I don’t have some fancy story about how I got into photography. I don’t have childhood memories of playing with cameras, didn’t take a class in high school, just bought a cheap film camera to take photographs of my girlfriend because she was hot, luckily I married that girl but that’s a different story. I moved on to college and got a degree and was luckily unlike some to not end up working at Starbucks while trying to pay off huge student loans. Instead I grew with a great company which allowed me the freedom to pursue my passion for photography but again I’m getting sidetracked.
Back to being self taught- no classes, no internship, just shooting and photography was so much fun. The only thing I knew about lenses were some could zoom in far and some could shoot wide, they had numbers on them that I could care less about. All I cared about were getting great photographs. Photography was fun.
Some photographers need the best camera and lenses on the market, I realized that the people with the best equipment are usually sub par shooters. My first wedding was shot on a point and shoot, and I got great photographs that are on the front pages of my portfolio today. I then got a Nikon for an anniversary gift, not knowing that meant I took a side in some crazy Jedi / Sith war against canon, something I’ll joke around about because that’s what were supposed to do, but I really don’t care. To be honest I wanted a panasonic but it was more expensive. So back to real cameras, I recently had my main camera break, I replaced it with a new one but in the process realized I somehow moved on past the good ole days when I had the confidence that I could shoot a wedding with a point and shoot and get great photographs. I’m in the process of going back there, I have a 3k camera in my bag right next to a $50 toy camera. They’re both real, they both take photographs, it’s up to me to make them great. Now a days people in the crowd have better equipment then the photographer shooting the event. Photographers need to accept that and accept the fact that it is their job to still get the best photographs.
So I guess it’s time for me to go back to the past. I love taking great photographs. I shoot for me and my clients, I’m sick of wasting time playing the Facebook game and getting people to like me, I’m sick of checking to see how many people look at my site or blog on a daily basis. I’m sick of trying to post a blog once a day to keep my site relevant. If I have some stuff to share I will, some weeks it might be 5 times, other weeks it may be none. I’m not here to bash blogging because I truly believe it is a great opportunity to get your work seen, I’m simply against unnecessary blogs that were done just for the sake of blogging. I believe there are some great photographers that bury their work. A great photograph needs to be seen, not stored away on some hard drive simply because the photographer is too afraid to adapt.
I’m not ashamed to be self taught. I’m not ashamed that if you ask me what the range is on the lens that I’m using that I may look down at it and read it to you. I’m not ashamed that I can’t look at a sunset and tell you what aperture setting and shutter speed would be ideal – but I can shoot it and get the photo I want to get. I’m not ashamed to admit it took me 40 minutes to figure out how to open the film backing of my used F4 I picked up, and that I ruined the first roll of film because I didn’t know I had to manually rewind it. That’s just all part of the process as I continue to grow into the photographer I want to be, not anyone else. If that means I have 5 clients a year then great, they’ll get my heart and soul put into their photographs. If I have 50 then they’ll get the same as well. Photography to me simply comes down to preserving memories, yet at the same time the heart of the photographer is also being caught in the image. Maybe that’s why we photographers care so damn much. So I’ll continue to show my heart through my images, whether through first kiss, mission-focused, eastlake church, or another photographer I may be assisting. The images are what matters, not the name of the group or business. So my encouragement to my fellow photographers is to simply keep shooting, don’t get caught up in the distractions. If you do your photos probably suck and you’re just too afraid to do anything to improve.
Hayden has been so excited about the NFL draft. He had a great time wearing his AFC West championship KC jersey around town this weekend!
Easter for my family involved some late nights, a new church, and a sick Hayden; therefore not too many photographs were taken. Deal with it 🙂
It’s been tough this past month since my main camera died. We had some great memories together. My main camera happened to go down close to the disaster in Japan which has made getting a replacement quite the ordeal. I finally got a shipping notification this morning, in about a week I will be fully armed again to continue my passion of shooting people. In the face.
OK, so I listen to Taylor Swift. I will also most likely be attending one of her concerts this year, whether in SD or KC. But defending that is not the point of this blog, mainly because i don’t think I really could if I wanted to. I started listening to country music probably 10 years ago. Before country was Soul Asylum, my all time favorite band. I have some great memories of going to Soul Asylum shows, the venues have changed: Long Beach Chili Cookoff, The Troubadour in Hollywood, the Hard Rock on Christmas Eve with my pops, all great memories! Thank God they still go on tour and I’m able to catch them every 2-3 years. I play Soul Asylum at work here and there, it’s fun to see people have recollections of this great band, a few even “like” them now on facebook. So this blog is for my memories, back with an old point and shoot camera just having fun remembering the good ole days . . .
Just having some fun with some new advertisements . . .
The first thing I find myself doing every morning as soon as I wake up is I check my email, then go onto facebook. I read past all the complaints going on and look for someone who posts something funny or creative, maybe just my desire to be inspired. I then check the few comments on my usual smart ass postings and then check the photos of Hayden to see how many people decided to comment on how cute he is. I then ask myself, am I using facebook to it’s full potential? Am I missing out on an opportunity to be “liked” and reach a broader audience and show them my work? People have become professional facebookers in the photography world, and we can no longer deny the fact that it works! People are wiping out their advertising budgets and are generating new clients through social media, so why am I just sitting back and watching it take place?
As a new photographer establishing a business my first thought was to work on my brand. After having a class on branding I was asked to think about what is more important to focus on, branding, or your reputation? My initial thoughts were that branding and reputation are synonymous. What I realized is making that the case is the goal.
To me branding is projecting who you are and what you want your business to be. Your reputation is who you really are, you can’t fake a reputation. We are at a crossroads between the old and new, brought mainly about by social media. I’ve come to recognize that the brand I build and project online will mean nothing without the reputation that must be the foundation. Foundation means everything to a business, do I want to rush mine and build on sand?
Reputation is built differently then branding. I can’t go online and post something funny that get’s a big response and stop there and have a reputation built. Anyone can post 1 great photograph out of 100 taken, but realize your client will see the rest, and it’s those remaining 99 that will establish your reputation.
I realized that I have made a lot of groundwork already in building a reputation. From the start I’ve treated every customer like they we’re my best despite what package price they ordered, something I will continue to do. I’ve been blessed to serve and donate my time and talents with free military family portraits as well as working with the team at Mission-Focused to document God’s work being done. Again, the fact that there was not a penny paid does not reflect in what I provide them. I am blessed with some great testimonials from my clients stating that I went above and beyond their expectations. I have a good foundation to work with, now I need my brand to represent that.
So my bottomline is this. I absolutely believe photographers need to build their personal brand. I believe that like it or not people will book a photographer based upon your image, your personality. They are booking YOU. If you ignore that then you will get passed by. However, don’t let building that be your end result, succeeding at your craft and exceeding expectations should be. If you achieve that then your clients will have lasting memories, and you will have repeat business. Make sure your brand and reputation do become synonymous. Have better use of time management – could the time you and I spend on facebook / twitter / linkedin be used to provide an even better product and experience for our clients? Lastly: Be Original – it’s very tempting to copy someone’s branding tactics that work. To be honest people are getting rich off of encouraging others to mimic them, truth is they know they will fail because it’s not authentic. People can tell when you’re being you and when you’re trying to be someone else. Find yourself.