What’s in your tool kit?

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.

My favorite speedlight toy, er, I mean MODIFIER, is The Mag Mod system which I saw for the first time at WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International) last year.

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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.

studio_0110.JPG 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.

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Portfolio Shooting in Minneapolis | Studio Shooting in Dallas

If you’re interested in moving past the basic automatic settings on your camera and taking PRO quality photographs, we have a couple of great workshops coming up this summer.

dallas dog photographer teresa berg

First, Teresa is doing some portfolio shooting in Minneapolis on August 1st (and possibly August 2nd if we have enough people interested in a second day). This is for photographers with DSLRs that know a little bit about their camera but are tired of making “snapshots”. They’re looking to add depth and interest to their compositions and expand their tool kit when it comes to lighting and posing. You don’t need to be GOING PRO, but maybe you’d like your work to look like you are?

We won’t be shooting in a studio at all — it will be outdoors, with possibly some indoors but on location, not using studio-type lighting. This type of workshop will be  great learning as we move from location to location setting up shots and getting the lighting right.  No sitting in a classroom, no business lectures, no paperwork or handouts.  We will set up shots, troubleshoot, talk about composition and lighting as we go and learn, learn, learn.  Lots of walking and lots of fun.  The cost to you is $500 per day.  Maximum of 6 people in the group shooting with live models.

Secondly, Teresa is holding her third annual Studio Shooters Unleashed at her studio in Dallas on July 10-12.  July in Dallas is a great time to stay indoors and experiment with light and all types of equipment.  Learn the ins and outs of a working studio. We’ll use anything and everything to create beautiful portraits using Teresa’s props, backdrops and equipment. All you bring is your camera. Because we have a little more time, we’ll go deeper into exposure, metering, adding people to your shots, multiple dogs, litters of puppies, using unusual props, and more.  We cater in lunches so we can maximize our time. We’ll have an optional group dinner at the end of the first day so everyone can relax and get to know each other. Cost for this two day workshop is $995. Maximum of 10 people.

 teresa berg puppy images

 I you are interested in either of these workshops, please email us at TERESA@TERESABERG.com or call the studio at 972-250-2415 and we will send you the registration email with more details. Payment in full is due when you register and is non-refundable. If you find out later that you cannot attend, you can sell your seat to another photographer, but we do not issue refunds.

You can pay via paypal, credit card or check.   Discount hotel rooms will be available in just up the street for $64 per night at the Springhill Suites Marriott. This price includes breakfast and internet!  If you’re flying in, check flights into DFW or DAL.  Southwest Airlines recently opened up many affordable flights in and out of Dallas, so check them and American Airlines.  You will not need a rental car in Dallas as we usually have plenty of drivers to shuttle people back and forth from the hotel to the studio.  Lunches and snacks are included.

So grab a seat and launch a fun summer with your camera and a four-legged friend!

What’s happening for us in 2015

unleashed pet photography workshops

2015 looks like an exciting new year in photography and there’s always something going on in Pet Photography. Don’t forget to check our facebook group for updates.  Teresa is planning the summer STUDIO SHOOTERS UNLEASHED at her studio in Dallas tentatively schedule for July 10-12th. This is the perfect time to dive in to studio shooting with both feet and learn HANDS ON in a working studio. Stay tuned here for updates.

In early August, Teresa travels to the Minneapolis area and is possibly getting together a 1 or 2 day shooting workshop.

Keep shooting and check back with us soon for more details.

Unleashed Workshops – Hear about it from our graduates!

We went to the facebook page asked our Unleashed attendees from years past: “What was the one most important thing you got from Unleashed?”  And here are their responses:

“hard to pick just one.. but for me, I think learning how to properly price my work and time was most valuable. (And I love that we can still get advice from each other!) :-)”

“The opportunity to shoot in a real studio and out on location. Not watching someone else doing it or reading about. But getting to do it yourself!”

“The people. Being able to share stories, struggles and experiences with others and knowing they are there and willing to discuss anything I need too if I get stuck on something.”

“The possibilities. I had so very much to learn that I didn’t even know to reach for. My head practically exploded for all the information and I developed a framework to build on that’s kept me busy since. I could take it again, have just as much fun, and learn lots more that was beyond me the first time around. Hmmmm.”

“I’d say it’s a toss-up between lighting with off-camera flash, working with pets (and their parents!) in the studio, and pricing my work.”

“I agree–hard to pick one thing–but if I had to choose one thing I’d say the Business Structure and pricing! ok well that’s 2!”

“For me it was being able to being able to SEE the possibilities at a location. Being able to scout out the light, possible composition in the surroundings. Seeing the potential in the lines from different angles.”

“I think I said this in the little promo video too…the opportunity to use MY equipment and see what it could do. Most times when I would attend a seminar or workshop, I would come home with a list of things I wanted to purchase because that is what the instructor used. Unleashed was different – the instructors helped me use my equipment. I distinctly remember having trouble with my Pocket Wizards and explaining the issue I was having to Bev. She told me to stay and sit (now it sounds like I am a dog…!) in the session that we were having, while she left the room with my equipment, went outside and experimented with it until she figured out what was wrong. Considering that Bev shoots with a Nikon and I have all Canon gear, this was above and beyond. When Bev returned 30 minutes later, she had figured it out, showed me how to do it, and worked with me until I got it right. Teresa inspired me to work with rescue and volunteer groups and I honestly have had opportunities I would not otherwise have had as a result. More than that though, Teresa showed us HOW to do it, so I had a place to start and left with a plan. Together, both Bev and Teresa set me on the road to profitable pricing. I really couldn’t have done what I have without them!”

“DON’T DISCOUNT!”

“I too find it hard to pick…but I really loved meeting the people and having a support group…Still speak with so many of you regularly. This was the first place that I could get solid advice on pet-photography business and how to start my business. I loved that Bev Hollis & Teresa Berg were complete open books when it came to questions and advice and gave me such a good solid foundation for my business.”

“January doesn’t work out for me, but I’m hoping to do the full Unleashed if it’s offered later in the year. I did attend Teresa‘s Studio Shooters workshop and OMG was it awesome. I learned *so* much. Enough to feel confident buying my first lighting kit AND using it afterward :)”

“So hard to pick just one! I did the studio 2 day with Teresa and i learned so much and enjoyed the participants, the dogs, the dog owners, being in Teresa’s studio, and having our facebook page to keep in touch. But i guess my main goal was to learn how to photograph in the studio on a white background with studio lights and Teresa Berg did that and more! I have watched tutorials and read all about high key photography but could never get it in camera and Teresa made it possible for me to get it in camera and i love photographing with a white background. I am so happy and grateful to Teresa for teaching me that!!!! I really want to come in January to get more business info and photograph outdoors. Still trying to see if i can make it happen with my schedule.”

“ditto, hard to pick just one. the in-person planning consultation and ordering sessions have been so helpful!”

“All the information received is priceless. I would say the studio work helped me the most, but the location work helped me understand how to get those beautiful shots clients want to order as big prints! Of course the friendships forged with the other members of the group is a wonderful bonus! Bev and Teresa are the best! If you are on the fence about going…go ahead and jump on the go side, you will not regret it!!”

“I attended the Studio Shooter workshop with Teresa, and I think the most important thing I took away is that there is no “one way” to do something. What is important is the light and how we use it, but there’s a lot of ways to get there. I had no studio or lighting experience, but I learned enough and gained enough confidence through the class to set up a “mini-studio” at my animal shelter/adoption center, which is a very challenging environment for such a thing. Several animals have been adopted through the photos from this set up, and for me that is what it is all about. I am going to the Unleashed, Dallas to get some more experience and learn something about the business side of things. I’m also looking forward to meeting Bev Hollis and getting another perspective on things. Come join me!”

“I agree … so much to take in, but for me, probably the most eye-opening was pre-planning/taking control of the session … still working on it, and definitely considering UNLEASHED again when comes back to VA . Bev and Teresa rock!”

“It is difficult to pick just one thing. This workshop came at a critical time for me and helped me determine what I wanted to do. 🙂 I met some of the greatest people and continue to keep in touch. I really don’t think I would be as far along as I am today if I hadn’t taken the plunge and attended UNLEASHED. I am forever grateful!!!”

 

Unleashed VA is SOLD OUT!

We’re thrilled to have our next team of 16 ready to roll into northern Virginia this June.  We’re also glad to be back on the east coast! If you missed us this time and are interested in attending we’ll announce when and where in the coming months. For the team of 16 – get ready to have some fun!

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Lenses: What Do You Need?

As we review our curriculum for Unleashed VA we often look over our “most asked questions” list.  Lens choice is always on that list. Especially for photographers who are just entering the pet photography market.

Through the years I’ve found that I have 1-3 “foundation” lenses.  Those that, if every other thing in my bag malfunctioned, was lost or stolen, I could complete a session, give the client depth and variety, and still expect a good sale.

Those lenses will differ for everybody -depending on your style, whether you’re a studio shooter or location photographer, and your client base.

For me, my go to lenses are the Nikkor 70-200mm 2.8, Nikkor 85mm 1.4 and the Nikkor 17-35mm 2.8. These are my “base” lenses. If I wasn’t shooting pets I probably wouldn’t use the 17-35mm but it’s the perfect lens for “hip-shooting” and while I’ve found that style isn’t necessarily a big seller for me, it allows me to deliver a really well rounded and thorough session.

Please note, all of my lenses are FIXED APERTURES! I’d rather see you save for a fixed aperture lens rather than buy less expensive variable aperture lenses just to round out your kit.  You can do a lot with a 50 mm 1.4 lens!

After the set of base lenses I think it’s up to you. Give it some time. Develop your style and see what you like to shoot. And what your clients like to buy.  I’ve bought and sold many lenses through the years. Sometimes I’d try a lens because I liked a certain look, only to find my clients weren’t as enamored as I was. Sometimes I tried a lens, such as a perspective control or “tilt-shift” to find it really fit my style and added a touch of uniqueness to images I delivered.

The good news about quality lenses – you can sell them! I bought a fish-eye lens years ago because I liked the quirky distortion the lens rendered. I found, while it made my clients laugh, my client base, known for purchasing large fine art canvases, wasn’t really buying these shots.  So, I sold it for about 90% of what I paid.

Of course, renting is always a great way to go. Many Unleashed attendees rent a specific lens for the workshop. What a great way to try out a lens and get some great shots in the meantime!

Wherever you are in your pet photography path I recommend you go slowly, develop your style, and build a kit of quality lenses that will help you be a better photographer.

Below is one of my images, shot with that fish-eye that left my bag about 8 months after I purchased it!

June Bride
June Bride

 

Virginia – Are You Ready to Get Unleashed? Registration is OPEN!

We’ve finalized our plans for Virginia Unleashed 2013 and we couldn’t be more excited!

We start early and go late so book your flights accordingly. And bring your running shoes for some non-stop action!

DATES: June 8-10

Where: Northern Virginia (Dulles [IAD]), Leesburg and surrounding area

Cost: $1395 (see Workshop and Agenda tabs for more info on what’s included!)

Email us through our contact page here for registration links.  Hotel links will be available in the registration packet.  See you in Virginia and come ready to be Unleashed! There are only 15, 14, 13, 12,  11, 10, 9, 8,  7, 6, 5,4,3, 2 spots remaining so make your decision soon!

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