As another follow up to the article I wrote aboutfinding your own photographic style, Chuck Vosburgh offers his experience and sheds some light on how his style has influenced his work as a commercial photographer.

How have you developed your style and continue to do so?

My style developed partly from responding to clients' needs and partly from works that I personally like. I think it's vital to continue learning from masters of the craft. I remember when I joined the Tampa Area Professional Photographers Association, I discovered a whole new level of work that I didn't even know existed! Learning from the people in that group took my work and my career to the next level where I felt comfortable competing for work on a national level.

Where does your vision and/or your inspiration come from?

For commercial work, the art director or photo editor usually has a concept, then we collaborate to make his or her concept the best it can be. Sometimes, completely new ideas come from the collaboration and that's when it's the most exciting! In cases where I am responsible for the concept, I rely on my library of images that I've saved for inspiration. Looking through them will usually spark an idea that can be built on. For portraits, I've been heavily influenced by Dutch painters Rembrandt, Vermeer and others. The influence of their work finds its way into any portrait work I do.

How has developing such a strong style benefited you or held you back?

My motto has always been"if it's legal, moral and not a wedding I'll shoot it". That said, one thing I learned very early on is that you can't do everything. For example, I don't do weddings or babies. It's just not my thing, and likewise I don't know any wedding or baby photographers who do commercial work. It is a good idea to be able to have a bit of a range of style since many of my clients have come to me with something specific in mind.

Any advice for other photographers who are struggling to find a voice?

Don't obsess about it! It will develop on its own over time. I recommend finding someone whose work you admire and follow their lead. That will provide a foundation that you can expand on and make your own. None of us have invented our styles. Everything is an extension of those before us.I am certain that most if not all of the masters that I admire will say the same.

And any other thoughts or feelings you may have on the topic.

Remember we're providing a service. Service demands being flexible and understanding that not every single piece you do will be a portfolio piece. I know that goes against what some say, but I have 30 years of earning a nice living and it's worked for me. I've frequently asked clients why they chose me. There are plenty of talented photographers to choose from and without exception they all had basically the same answers: None of them mentioned the quality of my work. Excellent work is expected and it's the minimum requirement to be chosen. No one mentioned equipment for the same reason. All of them said it was that they knew I'd show up, come through for them and be pleasant to work with. It's just that simple. I've built my career on the promise that I will show up and get the job done no matter what and it will look great.

Chuck Vosburgh did his first paid and published work in 1984 and earned his PPA Certified Professional Photographer in 2014. He has been fortunate enough to have been awarded many honors over the years and loves to teach. You can see Chuck's work atwww.ChuckVosburgh.comand on his blog,www.LightingIsEasy.com. Chuck recently released a new online course titledHow to sell photography without becoming a salesmanwhere he condenses his 30+ years of sales and business experience down to a series of ten-minute lessons covering everything you need to know to be successful. You can learn more about it atvosburghphoto.com.

Proofpix - Client galleries and studio management

Our new calendar widget allows you to view your upcoming photo sessions and appointments so you can manage your time and team more effectively.

Customers can book photo session appointments through your custom forms if you add a scheduler component to them. You can set up the scheduler to auto-confirm appointments or you can confirm appointments manually. When an appointment is submitted, you receive an email that allows you to confirm the appointment and add it to your Outlook or iCalendar with just a single click. Or if you prefer, you can confirm appointments using the new calendar widget in the admin control panel. Once an appointment is confirmed, your client will receive a confirmation via email.

We have also added custom appointment reminder emails so your clients automatically receive email reminders about their upcoming appointments. Your clients will be able to:
  • Add the appointment to their favorite calendar
  • Cancel or request to re-schedule appointments with just a click

You can configure a tailored message and choose the number of days prior to the appointment that the email reminder will be sent.

Hope you enjoy the new features! Please let us know how we can make running your photography business more efficient.

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You can now attach custom tags to your customers to easily segment them for quick searching and filtering.

This is especially handy, when you want to send a mass email campaign to a specific segment of your customers. Let's assume that you want to drum up some business from customers that you have not heard from in a while. Simply create an email campaign, and then filter the list of recipients by selecting the tags from events that were shot over a year ago. In just a few of clicks, you have narrowed down your list to the required audience, which will help make your campaigns more successful, and by extension, your photo business more profitable.

Check out this quick video introduction to customer tags below.

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Last week we published a post about finding your own photographic style. As a follow up to that, I reached out to a favorite photographer of mine name, Kristi Sutton Elias, who was kind enough to share some of her personal opinions on the subject. Kristi is one of my favorite photographers because her work embodies a very strong personal style that is artistic, distinct, and incredibly memorable. Kristi’s amazing work has earned her a litany of awards and recognition over the years, such as:

  • “International Photographer of the Year” - Professional Photographers of America- 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

  • “California Photographer of the Year Award" - 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 PPA

  • "Photographic Artist Photographer of the Year Award " - 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

  • "Portrait Photographer of the Year Award" - 2014, 2015

  • "Illustration Photographer of the Year Award" - 2014

  • "Child Photographer of the Year Award" - 2014

  • "Judge's Choice Award" - PPA

A full list can be found on Kristi’s website.

How did you develop your style and continue to do so?

I create the worlds that attract me and visually I want to live in. Creative editing in Photoshop has been a big part of defining my style. I continue to try to refine my style with every session by upping my game in styling, propping, dramatic posing and editing.

My dramatic lighting choice, is also a big part of my style. I spent years learning how to light anyone and everything. I started to notice the images that I favored most, had a dramatic, directional light source. Now that same lighting style has become consistent throughout my work and helped to define my style.

Where does your vision and/or your inspiration come from?

A lot of my inspiration comes from what I am attracted to. I do not see in high key palettes, nor do I create with them. I am intrigued by low light paintings and scenes. When I enter a museum or gallery, I beeline to the darkest piece in the room. That is home to me. Where others see darkness, I see light. There is a richness of color, and warmth that can be seen throughout even the darkest of paintings. I am always looking for the stories and detail that can be found or hidden in the shadows and darkness.

No matter the medium, I create what I crave. I am drawn to art that is timeless, stoic, and drenched in a chiaroscuro palette. I strive to create stare-able portraits. A portrait capable of swallowing the observer. Each observer, on a different journey, unearthing their own story in the subtleties. I am constantly evolving, discovering how to be the best storyteller I can.

Movies are a great inspiration for me. I like anything by Marvel comics and fighting action movies. Not only do I find the story line entertaining but, the lighting, color palette and composition burns little visual memories in my mind that later I pull from for creative inspiration.

How has developing such a strong style benefited you or held you back?

My style is not for everyone, nor do I want everyone to be my client. I have developed a sought after niche that clients will not only pay for but travel from different states and countries for.

However I will only create in my low key chiaroscuro style, so I do turn away potential clients who are looking for high key portraits. I recommend other photographers who create in the style they are looking for.  It’s not that I can’t create in high-key, I simply don't want to. Holding true to my style and vision has tightened up my work and portfolio.

Any advice for other photogs who are struggling to find a voice?

I get asked, “How do you create a unique style?”, my answer is simple, “Leave behind any thoughts of acceptance. Create what you crave.”. Do not worry about what others are creating or what others think about what you are creating. You will never please everyone, so work on creating what amazes you!  You are the only one who can create what is in your head.

Spend your time shooting and editing instead of looking at other photographers work. What goes in must come out! If you spend your time looking at others work, your work will look more like theirs.

And any other thoughts or feelings you may have on the topic.

I highly recommend doing your own editing. If you want to create a unique style, editing is a big part of that. Just like anything else in life the more you practice the better you will become. Experiment, try new things just to see what will happen. A lot of my success in editing is from experimenting. Fail, a lot, for if you are not failing, you are not trying new things. Some of my greatest pieces started with an epic fail. Embrace happy accidents and write down the steps on how to recreate them.

Write down your ideas, you might think you can remember them, but you will forget. One simple idea, built upon, can become a Masterpiece.

“For the Art that we do not create, no one will.”

All images are the copyright of Kristi Sutton Elias.

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unsplash-logoKinga Cichewicz

What makes your favorite images “pop”? What helps you recognize the work of some of the most emblematic photographers of the century? How is it that two almost identical images in terms of subject, lighting, and composition can look so different?

The answer is simple:style.

As an artist, you were likely drawn to photography because you have something to say with your work and your style is thex factorthat makes your work unique. It’s the thing that seperates a good photograph from a great one. And doing that consistently, is what separates good photographers from great photographers.

So, what is a style and how do I get it?

Style is what makes your work recognizable at first glance. It’s not something you will magically obtain one day or something you can decide you want to have: it’s the result of a never-ending process of developing and refining, job after job, shoot after shoot.

Every photographer has been faced with the decision of whether to go with past preferences – the things we know that work – or experimentation – the techniques we’d love to try out but we’re not sure what the result may bring. With every photo you take, you need to make a ton of decisions; technical decisions such as aperture, shutter speed, or white balance. Artistic decisions like poses, composition and angles. These are all opportunities for you to play with. Every time you decide to experiment and you like the result, the choice will become a preference.

As you evolve, you begin to apply your preferences subconsciously rather than something you ‘force’ onto your images. Your preferences accumulate, complementing each other and culminating into the elusive goal: your own unique photographic style.

There is no silver bullet, but if you’re struggling and unsure how to begin discovering your personal photography style, here is some practical advice to help you get started:

Hone your technical skills

Any amazing image, whether it’s a drawing, painting or a photograph, is the result of a harmonious marriage between the eye and the hand. Your eye is what tells you what you want to achieve and the hand is the means by which you create it. You must have good hands (technical skills), if you are ever going to satisfy the eye.

This cannot be emphasized enough. Even if your style emerges subconsciously, it is still a product of your technical skills and expertise.

While there are a myriad of technical skills that you need to be aware of (and there seems to be more every day with the advancement of equipment), there is no skill more important for a photographer than mastering light: photo comes from the Greek word phos, which means light.

You should not only be familiar but possess a strong knowledge of how exposure works, what the effects of lighting on different shots can be. Learn how to “read” light – you need to intuitively know how, for instance, backlighting might affect the image (by causing overexposing, loss of contrast or a flare), how short-lighting can transform the figure of your subject and so on. These technical aspects can make a world of a difference in your work.

The key to mastering your technical skills is repetition and analysis. With time, this skill will become second nature, something you can do automatically without even having to think about it: this will free up cognitive resources which you can lend to experimentation.

Your equipment should not define your style, knowing how to use it should

Some photographers are gear heads and are infatuated with these wonderful instruments that truly seem magical. However, it is usually a mistake to rely on your equipment to define your style. In the end, they are means and not the end in themselves.

Whatever your equipment consists of, the key to becoming a better photographer and achieving what is in your mind’s eye, is mastering the technical limitations of your tools and figuring out strategies to compensate for them. For instance, there are cameras that might be better at capturing details in the highlights than in the shadows. This might mean you need to settle for slightly over-exposed images to compensate for the gear’s particular limits. Again, practice and experimentation are key to understanding this. Resist the urge to buy new equipment to further your quest in developing your style – it’s likely that your equipment is not the thing holding you back.

Get inspired and then become inspiring

We all need inspiration and nothing happens in a vacuum. Maybe you’re inspired by a certain color pallette, architectural elements, geometric shapes or by specific locations. While we all seek to find our own unique style, the truth is you will probably, at one time or another, emulate another person’s work that you find inspiring. That is perfectly ok, especially when you’re getting started. It’s a process. And once you start successfully imitating another’s work, you will be learning a whole lot along the way. You will be finding your voice while reciting someone else’s. You will be building confidence in your skills and when enough time has past, you, like every other artist before you, will have developed your own preferences and just like that your voice will begin to emerge and express itself.

The thing to remember along the way, is to be analytical. Ask yourself why you are drawn to another’s work and learn how to analyze what makes it good. Learn how to speak about art. And if you continue to hone your skills and your voice, eventually you will become an inspiration for other artists.

Take chances and push yourself

Most artists always set out to make the perfect image but sometimes you take the perfect image – completely by accident. The best way to create these happy accidents is to put yourself in situations that encourage them. Try pushing yourself to work outside your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to work with a certain lens or just one light and this can yield some of your most interesting work. If you’re open to failure and analytical you’ll be able to discover small successes and perhaps big accidents that you can recreate and add to your arsenal of techniques that will help you define your unique style.

While researching this article I discovered, Josh S Rose, and in particular the following two articles of his. I believe this is some of the best writing about art and photography I have ever read. I bet you’ll enjoy it as well:



Proofpix - Client galleries and studio management