Monday, August 31, 2009

Cautionary Tale

We want this Blog to be helpful and encouraging, and sometimes, we will use it as a way to communicate what NOT to do. Reputation is EVERYTHING in the photography industry.

Everyone makes mistakes when they are starting out, so as a new photog, you need to learn how to minimize those mistakes. You might burn a few bridges here and there, but overall, your goal should be to have a GREAT reputation.

Here's what clients and photographers for whom you work are looking for:

Reliable transportation
Good, professional communication skills
STRONG knowledge of use of equipment
Ability to deliver whatever is promised. In other words, DO NOT overstate your skills.

If you need help trouble-shooting a client-relationship, please let us know. We can help with this!

Remember that photographers talk to each other. Below is an email from a photographer about a student photographer:

John Doe was a nightmare to work with.
1. Doesn't have a car, so he's dependent on other people's schedule regardless of the photo deadline - which he blew.
2. Doesn't have a flash. He asked to borrow mine last minute, which meant that I had to be at the venue (defeating the whole purpose of him covering me).
3. His card messed up, and I guess has never heard of Googling an issue to proactively figure it out or using CF card recovery software on his own. I hand-held him through the latter.

He's a nightmare to work with. Had I known about any one of the above issues I would have shot the event myself. Suffice it to say, had I know all four issues existed I never would have considered him.

His photos are mediocre and he really didn't hop on the event with gusto.

To top it all off, I had to pay another shooter who happened to be there that night, which was embarrassing.

My new student photographer shot last night. Seems pretty together type person. Haven't seen the photos yet, but working with this person has felt like a far more professional situation.

The student who originally took this job could have addressed these issues by:
1. Borrowing a flash for this night-time shoot, which clearly required off-camera lighting.
2. Securing transportation - and arriving on time.
3. BEING A PROBLEM SOLVER! Before asking for help - read the instructions!
4. MEETING DEADLINES! Some employers allow for one missed deadline or one missed assignment, but the photography industry often hinges on a combination of timeliness and quality of work.

For another perspective, take a moment to read this blog article entitled "Going Pro: Upping Your Level of Responsibility."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Feedback from the Pros. Re: Gabe Gonzalez

We heard through the grapevine (thanks Roderick), that Gabe Gonzalez was a student whose work is just getting better and better.

After checking out Gabe's site, we agreed that Gabe is one-to-watch, and we aren't the only ones who feel that way. Check out Gabe's site, and read what the pros have to say:

Stephen Karlisch, who remembers meeting Gabe at a number of forums, had this to say:
"Looking through his work, it's obvious that he is observing the photography world around him, and trying to find his place. There is still not a defined look or direction, but great effort in achieving good photographs in many styles.

He is young and is trying hard, one of the most important aspects of making it in this business. I'm sure with time he will find his niche and look and never look back.

The fact that he is setting up shoots, getting paid (I hope), and producing good results, and posting for critique on a world wide stage is the right direction. Tell him congratulations on his site and blog, and to keep shooting and having fun with it."

Stephen Karlisch's work can be found at HERE and HERE. Stephen (pictured to the left) is an incredibly sought-after wedding photographer, and he also specializes in architectural photography. Do a little research on Stephen. You'll find that his work has appeared and continues to appear in some pretty great publications!

Leslie Katz of Urban Photography took a look at Gabe's work and wrote, "I love that Gabe’s portraits are experimental. He experiments with light, composition, color and textures. Good photographers figure out what works and stay there...great photographers are always trying different things, pushing to the next level. I think with more experience, that’s exactly what Gabe will be. A great photographer.”

Leslie's work can be found HERE, and her blog can be found HERE. Leslie (pictured to the right) is a portrait photographer whose photos of children and seniors definitely have a fashion-photography bent.

Thanks to our Pros, Stephen Karlisch and Leslie Katz! Both are focused and know their clientele, and they love to share their insight with students and other photogs.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Guest Blogger: Mike Daniel (Networking Advice from a Media Veteran...)

Name: Mike Daniel
Job Title: Dallas Editor

Q: So, Mike, what do you do?
A: I’m Dallas Editor for Thrillist, a free daily e-mail blast aimed at young, urban, educated 'regular guys' that focuses on cool, new and/or under-publicized restaurants/bars, fashion, gadgets, home items, services, activities and such. It’s basically
Daily Candy for dudes, and it has more than 1 million subscribers in 13 markets nationwide. Previously, I was a writer/editor/critic for The Dallas Morning News’ Arts and Guide sections for 14 years.

Q: So, your job hinges on KNOWING people. Why do you believe networking is important?
A: A statement about why networking is so important.A journalist who uses a cliché is akin to a musician ripping off a classic rock riff, but I’m going to do it here because it’s true: ‘It’s not what you know. It's who you know’. Simply put: the more people that you can form a relationship with — no matter how trivial it may be or feel like — the better your chances of expanding upon just about everything about life, whether it’s related to your career, your education, your personal life, whatever. Knowing the ‘right’ people (or, more succinctly put, making sure they know you) is the no-brainer part. Knowing others who may not seem to have much value to you upon introduction is just as important, however, because you never know when those folks will, all of the sudden, become valuable to you.

Q: Can you give us some networking tips?
A: For some, meeting people is excruciating — it was for me because I grew up very shy, and in the beginning I really had to work to make myself both approachable and unafraid to approach — but even folks such as me can do it. Be friendly, be confident, relax as best you can, and listen; that’s all you really need to do. Oh: when you’re at an event or place, act like you own the sucka.

Keep telling yourself that you belong there. You’re there, aren’t you? No one’s thrown wine on your head, spat on you, or thrown you out, right? So you belong! Getting out regularly (but not every night, you lush. Calm down!) is critical. No one’s going to meet you while you’re sitting on your couch inhaling a quart of Blue Bell while watching America’s Next Top Model. Networking is the best way to figure out where to go and what to attend (hint! HINT!); knowing people with your same interests will mean you’ll be ‘in the know’ by osmosis. Get to know a few folks who dig what you dig.

But here’s the really important part – don’t limit yourself to just things that you’re passionate about. Try out new stuff; be adventurous. Chances are – and this is gold for creative types — you’re going to happen upon new stuff that you like, and that’s not only going to inform your creativity, broaden your education, and buoy your passions, it’s going to open up new avenues for networking. Then: presto! You’ll know more people who’ll introduce you to even more cool things. It’s the sweetest snowball effect in the world. Well, except for pyramid schemes…when you don’t get caught… Before the one-way flight lands safely in Argentina...

Mike Daniel (right) at Platinum Motorcars Grand Opening.

Q: What is the best networking advice you can give to students, especially since some of our students will want to work in the media?
A: Besides what I’ve said above, I’m a big believer in simply being yourself. Wear your talents on your sleeve, not up your sleeve and out of sight – but don’t rub your sleeves all over everyone. By that, I mean use what you’re good at to your advantage when forging relationships, but don’t force any of it down anyone’s throat. (Besides: no one wants your cooties. Well, she might. Or maybe he does? Hmmm ... ) Remember that knowledge is power – yes, another cliché that’s filled with truth, but only upon the realization that it’s not just referring to book smarts or skill smarts, but people smarts, too.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Capture will be having a meeting next Thursday, September 3rd at 12PM in Room 209. Our last meeting did not have a great turnout, so if you are available, feel free to stop by. We won't bite.

However, we'll have some pizza to munch on. Please bring some of your favorite work - whether they are assignments or personal work for a critique and to start our club book. Physical prints, digital files, a website, whatever works - as long as we can see the work.

If you have any questions please ask. Thanks! Hope to see you there!Roderick Peña

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fashion and Photography Collide

For those of you with a curiosity about fashion photography, here is a bit of fun info...

This weekend, the Kim Dawson Model Search was kicked-off at NorthPark Center. Part of the event includes all contestants being photographed by fashion photog Larry Travis, whose work can be seen locally in F!D Luxe.

Another great photo-centric bit of news...
Tim Gunn, host of Project Runway (on Lifetime), is featured on the Life Magazine website, as he selects his FAVORITE FASHION PHOTOS of all time. Life Magazine also features its own BEST FASHION PHOTOS slideshow.

Friday, August 21, 2009

More Resources at Your Service... was started in 2002 by a young photog who used the domain as his portfolio. He now works in publishing and has even been an editor for a major magazine. He gives great ideas, like this one for how to submit images to publications and how to follow up on those submissions. was started by photography Udi Tirosh who says, "I started this site, as an amateur photographer, who needs studio equipment, but can't always afford to buy the expensive, branded top quality studio stuff that you can find on photo equipment stores.
So… I began looking for alternative. My first creation was a flash bouncer from Brian Zimmerman (which kindly agreed to contribute the design to And what do you know, it did the work, in almost no cost at all, and had the added plus of making something yourself.
I then tried to create something of my own and designed and build the cheap flash softbox. Again, it was cheap, easy to build and effective. I tried building other stuff and time and again found out, that the build was part of the fun and that the results are very good.
So to answer the question, why is this site here? This is my way of sharing the knowledge I have, and trying to help other photographers to make cheap affordable photography equipment."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Use the iPhone to Your Advantage

A lot of you are faithful users of the Apple iPhone. We know that certain iPhone apps are helpful to photographers, and we found a few, with the help of local pro photogs. Check these out, and try to find others that might be helpful! Let us know if you find any great ones.

Sunrise & Sunset: This applications helps to calculate the sunset and the sunrise times and the total sun hours for each location in the world on each day of the year. Enjoy planning your next holiday, trip or photo session where ever and when ever you want to go. Just click on the location, choose date and timezone and optionally add 1 hour daylight saving.
Practical Application: This app will allow you to project sunrise and sunset for shoots you have scheduled a month down the road. This allows you to capitalize on available, natural light.

The Lens Angle Calculator is used to calculate the lens angle or focal length for a given sensor size. As the App store states, "this is useful for planning out camera placements in advance."

Chen's Photography and Software produces the Visual DOF Calc iPhone app. This is a depth of field calculator.
Practical Application: If you want to blur out the background to accentuate your subject, you'll need to determine the depth of field necessary. This algorithm will help you do that.

Top 10 Portfolio Faux Pas

The online photography portfolio is essential, as is a well-crafted book and leave-behind.

Top 10 Portfolio Faux Pas
by The Creative Group

A well-crafted portfolio can open doors to new jobs and clients. But if you submit a sub-par book, you'll likely find "no entry" signs at just about every door you knock on. Following are some mistakes that can drive hiring managers a little crazy, especially when they need to find a talented designer quickly. These 10 portfolio faux pas can cause employers to pass on your book and move onto the next one. Avoid these errors, and you'll have an immediate advantage over the competition.

Faux Pas #10: Providing "over the hill" examples. Don't include dated items in your portfolio, unless they're from a particularly high-profile assignment. No hiring manager wants to see a logo from a college project you created 15 years ago. Instead, include only pieces from within the last three years.

Faux Pas #9: Not bringing a leave-behind. Sixty-four percent of executives surveyed by The Creative Group said it's important to leave a work sample behind after an employment interview. You might want to develop a piece to use specifically for this purpose, such as a stand-out postcard that contains all of your contact information.

Faux Pas #8: Only having an online portfolio. The good news is that you have a visually stunning and well-organized online portfolio. The bad news is that this is the only way a hiring manager can see your work. Most design firms want evidence of your ability to produce excellent work online—in addition to a book you can show them in person. How you present that portfolio is important, too: In a survey by our firm, 65 percent of advertising and marketing executives said they preferred a bound book or separate container with loose pieces inside.

Faux Pas #7: Not customizing your portfolio to the client's needs. When preparing your book, make the samples specific to the project type, industry and client. If you'll be working on direct-mail pieces, for instance, be sure to provide samples of that type of work at the beginning of your portfolio. There are three common ways to organize your book: by industry, media specialty or chronologically. Most corporate clients will be interested in an industry-specific portfolio with examples that relate to their lines of business. If you're just beginning your career, however, arranging it chronologically may be preferable so you can highlight your career growth.

Faux Pas #6: Not telling a "story." The way you arrange your portfolio and present it is just as important as the pieces you include. Your samples should spark conversation about your contributions to previous employers. Ultimately, your book should tell a story about the value you provided clients over the years. Always be sure to strike a balance between showing any challenges you overcame and not coming across as a prima donna. When describing a piece in an interview, for example, you might talk about how a redesigned website increased traffic by 20 percent or how an award you won helped improve the firm's brand recognition. Essentially, you want to demonstrate what changed as a result of your work on a project. Companies want to know that they'll make a good investment in hiring you.

Faux Pas #5: An online portfolio that takes forever to download. David Langton, a principal graphic designer at Langton Cherubino Group, says it best: "Don't make me wait for your portfolio to download. I won't." Hiring managers are short on time and none of them wants to waste it waiting to see your work. Likewise, skip the musical introductions. Depending on your musical tastes, it can be jarring to go to a website and be greeted by Beethoven's Fifth Symphony or Michael Jackson's "Thriller." If you must have a fancy introduction for your site, be sure to include a prominent "skip introduction" button.

Faux Pas #4: Creating an unsolved mystery. Be sure to clearly identify each piece in your book by including the name of the client for which you produced the piece, your role in the project, the software you used and a sentence or two describing why it's important.

Faux Pas #3: Leaving no piece behind. You might be able to assemble enough material in your book to rival "War and Peace," but resist the temptation to show the hiring manager all your work. When it comes to portfolios, less is definitely more. A survey by The Creative Group shows that prospective employers feel the ideal portfolio should include about a dozen items (for print - more if online).

Faux Pas #2: A sloppy book. Thirty-one percent of advertising and marketing executives polled by The Creative Group said unorganized samples bothered them most when reviewing portfolios. Your book should be neat and clean. If you're including bulky items, carry them separately. Along these same lines, don't give too much information about a particular example. Displaying numerous versions of the same piece, for instance, can be confusing to the person reviewing it. Generally, it's best to include only one final version.

Faux Pas #1: Not having an online portfolio. You must have an online portfolio; because all companies have a web presence today, few hiring managers will consider you for a job if you don't. And keep in mind that 22 percent of advertising and marketing executives surveyed by our firm said they preferred an online portfolio when viewing a creative's book. Cover all of your bases and have both an online and hard-copy portfolio available for hiring managers to review.

Remember that your book is never a finished project: You will constantly need to update and revamp it to reflect the job market and your skill set. While it's true that developing an online and hard copy of your portfolio requires significant time and effort, consider it a long-term career investment.

Used with permission from The Creative Group.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

ASMP Seminar on Pricing and Negotiating

Pricing and Negotiating

Are your clients asking for more and paying less? Are your costs increasing? Are you struggling with how to determine your fees? And, what about talking to clients about price?

Susan Carr presents a candid discussion on licensing and pricing your work. Take the mystery out of determining your fees and setting licensing terms. Get real world strategies for pricing in this tough business climate. Learn how to sell your prices with confidence.

Seminar topics:

  • What you need to know about copyright.
  • A real world look at how to license photography.
  • Why are copyright, licensing and pricing connected?
  • Pricing models.
  • Learn the steps to determining what to charge.
  • Selling your price.

I Stink At Negotiating

Do you panic when you have to discuss money with a client? Do you talk too fast, ramble or sound indignant? Do you give in too fast to a lower price or broad licensing terms?

Join Blake Discher for his highly acclaimed "Strictly Business 2" lecture on how to win jobs. Blake will teach you the steps to become a top negotiator. This critical skill can change your business in the most profound way — more and better work! Blake will walk you through real world scenarios, show you how to listen and talk to prospects turning them into loyal clients.

Seminar topics:

  • Learn how to prepare for a negotiation.
  • Researching the client.
  • Increasing your clout.
  • Listening skills.
  • When is it time to walk away?
  • The follow-up is critical.

  • When And Where
  • September 19, 2009
  • 9:00AM to 1:30PM (social time starts at 8:30AM)
  • Bolt Space, 2410
  • Farrington Street
  • Dallas, TX

    Click here to REGISTER ONLINE

    More In

Friday, August 14, 2009

Email from Capture

Below is an email from Capture, our on-campus photography student organization.
Hey everyone!

There's a hot air balloon event going on this weekend that you might be interested in! Check it out at Highland Village Balloon Festival.
Might be a great place to get some cool shoots!

Also, below is a link to a pretty cool video about a nature photographer and his journey as he documents the changes in the national parks across America - more specifically in this video, The Northern Rocky Mountains.

Very inspiring. Check it out:

Finally, below is a website I came across the other day with tips and tricks for the Do-It-Yourself photographer. There's a lot of cool tutorials and methods on this website for those that might not have the budget for the big equipment. Either way, it's a great site to take a look at:

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Make the Most of Your Small Speedlights...

Strobist is a community of photographers who started a dialogue, because they were looking for cheaper, quicker, easier, and more portable ways to do lighting on location.

Many of these photogs wanted to find ways to make their tiny, off-camera flashes work like big, studio strobes. Instead of spending thousands of dollars and lugging around cases, these guys are finding clever ways to spend far less and to provide comparable lighting that fits in a very portable bag.

Some people treat the Strobist mentality with the same reverence as people look at recycling and "going green." In other words, Strobist is an efficient way to do-more-with-less.

Check out the Strobist "Lighting Boot Camp."

We are following the Strobist Blog, and you can too!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Join the Photopol Community is a site for Dallas photographers to share thoughts and ideas and learn more about the photography community. Influential photographers are regularly featured, and students can also submit their work.

The site even features fun do-it-yourself ideas like this tip on making a chest-o-strap for your camera...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ready to Assist?

Working as an Photographer's Assistant or as an Assistant Photographer is a critical step toward building your skill-set and toward building your understanding of what is expected of you on a shoot. Recently, I read a blog entitled, "So You Think You Want to be a Photo Assistant?" This article was a great been-there-done-that approach to successfully finding work as an assistant. The truth is, you can ask any great photographer for advice regarding working as an assistant, and you will get and ear-full. Of course, none of this great advise is worth anything unless you put it into practice!

Below is a link to the ASMP Assistants list, in case you are ready to throw-your-hat-in-the-ring.

ASMP Assistants

The bottom line? If you want to work in this industry, working as an assistant is vital to establishing experience and credibility.