Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make!

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/150

I like to think of still photography as capturing the emotional moments of a story. They are moments however and need a good storyteller to help weave these moments with text/words into a compelling story.

Photographers need to remember it isn’t just about the moments that will get them hired. In other words just having images will lack the most important part of getting jobs.

For photographers marketing ourselves is no longer about the photos we make, but the stories we tell that will help us seal those deals.

This is a great insight by John Steinbeck about a great story, “If a story is not about the hearer he [or she] will not listen . . . A great lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting–only the deeply personal and familiar.”

The Five Essential Elements Of A Story – Katie Kazoo says, “A story has five basic but important elements. These five components are: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. These essential elements keep the story running smoothly and allow the action to develop in a logical way that the reader can follow.”

  1. Character – This needs to be developed so that we can feel like we know this person. We can picture them and how they would dress, walk and talk.
  2. The Setting – Great writers like Pat Conroy who does such a great job of writing that if you had never been to Charleston, SC you would recognize it from just reading some of his books.
  3. The Plot – This is how you sequence the events of a story to keep the reader on the edge. 
  4. The Conflict – This can be internal or external and often is a little of both for the main character. 
  5. The Resolution – offer a fitting conclusion, which can be a tragedy or a comedy
This is a great example here of creating a setting for the story by South Carolina’s famed writer Pat Conroy as he describes Charleston in his 2009 novel, South of Broad: “I carry the delicate porcelain beauty of Charleston like the hinged-shell of some soft-tissued mollusk. . . . In its shadows you can find metal work as delicate as lace . . . it’s not a high-kicking, glossy lipstick city.”
Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 250, ƒ/4, 1/100
Photography can help in creating these five parts of the story. They can help show what often is difficult to tell without a lot of words.
Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/10
To me I am looking for those moments where the expressions on people’s faces is what writers often spend pages trying to create using just the text. I often see photos as packing in even more information than the writer attempted. 
When you go to see a movie that a writer’s book has been turned into, you will notice over and over where screenwriters, directors and producers must include so much more in the frame of the lens that isn’t even described in that type of detail that the camera is giving to the audience.
Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/90
Throughout my family vacation I was capturing slices of the memories that will be part of the stories we tell as a family in the years ahead.
When you look at your images that you captured this holiday did you capture slices of the story?
Many will always say yes, but I want to challenge you. Take a moment and think of what the story was this Christmas for your family. Now without thinking of your photos can you just tell the story? Then after telling us the story how many photos do you have that will support this story?
You don’t start your storytelling by just clicking randomly. You start with the storyline in your mind.

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” 

– Brandon Sanderson

Marketing yourself with story is creating the questions for the client to realize they don’t have answers to and they need some help. That help is you!

Storytelling is the biggest form of entertainment

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience, or gives pleasure and delight. It can be an idea or a task, but is more likely to be one of the activities or events that have developed over thousands of years specifically for the purpose of keeping an audience’s attention. Although people’s attention is held by different things, because individuals have different preferences in entertainment, most forms are recognizable and familiar. Storytelling, music, drama, dance, and different kinds of performance exist in all cultures, were supported in royal courts, developed into sophisticated forms and over time became available to all citizens. The process has been accelerated in modern times by an entertainment industry which records and sells entertainment products. –– Wikipedia

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/45

During my time in London we stopped by The Globe. The Globe Theatre was a theatre in London associated with William Shakespeare. It was built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s playing company. A modern reconstruction of the Globe, named “Shakespeare’s Globe”, opened in 1997 approximately 750 feet from the site of the original theatre.

I believe photography is one way for us to preserve these storytelling moments and be enjoyed in a new medium and able to be shared to many more than live theater can do. While theater is quite entertaining it is just one way for us to capture the imagination of people. Storytelling is a great way to take the brain hostage and substitute ones own imagination for another person’s.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 3200, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

I love the theater for the same reason I love the movies and TV dramas, they all help me think beyond my imagination. After watching these stories I often find my mind dreaming new dreams made possible by these art forms.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 160, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

To me the one thing that is just as impactful if caught in such a way that it is a slice of a story is real life. I believe photojournalism is that medium of telling real life stories.

Here is a slice of a wedding which is the first chapter of the couples new life together.

If you want your photography to get better the more your work embodies those real moments that are captured in the best light with a perspective that helps move you along the storyline I think you are going to have a very good chance of hijacking a person’s brain from their own dreaming stories to your storytelling.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Great lighting, great stage direction and acting can really capture an audience’s attention. But if you want them to really remember then a sound track can make your story even more memorable.

We all have had a earworm. An earworm, sometimes known as a brainworm, sticky music, or stuck song syndrome, is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing. Phrases used to describe an earworm include “musical imagery repetition”, “involuntary musical imagery”, and “stuck song syndrome”.

Also music can just help create mood as much as light does. Music helps us remember storylines and just about anything.

This leads me to what I love doing today the most. Multimedia packages where I combine still images, motion and audio to tell a story.

I do this for companies. Here is just one example:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/160960408 
Storytelling is an art form. The artist is always looking for ways to capture the audiences attention, because you are competing not just with other things demanding their attention, you are competing with their own day dreaming.

London taught me that creating an EXPERIENCE is important in business

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/220

In business your product is just part of why people will do business with you. Now if your product is on par with the rest of the industry then the other thing that people are paying for is EXPERIENCE.

We just spent our vacation traveling to London for an EXPERIENCE. One of the major things we were paying to enjoy was to relive the Harry Potter movies. We wanted to experience the movies as if we were there in them. So here we went to Kings Crossing Train Station to 9 3/4 to get our pictures made as if we were going through the wall onto Hogwarts.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/2.8, 1/100

We went to the House of Minalima. Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima met in 2002 when a happy coincidence of fates meant they were to work together as graphic designers on the Harry Potter film franchise. Here they had a unique opportunity to establish the visual graphic style from the outset of the productions. The design aesthetic they created for Harry Potter is still sought after, be it designing collectable merchandise or collaborating on the much anticipated Warner Bros Studio Tour.

Rather than just have a store with items on the shelf they created a self guided tour of their artwork and created moments like we remember of Harry Potter’s invitation letter to Hogwarts. They created an EXPERIENCE for us to enjoy.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 640, ƒ/3.6, 1/100

One of the biggest phenomena’s in the past few years as related to photography has been the selfie. While we have always done some form of this with photography through the years the selfie stick came along to help us include more people in our photos.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Here you can see all the women getting in close to the London Bobby to get their photo made with him. It is an experience that not only are they having they are now sharing this in their social media. Then their friends will comment on how much they: like, love or other ways of expressing their joy of the photo.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 640, ƒ/3.6, 1/100

In the Harry Potter tour at the Warner Brother’s Studio outside of London they had different things you could do on the tour. Here my daughter is being taught how to dual with a wizarding wand using a mirror to see her style as compared to the teacher on the TV screen to the left.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/10, 1/70

We went on a Harry Potter Muggles tour where they showed us some of the filming spots in London as well as take us to places like Collier Street which was J. K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley.

Notice the tour guide is dressed in Gryffindor attire and looks like she could easily just walked off the set of the movie. To help us with the EXPERIENCE she had screen shots of the movie [in her hand] that she would pull out at different stops and pass around to help us see in the movie what we were EXPERIENCING first hand.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/75

Now my daughter dressed up in her Gryffindor robe and enjoyed not only having people ask to be photographed with them, but she was excited to see this guy dressed up as Newt Scamander from the latest movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Even last night I heard my daughter yell out that the guy dressed like Newt was in another documentary she just saw. Again it is about an EXPERIENCE.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/45

One of my daughter’s favorite scenes from the Harry Potter series is when Harry Potter talks with Remus Lupin on the Bridge. She is standing where they stood when they filmed that scene. What an EXPERIENCE it was for her.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/90

For me it was the scale model of Hogwarts that just let me see the detail for which they created this mystic place that captured me the most.

Question for You

What are you doing to create an EXPERIENCE that people will tell their friends about and want to do business with you.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

Can you see your customers smiling at certain points in their interactions with you and your company?

Can you think of something that can create more of an EXPERIENCE than you are doing now?

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.8, 1/110

My trip to London just reminded me that all those little details like clothing can help create something that keeps people traveling from all over the world to get the EXPERIENCE first hand.

Most importantly for everyone in business is to concentrate of creating a great PRODUCT and creating an EXPERIENCE that separates you from everyone else.

More photos from London with the Fuji X-E2

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 1/400

We have been having lots of fun in England this week. Morning full English breakfast at The Orangery at Kensington Palace. My daughter enjoyed her tea.

I am just going to add photos here from the last couple of days that I was able to capture with my Fuji X-E2. I am using just he 18-55mm and the 55-200mm lenses.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/7.1, 1/120

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 800, ƒ/9, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 250, ƒ/4, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/11, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/11, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5, 1/350

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4.7, 1/180

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5, 1/600

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/120

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/240

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/2.8, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/350

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/3.6, 1/680

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.8, 1/950

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.8, 1/300

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.7, 1/120

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/1100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.2, 1/640

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.6, 1/3800

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/3.6, 1/750

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4.8, 1/120

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/300

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/45

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/90

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour London with Fuji X-E2

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

Too look like my wife and daughter are going through Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Crossing train station a person holds the scarf and then lets go. I decided this would be a great time to use my motor drive setting on the Fuji X-E2. I put it on high so I would have more photos to choose from.

I doubt I will make it back here in my lifetime to repeat this again, so better be sure I get it the first time. Again my gear would do the job, but I had to make some adjustments to get the most out of it.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/60

I wanted to capture these deatheater masks used in the making of Harry Potter that were in a glass case. I moved until I got the angle where there wasn’t a glare and then just zoomed in with my 18-55mm to get a fairly close shot of the masks. They made over a thousand of these for the movie.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/3.2, 1/100

I love the pop up flash on the Fuji X-E2 when it comes to situations like this. Just look at the lady in the backgrounds eyes. You can see the shadows from the lighting. I just popped up the flash and shot with it to help open up the eyes of my wife and daughter in front of the Hogwarts Train used for the 10 years of making of the 8 Harry Potter films.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/70

Even this far away the flash helped since I was shooting at ISO 6400. I have it set for slow sync on aperture priority so the flash is just helping with the exposure.  By the way this is the second 4 Privet Drive house used. It is a copy of the first one in movie one and used later in other sequels.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/45

I love that I am shooting RAW with the Fuji X-E2 and also JPEGs. This photo I later color corrected in Lightroom to get the skin tones closer to normal. However I am shooting under theatrical lighting where they are creating a night scene with blue lights.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/45

This is the original JPEG out of the camera.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/60

For such a small camera I was getting incredible results for my family to remember our time at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London for Harry Potter. Our family is all Potter Heads. We have all read all the books many times and own the movies on DVD.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/5, 1/100

The last stop on the studio tour was a full size model of Hogwarts that they used for filming of the movies. They put a green screen around it and then just shot high resolution images and then often would used computer graphics to shrink down the actors to the scale of the model. They had touch screen monitors around the room for you to see how that all worked.

Let me tell you it was incredible to go onto all the sets they have preserved at the studio that were the actual sets used in the movies.

More sights of London with my Fuji X-E2

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

I enjoyed seeing the sights in London. Some of the sights were just reflections in the sidewalk of the Coke sign in Piccadilly Square in London.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.8, 1/100

There is so much to see in London and there is just not enough time for any tourist. So you pick your locations. Our family went to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards ceremony.

It is really impossible to find one location to get good photos of every part of the ceremony. We got right next to the railing of the front gate. I had to shoot through the iron gates to get this photo.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 800, ƒ/4.8, 1/100

I found the Fuji 55-200mm lens just great to use for this situation. I was too far away for the 18-55mm, but was able to get some fun moments like this one of the London Bobby with tourists taking a selfie.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 800, ƒ/4.8, 1/100

I just had to wait and watch to capture people in wonderful moments of expression. This was easier to do than capture the guard. They are very business like throughout the event in their role.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 640, ƒ/4.8, 1/100

In photography to capture people’s attention you need “surprises”. Most of the time I find that expressions on people’s faces is the easiest to find. However every once in a while something is different enough to be a “visual surprise” like this guard wearing a turban rather than the bearskin tall hat that the rest of the guards wear. Also the only one with a beard.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.5, 1/150

The most important thing for me the entire trip was that my wife and daughter were having fun. If they were enjoying everything, then I was OK with wherever we were in London.

We all love Harry Potter and my wife has been a Downton Abbey fan for a while. So London was a perfect place for a vacation.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/70

For me this photo made me think of the “Night Bus” in Harry Potter. Maybe before Harry Potter it would just be a double decker bus in London, but the storyline of Harry Potter will forever be burned in mind and now these are the Night Bus in the series.

Technical Tip

Before I could just concentrate on capturing moments and moods of England I had to understand my camera and make it do what I wanted and not just whatever it would create on it’s own.

For all these photos I used the ExpoDisc to create a Custom White Balance. Using presets or Auto White balance just doesn’t give me as good a results most of the time. Here is how I do that in an older blog post.

For the most part I think you can shoot much of travel photography with lenses between 28mm to 200mm. The FUJINON XF 18-55mm and FUJINON XF 55-200mm give me between 27mm to 300mm coverage. This was important to get those photos at Buckingham Palace.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

You don’t have to get a camera with changeable lenses, you can buy cameras that have built in zooms that cover this range for you.

My last tip for your vacation travel and well all photos is to write captions and keywords for the photos. This way you can find them later on when you need to. I use the software PhotoMechanic to do all my captions and keywording. Here is an earlier blog post to help you understand how this works. For those who prefer a video here is a video I created showing this workflow.

Most likely after this trip I will create a coffee table book with Blurb so I can enjoy this trip for years to come.

The Fuji X-E2 is the perfect travel photography camera

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/8, 1/75

Traveling to London, England on a vacation I decided to go very light with my gear. To get photos like this of my family as we travel I wanted something more than the camera on my phone.

I wanted to zoom and keep high quality. This is one of those trips of a lifetime that we will cherish for a very long time.

Instead of just carrying 2 extra batteries I am carrying 4. This way I can just shoot away or if the cold in the air drains my batteries then I will be ready and not miss photos due to a dead battery.

The kit is what you see in the photo. Fuji X-E2, Fujinon XF 18-55mm and the Fujinon XF 55-200mm.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.2, 1/100

You can see the bag I used to get all my gear here to London. I put my MacBook Pro 15″ laptop, external hard drive, beat headphones, some of my medicine, cables for everything including my phone. I also have a ExpoDisc for custom white balancing. Once we got to our flat I took most everything out and just had camera gear and put some gloves in the backpack. The backpack is the Think Tank Urban Approach which is designed for mirrorless camera systems.

Keeping it simple I never once changed lenses today. Tomorrow I will use the 55-200mm when we go to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/40

I love the Fuji for the high ISO of 6400. Great for most situations like this night scene of the restaurant we visited.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/10, 1/70

I am just adjusting the aperture for increasing the depth of field or decreasing as needed for each photo. Since it is mirrorless, I am looking at the LCD and seeing the results right away without having to use a depth of field preview button.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/10, 1/75

So for both the photos here I wanted to show foreground to background as sharp. I chose to shoot at ƒ/10 because the sharpness looked good in the viewfinder.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 800, ƒ/4, 1/100

Now for shooting the pastries in the window I just used a shallow depth of field.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/4, 1/100

Now our tour guide for the Harry Potter Muggles tour looked so much like my daughter today I needed a shot of them together. The background wasn’t quite important here so shooting at ƒ/4 worked just great.

The two of them were surprised at how much they had in common. They both are actresses and have been Olivia in Twelfth Night. Taste in movies from Harry Potter, Dr. Who, and Sherlock were just a few of the things other than dressing with similar attire.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 500, ƒ/2.8, 1/100

Now since I can see what I am getting before I push the shutter release I was able to see that ƒ/2.8 was fine for capturing my wife and daughter in front of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theater. While the background is slightly out of focus it is still enough to know where they are standing in London.

Lesson is simple, you can do a great deal with a small system. However, if you note I am thinking about what I want to capture and controlling the camera. The camera without my input would not give this good of a result.

To help you think about this, when Apple and Samsung introduce their new smartphones they hired professional photographers to show what these cameras can do. Why is that? Because it is the person holding the camera that determines if you have photos that are really impactful,

So if you are running a business and you need photos, please don’t just use your smartphone or your own camera. Be sure and hire a pro. If Apple and Samsung wouldn’t trust anyone to use their gear to sell it then why should you?

Guest With Camera vs the Guy With Camera

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/60

My favorite role at a wedding is that of the guest. GWC in the photo world is often referring to the Guy With a Camera.

My favorite camera to use for these situations is my Fuji X-E2. It is small and everyone doesn’t think of me as the “official photographer.”


This is my travel kit. As a guest I carry this in a small bag and most of the time shoot everything with the FUJINON XF 18-55mm.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/4, 1/200

Now when you are a guest the odds are you have a personal relationship with the Bride and Groom. This is the bride’s daughter on the left and my daughter is on the far right. I feel like the smiles are different with family and friends than for a professional photographer.

This is why everyone should take a few photos at a wedding and share them with the couple. Just don’t get in the way of the professionals. They will get most all the main photos. You should get things like I have done here, photos around the main action of the bride and groom.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/4, 1/200

There was a quick moment where the maid of honor gave her flowers to her boyfriend to hold for her. I just thought this was a fun moment that most wedding photographers wouldn’t necessarily capture.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 1/320

Because we are friends there were conversations that brought laughter to the family that unless you are family and friends are harder to capture as the professional who is back a couple of feet peeking in verses being in the conversation as here.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/60

What I love to give to people is my gift of photography. I think for the most part this makes for one of the most intimate gifts you can give to someone.

Who’s your Audience?

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, /500

When Jimmy Carter became president of the United States back in 1977 the world started to hear about being a “Born Again” Christian.

Many years later I would be in seminary where Wes Black, my youth education professor opened my eyes to understanding “Born Again.” Professor Black pointed out that in the scripture of John 3:1-21 Jesus was talking to specifically Nicodemus.

Nicodemus was Pharisee who was a member of the Jewish ruling council due to being born into his family. His status in life was due to his parent’s. Jesus was pointing out that his true value must be placed solely in God and not into things of this world. He needed to be “born again” or as in the Greek it meant be “born from above.”

This was the starting point for the lecture that day many years ago in Professor Black’s class. Black would go on to talk about how Jesus would talk to the woman at the well, to those he would heal and others to help us see that each time the message was different. He didn’t tell all of them they needed to be “Born Again”, he only said this to Nicodemus.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/75

Dr. Black shifted from the scripture and went to the white board and started to draw the map of a school. He then labeled the different rooms and places around the campus. One room was the band room, another art, then the library, on to the cafeteria and then the other end of the school had the shop class and the gym. Out front of the school he drew a tree and talked about where the smoking students would hang out.

Then room by room Black asked us how would we talk to them about God. In the gym people talked about God being like the coach or the quarterback. When we got the the library, where many of the geeks hang out, someone said that God is like ROM. ROM is strictly, read-only memory refers to memory that is hard-wired in a computer and the computer relies on to work.

It was becoming quite clear that the lesson was that before you can communicate who God was to a person or group you had to know them. You had to know their nomenclature.

Moses had predicted that Jesus would be the greatest of all the prophets. He was predicting that he would be the greatest of all communicators.

Dr. Wes Black opened my eyes that day in class as to one of the biggest reasons Jesus was such a great communicator–Jesus started with the audience.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/800

To truly communicate you must understand your audience. You cannot assume the same way you communicated to others will work with the new audience. You cannot assume that if you are interested in the subject they will be. Also you cannot assume they will understand why they need to know something unless you communicate this clearly.

Too many Christians went around telling people they needed to be “Born Again.” There largest mistake is the audience had little in common with Nicodemus.

Do you know your audience? 

Feedback we give to first time Multimedia Storytellers

James Dockery, ESPN editor and co-teacher, is in Lisbon with me as we are teaching the students multimedia storytelling. [Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm,  ISO 6400, ƒ/6.4, 1/90]

Each time I teach multimedia storytelling I find myself sitting with the student and talking about what they could do better.

This summer I taught in a program the same thing I teach in a workshop, but they needed to have a grade, which required me to write out those tips.

Here is the gist of what I am writing when grading or giving someone feedback on their first multimedia storytelling project.


Since this is the very first time you have done multimedia storytelling and have few friends who have been through something like this you may feel like you are flying blind at times.

I know most students when signing up for a course like this have often talked to other alumni of the classes and made their decision to take a class based on what those students told them.

This is to say that for the most part the only person helping you with this assignment would have been myself. This puts a lot more burden on you to ask more questions and push harder to grasp new concepts.

I saw through the class this grappling with storyline and storytelling. I think this is actually the most difficult part of the content to master. If it were that easy to do then there would be blockbuster hit after another coming out of the studios around the world.

One of the key elements of this project is that the success of the project has a lot to do with how well you take ownership and control. It requires leadership skills as well as the skills of the technician to capture the content.

You did a great job of adjusting from the first interview to the second time. I think you really showed the concept really well with what I call the “Radio Cut.” A “Radio Cut” is where you can close your eyes and just listen and get the story as if you were listening to it on the radio.

One area I would encourage you to work on is what I call the peeling of the onion of the story. I thought you did a pretty good job with peeling the onion and getting a deeper story than you had on the first round. I think in time you will know how to get deeper faster with your subjects.

The reason I think it is good to dig deeper is the more you are able to help the audience understand that this is a problem that is so difficult to over come and needs a miracle to make it happen they will not be as engaged.

Zacuto Z-Finder

My advice on the technical side would be to get a viewfinder for your LCD. Many of your shots were slightly out of focus, which is typical if you cannot see the LCD up close.

Fill the 16×9 frame. Make is a cinema piece and don’t use verticals where you see the black on the sides. Fill the frame.

I would also advise getting more variety in these types of shots as both video and stills.

  • 25% Wide Shots – Establishing
  • 25% Medium Shots
  • 50% Close-ups

I think if you had more time with your subject you could have shot a lot more and had what we call more b-roll to use while he is telling us his story through the audio.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 1400, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Another tip is to fill the screen with b-roll when someone is talking about things in the past. This is where abstract visuals can really help you.

This is where you may have what I call a video portrait of her can help. The subject is looking out a window for example and you just slowly move the camera or it is on tripod and they might move just a little.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/420

Another thing you could use is what I like to think as visual eye candy shots. This might be a close-up of water drops during rain hitting leaves. Could be a shot in a room as people walk through the shot. Where you rack focus in and out of focus on elements in your subject’s world. Things like a book, a flower on a table, tools he may use in the job and things that just when used as b-roll are kind of what you might see when you are day dreaming and looking out a window.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 10000, ƒ/8, 1/100

For non-journalistic piece you can coach the talent/subjects. Their voices sounded the same even when they are talking about killing themselves or running a successful business. Their voices need to have a little more emotions than the same one. Most people need a little coaching and doing several takes until you capture the emotion of what they are saying is necessary. Just as good light can impact the mood of a photo, the tone of the person’s voice can bring mood and emotion to the storyline.

Sequencing needs to keep me on the edge of the seat. Meaning every 10 to 15 seconds you need to create a little tension. Sometimes this is visual and sometimes it is in their voices, the words or something that makes it a page-turner.

Remember this from all that I taught on storytelling. Your clients for the most part do not know their stories well enough or they don’t need you. Also, they don’t know how to take your content and put it together into something for their audience. They need you to take control and capture their stories and put them into packages for their audience. They also need help with promoting their stories. So individual social media posts to drive people to the “story” are also needed. Still image with a few words and pointing people to the project on Vimeo or YouTube can not just help the client promote their work, but give them ideas on how to promote their work as well.

Remember you are not just telling their stories; you are educating them on how to tell their stories without you as well. They will take tips from the process and now be better speakers when they speak due to you helping them see the nuggets of their story. You will help them become more transparent so that ultimately their stories are told in a way that the audience is moved to action.