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Reviewed on Fundy! April 16 2015, 0 Comments

 

Fundy is a guy that I really respect in this industry.  His products drastically speed up your design workflow and his new Album Builder v6 will completely change the way albums are designed from here forward.  

When he reached out to me to see if I would be interested in having the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit reviewed on his blog, I was pretty pumped :)

I sent over the retoucher and he sent it to one of their top pros, Britney Gardner of Turn Loose The Art and Willow Album Designs.  This way it was an independent and objective review since I didn't know Britney at the time...  However, a week after the review was posted we had sales in 18 countries and I would end up meeting Britney at WPPI and basically dancing with her in my trade show booth because I was so happy to see her, haha!

You can read the independent review here! 


An Interview with Hiram Trillo April 13 2015, 0 Comments

When I was 22 years old I came out with my first editing software, Life. Camera. Actions.  Before I had even told anyone about the website, a photographer by the name of Hiram Trillo contacted me and said he thought it looked cool and that he would be interested in writing a review of it for a company called Photobiz.  I checked out his work and was really blown away with what I saw.  I sent him one of the first ever copies of LCA and had the chance to briefly meet him at WPPI.  A few months later I was photographing a wedding in Dallas, Texas and Hiram offered to let me stay at his house.  I hadn't known such kindness from someone who was basically a stranger and didn't want to intrude so we met up for dinner instead.  He was telling me about a workshop he was planning on doing in Mexico and I told him that I thought it would be fun to go down and hang out.  After we spoke more about it, Hiram asked me if I would like to be one of the instructors.  I was completely humbled an honored and jumped on the opportunity.  For me, it was a turning point in my life and my career because I had never had the chance to teach photography.  Hiram and I have since taught workshops all over the world and I am forever grateful for what he did for me.  He is genuinely like a brother to me and I am honored to call him my friend.

Aside from being an outstanding person, Hiram is also one of the best damn photographers on the planet.  His work is constantly evolving and his images blow me away on a regular basis.  I hope you enjoy this interview with him and strongly encourage you to follow his work or attend one of his workshops if you ever get the chance!

So tell us a little about yourself, Hiram!  Where are you from, what type of photography do you specialize in, and how would you define your style?

-I was born in Camargo, Chihuahua Mexico on a moonlit night of September on the year 1977. It was like most nights, but this night would be one that lived in infamy….JK but I was, born in Mexico, but now live in Fort Worth, TX with my family.

-I am a wedding photographer and as to defining my style, that’s a hard one. The best way and what I most liked was what a client said to me a few years ago “We loved you because all your weddings look different. They are shot and represent the couple, we liked that your style was no style at all.” So I guess that is it, I love to focus and use my clients for inspiration so that the imagery is for them.

How long have you been doing this professionally? 

- I have been shooting for about 20 yrs now. Professionally I have no idea, it depends on how people define it. My first wedding that I charged was in May of 2009, but I had shot a few weddings before that.

Was there a defining moment when you decided you wanted to be a photographer for a living?

-I shot a friends wedding and loved everything about it. Then I decided to become a wedding photographer after my own wedding when our photographer basically lied to us about how long she had been shooting, how many weddings she had shot, and the work that she delivered was not at all what was expected from a “professional” I made the choice to not let another couple go through that and dove in head first. 

What did you do before you were a photographer?

-I was a first grade teacher.

What is your favorite thing about being a photographer?

-That I am trusted with such a special task. I get to capture life as it happens on one of the most amazing days of a persons life. That where I got my hashtag and use it constantly #LifeIsWorthCapturing

What are some challenges and benefits to having a home studio?

-Challenges are that many people think that because you don’t have an office or a studio you do not deliver high quality work, or that you are not professional enough.

-Benefits, the overhead of having a studio/office is minimal and with that I can control my pricing, what clients I want to work with, and give personal attention to each an every one of the. I only shoot 24 weddings a year and love that I have that control. If I had an office I would have to increase the amount of work I would take on to offset the cost of overhead.

How has starting a family changed your photography or your business?

-You can see a very dramatic change in my “style” of imagery from where I first started. At the beginning I was very technical, and had ton’s of gear. After I got married I became softer and with practice I didn’t have to be as technical since it just became natural. After the birth of my kids my eye and heart became one. I became even more stingy with my shots and looked for moments that would define that person. I began to look at life as instants and those instants as memories. I became a collector of memories, a follower of dreams, a keeper of time if you will. I chase them to wanted to freeze them with every snap of my shutter.

You’ve photographed weddings and taught workshops all over the world and won some very impressive awards like the WPPI Grand Award but what has been the highlight of your career so far?

-The day my wife and kids sat in for the first time on one of my presentations. To see them there supporting me and to see their faces is beyond words. I do what I do not for awards of recognition, but for my family and clients. I have been lucky enough like you said to win some awards, but to be honest all the credit goes to my clients who trusted me enough to let me capture them as they truly are simple and beautiful.

What has been the most embarrassing thing that has happened in your career? 

-I put on a few pounds (baby weight), and halfway through a wedding as I was laying down on the ground I heard a terrible sound coming from my backside…I knew right then that my pants had literally disintegrated. So had to finish the family portraits with my suit jacket tied around my waist, then headed straight to the closest mall to buy a new pair of slacks. One thing that I learned from all that, make sure you wear same color underwear as your slacks J 

If you could only show one image to a potential client, which one would you choose and why? 

-That is a hard one. I don’t have one single image that I can say that is my favorite, especially since I look for images to represent each of my clients wedding. So I am going to cheat, I would make a collage of images to show :)

Where do you find your artistic inspiration?

-I get inspiration from my clients. I get to know them very well to better understand them. Once I do that I just let them be them and I direct them when necessary.

You and I have been lucky enough to teach photography workshops all over the world together.  What workshop has been the most memorable and why? 

-Yes, yes we have. I have loved everyone of them put one that comes to mind would be our first Casa Noble workshop. It was the first time I think that people recognized who we were and it was such a small group in such an amazing area that we all got to share with each other. It was when we were expecting our daughter, and the images we captured are still blowing my mind and have seen many of them inspire others (levitation, light painting, and those agave fields)

You are well known for your high fashion style of off-camera-flash.  What is the most common mistake you see photographers make when learning OCF? 

-They think that equipment defines how good you are. They develop EAS (Equipment Acquisition Syndrome) and try to buy the latest and “greatest” Light is light no matter where is coming from. Yes expensive equipment will give you a few extras but focus on developing your craft and learning how light works before spending the money and not knowing how to use the tools you have. Practice!

 Aside from the photos you take, what is it that sets you apart from your competition both in your business and your personality?

-I see my clients as people and not as dollar signs. I would rather have a life time client where I capture them through out their life than to charge them an arm and a leg and never see them again. Also I let them inspire me, I don’t look through wedding magazines for the latest trends. Trends die, great photographs do not. I always like to shoot with the next generation in mind.

You’ve had the opportunity to photograph weddings all over the world.  How do you market your destination wedding photography? 

-I wish I knew, and when I find out I will write a book and become the next Richard Branson. I actually started backwards, started booking more international weddings than local, how I just wanted to travel and when the opportunity came up we took it.

What has been the coolest destination you have photographed a wedding?  What is your dream destination for a wedding?

-I have several, but Spain was amazing and my grand award image came from that wedding. I think its because it was the first wedding I shot how I currently shoot now. I was married and our first child had been born so my eyes were wide open.

What are some of your goals for 2015 and beyond?

-Well I just started Trillo & Son Leather Co. and is doing better than I expected, especially since I have not done a full launch and we have clients all over the world already. I love working with my hands and this is another venture that helps me express my artisan side. (Shameless plug)

-Also I want to keep traveling with my family to show my children that the world is a great place and that we should not take it fro granted.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting a photography business, what would it be? 

-Be true! Do not lie to your clients, practice your craft and give them more than they are expecting. I live my life according to this quote from one of my favorite films “The Grey”

“Once more into the fray…

Into the last fight I’ll ever know…

Live or die on this day…

Live of die on this day.”

It’s such a powerful poem and helps to remind me that you must fight everyday for what you want. 

Can you share with us 10 of your favorite images?

Hiram Trillo is a professional wedding, fashion, and lifestyle photographer based out of Fort Worth, Texas.  He is known for his epic use of off-camera flash and ability to capture beautiful photojournalistic moments.  Hiram has taught photography workshops and photographed weddings all over the world and is the recipient of numerous awards for his work.  He was also named one of Rangefinder Magazine's 30 Rising Stars in 2013.

In addition to his photography, Hiram also owns Trillo and Son Leather Co and creates handmade leather camera straps, belts, and wallets. 

See more of Hiram's inspirational photography at www.hiramtrillo.com 

Hiram also does something called "Moving Images" which will blow your mind.  Watch the video below to see what I mean!

 

Hiram Trillo Photography Moving images from Hiram Trillo on Vimeo.


Photography Awesomesauce is Raving about the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit! March 30 2015, 0 Comments

I'm excited to share another great review about the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit!  I could talk about how great the product is all day, but it is nice when others do it for me :)

The folks over at Photography Awesomesauce got their hands on a copy of the LRT and have declared it "the key to your busy season editing."

Click HERE to read the review and find out how the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit can save you tons of time this year!


Up and Coming - An Interview With Austin Pekarek March 03 2015, 1 Comment

In 1999, when I was just 12 years old, I taught myself HTML, designed my first website, and started selling sunglasses online.  While my friends were out playing games in the summer, I was at my computer learning how to run a business and market a product.  I have had the entrepreneurial bug ever since.  

I started my photography business when I was 18 and at 19, I received a message from a photographer (and serial entrepreneur) named Adam Schmidt.  Adam ran a photography forum that I contributed on frequently and he sent me a private message with the most encouraging words I've ever received.  He told me how far ahead of the game I was at my age and what all he KNEW I would achieve in my career.  The message still brings me to tears on occasion because it was the first time someone with real world experience had ever said something like that to me, and it made a tremendous impact on my career.

As I have continued in my career, I have always found it important to reach out to young entrepreneurs and give them the same encouragement that my friend Adam gave to me.  Today I want to share with you a photographer who started his photography business while still in his early years of high school and who I believe can be a future leader in this industry.  So without further adieu, let's talk with Austin Pekarek!   

-Brett Jarnagin

So tell us a little about yourself, Austin!  Where are you from, what type of photography do you specialize in, and how would you define your style? 

My name is Austin Pekarek. I currently reside in a small town in Southern Missouri called Mountain View. The town population is around 2,700! I am currently 18 almost 19, and look forward to seeing what the future holds for me!  I really specialize in wedding, and senior photography. However, part of growing a business is expanding what fields we work in and this year its a goal of mine to really market more to families and children.  I am also working on expanding into high volume photography like school portraits, proms, sports contracts (aside from the ones I already hold.) It's hard to define my style because I work with such a broad spectrum of clients, however, I believe I have a simple, yet elegant style that showcases people and makes them look the best that they can. 

I started my photography business when I was 19 and was definitely the youngest photographer I knew of at the time.  You are only 18 and you have already built a successful business.  When did you get started running your business and when did you decide this is what you wanted to do for a living?
 
From the moment that I picked up the camera that I was given, I knew that I was going to love this hobby I had found. I mainly shot still life photography at the age of 13. Then I realized that I could turn this into a business. I started shooting for the yearbook at my school, then the news paper, then getting paid by clients, then getting hired on at news stations as a freelancer, and now to where I am today full time working around the clock for the most amazing clients in the world. Only the last two years have I decided that this is what I am going to do for a living. I have been able to connect with so many people, and gain so many new friends that I don't think I could visualize myself doing anything else. I really have to step back from time to time and look at my life and realize how blessed I am and how hard work really does pay off. From a young age, I learned that nothing in life is free, that has always stuck with me. I have worked for everything that I own up to this point of my life and I know I will continue to do the same as I age. 
 
What was the biggest challenge of starting at such a young age?

 Starting out so young, the main thing that was always hard, especially when I wasn't able to drive, was trust. I felt like people really undervalued what I could do. Many looked past me because they believed I was only a teenager with a camera. Thankfully, those clients who trusted me have got me where I am today and I am ever so grateful that they put trust in me and still continue to work with me to this day! I am grateful that now I don't look my age, so people hardly ever believe I am 18, almost 19. I look more around the age of 22-24, I believe that has helped me gain some credibility as well. 
 
What has been the biggest benefit of being a young photographer?
 
The biggest benefit to being a young photographer is really quite simple. Being young does have its edge.  Only being graduated from high school less than a year, I am able to connect pretty well with the seniors and younger wedding clients! I know what the younger generation likes and I am able to provide that. Most of my seniors parents always talk about how back in their day senior portraits were taken in studio in a chair with lights and a camera. The whole idea of senior photography has evolved into something amazing, its nothing like it used to be! 
What is your favorite thing about being a photographer?
 
I love almost everything about being a photographer. I am able to meet some amazing people, travel the country, see new places, connect with people, and do what I love all at once. I honestly don't know of another job that would allow me to do this. Of course I could get a 9 to 5, have set hours, and when I leave work, I have nothing to worry about. Whats the fun in that though? I love knowing that I always have something to finish or something to complete. It makes me strive to work harder and harder. I can honestly say, being a photographer is one of the most rewarding jobs that there is. 
 
What is your least favorite thing about being a photographer?
 
As much as I do love being a photographer, there are parts of this job that I do dislike! The biggest thing that always sets me back, is the back end work. Post production, album design, print ordering, etc. I often find myself up late at night doing these jobs that I really need to not be doing. This year, I have made it a goal of mine to have these jobs outsourced so I am able to do the parts of this job that I love - shooting, connecting, and selling! 
 
What has been the highlight of your career so far?

This is a hard one. There have been so many times in my career that almost make me break down and cry because I can't believe what just happened!  I will say that the highlight of my career would have to be the time I attended FotoChaos 2.0. This was my first time attending a conference and WOW, the support was crazy! I was able to connect with some of the most amazing people in the world, many of which I still talk to today! I still owe everything that has happened to me to David and Whitney Scott. Meeting them has to be one of the highlights of my career. 
 

I once knocked over a 150 lb wooden kneeler at the start of a wedding ceremony… I bumped it while trying to get in position and turned back to watch it tip over and land with a huge crash.  I had about 20 people come up to me after the wedding cracking up about it.  I played it off pretty well but I felt like a huge jackass in the moment, haha.  What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you in your career?  

haha! This is great! I can honestly say, I haven't had any moments in my career that have embraced me too badly. One time I was shooting a senior session and the whole session I didn't realize my zipper on my jeans was down. The mom of the senior finally told me at the end, the whole drive home I was just hoping that I didn't flash anyone. 

Lightroom or Photoshop and why?
 
I use both. Lightroom is great for those sessions that don't need cloning, or any type of work that requires the subject to be altered. I also like the simplicity of Lightroom and how it can be used to edit images quickly. I also prefer Photoshop if I need to work with layers. I love the ability to use layers and masks to help better an image where its needed. It's a hard pick between the two because both are such powerful tools that can be used alone to create great images, but together they are amazing. 

If you could only show one image to a potential client, which one would you choose and why?
 
I would show this picture because the impact it has. its printed on metal in my studio, and clients always Ooo and agh over it! 

Can you share some images of your studio space?
 
Only showing the outside as the inside still isn't quite the way I want it, sooner or later it'll be perfected! 
 
The most successful business people I know are avid readers.  What is your favorite business book and how has it helped you in your business?

I have really enjoyed many books. However, the most popular one that I have read, and adore, is the Seven Levels of Communication. This book has taught me everything I know on how to communicate with people, and how I need to treat people in order to get referrals! 

You recently attended the SYNC conference.  Can you share what the most valuable piece of information you took away from that experience?

Attending SYNC was a crazy experience in its self. I'm only 18, I flew across the country to go to a convention where I knew very few people, and my parents were okay with it. That alone scared me. Anyway, the most valuable piece of information that I have took from SYNC is that money does not define how successful we truly are. Some photographers are happy make $50,000 while others need their studios to do $1 million a year in sales. This year really taught me to find my happy place. I believe I am almost there! 

Who are some photographers that inspire you?

Rod Evans, Gary Box, Bambi Cantrell, just a few who I love! 

Aside from the photos you take, what is it that sets you apart from your competition both in your business and your personality?

I believe the way that I treat my clients is a huge part of why I am set apart from my competition. I treat each client like a friend, I text them, message them on Facebook, put them in statues, I do things that friends do with their friends, but I do them with my clients. It makes them feel at home, which is exactly what I want them to feel when they leave my studio. I can talk to my clients like they have been my friends for years. It makes their experience much more pleasurable. 

Personality wise, I honestly don't know why people like my personality. I am just very laid back, modest, and simple minded... there isn't much to like personality wise. I wake up every day, put my jeans on like everyone else, and drink my coffee. 

What has been your most effective marketing strategy for bringing in more senior and wedding clients?

Bringing in senior clients, I must say the most effective way I have done that is word of mouth. I also found great results in what I done with a local coffee shop. Most of the high school seniors after school will go into the coffee shops, and get coffee, sandwiches, soups, etc. I made cup coasters that had my logo on them and offered a 10% discount if they mentioned they saw the coasters and booked with my business. It was a huge success! Clients were messaging me pictures of the coasters left and right! 

For weddings, word of mouth is HUGE. I have traveled the US doing weddings the last two years and it's all thanks to word of mouth and Facebook. I can honestly say even though I have to pay for people to see my posts on Facebook it is well worth it because it reaches people outside of my market that I would otherwise not be able to market to without spending thousands and thousands of dollars!  It's made the world a very small place! 

Part of building a remarkable business is doing things that are worth remarking about.  I find that those are often the things that clients don’t expect.  What do you do in your business to go above and beyond your client’s expectations?  

Phone calls, quick reply times, hand written notes, gifts for clients. Those are all things that really help clients feel at home, when a client gets a hand written note, and a gift from their photographer, it makes them feel special. Of course they're going to tell their friends to go to someone who gives them a gift, I know I would! 

What are some of your goals for 2015 and beyond?

This year I am hoping to hit 100-125 seniors and grow my school portrait business. I am very excited about that!  In the further future, I would love to have opened multiple studio locations with photographers working under me. That's something that I am looking forward to doing and hoping that I can make happen before I turn 30!  I have 11 more years to make this happen! 

If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting a photography business, what would it be?

A lot of photographers are very arrogant, a lot of them get a ego that surrounds them, they get used to the "idea" that everyone likes their pictures, and that everyone loves what they do. I will tell you, DO NOT, get a ego with this industry, it will KILL you. Stay level headed, keep educating yourself, and never think of a plan B... plan B only distracts from Plan A... forget plan B. 

 

 Austin Pekarek is a professional photographer from Mountain View, Missouri who specializes in senior portraits and wedding photography.  He started his photography business in high school and continues to grow it each year.  See more of Austin's work at his website or follow him on Facebook here!


An Interview With Vanessa Joy February 18 2015, 0 Comments

Today I am excited to share an interview with a dear friend of mine and incredible photographer/business person, Vanessa Joy!  I met Vanessa at a conference in New Jersey about 5 years ago and have watched as her photography and speaking career has really blown up and has taken her to some remarkable places.  Since she was one of the first photographers in the world to get a copy of the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit and has been kind enough to rave about it all over the world, I figured she would be a great fit for our first LRT interview!

So tell us a little about yourself, Vanessa!  Where are you from, what type of photography do you specialize in, and how would you define your style?

I'm from the great state of New Jersey, one of the biggest wedding marketings in the country. It's great because I specialize in weddings, but challenging because I'm one of a very large pool of natural light style wedding photographers in my area and need to find new ways to differentiate my work every day.

How long have you been doing this professionally? 

I've been a professional photographer for 11 years.

Was there a defining moment when you decided you wanted to be a photographer for a living?

Ironically, for the longest time I thought that I couldn't make a living being solely a photographer. My first photography mentor was a high school teacher during the week and a photographer on the weekends. I thought that's how photographers make it work so I became a Spanish teacher the same year I started my wedding photography business.

Two and a half years into teaching, I got married myself and didn't love going to work in the morning, only to come home to my husband who I could say hi to right before marching upstairs to get to work on my photography business. Thankfully, my business was growing exponentially and I was able to make the decision to leave my teaching career and pursue photography exclusively. Though, I had to quit teaching before the school year even ended! 

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I've loved being able to take my knowledge of teaching and use it to teach photography and business. Creating www.LearnPhotoVideo.com and speaking at photography conventions and workshops has been a blast and I enjoy passing on my experience to other photographers.

What has been the most embarrassing thing that has happened in your career?

Being sick on a wedding is no fun at all, but combo that with a wicked, uncontrollable 5 minute long coughing attack while posing the family photos. and that just takes the cake.

Where do you find your artistic inspiration?

Mentors and colleagues in the industry as well as bridal resources like Pinterest. I figure if my brides are inspired by the imagery there, then I should be too!

You are very active in promoting your business on social media.  What are some of your social media strategies and from what platform do you find the most clients?

With social media being as powerful as it is, I find its beneficial to cast a wide net and make sure you're moderately active in as many platforms as possible. I use a tool called Everypost to help streamline my interaction across multiple social media outlets. I've had clients find me on Facebook, Pinterest, Google and Instagram. It's definitely worth the effort to incorporate your social media into your marketing plan.

You are a marketing junky and avid reader - what book has had the biggest influence on your business and why?

EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey is one of my favorites. It doesn't have as much to do with marketing as it does with business overall. It has a solid advise on how to run a business effectively and some tough to hear advise on being an entrepreneur. 

What are the top 5 books you would recommend for photographers or business owners?

You can view that here. :-)

You offer same-day-slideshows at the wedding reception.  Do you do this for every wedding?  Can you tell us a little about how you put that together, display it, and what benefits you get from it in your business?

I display a digital picture frame on a small cocktail table with roughly 30 pictures on it at every wedding reception I can. Additionally, I enjoy surprising my brides and grooms with a same day album as well. It's the best marketing I do for my business and it absolutely thrills my clients. I have an assistant help me putting everything together the night of, and because of this same day edit process, I'm able to complete a TON of work that most photographers do the week after the wedding. Things like uploading photos to Facebook, getting my blog post ready and having photos ready to submit to get published is all done at the reception. You can learn more about that and my overall marketing process here.

What has been the coolest destination you have photographed a wedding?  What is your dream destination for a wedding?

I've been lucky enough to shoot in Napa, London, NYC, Mexico and St. Lucia. My favorite destination, however, was a little nursery and garden in Pennsylvania that held one of the most intimate weddings I've ever witnessed. 

You can see the photos of that wedding here, and the wedding film of it here

If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting a wedding photography business, what would it be?

Never stop learning and learn as much as you can by working for other photographers before branching out on your own. I see too many new photographers thinking the first step to a photography career is to start a business, open a website and shoot a wedding. The best thing you can do is to learn and make mistakes by working for someone else's business rather than potentially ruining your own before it starts. 

Can you share some more of your favorite images?

 I also wanted to share this video Vanessa made about the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit after we launched at WPPI last year!  Use code JOY10 at checkout to save $10 on the LRT!

 

  NJ Wedding Photographer, Vanessa Joy, is a professional wedding photographer with an emphasis on photojournalistic photos with a vintage and rustic flair.  She focuses on creating a unique boutique experience with each of her couple's wedding photography. Vanessa also teaches workshops and speaks at conferences around the world.  You can view more of Vanessa's work at www.vanessajoy.com and get some great tips from her and her husband, Rob Adams, at www.learnphotovideo.com

 


The BLINK Conference from the Diary of Silver Lane December 02 2014, 0 Comments

With Lightroom Retouching Toolkit and Life. Camera. Actions., I have had the opportunity to attend around 50 conferences and trade shows.  I have experienced conferences as massive as 20k+ photographers and as small as 100.  Earlier this year I was exhibiting at SYNC Seniors and I had the pleasure of meeting Ike and Tash who run the BLINK Conference.  They are very energetic and sharp folks so I checked out their website when I got home.  They have a intimate, boutique style conference with a killer speaker line-up including Vanessa Joy, Amanda Holloway, and Zach & Jody Gray to name a few!  Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it this year because I had to travel (it was sold out anyway!) but I really wanted to be there.  So what could I do other than get ahold of someone's personal diary of their trip?  I reached out and found a very talented photographer named Silver Lane who was willing to share her experience with the world!  Silver writes about both the conference and the overall experience.  She depicts what I know to make a great conference - excellent teachers, lots of likeminded people, and an overall amazing time!  I am hoping that I will be able to make it to next year's conference and I hope to see you next November at BLINK!

Find out more about The BLINK Conference at www.blinkconference.com

Thank you, Silver, for sharing your experience with us (and congrats on your BLINK Award!)

-Brett JarnaginLRT Creator

 

"Imagine a place where you are surrounded by people who “get you”, A place where those same people want to see you grow and wish to inspire your photography business. A place where people ignite the creative fire in your soul. That place is The BLINK Conference.

When I originally signed up for BLINK, I knew no other photographers that would be attending, and I walked away BLINK with more friends than I can count. To the people wondering how, after three days, I could call these people friends, to them, I say “what is a friend?” Someone who cheers you on? Someone you can call on for help? Someone who smiles when you accomplish a goal? When I departed BLINK I took all of that with me and more.

There is just so much about BLINK that I want to share. So, I’ve decided to allow you into my BLINK Diary. It was not written with the intent to be shared. Please know this is a personal look at BLINK, through my eyes.

From the BLINK Diary of Silver Lane:

12:23 am Thursday November 6

Today I arrived in beautiful sunny Scottsdale! I shared a SUV from the airport with Suzanne and some fellow BLINK attendees. We hadn’t met before but had chatted in a private blink group. She was sweet enough to wait for me at the airport. Hotel Valley Ho was breath taking with such interesting architecture and an old school vibe. I’m really digging this place. I checked into BLINK as soon as I arrived at the hotel. I received a swag bag filled with goodies! A BLINK shirt, water-bottle, a BLINK magazine, and discounts and freebies galore!

My room is gorgeous! I can’t wait to show my kids. They’re going to flip! I ordered the zu-zu burger from the room service menu and just relaxed on my patio to prepare for the Kick-off party.


The Kick off party was on THE ROOFTOP and it was a blast! There was a large BLINK logo projected onto the side of the hotel. I felt like it was a scene from Batman, and I was some kind of super hero photographer, exactly where I’m supposed to be, almost as if I’ve been called here to fulfill an unrevealed purpose.

With all these amazing photographers walking around, sharing, and having fun, it really was like a scene from a movie! The rooftop party was rocking with a live DJ, a cash bar, and a photo-booth from Snap. I have to say the photo-booth was my favorite part of the night. The booth was set up to allow me to text the pictures straight to my phone! (legit, I know) OhSnizap sure knows how to throw a party! I was surprised to see many of the speakers hanging out and talking with the attendees. I can already tell this is a conference I am going to like!

9:52 am November 8

I didn’t get to write yesterday, so I’m playing catch up this morning. Yesterday (Friday Nov 7) was so busy and full of information. I awoke at 6:30am and wasn’t back in my room until midnight. The actual conference activities were from 8:30am-7pm. The rest was mingling, networking and fun. Although I already have a core group of girls whom I like to hang with, but I’m trying to branch out and meet everyone here. I love meeting people and hearing their stories. BLINK is filled with talented artist.

Yesterday’s conference began with Vanessa Joy and her husband Rob. They were full of information, what I liked best were the tools that they shared. I love when people are willing to share what works for them and what they actually use.

She showed us how Lightroom tool kit works, her presentation was met with “Oooss and Ahhs” from the audience. I was left pondering how I’ve never heard of such an amazing tool before this conference! Then she showed us “scripts” and my editing life will be FOREVER changed!! I can’t wait to get my hands on those products! With a slew of other tools and a blow your mind wedding workflow, Vanessa Joy set the tone of my first learning day at BLINK with practical tools and great applicable advice for my business.

My first breakout session was with Kaci Luvi and Latasha Haynes. They set up the breakout similar to “The View”, as it was more of an ongoing dialogue of questions and answers. We were able to hear both perspectives and each answered individually. The group covered everything family photography from educating our clients to styling our shoots.

After the breakout, Mr. Ross Oscar Night spoke on MOMENTS. He really helped me to learn how to truly connect with my clients. His work is AMAZING. He is unlike any other photographer out there. Ross is a truly genuine person, and I’m so happy to have gotten the opportunity to meet him. 

After Ross’ inspiring speech, we all headed outdoors to a beautifully catered lunch. I equate the set-up to that of a wedding reception. Each round table had a beautiful centerpiece designed by Supposey. The food was delicious, the scene was beautiful, and the company was great. With all of the sharing and learning taking place, we were a little behind on schedule, so we hurried on to hear the next speaker.

The Boudoir Divas were up next. Kim and Marissa covered how to take a client from beautiful to GLAM. They covered the photographer to client dialogue that will most make a client feel comfortable, confident, and beautiful. They also spoke on poses and wardrobe. They are quite the duo, and if I had to sum them up with one word I’d say adorable. They were sweet enough to offer us a special discount code to their shop. I will definitely be taking advantage of that.

My second breakout was with Alex Evijen. Alex is an amazing stylist. I was excited to hear her speak on all things Pinterest. She discussed how to gain followers and post attention getting pins. She backed her speech with statistics. I will definitely be implementing her suggestions when I get home. I wonder how many followers she has on Pinterest?

After my 2nd breakout I headed back to the main conference area to find sangrias, snacks, and the spa staff. For a brief moment I questioned if I had walked into the right room! Then, Latasha announced we were welcome to choose from the custom spa menu as to what fit us best. I decided on a much needed back massage I could get use to this!

Our day closed out with Amanda Holloway speaking on “marketing the experience”. Amanda is a great speaker. She is captivating and informative. My biggest take away from Amanda was to “stop thinking like a photographer”. I love hearing how others conduct their business and why. What a great way to close out the day.

11pm Saturday, November 8

This morning was wide open for me. My stylized session wasn’t until 3:00 so I spent the morning catching up with friends who happen to be local. Other “blinkees” had their stylized sessions taking place throughout the day. There was also an awesome vendor market happening all morning.

After time with friends, I headed to the main conference area to cast my vote for the “BLINK awards”, as well as check out the vendor market. I moseyed around until the BLINK staff challenged us to a Lunch Scavenger Hunt. Before I knew it I was in a black mustang full of blinkees that I had never met before! It was so out of the ordinary for my personality, but I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my life. I will never forget standing on the sidewalk, and being waved down to join a car full of girls: Ambrea, Shannon, and Yasmine. Off to lunch we went documenting our “scavenger hunting” on Instagram. I now have a connection with theses amazing photographers that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, and for that I will forever be grateful. BLINK is amazing in that it nudges you out of your comfort zone just enough to move whatever is holding you back out of the way.

 I will never forget that lunch, but the day had to go on! I headed back to Brook McDougal’s stylized-session. I really connect with her style. I loved hearing her pointers on how her team likes to work. Our shoot took place mid-day so it was great practice shooting in to direct sunlight. I am in love with the images I was able to capture. The models were perfection and the whole experience just rocked!

 

 

Take a look for yourself:

Jackie Nwobu spoke on what editors look for in a magazine submission. Her advice was great. What I really enjoyed about her presentation was hearing her story of success; her story of a dream and the struggles to get there. She is so inspiring.

We ended the day with a pool party! Mentorships with some of the instructors were given away at the pool party. If you were too sad about not winning, there were root-beer floats there to cheer you up.

Sunday November 9th 10:22pm

Today I shot with The Boudoir Divas. They are so sweet, and I am happy to learn from such caring people. There were two gorgeous models! I love how they included a plus size model. I appreciated how the models were selected not only to help us portfolio build, but also to give us examples of real women and the different lighting and situations that we will experience with our clients.  Marissa walked us through how she plans a session and executes select poses.

Here are some of my images from the small group session with the amazing Boudoir Divas:

After Lunch were THE BLINK AWARDS!! I was honored to take home one of the 8 awards given out!

Just like that, BLINK was over. I’m now at home in bed, having minor BLINK withdrawals. I truly believe that’s a diagnosable condition. BLINK is filled with inspiration, community, encouragement, love, laughter, pampering, and new friends.
Will I attend another BLINK conference? YES. Would I do it all over again? YOU BETCHA!
I heard BLINK 2015 seats are open so don’t hesitate. I was SO nervous when I first registered, but trust me when I say, you have no reason to worry."
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Thanks for sharing your experience, Silver!  To learn more about The BLINK Conference check out their website.  Don't hesitate to register because I'm sure it will sell out again next year!  Also check out #BLINKCONFERENCE on Instagram to dive deeper into the attendee experience!

THANK YOU! We Have Saved 7 Smiles! September 16 2014, 0 Comments

Today is an exciting day at LRT headquarters!

When I started this business, I knew I wanted to give back.  I enjoy working with charitable companies and knew that I wanted to help in some way... but who could I help?  

I started looking for worthy causes online and was thrilled to find Operation Smile.  They help kids with cleft palate and cleft lip get corrective surgery so they can lead better lives.  I thought this was pretty amazing and started doing more research.  I found that 1 in 10 children born with a cleft will die before their first birthday...  that was astounding to me.  How did I not know that?  As I continued my research, I really started to fall in love with the mission of Operation Smile and it makes sense for me because I'm a photographer who makes people smile for a living.  I know the importance a smile has and I am honored to be able to have the opportunity to help do my part in helping these kids!  Plus the surgery costs a set amount, so you know your donation is going directly to the cause (always worries me with some charities.)  

Since I posted this video earlier this year we have been saving back 5% of our sales and I am excited to announce that as of today we have saved the smiles, and potential lives, of 7 children!!  Thank you all so much for supporting this new product and literally helping put smiles on the faces of some children in need.

Thank you guys!  To many more smiles saved!

-Brett Jarnagin

Find out more about Operation Smile at http://www.operationsmile.org!


Sticky Albums - Word of Mouth for Photographers August 11 2014, 2 Comments

 

In my experience in building businesses, effective word of mouth marketing is always crucial to success.  With my photography business, I was always looking for ways to stimulate word of mouth.  So how can you do it?  Step one is to be remarkable.  In Seth Godin's words, remarkable businesses are worth remarking about.  So what are you doing that is different?  What can you do that is worth being talked about and shared?

I stumbled upon StickyAlbums (and the incredibly kind and giving owner, Nate) at SYNC a couple years ago.  StickyAlbums was fairly new at the time but I immediately saw how impactful this tool could be for my business and the businesses of other photographers.

For the uniformed, StickyAlbums allows you to create unique mobile apps for your clients.  You can create a gallery of their images and they can download the app to their phone and share with their friends.  How cool is that!?  I knew that I wanted to make StickyAlbums a part of my marketing efforts and so when I got home I signed up and started making apps.  It took very little time to put them together and I was excited to share them with my clients.  They were all blown away and quickly shared them with all their friends and family.  StickyAlbums makes it easy for your clients to share their apps directly from the app which means more eyes on your images and brand.

Ultimately, I used StickyAlbums as a way to excite my clients and get them to share my images and my work.  If they booked a package at a certain price point, I would include a StickyAlbum for free (with my own branding of course!)

One of the most effective ways to use StickyAlbums is to give them to all your clients as a teaser.  I like to include 8 images from their session as a preview and then 1 image as a coupon that I have made.  It typically reads "want to have rockstar senior images like this?  Mention Emily's App and get $25 off your session!"   This made it easy for me to get my clients to do the marketing for me.  I always made sure to inform them all the ways they could share their album so more of their friends and family could see it (people want to show off how beautiful they are!)  I will be sharing more of how I use StickyAlbums on their site soon!  


Editing 10 Images in 10 Minutes with Vanessa Joy July 30 2014, 2 Comments

Yesterday I did a guest post for Vanessa Joy's blog sharing some Lightroom tricks (video here!)

We got a lot of great feedback and insight into what other photographers are doing in their own workflows.  One photographer mentioned that they spend about 20+ minutes per image that they edit!  Yikes!  I can relate though.  When I started in photography I spent about 6 hours editing my first senior session.  That was fun until about session number 4 when I realized that something had to change.  Over time I developed a workflow that worked for me and I drastically cut down my editing time.  One of the biggest changes I made was in the way I approached a session.  I stopped "spraying and praying" and started to really focus in on what was going into the camera.  What I found was that I got better images, had fewer images to sort through, and had to spend less time fixing mistakes that I made in the field.

The video below by Vanessa Joy is a great example of what a fast an efficient Lightroom and Photoshop workflow should look like.  Vanessa's workflow has to be speedy... she does same day slideshows at wedding receptions!    


Essential Lightroom Hotkeys March 10 2014, 0 Comments

Right click to save the images!  You can print them out and tape them to your computer screen or just keep them open while using Lightroom.  They are a great way to speed up your workflow!  (Note:  The top is for Mac and the bottom is for PC!)