Size Matters

image size
Image size is somewhere in your camera menu.  This is how it looks on my D3.  Do not pick this setting.

I am working on a project for a non-profit where I will be putting some 25 – 20″x30″ prints on display at their offices.  Most of these will be from images I did for them, but some we were hoping to use would come from volunteers who have been to different countries for them.

I went to their offices today and spent an hour or so going through folders of images.  90% of all the images were unusable.  They were not usable because they were too small.  They were only big enough for Facebook or a small website image.  Most of the images when blown up to 100% would fit in this blog here.

Those size files are big enough to make an acceptable 4″x6″ print. 

Always pick the largest size image.

If you pick the largest size you will not be able to shoot as many photos on a memory card.  The good news is the memory card is so cheap today you can carry many cards in your wallet.

If you pick the largest size you now can make prints and large prints with today’s digital cameras.

You can always downsize the images for your Facebook or to email someone, but you cannot take the small image and make a large print.

This is the same as setting your camera to take color or black and white photos.  Why shoot it in black and white?  You can do that later with your Lightroom or Photoshop.  You can’t go back and make it color.

Keep your options open and shoot your images on the highest quality setting for your camera.  Since each camera is different on how to do this, pull your camera manual out or Google your camera model and how to set the quality of the images. 

By the way all those wonderful shots of Kenya, Guatemala and Brazil are not usable for the exhibit.  Be sure your photos are always considered for usage, by being sure your images are the largest size possible for your camera.

What I use to display photos on my iPad

Portfolio is a good choice for you to show your photos on an iPad

If you are looking for an app to use on your iPad for displaying photos you might like to try this app.  I have been using it for a while and the cool thing is using DropBox to upload the images from my computer to the iPad. 

You can create a variety of galleries to show.  Here is what I have on my iPad for example.

What’s on my iPad

They are really just categories for me to have for talking points with clients or potential clients.

While the iPad has a long battery life and is something cool to pull out and show your work on, I suggest having some leave behind.  It can be some prints, postcards, coffee table book or flyer.

Remember the person who sees your work most likely will need to show your work to someone else before they hire you.  The iPad can be the WOW! factor, but have a website and/or blog to direct them to as well.

Skype Interview Tips

Is this what your Skype setup looks for your interview?

A series of experiments by Princeton psychologists reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions.  Yikes.

In this amount of time you haven’t had a chance to even say your name.  That first impression is primarily a visual impression and this is why I think I can help you.

I suggest going to a hair stylist and getting the best style you can for your features.  Maybe find a stylist to help you with your wardrobe.  Remember you only have tenth of a second to impress.

Simplify the backround and add some lights to either side of the monitor and for those of us older folks, I would add a light under you chin as I have done here.  The lower light softens those wrinkles.  You can see television anchors use this light–you just have to look to see it.

I chose white as a background here, you might want to choose blue as a background.  It is used a great deal at press conferences like the White House because it is complimentary to the skin.  The basic idea is the clean up that background of clutter.

The cool thing about a Skype interview is you can have your notes on the screen to read just like a teleprompter and keep your eyes engaged with the audience.  Don’t use notes that you have to look down or away from the computer screen.  You want to engage your audience.

Here is a good typical set up of lights.  You can just use a household lamp on either side. To get the light effect under your chin you can just use white card board that you can buy anywhere to lay on the table to bounce the light up.

The benefit from using the additional lights is if you wear glasses this can actually cut down on the reflection of the monitor in your glasses.  The brighter you make those lights on the side the more the reflection of the monitor will disappear.

Most of today’s new computers have pretty good microphones and cameras built in.  As long as you are sitting close to the monitor you should sound good.  Test it out.  If your friend has trouble hearing you, then go and buy a small microphone.

Be sure you wipe off any dirt or smudges from your camera lens.

To be really sure you make a great first impression–don’t do what I did in these photos and not smile.  Smile a lot.  Practice a few times with your friends.

Share your screen

Another cool thing about Skype is you canshare your computer screen instead of them seeing just you.  This is great if you want to show something on your computer to them.

Remember while you need to practice with some friends and smooth out your presentation, it is still the tenth of the first second they will make a lot of judgement just on how you look.

The best preventive camera insurance

camera strap 1
Decorative Camera Strap showing my love of the comic strip

Back in 1980 during Christmas break from college, I went ice skating with my friends on a lake in New Jersey.  I remember this time very well, because this is the time I dropped my rangefinder camera onto the ice and destroyed it.

The reason I dropped it was I didn’t have a camera strap on it.  I didn’t own one.  Today I see lots of folks who must have not realized how important the camera strap is when they opened the box with their new camera.  It can be cumbersome, but I can tell you from past experiences not using it can be a disaster.

camera strap 2
My favorite camera straps are the Domke 1.5″ strap

Besides having a camera strap you need to use it.  Hanging the camera around your neck is the safest place for it to be when you are being a tourist.  Second is maybe over the shoulder, but the worst thing is no strap and just holding it.

camera strap 4
Wrap the strap around the wrist if you don’t have it around your neck when shooting.

There are going to be times you might want to take a photo out of the car window.  Wrap the camera strap around your hand so that it doesn’t slip and fall.

When you get to that restaurant and need to set it down, the safest spot is on the floor–it can’t fall from there.  Some folks even put the strap through their leg so no one can grab it and run.

camera strap 3
When you put a camera on a table, always try and keep the strap on the table and not hanging over.  It can easily get pulled off the table by animals and small children who are just curious.

If you place the camera on a table, don’t let the strap dangle off the edge.  I have seen way too many of these straps magically get hooked onto someone walking by and then the camera hits the ground.  Little kids love to explore and having something at their hands reach will be too tempting.

There are many types of camera straps and I will just recommend one that I prefer the most.  It is made by Domke and here is a link to it for you.  I like the quick release straps that can be removed for easy packing or when the camera is on tripod.

Remember the best insurance on your camera is preventive care by you.

In Silos or a Rising Tide

Does your company have a silo effect?

My last post was about being aware of the relationships and politics of the office. This is to address not caving in and not pursuing what is best for the company, but finding a strategy to make great communication take place.

When a company functions as if each department is separate then you get the silo effect.

While I worked for Georgia Tech I saw this more than anywhere I had been before.  Since I worked in communications, my role had me moving from one department to another.  In the span of a week I photographed three different research projects on the campus and all three of them were solving the problem of epilepsy.

What was strange was that none of these departments knew about each other and even after I told them about each others projects they still didn’t interact together.

It was also at Georgia Tech where I saw the silos starting to be dismantled.  When they built the new Bioengineering building they had open labs next to each other.  This was to encourage people to talk to each other and collaborate more.

I enjoyed playing pickup basketball at Georgia Tech.  I played with students, alumni, faculty and staff.  While waiting between games we had time to talk to each other.  Two professors I played ball with talked one day together about their work.  Dr. William Hunt, Professor Bioengineering, and Microelectronics/Microsystems talked with Dr Roger Wartell about a problem. 

At the end of that conversation Dr. Hunt had a major breakthrough in his research. I too had a conversation later with Dr. Hunt about his work and he had a breakthrough, but struggled to get funding.  I asked if he would let me take a look at a way to visually communicate the concept.  After I helped him with some photos of his work he presented his work to a conference.

Very similar presentation to what he had been doing, but now new images.  He had one of the branches of the military come up after that talk and give him a $500,000 grant.  He sent a letter to the president of Georgia Tech telling him how I had helped him.  I was thrilled for him and I.

Toyota can tell you about how one part just about brought down their company in 2009.  It started as what was thought to be floor mats and then it came out they knew they had a faulty accelerator design.  This was an example of silo that just about took down the company.  It is still dealing with the bad PR this gave the company.

You need quality process in place for the whole company and not just parts of it.  You need to address these issues:

    •    A defined end goal
    •    Work done right the first time
    •    Individual responsibility for quality
    •    Verification, not inspection–quality processes focus on the on-going verification of quality achievement and not only inspection at the end
    •    Long-term focus
    •    Improved quality results in lower costs

If a company puts equal quality standards for their communication as they do in their product then it will lift up all the departments and in the end the customer gets a better product and experience.  This makes all those involved walking taller and prouder about what they are apart.

You see a rising tide lifts all boats.

A rising tide lifts all boats

Your work can be too good

The books range form $30 – $70 depending on how many pages

A religious leader for a large church organization told his communications team to not produce slick well-polished pieces, because then folks will think we have too much money and not give.  We want to look like we need help.

What is sad is that it probably costs more money to produce poor quality than great quality work.  If the work is not of a certain caliber then no one in your targeted audience will digest the content and then it was a total waste of money.

I have been producing two to three minute multimedia packages that range from $2,000 – $5,000 to produce in addition to the cost of travel expenses.  The companies I do this for are used to paying $10,000 to $250,000 for similar length video projects. Since they are so much less to produce the client was doing more of them.

This can cause a problem for the client with the rest of their corporation.  They think based on previous expenditures they are spending lots of money, when in reality they are spending less.

This was also happening for books we did as gifts.  People thought these were tens of thousands when they are often only $30 a book for 10 books.

If you are in charge of projects and you are not aware of this political reality of quality of your products you may be in for a rude awakening in a budget meeting. 

As communication specialists we help tell stories effectively. You also have another role to play of educating your organization about what you do.  They need to have you help them understand the strategy of the communications and the costs.

I would recommend getting someone to help you tell your story.  This could be one of your colleagues in the industry to help you.  I think one of the strangest things I have discovered over my career is how communications folks need someone to help them with their PR campaign.

First of all the PR you do for yourself is not necessarily the same thing you do for others. 

Here are seven things you might want to do:
  1. Take your analytics or get some to show how many folks you reach with your messaging.
  2. Show where you are getting placed—tear sheets
  3. Create a notebook/PowerPoint of these talking points that you are ready to now present to a person or a group.
  4. Identify those persons in your organization that you need as your allies
  5. I suggest taking them to lunch and sharing with them some of you material showing how you are being more strategic than in the past and how you are being more cost efficient in doing this.
  6. Create a comparison chart.  What we used to spend on something vs. today what we are spending. 
  7. Maybe give them a framed picture and copy of the story you produced for them or coffee table book and include with it a cover letter talking about the number of hits and responses you have gotten to it.

A strange thing may happen after you have done this with a few folks—you will get more work.  You may also get a larger budget next year.  People are drawn to folks who show business acumen. 

While I have given just some suggestions you may want to help those reading this blog with your tips.  I would love to hear your comments and suggestions.

Camera recall

My new Nikon P7000 came with original firmware v 1.0 and I upgraded it to v 1.1

You just don’t see camera recalls on the evening news. However, there are very similar “recall” notices on your camera’s website.  With cameras they are called firmware upgrades.

If you go to your camera’s manufacturer website you can search for firmware upgrade. On the Nikon website go to “service and support” and then to the “download center.” You will then see “download current firmware version.”

You will need to also know your firmware version. You can find this in your manual or just google your camera and firmware and you will find directions.

Just the other day I bought a brand new Nikon P7000. The firmware version on the camera was 1.0, but when I went to the website there was a version 1.1.

This is what Nikon listed as what this firmware fixed:
  • Image recording time at image quality settings that include NRW (RAW) has been reduced.
  • Lens control has been optimized to reduce the frequency with which the “Initializing lens. Cannot focus.” message is displayed.
  • An issue that, in some rare cases, prevented zoom operation has been resolved.
  • An issue that caused the monitor display to exhibit a loss of detail in highlights (blown highlights) when the shutter-release button was pressed halfway with Active D-Lighting enabled has been resolved.

No matter which camera you have, be sure you check to see if there is a firmware upgrade. You may just end up what feels like a new camera if you do.

Have your papers in order if you want to get paid

expenses cover
Expenses from a trip for a client

Virginia Adams, Pam Bonser and Alfreda Thompson all have been very important clients of mine through the years.  What you need to know is why they are important to me.
All three of them were the administrative assistants at places I worked or did work for that processed my invoices and expenses.
The most important thing for me at the end of the day is that I was paid for the work I did.  If I do an excellent job, make the client very happy with my work, and I do not get paid, then tomorrow I have to go and find another job, because I must pay my bills somehow.
How quickly you get paid has a lot to do with your paper work.  All of these administrative assistants were my contacts.  They interfaced with the accounts payable department and not me. 
They taught me to document all my expenses like: meals; transportation; hotels; mileage; tips for couriers; and miscellaneous items.  By having a scanned copy of each receipt attached to the invoice will insure payment in a timely matter. 
Their role is to look at the expenses and evaluate each expense.  Most companies have limits for meals for example and any unusual expense needs an explanation to forward to the next person in the process.  These notes are there for when they get audited.
Form W-9
Why is this necessary?  Well there are a few scenarios where having your papers in order will help the client in the long run.  I hate to bring this up, but there are times when your client could be in a political battle for budget planning.  Other departments can put pressure on the accounting department to audit them and see if they are being good stewards. 
If you have done a great job with providing receipts and explanations on your invoice for any abnormalities then when questions arise with the auditors they will give them a clean report.  However, if the books are sloppy this will be enough to not only affect their budget requests going forward, but may get your client fired.  When this happens you have to start all over and hope the person replacing them will use you.
If your papers are the reason the person lost their job, then the replacement will most likely not use you.

One more thing you need to do with each new client.  If you are doing freelance always give them a Form W-9.  They need it and if you do not give it to them when your invoice is due for payment they will call and request one.  So if they pay in a 30 days cycle you could be waiting another 30 days for payment past the first 30 days.

Just like in making pictures I want my standards to be higher than my client so I am giving them my best.  Do this for the paper work.  Your client my not ask for this much detail, but if you do this they will not only be pleased you will look even more professional.

The clients who hired me trusted and listened to Virginia, Pam and Alfreda.  I want to impress them with my paper work as much as I want to impress with my photography.

expenses page2
Scan and attach a copy of all your receipts for the client

Making choices today in business

I just got a copy of Truett Cathy’s book Wealth is it Worth it?

The forward was written by Ken Blanchard and the introduction by Dave Ramsey.

Shortly after getting the book I ran across Damon Horowitz TED Talks presentation on YouTube on “moral operating system.”

Horowitz does a live crowd source and asks the audience to raise their hands if they use iPhone or an Android.  After he does this then he asks them when trying to evaluate a situation using kantian ethics or Consequentialism.  Almost no hands go up in the audience.

What Horowitz extrapolates from this is we have stronger opinions about our handheld devices than the moral framework we should use.

On the back of Truett Cathy’s book is a quote from Warren Buffett that he said to Cathy, “I can’t remember exactly what I paid for the last Chick-fil-A I had or the last shirt I bought. But the one thing I do remember is how I got treated. You forget the price, but nobody forgets how they’re treated.”


Why am I writing about this on this blog?  I believe this is the key to being successful in business. You need to have a moral compass in life. By having ethics and values that you understand will help you build your brand and the trust of people.

Chick-fil-A took off in 1982 in sales.  This is when the executive team established the corporate purpose:

To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.

If you don’t have a personal mission statement for you and your company this is the time to form one. It will help you guide the rest of your life.

Before and After Photos (Part 2)

Click to see 360 degree tour

If you missed the first post please go here to see the before shot and then come back and see the after photo.

There really isn’t all that much to add to this except this is the after photo. 

We are now much happier with a lighter and more modern looking kitchen.  We also did the dining room and foyer.  We changed the color of the cabinets, walls and also changed the lighting in each room.

Do you like our changes?

The creator of the Cow Campaign for Chick-fil-A


David Ring, the ultimate Raving Fan of Chick-fil-A

Today I just met one of the biggest raving fans of Chick-fil-A. I was photographing at the Richards Group in Dallas, Texas. Chick-fil-A is promoting Cow Appreciation Day, which is today Friday July 8, 2011.

Chick-fil-A was hosting not only The Richards Group employees, the agency that does the Cow advertising campaign, they also had Raving Fan bloggers as well there. So when I saw this guy convincing four of the cows to hold him for a photo I wasn’t shocked, but wanted to know more about this Raving Fan.

“I am David Ring and back in 1994 I created the Cows.” Well this was just too cool. I got to talk with David and learn more.

“Chick-fil-A didn’t serve beef and this got him to thinking that the Cows would be perfect.” He presented the idea to Stan Richards, the founder of The Richards Group who then passed this on to Steve Robinson, Sr Vice President of Marketing for Chick-fil-A.

Stan Richards just pointed out to Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A this is the guy as they walked by.  Dan stopped to shake his hand.

In 1997 Ring left The Richards Group and just recently came back. Currently he doesn’t work on the Cows, but still feels proud of what The Richards Group and Chick-fil-A has done with the campaign.

Cows dancing at the Texas Rangers game on Wednesday night.

I didn’t even have to ask some questions, Ring was so excited. David Salyers, Vice President, National & Regional Marketing for Chick-fil-A, asked Ring about coming up with a billboard campaign, “We need something folks can talk about the next day in their Sunday School class,” this set the standard for how Ring proceeded.

Today at events all over the US, the cows are their to activate the brand of Chick-fil-A. Fans love the cows.

One thing that I learned from Ring about the Cow campaign. He said the success of the Cows has to do with Chick-fil-A sticking with the campaign and the experience customers had when they went to Chick-fil-A.  People love the cows not just because they are fun, but because the experience was excellent.  The Cows remind people of the great experience in great food and customer service.

This week the public relations team for Chick-fil-A has been in different major markets helping the restaurants to promote Cow Appreciation Day.  If you come into any Chick-fil-A restaurant partially dressed as a cow you get a free sandwich today, Friday, July 8, 2011.  If you dress head to toe like a cow get a free combo meal.

What other companies have their fans dressing up and driving around town letting everyone know where they eat?

Do you have a Chick-fil-A story to tell me about.  Let me here about it below.

Images used by permission of Chick-fil-A. Photographer Stanley Leary.

Before and After Photos

Click to see 360 degree tour

You need to plan ahead for a project to be truly successful. Unlike a writer who can create the story as they go, the photographer must see it for it to exist.

We are painting our kitchen and we wanted to have a before and after photos of the work being done. I thought it would be fun to do this as a 360 degree panoramic photo.

The second part about this post is sometimes the eye-candy is what is needed to get your audience to listen. Would you have read this far in this post if the photo was a traditional photo?

Why did I choose to go this way with the before photo and most likely the after photo? I want you to feel our excitement about having a new look to our kitchen.  We will be wanting to create events at our home just to show it off.

Want to get your audience to pay attention to your message–sometimes it is the eye-candy that will first hook them.  Give me a call and I can help you create a 360 degree panoramic image of your location.

Stay tuned for the “After Photo”