We just wrapped up our fourth annual Studio Shooters pet photography workshop and had a great group of photographers sharing ideas and learning. We covered so many different techniques that I know they left with their heads spinning — but hopefully we de-mystified some of the behind the scenes work that goes in to photographing dogs in the studio.
With a variety of backgrounds (thank you, Intuition Backgrounds for donating one of their awesome designs as a door prize) and lighting systems, each attendee can now choose the system that fits their needs. Whether it’s a portable set up that travels to client’s homes or studio strobes that live in a permanent creative space — they all got experience and can now choose which system they will focus on. And now, without fear — they are UNLEASHED to be even more creative with light.
Thanks to everyone for their willingness to look at things in a different way and share.
Our annual Studio Shooters workshop is right around the corner and we’ve got a great group of photographers flying in from around the country to explore creating light. In this world of “everybody’s a photographer” it’s more important than every to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Studio lighting doesn’t just happen in a studio –it applies to many lighting situations and is what will set you apart from all the hobbyists in your area. And that’s the name of the game. Setting yourself apart. One of my favorite quotes is from Steve Martin (the comedian) who says, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”
For me, that meant developing skills that other photographers in my area didn’t have. Interesting and creative ways of using light. I want someone to look at my images and 1) feel an emotional response, and 2) wonder “how did she do that?”
This workshop is really special to me. It’s a treat to take the time and shoot creatively (and not just try to get what the client wants). I get to drag out all my favorite pieces of equipment and try new things while we all learn together what’s possible. It’s hands on from the start, and you’re learning with YOUR camera in your hands. We have a great list of dog models lined up (and even a few people to pose with their dogs) for us to use.
We’ll learn studio strobes, continuous light, video light, speedlites, natural light in the studio, ring lights, and every combination of the above that we feel like exploring. Many of our attendees are setting up their first studio and need to figure out what lighting system to buy for the amount of space they have available. So bring your questions and we’ll tailor our learning to the needs of the group. But you have to sign up! The tuition is $995 which includes lunches and snacks. Our negotiated hotel rate at the nearby Marriott is $72 per night (which includes breakfast) and rental cars are optional since once you get to the hotel, we car pool back and forth to the studio and there are 200 restaurants within walking distance (really!).
Either Dallas airport will work (DAL or DFW) as they are both about a 20 minute cab ride from the hotel. American or Southwest airlines is usually the best option since they are both based in Dallas and have lots of flights in and out. We start at 2pm on Friday, July 8th so that people can even fly in that morning. We finish around 4 on Sunday afternoon.
Call the studio for more information or email me: Teresa AT Teresaberg.com
We all have a few tricks up our sleeves. You get in a jamb, the dog won’t cooperate, it rains, the client suddenly decides it’s a family photo session without telling you — you know, real life. I’ve said it many times. You can’t photograph pets unless you can think on the fly and think fast.
When it comes to lighting, you’re at the mercy of mother nature as well as your clients whims unless you have studio space. Let’s say for a moment you don’t have a studio. Do you know how to add supplemental light to your scene? Do you pack back up equipment? What if you arrive at the client’s home and they have dark red walls and dark hardwood floors and it’s a dreary day? Can you pull it off? A professional photographer knows what to bring (and often hopes they don’t have to use it). You can’t call yourself a pro if you only know one lighting setup!
At the very least, you need to know how to fully utilize a small portable flash. A great resource for that is The Strobist. If you’d rather learn from a book, check out The Speedlighter’s Handbook or The Hot Shoe Diaries . And of course, there are many great free videos online on YouTube What we hear from Unleashed attendees is “it’s so much easier to learn by DOING IT” or “I like working in small groups so I will remember each step” but we’re just helpful by nature — so there you go.
All of these cool silicone toys mount on to your speedlight with magnets and you can stack them — like the filters on top of the grid on top of the snoot if you want to — very quick and convenient to use.
We can talk about what we pack in to our camera bags for hours and no two photographers will agree, but as far as what tools to have right by your side during a photo shoot? I stand by my little basket of fun (see below). Paper towels are self-explanatory.
If you’d like to spend a few days digging through my pile of toys, er, I mean, EQUIPMENT — join us for the Studio Shooters Unleashed workshop in July. We have six seats left. We close the studio to the public and have a crazy indoor photographer’s shootfest with live models and backdrops and all sorts of lighting systems. It’s a great way to try before you invest a lot of money in a studio of your own. Call Teresa Berg Photography to ask questions or sign up. Tuition is $995 which includes lunches and snacks. 972-250-2415.
As part of our plan to make 2016 a growth year, I’m sharing some information on how to learn about selling your work commercially. Sooner or later, every pet photographer gets asked for publication (or licensing) rights for their images, and the industry has changed so much so fast that it’s hard to know how much to charge. Most of the time a photographer’s fee is based on what the client intends to do with that image and whether or not it will be exclusive for whatever their licensing period may be. If it’s exclusive you can’t legally use it for anything else. Online publication seems to pays the least while licensing for print and packaging (think labels on pet food) generally pays the most. And don’t forget greeting cards.
Beginning photographers will sometimes fall for the “trade for advertising space” type of agreement and, although it rarely benefits the photographer, sometimes it seems worth doing. The issue is often whether THEIR audience is your target market. Better Homes and Gardens magazine may need an image for a story on pets but will that make your phone ring? Probably not. Although it looks great on a resume.
Getty Images and other stock photography sites have “calculators”, like this one that may provide some insight, but I ran across this article recently written BY PHOTOGRAPHERS (anonymously) discussing what they have sold (or licensed) their images for to various magazines. I think most were referring to editorial projects, not commercial ones (which usually pay a little more) but I think it makes some excellent points.
I’m always surprised at how few people actually consult The Photographer’s Market — a book that used to be considered the BIBLE for selling photography. It may be a little old school, but I buy one every year and it’s filled with lots of actual names and contact information for people and agencies you can contact that actually buy photography. It always gives me the inspiration to think about my work in a different way. I hope it inspires you, too.
One last warning: Be sure your work will meet their spec requirements. They want high res, properly lit, sharp images with a minimal amount of photoshop trickery. And they want a surprising amount of studio shots. In other words, shoot it right and don’t try to cover your mistakes by faking a blurry background, etc. Want to learn studio shooting? Attend our Studio Shooters Unleashed -July 8-10, 2016 in Dallas. We only take 10 people per class, so contact us and reserve your spot. 972-250-2415 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Is it time to grow your skills? We all know that in order to be successful we can’t just copy our competitors. We have to set ourselves apart from the crowd. What makes your photography different from everyone else in your market area? Is it your lighting? Your use of locations or backgrounds? Is it the types of pets that you photograph? Your products?
I can guarantee that since we’ve been teaching pet photography (2009) we have seen lots of trends fall by the wayside. And every market area is different. There are also a lot more photographers specializing in pets. In short, if your skills don’t set you apart you won’t last. So how are your skills?
We all know that our clients buy what they see — so show them the type of photography you want to shoot. Do it well and stand your ground. Use those techniques creatively and consistently and YOU will be the trendsetter the others are copying. But before you become the trendsetter, you have really know the game. You need to master manual shooting, and know what your equipment can do. Our belief is that you can’t call yourself a professional if you only know one trick! So if this is your slow time of year, use this time to create a new slant on something and perfect what you do. Take a workshop, shoot in an unexpected place, visit some museums, shoot with a friend — in other words, invest in yourself.
Why not develop a LOOK BOOK like fashion photographers use to illustrate a brand? Even if all the shots in your look book are the same dog, why not get down to it and really explore your style. Create a book or an album of all the variations (and depth) of your style and show it to a prospective client. If you ONLY want to shoot on seamless paper in a studio setting then really explore what you can create.
This little pep talk is only the beginning. We’re going to be sharing more this year, both with online video and via our facebook page — and through workshops. We’ll post details here, first. Online learning is great, but workshops build community and give us both friendship and a safe way to learn and grow. Learn with us and we’ll all get better, together.
We held our first Portfolio Shooting Day in Minneapolis last week — and had a GREAT time. Even on a hot day in August we were able to set up lots of fun shots, try new lighting techniques and really focus on composition and working with our live dog models. The small group setting was perfect for lots of hands-on experimentation and our online image critique helped lock in the learning. Thanks to all who participated –and to our great models — we hope some of you will want to do the Studio Shooters Workshop next July and have fun in the studio (and air conditioning) for a change!
Interested in a Portfolio Shooting Day in YOUR area? Email us (see the contact page) or post your comments — we’ll see if we have enough interest and let you know!
The most common feedback we get every time we hold an Unleashed workshop is “Wow! I really didn’t think I’d like shooting in a studio — now I want to go home and set one up! And it’s really true that on a certain level, studio shooting is LESS complicated than shooting outdoors where the light and the environment is constantly changing. When we set up our lighting for a session we meter once, take a few test shots and we’re off to the races.
This is a shooting workshop. No business stuff, no contracts, no marketing — in other words, it’s all fun stuff. We work with live dog models and all of the images you shoot can go in YOUR portfolio.
But we know that not everyone is comfortable with hand-held light meters and different looking light modifiers and lights. So we start out with the most simple one-light portrait set up and build on it. Big lights, small lights, changing the angles and shooting and re-shooting. It really is magic. And it’s something that will CLICK and make sense because you’re actually doing it –with your own camera — and seeing the results instantly. You’re not watching a video or reading a book. You’re in it. Digital cameras make learning studio work so much easier!
If you’re on the fence, call us (at Teresa Berg Photography 972-250-2415) , we’ll answer your questions about the agenda and anything else you might want to know. But don’t wait, we’ve got only one seat left!