Wednesday, May 6, 2009

We Interrupt This Blog...

I don't like interrupting a related series of postings, but this is a time sensitive message that may be of value to someone.

I spent six hours (plus travel time) at the Bellevue Hilton Inn last night to see David Ziser's “Digital WakeUp Call” seminar and I must say that David offers an impressive amount of information and goodies for the money. For me it was worth every penny and much more. David has many years of wedding photography experience and shares his approach to shooting, work flow, and business. There is a lot of information that transfers to studio photography, if not directly, then in concept. I highly recommend that you attend this seminar. At a minimum I guarantee that you will glean something of value. Often it is the little things that make the big difference. Go if for no other reason than to win a door prize. They gave away literally thousands of dollars worth of prizes and will be awarding a grand prize some time during the tour. Now, your's truly did not win any prizes, but happily, everyone came away with the following:
  • One year membership to WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographer's International), which is a $100 value.
  • DVD with 4-hours of extended tour content,covering lighting, lightroom, photography, Photoshop, marketing, & software, with tutorials from Scott Kelby & Matt Lkoskowski, David Ziser, and some vendors (show sponsors).
  • Free offers and discounts from PPA (Professional Photographers of America), Zookbinders, Animoto, NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals), SendOutCard, American Color Imaging, Professional Photographer Magazine, & BellaGrafica.

Let me give you a quick rundown on the sessions.

The first session was the longest and focused on lighting and how he got the lighting seen in the many resplendent photos that he shared in the form of 24” x 36” prints and in his slide presentation. Many of these appear as if elaborate lighting setups were used that must have taken considerable time. In reality, as David shared how he got the light, we could begin to understand how very little equipment can be used to make awe inspiring photographs. All were done with just one or two portable flashes and a reflector or bounce off of some available surface (even a person's white shirt). What impressed me about this segment was his ability to see light everywhere and the potential in virtually everything. If the lighting didn't exist, he made it happen using whatever tools he had at the moment. Weddings can be fast moving, high pressure affairs, which often leave little more than fractional minutes for setup and execution of a shot. Of course, there is always the photographer's lie, just one more shot, but even that buys only a little more time. With just a handful of gear and an understanding of light, David has made wonderful portraits in moments. It isn't rocket science, just a good understanding of light and an out of the box view for the potential of anything to interact with light. This is a subject that is near and dear to me, as I'm sure it is for every studio photographer.

The next section covered silver bullet techniques that he uses to speed up his work flow. This section covers mostly the software that he uses and endorses. It gets a bit commercial, but is well worth wading through because of the demonstrations. Of particular interest to me is a program called LumaPix Extreme 4. I thought that Corel Draw was the fastest way to do free form layouts, and of course, there are things that only it can do, but LumaPix Extreme 4 does most of what Corel can do and it does it many times faster. It comes equipped with awesome templates for a starting point, and has an automated setup wizard that can create an entire album (100+ photos) in a few seconds. It appears to be the perfect tool for setting up a photo montage, poster, senior book, family book, wedding book, and about anything that needs photos and text, or I should say graphic elements, arranged in a format suited to the genre and with a very polished professional look.

The last part of the seminar focused on the business aspects of running the business. This segment covered ways to make your business more profitable. Virtually everything David covered in this section is directly applicable for the studio photographer. David discusses how to leverage our relationships with vendors and other associates to increase our visibility in the local community. As he says, “get to know the people doing business with the people you want to do business with.” I don't want to attempt to reproduce his information here, but just let me tell you that it is reliable and relevant for today with an eye toward the future. Even for someone with honed business and sales skills there is fruit to be gleaned. For the rest of us it is life giving, crystal clear water fresh from the mountain stream.

I will get back on track with the series on lighting starting with the next post, but felt that this seminar is so good that it merits interrupting the series. If you are at all on the fence about going, just sign up and be there!


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