Billy printed 11×14 prints and left a large area for each person to write their own words. One person took over a year to get the print back to Billy. When the guy talked about how hard it was to write what would most likely be his last words is when Billy realized these words were Epitaphs.
Blending words and pictures all started when Billy was a writer for a newspaper and wanted to take photos.
To hear more about how Billy became a photographer and the many other projects he is working on click on the video below to hear and see his presentation.
Many who first buy a camera put their camera on the Green “P” button or like on this camera the Green Camera. That is the mode where the camera does all the thinking for you.
Soon you realize to get the results that you were looking for you have to tell the camera what to do. This is when you start to learn what M, A, S and the other settings on that dial do other than the green camera or even the P mode.
When photographers start trying to make a living at this they look for the green “B” mode for their camera. They want a simple business mode that thinks for them and tell them what they need to do to be successful.
If they are not careful on some camera models the B mode is actually standing for “bulb” and that is another discussion for another day.
What prompted this blog post was a Facebook post.
Facebook post question: What is it that editors, photo buyers and parents are sick of the most as far as buying photos?
My first response: Photographer over explaining their prices. Just tell us the price. Give me a low, medium and high price option and let me pick.
Facebook response: Are you talking about editors parents or both?
My response: Everyone
Facebook Response: I just got fotobiz X. Is there a way to package that for people?
My long response:
Yes there is. The software is really designed for editorial, freelancers who do B2B verses B2C. However you can create your own price items. It doesn’t create a price list that you hand to people. It is used to create estimates and invoices.
I notice you and many others post a lot of detailed questions that really cannot be adequately answered on a Facebook or even blog post. Those questions about business are often show some lack of understanding of business practices.
This is quite common in photography. People take up photography and most realize at some point that putting their camera on “P” doesn’t mean professional photos.
The learning curve then becomes quite steep as they go from pointing and shooting to making the camera see the way they want it to see. Most will spend some money on classes or workshops.
Once you then decide to charge for your services and try to make money doing photography you quickly realize the “B” setting on trying to run your business doesn’t work. Well it is even more difficult than photography because there is no “B” setting.
You really need to take a class in business practices for the profession. You can pay a photographer with more than 3 years of experience that is successful to help you get started. I recommend talking to photographers who are members of ASMP.org or PPA.com. Both of these organizations have business practices at the core of the reason they were formed.
Because where you live can also impact how you run your business due to tax laws you also then need to talk to an accountant and an attorney. Each of the organizations have a list of those who work with photographers. Nothing can be worst than making money and then finding out that you owe more taxes because you didn’t do something right.
In most communities there is the US Small Business Administration that offers many classes for free. They want you to be successful. here is where you can find out more about their “FREE” help https://www.sba.gov/.
Going back to your original question that started this thread. You basically have asked about two types of businesses, one is business to business model and the other is business to customer.
Talking to a customer who is part of the industry [i.e. editor at publication] is totally different than talking to someone not a part of the industry [i.e. a mother wanting photos of the family]. One person hires photographers regularly and will talk a lot differently about hiring you.
While you can create a basic price list for services, in this industry you will find yourself having to create custom estimates pretty often. It is much easier to do when you understand the how you create a price for a service.
You have to know how much you have to bring home to cover your base. You know your phone, rent, gear, software, marketing materials and more are always ongoing expenses to run your business. You must know this number and if you don’t you cannot create a price for anything. You don’t even know what you must charge to break even.
99% of every photographer I have ever helped that came to me about business practices was losing money on every job. They were actually paying most people to shoot for them, but because they didn’t know what their bottom line was to run their business they were charging most of the time 50% or more lower than the price that they needed to break even.
Do you remember meeting your hero? Our daughter had just turned 4 years old when we were visiting Disney World. She was normally dressed in pink, but loved her Disney princess sneakers.
She ran over to Snow White to talk to her. Snow White even came out of character for a brief moment when Chelle told her to have a Happy Thanksgiving.
The Disney Princess Alice in Wonderland wasn’t just staying on script. They interacted with my daughter with where she was and made her day. Isn’t that what happens for our hero.
For my daughter she fell in love with their stories. Isn’t that how it happens no matter our age? We fall in love with their story. We want to meet them and interact with them.
I created a group called FOCUS. It stands for Fellowship of Communicators Uniting Socially. We are professional communicators who meet in various locations around Atlanta, throughout the year, to support each other and our work.
I had reached out to Billy Howard, Billy Weeks and Robin Nelson in the past to speak to the group. This is the first time that all three have agreed to be our keynote speakers.
All three of them are my Storyteller Heroes.
Here I am with two of my other Storyteller heroes Bill Bangham and Eugene Richards.
There is one thing to see your Hero from afar and it is quite another thing to meet them and ask questions.
This Saturday I am going to have an opportunity to not just see Billy Howard, Billy Weeks and Robin Nelson, but I am going to ask them some questions that have been on my mind.
You are invited as well to come and see their work and hear them talk about what they do in Storytelling.
You can just show up and hang out with us or you can let me know today you are coming and I will have a FREE Chick-fil-A Meal for you. I have to know today to have the meal for you.
If your plans change and you can join us then please just show up tomorrow.
Here are some tips for meeting your Hero:
Be a photojournalist – Take lots of candid photos. Tell a story with them. Capture emotion, not just posed smiles. Include shots of the venue to set the tone of your story. The little details matter. By doing this, you’ll be able to look back at your photos and relive the experience.
Stop taking photos – Don’t forget why you’re there. Put the camera down, breathe deeply, and let your gratitude fill you up. Look around at everyone else and know that you are sharing a special moment together. Be present.
If you speak with your hero – do one or more of the following: express gratitude, ask a good question, say something funny, or share a short but awesome story about how your hero changed your life.
If you don’t know about these guys work then go to their websites and learn all you can. They each have a following and clients seek them out for their projects. Come and learn why they are so special. I promise I will tell you more about them at the event.
A month from now I will be back in Kona, Hawaii to teach the YWAM School of Photography 1 portrait lighting and business practices for a week.
This group photo is last year’s class. This year’s group will be twice the size of last year.
While I will be teaching a great deal about lighting the business practices is the one thing that over the years has proven even more valuable to the classes.
“How do you make a living doing photography?”, is answered through solid business practices.
Knowing your Cost-Of-Doing-Business and how to price your work doesn’t get you clients. It only makes sure that you make money when you price jobs rather than losing money.
How do you get those clients? Well this is the Catch-22 of Freelancing.
When you are a professional photographer you are like every other business person. You are in the business of solving people and businesses problems through the use of photography.
What you need to be doing is interviewing people and listening. You need to find out what their problems are so that you can pitch to them solutions for which you can provide those services.
Having a portfolio is like any other business where you can display your wares, or as in this example Maine lobster buoys on the side of the road of commerce.
If the client know what they need then this works really well, except now your work is more of a commodity. This is an article of trade or commerce, especially a product as distinguished from a service. Due to your work being seen as a commodity it is much harder to get prices that work with your Cost-Of-Doing-Business.
You need to be seen as a visionary for the person’s business and not just a commodity if you are in the creative arts type of a business.
You need to put yourself in situations where you get to listen to business people talk about what they do. You need to learn about their business. You need to ask questions that give you understanding.
Only when you really understand what problems they are facing with their business can you then think of ways that you can help solve some of those problems.
Now often they do not even know that your solution is to a problem they have. This will come over time where you start to recognize problems facing business owners and knowing that there are solutions you have done for others that could work for another business.
Here is the Catch-22 you must face each day to make a living as a photographer. You have solutions for a business to thrive, but you must first find a way to know what problem a particular business is facing before you can offer a solution.
Making this even more complicated is that if the client already knows what they need then you will be treated as a commodity. You need to be the photographer that has business solutions and not just the ability to take a picture.
I believe that many journalists look for validation that the work they are doing is important. I sure do look for it myself. I want to know that I am making a difference.
However, I believe that too many put that validation within the industry through awards that are for the most part given by the high priests of journalism. Awards like the Pulitzers and POYs are judged by our peers and not by our audience.
I stopped entering contests more than 25 years ago and only recently can articulate why. I felt like the awards didn’t validate if the stories I worked on made a difference in the audience’s lives.
When journalism is done right it is often a very slow pace of change that takes place in the communities that it serves. Sometimes the hardest part of the job is our impact can take years to see. Sometimes we often take credit for change we see that is really the work of others long before we came on to the scene.
We as journalists should really be looking to our audiences and how they are responding to our stories about our communities for validation.
Though it may be interesting or even entertaining, the foremost value of news is as a utility to empower the informed. The purpose of journalism is thus to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.
We need to ask ourselves, “Who’s paying attention? Why does the story need to be told? Why should the audience care?”
When the inner drive in our souls is that of a calling to journalism then it is much easier to endure long time sometimes necessary for us to see any real change.
The times when I am most depressed from burnout is when I am no longer really in touch with the audience and really know what they care about. If there are stories we think they should care about and they don’t then this is where I struggle the most.
I have discovered when I see no impact from my work it is often because of the metaphors and simile that I maybe using does not resonate with the audience. I must really know my audience so that while doing the story I am thinking of what the audience would be interested in and why.
I think one of the best questions journalists should be asking of themselves is not how much time they spend on telling their stories, but rather how much time are they spending on getting to know their audience.
Once you have sought to understand your audience and your subject completely is only when great journalism can take place.
This is a family photo we did this year of our family with my wife’s family. One of our son’s couldn’t be there and had to work with a new job.
To get this final photo required me to be behind the camera saying “Do you want a treat?” to get the three dogs in the middle to look at the camera.
So this is actually the photo I took with me behind the camera.
Here are the steps to then add me into the photo with dogs looking the best.
Open photo with me in photo shop. Open the second photo in photo shop with dogs looking best. Select all and copy the photo of dogs best.
Go to the photo with me in it and paste the other photo on top of it.
You will now have two layers. the top will be the one with dogs looking best and I am not in the photo. See the copy of PhotoShop screen grab.
Now we need to create a mask. Down below the layers click on the mask.
It will now look like what I have screen grabbed here for you. Be sure the brackets are around the mask (white box) and that it is the top photo, which is the one without me. We are going to use the eraser and now erase the empty chair and reveal me.
You just need to brush me in. See the photo of the tools here. Pick the eraser. It has box around it.
Next be sure the foreground color is black and on top. This will let you erase me.
Now if you make a mistake you can then click so that the white is on top and use the same brush and brush back the photo on top.
As you brush you can see in the mask that what you brush over becomes black.
Now when we I finished and showed the photo they wanted the small dog on the far left to look at the camera as well. So I looked for a photo of the small dog looking great.
So I found this photo and then using the same technique brushed in the dog.
Here the tips you need to follow to make this work.
First put the camera on a sturdy tripod. You want to lock down the composition so that nothing changes.
Second do not change the zoom if you are using one.
Third if you are in the photo use the timer or use a remote to fire the camera. I had left my remote so I set the camera timer to 10 seconds.
Fourth, be sure you have good lighting on everyone. For this photo I used two Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT with MAGMOD MagSphere. Here is what the setup looked like:
One of the biggest things to ever hit photography was the move to digital.
No matter how experienced you were in photography if you were a film shooter and you went to digital you went through the digital learning curve.
In the 1980s I went through learning about computers. I remember learning Quicken to track my checkbook and credit cards. I used a dialup modem to connect to the internet and go to the NPPA forums where similar to the message board here was my first time connecting to photographers around the world.
Early 1990s I experienced the learning curve for scanning film and learning PhotoShop. I kept waiting for the digital camera to surpass the film so I could jump to digital capture.
In 2002 I bought my first digital Nikon D100 camera. Just one year earlier a similar 6 megapixel camera cost $25,000 and then I was able to buy the Nikon D100 for $1,999.
All my colleagues and newbies to photography were all part of the digital learning curve.
I remember being told to shoot Adobe RGB yet when I took the pictures to the local pro lab they came out all screwed up. This is when I started to learn about color space and realized the printers could read sRGB at the time and not Adobe RGB.
This is when photography workshops exploded. We all needed help to learn PhotoShop and then later Lightroom.
Other advances were also happening. Most in the industry with film were using the hot shoe Vivitar 283 which was an automatic flash where you dialed the output by picking yellow or red and if you bought the adapter you could control it by power.
Nikon introduced a pretty complex TTL hot shoe system that changed lighting. Again we needed workshops to learn to use them.
The web evolved from forums to delivering videos. Now you can Google almost anything on YouTube and find a video showing you how to do just about anything, including everything around photography.
This meant workshops started dropping off in attendance.
Camera stores started building online stores and that changed the industry as well.
We no longer have the entire industry on the same learning curve at the same time as we did with the change from film to digital capture.
Now we are back to where we were just before the digital revolution hit. We are talking about the subject.
Workshops now are coming full circle. We are now talking about how to make a living in this industry again that is concentrating on how to capture subjects and tell stories.
We are also talking about the business side as well. Great customer service and how to protect yourself when working with clients.
Who do we seek out now to listen to? I find now I am having a harder time to find those who are “trending”. There are just so many mediums in specialties that you may not even know about some incredible photographers because we no longer have just a few publications as in the past.
This is what we are looking for is those people producing great images and want to learn from them.
What I think we want more than anything now going forward is a way to find great work being produced all over the world.
The problem is that most pros are scared to promote other work in fear of losing work. Therefore how do you find great work? I think whoever creates the new place to point us to great work that is what will be the next big thing in photography.
We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order. – S. Truett Cathy
How people approach photography these days has me very disappointed. There is way too much emphasis on gear and techniques. While you must master your gear and learn techniques they are not the purpose of photography.
The essential purpose of photography is communication. Few people take pictures solely to please themselves. Most of us take them because we want them seen by others. Pictures are a photographer’s means of expression as a writer’s means are words.
Every time a new piece of camera gear comes out there is so much talk about it. I was privileged to have started my career before the digital revolution.
When I would go to workshops before digital cameras were introduced we had been working with the same technology for more than one hundred years. While the cameras did evolve in this time and the film technology got better the understanding of how to take a photo didn’t change.
Here are what I would like to think of are the four “Ps” to make your images better.
A great photo connects with people. If you know what you want people to take away from looking at your photo, then you have a good chance at making a great photo. When you don’t know why you are pushing the shutter at that moment is one of the greatest indicators that the audience will not know either.
Problem solving requires you to be very curious. I didn’t know it at the time I was first labeled by my dad as “Curious George” that this quality would prove to be one of the most important skills one should have when being a professional photographer.
You see Curious George is a sweet African monkey who can’t help but run into trouble. George’s friend, “The Man in the Yellow Hat,” tries very hard to care for George and is always saving the day.
Curious George is intrigued and pursues his curiosity while not paying attention to what he is doing. While photographers shouldn’t get themselves into trouble they should be curious enough to want to figure out things and ask why.
If you look through history you will notice that great things could not have happened often before that moment or after. There is often a season for a good idea.
Mathematicians often do not solve some of the most complex problems until often other ideas are able to be mixed to create the new solution.
For example Guglielmo Marconi is credited with inventing radio, but his equipment was based on Tesla’s ideas. Without Tesla there would not have been Marconi’s solution.
One of the best things one can do is to keep a journal or at least write down some of your ideas in a book. You may pitch these ideas to others and find they are not interested.
Then often years later you can go back to that book and pitch those same ideas and now the season is right for them. You may have learned something in between that helps you do a better job of communicating your idea as well.
As we know the word photography means to write with light. Well you must have a lot of patience if you want to take photos using natural light.
There have been many photographers who for example need a lot of time to do the research to know when to take a photograph. When Steve McCurry was working on the story for France’s BiCentennial for National Geographic he spent more than two weeks going around and making notes about the light and places. He took photos more for research than for publication.
He then realized certain places would be great photos, but he needed to come back at a different time of day.
One photographer was doing a story on a train and saw this gorgeous landscape with a railroad track that went through it across a bridge. The photographer decided to wait until the peak of fall season to capture the moment.
I know that in just photographing a person making a speech that I must anticipate the moments that capture those expressions that will do the best job of capturing the mood and message the speaker was making.
I have also photographed a few people that were difficult to capture due to their unusual blinking. So besides being patient to get them looking the right direction with the right face expression and body language I had to get it when their eyes weren’t closed or half closed.
Closely related to problem solving is being persistent. Musicians may study music for years and practice eight to ten hours a day so that they can take the stage and perform with such skill that it makes people want to pay to hear them.
You see probably the most famous photographer of all time Ansel Adams was described as having same qualities of Curious George as well. He was described as a hyperactive child. He transitioned from being a concert pianist to being a photographer.
He grew up going to Yellowstone and other parks. He spent years working on finding the right location for photographing some of his most famous photos. This also required him to return to the park for right time of year, day and weather to get the photos we now see of his in museums, homes and books of these iconic places.
While Ansel Adams happen to drive upon the scene Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico he would later spend much time in the lab to get all the values he could out of that negative to make the prints that we see today.
When we think of the famous photojournalist Eugene Smith we think of all the time he spent on stories like the Country Doctor. He followed the doctor for days to build a story. Smith was hired to produce 100 photographs of contemporary Pittsburgh for a book in honor of the city’s bicentennial. Two years after beginning the planned three-week assignment the editors demanded the photos and if it were not for the funding stopping Smith would have continued to pursue better photos than he had.
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
This famous quote is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and perception. Let me rephrase this question for the photographer.
“If a photographer makes a photo and no one ever sees it, then what is it’s purpose?”
Even if what you photograph isn’t a person but a thing you are most likely making the photograph to share with other people. You want them to appreciate something you saw as much as you did.
Matthew 22:37–40: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I believe photographers when we do our jobs at the best are loving our neighbor. We care for them in such a way we want to share our experiences with them or make photos of them to share their essence with other people.
I see photography as serving the purpose of the glue that helps connect people to one another.
Until someone actually invent the transporter device used on Star Trek to beam people around time and space we only have photography/video that allows us to see people around the world and even into outer space.
Putting it all together
You need camera gear to capture photos. Learn to use the gear the same way you use a car. While you may have never driven a stick shift, I do remember there was a moment when I was no longer thinking about shifting gears but just doing it. This would be the same as the photographer who shoots today in manual mode.
Most likely there are more photographers using some of the automation on their cameras just like we use automatic transmissions and some of us even have cars that help drive themselves today.
Most of us don’t really care that much about how the car works, we just buy a model that we like and then use it to take us places.
Use your camera like your car. Let the camera take you places. Spend your time like you do when you plan your trips. Focus on the destination and the people you will see. Make the trip with your camera about what is in front of the camera and not the camera itself. This is how you will make great photos.
Thirteen years ago I had been shooting with my new Nikon D100 for just a couple of years. This was my first digital capture DSLR camera.
My daughter and I drove down to Americus, Georgia to photograph the Habitat for Humanity International’s Global Village & Discovery Center for Disney’s Family Magazine.
For the past few days I have been going through my old CDs and DVDs looking through my work. In good light everyone of my digital cameras was pretty outstanding as compared to my days of shooting film.
In doors with that first Nikon D100 I was using flash more than I would have to do today. But the results were just great.
The lens I used on this camera was the Sigma 18-125mm, which wasn’t super sharp but did great with that camera. I loved not having to carry a lot of lenses.
I was shooting pretty wide with the 18mm on a DX cropped sensor. So I was only shooting about 27mm if it was an FX sensor. It would be a few years before Nikon introduced the full sensor.
For those of you wanting to do a great day trip I cannot say enough about the Habitat for Humanity International’s Global Village & Discovery Center. You can see how people live all over the world and how Habitat builds different houses depending on the country.
Here the kids are seeing brick made of aluminum and concrete, which is what they have used in Mexico.
I think this is one of the great day trips for families to see how the rest of the world lives.
Kids and adults get to see actual streets scenes, homes and other things like school rooms in different countries.
When I was shooting fill flash outside with that Nikon D100 I had to shoot at 1/180 to not see the shutter curtain.
While the cameras today are much better I believe that no matter the camera if you know what you are doing you can get some great photos.
Treat your neighbors like celebrities and celebrities like your neighbors. -Anacleto Rapping
This Sunday I lost a good friend Anacleto Rapping to colon cancer. Because of my faith in Jesus I believe in the after life and heaven. I believe one day we will be reunited.
4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
While I will miss Anacleto I didn’t want us to hold onto him and have him suffer in pain. Today Anacleto is no longer suffering, but I believe in the presence of God.
I met Anacleto at Southwestern Photojournalism Conference many years ago. Here was the bio we had posted in 2015 when he was one of the speakers.
Anacleto Rapping Los Angeles, California
Anacleto Rapping has placed his passion for storytelling at the heart of every picture he has taken over a more than three-decade professional career.
As a staff photographer at the Los Angeles Times for two decades, Rapping brought us four Presidential campaigns, five Olympic Games, three World Cup Soccer tournaments, three Academy Award shows and countless breaking news stories and sporting events. His gift for visually capturing historic moments broadened his understanding of world and national events and afforded him the chance to chronicle news events as they unfolded throughout the United States as well as in foreign locales such as South Africa, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Singapore, Guatemala, Mexico and Canada.
While at the Los Angeles Times, Rapping shared three Pulitzer Prizes for team coverage in news, and individually he received a Pulitzer nomination for his photography at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Rapping has taught and developed classes across the Brooks Institute Visual Journalism curriculum including International Documentary, Portraiture, Sports Photography, Picture Story and Advanced Lighting. He currently teaches photography and shoots freelance for editorial and commercial clients. Rapping continues to tell life’s stories, using his camera to portray the profound relationships between people and their environments.
One year we were both in Nashville for a college media workshop. I was covering the event and Anacleto was helping teach.
While Anacleto was teaching I walked up on the stage behind him, Gary Fong, and Jim Veneman to get a nice photo of the students listening to him. Well in seconds of me coming on stage the entire room started to laugh and look at me.
Only as Anacleto could do it he used his soft voice to explain how he had told everyone that he had been watching me cover the event. He said at some point Stanley is going on the stage to get some photos from behind the speakers–so just watch and see when it happens.
Then just a minute after he said this I had come from another room and walked in and up on the stage.
This is a great insight into how Anacleto taught. He didn’t just tell the students here is a shot list and you do it. He taught them not just what they needed to do to cover an event, but he also was teaching the students the power of observation.
Anacleto also was teaching the ability to anticipate.
When I teach a long week workshop I like to Skype in a few of my friends and this helps break up the teaching and reminds the students to develop friendships with other photographers.
Anacleto was one I always loved to Skype in with the classes.
One of the topics that Anacleto liked to talk about was access. To get great photos you need access. Now he often talked about how credentials didn’t always work all that well. He talked about how being kind and courteous to everyone you meet will give you great access.
He talked about being back stage at the Oscars and how during the practices he talked to the guards and all the people backstage. Because he had developed those friendships those people not only let him through because they recognized him, but also alerted him to things going on that made for great photos.
Anacleto loved to help others grow. I often watched Anacleto search out students at the workshops and ask to see their work. He knew they were probably too scared to ask and he wanted to break that ice.
Now Anacleto wasn’t so kind to make everyone feel like they were awesome photographers. Anacleto gave constructive criticism and also asked lots of questions during those portfolio reviews.
Anacleto also wasn’t one of those that only showed up at workshops if he was paid to be there. I saw Anacleto come to the Southwestern Photojournalism workshop almost every year, except this past year when the cancer returned.
Those students who showed Anacleto their work the previous year would go and find him to show him their progress. He was their mentor.
Whenever I would meet up with Anacleto he always would take a moment and change his demeanor and ask in the most caring way I know–”How are you doing?”
I once had the privilege of hiring Anacleto to shoot the Rose Bowl for Chick-fil-A. This was the first time I saw how he worked for a client. I felt so comfortable with Anacleto throughout the process and he delivered wonderful images.
I came across this poem which Anacleto seemed to have lived by.