A NEW GUEST POST ON SCOTTKELBY.COM

PROJECT_PRESCRIPTION_PHOTOGRAPHY_3

Since Shauna, Paul, and I launched Project Prescription there has been a ton of buzz building about how valuable it is for photographers in helping them learn how to build successful client relationships – and one of the most important aspects of what we teach is how to vet your clients (and why it’s not just ok to say no to a job, but sometimes necessary to save your sanity and business).

Over the past few years I’ve been honored to be an occasional contributor to the blog of living legend/photo god Scott Kelby – and last week I was able to share my latest piece, which features a lot of wonderful tips from Project Prescription about vetting clients, learning what factors to consider when deciding who to work with, and what kinds of red flags you met look out for. Learning how to vet your clients is an incredibly important but often overlooks skill for many emerging photographers to learn.

Scott and his crew always go above and beyond to bring the best information and educational opportunities to the photographic community and I’m thrilled that they have featured a number of my articles on the business side of art. Check it out here.

PHOTO BRIGADE WITH ROBERT CAPLIN

Robert Caplin of The Photo Brigade and I sat down a couple weeks back at Adorama’s event space in NYC to talk at length about my work with rescue dogs, amazing rust belt entrepreneurs like Wrafterbuilt and Lake Effect Ice Cream, how ASMP helps photographers run smart and sustainable businesses, and how Project Prescription can help you build amazing relationships with clients.

Check it out in the video above!

THIS WEEK IN PHOTO

I’m very excited to have been a recent guest on This Week in Photo with Frederick Van Johnson!

We talk about my experiences developing Project Prescription for photographers and how it can benefit creatives who have troubles with workflow and dealing with clients. We also touch on my work with ASMP, and the importance of not just being a great artist, but also a great business person in order to be successful in today’s photography environment.

BEST OF ASMP 2015

Emilio

I’m so honored and excited to announce that my ongoing Shelter Dog portrait series was a winning finalist in the American Society of Media Photographers Best of 2015 Awards. For the past few years I’ve been working with local animal shelters and rescue programs in Buffalo, NY to provide adoption portraits of long term canine residents who are in dire needs of finding permanent and loving homes. These intimate portraits really give people an opportunity to connect with the animals and give them something that makes it easy to share these dog’s images and stories over social media – helping them to go viral in the local community and often allowing pups that have been at the shelter for months to find new families in a matter of days.

You can read my interview with AMSP here.

You can see the rest of the 2015 winners’ amazing work here. 

Bram Birch - PitbullPetunia - An adoptable rescue pit bull from Buffalo, NY. Apx 4.5 years old female. Stache

I GOT MARRIED!

A moment from the wedding of Luke & Erin Copping - By Nickel City Studios

After months of planning, coordinating guests from two countries, and so much anticipation and excitement, Erin and I finally celebrated our wedding on Sunday in Niagara Falls, NY. I couldn’t be happier with how the day turned out and I’m so excited to finally be able to call Erin not just my best friend, but my wife!

So many of our friends pitched in to help us, and we worked with some of the coolest people we know on various parts of the day, including: Ali from Anatomy who designed and handmade Erin’s dress, Shauna Haider of We Are Branch who designed our invites and menus, the guys at Bureau who put my suit together, Alyssa and Rich of Nickel City Studios who created the amazing portrait of the two of us above, Lindsay at The Rapids Theatre, Steve at Rich’s who handled our catering, and Keith Harrington who designed the amazing light mapped wedding cake that was one of the coolest parts of the reception. Thank you so much to everyone who helped us to pull off such an incredible day. And an incredibly special thanks to my cousin Ryan for performing the beautiful ceremony he wrote for us.

We’re both looking forward to sharing more pictures soon, but in the meantime check out this amazing cake!

Erin + Luke’s Cake from Alyssa Mattingly on Vimeo.

FEATURE: BIRCH IS ON THE COVER OF SHUTTERBUG MAGAZINE

Shutterbug Cover

My portrait of my little friend Birch is on the cover of Shutterbug Magazine this month!

(This is the part where you envision me doing a dramatic and triumphant slow motion fist pump right now)

Maria Piscopo interviewed Isaac Howard, Tim Courtney, Cathy Greenblat, and myself about our work with various charities, non-profits, and volunteer organizations. It covers the ins and outs of what can go right and wrong when donating your time and work and features some of my favorite rescue dog images from the past year.

When I first started photographing dogs it was just something I was going to try for fun so I could make some portraits of my dogs for my fiancee, but it’s turned into a huge part of my business and my life over the last year as I’ve been working with both rescue animals and on advertising campaigns in the veterinary industry. I hope more photographers will start to donate their time to local shelters, as good portraits really help people connect with these animals’ personalities and greatly aid adoption efforts.

You can support and learn more about the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter here. 

You can also support great organizations like notabully.org to help change minds about pit bulls and work to end breed specific discrimination. 

A BRAND SPANKING NEW ONLINE PORTFOLIO

I’ve made some significant changes to my online portfolios since the new year and today I’m ready to launch this all new mix of work for 2015. Some of these additions are from projects that I’ve been waiting forever to be able to share, while others are classics that I’m reintroducing to better illustrate the direction my work is taking. Click on any of the samples below to check out the full galleries on my main site.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing a lot more about my new marketing efforts for 2015, including a new print book, new promos, and some fun videos I’m working on right now.

Creative

Portraits of artists, musicians, and creative entrepreneurs – this is where you’ll find some of my edgier and more conceptual portraits in addition to a lot of my editorial work.

Creative Portraits Portfolio

Business

Everything from small business owners to corporate giants.

Luke Copping's Business Portfolio

Everyday

The day-to-day portraits of unique characters, some from assignments, others I’m drawn to photographing for myself.

Everyday Portraits Portfolio

Animals

Rescue dogs, commercial assignments, and private commissions featuring everyone’s favorite furry/feathered/scaly friends.

A look at my animals portrait portfolio

I’M THE GUEST BLOGGER AT SCOTTKELBY.COM TODAY

I was honored a few weeks ago when the editorial team at scottkelby.com reached out to me and asked me if I would like to write a guest post for their blog (which just happens to be a favorite of mine – so when I say “honored” it was more like “jumping up and down on my bed excitedly until my fiancé made me stop”). I chose to write about a topic that troubles a lot of photographers – how important it is to not just talk about those dream projects and images that you want to create, but to actually take action and actively pursue them. I was lucky enough to have some great examples of artists who are taking these risks and getting it done in two of my favorite local photographers, Scott Gable and Valerie Kasinski.

You can check out the full post here.

UPGRADING TO THE MAMIYA 645 DF+

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

I’m the first to hate on photo blogs that obsess about new gear, pixel peeping, and how wonderful the latest and greatest new thing is, so let me immediately acknowledge that for a few brief moments I’m about to break my own rules.

Now that we have that out of the way I can share some really exciting news.

I made a big investment in my business and moved from primarily working with a 35mm SLR system back to primarily working with a medium format system again when I purchased a Mamiya 645 DF+ and a Leaf Credo 40 back at the end of 2014. I’d mainly been working with the Canon 5D series for the last couple of years and occasionally renting Mamiya/Phase systems when needed, but the more I shot with the medium format systems the more I fell back in love with the look of the images I was getting from them – I spent a good chunk of my film days shooting on the analog versions of the Mamiya 645 and the Mamiya RZ, so going back to that format actually felt really natural for me. I’d been looking into upgrading as far back as 2012, but from a business and financial perspective it wasn’t the right time to make that sort of investment, so I shelved the idea and decided to revisit it in the future. Thankfully, by the end of 2014 I had experienced quite a bit of growth in my business, been saving smartly towards upgrading, and was in a position where making the leap made a lot more sense.

I couldn’t be happier!

If you think you will ever be in the market to upgrade to a medium format system I highly recommend talking to the folks at Capture Integration in Atlanta before you do so. I agonized for well over a year before pulling the trigger on this new system, and lot of it was spent doing research, getting opinions, and trying to get my hands on various systems to test drive, but what locked it for me was when Chris Snipes from the CI sales team actually came to Buffalo for an event and made some time for me privately to answer a ton of questions and let me test drive a lot of different gear hands-on that really sold me. They’ve been great after the fact too, checking in with me and offering tons of support and optimization tips through their tech support and rentals manager Anthony Festa (a fellow Western New Yorker recently transplanted to the South). These are the people to talk to if you are serious about upgrading.

One of the first assignments I used the new setup on was this portrait of the late pro baseball umpire and actor Peter Calieri. He was probably best known as one of the field officials in Barry Levinson’s The Natural – maybe the best baseball movie ever. He was also a beloved part of the Buffalo, NY theatre community. Sadly, Peter passed away unexpectedly not long after he sat for this portrait.

Portrait of former pro baseball umpire and actor peter calieri
When I was in Seattle a few years ago at a workshop with John Keatly he joked that when he upgraded to a Hasselblad system he was disappointed that the images he took with the camera weren’t already retouched, and I totally get that now. These cameras are actually a little unforgiving, the files are so astonishingly sharp and crisp that you see EVERYTHING, but when you move past that and realize that the raw materials they give you to work with have so much potential and such a different feel from the 35mm format it changes the way you shoot and approach projects. I find myself working much more slowly and deliberately now. In general I’m capturing far fewer frames per project, and I’m certainly mindful of the quirks you encounter when moving to a new system. At first I was concerned about the weight and size factor, and it certainly is heavier than my MKIII, but at 6’2 it really hasn’t been too much of an issue for me. I’ve also found that I have to be extra mindful about nailing focus with this camera, as it’s much less forgiving that a 35mm in that regard – but when you see that perfect capture come in on-screen you are totally blown away by it.

WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK

Intermission

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you might have noticed me dropping teasers and talking a lot about some of the projects that have consumed most of my summer. Well, the truth is I’m finally wrapping some of these stories up and some significant changes to this blog and my work are coming soon. I’m going to take a bit of a break from this blog during september as I gear up to unveil this change of direction, and I plan to spend this time writing, retouching, and frantically editing so that when October rolls around I can share some cool new stuff with you. I’ll still be active on social media and posting iPhone portraits on 4AM Knows All My Secrets – so keep in touch with me through those channels as I get things ready behind the scenes here.

See you soon!

BUFFALO SPREE

Cover for the April 2013 issue of Buffalo Spree Magazine.

In late January I got a call from the staff at Buffalo Spree Magazine to be part of a special project they were planning for their April issue.  This was my first assignment working with the editorial team from Spree and they tasked me with photographing several subjects for a feature on Buffalo’s most beautiful/fascinating people.

Here’s a look at the cover featuring television personality Lydia Dominick I shot for the issue. I’ll be sharing a few of the interior features in the coming weeks.

NEW PROMO DESIGNS FOR 2013

Email promo newsletter

Towards the end of 2012  I started planning some large changes to my marketing plan and how I promote myself. I had two major goals for these changes: to make my blog a central part of my marketing plan, and to get away from generic promo e-mails that had little more functionality than a traditional print postcard.

I am lucky in that I get to see a lot of promos (both print and digital) from a lot of photographers, illustrators, and designers – I request them regularly from artists I respect or who I feel are exceptional marketers to share with local photo students and interns during a regular marketing seminar I host. I have formed a lot of strong opinions about what I like and don’t like in promotions (turn-ons: simplicity, bold design, to-the-point copy, relevance, and a variety of choices on how you want to interact with the material. Turnoffs: buzzwords, bad links, no depth of content when visiting the site or blog)  The e-mails that have really been standing out to me lately are those that have a newsletter/digest format. Rather than featuring just one image they feature 3-5 stories from a photographer’s recent projects accompanied by short excerpts of text and link to more in-depth features on that photographer’s blog.

Over a few weeks before the holidays I worked with designer Shauna Haider from Nubbytwiglet.com (who originally created the identity elements that I use and is an all-around superstar) to transition from the e-postcards I had been sending out to a more versatile newsletter format that shares highlights of what I have worked on lately in a more specific and useful way. Shauna put together a wonderful and  easy-to-implement template for me that lets me share stories from my blog with my readers, as well as providing direct access to my homepage, e-mail, and several social media channels that I am active on.

This sort of format just makes sense to me. It is easy to quickly read and understand, gets the point across without being overly obtrusive, features a range of current projects that recipients may find relevant, and gives them a choice of which stories they want to engage with and explore further. Last week I launched my first marketing campaign using this new format and in just the first day the positive response made it one of the most successful promotional drives I have undertaken yet.

I’ll be following these e-mail promos with a collection of simple large format postcards that feature the same stories from the e-mail campaign, like the ones below.

Jan 2013 postcard front Jan 2013 postcard back

DOUGLAS SONDERS / FSTOPPERS

While I was away on vacation I got an email from my old pal and fellow photographer Douglas Sonders to contribute to a post he was writing for Fstoppers about the work ethic and sacrifices that are needed in many people’s journeys to become successful photographers. Naturally, I was supposed to be on a work-free holiday for a few days without my laptop, so I ended up writing a lengthy contribution to Douglas’ post on my iPhone while sitting in a hotel lobby (the irony is not lost on me). It is a great post and I think a lot of creatives could benefit from reading what Douglas, myself, and the other contributors wrote.

“It is a given trade off that we need to make sacrifices to achieve success in any field that we want to truly excel at. But I firmly believe that our mindset and how we approach those sacrifices has a lot to do with how we perceive our situations. My work is part of my life, I integrate it into so much of what I do that often it does not feel like work, but rather something I am excited to do. For a long time I found it hard to maintain friendships and relationships outside of the photo industry because very often people did not understand the requirements and dedication needed to run a successful freelance business. But over time I did learn that my true friends wanted nothing but success for me, and they don’t resent the fact that it may be weeks or months between times we hang out because of my travel and work schedule, but when when we do meet up they are excited for me, and it is often like no time has passed – and I am quite content with that”

Read more at Fstoppers

CHANGES FOR 2013

Welcome to 2013… let’s get started.

I just returned from a brief holiday trip to NYC where I spent a week with my girlfriend and family enjoying the city, eating, and listening to them grumble as I dragged them to art galleries and museums (you should all go see MoMA’s exhibits on both the Quay Brothers and Tokyo 1955-1970). Despite ending the trip with a six-hour flight delay and a bad flu that I am still fighting off, I am mentally recharged and revived and ready to kick some butt heading into the new year.

I spent a lot of time over the holidays thinking about this blog and where I want to go with it in 2013. I know that over the last few months of 2012 my posting schedule had become a little erratic due to the heavy travel and shooting schedule that I was working with (I’m not complaining – it was great to be so busy and work on so many cool projects as the year wrapped up) but it used to be that I was able to post 2-3 times a week, including some of the regular features like Personal Record and Required Reading that readers really seemed to enjoy. I fell into a bit of blog quicksand and with each post that I felt I missed or posted late, it just got worse and worse –  but there is no time like the new year for a fresh start! After reassessing the direction I want to take this blog in and how I want it to serve my readers, I have decided that I would rather take the route of quality over quantity. In the coming months I will be posting on a more stable schedule of at least once a week (with the occasional extra post as warrented), and regular features will be posted on a monthly schedule that will allow for denser and better curated posts. You can look forward to me sharing new work a few times a month, a new and more expansive monthly link roundup, the regular appearance of a new self-portrait project, news, updates about marketing, behind the scenes and mobile images, and more. You can also look for me to be more active on twitter and more responsive to questions asked on the blog and via email

I also have a big announcement that I want to share with all of you.

The American Society of Media Photographers reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked me to become a regular contributor to their daily Strictly Business Blog, so a lot of my business and industry-based writing will be moving over there. In fact, my first post launched early this morning. I will be writing new content for them every few weeks going forward. I am really thrilled to be a part of this blog which features writers and photographers who have been mentors to me the last few years as I restarted my career in photography.

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR

I’m taking the rest of the year off!!!

Getting on a plane right now to head to NYC for the rest of 2012, I’ll be spending time with family and making plans for the next year – but I will be back in the new year with lots of new content to share with you.

Have a great New Year!

THE BEST BIRTHDAY GIFT EVER

A painting by Nick Butlak

This weekend my friend Nicholas Butlak presented my with an amazing gift for my 31st birthday – a large oil painting he entitled Photographic Overdose. For as long as Nick and I have been friends / collaborators I have wanted one of his amazing paintings, and over the last few months he has been working on this piece as a surprise for me.

I love it. Thanks Nick!