Category Archives: Photography Tips

Tips to improve your photography

Five Lessons From Fine Art America

This week I had a sale of a print on Fine Art America. It was one of the extensive range of images I have shot of grey headed flying foxes. The image itself shows the animal flying in mid air with the sun showing the veins in its wings. It’s a cool image, and it will look great as a large print for the US based buyer. I have written lots of posts for Beyond Here about stock photography, but very little about my experience with Fine Art America. Here are five lessons from Fine Art America.

Flying fox

This image is similar to the one which sold on FAA this week. A magnificent animal with the sun shining through its wings

What is Fine Art America? FAA is a website where artists can post their work for sale. Unlike stock libraries where buyers purchase the electronic image and a licence to use it, on FAA the buyer is purchasing a print or other physical product. FAA works with printers and other product manufacturers around the world to produce the final product and ship it to the buyer.


So here are my five lessons from Fine Art America.

Lesson 1 – You need to promote your own work. FAA has not been a source of significant income for me as I’ve treated it like an image library – in that I upload my content and expect the buyer to do the rest. In my experience those who are doing well on FAA are actively promoting their content. They are adding links to their social media feeds and encouraging followers to check out their content. So the lesson is that you need to promote your own work, don’t rely on FAA to do that for you.

Lesson 2 – Set your own prices. One of the key differences between FAA and image libraries is that on FAA you can set your own prices. That means you can determine the margin or amount of money you want to make on each sale. FAA has a well organised back end system where you can set prices for individual files or for groups of files. If you intend to make a significant income through FAA it is worth investing the time to price your content appropriately.

flying bat

Grey headed flying fox in mid air

Lesson 3 – Income per sale will be high. While I don’t have a lot of files on FAA each sale represents a reasonable sized income. In the case of this week’s sale (I only had the one sale on FAA this week!) the income from this one sale is the equivalent to 30 sales of my stock images. So while the number of sales is lower, the income per sale is high.

Lesson 4 – There is still a market for prints and other physical products. It’s nice to remind ourselves once in a while that the era of physical products is not dead. People still want prints to hang on the walls of their homes or office, and increasingly there is a market for new physical products. (Before this print sale, my previous 2 sales on FAA were for smart phone covers.)

Lesson 5 – You need to continue to add new content. Just like a stock photo portfolio you can’t expect a growth in income without adding new content. I haven’t been very active in adding to my FAA portfolio and this is reflected in low levels of income. To state the obvious, to grow your income stream you need to keep adding new content.

fruit bat

Grey headed flying fox carrying it’s baby

My income from FAA is far below my income from stock images. (For background on stock photography please see Why I Shoot Stock). Having a nice big sale this week was a useful reminder of the potential of FAA as a sales outlet for photographers.

Do you contribute to FAA? What has been your experience?

Thanks for reading five lessons from Fine Art America. Happy shooting.

New Source, Photography Inspiration

This week I’ve found a new source of photography inspiration, and it’s not in a place I expected. I read and research extensively about photography – not just the business side of photography, but about a much wider range of topics – interesting projects people are shooting, how they are shooting them, what they are shooting them with, new technology, old technology. Almost whatever the topic, I’m a consumer for reading about it. This week my new source is not where I expected. It’s a new source, photography inspiration.

Hipster

I found key learnings applicable to my Melbourne lifestyle project

When I’m looking for information on post production techniques I have one go to source. It’s at lynda.com There you can find a massive range of training materials on almost any topic, and it’s the first place I head to when I want to learn something about Photoshop, or more recently Lightroom. There I can learn from experts, quickly and easily, with videos to show me exactly what they are doing. What I didn’t realize is that it has a range of other material which is much more inspirational than factual. So what have I been checking out?

This week I’ve watched a cool piece called “The Creative Spark: Nick Onken, Travel and Lifestyle Photographer”. It was inspirational to watch Nick work and to see how he managed his shoot and promoted his work. It was especially interesting to me as I’m currently shooting a series on Melbourne lifestyle, and I could see a direct correlation between watching him and applying the learnings to my project.

MelbourneSo what did I learn? There is lots to learn but my main take outs were:

Lesson 1 – People skills are key. Nick demonstrated how important his people skills were to get his subject to be at ease. He showed it in a lifestyle shoot with a model, and again in a shoot involving kids for a not for profit organisation. It reinforced what I already knew – people skills are key. And I also know some of it is a natural talent, and some of it comes with practice.

Lesson 2 – Knowing your camera let’s you focus on being creative not being technical. Years of shooting wildlife and weddings has taught me to know my camera really well and be able to intuitively make changes to settings. I really don’t think about it much. I just change them because experience has taught me what works. Nick summed it up, by knowing his camera well it allows him to focus on being creative. I’m going to push myself to be more creative on my next shoot.

MelbourneLesson 3 – There’s lots of ways to monetise photography projects. Nick goes into some detail about a book he has had published of his travel photography. He didn’t shoot with the book in mind, but had a strong collection of images he was subsequently able to turn into a book. There are lots and lots and lots of ways to monetise good images. Have you considered a book for your own work?

Lesson 4 – the value of strong images. There is a section in the video where Nick speaks with the guy running the not for profit Nick has done extensive work for. He outlines the power of Nick’s images and how it has helped their organisation grow. I have no idea if Nick was paid for this work or not, but it was clear the growth in the organisation was influenced heavily by the strength of the images and how they were used.

Lesson 5 – not everything works, that’s how we learn. We all love to show our very strongest work. In one brief moment Nick talked about trying new things, then reviewing and being ok when things don’t work out. What felt like a great idea just didn’t translate into a great image. It happens. It’s normal. It’s not failure, it’s part of success. I liked the reminder – keep trying new things, keep learning.

They are the top 5 lessons I took. Now I’m going to find some more inspiration. Check out lynda.com for a huge range of training and inspiration videos.

(Note: Lynda.com offers a free trial period but then a subscription is required.)

 

Why Visit Wedding Venues Beforehand

This week I visited the venue for a function I will be shooting in 2 weeks time. I’m really looking forward to the function. It is for a lovely couple at a beautiful location on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. The venue is a vineyard which has a well presented functions area, lots of grape vines, a rural outlook, and 4 wheel drive access to a private beach. It was a long drive for me to visit so, why visit wedding venues beforehand? The answer is obvious – to get the best result for my client!

Wedding photography

This venue had a private beach with 4WD only access. It was great to visit and plan shots here.

But when I am visiting, what am I looking for? Here’s the top 5 things I want to achieve:

  1. To know where the best shots will be made. I don’t make it up as I go when shooting weddings or events. I like to visit beforehand to understand what the possibilities at the venue are, and to develop a shot plan. To do this, I walk around the venue, both indoor and outdoor areas, and imagine the possibilities. I also ask the people at the venue where they think the best photo spots are, and then I ask ‘what are the undiscovered photo opportunities here?’. It’s amazing the insight the venue’s staff can give you.
  2. To develop a wet weather plan. Most of the weddings I shoot are in spring, summer and autumn and are likely to have outdoor opportunities for making images. I plan for both good and bad weather. When the weather is bad, you will see how well prepared the photographer is!

    outdoor function area

    All function spaces are different and visiting in advance lets me plan.

  3. To check out the function area. When it comes to functions and speeches I like to know how the room will be laid out and any strengths or limitations of the space. From this I will develop a plan for where I intend to operate from, and where I would like my second shooter positioned.
  4. To best prepare myself for the day. This only comes with experience, but I have learnt that I work best when I am working to a plan. I like to think through the photographic options and plan the timings. Knowing I have that plan in my head let’s me relax and enjoy the time with my clients and their guests. So, one of the key reasons for why visit wedding venues beforehand is actually for me. I know that I will do a better job for my client if I’ve visited and planned.
  5. To meet the venue staff. Staff at venues are a wealth of information. They can make suggestions, tell you about images previously made at their venue, show you shots made there, and add their own suggestions. I take the time to listen to their input as I’m planning the day. In the event of bad weather, having an existing relationship with the staff can be a huge help. They will often go out of their way to help show off their venue in the best possible way even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Beach

I take images on my smart phone to help with planning each shot and thinking through the timings.

They are the top 5 reasons for me as to why visit wedding venues beforehand. And so when do I visit? I know lots of photographers who wait until the day before the wedding or event. To me this is a risky option. You never know if you are going to be unwell, have an urgent last minute job to do, or have another emergency come up. I like to visit the venue 2 weeks before the wedding or event. And I try to visit at the same time of day that I’ll be shooting the key images. That gives me a better understanding of exactly where the sun will be, and how I can make best use of the natural light.

I hope Why Visit Wedding Venues Beforehand has been helpful to you. Best wishes with your weddings and events.

Delivering More Products Per Customer

Running a successful photography business is not easy. It’s hard when you are getting started and you struggle to find your next client. And it’s hard when you have worked hard for 2 years and find you need to spend all your accumulated profits to upgrade your equipment. And I’m seeing more and more photographers who have been operating for years but are struggling to make the profits they feel they should be making. This post looks at how to help them increase margins by delivering more products per customer.

Australian money

Delivering more products per customer will help grow profits

Before we look at delivering more products per customer, let’s consider the options open to the photographer who has been in business for several years. They have plenty of work, but are not making the profits they think they should be making. While they love the work they do, they resent that they are working very long hours, juggling multiple different clients at a single time, and every time they feel like they are getting ahead financially, another bill arrives.

Our photographer has several options. They could:

  1. Do nothing, and continue to work long hours and make sub standard profits. Unfortunately a lot of photographers choose this option, and complain all the way.
  2. Increase their number of clients. This option isn’t very appealing to the already tired photographer but it is what they have done for years. Some choose this path, and work harder and harder. Unfortunately, this often produces more and more resentment and only slightly more profit to the photographer’s business.
  3. Increase their prices. In this scenario our photographer can continue to shoot the same number of jobs per year but charge more per job. This is a legitimate strategy and one that many successful photography businesses choose. They know how many jobs they plan to shoot in a year, and continue to lift their prices year on year.
  4. Increase their profit per job by delivering more products per customer. In this case our photographer looks to increase their profits not by doing more jobs, or raising prices, but by delivering more products per customer. Think about the profit made by the ‘shoot and burn’ wedding photographer provide electronic images only to the customer. Now, compare that the the photographer who is providing electronic images, prints, canvas prints, thank you cards, and albums to their wedding clients. Who do you think makes the most profit? It’s the photographer who provides more products.

There are other options a photographer could use to increase their profit, but these are the basic choices. As you consider what is best for your business, keep in mind it’s not a matter of choosing one strategy or another. To really turbo charge the profitability you could do several of these strategies at once. This year I’m aiming to use options 3 and 4 at the same time. Many photographers will use options 2, 3 and 4 all at once.

Pile of canvas prints

Canvas prints are popular with my family and wedding photography clients

So how do we go about delivering more products per customer.

For regular readers of Beyond Here you will know that I don’t believe in a formula – but that each photographer needs to find methods which suit them. That’s the case here too. That said, here are some strategies for you to consider while you decide what is right for you.

Strategy 1 – Make samples of the products you wish to sell and show them to clients when they are booking. I used to take 40x60cm canvas prints with me to clients meetings. Guess what product was really popular? Yes, the 40x60cm canvas print. Now days I’m taking 60x90cm canvas prints. Guess which product is really popular? Yes, 60x90cm canvas prints and that is great because the margin is about 50% more than on the smaller print. Make some samples and take them to show clients. You’ll be amazed how clients choose the exact product you’ve shown them.

Strategy 2 – Provide ideas and options for your clients. Today I delivered 3 8×6 inch leather bound wedding albums to one of my clients. They plan to keep one for themselves and gift one to each set of parents. What a lovely idea. It’s an idea that came from my suggestion in one of our early meetings. They saw great value in a priceless gift for their family, and I managed to increase my profit on that job. Win, win.

wedding album

I always show sample albums to potential wedding clients

Strategy 3 – Make suggestions at key times of the year. How much additional profit do you think you could generate by contacting all of your clients in September each year suggesting products they might to use as Christmas gifts? From my experience, simple ideas like this are gold. They solve a problem for my client – for example, getting a present for their spouse – while increasing the profits of my business.

Why do I choose September to do this? It leaves me a few months to make sure I can deliver the products in December, and every year I have at least one client who wants to do another shoot before Christmas.

canvas print

Birthdays and anniversaries are great times to contact previous clients

Strategy 4 – Contact your client on important dates for them. Here’s a recent email I sent to one of my clients. It uses the same strategy as number 3, but uses events which are unique to my customers. “Dear XXXX, I’ve just realized that YYYY’s birthday is just a few weeks away. At the time of your shoot I know you loved this image (image attached to email). I have a special deal with my canvas print supplier and can get you a 60x90cm print for $ZZ. Would you like to get one for YYYY’s birthday? I’ll be placing the order next Wednesday, so appreciate if you can let me know before then. Thanks, Craig”. This type of offer generally does well and takes just a few days to go from email to order to delivery.

There are 4 simple strategies to help you in delivering more products per customer. As you review the profitability of your business, is this a strategy that can benefit you?

Great Location Great Options

If you are shooting weddings, portraits, or stock – the venue you choose will have a significant impact on both the style and variety of images you can produce. Some venues only allow for one style of image, while others will allow for multiple different styles. For maximum variety and impact, I’m looking for the double – Great Location Great Options.

Winter portrait

Take time to research your venue. It will lead to more successful shoots.

For this shoot with Ayona we were shooting with a dual purpose – the images were going to be used on her fashion blog (Her Style Saga) and also in my stock portfolio.

Woman on stairs

Large stairways always provide options and the leaves add to the wintery feel

I had wanted to shoot at this venue for some time, as I love the old architecture and building facades. I visited the venue twice before the shoot to check which locations would be suitable, and to see how the light would fall in the late afternoon when we were shooting.

That research made me realize there were a wealth of different options within short walking distance.

There were areas which showcased archways and classic architecture, others with beautiful building facades, some with park backgrounds, and yet others with fallen leaves which highlighted the late autumn, early winter time of year.

This was a venue with lots and lots of options (I liked it so much, I’ve already done another shoot there!)

So, what should you look for in locations?

Point 1 – Backgrounds which will add impact. I look for buildings or landscapes or architecture which will give a real sense of presence to the image. I want to add to the impact. This set of images was about a young woman and her passion for fashion. It could be shot in the studio, but there was more impact shooting outdoor. And in an outdoor venue, I wanted to be able to create a set of different images in a short space of time. That leads us to point 2.

Woman walking

Arches, classic architecture, fashion, and an overcast day are a great combination

Point 2 – look for venues with variety. I don’t want all my images from a shoot to look the same. This is particularly the case for wedding photography and stock photography where I am expecting to shoot and use a large number of images. So I don’t want all the same backgrounds.

I want to be able to easily move (ideally walk) between different areas which will give me different looking images. In this case, all the venues we used were within 5 minutes walk of each other. For me, that is perfect! The entire shoot lasted for less than 90 minutes and we produced a wide variety of images.

Point 3 – the location needs to be free from over crowding. To be able to shoot in a public space, you need a venue which will not be overcrowded. I didn’t want people wandering through the background of my images, so we chose to shoot on a Sunday afternoon on a fairly cool early winters day.

It was cool, but the wintery conditions meant we didn’t often have to pause for people to walk through the background where we were shooting. All the people were inside keeping warm!

Boots

Fallen leaves and leather boots added to the wintery feel.

Point 4 – choose venues with good accessibility and parking. This venue is about 25 minutes drive from where I live, which I would call fairly close to home. It is in a built up area and parking can be difficult during the week. So we chose to shoot on the weekend when we both had availability, knowing that the location would not be too crowded and we wouldn’t have much trouble finding a car park.

If you haven’t been putting much time and research into choosing locations, perhaps you should take a lesson from the advertising industry. In planning for TV commercials, ad agency staff spend hours and hours researching the perfect venues to support the story they are looking to tell. If you are a photographer shooting weddings, portraits or stock, perhaps you should spend more time researching venues to help you produce really strong images?

Architecture

Architecture can add impact

As well as Great Location Great Options, you need a good model to work with. Thank you to Ayona who was a very easy person to work with, and the shoot was a lot of fun.

If you would like to check out the images Ayona selected for her blog, or if you just love fashion – visit her blog out at Her Style Saga.

Thanks for taking the time to read Great Location Great Options.

5 Tips For Managing Your Event Photography Client

Event photography is a common way for photographers to make the first step into paid work. It could be a birthday party, a christening, a promotional event, a corporate day, a wedding, or another event. Being able to produce the photographic results is one thing – and being able to deliver what the client wants is another. Here are 5 tips for managing your event photography client.

Wedding couple

Be clear with your client about the hours you will attend the event

Tip #1 – Know the hours you are expected to attend. You need to be clear on the hours you are expected to attend an event. Be direct and ask your client “what hours would you like me to cover?” This is a small part of making sure you are on the same wavelength as your client. It will also be a component of what you charge for a job. It’s likely that you will charge more for a 4 hour shoot than a 2 hour shoot. Once you know the hours you are expected to attend, make sure you are early and stay through until the finishing time. If the client is at the event, check in with them before you leave (this is also a great time to ask “would you like me to stay longer? My rate is $XX per hour and I am happy to stay another hour”)

Tip #2 – Be clear about the key moments of the event and be ready to shoot them. Make sure you ask your client “what are the key images you would like from this event?” If it is a birthday party the client might want images of the child blowing out the candles on the cake, an image including the child’s parents and grand parents, and one of the next door neighbor who has baby sat the child over the years. You really can’t deliver the images the client needs without a good understanding of the key moments. It’s about knowing what is important to your client. Once you know the key moments, be sure you shoot all of them and more.

Tip #3 – Understand your client’s key deliverables. Often your client will have a deadline to meet and it is important you understand this. Let’s use the example of a corporate event. The client may need the images to be used in a brochure which will go to print in 2 weeks time. This is critical information so that you can agree with the client when you will deliver the images. There is nothing more frustrating for a client to have organised a photographer to be at the event, and then not have the images delivered to meet their deadline. (If your client has a really short deadline, you may consider charging more to give that client’s job the highest priority in your workflow).

Business woman

Ask your clients how the images will be used and deliver the files in a size and format which is appropriate

Tip #4 – Understand how many images your client is expecting and how they will be used.  This tip is also to gain clarity about the client’s expectations and to some degree will influence your pricing. If you attend a full day corporate event, your post production time will vary greatly if the client is expecting 100 images compared to 500 images. Ask your client in advance so that you both have clear expectations.

It is also handy to know how the images will be used. If they are going to be used only on a website, you can deliver low resolution images ready to be immediately uploaded to the client’s website. If they are going to be printed, try to deliver the images in the appropriate resolution which will make things easy at the client’s end.

Tip #5 – Get payment in advance wherever possible. Event photography is rife with situations of the photographer not getting paid in a timely manner, or not getting paid at all. To minimize your risk, get payment in advance wherever possible.

If you are shooting a wedding you are making a big commitment of time and effort. For weddings it is standard to be paid in advance. Wedding venues asking for payment in advance which makes it easy for the photographer to request the same.

If you are shooting a corporate event, be sure to submit your invoice early. Corporations sometimes take time to pay their suppliers, so the sooner you have submitted your invoice, the sooner you will get paid.

Thanks for reading 5 tips for managing your event photography client. Good luck with your event photography.

Can I Make Money in Stock Photography from Landscape and Cityscape Images

I participate in several photography groups on Facebook. This week I posted a reply to a group member who was exploring stock photography. After several messages, he asked me – can I make money in stock photography from landscape and cityscape images?

My response to him was that – yes, you can. But the reality is that simple landscape and cityscape images are highly competitive. There are hundreds of contributors submitting this type of material, and millions of existing images. So, it won’t be easy to create unique images that continue to be downloaded.

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge, Melbourne, Australia. A specific scene shot in dramatic light.

So, if you want to generate an income from stock photography with this style of image, what is the best chance of success? Here are five suggestions for giving you the greatest chance of success.

  1. Shoot in the best light. There are likely to be hundreds of competing images to your own. Make your point of difference images shot in excellent light. This will likely mean sunrise and sunset shoot times.
  2. Shoot tourist highlights. There is ongoing demand for images which capture the icons of a city or a well known landscape. Take the time to shoot the tourist highlights of your city, or well known landscape spots.
  3. Shoot like a local. There is increasing demand for images which capture the essence of a city in a way only a local would know. Shoot the back laneways, cafes, popular meeting places. Use your local knowledge to shoot places that only a local would know.
  4. Develop an expansive body of work. What does that mean? It means you are going to stick at this. You are going to shoot different elements, in different conditions, at different times of year. It is not a random shot taken here or there, it’s about developing a range of work.
  5. Document the city or landscape year round. Cities and landscapes look very different at different times of year. Take advantage of the different seasons to add a new look to your work.

And like anyone using stock photography to generate a meaningful income – you need to treat this like a business. Set a goal for how many files you plan to upload this month and this year. Work at it. Keep adding to your portfolio. Develop variety in your images. Study similar images which have been successful as stock. What are the elements you are going to emulate in your own images? And keep working at it. Stock photography is based on the idea that you will do the work now (shoot, edit and upload) and be rewarded later (downloads and income). So keep working at it.

Beach

In my experience generic scenes like this don’t offer good returns as stock

Landscapes and cityscapes are very competitive areas, but it is possible to make money in these areas. My experience is that cityscapes and specific landscape images provide better returns than very generic landscapes. Look for your image to tell a story of a specific place.

Thanks for reading ‘can I make money in stock photography from landscape and cityscape images?’

Use Recognizable Backgrounds to Add Impact

There has long been a place (and a market!) for images shot in a studio on a plain background – just ask any established studio photographer. Studio images on plain backgrounds help to focus you entirely on the subject. But what if you are looking to bring a more contemporary look to your images? Have you tried to use recognizable backgrounds to add impact? And by backgrounds, I don’t mean studio backdrops – I mean real locations.

Why do recognizable backgrounds help to make a strong image? Recognizable backgrounds add location and meaning to an image. They create a connection with the viewer who will often know the exact location the image has been shot at, and may have even stood in the exact same location.

Flinders St Station

People who know Melbourne will instantly recognize this location

In this image, people who know Melbourne, Australia will instantly recognize this as the front entrance to the Flinders Street Railway Station on the corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street. The location adds a distinct local flavor, and creates a connection with the viewer. Many people have stood in this exact location.

Why is this an opportunity for your photography business? Demand for images shot in the studio and isolated on white is falling, and demand for real people in real locations (including recognizable locations!) is booming. It is about creating genuine images which the viewer can relate to. Real people, real locations.

Parliament buildings

It’s possible to shoot in a variety of locations in a single shoot

Here are seven quick reasons why you might want to catch this wave.

  • clients love to shoot images which connect them to the location. Whether it’s permanent residents or travelers, people have an emotional connection to their home town, whether it’s a permanent or temporary home town.
  • locations look different at different times of year. Use the seasons to your advantage and shoot different styles in different seasons. Think how you could use this to shoot different images of the same client at different times of year?
  • if you are starting out, you can shoot this style of image with minimal cost. You may want a reflector or two, but you won’t incur the costs of setting up a studio when you shoot this type of image. This can be a very cost effective way to build a portrait business or stock portfolio.
  • demand for ‘local’ stock images is growing rapidly. Stock buyers are moving away from images which could have been shot anywhere, to images which clearly have context and location. If you are interested in driving your stock photo sales, shoot local and make it clear that the images have context and location.
  • shooting images on location is fun. I find it really enjoyable walking around my hometown finding new locations and shooting interesting local images. Often you can generate a very wide variety of images in a short period of time.
  • there is an almost limitless range of possible locations. I am shooting a stock photography series using locations in my home town. I started by writing down some locations to use, and ended up with a list of ideas three pages long! You won’t run out of locations to shoot at. Think creatively and you will be able to generate a huge range of shoot locations.
  • clients love to share location images on social media. This can only be good for business.

Thanks for reading this post. I hope you can use recognizable backgrounds to create some cool images and benefit your photography business. Happy shooting.

How to Find Models to Work With

Making the step from working with friends and family, to photographing clients, through to working with models are big steps in a photographers career. They are also challenging steps unless you have a network of appropriate people to shoot with. This post – How to Find Models to Work With – details ways for you to source models for your shoot.

basketball

Facebook groups and specialist sites are great places to connect with other creatives

Facebook. If you are a Facebook user and live in a place with a reasonable population, there is likely to already be a Facebook group set up which will help you.

As I’m writing this post I’ve gone to the Facebook search field and entered “Sydney models” and it has proposed a series of relevant groups.

As I scan down them I can see one called ‘Sydney Models / Photographers / HMUA’ which currently has 3716 members. So what is this? It is a group of models, photographers, and hair and make up artists (HMUA) who participate together in the group.

They make requests for relevant services, share work, put forward their name for shoots, and use the Facebook group as a place to find other creatives to work with.

Specialist Sites. There are also specialist web sites which create communities of creatives. The two that I am most familiar with are Model Mayhem and StarNow. Go ahead and check them out. It is free to set up a profile on each of them, and like the Facebook groups, they are a place for creatives to come together.

How should a photographer use these communities? Start by setting up a profile and include details of what you are looking for from people visiting your profile. I am a stock photographer, so my profile includes details to let people know the projects I am working on, and the type of creatives I would like to contact me.

Secondly, there is the opportunity to share your work. Add images to your profile so visitors can assess the style and quality of your work.

Thirdly, each of these communities have the ability to post a ‘casting call’. That is, you put forward details of your shoot, and ask people who are interested to get in contact with you.

Pilot

Include all relevant information in your casting call to help get qualified responses

What information should you include in a casting call? The short answer is – as much information as possible. Consider these points as a minimum:

  • when is the shoot? Include the date and time
  • where is the shoot? Be specific. A suburb is better than just the city name.
  • how long do you anticipate the shoot will go for?
  • is it indoor or outdoor? Studio or natural light?
  • is the shoot paid or TFP (time for print, or time for portfolio)?
  • what is the shoot concept?
  • what special requirements do you have? (for example, if you are looking for a model of specific cultural background and with long hair, be sure to specify that in the casting call)
  • who is doing hair and makeup? A HMUA? or do you want the model to do their own?

If you were not sure how to find models to work with, I hope this post has helped you.

If you already use these sites or others, what is your experience? Which sites generate the best response for you?

Thanks for reading – how to find models to shoot with. Happy shooting.

5 Tips for More Compelling Wildlife Images

Wildlife  photography is a hugely popular field for both amateur and professional photographers. Here are 5 tips for more compelling wildlife images.

Pademelon

Look for pairs of animals to add a new dimension to your images.

Tip 1 – Look for Pairs of Animals. Solo portraits of animals can make compelling images, but pairs of animals add a new dimension. There is the relationship between the animals and the interaction between them. Look out for pairs of animals.

Koala

Baby animals are great subjects for wildlife photography

Tip 2 – Photograph baby animals. If you want people viewing your images to “ooohh and aaahh” then build a gallery of images of baby animals. There is something about the cute, vulnerability of baby animals – as well as the connection with the parent that is guaranteed to create compelling images. Koalas, like in this image, spend the first few weeks of their life in their mothers pouch. When they become too big, they are transported on their mothers’ back. This period is an ideal time to shoot images which include both mother and baby. Inevitably the baby will be looking small and cute, and mum will be alert in protecting her young one.

Flying fox

Animals in action. A flying fox carrying its baby.

Tip 3 – Look for animals in action. Animals in action, engaging in natural behavior are always more interesting than animals doing nothing. This is particularly why you get very different types of images when you photograph animals in the wild compared to animals in captive environments such as zoos.

In this image, the grey headed flying fox is flying through the air. If you look very closely you can see that it is carrying its baby at the same time. The baby is clinging to its mothers’ chest and will continue to do this until it is large enough and strong enough to fly alone. This image also emphasizes one of the key features of this animal – the spooky vein structure which is visible in the wings. When you are planning your wildlife shoot, consider what feature of the animal you are photographing you want to highlight.

Duck

A very low angle makes a compelling image of a common animal

Tip 4 – Shoot from unusual angles. Ducks are very common birds where I live in Melbourne, Australia. In creating compelling images of common animals, look for different angles to shoot from. In this case I lay down at the edge of the lake, to shoot an image from the duck’s eye level. For more about this shoot, please see this post.

Tree kangaroo

The Goodfellows Tree Kangaroo is an endangered species from New Guinea

Tip 5 – Photograph unusual wildlife. Unusual wildlife make compelling images. This image is a Goodfellows Tree Kangaroo. They are native to New Guinea and are now an endangered species. Images like these are compelling, not only for the beautiful colors of the animal, but also because most people will never have seen this animal. Look for unusual wildlife for more compelling images.

Thanks for reading 5 tips for more compelling wildlife images. Good luck with your wildlife photography.