10 things a Photographer should know – Part 2

2. Clients cannot tell you what they need.
“Clients hire you because they have a problem. They need a great visual representation of something, a solution. They think they know the best way to photograph something, but they don’t really. That’s why they hire you. Take their suggestions to heart, because they definitely know their brand, product, their vision–perhaps even shoot a few versions of the images they THINK they want to see first–but then go nuts with own vision. Add value. Show them something they didn’t expect. Don’t be a monkey with a finger. Remember why you got hired…that YOU are the badass image maker. If you are good enough to get selected for the job, you should be good enough to drive the photographic vision.”
Chase Jarvis
* Your role as an image maker and service provider is to offer solutions. Never forget that. You are being paid to come up with ideas or shape the dreams of your clients and manifest them into tangible images that tell their story. You need to learn to listen to your clients and not railroad them. Say ‘Yes’ and try never to say ‘No’. Clearly there are restrictions governed by either technique, practicality or even safety that make the manifestation of some of their ideas virtually impossible. You will be judged on your problem solving abilities and the way you communicate in a respectful and authoritative manner. Be reactive and responsive to your clients needs and you will not fail to run a successful business.
MGD

Second iLux Studio Lighting Masterclass – 30th April London

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This second in the 2015 series of Studio Lighting Masterclass Workshops is on 30th April and is designed to examine and implement ‘best practice’ in professional portrait studio lighting. The course will cover ‘Low Key’, ‘Mid Key’, ‘High Key’ and a glance at ‘Beauty Lighting’ for good measure. How often have we been told to simply place your lights at position ‘X’ and at forty-five degrees and it will be OK? What does this mean and why? I will take the myth and legend out of studio portrait lighting and cut to the chase with a common sense, practical approach that will be understood and above all, a workable solution.

Who should attend and why? 
This is an ideal course for those wanting to firmly establish and understand lighting techniques for consistency and profit in a successful professional business. The term ‘Studio’ can mean any location in which we set up a controlled lighting scenario so this will work particularly well for those who work in clients homes or other non-permanent situations. This is the ideal “Pop Up Studio’ scenario.
The Workshop will run from 9.30am until 5pm. The day will be split into 4 sessions with Q&A to finish.
Workshop Fee: £60.00
A light lunch and refreshments are included.
To book your place simply email: mgrahamedunn@mac.com with your request and we will take it from there.

Photographic Studio for Hire – Leamington Spa

 

I am pleased to announce that the Studio here at Victoria House, Leamington Spa, England, UK will be available for hire at extremely competitive rates from next week. So if you’re looking for a place to develop your photography, look no further and contact me on 07854 249710. If you need help, my Mentoring services are also available.

 

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2015 Photography Workshops – Coming Soon

2015 will bring an opportunity for you to participate in a series of Full and Half day Workshops. Full days will run from 9.30am until 5.30pm at £150.00 per person within a select group of only 6 delegates. Half day Workshops (4 hours duration) with only 8 delegates will be available in certain subjects at £100.00 per person. More information and dates will be released next month. 
Genres will include:-
  • Natural Light Portraiture
  • Studio Lighting for Portraits
  • Hollywood Classic Boudoir Portraits
  • American Style Seniors and Prom Portraiture
  • Tweens – Portraiture for the 10-12 year old market
  • An Introduction to Wedding Photography
I am also open to your ideas and inspiration for other workshops, contact me via email or Facebook to register your interest or secure a place. 
Taken during a session to explore the Victorian fascination between beauty and the macabre at the ancient ruin of Guys Cliffe House in Warwickshire

Taken during a session to explore the Victorian fascination between beauty and the macabre at the ancient ruin of Guys Cliffe House in Warwickshire

Photographers – Artists or Tradesmen? – Part One

Only a few short months ago in London, when the Sun was sort of shining, on and off,  meeting my best friend from school and walking around the National Gallery was a wonderful way to recharge life’s batteries and put many things into perspective. Recently I have had many people ask me what photographers have influenced me creatively and my answer is always the same….none. It’s not that I don’t have respect for fellow professionals past and present or admire their work, it’s way more than that. Let me first ask who or what are photographers in the 21st century? Surely if there had been cameras around in the Renaissance or the Baroque, wouldn’t they simply be called artists? Isn’t a camera simply another tool of capture and expression as much as a paint brush, palette knife or canvas? Wouldn’t they have been driven, patronised and commissioned by exactly the same people back then? Those being the Church or the extraordinarily wealthy wishing to commemorate their status in society and buy their way to immortality via the Pearly Gates?

What made them artists in those halcyon days was their use of light and its importance in showing a three dimensionality to their subjects. So if I have to identify a great difference, then it would be that on the whole, photographers have extremely poor lighting skills and simply forget that our art and craft is all about flattery! I think if Lorenzo de Medici commissioned your average photographer back then, it would not have been long before their heads adorned spikes in St.Mark’s Square! So here’s a wake up call to all those who have poor or no skills and scream “It’s all about expression and the moment”. How wrong can you be and if only it were as simple as that!

I remember my first day on my Fine Art Foundation Course just like it was yesterday. A bunch of enthusiastic, idealistic Art students proudly turn up with mahogany boxes loaded with Windsor & Newton oil colours, palette knives, sable and hogs hair brushes only to have them gathered up and locked away in a cupboard. Our tutor, a crazy Yorkshireman called John Yeadon, whose idea of a holiday was throwing stones at the troops in Chile, travelling with his beloved Cello and wrinkled clothes crammed in its battered case, handed us each a toothbrush with the immortal words “You buggers will learn to see light in all it’s beauty AND learn to paint with this!!!! When you’ve learned that, you can have your posh boxes back!” Talk about a wake up call!

Next instalment coming very soon….

To enter, or not to enter…that is the question!

Debate rages all over the internet on Photography Awards with a plethora of choice out there, just what should you consider when choosing and entering?

The primary question seems to be one of motive. Why exactly are the organisers offering such amazing prizes or huge financial rewards? What do the organisers get out of it? Will they steal my copyright? Will they hijack my identity? And possible the real big one, are the results ‘fixed’?!!?!

So what makes a great award well worth entering? First of all, integritity. One where the honoured judges are not compromised by being given a whole list of do’s and don’ts that undermine and potentially embarrass them. After all, the final results are firmly pinned to the reputations of the judges rather than the organisers themselves! If a worldwide award purports to truly represent the very best of imaging then ‘censorship’ is highly inappropriate at any level including cultural or religious differences. One shining example of ‘Best Practice’ is the World Press Awards which are probably the most sought after and highly valued accolades. If its ‘Press’ then there are no holds barred which results in a massive diversity of imaging that illustrates or highlights issues, situations or conflicts that affect us all. Their judging process is clean and efficient and their judges are drawn from the upper echelons of the press. Practitioners who have truly seen it all and as they say, got the T Shirt.

Another renowned competition is HIPA, The Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum International Photography Award. With a 2014 prize fund exceeding $400,000 USD and a top Prize of $120,000 it is indeed the World’s richest award. This year it has four categories with it’s flagship being “Life in Colour”. This is not what it appears to be at first view. A more understandable interpretation my be more culturally termed, ‘life’s rich pattern’. I am sure the Judges will be looking for far mote than a kaleidoscope of actual colour within images! The other categories are ‘General’ (essentially an open category), Faces (especially for Black & White submissions) and ‘Night Photography’. For more information you can visit http://www.hipa.ae/en/life-in-colour-2014-2015/categories

Finally, and this is one close to my heart for many years as its Chairman of Judges, is the CBRE Urban Photographer of the Year awards with the acronym, ‘UPOTY’. With a single theme, “Cities at Work”, it poses an exciting challenge to its entrants which for the last two years has been worldwide. Historically there have been prizes for each of the 24 hours of the day with a top prize of a photo safari somewhere in the world. Once again, for more information please visit http://www.cbreupoty.com

Good luck, share your images and be successful!

The Problems of Peer Praise in Photography

“You rock!” “Your image is awesome!” “This shot is fantastic!”

All well and good but when those accolades come from people who are friends, relations or acquaintances, do they have any real value? Are they indeed truths or simple back slapping gratuitous behaviour to enhance possibly the worst possible barrier to real progress in becoming a better photographer? I mean EGO!

It is beyond doubt that those who have an incapacity to divorce their ego’s from their images, that often negative emotional attachment that makes appropriate constructive critique a serious issue, simply feel they cannot learn anything at all from their peers or those who have proved their mettle, achieved the highest ‘measured’ standards and now dedicate a part of their lives to the education and inspiration of others.

To those in the ‘Professional’ sector it is the singular cause of angst against what they dub as ‘Wannabe’s’, ‘Weekend Warriors’ or worse.  People who one day pick up a camera, start snapping away with no experience or referring to ‘YouTube’ as their Photo Bible and call themselves ‘Pro’s’ because their families and mates tell them (in 95% of all cases) that their images are good, when in truth, the exact opposite applies!

It is an inescapable fact that all newcomers to the photographic profession must start somewhere. My firm belief is that everyone should invest in proper education. Learn the key skills that are essential to best practice. Cover all bases and master techniques. Get yourselves a real Mentor with a wide skills and knowledge base. And above all, take the well intentioned ‘peer praise’ of their friends and relations with a pinch of salt., smile, and learn the art, craft, ethics and profession you have chosen.

TO BRING LIGHT & LIFE IS TO INSPIRE…..

Shooting to sell and not for self!

I am now in the third month of my own Continuous Professional Development Mentoring Programme and I am learning as much as my charges, particularly as I’m forced to focus on what makes a viable photographic business. My feelings that Photographers are just another kind of retailer are well know and further, that if they have the ability to divorce their ego’s from their imaging that ultimately they will sell more and become successful rather than being a ‘struggling artist’.

The key to this is to learn to shoot to sell and not for self. This demands a discipline and efficient uncommon in the photographic industry. In essence you’ll make more money marketing your business and shooting sessions rather than spending endless hours in front of a computer editing vast numbers of images for customers who are more than happy to banish 95% of what you shoot to the virtual dustbin.

As an example I am going to chat about Albums. Those collections of images that are kept as treasured heirlooms by families as they grow  and move from generation to generation. In essence a visible recorded history in images that recall moments in time never t be recreated but preserved forever.

Recently, I was invited to visit Album Epoca in Riccione, close to Bologna in Italy. These wonderful people have been friends, colleagues and indeed, suppliers to myself and some of my esteemed worldwide colleagues. From the outset I was deeply impressed at the scale of the operation being Italy’s number one supplier that has been built upon a reputation of feeling a passion for the industry, the importance of ‘team & commitment’. Indeed they are so much more than an Album company.

Led by Andrea Mainetti their stylish and visionary CEO, ably assisted by sales supremo Federico Casini, one cannot be less than impressed by the way they have steered this company to the forefront on home soil. In recent years they have been developing an enviable reputation in many countries including the USA and the United Kingdom.
Their focus is on handmade products with strict quality control. Indeed every process is carefully monitored and Epoca’s team of dedicated craftsmen and women take their jobs extremely seriously. To see such quality control procedures in action was amazing. Check, double check, triple check at each and every stage! The Album Design division feels like you are walking into a science laboratory with white coat clad technicians and creative designers working tirelessly to interpret photographers selection of images and produce story telling albums. The colour management process is continually monitored to ensure consistency, indeed no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of excellence in manufacture and customer service.
Why would any busy photographer spend countless hours at a computer designing their albums when Epoca provide that service totally free of charge? It makes no sense to me at all. The time spent on that laborious task could be better utilised in acquiring more business and generating greater profits. To me, doing to all yourself is a false economy. Help is only a phone call away with English speaking staff ready to answer your questions.
They have an impressive roll of worldwide clients who are ‘household names’ in the photographic industry.
In the coming months I will be taking a long hard look at the products and processes offered by Italy’s number one choice of Album manufacturers – Album Epoca. Please go take a look simply by clicking www.albumepoca.com/martin

Autopsy of a One2One Studio Consultancy from the ‘British Studio Doctor’

I’ve had lots of questions about exactly what I cover on a Studio Consultancy so I thought I’d share the notes from a recent experience that proved to be a ten day task disassembling a business from the ground up! Prior to commencing this marathon ‘surgery’ I asked the Studio owner to make a comprehensive shopping list of areas they wished to cover. I was not quite prepared for what turned up, so here goes…

Section 1 – Technique:

Camera Settings:
what do they all mean, P,A,Ae,S,M,B etc
A. The most important settings as far as you are concerned are Manual and Aperture Priority. As far as White Balance goes, AWB, Flash and ‘K’ (Degrees Kelvin) are critical. 
Also, when to change them, in what settings/environments; which ones work together with each other (AV, flash etc); which ones to use inside/outside; when to use a flash and when not to use a flash?
A: After the last ten days, this you should now fully understand. You have determined ‘ideal’ settings for the Studio but just to clarify, you should now be shooting at 125th Second at f5.6 at 100 ISO with a ‘Daylight’ White Balance. That is the small shining sun icon on your camera. This is based on the colour temperature measurement of your Photogenic Studio Strobes. Outside on location try to work at 100 ISO too and shoot at shallow apertures for maximum separation of subjects from their background. The exception to this is if you have a multi layered group that exceeds the depth of field capabilities at the shallow aperture selected. Adjust your exposures by increasing or decreasing your shutter speed and NOT your aperture on location.
Lighting:
Different techniques? Softboxes vs.Umbrellas and the placement of the lights
A: You now have an appreciation of both short (Narrow) and Broad Lighting techniques. Remember, you are looking for the most flattering lighting position for your subjects based on ‘Physiognomy’ techniques and not your own convenience! Try to always centre the Iris in the eye sockets and keep the catchlights high in the eyes at either ten minutes to Ten or ten minutes past Two O’Clock!
I need to understand Metering!
A: Believe me, you now know how to use a Lightmeter!
How many lights should I use and when?
A: This was a more difficult one to answer, but you have had, amply demonstrated, the use of One to Four lights in the studio. Less for Low Key and more for White Background or High Key. Accurate exposure is critical in your High Key and White Background work. If your working aperture is f8 then your ‘Keylight’ is f8. Your fill, one stop less at f5.6 and your background lights at one stop over at f11. This way you should achieve a clean white background. For your Low Key work, remember your ‘One Light’ technique and try to fill with a reflector to open up the shadows. Feather off the edge of the light. Remember that lighting on the vertical axis as well as the horizontal is essential to a good lighting pattern. Finally, less is more! Be subtle!!!
 
Sports teams/groups (how to light them properly)
A. Planning sessions is your best move. Indeed all assignments out of studio should be carefully planned to make sure you have the right kit with you to undertake your assignment.
How do I meter each light and what numbers they should each be set at?
A: Working at shallow apertures increases subject from background separation. This you now understand. In the Studio you are finally working at f5.6 for individual portraits rather than your habitual f9.1 to f11 and all apertures in between for everything! 
Flash settings and techniques
A: Amply demonstrated and understood
 
Scrims and reflectors (how to properly use them)
A: Amply demonstrated and understood
 
Posing:
Babies, Kids, Families, Grads etc.
A. What you need are very specific ‘posing sets’ for each style of photography you shoot. If you like, a shot list. This is in combination with ‘Studio Set Building’ where you design individual sets for each assignment. Each set should be photographed, with notes, so every one is repeatable. You now have ample sets in Families, Seniors, Children of many ages, Business and Boudoir. Use them wisely and continue to add to your repertoire
Photoshop & Retouching
Please teach us ANYTHING!!! We need a lot more knowledge about this!!
A. Efficiency of workflow means less time on your computers and more time spent marketing your business. Essentially, the more you get right on camera, the less time you will need to spend ‘fixing’ things. I have seen many examples of you needing to fix things, some I have done for you and others have had to be done by your lab thereby incurring more expense and a dilution of your profits! This has to stop IF your business is to survive!
Should we be buying NIK – editing help needed BIG TIME!!
A. Nik Software is a valuable image enhancement tool and could be a useful part of your workflow. 
Section 2 – SALES & MARKETING:
 
Sales:
We need to be selling larger prints (bigger than 8×10)
A. First and foremost…Shoot images with significantly more space around the subject. This enables a variety of croppings and compositions from the same frame. It’s a hard fact that if you shoot for 8×10 then that’s pretty much all you’ll sell. when a tightly cropped image that is enlarged shows a head close to and exceeding life size, your clients will not easily make a purchase. 
 
How do we ge larger orders?
A. Shoot more variety in every session. You now have a far more extensive repertoire on every session  you shoot. Remember to keep building those shot lists! And while you’re at it, keep an image scrapbook as we discussed!
 
Offering images on a CD?
A. Absolutely! Do not be afraid of ‘shoot & burn’. Even if you make print sales its a good idea to offer a disc some time after the closure of the initial sale. After all, why spend time and resources with files on your system other than those you select as samples.
 
Refer a friend, does it work and how?
A. Friend/Client referrals are an excellent way of boosting your business. There are several options. Either a straight fee per session that the client brings in or more preferably, complimentary products from sessions you have already shot for them. Remember there is no such thing as free and everything you produce has a retail value.
Specials: (Halloween, Christmas, Easter etc.)
How do we get more customers in the door on these ‘specials’?
A: Tasteful and classy is best. If you look cheap you’ll sell cheap. This to date has been your downfall. It does not matter what your competition does, simply do it better. You’ve had plenty of advice on this from me
 
How do we advertise better?
A: Save your money and maximise your use of all social media channels. This you have had plenty of evidence of this last week so keep it up! Your local clientele are now literally going nuts seeing the vast differences in the quality and variety of your sessions. Making the short movies with Pro Show Web you now see is so important and engaging.
 
Offering images on a CD?
A: It is a harsh fact that this is what the market now demands. It does not mean you have to give your sessions away. In XXX for example the averages for a Senior session cut to disc is between $XXX to $XXXX. Don’t give your work away as its a one way ticket to business failure.
 
Pricing for these things (sittings, packages, minimum order??)
A: It is another harsh fact that you both have an unshakeable belief in a ceiling of achievability in your sales based upon what your competition is charging and other historical factors. In truth, people DO RECOGNISE QUALITY and are willing to pay a premium. You simply need to believe that too but right now, for me trying to convince you of that is a ‘No win scenario’. You now have a pretty full range of Product Price Lists in hand in PDF and a Master ‘Editable’ PSD format. Play with them. As you are now producing significantly improved standards of photography, you should have the strength of your own conviction and faith in your business to move your prices up now!!!. DO NOT add crap and gimmicks as it will only succeed in cheapening your presentation. 
 
Are our packages and things we offer not a good thing?
A: Your packages are a habitual part of your business however, you should at least try to be confident enough to sell wall portraits and other premium products. This is most effectively done by ‘pre-selling’. That is, talking about Wall Portraits, Wraps etc at the time of shooting. Continually referencing and reinforcing the beauty of display products.
Seniors:
How do I get kids back here and what can we offer to get them to sign up early?
A: T Shirts and branding! Design a ‘cool’ line of merchandising that is directly attributable to your studio. You also now have a number of excellent sample images that outshine your past efforts by a long way. This summer you should maximise your opportunities to add to your meagre portfolio. Also consider a Seniors ‘Ambassador’ programme. It wouldn’t hurt you to spend some tome on the internet researching such things. For example look at the business practices of great Senior shooters like Jennifer Hilenga from Minneapolis and Blair Phillips. If you chat and mix with fellow professionals you’ll find them happy to share their knowledge. 
Packages/Pricing/Products:
Are my prices too high too low?
A: In a word YES. But right now and unfortunately, its about believing what you can sell at prices you believe you can achieve. I can do nothing to change that mind set if you’re not prepared to grow some!!!!
 
Am I offering enough stuff or too much stuff
A: Far too many products but this has once again been dealt with amply. Lose the table full of tacky junk and gimmicks and concentrate on selling quality not trite XXXX!
 
Should I offer Metallic prints?
A: If you still don’t believe you can sell wall portraits then this question is irrelevant. Metallic prints are simply a different premium finish. Do your maths on them with your lab and take it from there.
 
We don’t offer cards or albums and there’s no excuse for it, just need help to get going on them.
A: Once again, in  a word YES. But right now its about believing what you can sell! Putting together an album is not difficult given the range of templates available in most ROES programmes. Failing that you can learn to do it either in ‘Adobe In Design, Yervant’s Page Gallery or in Photoshop. 
Answering Phones:
Are we not taking enough info down when we make appointments and are our phone techniques and skills okay? How can we improve and make them better?
A: You do a good job when you answer but never let a phone ring more than three times!
Sessions:
How much time to be spent with each sitting?
A. The average time on ANY session should be one hour unless it is a complex large family group or one that requires travel to and from a location. When shooting small children, patience is a virtue. Do not be afraid to take regular time out sessions during the shoot. If a particular pose or set isn’t working, have the strength of your convictions to abandon and move on.When shooting Seniors, go for a balanced session. Combinations of Studio and Location work well. In such cases allow a double session as you’ll find the returns are well worth it. You need to develop a mentality of shooting for album or photo book as this will encourage more variety of poses.
How to get our customers to leave some sort of comment on facebook after their session?
A. Social Media has become an important facet of every Photography Studio all over the world. The most important thing is to be positive and refrain from either personal or negative comments. NEVER invite comments on the style of a photograph. ALWAYS show your best work. When shooting Seniors for example, post a ‘mini-album of four or five shots from a session. This will enable you to build a following and an ‘Ambassador’ program. ALWAYS make sure you give each client at least one, low resolution, watermarked Facebook image to share with their friends and families.
 
Should we be offering something at their session if they refer a friend for any sort of session they will get (something) off their order? What to offer? What works & what doesn’t work?
A: Amply discussed with you. Remember, you can’t make a living by giving everything away free! Discount with product and not hard cash if you have to!
Ordering after customer sessions:
Should there be a minimum order total?
A: You already have these
 
How do we get them to come back asap to order so we aren’t tracking them down months after their session for an order?
A: Do a face to face viewing and ordering session where you actively SELL!!!!
 
Should there be a penalty for not ordering after so many days after the images are posted online?
A: By doing a proper face to face viewing session this should be avoided.
Should we have a contract for them to sign at the session for any reason, ordering time, picking up photos in a decent timely manner?
A. You should have a ‘contract’ with Terms & Conditions of business signed and in the file of EVERY client. Its all to do with expectations! It is known as ‘transparency in trading’ and it is something you can always fall back upon.
Networking:
All we use is Facebook, we don’t know or understand Twitter, but know it’s something we should be doing, especially with the high school aged kids.
Blogging.
A: There are plenty of articles and information about Twitter and other Social Media channels on the internet. research them all and simply try. You have nothing to lose. You must be far more active on Facebook as it seems to be the only channel you drive work from. Post regularly and in a chatty way.
Packing Photos: (when orders are complete)
In our coupon we include a free 5×7 and $10 off your next sitting (to be used in one year) stupid
A: No point in giving yet more free products away. It achieves nothing
Copyright letter
Should we include business card in with pictures?
A. You should ALWAYS have some kind of card that keeps your studio in the mind of your customers.
Donations:
How much should be spent each year on donations/benefits?
A: Simple answer is that your total marketing budget should be a minimum of 10% of your total income. More realistically 15% is sensible to budget for in a growing business that is trying to be a local market leader! Remember that anything you give away has a retail value with a ascribed profit margin. When considering a giveaway, look at the retail and direct costs of doing so. You are giving away valuable product and therefore this should not be done lightly. 
 
How do you tell people “NO” when you are getting asked for donations/gift certificates constantly for benefits for people and nobody is cashing in on them?
A: This is a easy one! Just look at my answer to the above question. Any giveaway has a real value and is not simply a throw away gift to be disposed of or abused. Packaging is everything and must be relative to the value of your giveaway. A beautifully printed voucher looks expensive. Under no circumstances give pieces of paper, promisory letters or emails! If the giveaway is for a good cause you must DEMAND that you are mentioned in any promotional materials or you will not honour the ‘gift’. Make your terms and conditions of giveaways extremely tough. Put very tight expiry dates on any gift, indeed a maximum of one month is more than sufficient. If an organisation has been given such a gift before that was not redeemed, then simply explain that there is a direct cost to your company of ANY giveaway and say NO!
School and Sports Photos:
Should people have to buy a package or spend a certain amount of money on each order. Sports, Proms, School pics etc. Should I include a copyright letter with each kids pics we return to them?
A: ALWAYS include a copyright letter explaining that it is illegal to copy images in any way and is indeed a criminal offence akin to theft. You will find suitable wording on the internet. As for ‘Packages’, you should always make sure every package you sell gives you the minimum profit margin you need to make the assignment viable. On the premise that less is more, keep the number of packages down to avoid confusion ad maximise sales. 
Old Backgrounds/Muslins/Props:
What to keep, what to get rid of?
A: Make a list of all your surplus backgrounds and props. Sell them on Ebay or similar. Again, to make room for replacements if needed. Some great backgrounds are produced by David Maheu and Denny Manufacturing. It is going to depend upon the style changes that are implemented in your “Studio Survival Plan”.
Old Assignments:
Should I be selling their files after so many years?
A: Make lists of customers/files 2,3,4 and 5 years and design a letter, hand signed, explaining that you are making space on your servers and this is a one time opportunity to purchase and keep their digital files/negatives at a very special rate. If you do not feet a response with letter 1 then send a final follow up letter, after which simply delete the files. Clearly explain that once deleted there will be no opportunity for retrieval. 
 
Slideshow Movies:
A: Use a Pro Show Web account form Photodex.  Currently it is a great price at $150 per year for a Premium Account. I will demonstrate slideshow building but yet again, there are plenty of ‘How To’ resources on the Photodex website at http://www.photodex.com
 
So, this was a synopsis of the feedback given to this ‘struggling’ studio. I’m pleased to say that they began to turn the corner while I was still there with the phone ringing off the hook with bookings and enquiries. Now, they are on a steady and sustainable growth, establishing themselves as the market leader in their area. If you are in a similar position and want to discuss One2One Mentoring from the “British Studio Doctor” then contact me soon. For this studio and others its been their best business decision ever!!!!

Working with iLux Lighting

It’s been just a under a year since I first came in contact with iLux lighting on the Photomart stand at at very last Focus on Imaging show at the NEC. Like a Magpie I was drawn to the clean lines of the slick design that would look good in any environment and mighty impressed with the build quality I would have associated with well known brands at a significantly higher price ticket. Unfortunately, there is an awful lot of snobbery attached to studio lighting and from a consumers point of view, just like selecting a trainer, its a nightmare. Begging the question, ‘how do you choose a set of lights?’

For the Social Photographer (Portraits,Weddings & Events) that should be an easy answer! After all, surely the whole point of great lighting is to emulate that which our creator gave us for free. Outside, we find a single ‘Keylight’ source, the Sun, but as we know, topshade, reflection and flagging offers us the added benefit of more diffuse fill, known more commonly as omnidirectional ‘Ambient light’. We also know that ‘less is more’ and it does not take a great deal of power to illuminate a subject well. After all, spare a thought for those Renaissance Masters who with nothing more than narrow high windows and candles, produced some of the most beautiful images in creation!
More power is not exactly your friend when it comes to studio lighting for the portrait photographer which makes the iLux RD 300’s a perfect choice! Bearing in mind that there is an equal need for separation of your subject from its background inside as well as out, it is not in your interests to be shooting with excessive depth of field. An output of 300 WS is more than enough for anyone. Of course if you are shooting outside and want to ‘balance’ flash with ambient light and your speedlights are not quite up to the task, the 600 WS cordless iLux E lights provide an excellent solution. These are available in the ever popular Bowens S fitting which will integrate with the entire iLux light modifier (Softbox) range and also in Elinchrom fitting too.
Where the range scores very highly is not only on construction and reliability but with unbelievable value for money. At under £400 for an RD 300 two light set up complete with stands, radio trigger, soft boxes and a carry bag, its unbeatable. Why spend substantially more for kit that will achieve the self same results. As a professional trainer of photographers I spend countless hours emphasising that the most expensive cameras in the world will never make you a good or even a great photographer, so it follows, neither will super expensive studio lights! After all, light is light and its how you use it that truly counts.
I am certainly not saying that there isn’t an important place for lots of power and fast recycling but perhaps think hard before embarking on that journey and the adverse affects on your bank balance. To me, the iLux system is my studio and location lighting of choice. From the versatile ‘Delta’ Studio Series ranging from 150 WS upwards to the ideal location cordless ‘Recce’ with 600WS of sure controllable power. Stylish looks, great build quality, excellent range of accessories and at an incredible ‘value for money’ price!
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