Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The ONE Thing Brides Often Forget To Plan For

I get to help lots of brides with wedding planning, and it is so much fun!  I've had the opportunity to help organize everything from the flow of timelines, to reception hall lay-outs, to center piece design & build, and everything in between.  The best advice I can give a bride (this is for ANY bride - even if they aren't booking me a as their photographer) is to plan to invest in a wedding album.

An album will gain value over the years.  Think about it...  in a year's time, your album will be worth more to you than when you first got it.  In 5 years time, it will double, or even triple it's value to you.  In 10 years, your album will be right up there with your engagement ring.  Lets take a jump to 75 years!  In 75 years, what would you value your album at?  How could you attach a monetary association to it... by that time it is a priceless piece of your history, a family heirloom, a visual story book of your most valued day - an irreplaceable item.

What other piece from your wedding will literally gain value after your wedding?

So, when you are planning your wedding, talk to your photographer and find out if he/she makes an album.  If so, pick their brain about its quality. Ask questions, like - Is it printed with real light-sensitive photographic paper, or is it a press album from an inkjet?  Is the paper archival/museum quality?  What is the rated image stability for these materials, under what kind of conditions?  Find out what the rated life of the cover materials are, and then ask the photographer why they choose those materials to construct their albums.

The next step is to plan the album a little bit, so that you and your photographer can determine the level of investment you will be making.  A timeless, well-built wedding album has lots of design time, high quality materials, hand-construction, and a team of seasoned professionals working together to build it, so you should expect the album to be a highly valued product.

Thanks, and I hope this article gives you some insight for planning!

Comments, Shares, Likes Welcome!

-Tim





5 Ways We Make Great Images and Stay in Business

Often, beginning photographers ask us for help.  They want to know the “secrets” of being wedding photographers, and how to use photography to better their own lives.
We have a few core values that we run our business on.  It’s really quite simple.  Now, don’t confuse simple with hard work – this isn’t a get rich quick industry, and it takes time and dedication.

1. Showing Love
Our mission is to show love through imagery.  We strive to improve and deepen relationships by creating images of emotional, loving moments and providing the most beautiful ways to display them as visual reminders of those bonds.
After all...love.  It is why you get married.  It is why you are inviting family and friends to your most emotional and intimate day.  It is why you wake up in the morning.  It is why your relationship with each other is so strong.  It is how you get through tough times.  It is why you celebrate the best of times.  It is what you have found with your soulmate that keeps you together.  It is that blessed moment when a new life is born. It is how you remember those who have moved on.  It is why you display images in your home.

2. Showing Love
            We take pride in showing love to our clients, whether it’s a hand-written thank you note, a check-in phone call, or going well beyond their expectations.  We challenge ourselves to show our clients as much love as possible.

3. Showing Love
            We like to give.  We may do simple acts, like give another vendor images of them doing something amazing (so they can showcase their own work), or donate to various charities, or sponsor local events.  We figure, if we did well enough that we have more than we need, then we are in a position to give to someone else in need – it is a very good feeling!

4. Showing Love
            It is important to show love to yourself.  If you forget to do this or you don’t think that taking care of yourself is important, think again.  In order to do step 5, you must do step 4.  Example:  Have you ever been on an airplane?  Take notice that on an airplane, when they go through the safety procedures, the very first step for every individual is to take care of themselves first, and then help someone else.  It is quite simple!  If you haven’t taken care of yourself, then you haven’t put yourself into a position that allows you to help others.
            We show love to ourselves by doing two simple things.  One: we will never work for less than we are worth, as our dedication to expertise deserves compensation, just as our clients deserve our absolute best.  Two: we separate business and home life, as it is necessary for us to recharge our personal batteries as well! 

5. Showing Love
            We show love to our family.  It is vital that we are happy on a personal level.  Otherwise, unhappiness would bleed into the business, which would lead to unhappy customers, which would in turn lead to the demise of our business.  To show love to our family, we follow step two from above: we separate business and home life.  We do this by dedicating time for family, and planning vacation time.  We understand the value of family – it is why we make images! 

Obviously, there are more intricate details involved with running a successful business; however, if you begin with these 5 values at your core, you will be off to a great start.

Thanks for reading, and we hope you can take something away from this!

Comments, shares, and likes appreciated!   

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Psychology of Looking Good

So - you have a love/hate relationship with pictures?  You love to look at portrait sessions of friends and family members, but you feel that you do not look as good as someone else.

I've been there.

Yep - this photographer used to HATE having his own picture taken.  Like many, I was self-conscious of my body.  I'm a chicken armed, beer bellied, bad postured, fat-lipped mess!  Or at least that's what I saw when I looked at my own photo.  You know what the truth is?  No one else cares what I think of myself, because they see me as a person, not a model in a magazine ad.  Once I figured that out, I stopped caring how I looked physically in an image.

To the right is a selfie I made last year.  If I cover up my face, and force myself to look at the image as if it isn't of myself, then I am able to see that I don't look like a sloppy mess.  Granted... this image hides any beer belly with a black shirt, shadows, and a tenor sax...(which I may have done intentionally)  But really, no one looking at pics of me cares, or knows that I hated my own image.  All they see is some dude rocking out with a tenor sax and a sweet beard (which my wife made me shave bt dubs).

So how does one get over the self-conscious aspect of seeing their own photo?

Stop being selfish!  Realize this: You have your photo taken for more than yourself...  It is for your family.  For me, I had to become a daddy to realize this (even though I'm a professional photographer, and tell these things to clients often).  I had to realize that photos of me are for my daughter, because I will not be around forever.  Lets be real - death is part of life, and one day it will get me.  Who ever is left is going to want (at least I hope...) images to stir up good memories, and they aren't going to care that I thought my lips were fat and my arms were too skinny. 

So, me not letting my image be created is a selfish act, where I am taking future memories away from my daughter.  Once this hit me, all my cares about having my photo taken melted away.  Now I embrace the opportunity, and just remember that the person looking at my photo cares about it more than I do, and that is more important than me caring about my imperfections.

Other people love you, so don't be selfish!  It will put a smile on someone else, and that's more important than your own feelings about your physical appearance.  


Thanks for reading,

Comments & Stories welcome!



Most Important Gear.

I am often asked, "Tim, what is your favorite piece of gear?"

Well - yesterday I got asked a new one!  "Tim, what is your most important piece of gear?" 
So, I thought about it for a minute.  I realized that there is no camera, lens, flash, or light modifier that is more important than one thing.  That thing is me.  NOT that I'm implying that I am a tool ;) (Though I do have a ridicules shirt that says "Tim's tools, if you need a tool, grab Tim's!") 

I could use a polaroid camera, disposable film camera from the local pharmacy, or even my iPhone, and I know that I could make great meaningful images.  There is just no piece of equipment more important than the artist's vision, and skill for creating it - which comes from lots of hard work, experience, and dedication.  I may pack a bunch of gear, and have many tools at my disposal, but ultimately the image is made by me, not a camera.

With all that being said - there are some other things that far out trump a good camera.  For instance - Lighting.   A camera can only record what you put in front of it - and therefore it is essential that the subject is lit in a beautiful way.  Thats why I pack flash equipment, study the use of light every day, and am always looking for the best way to pose a person or object in light that makes them beautiful.

What else is more important than a camera? -  The Lens.   Like a said above, the camera can only record what is in front of it.  So, put a nice piece of glass in front of it!  If you have a 10k camera body, and a $50 lens, what do you think will happen?   I'd take quality glass on a crappy body over the reverse any day!

One more thing that is more important than the camera... Your subject/pose.  (which I guess comes back around to you being the most important part of making an image)  If you pose your subject terribly, guess what!  No camera/lens/lighting combo will make them look good.  If you pose your subject beautifully, then you could use a disposable camera and make a better image over the previous sentence!

So - there we have it!  Shoot me questions & comments, let me know what you think!

:)



Thursday, February 5, 2015

Local Photographers Attend International Photographic Convention

Local Photographers Attend International Photographic Convention
Big things in store for clients of Tim Walck Photography

Coudersport, PA – Tim & Meg of Tim Walck Photography in Coudersport expanded their skills by attending Imaging USA, the longest running professional photographic convention and expo in the United States.  They joined thousands of industry professionals attending this event February 1-3 in Nashville, Tenn.

“This was a great experience for our studio.  We are believers in consistent, continuous education and the development of our craft.  We made many new connections, including a few world-class photographers, and formed alliances with product crafters, and photographic equipment distributers. 

Our clients can expect to see an expansion in our unique product line this year, as well as some exciting new event coverage options.”
-       Tim Walck studio owner

“Over the years, we have attended many conventions, but the highlight of each year was and still is attending Imaging USA,” adds former PPA President, Tim Walden.  “The education everyone has access to here is nearly unlimited, from speaker after speaker presenting their messages, to when friends come together and share.”

Photography classes focused on different specialties and tricks of the trade, geared toward improving business and photographic skills, including a slate of classes sponsored by Adobe on how to better use those software tools.  Imaging USA featured presentations from some of the biggest names in the industry, including Thom Rouse, Hanson Fong, Russ Harrington, Kareem Black and more.  

Education expanded beyond the classrooms at Imaging USA, too.  The Imaging Expo tradeshow highlighted hundreds of the industry’s leading vendors showcasing their products, and the Walcks were able to watch product demos and pick vendors’ brains for the best solutions.

“We have had a few ideas for product innovations and things we would like to offer our clients that are 100% unique.  At the expo, we were able to build relationships with professional imaging craftsmen and share these ideas.  We are very excited to see where we go from here,” says Tim.

For Tim and Meg Walck, the education and inspiration gained at Imaging USA will benefit clients in the coming year.  “This year we will be improving our workflow to provide an even speedier delivery of finished products.  On a totally different note, we will be offering more educational opportunities at our shop and in the community, because we both love to teach and help others.  We have never been this excited for a new year in business”, says studio owner, Tim Walck.


About Imaging USA
Imaging USA is the longest running national photographic convention, expo and image exhibition in the United States, drawing thousands of professionals from around the world.  Dating back to 1880, when it began as the annual convention and trade show for Professional Photographers of America (PPA, www.ppa.com), the event is always growing and evolving.  Major components of Imaging USA are the three-day Imaging Expo   Imaging USA’s renowned educational classes are geared to improve a photographer’s business skills, photographic repertoire and use of technologies.  For more information, visit www.ImagingUSA.org.
tradeshow, several all-inclusive parties and presentations by some of the biggest names in the photographic industry.

About Professional Photographers of America (PPA)
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is the largest international non-profit association created by professional photographers, for professional photographers.  Almost as long-lived as photography itself, PPA has roots back to 1869.  It has never stopped growing and looking for new ways to assist its now 27,000 members through protection, education and resources for their continued success in the industry.  See why photographers love PPA at www.ppa.com .

Contact: Tim Walck Photography
(814) 260-0323


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

First Podcast Ever! "Tim, How Much Does It Cost?"

Hey Tim! How Much Does It Cost?

Today I’m going to answer one of my most frequently asked questions – “Tim, how much does it cost?”

-Great question.

You may notice I don’t post my prices online.  And the reason for that is that it would take way too much space to list all the things that make up a price.

What do I mean by that?

Finished products – there are so many unique things I create, and trying to type about them online does no justice for them.  They are things that you physically have to see in person, touch, feel, and ponder.

My whole product line is made from the highest quality materials from the best of the best professional labs in our country.  I do this so that your images will be passed down through generations – which is the whole point of having your photos made.

The second point for figuring out a price, is once you have come to the shop to see what you like, we chat about your session.  Once I know what it is you like, and how we are going to present your images, then I know which gear to bring, and how much time it will take to create the images you want.  We simply add the time and materials needed for your finished piece together, and BAM you have a price.  J

So – just stop in the shop, see what you like, we’ll talk about your session, and get you a price.

Call today for more info!  (814) 260-0323



Thanks very much!



Sunday, January 11, 2015

Why Printed Images Are BETTER Than Digital Files

Have you ever walked into a home and saw a beautiful large wall portrait of the family, and thought "wow, that is just stunning!"?  Or... on the reverse side - have you ever walked into a home with bare walls and wondered... where are the family photos?

Do I really need to continue?






Okay, fine.  I will...


Printed images (professionally) will always look better than a digital image.  Even with the most modern technology, including 5K (not a typo, 4K has been one upped by apple) displays, viewing an image on a screen requires the use of electricity.  A light will illuminate the pixels on the screen, and BAM the image is there.  Sure, it may look AMAZING on the screen - but if that is the only place where it lives, then that means you have to access that screen, and that file whenever you want to look at it.  Not to mention, that a printed image will still look better.

Really?

Yes.  Really.  - Printed images aren't backlit from an electronic screen, which means that darks will always be richer, color quality will feel more real, tonal contrast will always be more magnificent, and the image will not have an over sharpened look (which HD, 4K & 5K monitors tend to create).

Aside from the nerdy tech jargon:

An image that is printed lives in the real world - it could be living in an album, or holding a wall space setting the mood of a room, it could be in an office, a home, a hallway, a staircase, a bathroom... no matter where the image lives, it creates a constant reminder of WHY the photo was made.  And that "why" is simple - to be displayed in real life, in a real place, in front of real people. 

One of the biggest advantages of a printed image is that it can be presented on a variety of mediums to complement the image itself.  For instance, the texture of a canvas, the shine of an aluminum print, or the subtle woodgrain that shows through a maple panel print can not exist digitally....these are actual, real life things.  There is just no way to create a texture - a physical, touchable texture - on a computer screen (without ruining the screen).

Another huge, Huge, HUGE, HUGE advantage is SIZE.  (Yes, I am saying that SIZE DOES MATTER).  Would you rather look at your wedding images on an iPhone's palm sized screen, or on a 24x12 inch spread in a wedding album?  Okay, so you have an 80'' plasma screen in your home.  Cool.  I'll bet you don't put your wedding images on that screen all day long for everyone to love and cherish, and won't pass it down from generation to generation.  (Not to mention, an 80'' screen cost as much as my last car...)  But, if you would have put your images up as a 4x6'' wall grouping, chances are that they are going to last and get passed down through your family.

For these reasons, an image does not actually exist in the real world until it is printed professionally.  A professional knows what textures, sizes, surfaces, materials, and labs to use in order to create a harmoniously beautiful finished print.  Aside from that, we have taken the time to color calibrate all of our equipment, from cameras, to computers, to printers, to specific calibration settings from a lab in order to ensure a perfectly finished image.  We take the utmost care in creating stunning, touching, emotionally captivating images, and the only way to present them is on a finished, timeless piece.  Sure - they may look good in the digital world, but that is only a small step in the process of creating the final piece.

So do the art form justice.  Finish your work, present it, and bring it to life on a wall!   







Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tim, What Do You Read?

Had a question the other day:

"Tim, what do you read"?  This spawned an hour long conversation about books, why each of us liked to read certain materials and why.  So, here is a watered down response!

Honestly, I'm not much of a fiction buff.  I'm really into self-improvement readings.  I read them because I feel that no one is perfect (especially me), and these types of readings give me excellent new views on life, and true time tested ways to make myself a better person.  I understand the philosophical debate that the previous statement could spawn, but lets avoid that for now and get to the list!

My current reading is The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy, and up next on the slate is Failing Forward, by John C. Maxwell.  The last book I read was Worth Every Penny, by Sarah Petty.  I highly recommend the Sarah Petty reading to any small business owner - it is fantastic, and entertaining.  I'm only half way through The Compound Effect, but I already know it will have a long life in my personal collection, and many re-reads.

I also have subscriptions to PDN (photo district news), Professional Photographer, Rangefinder, Outdoor Photographer, Advanced Photographer, and Expert Photographer - each of these has their pluses and minuses.  I find the advertising to be terribly annoying in every magazine except Professional Photographer, and Rangefinder.





I tend to like reading things that I can chop up, highlight, and pin on my cork board at the office.  I know that fictional readings can be fun, but I have other outlets for fun - like shredding single track down the mountain on my bike (way more fun than a book for me...)

Happy readings!

-Tim

Friday, December 5, 2014

Mitigating My Mistakes






I've made a few mistakes with my business and will continue to do so.  Each mistake I make is an opportunity to grow, and continue building a successful and enjoyable career.  The following was my most substantial mistake and greatest growing opportunity to date:

THE PROBLEM
I was a "Shoot & Burn" photographer - after the photo shoot, I would burn a disc of images with a print release for the client and be done.  Clients rarely ordered prints off my website, though they often would gloat about how much they loved my work.  I would talk with them months later, and find out that they had yet to order prints from anywhere with their CD either.

I now realize how much of a disservice that business model was to my clients.  By simply burning a disc and letting clients run free into the world with their beautiful images, I wasn't helping them to put the right image in the right place in the home, on the right type of product to tie everything together.  Without guidance, examples, or outside input, it is very difficult to choose which image or images should become prints... or where those prints are going to end up.

Lets face it - sifting through 20 images and finding the perfect one worth investing in a wall portrait can be difficult, daunting, and quite frustrating.  Now, imagine having a disc of over 1,000 images from your wedding, and trying to select the perfect ONE to hang over your mantel, or couch, or entrance?  Could you fathom the time it would take to go through 1,000 images, select the right ones to put in an album you designed online, and could only guess the end quality...not to mention the price tag with no guarantee?

Aside from having the difficult task of sifting through an image set, and choosing an image to put on a wall, most people are only aware of photographic prints, and that is what they buy.  Then they have to go somewhere for printing and framing - which creates more research, time commitment, and decision making - and ultimately frustration.  When people are frustrated they generally do not follow through, which means that most people will never put an image on their wall they way they really want it.

THE CHANGE
I knew that it was time to do something to help my clients.  SO - I made a big (and scary) change.
My goal as a photographer has always been to provide clients with something unique, and amazing - that they can call their own, and that no one else has.  I needed a way to do this.

I invested in a projector system, presentation software, and spent countless hours developing the perfect product line to carry in my shop (and had to invest thousands of dollars to bring it to life).  I spent weeks learning how to use the software, analyzing what my customers like and want, and organizing my shop to show off my unique product line.  The final step was implementing a new plan for my clients.

This new plan consisted of having a minimum of 3 meetings at my shop.  The first meeting is to find out what type of wall space they have, and what they ultimately want to do with their final images.  This would also dictate how we design the photo session.  The 2nd meeting is the photo shoot.  The 3rd meeting is the design session - where we put all of their images up on a huge 9ft screen, and see what everything will look like in a real size.  During our design session, I help clients organize their favorites, and can build collages and unique products right in front of them - and then use a picture of one of their home walls to show them what the exact collage will look like in the end.

Another scary change was my disc burning policy.  I required clients to first put images on their walls, and then the disc would be available.  But this time, the disc is in a beautifully designed case, which becomes a display piece for the home instead of a thing to throw in a lock box and never look at again.  I also would no longer offer a print release.  All printing would be done through me to ensure the highest of quality and allow me to provide a quality guarantee on every single print that comes out of my shop.

THE RESULTS
The very first day that I implemented my new policies and procedures I had a client go home with a very large wall grouping, printed on metal.  She had never seen metal prints before, and thought she wanted a traditional print, matted and framed, until we met for the first time and she saw the metal print collage in the shop.  I will never forget how thankful she was that I helped her pick out the best photos to use in the collage.  She was so happy that I helped guide her - which led to her being confident in her purchase decision.  I also will never forget her response to hanging the collage in her home.  She was overjoyed with the result and even sent me a thank you card!

Of course, there have been a few clients who used to come for me because of the CD, and no longer do.  Thats OKAY.  People come to me because they know I will provide them with a great experience, and phenomenal art piece that will last a life time.  They know everything I do is a custom design, just for them.  No other design like it exists.  This is what makes my studio unique and successful.

Since I began working with clients to put custom art pieces on their walls I have grown my product line to include a multitude of custom designed pieces.  I find myself excited to hop into photoshop and design album spreads, greeting cards, wall collages etc...  I love finding out what my clients want before the photos session too - It really allows me to sculpt the session to flow onto a personalized product that is perfect for their home.

THE BEST part about working with clients from start to finished product on their wall is their responses.  I get to see tears of joy on a weekly basis, I have clients send me photos of their finished pieces in their homes, I get thank you cards in the mail...  I make my clients unbelievably happy by providing a full service from start to finish.