“Fearless to a Fault”

Many of us went back to the movie theater this past weekend and watched “Top Gun: Maverick.” Tom Cruise brings Maverick back to the big screen.

Maverick has a rogue pilot’s attitude to life. It takes the death of Goose for Maverick [first movie] to look back on his actions with anything resembling a critical eye, as the young pilot is initially a reckless, feckless recruit who couldn’t care less about the lives he endangers and the potential damage he could do himself.

Our culture teaches us we are to take calculated risks. However, Maverick tells Rooster, “Don’t think, just do.

“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

– Zig Ziglar

Without spoiling the movie, Maverick takes us on a journey where he is willing to push his limits. The greatest lesson Maverick teaches is the importance of believing you can do something.

One of the film’s central themes is, “It’s not the plane; it’s the pilot.”  Maverick added, “What is achievable comes to the pilot in the box.” 

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.

– Norman Vincent Peale

Creatives Need To Embrace Fear

Fear can be healthy. It is programmed into your nervous system and gives you the survival instincts you need to keep yourself safe from danger. Worry is unhealthy when it makes you more cautious than you need to be to stay safe and when it prevents you from doing things you would otherwise enjoy.

I watch many freelancers who have a hard time surviving in this industry. They overthink. They suffer from Analysis Paralysis. Analysis Paralysis is an inability to decide due to over-thinking a problem. An individual or a group can have too much data. The result is endless wrangling over the upsides and downsides of each option and an inability to pick one.

You Must Fail to Succeed

Failure is not a step backward; it’s an excellent stepping stone to success. 

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

– Winston Churchill

What’s the worst thing that could happen?

It’s good to ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” in any given situation. You might be spurred into action if the worst thing is not that bad. If the worst thing that can happen is terrible, then it might cause you to sit this one out and stay on the sidelines because the possible downside is so awful, even if the chance of it happening is minimal. It’s better to err on caution than on the side of catastrophe.

Aron Ralston went rock climbing alone and got his hand pinned against a rock wall by a boulder that moved while climbing down it. He didn’t tell anyone he was going hiking so no one would look for him. He was stuck there for five days. He then realized that although he couldn’t move or break the boulder that trapped him, he could escape the boulder by cutting off his trapped arm with the small, dull knife he had. So that’s what he did. He cut off his arm to survive—quite a story.

Had Ralston asked himself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen to me while hiking alone?” before going alone, he probably would have told someone where he was going in case he got in a situation where he needed help.

Mitigate the Risks

Take the time to develop a game plan to grow your business. Dream Big! The only thing you need to do is plan out the actions that you will need to take to implement your vision.

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” If you can lose money to implement the plan, be willing to lose that money. Consider it a way to test your idea out. It is you doing research.

“Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

– J.K. Rowling

I love how Thomas Edison looked at what many would call failure. He tried over and over to invent the light bulb. He probably failed more than most. It took over 10,000 failures to find the suitable material to make it work. Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

What is the difference between most successful freelancers vs. those who had to leave the industry? Confucius said, “Our greatest glory is never failing, but rising every time we fail.”

Those who get back on the bicycle after falling are the ones who learn how to ride a bike.

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Not Your Mom and Dad’s Senior Photos

When parents of today’s seniors had their senior photos taken, they were shot on film and not digital as today.

My two sisters and I took on my oldest sister’s graduation from Manalapan High School

For our family, we all had senior photos made in the style of the day, but the number of images you took was much less than we do today.

My younger sister Hannah’s senior photos in Hockessin, Delaware

Today it is much easier to take hundreds of photos so that we can get a variety of images and the best expressions.

Kids who seemed confident throughout childhood may struggle to maintain self-assurance during the teen years. For many, adolescence is a time filled with self-doubt, a questionable body image, and insecurity.

Feeling self-conscious about your appearance is normal. How most of us are photographed throughout our lives doesn’t help. You see, most of the time, when a photograph is taken, that is it. One photo is taken, and maybe a second where everyone is acting goofy. What are the chances that moment was your best?

Look for a Seasoned Professional Photographer

Most all professional photographers can get a well-exposed and sharp photo. When you look for a photographer, pay attention to the people’s expressions in the pictures. Pay a lot of attention to the eyes.

Look for a variety of expressions. You can tell if they are genuine expressions.

Some photographers are great with their personalities but don’t bring out their subjects’ personalities. Sometimes the best photographers are quiet and listen more than they talk. That is because they are looking for real connections.

Some of the best people photographers I know had degrees in psychology, social work, and counseling professions. They studied body language. Other photographers without that formal education have spent a lifetime studying people. They have gone to workshops and studied with seasoned professionals to perfect their people and photographic skills.

Jane Yandel Senior Photos

Tips for Your Senior

Have FUN!!!!! Act up! Be Goofy!

After 40 years of working in photography, I can tell you that those willing to take the risk and look ridiculous and take risks are those with the best images I have ever made.

I started taking portraits in college. I found that those who would work with me and take direction always got the best expressions.

My Brochure and Prices for Senior Photos

“What are the rates for ________ ?”

This was posted today on Facebook. Every day somewhere, a newbie to the industry or a new genre of photography/video asks, “What can I charge?” Here is that question on this post:

Client: Environmental NGO based in California
One day Shoot: portraits, candid shots, etc. outside of the US
Usage: social media, website, other marketing material
Duration: they haven’t specified


  • Would you charge a day rate or a flat fee?
  • How many pictures would you deliver?
  • What sort of usage would include (i.e., non-exclusive, 2-3 years?)
  • If it is a day rate, do you charge additional editing days, considering it is all minor color correction, etc.?
  • What’s the standard rate for NGOs in the US? (I know the rates vary quite a lot for NGOs based outside and inside the US, ranging from $360/day to $1,500.)

Here is my response, which I hope may help even more people.

What is an NGO?

The most significant difference between a non-profit and an NGO is the scope of work that most non-profits assume. Many non-profits are affiliated with churches, boys and girls clubs, and alumni associations. An NGO, on the other hand, has a broader and internationally driven footprint.

Similarities of non-profit and profit organizations

Both make income but reinvest all earnings into the organization to continue operations and support their causes. Although both have a staff consisting primarily of volunteers, they also hire and pay some higher-level employees within the organizations.

Their utilities are pretty much the same. The staff must be paid a going rate in their location, or they will not be able to hire.

Special events costs don’t change because they are a non-profit. The catering is the exact cost. The cost savings usually come in volunteers helping.

Don’t be the one vendor giving their work away for less while all the other vendors are being paid their total price.

Day Rate or Hourly Rate vs Flat Fee or Project Based Pricing

Charging by the hour is one of the worst mistakes a freelancer can make. If you charge by the hour, it will only be natural for you to work less efficiently than if you had priced on a per-job basis. And given that you only have a certain number of hours available in the day, you are essentially capping your maximum earning potential.

If, on the other hand, your price is on a per-job basis, you are limited only by the speed at which you can complete your work. You will learn to work more productively and, in turn, will earn a higher equivalent hourly rate (and impress clients with your efficient style and quick turnaround).

I suggest Project Pricing with a contract

For this model, it is necessary to spell out what is to be photographed and what the client’s deliverable will be.

When doing the job, it is common for clients to say, “Since you are here,” or “Can you take a few shots of this for me?” By having a contract with the project scope outlined, you now have a way to handle those requests that make you more money or keep you from giving away work for free.

“I would love to help you get more photos. Since this is beyond the contract, the extra cost will be $_______.” They may say no, but you offered to do the work, and they cannot take advantage of you.

You can also respond by saying, “The list of shots we have to do on the list will not all get done if we stop and shoot this. What on the list do you want to eliminate for this photo?”

The number of photos delivered

Delivering a few finished photo options for each situation is the bare minimum. Some show most of the take and only provide a limited number, which the client picks for further finishing edits. Usually, a number is given in a contract on the number of deliverables, but it’s good to always spell out the price for additional photos from those taken.

If you are new to shooting this assignment, have the client tell you what they want. Then overshoot and have them limit the final number.


An estimate always includes three prices. There are always three levels of pricing: low, Medium, and High, at which something changes in what the client gets for the price.

Usage is one of the best ways to create three prices. Also, by spelling out the use and other factors in pricing, you are setting up some of the parameters for negotiating with the client before starting the job.

Do not make your lowest price something that you will complain about if they choose to go in this direction.

I have found that most of the time, the client picks the median price.

For large corporations or organizations, add the 4th price. This I call the Whoop T Doo. If they go in this direction, you will benefit, and so will they.

Post Processing Fee

Please always let clients know you can do more with the photos. In post-production, you can fix skin issues or change clothing colors.

It is easier for the client to have a pricing idea before asking for the work. Sometimes, it is easier to have examples of before-and-after pricing.

Don’t make clients feel like they are being nickeled and dimed by you. Make them feel like they are at a spa, upgrading the experience, and enjoy spending on the luxurious experience.

What’s the standard rate?

There are no standard rates in photography.

The costs of living around the country alone cause prices to fluctuate. It costs more because everything in that market costs more, and people have to make a living.

The prices I hear in the Metro Atlanta area go around $600 daily to $4,000 or more.

There are always those who are cheaper, but rarely have they been in business for many years.


  • Know your Cost of Doing Business. I would like to know what my monthly expenses average out over time and have a figure I know that I cannot walk out the door to do work or that I will be paying them to work for the job.
  • Know your hourly rate, but wait to quote it. Fast food restaurants know how much they must pay each employee an hour, but the prices on the menu do not show those hourly rates. Neither should you. Use this rate to help you configure your project price.
  • Sliding Scale. If a job is for an hour, for example, the client will pay much more for the most part than the person who hires me for a project that takes a day. So, if I am paying myself $300 an hour for the first hour, I may charge the client $1,100 for half a day of my time. Again, this is how I am building my price for the project in my head. They get a $100 discount for more work. I may only charge $1,800 for the day versus 8 X $300 = $2,400. Again, please give me more work you get a discount.
  • Usage & Risk. If the client is going to use this in a significant multi-year ad campaign, then most likely, your photos will help make them a great deal if successful. You want to get paid more. If this is something like a wedding where you have no do-overs, the risk means you should be paid more. High-risk jobs require more redundancy and preplanning to avoid unnecessary risks.
  • Always provide three prices. Give clients the ability to add fries to their orders. Price choices are how you can grow your business.

Show the Story vs Tell the Story

Nobody else will if you can’t identify what makes your story unique and exciting.

  • Who is driving the story? What is it about? Who is affected? Who benefits? Who loses?
  • What has happened? What are the consequences? What does this mean for the reader?
  • Where is this happening (building, neighborhood, city, country)? Where should readers go to learn more?
  • When did it happen (time of day, day, month, year)? When was the last update? When can you expect to learn more? When will the effects be felt?
  • Why did this event take place? Why is this important in the big picture? Why should readers care?
Chick-fil-A Supply DC is being built in Cartersville, GA; Brian Kemp, Governor of Georgia, is the keynote. The CFA Supply team is in attendance, as well as a Cathy family member, CFA leadership, other key partners on the project, local government stakeholders, and a few local media outlets. Paul Trotti, Brent Ragsdale, Dan Cathy, Commissioner Pat Wilson, Governor Brian Kemp, Tim Tassopoulos, Commissioner Steve Taylor, Glenn Jordan, Mike Haselton, & Matt Rumsey [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/400, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

Storytelling is Key

While you can have all the answers to the 5 Ws and have all the visuals from the close-up, the medium, and the wide overall photos to tell the story, you need a way to engage the audience and weave the parts into a coherent storyline.

Stories are either a 1) Drama or 2) Tragedy. There is always a tension for which everything pivots around.

Jeff Ellis, a mechanical engineering student at Georgia Tech, does research on a new heart valve under the direction of Dr. Ajit Yoganathan. Dr. Yoganathan’s current research is in the fluid mechanics of valvular regurgitation.

When the storyteller starts with a kidnapping event, the tension is established right away, and the question of if this is a tragedy or drama is what hooks the audience to stay on the edge of their seats for the ending.

The Atlanta Science Festival [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4000, 1/80, ƒ/8, (35mm = 14)]

Businesses often fail in telling their story

Most businesses put most of their money into events like groundbreaking, award banquets, kickoff events, and other celebrations.

Imagine Star Wars starting the story with the celebration of the victory. Imagine any movie beginning with the ending, but this is what most businesses do with their Public Relations.

Either Or?

Am I proposing that instead of celebration events, you do storytelling instead? No. I suggest that storytelling be a priority so that the celebrations improve. Why do we celebrate? We had to overcome a great deal to get to this point. Tell that story, so everyone knows what brought you to the point of the celebration.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2019 [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/4000, ƒ/4, (35mm = 195)]

Invite your Audience to the Game

Do you think people would show up just for the trophy presentation? No. People want to see the game. They want to see and experience the tension of overcoming obstacles to win the game.

K’Lavon Chaisson #18 of the LSU Tigers is given the Most Outstanding Player award by Dan Cathy after beating Oklahoma Sooners in the 2019 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28, in Atlanta. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 9000, 1/4000, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 240)]

What is your play of the game for your business this year???

Hire a professional storyteller to tell your story. Most of your audience isn’t present while you play your game. They will need the storyteller the next day to pull the highlights and the gameplay to tell your story.

The coffee berry borer is a small, black beetle, just a few millimeters long. The females bore holes into coffee berries and lay their eggs in the seeds within—the bits we know as “coffee beans.” The larvae devour the seeds when they hatch, destroying them.

Establish the crisis that your business provides the solution to.

Just Coffee and Frontera de Cristo [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4000, 1/1000, ƒ/6.3, (35mm = 62)]

How to Fight The Coffee Borer Beetle

  1. Regularly inspect your crops for signs of infestation. …
  2. Immediately separate all infected samples and cherries. …
  3. Use pesticides (organic farmers may also be able to find appropriate pesticides).
  4. Use traps.

Are you telling compelling stories, or are you killing the saga by starting with the ending by only celebrating with events? My suggestion is to do both. Tell your story and celebrate those milestones.