Feel free to provide any feedback you may have to help me make better videos in the future.
I hope this helps you out.
Photography talk about events, techniques, gear, and happenings in the world.
One of the most useful and underrated tools in this day and age is effectively using your calendar. For Phoenix Photography, the most critical tool to be used day in and day out is your calendar. From scheduling meetings, reminders, and appointments, it is imperative to stay on top of your business in order to be successful.
First and foremost, the most important person to the success of your business is your client. It doesn’t matter who it is, they all deserve the same attention and respect. Your potential client is counting on you to deliver what they want/need done. This means they need your time, they need you to be on time, and they need to know your turn around time. To this very day, I utilize Google Calendar and have a paper calendar next to my desk, — always, so I can glance up and look at my week and know what to expect.
It can’t be stressed enough; staying organized shows professionalism. How likely are you to take a doctor serious if you walk into their office and its dirty or cluttered? Not likely at all. So why is your client going to take you serious if you’re late or can’t remember deadlines? The key here is setting reminders. Within a computers calendar settings or if you’re on your phone, you can set reminders that will pop up and show you what to expect up to a week in advance. This is great because now you can prepare your equipment the night before a shoot. The reminder setting is like a special imaginary friend that reminds you to be your best.
Another great feature of ‘Calendars’ is being able to create a meeting/appointment/scheduled date for a shoot and invite the client to what you just created. After you invite them, an email is sent to them and if they ‘accept’ the appointment is now on their calendar and now reminds them. How sweet is that! It really is a disservice to both parties to not utilize something so simple and easy. You can even create different calendars that can be created and shared with significant others and keep it separate from your work calendar. ‘Calendars’ on your technology can even be color-coded.
For those of you who have been procrastinating or just have issues with time, take it from me. After 7 years in the business, it is best practice to take organization and time organization seriously. There are nothing but benefits when it comes to handling whatever calendar option you choose to go with. If you have any of your own calendar advice, feel free to leave a comment.
Let’s face it, in today’s Phoenix photography market, it seems like everyone that has a camera is a “photographer.” But don’t be duped. It takes years and years of hard work and training to become a master of any craft. I’m now riding on my 9th year of shooting, (has it really been that long!?) and even I still have so much to learn. Now don’t get me wrong, at the youngest of ages, talent has no boundaries. When searching for a wedding photographer, it is important to know what you’re getting into, and I will try to help clear the air.
So first, not everyone with a camera is a photographer, and you SHOULD NOT RELY on your friends or families recommendation (“Uncle Charlie can shoot your wedding; he just got one of those fancy cameras”). NO. Do not let this happen to you, you will regret it and your wedding photos will go down in a horrible blaze. My number one recommendation is to review and verify ANY photographers’ portfolio. I have even seen photographers use other photographers work as their own to help drive their own business. If you just gasped, don’t worry, I get chills every time I have to say it too. Your safest bet is to narrow down three choices you and your significant other like, then contact them and try to schedule a meeting and have a one on one. This will ensure your comfort in the decision you will end up making. A big issue everyone has when trying to find someone is the cost. Look, wedding photography is not cheap. Cheap prices, mean cheap photos, simple as that. Gauge the photographers quality to their rates, which is why I said find 3 choices you like and narrow it down. Maybe one photographer is better at communicating with you. Maybe one has a better package. No matter the subject, if you spend $1000, don’t be surprised if you end up with mediocre work. It’s your wedding day: food, liquor, venue, and photo are the big 4. No one will remember the food, liquor or venue, but they will remember the photos and moments you get to keep forever – don’t forget that.
The good news about Arizona is that luckily, there are a lot of successful and talented photographers to choose from. It’s a pretty big realization to be chosen to shoot someone’s big day when there are so many choices to choose from. Some shooters fail to realize that this isn’t just a job, it’s a privilege to be hired to document a couple’s wedding. A key take away here would be, if you meet a photographer that is not only good at what they do, but they can also show charisma towards you, it’s a sure fire synergy to hire them.
In my current state, I am pushing to shoot more weddings. Half of my work flow comes from the music and bar industry, and the late nights can only go so far, so to fill the gap, weddings let me be creative and I get to showcase peoples massive and beautiful parties. I have recently joined Wedding Wire and that page can be seen (click here) and I am also on Wedding.com and that can be seen (here). Most photographers year after year flow with the things they like to shoot, and right now, I really enjoy weddings. Hire someone that shines just like you.
I started shooting nightlife back in 2010. As you can imagine, there is a lot that can be said in 7 years of taking photos inside nightclubs/bars. I started as an amateur, but now as a professional photographer, the wisdom I have gained from shooting within the city walls should be shared. This post will be more for people who decide to visit Scottsdale, than an actual techy talk blog. Consider it a PSA of do’s and don’ts. The topics in this blog will be: what to wear, the types of people, locations, the food, the music, the experience, how to park, how to handle holidays and special events, and the growth of the city.
First thing first, what should you wear? Well, that all depends on what type of person you are and where you want to end up. Most bars or dive bars will let you in if you’re in flip flops or sneakers during winter or summer, while most clubs won’t let you in if you’re wearing sneakers or flip flops. During the summer, clubs still expect you to dress nice, even if it is a billion degrees outside. You can never go wrong with a button up, a dress, and breathable pants. Also, NEVER WEAR WHITE OR UNCOMFORTABLE SHOES. If you wear white anything, you are doomed. Just don’t do it, no matter how awesome your ass looks in those jeans. You will get them stained, somehow some way. And ladies, please wear shoes you can wear all night. No one wants to see you walking barefoot to your uber or cab with your high heels dangling next to your body. Those $200 Gucci’s are worthless at this point because you are definitely not impressing anyone.
One thing most people think of Scottsdale is that it is full of “douches and thousand dollar millionaires.” I have been working in the city at over a dozen places for the last 7 years. I have also traveled to a fair number of places in my life. Scottsdale, like any city, is going to have shitty people. But the latter has shown me that Scottsdale is actually pretty awesome with the crowd it brings in and the people that go out. I would say more than 90% of anyone out on any given weekend is out to have a good time with family and friends or looking to have fun in general. Maybe 2 times a year I come across real jerks, and I work about 6 nights a week all year long. Those are pretty good odds in my opinion. It doesn’t matter if you’re partying in Scottsdale or Vegas, you will always run into a variety of people with interesting personalities, and if you have any issues, just turn your cheek the other way, that’s what I do, and I’ve been well off so far.
When it comes to the music, probably every club is going to be playing the same music, which is essentially called, “Top 40.” That means every club will be playing what is typically popular on the radio at the time. On some occasions, some clubs will have special guest DJs that have a name to them, such as: Kaskade, Dada Life, or any other major electronic artist. These are typically ticketed events and should be purchased in advance. All clubs also offer bottle service. So if you find a venue you like best, or willing to try something new, it is typically better to buy a bottle or two and have your own private space for yourself or group that way you have a place to sit and not be jammed or shoved on the dance floor.
The experience at each location will differ. Each club has attractive staff, lights, great sound system, etc. To differentiate between each spot, you must see for yourself with: how did you like your customer service. Are the bartenders nice? Was security good? Were the drinks strong? Was the food good? Was the waitress attentive? Anything you would classify as appealing should be considered when planning a night out.
In an amazing trend that has occurred, most parent companies have deviated from being a direct nightclub and have broken barriers to also being a restaurant. It is an interesting concept, but one that works. By day and evening, locations serve food and show sports on their TVs. By night, these same locations turn into a hollering and crazy dance party. It is awesome to witness. When it comes to the food, not every location has a head chef or perhaps delivers the best quality in food. You can refer to yelp in checking places out in what people have to say before showing up. Planning ahead in any city trip is always a great idea. With Scottsdale being so small and easy to get around in the entertainment district, you will have no trouble picking a spot.
Scottsdale has done a better job at making parking easier for people, but unfortunately, most parking areas are valet, that means there is limited street parking. So here’s my advice. Uber or Lyft in, and Uber or Lyft out. If you have to cab, use Discount Cab as they are one of the more legit cab companies. If you’re planning on drinking, there is no smarter decision than this, simple as that. Always be safe than sorry, for you, your friends, and your family.
With the booming growth of the entertainment district in Scottsdale, a lot of special events take place now in Arizona. This means lots of tourism and lots of people. Take it for what it’s worth, plan ahead. If something is a ticketed event, get your tickets. If you need to be at a popular bar or club, get there early, or expect to pay a hefty (tip per head) at the front door. You can always try to grease the wheels, but if security doesn’t like you, you’re not getting in, so be nice. I always see people waiting in line and if they would have just arrived earlier, things would be different. Just trust me on this one. If you’re going out to a club, don’t expect to walk right in at 11pm. If you have a destination in mind, try to get their by 930-10pm.
Well that’s it! I hope my little insight will help you on your would be travels into one of my favorite cities in America. I hope you have a fun and safe time whenever you plan to visit.
Catch your attention? Good! You’re asking yourself, “How could he say such a thing! I achieve my goals all the time!” Well believe it or not, most psychologists have determined that once you say your goals out loud, you are less likely to achieve them. This mind puzzling realization was discovered on my drive to Las Vegas while I was listening to a TED Talk podcast. As a professional photographer, I set many goals on a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis, even stretching out to as yearly. So why is it that you should never say your goals out loud, and why should you set goals in the first place? Let’s dive in.
First, let’s make one thing clear, you should definitely have goals in your life, that’s what makes this life more fun! Second, DON’T TELL ANYONE! Okay, that second part is incredibly difficult. You are now in the digital age, you are on Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Instagram, I mean c’mon, you announce almost everything you do! But when it comes to your goals, you are only shooting yourself in the foot when you express the things you need to get done.
Psychologists throughout time have discovered that people who keep goals to themselves are more likely to succeed at them, while others that make goals and tell their circle, are least likely to succeed because they have now planted the good news in their brain and now they don’t feel that they need to work as hard to achieve them. Sounds crazy right? Wrong. This information is fact. In the TED Talk by Derek Sivers, he explains this in full detail.
“It goes like this: 163 people across four separate tests. Everyone wrote down their personal goal. Then half of them announced their commitment to this goal to the room, and half didn’t. Then everyone was given 45 minutes of work that would directly lead them towards their goal, but they were told that they could stop at any time. Now, those who kept their mouths shut worked the entire 45 minutes on average, and when asked afterward, said that they felt that they had a long way to go still to achieve their goal. But those who had announced it quit after only 33 minutes, on average, and when asked afterward, said that they felt much closer to achieving their goal.” – Derek Sivers
Let’s think about that for a minute…. If you’re asking yourself, have you been sabotaging yourself all these years, why haven’t you completed all those New Years resolutions, it’s because you announced them to everyone! In my opinion, you will have better satisfaction when you fulfill your goals in full secrecy and others see the achievements you have made. The key is to have goals, attainable goals, dream big, the only person holding you back is you. Goals will set you apart. Goals will turn practice into perfection. Goals will lift you up while the world tries to knock you down.
Make those goals, set high expectations, and keep doing your best. I’m in my 8th or 9th year now of shooting and when I look back at when I began, I can’t believe the quality and standards I had. To this day I have a list of goals next to my desk, and I see them everyday, and they will be accomplished, but you’ll never know what they are 😉
For the brief TED Talk video, check it out HERE.
I try not to limit my wedding spectrum to the Phoenix photography market, but more so the global market. Heck, I don’t really consider myself a wedding photographer. Though within the last 2 years, business has picked up, just not as local as I thought. Destination weddings might sound or seem expensive, but the reality is, for us photographers, it opens up a pandoras box of creativity, and costs about the same to the couple at hand.There are a few topics that I will be discussing, first: creativity. Then, the benefits of traveling, the skills you develop, and overall, stepping out of your comfort zone.
This year I have shot in Oregon, Cannon Beach, Page, AZ and Prescott, AZ to name a few. Upcoming and highly anticipated is Cancun, Mexico beach wedding. One of the absolute best things about going to new places is working with new climates and backgrounds. Every destination wedding I get booked for I always Google search the venue, area, and overall setting of where I will be. Google earth is also a big help. This preliminary research always helps me get my creative flow going. Since most photographers are visual people, the research helps me plan my attack on the big clients’ day. There is nothing worse than being caught off guard. In respects to creativity, constantly having new settings and locations will test your ability to come up with fresh ideas. In turn it will make you a better photographer.
Benefits of Traveling
When traveling for work, you get to do something most people don’t or cannot do for whatever reason there may be. Each destination wedding I get booked for, I find it a true blessing in disguise. Personally, I love travelling. Dependant on what you believe in, we get to experience this earth once, so any chance I get to see a new part of it, I jump at the opportunity, and so should you! When going to a location to work, I always make sure to arrive a few days early, or stay an extra few days pre or post wedding. This enables me to adventure the area and try out the locals food and hike the hottest spots. Again, doing research beforehand goes a long way. Finally, the more you travel, the more you are showing future clients how passionate you really are about what you do.
The comfort zone dilemma I can understand. Some of us don’t like flying, or being away from home for a few days because of our loved ones such as family and pets. Yes, I love sleeping in my own bed too, but sometimes, you just have to cut the rope and let yourself out of your bubble. If you have never seen the film, “Bubble Boy” I encourage you to do so. Just as it sounds, it’s about a boy trapped in a bubble that goes adventuring into the real world (keep in mind he’s been trapped in his bedroom his entire life). So the reference is a bit drastic, but you get my point. This stepping out of comfort doesn’t just apply to wedding work, you can apply this way of thinking to all aspects in your life. Most great inventions weren’t made by accepting the status quo. The ones that go out and take a chance are the ones that taste the fruit of life.
To wrap this up, destination weddings so far have been an absolute blast. I have seen some of the most amazing parks, beaches, overall settings I could have never seen if it weren’t for clients believing in me and taking a chance in my creativity. Any chance you get to be booked and go work somewhere, I say go for it. Just remember to pack accordingly to local weather, snacks, and double check all of your camera gear.
Here are a few selects from my adventures 🙂 Cheers!
Its been over 6 years now, diving into event photography. I have to say I have learned a lot over that time, but still have so much to grow into. The never-ending challenge of outdoing yourself is in my eyes, a true master of the art. Even the master was once a student, never forget that. I’m at a point now where I feel comfortable coaching those that want to learn, not just about photography, but about how to build their business and how to build themselves.
As with any business owner that begins to grow, you need to make plans in setting others up for success, because in turn, you will set yourself up for success. Not once should anyone think that you can handle all vital ‘operations’ on your own. For the most part, I do a lot of housekeeping on my own, such as bookkeeping, editing and so forth. But when it comes to developing individuals that can help shoot for you, with you, and assist in many aspects of your career, it is essential to share your knowledge. Now, there aren’t any real key words here that will stand out, and you definitely don’t want to set anyone up to steal your business, so knowing where the fine line is, well, important.
When it comes to your clients and network, I suggest keeping those items to yourself. BUT, if you have a client needing a food photographer, and you know a food photographer, and you’re not that good at food photography, maybe you should hand that job off, and perhaps assist as a trade for providing them that job. They get the check they deserve, you get the experience you deserve. Everyone grows. Building that foundation is the key. You can interpret that as you wish, but building a foundation for yourself, business, trust with others, or all of the above and beyond, will lead your hand to higher goals.
In the beginning, building the foundation meant having a proper website showcasing my portfolio, having business cards, and setting up the LLC. Now, building my foundation means developing other photographers, scouting clients, and investing in new technology that benefits my business and clients. I suppose the moral of the story is, building your foundation is never ending. Never stop growing. Never stop trying to outdo yourself. And while you’re growing, help others that want to grow too, because they just might show you something amazing that you didn’t know existed.
I picked up my first camera in 2003, initially, I began in the event photography world, shooting nightclubs. Since then, I have had my fare share of lenses. To this day, I am still an event photographer, but have definitely branched out across all platforms. In the never ending quest of becoming better, the reality is, a big part of shooting is choosing the right lens for the right job. This particular lens battle was one I had to test out myself, the canon 24 vs the sigma 24mm 1.4.
At first glance, they are both very similar in design and weight. But as I tested these in the nightclubs, or as I call it, ‘lifestyle shooting.” I instantly noticed major and minor differences between the two. In no particular order:
Cost: The sigma retails for about $850 while the canon hovers around $1600. We will come back to this shortly, but this is important to know before I get into the details of the lens.
Build: Both lens are built great, they feel good in your hand. The major difference with the canon is that it is ready for all weather, while the sigma is not. So, depending on what you’re shooting, the sigma might not be best for you. Since I shoot a lot of outdoor events such as: festivals, weddings, and concerts, the canon would be better for my needs.
Picture Quality: Bokeh, vignetting, sharpness – these are the things that I was on the lookout for while shooting. Not sure how to word it, but the canon did do better in all of the above. You really need to test it out for yourself, back to back to truly understand the difference and see it for yourself. The canon quality did blow me away, while the sigma was good, just not as good as the canon. I felt that the canon was more consistent with my shooting style and needs than the sigma could pull off.
To conclude, for MY needs and shooting style, the canon would be worth investing $1600 for, because I have tested both and fully understand the differences between the two, BUT, what are your needs? And can you justify the canon price tag? The sigma coming in at $850 is a true powerhouse lens that can deliver amazing results when utilized appropriately. Since my lifestyle shoots are back and forth between portraits and landscape, I found consistent results when using the canon lens over the sigma.
I encourage anyone interested in either lens to spend the $70 to rent both and see for yourself from your local camera shop. Feel free to discuss and let me know your thoughts or if you have any tips for readers out there. Check out the 4 sample photos below that are shot in real time, in an establishment, not studio based.
Being a professional photographer has come with its trials and tribulations. One of the most essential pieces of gear that is severely underrated to invest time, money, and thought into is mistakenly not your body or lens but the very device that is harnessed to your body while going out into the field. I call it the field for the sheer fact that ‘field’ is always known as outdoors. When you head out into the field with weight of equipment, or lack there-of, it is important to purchase the right bag for the job.
Currently, I own about 6 bags, and they all serve a different purpose and I don’t plan on removing any of them from my inventory any time soon. These range from backpacks of different sizes, to slings, to small item holders. Lowepro products have been very reliable in quality and I recommend them. Out of all the brands I use, they deserve a special highlight and recognition. Through all my travels, from dry lands to unbearable humidity, the zippers and bag fabric tends to hold up: even after throwing them into the washer.
Throughout my adventures, packing a proper camera kit in a proper bag is vital. I try to carry as little weight as possible. One tip includes double-checking your bag before you depart for a shoot. When I first started shooting, approximately 6-7 years ago, I was working with a model friend of mine. After the entire idea was set in stone, we planned the shoot. On the day of, she came over and we took my vehicle to the destination. My bag was with me but my camera was at home. I felt terrible, but she understood my error. We went back for the camera and did the shoot, but this shows that even with proper preparation, mistakes can still slip in.
After you’ve checked everything that you need, pack the bag accordingly. I try to avoid packing anything expensive (body and lens) at the bottom, since that is the area that gets the most abuse. A lot of recent bags on the market pack tougher bottoms, I don’t risk that idea so I avoid it altogether. Using your center of gravity as a guide, I try to pack upper middle of the bag with proper weight distribution. The goal is to feel comfortable when you walk and not have anything on your body hurting, specifically your neck and shoulders.
And finally, try to not look like a photographer and boast this HUGE camera branded bag if you are traveling to unfamiliar areas. You just made yourself a bullseye for criminals. Looking discreet is key and only whip out your camera when you need it. On my bag I have 2 locks on zippers to make it more of a pain for anyone wasting their time on me.
If you have any bag recommendations or questions, let me know!
As a professional photographer who specializes in events, weddings, and festivals, I can’t afford to miss a beat. To run my business efficiently, I need to stay completely informed on upcoming appointments and scheduled sessions, and I rely on the convenience of a number of apps to keep me up and running. They are as follows:
This comprehensive calendar system allows me to set reminders and alerts that keep me on point. Another advantage of iCal is its integration with email—if I want to invite others to a particular event on my schedule, it’s as simple as the press of a button to spread the word and promote it.
As a business that deals primarily with people and my photos, I need a file transfer system that is cloud-based, efficient, and easy to use. Since Google is basically a household word these days, most of my clients know how to access Google Drive. This makes it really easy to send them proofs and slides, to share access to their folders, and provide links to files that are too big for email. Google Drive makes large file sharing basically effortless, and I don’t have to worry about images getting delayed in an email system because they are too large to send.
My clients love the collaborative nature of sharing Google drive, as it allows them to stay in the loop during the entire process and have quick and easy access to their images at every step. They can also send the google drive links to coworkers if photos need to be spread within their network.
Google My Business and AdWords Express
Google My Business in coordination with AdWords allows me to create ads easily and view analytics almost instantly from my iPhone. Really, Google has changed the entire game for my SEO (search engine optimization) and overall online business presence.
We all know Google is a huge organization and it’s usually very difficult to rank for competitive keywords like “professional photographer” during a search. But AdWords changes that for the better, and gives my business instant exposure to keep me relevant in search results.
With their pay-per-click advertising set up, I can design, publish, and analyze my ad’s effectiveness and choose where and how I spend my advertising dollars. Plus, Google uses its own analytics and Quality Score algorithm to determine where and when my ads get displayed. This helps with relevancy and prevents my pay-per-clicks from going to waste with people who were never really searching for a business like mine in the first place. Google AdWord’s ensures that my pay-per-click advertising is relevant and worthwhile.
Some of the benefits of using AdWords include:
1. Effortless monitoring and adaptability of your digital marketing campaign, where every parameter is quickly measurable. You get instant access to mobile search, display network, and Google search engine results.
2. Faster and more comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) that directly translates to more business without the need to wait months for your site to climb in the rankings organically. Depending on your keywords and their relevance to your site, sometimes climbing in the search rankings is a very remote possibility at best—but with AdWords, it’s almost instant gratification.
3. Advertising cost control means you get to choose how much you invest each day, and you have a very good idea as to where your advertising dollars will place you in relation to your competitors. Google lets you in on how your investment can increase or decrease your visibility depending on your expenditures.
Facebook For Business
If you don’t use Facebook for your professional photography business, you’re really missing out on some easy, inexpensive (or free!) advertising. Facebook provides a convenient platform for sharing and storing images easily online, which in turn promotes your website and your business. It’s great for promoting events because most event planners have already created their own Facebook events and invites.
When you promote a Facebook event that you’re working, your business immediately gains more visibility each time you post a picture that gets a “like” or “share” from the group. It’s extremely interactive, allows you to keep track of and communicate with your fans and followers, and for the basic version, it’s totally free.
I’ve put some serious work into finding the perfect balance in productivity software and an internet advertising campaign, but the increase in overall efficiency and visibility in my business have made it well worth the effort.
If you have any apps that have helped you out or you think the world should know about, comment below and let us know!