The Intention of the Photographer

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In my opinion, when evaluating the work of photographers to decide who to hire, it's important to try to discern the intention of the photographer.

Now certainly, technical aspects of the images are also extremely important. Images are only as good as the weakest link that created them. (Unless the photographer got lucky).

This includes the quality and consistency of the lighting in addition to the quality of the cameras and lenses. It also includes the skills of the photographer: technical knowledge, mastery of lighting, attention to detail, compositional skills, problem solving abilities, creativity, their expertise and artistic ability with Photoshop and other post-production programs; and the interpersonal skills that are so necessary to evoke the desired expressions and body language when people are photographed.

Assuming the photographer has all of this down, there is still another problem. Many photographers see themselves as artists and try to create images that will draw attention to themselves so everyone will be impressed at how great they are. It's like a writer who wants to write the great American novel that will impress everyone with his or her writing skills. What make a writer great though, is when the reader gets so involved with the story that they are unaware of the writing. It's the same way with photography.

When someone engages my services for a project, unless specifically instructed otherwise, my intention is to create images that will improve their image and increase their sales.

It's not my goal for people to say "that's a great photo". My goal is for the viewer to see a product and feel it's beautifully made and desirable to buy. For the viewer of a room to think, what a beautiful space. For the viewer of a person to think: they look attractive, professional, intelligent, and trustworthy. I trust them enough to do business with them.

Without a doubt, the intention of the photographer matters. Remember, it's only creative if it sells.

We truly "buy with our eyes". 

Judicial Portraits

This summer I was commissioned by the Montgomery County Bar Association to create a series of judges portraits for the Montgomery County Courthouse. I was honored to be approached and chosen by them for this important project.

Each judge was first photographed by me and then chose their favorite proof for me to create their portrait from. Then using Photoshop, I created a 24" x 30" archival digital painting on canvas of each judge. This project was something totally different for me. These are my first digital paintings. They took several days to create.

They were just recently unveiled, so I'm able to share them now. Here's a link to one of the newspaper accounts of the last unveiling ceremony: Portraits inspire Montgomery County judges to raise the bar

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Photography of a Diner

Finished image

Primary Source Image - (Click on the images to make them larger.)

I was recently commissioned to shoot this restored diner for use in their ads and on their website. They requested a sunset shot which meant that the sunlight on the diner would also light up the hotel immediately behind it, causing them to blend together in a photograph. This caused a major visual problem that could only be solved during post-production. The job had to be done quickly as it was to have it's grand opening in 10 days and the trees were about to lose their leaves. After 5 days of rain we had our chance.

Two images were blended together with additional Photoshop work to create the final image. The primary image was a shot of the building at sunset as requested. The other image was taken about a half hour later after dark to record the lights inside the diner.

Some of the additional Photoshop work was darkening down the hotel, repaving the parking lot, removing the telephone pole and wires, removing the truck, the post on the right side and the light pole on the right which was forming a tangent with the edge of the diner. Anything that was not part of the main subject was removed or subdued in order to simplify the image as much as possible and to direct the viewer's attention to the diner.

Great photos are usually not taken; they're made. 

I'm usually more subtle in my color palette but the building is pretty unconventional looking and I decided to play it up and give it a bit of a painterly quality. It's always fun transforming the ordinary into something extraordinary.

See more examples of my work as a Philadelphia architectural photographer.

See more examples of my work as a Photoshop expert. 

Photography for an Interior Designer

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This is a sampling from 15 interiors that I photographed the other day for Dana Neeld of Staging Spaces, an exceptionally talented interior designer in the Philadelphia region. We were tight for time, so I shot with minimal lighting, averaging about 15 minutes to set up the equipment and shoot each view. I prefer this approach because the photos "feel more real" to me.

The images don't come out of he camera looking anything like this. Cameras don't render scenes the way we perceive them. Extensive post-production is required to make the most of the data captured by the camera and create an image that has depth and looks real. Up to a dozen images are combined to create each image. The post-production time averaged about 45 minutes for each image.

I show these to illustrate that a excellent interior images are possible without going in with a crew and doing extensive lighting.

These images, especially when combined with her "before" images are invaluable for her marketing as they show potential clients what she brings to the table. Since we buy with our eyes, photographs are by far the most effective way to demonstrate what she does.

Remember, if you're providing a service, you're selling trust. You can't show a buyer in advance what you're going to deliver, but you can show what you've done for others. Perception is everything, so you can't afford to use images that are less than the best.  

Great images aren't an expense, they're an investment.

Environmental Headshots

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These are from a series of location headshots of employees that I created for a company's website. They were shot on location at the company's headquarter's in NJ. The goal was to make everyone look likable and approachable. The man with his head centered is the company president.

Click on the link to see more examples of my headshot photography.

Jewelry Photography

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This is from a series of images I created for a jewelry designer. The company is Dylanex. Their cool designs are both challenging and fun to shoot. Just the perfect look for wearing around the house. :) 

Some additional examples of jewelry photography are in my portfolio.

Most Photographers Just Don't Get It

The purpose of your images should always be to increase sales. They should be eye-catching, convey quality and create desire. 

Unfortunately, many professional photographers, graphic designers, creative directors and ad agencies just don't get it. They get so caught up in their desire to "be creative", win an award or copy the latest fad that they totally miss the point. They forget that the whole reason they're hired is to increase sales.

Buyers are bombarded with information, overworked and more than a little busy. They'll search for a particular product or service and they'll compare your website or brochure with your competitors. Most will quickly scan your materials and look at the photos to get a feel for the quality of your company and what you're selling. 

Because we think in pictures (think of your car - does an image come into thought or do words?), images influence perceptions. You'd better have images that convey quality, create desire and build trust. Images that are at least as good as your major competitors and preferably better.

The photos you use create powerful perceptions of your products or service. High quality professional photos provide a great return on your investment through increased sales.

Images that aren't high quality create the perception of an second rate company and cheap products. The money you think you're saving is small compared to the sales you'll lose.

Images that increase sales will return profits that far exceed their modest cost. Cheap shots  will cause you to lose sales without you even knowing it.

Apparel photography

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I recently produced over a hundred images of clothing for the manufacturer. There are many ways to approach the photography of clothes. Certainly, one way is to shoot them on a model, but this adds quite a bit to the expense of a shoot as you need multiple models, hair stylists, make-up artists, etc. This particular approach was taken both to control costs and to keep attention on the product and make it look and feel very organic, very real. 

Some additional examples of apparel photography are on my website.

Executive photo for a magazine cover

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Had a great day shooting editorial images in Princeton and Philadelphia for a magazine. This is the CEO of a major foundation and was shot for the cover. I wanted a natural light feel, so lighting was kept to a minimum. I was granted 15 minutes for the shoot. She was photographed in two different settings to provide them with more choices.

Ghost mannequin photography

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With more and more people buying online, clothing manufacturers need to have images that are both attractive and descriptive. Great photos both increase conversions and reduce returns. 

Ghost mannequin photos are increasingly desired by some apparel manufacturers. They offer the advantage of showing the clothing without the change in shape caused by laying them flat or the expense and distraction of having them worn by models. They require much more time to create than photographing them flat, but if you want to increase your internet sales they can be a great investment.