Rank #1: 10 things to do to improve your portraits - EP 84
Shoot in raw
Learn off camera flash
Learn to walk the line between creative and tasteful editing
Understand white balance
Learn to “see” light.. And milk it for what it is worth
Get inspired, look at the works of others
Watch Connor’s High End Retouching Video on IP+
Never stop learning and finding that “new thing”
Nov 15 2016
Rank #2: The Steps You Should Take to Turn Your Hobby Into a Business
In this Episode, Erica and Connor Discuss The changes coming to the podcast's format before having a conversation concerning the overall steps a person interested in taking their portrait photography hobby and turning it in to a business.
General steps for turning your hobby into a business:
Step 1 Ask: What kind of Portrait business do you want?
Step 2 Establish a legal entity.
Step 3 Accounting & Finances
Step 4 Portfolio Building and culling
Step 5 Pricing yourself
Step 6 Business Model/Customer experience
Step 7 Portfolio Display and Branding
Step 8 Building an Organic web presence
Step 9 Develop additional marketing strategies
Step 10 Finding Success: How to manage a transition to a job as a photographer
During sticking points, Connor sits down with Kaden from 365th Street Photography to discuss his struggle with writing blog and social media posts that speak with a voice that feels genuine without being overly repetitive along with some general tips for finding effective keywords for blogging and hash tagging.
May 28 2018
Rank #3: Let's Talk About Specialties in Portrait Photography - Season 2 Episode 1
Erica and Connor take an overview of the subject they are talking about throughout the second season of Portrait Session: The different specialties in portrait photography.
This is just an overview of all the different types of photography a person interested in portrait photography can focus on and specialize in as they master their photography.
We by no means feel we have compiled a total and complete list of potential specialties in photography in this list, but this list will be the general guide for us through this second season of Portrait Session.
If you feel like we may have missed something, feel free to join our facebook group and post in there to let us know!
Throughout this season we will be bringing on a number of experts who have mastered their specialty in the field of portrait photography. We will be focusing on our expert's abilities, experiences, and advice for those interested in digging in to their specialty in photography while making efforts to highlight the key factors a person should be aware of that might make any particular specialty different from others.
Specialties in portrait photography
Sep 04 2018
Rank #4: The Biggest Mistakes Photographers Make - EP 98
Common mistakes we commonly see include things such as placing their light way to far from their subjects, placing their lighting to low compared to the subject, fumbling with gear and post processing blunders
May 10 2017
Rank #5: Tips and Tricks for Posing Women - EP 100
Erica and Connor share their tips and tricks for posing women.
For more in depth advice for posing women, be sure to check out Erica’s training video on Improve Photography Plus!
Focus on curves
Work from the bottom up for a basic pose
Weight in back hip
Using things to hide imperfections
Depth of field
Light and shadows
Jun 26 2017
Rank #6: Deciding What Kind of Portrait Business You Want - S 01 Ep 02
Erica and Connor discuss the factors that go into deciding what kind of portrait business you want to start and explain the importance of bringing focus to your business.
There are many ways to take pictures of people for money, but what ways do you want to focus on?
What kinds of photos do you like taking? What kind of market is there for this?
Who would be your ideal clientele?
Consider income bracket, age, gender, what they look like, how they dress, where they hang out, what they’re interested in. Analyze the shit out of them to create your perfect client. Knowing your perfect client will allow you to market to them appropriately, price yourself appropriately, and plan your social media.
All too often people jump into making money without thinking about building a business.
You don’t have to pick just one, but it is a good idea to have an idea of things that you do and don’t want to do.
Think about restaurants. The best ones are usually the ones who specialize in a certain type of food (ethnic, burgers, pizza, etc.).
If you do pick multiple types of portrait photography, do they compliment each other and work as a single business? Is it better to create two separate divisions ie entities for differing types of photography?
Jun 05 2018
Rank #7: Branding and Displaying Your Work - S01 Ep08
Branding and Displaying Your Work - S01 Ep08
In todays episode Erica and Connor talk about displaying your portfolio and tips for building the visual elements of your brand.
Then, on sticking points, Connor sits down with Michael Pugh to give him some thoughts on intentional improvement as he learns more about photography as well as giving some advice as to where his money would be best spent to help him hone his skills.
Branding and using visual elements to speak to potential consumers about what your business stands for.
Logos don’t mean much on a blank page, but branding is important for getting your message across to your client
You have an idea of what you stand for in business, this is the time to start writing things down on paper. Make a list of 3-5 adjectives you feel represent what your business stands for/says to clients.
This can also be helpful to put into terms of:
“I want people to know that my business is _______” or “I want people to know that my business doesn’t do __________.”
When doing this step, don’t be too focused on the aesthetic portion of your branding, but just consider the emotive elements of your brand. Often times the emotion and message of the brand will dictate the visual elements.
If you have the means, work with a professional designer to brand your business. They’ll help you with colors, fonts, etc., but also with coming up with things that will speak to your target client AND help you implement things in the best way possible.
Check out fiverr.com for affordable, but good quality logos 12:30 ish
“They” say that people have to see something 7 times before it becomes memorized. Put your logo and branding everywhere so that people see it constantly. It’ll help you become a recognized business in your community.
Other items of branding, business cards, possibly print boxes, letterhead, social media, etc.
Having a great body of work is good and fine and will look great on social media, but it is a good idea to have a place to show off your work and a website is a fantastic/professional way to do so.
Squarespace v. Showit v. Wordpress v. Wix v.
Client experience is also a part of your brand. Consider making videos that demonstrate what that experience looks like. Promo videos are a really cool and unique branding tool.
Jul 17 2018
Rank #8: Tailoring Your Ideal Client Experience - S01 Ep 07
In this episode Erica and Connor discuss different considerations to make as you think through the way you would like your ideal client to move through their interactions with your business. This can range from being a high end full service photographer, or a speedy and efficient shoot and burn photographer. One way or the other, it is incredibly valuable to think of how you would like your client to interact in your business and start putting systems in to place to allow for a consistent delivery of that client experience.
Strategize about how you want your business to operate from a financial structure
figure out how you want your ideal client interactions to run and work on getting systems in place to help things do so.
Think about client experiences/customer services you’ve had. What did you love about them? What did you hate about them?
Include the client experience in your workflow, so that it becomes an automatic part of your business.
Think about the client experience in all interactions - first email communications, first in person conversations, the duration of the project, the actual shoot, the delivery of the images, the creation and delivery of products, the final communications.
Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews (FB, Google, website, The Knot, etc.)
Be aware that asking for Yelp reviews goes against Yelp’s terms & conditions
On Sticking Points, Connor sits down with Diarmuid O’Donovan to discuss his current issue of feeling a lack of passion going in to his fourth year as a full time wedding photographer and is looking for a way to get past his feelings of redundancy and burn out.
Jul 10 2018
Rank #9: Defining your style - EP 91
What is a photography style?
How do I identify my own style?
How do I develop my own style?
Where can I source inspiration for my style?
What styles am I drawn to?
Feb 03 2017
Rank #10: Additional Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business - S01 Ep 10
In todays episode we talk about additional marketing strategies to help you grow your business. Then, on sticking points, Connor sits down with Pete Lagregor to discuss ways he can convert traffic coming to his website into actual bookings.
Step 9 Developing additional marketing strategies
Will you operate on word of mouth? If so, is there a way you can encourage that further?
Clear expectations for tagging/photo credit on social media
Relationships with other businesses
Facebook has become a marketing monster
Social media as marketing
Hashtags and tagging
Plan things ahead of time. When Creating advertisements don’t just ask what it is doing, but how it is doing it and how that will encourage others to follow through on their end.
Think creatively about what needs your ideal client has that only you can fill or that you can fulfill in an easier, cheaper, faster, or better quality than others in your market.
PEOPLE WILL NOT COME TO YOU, YOU HAVE TO GO TO THEM
Jul 31 2018
Rank #11: Shooting headshots like a pro - EP 92
Preferred lighting set ups
Jessica Charron I'd be curious how you determine the best light setup. Headshots are used for all different types of businesses and website. I don't think it's too tricky to figure out bright and airy or dark and dramatic. But I'd like more info in the before the shoot stage I guess. Do you send questions to your client, do you have a consultation, do you just do the same set up for every headshot?
Morayo Sayles Hi Erica, I would love to discuss your take on Natural light headshots vs. flash headshots. I know Connor works in studio, but do either of you take your headshots outside? And when you do, how do you decide when you want natural lighting vs artificial lighting?
Traditional v. Environmental
Adrian Mitchell I use seamless rolls for backgrounds (Black, Thunder Gray, and White). Sometimes I get bored with these generic backgrounds and use gels to switch things up a bit, or apply textures to the background in post. Besides gels, are there any other special tricks you use to bring life to a bland or dismal background?
Margo Rader Do you use any portable back drops for headshots? If so, which ones? Fancier Studio Pop up backdrop
Individuals v. Group
Zelda Zaragoza Johns I have a potential opportunity to do a high volume shoot. Wondering how to speed through a lot of people and still get good quality.
Acting/Dramatic v. Business
Scott Hallock For actor headshots, should the lens be at eye level, slightly above eye level, or slightly below eye level?
Agatha Knelsen How much is too much editing? We are providing pics that directors and talent agents expect to be a fair representation of the actor. Between posing and Photoshop, where is the line between true likeness and glamour?
Feb 24 2017
Rank #12: Q&A with Connor & Nick - EP 83
-All about off camera flash portraits: what modifiers to use, how to balance flash and ambient light, how to backlight, etc.?
-How do I build my portfolio to portray high end opportunities?
-Which website builder should I use for my new website?
-How do you prepare for a photo shoot?
Nov 07 2016
Rank #13: Setting Prices For Your Business - S01 Ep 06
Start by learning what your pricing needs to be for you to have a sustainable business.
Don’t let local markets influence this part too much. It is important to know at what point your business will be sustainable to know when you’re on the right track.
Erica disagrees. You have to take local markets into account when pricing. You’ll struggle if price yourself at $10k a wedding in a market that has an average of $2k a wedding. Similarly, if you price yourself at $2k a wedding in a market that averages $10k a wedding, you’re devaluing the art and everyone else in your market. If I lived in LA/NYC/Chicago, I’d be charging 3-4 times more than I do now because of the market in both locations.
You can start out lower than this sustainable number, but it is important to figure out ahead of time. When you know what it will take to be sustainable you will have a target to hit.
Cost of Doing Business Calculator: https://nppa.org/calculator
Sticking Points with Renos Erotocritou
Flash Gear to get started
Yong Nuo YN-560 IV
YongNuo YN-603 trigger
Cowboy Studio Stand
Shoot through Umbrella
Jul 03 2018
Rank #14: Real Talk - Strobe & Speedlight Modifiers - EP 104
Erica and Connor talk about their preferred light modifiers in a variety of photographic situations.
What is your Overall favorite modifier and why?
Do you have a specific brand you love?
Favorite Modifier to go out on a location with
Oct 24 2017
Rank #15: Proper white balance and calibration - EP 96
Connor and Sandy discuss proper techniques and reasoning behind proper white balance and calibration.
Apr 11 2017
Rank #16: 5 Ways to Improve Your Portraits in 30 Days - EP 107
Erica & Connor share their best suggestions to help you improve your portraits in the next 30 days.
Familiarize yourself with your gear.
It is easy to get bogged down with GAS, but it is important to realize that the best gear you can use is the stuff you have right now. Don’t allow yourself to pine after a new camera body if you don’t know the strengths and limitations your current gear.
Set up portfolio shoots.
Everyone has a busy schedule, so there is no need to add a certain amount of shoots here, do what you can comfortably do with your schedule even if it is just one shoot.
The key here is to not just set up a shoot, show up, and shoot the way you feel comfortable with. Set goals ahead of time of something you want to improve on and focus on that thing throughout the shoot so it becomes a comfortable point for you.
Set up portfolio shoots based on what you want to be paid for. Focus your efforts on the types of photography you want to be hired for. Don’t just shoot randomly.
Start Pre-visualizing your shoots.
This goes along well with the last segment. Go back and look at work you have done within the last 6 months and pull them apart. What could you have done better? THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING THAT COULD BE DONE BETTER.
Is this something you understand how to overcome?
The day of shooting it is nearly impossible to remember these things you casually noticed if you haven’t already mapped a solution to the problem. Think out exactly how you plan to overcome your weakness and have a “go-to” thing you want to do to fix it. This will increase the likelihood of you following through when the time actually comes about.
Focus on light.
Carve out time every day to focus on light. This doesn’t necessarily mean photography related light. As often as possible, pay attention to the way light hits certain objects and the shadows they create. The more you do this, the better you will understand the qualities of light.
Also make time to focus on photography related light. Whether you want to perfect your natural light photos or learn about flash, dedicate at least 30 minutes every day to light. Read about it, experiment with it, etc.
Start Building a visual vocabulary.
Something I have found as I have progressed in photography is that I have a certain visual aesthetic that appeals to me. This is something I honed by using sites like pinterest and tumblr to find work that appealed to me and pinned it.
This isn’t so you just copy work you find, but when you have a large list of images that you find striking, it starts to become easier to see elements of things you like in that imagery. I just recently downloaded tumblr again and went through my blog I haven’t posted on in a few years and it is amazing to see how much the things I blogged there still resonate with me now.
Feb 26 2018
Rank #17: GOALS! - EP 106
Erica and Connor reflect on their 2017 goals and share their goals for 2018.
Erica 2017 Reflections
Taking time for myself, not overbooking - success!
Creating epic multiple exposures - failure!
Book 5 weddings at my highest collection - success!
Connor 2017 Reflections
Become a full time photographer - Success!?
Focus more on Commercial Clients - failure/success?
Sell tickets to workshops - Success!
Connor 2018 Goals
Outsource some of my work
Get published in at least 4 publications
Grow non-commercial clients by 50% with social media marketing
Post much more consistently on social media (3 times a week)
Focus more attention on helping other photographers/creating content to help photographers
Get invited to speak at at least 1 other conference
Build a larger commercial client base
Erica 2018 Goals
Creative: master that double exposure technique in camera
Business: make 6 figures
Education: attend at least 1 high-end portrait workshop
Mark Morris First my goal from 2017 was to book more weddings... totally shot past my goal of 3, booked 8, with a lot of guidance from my mentor, Erica Coffman!! 2018... two goals: 1) offer some great workshops for photographers, and 2) expand my commercial client base. (I booked my second major corporate gig this year.).
Stephen Smith To finish my NYIP correspondence course. It's something I decided to do for fun, and it's been very educational. I'll be proud to finish.
Sarah Elizabeth I have one wholesale client right now and would love to get a couple more next year!
Aaron Taylor Pretty sure my 2017 goals were lofty. Might’ve met less than half. I’m going to give myself one goal for 2018: spend more money on education than gear.
Danette Zak To get a paying customer!!
Lori Hutchinson To just do it and quit lurking in the wings.
Josh Peterson To make enough off photography to buy the Tamron 24-70 g2. To second shoot a wedding. To shoot enough to fill my portfolio full enough to make a website.
Steven Morrow To learn the business side (contracts, llc, deductions, etc) at least half as much as I'm learning about photography itself.
Jeremy S. Lanthorn 1. To replace over half my salary with photography income.
2. Organize at least 3 styled shoots.
3. Make 2 photo specific trips.
4. Attend at least 5 state championship events (A lot of my income comes sports photography).
Tony Hicks To finish college, have my website complete(it will never be finished as far as I’m concerned) and a solid work flow in place among a few other things I want to be running at least a part time business in portraiture by the end of the year. Starting the year off by going to imaging in January it’s the conference put on by PPA I got accepted as one of the student volunteers this year and plan on taking as many of the marketing classes I can while I’m there among a few others as well. I’m sure I’m missing something but that’s all for now
Dec 27 2017
Rank #18: Lessons learned from 2016 - EP 88
Episode 88: Erica, Nick, and Connor talk about their most valuable lessons learned 0f 2016 and their goals for 2017. Be sure to join us in the Portrait Session Facebook group to share your goals and lessons learned!
Always have a backup plan
It is easy to say Yes to things. Learn when to say no.
It is okay to not be in control of every aspect of your work.
Teaching is one of the most rewarding things you can do.
Keep an open mind to new experiences.
Creative goal: I want to shoot at least 1 ad Campaign for a major company
Business Goal: To get my business to a level that allows for a sustainable long term growth/ To sell out all of the workshops Sandy and I are putting together.
Make time for yourself. As much time as you want/can afford.
You’ll never please everyone all the time.
If you don’t like something, don’t do it.
Ask for what you want.
Creative goal: Create epic multiple exposures on a regular basis.
Business goal: Book at least 5 more weddings at my highest collection.
There are only so many hours to go around,
Preparing and saving for off season
Finding a direction to go with your style should be a personal choice
Being happy is more important than money
The only things we can’t do, are the things we are too afraid to try.
Creative goal: Find my own style, and try to have my work stand apart from everyone else.
Business goal: Get streamlined, simplified, and organized. Made great steps in that direction in 2016, now it’s time to tie up loose ends.
Dec 28 2016
Rank #19: SEO and Building an Organic Web Presence for Your Business - S01 Ep09
In todays episode we talk about building an organic web presence to allow people to find your business on the web without you having to pay for advertising. This can be done through the channels of social media, google business/pages, and strengthened through your blogging capabilities on your website.
Then, on sticking points, Connor sits down with Ken Breivik to discuss building the confidence to fearlessly price your business where it needs to be priced for sustainable longevity.
Step 8 Building an Organic web presence
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest
Google maps, Google + PO Boxes?
Blogging helps search engines to find your site by populating your website with lots of words that have to do with your business. This is something to write strategically as a part of your SEO plan.
Yoast plugin for Wordpress
Jul 23 2018
Rank #20: Growing your business - EP 86
We all love small portrait sessions: Families, seniors, headshots
Benefits to this kind of session:
You get to be creative
You get to know your clients
You build personal relationships with people that appreciate your talent as an individual
You are an artist
Drawbacks to this kind of session:
You constantly have to find new clients
You have to explain the value of what you are doing
Often times clients will have quite limited budgets
To do this full time you have to be constantly marketing
Another option that can be used to bring in larger amounts of income with comparatively little time investment: Step and repeat Portrait Booths at events
Not talking about the often cheesy “hold up a moustache on a stick” photo booth
Not pre-made kibox kits that is self directed that print off little 2x2 prints right then and there.
Setting up a booth to take nice portraits that people can step in to, work with you for a minute and leave.
Often dealing with larger organizations that have budgets for events.
The hours are often relatively short (2-6 hours)
Don’t need to have nearly as many clients coming in to pay well.
Often times a way to get you in contact with a lot of clients.
It is Boring uninspiring work
You don’t get to interact with clients in a personal way
It often times takes more coordination before the event
A need for a bit more gear.
How it is done:
Usually about a 10’x10’ space
Need 1-3 light
Often times a backdrop
Maybe a themed prop
Place 1 light in the corner of the booth boomed as far in as possible while still being easy to navigate.
Gaff tape line to direct the flow of traffic
Best to have some sort of card with information on how to get the photos after the event
1-2 assistants to direct the line and hand out card/answer questions about receiving photos.
You should spend about 20 seconds to a minute with each person/couple/family/group and take 2-3 photos of each.
How to get clients of this sort:
FIrst, make a list of holidays and or times of the year organizations tend to throw parties/employee outings/community events
Second make a list of Organizations and businesses that are likely to hold these kinds of events. (Hint: Look for companies that often are medium sized businesses with around 100-500 employees that could feasibly afford one of your in person sessions, but not so much that they would look down on the offer of a photo booth, i.e banks, construction companies, office parks, etc.)
Third, cold call to set up an appointment to inquire about any yearly events and activities in which you might be a welcome attraction.
Be sure to follow up.
If this isn’t their first year doing the event they likely have an idea of attendance levels. Build an estimate considering around 50%-75% of families in attendance wanting photos at a cost ranging from $3-$10 per.
This price can either be paid for entirely by the hosts of the event, entirely by attendees (less preferable, you will do less work in these cases) or a hybrid (same as other)
Lighting is the same for each shot so you can sync across the whole event of shooting with only minor adjustments to exposure and occasional cropping.
Deliver either to the organization for them to make available to attendees, or have your own link made available.
Dec 07 2016