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A combination photo shoot.

A few weeks ago I covered a local event called the BrewTown Rumble. It was part portrait session for the Pin-up models of a pageant and part location candids. These lovely ladies wanted great professional portraits which required a studio set-up and my Nikon DSLR. For the location candids, I tend to use my iPhone6. If you know your equipment and lighting this combination works incredibly well.

In regards to the portrait session, it’s important to be in control of your lighting.  I use Wescxott TD5 Florescent lighting with softboxes. I prefer the constant light rather than strobes due to my not doing portrait work full time. The constant lighting allows me to see where my shadows fall and how the light effects my models faces before taking the picture. Strobe lighting is a skill all photographers should know how to use especially full-time photographers.

My florescent lamps are ‘’daylight’’ rated and I can mix the natural sunlight into my studio session. Depending on the specific situation, it can add to the portrait. It’s another benefit of using daylight florescent lamps.

Once I started covering the days event, I like using my iPhone. It becomes my simple ‘’point-n-shoot’’ camera so I can concentrate strictly on composition. I own and use a Moment telephoto lens plus the standard iPhone lens. I quickly and easily switch between the two as needed. Using the iPhone allows me to be less intrusive. Photos are also easier to take as people are less intimidated now by cell phones. Cell phones allow you to be far more reactive at events. The lower you can get to the ground with your iPhone the more impact your photos will have.

Have more questions about iPhone photography? Send me an email and lets talk about it and checkout my iPhone site at

Instagram and the Best Practices for Photographers

Instagram has become a dominate social media outlet for artists and photographers. 21% of adults are using it with 53% between the ages of 18-29. That puts your prospects right in the age range of needing a professional photographer. That makes Instagram an important means to spread word message.

If you do a Google search on protecting your images on Instagram you’ll find 17,700,000 results. I weeded through many sites to gather some useful information to help you stop the likes of Richard Prince from using your photos for their gain. Unfortunately, It is possible to have others to profit from your hard work. There are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your images.

Every client must sign a release allowing the use of their photos on Instagram and other social media outlets. Many releases may not include the details of social media so a section that addresses it must be updated. This could protect you from unintentional uses of your photo.

Never upload a full resolution files. Several of the social media outlets downgrade the image quality intentionally at uploading. Many of todays DSLR’s are so sharp you may have to downsize them yourself.

You can also add a variety watermarks to every image before uploading to any site. Watermarks can go from a detailed logo to a simple name faded over an image. Some may be annoyed by this practice so you need to decide how and where you want to use it on your images. Often the lower right corner or upper left hand corner are the most common and the the way most people view images. An other simple method is to upload only a part of an image without removing any crucial part of the picture.  

There is quite a bit of info on this topic. “Stop stealing my sh*t!” covers the highly technical ways you can protect yourself on Instagram and other social media outlets. Go to this link for a worthwhile article by for some great details.


Senior Picture Season

       We spent some time on different social media outlets to see what was happening with Senior pictures in 2015. We found some varying results. We at Pro Studio Supply thought we could keep you informed of our findings. It’s very important that photographers stay current on shooting styles or info or get lost in the shuffle.

       1. Outdoor shoots are the majority of pictures on Pinterest and Instagram. We found two looks on Twitter that surprised us. The first was a variety of fancy dresses. Some appeared to come right out of a wedding magazine. The other was a highly personalized look. Props are pretty much the same and used frequently in pictures. Overall, the vast majority of pictures on Pinterest were all taken outdoors.

       2. A more traditional headshot was more prominent on Instagram. The posing of the senior was also more traditional. Overall the pictures had less quality for technicalities and composition. The pictures on Instagram were also far more casual.

You have to decide as the photographer if you will offer indoor and outdoor pictures. There is an argument to be made that both can be appropriate. If you want pictures that capture personality and the life of a senior outdoors is probably the way to go. Those same pictures, however, may not meet the requirements of the school to be included in the yearbook.

The most consistently purchased prints are still Wallets! We offer a real variety of types that all parents love to have and use. There’s a los a great variety Wallet Sized Keychains to choose from. They help remind everybody of their Sr. the way they were. Most parents we’ve encountered want some senior pictures to highlight these important milestones.

Consider Instagram as a place to post those pictures that you have a release for. It does seem that Pinterest might be a hard way to reach new clients by the looks of the pictures and the volume, but it needs to be in your mix of SEO. Instagram is not the same, entirely, and might be a great way to reach more clients. Remember, tagging the senior and your city with senior pictures will get them seen by the parents and people you need more business from on Instagram.

Client Retention and Loyalty

Do you reward your clients for returning?  If you do, bravo! If you do not, you should consider what’s the best way for you.  The most obvious is to always encourage your client to come back. Do something more like send them a free print with a thank you goes a long way towards loyalty. It also has the added benefit of encouraging prints to be made.

Thinking outside the box is important, however.  Offering free downloads is great idea. Allowing the client to share the album on social media rather than downloading the pictures allows traffic back to your website. Many of the portfolio websites do allow for the sharing of an album in such a way as to gain that traffic back to your website. You can easily offer to do that for your clients as a part of a loyalty program feature.

Discounts on prints are another way to encourage referrals and return clients. Clients like to feel valued and cared for. It is important to remember that photography is a highly personal item to people.

Being loyal to your clients is also important. I make sure to inquire on big happenings after the fact. Many clients will talk about the things going on in life during a shoot. I like to ask when delivering the finals a few questions about how those things are going. Example: A client that’s talking about a promotion should be asked how it went the next time you speak to them.  Or a client that mentions an up-coming celebration should be asked if it was a great event as they anticipated.

Why the Selfie Might Help the Photographer Out

This generation of “selfie” photographers has dynamically changed the landscape of photos. People are once again in love with photos of themselves. Moms who did not take the time before to take pictures are now.

This renewed interest in photos is a boon to photographers who choose to maximize this idea. Be creative! Figure out a way to encourage those same Moms or people in general to understand why a professional picture might be a nice luxury.

Imagine this; a side by side photo of yourself; one professional and one as a selfie, which will have more impact? Further only one of these says I love myself enough to do something special for my family. One says we are worth more and the other says we are worth a quick fix.

Yes, it is an indulgence in this day and age to have a professional portrait done of yourself or your family. Your client’s and potential clients are worth it. You just need to find a way to visually show them they are worth it. Think to your own Facebook pages. People who take the step to have a professional picture get more likes, comments and shares.

Think about how different the professional picture looks now. In the day and age of no selfies all the personal pictures looked somewhat similar. They were either a snapshot or professional. Now in this day and age your work STANDS out. Use that to your advantage.Check out this great Smartphone Selfie Stick NEW at Pro Studio!

Remember, after you do the shoot, remind your clients to PRINT there pictures and treat is as an indulgence!

Thank you Jodie at Studio J Images in MN. A very special customer of mine!

The Dying Art of Photo Albums!

I have an artist/photographer friend that shoots a photo a day, every day. She posts it on Facebook. She is on year 4 as we speak. This photo turns into her personal journal. She prints these pictures into an album every year.

She chooses an album worthy of holding her honored images. Unfortunately, there are less options then ever before making it tougher to find the right one. There is a decline in clients wanting albums and photographers offering them. It may surprise you to know that even I as an album supplier am finding less options and harder to supply albums. Because everyone is selling less albums, our manufactures are making and offering fewer and fewer.

Just because the majority of consumers are not using albums doesn’t mean there is no longer a need for them. Photo albums are becoming a lost art. Because this artist has no intent on stopping her photo a day and wants a regular printed album she has found that she needs to change the album style almost yearly.

My thoughts for you lie in this direction: Is the album dying a good thing because it affects so few? Even here we have at times considered not carrying them. Is this just one of the things we have to let go of? It goes back to an earlier blog that photos need to be printed. Should that not be in an album? Somehow a photobook, a really nice one, does not seem cost effective compared to an album. You can easily go to a drive through book maker but is that really the quality you want? You can also spend a small fortune on a high class book. These books can reach hundreds of dollars to create.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject! Please share your ideas and what you’ve done in your photography business.

Non-Scientific Pole

A friend and I recently asked every photographer we knew if they ever enter photo contests and if so, how many. Many said they do and also enjoy it as a hobby besides their photo business. This was the case with most of the people we talked to. Most explained their professional photography businesses help pay for their hobby.

Analytics showed heavy response whenever we posted anything to do with contests on our Pro Studio Facebook page. We plan to continue announcing contests on our Facebook page  so make sure you’re following us on Facebook and our twitter feed for updates and more.

Here’s a quick approach to entering contests. Always research each contest thoroughly. Most of them will allow you to see previous winners. This is helpful in deciding if it’s a good match for your style of photography.

Review the timelines and terms. If a contest is a good match for you, you don’t want to miss the deadlines. You can set-up reminders in your smartphones for two weeks and 3 days prior to keep you informed. Keep track of award dates. It’s too easy to loose emails into spam accounts. You can also use a variety of colored markers to track contest dates on a paper calendar.

The terms of each contest are very important to consider. You need to see how the photographers picture rights are handled and what’s expected of you if you do win.

I make an effort to track the contests I’ve entered to be prepared again next year. If I receive an honorable mention or more I print the picture for a portfolio or album along with the award or mention. This is a very important part of the process. This is a resume builder and looks great when speaking to clients. Think of the confidence boost a client will have working with you if you can show them your “award winning” images in an album.

If any of you win a contest, please let us know with a twitter post on our feed. We’ll help you spread the word there and on Facebook. We have a reach of 10,000 photographers world-wide. Pro Studio would love to spread some love for you’re work.


The challenges of studio lighting can be intimidating. So many factors go into lighting. But the most important one is the photographer’s ability to demonstrate their person voice. It’s all to easy lighting instructions on the internet. But they’re usually cookie cutter with little thought behind them. I would suggest you learn the basics but tweak them to create your very own style and unique voice.

Today, lighting can set you apart from the competition and bring you more jobs. Fine art photographers have known this and seek out specially lit images. They understand that light can create a dramatic look, or a soft look and more importantly, combine them into an extra special image.

Portrait photographers new to photography, usually default to a standard setup. They haven’t learned any other way. In this day and age we need to accept that “everyone is a photographer”. The camera manufacturers told them all they need is their camera. A more experienced photographer will have the ability to control their light in most situations. With a commitment to on-going study and learning they can perfect their craft and thus stand out in a crowded arena.

One suggestion can assist you in developing a lighting style. Learn to use your walls to bounce light off. You can use your existing walls or create some walls from foamcore or other materials. One of the more ambitious ones is drywall on wheels. A wood frame is built to your specs. and can be placed anywhere in your space. You can also add a slopping top that either adjusts or not.  By moving these panels around, you can control where your shadows fall and learn to sculpt your light for each subject.

Once you’ve committed to bounce lighting your fun begins so start experimenting with what works best for you. Some will devote a light unit just to this bounce wall. You should know how your light equipment function. View the additional piece as insurance that you have exactly what you need and it’s there when you need it. Pro Studio Supply sells a very affordable set of add-on wheels that can attach to your light stands allowing you to easily move them where you need them. Too many concentrate on the cost of their equipment and forget that their running a business. Your goal is to create quality images and the ease at which you do this is directly related to your financial success. The appearance and professionalism you display will bring more customers faster than cheap prices. We carry several lines of lighting and peripheral equipment at affordable prices. Call an associate for free advice and options.

Set yourself apart and that will lead to more clients. Each client wants their portraits to be special. Cookie cutter is no longer acceptable.

Getting to know Mark Stall – Guest Blogger

Mark Stall has been living a dream as a photographer for a long time and the owner of Pro Studio Supply for 27 years. The photography business was very different when he first got started. They were strictly clinical and utilitarian. Webpages were devoid of personality and meant to be strictly useful then. I’m a local photographer who had the pleasure of meeting Mark through another local photographer. It was a great thing we met. We had a lot in common and a lot to share with each other. I wrote this ‘’get to know’’ Mark Stall blog because he’s worth knowing.

Having been an engaging photographer, it was a different type of feeling for Mark. Now, the world is a place where we all want to know each other.  Mark was kind enough to answer some questions recently so that I could write a blog post about him.

1.) Music has always been an important part of my life. I used to attend every major rock concert here in my state of WI. I would capture pictures of every one of them. I would hand hold my 200+mm lens and shoot mostly slide film for that instant gratification under multi-changing stage lights. I have a great collection of photo albums I cherish to this day.

2.) I enjoy movies especially scifi! My father was a big influence on me. From 2001 a Space Odyssey to Blade Runner, I watched and dreamed of space travel and extra-terrestrial life.

3.) I love to take trips with my family. When our two boys were growing up, we would travel our state and several longer trips around the USA together. We all enjoy the ocean, national theme parks and cities. I also traveled with my parents and siblings growing up. We drove to over 40 US states.

4.) My wife Nancy and I attended an international photographic trade show every other year in Cologne Germany back in the 1990's. It's known as Photokina and is still running to this day. We got to know the beautiful town of Cologne Germany and we'd often travel to other European countries while on these trips.  

5.) My wife and I are going on 30 years of marriage. We met and were engaged in just four weeks. We have a lot of common likes but are very different from each other. Perhaps this is why we've been able to stay together so long.

6.) I'm an award-winning fine art photographer. I may have got started late, but I've been juried into dozens of shows over the past 15 years. I exhibit at art shows, art galleries and a variety of retail venues. I'm the past board member and treasurer of a fine art photography group called The Coalition of Photographic Arts (CoPA) here in Milwaukee, WI and in the local Cedarburg Artists Guild which offers so many opportunities to exhibit my work.

After I read these answers I realized Mark is a very diverse photographer/person. I say photographer first because I believe it defines him in so many ways. I also had a better understanding of his motivation to be in the business he is in. It is not just that he understands it, he lives it! Lastly, it made me think about his customers. I wonder how diverse they are. It is not a simple world anymore. It is a far more interesting world.

In part of my discussion with Mark we both wondered how we could find out more about his clients. I am willing to bet it is more diverse than we think! Now, I just have to make sure we don’t end up discussing Sci-Fi because we’ll never get anything else done!

The Decay of Historical Pictures

Presentation was an art form at the birth of the photograph. The final picture, a luxury at the time, was carefully placed in a presentation folio that could be an ornate as the picture itself. The idea of presenting pictures in such a fashion continued well into the digital era.

The sad state of these early presentation folio today is a state of decay. Many are tattered, torn and worn. These folios as beautiful as they are have reached their limit in many cases. The ones that have not reached their limit are likely not archival quality.

One of the great things the digital age has brought us is the ability to have archival papers, inks and all the acid free materials we could ever hope for. It is so prevalent we forget that acid free was ever really an issue. Archival is almost taken for granted now.

What about all of these historical pictures? I, personally can’t see destroying the old folios. This is what I can envision;

Preserve, carefully, the old ones while scanning and printing them. After printing put them in a new folio for viewing. Alternatively, re-locating where you can the historical picture to a new presentation folio.  If desired you can keep the old folio with the new one so that you do not lose it but neither do more damage to it.  I would advise scanning the folio to keep with the scanned print as well. Be aware there is some value to some of the folios.

No matter what you can envision for these you will want to make sure that if you do go with a new folio to get a nice quality one so that in 150 years more the same issues are not had. It is also not a bad idea to consider a high quality box to store all of these pictures in.

While no one really wants to disrupt history in any way, while we would prefer to leave them as they are there is a very real risk that they will continue to deteriorate past the point of recognition. If you have other thoughts I would love to have them shared with us. We will pass them along in an upcoming blog. This is a problem that belongs to all of us to solve. Even businesses are hiring companies to do this work for them. It is after all history.