The Mechanics of Rejection

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Being told “No” is something every business person has to deal with when interacting with prospects.

Handling rejection

A lot of advice on handling rejection approaches the issue from a social and personal perspective and is concerned with the psychological implications.   And some of these approaches are generally relevant, but as anyone running a small business knows, rejection is a part of everyday business life. We are constantly reaching out to leads, trying to turn those leads into prospects, prospects into clients and clients into customers. We cast our nets ever wider into society and the most common response we get is some form of the word, “no”. For someone coming to the world of the entrepreneur from regular paid employment, this can be quite unnerving. 

Don’t let it stop you

Don’t take no for an answer. What this means is that not every rejection has to be final, and even if it ends up being final in that specific instance, it may lead to future opportunities. So don’t be upset that you were turned down – your message may have been incomplete. Remember, “no” is not the worst thing you can hear, it is always better than no response.

Understand their Why

Key to getting your potential client on board is to understand their need and then to manage their perception of your solution. Sometimes that match does not occur in the first instance, even though you may have done a fair job of overcoming objections. It may be that during the course of further interaction, you come to better understand their need and more accurately articulate a solution. Which is why the rejection should not be treated as the final full stop.

Getting on the same page

It is important for us to note that the rejection of our proposal is not a rejection of our personality or even of our brand. It simply represents a disconnect between the problem (as perceived by us) and the solution (as perceived by them). Reconciliation between these two positions may lie in the correction of perceptions or in the nature of the solution itself.

Maintaining bridges

People sometimes are hesitant to continue the conversation with you after they have said no to your proposal. This is particularly relevant if, in the light of new experience they have second thoughts about your proposal. It is difficult for them to walk back an earlier decision and we need to facilitate that process when the situation arises.  We must assure them that there are no hard feelings and that you are still available to them should they change their minds. So instead of expressing disappointment at not getting the business, respond in an open and friendly manner. You are also more likely to be remembered for future business.

The Beauty of the Gray backdrop

One of the most significant features of any studio is the ability to have control over the light. The other is the choice of background. Backgrounds vary in complexity and construction. Often the background consists of a simple sheet of paper or fabric backdrop. These come in a variety of colors and textures providing a wide range of choices for image creation. It is not always practical to have every type and color of backdrop on hand.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to having multiple colors of paper or fabric. Enter the gray backdrop.  Light takes on the color of any object it hits, this is referred to as producing a “color cast”.  Since white, gray and black objects don’t have a “color” as such they do not produce a color cast. Gray backdrops are particularly good at taking on the color of colored light that hits them.

The examples above are the result of colored light hitting a gray backdrop. The intensity of the light can be varied to get various color densities in the background. Colored gels are placed in front of the light source(s) to color the light. The variety of color combinations are limited only by one’s imagination.

Another option to achieve multiple backgrounds with a simple gray backdrop is to change it at the post-production stage.

The gray color lends itself to blending with colored images as it does not influence the actual color of the image or pattern being blended in, just the intensity of the pattern. The images above were photographed against a gray paper backdrop and the backgrounds added in later.

Using these techniques opens up a host of options for the look and style of the image one creates while having the convenience of needing just one backdrop. Please stop by www.pixyst.com to see more examples of my photography or contact me via photo@pixyst.com to find out a host of imaging solutions I can put at your service.

The Magic of “Clean White” backgrounds

We have all seen them – pictures with white backgrounds. White is probably the most common color (or lack thereof) for a photo background.

 

The most obvious reason for this is that white backgrounds are the most commonly occurring for pages of text. Having the image background the same color as the printed page or screen makes integration between text and images easy. It is also a good starting point for extractions when one wants to have different background color options.

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Extracted image shown against various color backgrounds.

A white background helps the colors to “pop” without competing colors in the background.

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Sometimes the desire is just to have an image of the subject without the distraction of a bounding rectangle.

Producing an image with a “clean white” background is not the same as just shooting an image against a white background because without particular care, the “white” of the background will not match the white of the page and you will still have a bounding rectangle as can be seen from the two images below:

Particular care must be taken to light both the subject and background independently as both subject and background have different lighting requirements. A white backdrop does not guarantee that the background will come out looking white in the final image as can be seen by these images in which the subject was lit identically. The difference being that one had light on the background and the other did not:

Even a lily-white background will come out looking gray if there is not enough light hitting it. Additionally if too much light hits it, the result is “ghosting” with the light coming from behind affecting the subject:

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This may be a desirable look for some kinds of work, but where it isn’t, special care needs to be taken to ensure there is enough light to ensure the background comes out looking white, but not so much that it reflects off the background and affects the look of subject.  The intensity of the light and distance to the background must be just right. When the subject is against a white backdrop, problems can arise with backdrop texture and shadows:

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Natural (window or outdoor) light used by itself, is almost never going to satisfactorily achieve the desired (clean white) look. This kind of work will be accomplished on a consistent basis by a photographer who is competent in lighting.

For the reasons stated above this is a very useful look for both people and products in printed materials and on screen, for publication and for advertising. While it is possible to use different kinds of backgrounds and extract the subject using photo manipulation tools, this tends to be an inefficient approach and can be especially unwieldy for large numbers of images or where quick turnaround is a necessity.

Actor and Model Headshots

As an actor or a model, you trade in your visual appeal. Your headshot is not just for identification, it is your calling card and the best way to make a first impression. models_beautYour headshot is a way to convey your personality at a glance. Yes, people make snap judgments based on appearance and you want that to work out in your favor.  Even for experienced models, it helps to get effective direction from the photographer because you can’t see yourself while you’re posing 🙂

Very often in castings, the headshot photo will determine whether or not an actor/actress/model makes the first cut.

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For new talent, it is especially important for the photographer to be able to guide and direct the model. Part of growth as a model is being able to learn from photographers and to get to a point where they know their “angles”.  This makes it necessary for the photographer to actually have the knowledge to pass on. Otherwise, it is a case of the blind leading the blind. For more experienced models/actors, it is a lot easier but they still need some guidance, especially if the goal of the session is to achieve a particular look.

Other considerations are the photographer’s skill at lighting especially when in comes to being able to handle indoor and outdoor locations, to make use of natural and artificial lighting and to blend them when the occasion calls for it.

It is always advisable to take a good look at the photographer’s portfolio to get an understanding of their competence with lighting, checking how much work they have had published and if they have worked with agencies. If you are looking to get your portfolio built, you want someone who has a good sense of what agents/clients look for. A phone call or in-person meeting would be a very good idea. Get in touch with me at photo@pixyst.com if you need help with this.

Finding a Commercial Photographer for your Business

Creating a visual representation of your business is a great way to attract customers. With a wealth of options, how does one find the right fit? If you have the right skill set, you can, of course, decide to do the work yourself. Most people quickly discover that there is more to commercial photography than initially meets the eye. Some tips to keep in mind when one decides (or is considering) to hire a photographer.

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Communication

Every situation has unique features. Even when a photographer has previously worked with a business, there will still be a need to understand differences that may arise with each new assignment. That is done by asking the right questions, by listening with an open mind and by presenting options to open up the client’s mind to the possibilities that exist for what can be delivered.

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Versatility

In order to showcase a business, a variety of image types and genres may be required. A variety of subjects may need to be photographed. This will, of course, depend on the nature of the particular business – subjects vary from people to products. Whatever or whoever the subjects are, they must be shown at their best. That can be done with a deep knowledge of lighting, posing and staging.

Competence

It may be difficult for someone who is not a photographer or an art critic to properly evaluate photography. Who is going to make our people, products, and business look attractive to the public? One method is to look at the ads in high-end magazines and compare their look with the look of the photographs you are evaluating. A good photographer should:

  • be able to handle a variety of lighting situations
  • be able to direct pose and give concise directions to the subject
  • be able to work quickly and efficiently so as not to waste the client’s time

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Ultimately, this is a partnership, between the representatives of your business, and the photographer, with a common goal of providing the best images to help the business to sell their goods and/or services. Contact http://www.pixyst.com for support with developing your imaging strategy.

 

A place for film in a digital world

A place for film in a digital world

An article I wrote for the AZPPA on the value of film technology as an educational tool.

Introduction

There was a time when the question was asked with regards to image capture, film or digital? Today digital photography is the default. Film has been relegated to a specialty medium. Initially, film had the qualitative edge over digital, but with the march of technology,  those advantages have been eroded. First, it was resolution, then dynamic range and color fidelity. Sensor size remaining equal, digital capture has the clear edge.

That said, film is far from dead, and there are a number of reasons for this. Among others:

The look: Film lovers swear by this, that in spite of a wealth of filters and software processing tools that promise to replicate the ‘looks’ of various types of film, there is nothing quite like the real thing.

Large format: There are currently no commercially available cameras with sensors as large as 4×5 or 8×10. If you want the specific look of either of those formats (razor thin depth of field, unique perspective etc), then you have no choice but to use film. Large format film cameras are about the only film cameras with image quality to rival today’s digital cameras.

“Because I can”: This was a response I got from a professional photographer a few years ago and I can sort of relate because not everyone can. It is a more deliberate process, and if you don’t at least have some idea of what you are doing you will most likely end up with nothing. It, therefore, helps to give a photographer the prestige of being more than a ‘digital kid’. Opinions will differ.

Educational value: This leads me to the reason that is the focus of this article, and that is, film as a teaching aid. The more manual, more intimate process of shooting film forces the photographer to become more involved in the process. The emphasis here will be on 35mm film.

Shooting 35mm film on a manual body forces you to slow down. Get your basic composition, set exposure by adjusting shutter speed and/or aperture (not ISO), wind film, finalize composition, focus and press shutter release – or however you prefer to do it. All that effort to make just one exposure combined with the fact that you have to take the film to be processed after just 24 or 36 exposures and then wait a further period of time to see the results amounts to quite an emotional investment. Who wants to go through all that just to see a bunch of worthless images? If you are going to work that hard for a few pictures, you might as well put in the effort to learn the correct methodology and get something worthwhile out of the effort. Let us not forget the financial investment of actually buying the film and paying for it to be processed.
Contrast that scenario with today’s world of digital in which you can click away with no consequences whatsoever and delete the resulting images just as easily.

Aperture, Shutter speed, Appreciation of ISO
The beauty of a manual film camera lies in its simplicity. It is not hard to teach the concept of aperture –  just hold down the depth-of-field preview button and turn the aperture ring and you can see the lens diaphragm opening and closing in response to your movements. Shutter operations and shutter speed are also easy to demonstrate by opening the back of the camera (not an option on digital cameras) and operating the camera. Wind the film advance lever and press the shutter release while varying the shutter speed and you can see a clear demonstration of shutter speed and of first and second curtain concepts. You can easily explain the concepts of flash sync speed in a visual, practical way.

Reducing levers of control
Using a film camera, you have just shutter speed and aperture with which to control exposure – there is no possibility to vary the ISO from one exposure to the next. You are stuck with one ISO for as long as the roll of film lasts. This makes it easier to demonstrate that getting the right exposure is a dance between these two values.

Slowing down
The entire process then is a much more deliberate, more time-consuming process. It forces one to slow down and give some thought to the process of what you are doing. You also have fewer opportunities to make mistakes and a financial consequence for each mistake you make.

Challenges of film
Using film these days does present some challenges:
Cost: Exposures are not free (they are not really free with digital either, but that is another discussion), you have to pay for each roll of 24 or 36 exposures and you can burn through those really quickly. It adds up.
Processing: It is becoming more and more difficult to get your film processed. A number of major drug store chains have stopped processing film in-house. They send it off to a collection center and get back digital files which they put on a disc and print for you – you get a disc and prints – no negatives. Your wait time also goes up.
Storage and management of negatives/slides: Managing physical objects (that have no metadata) in a way that they can be easily referenced and protected from damage is a challenge.
Scanning and Sharing: We have become so used to using online media to share our images that it has become a given. There is no comparable way to get such wide reach with our work. With film, there is the extra bother of scanning to get the digital file.

Where digital takes over as an educational tool
After acquiring good habits and discipline from film, it is time them to graduate to digital for the next phase of one’s photographic education.

Despite the usefulness of a manual film camera as an educational tool, I feel it is complemented in this purpose by the digital camera. The instant feedback obtained from the LCD monitor is invaluable in understanding the effects of various settings and configuration changes. You have a lot more opportunities to make mistakes with no financial consequences for doing so. The likelihood is that you will shoot a whole lot more and therefore learn faster. Digital, therefore, opens up a world of creative exploration which would not be as readily accessible with film.

In conclusion, nothing stops you from learning and developing the virtues obtained from this process on your own by whatever means you choose, but using film (in combination with digital) is certainly an effective path to that goal.

Portrait Photography

When choosing a photographer, it is important to look at the quality of images they present. These days, cameras have very high resolution and are able to capture high levels of detail. Look at the images and determine if the photographer is able to take advantage of this strength or if they rely on Photoshop tricks to disguise their inability to adequately light and compose their images.

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If you can go to a store and buy a sophisticated camera, why would you pay a photographer to do your portraits? Well, because the camera, no matter how wonderful it is, is still just a tool. A true professional is a master of their equipment, not just the camera, but the lighting equipment too, understands posing, is a master of lighting, knows how to make the best of any location, knows how to solve problems on the fly – and there will be problems. It is this expertise that you pay for. That is why you need to choose photographers who do in fact have this expertise.