Build sales without selling?

February 15, 2012 by  
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Joe Luter
You may have gone into photography partly because you wanted to stay away from sales.

And now you have just come to grips with the fact that every business revolves around sales. And every person in every business is in sales.

But since some of our best photographers can’t, won’t, don’t sell, we will go for the next best thing for you here: promotion.

Start out by thinking of photos you have shot that you really love. Even those you took in high school would do fine. They don’t have to be current.

Get them out and enjoy the viewing. Then figure out ways to get them out where for the public can see them too. If a few are current, enter them in competitions. If you have a studio, put them in a display window. How about putting one on the side of your van? Or if that is too tasteless for you, consider taking them to the art guild. Suggest to the guild editor that one or two might spruce up their newsletter.

Many of our photographers specialize in youth sports, dance and schools. Fine. You can still find some images to get excited about. They don’t have to be in those fields. But if they are, in sports, look at the action only and think about extreme cropping. A good sliding-into-home shot can become great if you crop it so tight there’s nothing left but a shoe kicking dirt into the catcher’s mitt (or face). You can add the explosion of dirt if it isn’t already there.

In dance, you may find your prizes among the older girls, especially sisters posing with a touch of humor. Did you take any of a girl struggling mightily with her shoe? Or one throwing a shoe?

If you don’t get a warm feeling from anything in your collection, shoot some new ones expressly for the purpose of building a nice “brag bag.” Maybe a collection of “funny faces” or an adorable youngster dressed for church but sitting in a mud puddle, totally absorbed with the scenery therein.

Then, your collection in hand, you are ready to exhibit in your town. It is a lot easier to put on a one-man show than you may think. In fact, it would be more difficult to get included in an established show because, in that you work for a living, yours may never be as far-out as their norm.

To put on your show, start by finding a venue that can benefit from your display, get approval and work with the building maintenance people to get it done their way on their schedule. Shopping malls, airports, convention centers and major hotels are typical locations.

Promote your exhibit with signs and a news release. The publicity would go to the newspapers and other news media and also to popular social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

All of this is indirect. You cannot openly promote your studio or even name it at your exhibit and you cannot name your specialty; the benefits will come. Identify your collection with a tag such as “Robert’s Visions.” If the editor asks if you have a business, answer as briefly as possible and then go back to your prizes on the table and “Robert’s. . .”

The news media leans away from business and toward art. Present your work as artistic.

Next, see if you can convince the local art director or editor at the newspaper to run a feature on your photography, knowing that if you exhibited that will make the likelihood much better. Or does your town or city have an art magazine? More do than you would think. Weekly newspapers work fine too.

To further promote, you definitely should put up an “online store” that is your 24/7 order entry station and promote it on your web site.

Back in your real life, you can now refer to having had your work exhibited in a one-man show and that will bring your work attention and prestige.

You also should be by thinking about how to make your daily work daily better on certain occasions. Backgrounds that sing. Light from heaven. Extreme expressions. Or whatever hits your “vision.” And you certainly can spread the word in your display window or the mail and let these things sell for you.

This advice runs contrary to the efficiency principles we often preach, but we would put time for this project down under the heading of “promotion” and keep streamlining your bread-winning workflow more and more.

We are business-oriented, practical people here and we have good evidence to believe that the artsy stuff is not the way to build a stable long-term business. For that, we recommend the business specialties of youth sports, dance or schools, all of which have efficiency at their core rather than artistic samples.

But the display will help you sell too. Even the most hard core “what’s in it for us” guys is going to be impressed when he hears you mention that you have exhibited at the convention center.

The question of your quality will be fully answered and you will be able to demonstrate the efficiency of your system and the wide array of interesting products you offer easily enough at the appropriate time.

But You’ve Got to Sell Too

We hope this information will be helpful to you, but sorry to say, it will not replace direct selling.

Even if you are just tiptoeing into photography, doing a little moonlighting here and there, you have to find the business. Likewise, if you have a studio but are finding people don’t just walk in so much these days, regardless of your quality. You have to go out of your house, book it and likely shoot on location rather than in the studio.

If you still balk at the activities behind the word “sales,” consider your world from a more distant view. Suppose you owned a studio and two of your photographers were doing stunningly beautiful work but the third, although not up to their standards, was booking a continuing series of job.

Who is going to be he most important to you? And who do you think may wind up owning a business?

Sales departments make out daily, weekly and monthly quotas of how many cold calls they are required to make. Start with that. Then establish a quota for monthly bookings. And live by these quotas. It is still true that you can find the best deals on new cars at the end of the month. Because they need to make quota. And so do you.

`You are the real sales director at your business, even if you pay someone else to carry that title.

You have skin in the game.

So let’s keep pushing.


Editor’s Note: If you are new to photography and have an interest in youth sports, you might want to see our program at or telephone us: 888-398-9934


Adapting to junk photography: your new competition

February 15, 2012 by  
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Joe Luter
Having too many studios in town is no longer your big problem. Neither are the national companies that keep the local school business locked up.

Sorry to say, but you’ve got far bigger problems than these all around you.

They are the cell phone cameras, the point and shoots in those purses; and the SLRs in the dangerous hands of people who haven’t fully learned how to use them. You may believe the worst of it all really is the millions of us who have learned to lower our standards enough to gladly accept whatever photos we see.

Junk photography.

That’s your new competition. And their cameras will get better and better over time. How do you accept this trend and adapt to it? As we see it you have three choices:

• Dedicate yourself to your art and never mind about developing a business.

• Become a more serious businessperson instead of a more serious photographer.

• Get out of the photography business, find a country that is not transitioning to statism and live happily ever after, basking among the coconut trees.

The third choice was not serious, of course, just an overspill of my ongoing angst about current politics.

But the artistic choice is real and some part of me admires those who go this route. I have a dear friend in this category; she just finished an impressive one-woman show and needs to borrow $20.

These people don’t live for the money but for the art and, if everything works out well for them, they may start making some big money and enjoying considerable acclaim just a few hundred years after their death. But only a few of them find willing, long-term patrons.

We all can be reminded the seriousness of the craft from the more artistic among us, and you should continue to hone your photographic skills and make sure that your work really does stand out from the others. An amateur doesn’t understand composition or how to capture amazing images time after time, or how to create the entertainment factor in their business. You offer these things. You have wonderful lighting, a touch of creative flair and add to that your superior and imaginative products such as album design, montages, special printing and the like.

However, becoming a more serious businessperson should be goal One for your success. Work to ratchet up your skills with solid marketing, efficiency in each step of your operations and adopt the professional look of a winner. Change your focus from being a photographer to being in the businesses of selling photographic products.

Make excellent presentations, inspire people with new and better products, be very efficient at every step. Dress in clothes that fit well and represent your company well. You should have a quality logo, brochure, presentation, work sample collection and tent. Look first class and be first class in every way. You are working to represent your brand impressively, even if you are currently a one-person operation.

Show up early, never, never late. Never miss a delivery deadline. In fact, under promise and over perform. Make suggestions to the officers and moms you are serving. Don’t shop to try to save a penny here and there on products. Shop for class. Display and talk about the whole line you can sell, i.e. including trophies, plaques, canvas prints, banners, etc.

Sell them professionally, smoothly, routinely and courteously and guarantee your own brand’s exceptionalism.

And, yes, even smile. (I told you this was going to be serious.)

One sports photographer told me he couldn’t compete in his city because a “big-time” operation from the next town was too slick and professional looking for him to match. That was sure the wrong thing to say to me because I know you have got to have your own big-time look in order to become big time, regardless of your current size.

When we reach the point at which most everyone can take the pictures required of a job, they still could not organize it, make sure the Picture Days come off smoothly and keep giving the best work and service they have ever had.

Don’t try to compete by cutting your prices. Improve your services and products instead.

In sports, we are not sure any of our  business owners still do any shooting themselves any more. It is not the key spot. The owner should be constantly organizing and perfecting other areas. In our sports workshops, we advise that you never hire a “photographer.” We suggest that you hire a “camera operator” instead because a photographer will have a tendency to try different things when what you need is stability and consistency. And the photographer may think their way would be better than yours.

It wouldn’t. If you have been through training with our network or someone else’s, you have many years of experience behind the set up you are using and every step in the procedures, and you don’t want anyone experimenting on anything on a Picture Day. Even personally, you should not change settings or procedures when shooting.

In your overall business outlook, you well decide to welcome the explosion in the source of photos. They add to the excitement about pictures but they are not from businesses that assure anyone of quality, consistency, reliability or a breadth of products and services.

Like all those hammers out there that aren’t building tall buildings, the hundreds of cameras cannot fill your role.

In fact, you . . .the businessperson. . .might consider offering services to the one-step photographers. For instance, if someone gets a winner amongst their images, you could offer to provide them any of the complete range of your products. Like the orphan brides who wind up with nothing but a CD or Uncle Harry’s envelope from the Walgreen’s, people need your products as well as your service. And, repeat after me: you are in the business of selling photographic products.

We think a person could develop a business simply by selling products and support services to the orphan brides who got a cheap, incomplete wedding service and now wish they had more. You would tell them about the photobooks, magnificent large prints, inspired montages, artfully frames and albums you can provide for them or help them with.


Is it worth the trouble to sell your photos online?

February 15, 2012 by  
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Joe Luter

In the interest of full disclosure: Our company sells the online store set ups and hosts the services; therefore, our decision has obviously been made. Call to discuss: 888–398-9934.

First, setting up your own online “storefront” page costs less in time and money than you might think. You pay $49.95 a month plus small processing fees and that includes a new website in your name only and the service of our people hosting, filling orders, shipping to your customers, processing payments, sending money to you, etc.

You can be up and running with your online page in about a half a day, including about 45 minutes of telephone training and sales strategy. You set the prices.

On the other hand, the online page does take some work on your part. You have to upload your league shots and if you don’t do that, the site will have no value. Also, you would check the “Favorites” folder on your page periodically to see if anyone has marked a number of images but not placed an order. If so, you would probably think up a little “special” to get them to move.

Is it worth the trouble? Well, we are totally sold on the program. You can expect your income to increase of around 10 percent. And you are giving families and friends of your customers a place where they can browse your work shots and order their favorites on prints, canvas, t-shirts, magnets or any of our our dozens of other specialties.

You new store is, of course, fully stocked at all times. Further, your name really gets out there in the photography community. It is available to anyone, anywhere. Way out to the far reaches. It will be your retail site for the whole world.

Another advantage of our online storefront system is that you don’t have to design a website, coordinate with the lab, set up a payment system, package and ship items. Your Online Store is a business without the details of businesses.

One of your jobs is to make sure that the customers know about your site and have information about it conveniently in front of them at the right time. We recommend that you have the following printed prominently on your delivery envelope:



Go to

. . .for additional orders, specialties, and the like and also for direct orders from friends and relatives here or in other cities throughout the country. And, of course, our complete line of products is available to you 24/7.

This is not a public photo site. It is the exclusively for (your business name).

Please call us if you have questions or problems about your order or re-orders.


One more thing. When considering expanding your business to include online sales, just remember: “Over 970,000 Grandmas May Want to Buy from You.” Because you know how they love their families.


Tips from … the photographer of the year 2010

February 15, 2012 by  
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Joe Luter
John Farrar of Brighton, England does beautiful and creative work but he also has mastered the details of photography at a high level and we provide here a few of his suggestions.

Or, if seeing more of the best of the best in photography interests you, click here to purchase Farrar’s Beauty in the Mind DVD, which includes a discussion of his widely heralded work and a live shoot in which he explains as he works. You will see a masterpiece being made.

A few notes from Farrar follow.

• Back up every shot with a half dozen brackets. The model, makeup and studio time are all set so there’s no need to suffer the cosequences of trying to save a few seconds.

• Wanting to be outstanding is step one. Farrar notes that we see a lot of photos every day but rarely do we see one that will be remembered. His advice: Plan in advance to make your shoot something memorable.

• Organize your shoot in detail but don’t become inflexible in your plan of action. Be ready to change your direction if the session suggests you do so.

• ‘Beautiful’ isn’t enough. Do something unique. Stand apart.

• Give your work a second look the next day. Don’t send anything out immediately after the shoot. Looking at it the next day will be a completely different experience. Work on it again then, too.

• Don’t rush the session. Saving a few minutes is not your goal. His average time per session is one hour. But if it takes more time, stay with it.

• Don’t be too concerned about people considering your ideas to be odd. Farrar quotes Bacon in saying, “There is no beauty without strangeness.”

• Props can be anything. Use your imagination. In Farrar’s work we see a girl with a wet paint brush over one eye, another girl emerging from the water with a fish in her mouth, and head coverings made of a washing machine hose, a paper milk carton, etc. and Farrar’s  famous pair of red shoes. He also had his makeup artist paint a crisscross pattern on one girl’s face. It was definitely memorable.

• “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

• Don’t hesitate to do something completely different from what Farrar and other masters are doing. You can learn from them but what you eventually must do is develop is a signature style of your own.

Dozen of the world’s top models have raved breathlessly about Farrar, perhaps best summed up by the one brief comment: “You are WOW!”


Make Your Next Camera One That Shoots Video

February 15, 2012 by  
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Joe Luter
If you are debating about whether your next camera should be one with video capability, we vote yes.

In fact, the way the trend is heading, we expect just about every SLRs introduced from now on will have video capability. The cost is not much more, you will find some uses for it now and you may get into the fast-rising photo fusion productions soon, which requires video. Photo fusion blends video and stills, as if a Powerpoint in which some parts are in motion.

Photo fusion productions have already been adopted by a number of wedding specialists and will grow your way before long, whatever specialty you are in. Some fusion presentations we have seen were excellent.

Although there is reluctance on the part of amateurs to adopt the combining of still and video imaging into one camera, many pros have embraced video as a means of generating additional revenue and adding creative expression.

The SLR has remarkable advantages over a dedicated video camera in its high resolution, affordable and excellent lenses, f-stop control, color control, storing massive images on a small memory card (up to 32 GB), deleting images to free storage space and all of other functions on your camera body. Most SLRs can record with sound and some can crop and stitch images, perform other light editing and some even have a GPS receiver built in to produce Geotagged photographs.

Together, these features enable the SLR to adapt for almost any job.

The larger sensor yields quality that has put it to use in some of video’s most rarified air, such as filming spots for Super Bowl commercials. Image quality is beautiful.

So what’s not to love?

For starters, the SLR was built for still shots and thus is less efficient in video use. The relatively awkward handling of the camera is often mentioned first, although all have tripod mount screws on the bottom. Shoulder supports and other add ons are available but the extras bump the price upward to the point where you start wondering about purchasing a dedicated video camera instead. Detractors of the multi-purpose cameras will add that the large sensors give a more narrow depth of field, lack power zooms, can be noisy to operate and audio is typically deficient.

There also may be a dread of the learning curve for some photography purists. One answered with a flat “no” when asked about his willingness to shoot video. He explained that it is a completely different art form that he has not mastered.

But where will he be left if photo fusion takes over much of the traditional photography world?

Others predict that manufacturers will eventually release a proper video cameras with a form factor for video, quality audio capability, better file formats, a better viewfinders and one with controls more finely tuned to the video task, while still retaining the SLR features. Or better yet, say some cinematographers, Canon, Nikon and others might produce dedicated HD video camera bodies that which are compatible with the SLR lenses and include most of its other features.

Most video specialists, however, see the advent of video in a traditional still-shot body as a promising but unfinished technology, and they most add the prediction that this will change very soon.

One of the video people noting imperfections from SLR video ended his rant with “Looks pretty good but it’s not going to last.” That reminds me of what my great grandfather said the first time he walked into an air conditioned super market. He said a/c wouldn’t last because we would all catch colds walking in and out of such cold buildings.

Since our SLRs obviously were not built for cinematography and especially not for heavy duty use in that arena, we can’t argue with the video purists about these being only our first steps into their playground.

But the cameras can do deliver great work in both modes and lead to more creative work for the photographer. So why not?

When baby takes his first steps, you want video.

The camera makers built this big new feature in somewhat as an added extra at very low extra cost. And the fast dropping cost of flash cards makes them more and more practical.

SLR video is coming on strong and, although changes will be ongoing forever, we say, as we did with the first pro level digital camera introduced. . . this is the way of the future. Hop on.

As for infringing on the video world, it’s too late to worry about that. The digital camera concept is already growing off in all directions such as into phones and PDAs and even the Hubel telescope and similar astronomical devices are actually digital cameras.

How to Make Money With Weddings

February 15, 2012 by  
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Joe Luter
Thousands of photographers have shuttered their wedding/portrait businesses in the last 10 years. And some did magnificent work.

The main reason is that the bride’s Uncle Harry has quality camera equipment now and is anxious to shoot the event as a present to the bride. It may be his first one. Hmmm, a close relative. And free. Then there are photographers who just shoot the day at a bargain price and just hand the bride a CD.

How do you compete with these?

First, this is not true of every wedding so expect half or more of the jobs will still be available. But you have to go after them quickly, starting with a phone call the day of the newspaper announcement.

Secondly, if Uncle Harry is in the picture, we would not even try to take the main event away from him. Just tell her about your Harry supplements.

Grant that he will cover the ceremony and talk to the bride instead about a cherished bridal portrait sitting. . . she will never again have this opportunity and may never look this glowing again. To us, it is very sad for this moment to ever be lost.

It truly is a beloved gift from the wedding and she will be showing it to her grandchildren . . .if the wedding lasts.

Speaking of your work being the gift of a lifetime, if she says she would love what you suggest but has just spent all the money she can, suggest that Uncle John and others could chip in on the expenses of some professional work as their gift. What could they possibly give that would be of greater and more longterm value?

You may already see the aura of her biggest moment about her when you meet. And deep down, she may have reservations about Uncle Harry but she can’t just . . . you know. Don’t press it. It’s Harry’s job.

You should also cover the pre-ceremony couple pictures. Harry may not even know about them. Show her some that you have done with beautiful backgrounds and warm hearts. You would love to take her and “her man” to the Yachts Club Villas in casual clothes. Also you could produce the “growing up” slide show, which is always makes the moms cry. If you have no such samples, go out and shoot a couple of friends to get some.

You should think next of related products to give his work life. You may already be familiar with the term “orphan bride.” It refers to brides left with nothing but a CD or a bag of 3x5s and a couple of 8x10s. After seeing Harry’s proofs or prints, you might even casually mention that “we could clean them up, if you like. Nothing big, just routine image post processing.”

If you take over the fulfillment here, chances are you will wind up with as much income from the wedding as if you had done it all. Sell her a museum quality canvas print and you will have a friend for life. And a very large print or two in an elegant frame (great gift for the two moms). Consider photobooks too, budget allowing. Wow, they are just stunning these days. Have you seen them lately? They print both sidess of the page and can be “perfect bound.” Gifts for the bridal party could be key chains, beverage holders, funny t–shirts, coffee mugs, etc. And don’t forget a couple of refrigerator magnets for the moms.

We have a problem with the taste factor of the following, but we know one photographer who shoots family portraits at the event of people who are not even in the wedding party. He reasons that these families may have flown in from different locations and how many time will they be in one place together and all scrubbed up? We ourselves would not attend an Uncle Harry wedding but if you do go at all, never take your camera out and start shooting over Harry’s shoulder and never/ever make suggestions. You can get blame but not credit.

Do you have an online storefront? That would be a big plus for any bride. For your business, of course, it would mean that everyone who attends the wedding could order a few prints in about two seconds. Ca-Ching!

Note: For a more stable, Harry-free business, we recommend youth sports, youth dance or schools.


What Would Rembrandt Do?

February 15, 2012 by  
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Joe Luter
We have it all now. In technology, efficiency and in artistic work.

We have a canvas on which to depict the style and flair of the muses who live within. A way to go forward, a way to go back. A way to color with immeasurable accuracy and depth and to blend at a whim. The ability to undo. Or save several versions and patch them together.

What would Rembrandt do if he could spend a week with your tools? He would give a king’s ransom for the privilege, be assured. And what would his results be? It is overwhelming to imagine.

Use it all. Glory in it.

It is true that most of us do volume work that must be efficient. But please remember that under the veneer of your computer lies the greatest canvas in the history of the world. All yours. We speak, of course, of Photoshop.

Keep your business hat on and use it to practice ways to make your photography better, even if it is just occasionally.

Create some of our own formats. Inspired backgrounds for dancers. Exciting montages for action shots. Composites for “funny faces.” Kindly, a little less detail for the elderly.

And if there remain some among us who had a twinge of the artistist that lead them into photography, consider making Photoshop a wonderful hobby. Contort a face; make it purple; replace the sky with a checkerboard and then . . . there are no limits.

You own this universe.


My Life Before Photoshop

February 15, 2012 by  
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Joe Luter
Memories and musings to help you understand just how well technology serves you now and to make sure you take full advantage of it all. Luter is our recently retired founder; he was in private business for 37 years.

By Joe Luter

We often hear said, “We’ve been doing it that way forever.” which generally means since way back last Thursday. But not forever, if memory serves. In the “day” achieving the things we now take for granted took a lot more work and a lot more time. A few examples will demonstrate.

One Color Correction. A color key showed that one photo had too much magenta in the bottom right corner. It was reshot twice but the problem persisted. The saving grace was that we knew about someone who was so skilled at color correcting separation negatives, he could fix anything. So we took the two-hour drive down to his place long after midnight.

With his loop, trained eye and lifetime of experience, he could see immediately that this job was going to require beer. A six-pack was quickly fetched, brought to his throne and humbly submitted. Then the old master set out to work on the magenta negative; he worked carefully and patiently for about two hours.

His method was to scratch about every third dot off of the magenta negative with an X-acto knife, blow on the negative with lips pursed, inspect it thoroughly on the light table, hold it up to overhead light, squint, look at it angrily and start up again. Until he liked the look of it.

Eventually, he made it good. Perfect, it could be said. Hurray, one color correction was completed.
How many nano-seconds would that job take now?

Making Grass Green. A photo for a magazine cover had to be shot in January, when the grass was dried and brown. This was not an insurmountable problem because we knew a guy in a Atlanta (a seven hour drive each way) who could make the grass green by painting directly on the transparency.

We drove. He painted, and the artist did his thing with great precision and care. And then all was well. . . but not too well. I wished the finished transparency were a little more green.

But there was no turning back now. The deadline, of course, was the next day. (Aren’t they always?) Take it and fly. Pre-press waiting. So, of course, the fuel pump on the car exploded and a driving rain beat us through the rest of the return trip.

Cost for coloring the grass: $2,500 + a roll and a half of Tums.
Is your toddler available for our next such job?

Confessions of the Models’ Favorite. Photos of models were routinely overexposed to hide any blemishes or, heaven help us (forgive me girls), tiny wrinkles. The more successful the model, the less face there was surviving the exposure.

Our area’s top ranking model would demand the overexposed look and, after waiting 17 hours for her to “fix” what the makeup artist had perfected, we did not take further time for debate. The lesser known the model, the better the photographs we could provide her. But some of the “stars” had so little detail in their final prints they barely had a nose. And they loved our results.

True, we had some retouching tricks of our own. But, oh, if only we had Photoshop. We could have assured them all they would not have had to look anything like themselves after post processing.

Too Many Hands Spoil the Shot. To promote a Tampa Tarpon Tournament, we wanted a different photo. I had seen many shots that were almost too similar, i.e. across the pole to a jumping fish in the distance. Why not reverse that?

Then we would have a bigger fish view, which is what we wanted, and that shot would surely be “the” image of the tournament. We went to the end of one pier where we found two nice tarpon being unloaded, bought one, mounted it on a broomstick and found a good spot to shoot from the shallows to the boat, which at this location appeared to be far off shore.

Two guys were charged with getting underwater and pushing the tarpon forcefully up in unison, and the frames were shot successfully. Lots of them were shot because we knew what our big problem would be: Hands.

Several excellent shots were trashed due to hands showing just above the water as the tarpon was pushed up. In fact, almost all of shots had those dratted “hands.” I would not consider cropping out the waterline.

Luckily, we did find one pretty darn good shot to use. But wouldn’t it have been a dream if we had the ability to remove the offending hands from any of them?

Flash Filtering. To soften a direct flash shot on location, when bouncing was not an option, we would simply drop a handkerchief (one thickness) over the flash and if that wasn’t enough, we folded it in two for double thickness and shot again. Clean handkerchief preferred.
Filters, circa 1955.

“Peanut” flashes were pretty good for the situation too and super for fill light in the sun.

Photo of Surprise. But Who’s Guarding the Film? When doing a grand opening for a 28-story office building, we had impressive events set for every day for a week, but I also wanted something special that photographers would love. That would not only get us time or space in
the local media but we knew some photographers would submit their best to a national publication or wire service.

Our solution was to hire a guy in a jet pack to fly to the top of the building, around it and back down again. Who with a camera could skip this?

We put out the word to the clubs, in publicity and to a select few via personal phone calls from an assistant. Most important to me was to get my friend Judith Gefter out there; I knew Judy would come up with something creative.

On the day of the flight we had an awful lot of photographers but no Judith. What? Did she forget? I had someone try to reach her number just before lift off but no answer. (No cell phones, of course.)

So we saw a million of the shots I expected but nothing out of the ordinary. I called Judith the day after and asked what had happened to her; she told me she was there and, being coy, said I would be hearing more about her shot later.

I did. Hers was the inside back cover of the next Life magazine. It was shot across a very stunned looking 25th floor executive into the jet pack guy flying past his glass wall just feet away. Priceless. You had to know Judith would come up with something different.

What Judy talked about was not the shot but getting it to the publisher. On deadline, it had to go directly to the magazine without her seeing it. Would it get there? Would it overheat en route? Or have a half of a head cut off? Or suffer leakage?

No, none happened. But it sure would have been great to have a little card in the camera that would magically put the image on something from which it could be high-speed transferred to the publisher?

Quite a wonderful dream from those of us laboring in the 60s.

Diamond Model Award for a Goldfish? My assignment was to take a picture of a little over a gallon of water. And I might add myself, “try not to make it too boring.” This was for an electric utility that wanted to demonstrate the amount of humidity air conditioning removes from a house.

No problem. It could be a fishbowl containing a single fish. So we went goldfish shopping, bought a dozen or so and spent the afternoon auditioning them. But would you believe each and every one failed the audition? (an often fatal loss if you are a goldfish.)

We went back and bought a couple dozen more (the lady at the fish shop was ecstatic) but more carefully this time, picking very scrupulously through the herd. Back to auditions, we again had trouble but finally did pick our star. Then, on stage she was slow to hit her mark and not all that terrific after all. We saw small imperfections that made me want to wait for her to make a slight turn. And wait we did. Got it. Done.

But if only we could have re-touched any fish ever so slightly in a not-yet-invented desktop computer. even the first group of candidates would have done fine. We even could have made them more prominent in the bowl than nature had.

Waterskiing Without a Zoom. All the grown ups were presumably already out on assignment when this photo intern at the Tampa Tribune was told to go take shots of Morrison DeLesseps, legendary mayor of New Orleans, slalom skiing in the Gulf.

Great, great. But I didn’t have a zoom lens. All I had was the newspaper’s standard issue (for interns) Yashica-Mat twin lens. Upon arrival at the ski center, I explained my predicament to the guy running the place and he solved the problem with his boating skill.

He sent the mayor out first and then boated me to and fro around him, sometimes close enough for me to have pulled his ear.
The shots were great, one made the AP nationally and I got a windfall $15 check from them.

Now in 2011 we would have had a small zoom bundled with most any SLR at a price that even the newspaper would have paid. And I could have peeked at what I got so far between our frightening runs at the poor man.

In Search of Data Storage. It seemed as though every presentation was the most important one ever made, back in the ad agency days. And we thought this one certainly was. With an excellent series of photographic prints in hand, I sped over to the art director’s place to join him and his work and get there on time.

As always, someone had thrown him a curve at the last minute and he had to stop and re-make two painted boards. After a few more minutes of work, we dashed off to his car, spread the work out, with paint still wet, on the back seat of his convertible and zoomed off.

One small bump, a tap on the brakes and a draft from our approach to a bridge and everything we had for the presentation out into dense traffic. Not just the new work. The whole campaign.
Turns out it may not have been the most important mishap in history after all. In fact. when we showed up 20 minutes late with about 60 percent of the work and even that much embellished with tire tracks and the dirt, all the people on the client’s side of the table thought our adventure was hilarious. And they loved the campaign.

Tomorrow the job of reproducing all of that work began. No harm, no foul. But if only we had some way to copy and keep things back then. We could have called it a data storage system.. Or, failing in that, if we had had a little more sense.