free.
This is a link to a number of books, http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_9?url=search-alias=stripbooks&field-keywords=wordpress&sprefix=wordpress,aps,299 Wordpress blog sites can be had for free a wordpress.com. Such websites are not “.com” and would be hard to find through searches. Here’s an example of a free wordpress blog :  http://sgbode.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/our-pets-are-looking-for-someone-like-you/ You could still blog on the wordpress site and provide a link from your website. Blogs are extremely easy to update whereas websites are made up of static pages which can be changed but take more effort and time. You always have the option to register a “.com” name and use wordpress.org to build your blog. There are a myriad of plugins and themes available through the wordpress.org site, many of which are not available on the wordpress.com site. A number of themes must be purchased but allow for a much prettier site. You can have a website and a blog built with wordpress’es software.
I registered a domain name through http://www.namecheap.com/ Domain registration is relatively inexpensive. You will need a host server for a website. I use http://www.hostgator.com/
Cost will normally be under $100 a year. I suggest you download the following book from Amazon.com as a kindle book: How To Create A Website With WordPress And Start A Profitable Online Business: From Scratch Even If You Are A Complete Beginner http://www.amazon.com/dp/1481017195/ref=asc_df_14810171952468139?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&tag=pg-1583-100-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395097&creativeASIN=1481017195

The author also gives a link (in his book) to a series of videos he has produced on how to use wordpress. These videos are very helpful especially if you are new to the program.

No doubt you have been to a number of sites that use Flash. These sites usually open with a slide show and some will have music or something similar. Unless you are familiar with flash and other web software I’d recommend you have some set up your website for you. This is an example of a flash website http://basil.v01.marathonwp.com/. A good source for help in producing a nice website is http://www.marathonpress.com/ This company also specializes in direct mail pieces for professional photographers.
If you want to appear as a real professional a well designed web site is a must. You can refer potential clients to your site so they can see your work. Only show your best work on your site and show a a good variety. Do not use the same model over and over.

Photographer takes a walk down memory lane

As photographers we all start somewhere and we all have to have a first camera. Mine was a Yashicha 35GSN which I bought at the PX at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma during an army reserve summer camp.

Yashica Electro GSN

Yashica Electro GSN

This camera was extremely popular at the time. Yashica sold millions of them. If I remember correctly I paid somewhere around $80 for the camera in 1973. Being used to photographs taken by an instamatic I was blown away by the sharpness of the GSN. I had to dig deep into the archives but I found several images I know for sure was taken with the GSN.

images captured with Yashica 35 GSN

images captured with Yashica 35 GSN

images captured with Yashica 35 GSN

images captured with Yashica 35 GSN

The GSN was fairly automated for its day. You selected the aperture and the camera selected the shutter speed. There was no manual mode and no shutter speed control. The lens was fairly sharp on this camera and if used properly one could get good photos. I lived in a community of 500 in rural Nebraska at the time so I was pretty limited on subjects for my photography. I set up a darkroom in my bathroom and experienced the magic of a photograph coming up before my very eyes in the darkroom. I was hooked. I carried my camera everywhere. Within a year I had a chance to buy a Minolta SR1 from a colleague of mine. He had purchased it while in Viet Nam. I had an SLR and I was in hog heaven. Looking through a lens and taking a photo was so much cooler. The SR1 did not have an internal meter. One was attached to the outside of the camera.  I joined the Columbus Camera Club and learned a little more about photography until I moved in 1974.

Minolta SR1

Minolta SR1

I moved to Minnesota looking for a teaching job in the Twin Cities where I had student taught. The timing was poor. There had been a big layoff of teachers in the Metro and there were many experienced teachers looking for work. During the summer of 1974 I purchased a Rollei twin lens reflex and I entered the word of medium format photography. I still have this camera today and it takes excellent photos.

Rolleiiflex twin lens

Rolleiiflex twin lens

I moved back to Nebraska that same year and took a teaching job in a small town 20 miles out of Omaha. I lived in Fremont Nebraska a town of around 22,000 at the time. I used my twin lens a lot and set up a darkroom in a closet. I shot my first wedding in 1975. The photos were taken with a 35mm and the Rollei. I didn’t have a flash so I used flashbulbs. To top that off I processed all the color film myself as well as printing all the images. All the film came out OK but I never realized how foolish that was until I had more experience. In 1976  we finally bought a home for around $17,500. The first thing I did is had my father-in-law build a darkroom for me. The darkroom had a light trap and I built a nice size wood sink which I fiberglassed to waterproof it. I had a carrier I built for my enlarger that would allow me to print up to 20×24’s by just dropping the print surface to a lower level. I joined the Omaha Camera Club and I was close to the start of a photographic career.

Below are several photos taken with the Rollei in those early years.

Images taken with Rollei twin lens

Images taken with Rollei twin lens

Images taken with Rollei twin lens

Images taken with Rollei twin lens

Images taken with Rollei twin lens

Images taken with Rollei twin lens

 

Photo from Rollei twin lens

Photo from Rollei twin lens

Photo from Rollei twin lens

Photo from Rollei twin lens

The rollei always produced a good image. It was probably one of the best built cameras I ever owned and it could take a real beating. I dropped it several times over the years with no damage. Try that with the new digital cameras.I purchased a Minolta SRT 101 in 1976.

Minolta srt101

Minolta srt101

It was my favorite 35mm camera. The metering system was match needle and it was pretty accurate. The Minolta has a special place in my heart because it is the camera I used to make my first dollars with a camera. In 1976 during the summer I was driving out in the country around Columbus Nebraska and I came upon a sign that said “Black Powder Shoot” I drove down into the clearing where the encampment was and got out and started taking pictures of all the participants which were dressed up in buckskins and various blackpowder  paraphernalia. I returned to my darkroom where I processed the film a printed a number of 8×10’s on GAF Indiatone paper. I returned the following week to another blackpowder shoot and sold enough photos to buy myself a blackpowder Mississsippi rifle. I still own that gun and I shot a deer with it. Below are several photos taken with the SRT 101.

photograph taken with a Minolta srt101

photograph taken with a Minolta srt101

A picture similar to this was entered in the Omaha World Herald weekly photo contest and it won.

photograph taken with a Minolta srt101

photograph taken with a Minolta srt101

The image of the skier was entered in N4C a council of camera clubs where it won an award. That fall I entered a number of images at the Nebraska State fair and took home 3 trophies. I knew what I wanted to be and I was on my way. In 1977 I made the big leap. I bought a Mamiya RB67 with a 127 mm lens. It cost me $560 which at that time was a lot of money.

Mamiya RB67

Mamiya RB67

I had to convince my wife it was a good idea because it would make me money. This the common story with many photographers. Their hobby gets expensive so they have to do some business to pay for their toys. I advertized  a special in the local paper. 5 8×10’s for $25 bucks. Not exaclty a big money maker but it got me started. My first customer was a mother with her child. I did the session out at Fremont Lakes which was very colorful that autumn day. When I got the proofs back I found out I forgot to turn the revolving back and most of my images had a portion of the head cut off. I had to call the client up and do a second session. The early RB’s had no indicator in the viewfinder that would tell you whether you were shooting vertical or horizontal. It was a lesson I learned early and the mistake saved me from more serious mistakes in the future. My next gig was a wedding. My ex-wife’s sister was getting married in MInnesota. We used the RB and my Rollei to do the pictures. My results were pretty good considering how little experience I had. By then I had a Pentax potato masher strobe and at least a rudimentary idea of what to do. Being a teacher I managed to pick up a gig or two photographing seniors. I didn’t have the studio lighting down very well and preferred outdoor photography. Sounds a lot like today’s newbie photographers. Slowly I built clientele and by 1979 I was doing about $12,000 a year in sales. I bought a different house in 1979 and put a camera room in on the main level. That fall opened up my studio and to my surprise a couple of high school girls showed up at my door wanting senior pictures. Of course I was excited as all get out. My wedding business picked up enough to cover my expenses and I was making a small profit.  I went to a Donald Jack seminar the following year and put out a brochure mailer based on his ideas that next fall and my numbers started growing. I went to the bank and borrowed money for two photogenic studiomasters . (the only time i ever borrowed money for my business.) In 1982 my senior business exploded. I booked over half the senior class from Valley the school district I taught in. My sales reached $37,000 that year. I continued 2 more years running a studio while I was teaching. There were days I was so exhausted that I felt like crying. I finally hired a friend of my ex-wife’s to help out with orders and things got better.

In 1984 I resigned my teaching position and went full time. Little did I know that I would be filing for divorce by July of the following year. Suddenly I was down to one income instead of three which included my ex-wife’s. My back was against the wall. I had to make it work. I hired another young lady to help me in the studio that summer and we had a great business year in spite of the emotional upheaval caused by the divorce. I added some Mamiya M645’s to my business.

Mamiya 645's

Mamiya 645’s

The primary reason I purchased m645’s is that they were much better for wedding work and in the studio you got 15 photos per roll of film instead of 10 that you got from the RB. I was using a lot of film and this saved me some money. 1986 was a bad year for the farming community and sales dropped considerably. I barely photographed a 100 sessions,  down from 140 the previous year. It was then that I decided that I might want to prepare for the worst and work on another degree. I didn’t want to teach any more so I decided on a Masters in Agency Counseling. By 1986 I was dating my present wife and in September of 1987 we got married and we moved into Omaha. She worked in a nearby town and I continued the studio operation in Fremont. 1987 was a good business year as I cleared over $32,000 but driving expenses were eating me up. We decided to buy a house in Ralston and put a studio in the basement. Starting a photo studio is a new town turned out to be a lot tougher than I thought. Business was slow for several years until I built clientele. By 1992 business had slowed in both locations and I decided to do some telemarketing to improve the cash flow. The economy sucked at the time  but I knew my future was in the Omaha area not Fremont. It was a tough decision but i decided to add on to the building and put a new camera room on the lower level along with a new outside entrance. The addition had no windows and just a set of double doors. It measured 25′ by 15′ . The total addition ran a little over $20,,000 and I had to borrow $5,000. This was the best investment I ever made. By 1995 my numbers had grown enough in Omaha that I could close the Fremont studio. I sold the building and moved everyrthng to the Ralston Studio. I had duplicates of everything. The numbers kept jumping and by 1999 I sold close to a quarter million dollars of photos. I went digital that year. I purchased a Kodak dcs330 a 3 megapixel camera. With the lens I had over $4000 in the system. I was capable of 11×14’s and even 16×20’s as long as the head size was big. Then I took the big step. I bought a 6 megapixel Kodak 660 based on a Nikon F body. It cost me $12,000 used. I  was ready to go digital. The biggest problem not many labs were and the first year it was a struggle to find a reliable lab to print my images on a consistent basis.

Kodak DSCS 660

Kodak DSCS 660

I used the 660 for outdoor pictures and wedding group shots. Initially I used film for the large group shots and digital for closeups. As I developed more confidence in digital I dropped film all together.

Below are several examples of outdoor photos taken with the 660.

photographed with Kodak dcs660

photographed with Kodak dcs660

 

photographed with Kodak dcs660

photographed with Kodak dcs660

photographed with Kodak dcs660

photographed with Kodak dcs660

photographed with Kodak dcs660

photographed with Kodak dcs660

The 660 was as heavy as an RB67 and needed to be used with a tripod. Maximum ISO was 200 and it looked much better at ISO 80.It was like photographing with vericolor 100 outdoors.

From 1999 through 2001 things went very well until 911 hit. Competition was heating up as more people were going digital and by 2002 I saw the need for a boost in marketing so I signed up for “marketing bootcamp” which was held in Vegas that year. I did everything the instructor said and purchased all his marketing materials which set me back at least $3,000. Then I put together a $25,000 marketing campaign and my numbers jumped and my bottom line swelled with it. Things went real well in 2002 and 2003. In 2004 I went to “marketing bootcamp” again. People were catching on to this marketing stuff and numbers were starting to slip, yet I still did very well. Numbers were still pretty good in 2005 but by 2006 I saw big problems ahead for the industry as a whole. I began posting my concerns on a professional photo forum. Most pooh-poohed me and said that all you had to do is up your game. I predicted that if we had a recession many full time photographers would go belly up or switch to part time. I began planning for the inevitable and started planning for retirement. I cut out weddings in 2008 and cut back to 3/4 time in 2009. In 2010 I cut to half time and retired at the end of the year. During a 12 year period I had photographed over 3,000 seniors and 300 weddings along with families, pets, and special events. There were bad times during my career and there were good times. There were frustrating days and there were exhilarating ones. The 35 year trek was worth it.

 

 

 

 




 

Utah – A State You have to visit if you’re a photographer

Many people probably think of Utah as a dry state with lots of wasteland. That’s true in a way but some of the most awe-inspiring views can be seen in this state. It seems that every time you turned a corner a new vista appeared. We flew into Salt Lake City, rented a car and drove to Arches National Park. 

Arches Nation Park Utah

Arches Nation Park Utah

 

Utah- Arches National Park

Utah- Arches National Park

 

Utah- Arches National Park

Utah- Arches National Park

 

Utah- Arches National Park

Utah- Arches National Park

These scenic areas are massive and a photographer needs to include reference points such as people to give someone a feeling of the scale of the structures that are photographed. Because of the massiveness of the structures involved I selected a canon 5d mark2 because of its full frame sensor and a 24-105 lens for the bulk of my shots. In addition to that I carried a Nikon v1 with a 30-110 zoom. This eliminated my need to change lenses and minimize dust problems on the sensors.

We left Arches and headed to Northern Arizona and visited Monument Valley which is on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Most of the access to the areas we photographed were on dirt roads. There is a fee to enter the park. It is not a National Park. Many of the visitors did not drive the dirt roads but opted to go with a guide in vans or pickups.

My Nikon V1 came in  handy for photographing wildlife we saw in the parks. Of course a 10-400 lens on my can 5d mark 2 would have been even better but it would have necessitated a lot of changing back and forth of lenses something I try to avoid as much as possible.

This little guy was photographer near Aches national Park

This little guy was photographer near Aches national Park

Mountain Sheep Zion National Park

Mountain Sheep Zion National Park

Mountain Sheep Zion National Park

Mountain Sheep Zion National Park

Bison on Antelope Island Salt Lake

Bison on Antelope Island Salt Lake

Chukar Partridge Antelope Island in Slat Lake

Chukar Partridge Antelope Island in Slat Lake

Antelope on Antelope Island in Slat Lake

Antelope on Antelope Island in Slat Lake

Bison on Antelope Island Salt Lake

Bison on Antelope Island Salt Lake

There were a number of deer in Utah. Many were spotted while driving down the highway at high speeds and were not photographed because of that. We went to Zion National Park on the third day of our trip. The road going through the park cuts through the southern part of the park and to really see more of the park one would need to utilize hiking trails. We did follow a highway north that touched the edge of Zion which did give us access to some beautiful sites

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Zion National Park North Western Edge

The most stunning scenic areas were in Bryce Canyon National Park. Because of the massiveness of the scenic areas it is very difficult to illustrate the scale in a photograph.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Our final national park stop was Capitol Reef National Park. Each and every park on our trip was unique in itself. All were fun to visit and photograph. I  might comment that if you are 62 or older you can purchase a lifetime pass for $10 and it is good for any national Park and the pass is good for anyone in your vehicle. Capitol Reef has some great canyons that have roads leading deep into them. Hiking trails are at the end of the roads.

Entrance to abandoned Uranium mine

Entrance to abandoned Uranium mine

Located in Canyon at Capital Reef National Park

Located in Canyon at Capital Reef National Park

Capital Reef National Park

Capital Reef National Park

Capital Reef National Park

Capital Reef National Park

Our last park stop was Antelope Island State Park just outside of Salt Lake City. The island is actually a peninsula because water levels have dropped. The island has buffalo, mountain sheep, antelope, many water birds, coyotes, and chukars.

Antelope Island State Park

Antelope Island State Park

Antelope Island State Park

Antelope Island State Park

Antelope Island State Park

Antelope Island State Park

Last of all once you’ve visited all the parks take some time to visit Salt Lake City. Temple Square is absolutely beautiful. The temple was busy that day. There were 5 weddings going on. Many photographers were photographing the bridal parties outside the temple on a gorgeous day.

Temple square Salt Lake City

Temple square Salt Lake City

Temple square Salt Lake City

Temple square Salt Lake City

Temple square Salt Lake City

Temple square Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City Mansions

Salt Lake City Mansions

Salt Lake City Mansions

Salt Lake City Mansions

Salt Lake City homeless

Salt Lake City homeless

Salt Lake City homeless

Salt Lake City homeless

Salt Lake City Mansions

Salt Lake City Mansions

 

That’s all Folks! Visit Utah.