Wow 2018 is already off to a roaring start for me. It’s been a crazy couple of months with travel to Nashville, TN for Professional Photographers of America’s Imaging USA , then Knoxville TN to speak to Professional Photographers of Eastern Tennessee since I was in “their neck of the woods” , then to central coast of California for Professional Photographers of California Board of Directors Installation and Awards Banquet, and just this past week a trip to Detroit Michigan to judge and speak at the Professional Photographers of Michigan‘s PhotoMax Convention.
So you may be thinking holy cow that’s a lot of travel in a short amount of time, and the short answer is YES, YES IT IS!!! However, I’m hitting the road for a couple of reasons and the major one being education both receiving knowledge from my peers in this industry and also to share what I do with others. All this eduction helps to bridge the gap that seems to be widening with the consumers of professional photography and those who produce it, like yours truly.
So how does education help bridge the gap you may be wondering? Well it does by in a variety of ways. The first is obviously what one learns from others that have been down the path I’m on. Learning from those folks helps me to not have to reinvent the wheel as it might be. Which then can be in ways of educating our clients into the value of professional photography. Be it through correct and pleasing posing, using light that has character to it, and printing their images in such a way that they can enjoy their investment every single day! Maybe in a way that they start and end each day viewing their loved ones. That’s just one example.
There are lots of photographers in the world today. It’s an exciting time for photography and one I’m thrilled to be a part of. Being able to have instant gratification through an image is a great feeling. However, that feeling fades almost as quickly as it appears and more often than not results in missing the real moment that is at hand, because of being involved with the camera, or if we are being completely honest, the smart phone. Missing out on being in the moment AND then not having visual history to remind us of what it was like because the phone acted up or we weren’t diligent in taking all photos off our phone before upgrading can make for a double whammy which is missing the moment and losing the visual evidence. However, there is a solution and that’s hiring trained small business owners who provide photographic services as their livelihood. They are trained to get the moments, with the correct equipment, they know how to turn those moments into priceless tangible pieces of artwork to be enjoyed day after day, year after year and generation to generation.
Another method of bridging the gap comes from building relationships with vendors of photographic services and supplies. I’m not talking about getting to know the kid that runs the photo printer at the local big box store that can print you our 10,000 prints for twenty two cents! First of all if I could get quality prints for twenty two cents don’t you think I would do that? I am a small business owner so investments are important to me. However, you know what’s more important and invaluable to me? EXPERIENCE!!! Yes finding those vendors who have been involved with the industry for years are invaluable sources of information and the experience they have to help me avoid mistakes or where to go for particular items is priceless. Those relationships are what help bridge the gap. Joe Cool can’t just pick up the phone and get in touch with the right people at a lab because well he has a nice camera? However, getting to know folks through industry events, doing business with them, building relationships, getting to understand the services they provide and how it ultimately reflects in the final products I produce, well yes that is a gap closer.
Two vendors that I’m especially proud to associate my business with are Bay Photo Lab and Kodak Alaris. Bay Photo Lab has a team of not only experienced print makers but many of their people are also skilled photographers who know what photographers look for in final printed pieces. Thats and invaluable asset! They know what a good print looks like and when there is an issue that maybe on my end to correct. That’s a partnership right there! Plus they are a really fun group to hang out with!
Then there is Kodak Alaris, most would know as just Kodak! I’m a photographer who still shoots film. I’ve spent a large majority of my time over the several years honing my skills using film to produce my studio work. It was an honor to be contacted by them to ask if I would lead a Film Photowalk in Nashville. I’m still in awe that KODAK contacted me to do this! Thats a highlight I’ll never forget, but it is also a new relationship that is forming and helping me to provide an experience to my clients that is unique again especially when photographed with a view camera.
Sharing my experiences with other photographers to help them improve their craft and ultimately the product they produce for their clients is another example. I’m constantly asked why I share what I share. Am I not afraid that people will just start copying what I do? I guess I could say maybe, but I’m not worried. The reason why is there is nothing being done today that hasn’t been done years ago. No matter what folks do it will never be identical to I do. How do I know that? Because I’m me. No one else has my personality, my eye, uses the tools quite the same way as I use them. However, I teach what I do and help others to understand what I do in order for them to make it their own. There is a phrase I like to use and that is “Inspiration not duplication” I’ve been fortunate to have many take inspiration on what I do and make it their own. Sure there have been some who try to duplicate, but not many, or any that don’t want to add their own spin on what I teach, and that’s the beauty of giving back and helping the industry move along from experience. I’ve taken all the education and applied it what I what I do. Then from their add new stuff from new education then keep repeating. That offers my clients something new and exciting and something really that they need to see me to do, because that’s what my business is about and what my livelihood is about.
I’m a trained and ongoing trained professional in the production of Fine Art Luxury Portrait Photography. I want it to be the best it can be for my clients and that’s why I continue to attend conventions to gain knowledge from those with more and different experience than me, why I network with vendors and suppliers in the photographic industry, and why I give back through teaching and judging. Teaching is the best teacher. Together all of those items blend together to help bridge that widening gap, and why I’m adding to the bridge on all fronts.