Search Results for: Do What You Do

Now Is The Time To Do What You Do!

It is truly a blessing and a wonderful feeling to wake up each day doing the things you truly love to do.  It is also amazing that those things create for you the lifestyle of your choosing.  For me it is travel photography.

Early in life I discovered my love for art.  Sketching in pencil, pen, ink, and charcoal.  Later in life I was introduced to analog photograph.  I became obsessed.  But, because of the cost of film and printing, I had to abandon this love.

Now that I am retired I have returned to my passion.  I am fascinated by this new era of digital imagery. Thus, the creation of Digital Age Professionals.

We first, had to consider who our potential customers were going to be.  Secondly, we had to identify the problems DAP could solve for these customers.  After, this we had to establish a location for our potential customers to visit.  

Web Site

Working from the digital format, our first step involved building our web site. Our website is our digital home (real estate).  We have made our home as delightful as possible.

As with any home we expect guest.  Guest come in two distinct forms, invited, and uninvited.  I don’t know about you but certain close friends are allowed to drop by anytime.  Of course, the option of admittance is entirely at my discretion  🙂

Then there are those uninvited guest.  That you really have to consider if they are worthy for admittance. However, with our business home we want everybody interested in our product or services to stop by at any and all times!

Marketing

Marketing, is where my problems began! I quickly realized that even though I had a web site, no one was stopping by.  I became very lonely. In this instance lonely equates too low income.  I had to quickly learn to market my product to those who are interested in my problem solving capabilities.

Thanks to Six Figure Mentors and AWeber I have now developed superior marketing skills and capabilities.  Not only for me, but to other business owners who have marketing problems.

Marketing is the most important part of our business development.  Without customers there is no business.

Choosing A Niche

Even though my problems began with marketing, choosing my niche quickly became my largest problem.  I am writing this post for all new marketeers who are wrestling with this very same problem.

Affiliate marketing got me started, then I soon realized that I had to develop marketing plans that were concentrated on a particular speciality according to my personal desire.  This is where the rubber meets the road.

I spent months trying to get this right.  I now understand that many marketeers struggle with this problem. Thankfully my love for photography led me to my perfect niche. 

By the way, what I have learned from all of this, is that finding the proper niche is an evolutionary process. Don’t get hung up, let your heart lead you to the lifestyle you desire.

Check out this blog:

https://digitalageprofessionals.com/2019/12/23/tip-of-the-week-creative-ideas-to-help-you-target-a-specific-niche-in-photography/

Health Wealth & Love……… “Namaste”

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Create Your Lifestyle!

BE YOUR BEST SELF; RETIRE AND BECOME FINANCIALLY INDEPENDENT WHILE TRAVELING THE WORLD, DOING THE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO!

If you have found yourself here on this page because you want to RETIRE and create your own LIFESTYLE, become fully FINANCIALLY SELF-RELIANT, and you also absolutely love the idea of being able to LIVE ANYWHERE, then this could well be exactly what you're looking for.

More and more people are looking for a realistic way to RETIRE and actually INCREASE THEIR INCOME while living a lifestyle of complete freedom. I can tell you that it is absolutely realistic and more so than ever in today's digital world.

In my retirement what was really important to me was not just the fact I wanted to be able to make money with my own business. But I wanted to find something I could really believe in and enjoy.  I wanted to follow the advice of one of my favorite motivational gurus Tony Robbins and set myself up with a business that would not just bring success, but fulfillment as well.

“Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure”. - Tony Robbins.

What kind of retirement business is right for you?

For me the most important thing was finding a business I could build around what I like to do.  When you work doing what you enjoy, you no longer consider it to be work.  So offer a product or service that resonates around that which you most enjoy.  For me it is photography. As an affiliate marketer, I am developing products and services base on my niche of photography.

Like the famous author, Robert Kiyosaki states, you should start with anything that is very product-driven and extremely easy to fulfill on. Something you believe in and feel confident selling. It needs to be a product or service you can sell many times over every week without spending a lot of your personal time on customer service and support or transactions.

Get started with Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a great one to start with. This is where you sell other businesses products and get a commission – without having to do any fulfillment or delivery. If you're an affiliate, the amount of products you can sell is unlimited. And the beauty of it is that you can sell those products or services many times over, 24/7, 365 days a year. So even when you're on the beach or sleeping, you are busy growing your income as you grow your sales.

FREE TRAINING - LEARN HOW TO RETIRE AND BECOME FINANCIALLY INDEPENDENT!

Sell with E-commerce

Another option is to sell physical products with an E-commerce business. With physical products, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. You can order existing products in bulk at a fraction of the cost and then set up a sales system.

Opportunities like Amazon FBA will do the heavy lifting for you. They will process the payments from customers and deal with the packaging, distribution, and customer service. In the meantime, you'll get busy selling the products and setting up marketing and ad campaigns to make those sales happen – which you can do from ANYWHERE in just one or two hours a day.

FREE TRAINING - LEARN HOW TO RETIRE AND BECOME FINANCIALLY INDEPENDENT!

Something to consider as you go into this

Whatever you're selling, the first 10 sales are going to be the hardest. But once you've made your first double figures in sales, you'll gain the confidence that you can rinse and repeat – and grow. You'll learn exactly how many sales you need to be making each week and each month to reach your goals.

People always want the ultimate answer to the question "how long is it going to take?" But I've seen so much diversity – from 2 days to 12 months to make the first 10 sales. It comes down to whether you picked the right product for the market at the current time – and your commitment to learning the digital skills you need to succeed.

If you are serious about getting a business started and you're looking for a genuine way to do it as a retiree, without having to break the bank and at the same time not have a ceiling on your income potential.

Then be sure to check out this FREE video series that's been responsible for helping THOUSANDS of people just like you to start an online business from scratch and around their day jobs.

It's totally free to register and receive the training, and it's totally void of all the usual hype and false promises you see online,(the degree of your results depend on the degree of your effort) so please don’t worry you won’t be taken for a ride!

Retire Comfortably, Live Anywhere and Become Financially Self-Reliant!

Subscribe for FREE to this powerful 4 part video series and discover the secrets to starting a successful online business from scratch.

Change Your Circumstances; Do Something Different!

You Can’t Change Your Circumstances By Doing the Same Things. In order to get a different outcome, you must change the way you are doing things. You can’t expect a better environment or circumstances when you continue to do the same things the same way. OK, I think you got the point.

Anyway, what I am trying to convey is a well known Universal Law, called Cause and Effect. The law simply states; For every effect, there is a cause. Therefore there is a cause for any and all of your circumstances, as well as the environment in which you live.

Now comes the hard part, and that is accepting that YOU are the cause! We all have a tendency to place blame everywhere but on ourselves. In the allegory of Adam and Eve, Adam placed blame on Eve for his disobedience. We all have a tendency to look for others to blame.

ed2go

You are the cause! Being created in the “image and likeness of God” makes you a part of Universal Spirit (God is omnipresent). A part of anything possesses the same substance and qualities of that from which it comes. Remember the “Kingdom of God is within”.

All power including the power to change things comes from within. Now ask yourself:

  • Are you happy with your circumstances/environment?

  • Are you happy with your job? 

  • Are you tired of living paycheck to paycheck?

  • Are you tired of working 60 hours per week just to make ends meet?

  • Are you tired of just being the consumer?

  • Are you tired of spending your whole paycheck on bills?

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If you are dissatisfied with your answers to any of these questions, you need to change the way you are doing things. Change the way you think!

Explore your options, consider your purpose, and your God-given gifts and talents. Find your niche and create a better experience. You are an individualized Spirit, placed on earth with a purpose to create something. Look around you, everything you see that is not animal, vegetable or mineral was created by a man acting in harmony with Universal Spirit.

My new creation is an internet marketing business called “Digital Age Professionals”. I have found that the internet marketing platform provides me the opportunity to participate in a global economy, offering unlimited income potential, all while living a lifestyle of freedom.

Acting within my purpose which is to help people, I believe in the greatest good for the greatest number. I am offering you the opportunity to join me and help to make a change “one person at a time, from the inside out” Click the banner below to launch your new lifestyle at no cost! Let your journey begin!

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How to improve your photography with the rule of thirds

Published by Feature Shoot  • 1 week ago

In 1797, the engraver and painter John Thomas Smith, who worked as the keeper of prints at the British Museum, came up with a revolutionary theory. 

In his view, landscape paintings worked best not when sky and land were given equal weight, but when one or the other took up an entire two-thirds of the canvas. Contrary to popular wisdom, which favored the “formal half” or a one-to-one ratio, he wondered if the most appealing compositions, in fact, featured a different ratio altogether: one-to-two. 

Smith’s theory predates the invention of the camera by about twenty years, but these days, we know it as one of the guiding principles of photography. Now, when we discuss composition, we still use the same term Smith coined all those years ago: the rule of thirds.

Once you understand this common photographic technique, you can learn to position your subject in any image so that the photo is both visually balanced and interesting to your viewers. In this article, we’ll explore the rule of thirds and how you can use it to your advantage.

What is the rule of thirds?

The rule of thirds is one of the easiest ways to experiment with your composition; it is simply a matter of placing the elements in your image so that each of them carries the proper amount of visual weight. 

Imagine you are looking at a tic-tac-toe board. Notice how the lines on that board create three distinct horizontal sections and three distinct vertical sections. There are also four points where the lines intersect. According to the rule of thirds, placing your subject along a line or point on this grid will create a more dynamic composition. 

You have the option to view a rule of thirds grid as an overlay in your DSLR viewfinder, and you can even look for a grid option in the camera settings on your phone. This can be helpful when you’re practicing the rule of thirds, but be wary of using it too much as it may interfere with your ability to visualize other compositions while you shoot. The best way to master the rule of thirds is to practice visualizing it in your mind.

How to use the rule of thirds

New photographers tend to put their subjects in the very center of the frame. While this can result in a strong composition under the right circumstances, it can also create static images that lack interest. 

This is partly due to the way our eyes view a scene: they naturally try to follow the lines and points on the grid, even when the grid is not visible. It’s also due to another compositional element: balanced asymmetry. Usually, your subject will already carry the greatest impact out of all the elements in your image, so it wields a lot of visual weight. By positioning the subject so that it takes up approximately one-third of the image, you’re leaving enough negative space to balance that weight.

In landscapes
Try aligning your horizon line with one of the two horizontal lines on the grid. This keeps your viewer’s eye from getting stuck going side to side. If the sky is distractingly bright, this is an easy way to balance that punch of brightness with the more muted detail in the land portion of your image.

In portraiture
The eyes are usually the focus of a portrait, so try to line up your model’s eyes along the grid to give them high visual exposure. For group portraits, use stools, steps, or natural height strategically to utilize different areas of the grid.

Some things to consider

The rule of thirds is a great “cheat sheet” for getting dynamic compositions out of almost any scene. However, it’s not always the best choice for every photo. If you’re shooting in one of the following circumstances, the rule of thirds might not be right for your image. 

You want something to have a larger-than-life effect
Platon is famous for his in-your-face portraits of celebrities and world leaders. You really get a sense of who they are, and for that kind of impact, the subject is the only thing that matters. Although some of his other work does use the rule of thirds, these pieces would only be hindered by it.

If you already use the rule of thirds too frequently
This rule is meant to stimulate creativity, not inhibit it. If you’ve come to rely heavily on the rule of thirds and notice that a lot of your work is looking eerily similar, it may be time to try something new.

You’re battling lens distortion
If you’re using a wide-angle lens, placing your subject in one of the outer thirds could cause them to appear too distorted. If that’s not the effect you are going for, switch lenses or switch photography rules.

The rule of thirds in post-processing

Sometimes we want a rule of thirds composition, but due to shooting circumstances, it’s not easy or possible on-location. If you’re shooting macro photography of insects, for example, you’re already using a lot of mental energy just to get the right point of focus before your subject moves on. In a situation like that, it can help to shoot just a little wider than you think you need. That leaves you room to crop for the rule of thirds in post-processing.

If you plan to do this, check your camera settings before you shoot. Be sure you are shooting in RAW and give yourself a nice, high-resolution file to work with so that you aren’t cropping away all of your image quality. Keep a copy of the original image in your backups in case you need to go back to the drawing board. 

If you simply want to enhance the rule of thirds effect, you can use an adjustment layer mask (or in Lightroom, an adjustment brush) to draw attention to elements that line up with the grid. You can add a little pop of saturation, enhance the brightness, or do some selective sharpening to draw attention to those areas.

Practice is all it takes to master this rule completely. Try setting up a dedicated shoot for this technique and see how many different compositions you can think of. When you walk around without your camera, try visualizing compositions from the things you see around you that follow the rule of thirds. You can also gain a lot of inspiration from finding examples of images that use the rule of thirds to analyze.

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Want to Grow Your Email List? See How This Photographer Grew His List by 300 percent

Learn the 5 essential steps he took to grow his email list and pivot his business to an online format.

BY KRISTIN MACLAUGHLIN  JUNE 10, 2020

James Maher is a New York Photographer, a huge Knicks fan, and a lifelong New Yorker who got his driver’s license at 30 years old — as any true Manhattanite should. Maher never took the conventional route. His love of photography started with using Photoshop to make fake driver license IDs at the University of Madison with his college roommates. 

Over time, he grew his business to offer an eclectic mix of products and services — including photography print sales, a portrait business, conducting workshops, creating online content, and authoring three books. Despite having a diverse business, COVID-19 still shut down his business along with the rest of New York.

He knew he had to transition some of his business online, so he took some time to look at short-term revenue options that could set him up for long-term growth. He began brainstorming how he could re-create traditional in-person experiences into new online opportunities.

In order to do so, he followed 5 essential steps to grow his email list and pivot his business to an online format.

The 5 essential steps to growing your list

Step 1: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is a process of optimizing your website to get organic (or unpaid) traffic. Maher drives traffic by regularly providing unique, engaging, and free content on his site for people interested in learning about photography. 

For example, he gives away a free New York travel photography guide on his website. This free guide is an essential part of Maher’s SEO and content marketing strategy.

Although each audience member will receive multiple emails in the sequence, Maher reminds them at the top of each email of the content they may have missed or that will be coming in a future email.

Each email includes thought-provoking images and step-by-step instructions for other photographers.

“My email list was always vital and incredibly important to my business, but it’s even more important now because I have started to transition to more online content,” says Maher.

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Step 4: Let analytics be your content compass

AWeber’s analytics help guide Maher determine the type of content he sends and when. “It gives me a lot of information about how my information is perceived, and if the content is engaging,” says Maher.

Maher reviews regularly both the open and the click-through rate on the content that he sends. Sending engaging content has allowed him to attract new audiences to his email list.

Step 5: Expand your reach

Maher uses his downtime to set himself up for long-term success by creating content and online products to grow his email list. 

His latest online product, “Editing and Putting Together a Portfolio in Street Photography,” drove revenue and allowed him to promote some of his other services like individual portfolio reviews.

While social distancing is still in place in New York City, Maher takes time to introduce himself to as many new groups of people as possible. For example, he gives photography zoom presentations to groups and camera clubs around the country. Most people who attend the presentation visit his website and join his email list.

Promote to your own email list

Maher also promotes the new online course to his email audience.

Email on James Maher's online class: Editing and Putting Together a Portfolio in Street Photography

During this time, when many members of his audience have reduced income, Maher has adjusted his payment model to “pay what you can.” 

The suggested price for the online class is $25. The average payment turned out to be about $25 because some people were getting it for free or $5, but some people paid $50 or $100. 

“I’m going to do that going forward for more of my products now. It provides me some income and builds my emails list, so it is a win-win for everyone.” says Maher.

Take advantage of lower advertising rates to promote on social media

The rates for advertising are much lower than usual due to COVID-19, so it is a great time to promote posts on social media to stand out from the crowd.

Maher uses Facebook ads to target local photographers in the Northeast. They see the ad, download the photography travel guide, and are added to his AWeber list. 

AWeber then sends an automated email sequence that lets them get to know Maher, learn photography tips, and get a sense of the type of content they will receive from going forward.

“I’m testing and tweaking the Facebook ad a bit now given that people aren’t really traveling to New York with COVID-19 going on. But I’m finding that it’s still doing very well at converting photographers, particularly with the cheaper ad pricing. If you provide them with good, interesting content, you can grow your list,” says Maher. 

Short term cash needs can translate into long term growth

Maher has shifted his business’s focus toward creating online experiences that provide short-term revenue that keeps his business going. He created online classes about photo editing and online photography portfolio reviews. He even started working with photographers to help them create portfolio websites. 

Every post, promotion, or email drives people to his sign up forms with the end goal of growing his email list. 

The creation of each online product is just the first phase of its product life. “Each online product will eventually integrate into a bigger package in the long term. I’ve been building this business for about 17 years, and I had the formula down — but COVID-19 broke the formula,” says Maher. 

“The silver lining is COVID-19 gave me the time to execute on ideas I always had in the back of my head. I believe my business is going to come out of COVID-19 stronger and more prepared for the future.”

Connect with your audience and start growing your email list today!

With AWeber, you’ll get everything you need to grow your own business online — including sign up forms, newsletters, landing pages, and access to our award-winning customer solutions team. 

Start your 30-day free trial today.

Posted By

Kristin MacLaughlin

Director of Product MarketingRead more posts by Kristin MacLaughlin

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3 Simple Tips for Marketing Your Photography Business

Article Written BY: Ryan Jakubowski 

In today’s highly competitive market for photography, it is not an easy task to build your brand and have people notice you. Now days, you need to stand out from the rest of the crowd and bring people in. If you’ve wondered how to market your photography, look no further. In this article, I am going to over my top 3 ways to market not only my pictures, but my business as a whole.

Be Personal

If you are looking to save money and also grow your sales skills, try going business to business or calling local stores to ask if you can display your work or leave flyers or business cards with them. I have found out that the majority of businesses welcomed it! I started by going to three of the busiest towns in my area and spoke personally to every business I could. After introducing myself, I let them know that I was looking to possibly leave some business cards and flyers, in hopes of gaining new clients. If they showed interest, I would continue by telling them more about my business model. By doing this, if any customers had questions, they might be able to answer a simple yes or no question, which will lead to them taking your card or flyer.

As time went on, I found myself extending my range of towns, and going even further to neighboring communities. I also included areas that were not very high traffic, because you never know who will be looking to have work done. Once I had a blog/website, I would offer to put their business on my page and help promote them as well!

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Online Presence

This leads me into my next part of marketing, which is having a visual website of some sort. When I first started out, I had a blog from Blogspot. It was something that I was able to post my work, and considering it is a free service, it was great for just starting off. Just recently I was able to get an actual website, and I would definitely suggest this. Having the versatility of different layouts you can have to display your work they way you want is a huge plus.

Click Here to Learn How You Can Create a Website or Blog in Only 5 Minutes!

The way you create your website is key to marketing your business. When someone visits your webpage, they want to know automatically were they are at, and what the page is about. For example, on my website I have the title at the top in a bold font, with my tagline, logo, picture of me with my contact information and my gallery at the top. I place this at this top because the customer can automatically get a sense about what they are going to be looking at, and the quality of work that I do.

Most websites also include free marketing templates, email blasts, professional email, and design help. I have been told by a number of people and customers that when they see a professional email address as opposed to a Gmail or Yahoo account, they are more likely to open it.

Sending out a marketing email is a tactic that brings in a lot of customers for me. This is something that you can put a lot of information into and add your own little touches for a personal design. When a client opens a marketing blast, you want them to be drawn into something at the very top of the page, in order to get them to scroll down more. In my marketing blast emails, I have a headline at the top of the email that says either HUGE SALE, or BOOKING SPECIAL in bold colors and a font that really pops, because if you can catch their attention with the title and headline, then they will want to scroll more to see what it is all about.

Advertise

Lastly, I have found that Facebook Ads are extremely helpful! At first I was not sure how I felt about paying for Facebook advertisements, but taking what I have learned from my email blasts and applying that to the Facebook ads really made it a game changer. The nice thing about Facebook ads is that you can create your own graphic and then hit boost post to really get it out to the public.

Once you have your ad graphically ready, you upload it to Facebook, and then you can choose your target audience. This is a huge part of getting the word out there, it will allow you to choose male or female, age groups, the location you want, and also add keywords that might be on users pages, such as pregnant, or senior pictures, even marriage. By doing this you can get the exact group of people you are looking to market to.

Another great part of using Facebook ads is that you can set your budget and how long you want to run the ad for. If you only have a budget for $20.00 that’s all you have to pay. It will tell you how many people it is expected to reach and spread out the post evenly across all of the days you want to run it for. You also have the option to add more money and extend the ad run-time, if you choose to. At the end of your ad run, you will get a detailed report of how many people saw your post, clicked on the ad, where they were from, male or female and age range, etc. so you can define your next post even more. See below for an example of one of my ads.

For a GREAT way to make these flyers, check out Canva’s Flyer Tool!

Whether you are going business to business and asking to leave your card or flyer at the front of their store, ramping up your website, or even starting to try out Facebook ads, there is always some way to market yourself. The best part is, with all of the technology we have at hand, it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. Building a business is hard work, and it takes a lot of determination to make it a success, but if you believe in yourself and use multiple avenues for marketing, your success will become a reality very soon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ryan Jakubowski My name is Ryan Jakubowski and I have been doing photography for the last 10+ years. It has grown from an interest into a strong passion of mine that I will never stop doing. I decided to start my business, J&C Photography, over 7 years ago and it continues to take off each year! I photograph a number of different events such as weddings, senior portraits, newborns and even the severe weather that comes across the state of Michigan. For me every shoot is something new, and brings with it its own experience, and that is what keeps bringing me back every time.

12 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Release Your Shutter

In my personal quest to improve my digital photography skills, I am constantly seeking guidance.

Recently I ran across what I consider to be a very important guide.

Twelve very important questions I think all photographers should ask themselves before each shot.  Considering these questions can and will improve your photography skills.

Utilizing these questions has greatly improved my efforts to produce impressive imagery.  You should consider:

  1. The Purpose 
  2. The Story You Wish To Tell
  3. The Position You Should Take
  4. Orientation
  5. Background
  6. Is the composition Straight? 
  7. Framing
  8. Light
  9. Focal Point
  10. Eye Flow
  11. Movement Within The Frame
  12. Color/Contrast

Commit To Memory

Excited about the expected outcome from my next photo adventure, I immediately committed them to memory in the order given.  

Eager to see the outcome from my newly acquired knowledge, I began using them, in the exact order given.

After trying this for a while, I realized that I was struggling to get through the process.  At first, I could not understand why the process was so difficult for me.  Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck and I realized that the order in which the questions were given did not fit my slowly developing style.  Causing, my shooting process to become slow and difficult.

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Make Adjustments

Even though each question needs to be addressed, the order just didn’t match my style.  So I decided to experiment with the sequence.  

My new sequence looks like this:

  1. Purpose
  2. Story
  3. Light
  4. Position
  5. Orientation (Landscape or Portrait)
  6. Framing
  7. Focal Point 
  8. Eye Flow
  9. Background
  10. Color/Contrast
  11. Streight
  12. Movement

This is my personal sequence, and so far it has served me well.  I can see a dramatic improvement in my photography.

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For a final note, I must interject two thoughts.  First, I sometimes let light lead me to my story, after all, photography is all about light.  And finally, I have learned to always shoot both orientations.  You will be surprised at what you may come up with.

Nature Moment

So play around and find your sequence and see if it improves your skills. 

5 Steps to Take Now So You Can Thrive in the Post Coronavirus World

Article Written by; Barry Davret FollowMar 25 · 5 min read

You have plenty of alone time. Don’t waste it.

Pandemics always end. At some point, this will pass. We’ll find a way to defeat the coronavirus. We just don’t know when. But that’s not the question that troubles me. What I want to know are the answers to these questions:

Will my friends and loved ones still be here? Will I still be here? What will become of us? Will I still have a job or business?

Don’t tell me you aren’t thinking that too, or at least similar thoughts more appropriate to your situation. If you’re not careful, you can spend hours on end contemplating the worst-case-scenarios. That kind of thinking will destroy your sanity.

Nobody can predict how this will all end, but I’m planning on thriving in the post coronavirus world, and I’ve already started taking steps to make it happen.

When you shut off the endless cycle of crisis, you’re left with a lot of free time. How you choose to fill that time today will impact your future outcomes. So, where do you start?

These five steps will help you focus on doing work that matters.


1. The Life Design Questions

In the early 2000s, I attended a string of personal development seminars. My intoxication with self-help schemes fizzled out, but one of those events left a lasting impact. The leader of this seminar had us focus on three questions. The answers gave us clarity on what we wanted and enabled us to design a life we desired.

Who do you want to become?

What kind of person do you aspire to be? What characteristics do you want other people to ascribe to you?

What do you want to become?

What kind of professional life do you desire? Describe it in detail.

What is the change you need to make?

Describe the person you are now and what you do. What changes do you need to make to achieve the vision of your future self?

This exercise always provided me interesting insights, but it never resulted in any changes to my life. But years later, I found this to be a useful tool when used as a precursor to the next step.


2. Create Your Day in the Life

Several years ago, I listened to a Tim Ferris podcast, where he interviewed Debbie Millman. She described a life-changing exercise that I’ve been following for the last two years. Here’s how it works.

Picture yourself five years from now, long after the crisis ends. Write out in essay format, a day in your life from the moment you get out of bed until you fall asleep.

Think about all of your dreams and imagine that you have already achieved them (use results from the first step). Imagine what your life would be like if you pursued your goals without fear and delay. Be specific about what you do with your day, both professionally and personally. Write about your career, family life, health, and hobbies. Your essay should run about 3,000–5,000 words.

For more details, I suggest you listen to the segment here at 1:31:00 into the podcast. I’ve been focusing on this the last week, and whenever I feel that twinge of angst, I pull out my essay and read it. It has a remarkably calming and motivating effect.


3. List the Actions You Must Take to Create That Life

Once you’ve put your dream life on paper, list out the high-level activities you must take to achieve those goals. Creating a plan can overwhelm you, so don’t get hung up on intricate details. List out the steps as you think of them. There will be a significant amount of gaps, but you’ll address those in the next step.

Let’s suppose in three years you will have published a novel. Your high-level actions would be:

  1. Write the first draft.
  2. Get it reviewed by a developmental editor.
  3. Rewrite.
  4. Final edit.
  5. Book design.
  6. Publish.

Yes, there are dozens of steps in between. You may need to acquire specific skills, get recommendations, research, and network. But a high-level outline like this gets you excited, focuses your mind, and prepares you to dig into the details.


4. Research, but Not Too Much

There’s nothing like losing yourself in research to take your mind off the craziness of the outside world. It takes more than a few hopeful ideas to achieve a dream. You need to know what steps to take and then act on them.

But don’t bury yourself in research forever. I’ve found that some folks use it as an excuse to avoid doing work or taking risks.

Research other people who have achieved similar goals to yours and find out what they did, and then move on. You can always come back to do more if you need it.

When you finish, go back to your list from the previous step and fill in some of the blanks.


5. Make it Happen

Dreaming and planning are necessary steps, but they mean nothing without taking action. Schedule time in your day to work on your dream. Sure, you knew that already. But what if you’re struggling with following through? It’s almost impossible to focus in this environment.

By scheduling time and limiting your intake of social media and news, you’ll find it easier to focus. If the stress still gets to you, I’ve found that these steps help:

  • Read your day in the life essay. It’ll transport your mind to a future state.
  • Listen to music or sounds that calm you. I listen to Brain.fm, but it’s subscription-based. If you want something free, create a playlist. I find that listening to music that reminds me of childhood brings back memories of happier times, and crowds out today’s madness.

Living in an era of uncertainty and fear may get the better of us at moments. But focusing on your dream now will not only distract you from the fear and anxiety but will set you up for a more fruitful post corona world.

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Down Time

12 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Release Your Shutter

In my personal quest to improve my digital photography skills, I am constantly seeking guidance.

Recently I ran across what I consider to be a very important guide.

Twelve very important questions I think all photographers should ask themselves before each shot.  Considering these questions can and will improve your photography skills.

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Utilizing these questions has greatly improved my effort to produce impressive imagery.  You should consider:

  1. The Purpose 
  2. The Story You Wish To Tell
  3. The Position You Should Take
  4. Orientation
  5. Background
  6. Is the composition Straight? 
  7. Framing
  8. Light
  9. Focal Point
  10. Eye Flow
  11. Movement Within The Frame
  12. Color/Contrast

Commit To Memory

Excited about the expected outcome from my next photo adventure, I immediately committed them to memory in the order given.  

Eager to see the outcome from my newly acquired knowledge, I began using them, in the exact order given.

So, after trying this for a while, I realized that I was struggling to get through the process.  At first, I could not understand why the process was so difficult for me.  Suddenly, I realized that the order in which the questions were given did not fit my slowly developing style.  Causing, my shooting process to become slow and difficult.

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Make Adjustments

Even though each question needs to be addressed, the order just didn’t match my style.  So I decided to experiment with the sequence.  

My new sequence looks like this:

  1. Purpose
  2. Story
  3. Light
  4. Position
  5. Orientation (Landscape or Portrait)
  6. Framing
  7. Focal Point 
  8. Eye Flow
  9. Background
  10. Color/Contrast
  11. Streight
  12. Movement

This is my personal sequence, and so far it has served me well.  Now, I am beginning to see a dramatic improvement in my photography.

For a final note, I must interject two thoughts.  First, I sometimes let light lead me to my story, after all, photography is all about light.  And finally, I have learned to always shoot both orientations.  You will be surprised at what you may come up with.

So, go out shoot some pics and play around with these questions, find your sequence and see if it improves your skills. 

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Photoshoot checklist: One more tool to help rock your photography sessions

Written by Teresa Milner

Improve your consistency and confidence with a photoshoot checklist

Are you looking for ways to improve the flow of your photo sessions, your post-production workflow or your consistency? Consider developing and following your own photoshoot checklist! 

Have you ever finished a photography session that felt awesome at the time only to feel disappointed later with the actual images? Maybe your focus was off. Maybe there were crazy shadows you missed on your client. Or maybe you ended up with a really ugly set of trash cans in the background that are taking hours to clone out in Photoshop. For whatever reason, you HATE them. 

Friend, I’ve been there. It’s frustrating and can be such a time killer if you end up spending hours in post-production trying to fix it. Those oversights are honest mistakes. But they sure can wreak havoc on our confidence and our time.

The best photographers have one thing in common…a consistent workflow during their sessions. They might not even realize it, but they perform largely the same tasks in the same order for each and every session. This photoshoot checklist, whether physical or mental, helps ensure accuracy and consistency.

In this tutorial, we’ll talk through some elements of a photoshoot checklist, helping you build a consistent workflow for your photography sessions. Feel free to add elements or change components of this around to suit your style and personality and adapt it as you continue to grow your skills. But until then, you can also use this checklist to help you mentally and physically work through your sessions.

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Photoshoot Checklist Overview

New photographers often spend the most time thinking about camera settings when it comes to their photoshoot. 

Here are the elements you need to think about having on your photoshoot checklist

  • Prepare your camera and equipment
  • Prepare yourself
  • Evaluate the light
  • Evaluate the background
  • Greet and prepare your subjects (clients, family, objects, etc.) 
  • Position your clients
  • Check the background and light relative to the subjects
  • Dial-in your settings
  • Confirm your settings
  • Pose or prompt your clients
  • Start shooting!
  • Pause to confirm a few images
  • Repeat for different settings or major pose changes

That sounds really simple. And it can be. But I’ll break down each element in detail so you can get an idea of just what a session looks like for me. This is the formula I follow for each photoshoot I have, whether it’s an outdoor or indoor session and whether it’s a family or personal branding session. Having a consistent workflow gives me confidence and improves the client experience because we have a known roadmap to follow throughout our time together!

Step #1 – Prep my camera and equipment. What equipment do I need for a photoshoot?

Before I load my gear into the car for a photography session, I do a mental walkthrough of the session and jot down some notes on what I need. What lenses will I want? What props will I take? Should I take external lighting or a reflector? Once I have those items listed, I gather them up and prep my camera.

To prep my camera, I check my battery, put in and format memory cards and double-check that my lenses are clean and in my bag. Then I reset my aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to the same settings every time. I use f/5.6, 1/200 of a second and ISO 100.

Why do I do this?

First, I want to make sure I don’t have some goofy settings still on my camera that I forget about at the session. For example, one time I had my ISO on 10000 for some a nighttime session with flash. I didn’t catch it and thought my ISO was at 100 and had about a dozen really grainy family images before I caught it.

Second, I like to have my camera ready to start shooting the minute I pull it out of my bag, just in case. If I need to grab my camera quick, I know immediately if I’ll need to adjust my settings one way or the other. I don’t have to stop to wonder what my settings were and think about how I need to fix them. It’s a trick I learned a long time ago from a professional wildlife photographer that has served me well for some quick captures of a session or candid images of my own family.

I also make sure I have the bracket for my tripod or harness in my bag, along with my gray card and my notes on the client session.

Once my gear is ready, I head to the photo session!

Step 2. Prep yourself!

How should a photographer prepare for a photoshoot?

I use a lot of mental rehearsal to get ready for photoshoots. I read through my questionnaires and notes on the client. My shot list gets a few more read-throughs. Then I do a mental run-through of the first five or ten minutes of our session. I literally talk out loud as if I’m speaking to the client. I practice their names, practice my first setup or two and rehearse how I want the session to go.

This imaginary convo usually happens in the car on my way to a session. It might sound a little crazy but it’s helped me tremendously. I get to a session feeling like I’ve been there before because, in a way, I have! Try it for a session or two and see if it helps you!

Remember to prepare your body for the session, too! Use the restroom. Make sure you are hydrated and fed. Wear professional but functional clothing. Apply sunscreen or bug repellent, if needed. Tuck gloves and a hat in your bag if the weather is cold.

If you aren’t worrying about your physical needs it’s much easier to focus on the session!

Step 3. Evaluate the light

The next item on my photoshoot checklist is to evaluate the light. Light is always my first priority because it’s the key component of a quality image. You can make a crummy location look amazing if you have the right light. But a poorly lit image is a poorly lit image no matter how pretty the backdrop.

So look around. Where is the light coming from? What’s the quality and color of light?

If it’s an overcast day, for example, I might use the area differently than I would on a bright afternoon with no clouds. Where’s the best light in your location at that moment? Is there a location that will give me even lighting from head to toe?

Take note of things like open shade, dappled light or natural reflectors you can use to bounce light back into your scene.

Step 4. Evaluate the background.

After you understand the light you have to work with, then it’s time to evaluate the background. The key is to examine the background as it relates to the places with good light.

Look for elements of the background you want to use, like objects for natural framing, layering, leading lines or bokeh. Next, scope out those areas and make a note of parts of the background you want to avoid. Things like power lines, trash bins, tree branches, etc. can all ruin an otherwise great shot.

In the image above, my clients had requested a picture by the property’s gate. Immediately upon arrival, I notice the gate is huge and the powerlines in the background. (We did a few shots here but we moved their first look to a different location…see my tips below on accommodating clients AND giving them great images).

Whenever possible, I complete steps 4 and 5 BEFORE my clients arrive. I get to a location early and have a look around before a client gets there so I can work out my plan by myself. If I’m working in clients’ homes, I greet them, ask for a few minutes to scout out the space and then reconnect with the client to start the session.

Step 5. Prep your clients

I like to welcome my clients and then give them a brief rundown of what they can expect during the session. I remind them of how long we will shoot, explain my posing/prompting technique briefly and make sure they don’t have any last-minute requests. We complete a quick wardrobe check (look for cell phones or keys in pockets or hair ties around wrists!) and then start getting ready to take pictures.

If you’re photographing something other than people, this is where you’d gather your subjects. Make sure you have the products or items you want to photograph ready to go as well before you start shooting. If you’re shooting a location or space, like real-estate photography, do a quick walkthrough to prep the home or building.

Step 6. Position your subject

By now you should have a pretty good game plan in your head about how to use your location. So grab your subjects and position them in your scene for your first series of shots. Don’t worry about posing or prompting just yet. Just get your subject about where you want them and take up your shooting position.

Step 7. Bring it all together.

This is the last double-check of lighting, background and subjects on our photoshoot checklist. How does the light look on your subject? Where is the horizon in relation to your subjects? Anything look wonky in the background? Don’t be afraid to reposition your subjects if necessary. Sometimes all it takes is a step or two in either direction and you make a ho-hum image really pop!

Let me illustrate the importance of why this final check is important with a little story.

I’d been shooting some formal wedding portraits just outside the reception hall. I’d scouted the area, found great light and started shooting. When I started editing, I could have kicked myself. There was a stump with an ax handle sticking out of it in the background. It hadn’t been distracting at the time, but the way I’d positioned the bride and groom, it looked like the ax handle was coming out of the groom’s rear end.

So. Not. Cool.

I’d rushed my workflow and hadn’t taken the time to evaluate my subjects in the background. It was fixable in Photoshop with the patch tool. But had I taken my time and looked at the entire scene one more time, I could have saved myself a lot of time in post-production.

If you look closely at the photo below, you’ll see the fly-swatter in the upper right-hand corner. That was a detail I could have easily taken care of if I had done a better job of looking at my clients in the scene. I delivered the image to the clients after some cropping. But it would have been better had I taken three seconds to scan my scene and remove distractions.

Step 8. Dial-in your settings

Now it’s time we talk settings!

See, we’re all the way to step 8 and I haven’t mentioned settings once. That’s because while settings are important, they aren’t the only thing that makes great images. Yes, the wrong settings can wreck your image. But even the perfect settings can’t overcome skunky light, squinty eyes or a tree limb through someone’s head.

But I digress.

Now it’s time to read your light meter and dial in your settings. I usually start with my shutter speed. What is the minimum shutter speed I need to keep any motion blur or camera shake from my images? Then I select the aperture I want based on my subject and focal plane. Then I set ISO as needed.

Don’t forget about setting the focus and white balance. I will generally set a custom white balance or use daylight. Use your preferred setting or set your own custom balance.

When good auto white balance goes bad…Read our white balance tutorial.

Step 9. Review

Go ahead and take a quick look at your camera screen. A quick visual confirmation that everything looks a-okay never hurts. If something if off, better to adjust it now!

I check for blown highlights, shadows with no texture and the balance between the light on my subject and the light on my background. What looks okay to our eyes, even with good settings, doesn’t translate well to the camera.

“Chimping,” or looking at the back of your camera, got a bad rap there for a while with photographers. You don’t need to do it after every shot, but it’s a valuable tool that you can and should be using during your sessions.

Step 10. Pose or prompt your clients

Now that you are ready to go, it’s time to focus on your subjects!

I wait until after I’ve dialed in settings to pose or prompt because it’s less pressure on everyone. The client doesn’t feel pressured to pose or hold a smile while I adjust settings. And I don’t feel like the client is staring at me, silently screaming, “JUST HURRY UP ALREADY!”

This is also helpful if you’re shooting pets or children. They aren’t going to hold a traditional pose for very long. Keep their cooperation for when you are ready!

Give your subject your posing suggestions or prompts if you’re more unstructured. Then start shooting.

Step 11. Complete your session.

Finally, we’ve arrived at the last item on our photoshoot checklist. It’s time to simply move through the workflow of the session you planned in your head earlier. I’ll take whatever photos I want at this location using this lighting. Then I move on to another area I might want to use. At that point, I start over at step seven and again evaluate the subjects in the new background and light and double-check my settings.

Any time I switch the number of subjects I’m shooting, I double-check my aperture. If I was taking pictures of the little sister at f/2.8, then I switch to the whole family in two rows, I adjust my aperture to give me the depth of field I need.

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Best Tips for Improved Photography Sessions

Tip #1. Slow down!

My number one tip for improving your photography sessions is simply to slow down. Slow down! Take time to think through what you are doing. Getting things as close to perfect in-camera should always be the goal!

I know how intimidating it feels fiddling with settings while my client waits. But do not rush. It really is better to take an extra 15 seconds now to get things correct than spend hours in post-production trying to fix bad decisions, or worse yet, have completely useless images.

Remember, what feels like an eternity to you is just a few seconds to the client. And they trust you, so the extra time isn’t a big deal to them.

If you feel your clients getting anxious, simply say something like “I’ll take just a few seconds here to make sure I have everything dialed in. I want you to really love these images!”

Seriously, just slow down the whole process and think through your decisions. I’d estimate that 95 percent of my “bad” images are because I was rushing, NOT because I didn’t know what I was doing.

Tip #2. Walk away from bad lighting, backgrounds or poses.

Sometimes I try new things and I don’t love them. Admit that to yourself (and maybe even your client) and then try something else.

If I have a background or lighting scenario I hate, I will tell my client something like “You are rocking it! The light right here just isn’t doing you justice. Let’s walk around the corner and use that area instead.”

If it’s a pose I tried and it isn’t flattering for my client, I keep my mouth shut, snap the picture, then fix the pose. If, after demonstrating and tweaking the pose it still isn’t working, I again snap the picture and move on to another pose. I give my clients lots of praise and find something that works better. You don’t need to tell the client “Oh that doesn’t look good.” Just move on to something more flattering.

Tip #3. You do you.

Shooting at a location where there are lots of other photographers is intimidating as a new professional. You might look around and think “Why are they over there? Should I move? What do they know that I don’t? Her stuff is going to turn out so much better.”

Nope. Don’t even play that game. Focus on executing YOUR plan and flattering YOUR clients, not worrying about the other photographers.

First, everyone has a different style and goals for their images. Her goals and style may not be your goals and style. Your client’s personality might not match her client’s personality!

Second, that other photographer might not even know what in the world he is doing! There are a lot of photographers out there who haven’t put in the time, effort and energy you have to really study photography and light. Copying those photographers isn’t going to help you one bit!

Tip #4. Don’t’ be afraid to take a break to fix something!

If something is wrong with your settings, camera or other equipment, stop and figure it out.

Too many times I think we as new photographers lack the confidence to say “Something’s wonky. Give me a second to figure it out.”

It’s as if saying that out loud confirms our worst fears…that we aren’t good enough to be “real” photographers.

Friend, real photographers have equipment failures. Real photographers have things go wrong. But real photographers also know when to take a break, figure out the problem and fix it.

A stylist isn’t going to keep cutting your hair with dull scissors. Nor will a waitress give you the wrong food and expect you to eat it. Instead, both practice a pause, fix the situation and resume their work. That’s the mark of a professional!

Tip #5. You are the expert. Be accommodating but don’t let the client tell you how to do your job.

My client requested a specific background or pose but it just won’t work. What do I do?

Clients often pick a location that is a gorgeous setting without understanding how important light is to a session. They see a pretty lake or mountain and think it will be a great backdrop for their location. But often, the light in that area just won’t work. Or she REALLY wants to recreate a pose but it’s that is not flattering for her body type. What do you do?

Educate your clients on using great light and posing! This starts during your initial consult, obviously, by talking about why you will shoot when and where you do. But sometimes we get to a session and a client has an idea for a background, pose or setup that is less than ideal. Then what?

I accommodate the client but still work the session my way.

I say things like “Oh I love that idea. Let’s capture a few here where this light is so soft and beautiful, then we will try that one.”

Then, I’ll work in a few shots with the backdrop or pose they’ve requested. I do the best I can with what I’ve got and give them SOMETHING with the specific scene they hand in mind. I give them what they think they want, then go right back to working my way through my photoshoot checklist my way.

Here’s an example…

I was taking senior pictures for a local family this summer. We were working on her grandparents’ cattle ranch in the mountains in Wyoming. One of the locations she really wanted was these big beautiful rocks. The problem was, the rocks were on a west-facing hill in full sun and there were exactly clouds in the sky. To shoot them really well, I should have been there at 5 in the morning, not 6:30 at night. And we couldn’t wait to shoot there until the sun was low in the sky because we needed golden hour for pictures with her horses.

But I knew they were important to the client. These rocks were the same pile of rocks that her great, great-grandparents used to build their first homestead back in the early 1900s. They had tremendous personal significance to my client. So we used the rocks.

But instead of shooting tight portraits, I took a more editorial approach. I used a wider lens and incorporated more of the background into the shots. My client got instructions to look down and away from the sun or close her eyes and be a bit more dramatic. For the photo below, I told her to give me her inner pioneer bad-ass. I did do a few close-ups, knowing I was blowing my highlights but demonstrating I heard my clients request. Then I got back on track with my internal photoshoot checklist.

In this situation, the client loved the final (if non-traditional!) images. But just as often, the clients never purchase those images because they like the ones I created using my knowledge of light and photography better.

So be accommodating. Make the most of a bad situation, then move on and rock your plan. You might surprise yourself with your creativity, the client feels heard and you’ll still deliver amazing images in the end.

Here are some more great family photography tips!

Ticking boxes

Having a photoshoot checklist helps improve your consistency which will ultimately give you better images in the end. It also helps your confidence because you have a roadmap to follow during your sessions.

If you are brand new to taking clients, don’t be afraid to have a physical photoshoot checklist for your first few unpaid practice sessions. Keep it in your pocket or taped to the wall in your studio so you can refer to it as needed. Soon, you’ll find you can keep track of where you are and where you need to go without that map. I still ask my family to volunteer when I want to try something new. And I write down a photoshoot checklist to follow the first few times I implement new methods.

And don’t underestimate the power of mental practice and preparation. Visualization exercises aren’t just for athletes. It can work for photographers, too. Does it sound absolutely crazy to treat your daughter’s stuffed animals like a pee-wee basketball team? Probably. Does it work? Yes! Practice handling sessions from start to finish, including what you’ll say to clients, how you’ll say it and how you’ll move through your workflow.

Sessions feel overwhelming and scary right now. But creating your own photoshoot checklist helps alleviate your fear, improves your confidence and ultimately helps you become a better photographer. Give ours a try or create your own. Rock your list, rock your session and rock your business!

Teresa Milner is a portrait and events photographer in Southeastern Wyoming and the creative drive behind Dirt Road Wife Photography. Teresa traded life in the fast lane as a public information officer to raise her family in her native rural Wyoming. Today, she lives on a commercial bird farm with her husband, daughter, a neurotic border collie, a lovable yellow mutt and more than 20,000 pheasants! A self-proclaimed country girl, she loves farm life, wildlife, fishing, hunting, wildflowers and singing loudly with the radio to any George Strait song she hears. Meet Teresa at www.dirtroadwifephotography.com. Or follow her on Facebook or Instagram!

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