Yervant and Anie - The Photography Symposium 2016

“All good things must come to an end” and no better way to sum up the second day of Yervant and Anie’s Photography Symposium. This event rolled through Toronto as one of its many stops on June 15th, 16th and 17th.  I attended the event for 2 days and there was a master class on the third day which I opted out of.

It was an incredible experience and one I won’t soon forget. If you do get the chance to attend this event in your city, I strongly advise you do check it out, you won't be disappointed. Yervant and Anie put together an unbelievable program packed with a wealth of information, knowledge and not to mention an incredible line up of 6 industry professionals all experts in their particular area of photography. It took place at The Berkley Field House, a truly beautiful venue. It was geared at a smaller more intimate group of about 60-100 attendees which I feel was the perfect amount.

The two days were jam packed with information and personal stories and at times, astonishingly emotional and honest moments.  Yervant speaking about wedding photography and making us laugh hysterically.  Joe Buissink sharing his incredibly moving story of his childhood and why he is so passionate about wedding photography.  Sue Bryce sharing her brilliance on posing your subjects.  Michele Neal Celentano and her insistence on existing in your photographs because of her beautifully moving story.

There were a couple of common threads that were strung through these two days of presentations and stories. These recurring threads seemed to be:  if you work hard at your craft, you can achieve whatever it is you want for you and your business and you are worth it so charge your clients what you feel you are worth but keep in mind, you must deliver on that promise.

One thing in particular really struck a chord with me, the presenters kept re-iterating was with regards to printing your work.  Then I thought about it and we don’t print our work nearly as often as we should! You MUST print your work.  Preserve those moments in time through print as you never get a second chance to go back and relive those moments.  They are fleeting!

Remember, it’s not a photograph until it’s printed!  This statement really reverberated me and reminded me just how important it is for us photographers to print our work. Not only are you helping yourself but you are also helping to preserve our industry.

Jumping To Conclusions - You Never Know Where You Will Land

I read something the other day and it really stuck in my head. Never jump to conclusions because you never know where you might land. I believe that saying to be so true. You could be walking down the street and see someone and completely dismiss them because of how they look or how you perceive them. Meanwhile, they could be one of the nicest people in the world you just never know.
How about when we haven’t heard from someone for a long time? Could be someone we may know but not very well and all of a sudden they reach out. Most of the time this may result in us jumping to the conclusion that person is looking for something or wanting something from us. I am guilty of this misnomer.
In some cases we can be very quick to dismiss a person as we may think they are only reaching out because they want or need something from us, so why bother. Speaking from my own experience, you shouldn’t immediately dismiss a person because of a hunch you may have.
I had a former co-worker reach out to me recently. He was asking me for a favor. He was wanting me to connect him with one of my LinkedIn connections. Now, we weren’t great friends at work however we were acquaintances and we would exchange pleasantries and minor chit chat when we did see each other so I thought sure why wouldn’t I help someone if I am able.
In messaging back and forth, I learned his wife works and has worked at art galleries in the area and he asked me if I would like to be connected with his wife as he knew I was a photographer. He told me the art gallery she works for is looking for a photographer to do some pro bono work for them as they are a not for profit gallery. I gladly accepted his offer and in doing so he had also stated he would speak to his wife about the possibility of getting my art work into some galleries or at the very least she could provide me with info and guidance on how to go about doing so in the proper way.
I guess my point is, we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss people in any situation. One, it’s always nice to help someone out who is in need and two, you just never know who this person might know that could perhaps not only return the favor and but may be able to help you out when you need it. There is not cost for kindness, share it!

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Testimonials - The People's Written Word

The other day I came across a question posted on social media, asking who uses client testimonials on their websites and why or why don’t you? The responses to this post were quite varied. It started me thinking, having just revamped my website and added a testimonials section to it. My previous site did not have a testimonials section but I had wanted one for quite some time.

I personally am pro testimonial. Now, I am strictly speaking from a photographer’s view point on this topic, of course this whole testimonial thing would work for a lot of different businesses. If a client takes the time to write a testimonial about the service or product you provided for them, why wouldn’t you post it up for others to read with the intent of bringing in additional business. It’s showcasing, in written word as opposed to visually, your work ethic, who you are as a business owner and your skill set. It shows potential clients that you and your work are appreciated and valued. It tells people what type of business you are running, how great you are to work with etc. and I think it’s a great idea to have feedback posted for others to read when they come to your site and are shopping around for a photographer.

I guess there are two sides to this coin though and these two sides beg the question: do testimonials work and serve their purpose? Basically testimonials are marketing, promotion and exposure for you and your business. When it comes down to it you and your talent are being put in the spotlight.

The other side of this, are the written words in your testimonials section of your website totally fabricated or complete bullshit? How is the client to know these statements are coming from actual people? Is there an ounce of truth to any of it?

Just some food for thought ad I would love to hear other people’s opinions on this topic! So what are your thoughts on the testimonial?


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Portraits - Non-Photogenic People

Let’s be honest for a moment here when speaking about portraiture in reference to our craft from our side of the camera. I think I can speak for most photographers when I say that at some point in our careers we have come across some people who, to put it bluntly, just aren’t photogenic.

That’s not to say they aren’t good looking people, it’s just they don’t look good in photographs. They just are NOT photogenic. There are also people who don’t look the greatest in person but happen to look great in photographs. Perhaps even more so once we photographers have injected our magic touch into the image.

When we happen to come across these non-photogenic types in our work, we still have a job to do. We can’t say to the client, sorry you just aren’t going to look good in this photograph no matter what I do. We still have a job to do and the job is to capture a great image of this person and make them feel good about themselves during the process. We want them to be pleased when they see the final product. How do we go about it in difficult situations such as these?

What I tend to do is speak to the client as I am working with them. Help them to loosen up and feel comfortable in front of the camera, provide encouragement and direct them in terms of posing. Looking at it from their point of view, it’s uncomfortable for most people being in front of a camera so do all you can to make it easier for them and give them a boost of confidence. Secondly, use the tools you have at your disposal such as lighting. When it comes to posing your subject, use your experience in this area and of course your expertise behind the camera. Finally, use your post production tools, your editing program(s) of choice to ensure an esthetically pleasing end product for your client.

When all is said and done, as photographers the responsibility is ours to make the entire process an enjoyable one from start to finish for the client and of course yourself. If you aren’t pleased at any point during the process it will definitely show through in your work.

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