Using Our Photographic Super Powers for Good

This tends to be a pretty emotional time of year for me. The three-month stretch between October and December marks several anniversaries. Defining moments. For starters, it was ten years ago that I left briefcases and courtrooms behind for camera bags and studios. I think that anyone who says that they’ve “never looked back” after making such a monumental change is either getting a little too dramatic with their bio, or is just better than I am at compartmentalizing the past. My past got me to my present– and will hopefully do the same for my future. How can I not look back from time to time and reflect– or even question it on the bad days? As for other autumn milestones, it’s been fourteen years since I married WAY out of my league and embarked on one of Life’s greatest adventures. Unfortunately, though, this is also when I have to pause and remember my father, whom I lost to cancer four years ago this week.

giving-back-heroes

While my dad was not a professional photographer, he was extremely talented with a camera. I still go through his photos every so often, looking for inspiration or reminiscing about the countless hours we spent in the darkroom when I was a kid. But in addition to all of the hats he wore– husband, father, dentist, friend, photographer– he was also one of the most charitable men I’ve ever known. He was never flashy about it. It wasn’t about recognition. He knew what he was doing, and that was enough for him. He didn’t hide his generosity, but he didn’t advertise it either. It was more for their dignity than his own, that he’d often give in such a way that the recipients of his kindness never knew the source. [Read more...]

How to Write a Better Photography Bio

As photographers, it’s our job to make people look good. It’s interesting, then, how difficult it can be for so many of us to write solid bios for our websites. Obviously, we’re talking about different modes of expression, and what we can often do so easily with a camera for someone else can feel like rock climbing with one hand when it comes to talking about and promoting ourselves to prospective clients.

As a writer, the one question I hear more than any other from my friends is, “Hey, can you read something for me and tell me what you think?”  Of course the answer is always yes, and lately I seem to be proofreading quite a few website updates and revisions. Consistently, the most difficult hurdle seems to the bio or “about” section. And it’s no surprise. Growing up, we’re taught that good manners dictate we show more interest in what others have to say, rather than whatever it is we think is so interesting about ourselves.

All well and good, but we’re grown-ups now and we have families to take care of. In an era when everyone with a camera and a website is competing for the same finite about of business, it’s become more important than ever to be able to sell yourself– quickly, concisely, and effectively.

Guyer-Photography-Bio-Diagram

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Photo Licensing: A Look at the Basics (+ Sample License)

I’ve always been very detail-oriented. That might be why I get so frustrated when I hear photographers using important terminology incorrectly– particularly when it comes to terminology that has a direct impact on their income and overall bottom line. I meet photographers who tell me they are editorial shooters when they are actually commercial photographers. I meet some who think they are commercial photographers when they are actually retail photographers. One photographer recently had the cojones to tell me, “I know I’m not really a commercial photographer, but it sounds cooler, so I go with it.”

WHAT?!?

When the shock of such an intensely ridiculous statement had finally worn off, I got to thinking about how the labels we use affect not only our views of ourselves and each other, but also on our clients’ opinions and expectations of us, as well as the licensing and use of our images.

Licensing Basics

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Kodak & Instagram: A Tale of Dollars & Sense

Instagram, the supposed “new face” of photography, celebrated its 3rd birthday earlier this month. What’s that? You weren’t invited to the party? Well, considering the usual fanfare and not-so-subtle ways in which the billion-dollar photo-sharing app usually marks its milestones, I’m actually kind of surprised that Instagram’s official entry into toddlerhood (or teens in internet years) came and went without even so much as a blip on our collective radar..

Instagram Logo

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Tattoos & Photo Editors: My Conversation with Stella Kramer

I’ve been wanting a tattoo for a long time. But not just any tattoo. I’ve been wanting the perfect tattoo. A killer design from an amazing artist that showcases my love for my family and my passion for photography. As is the case when trying to come up with the perfect anything, however, it takes time. Or maybe I’m just stalling? In either case, it was while scouring Google Images recently for ideas and inspiration that I stumbled across the blog of Pulitzer Prize-winning photo editor and consultant Stella Kramer.

guyer-photography-tattoos

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Expectations: A Two-Way Street (Or Assistant’s Expectations From Photographers)

I wrote a column last week about the ten or twelve qualities that I think are necessary for someone to be a really good photo assistant. It pretty much all boiled down to this– you need to look, act, and work like a professional. Simple stuff. Most of the feedback from the post has been positive, but a few people have pointed out that I came off a bit demanding and one-sided. One person commented on Facebook that “there are some good points there, but after reading it would you really want to work for that guy?” Don’t even get me started on the email (Apparently, I’m a pompous ass).

will-take-photos-for-food

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Standing in Front of More Interesting Stuff…And Other Good Advice

One of my favorite photography quotes comes from long-time National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson. “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” Like so many pieces of Life’s really great advice on topics big and small, it is both ridiculously simple and deeply profound at the same time. It’s the simplicity, though, that really resonates with me. I was discussing this with my students the other day when they pointed out to me that much of my advice to them is just as basic, simple, and straight-to-the-point.

peanuts-lucy-advice-booth

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How to Be a Great Photo Assistant

I think I entered a photographer’s rite of passage a while back when I started receiving inquiries from new photographers wanting a job as either my assistant or my intern. It was a flattering and surreal experience for me, particularly in light of the fact that I can name several photographers for whom I’d do just about anything for a chance to assist, even if just for a day.

help-wanted-sign

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Do You Look Like a Professional Photographer?

“Funny…You don’t LOOK like a professional photographer.”

“Really? What does a professional photographer look like?”

“Well, for starters, you only have that one camera!”

“Will I be needing more?”

Thus began the conversation– and the engagement session. I’d met the bride and her mother (really awesome people, by the way) when they hired me, but this was my first encounter with The Groom. At first I figured he was just trying to break the ice. I’m still not sure if that assessment was right or wrong, but in either case it was quite possibly the longest two hours of my career as a photographer. Yes– a professional photographer, damn it.

photographer evolution

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15 of My Favorite Photography Products Under $50.00

Fall is in the air again, which means– among other things– that I’m back in the classroom, teaching my digital photography class for kids. I have some great students this year, ranging in age from 10-14, who have already impressed me with their curiosity, talent, and desire to learn. One of the things that separates my class from other photography classes is that I don’t require my students to have a particular level of camera. As a result, I have students with DSLRs working side-by-side with students who photograph with the most basic of point-and-shoot models. By making it less about the equipment and more about how they see the world around them, some pretty cool stuff happens.

ThinkTank PPR

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