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Tag Archives: interview

Make the Most of Opportunities

 

I entered the 5th year anniversary artists contest held by the copyright alliance a few months back. My video won in the multi-media category. As part of my winnings (feelings of satisfaction and a happy client), they offered to interview me for their blog. As an SECP, I jumped at the chance to talk about my favorite subject: me! All kidding aside, always look for opportunities to spread the word about yourself, your thinking and your work. And why not? If you don’t have an agent (I let my rep go, a good story in itself and it involves Marilyn Monroe) and your mom is too busy, then it’s up to you.

If you don’t grab opportunities to promote your brand then what are you doing working for yourself? Hoping for the best? Hoping magical thinking will takeover and you’ll have everything you deserve? When was the last time that happened? I live by the credo of putting good karma out to the world and doing good things for people. It always come back to me.

You may be thinking so what, the Copyright Alliance is not a big organization. That’s true. They’re only five years old and don’t command the world stage like the Zuckerberg-led copyright rip off team at Facebook. But the Copyright Alliance is a large organization compared to what I’ve associated with in the past. I’m able to  capitalize on their SEO juice which will immediately add to my credibility as an artist, educator, author and speaker. My global reach steadily expands every time another organization focuses their attentions on me, what I’m about and what I have to say. In other words my world is growing, my influence is growing, organizations are recognizing this and more easily connect with me in meaningful ways.

As I’m now going for very large and complex contracts (involving multiple photographers) with huge agencies, this method of building my background profile gains in importance. It adds up and makes it easier for me to pry open new opportunities for my business model. This is my multi-pronged goal. To create more business. For myself. And others who connect with me.

Thanks for reading.

Michael

 

Develop Your Rap

The butter and eggs portion of my business is the corporate headshot. To date I’ve done over a thousand. Location. Studio. I’ll go anywhere clients request. Period. It’s called service. With a smile. And a decent price tag. For both parties. I want to share with you one of my trade secrets: the interview rap. The interview rap works well when I’m doing one or two people per assignment. When I’m doing five plus a day, my rap is done on-the-fly. The energy level I must bring during the bigger sessions contributes to its’ success. When it’s only one or two people per assignment it’s a bit different.

Here’s what I do: I call the subjects and spend time getting to know them. And they me. I offer congratulations on their new hire or promotion (or whatever the reason is for them needing a headshot). I ask if they’ve been photographed professionally, how they felt, how the photographs turned out (in their opinion only), would they like to do something different this time? The way they answer drives my rap…funny…informational…topical…personal, etc. If there is an ease to their answers, no detectable strain in their voice I come back to them with a jokes, recent movies I’ve seen or food I’ve eaten mixed in with my answers. The tone and length of their responses inform me as to what type of personality I’m beginning to engage. And vice-versa. In my world both sides of the photographic session have to be authentic as much as possible. I’ve been doing this too long to play games, I’m determined to do a successful and professional job that fills my clients needs every time I pull the trigger.

In essence I want my subjects to know me and I them. I strive to create a relaxed, engaging and informational photographic experience and it begins with the interview rap and moves forward clothing ideas, haircut (at least a week in advance), booking date, length of session, what we will accomplish and a delivery date.

So may I ask…what’s your rap?

Thanks for reading.

Michael

Related Images:

Sensing Business Opportunities


One of the joys of self-employment is searching for new business. I dedicate part of each week to searching out opportunities that others miss. This is a good thing because the misses of others creates easier selling opportunities for me.

I subscribe to the LA Times. The business, sports, valley and calendar sections contain stories about persons, events and companies. Every edition. Somedays there are so many juicy opportunities, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

I’ll read a story, article or interview and inevitably some idea gets ignited: I’d like to photograph that. Or: I’d like to be the go to photographer/creative force for that company. Starting to get the idea? sometimes the opportunity just scream out at me and sometimes I have to let the story percolate for a few days. Usually something will strike me and I just go with my instincts. Which brings up the other side of this process: I have trained myself over the years to listen to that voice in my head as to whether or not something is worth pursuing. As I have really honed this over the years, I’m rarely wrong about moving forward. Sometimes I’d rather hand the actual shoot off to another photographer because it’s the smell of the hunt that really gets my blood coursing.

I’ve never counted the total number of deals I’ve negotiated over the years but I’ve just made contact with a major learning institution here in LA about producing time-lapse, virtual 360° panoramas and real-time videos for a major event happening over the summer. Read about it in the sports section, page two, a favorite haunting ground of mine.

I did an online search for a number, made a call talked to a person who redirected me to the decision-maker. This person liked my pitch and I sent some work samples and links. I received an email back indicating that my work is indeed what they’d like to have produced. I was then asked to keep in touch and as summer nears, we’ll meet to discuss further. Sweet!

That’s all I wanted for now, to see what the temperature of my idea is and their timeline for needs.

In these instances, the newspaper is like a marketing company to me in that they have pre-qualified the buyer.

Been doing it this way for years and I believe part of the success is that they don’t expect a pitch for business to come in this way. Sort of a backdoor entrance if you will.

In this day and age we have to be inventive in how we gather and qualify leads. Our careers depend on it.

Good luck!

Michael

VR Panoramas 08/19/11

Todays show is a bit different. Links to the VR Panoramas are here. They will take you to the resource so you can follow along with the discussion Lee and I have with Pat Swovelin.

1) 140 Ocean Park 525, Waterfall Fountain

2) 2115 3rd Street 203, Stairs

3) Arrowhead Stadium, Overview From The Top Of The Orange Level

4) B-17 Liberty Belle In The Ball Turret

5) B-17 Liberty Belle In The Bombardier’s Seat

6) Bryce Canyon, Sunrise Point, Horse Trail, 2

7) Clayton Center, Main Theatre, Ground Floor, Middle Of The Seats

8) Dark House, Evil Clown With Axe

9) KC Chiefs Vs Arizona Cardinals Chiefs Come Onto The Field

10)  KC Chiefs Vs Denver Broncos, Coin Toss, The Coin Is In The Air – Little Planet

11) M-Club Swimming Pool

12) MiMA Lobby

13) Philippe’s 100th Anniversary, The Perfect Gentlemen

14) Riverside National Cemetery, Medal Of Honor Memorial, Back Medals Wall

15) Toni Scotts 1-Woman Show Bloodlines

Keywords & SEO, Playing Well Together

You are but a speck in the vast internet sea……

 

Keywording, meta tags and SEO work. I received an email last week. It was a request for a quote to produce several time-lapse videos. A four month (possibly longer) time-lapse project. Video inserts also requested. I was stoked. After setting up a meet and greet, I prepared my talking points and began research into weatherproof housings. We’re in the budgeting process. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I was told an online search was performed for professional time-lapse and that my name was the only name that showed as a professional photographer of time-lapse and it was at the top of the results page! Spot number one. It’s good to be the king. All the other results were for time-lapse gear and youtube time-lapse movies. I know this to be accurate because I checked out the results using the same keywords they told me they input. Very cool indeed. Take that traditional marketing. Zap! Pow! Not to say traditional marketing is useless, it isn’t. Being diligent however with my keywording, meta tags and SEO, definitely gave me a clear advantage in this unusual situation.

The takeaway here is to really think about your keywords, meta tags, SEO strategies, the text on your website (especially the landing page) and not using flash to run your information. Takes time to learn, apply, measure and refine. The effort is worth it. And if your competition is doing so and your not…guess who gets more opportunities?

Michael

Don’t Burn Your Bridges, You May Need Them Later….

Lake Tahoe Pier-2006

 

Of the many aspects about teaching that I’m fond of, the process of reaching out to companies and asking for review copies of their products is up near the top. To date this has worked so well that I’ve become expert at asking and receiving. Of course I offer something in return: my expertise in reviewing said products and my loyal audience who have grown to trust my judgment when I bring the information to them. Everybody wins. It’s actually a great system.

I’m happy to report that I don’t burn bridges as a matter of course, (you won’t get very far being self-employed) What happened yesterday bears repeating: I reached out to a company to ask for review copies of their entire product line. (how bold of me, but if you don’t ask you don’t get) I heard about this particular software from a woman who attended the Los Angeles Photshop User Group monthly meeting during which I presented my compositing work, thought processes and business approach. Anyway the marketing person from this company calls me in response to my inquiry.

She wanted to know a bit more about my show’s philosophy and why I want their product for my show’s product showcase segment. We chatted a bit and found out that we are on the same page when it comes to education and training. She liked my ideas for presenting their products and offered to send me download links and serial numbers straight away. (she did)

We ended the phone call with her asking me if I remembered her… Can you say GULP? She and I met when we worked at Brooks Institute. She left in ’06 and I’ve not taught there since ’09. (low enrollment = no classes for adjuncts) Oh well. Get your own radio show.

One can only imagine  the outcome had there been no bridge connecting us…….the conversation would have had a decidedly different tone. (if she had responded at all)

Be well.

Michael

Create Your Own Opportunities

Opportunities Await!

Last evening I presented my first ever webinar. This moment (and opportunity) was  a long time coming. But I knew it was coming. I planned it that way. I created this opportunity for myself through mindful thought, careful effort, professional persistence and indefatigable follow through. The comments from last night’s program can be found along the right side of this page. You bet I will turn this into more opportunities, more press and more income. This is part of the responsibility I bear as an SECP. (self-employed creative professional) SECP‘s are compelled to push out their bubbles of influence: marketing, sales, publicity, customer service, areas of expertise and the like.

The question is how does an opportunity get created? I will explain how I created this opportunity but keep in mind this is just one way to achieve what you want, there are almost as any others as there are successful SECP’s. Amazing really.

I went to a meeting of the PIASC in early 2008. As a photographer I knew that going to a program for professionals outside of my profession (in this case, printers) I would meet people who may need to buy what I offer. (photography, consulting, teaching) I positioned myself in the room so that my back was turned to on one. I listened to people questions and comments. I also offered up pertinent commentary. (I always do, big surprise there, eh?) One of the attendees comment made  my ears perk up. During a break I went to speak with him. Turned out he was an instructor at FIDM and he informed me that FIDM needed additional photography teachers. Guess where I began teaching soon after?

I also joined the PIASC to get access to their members only educational programs. One of these programs was presented by onlineinstruct.com. This business is owned by Kelly McCathran who also happens to run the group which put on last nights presentation. Guess where I hang my teaching hat these days?

I knew I wanted to teach online. The task was to find a good online business. I went through a number of them before I found Kelly’s business: I wrote letters, sent emails, made phone calls. Kelly’s was the best fit for me.

Creating your own opportunities is a powerful and effective way to grow ones connections and business.

Try it. Practice it. Refine it. Above all else, do it. Today.

Cheers!

Michael

 

Networking Never Stops

You Never Know Where The Steps Will Take You

Last evening I attended and Apple sponsored event held at Alt Systems in Burbank, my old stomping grounds. They supply hard and soft data solutions to production companies in movies and television. No photography at all. So why did I go? I went because the talk and demonstration was how to push content out to your audience. I have an audience albeit much different than Alt Systems clientele. Apple has integrated so much of their technology that it’s easier than ever to collect, edit, archive and send large video files to wherever they needs to go. Very impressive.

As per my usual way, I arrived early and stayed late. Alt Systems is a first class joint. The client area is sweet: a full kitchen, bar and theatre. Jon (president and owner) came out to greet me. He was charming and enthusiastic about his company. I got the royal tour and afterwards he invited me to partake of the wonderful spread of food laid out on the buffet table. His wife Lynn was also present and she was as gracious as he. While eating my apple sausage, I met another attendee whose son is looking for working professionals to develop and present advanced educational videos online. He introduced me to a woman he had invited. She knows how to produce and market videos. This is the area I’m weakest in and she will be evaluating my offer of working together. Reason one for attending: making contacts. We exchanged contact info and I will be calling the son this week. They all live in Pasadena near me. How great is that?

Reason two: I pitched Jon on having me develop and write his blog. This is something he has thought about and after speaking with one of his employees about the work they do I was able to present Jon with a few topic ideas. Whether or not Jon decides on his own blog, he now knows I exist, knows I write and he’ll be able to refer his contacts if it comes up in his conversations. And at the very least I got to practice my pitch. I try not to let opportunities to practice go by without at least trying something.

Like the title says, networking never stops.

Who have you talked to lately?

Refining Your Craft Part II

We're Watching You

On October 18, I posted this entry to my blog. I wrote about the importance of constantly working to refine your area(s) of expertise. There’s almost always a pay off. Case study: I had a meeting today with decision makers working for a worldwide entertainment company. I showed them my single-source multiple exposure lighting and composting techniques. Check out these short informational videos here.

During the interview/presentation, I used prints, videos and answered their questions about how I would approach a given scenario. They were impressed and delighted as we discussed the ways in which I can work my magic for them. They were candid about how high up the totem pole photography has been for them (historically low), the places they’d like to send me and how they would use my images for their consumer marketing needs.

The quality of my compositing skills so impressed them that they asked what could be done with frame pulls from HD video. I said it’s doable but a test would be required to work out the necessary steps to get a handle on the time involved, the hard dollar costs and of course my fee(s).

The mutual respect and interest was such a breath of fresh air, I was buzzing all day about the potential of their projects. I’ve worked with this company in the past (and that is a big advantage for both sides) so there was built in acceptance. But I was not complacent, I took nothing for granted, I listened to their needs, concerns and past experiences. It was a great back and forth exchange and I could see their minds buzzing with possibilities.

Lastly, I met with one of the producers separately for several minutes after the meeting formally broke up. Another sign of their interest and respect. It all boils down to putting one foot in front of the other and keep on moving forward.

Good luck and good effort for and from all of us!

You Don’t Get What You Don’t Ask For

Being Self-Employed Can Sometimes Be A Lonely Profession

Before you get all over me for the poor grammar of the title, let me explain. I’m excited because of what happened this evening. I attended a lecture at the Getty Center to hear Robert Weingarten speak and to see his work. Obviously it was worth my time, his stuff is well thought out, well done, beautiful and thoughtful. I arrived early so I could take in the photography exhibits too. As I walked around waiting for the program to begin, it occurred to me that there was no reason why I couldn’t be a guest speaker too. After all I’ve a speaking career and book sales to consider.

So I did what I always do in these self-aware opportunities, I politely asked if there was someone present to whom I could talk to. (I can be very charming when I need to be) Immediately one of the Getty staff went to locate the person I desired to meet. She came out and was extremely polite and interested in what I had to offer. Bingo! I hit pay dirt on the first try. Hey sometimes you just get lucky. Of course I put myself in this position by attending the event. SECP’s must continually push forward, who else is around and eager to do this for you? We spoke for ten minutes, she impressed me with the breadth of the three programs she thought I’d fit into and she was impressed with all I had to offer. We exchanged emails and I’ll be sending her more info about my favorite subject, me. :>)

Later during the program two women sat next to me and sensing an opportunity, I asked what brought them out this evening. They are members of the Photographic Arts Council at LACMA and love photography. They asked about me, I gave them the two-minute drill and they both asked for my card as they were interested in my portrait services. Another winner folks.

As I left the auditorium, the contact person from the Getty went out of her way to say good-bye to me. Guess I made a good impression. Lastly as I was waiting for the shuttle to take several of us to our vehicles, three men and I started chatting, (OK, I started chatting and they engaged). Turns out one of the fellows shoots jazz and was a good friend of William Claxton, a legendary photographer of jazz who passed away earlier this summer. One of the other fellows is a heart surgeon who after talking for a few minutes (I regaled him with my Ronald Reagan story) is considering me to help tutor him in Photoshop. All three said they had heard of me or my book, so the word is getting around.

This was just the end to my day that I needed as it began on a very sour note…but that story is for later

Until next I post, thanks for reading.