Tag Archives: Business

Image of the Week | Engagement Fun

More like images of the week, this week I’m cheating a bit, but they are all from the same session. Sometimes it’s just plain hard to choose just one. If I could, I would post an entire image gallery each week, but that would be way too many photos to insert into the blog post.

This year, I have been fortunate to be busy and having so much fun doing what I do. Although I have a pretty decent web presence, I owe a lot to my friends and family who have endorsed my work this past year, because I know it’s because they believe in me. I am more confident than ever before because I do what I believe is right. I have listened to every professional in the business say that the most difficult thing as a photographer is try to be different than everyone else out there. The way I approached that theory is simply to not try to copy everyone out there so that I am not the same. This gives me the freedom to be instinctive and approach each shoot with a clear mind while not following a fixed shot list each time out. If that were the case, all of my images would look the same and this would eventually become boring.

Well, off to work. Enjoy the weekend and thanks for checking in.

My Photography Portfolio

As someone who maintains and designs his own website, I am always looking for ways to improve my sites delivery of visual content and ease of use. I want to provide a professional presentation for my images, which is also functional in handling the volume for many visitors. Oh yeah, and it needs to be flexible enough to modify if I change my mind and feel like overhauling the design. Not too much to ask, right? It is when you are hosting your own images.

6 years ago, I incorporated a photo-hosting service to my site and  it was one of the best business decisions I could have made. With this, I could still design the landing page and any other informational pages from scratch, but photo hosting would be handled by the experts. It provided my clients with private, password-protected galleries and a nice viewing experience while allowing them the added luxury of ordering prints and products with secure e-commerce. It also provided my business with a professional web presence for my portfolio and handles album photo selections and connects me with the client through each image. This was Huge!

I have had all this in place now for a while, so the improvements I focus on now are strictly geared towards presentation and web presence. I work hard to create beautiful imagery and I want the best presentation for my images. After all, my web site is my primary portfolio and the first place most people see my images if they are considering hiring me. I have toyed around with a couple of different designs for my portfolio page, such as image thumbnails and slideshows with music. What I really want is a page that takes into account the orientation and dimensions of each individual image and displayed them in such a way that they could all exist on one page and still be neat. I think I have finally found it.

I included links below to both my new and old portfolio pages, which presently coexist. I plan to make the decision by the end of the week to deploy the new site or not. If I decide to deploy the new site, it will take over my existing portfolio domain and the old one will be gone.

All opinions are appreciated, and thanks for checking in!

New Portfolio

Old Portfolio

My Leather Craftsmen Album

I picked up my new leather craftsmen studio sample album a few weeks ago and I am very happy with it. It is a beautiful book. I went with a 12″x12″ size which opens to 12″x24″ panoramic when viewing it’s 62 pages. The book is so well crafted and you feel it when you pick it up and turn the page. I’m not sure of the actual weight, but it is very solid and the slipcase is a nice touch.

It is absolutely impossible to have samples for every available cover option that they offer, so I went with a classy personal favorite. I chose a cedar brown euro leather with an ivory euro leather vertical stripe where my studio name is inscribed into the ivory stripe. It’s freaking sweet! I do have swatch kits to show all available leather and fabric cover choices, but it does it almost no justice until you get to look and feel it.

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They even stamp the box with my studio logo. Sweet!

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My studio logo goes on the back cover of the book. Nice touch.

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I am very happy with my new sample book from Leather Craftsmen and I am excited to show it to my clients. Only a few have actually seen it so far, but I already have a couple of orders sold.

Thanks LC.

– Mark Stumpf

Mark Stumpf Photography
www.mstumpfphoto.com

My First Workshop

I have attended many workshops in my years as a photographer. There are so many different styles and categories of a photographers profession and some are quite diverse from the others. I have always followed my favorites, but I am open to listen to anyone who is doing something interesting, whether they are wedding, portrait, editorial, photojournalist, or freelance shooters. Even as a professional, you can never acquire too much information in any profession. You simply take what you can use, and hopefully the rest is reassuring that you are still doing things right.

I was asked recently if I would actually lead and instruct a workshop on portrait lighting for a group of photographers. My immediate thought was, WOW, I am not even known as a portrait photographer, I‘m a wedding shooter. I worked with a few people some time ago on a portrait session for charity and they liked what they saw when I was working. I was honored that there are actually people out there that want to hear me speak and teach them what I do. I don’t even like to hear myself speak, imagine what they were in for.

I gladly accepted and began to feel real confident as I realized the message I was going to communicate. This can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. When you learn from celebrity portrait photographers, they teach you their way of doing things with all their expensive equipment. They will sett up 12 profoto strobe lights, softboxes, umbrellas, gobos, gels and snoots just to take a head shot. And you know what, that’s how things are done if you are shooting professional portraiture for an editorial shoot. There are also makeup artist and hair stylists and a team of people just sitting around directing stuff. That is not likely in most situations and if you want to take a really nice portrait of someone, you start simple and can expand on this if you wish.

Simple portrait lighting concepts begin with one main light. This light could be a studio strobe, the speedlite flash unit from your camera, a continuous light (lamp or flashlight) or even the sun. Whatever it is, the direction of the light is what is most important. As long as the light is not coming from the same axis as your cameral lens, it will be interesting. The intensity of the light can be controlled from the camera’s exposure settings and if you are using a studio strobe or speedlite, you have even more control to set the power so that it is balanced with the exposure and ambient light.

Well, the workshop was held last Saturday and was a really great experience for me. We did an actual portrait shoot and I walked through setting up the camera and the lights based on the ambient light settings from which I was working in. I used one main studio strobe with a large softbox, a background light gelled with an interesting color to change the color of the background and a reflector to fill light coming from the main (key) light on the opposite side of the face. While working through the existing conditions, I continued to stress that they not focus on the equipment as much, but on the concept in which I am demonstrating. This could all have been done without any auxiliary lights. The same concept applies for outdoor sun light and window light indoors. If you don’t have a photographic reflector, just use something with a white, silver or gray reflective surface to add some fill light. If you bounce light off of something with color in it, the color reflected back to the subject will be the same color as the reflective surface it is bouncing off of.

I did receive some great feedback from the attendees afterward and they were very thankful for sticking around to answer their questions and being very detailed in explaining exactly what I was doing while I was doing it. I realize it is rare that someone will just teach you what they know for free. Most people spend years learning this stuff and years perfecting it. I have paid a lot of $$ to learn from many different professionals. They will teach you how they do things and tell you afterward that every piece of equipment they just demonstrated is something they are selling on their website with an inflated price tag, but the workshop special is buy 2 and get 5% off. Some of this is bullshit and I have lost respect for a few professional photographers because they turn from professional photographer to professional salesman. One very important thing to keep in mind is this, when they were up and coming photogs with a camera and a dream, they were not using the equipment they are selling today, they started out basic just like everyone else. Always keep it as simple as the job allows.

Take care and happy shooting!

Don’t be caught by surprise….

Getting married?

If so, congratulations to you both. Your wedding day is a day you should both look forward to. It’s hard enough trying to remember everything that has happened on this day. Heaven forbid something was to go wrong, you will be sure not to forget it. For most of us, it is the most important day we have been part of at that point in our lives. Tons of planning and anticipation leading up to one special day. In our minds we act out what the day might bring and it is always perfect, as it should be. Enjoy the anticipation and take time with your planning.

I have had the experience to shoot beside a wealth of different people in the wedding entertainment and service business and am very careful as to who I would actually label a professional in their field. Every catering hall has unique offerings and everyone does things their own way. Most of these people are business people and the smile on their face when you meet them simply means nothing more than “Can I have your money please?”. I speak from experience which I will not go into detail about here, but I will offer a few suggestions that I strongly feel are some of the most important questions people never ask?

  1. Ask your limo company exactly how much time you have the car(s) for and what time the driver needs to leave. Most companies book events back to back, so if you are running just a little bit late, you do not even have the luxury of offering the driver extra money for sticking around an additional hour. I’ve seen drivers get cursed out for being to pushy when trying to manage a tight schedule. You also need to consider your schedule. What time you should be ready, is the limo driver waiting for you to finish the ceremony, extra time for pictures after the ceremony, and is the driver taking you to a remote location to take pictures prior to the reception. Putting together a timeline and bringing it with you at the time of booking is not a bad idea.
  2. Make sure you leave time between the ceremony and reception for pictures, or just so you are not rushing around on a day you are supposed to be enjoying. Some couples elect to take either the formal or Bride and Groom pictures or both before the ceremony. This is usually a good plan and is a result of the fast-paced New York style weddings that we can never get used to, as long as you don’t mind seeing each other before the ceremony, which for some couples is not an option. Have you ever been to a wedding outside New York……totally different.
  3. Ask to manager at the catering venue how many events at most could be occurring at the time of your wedding. This is an extremely important question. If there are several parties going on at the time of your wedding, this may limit your use of the beautiful lobby or outdoor landscapes that they offer and assisted in your decision for selecting the venue. If there is another wedding occurring as the same time as your and the other wedding booked the bigger, more expensive room, they will have no problems dismissing your requests to take pictures at a location that is being used by another party.

Just some things to think about. If you ask these questions before you actually book, it will only assure you are getting what you paid for.