There’s always someone better than you.

A wise man once told me, ” There is always someone better than you. Find him and make him your mentor. If you are always learning, you are always growing. This keeps you humble and keeps your work fresh.” The longer I pursue my photographic education, I find those words are true! With my journey I find mentors in the untraditional sources. I think it’s good to look outside your industry for mentors. I find inspiration in painters, dancers, designers, musicians….anyone who is really talented at what they do can be a great mentor.

This week I attended SEMA in Las Vegas with one of my favorite clients, Flog Industries .  It was fun to see all of the new toys and technology of the automotive industry. But most fun was seeing all of the work and love that people put into their vehicle rebuilds. So much care, attention to detail, hard work and craftsmanship goes into those vehicles. It was impossible for me to choose a favorite. It is interesting to see shifts in the trends too. Last year was lots of skulls and tattoo inspired paint/wrap jobs and a HUGE amount of matte finishes. This year very few skulls and chrome and shiny are coming back a little more. There were a bunch of foil looking paint/wrap jobs. I didn’t like the foil ones. I didn’t see one that had a perfect wrap application. Most showed scuff marks.
Anyway, I spent the week talking to people who are passionate about what they do. I feel energized ( except for my sore feet 😉 ) with a desire to do something completely new to me. Let’s see what I come up with!
So learn something new today and share it here. Tell us about it!

IMG_0458-0.JPG

IMG_0459.JPG

Tips for hiring a PROFESSIONAL photographer

I recently went to a local business to have my son’s hair cut. It is a classy, high end, men’s barber-shop. (Not your typical “chop-shop” chainstore salon.)   While sitting in the lobby I looked at their brochure. I was less than impressed with their photos. Under exposed, bad composition, etc. I knew the owner from a local networking group so I approached him about the photos. What shocked me is he told me he had hired a professional photographer….or he THOUGHT he had! It’s so frustrating that there is not a standard that defines a professional photographer! How was he to know…anyone can say they are a pro. I feel bad that he invested money in his advertising photos and was given photos that were far from professional.

The ASMP has a list of 10 things to look for in a pro photographer ” Ten reasons why to hire a pro “.

Here’s a simple list of tips:

1.   Check out their portfolio! Don’t hire someone just because a friend or neighbor says they are great.  Make sure their work is consistent in quality and that their style fits what you need.  Anyone can get a lucky shot if they shoot enough. You don’t want to rely on luck when you are investing in photos.  A professional has consistent quality and can handle many different lighting and location situations.  Look for diversity in lighting, indoors, outdoors, natural light, flash, points of view, etc.   Also make sure they specialize in what you need.  A portrait photographer may not have the skills or background to produce advertising photos, etc.

2.    Does your “photographer” have a business license and INSURANCE? Having liability insurance protects you as a client. Bad things happen and having insurance is an indication that your photographer is prepared for all types of situations. Very few hobbyists have liability insurance. Most professionals carry a minimum of 1 million dollars in liability insurance. Having a biz license and insurance also can be an indicator that your photographer is serious about his business and will most likely be around for awhile.

3.    Where is your photographer’s studio located?  Is it in his or her home or garage? Many very talented photographers do work out of their homes, but having a separate location can indicate a level of seriousness.  A photographer with a commercial location for a studio is not doing photography as a hobby or side job.

4.   Don’t be impressed by photography organization memberships. PPA , WPPI and several other organizations will let anyone who pays their fees be a member! Although these organizations are great resources, they are not an indicator that your photographer is truly a professional.

ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) and NPS (Nikon Pro Services) both have standards to be professional member and include a qualifying process to separate pros from non-pros so you can take their memberships more seriously.

5.   REFERRALS! Don’t be embarrassed to ask for referrals! Ask your photographer for referrals for the type of photography you desire.  If you are hiring him or her for a wedding ask for WEDDING client referrals.  If its for commercial/advertising photography ask for COMMERCIAL/ADVERTISING referrals….and CALL them!  Talk to the referrals. Ask about their experience. Were  their photos what they expected? Did they receive them in a timely manner? Was the photographer easy to work with?       Most people are apprehensive about asking for referrals but it is one of the best things you can do in choosing a photographer, so DO IT!  You are investing money in your photos and you deserve to get what you are paying for.