Just Some Photos that I Like!

When I blog, I like to write something that readers will hopefully find interesting and will compel them to read and look further. It's often a challenge, as I don't feel like a writer. As photographers, we communicate with our images. Ultimately, that's what I hope will draw people in. I know it won't be my words, but I hope that my words will serve as an introduction to my work.

This time, I only have my images. As a commercial photographer, I spend a lot of time creating photographs that are not strictly artistic. While artistry is involved, their role in life is largely utilitarian. That is true in a business sense, but the discerning client knows that they are more than that; they serve to evoke an emotion in the viewer. The esthetic value may be subtle, but it's there. That's why I can only shake my head in disbelief when I see a cell phone self portrait or a red cup party shot used as a business headshot. People! Potential clients are judging you, possibly unfairly, based on an initial impression. You've heard this rant before, I'm sure.

So since I have nothing to say today ;-), I thought I would post some business portraits and some actor headshots that I did recently and that I really like.

The first bunch of shots are of a young actress and dancer.


I also had the privilege of photographing this Boston attorney, who also does legal commentary on a TV network. She really understands the value of good images!

Not Just Academic Marketing

I spent most of this summer working with the excellent web team at the University of Massachusetts Lowell on their web site redesign project. As a location portrait photographer I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to create environmental portraits of a wide spectrum of administration, faculty members and students for the web site's many profiles. Here is one of several :

Academic marketing has changed quite a bit since the days when you would request a catalogue in the mail that would contain five or ten year old generic photos of happy students. The landscape today is very competitive and the UML team members take their jobs very seriously.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from this summer.

UMass Lowell


I spent most of this summer working with the excellent web team at the University of Massachusetts Lowell on their web site redesign project. As a location portrait photographer I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to create environmental portraits of a wide spectrum of administration, faculty members and students for the web site's many profiles. Here are a few of my favorites.


What's The Difference?

As a freelancer, two of my roles in this operation are marketing and sales. I hear all of the experts: branding blah blah blah differentiation blah blah blah engaging blah blah blah. Can you hear it? Obviously that's all important and unless I or someone I hire does that for me, I will be a very lonely freelancer indeed. It's a given that exposure to the right audience is essential. There is a ton of advice out there on the tubes of the internets as to how to go about making that happen.

But what makes what I do different from all of the other photographers out there who are marketing to the same people? I have actually read articles that say things like: 'you don't have to be the best photographer to be a success'. While that may seem encouraging if you, like most of us, have insecurities about your work, it's also a really convenient excuse to let up on pushing yourself to create more and better work. The race to the middle! Is that where success lies?

If 5 photographers make themselves visible to a potential client through their effective marketing and sales efforts, and they all seem to be the same in the eyes of that potential client, which one does she choose? (If no one raises their hand I will have to call on someone!)  The answer is: they choose one at random, or one who answers their email request for a bid. Clearly, there are other factors that, in the real world, come into play such as a usable web site, as opposed to one that re-sizes the browser, plays music, has slippery, ever moving and morphing navigation controls that scream: GET ME OUT OF HERE! What other factors might make a potential client choose one photographer over another, all things seeming equal? Proximity of the photographer, referrals and references, the consistent message put forth in their web presence, etc.



Have I led you up to the precipice of the obvious yet? What's the real differentiator? Remember, if no one raises their hand...  Answer: It's the work!  Photographer Nick Onken has written a good piece here that you should take a look at, BUT COME BACK!

People have a penchant for sameness much of the time. Kids don't want to be different. It seems to be an instinct at some point in our human development. At times it does makes sense to emulate success. That's clearly valuable as a learning tool. I think where it becomes destructive is when it is a mantra, such as the misguided conventional wisdom that standardized testing of school children is going to generate a well educated population. I can tell you that if there had been a standardized test to graduate from high school when I was that age, I might still be there now trying to pass it. But say such a methodology were to be successful. What has been accomplished? Millions of identically informed people who have never been encouraged to be different, to think critically or to be creative. There's a prescription for success...





Assuming that your marketing and sales thing has been taken care of, although it is always ongoing, and the presentation of your work is of a high quality and consistent, both on-line and in person (read: have a great book*), THE most important thing is the work and how it is better, more creative and different than all of the others from whom a client might choose. It's so important to keep pushing yourself, to keep growing and stretching, both technically and artistically. And equally important is to push yourself to do personal projects as well as the work you do for business. Hopefully, you soon will be able to see the two come closer together so that the work that people hire you to do is the kind that you love to do.

*If you are not sure of what I am referring to at the asterisk, please call my friend Selina Maitreya, or read one of her books!








I have sprinkled this post with some recent work that I like, for no other reason than to show it. Plus getting it out there will force me to go out and create more :-)  So here are even more!

Video - Everyone is Doing It!

If everyone was doing <insert your favorite bad activity>, would you do it too? How many times were you asked that as a kid? Or maybe you were the asker. Don't make me stop this car!

I have been reading for a year or so how, thanks to the great video capabilities that are now available in DSLRs, still photographers really need to do video. I guess my reaction was, I don't NEED to do anything. The comments made were to the effect that we needed to do this, or else give it up. I have a visceral reaction to statements like that. All television will be in 3D pretty soon. Um, no. I'm all set in the glasses department, and I generally don't watch "action" shows. So my feeling was no, I don't need to do video; unless I want to.

So here we are. I have been experimenting with video production. You can see my YouTube channel here. My first attempt was to do a walk-around through the building where my studio is located, taking still shots every few feet, and streaming them all together with the Windows Movie Maker to the strains of Flight of the Bumblebee. Wee! It's kind of entertaining, but probably of little practical value. It therefore boasts my biggest hit count. My second was another stop-action video, this time telling the story of an in-studio portrait shoot. While not the blockbuster that my first one was, it is pretty cool and well liked. The music is better too!

Well finally, a real "motion" picture to my credits! I was doing an environmental portrait shoot for a client of mine who happens to be a marketing and branding professional, Anya Downing of Engage Marketing and Design, of Georgetown, Massachusetts. We started to talk about possibly leveraging her photos for more than just her own professional branding, creating a video and a white-paper. So off we went. The shoot was actually months ago, and I have held back showing the photos until now. We worked on the video during the Christmas/New Year break, with Linda Williamson, who did the actual videography for us. I played Cecil B. DeMille.

Anya Downing - Engage Marketing and Design

The video is a presentation in interview format, by Anya, in which she discusses branding and what she calls, Profile Branding. The latter being the use of the type of imagery that I create, and created for her business, in branding a professional or their business, and how it can be an important element. Please take a look at Profile Branding.

While I have no intention of being "the video guy", because my passion is for great still photography, this is something that I will continue to do, to perfect and to offer clients.

While not originally part of the set that Anya chose from the shoot, I really liked this shot and have been really anxious to share it. These were shot at The Space, in Lowell, Massachusetts, and the art in the background is by David LeBlanc.