[NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4500, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 360)]
I wanted to open with the photo of a young baseball player at bat.
A batting average of 300 or higher is considered to be excellent, and an average higher than .400 a nearly unachievable goal. The last Major League Baseball (MLB) player to do so, with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship, was Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox.
So in baseball you will strike out 7 out of 10 times at bat if you are really good. When you start out playing that number of times of failure is greater ~ you are learning.
In just about every business model you must make some cold calls to get business. What this means is you are going to pitch your product or skills to people who do not know you.
This classic study from Kenan-Flagler Business School finds that “cold calling has only a 2.5% success rate.” This 2.5% success rate basically means that an experienced sales guy can make one appointment or other valid follow-up per working day.
Now when you start out in business you start with your network of people who already know you. Cold calling is made with a referral, the rate jumps up to 40%.
In a nutshell what I have learned through more than 20 years of running my own business is that too many quit just before their big break. If we know that in cold calling the percentage of success is around 2% and you have spent that last couple months contacting 98 different sources the numbers say that # 99 is most likely when the break happens.
Since I was in college I was always doing freelancing. Most of this was on the side until 2002 when I did this 100% of my income. Full-time freelancing.
Back in 2002 I was showing 35mm Slides and 6×7 Slides to get jobs.
Now when I lost my job due to layoffs in 1990 I was sending out slides as well to get jobs. I had around 200 identical sheets of 20 slides that I sent out all over the country with cover letters. Not one job came from all that work.
I decided to go back to school and work on my M.A. in Communications. I was able to find a few jobs working in portrait studio and then later to manager of a one-hour photo lab.
When I was finishing up my masters in 1993 I sent out another round of portfolios. This time I got my job at Georgia Tech.
I believe that from the time I lost my full-time job with The Commission Magazine in 1990 till 1993 I must have sent out [Cold Calling] on more than 500 jobs.
Here is a great commencement speech made by Denzel Washington, which he said to “Fall Forward”
Today be like Thomas Edison and experiment. Try something and if it fails try something different.
Like Denzel pray daily for the strength to continue.
For any marketing campaign it can take three months to even begin seeing the results of those efforts. Until then, if anything, you may see a slight decrease as the changes take effect.
[NIKON D750, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Manual, ISO 640, 1/30, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]
Why would I like this lens so much? I believe it is mainly because I can do with it what I could never do with a smartphone camera–Shallow Depth-of-field.
It is a great way to isolate a subject.
Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject, using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.” Simply put, bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.
Most of the time I want to add context of a person in their environment. That is where shooting with your lens closed down to ƒ/5.6 or greater really gives you context because more is in focus.
However, often keeping something out of focus, but yet still discernible like this of a lady working out with her trainer the shallow depth-of-field allows for some context.
One thing that affects your depth-of-field is how close you are to the subject. Getting really close will give you the shallowest depth-of-field. Sometimes if you get too close with some micro lenses your subject will appear out of focus because it is too shallow.
Here in this photo of the bud on the plant you can actually see the “Circle of Confusion”.
In optics, a circle of confusion is an optical spot caused by a cone of light rays from a lens not coming to a perfect focus when imaging a point source. It is also known as disk of confusion, circle of indistinctness, blur circle, or blur spot.
I just love my Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 and love it even more on the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. What a great combination.
When shooting in a restaurant kitchen you don’t want to always show the working kitchen, but I still wanted to feature the team members. Shooting at ƒ/1.4 and getting close to the model helped me achieve a feel of the kitchen and keeping details from being seen.
[NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1400, 1/1000, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]
The above photo was taken with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera and the Sigma ƒ/1.4 Art lens.
The flowers were a gift to us. The Orchids given to us by Katie & Tyler of Nail Turbo in Roswell, Georgia on our 25th wedding anniversary January 6th, 2021. We started the day off pretty good, but as you recall this was the day the United States Capitol was over run by home grown terrorists. We decided to take a break from the news and get spoiled.
By the way in 1996 when we got married was the year of the snow/ice storm that kept my family around Atlanta a few days while Dorie and I got off to Cancun, Mexico.
Now the photo I took before this one was with my Samsung Galaxy S10 on the portrait lens.
Now with some phones the use a software to create a shallow depth-of-field look. You can do this with many of the apps.
The problem is when something is simulated it can maybe be close to the real mechanical process, but I would prefer to see in real time what I am getting.
The other really cool thing with shooting with a “Real Camera” is I can then really change the aperture with more choices.
Photos with different Apertures
Most people these days are not going to buy a camera if they have one of the latest smart phones. However, if you are serious and want to get more than what is possible with your phone, consider getting a mirrorless Camera like the Nikon Z6 or the Z6 II.
This is Jo Fahringer who is a seasoned teacher in Kona, Hawaii with YWAM. [X-E2, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/70, ƒ/5, (35mm = 83)]
Just the other day I talked about this rule of communicating. The 7-38-55 rule is a concept concerning the communication of emotions. The rule states that 7 percent of meaning is communicated through spoken word, 38 percent through tone of voice, and 55 percent through body language.
Now I work really hard to see these gestures and listen for tone and word choices when I am photographing.
Time for 180º
I want to say right away that I am a lot better at watching and listening than I am with how I come across to others.
Speech difficulties, such as a lack of rhythm, an odd inflection or monotone pitch often affect children and adults with Asperger syndrome, which I have. Frequently they cannot modulate the volume of their voice according to their surroundings, so you’ll sometimes hear them being very loud in places like church or a library.
Right away I struggle with the 38% of tone of my voice in communicating. To make up for it I am often saying, “Does that make sense?” I know I have a problem and work really hard to see if my message is clear and not losing anything.
People with Aspergers will gather enormous amounts of factual information about their favorite subject. They will talk incessantly about it, but the conversation may seem like a random collection of facts or statistics, with little or no point or conclusion. They may attempt to befriend or socialize with other people, but make normal conversation difficult by eccentric behaviors or by wanting only to talk about their singular interest.
Over the years I have become quieter in mixed groups because I know if I am not careful I will talk about what is important to me and not aware that others don’t care.
When I was really young I was almost always seen playing GI Joe and riding my tractor. I did this ALL THE TIME. I think it was easier on my family to just let me go and play than to try and get me to have other interests.
Today I have a few topics that I have spent far more time understanding than the average person.
When I am in the midst of a thought it is almost super important that I finish it. It is mainly because if we move on and I don’t finish it I will not remember later what I was thinking and that can make me beat up myself. Problem with this is then the conversation is all about me finishing my thoughts.
When you speak, you hear yourself very differently to how others hear you. This is because the sound-waves are traveling through your head to your ears where they are detected.
If you record your voice and listen to it, you will hear your voice very closely to what everyone else does. Which is typically very different from how we hear our own voice directly when we speak, the vibrations from our vocal cords reach our ear and change how we interpret the sound in our brain.
We all have different hearing abilities though, so even when a bunch of people listen to the same recorded voice, it will probably not be the exact same sounds for all.
One of the best things you can do is to record yourself using video. This will let you hear your tone and see your body language. It is awkward to do, but is one of the best ways to correct your own behaviors.
I was privileged to spend a few days photographing Alan Alda in July 1995 while he was filming his show on the Georgia Tech campus. The Aerial Robotics Competition was before GPS would be used like we do today with drones.
What fascinated me all week was watching Alan Alda ask questions off camera and then realize he needed that comment for the TV show. He then asked the film crew to capture him questioning the expert. What was wild is Alan Alda asked that question with the same words, tone and body language than helped him elicit the same response.
He did this over and over again. He also was aware of where I was standing and the people next to him and asked which lens I was using. Then he helped put the people around him in a better position than I could have ever instructed him to do. Why could he do this? Well he was not just an actor but a director.
Time to Evaluate
In business you need to hone your presentations to clients. You also need to be listening to them as well as yourself. You don’t want a canned speech that cannot be altered to the situation.
Have you really taken time to evaluate yourself and know what you might have done wrong and how to correct it going forward??
That is the point of this blog. Here are a few tips that can help you.
First of all ask your friends to tell you how you come across and what you could do to improve. Good friends will want to help you improve.
Try recording yourself doing your pitch with someone. Encourage them to ask questions or do whatever to see if you can meet the challenge of picking the right words, use the best tone and help you with your body language.
[NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Shutter Priority, ISO 200, 1/500, ƒ/8, (35mm = 82) Alienbees B800 off to side fired with Pocket Wizard Remote]
Back in 2012 my uncle Knolan Benfield helped me on a stock photo shoot in Hamilton Mill, GA. He took some of these photos of me working. Here you can see some of my setup with using lights to help improve the photos.
Here you can see I have four Alienbees B1600 hanging from the ceiling. Here is another photo without them firing.
Now by using those strobes I got photos like these here.
The biggest problem with all restaurants like Chick-fil-A is there are windows everywhere, which makes everything backlit and can cause problems.
Even when shooting outside I wanted good skin tones and as you can see here of the photo of the setup the guy is backlit as well.
Using the Alienbees B800 off to the side as a fill light I help reveal the face of the buy and better color on the cow as well.
This is the clamps I used to hang the lights from the ceiling. They are called “Scissor Mount for Drop Ceilings”.
Give me a call if you want a class for one-on-one training to do this as well.
Shooting sports was where I was always comparing what I got to other photographers at the same event.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. I would like to modify it a little and say “Comparison can be the thief of joy”.
I have never met any photographer who at some time or another is not looking at the competition and comparing themselves.
Comparisons can be Beneficial
If you compare yourself to others as a way of measuring your personal development or to motivate yourself to improve and, in the process, develop a more positive self-image then this is a good thing.
David Sutton posted his survey responses to the question, “How many photographers does it take to change a lightbulb?”
What is it’s colour temperature? What operating system is it running on?
This whole question is just another ego trip.
The real problem is that the lightbulb reacts badly to criticism.
It’s the tone of the lightbulb I don’t like.
Nothing personal, but what do you know about lightbulbs?
My mother’s aunt had a lightbulb just like it, and it didn’t need changing.
It’s NOT the bulb you utter and complete idiot, it’s the person switching it on.
None, anyone can fix it in Photoshop.
I am sure you have your own list to add to this. If you need to procrastinate then just Google this for your own amusement.
The problem with comparison is when it is no longer used to improve oneself, but rather tear down another person.
If you really want to get better and have a good healthy attitude about your own work, then you can look at others work and not just learn from them, but admire them.
Looking to others for inspiration (without comparison) is admiration. When we admire someone, we respect, appreciate and feel inspired by what they’ve accomplished. We are filled with encouragement and hope.
Prioritizing approval over feedback, learning and growth will keep you stuck. You have to understand that each person has their own path. What I have learned about this is that everyone has unique opportunities afforded them by things outside of their control. Face it how you look had more to do with your parents genes than something you did. You do have control over how you take care of that body.
It took a while before I started to learn to celebrate other photographers work. Unless the person was right next to me we were not really able to honestly compare our work.
One of the first places I started to understand why comparison wasn’t really possible was when another photographer was on the opposite side of the field and the play was in front of them with no obstruction. I didn’t have a chance to get that same photo. However, just a moment later I may get something they couldn’t get for the same reason.
Over time I started to learn how to look at others work and not just learn from it, but admire it.
During the pandemic I thought it would be great to use Zoom for FOCUS [Fellowship Of Communicators Uniting Socially]. Above is a compilation of all but the first few meetings.
I don’t think this would have been as successful if I had done this early in my career. I had to learn through the years that EVERYONE had something to share that I should listen to and learn from.
This has been a great year for me because of this group. I made it a point that ANYONE who was participating would be asked to be a presenter.
After the meetings I often get emails and phone calls from people who were on the ZOOM call and what is most interesting is them talking about people’s work that didn’t have a reputation before the call. We have been blown away by people no one knew that well at all before.
We have had many share who have been guest speakers at national photography conferences and even they surprised us.
Joanna Pinneo & Robin Rayne both shared about the struggles they encountered in doing stories. WOW! Usually people with this type of experience just show how successful they are with their work. Both of them shared how hard it was and how often they felt they were over their heads with the assignments.
Here are three stories from the Bible to remind us how comparing to others only leads to real problems if we don’t exercise some humility.
Jacob and Esau
Joseph and His Brothers
Cain and Abel
As Esau said to Jacob, “Let us start on our journey [together],” (Genesis 33:12), and may it lead us to trust, hope and peace.
Joseph, most beloved of Jacob’s sons, is hated by his envious brothers. Angry and jealous of Jacob’s gift to Joseph, a resplendent “coat of many colors,” the brothers seize him and sell him into slavery. Joseph had also learned about forgiveness. At the death of their father, his brothers feared that Joseph had been treating them kindly out of respect for Jacob. They sent a message to Joseph saying that Jacob wanted him to forgive his brothers. Joseph wept, and the brothers fell before him offering to be his slaves.
Friendly competition is a highly effective in pushing people. Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Here are some questions that I ask myself when looking at another colleagues work.
Why is their work so effective?
What did they do to make this happen?
What circumstances allowed them to do this that I don’t have?
What should I take away from their work that could improve my work?
If someone’s work moved me and made me take notice, did I tell them? Take the time to encourage others. We all need it.
While asking if a person has advantages that I do not, I am really using this question to setup one for myself. What can I do that others don’t have the same opportunity?
If you are a professional communicator or want to become one all this self improvement can be awesome, but there is one last thing that must be central for you to grow.
Everything you are doing is actually so that you disappear. To be the very best communicator is when people are so moved by the work emotions take over them. They are connecting with the story of the subject.
The best question to be asking yourself is, “How can I do a better job of telling the subjects story more effectively.”
Many people fall into the trap of positional bias, comparing “up” more often than “down” relative to their own standing.
My goal with the FOCUS group has been to lift up others and not to lift up myself. “Paying it forward” requires us to realize how blessed we are with all the gifts that God has given to us, but to also celebrate those gifts in others.