On Wednesday, we will feature articles from some of the most inspiring personalities in various creative fields. Watch out for excellent posts by leaders in photography, business and social media marketing.
Like many photographers, I face this internal struggle. Should I or should I not delete my images? I save so many files that I have this constant fear that my oversaving ways might have officially make me a hoarder. It comes as a huge relief to me to know that while my system for file storage may be excessive, photographers I admire do the same! In this awesome article, Vincent Laforet makes a very convincing case to not hit the “Delete” button. Hey, you’re preaching to the choir, Vincent!
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Post By Vincent Laforet
Do you delete your images in camera and do you delete images on your server or in your Aperture Library?
I think it’s a very important question, and my answer for the most part is: No – I don’t.
Why? I’ll use the following events as examples: my coverage of Hurricane Katrina, and my coverage of (actually pretty much any) Olympics. I was often rushing to make a deadline and under severe pressure. I had a clear idea of what the “news of the day” was and what images I needed to get out first, and I was sleep deprived. In that state, I become pretty close to being my own worst editor.
Once you make that initial edit – you almost NEVER MAKE a second edit of that work – EVER. All too often, you move on to the next event or day – and never get the luxury of looking back.
And why is that dangerous? Because editing on deadline or frankly editing your own stuff is like playing Russian Roulette for most photographers. Photographers are all too often their own worst editors – add to that a little stress, exhaustion or deadline pressure, and you’re playing with fire.
I borrowed someone else’s eyes – even complete strangers’ eyes – throughout the Olympics almost every day to help cut down my 15 images down to the top 5. That is the hardest thing to do when you’re editing your own stuff.
Why? Because a photographer is always attempting to achieve a certain result with their photographs, they have their mind dead set on a specific goal or result – and they do not always achieve it. It takes someone else to tell them either:
A. Hey, I don’t really see the picture at all. I think you didn’t quite make it. It’s “not quite there mate,” as one of my favorite Allsport editors Darrell Ingham used to say, or
B. Hey, what about that picture you haven’t even tagged that I see over here?
My mark of a good photo editor is not one who can pick between pictures A or B, but the one who sees photo Z – one that you never even knew was there yourself. I’ve met only a few editors who can do this throughout my career – but when you do, know that you’ve found a gold mine. These editors can literally help shape both your vision and career. They are the ones that see things in your work that you may not yet see – and they can help you shape the way you see and capture images.
Having a photo editor by your side is always (well almost) always, a good thing. As with any profession, some are good and some you need to steer clear of. What you need to do is to form a relationship with an editor. Let them know what you are trying to accomplish with your photography, and hopefully the two of you can go from there (and perhaps they can help you get there.) Some editors I actually go to to find out which photograph NOT to pick. I’ve worked with some whom I can go to on a consistent basis – and when I offer them up photo A or B – if they pick B – I’ll go with A every time. It’s not necessarily because they’re bad editors. It’s because you know your style is just the polar opposite of theirs.
Something to always be aware of as both a photographer and editor: over the years, people become conditioned to edit in a certain style – often their publication’s style. You edit because you know what type of images your publication will likely run and don’t give them ones you know will never make it in. Even though you, and perhaps even your editor, knows that image is a significantly better image.
This is one of the most dangerous aspects of working at the same publication or for the same client for too long – or for your entire career – it truly limits your growth, and the development of your vision. It can stunt your growth as a photographer. I can say that because it’s happened to me a number of times already in my career. I equate it to shooting with “your blinders on.” You stop seeing images – and are just on the lookout for the ones you know your publication will run. And that’s the death of you photographically in my opinion.
Every time I’ve gone back to do an edit – whether it’s after a 15-minute break, a 15-hour brake, a 15-day break or a 15-month break – my view of what images matter has dramatically changed. So much so that I just can’t justify deleting images (unless they’re completely out of focus, or overexposed or underexposed beyond recovery but hey – who knows what software they’ll write in 20 years that could potentially fix those images?)
Think about the classic images we look at that were shot 20, 50 or 100 years ago – while some are true classics, some of them really weren’t that spectacular when they were shot. But with time – even the most banal image – is fascinating to look at. I love to look at what people were wearing in the 1920s or what the streets looked like in New York City. And the same will be true of what you’re photographing today – that’s a lesson my father taught me very early on – and one that I’ve never forgotten – and a big part of why I don’t delete anything if I can help it.
Sure, you may think an image of an umpire walking in the background that your AF jumped to by mistake (instead of the star player in the foreground) is something you should delete immediately. But what if we don’t have umpires anymore 20 years from now (due to instant replay), what if that umpire happens to become one of the most famed umpire in history over time, or worse – gets into a car crash and dies that evening. You NEVER know – and keeping the frame is often the best thing to do in my book. The fact that we never really know what images will become valuable or relevant over time – is one of the magical parts of photography for me.
When I look back at the Beijing Olympics, I can already see images now that I missed in my initial edit and I might do an edit of “images that didn’t make it” at some point soon and post it on this blog – or images I did not chose to edit and transmit because of news value. When I look back at my images from Katrina, I can see an entirely different edit of that event – mostly because my shooting style has changed quite a bit since then. Given that I have kept every frame, I will have the option of going back through these and every event, 10-30 years from now and/or having a great editor do the same for me.
Don’t forget: your shooting style will change with time – and the images you like now are not necessarily the ones you’ll like 20 years from now. Some of your current “rejects” may become your selects as your style changes.
What is the downside? Obviously, you have to buy more CF cards so that you can keep more images as you shoot, it takes longer to copy them off of the cards and import into your editing software, and you need more hard drives to store these things. But given the cost of hard drive space – it’s pretty much a non-issue for me. The cost of hard drive data storage seems to drop by a factor of 10 every three or four years. This means that in two years, a terabyte hard drive should cost about $20.
Here’s the cost of 1GB of Storage over the past 22 years:
So is it worth deleting that 1 Terabyte of images? Isn’t there a chance that a single one of those might sell for over $20 in 3 years? Remember I shot about half a terabyte of images in Beijing – if these price predictions above are true – isn’t it worth $10 for me to hold onto every single frame given the historic nature of the Olympics?
When we used to shoot film – we used to say that the cost of film was the cheapest part of the overall production – and it’s true. Think of all of the travel time and expenses, production and post-production costs you put into a shoot, the film cost pales in comparison. So, shoot that extra roll (or take the role with 4 exposures left on it out of your film body and put a new one in case something big happens). Don’t hesitate; hard drive space is likely your least expensive cost. At least we’re not wasting film anymore.
Look at Dirck Halstead – a former Time Magazine photographer. His illustrious career of fantastic images has come down to one image – that was buried in a slidesheet deep in some abyss. Remember the Monica Lewinsky photograph – her embracing Bill Clinton?
“When the Lewinsky story broke, all these organizations started to go through their files, and found nothing.
I hired a researcher, and she started to go through the piles of slides in the lightroom. After four days, and more than 5,000 slides, she found ONE image, from a fundraising event in 1996.”
Dirck never would have known that his career would come to be in many ways defined by that one image – one that many of us would have likely “thrown in the bin” had we wanted to save slide sheets, or in our days hard drive space. I’d be surprised if not every single one of you hasn’t already regretted deleting an image at some point already in your careers.
I can’t tell you how dangerous it is to delete images on the fly on the back of your camera. You miss hundreds of images – subtle (sometimes not so subtle at all!) images – that are happening right in front of your as you are “chimping” on the back of your LCD screen. And then – you’ll also delete good images because you’re rushing, and because you just won’t see them on that small LCD screen. Remember, the mirror was up when the action was happening, and there’s a strong likelihood your eye never saw THE moment as you shot that last series of frames. So why rush to deleting those images the instant after you shot them – don’t they deserve a second look?
Using software such as Aperture has also been a game changer for me. I have over 400,000 images in my main library – and the app still zips through for the most part. Keeping all of my images is not a big consideration for me. I also chose to render large previews for each image/project in my library – this allows me to travel with my large library and make edits on my laptop – even though the raw files are back on my server and offline.
I also won’t tell you the number of “famous photographs” that have come to define certain photographer friends’ careers – that I know for a fact they completely missed during their initial edit – and someone else saw on the light table or monitor and said: “Hey – did you see this one?” I won’t mention names out of respect, but that alone should make you think twice. I’m talking “classic” single images that you associate with this one photographer or another – World Press Winners in fact.
The next time you’re about to delete images – ask yourself: out of the thousands of sub-”1 Star” images I’m about to delete – am I absolutely sure there’s not a single image on there that will ever sell or become more relevant throughout the rest of my career (or after I’ve passed on.) Wouldn’t it be wise to keep them for now – just to be safe? Given how cheap the cost of hard drives is – and how it will continue to drop – shouldn’t I just be conservative and store them?
One of my greatest challenges as a photography business owner is time. Between managing my studio, photoshoots and post-processing, my day is filled to the brim and sleep is in short supply. Still, I never compromise on the quality of my service or client communications. Jason Falls, founder and editor of Social Media Explorer, puts it succinctly in his article, saying that good communications, like good bourbon, takes time. I’m excited for Jason’s contribution as he is a leading thinker, educator, speaker and consultant in the world of social media marketing, public relations, digital marketing and communications.
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Post By Jason Falls
The dichotomy between the making of bourbon and the marketing of bourbon is amusing to me. Working with some of the most recognizable brand names in the spirits category isn’t unlike working with any other top-tier company, product or service. Marketers, public relations counsel and even social media strategists have to be nimble.
“When can we get that done?” said in a tone that suggests tomorrow morning is too late is a popular question fielded by those in the advertising, marketing, public relations and social media industries.
This isn’t a bitch session about my clients. They’ll know this is all true. Bear with me.
While some of the best communications ideas in the world were created in that hyperventilation chamber of death that is client deadlines, the one thing lacking in most approaches to market is the appropriate amount of time to ensure the program, campaign or effort is done right, or at least well.
“Everyone is competing for time,” Ben Worthen of the Wall Street Journal told me in a Vocus webinar I moderated. He was referring to public relations professionals competing for the time and attentions of journalists. But the statement can be made as an umbrella for the world.
I’m competing for time and my clients, agency, family, blog, extra-curricular activities, friends, fitness and personal hobbies are competing against me. (Note that I didn’t put sleep in that list. It is currently drawing the short straw.)
As a result of the cacophony of buzz that is our lives, we seldom have or even think to take the appropriate time to ensure what we’re doing is done well. Look closely and you’ll probably find a misspelling or awkward sentence here I would have cleaned up had I taken enough time. We do it with our clients or company. We do it with our meals or sleep. We do it with our friends and family. Some of us do it there too much and too often.
Bad PR pitches? Not enough time was taken to carefully craft them. Bad social media execution? Not enough time was taken to fully digest the possible challenges and outcomes or not enough time was spent being responsive to the audience. Bad advertising? Not enough time was set aside for quality checks, audience testing or research to ensure the strategy matched the collateral.
But good bourbon can’t be rushed. Many bourbons have age statements on the bottle. Knob Creek, for instance, is aged nine years. Nothing anyone does can hurry the aging along. Nine years is nine years. If it isn’t nine years, it doesn’t go in that clever little square-ish bottle. Other bourbons, like Maker’s Mark, is bottled to taste rather than age, so there’s no age statement on the bottle. But it still has a sweet spot window of aging that can’t be changed because more bourbon is needed.
In order to craft an ideal product, bourbon makers know the most important ingredient is time. We should all take a lesson from that philosophy.
Just to show you guys that I’m not bluffing when I said on TWiT Photo that I learned Photoshop through a Scott Kelby book – tada! Me with an ancient copy of Scott’s Photoshop CS. He’s been a mentor to me even before we met, and I’m so glad our paths crossed last month when Leo Laporte and I interviewed him on our new photography podcast. Scott totally showed us up – and he was every bit the engaging photography educator I’ve come to love. I’m super excited for the upcoming release of his new book, Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop. Enjoy some tips from the pen of the master.
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Post By Scott Kelby
Use Solo Mode To Tame All Those Panels
New users can get really flustered by scrolling up and down the list of open panels in Lightroom, which is why you should turn on “Solo Mode.” That way, the only panel you’ll see is the one you’re working on (and the rest all automatically collapse). This not only saves time, but cuts the clutter big time, and makes it easier to focus on just what you’re working with. You turn this on by Ctrl-clicking (PC: Right-clicking) on the title of any panel and choose “Solo Mode” from the pop-up menu that appears.
Store all your photos inside one main folder
You can have as many sub-folders inside that one main folder as you want. But if you want to have peace, calm and order in your Lightroom, the key is not to import photos from all over your computer. Choose one main folder (like your Pictures folder on a Mac, or your My Pictures folder on a Windows PC), and put all your photos inside that folder. THEN import them into Lightroom (and if you’re importing from a memory card, have those images copied from the card info a folder within your main folder). This makes backing up your image library a breeze. Every time I run into someone whose Lightroom life is a mess, it’s because they didn’t follow this one simple rule. Also, if you’re working on a laptop, it’s totally fine to store your photos on an external drive, rather than on your laptop.
Use Collections instead of Folders
Folders are where the actual photos you imported from a particular shoot are stored. Your good photos from that shoot, bad photos—the whole ball of wax. But once we import photos, what most of us really care about are the good ones; that’s why Collections were invented (well, it’s one of the reasons anyway). I always joke that “Folders are where we go when we want to see the shots that weren’t any good” because we put all our “keepers” in a collection right away. Collections are safe and will keep most users out of trouble.
Do as much work in Lightroom as possible
I now do about 80% of my work in Lightroom in itself, and I only go over to Photoshop in case of an emergency, or to do something that Lightroom just can’t do (like collaging images with layers, or creating professional level type, or using the pen tool, applying certain filters, etc.). You can do an amazing amount of your everyday work within Lightroom’s Develop Module (especially since the addition of the Adjustment Brush and Gradient Filter). Take the time to learn these tools and you will speed your workflow (and simplify your life) in ways you can’t imagine, by staying in Lightroom as much as possible.
Create Presets and Templates whenever possible
The key to working efficiently in Lightroom is to make Presets and Templates for the things you do every day (even though a lot of users never take the few seconds it takes to create even one). If you find yourself making a particular edit more than just a couple of times, make a Develop Module preset for it so it’s always just one click away. Have a printing set-up you use pretty often? Save it as a template. Once you start making presets and templates, your efficiency will go through the roof. Unless you’re charging by the hour, this is how to up your ROI big time!
How to Save Your Image as a JPEG
I get asked this question again and again at my Lightroom seminars. It’s because it’s not totally obvious how to do it, because there is no “Save As” or even just “Save” command under the File Menu (like almost every other app on earth). If you do go under the File menu, you’ll find four different Export commands, but none of them say “Export as JPEG” so again—it’s not real obvious. However, you can just choose the one called “Export,” when the dialog appears, you’ll have the Option to save your selected image (or images) as a JPEG.
Throw away your old backups
If you back-up your catalogs on a regular basis (once a day or weekly), you’re going to have a whole bunch of back-ups stored on your computer. If you have a lot of photos, those old outdated back-ups are going to start eating up a lot of space on your hard disc. Go to your backups folder and delete the ones that are more than a couple of weeks old. After all, if your catalog got messed up, would you want to go back months in time, or last week? Right – those old ones are useless.
It’s OK to have multiple Catalogs
You don’t have to keep everything in just one catalog – you can create as many catalogs as you want. You might want to create multiple catalogs if you’re going to have more than 40,000 or 50,000 images in one catalog. I have separate catalogs for portraits, for family photos, for travel photos, for sports photos, for weddings, and so on. I know a wedding photographer that creates a brand new catalog for every wedding he shoots. He likes the speed and cleanliness of of a fresh catalog with nothing it in but the photos from that one particular wedding. Creating a new fresh, empty catalog is easy – just go under the File menu and choose New Catalog (don’t worry, it doesn’t erase your old catalog; it just saves and closes it). To open one of your previously open catalogs, just go under Lightroom’s File menu and choose Open Recent.
Turn off Auto Show for panels
I get more emails from new Lightroom users asking if there’s a way to turn off this “feature” than you can stick a shake at. I have users literally begging me, “Please tell me there’s a way to stop the panels from popping in and out on me all day long!” Thankfully, there is. Ctrl-click (PC: Right-click) on the little arrows on the center edge of each panel. A pop-up menu will appear – choose “Manual” and the panels will only open when you click on that little arrow or if you press the F-key keyboard shortcuts. F5 to show/hide the top navigation panel. F6 for the filmstrip at the bottom. F7 for the left side panels. F8 for the right side panels. Or, press the Tab key to hide all the panels.
Ask yourself whether you need lots of keywords
We were originally taught to invest a reasonable amount of time adding global and specific keywords (search terms) to all the photos we import. If you’re selling stock photography, this is an absolute must, and if you have a client base that might call you and ask, “Send me all your photos of red car, and they need to all be in vertical orientation, and I only need the ones where you can see the driver, and the driver has to be female,” then you’ll want to keyword like a pro. If you’re just keeping track of the photos from your vacation to Paris last year, you might not need to go through all your photos and assign keywords. Ask yourself this question: When was the last time I couldn’t find the photos I need by just going to my Collections panel? If you’re not having problems getting your hands on the photos you need in just seconds, you might be able to skip all the keywording stuff. I’m not telling you not to keyword I’m just asking you to consider whether you need to add a bunch of keywords or not, because most users probably don’t need many (or any).
Skip Cohen has been one of the most profound influences on my career. He’s been a mentor, a friend and an ardent supporter of my work ever since our first phone conversation. During that phone call, he informed me that I had won the Hy Sheanin scholarship, an incredibly generous scholarship from WPPI to attend the WPPI expo in Vegas. He has also helped me on countless occasions to figure out how to channel my passion into marketable business skills. Because he knows the industry so well, he has been my guide all these years and I trust him to give me the best possible advice. Photography enthusiasts can look to his highly informative blog, Skip’s Photo Network, and seminal workshops, such as the upcoming Skip’s Summer School for an authoritative resource on the world of photography and photography business.
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Post By Skip Cohen
Okay, so you woke up this morning and for whatever reason decided your work is so good that one of the companies out there should sponsor you. Sound familiar?
Chasing the sponsorship rainbow can be a daunting task, mostly because there is no rainbow! The manufacturers, labs and service providers in our industry are buried in requests for sponsorship. The economy presents the obvious challenges and virtually everybody is cutting back on expenses. That puts you in line for support along with hundreds of other photographers and projects. What are you going to do to make yourself stand out?
Let’s see if we can develop a great list of things for you to think about before you go “fishing”:
What do you have to offer?
In my previous life at Hasselblad, I used to get requests from photographers who thought they should be sponsored just because they were creating great images with our cameras. NOT! Companies are interested in what you bring to the party in helping them sell their products and increase awareness for their brand. I learned a valuable way to look at sponsorship from Beth Meyer when she was at Kodak years ago. With every sponsorship request she would receive, she had one key question, “How is this sponsorship going to help me sell more Kodak products?”
Today, being a great photographer is only a qualifier. Being a requested speaker, being active in social media, having a blog, writing for one of the magazines or having a story about your work in a magazine are all key things a company will be looking at if they’re considering a sponsorship relationship. If you’re not a household word, then the issue becomes your potential. You might be a young gun and have potential for influence with newer photographers or you might have developed a unique application for the company’s products.
How are you using the products/services you want to represent?
Companies today have thousands of photographers to choose from if they’re looking for somebody who uses their products/services in exactly the way they were intended. It’s your job to find unique applications or events that will give a company greater exposure.
Long term versus short term?
There are all kinds of sponsorships to consider. Long term means just that – you’re looking to represent the company with some level of support or compensation for a year or more. Canon’s Explorer of Light program would be the benchmark for the most extensive sponsorship. At the other extreme would be a photographer who was only looking to borrow a particular product for a single application. Another example would be a charity event you’re about to photograph and looking for a lab to pick up the cost of prints in exchange for some level of exposure.
Obviously, everybody would love long-term sponsorship, but you have to walk before you can run and until you’ve made yourself unique and a virtual legend, most companies have limited funding for extensive support. It’s also important to define “extensive support.” The max is staying independent as a photographer, but being paid by a company on a regular basis to represent their products. These are pretty rare today, but it would mean being paid on a monthly retainer or for every program you taught using or promoting a company’s products/services.
How are you willing to be paid?
Are you looking for cash reimbursement of your expenses and speaking fee or are you willing to take support in trade? Being sponsored by a lab, for example, will often give a photographer access to all the great services they offer. The same would go for an album company, who would be willing to supply a photographer with product for his/her clients. Obviously, at the sponsor level, product/services trump any cash payments.
How’s your reputation?
Some of you are going to laugh about this, but I’ve seen some of the most obnoxious people on the planet furious because a company didn’t think they were good enough to be sponsored. Even more absurd is the fact that they protested too hard, aggravated everybody in the company and wound up taking years to recover. Nobody is interested in taking on your emotional baggage when it comes to handling rejection. Play it cool if you get turned down. The more professional you handle a rejection, the more likely you’re going to stay in focus for future projects.
For someone who jumped headfirst into the world of Facebook and Twitter, I struggled with social media ROI. Does my investment of time yield any real return for my photography business? To that, I say yes – social media allows me to connect with people I wouldn’t have otherwise known and enabled me to stay in touch with people I do know. Case in point: I got acquainted with Mr. Nice Guy and opera singer turned pro photog Dustin Meyer through Twitter. Dustin is an award-winning photographer based in Austin who inspires photographers with marketing and shooting tips on his blog MpactPhoto, the Austin Collages.net CLASS group and at WPPI. Here, he talks about the importance of presenting a quality image of yourself on social media. Be the nice guy, not the guy people want to avoid :)
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Post By Dustin Meyer
So some people call me a Twitter addict. I’ve also heard “Facebook fanatic”. Facebook even called me and did a case study on how I was using them to promote my studio. Right after that interview, they launched Facebook Pages. True, I do spend a lot of time on social media. Maybe because it’s a natural fit for my big mouth, or perhaps it caters to my more talkative nature. Either way, I use social media every day.
Queue the sighs of exasperation. I know. Every photographer out there is on Twitter. And what makes it worse is the constant barrage of self-promoting tweets I encounter every five minutes. Plus, there’s those spam bots that ask if you want to win a free iPad 2. No thanks, I already have one. So, how do we make sense of this “social mess”?
Disperse the brain fog, and take a deep breath. The one thing we always have in this world is our self. So, let’s start with that. Just like with dating, client meetings, or job interviews, you have to be yourself. If you are always out there putting up a front, people will start to back off fairly quickly.
Here’s an idea. Put something out there that’s genuine, without expecting any immediate gratification. Rather than running out into the street and shouting for everyone to pay attention to you, perhaps you could just say good day to the first person you walk past. Or even better, if you know about something that helped you, share it with others. Again, without any expectations of any return whatsoever. You will find that more people will appreciate your sincere generosity more than your ability to yell.
Why does this work? Junk is junk, whether it comes to your mailbox, your inbox, or your ear box. People become desensitized to the fuzz all the time. Why do you think advertisers are so worried about DVR? Everyone is skipping commercials these days. As photographers, you must remember that you’re out there to sell you, not your products or services. So represent yourself with a quality image of yourself, don’t just paint yourself with ads and bumper stickers.
Think of it like this when it comes to social media: we are all stars. But some of us are black holes, and others are supernovas. One kind always sucks inward, taking in everything and giving back nothing. The other is a bright undeniable source of energy that illuminates the entire universe. My favorite people on Twitter are those that find other people’s blog posts or other helpful information and share them with their followers. I almost always ignore those that are just out there to push themselves.
In conclusion, by presenting yourself as someone with an interest in others, you generate an image of yourself that people truly appreciate. Yes, it’s ok to share your excitement about your latest achievement. But keep it to a modest expression of glee.
So in this universe of social media, what will you choose to be? A black hole? Or a supernova…