Tag Archive for: Photographer

2014 in Review

I know its been a long time since I posted. It’s been a very busy year! my first shoot of 2014 was doing my own portrait, then off to New York to work with Beate Chelette. That was just the beginning!

Rather than bore you with the details check out the video. It is just a few random shoots from this this great year. Enjoy!

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OMG What a Month!

First let me apologize for not writing sooner. It has been whirlwind of a month! Two trips to New York and a complete computer system switch all in about 3 weeks!

Yes you read that right, a complete computer switch. The terminal PC guy has switched to the dark (well, white and silver actually) side; I am 100% Apple and the Windows machines have been retired. Before you ask, no I am not switching from Nikon! I’m not that crazy. The computer switch was fairly easy, not seamless and not as smooth as I had hoped, but so far it is working out well and all my devices actually communicate with each other. Weird huh?

Something tells me that you are not reading this to know about my computer woes however. Perhaps it has something to do with images? You know that photography thing. Well that part of my life has been busy too! Very busy in fact.

I have been working with a couple of non-profit organizations on a calendar project and 6 images of mine will be in the calendar! More details on that in the next post that should come out about the same time as the calendar itself. Because of that project though, I got a second great project.

The Art Director of The Calendar Project happens to work for two amazing musicians and they needed images for their new albums that are coming out soon. I have no idea who they could get to shoot that. Oh wait, I could do that! Last Friday not only did we shoot, we did a fantastic shoot!

Josh Nelson and Neshama (pronounced NEH SHAH MAH) Carlebach are two talented artists that do “New. Jewish. Rock.” as Josh puts it. I have to be honest, if I hadn’t met Josh and Neshama I wouldn’t know about this type of music, I can say however that it is fantastic and you all should take a listen. These two take the music to a new level and they are raising the bar for everyone, not just Jewish Rock artists but all musicians. You can check out Neshama and Josh’s work on their sites www.neshamacarlebach.com and www.joshnelsonproject.com but keep in mind the new stuff isn’t out yet!

I am so excited about the images that we created that I am giving you sneak peaks. These aren’t the final images, these are just the beginnings and the final edited images will be on the new CDs they are releasing soon.

Josh was right when he asked, “Doesn’t it feel good to just let go and be creative?” Yes Josh it certainly does, and this is the next shot we got of him right after he said it.


Josh Nelson

However, my favorite shots of the day came shortly before that when Neshama and I were working on a concept I had that, for me, just screams “vocals!” In this image you can see Neshama’s passion for her music. The music on her upcoming CD is actually her father’s music and perhaps that is why it means so much to her. It certainly came through in this image.


Neshama Carlebach

We had a great day shooting and even when the day was ending, the creativity wasn’t. We had to step outside and get another set that included the light from the sun setting over New York.


Josh and Neshema – The Streets of Brooklyn

We even went back in and did a few more after this one. The shoot was much like their music. No matter how good it is, you just never want it to end.


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Leaping Van Gogh


Just the other day I had the opportunity to photograph a local modern dancer. Deneane is a dancer and choreographer in Philadelphia and we met when she needed head shots done for her portfolio. When I photographed her head shots in the studio we got to talking and had all sorts of ideas of how we might be able to get creative and do a few images that would be above and beyond. What better way to go above, than to actual leap over a building!



I had the idea of Deneane doing high leaps on the top of the Philadelphia Art Museum steps. No matter where you are in the world if you have seen the movie “Rocky”. One of the most famous scenes is of Rocky running up those steps and putting his arms up in a victory stance at the top.

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Portrait Shmortrait


“Portrait shmortrait. All my portraits look the same, why do I want to have another one done?”


I have written on this blog before about how often it is recommended that people get their portraits done in the articles “Has Your Company Lost Its Face,” “Putting Your Best Face Forward,” and many others. But that seems almost like useless information if each time you get a new portrait it looks just like the last one. That can happen if you go to a place that is creating images en masse and all they focus on is bulk; lots of people with a simple formula that gives consistent results every time.

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A Face Made For Radio


That would be my face.  I am certainly no beauty but I don’t scare little children either. I am not a svelte, buff guy either (as you can see), and I don’t have wonderfully wavy hair that blows softly in the wind; I haven’t seen a hair on my head in years! So yeah, I am more of a fit for the radio – internet radio at that.


The good thing is I will be on the (internet) radio on June 10th! I have been asked by Michael E. Stern to be on his radio show along with Beate Chelette, my success coach, also known as The Photography Business Coach.


Beate is joining me at 9am PST (noon eastern time) on the radio as we are interviewed my Michael on his radio show, Build A Better Photograph. Every Friday Michael interviews photographers, mentors, teachers and other celebrities in the world of photography. I have no idea why he asked me to be on the show.  You can listen live at http://www-cyberstern-com.photoshelter.com/page1 on Friday the 10th. Michael will be asking me about how I got into Photography, a little about my history and anything else he can think up. At the end of the show there will be a Q&A session where you can ask me anything you want.


If you miss the show, or maybe you actually have a job that requires you to be in front of a desk or doing some type of physical labor, you can download the show from iTunes, or you can listen to a recording of the show right on Michael’s site.


OMG My voice will be on the internet. As you may have realized by now that once something is on the internet it is there forever. I guess that means if I am wrong about scaring little kids you can save the show and scare kids for generations. Your call.


In the meantime, save the date, that is June 10th at 9am PST, noon eastern at http://toginet.com/shows/buildabetterphotograph. Read up on my blog and think up some good questions for me!  Let’s see how many of you actually read this blog of mine.

Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Photographer

At some point everyone hires a photographer or knows someone who will. In many cases it is a portrait or wedding photographer. At other times you may need a photographer to shoot images for anything from real estate to advertising. So how do you know which one is right for your needs?


Most people start out by asking friends, family members or colleagues. You are looking for references and that is the first question you should ask. Does he/she have references? Every professional should have references, especially photographers. But let’s be honest, if you ask me for references I am not going to give you a clients name where we didn’t get along. I am going to give you 3 – 5 names that I think were my best combination of results and compatibility. I want to put my best impression out there after all.


When seeking references, don’t just go by what the photographer says. Before you even ask them for references, look at their website. Do they have a client list on the site? Wedding photographer usually don’t but most commercial photographers should. By looking up those clients and making only a few phone calls you will learn more about the photographer than contacting all the ‘best’ clients he/she uses as references. When you call the clients just ask for the person that handles the advertising. Make sure though that you mention that you are looking for a reference and not looking to sell them advertising! Otherwise you may end up in someone’s voicemail and never actually talk to anyone.


Another question to ask is one for yourself. Do you like their work?  Is the quality of work up to what you want and need? Is the look and feel of the images in the portfolio what you want for your images? I know that I love the work of Joe McNally, Chase Jarvis and Michael Grecco. I think their portraits are outstanding. But if I need images of the corporate tower my company just built or the complex I just designed they may not be the photographer that I need. Make sure the portfolio has the types of images you need. If you need portraits, look at portrait photographers, wedding photographers for weddings, or architectural photographers for structures.


That leads me to the next question. Where can you find the photographers that do the work you want them to do? Of course the first thing many people do is Google “Photographer”. If you just search on ‘photographer’ you will get over 84,000,000 hits. That is not narrowing down the field. Architectural photographer and wedding photographer get 531,000 and 5,070,000 hits respectively. Of course adding your city is going to narrow those results dramatically but you are still going to end up with hundreds, if not thousands of names. If you only look at the first page of each search, you will have only 10 to choose from, but are they the best?  Well they are the best at search engine placement, but are they the best photographers?


The best place to find a photographer is where they hang out. Serious photographers like to hang out with other photographers and many are listed in the associations for photographers. Some of the larger associations have a “Find A Photographer” search engine on their sites. Here is a list of just a few of these groups and their websites.


Association Web Address
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) www.ppa.com
American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP) www.aspp.com
American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) www.asmp.org
Advertising Photographers of America  (APA) www.apanational.com
The Association of Photographers (AOP) UK www.the-aop.org
Australian Commercial and Media Photographers (ACMP) AU www.acmp.com.au


Does the photographer you have selected have the equipment needed to do the job correctly? Different types of photography require different tools. Professional equipment comes in all sizes shapes and colors. I can get great results when I use a point-and-shoot consumer camera but will that image transfer to the a billboard sized image as well as it will to the internet? Does the photographer have the ability and tools to control the light properly? Do they have access to a studio appropriate for the shoot?  Shooting toy cars requires much less space than shooting a real car.  Are they going to get the image right at the shoot or do they tell you, “I’ll fix it in Photoshop later.” Post production is a requirement for almost every image, don’t get me wrong; however, post production is the refinement of color and style, not the solution to all problems.


Professionalism is also a very important. Almost every photographer has gotten into the business of photography because of their love of the art. I don’t know any business people that became photographers because it was ‘a great business venture’.  The photographer may be well equipped, they may be able to capture the exact image you need; but that is all irrelevant if the image is delivered late or unprofessionally. You need a photographer who understands your needs and appreciates your business. They have to be willing to listen to you and your needs and translate them into the imagery you want.


Last, but definitely not least is how much should you pay for a good photographer?  Photographers can range in price from a few hundred dollars an hour to tens of thousands. Experience, talent, knowledge and vision all are parts of the cost. These are the intangibles. The tangible is the cost of the studio, the models, the actual products, etc. Add them together and you have your cost, not your expense. The expense is almost irrelevant if you do an advertising campaign that doubles or triples your bottom line. Yet if the same campaign costs you your loyal customers or has little or no return, the expense can be huge.  Put out the wrong image and it can cost you your entire business. For portrait and wedding photographers it comes down to the value of your memories. What is the value of an image if that is the last image ever captured of you and [fill in the blank]? That image is priceless.


The question then is not what you should pay but what can you afford? The images you receive back are investments plain and simple. Just like any other investment they should be planned for and budgeted for. A poor investment results in a poor return. A wise investment can change your world in a positive way. Can you put a price on that?


Until next time…