I know it may not be "morning," but I feel the idea of a good morning reflects the opportunity of a fresh start to our day. So, it makes me feel 'good.' My blog is designed to let us discuss the art of photography and the history of ourselves. Follow me as we go along.
Have you seen Downtown Culpeper? Last night we had a new artist enjoy a festive crowd at their ribbon cutting. The Sweets were there, the Chamber was there, the spirit was there, and the people came. We had bottled water, brownie samples, microphones, and traffic control. So what does this have to do with photography? Well I was there with a few photographers as well but the artistic planning was there before we came to wish them well.
When you plan an event--party, wedding, appointment, whatever--you need to ask, "what do we wish to accomplish?" I look for a skilled attorney to handle my legal needs and a different skilled Pro to take care of my car. So please ask questions before you dive into something you may not fully understand. Did you know a cupcake will cook different than a thicker cake? Did you know the accent lighting needed for someone with dark hair is different for someone who is fair? The folks from Seriously Sweet took a lot of time to plan their ribbon cutting last night. The planning of a street event or the baking of 1200 cupcakes for a Bride's wedding takes some Seriously Sweet artistic talent as well as serious business planning.
I don't know what expertise you have, but I pray you will enjoy the skills of the small business people who are eager to work for you. And if you enjoy you favorite...stylist, deli-lady, cheese expert, photographer,...support them and tell others. Some people have not had the pleasure to work with an artist or to visit Culpeper's famous Downtown.
Today this may sound like your Dad talking to you--so in honor of Father's Day, here goes!
I was reminded this morning of a conversation I had after I got my first real 35 mm SLR back in the late 70's. Back then, I was feeling so cool--knocking out color and B/W images of family, friends, and beautiful landscapes. I had shot weddings--for free--for a variety of friends and they were more impressed with my work than their paid photographer! I asked a photographer friend for advice on getting started in the business. He started talking about contracts, business licensing, federal id numbers, accountants, lawyers, and dangers to avoid. I wanted the tricks, the cool lenses, best camera body, and what toys I needed to have in the camera bag. He told me stories of equipment failures at the church, batteries that were suddenly dead, drunk guests that damage your camera, clients that split up after the wedding and refuse to pay their bill, and wedding venues that change at the last minute and you are not told, and on an on.
The story was--film is art and photography is a business. We all want to see the best and prettiest outcome; but as business owners, we need to be ready for any event. There are many legal requirements that artists are not imagining. As I moved from county to town, I needed a town business license. If I use my car, I may not be able to take the personal property discount for my now "business" car. Then we must be ready for the "I don't like these so I am going to sue you" conversation. Or the "you have 15 minutes to take the 120 poses on the list and we can't find the Bride." (That is 1 poses every 7.5 seconds.) And when you come to Tax time, you will find out about taxes you did not know existed.
Now I am not here to bring you down. But as my father told me, do a job you love but ask questions. Don't get penalized on a rookie mistake if you can help it. If you are taking money for a job--you are responsible for the work. The reason you build a doghouse or swing set is because you enjoy the work. But your house is built by those with training and the right equipment. So if you want to be a Doctor or a Professional Photographer, get the right advice so you can get the training and enjoy the work you do.
Pros--they seem to be different. When I am at the gym, they stand out by their abilities and their dedication. When at the garage, they have tools and training that make the job look so easy. And a trained builder can construct a beautiful house that is straight, true, level, and lasts for years to come. And of course, we want our pilots, doctors, and military to be the best because their job is important. They have to be able to do the job, no matter what, and then do it again.
So, on special occasions--births, wedding, graduations, reunions...don't rely on your cell phone or the new skills of someone with a cool camera that wants to help. Hire a professional. Someone who can anticipate and adapt to changes and surprises. They will be there to deliver your work, answer questions, and help you in the future. For them, it more than a hobby.
Go to PPA.com and search for what you need and where you need them. And remember, during your search you can specify Certified Professional Photographers only. They have been through extensive training and testing so you can be sure to get a professional!
Good day friends.
A wife asks her husband to hang a new mirror on the bedroom wall. Being the good husband, he grabs his tools, and hangs the mirror before going to work. The wife calls her hubby and asks him to rehang the mirror when he gets home. You see, the husband was over 6' tall and the wife was closer to 5'2". Did the husband do what was asked of him? Yes. Was his wife happy? No. The husband put the mirror at his eye-level. Opps!
Funny stories like this are told every day. When it is a big party, wedding, special celebration, business event--make sure things go as planned. Ask your photographer if they are board certified and trained in the style of work you are requesting. Ask if they have insurance. Do they have a contract with the correct times, locations, and dates? Do they have backup equipment with them in case a lens, flash, or camera, stops working during the event?
If you are the photographer, your client should be asking these questions. But just like my story, the wife didn't know she needed to ask if he would put the mirror at her level. No one wants a sad story after the event. Ask the questions--even the silly ones--and be assured you will only have good memories.
As artists and business people, we should strive for excellence and ethical practices in our work. Not everyone wants to go the distance and that, unfortunately, reflects on the rest of us.
Case in point, a recent client asked me to print another photographer's work. It seems she hired someone to do a boudoir session that was a "great price." The $400 session included a rented room, 2 bottles of wine, and printing rights to the images. The photographer did not even offer prints or albums of the work. Since the room was rented, room clean up and furniture resetting would be left to housekeeping staff. The images were on a disc but my client could not open the images from the RAW format the photographer supplied. When the images were copied to JPEG my client still could not get them printed at the drug store. Hence she came to me. Her photographer had never given her a usage license for printing or receipt. Once everything was resolved, the images sorted, cropped and retouched, and a few printed for the intended gift, I have a new satisfied client.
My point, however, is how many people would just give up--pointing to the questionable photographer? Or be too embarrassed to do anything? How many innkeepers would see the cameras and lights and remember the trashy expense of the last photographer's session? To fellow professionals, keep up your good work, act professionally, and demand others treat you accordingly. PPA and VPPA offer wonderful training and support to all types of Photographic Artists. The proper portfolio and business approach is a great introduction to potential partners and clients.
I am sure there are those who will still see our craft as meaningless; but, just remember the lives we touch when we do our job well.