Don’t Let Amateur Photography Tell Your Brand’s Story

When Captain Sully landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in January, his photo wasn’t the face of the brand that everyone saw. No, what they saw first was that now-famous cell phone picture taken by a commuter. He was on a ferry that responded to the scene. Out came the camera, followed by a quick upload to the Web.

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Photographer: Viewing Your Photos

Fifth in a series.

Your wedding day is over. All of the planning and preparation has paid off, and you’re now married to the man or woman of your dreams. Basking in the glow of that unforgettable day during your honeymoon, you or your spouse will inevitably declare: “I can’t wait to see the pictures!”

As Long as There Is Passion, There Will Be Great Photojournalism

Documentary photography may not command the same amount of money, magazine space and editorial support it did 10 years ago, but it is still thriving in many ways. You might be surprised how many photographers are still willing to risk their money, personal comfort, and even their lives to produce great photographs.

Still Images Plus Audio Can Be More Effective Than Online Video

I’ve written before about multimedia slideshows, and how nice it is that today they are available to everyone via the Web, when in the past they were generally created for small groups. In this post, I will make the argument that multimedia slideshows can be a more effective way of communicating than online video.

The Art of Advertising Photography

Photography is the single most important element of most advertising campaigns. While copywriters may spend hours producing an eye-catching headline and copy that explains the benefits of a product, it’s the image that first attracts the viewer. It’s also the last thing the viewer usually remembers after turning the page.

Photography, Newton’s Third Law, and Paul McCartney’s Imaginary Shovel

When I was 13, a gangly and extremely enthusiastic teacher imparted to my science class the essence of Newton’s third law of motion: that every action has an opposite and equal reaction. Walking out of the classroom, I promptly forgot this lesson. Only years later did I realize that Newton’s third law governs not just motion — but virtually everything we do.

Want to Stop Online Photo Piracy? Create a Better User Experience

Paul Graham, in the essay Why TV Lost, says the problem with copyright owners — including photographers and agencies — is that they spend too much time worrying about the money they are losing to piracy, and not enough time trying to improve the experience for users. Solving the latter, he argues, can solve the former.

Composing Landscape Photographs with Confidence

A good landscape photograph tells a story of the place it describes. And like all good tales, your landscapes should have a catchy beginning (the foreground), an interesting center (the middle area) and a memorable ending (the background). Not every landscape lends itself to this somewhat formulaic treatment, of course, but applying it saves a lot of time and provides you with a solid starting point from which you can improvise.

Dealing with Fragile Artist Syndrome

Back when I was heading the corporate communications department of a billion-dollar company, I had the uncomfortable experience of watching a graphic designer break down and crumple into a ball in my office.

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Photographer: Embracing the Unexpected

Fourth in a series.

The bride’s dress won’t zip up. The brother of the groom had a little too much to drink before the toast. The flower girl’s hair catches on fire. The maid of honor loses the groom’s ring. You name it — it’s happened.

Nine Essentials (Besides a Camera) You’ll Need as a Freelance Photographer

In my last post, I offered some recommendations for the camera gear you’ll need to make it as a freelance photographer. But having the right photographic equipment is just the beginning. Here are nine other business essentials to be ready for any assignment.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Teaching Video

It’s the halfway point in the semester, so I thought this would be a good time to report on the video course I am teaching. Video has always been part of the Visual Communications sequence here at the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications. But until the spring 2009 semester, we’ve always incorporated video into our other VisCom courses — a little in the Introduction to Visual Communications course, a little in the two Photovisual Communications courses, and a little in the Graphic Design course.

The Art of Architectural Photography

A corporation’s offices are often its most public face. The architecture a company chooses sends a message about its brand. Landmarks such as Hong Kong’s Bank of China or New York’s Chrysler Building, originally constructed to house the offices of the Chrysler Corporation, broadcast international statements about a company’s ambitions.

A Gear Guide For Going Freelance

I’ve read the articles and postings about newspaper layoffs, and I’ve gotten my share of e-mails from former staff photographers asking for guidance. As someone who’s been freelancing for most of my career, what’s the first advice I would give to those of you striking out on your own?

Should You Really Keep the Sun Over Your Shoulder?

I’ve seen a funny shift in the perceived value of front lighting since I began writing photography books. When I started writing about photography three decades ago, the general rule was “keep the sun over your shoulder,” which meant, in essence, to always use front lighting. Then, as consumers became hip to the value of different lighting directions in “creative” photography, front lighting fell out of favor.

The Ethics of Surcharges and Kickbacks

I got a call recently from a wedding planner acting on behalf of a couple who were looking for a photographer. During the course of the call, I was told I wouldn’t be able to contact the couple directly. 

Recharge Your Brand by Photographing Your Customers

Do you ever wonder if your corporate message has gotten a bit stale? Sure, you know your company’s strengths, and there are lots of reasons why it is successful. Your communications team probably routinely utilizes a specific set of phrases that describe your company’s distinctiveness. But after a while your message begins to sound just like a dozen other “unique” organizations.

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Photographer: Planning the Big Day

Third in a series.

OK, you’ve booked the photographer for your wedding. You’ve signed a contract and paid a non-refundable retainer to ensure your reservation. You’ve planned ahead, so it’s still six to nine months before the big day. 

Teaching Is a Great Way to Learn

After Tiger Woods won the Masters the first time, he felt he could still improve his game. Tiger went back to golf’s fundamentals; he worked on his swing.

Tiger is not the only professional athlete practicing the fundamentals of his game. Each year, Major League Baseball teams go to spring training, where they discipline themselves in the fundamentals of baseball. They’re doing pretty much what your kids in Little League are doing — running, hitting, catching and throwing.

The Stock Industry May Be in Freefall, But Assignment Photography Lives On

As recently as 10 years ago, I thought making photos on assignment was like putting money in a retirement account. “My stock is my retirement,” I told people then. Times change. Stock photography, as operated by corporations bent on record profits every quarter, is in decline. That does not mean that photography is in decline — just one aspect of it. Assignment photography lives on.

The Google Way — and How It Devalues Photography

Robert Thomson, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, recently said something that was spot on in describing Google’s impact on photography.

“Google devalues everything it touches,” Thomson said. “Google is great for Google, but it’s terrible for content providers, because it divides that content quantitatively rather than qualitatively. And if you are going to get people to pay for content, you have to encourage them to make qualitative decisions about that content.”

A Seven-Point Checklist for Hiring a Corporate Photographer

Congratulations! You’ve gotten the green light to do a photo shoot for your new advertising campaign. Now, all you have to do is book a photographer.

But before you hit the Rolodex or call your contacts for recommendations, do you really know what you should expect from a quality corporate photographer?

Eye on Image-Making: Five Ways to Tell if a Photographer Is Really in Business

What does it mean to be in business? When I lived in San Francisco, I worked as a corporate and editorial photographer and also taught a course in business practices for photographers. As a dedicated member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), I felt it was appropriate to practice what I preached and visa versa.

VIDEO: Google Analytics for Photographers

In my last two posts, I explained how I expanded my business by redesigning my Web site, and some of the techniques I’ve used to attract prospective customers to my site. In this post, a three-minute video, I discuss the benefits of Google Analytics and how to install it on your Web site.

Don’t Turn Your Event Photography into a High-Wire Act

A good friend of mine works for a leading European events company, responsible for summoning the organizational and logistical know-how required to give smooth operation to those huge product launches or corporate events that all seem so effortlessly flung together. Recently, he told me that a major telecommunications client was throwing a thank-you bash for its top customers. Champagne would flow, acrobats would fly through the air, and contortionists would … well, contort.