Posts Tagged ‘business’

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I still take pictures!

November 14, 2008

After nearly a six week hiatus from photography work due to my own wedding and honeymoon, I have another shoot tomorrow. What better excuse to do another nerdy gear rundown?

Nikon D300 with MB-D10 grip. Still the perfect camera for me.

Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 macro lens. Great for interiors, exteriors, decoration details, the bride getting ready, reception guests, dancing–almost everything.

Sigma 50-150 f/2.8. Great for the wedding ceremony itself.

Nikon SB-600 flash. Excellent on the camera with my Lightsphere diffuser, but even better off-camera. When doing the posed shots I put this sucker on an umbrella stand and trigger it remotely with the built-in flash of the D300. It’s all wireless and battery powered, requires only one additional piece of gear (the stand), and still allows me to do a quick in-and-out guerilla-style shoot.

My secondary equipment includes the venerable Nikon D50 and the Nikkor 50 f/1.8. I often have my assistant shoot a “B roll” with this.

So what’s on the wish list? Two things. First, an SB-800 flash. Second, a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 lens for portraiture. Maybe I’ll try to save up for one of them after the holidays.

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Wrass Builders

August 14, 2008

Running Feldstein Photography this past year has really opened my eyes to the challenges and opportunities faced by entrepreneurs and small, independent businesses. Once source of continuing inspiration and guidance during this process has been my friend and neighbor, Adam Wrass of Wrass Builders.

Let me not mince words: If you want to build a home, or if you want to remodel your existing home, there couldn’t possibly be a more enthusiastic, honest and hardworking person to turn to than Adam. Give him a call. You’ll see for yourself.

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Shoot

July 17, 2008

I’ve written a fair bit about the technical side of photography, but there’s so much more to it than that. What’s it really like to be a wedding photographer? Here’s an outline of the whole enchilada, start to finish–in English, with very few technical details.

Contract: Usually I’ll get an email or phone call from a couple who has either found my site on Google, or who has seen my ad on Craig’s List. At that first contact, I make an appointment to discuss details in person. At that meeting I show them prints and photo books. I reiterate everything my web site says. I prominently display my camera, as even non-pros can tell it’s a serious bit of kit. I don’t pressure them to sign a contract. Instead I go over the agreement with them and send them home with a copy and some Moo cards. More often than not, I’ll get a signed contract back in the mail within a week, accompanied by a deposit check. It’s on. I put their wedding date in my calendar and cash their check.
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My Store

April 21, 2008

You know I have a part-time photography business going on the side, right? Right. And you know I have a web site for the biz, right? feldsteinphotography.com, remember? Okay. So here’s the new thing I’ve added.

Zenfolio.com is a web site that allows photographers to sell prints of their work. I made myself a zenfolio account, uploaded some photos, made them into groups, set a password on one, left the other open to whomever, and then I mapped store.feldsteinphotography.com to the site.

Voila! Instant photography store.

Now all I have to do is update feldsteinphotography.com to link to it (and it needs new pictures in the gallery, too).

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Photography Space

February 12, 2008

Speaking of the photography thing, it’s going well but it’s not without it’s dilemmas. There’s struggling to get customers to sign contracts, there’s advertising, there’s making sure you have (and can afford!) the right equipment… Most of that stuff seems to be going okay at the moment, but here’s a challenge I hadn’t much thought about before: studio and office space.

He asks, she says yes, the happy young couple goes to the web in search of wedding services. They find my web site either through Google or through the ads I keep posting on Craig’s List. However they find it, they’re intrigued by the quality of my work and/or the reasonableness of my fees. So they call or email: can we meet with you to discuss it further? Absolutely!

But I think you see the problem. Where can I meet them? If you believe that lots of these young couples will invite you to their homes, you’re wrong. They don’t. I end up having to meet them in public places like Starbucks. I bring along my laptop, some printed photos, a hard cover photo book, and a camera with a big lens which I place conspicuously on the table in front of me so they’ll know who I am. But come on. Starbucks? It’s noisy and crowded and totally unprofessional.

But let’s say they get over that. After all, part of the reason they’re coming to me is because I’m what you’d call a discount photographer. They get that someone like me to has to have low overhead. They’re still ready to do business, Starbucks or no. So the next thing they ask is: can you do engagement photos for us?

And then there’s the other dilemma. I have no studio space in which to set up my backdrop and lights. My only real option at that point is to forgo a backdrop and do it “on location,” in some accessible and picturesque place.

So I find myself wondering about time-sharing space for these things. Where can I get occasional space to set up a small studio, or have a meetings with clients?

Someone on Flickr suggested Bucketworks, which is a really cool idea. They have the spaces I need and it’s only about a mile from my office at the university. But then the reality sinks in: it costs $100 a month for a professional membership there. Which is totally reasonable! But I just can’t bring myself to pay that for two reasons. First, because my use of the space would be so occasional. If it’s just meetings, I might be there as little as five hours a month! Even if I had one studio shoot, it’s unlikely to bring me above 10 hours in a month. Second reason I can’t pay this is because my fledgling business is just starting out and income is hit or miss. There is no way I’m going to sign up for regular overhead expenses that might end up coming out of my family’s budget.

And maybe there’s a third thing to think about. My business is small, yes–but it’s going to stay small. By design. By choice. I have a day job and I’m not going to do photography every weekend. I’d be thrilled if I had one paying job a month in 2008. I’m talking around $10k of supplementary income. is it reasonable to spend $1200 of that money on overhead? I suppose it is, but that $10k isn’t guaranteed by any means. Things look good right now, but you never know.

Ideal scenario. I find a few hundred disused square feet in downtown Waukesha. Maybe the upstairs of a storefront place or something. I come to some pay-per-use arrangement with the owner, or–even better–I barter with them for web development or photography services.

Maybe I just have cold feet. Maybe I just need to get a few more contracts and go for it. Or maybe the whole thing is unnecessary.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

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The Biz

February 10, 2008

The photography work is rolling in at a pretty good clip now that the holidays are over. This has me excited for two reasons. First, because I’m succeeding. I had a goal and I’m achieving it! The second reason is more practical: with the money coming in, I can get that second camera I need. It may be a month or two before I pull the trigger, but I’m definitely going to. The only question now is, Nikon D200 or D300? Decisions, decisions…