What’s a good camera for me?

Jesse Hill Jr. held many positions including the first Black President of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the first Black Member of the Georgia Board of Regents, and the first Black Member of the Board of Directors for Rich’s Department Store. (Nikon D2X, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/250, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 with 1.4 converter)

When I speak to groups someone usually asks me what camera I use. Next someone else will ask, “Would I take better pictures if I had a better camera… maybe one like you use?”

The best answer I’ve ever heard to “The Camera Question” came from Joanna Pinneo, a former colleague of mine. Joanna is an outstanding photographer who has worked for Newsweek and National Geographic. Joanna had just finished wowing an audience with some of her photographs when a little old lady asked, “If I had a camera like yours would I take better pictures?”

“Probably not,” Joanna said, “you will take the best photos with a camera that is easy for you to use. When you see something you want to photograph the less you have to think about the camera the better your picture will be.”

Joanna went on to point out that professional photographers are so familiar with their cameras that using them is second nature to them; like driving a car. She told the little lady that unless she planed really study photography she should find a camera that was simple and easy to use then just concentrate on the subject of the photograph she wanted to make.

She was right, of course. In general most of your best photographs are taken to capture a moment. If you are switching lenses, fidgeting with a flash, or trying to remember how your camera works you’ll miss the moment. By the time everything is set just right the shot is gone, the moment has pasted.

On the other hand, if you have a point-and-shoot camera you can just (pardon this) you can just point-and-shoot and capture the moment. You’ll take a better picture precisely because you did NOT have a “better” camera.

Ambassador Young was a top aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement, was involved in its inception, and served as Vice- President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He presently serves on the Board of the Dr. Mar Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change. (Nikon D100, ISO 400, f/4, 1/180, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8)

Not long ago I was photographing the keynote speaker at an event in Atlanta. Beside me was Ambassador Andrew Young with his point-and-shoot camera. He was photographing the speaker as well. Later he showed me his shot and it was quite good.

This was not the only time I’ve seen him making pictures. I’ve worked with him on several occasions and once I asked him about his photography. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the small point-and-shoot camera. He said he always carried it with him and that he loved to take pictures and share with his friends.

Then Ambassador Young laughed. He told me he even pulled it out of his pocket at his daughter’s wedding. He was officiating the wedding, but he still took a photo during the ceremony at the altar.

Point-and-shoot cameras are not just for amateurs.

My good friend Dave Black, who shoots for Sports Illustrated, used one for a job. One of the greatest qualities of these point-and-shoots is they make no noise. They are so quite that manufacturers have put a speaker in them and created a clicking noise you can turn on or off to let you know when the shutter fires.

Pat Perez during play at the BellSouth Classic being played at Sugarloaf in Duluth, Georgia.(Nikon D100, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/800, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 with Sigma 1.4 converter)

PGA rules will not allow a picture to be taken of a professional golfer during their back swing since the noise might distract the golfer. Steve Williams, Tiger Woods’ caddy has thrown a few cameras into lakes when people have fired away during Tiger’s backswing.

When Dave Black showed the editor from Sports Illustrated at the event the photos of Phil Mickelson in his back swing you can understand why the editor started to quiver and gasp for air. Dave pulled out the little camera and made a picture or two of the editor. When the editor found that he couldn’t even hear the little quite camera he began to breath normally again.

No one had any photos of golfers in their back swing before Dave so Sports Illustrated ran the photos big made with the little point and shoot.

Today’s cameras are so much better than before. Take for example the point-and-shoot Nikon P80. Nikon’s enhanced Face-Priority AF automatically finds and focuses on one person’s face or up to 12 people’s faces within one frame. Face-Priority AF provides faster and sharper focus to produce clear, crisp portraits wherever the subjects are positioned in the frame. The P80 is equipped with an 18x optical zoom lens with a 27 – 486mm (in 35mm equivalent) focal length coverage. The maximum aperture is F2.8 to 4.5. It has 10.1 megapixels letting you capture fine detail with the creative freedom to crop and edit.

The amazing thing is that the professional grade Nikon camera body with all the lenses needed to match the zoom power of the little P80 would cost close to $15,000, but the P80 sells for just $399. (Hay, I’m beginning to wonder if I really need all this expensive photographic equipment!)

Another camera similar to the Nikon P-80 is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28K. It is equipped with a Leica lens and is similarly priced to the Nikon P-80.

Joanna Pinneo said it so well, when she said, “You will take the best photos with a camera that is easy for you to use.”

Guess the old adage is true after all. I’ll paraphrase: It would be Stupid not to just Keep It Simple.

Little Details Make a Big Difference

“God is in the details” — Gustave Flaubert (1821-80) … or “the Devil is in the details” (a variant of the proverb). However you choose to look at it, there’s no question that little details make a big difference in your work.

The ancient Greek artisans took this so seriously that the statues they carved are complete all the way around, even though they knew their carvings would be in places where no one would ever see those details. This attention to detail is perhaps one of the reasons we marvel at their art thousands of years later.

A Photojournalistic Approach to Corporate Training Materials

Recently I was working on a crew creating training materials for a restaurant chain. We decided to approach the assignment photojournalistically rather than stage the photos. This approach, showing the employees doing their jobs properly, made the photos more believable than set-up shots. These pictures will be used to train other employees and show them in detail how things should be done.

Even though we didn’t stage the shots, we still had to set the stage by cleaning up the place. We had to make sure it looked as the company said it should look, that everything was in its place.

In past training programs, the photos occasionally showed that a store didn’t always follow the company line in every detail. It may be as small as some item not being in its normal place, or something that’s not present in every location.

Insignificant, but incorrect, details are not insignificant to those responsible for training employees. In the Nixon/Kennedy debate of 1960, it was the sweat on Nixon’s brow that’s remembered — not what anyone said.

On most high-investment photo shoots, stylists are employed to catch the small details that can distract from the message. Attention to the details is the fine distinction that separates the professional from the amateur.

Communicating Clearly, Without Distractions

I’ve told you this story before, the one about sitting by a grandmother on a flight from Dallas. She showed me a snapshot of her grandchild standing in front of a house. The child was a mere speck in the picture, but the grandmother, so intent on the memory of the child, was not even aware of all the distractions in the photo. She remembers what the child looked like and so she saw her clearly, but only in her mind’s eye.

Musicians, poets, writers and photographers are well aware of how important a detail can be. Musicians listen as they play to keep themselves in tune. Poets search for the one precise word. Writers look for the verb to carry the action. Photographers look at the subject, plus scan the complete frame to eliminate details that distract or add ones that compliment.

As professional communicators, we must show what we want people to see and show it clearly and without distraction.

If a trainee is sidetracked by a detail that should not be there, he or she may miss a point being taught. If there are too many distractions the trainees may not be trained as they should be.

It is our job to make certain the message does not fail due to things overlooked. That’s why details make the difference.

Photographing Fireworks

Good fireworks photos have one thing in common – good foregrounds.

The fireworks are way up in the sky, of course, but what you put between you and the fireworks can make the difference between an okay photograph and a great shot.

During the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration at New York harbor some photographers used the Statue of Liberty in the foreground of their fireworks pictures. In Philadelphia some photographed the fireworks in the sky over Independence Hall. These pictures truly captured the mood and meaning of the celebrations because of the foregrounds chosen. 


The most difficult part of using a foreground is balancing the exposure between it and the fireworks themselves. Since it is impossible to know the correct or preferred exposure for the fireworks it is impossible to know in advance how to balance the exposure for the foreground. While this may be done “on the spot” an assistant or two would be necessary because of shortness of time of the fireworks show. To solve this problem use a foreground object that will work as a silhouette.


Prior to the event try to find out where the fireworks will be launched. Then visit the site before the show and look around. Sometimes the best location could be really far away and shot with a telephoto lens.

Pick your spot carefully because there will not be time to move once the excitement begins.

It’s hard to know how high the fireworks will go before they explode or how big they will be when they do. So after the first couple of shots check the composition. Make sure it’s not too loose and the fireworks are too small or too tight that they are going outside the frame. 

Equipment and Exposure 

A sturdy tripod and a cable or remote release are needed for successful fireworks photographs.

Start with the camera on the lowest ISO (100 or less). Set the aperture at ƒ/8 or ƒ/11 and the shutter speed on bulb (this keeps the shutter open for as long as the shutter release is held down; hence the need or a cable or remote release to avoid camera shake).

A small flashlight is a nice addition to you equipment for the shoot.

Take a shot or two then check the exposure. It should be close, but tweaking it a little should make the colors pop.


As soon as you hear the sound of the firework being launched open the shutter and hold it open for two or three bursts before releasing it. Blues don’t photograph as well as reds or greens, so hold the shutter open longer for a blue burst. For different effects change the length of time the shutter is open.

Out of around one hundred shots of a typical show twenty or so should be excellent photos.

The really cool thing about this – an expensive camera isn’t needed. Any camera that accepts a shutter or remote release, can be set to “bulb” and has a tripod socket should work. Many of the point and shoot cameras will work nicely.

So check it out before show. Find a spot with a workable foreground. Take a plethora of pictures. Isn’t digital great – no film cost!

Taking an Interest in People Is a Reward in Itself

Cecil Court is believed to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley for the Harry Potter movies. London

According to Mark Twain, “America and England are two great nations separated by a common language.” He was right. For many Americans arriving in the U.K., it’s a shock to discover that American English can be vastly different from English English. When we think we fit right in and don’t stand out from the natives, it’s easy to make some embarrassing mistakes. (Don’t ask for an order “to go” at a British restaurant; it’s a “take-away.”)

Lately, I’ve been reading about autism. Asperger’s syndrome is a type of high-functioning autism where the language skills are better than with other forms of autism; people with this condition are often found in higher education as professors. They have the capacity to lock in on a subject and stay focused. In the movie Rain Man, Dustin Hoffman showed us the savant aspect of autism with his ability with numbers. He also showed another aspect of autism — being clueless about things around him.

As a photographer, I study people and how they act and react to all sorts of things, so that I can photograph them and show who they are. As a result, I have over the years become an armchair sociologist. I’m fascinated with people’s behavior, especially within groups.

This little girl was enjoying being photographed. She changed the head wrap a few times to get our student photographers to take more photos of her in her village of Adeti-Kope, Togo, West Africa

Converting the Natives

I have watched missionaries in Africa “convert folks,” only to find out that the locals were just being kind and didn’t want to embarrass them. These missionaries were used to how people respond “back home” and were unaware of the foreign culture.

In parts of America, people are extremely polite. It’s difficult to know where you really stand with them. In other parts of the country, people don’t hold back their feelings and, unless you are accustomed to this behavior, it’s easy to take it personally. Sometimes your best friends will point out your worst faults, yet your worst enemy is always pleasant to you.

The most successful business people try to win and hold clients for the long run — not just long enough to close a sale. If we focus on selling a product and just finding a one-time buyer, we are focusing on the short-term. Like the missionary who thinks she has “converted a soul” but has not learned the culture, it’s a short-sighted approach to life.

Many successful people I have encountered are collectors. They may collect baseball memorabilia or classic cars or art. They enjoy finding something and holding on to it. I think this is also how they feel about people. They enjoy “collecting” them and keeping them around. They are interested in developing a relationship with these people — not just conducting a transaction.

In some cultures, it is rude to immediately jump to the transaction or point of the visit. You must spend time with a cup of coffee or tea, talk about families and complete other cultural necessities before getting down to business. Most cultures reward those who pursue relationships and not just transactions.

Herăști, Giurgiu, Romania [Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1600, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
With Relationships Come Rewards

I believe if we focus on connecting with people, the rewards will follow. On the other hand, I believe focusing on rewards, rather than relationships, is the surest route to failure.

It’s easy to tell the difference when you deal with people. How many people have you met who made you feel like you were important to them? How many made you feel that you were just a stepping stone on their path to success? Which of these did you look forward to meeting, or working with, again?

Showing an interest in other people and cultures is not only good business. It’s a more personally rewarding way to go through life.

Backing Up for a Disaster

The severe weather warning sirens in my town have been going off more and more lately due to tornadoes. But this isn’t what prompted me to write about the importance of backing up your computer.

One of the students I taught in Hawaii packed her computer and backup drive in the same bag. This, of course, is the bag the airline lost when she flew home. She lost everything she had worked on at school.

My cousin works for a large furniture store. They dutifully backed up all their computers; however, they kept the backups in the same store with the computers. One night the store burned to the ground and they lost all their computers and their backups.

I am not even going to go into my losses through the years.

Tornadoes, computer crashes, lost luggage, burglars, floods — there are a lot of things that can make our important files and photos vanish. So I’d like to talk a bit about planning a system for backing up our computer files.

My Backup System

First, I prefer a permanent backup of important files to CD/DVDs. It is a more stable solution than a hard drive. Hard drives fail more often than CD/DVDs.

I make two copies of these backup CD/DVDs and put them in different locations. I keep one backup with me where I can get to it in a hurry if my computer fails, but I put other copy in a safety deposit box or at a friend’s house.

Second, I have an external hard drive and make regular backups to it. Most external drives come with software designed to help you make backups.

I use this external hard drive to mirror — completely duplicate — my computer’s hard drive. When my computer dies, I only need to do a restore and everything will be put on the new hard drive or new computer.

Third, I bought yet another backup hard drive. I labeled one A and the other B. I alternate backups between the two. I make sure these A and B drives are rotated, not just with the computer, but the location where I keep them (bank vault, neighbor, etc.)

Another option for backing up important files, like photographs, is to use an online backup. To take advantage of this solution, a high-speed connection is needed. Your first backup takes the longest, but once this is done only the changes to your hard drive from the last backup are needed each time. I program my computer to do this at night after I’ve gone to bed. It takes longer than backing up to a hard drive connected to a computer, but it is off-site, and it is one more place to keep your data. One such provider is Carbonite, which is only $49.95 a year for unlimited storage.

I stay away from tape backup systems. The computer department where I used to work decided to use a tape system to backup their image library. The system corrupted the files and, after five years of inputting data, everything was lost. After restoring all that had been lost and adding four more years of images, it happened again. As far as I know they never recovered the images from those nine years.

You Need More Than One Safe Place

The estate of President John F. Kennedy’s personal photographer, Jacques Lowe, archived all their images in a safe deposit box housed in the vaults at 5 World Trade Center next to the Twin Towers.

I make sure my images and other important files are stored in more than one location.

Now, when I hear a weather alert, I’ve got one less thing to worry about.

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Relationships Help Shape Excellence

Editors note –

Taking better pictures and being a better communicator has a lot to do with working with people. My latest series of e.Newsletters addresses areas which have helped improve my photography. Becoming an expert on people is what helps me to specialize in covering people.

I love to play basketball. Over the years I’ve had the rare opportunity to play with not only good players, but with a few professional basketball players as well. However, just because I played with outstanding players didn’t make me a pro player. It did open my eyes to the potential of a player.

I’m not in the physical condition of my youth, but my improved understanding of the game makes me a better player than I was when I could jump above the rim.

Being around the best in a field will help us learn. On the flip side when we reach out to help others, more often than not, we are blessed at least as much as they are.

I have photographed the homeless in downtown Atlanta and heard them pray for the wealthy people in the suburbs. They’re worried that wealth may cripple the hearts of the rich and harm their relationships with others. They’re not praying for handouts, they are praying for people’s hearts.

I’ve served dinner at an overnight shelter to men who are homeless yet they have jobs at places like UPS. They send their money to their families living in towns where the cost of living is much less.

I’m not sure if I could make some of the sacrifices these homeless are making. Just being around these people teaches me a lot.

Some of my neighbors are from Bosnia, Croatia, Chili, Jamaica, Kenya and Mexico. One family, from Croatia, had to pack in the middle of the night, leave everything they owned and flee from danger – not just once, but twice.

Another neighbor, having already escaped the war and living safely in the US, returned to Bosnia to help his family and friends in the war raging in his home country. Now, back in the US, he spends his time in a wheelchair with a bullet in his back from that war. Last year his wife suffered a heart attack and died.

Just living around these immigrant neighbors teaches me so much about sacrifice. Their determination to make a better life for their children is astounding.

As a photojournalist I have had the opportunity to meet so many people and hear their stories. It has given me a better perspective in life.

Another way I have been able to expand my relationships is through education. Formal education in the classroom forced me to learn about subjects I would have never encountered had the classes not been required. What I gained from my education experience is the desire to learn.

Reading biographies helps me to discover how a person was changed through time and experiences.

The Internet helps me connect with many people and reconnect with friends from the past. Our oldest son went off to college this year. Through the Internet and cell phone was able to remain connected to many of his high school buddies.

This is a major change from when I left for college. Then, with no Internet and cheap long-distance phone service, we just had to sever ties to many of our friends.

I’m learning that in order to improve my game I need to reach up to those who are further along than me, out to those alongside me and down to those who may need my help. I’ve also learned that when I reach down I’m often really reaching up.

Reach out and get connected—it can change your life.

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Are you a joiner?

Student is getting face paint during the Jell-O Wars at Anderson University.

Too many people join associations as if they are buying tickets to a sporting event. They want to sit in their comfortable seats and watch others perform. When considering joining an organization, one of the first questions most people ask is, “What do I get for my membership?” That’s a valid question, and most organizations list the benefits their members will receive.

Ask Not What an Organization Can Do for You

But sometimes the more important question to ask is what you can give. I am reminded of the famous words of John F. Kennedy:

“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what, together, we can do for the freedom of man.”

Kennedy helped forge the idea of service with the creation of the Peace Corps; he believed that the success of the country depended on people becoming involved. Focusing on service, rather than entitlement, can be a key to our professional success — as well as our personal fulfillment.

When you join a group, receiving the newsletter and being listed on the membership rolls will have little impact on your success. Unless you’re willing to commit yourself, you’d be better off saving the dues money and not wasting your time — or the group’s.

The leading figures in most industries are consistently those who volunteer in their professional organizations. They network with others, they help organize the competitions and awards for the industry, and they mentor others in their industry.

Today there are groups whose sole purpose is to teach their members how to be successful. Although these groups may teach you how to be a better net-worker, if the only reason you join is to promote your own success, you will probably fail.

Go Where Your Passion Leads You

Success through an organization starts with matching your passions with volunteering. You can become involved in a community theater, entertain others and become known in your neighborhood. Through your involvement, people will get to know you and you will get to know others. You can join the community of faith through a local congregation, play a sport in a local league … if you follow your passion, you’ll naturally want to become more involved.

You know you’re plugged into a group when others are depending on you. People will not only want you around because of what you are giving to the organization, but will come to value your friendship. They get to know you and appreciate your passion.

Looking for leaders not followers

Working with universities, I have become good friends with some of the people overseeing the recruiting. At Georgia Tech, they changed how they recruit. One of the changes had to do with the list of organizations a person was involved in; they now only want you to list your top five.

Why only five? They are recruiting the leaders of tomorrow, and they are looking for leaders — not just members. An Eagle Scout is more than just a Boy Scout.

There are two groups I have worked with that take this concept of involvement through service way beyond most other groups. As a result, they transform those in these organizations and have a profound effect on those around them. These organizations are Youth With a Mission and Chick-fil-A.

Truett Cathy promoting his book “How did you do it, Truett?”

Truett S. Cathy

The founder of Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathy, can be seen even today picking up the trash around a store before he goes in. All of his managers are trained to do every job regularly. They can be seen cleaning the bathrooms. When a Chick-fil-A event is over, everyone in the organization volunteers to help clean up.

Ellis Peters was in the YWAM School of Photography 1 school this year. She is from the Netherlands and is here working in the kitchen. It is a twelve week program where they are only studying photography and every other weekend have a work duty in the kitchen. This not only helps keep the costs down for the school it fosters the servant concepts taught by Jesus.

When students enroll at the University of Nations, part of Youth With a Mission, they are all expected to work while going to school. They have found that some people are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They talk a good game and sound caring and warm, but on the job, a different person emerges. The Mr. Hyde side might believe they are better than other people; they might not want to do certain jobs they think are beneath them.

Choose Wisely

We can learn a lot about ourselves by volunteering. It can even change who we are. Volunteering helps smooth out those rough edges we all have.

Accountability has influenced most organizations today. People don’t want to waste their time or money. They want to make a lasting difference.

Habitat for Humanity changes not only those who receive the homes; those doing the building are changed as well. The first family to receive a Habitat home was so transformed that each of the children went to college and became successful. Habitat has provided volunteers with the opportunity to enrich their lives while making a real difference in their communities.

Two of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, have joined together to give money back to society. Their foundation’s activities are focused on world health — fighting diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis — and on improving U.S. libraries and high schools.

Bill Clinton, in his book Giving, tells stories of people who give. These remarkable stories suggest that the act of giving takes many forms and emphasizes that offerings of time, skills, objects and ideas can be just as important as contributions of money.

We have a choice. We can watch the game of life or be one of the leading players. Choose wisely; your success — and fulfillment — may depend on it.

Professor and student working in biology lab at Anderson University.

Are all your eggs in one basket?

To “put all your eggs in one basket” is to risk losing everything all at one time. For me this applies to two aspects of my business.

First, if you have a niche’ market it is good to develop a second niche’. Kodak saw the writing on the wall years ago and diversified beyond making film products only. If they hadn’t they would no longer be around. For me I have my interests directing my photography. I love sports and this is really where I first started in photography. In college shooting all the college sports was exciting. I didn’t out grow this interest, but added other areas.

My faith has always been what drives much of my passion. I have worked for Christian denomination’s mission organization covering missions around the world and continue to do so today. I really enjoy things that challenge my heart the way my faith does for me.

I also love technology. This challenges my mind. I love to figure how things work and how to fix things. This has driven my interest in research and technology photography through the years. All three of these loves exist in higher education. This is why I have helped many schools, colleges and universities through the years with their recruiting and public relations photography.

There are times when each of these has peaks and valleys through the year. By diversifying a little and yet still being niche driven and not all over in my work I have been able to keep my eggs in separate baskets with my work.

The second area where I have divided up my eggs is in marketing of my services. One of my best marketing is done through networking. This is getting me involved in my communities. By joining a photography association I learn from others and plug into friends who occasionally get over booked and refer to others they know in the industry. I have joined the Atlanta Press Club because many of those who are members go to the social events and meetings that I would not meet anywhere else. I have been able to meet people who not only might hire me, but become good friends.

I have gone to the library and found every list of people in the markets I am interested in working with to build a database. This database of 3,500+ names is categorized. I have categories for family, clients, prospects, and broken into almost every imaginable group I can think of. I have phone numbers, mailing addresses and emails. Each of these is a different way to contact the people. I call them, I send postcards and I send out an e.newsletter as well as individual emails.

When someone writes me back to unsubscribe to my e.newsletter I don’t delete their name—I add them to my no newsletter category. They still get postcards and occasional phone calls.

Lately I signed up for a new cell plan that lets me make unlimited phone calls as long as I am using the Wi-Fi feature of the phone. This lets me make lots of phone calls. I am learning how to have meaningful short conversations with many people. They are meaningful because I really do care about each person. If you don’t feel genuinely interested in people you have to be one incredible actor (which I am not) to pull this off. This is why I work hard to find as many new people I can to add to my list. If you are not genuinely interested in a person, it is important to have someone else to talk to if they don’t exist.

One of the gifts I have which I have learned to use more each day is my memory. For some reason once I learn something (really learn it) I usually don’t forget. This has helped me in ways I am now only beginning to realize. When I meet someone I haven’t talked to in a long time I can remember so much about them I can almost remember our last conversation. So, I tend to ask how they are doing and how something we talked about last time is going. I know others who call a lot for business need to write down something about a person when they talk to them to remind them to do this later when they call them again. I started to do this to help me and just by writing it down once I remembered it, so when I met them again in a grocery store and not planning on contacting them, I remember to ask about how they are doing with what we talked about last. This isn’t asking like I am doing therapy and they have a problem. It usually is asking about something exciting that has been going on in their life.

When you think you have done all you know how to do in a particular niche’ in your field try to apply those principles to a new niche’. When you are trying to find a new client or knowing how to keep your present ones, remember dating. Be persistent and try many different approaches.

What’s the biggest room in the world? Room for improvement.

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Share Your Calendar with Your Clients to Get More Bookings

I recently got a BlackBerry Curve after some friends convinced me it would help me in my business. They were right; it’s made a huge difference — particularly in conjunction with Google Calendar. Here’s how I’ve used these tools to communicate better with clients — and to win more bookings.

The learning curve on most new technology takes just a little time for me, and I guess this is why they call my model the BlackBerry Curve. But it’s been worth the investment.

With the Wi-Fi feature, I now have much easier Internet access on assignments. Before, I was relying on my laptop and cell phone to connect. It has worked pretty well for the past seven years, but the time it takes to turn on a laptop and hook up to the Internet to check messages can be easily 10 minutes. Now, I can glance at the e-mails as they come in as I work, and when I take a break can easily respond to my messages.

Out with the Old, In with Google Calendar

“Honey can you send me an updated calendar?” was one of my wife’s frequent refrains. Sending her my calendar not only helped me with our family plans, but also helped her to answer client questions when I was out. To accommodate her, I would go into Outlook, print my calendar to a PDF, and then e-mail her a copy. This system worked well enough — until the business became so successful that I needed to update the calendar more than once a day for her.

I realized I needed a better solution. And since the solution for just about every problem I encounter is to Google it, that’s what I did. I Googled and found Google Calendar.

Google Calendar synchs with Outlook every five minutes, once a day, or as often as you need it to. With the calendar, you can set up what I like to call visibility layers. You can let the world see every detail of your calendar, parts of the calendar, or nothing at all. You can invite people to have the ability to edit your calendar as well.

I chose to add my wife and let her have the ability to make changes. Sometimes I am on the road for a few days, and she needs to let my clients know what I have open and reserve a date. I also gave my uncle rights to see the details, since he has been assisting me on many of my photo shoots.

Sharing Your Schedule to Increase Bookings

As for the rest of the world (especially my clients), I decided to let them know when I was free and when I was busy. So I added my Google Calendar to my Web site. Google gives you the html code, so it’s easy. You can customize whether the day, week, month or agenda is the default page, as well as the colors and look of the calendar.

Adding this tool to my Web site has not only improved my business’s efficiency; it has also helped me increase bookings.

For most of my career, I’ve banged my head against the wall trying to convince clients to plan ahead — so, for example, we can take advantage of the time of year (like spring or fall) to show off the landscaping of their business. Until I had Google Calendar, I really believe most everyone thought I was blowing a lot of smoke and just trying to book myself.

In the past, clients would contact me and I would give them the dates I had open, and they typically would take their time and come back to me later — only to find some or all of their times had been given away to someone else who was ready to commit.

Since adding Google Calendar to my site several weeks ago, I have had people commit to dates and times right away. They have already checked my availability, and when they contact me are ready to book. (You can see my calendar on the left navigation at StanleyLeary.com.)

By the way, I no longer have to send a copy of my calendar to my wife; she is better informed than ever before. Maybe this can help you as well.

Stanley works to make your job easier

Stanley usually provides a DVD-R immediately following your event. The ID information is printed directly on the inkjet-writable DVD-R, which is more archival than a paper label. The data includes the name and date of your event plus Stanley’s contact information making it easy to locate images later.

A duplicate DVD-R is kept on file by Stanley as an off-premises backup for you. Everyone should make their own backup as well.

Each image is high resolution JPEG. Usage rights of the images are negotiated prior to the assignment.

For most editorial assignments, photo identification is embedded with the image. This is helpful when writing cut-lines for your newsletter or matching the photo with the person in a story.

One of Stanley’s clients has 500 plus new portraits made every year. Many of the faces are new. The office staff uses the imbedded identification to match the portraits to bios. This helps those who have not met the new people to match the person with the name.

Below is an example of what this looks like for you when you are using Photoshop to view the images. Go to the menu option Menu>File Info to pull down the box.

If you have many photographs made each year and have ever had trouble locating a particular photo the above example should interest you. This ID information is recognizable by most image archiving software such as Cumulus . The file information box of Photoshop is known as IPTC for short.

Here is example of the same example of the photo in PhotoShop now in MediaDex.















As you can see, the information is the same. Since Stanley has done this work for you, after setting up the software like MediaDex to recognize IPTC then you only need to drag the folder from the DVD-R, which Stanley provided to you into the database software and let it ingest the images. You do not need to add any more information. The name of the event is searchable and you can find people because you can search the caption for names.

You can also use services on-line like PhotoCore. This provides a live, searchable database for you to use. Your photographers can upload from anywhere in the world and you can determine access by creating accounts for photographers, designers and clients. Look at some of Stanley’s examples here.

With this service provided by Stanley, you can find a photo within seconds. If you choose to save all the images on a server then the artist only needs to click to place the photo into their design. It only takes a second.

You can use the information printed on the DVD-R to locate a project, place the DVD-R the computer and just drag the photo from the Database straight into your document.

Today we must be good stewards of our budget and resources. Since Stanley has completed most of the data entry for you he has saved you hours of work that translates into savings for you.

There is more than meets-the-eye in Stanley’s photos. Not only has he provided you with the images you need, he has increased their value to you because of the wealth of information he has provided about those images.

The ease of use, the ability to locate quickly a single photo in you collection and the in-depth information about that photo all located together is what makes a photo shoot by Stanley more valuable to you.

Yes, Stanley truly does work to make your job easier.