The How To – 12′ x 8′ Oklahoma! Musical Banner

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 280, ƒ/8, 1/100 [photo by: Dorie Griggs]

This year we are getting our PR for the musical Oklahoma! started much sooner than last year’s production of Into The Woods. We are about 2 months before the performance with the 12′ x 8′ banner.

Last year we up just a little more than a month before the performance.

[photo by: Dorie Griggs]

Last year the banner was 9′ x 6′. When I put the banner up last year I can remember the feeling that it wasn’t big enough. I do believe that the 12′ x 8′ is plenty big for the space.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 140, ƒ/8, 1/100 [photo by: Dorie Griggs]

Every 2 feet there is a grommet to help you tie the banner to posts like I am doing here. If you are putting this outside and not on a wall you really need to use everyone of those grommets. When you do and wind comes along then each grommet has less tension on it than say if you used just the corners. Your banner will do better in the wind if you tie it down well with all the grommets.

[photo by: Dorie Griggs]

You can get an idea of how really big the banner here is from the back with me on a 6 foot ladder.


1) Select your source to make the banner. I use Here is a link to their specs to give you an idea of what you need to supply as a file size.

2) Select your image. My recommendation is to shoot in RAW and in Lightroom or PhotoShop resize the image to the size of the banner. I did it here and exported the photo as a JPEG to 12 feet on the long side. You need to check with your banner source to see their specs. They said 150 dpi or more.

 3) Open the JPEG large photo in PhotoShop and then put text over the photo.

4) All State Banners can take most file types. The first time I sent them the PhotoShop file saved as PSD. The last two banners I just exported out of PhotoShop as JPEG. Again the size being the exact size of the banner at 150 dpi. As a PSD the file is 1225.1 MB file. As JPEG it is 66.1 MB file size.

The total cost this year was $229.44. I only paid $206.50 because they were running a 10% discount.

Now this is only part of our PR. Here are two Facebook Cover size photos for the people to post on their pages to help promote the musical as well.

Stay tuned to see other ways we use photography to help market the musical.

Tip to make your website work for you

This is a marketing tip I learned about websites. When people come to your website they need to know what you do and then have an action item you are encouraging that they take.

This is my website and the action item is at the top in the menu. “FREE Download” is what I want people to click on to be able to get their email address and contact information. They are then enrolled in my monthly e.Newsletter and I give them the FREE Download of the “Tips for Better Photos” PDF.

They just fill out the form that you see here and then they get an email with their download link.

I am not expecting a ton of signups for this FREE Magazine/Book, but I am hoping that I get some engagement from my website that I can measure with something that I can then use.

Go to my website at to experience this and see if you think you need to do something similar for your website and then I hope you enjoy the FREE “Tips for Better Photos.”

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!

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.

Lessons learned from Shakespeare, Bill Clinton and Steve Jobs

Our house is quite busy this week. My daughter has not only been memorizing lines for her role as Olivia in Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, but also she is has been making all the costumes for the actors as well.

When you study Shakespeare you soon realize how revolutionary he was and I think creatives today can learn a lot from him.

The English language owes a great debt to Shakespeare. He invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and devising words wholly original.

In the Twelfth Night here are some of the words he created:

  • Improbable fiction
  • Laugh yourself into stitches
  • Out of the jaws of death
  • consanguineous
  • control (n.)
  • dexterously
  • hobnob
  • lustrous
  • malignancy
  • to negotiate
  • whirligig


I think what creatives today can take away from Shakespeare is the importance of innovation rather than just variations within a style.

“Advertising” was created by Shakespeare–that is the word was created by him. Photographers use his word “exposure” a great deal in their craft.

At the root of his creation of words is that of a problem. I believe Shakespeare was just solving the problem of how to talk about life when the words just didn’t exist. He was helping the audience understand a storyline by addressing the lack of words to describe something.

The key to our success is our ability to tackle new problems and come up with new solutions.


“I feel your pain” – Bill Clinton

Your business success is based in your ability to have true empathy for a client and the struggles they are going through. Your ability to communicate that empathy is key to your success. Bill Clinton huge debate moment was when he was able to connect with the American people and talk about their problems and connect with them emotionally.

After the debate Clinton shortened this into his slogan “I feel your pain.”

Steve Jobs, like Clinton, articulated the problem someone experiences with mobile phones before his introducing the iPhone.

“Business School 101 graph of the smart axis and the easy-to-use axis, phones, regular cell phones are kinda right there, they’re not so smart, and they’re – you know – not so easy to use.”

Jobs, like Clinton, then goes on to talk about how Apple is the right company to tackle the problem because they did it before.

“We solved it in computers 20 years ago. We solved it with a bit-mapped screen that could display anything we want. Put any user interface up. And a pointing device. We solved it with the mouse. Right?”

Steve Jobs roll outs of new products are studied today by marketing experts just like we study Shakespeare in schools.

Just watch Steve Jobs bring up problem after problem and then show how the new iPhone will handle this for you. While this is an hour presentation, people were on the edge of their seats because he continued to introduce a new problem and the solution to that problem. The iPhone was to revolutionize how you will do life–and it did just that for our culture.


What Problems Are You Solving?

You want to be successful–then solve the problems of others. Those who rise to the top are those that serve others.

Did you know that your problems tend to disappear when you focus on others problems and help solve them? The key to your happiness is by serving others and making them happy.

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? 

Shot the photo, Now the Poster & The Banner

I posted last week how I shot this promotional shot. Here is that link if you missed it.

After I took the photo I created a 11″ x 17″ poster that they could put up around the school and in the community. So if you are around Roswell, Georgia this next couple weeks you will see this up in the restaurants, stores and places the public visits.

To make the poster I brought it into PhotoShop and added the text and created a drop shadow with the text.

Now to get all the traffic going by the school to know the play is just around the corner I made a banner 6′ x 9′.

Here you can see me installing the banner with my wife. This is will give you a good perspective on the size of the banner.
Here is that banner next to the HUGE football banner.

Can you tell me what you do?

Photo by Dennis Fahringer

While we do lectures, we are careful to show examples. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1100, ƒ/4, 1/100]

If I were to ask you what you do or what does your company do what is your answer? Maybe you start to stumble around trying to find words and even say things like “Well …”

One of the greatest struggles to communicate what you do or what your company does is that words alone often do not do justice to what you do. No matter how well you craft your words it still can fall short. Too often using words alone takes too long and you lose your audience.

Visual content reaches an individual’s brain in a faster and more understandable way than textual information. Or, more accurately, a person’s brain is hardwired to recognize and make sense of visual information more efficiently, which is useful considering that 90 percent of all information that comes to the brain is visual.

We have discovered that showing students the setup and how to do an interview working with a translator improved the results for students. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1800, ƒ/8, 1/100]

Storytelling tactics focus on different functions of the brain related to understanding and perception. The brain processes images 60 times faster than text, and 92 percent of consumers want brands to create stories around ads. Because of this, marketers should be delivering linear content with clear narratives and using images to tell their stories.

I work with clients by listening to them and asking lots of questions to help pull out the most compelling storyline that will engage customers to pay attention to what they do. I teach my clients the seven elements they need in their story and then capture that in a visual storyline to build their brand.

A great example of how I did this was with a professor at Georgia Tech. We played basketball together during our lunch breaks. While standing on the sideline waiting for the next game I was just asking what he was working on.

He was creating a bomb detector for about $30. He had presented this a few times but no one was willing to give him a grant. I asked if he would like my help. The solution was simple. By changing his visuals with his story then presented at the next conference and got a $1 million dollar grant.

Size of experimental microneedle array is shown by its placement on the researcher’s finger. There are 400 needles in the array. “Microneedles” much thinner than the diameter of a human hair could be the basis for a new drug delivery technique able to administer small quantities of high-potency medications through the skin without causing pain.

I really do believe that “Seeing is believing” for most of the population. It leads to a way of teaching that “seen evidence” can be easily and correctly interpreted, when in fact, interpretation may be difficult.

Give me a call and let me help capture your story in a visual way so that you too can make what you do understandable to your potential customers.

I also teach this to people in workshops. This summer I taught a workshop in Nicaragua and in Togo, West Africa. In Nicaragua James Dockery, ESPN Video Editor and Jeff Raymond, Director of Visual Communications for ABWE led 9 students through the process of visual storytelling. In Togo, West Africa professor Patrick Davison, UNC School of Media/Journalism worked with Jeff and I in leading 10 students through the same process.

Here are two examples of storytelling done by those students in just one week.
Give me a call if you want me to help you in telling your story or to help teach your team how to do visual storytelling to build your brand.

Why Instagram is great for photographers

Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them either publicly or privately on the app, as well as through a variety of other social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr. – Wikipedia

How do you find work?

To get hired you need to find your audience. This is where your potential clients are that you want to show your work.

Many years ago the way photojournalists and photographers got work was by flying to places like New York and making appointments at as many publications or agencies that they could pack together in a few days to a week.

It was common for a person to spend $3,000 to $6,000 on transportation, hotel and miscellaneous expenses to just show their work. Most photographers would have a few books. Each of these books cost were a few hundred dollars or more to produce. You often would drop off your book and hope they would give you a call. So having a few books was important to get your work out there.

Today clients are more likely to just ask you to send them a link to your website. Face to face meetings are more reserved for the actually projects than just seeing people’s work.

How do you get their attention today?

Now if you are a writer then Twitter might be the best way to get your work noticed.

Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called “tweets”. Registered users can read and post tweets, but those who are unregistered can only read them. – Wikipedia

It is important to note the difference between Twitter and Instagram. Twitter was established to share TEXT and Instagram was setup for PHOTOS/VIDEOS.

While you can post photos on Twitter the audience is expecting mainly text. Instagram requires an image or photo because that is what the audience is expecting.

People like Instagram because it is visual and this is the audience that will appreciate your images.

Your Target Audience uses Instagram

The odds are pretty high that your audience [Potential Customers] uses Instagram. Take a few minutes and go to and type in the search box the names of the companies you want to work with in the future.

Here I searched for Delta Air Lines and before I could finish typing it popped up first.

When you then go to their account they tell you to share your travel pics and use the hashtag #Delta.

Hashtags are a pound sign immediately followed by a keyword. They’re used for categorization on social media.

Instagram is another hotspot for hashtags, and the good news for those who love to extensively tag photos is that there doesn’t seem to be a saturation point.

Interactions are highest on Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags.

Now here is another tip. If you use @Delta then whoever manages the Instagram feed for Delta gets an alert/email that you have tagged them.

This is because @NAME is the account. Only the account holder will get an email, whereas the hashtag is something anyone who follows that hashtag will see.

Believe me there is someone at Delta paying attention to those posts. If they like it they may share your post and if they really like your style they may end up hiring you to shoot material for their Instagram feed and other projects.


While I just showed you the backdoor to getting your work in front of potential clients it is important that you use this technique in such a way as to be relevant to your potential client.

If you tag your photo with @NAMEOFBUSINESS be sure the image is something that they would post on their account.

Here is a post where I and tagging Coca-Cola.

Here is a post that I tagged Nescafe.

I also used hashtags for the country and region of the world.

Now just remember that because you are using the correct account name and hashtags to get in front of your potential customers that doesn’t mean success. Your images must be compelling and they must think your style of work is worth pursuing.

Now here are some of the Instagram accounts I follow because I think they are relevant and reaching an audience:

I follow many others, but this is a good sample. Most of the successful photographers using Instagram in my opinion marry the text and images so there is a short story.
I have noticed that those who are most successful tend to stay on theme for their Instagram posts. 
Be careful how you evaluate Instagram accounts!!!! Do not base your opinions on what you think about their work alone. I highly recommend taking the time to analyze an account and figure out why they have 40K+ followers. Humans of NY has 5.5 million followers. Now if you are a trained photojournalist you may find fault with the work of some of these Instagram celebrities. Don’t discount them. Learn from them and then put your personal touch on your posts using some of their techniques.

Faith Peppers asks, “What do you want to be known for?”

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 2500, ƒ/3.5, 1/100

Faith Peppers, the director of public affairs and chief communications officer for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, recommends that communications professionals ask themselves, “What do you want to be known for?”

Peppers says that she hires for character many times and then also may consider if someone has particular skills like storytelling.

Listen to her advice here: