Friday, October 30, 2009

Don't Fear the Camera Phone

It's a commonly held conception that the widespread use of digital cameras has cut into the professional photography market. For a different perspective, read the following quotation. It comes from July's issue of Professional Photographer - it's an excerpt from an interview with Seth Godin, an expert on marketing. According to Seth:

"Since Matthew Brady - the guy who took pictures of Lincoln - for 150 years, photographers have made a great living when they had no better technology than everybody else. Making a great living at photography has never been about access to the tools....To photographers I say, 'Are you doing photography worth paying for? If the consumer's choice is between doing it himself for free or paying a professional hundreds or thousands of dollars, what is it about what you're doing that's worth paying for? I'll tell you this - it's not because you can take a pretty good photo.'"

According to Seth, it's the experience you create for your clients. He continues:

"What [great photographers] do for a living is create an experience and an approach that is so remarkable people can't help but talk about it. What they do for a living is create interactions between themselves and the people they are taking pictures of. Or to create souvenirs of what they do so that people can't help but talk about it."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Client Showcase - Sherrie Schouten of Sherrie Schouten Photography, Port Angeles, WA

Last weekend, Sherrie rented 3D06 (Great Wall) and 3D13 (East of Eden) for the Port Angeles High School's homecoming portraits. She shared her marketing strategies with us:

Strategy #1 - Sherrie posted the two background choices on her Facebook page so her clients would know what to expect. Because we ship out for arrival on the Tuesday before the dance, she had plenty of time to iron out the wrinkles, hang the backgrounds, recruit a date (her son-in-law, in this case), and create the photos.

Strategy #2 - Sherrie writes: "...I printed a picture of each of the backdrops as 8x10's and had them at the table where the kids pay. So many of the kids didn't think that Great Wall looked good until they saw the effect in the actual photograph. Also, it is a lot shorter than the other one (the length is much shorter) and I think that they thought the floor would show in their picture."

And finally, another excerpt from Sherrie's email: "Good thing for your backdrops, because if I didn't have them - they would have no reason to have their "professional" picture taken since they all have cameras ON THEIR PHONES even!"

We're indebted to Sherrie for her wonderful compliment, her lovely shots, her willingness to share her ideas, and her patronage over the years.

Don't Say "Nyet" to Vignette

I confess. I'm a Photoshop novice. I used to use the primitve burn and dodge tools in Photoshop to create a vignette. Then I learned a more sophisticated way to create a better vignette using a second layer. But this one, from Scott Kelby, author and Photoshop expert, is an easier and more effective method of vignetting images. Here's how you do it. (Since we're Mac snobs I'm including the Mac "command" key in the text; if you have a PC—and you know who you are—you'll substitute the "control" key, whatever that is.

After opening the image, add a layer (command-J). Set the blend mode to “multiply” and choose the “marquee” tool to create an area you wish to vignette. Choose “refine edge” from the radio button at the top of the screen, and change “feather” to 200 pixels. (You can lower that for lower resolution images). Hit “OK”, then “delete”, and “command-D”, which will leave a soft vignette around your image. You can then change the opacity slider from 100% to something less to suit your taste. This beats playing around with the burning or dodging tools by a long shot.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009's Best Prom Outfit

One of our favorite sites is, where subscribers send in videos and photos of things that aren't quite right. We were struck by this "fail" the other day, called "Epic Fail Baggy Pants Fail", and we realized that this would have been one prom outfit that we wouldn't have wanted to photograph...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Please Pardon the Immodesty

We have long maintained that your dance business will be enhanced with our 3D backgrounds, but we didn't realize how much until we received this email from Emily Provance, a high school teacher associated with Ohio's Sandy Valley Local Schools.

About our 3D70 (France Inatra), she wrote..."our photographer was very impressed with this one. He thought it was one of the best dance backgrounds he's ever photographed in over 35 years."

OK, so we like to show off a little. That's why we're in this business...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

SPA in San Diego

If you're shooting dances you know about SPA (Senior Portrait Artists), an organization on a constant quest to provide information for the senior photographer in a creative, artistic, and innovative form from both inside and outside the photography industry.

Now sign up for the Spa Event in San Diego January 4-6, 2010, and take Jon Read's class on Blue Ocean Proms, Sports, & Dances: Diversifying Your Senior Market.

By no small coincidence you'll see that one key to Jon's success is Dozens of Muslins. We'll be there, too. We look forward to seeing you and showing you how your business can grow with our backgrounds.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Little Nostalgia

We were digging through our archives and found the May, 2005 copy of People, and re-discovered this shot of 3D56 (Your Asia). (We don't remember the photographer, but it's from Killeen, TX - any claimants?) Anyway, it was part of an illustration for an article called "Proms Gone Wild," which documented excesses such as a $5,000 liposuction, an $8,275 Versace gown, and a $6,000 spa treatment. $4 billion was spent on proms in 2005, the article reported. That was a long time ago, before Lehman Bros...and Bernie Madoff...and General Motors...

Saturday, October 3, 2009


At some point in our lives we've all thought about becoming "real" photographers. I was twenty-two, a passionate amateur with a college graduation gift Nikon FTN, when I saw this old man, sitting on a bench near the bocce ball courts by San Francisco Bay. I measured the light on my hands, set the focus at about 2', whirled and shot this image on Kodachrome 25. Surprised and disappointed, he unleashed a torrent of expletives at me that forced an immediate retreat. Several days later when I picked up my slides, I was delighted with this image, and I thought to myself at that time, "I wonder if I could ever make a living at photography". It was ten years after that before I had enough nerve to try, and I've never turned back. I entered this photo in Digital Photography Review's "Formal Composition: Portrait" and received a 7th place among the 150 entries. Hey, I think it's even better than that.