Dealing with Threats - Problems within the Industry

This week has been very strange for me. As of right now, it's only tuesday and I have already had a ton of crazy things happen! What I want to talk about today is something that actually happened to me yesterday. I am blessed to have won the 2012 WMBF Best Of The Grand Strand. I am humbled by how much support I received. Because of a large YouTube presence brought forth by one of my best friends, I won by a pretty large amount. This was what was encouraged by the voting system was to reach out on all social platforms to promote WMBF and the voting of local businesses. Because we are a tourist town, it is not limited to people who live here because all the businesses being promoted are in the tourist industry in one way or another. I in no way think I am the best photographer in Myrtle Beach, but I also know that the guys that I look up to, do not put forth any effort in this contest so I am more or less competing with other part timers and small businesses like me.

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5 Tips for Beach Family Photos

Excited about your upcoming vacation to the shore? How about some professional photos taken while you are there to commemorate the occasion! Now there are a few things you need to know before booking your family photos with a local photographer. Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

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1: Dont just pick anyone
- Picking your photographer is the largest hurdle for you to face. Not every professional in the area you are visiting is right for you. If you check for someone on Craigslist and that is their only way of showing you your work, don't be surprised if they seem inexperienced or unprofessional( I am not talking down on this type of marketing, Lord knows I received some very good jobs through Craigslist starting out. We all have to start somewhere). On the other hand, if you decide to use a company that is highly commercialized, be prepared to be up-sold with high pressure sales tactics. Many that work at these types of establishments know you came to spend money and want you to spend as much as possible of it with them. Find someone who seems easy going with you, personable and willing to immerse themselves in the family.
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2: Be relaxed and dress accordingly
- As a vacation/resort town native, I know how many people have their photos taken in matching outfits: Blue and Khaki, White and Khaki, White and denim. There is nothing wrong with this, in fact I kind of like it. You may be very comfortable in a white shirt and khakis, but maybe someone in your family isn't. An alternative would be to use complimentary patterns and colors, or different shades of the same color family. Uncomfortable dress is a dead giveaway when in front of the camera.
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3: Be understanding about lighting, timing and location
- A perfectly sunny day on the beach is great for splashing around in the surf, but in most cases, bright sunlight is a photography killer. The best time of the day for photos on the beach is in the evening in the hour before sunset. Especially on the east coast where the sun sets opposite of the beach which is easier to control than water over the beach. So, even though your photo time may hog a little more time before dinner than you would have hoped, it is totally worth it with the quality of light you are allowing your photographer to use for your photos.
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4: Let your kids be themselves - I know everyone has a different style of discipline and I am not Doctor Phil, I will not even try to tell you how to raise your kids because I have no idea myself! But what I can say from experience is that kids have a hard time sitting still and parents normally lose their cool at least once during a session because their kids are doing something crazy. That's ok! As long as they are just being kids and enjoying themselves the way they know how, most photographers are perfectly content with sitting and waiting until a toddler is happy to smile and look at the camera. If you force them, they will looked forced and Mr./Ms. Grumpy Gills will be forever captured in the 8x10 on the mantle.
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5: Plan your photos for early on in your stay - I know it may sound like a great idea to wait until you have a tan, but the risk is tremendous when dealing with the sun. When you want to spend your time on the beach soaking it in, the chances are you will have tan lines and your skin will look red when photographed
Hope this helps you understand and prepare for your beach photo session! Remember when in the Myrtle Beach area to contact me for your vacation/wedding photography needs!

A Photographer's Worst Nightmare

A Photographer's Worst Nightmare: So I recently had the worst week I have experienced thus far in my photographic career.

My camera crapped out on me. It didn't completely die but it was effective for not much more than a paperweight without some serious work. The shutter curtain snapped and needed to be replaced. the mirror moved perfectly and all the electronics were fine, but the sensor was not being exposed to anything because the shutter curtain was not raising. Luckily I have access to other cameras while my workhorse is in the shop getting some TLC.

This was not the worst part of my week.

Most feel that a photographer's worst nightmare might be damaging their gear or getting something stolen; I agree this leaves much to be desired on the fun scale but I have other things much more frightening in the works. One of my clients, did not like my work. It took a lot of wrestling with my pride to write this out but I think of it as a chance to share my growth and maybe help someone else. She called and was very nasty about how much she disliked the work I had done for them. Because they had been traveling, I could not even offer a re-shoot. I am aware that many people complain on vacation in hopes to get things for free. I have worked in the resort industry for over 4 years now and I run in to this all the time. But the problem was that looking back at what I sent her, I realized something: I didn't like my work either. I had never sent out work I didn't like before, but these I truly would never show and that was the problem. I at once offered her a refund. I would never make someone pay for photos I didn't even like myself. But the hardest part was realizing, for the first time, I had not worked hard enough to make these photos what they should have been. I understand that everyone has these types of things happen and I try my best to make sure my clients are as happy with my service as possible. That is why, I buckled down and made sure my next photo shoot would be the best experience I have ever offered.

I scouted longer, I searched for open shade, I timed the golden hour perfectly, I remembered everyone's names and used them frequently and most of all, I provided some of the best photos that I think I have ever taken. Being a former professional ballroom dancer, I have learned (and have tried to overcome some of it) how to be confident, over confident even and I use this to my advantage in some cases; but I now feel like I don't have to put on a show as photographer. I am comfortable in my style, I learn more every day, and I know at the end of the day that people are happy with my work. Hope you enjoy some of the photos from the shoot:


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P.S.: For the camera geeks out there who are interested, I shot all of the photos for this particular shoot with a Nikon D3200 I had on loan and a Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Thanks for reading!

5 Reasons Why You Should Join a Photo Group.

With everyone already in the new year swing of things, the new has worn off and sometimes you feel a little sluggish trying to move forward with your photo projects. I know myself, I couldn't even pretend to commit to a Photo a Day project because I knew I would never keep up with it. I know I know, if I never put forth effort to maintain a project I will never fulfill one, but one of my resolutions of 2013 was to create and continually post on my blog and here you are reading it! #1) MOTIVATION The largest part of this feeling of losing touch with your projects comes from losing motivation and inspiration. Poets and Composers had muses, rock stars have coma inducing drugs (I don't condone the use of the drugs by the way. Terrible terrible things, they are.) and for many photographers, including myself and most likely you, our inspiration comes from our peers and their work. Not to say that we cant be inspired by our surroundings, but when you "surround" yourself with those whose surroundings are different than your own, how can you not help but be inspired by them?

#2) HONEST CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM We have all been in that situation, where you share some of your work on a photography forum. You feel so proud of your work but you know there are things that need to be fixed, but you either receive nothing or you get ripped to shreds by someone you can't even verify is a photographer. I am not saying that forums can't be helpful, but with your group mates all there sitting around a screen or a print, you will see expressions and opinions of your photo right from the start. With everyone helping with their own opinions and skill levels, you will get a more honest answer than from people you have no true connections to.

#3) FRIENDLY COMPETITION What's better than to have a photo contest with your friends? The winner could just have his meal paid for when you all meet up but knowing that you grew as an artist for the sake of doing the best you can is a very wonderful experience. The reason I think this works so well is because you all spend time trying to build each other up while strengthening yourself.

#4) SOCIAL ACTIVITY It's great to have friends that love the same thing you do. You can go shooting together, have a friend to geek out over gear with and gain a strong bond with your peers.

#5) REFERRALS This is one of the most important, if you have 5 friends that are landscape and nature photographers and someone is looking for a portrait photographer, they are much more likely to throw your name out there. From the other end of the spectrum, if you know a few wedding photographers, you have a great chance of getting second shooter jobs or assistant gigs that help pay the bills in between your National Geographic assignments.

So there you have it, photo groups. You need one, so go find one. If you can't find one, start one! Put a few ads on craigslist or up in your university. You will be surprised by some of the replies, you receive. There are many people out there who love taking photos and who are looking to get better. So get out there and get some photo friends!