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Taking Creative Control of Your Imaging Equipment

Photo: Chuck DeLaney, NYIP DirectorWhat does it mean to be a photographer or a videographer? It's partly knowing how to use your equipment, but it's primarily having confidence in yourself and calling the creative shots. As we teach at the New York Institute of Photography, equipment can't make important decisions about shutter speed, aperture, panning, framing, zooming, focusing, filters, or cropping. It's all in your hands; you've only to get your brain and creativity in gear to capture memorable shots or shoot wow-inducing, well paced footage.
We have some tips for photographers as autumn rolls around. Before you know it, leaves will begin to turn color, and there will be some creative and technical decisions to make as you venture out to shoot Nature's blaze of glory. Be sure to look at our popular Fall Photo Tips article for practical how-to suggestions, and here's some inspirational video footage by Finland's Joona Vainio, taken with a Canon HV30 ... but creatively controlled by Joona. 

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Photojournalist Photo Assignment from Wired Magazine: Family

If you're a follower of RAW FILE, the online blog from Wired magazine, you know that they've got a new outreach program to photographers who fancy themselves as photojournalists. The assignments are highly targeted, but they leave it so that anyone can submit materials following their strict guidelines. 

The Corner Store was their first assignment, and they had photographers document the place where you buy your cigs and Slurpies and candy bars and show us the people who work and frequent your local hangout. While the critiques of submissions are pretty shallow, this is an interesting way for any photographer to hone her or his photojournalism skills.

The next assignment deadline is September 16, and focuses on a photo that profiles a Family Member, giving us an intimate look at someone close to the photographer. Click the link to read the full assignment and submission guidelines for your photo and story (yes, it's journalism combined with photography!). Good luck.

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Photo Marketing 101: Get Creative with Business Cards

Welcome back to Photo Marketing 101, our series of blogs on photographer marketing. Last time, I asked you to do the work, calling for questions from our readers about marketing. Response was limited, but the questions we did get in the comments and via Twitter were good ones. In fact, I wanted to take the time to answer one of those questions in this week’s post.

Lime Light asks, “Any advice on business cards? With photos or without? 2 sided or tent fold?”

I would like to preface my answer with this very simple fact. There is no “one size fits all” approach here. Some of the ideas presented below will appeal to you, others won’t. Some will work for certain photographers, and some won’t. What I will do is give the reasoning behind each suggestion so that you can make the decision on your own.

There are 4 main aspects of your business card that you should pay attention to, because each will send a message about you and your business: size, photos (design), the back, must-haves.

1. Size

The size of your card will make a big difference in the reaction it gets when you hand it to someone. We’ve all been given business cards in the past, and there is an assumption of the size a card should be, because most are cookie cutter jobs that meet the standard. So, when someone receives a card that is smaller, larger, or a different shape entirely, it stands out. Any marketer will tell you that standing out from the crowd is a good thing. Better to be remembered for anything than forgotten altogether.

I would not recommend using a fold of any kind, because I think that takes the notion of standing out too far. And keep your size and shape in check, which means don’t go overboard trying to stand out. There is a fine line between something that stands out and something that is just plain annoying. If I keep business cards in my wallet and yours doesn’t fit, where does it go? 

2. Photos

Treating your business card as a marketing tool means using it to deliver a message. As a photographer, that message is that you are a pro, and your photography is of the highest quality. Think about using one or more of your photos in the design of your card.

Another idea is including a head shot of yourself on the card. When the potential client looks back at your card, the headshot will reinforce who you are and what you do.

Plain white or solid color business cards are formal, and professional. But photography is an art, and your card is a chance to show off your artistic ability. Leave the plain white cards to the financial advisors.

3. Back

Use the back of your card. The biggest mistake people make is that they keep the back blank because it’s cheaper. The back of your card is prime marketing real estate.

That is where you can show off the best photograph you’ve ever taken, a headshot with a short bio and references, a promise or guarantee that you offer your customers, the URL to your website, blog, and social profiles, or anything else that deserves attention.

Check out some interesting business card designs here.

4. Must-haves

Business cards are a great place to get creative. But it doesn’t matter how creative you get if you’re missing the basic information a client needs to see. If you are missing some or most of the following items, you might be missing out on some business too. Your name, the business name (if different from your name), phone number, URL where they can find your work, email address, business address (if you have one).

The business card is a marketing tool. Sometimes it’s the first impression that you will make on a potential client or customer. So treat it that way. Get creative, and leave a lasting impression in the mind of anyone you hand it to.

Homework: Share with us any other business card tips you have.

P.S. If you have a marketing question, feel free to ask it in the comments here or Tweet your question to us using #PhotoMarketing101. Your question may be the next one we answer on our blog!


Photographing the Aftermath of Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene left twenty one dead, five million without power, and property damage of at least seven billion dollars. Yet despite this wide spread devastation, there are still many who felt the media unnecessarily overhyped the story. While I can understand a certain level of skepticism directed at today's nonstop news cycle, my experience with the storm proved just how powerful nature can be. In fact, seeing the destruction through my lens made it that much more real.

Much like the damage I photographed after the March 2010 Nor'easter, downed trees and scattered debris are all to be expected when winds exceed 55 mph. Hurricane Irene also brought major flooding with heavy rain, and a storm surge that forced ocean waters into the streets. As I drove around to survey the damage, many roads were simply not passable. I spoke with one exasperated homeowner whose entire first floor and basement were underwater. Neighbors repurposed their snow plows in an attempt to push the waters back towards the bay. Chainsaws rumbled in the distance as residents worked to clear fallen trees.

As a photographer, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement as you look for the areas with the most damage.  While searching for dramatic pictures, I had to remind myself to be cautious of falling tree limbs, downed electrical wires, and the very real possibility of becoming trapped on a flooded street. One wrong move, and you can become part of the rescue efforts instead of the person documenting it. Capturing images is important, but the safety of yourself and others must be taken into consideration.

My gear was very simple with a DSLR and 17-40mm wide angle zoom lens. Packing light made it easy to hop in and out of the car, take the shots I needed, and move on quickly. I used an aperture of f8 for most images to provide enough depth of field. This coupled with a higher ISO of 400 allowed  me to hand hold the camera at a fast enough shutter (1/125) to prevent any shake.

My electronic gadgets are charging in the public Library's outlets while I type this. A fallen tree limb crashed onto the neighborhood transformer causing the entire block to lose power.  Traffic lights remain dark. Although we are cooking on a charcoal hibachi and most residents are without hot water, we are the lucky ones. My heart goes out to the families who lost someone as a result of this storm.



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Hurricane Irene, Meet Big Storm Photographer Jim Edds!

Photo: Jim Edds Do you have a favorite Hurricane Irene story to relate? If you're an East Coaster, you're likely to be talking about this big storm for years to come. And if you're photographer Jim Edds, you probably got out into the thick of it and shot photographs.

Jim falls into several categories: adrenaline junkie, happy professional photographer, and proud graduate of the New York Institute of Photography. His road to photo fulfillment was a rocky one, however. When his research chemist position in the paint industry moved from the perfect beach location in Pensacola, FL, Jim decided not to follow. His eight months of unemployment “convinced me that life is too short not to do what you loved for a living.”

Edds had always enjoyed underwater photography, and he found an Environmental Specialist position with the Department of Environmental Regulation in the Florida Keys. He began to photograph
underwater subjects in earnest while enrolling in his NYIP course. 

“That course was key to my future success as a working Pro. At NYIP they teach you all forms of photography—not just outside.”

Jim now embraces photography for a living, and he chases hurricanes, waterspouts, freediving teams, and extreme weather subjects. His still and video work has been published in a wide range of outlets, including National Geographic, The Weather Channel, ESPN, Outside, Maxim, Discovery Channel, ABC News, Fox News, and The Travel Channel.

Here's a dramatic photo Jim just took of the eye of Hurricane Irene from Hope Town, Bermuda.

The following video includes some of Jim's footage, provided to the National Hurricane Center for this piece on Hurricane Storm Surge.


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