Learn to Integrate Video into Your Photography Business at WPPI

Whether you shoot weddings, portraits, sports, products, or landscapes, it’s becoming clear that the new, hybrid VDSLR cameras are going to profoundly affect what clients will expect when they hire a professional photographer. (Why hire two separate professionals to shoot stills and video, when one qualified professional can deliver both?)

 You can learn more about how to integrate HD video into your business during two platform classes at WPPI 2010, which runs from March 4 to 11 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV.

On Tuesday, March 9, LexJet is co-sponsoring a two-hour Platform Class entitled Digital Cinema. During this class, celebrity wedding and portrait photographers Charles and Jennifer Maring will explain why hybrid cameras that capture both photographic stills and HD video offer limitless potential for creative expression. The Marings will explain how to expand your horizons by creating products for delivery in print, books, the big screen, the Web, and mobile.  They will share insights into how new technologies are raising the bar, redefining what it means to be a visual artist, and creating opportunities that can affect your studio’s public relations and bottom line.

On Monday, March 8, Canon Explorer of Light Bruce Dorn will talk about The Moving Portrait: HD Video for Still Photographers. Dorn will talk about how portrait photographers can capture both still photographs and HD video in a single session, all while using a familiar camera system. He will share tips, tools, and techniques, for exploring this emerging trend and explain why still shooters shouldn’t be intimidated by this unfamiliar workflow. Dorn is a member of the Directors Guild of America and brings 25 years of Hollywood experience to the table.

These are just two of the more than 50 platform classes available to photographers who register for the full conference.

Business Institute: If you’re just starting out in the photography business, or need to get re-energized, consider attending the Business Institute. The program kicks off Friday evening, March 5 with an inspiring session by Sandy Puc and Mitche Graf on “Life Without Boundaries: The Rebirth of Passion.” The Institute runs from 8:00 am to 7 pm on Saturday, March 6, with four presentations by successful photographers and a panel discussion and Q&A session with all of the speakers. The four sessions on Saturday include:

  • Bankable Branding by Jennifer Gilman
  • The New Renaissance: Connect, Revise and Grow on the Web by Matt Hill
  • How to Master the Art of Selling Portrait and Wedding Photography by Michael Warshall
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Photographers by Michael Costa

The Business Institute is offered for a standalone price of $99 or can be purchased as an add-on to a full convention registration.

“For professional photographers looking to thrive in today’s competitive business environment, WPPI is the place for them to learn all they can to succeed,” said George Varanakis, WPPI’s Group Publisher and Executive Vice President. “Photographers who attend WPPI’s educational sessions and programs are sure to leave with an adrenaline rush that will help them put all the good ideas they learn at WPPI to use immediately in their own businesses.”

The trade show held in conjunction with WPPI will be open March 8, 9, and 10 and will feature hundreds of exhibitors and new products.

WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International) is an organization that serves the educational and business needs of wedding and portrait photographers. For full details about the WPPI Conference and Show visit: www.wppionline.com


Custom Display Backgrounds for Collectors of Action Figures

Collecting action figures is a popular hobby, as evidenced by the tens of thousands of action-figure-related auctions that can be found on e-Bay. Once a collector acquires a rare or vintage action figure, he will want to find a meaningful way to display it. 

The images for the display backgrounds are printed on TOUGHcoat Water-Resistant Self-Adehsive Polypropylene and adhered to a rigid plastic.

That’s why LexJet customer Joe Harris has launched a new website, D&J Toys, through which he sells a selection of backgrounds in two sizes.  The smaller version features an 8 x 10-in.  photographic image as the backdrop with a 5 x 10 in. floor, imaged with a complementary texture (e.g. desert sand, grass, water, snow). The larger display, which can showcase multiple action figures, is 10 x 25 in. with an 8 x 25 in. floor. Customers can also submit their own designs for larger, more elaborate displays that include walls, roofs, or other features.

Joe Harris understands the desire for professional-looking custom displays, because he has been collecting G.I. Joe action figures since 1982. The first display he produced was an affordable reproduction Cobra Base for G.I. Joe.

“These were originally offered as a Sears exclusive in 1982 on cardboard. But the cardboard didn’t hold up very well over the years, so the price of an original can be well over $1,000.” Because not many people are willing to pay that much, Harris came up with a way to remake the Cobra Base with more durable plastic.  The reproduction Cobra Base was a hit, so he branched out and started selling other types of display backgrounds. 

In his day job, Harris is a screen printer, so he is accustomed to figuring out how to print images in small quantities on materials other than paper. Shortly after he bought an HP Designjet wide-format printer for his screen-printing business, he recognized that it might also be useful in helping him fabricate the reproduction Cobra Base.

“I found LexJet after searching the Web for a source of materials for the Designjet,” notes Harris.  He has since found that LexJet TOUGHcoat™ Water-Resistant Self-Adhesive Polypropylene is ideal for the requirements of his displays: “It’s a great product that produces a really nice, vivid image that holds up very well!”  The printed polypropylene adheres well to the lightweight, rigid plastic he uses to fabricate the displays.  

Harris says “I am always looking for new ways to make use of my large-format printer,” noting that he has many other print-related ideas he could pursue if time permits.

For now, he is pleased by how quickly word has spread about his new line of display backgrounds. Other than making a few posts on forums read by collectors, he hasn’t really done any advertising. To check out the full line of display backgrounds offered by D&J Toys, visit: www.djtoys.muchtobuy.com/

“More and more people are starting to use inkjet prints in very unique ways, ” notes Kara Work, the LexJet account specialist who worked with Harris. “At LexJet, we are happy to recommend the right material for whatever product you might have in mind.”
You can talk to a LexJet account specialist by calling 800-453-9538.

LexJet Co-Founder Featured on VoiceAmerica Business

When you visit LexJet offices, you’ll see motivational posters on the wall, with inspirational quotes for employees. But these aren’t the typical motivational-quote posters you see in office-supply stores or in-flight magazines. These posters feature real testimonials from real LexJet customers, who routinely rave about the quality of service they receive from LexJet account specialists and customer-service representatives. The posters serve as a constant reminder that at LexJet, customer experience is job one. 

This intense daily focus on customer service explains why LexJet continues to be financially strong and stable, even through periods of rapid technological change and economic uncertainty.

To learn more on how to build a LexJet-like culture in your own business, listen to an interview that was conducted Feb. 8 with LexJet co-founder Art Lambert on the VoiceAmerica Business channel. In the interview, Lambert discussed how businesses of all types and sizes can increase their sales by “Enhancing Your Customers’ Experience.”

Lambert was interviewed by Len D’Innocenzo and Jack Cullen on their program, entitled “Let’s Talk Sales to Increase Your Income.”

 “Increasing sales is all about building relationships, and the relationship starts only when you focus on enhancing your customer’s experience,” says Lambert. “Without a great customer experience, there may never be a relationship to build, or an opportunity to increase your income.

On LexJet’s website, you can download or listen to the interview in one of three forms:  MP3, iTunes podcast, or streaming audio.

And if you haven’t yet experienced LexJet, call us at 800-453-9538  the next time you need any equipment or supplies for large-format digital printing of your photos, art, or graphics. Our highly trained specialists can provide expert advice and personalized assistance for whatever type of large-format print project you have in mind.

Robert Rodriguez Jr. Offers In-Studio Class on Fine Photo Printing

There are a number of ways to learn how to create top-quality prints of your best photographs.

If you would like a full-day of instruction from a working professional, check out the Fine Art Digital Printing workshop that will be offered on Feb. 27 and March 13 by landscape photographer Robert Rodriguez, Jr. He is conducting the workshops in his state-of-the-art Beyond the Lens studio in Beacon, NY, which is in the heart of the scenic Hudson River Valley region.

Each participant will have the opportunity to develop and print their own images using a Mac computer, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom software, fine-art papers, and Epson and Canon professional printers.  

Robert has been featured on this blog before, because his large canvas prints and photo murals are helping patrons of local businesses see the natural wonders of the area in a whole new way. He also sells large framed prints of his images at art fairs and to corporate collectors.

He regards printing as the ultimate expression of a photographer’s vision. Rodriguez defines photography as the language of light, color, shape, texture, and emotion, and he strives to help students at all of his workshops learn how to speak that language effectively.

“Any camera today can make perfect pictures,” says Rodriguez, “But only by seeing photographically can you convey an emotion, express your style, and create images that rise above the mere snapshot. If you are serious about your photographic potential, then our workshops are designed to provide the ideas, concepts, and personal attention that make any camera a tool of true creativity.”
During the all-day sessions, Rodriguez will explain how to:

  • create a color-managed working environment;
  • set up a workflow with Camera RAW, Photoshop, and Lightroom;
  •  make image correction and advanced adjustments in Photoshop;
  • use color profiles;
  • soft proof before you print;
  • choose the right paper for your image;
  • process the file for printing; and
  • mount and mat exhibition-quality prints.

To learn more about Robert Rodriguez, visit his website www.robertrodriguezjr.com and read his Beyond the Lens blog, which talks about some of the stories behind his images and his philosophy about photography and printing.

Robert Rodriguez Jr. uses the Canon iPF 8100 to print most of his work.

Photo Book Presents Uncommon View of the Commonwealth of Kentucky

You don’t have to travel the world to shoot images remarkable enough to sell.  Gifted photographers can find visually powerful scenes without wandering far from their own backyards.  

Just ask LexJet customer Jeff Rogers. He grew up in a tiny town (population 250) in rural Kentucky and has spent the past 20 years photographing Kentucky’s people, products, and culture for advertising, commercial, and corporate clients. His images have appeared in magazines such as National Geographic Traveler and Delta Sky magazine and on 30-ft. photo murals at the Lexington airport. 

Last October, he released his second coffee-table book of panoramic images of Kentucky. The book is entitled Kentucky Wide II, and Rogers expects it to be a popular promotional tool or memento for the thousands of horse-lovers from around the world who will come to Kentucky this year for the 2010 World Equestrian Games.  A number of Kentucky-based corporations bought the book for Christmas gifts. And some Kentucky residents bought copies to send to sons and daughters who have moved out-of-state. 

Kentucky Wide II presents breathtaking panoramics that Lexington-based commercial photographer Jeff Rogers captured on 35 mm Fuji transparency film using a Hasselblad XPan camera. Each image in the book is printed at least 7 in. high and 20 in. wide, spreading across two pages of the 11.5 x 8 in. book. Rogers self-published his first photo book (Kentucky Wide) in 2006, and it sold out within months. Shown here: Cumberland Gap in the autumn. ©Jeff Rogers.

Self-publishing and marketing a photo book can be a lot of work, Rogers admits. But his  photography business has benefitted in ways other than revenues from direct sales of the book. For example, because the book has sparked awareness of his archives of Kentucky-themed images, Rogers has sold many wall prints to upscale restaurants in Kentucky cities. (He prints these images himself, using LexJet Sunset Select Canvas or Sunset Textured Fine Art paper on his Epson Stylus Pro 9800.)

He has also seen an increase in his stock-photography sales. Most recently, Rogers learned tha this book has received three Addy Awards from the Lexington Advertising Club.   

Kentucky Wide II is the second book Rogers has published.  He published his first photo book in 2006, using 75 panoramic images that he had shot over a 10-year period while “getting lost” on the picturesque back roads that crisscross the farmlands, forests, and lake regions of Kentucky. The book sold out in a few months, so Rogers decided to produce a follow-up.

For Kentucky Wide II, Rogers took a different approach. He deliberately set out to shoot a cross-section of images that would more fully reflect the diversity and beauty of Kentucky in all four seasons. The 83 images in Kentucky Wide II not only include scenes of farms, forests, and skylines, but also show rock climbers at Red River Gorge in Eastern Kentucky, barrels in a bourbon warehouse on Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail, colorful jockey silks hanging in a locker room at Keeneland Race Track, grapes being harvested at the Lover’s Leap Winery, and cars being manufactured at the General Motors’ Corvette assembly plant in Western Kentucky. 

Even though he shoots all of his commercial work digitally, Rogers shot 81 of the images for the Kentucky Wide II book on 35 mm Fuji transparency film. For the panoramic format, he used a Hasselblad XPan camera to expose approximately 1-3/4 frames per shot on the film. Jeff Whatley at National Geographic Imaging made 300MB drum scans of each image, and Richard Sisk made the meticulous color correction to meet the original film as closely as possible. 

“It would have been easier, and certainly less expensive to digitally stitch these images together in Photoshop,” Rogers acknowledges. “But I chose to create them with a dedicated film camera because of the purity of the process.”

“I have always enjoyed the creative challenge of using different formats and perspectives.” adds Rogers. Not only does it give the viewer something different, but it also enables him to produce the types of images that most people can’t replicate.

He hired a photo editor to help him select which images to include, and a graphic designer to make the book look like more of an art book, than a travel book.  And of course, he timed the book’s release for Christmas gift-giving and promotion of the 2010 World Equestrian Games.  

The 176-page, hardcover book sells for $39.95 and is available at bookstores, online, and on his own website. Rogers is donating a portion of the proceeds from book sales to various charitable organizations, including a clean drinking water program in Bolivia, the Center for Women in Racing, Hospice of the Bluegrass, and the Lexington Rescue Mission. 

To see more of Rogers’ work, visit his website www.jeffrogers.com

Rogers chose to shoot panoramics so viewers of Kentucky Wide II could experience Kentucky sights and scenes in a more natural, immersive way. Shown here: Flat Lick Falls in Jackson County. ©Jeff Rogers.

Nik Software Offers Daily Webinars

Many LexJet customers use one or more Nik Software products to quickly and creatively enhance the look and quality of their images before printing them. For example, Nik Sharpener Pro not only lets you optimize your detail sharpening for different types of output, but also includes a Soft Proof features that lets you accurately inspect the results on screen. This can save you the time and expense of making multiple test prints.

 If you aren’t yet familiar with Nik products, Nik Software is currently conducting a series of three educational webinars each day. Each webinar provides introductory information and tips for installing and using one or two of Nik’s products. The five products covered in the webinars are:

 Dfine® 2.0 for reducing unwanted imperfections (“noise”) while maintaining detail and sharpness;  

 Viveza® 2.0 for selective control over color and light in your photographs;  

 Color Efex Pro™ 3.0 for applying photographic filters that can enhance and transform images;

 Silver Efex Pro 3.0™ for creating professional-quality black-and-white images; and

 Sharpener Pro™ 3.0  for full control over the sharpening workflow, from RAW pre-sharpening and creative detail enhancements to superior output sharpening based on the output device.

 To register for these webinars, visit www.niksoftware.com/daily.

In addition to the daily product-related webinars, Nik is offering a series of webinars that show how to improve specific types of images, include portraits, wedding photographs, scenics and landscapes, and wildlife photos.

John Caponigro’s New DVD Explains Fine Art Digital Printing

By Eileen Fritsch

At PhotoPlus Expo last October, I sat in on an Epson-sponsored session in which John Paul Caponigro attempted to explain everything you need to know about inkjet printing in an intense, two-hour session. He covered an awful lot of valuable information, including the importance of printing your work and why digital printing is more than simply a replacement for historical processes.

So, I am pleased to learn that Caponigro has released a DVD entitled Fine Art Digital Printing in which he expands upon the topics he discussed in his session at PhotoPlus.

He emphasizes that in order to achieve the best possible print, you must understand all of the components involved in making a good fine art print, including the substrate, ink, printer, driver/RIP, profile, ink limit, print speed, viewing light, environment, and presentation. He discusses all these topics on the DVD, as well as the importance of scale, resolution, color management and proofing, output sharpening, and protective coatings.

Plus, he discusses potential problems that can affect the final look of your print, including bronzing, metamerism, gloss differential, and outgassing. Other topics covered include how to solve common challenges, and how to choose a printer.

I haven’t yet viewed this  DVD, but I was impressed with the thoroughness of Caponigro’s down-to-earth presentation at PhotoPlus Expo in which he previewed some of the DVD contents.   

Caponigro’s advice isn’t meant for photographers who want to learn how to efficiently print higher vollumes of photos for their wedding or portrait customers. Rather, it is focused primarily on printing finely detailed, long-lasting, exhibition-quality prints that lovers of fine photography will value.   

One thing I enjoyed about Caponigro’s style is that he presented the information in a way that can help you get the best possible prints from your current equipment, while also giving you a better appreciation of  what specific advantages new print technologies might offer as the equipment, inksets, and software continue to evolve.

The DVD can be ordered for $69.95 from Acme Educational, a site that promises “Industrial Strength Knowledge for the Creative Mind.”

John Paul Caponigro also offers small-group, hands-on digital-printing workshops in his studio in Maine as well as a collection of low-cost, dowloadable articles about specific aspects of printing including the aesthetics of printing, evaluating substrates, navigating the Epson Driver in Photoshop CS3, and a preflight checklist that can help you avoid common mistakes.