Expanding Your In-house Photography and Video skillset

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Creatives in marketing departments wear many hats from being a designer, writer, to a social media asset creator with photography and video. With busy schedules, one may not always have time to grow their photography and video skills or learn about the latest technology in digital asset management. Many have visual projects that do not have the budgets for a professional photographer or videographer and need to create these visual assets in-house.

For years I have trained corporations and organizations with creating better photography, video and managing their visual assets. I offer this training through my Visual Creative Coaching services for businesses, photographers, and videographers.

Recently I worked with a client that creates lovely social media imagery for their brand to promote their consumer products. They approached me because they needed improvements in lighting and photography techniques and wanted to make their small studio more efficient.

We began with a quick review of the equipment they used and the workflow they established around how they created their images.  I then created a list of new equipment that would work within their budget and needs in order to build the imagery they desired for Instagram and other social media outlets.

I visited their offices to redesign their studio space to be more efficient for the team to work in. We then discussed their photography and video challenges with lighting and other skills that needed improving. I suggested we focus on actual examples and asked them to create the next few projects they were planning so we could approach solutions within a real assignment. As they built their Instagram and social media visual setups, we played with different techniques and practices that allowed them to expand their photography and video studio skills.

Teaching them within actual projects allowed me to observe how they approach their visual setups and I could offer suggestions based on their style. These techniques included simple positioning of the camera, how many lights to use and their position, in addition to using tools like bounce cards.

Another technique we discussed was creating multiple social media images from one set up by simply changing the camera angle and the lights. This way they are more efficient with creating more photography and video to be shared on social media outlets like Instagram.

It was a fun and an information-packed day for the marketing department. The in-house marketing designers are now creating professional level social media photography and video clips.


What are your Accomplishments?

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When a year comes to an end, I find photographers focus on the big assignment they didn't get, the sales goals they didn't make, or the equipment they were unable to purchase, among other things. That negative chatter can really pull a person down, starting their new year with the emotional feeling of "lack" from which to build upon.

With the new year, many people focus on new year resolutions. Out with the old and in with the new. How about focusing on building off of your 2017 successes?

For example, write out all the beautiful things you experienced in 2017. It’s likely you’ll find plenty!

Here is an example:

  1. My sales were in the best they’ve been in the last 10 years.
  2. I expanded my video services and created more videos than in past years.
  3. I traveled to about 10 states and I felt joy with that journey.
  4. I created a heartfelt personal project.
  5. I built up more confidence in my video skills.
  6. I had an amazing vacation with my family and felt more connected with them.
  7. I ran my first 5k and felt a sense of accomplishment

Yes, add some personal feelings and accomplishments in there. A strong positive feeling, based on the non-business part of your life will always attract more positive business experiences in 2018. Take all the positive feeling and focus on how that feels.

Close your eyes. And go down your list. Feel those positive emotions and realize #1 may feel very different than #7. Now bask in your glow of your positivity and find ways to keep feeling those positive feelings.

Why I Create Personal Photography Projects

 Carlton SooHoo- The energy of self-love surrounds me and while most of the warmth and comfort elated from within, there were moments when I felt that energy was available externally, and I reached for it, it was available. The tight, stark enclosed enclosure helped me to focus more intently on my self-love as it removed distraction and permitted a deeper focus on myself.
     I felt self-love was a more inward directed focus but at times, the love emanated forth from within and I felt body postures that were more outward directed. 
     The energy of self-love was something akin to how the tide ebbs and flows lapping at the shores edge. I felt my self-love pulse back and forth in me, inward and outward.

When I was in college I listened to a newspaper photojournalist speak to our class and he mentioned how important it is to work on personal projects. At the time I didn’t understand that comment because everything I photographed felt like a personal project. It was all new to me.

As my career blossomed I deeply experienced a feeling that I needed to create a meaningful personal project. I came up with the project REVEALED. From there I realized how much growth, joy, and accomplishment I get from personal projects. It fires up my passion for photography.

Recently a friend asked me what my next personal project will be about and when I will be working on it. I responded that I had nothing in the works. She then proceeds to tell me she looks forward to my next project because when I dive into one I talk about it with such passion and share that. This was a wonderful reminder that I’m due for another personal project and to feel that deep passion again.

I typically create personal projects to learn more about myself. While it is a creative exercise it also allows me to grow my photography skills, and I learn more about myself within these projects. With REVEALED I was exploring my own spirituality and as my subjects explored their expression of spirituality, their process deepened my own work.

SELF LOVE was another personal photography project where I had the same experience. It became an opportunity to not only explore Self Love personally but to gain a deeper understanding from my subjects.

I feel video and photography Personal Projects are necessary for creatives. It allows yourself to explore new technical techniques and learn more about yourself and be your own client.

What type of project will you dive into this year? I have already dove into my first 2018 photography personal project. I can’t wait to see what I learn from it creatively and personally.


What makes a Fantastic Assistant for Photo or Video Production Assignments (2 of 2)


In Part 1, Nonni and I wrote what makes a good assistant. There are more qualities and tasks that can up level any assistant’s game and make one an even more valuable photographer’s assistant.

Leave your EGO at the door!

The most crucial point to take away from this is to understand that you are part of a bigger whole, and your reward comes when the shoot is a success, not from being the star or getting credit. You have ideas; you want to flex what you know and be recognized for the knowledge and skill sets you have in the photography industry. Maybe you are only assisting to learn and someday set off on your own. However, if you can impart these beautiful things about yourself with humility and respect, I promise you will learn more, and the relationships you build will be more critical in the long run than being the star on set.

Ask questions (No Assumptions)

Here is where humility is key: It saves time and avoids potential embarrassing disasters if we just ask about something we are unsure of. It is better to ask than to do something wrong or worse, like break something on set in front of the client. Part of our job is to make the process seem seamless and stress-free for the client, so when you ask for help, always be discreet about it.

Make the photographer look good no matter what

This is part of the magic. One thing that will help you be appreciated asked back, and even recommended to other photographers is understanding how to show respect towards the photographer, the client, and the entire creative vision. Minimize problems, anticipate the needs on set, and redirect when there is a problem to make it seem to the client that everything is under control. It is your job to scramble so that the photographer does not have to. Discretion in communicating to the photographer and positive attitude with everyone on set can go a long way.

Know your gear!

Gear is always changing, and photographers are as individual as they come. Sometimes they get attached to vintage equipment that you have never heard of and you have to google the heck out of something just to know where it might be used if the photographer asks for it. Leading up to a shoot, especially working with someone for the first time, I always ask what equipment we will be working with so that I can research whatever I am not familiar with before I am on set. Youtube!!!! We should all have a basic knowledge of lighting and photo gear, but it is quite often that there is something new (or old) that I have not used and I need to be quick about learning.

Anticipate (Learn how to read minds)

Every photographer is different and has different individual needs in which they will normally tell you about (if it's your first time with them). The longer you work with someone, the better you will understand what they need. Soon you should be able to get it to them before they even have to ask you.

To anticipate the next move, you have to find ways to listen and react quickly. Stay in learning mode, take it all in and observe. Act when you can and listen to the conversations between the photographer and the client, so you know what’s being expected in the photo.

I always take a few minutes at the beginning of the shoot to open and look through cases to familiarize myself with their packing system. This helps to find things faster and be quick when asked to get something and keep from losing gear when you are packing up.

Understanding the basic needs on set, for every set, no matter who you are with will help the learning curve:

  • Keep track of the gear and keep it organized.
  • Keep batteries charged and lenses clean.
  • Understand basic electrical safety.
  • Gaffers tape is your best friend so have it close by at all times.
  • Knowledge of lighting is essential for light and reflector placement. This can save a ton of time in the testing shots if you do not need to move the lights 100 times.
  • CARDS CARDS CARDS CARDS!!!! Be so sure and careful that you put them in the memory card holder correctly (Each photographer has a system that they follow, so make sure you know it.)
  • Safety on set: Keep cords neat and tape where people are walking (asses and avoid potential dangers).
  • Be quick, but careful. You are responsible for expensive equipment so you should look like you are taking care of it.
  • Take care of your body. Keep the photographer, and yourself, fed and hydrated. Ok, this one might seem silly, but I promise it’s essential. Our job is extremely physical, and we have to stay fit and healthy to do a good job for long hours and even long term. Also, when we are all busy on a stressful set, it is so important to be the one (if there isn't a PA) to keep the photographer (and yourself) fueled up and happy. This is so things do not turn downhill if and when the stress rises. I always bring snacks.

HAVE FUN! Always take your job seriously, but if you can bring a little joy to the set it will just be that much better. Be yourself!

What makes a Fantastic Assistant for Photo or Video Production Assignments (1 of 2)


-Part 1 of a 2 part blog

I am a firm believer in creating a crew that you work with often and are able to build a trusting business relationship. An assistant is a significant asset to any photography or video media production assignment and becomes more valuable the more you work together.

A team that works together often allows for smoother productivity, impresses the client, creates a great synergy on set for everyone else to follow and if the "shit" hits the fan, it is the assistant and myself that works right through it without any moments of panic.

Nonni Muller, an assistant of mine of about two years, is invaluable on many levels. Together we created a list of what makes a good assistant:

  • Provides relief by being the second pair of hands onset!
  • Allows the photographer or videographer to be free of the smaller details so they can focus on the creativity, subject, and client.
  • Anticipates the photographer's actions and is ready to spring into action.
  • Leave your ego at the door - the photo assistant may not get much credit but a good photographer will value a good assistant. When the fit is right, they will do everything to keep them.
  • Listen and be aware of the project.
  • Know when to speak up and to give feedback.
  • Anticipates what is going to happen next.
  • Works as an extra set of eyes to make sure everything and subjects look great.

Nonni has been both assisting and shooting photo or video herself for eight years in the media industry, and she has worked with both keen and unappreciative lead photographers alike. The dynamic between the assistant and the lead is essential. If you have some critical factors down and understand the role of an assistant, you can work for almost anyone as a valuable asset to the set.

Your goal should always be to make the day more comfortable for everyone around you, and ultimately, care about the result. If you consider yourself part of the team, even if you never get acknowledged as such, you will do a better job overall.

Assistants may take the back seat, but we can be proud of the work that we do. We are an essential part of the process regarding image making and vital in some cases to the success of the whole media production.

I love what I do. Whether I am shooting or assisting, I am grateful every day that I  get to be part of the creativity and the image making process
— Nonni Muller

Keep Networking and Planting Seeds


At times I can be an introvert and others more of an extrovert. One thing that I do not always do is go to networking events and be this pro-active networker with connecting and handing out cards galore. The idea of that type of networking may bring anxiety in many photographers as well as me.

I recently had a conversation with a videographer, and he mentioned he received a major video project for a national campaign. He made that connection with the client from a simple event he covered many years ago. He stayed connected with this individual, and he just received the dream assignment.

I have many stories similar to his, and it is a good reminder how important it is to network. Meeting anyone can lead to a significant dream project or a simple assignment, directly with your new contact or they may refer you to someone who is in need of your services. 

Photographing an event can be an excellent opportunity to network your services and hand out cards. You may meet a random attendee that happens to be in need of a photographer or videographer, to an individual that works for the client, though was unaware of you, and now they see you in action, and you meet in person.

I know a photographer that does not have a website and travels the world photographing events. He is very good with his networking abilities and strategically will shoot an event with the knowledge that assignment will lead to more potential clients. He always has his iPad available for sharing his images and making a personal connection. 

Remember, to look at the present and the future. Continue to plant seeds for future work that may come to fruition quickly and at the same time for many years down the road. I once met an individual and about ten years passed when I received a call from him, and he ended awarding me several 5-figure projects. 

Some basic things to keep in mind is when you meet with someone, add them to your LinkedIn list, address book and email marketing list for future connection. Always carry business cards (my favorite printer is Moo) to hand out. Remember to drop your new connections a postcard about how nice it was to connect and even surprise them 6-12 months later with another card.

Learn to tell a story by telling your story

I enjoy Instagram. It brings me back to the days of film and shooting with a Holga or Diana camera. For me to use Instagram is an instant feeling of joy, and I can shoot, process and publish an image pretty darn quick. 

I have been slow with embracing Instagram Stories. Then I found my self-starting to watch people's daily stories and to enjoy the format of digital storytelling.

So, I dove into telling my own stories. The first time was during an assignment to share the behind the scenes experience. I was then hooked on this new way to create and share a story.

I set a goal to walk 40,000 (20 miles) steps in one day. I set a day aside and decided to document it with Instagram stories. My only agenda was to accomplish 40,000 steps.

12 hours later, I returned home with mission accomplished and a 4-minute Instagram story. Sharing that story with friends was fun. Then I kept thinking about how I could have done a better job with telling my story of accomplishing all those steps. I did not create storyboards or a theme beforehand or during the day. 

I just went with the flow. For example, half the video is making coffee when the story was about my day's activities and especially about my walk. There were places I visited I did not document. I do remind myself my goal was just to have an adventure and walk all those steps, not to be perfect on telling my daily story. I admit I want to do this again and document it differently with more thought on the actual story I am sharing.

I am convinced learning to create a story on the fly is a fascinating way to find out how to tell a story better. Being able to build and capture a story on the fly is very beneficial while on an assignment. As a visual artist, you are telling stories with photography and video covering events, weddings, family portraits, sports and many other corporate and commercial assignments. 

You should spend a day and create a story by documenting your day. Watch it at the end of the day and see how successful you were at telling your story. If you don't walk 20 miles, your feet should feel better than mine did.

Then ask yourself, how can you improve your story telling with your next video? Also, how will you approach your assignments with still photography and video story telling?

Sharing Behind the Scenes - What I Will Learn

I am striving to break some of my personal and business habits this year by breaking old patterns and replacing with what I want to experience and accomplish in my life. I just completed two books on habits by Charles Duhigg that have been very insightful on this journey I am taking. I highly recommend these two books.

I have always enjoyed helping others succeed with their photography business as a friend or photography business coach. Moreover, at times, even businesses outside of visual artistry have sought my advice. One new habit I am working on is sharing behind the scenes storytelling through my blog and as a video. The larger goal is to share more of my knowledge I have learned in 25 years as a professional photographer and entrepreneur to a bigger audience.

There is a ton to gain out of having a side project like documenting yours behind the scenes action. During an assignment, there may be down times. I am now filling that space with documenting my experience and not just sitting around chatting or Facebooking and Instagramming. This assignment was the first time I began using the Instagram Stories feature. It was amusing, and I used some of those clips in this video. 

What I will (and possibly you) gain out of sharing behind the scenes experiences:

  1. To document the making of our projects for my historical records
  2. Learn to multitask better as I tell the behind the scenes story and not letting it interfere with the actual assignment, which is why I am there
  3. Educate and entertain visual artists and clients on what goes on behind the scenes
  4. I do experience being vulnerable as I am sharing how I operate behind the scenes and feel judged. Though this comes back to creating more self-worth and self-love for me
  5. I experience the feeling of just not having enough time and postponing completing the video and blog
  6. I Then realize it is something I want to do, and I have much to gain from it that outweighs the prognostication and not taking action
  7. Every time I create these behind the scenes video, I get better at telling a story and telling my own story
  8. I feel more confidence in my abilities as a visual storyteller
  9. These videos will help to create more revenue by attracting new clients
  10. It shows potential clients how I work and insight into my personality

Stretching yourself into an uncomfortable zone is a good sign that you are growing and good things will come your way. What stretches have you or will you do this month?

I also posted this video on my Indermaur Media blog with the client in mind if you want to see how I approach behind the scenes to share with customers.

Creatively Stretch Yourself

I have wanted to do more time lapses and experiment with some different techniques. However, I typically have resistance because of my everyday grind of Administrative work and assignments. If an idea highly inspires me, it is easier to go forward with it.

My assistant, Nonni and I decided we just need to do a time-lapse of my camera equipment going into the camera bag. A simple idea, though I felt it would be a good exercise to learn some new techniques. I debated a tad over doing this because I did not want to spend a day on what I was considering a dull creative project. 

We decided just to go ahead and film it. It ended up being an excellent learning experience on many levels.

First, we discussed how we would approach this project. Do we do a traditional time-lapse with a photo every half second (or an alternative formula we decide)? Alternatively, do we create a video and speed it up. This creative process drove us to have a discussion and watch examples online of different time-lapse approaches or styles.

Then we decided to make sure it will fit a square format and needed to figure out how to frame it up and make it look good as I pack all the equipment back into the bag. We even considered the color of the pants I was wearing.

After that, we had realized we could not use my cameras because they needed to be part of the video. So, that left us with my iPhone or my DJI Osmo Pro. We decided the Osmo for several reasons. The main reason is it is a new piece of equipment, and we can learn the camera while finishing a project maximizing our efforts. 

We made these decisions, set it up, shot it and processed it in FinalCut and posted it to Instagram in less than 2-hours.

Also, we learned:

  1. An experienced an oversight with the ND filter on our Osmo and the exposure confusion it caused for a bit. I do not use filters on my cameras, so it was a new thing to remember if the filter is on or off.
  2. Became more familiar with the Osmo's menu system and quicker at using it.
  3. Mounting the Osmo in a different way I had not tried.
  4. A different time-lapse technique I had not done.
  5. We had fun going through the creative process
  6. Worked on a non-iPhone workflow on doing a quick video, processing it and posting it

It was well worth the time, and it was a blast creating it. I have a friend who told me he never has time to learn because they are too busy in the production studio to play and experiment. I find experimenting is critical to growth, even a simple exercise like putting cameras in my camera bag. Now is the time for you to expand your creative growth. What do you do?

Clean House and Bask in Your Glow of Successes

Ever since middle school, I have created business plans. As a photographer, I review and rework my plan of activities for the year. It helps to guide me to where I wanted to go. I no longer create a formal business plan.

I spend much time soul searching my vision of Indermaur Media and planning its future. I research, conversations with professionals in different industries, explore where to take Indermaur Media and anticipate how I will personally grow and market my business to get where I want to be. Although it has made a concentrated effort and focused time, I have a clear and decisive vision of the path I see for Indermaur Media. I always stay fluid and open to new and unanticipated changes, but at this point, I can articulate my road forward

My initial action steps are to build a new Indermaur Media website. I have created many websites over the years by myself or by hiring a professional web designer. I am a firm believer in outsourcing to experts. I prefer to have more time to focus on my clients, grow my photography skills, and have down time to reflect and enjoy life. 

I have decided to create my website using Squarespace without professional outsourcing. While I can create a site rather quickly, I devoted a week to developing it. That process, because I did the development myself allowed me to utilize my previous site's content as a guideline. I learned the following by migrating my original site to square space.

  • I became reacquainted with projects and experiences that were both successful and rewarding. I felt joy and a sense of achievement over work with meaningful photography and video. This process was inspiring and empowering as I reflected on my journey from my start to now.
  • This process allowed me to identify the gaps in my portfolio and where I need to focus.
  • I added more content and depth to my new site in response to my intensive focus on the look and feel of a new website and revamped the brand.
  • I took action on my vision for my new website and then I was inspired with new ideas because I was 100% focused on this visual outlet to showcase my creative work.

With this phase completed, I have now been outsourcing a few task to bring it to the next level and achieve my vision. I am not an expert in all fields, and outside vendors can save time and money with superb results.

  • An expert in SEO - Search Engine Optimization
  • A writer/editor to rewrite my bio and review all the remaining copy.
  • A designer to review my website. Fonts, flow, colors and other aspects a designer will recognize on a more critical level than myself.
  • A visual editor to help me fine tune my visual assets, photography, and video. One that is truthful on what is working and what is not.

Many photographers are independent and choose to be the jack of all trades. I suggest it is best to complete the task, even when it may be a bit overwhelming. Also, recognize when you need support as I did with SEO, writing, design and even editing of my imagery. 

A website design is a great project to dive into when you are between assignments and haven't made any major overhauls in the past year. Make sure you feel the positive feelings as you do this. It will always help with attracting more work and may create a buzz that brings in additional work.

Get a FitBit and Become More Succesful

I am all about building relationships and connections with family, friends, clients, and vendors. I am not one for walking around networking events handing out my business card, having a 60-second conversation and then moving on to the next person.

I would meet one inspiring and entertaining individual and then talk with them throughout the entire event. Alternatively, maybe I will meet ten amazing people. Authentic connections, friendships, and experiences are more important to me than superficial chatting. I may get an assignment from them, and I may not. It does not matter. At the end of the day, I just want to have a full life filled with great adventures and connections. The work will emerge out of real connections, not the quick handshakes and business card handouts. Valuable connections and friendships can develop through activities as simple as a FitBit.

For years I debated about getting a FitBit. I have always wanted to get more fit, but the gym never worked for me. I love technology, and I value an accountability partner. So, earlier this year Fitbits were on sale. I debated about getting it for over a week. Then a friend reminded me that I do not hesitate to go out with friends and drop $100 on dinner and drinks. That $75 FitBit should be a no-brainer and just get it. So, I bought it at REI because they have a great return policy. 

I would say it is one of the best purchases I made this year. I went out and bought a nicer model after a month. Crazy, I know. I did not realize how many friends, clients and business associates I know that already utilize FitBit. So, I started connecting with customers, as well as friends and vendors on FitBit. 

I now am connected with friends around the world, and we are doing weekly/daily challenges, and it is a blast. I am also connecting with clients on a more personal level, which I love to do. Also, I just ran my first 5k and had dropped 20 pounds because of many changes in my life the past few months. FitBit has been a big part of that formula mostly because of my accountability to my FitBit friends. One reason is I find that my friends are outpacing me for the day and I head out and get more steps in than I normally would in the past. It is motivating personally and interpersonally.

So, go out, get a FitBit. Connect with your friends, clients, and family on a health level. Maybe your virtual walking partner will become your next biggest client. If not, you will have fun and get more fit.

Be Different - Write a thank you note!

I have written so many thank you notes over the years, I figured this was normal business practice for everyone. Surprising to me, I find it it is not standard practice. It is my experience that thank you notes make a substantial impact on people and a stronger relationship with your friends, family, clients, and vendors.

A client hires me for a job, upon completion I write a thank you note because I am feeling grateful for the opportunity. For a more impactful tactic, I try and without many exceptions, send a second and third thank you: one for the fun of working with them and finally for the excitement I feel about the published work. Not only do I thank customers for a completed job but also after the opportunity to be considered for the assignment. I have sent a thank you note when given a chance to estimate the project, awarded the job and then completed. In other words, they receive three thank you notes for one assignment. To enhance the longevity of the relationship, in time I will send a fourth update note within a few months after the project.

Some time ago a client called me after he received my thank you note. He told me he has been hiring photographers for 20-years, not a single one sent him a thank you note. He is not the only one to reach out to me and share a similar experience. I have also visited clients to discover my thank you notes hanging on their office walls or by their computer.

I do send thankful notes even when customers do not award me the assignment. My philosophy is they spent the time to connect with me, so I am thanking them for that opportunity and connection. It is a good marketing strategy, and again, it is about building a client relationship.

Reasons to send thank you notes

  • Estimating a job
  • Meeting a potential client at a networking event
  • Portfolio showings
  • Client that gives you a referral
  • Potential customer, you had a brief phone conversation with
  • Receiving/Completing an assignment
  • Because you feel like it and it is a beautiful day
  • moreover, the list can go on and on...

In the past, I would make ink-jet printed thank you notes and hand write a note. In recent years, I send printed postcards via an iPhone app. My favorite app is Postagram. I have sent about 900 of these postcards over the years. I like it because I end up using my Instagram images and a quick note. It is simple, takes minutes, and I can complete it even when I am in line at a grocery store.

I am all about simplifying tasks, and that is why I prefer phone app driven thank you notes. Because of my poor handwriting skills and the time it takes to create those postcards, I found myself putting up resistance to complete that task, and I would fall months behind on sending them out. With a thank you note phone app, I have no excuse. Figure out what works best for you and if you prefer hand written notes, then go that route.

Remember, being successful is all about building relationships with your clients and vendors. For me, a simple thank you note is part of my formula.


Follow your heart

As photographers, we have the opportunity to follow our heart! For me, working from a heart space brings out my greatest moments of creativity and inspiration. Many of us have heard the metaphor of following your gut. Gut or heart, there are moments of pull and inspiration that when you lead with them and not logic, bring about magical results.

One day I got a call from a new client. They had followed my promotions and wanted to change the way they created multi-media pieces based on what I was creating. The client offered incentive the potential of many more assignments if it worked out well. 

Photographers hear we have heard that story before. "Lower your price, and I will give you lots of assignments." What caught my attention is this particular never said to lower my price. Just a small mention this may lead into something much larger. The client was different from many others because the emphasis was on success and changing the conceptual way his company created these multimedia pieces. This customer, by not asking me to give away my products talents and services gained my immediate attention.

Right away the assignment had some complications, and I became aware this was a potentially regrettable arrangement. However, in the end, I persevered and after I iron out details and formulate a new concept in my head and on paper for my proposal. The lesson for me is although suggested to me to walk away from 2 different photographers whom I respect and call from time-to-time for their perspective. I stayed with it because something intangible, something in my heart said it was right. To the credit of my colleagues, although they cautioned me, that both encouraged me to follow my heart. just be careful because they did not want to see me dig myself into a hole. The assignment/concept had a few red flags of potential difficulties, and they pointed those out.

Again with my heart motivating me to continue, I wanted to see how it played out. I felt some fear. However, I also felt it was something I wanted and needed to do. In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says that "Fear is always triggered by creativity. Because fear asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome. And fear hates uncertain outcome. This is nothing to be ashamed of, it is however something to be dealt with." Feeling fear for an assignment can be a good energy to help me succeed beyond expectations, and I use it to my advantage.

I ironed out the details of the concept and how to execute it. I made my proposal, and we shot the 1-day assignment. I have completed 100+ assignments for them. It is a treasured client and relationship. They challenge me; I suggest creative ideas they often enthusiastically, sometimes cautiously but trustingly, accept and I have produced a body of work I am very proud of. Of course, it has also turned into a profitable client.

In this case, I am glad I listened to my heart and gut and followed through.

It's all about the fun

Everyone needs to create a career they love, enjoy and have fun doing. The ups and downs of a photography assignment can be stressful and like a roller coaster ride.  When you and your team find the right synergy, you can make your assignments joyful, energizing and satisfying during the process (especially on set), the entire crew works more efficiently, and creativity flows much better.

I have not met the challenges of a stressful shoot. In fact, I work especially well under pressure. However, working in an environment of whimsy, lighthearted fun puts clients at ease. However, you have to find a team who can be those things while remaining devoted to their professionalism and can deliver a good product. Everyone needs to have fun and enjoy their experience. So as the lead photographer, crew captain, if you will, I encourage my colleagues to stretch their creativity, firmly maintain their professionalism, but to function with clients in a fun warm and sometimes silly way as long as it helps produce the best product for the customer.

That way the crew looks forward to working with me again. Moreover, most importantly a client who continues to collaborate with me because they know I can handle the pressures, deliver what is needed and have fun during that creative process. I prefer to hang out with fun and active people. So, I create an environment oozing with fun and positivity.

One way I enjoy creating fun is at the end of my assignments I always take a crew photo that is silly and lets us all let loose a bit.

Moving through the Pricing Fear

There are always many different fears that come up with running a photography business. One big fear is pricing one's own work.

It's the voice in your head that can be your worse enemy:

  • Reminds oneself that you aren't worth that much
  • That your competition is much cheaper and better
  • Convincing yourself the client can't afford your rates so you must lower them 
  • You really need the work
  • Justifying to yourself it will lead to more work
  • Justifying to yourself it will lead to a portfolio piece
 Don't lock yourself into a trapped mindset based on fear.

I find when I have priced out of fear, I typically don't get the assignment anyways. If I do, I end up beating myself up for taking a lower less profitable rate. In other words, I allowed those fears to lower my self worth.

Remember to always price out of what you know the assignment is worth. Keep in mind your cost of doing business and your self worth. There may be some cases where not making a profit is the best solution. But, you should make a profit and don't be your own worst enemy by talking yourself down.

Things to do before submitting the estimate:

  • Go for a walk by allowing nature and your motion to calm your fears and excitement
  • Get your mind off the estimate and be open to a new idea.
  • Share the estimate with a trusted friend in the business
  • Don't lock yourself into a trapped mindset. Stay open to a new way of pricing your project.