Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"I Can See For Miles"

"I Can See For Miles"
©David A. Ziser

I made this image while in Yosemite this past May. We had the weekend off and headed to Yosemite on Saturday. The time of the year was perfect for a visit to one of our country's favorite national parks. The snow had started it's spring melt and the waterfalls were flowing at full force. The park was alive with all it's best features. On the way out, we discovered that the road to Glacier Point had just recently opened. Glacier Point offers some of the most spectacular vistas of Yosemite. That was going to be our last stop for the day - we weren't disappointed. This image was made from the perfect spot to capture all the majesty of Yosemite. It is a panorama composed of 16 shots offering a nearly 180 degree view of the Yosemite valley. Check out today's Technique Tuesday for how it was done. Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark II fitted with 24-105mm lens at 28mm, F11 @ 1/320 second, ISO 250. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: Panoramas Done Easy- Part 1

Good Late Afternoon Everybody,
First the good news - my first Webinar Wednesday, "5 Burning Questions...",[link] is shaping up to be a very cool program with "tons" of great info on lighting, camera settings, wedding inspiration, and more. I've spent about 8 hours getting it together so I'm stoked to see how you like it.

Webinars are like seminars - only I'm not physically in the same room with you - only my voice and presentation. You can even ask questions via the chat screen on the GoToWebinar app. I have to admit, this is a test run for bigger things down the road. I'll open things up at 1:45 P.M. EDT (5:45 GMT) so we can start on time. I tend to go over, time-wise, on these Webinars so you will get a little more "bang for the buck". Anyway, I hope to see you there. Remember, you can sign up - right up to the last minute - pretty cool.

Now the bad news..... I've been dealing with Camtasia issues and computer issues all day. And try as I might to post today's Technique Tuesday, it just wasn't meant to be. And to add more road blocks to the plan, I've been back to back with scheduled clients and studio appointments. It's just been one of those days. So, here's the plan. I've posted the text of what I am planning to cover in my post on panoramas. The video will post later - probably tomorrow - telling the rest of the story. So give the post a read and I'll give you and update on the video tomorrow. Sound OK? Good, here we go.

Panoramas Done Easy - I Can See For Miles
In today's tutorial I want to discuss panoramas. I really been having a great time experimenting with them in Photoshop CS4 these last couple of weeks. I found that the other versions of Photoshop aren't near as effective as the latest, greatest version.

When most people are photographing images for their panorama one of the key rules is to keep the camera perfectly level. Although that is the recommended way to create a pano I think it's okay to break the rules now and then. But, I'll save that for a future tutorial.

In this tutorial - let's head back to my visit to Glacier Peak at Yosemite National Park. From that wonderful vista I made several pano images simply by turning to my left and then scanning to my right keeping the center focus spot position on the horizon - no tripod, all hand held, You would think that might complicate the process for Photoshop CS4. The reality was that CS4 did a great job in the stitching process and the result was a wonderful panorama.

OK, that was my "down and dirty" method. If you want to make panoramas the correct way here are my 9 tips to obtaining great panoramas simply and easily:

Hit the "Read More..." link below for Video Tutorial and the rest of the story.

1. Place your camera on a tripod with a leveling head and be sure that the camera is perfectly level.

2. When making your sequence of shots be sure to overlap at least 20% of the preceding frame with the current frame.

3. Use a medium focal length lens when making your sequence of images. I have occassionally used a wide angle lens for some very cool and interesting panoramas.

4. Experiment around by using your camera in the vertical position when scanning the same panoramic landscape to get even a higher resolution.

5. When starting your series of images from the left, First make an exposure of your left hand. Finish your pano series with a shot or your right hand. Now it's easy to find the pano shots from the day's shoot.

6. Also, it's best that your camera is not in auto-exposure mode. Determine what your best exposure will be for your panorama then set the camera to manual mode with the correct f-stop and shutter speed. This assures consistent exposure for the entire pano.

7. It is also best not to change focus when shooting your panoramas - that means setting your camera to "manual" mode after establishing your main focus point.

8. I choose to import the images into Lightroom for the final image tweaking. Find the most representative image of your sequence and give it your best efforts. Now sync all the rest of the images in the sequence to that image.

9. Now you are ready to go. Select all the images you want to be part of your panorama, hit Photo -> Edit In -> Merge in panorama and let Photoshop CS4 take over. Photoshop will fire up and offer you many pano stitching choices. I just let CS4 handle the entire process automatically and I've been very pleased with the results. We'll have to explore the other panorama possibilities in a future post.

Want to see how it all comes together? Then just hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show. Next week I'll show you what happens when you break a rule or two.

P.S. In a previous post at DigitalProTalk, entitled, "A Very Wide View", one reader has a suggestion for some pano of stitching software that they thought were good choices too. Here are the links to those other software suggestions - PT Gui Pro $115 [link] and Panorama Factory $79 [link]. I haven't had a chance to try these yet so I'm only sharing the info and will have to take the commenter's word for their reliability.

Hey everybody, that's it for me today. Come by tomorrow for Webinar Wednesday, "5 Burning Questions...", [link] - You still have time to register! See you then, -- David

Monday, June 29, 2009

"Three Happy Faces"

"Three Happy Faces"
©David A. Ziser

Again, one from the archives - I stumbled upon this great photograph of these three little ring bearers just recently. It was one of those moments that was just great to capture for the bride and groom. We had finished our regular series of photographs and I remember just wondering the church looking for other special moments of the day to record. I walked into the church sanctuary and found these three boys just hanging around. I saw them, they saw me and I grabbed the shot. I think we've got a great candid of these three kids -- a wonderful addition to any wedding album. Camera specs; Hasselblad 500 CM fitted with 80 MM lens, F2 .8 at 1/60 second, Kodak Vericolor 400 film. Enjoy! -- David

Quick Hit Monday: Jasmine Star - One Of The Best; A Creativity Workshop; Media Life Expectantcy; Twitter Ediquette; and Geek Technique

Good Morning Everybody,
We had a great time at the wedding this past weekend and spent more time enjoying the wedding than shooting images. I was trying to get something going with video on my 5D Mark II but it was a bit more frustration than quality as the final result. I plan to keep plugging away till I get it solved - I'll keep you posted.

Anyway, lots of good stuff from me again this week. This week's Wednesday Webinar [link] is getting pretty full but, there is still plenty of seats left. If you are planning to attend, I recommend a computer with both a working microphone and speakers. It just makes the webinar experience that much richer. I'm starting to put the finishing touches on the presentation today - it's looking good.

'Nuff said, let's get right to Quick Hit Monday.

New Jasmine Star Interview
Since Crash Taylor featured me on his blog last October [link], I have been keeping an eye on what he's been up to. I love the concept that Crash has put together. He pulls together wide ranging ideas and imagery from wedding photographers from around the world once a week. It's cool to see how each of them approach their craft and their art from a different perspective. It's always worth a visit now and then to head over to Crash's place and see what he's up to.

I wanted to take the time today to encourage you to head over there for his latest post. This week he is featuring an interview with Jasmine Star. Jasmine is an energetic, talented photographer whom has developed quite a stir over these last few years.

Jasmine story is both illuminating and uplifting. She's originally a photographer who was going to law school but then decided photography with her passion. I love her photography to. Head on over to Crash's site and give her interview a read right here. Also enjoy a generous helping of her imagery and thoughts over at her blog right here - all good reading.

Marc Blake's Creativity Workshop
Last week I had mentioned a talented photographer and videographer, Marc Blake, who had produced the Westcott video that I featured in last week's Technique Tuesday. A few days ago I was on the phone with Marc discussing some other projects and the subject of his blog came up. I headed over to both his website -- link right here, and his blog entitled, "Marc Blake's Creative Workshop" -- link right here, and loved the images that he was featuring. Just spend some time scrolling through the images on his website and I think you be quite impressed with what you see. There are several gems in the mix.

On his blog, he has spent some time discussing some of his assignments which include traveling with the band Pablo Cruise recently. Scroll through several of his posts including one of my favorites, "Biblical Portraits." It's a nice peek into the creative mind of a working photographer -- worth the visit.

DVD & CD Media - Is It Fading On You?
So, how many of you have considered that your CD's and DVD's have been fading over the years. The fact of the matter is most people don't realize that there's a great difference between the quality of the CD's and DVD's being sold out there. To photographers, this should be a huge concern for us particularly when it comes to archiving your clients images.

I did quite a bit of research in those early days and found out that there were indeed some brands that were substantially better than others. As a matter of fact, Kodak, who was the maker of the film that I shot, was also manufacturing gold CD's at the time. Yes, they actually included a very, very thin layer of gold in the manufacturing process which gave them an extremely long life. You can still find them online. How long do they protect your data - 100 - 300 years!

I thought I would bring you up to date on some of the data that I had uncovered about six years ago. I recently received an e-mail from one of my suppliers that speaks to this subject. I strongly suggest that you check out this link right here. It includes a discussion of the first, second, and third rate CD and DVD media available. It discusses the longevity of that media and what to look for when purchasing CD and DVD media.

One of my sponsors for my Digital WakeUp Call tour, Delkin Devices [link], offers some extremely long-lived media including Blu-ray disks. Check out their White Paper on archival media right here. Media is not cheap, it's actually a bit pricey, but, I still think it's a small price to pay for preserving our images in the long term.

Twitter Etiquette - You Need To Know
Okay, many of you who are following me on Twitter know I have not been the best Tweeter out there. Frankly, I've been trying to find my way around both the significance and value of Twitter.

Last week I had the honor of being interviewed by David Warner of LensFlare35.com. LensFlare 35 is an audio podcast community for professional Canon photographers to stay informed. I'll let you know when the interview goes live.

Anyway, Dave and I had a great conversation for about an hour about Twitter before we even got into my podcast. It turns out he's quite the expert on the subject. He gave me some great pointers and my eyes were opened to just how viable this might be to our profession. As a matter of fact, I even "Tweeted" three times during our conversation. I know many of you think I'm crazy for even considering twitter but let me invite you to head over to SocialPhotoTalk.com.

SocialPhotoTalk.com is written by Aaron Hockley, a photographer and technologist living in Vancouver, WA. Aaron has fifteen years of experience in the technology industry and is part of the active tech scene in the Portland area. Aaron, a friend of this blog shows us neophytes how to get the best out of Twitter and goes a bit further in pointing out proper Twitter Etiquette as well. I had a nice browse through the site and found it quite informative. SocialPhotoTalk For Twittering ears who want to know more, let me point you towards Aaron's site right here.

Geek Alert! Wait There's More... About Lenses
I'm not sure how many of my readers receive the magazine Digital Photo Pro but I find it an extremely informative magazine. Not only do I enjoy the printed magazine, but you can also find all of the information online at DigitalPhotoPro.com.

Two recent articles spoke to the "geek" in me. One article described just what was under the hood of our high-tech auto focused, image stabilized lenses. Anyway, if you're into this kind of stuff it's a nice read right here.

And speaking of focus, DigitalPhotoPro has a second article on how to get exact focus with your auto focus lenses. Here is the link to that article.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. I've got a few things on the back burner that are moving to the front burner this week. One of the projects in my post on panoramas for tomorrow. I'll give you the low down on just how to create them simply and easily to get a great result. This just might be a piece you want to clip out and put in your keeper drawer. Anyway, check in tomorrow for the rest of the story. On that note gang, I'm signing off. -- David

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Working With The Lines"

"Working With The Lines"
©David A. Ziser

This image was also made as part of the KPPA a shoot this past Sunday. As you know, I'm a big fan of lines, shape, and form. I had originally started to set up the shot right outside the hotel lounge. As I surveyed the location, I was even more taken by the very strong lines leading up to the ceiling skylight. I immediately thought a low vantage point would be the best place to capture the long lines reaching to the skylight. What resulted was this very non-traditional bridal portrait. Still, I thought it still had quite a contemporary feel. Here was the challenge though. Look at the ceiling area at the top of the scene and also the side of the sofa. Had I used my traditional shoot thru umbrella methods such as my favorite shoot through umbrella method, the entire space - ceiling and sofa - would have been illuminated. To me, that would have been a major distraction in the composition. How do I eliminate the lighting on the surrounding areas? I needed a smaller "cone of light" to illuminate the bride, a light that would not flood the rest of the scene.
By using my magic Z-Ray light, I was able to control the light without having any spill hitting the ceiling or the sofa. Now the viewers' eye goes directly to my subject's face. And the strong line from the skylight also leads the viewer's eye right down to my subject. So, a little bit of thinking was necessary to bring this image together but I think we got a really nice result. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 10–22mm wide angle lens, F5.6 at 1/125 second, ISO 800.
Enjoy! – David

Light Up My Life Friday: Face Time With A Clock - Lighting The Reception Pics; Webinar Update!

Good Afternoon Everybody,
I've been following the registrations to my first Webinar next Wednesday -5 Burning Questions - 5 Definitive Answers - and I'll tell you, it looks like it's going to be a world wide event. We have photogs signed on from Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Singapore, South Africa, Spain and many more. I think this may be the start of something. Next Wednesday's Webinar will be a nice "test drive" of this new idea.

There have been a few questions that have popped up in my email like:
1. Can I attend on my MAC? Yes, we tested it first on a MAC around here and in NYC.
2. What time does it start, I don't know what 2:00 EDT means, I'm from GB? That would be 2:00 P.M. New York City time or 6:00 P.M. Greenwich Mean Time for our international attendees.
3. Will it be LIVE? It sure will and I can take questions via the "CHAT" box. Also, we can have have up to 25 of the attendees live on the "AUDIO" too.
4. Will it be recorded? I don't know - I'll see how that works.
5. Will you be doing any more of these Webinars in the future? I'm planning too, I'm looking at lots of options right now.

So gang, hit the Info and Registration Link to Webinar Wednesday right here- it should be a blast!

The posts have been quite long this week so today's "Light Up My Life Friday" post is going to be a short and sweet. Today I want to take a few minutes and give you the quick low down on how I light my wedding reception candids.

Hit the "Read More..." below for the rest of the story.

Here we go.

Face Time With A Clock - Lighting The Reception Pics
What makes wedding photography look dramatically different from the competition's? It's always about the lighting. Most photogs are going out there shooting with an on-camera flash and just blasting away. Other are using various light modifiers to soften and spread the light.

I guess this is fine in some instances, but for the photog who really wants to set his/herself apart form the competition, then a little extra effort is required.

I typically light my reception images with three lights; one on-camera, one off-camera held by my assistant, and a "room light" on it's own stand. We are all tied together with Quantum's FreeWire radio system.

What's my set up? Folks, it's quick, easy and simple. Think of the face of a clock.
Let's say all the reception action takes place in the center of the clock. I'm going to describe the three lighting positions with respect to the clock's face.

First, I am always referenced at the 6 o'clock position on the clock's face. The "room light" and my assistant take up the positions at 10 o'clock or 2 o'clock. If the room light falls at the 10 o'clock position, the my assistant needs to be at the 2 o'clock position and visa-versa. I call it my "Tri-Angle of Light" method. You get a pretty good idea of the light set up in the next image where you can see all three lights because of the very wide view of my fisheye lens.

The BIG rule here is that neither my assistant or myself should ever line up with the room light as it is stationary. If we do, we bring in too much light from the same direction and will over expose the subject(s). Yes, my assistant needs to attentive to me and the room light to get in the right position - but, hey, that's their job, isn't it?

Folks, that about it - pretty simple isn't it? We get a great result because we create great separation of the subject from the background. We create detail, depth, dimension, and color saturation in a reception candid where so many of them go limping along these days.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. LaDawn and I have a wedding to go to today. I might just give the Canon 5D Mark II video capabilities a try - I'll keep you posted.

See everybody on the flip side of the weekend. - Have a good one! -David

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Just Breezin' By The Bridge"

Breezin By The Bridge"Just Breezin' By The Bridge"

©David A. Ziser

This is one of the images that I made at the KPPA shoot out this past Sunday evening. We got a lot of great shots of our model but this one with the wide-angle image is one of my favorites. In the setting sun the lens' wide angle view certainly adds to the dramatic feeling of the photograph.  Look at the bride's positioning in the composition. The fact that she she placed forward in the composition added to the visual interest of this image. It almost seems as if the bridge is pushing her into the viewer's eyes. Lighting was accomplished with my off-camera flash coming in from the the right to give me the loop lighting pattern on the subject's space. Camera specs Canon 40 D. fitted with 10–22mm, F8 @ 1/320 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! – David

Business Day Thursday: 17 More Ideas To Keep Your Clients Coming Back (And Getting More Clients Too); Contest Winner Announced!

Good Morning Everybody,

Winner - Happy-Hooray_000001999168XSmallWOW! I mentioned my free Webinar yesterday and only 20 hours later we have almost 200 people signed up for it - I'm stoked.  If you want to be part of the fun, here is the info and registration link.  Register soon because the limit is 1000 attendees.  At the rate people are registering we might hit that by early next week.

More good news - I'm announcing the winner of my contest, "12 ways to Keep Your Clients Coming Back."  We didn't quite hit 20 suggestions as I had hoped, but we got 17 very good ones.  I listed each of them in this post along with my comments about each suggestion.  Want to find out who has the $50 B&H gift certificate heading their way?  Hit the "Read More..." link below for the rest of the story and lots of good ideas!

Also, don't forget, I've got one more contest running too entitled, "Business Day Thursday: Booking Weddings, How About Booking 5 Bonuses To Seal The Deal?" I'll pick that winner next week.  Get your ideas listed so you don't miss out on another chance to win a $50 B&H Gift Certificate.

OK gang, time to check in with those great ideas and see who our winner is. 

Here we go... 

Debbie Hogshead suggested...

1. Give a gift card when a previous client refers someone who becomes a client and purchases a package.
2. Give them to high school coaches and drama club teachers with an offer to photograph their students in action with the option to purchase a softcover album. This could have multiple album sales because once others see the album they and their parents will want one too. And add an incentive to purchase the album by giving a gift card for a future portrait sitting. Include space for the kids to write something to the coach too. Don't think just football... lacrosse, swimming (diving), track & field, basketball, baseball, clubs & events. Could also include posters or small brag books, locker magnets.

David says... "I love idea #2. Why not expand on that and work with the PTA, teachers, and coaches on rewarding the kids for a job well done with the gift cards.  I agree with Steve Kalman at the end of this post, that the card should result in at least something tangible for the person it was given."

Sandy suggested...

3. When events ask for donations for door prizes give gift cards in different amounts to your studio, for seniors, families or baby portraits.

David says..."I like it, but still the one given the card should receive some tangible benefit from the card.

Dianna suggested...

4. Send a gift card for a free Christmas Portrait session to all wedding clients for the current year. It's a great way to keep in touch with them.
5. I've also been considering a gift card for a free 1st Anniversary Portrait session.

David says... "Another good one."

Adalia suggested...

6. Clients can earn a gift card to apply to their next order if they get 10 people to comment on their portraits on your blog.

David says... "I like the viral aspects of this one - instead of spreading the work, keep the word spreading."

Danielle suggested...

7. My idea is since photography is all about preserving the special moments that make up our lives, you can at each session give them a card for the next chapter in their lives or milestones.
Examples would be for a wedding client give a card for $100 on Maternity session, then at their Maternity session give them a Newborn card, then at that session a child's first birthday. You get the point.  It keeps them always coming back to you for all their special moments throughout their entire lives.

David says... "Yep, this one was one of my favorites - it's keeps then coming back and when tied to some of our other great suggestions here, you've got a dynamite guerrilla marketing plan for any small studio."

Vendor Buddies - iStock_000003393797XSmallCrystal suggested...

8. Give some to various vendors (caterers, wedding planners, DJ's, etc) that you've developed a relationship with so that they can pass them on to clients they encounter.

David says... "I always like these vendor - business building ideas."

9. Send them out to families on Mother's day, encouraging kids to give mom a really special gift - a portrait of themselves. It could work for Father's Day and even Christmas.

David says... "How about sending them out to the kids to give to mom?"

John suggested...

10. Give a gift card when a client makes a minimum order of Prints. For example, give a $25 gift card when a client orders $250.00 or more. Give a $50.00 gift card when a client orders $400.00 or more.

David says... "Be sure to make it on future purchases. Nice way to close the sale."

Theresa B suggested...

11. Offer a different business card each month as an online raffle prize. People can earn entries by friending your Facebook business page, suggesting you as a friend to others who then "friend" you. Same thing for Twitter. The more they help with free viral advertising, the more entries they earn!

David says... "I always love the ideas that get other people to talk about you."

Jimmy suggested...

12. The better the package ordered, the higher value gift card they will receive towards there next session. This will encourage clients to step up their order. Also, I would put a year expiration date on the card so my client wouldn't be tempted to sit on it for to long.

David says... "It's a great incentive to build the sale and keep them coming back for more."

Ty suggested...

13. Partner with a florist for a major "flower" holiday -- Valentines Day, Mothers Day, etc. Design a special gift card that promotes the florist, and offers the value as a "Thank You" for using your services. The gift card is the same size as the message envelope, and goes inside with the card. When the delivery is made -- everyone looks good. The florist impresses a client, the recipient gets added value, and the whole thing looks like part of the gift, which I would hope would make it more likely to be used.

Nospam101 suggested...

14. Give your "partners" (the florist, cater, etc.) cards to hand-out to their clients. Creates a stronger partner bond and swings more business your way.

David says... "Similar to above idea, but still thinking in the right direction."

15. Also, (tongue-in-cheek) you could hand-out cards to folks for coming up with new marketing ideas.

David says... " I actually think this is a great idea - businesses use focus groups all the time for ideas.  Each client becomes part of your "focus group" with your invitation.  That's how we recently came up with a new product at my studio. Ask for your client's suggestions and listen - hey, they are the ones that will be coming back for more.

Frank Wilson suggested...

Hey gang, here is the guy that started it all. Let's hear what he has to say. -David

Thanks a bunch for the post about my gift cards, as they continue to do wonders for me.

16. Another way I use my gift cards is in my bridal gift registry. When I book the client, I ask them to include me on their gift registry and to let their guest know that. When a guest registers with me, there is a $50 minimum, I will send my client a confirmation that $50 has been applied to their account from Mr. or Mrs. John Doe. Mr. or Mrs. John Doe would get a $50 gift card from Frank Wilson Photography for a portrait session or maybe images from the wedding. It's a win-win situation. Mr. or Mrs. John Doe gets credited for a gift to the bride and groom and in turn, they get a gift also. The bride and groom has $50 less to pay on their account or apply it to a package upgrade. How about that for a $3.00 piece of plastic.....Harry Potter Magic! Thanks again David.

David says... "Frank, you are the master of the gift cards.  I think you inspired a lot of good ideas here too."

Steve Kalman suggested...

17. With regard to professional photography, rather than promising existing clients something for a referral (thus starting with zero) promise something for two referrals, but give them credit for one (the job they gave you already). Then tell them they're half-way to the prize and need "just one more".  Differential cost to a studio is zero, but improved results are likely.

David says... "I agree Steve, there are some times when the gift card should have tangible value as I mentioned earlier."

I'd like to recommend a book by Howard Goldstein. It reviews psychological tendencies of people and explains how they can be used to increase or close sales.  One particular anecdote comes close to this discussion of gift cards. He talks about loyalty cards and cites experiments where some recipients got cards that were blank (buy 5 get one) and some were partially filled in (buy 7 get one, but starting with a credit for 2).

   As a second comment, I'm always annoyed as a consumer when I win a prize that costs me money. A gift card to a studio is useless unless I pay for the professional services.

If a charity needs a gift, give a card that promises to make one free 8x10 print of the winner's choice. Accept the image via email, but make them come in to get it. You might sell them a mat and frame to go with it. At that time, give them a gift card with a discount offer.

Sure, it costs a bit (and you might want to make the picture better with some simple editing) but it will establish the winner as an existing customer rather than as a possibly unhappy winner.

There you have it gang - 17 great ideas on how to keep your clients coming back and how to get new ones in the door.  Thanks to all who took the time to comment and share there ideas with our DigitalProTalk readers.

And the WINNER IS... drum roll please.  Danielle High FiveChristiansen for suggestion #7.  What I liked about Danielle's idea was the fact the she was being very pro-active with her clients on an individual level.  Each new gift card was targeted to enhance the client/studio relation even more.  Her idea results in "Clients for Life."  Hey Danielle, "high fives" for your great idea.

One last note from me.  So many people never get around to acting on good ideas - why is that?  Because we use the excuse that we are already too busy.  Folks, if that's the case then you don't need any of these ideas to begin with. That, by the way, may be the excuse, but it is usually never the reality. Time to give ourselves a "kick in the pants" and get moving on building our business.  I love what I learned from Wayne Dyer almost 30 years ago - "There are NO excuses. You are responsible for your own success, nobody else."

-Food for thought.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. The bags are packed and LaDawn and I are heading out for her nephew's wedding this weekend.  WOW! We get to be guests at this one! See everybody tomorrow for another episode of "You Light Up My Life" Friday.  See ya' then,  -David

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Putting A Hug On Dad"

"Putting A Hug On Dad"
©David A. Ziser

This image was part of the same portrait session which I featured in Monday's post, "Me and Mommy." There were a grand total of 10 kids in this large family group. As I mentioned two weeks ago in our Wednesday's post, "Booking, Shooting, and Selling the Family Portrait", I talk about breaking the groups down into smaller groups. That's exactly what happened here. I've got all the young man, the sons of the father, around dad that for nice family group. Once I knew that I had that shot, I always ask the entire group to give each other a great big group hug. You never know quite what might happen but it usually results in a great follow-up shot to the more traditional pose. I love what happened in this instance -- it is exactly what I was looking to capture. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 70-200mm lens at 145mm, F4.5 @ 1/125 second, ISO 200.
Enjoy! -David

DigitalProTalk Announces Free Webinar! & Portrait Day Wednesday: Part 13 - Prepare To Be An Order Maker, Not An Order Taker

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Webinar Custom Image200pxLots of stuff on my calendar today which explains the late post, but the "stuff" is really cool stuff.  I've been playing around with some webinar technologies these last few days and want to dry run the concept next Wednesday, July 1, 2009, on our very first Webinar Wednesday.  Don't worry, I'll get back to our portrait series the following week.  

I've selected 5 items off the Skribit widget in the right column and will discuss them. Here is the program title and the 5 questions.

Program Title: Webinar Wednesday: 5 Questions - 5 Answers

1. How do I use indoor flash at weddings?

2. How do I balance fill flash with daylight?

3. What camera color settings do I use?

4. Tell me about wedding photography and reception etiquette.

5. What are my favorite magazines I read for education and inspiration?

I'll plan to get through as many of these questions as possible.  What a deal - a free seminar. Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a "free lunch", at least next week;~)

I will be using the "GoToWebinar" app.  It's perfectly safe and is the most popular app for these kind of webinars.  I think this will be a kick. You can sign up for my free first ever Webinar Wednesday right here.

OK, time to get on with today's post, "Be an Order Maker, Not An Order Taker!"

 Be An Order Maker, Not An Order Taker

Last week we got into my workflow when prepping the order for the presentation to the client. Now I know what you might be thinking, “Ziser doesn't just put the images up online so his clients can choose their favorite photographs?” The answer would be a giant negatory! I've been in this business for quite a few years. I was lucky enough to learn early on that proof viewing, whether paper proof's or Internet proofs were sales killers. Ever since 1980 I have been proactively involved in the presentation/sales process with my clients. Putting the photographs up online neuters any input and influence that the photographer may have in the presentation/sale.

Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.

iPhone1Follow my thinking. For an example, let's use Apple's iPhone 3Gs which was just introduced. What have you read? What have you heard about the new iPhone? Are you excited about its new features? Are you thinking about upgrading your iPhone to the new latest release? Are you thinking of maybe getting an iPhone for the first time in  your life?

I'm trying to put my whole sales process in perspective - stick with me.  I happen to fall onto the group that may be thinking of getting an iPhone for the first time. Why? Because what I read online and in the various trade magazines. The word on the street is that this latest release is supposed to be the best iPhone ever. BusinessWeek just did an article [link] on the iPhone as well. Without using the exact words they used the article more or less called it a game changing device for telephony.

It simply comes down to this. What I have read on the Apple iPhone website and what I have read in other articles and ads - all these influences have been building my expectation of ownership of this very cool product. I've never bought one because I wasn't happy with what I heard about the about the quality of service from the carrier (negative expectation) but, I've always been turned on by what I've heard about the features (positive expectation) of the iPhone.

Now it comes down to this - the features now far outweigh the slight compromise in phone coverage I might get with Apple's new iPhone.  Apple is certainly building my expectation about the new product.

That's exactly what we have to do with our own (photography) products – build client expectation - about their ownership of our (photography) product.  You never build a strong positive expectation when the client views them online.

We need to build the client's (positive) expectation for the various portrait (photography) products that we can create for them. It's really quite simple. Are our clients coming in just to select a few 8x10's and 5x7's and maybe a 5x7 or two for grandma? I think that all too often is the case for many photographers  running their business.

Too many of us are simply Order Takers – what we need to be is Order Makers! It's not just about selling an 8x10 or 5x7. It's about helping the client get what they want. It's also about finding out what the client may want too but haven’t the expertise to ask for it.

Order takers never go that extra step to find out what their clients may be excited about purchasing. They simply take the order for the 8x10's and 5x7's. Order Makers, on the other hand, know exactly how to make that happen. Hang in there - we are almost there.

Suggestion4What we need to do to be Order Makers is to "preview" for our clients several (photography) product possibilities that could truly enhance the enjoyment of their family photographs.

Probably the most striking addition to their home would be a wall portrait of one of their favorite images from their session. That means that I need to show them what that portrait would look like hanging in their home. In our case we can show a preview of that wall portrait option easily with the software we use for our presentations. TimeExposure's Proselect software [link] is one of the best out their for doing just that.

Suggestion2In the old film days we photographers typically made about 48 exposures at a family portrait session. We edited those images down to about 15 or 20 from which the client made their selection. The client typically purchased two, three, or four images for themselves and their relatives.

What's happened with digital is that we can take so many more photographs than we ever did in the film days. As I mentioned in last week's post [link], we can easily shoot 150-200 images during a portrait session. We typically edit that number down to about 100 or so images. What I don't want to happen though is for the client to select two, three, or four images like in the old days.

Treasure BoxDigital allows us the opportunity to preview lots of additional client options with all those additional images. We may suggest a portrait album with the client's favorite images. In addition to the wall portrait or portrait album ideas, another nice option is to offer a mini wall gallery featuring the family group as an 16x20 or larger in the middle and then surrounded by four 5 x 7 or 8x10 images featuring the mother, the father, and the two kids. A perfect place to suggest where to display this wall gallery may be in the family room or master bedroom.

Last week in our Business Day Thursday we also discussed how we could enhance our images [link]. Previewing the client's images with these "suggested" ideas builds the client's positive expectation of their numerous photographic possibilities available at my studio.  8x10's and 5x7's are a thing of the past.

Just review a couple of the examples that I've placed throughout today's post. These are just a few examples of how you might enhance the viewing experience for your clients as well.

Let me list for you what I consider the five “biggies” for image preparation.

1. Show one image as a wall portrait hanging on your client's own wall.

2. Show a nice collection of images as they might appear in a family portrait album.

3. Show a mini wall collage that features three or more images from the portrait session.

4. Preview several images in black and white as well as color and then show some of your black-and-white products with these images is well.

5. Preview a small number of images with a special artistic treatment such as edges or matting or whatever you can use to enhance the photograph even more. See last week's post [link].

I hope, in today's post I have at least pointed you in the direction to get you thinking about how you might build the client expectations for your own business.These are just a couple of quick ideas that you might consider. We've got a pretty savvy group of readers at DigitalProTalk - I bet you have a lot of good ideas yourself. Why don't you share some of your own sales presentation ideas in the comment section following this post.

Hey folks that's it for me today. I've got some pretty exciting things happening at the studio today but I can't tell you what they are quite yet. Stay tuned I might give you a preview in tomorrow's post. So, on that note, gang, Adios,  – David

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Bubbles Are Us"

"Bubbles Are Us"
©David A. Ziser

Here is another great candid of the bride and groom exiting the church after the wedding and being welcomed by bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles everywhere. We usually take a series of images during the exit of the bride and groom, whether it include rice tossing or bubble blowing or balloon release....whatever. This was one of the best images from that exit sequence. I was at a fair distance from the couple and, as a result we had quite a few bubbles between me and the couple. The sun was coming in directly overhead, so I opted to use my on-camera flash to fill in the shadows and give a better exposure on the couple's faces. I think the result is a great fun candid and would be a welcome addition into any wedding album. Camera specs; Canon 5D fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 105mm, F 7.1 @ 1/200 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: Best Little Portrait Lesson In The World

Good Morning Everybody,
We made it back home safe and sound from the KPPA Summer Meeting early yesterday evening. You know, I've been in the photo biz for quite a number of years but still feel there is always something new to learn and this weekend wasn't a disappointment. Great information and many exciting new tips and tricks.

Sure, maybe the speakers are a little younger than I am these days but who cares? There are always good ideas flowing from imaginative and energetic minds. It's always good to see what the new kids on the block are implementing into their businesses.

If you're not a member of your local Association, you should really consider joining. It's a great learning experience, and "juices" your creativity as well.

We had lots of things happening while in Lexington these past two days. Great speakers, great photography, and great comeraderie. I did a shoot-out on Sunday evening (along with 4 other photogs) and LaDawn followed along with the Canon 5D Mark II shooting some video from my 2-hour session. I'm going try to turn the shoot into a few Techniqie Tuesdays - we'll see how that goes. I'll also post an image or two from the shoot over the next few days. Anyway, let's get on with today's Technique Tuesday.

Best Little Portrait Lesson In The World

Hey gang, I think I've got a really cool Technique Tuesday for us today. I had something else planned but then stumbled over to the Westcott site while I was browsing the Internet. and I found that they have the video posted that I had completed at the Fresno DWUC tour stop.

Here's the back story. I got a call a few days before we landed in Fresno, CA from FJWescott who wanted to film parts of my DWUC tour showing how I use some of the Wescott products.

I've mentioned it before and I'll mention it again -- I've been a friend of FJWescott products for over 23 years. Tom Waltz, the owner of the company, and I've been friends for just as long. I've always thought that their Halo was the best light modifier on the market.

I've been using it exclusively for portraits since it was introduced 23 years ago. For the tour, I show their new Spiderlite TD5 can be used with the Halo to create a great continuous output portrait light.

Anyway, Marc Blake, a very talented photographer and extremely creative videographer gave me a call so we could make the arrangements for him to come by and shoot some video.

What resulted is a great, informative, short video demonstration on lighting and posing. Even from this impromptu video session I think you get a nice lighting/posing lesson out of this six minute video. I cover all the basics and it's kind of fun to watch - plus you get a quick preview of the tour in case you missed it;~)

Here is the link to my Wescott video right here. Just scroll down and find my video at the bottom of the list. Hey, why are there, you may want to check out the other short videos from a few other famous faces that you may recognize. There's some great information gang. It's definitely worth the visit.

Everybody that's it for me today. We have a very busy week ahead of us. We leave early Thursday for LaDawn's nephew's wedding in Dayton, Ohio happening over the weekend. Don't forget to check in tomorrow for another edition of Booking, Shooting, and Selling the Family Portrait. I'll round out how to prepare the images for client presentation.

I'll plan on seeing everybody bright and early tomorrow, -- David

Monday, June 22, 2009

"Me And Mommy"

"Me And Mommy"
©David A. Ziser

Another cruise through my hard drives produced this great image find for me over the weekend. I photographed the family several months ago and was taken by how well each of the children was so well mannered and polite. I'm going to blog a few more images from this session later in the week. The image for today's post was one of the last images that I had taken from the portrait session. The little girl was quite shy and just didn't want to let go of her mom. I thought, "What a great opportunity for a "mother-daughter portrait." Although mom face was not in the composition, one still gets a great sense of motherly love for this little girl clinging to her mom’s leg. This turned out to be one of the client’s favorite images. Camera specs Canon 40 D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 200mm, F 4.0 at 1/125 second, ISO 200. Light from my off-camera flash coming in from the right. Enjoy! -- David

Quick Hit Monday: DWUC Grand Prize Winners Announced! Las Vegas and Hawaii Added To DWUC Tour; Three Great Wedding Sites

Good Morning Everybody,
Today DigitalProTalk comes to you from the beautiful hills of Lexington Kentucky - Horse Farm Capital of the world. Well, at least we get a chance to see a few of the beautiful farms on the drive down on Saturday. We had a great time Saturday evening visiting, sharing ideas and a few old memories, enjoying a delicious meal, laughing and enjoying a wonderful glass of wine or two with our good friends and outstanding photographers Tim and Bev Walden whom I mentioned in Friday's post. THANKS again guys, it was such a terrific evening.
Today Michael and Tina Timmons are presenting the program on creativity at our KPPA meeting. Michael was the top dog photographer at the Mideast states regional print competition which the KPPA hosted in January. I have to tell you, their work is stunning and unbelievable. I'm looking forward to sitting in on his program today.

We've got a couple cool things to cover in today's quick hit Monday so let's get right to it.

DWUC Grand Prize Winners Announced!
Well, we've randomly selected our grand prize winners from our Digital WakeUp Call Tour. Boy, were they surprised. It was kind of funny -- when I made a personal call to both of our winners, neither one wanted to believe that it was actually me making the phone call to them. They both assumed a personal friend was playing a joke. Once we got over that minor hurdle, I had quite the time convincing them that they were indeed our grand prize winners. I must tell you, it's a nice phone call to make. It brought me as much satisfaction to call someone telling them that they have won over $7000 worth of prizes as it would have been to have actually been the winner myself.

Our winner for the first quarter of the tour was Judy Crookston who owns Crookston Photography in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. She does a great job in her portrait and wedding photography -- just check out the link to her website right here. Congratulations Judy!

Our winner for the second quarter of the DWUC tour was Blanca Duran. She and her husband, Alex own Blanca Duran Photography in Houston, Texas. Blanca has only been in business two years but she has very some nice examples of her photography on her website. Here is the link to her site and her blog right here. Congratulations Blanca!

Again, Congratulations to both winners!! I know both of you still may not believe your good fortune. The grand prizes will start arriving from our terrific sponsors, Canon, Westcott, Quantum, Nik, Delkin, Graphic Authority, Expoimaging, Animoto, Triple Scoop Music, More Photos. A BIG thank you for making the grand prize a reality and ladies, ENJOY!!

Hey gang, we still have two grand prizes to award during the second half of the Digital WakeUp Call Tour. Plan to be there and you might end up a second half grand prize winner yourself. Want a refresher course on what we're giving away? Here is the link to the Digital WakeUp Call Grand Prizes right here. My sincere thanks, once again, for the wonderful generosity my sponsors have shown in putting this unbelievable list of prizes together for the tour.

It's official -- Las Vegas, Nevada and Honolulu, Hawaii Added to the DWUC Tour.
That's right, we just added Las Vegas on November 16, 2009 Honolulu, Hawaii November 18, 2009 to our tour lineup. We recieved several requests to add these locations. Then as I discovered a few photographers from Las Vegas and Hawaii actually flew or made the very long drive to other venues to attend the Digital WakeUp Call tour.

To those photographers I say, "Hey guys, the second time to attend is on me." The cities have been added to the Digital WakeUp Call tour website. We are still in the process of booking the hotels but here is the link so you can reserve your space.

Three Great Wedding Sites
I recently made a random call to my buddy, Jay Sandifer whom I had gotten to know during my Digital WakeUp Call tour in 2006. One thing led to another, and before long we were talking wedding photography again. After we hung up from our phone conversation I received an e-mail from Jay listing several different wedding websites. I have to tell you -- three of them blew me away. Very inspirational!

First, check out Emily Inc’s site right here. Emily has a great eye for the spontaneous action and a wonderful sense of timing when she is capturing those beautiful images on the wedding day.

Okay, now check out Wirken Photography’s site right here. The thing that struck me about Tyler and Becca’s images were the wonderful sense of composition that they manage to bring into so many of their beautiful, images. So many of their images are just a wonderful, in-depth story in themselves. Wirken Photography was also chosen as one of the best wedding studios on the Knot.

The studio has also been nominated as One of the Best in Kansas City. I just perused his blog and the site one more time and again each image is a wonderful feast for the eyes. Head on over and take a peek for yourself.
Okay, now allow me point you towards a real crowd pleaser. The wedding photography presented at Chris+Lynn Photographers is simply amazing! Every one of their images captures your eye. Here is the link to their site.

Take a look at one of their wedding albums too. Hit the “Featured” tab and then scroll to “Wedding Album: Vancouver". Now let the story begin. The colors themselves are a memorable visual feast for the senses. Now let me further excite you to one of the coolest image presentations I've seen anywhere. Hit “About Us” -> “Check Us Out” then click on “YOU+ME – VISION. Now hold your hand under your jaw as you view the show. Each image has its own sense of the third dimension captured right there before your eyes on your computer screen.

Pick and choose your favorites from the three sites I’ve mentioned above. Don't forget to check out their blogs too - more great images. I think the images are amazing, the compositions-tantalizing, and Chris+Lynn’s media presentation -- just awesome! Folks, take at least 10 minutes of your time today and check out these sites. They are a reservoir of ideas and creativity that could easily spark everyone's imagination and makes a trip to these three oasis of imagination worth every minute spent there.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. We are out the door early to catch the start of Michael and Tina's program. Don't forget to check in for tomorrow's technique Tuesday and a brief recap of the happenings here in, Kentucky.
See you then, -- David

Friday, June 19, 2009

"Flowing Beauty"

"Flowing Beauty"
©David A. Ziser

Here is another image I haven't seen for many, many years. I remember that the bride's father was a quite prominent doctor in the area and it was quite an honor to to be photographing his daughter's wedding. This image was made at the bride's parents home which was a stunning architectural masterpiece. I positioned the bride on the staircase slightly above the window. The reason I chose this position was because she would be looking down into the camera and I wanted the light from the window to be properly illuminating her face. By positioning her above the window meant that the light rays would stream in and highlight her face quite easily. Once again I was using my fisheye lens for the shot. Probably my favorite lenses at the time were my 40mm wide angle Distagon and my 30mm Fisheye on my Hasselblad. The wide-angle lenses easily accentuate the leading lines and lead the viewers eyes directly up the bride. I think what's interesting about this photograph is that even though I used the fisheye lens with it's inherent line bending properties, the effect was quite well disguised in this particular setting. The spiral staircase and the circular dome at the top did a good job in disguising the fisheye effect. There's only a slight hint that a fisheye was used on the left-hand side of the image. You'll notice a slight curve to the crown molding just under the second floor landing. Camera specs; Hasselblad 500 CM fitted with 30mm Distagon Fisheye lens, F5.6 @ 1/60 second, Kodak Vericolor 800 film (best recollection). Enjoy! – David

You Light Up My Life Friday: Short Distance Back-lighting

Good Morning Everybody,
We are packing for our exit heading slightly south over the weekend. We head down to Lexington Kentucky where we will be attending the KPPA summer meeting on Sunday and Monday of next week. We are planning to hook up with our friends, Bev and Tim Walden, who by the way run one of the nicest studios in the country [link]. It will be nice to get back into a hotel bedroom -- just kidding;~)
Hey gang, I think I got a nice little lighting post for today. It's again on back lighting but with a slight variation on a theme.

Hit the "Read More..." link below for the rest of the story.

Here we go.
Short Distance Back-lighting
I've actually covered backlighting in a previous post. Here is the "Backlighting" link. I mentioned in that post the optimum distance for the light behind the subject is 12 feet. But as I looked through some of my other images that I've created recently and I'm finding that the 12 foot distance is only necessary on my backlit aisle photographs and my backlit dance photographs.

I'm finding there is some situations where I prefer the distance to be much shorter. One example is in this next photograph. If you look closely you'll see a little chest of drawers right above the steps behind the bride and groom. By placing my remote-controlled flash against the little chest of drawers (there wasn't enough space for my assistant to get in the proper position) I was able to create a splash of light off the wall and the bride's gown that created this dramatic backlit image of the bride and groom.
I sort of recall making this photograph with my flash in bare bulb mode. That means that I removed the reflector using the omni-directional light from the flash tube only.

Typically with my camera is set to 800 ISO at F5.6. The flash is set to quarter or half power. As I'm thinking this image was taken at 1/4 power. This is one of those situations where it's best to just experiment with your power settings, check the results on your LCD screen, and go with what looks best.

Take a look at this next photograph. It is again one of my short distance backlit photographs. I remember the bride and the groom coming out of the cathedral and I asked them just the pause at the top of the stairs. With the church doors closed I had my assistant just about 3 feet behind the couple with the reflector on the flash.

He pointed the flash directly at the couple about 4 feet off the ground and this is the result that we obtained. What happened is that the light bounced off the bride's wedding gown thereby illuminating the large door frame surrounding the subjects.
This created a nice interior frame, a frame within the exterior viewfinder area, which draws viewers attention directly to our wedding couple. I've done this a number of times and it works pretty reliably.

I've mentioned many times that I'm a BIG fan of off-camera flash. Sure, you can fire your flashes with any number of different solutions available these days on the market but I've just always been a fan of my Quantum FreeWire radio units and my quantum T5D flash head because of their consistency.

I'd suggest you grab your gear and go out there and give it a try. It's a great way to spice up your wedding photography for your clients and a great way to create some nice portfolio images for your own sample albums.

Hey gang, that's it for me today! The weekend is upon us and we are preparing to attend the KPPA Summer meeting in Lexington on Sunday and Monday. KPPA also has speakers scheduled for Tuesday so it's a wonderful opportunity for a weekend of great learning. I hope to see some of you there. Have a wonderful weekend. HAPPY Father's Day to all the dad's in the audience. I'll see you on Monday reporting from Lexington, Kentucky.
See ya' then, -David

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"I See You"

"I See You"
©David A. Ziser

This image was made several years ago for one of my best and favorite clients at the time. I actually photographed all three children for this family and have watched all the kids grow up. This was the first portrait session for the family about 20 years ago. My challenge was to photograph this playful little girl who, at the moment, did not want to be photographed. She was playing peek with me as you can see in this image. Another very interesting aspect about the shot was the fact that there's no furniture in the dining room. The client just moved into the home and all the furniture had not yet arrived. What I love about this photograph is all the empty space to the right side of the image. After I set up all my gear and was ready to go, I set out looking for my playful subject. As she peeked around the corner I pointed the camera at her composing with all the empty space in the image and shot away. I think the empty space together with her mischievous smile leads to a simple, playful, fun portrait which the little girl's mom loved. She ended up purchasing a 16 x 20 portrait of this particular image along with several more of the traditional portraits. Camera specs; Hasselblad 500 CM fitted with 150 mm Sonar lens, F5.6 @ 1/100 second Kodak Vericolor 400 film (best recollection). Enjoy! – David

Business Day Thursday: When Is An 8x10 Print Worth More Than An 8x10 Print?

Good Morning Everybody,
It's been nice this week just catching up on a few things around our home and the studio. I finally got a chance to edit the photographs that are going to be part of my next Kelby Training video which should hit in the next few weeks.

I think I've mentioned it before but I wanted to let our DigitalProTalk readers know that we are planning to do five more lessons for Kelby Training over the summer. I've said it once and I'll say it again -- there simply isn't a better deal on the planet Earth for Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography training than at Kelby Training It's all you can eat educationally for only $20 dollars a month -- what a steal of a deal. If you haven't checked it out, I suggest you get started! I'll keep you posted as to when the next training video will be ready for prime time.

I think we've got another very cool post for our business day Thursday segment today. I thought I would let our two contests run a few more weeks before announcing the winners.

Here are the Links to the two contests:
12 ways to Keep You Clients Coming Back
Booking Weddings: Booking Bonuses To Seal The Deal
Give them a read, offer your own ideas and you may win a $50 B&H gift card!

OK, on with business - so when is an 8x10 worth more that an 8x10? Hit the "Read More..." link for the rest of the story.

Here we go...

When Is An 8x10 Print Worth More Than An 8x10 Print?
In the old film days we photographers had the choice of displaying our photographs in fixed sized frames -- typically 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, 16x20 and larger.

Collaging images together was seldom or next to never part of our product mix in the old film days simply because it was complicated and way too expensive to achieve. Back in the day we used folios as a means of delivering multiple images to our clients. Basically a folio held for example, an 8x10 and 4 - 4x5's. Another popular combination was a folio that held 8 - 4x5's. there were many, many possible combinations we could use.

I can remember selling folios quite often to our wedding clients. It was a way for a grandmother or aunt to still obtain a small collection of images from the wedding without having to go to the expense of a family album holding 20 or more images.

The price of those folios was based upon the number of photographs in each folio and the cost of the folio itself. Typically a folio holding eight 4x5 images would cost, for my studio, in the neighborhood of $200. Yes, we still offer folios but they are not nearly as popular as they once were because of how easily we can collage images with today's digital software. With today's digital technologies, it's a "piece of cake" to produce digital products that really add sizzle to our images.

Anyway, let's get back to what I wanted to talk about here today. Let's look at our three 8 x 10 options.

1 - Straight 8x10 image in a frame.

2 - A multiple image collage still sized as an 8x10.

3 - A single image or multiple images enhanced with decorative digital matting used in such a way to complement the photograph in the 8x10 frame.

Obviously, in the old days we were pretty much locked into an 8x10 photograph in an 8x10 frame.

About the only additional option we offered to our clients would be to sell a 5x7 print matted in an 8x10 frame. I smile as I remember those days because none of us photographers wanted to sell the smaller sized 5x7 image. Matted prints always hurt the sale because of the smaller image size sold.

Today we have so many more digital options. Now we can offer two or more images printed as an 8x10 framed collage. How does this benefit us? It benefits us because we are delivering a product -- a multi-image product - and we should be able to charge more for it. Each image is it's own work of art requiring the necessary retouching and enhancement associated with each separate image. That being said, what do we charge for say, a three image 8x10 collage?

We typically charge $32 for an 8 x 10 wedding print. My prices have not gone up much over the last couple of years because of the cost advantage in shooting digital. But that being said then what would I charge for 3 image 8 x 10 collage - $96? Is $96 too high? I frankly think a lot of clients would balk at that price. How about $50? I think that is more in the ballpark for most of our clients in my mid-west area of the country.

I was talking to my staff the other day discussing this same point. This is what we came up with. The starting price would be the $32 price for an 8x10. The price would then be incrementally increased by $10 for each additional image in a collage containing up to four images. If the collage contains more than four images then the cost will be the $32 8x10 rate +5 dollars for each additional image over the original 8 x 10. That means that the collage I've shown here would cost $32 + 8 x $5 = $72 total.

But here's something else that we should consider. These 9 images in the small 8x10 collage size means that many of those images are going to be quite small themselves. That being the case, I think we easily offer a larger size collage to our clients, say an 11x14. The 11x14 collage would be priced at the original 11x14 price of for example $50 plus $5 for each of the additional 8 images bringing the grand total to $90. For only $18 more over the same collage as an 8x10, that price sounds like quite a deal.

Let's also consider a third alternative in spicing up our images. Instead of simply collaging images let's also consider using our digital resources to create decorative, colorful mats that can enhance the image even further. Check out the other images I've shown below. What's a fair price for this decorative treatment? How about in the neighborhood of $10 to $20 additional cost. That sounds reasonable to me.

As you can see, we can be as creative as we want to be both in creating products for our clients and pricing those products reasonably. I've tried to give a couple of suggestions today in hopes that you find them helpful in your product selections in your business. Also, let me add, that the prices I suggested in today's post are simply numbers I've used as examples and in no way should reflect what you charge in your own business. You'll have to determine your pricing based on your working conditions, your area of the country, your expenses, and clientèle.

I think the possibilities are endless and I think you guys and girls probably have about a gazillion ideas of your own. If you've got a couple good ones and would you like to share them with our fellow DigitalProTalk readers please leave your remarks in the comments section below.

Hey gang that's it for me today. Don't forget to check back in tomorrow for another episode of "You Light Up My Life Friday." See you then, -- David