Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Photography - How to succeed part 2

Last week I wrote about providing the clients what they want. Today I am going to spend some time going over another key area in being a successful photographer – working with your clients during the shoot. If you shy and want to hide behind your camera, shooting people is not where you should be. But photographing products, nature or architecture may be a better area for you to specialize.

Unless you are shooting a professional model, most people need direction to create a photograph that they will love. You will even hear the person say “I hate having my photo taken” or “I’m not very photogenic.” Getting to the root cause of these thoughts will help you create the images desired.

I go for the direct approach by asking “What makes you feel that you are not photogenic?” or “Why do you hate having your photo taken?” Very often their answers will be easily addressed during the session. Sometimes it just creative posing and other times it is going for the less staged portrait. The key is to understand their concern and relieve it.

To get natural smiles I have a running dialog during the shoot, telling really bad jokes and general being a bit silly. Sometimes I talk about movies or TV. Just find an interest of theirs and talk about it. This will take them away from thinking about the photos and get them relaxed enough to create great photographs.

You may have seen that commercial where the dad says “I know all the songs from High School Musical.” The child is embarrassed by the singing and dancing dad. But by being aware of the world of your subject you can relax them. Shoot younger kids know Sponge Bob. You get the idea.

Another thing to consider is shooting with music. Have clients bring an mp3 player of their favorite songs to patch into the sound system. If they don’t bring one, ask what station they want on the radio.

And of course, getting feedback as soon as possible helps so much. Some photographers hate showing the clients the LCD. I find that limited use can be a huge benefit. Nothing works more to put a client at ease then showing them a great shot on the LCD.

And of course a running commentary on the shots helps too. I am always saying “Wow!” or “Amazing!” or “This is a great shot” etc. Your positive chatter boosts your client. And the best part is, you should being telling the truth. These are great shots of the client.

So what it comes down to is making the client feel comfortable. You need to remove the stress and make the photography session a fun experience. You need to very quickly develop a relationship with the client. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with a lot of very successful photographers and thoughts are common across the group.

Orcatek Photography - Phoenix

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Photography - How to succeed

How to succeed as a photographer is a question that I am frequently asked. Typically people want to know what kind of camera the need, or what Photoshop tools to use. The answer I give often surprises them.

First learn how to take a good photograph. The take an art class and learn composition and color. Then get a basic understanding of how to control light. Finally learn how to use your camera in manual mode. Now you can take photographs, but this will not make you successful, merely qualified to be a photographer.

To be a successful photographer you need to know how to work with your clients. Being able to read their needs and desires for a photography session is critical. If you merely meet their needs, they won’t leave happy. You want happy customers, as they come back and they also send you referrals.

Being successful is not about up selling your clients into huge portraits. Sure you make a profit, but you don’t build confidence. Sell a client what they really want, not necessarily what they ask for, and they will be very happy.

For example when a client comes for a portrait session I will ask what they plan to do with the photograph. Are they going to need prints for family and friends? Where in the home will the photograph be hung and how large is the space. This allows me to suggest the proper size for the space, typically larger than they thought, but on occasion smaller.

For the friends and family prints I discuss with them the option of acquiring digital files to print themselves or I can do the prints if they would prefer the convenience and quality control. Most clients will get the “important” prints done by me and use the digital file for email and secondary prints.

Providing the client with what they want is only a small part of being a successful photographer. Next week I will continue with part II on this topic.

Orcatek Photography – Phoenix

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Automobile and Motorcycle Studio Photography

Motorcycle or photography in the studio presents some interesting challenges. For this week I will take a look at some of the many options for dealing with these details.

First of all cars are big and don’t move easily to “adjust their pose”. Motorcycles are a bit simpler to photograph as they can move easier, but cars or trucks are just a whole lot of work. Careful planning is required.

The first thing you need is a studio that has enough space to hold the car and allow you to get far enough away to shoot it. If the photographer is too close you will need to use your wide angle lens leading to shots where the vehicle will have a huge front end for example. Sometimes this look can be what you want, but more often than not, it is problematic. I prefer to be a good 20 or more feet to keep proportions correct.

For moving the car around the studio, car wheel dollies are great. One goes under each tire and you can jack it up then basically push the car in any direction that you want, even spin it in a circle. They are not a cheap tool, but if you shoot a lot of cars, they are well worth the investment.

Lighting is another key. You need a large soft light from above for most automotive work. Since I shoot on white, I have painted my light stands and cords white to hide them in reflections. Nothing more annoying than a beautiful white highlight on a car with a light stand jumping out at you.

The other most difficult thing to deal with is reflections. The whole automobile is one great big mirror. Chrome on motorcycles can be even worse. And of course the classic black hot rod looks great, but shows everything. A very clean studio area is critical. Anything that must remain should be pushed as far away as possible from the car. This includes yourself and your assistants.

I actually have my assistants step off set behind a wall in my studio. I wear black to help hide my reflection. Another reason for keeping the photographer to automobile distance large during the shoot, is that it makes the reflections much smaller and easier to deal with in post.

Feel free to contact me with any questions. And if you are in the Phoenix area, I do rent my studio to other photographers.

Orcatek Automotive and Motorcycle Photography

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Couples Fine Art for the Boudoir

When a couple comes to my studio for a boudoir session, they often don’t really know exactly what they want other than they would like to pose together. So the first thing I like to show them as a photographer is some of my couple’s fine art nude work.

Very often the fine art nude style is something they hadn’t considered but are very interested in doing some. They describe these types of photographs as “classy”, something they could actually display in their home for others to see.

Creating complimenting shapes with couples does present some extra challenges. You now have two bodies which you need to protect modesty. Additionally they both may have some physical attributes which they would prefer to be managed. However with careful posing and lighting, the photographer can create photographs which anybody would be proud to display in their home.

One method photographers like is to intertwine the bodies of the man and women, wrapping arms and legs into a twisted puzzle. I shoot tight, often making in a challenge to identify the body part owner’s in the photograph.

Another technique it to compare or contrast the same body part. Chests, backs and rears are all great choices for this style of photograph.

Fine art nudes are not typically thought of as boudoir by many, but adding them to the styles available to boudoir photography clients provides an opportunity for couples to create photographs that are tasteful and beautiful.

Orcatek Boudoir and Glamour Photography – Phoenix, Arizona