Categories
Making Pictures Photography Richard Kelly Experience Talking Photography N'at

Talking Photography N’at August 10 2021 7 pm

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What was the last photograph you took?

I am speaking from my perspective. For many photographers, this summer has been a rebirth of visual experiences. The past year I have consumed more images than ever before from books, magazines, websites, and even Instagram, and I have picked up my camera and framed the world in front of me with new vigor. I told my mentor just yesterday that even though I wasn’t compelled to “photograph” the pandemic, I am now motivated to photograph the new world. 

Taking a break in July was an excellent opportunity to reflect on this community that we have created. I appreciate the conversations and friendships that continue to “develop” daily through our shared interest in photography. In addition to the Stand Up Paddleboarding, my family and I visited Clemson for Grace’s first college tour this past month, then spent a week near Kiawah Island, South Carolina, and of course, currently driving with a teenager and her learners permit. 

I am also knee-deep into a new project that I will share more details about in the coming months:

  • A culmination of relationships.
  • A geographic point on the compass.
  • Starting a conversation that our country needs to have.

How about that for a vague outline – I hope I write that down somewhere. 

After the August Talking Photography N’at, we will be moving to the second Wednesday of the Month – as I am teaching two courses this semester at Point Park University, and they are in the evening Tuesday and Thursday.

Over the break, I established a Slack group for us to stay in contact between virtual meetups. Here is the link for an invitation – https://join.slack.com/t/rkellyexpportrait/shared_invite/zt-ejka4g5w-rdWnD3z~lz_Isj7x9iOKKw

I hope you join us and share links and photos and keep the conversation going. 

A few regular contributors to the Talking Photography N’at have been up to some exciting work the past few months.

Kristi Jan Hoover installed her three prints at the Children’s Museum. 

Polly Whitehorn had her exhibit opening at the Beacon Art Shortwave Gallery in Stone Harbor, New Jersey (http://www.beaconart.net/events.html)  with some interesting “twists of lemon.” 

David Robert Farmerie – completed a fascinating Artist Residency in Wilson, North Carolina (https://www.eyesonmainstreetwilson.com/#/).

Lisa Marie Cirincione, who lives in State College, Pennsylvania, is still in Tokyo for the Summer Olympics in her work in NBC Sports Television. She is sharing some of her experiences on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisac.photography/

And Ralph Musthaler took his street photography to a new neighborhood on a recent visit to New York City. https://www.instagram.com/ralphmusthaler/

Thank you to everyone for keeping the print sharing alive and a worthwhile experience. I have received some beautiful images, and I am preparing for my next round to go out in early September. If you need access to the mailing addresses, drop me a note. rk@richardkelly.com

I hope to see you next Tuesday, August 10th at 7 P.M. EDT as we get back to Talking Photography N’at. Have I ever mentioned that it is FREE! 

See you then. Here is the Zoom Link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84978587017

So show us what the last photograph you took was? 

If you have images you would like to share prepare and send them to rk@richardkelly.com using Google Drive or We Transfer https://wetransfer.com/. We are no longer accepting DropBox links.

Please share this with anyone who you think might be interested in joining us.

The link in the email above, the talkingphotonat.link/zoom, my Linktree in the Instagram bio, and https://www.richardkelly.com/Experiences/Talking-Photography-N’at/1.

See you on August 10th.

Richard Kelly

Categories
Business Curiosity Exposure Making Art Making Pictures Marketing Philosophy Richard Kelly Experience

Thinking Ahead

Last week in two separate conversations, I used the words “thinking ahead.” Conceptually we like to think we do this well, but most of us fail even with our best new ideas. Big thinkers take a small concept that exponentially expands. They gather interest, investors, partners, and collaborators to take that small idea to an extravagant completion. I hear from big thinkers almost every day asking me to help them create imagery. Though, some of them wait too long even after their project is already underway or practically completed.  

These conversations with filmmakers, real estate developers, technology entrepreneurs, and other innovative businesses making transformational changes all have stories that I want to help them tell if they had just thought ahead. They want photographs that they can now use to tell the story of their big idea. But there is no way to re-visualize their process measuring what they have accomplished because no photographs were made with that intention—not thinking ahead what images they will need in the end to tell the story. 

While living in New York City in the early ’90s, I thought I might want to make motion pictures. Not knowing that much about filmmaking, I offered to work on small indie films. I was working with many talented individuals. I learned that one of the many required “assets” film festivals ask for are publicity stills to assist in “promoting” the movies. As a photographer, I was a valuable asset on these indie productions and taught myself how to package these with other materials for festivals. One evening at a wrap party, a young filmmaker approached me. He had heard through a colleague that I created festival packets. And he needed some help with his festival proposal. So we went through my mental checklist – script, application, list of cast and crew, synopsis, check, check, and check he said – still photos? (cue the sound of film breaking in a projector). Ahhh! He said someone did make some snapshots with their camera, but no one was responsible for making those still photos. He asked if I could help. I shook my head and said, look, we could recreate a scene or two if you have access to the location and the actors, but it is not the same. 

I was preparing, before the pandemic, to deliver a “lunch and learn” session about documenting your startup story. I planned to say that good visual storytelling is critical to rising above the startup competition. Thinking ahead for visual stories requires commitment, discipline, and money. Yes, money! A business school leader reminded me that seed money is for the core purpose of startup culture. My reply, without planning for storytelling (READ marketing) images, no one will visualize the value you are building. Indeed, I am sure that some early-stage funders will disagree with me and point to examples of startups that prove themselves without marketing imagery. But in a global conversation of visual media, pictures and videos matter. Without visual images, you are only as good as your best textual metaphors with bullet points on a pitch deck. 

Once in a conversation with a client over a project launch. I told the story of being commissioned by a financial institution to create artwork for their new office. Their ask was for images of the city from their skyscraper point of view – not postcard-style photos but images that reflected their unique worldview. He loved this idea, and then I revealed that often the “process photographs” that I make for long-term projects also end up as artwork on the walls of their company Headquarters. These images can rise above the initial purpose and can be aesthetically beautiful as well. We closed the deal on the spot.

Learning about future-forward projects and the people who put these into action is my favorite part of my storytelling. Thinking ahead to craft a visual story for publicity, fundraising, and memorializing history is what I do. 

If your organization has an emerging story to tell and wants my visual point of view, email me at richard@richardkelly.com.

Categories
Business Curiosity Marketing Philosophy Photography Richard Kelly Experience

Humans with cameras.

The camera allows us to see things we otherwise could never see as humans. However, the camera alone is not very useful. Ansel Adams, the famous American Landscape photographer, once quipped, “The single most important component of a camera is the 12 inches behind it.” without a human purpose, the camera is of no use.

Suppose you are a visionary chief executive wanting to illustrate to your potential investors that your leadership team is polishing the antique industrial company into a shiny new modern technology brand—the most efficient method is to contract with a professional photographer creating those transformational stories. Otherwise, you risk not telling this critical story because the cameras are still sitting in the box.

A professional photographer’s job is to make photographs that inform, educate, or emotionally connect with the viewer. Whether journalistically, for marketing, or advertising, a photographer with intention, skill and focus will use their camera to communicate the essence effectively to create compelling visual storytelling.

I love using photography to tell stories. I get to combine my curiosity and lifelong learning and translate those experiences into visual compositions that, when combined with crafted words and elegant design, moves someone to feel something, take action, or stay informed.

I create visual experiences. 

My team and I are available to produce your organization’s unique story and share it with the world. 

Richard Kelly is the President of the Richard Kelly Experience based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He and his team create visual stories for organizations just like yours.

Categories
Business Making Pictures Marketing Philosophy Photography Richard Kelly Experience Uncategorized

The one about the CEO who bought professional digital cameras for his managers… a parable.

I am not a widget photographer, but I am interested in innovative people and how they make things. For a handful of years, I had been photographing a multinational corporation that made widgets. I had made some pictures for them, and we had been discussing a longer-term project to show their “new and improved process and people for shareholders.” Not that long ago, I would have called these annual report photographs, but now I think of them as “core mission stories” – and by the way – organizations should focus more on these to tell their unique story to stakeholders. 

But I digress. For several years the CEO who was brought in to sell a new corporate perspective to their Wall Street investors about how “an old gritty industrial company” was transforming as a “shiny new technology industry leader” and I discussed using photography and video to show these innovative talents and techniques that the company was implementing. He knew Wall Street had yet to grasp this new point of growth, and I was presenting him an opportunity to reframe the story visually before turning the leadership over to a new team. 

The following year, as he and I stepped aside to make his leadership portrait, he excitedly told me, “you know the concept you pitched for telling the stories of our workers and processes? well, I solved that by buying my plant managers D-SLR’s and instructing them to take pictures.” My photographer’s soul shriveled up and went up to my throat. I was planning to convince him to put this project on the calendar finally. Instead, I was learning that an “everyone with a camera” scenario was replacing my idea. I thought quickly on my feet and rebounded by saying, you know, Mr. CEO, I teach workshops, and I can put together a custom program to teach your managers how to use these cameras. He waved his hand and said these cameras are so sophisticated that they pretty much take the pictures themselves. I finished the session, and my assistant knew I was mentally defeated, and she suggested we stop for lunch to talk about the end of commercial photography as we knew it.

The following year I was a bit surprised they scheduled me to make the annual leadership photographs. Figuring that one of the plant managers would stop by and “snap a picture.” The CEO, I learned, was retiring soon – even though the company didn’t have the positive turnaround he desired. He was ready to move out of the day-to-day operations. As we stepped away to make his final CEO portrait, I asked him how the manager’s photography assignments had worked out? He chuckled and said, “would you believe it if I told you that they have never even taken the cameras out of their boxes.”

Although I wasn’t thrilled that the CEO retiring, the story of the cameras still in their boxes reminded me that I still have value as a visual storyteller. 

Everyone might have a camera with technology that makes taking pictures more accessible and of decent quality. The managers didn’t make the photographs because that is not what they do; they manage manufacturing. They didn’t have the intention. Photographers craft compelling visual stories because that is what we do. 

Richard Kelly is the President of The Richard Kelly Experience, Creating visual stories for mission-focused organizations, framing their unique perspectives with compelling imagery for their stakeholders. 

Categories
Uncategorized

Give your visuals a post-pandemic facelift. 

 Everything is changing fast.

Thanks to the miracle of science, we are emerging from the darkest cloud of the COVID 19 pandemic. The business reboot is this summer of 2021, and visual brands need a refresh too. For the last 16 months, we’ve been distancing, wearing masks, and doing business behind plexiglass – or in front of Zoom. Work fashion changed, our business priorities have even changed, We have all changed. Your customers are ready to see what our “new normal” looks like now. 

From Fortune 500 companies to the boutiques on Main Street for many, marketing visuals (photography and short-form video) have taken a backseat while we kept business running. 

Recently I have been talking with my clients about these four things to consider to refresh your organizations visual brand using photography.

  1. Identify the three things you want to illustrate to show your business is “thriving, not just surviving?” I work with my clients to determine the best way to illustrate these business messages in a series of photographs, well-designed web advertisements, or a short-form Instagram video. 
  2. As public health recommendations continue to evolve to the daily needs of your community, plan more frequent updates to your visual marketing package. You may now choose to spread your messaging and visuals budget over a longer time frame to reflect the recovery evolution over the next several months. Businesses have come to me to produce images for rapidly changing conditions to remain current for any situation. 
  3. Consider how your refreshed messaging will reflect the “new-new times?” Will you address the pandemic head-on? Will you show people wearing masks or no masks? Maybe a view of a busy storefront, a socially engaged campus, an in-person meeting. 
  4. Summer gives us the light and weather to showcase your brand message or products in the real world. Many organizations are still determining the working spaces for their people. This is the time to use all of the location assets your organization has to offer. As they say in real estate – “Location, Location, Location” – I am working with several clients who are doing everything from their headshots to experiential photos/videos on location, whether in their backyards, in the mountains, or on the seashore. 

I look forward to talking with you about your marketing refresh.

Categories
Business Making Pictures Marketing Photography Richard Kelly Experience

Use it or lose it

This Pandemic year has been like no other. We are all navigating whatever it means to get back to “normal.” I am not sure I want to go back, but I do know that no one really knows what moving forward will be like either. Over the past fourteen months, I have been on numerous zoom meetings, private phone calls, and text messages with colleagues, clients, business experts, and we agree that moving forward will be different than where we have been. I like it- “the unknown,” which is all opportunity and fewer “that’s always how we have done it.”

One of the upsides to 2020 we tested all of our fears and overcame them, “battle-tested and mother-approved.” Every aspect of our businesses (and life) is being evaluated and reconsidered. Recently I have had several calls from marketing executives in non-profits and medium-sized companies – we talk about how everything, including their mission, is being looked at with fresh eyes. Then the conversation turns to money; many of them face budget reviews, including spending money before their fiscal ends (“use it or lose it”) and planning for next fiscal year’s budget now.

One of their many challenges is how they tell their story and create assets with photographs and videos when employees are working from home. Or when their crucial mission activities occur in spaces that are currently empty. They wonder how they can create messaging about this “new normal” that is yet to be defined? And do that both responsibly and on a budget?

One of the positive outcomes of these conversations is that they are relieved to learn that I know how to translate complex marketing messages into story-driven visual experiences and produce work within a reasonable budget.

If you would like to schedule a conversation about your marketing challenges and how your organization will enter this next phase of this “new normal.” Email or text me (are you on Signal yet?) – everyone else does, so we can chat about visualizing your messages and evaluating short-term communication goals. We can discuss workable budget allocations for creating photography and short-form video storytelling to continue your organization’s mission-driven work.

Categories
Business Marketing Nostalgia Portfolios Printing Richard Kelly Experience

Planning a Print Portfolio

I remember back in the day when we went to in-person meetings with creatives there seemed to be a few standards options one was the https://printfile.com/product-category/boxes-cases/solander-museum-cases/ with prints matted and very precious. (An alternative was mounted transparencies often 4×5) that is when every art director has a light-box and a loupe or a Brewer – Cantelmo book – often 9×12 either vertical or horizontal with plastic pages (weird size to print to – I think it was because many magazines were 8.5 x 11 and people showed tear-sheets. The big-time ad shooters had laminated prints in a box. 


I was always the outlier – I had a cassette case of empty cassettes with small prints that I thought would make cool album covers. I had a 6×9 book (also a weird size) that I printed small black and white or showed Polaprints of slides. And then I always had a small work 5×7 box of personal prints I’d carry in the back pocket of my portfolio bag.

Later I had a tearsheet book to show that I had been published. But I always liked small prints. I remember a photo editor from a magazine invited me to her cubicle office – otherwise I always had meetings in conference rooms, but this time she invited me back and this is just when people started having Mac’s on their desk with monitors and I realized that she had very little room to look at work. In fact, she said to me, I love your small presentations because I can enjoy looking at the photographs and not struggling with these oversized portfolios.

Another time at a New York magazine I remember they had a portfolio drop-off day, I think it was D/O Wednesday P/Up Thursday – no in-person meeting Since I had more time than money I would dress up as a  bike messenger with a bag and pick up my book. Anyway, the Editorial Assistant or intern shows me to the P/Up room about 6×6 feet square is stacked wait level with black Brewer-Cantelmo boxes, print shipping cases, and other bags of portfolios hundreds of black books and boxes and there on the very top was my little 6×9 book inside a small cloth bag with red trim.

I happened to notice all of the other books had these nice little 4×6 note cards thanking them for dropping off their books but mine was empty, including the homemade promo card and letterpress business card. I felt let down I didn’t even get noticed. But I heard later when they gave me an assignment that my work stood out because everyone in the meeting gravitated to the little book on the table. 


 Anyway, I mention all of this because a good friend a little bit after this experience decided to go brazenly big. He had a patent leather white shiny 16×20 book made – very rock star – he printed all of the photographs on 16×20 paper and he had to haul it on a roller cart. BUT! because of the size and the white color that contrasted with all of the blacks in a room he got noticed and when he went to meetings they always had the conference room because of the size. 


These days in person meetings are rare but precious, I guess the lesson is to go big or stay home although I am not sure that big prints are the only ways to go big. I think anything that sets you apart and shows off your work best is the way to go. A lot of people can print big these days. So in some ways, the new big is small – but for portraiture – especially when so much is on the smartphone or on a tablet/laptop seeing an in-person beautiful print 16×20 is a statement.

About Prints and Boxes

There are a few decisions to make:
Size matters. If you want to make an impact then 16×20 will do it. I personally like the standard sizes of 5×7,8×10,11×14 and 16×20 paper sizes. 
Do you plan to print full frame edge to edge bleed or frame the images with a border?
I always like is a white border and I like consistency in image direction. Because I often make prints square, vertical and Horizontal. I pick an aspect ratio and then print everything to it. For instance Landscape and then print verticals in the middle or commit to Portrait and print my horizontals in the middle. There is also an argument to print to the aspect ratio and turn the prints. It’s just a decision to make. My most recent portfolio was square paper and everything printed in the middle. 
This does lead to am obvious question about printers and which maximum size you will need up to 13×19 which is less expensive than something that prints 16×20 size. I guess this is what they invented that format awkward 13×19 format. 

I do like a simple portfolio box:
Archival Methods and Print File sell from their website, and also some online retailers. 
This box is super durable and professional-looking without being fancy—stock and trade of museums and gallerists. https://www.archivalmethods.com/product/museum-cases

or here https://printfile.com/product-category/boxes-cases/solander-museum-cases/

These are nice for a few prints https://www.archivalmethods.com/product/digital-print-folio

https://printfile.com/product-category/albums-and-folios/folios/magnetic-folio-folders/

I use these in my studio https://www.archivalmethods.com/product/custom-build

https://printfile.com/product-category/boxes-cases/clamshell-boxes/clamshell-portfolio-boxes/clamshell-portfolio-box-black-lining/

or here pre-made kits  https://www.archivalmethods.com/product/portfolio-board-combo

something more upscale

 https://portfoliobox.com/custom-portfolio-boxes/photographers/

Categories
Curiosity Family Making Pictures Nostalgia Origin Story Philosophy Richard Kelly Experience

The People Collector

My wife, Jennifer, says I collect people. Through “collecting people,” I have made some great connections and, more importantly, built exciting relationships. In my experience, relationships are why people work with me as a photographer and image strategist. It is the chemistry of connections that builds a continuing trust.
I’ve realized that I am really connecting people beyond collecting people (which I enjoy even more). Introducing so and so to you know who, so that they aren’t just names in a Rolodex on my desk anymore, new relationships built on previous connections lead to something even better. I tell my students that the person who may help you the most in your career maybe someone who you hardly know. I know this because it happens all the time to me.
My grandmother once told me that I always asked people what they did and why as a child. “Hey, who are you, and what do you do?”
I want to add you to my collection, maybe even make your picture. I would really like to know you and what you do and even why?

Lets connect. https://sendfox.com/richardkellyexperience

Categories
Business Philosophy

Professional*

A few months back, I was introduced to a new friend as a professional photographer. Inside I cringed a bit. I love being a photographer. It’s the word professional that sounded funny – maybe its the overuse of the word in the photography community. I am not sure, but the word “professional” used to mean something positive to me. Now it just sounds cheap.

In my business of photography class, we discuss that being a professional is someone who creates photographs for commerce on-demand or who carries themselves following established business practices. I often compare our work as photographers to bakers and lawn care professionals. Two professions that also have an “amateur” side. I can bake bread at home for enjoyment, which is different from the baker with a pastry shop. Interestingly, I am not sure that bakers are referred to by their friends as a professional. Or that the “professional” grass cutter down the street is asked what lawnmower they use. 

Confucius is quoted as saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” they could have added, ” People will hold your passion over your head as a reason you should work for less money. “

There is a high rate of failure in “hobby-related businesses” like photography. Many people see what we do and think that if they can make a “professional-quality” photograph or own and operate a “professional-looking” camera, they can work professionally. Or even – “Semi-Pro.” A descriptive word that I will have to look up.

Professional quality photographs or cameras are descriptions of very different things, not the business itself. Doing work as a professional means to dedicate your life and career to finding clients. Building business systems to produce photographs on demand. Creating policies and protocols that govern business and then “wash, rinse, and repeat” every day. 

The internet photography community is enjoying a revolution of sorts, with the ability to connect with other image-makers we can learn new techniques, see inspiring images, and create connections to people like us all over the world.

But two things annoy me. Equipment obsession is the first, and the other is the “instant expert.” There are some awesome internet-based instruction videos, and not just about photography. But many equipment reviewers and their obsession with lens bokeh and counting pixels are quite humorous to those of us practicing photography for more than a few years. These “influencers” develop a following, and I do give them credit for that, while thanking their sponsors like Squarespace for their support; just click on the link below in the comments. This leads to a lot of anxiety for new photographers and this creates a false need to buy new gear. There is even a name for this “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” which sounds like it might need a vaccine.

From my perspective, the instant expert seems to have emerged on the scene out of nowhere; they usually have overcome a great struggle in their quest to live Confucius’s promise, and they now want to enthusiastically share what they learned with everyone. I have watched many of these videos, curious to see the common themes they have. Their language seems to follow a similar script. There is often reliable information in these sessions, essential business practices. But there is something about the tone. That anyone can do this just by following their method, and don’t forget to click the link in the bio.  

I am also surprised at the number of photographer websites offering education options to other photographers or a download link to their favorite Lightroom presets. There is no easy button” to a successful professional photography business, only hard work and more hard work.

It is also okay to practice photography at a “professional” level and not do it for money but for the enjoyment of making pictures. Some of my favorite photographers are creating work as enthusiasts. They love making good photographs the same as I appreciate my high-quality grass cutting.

*I love my work as a photographer; just don’t call me a professional. 

NOTE: If you want reliable and trustworthy photography business information, check out the ASMP.org. I have been a member since the early 90’s and they create the industry standards. They have new content weekly. https://www.asmp.org/join/

Categories
ASMP Business Curiosity Origin Story Richard Kelly Experience

Always be Reinventing

Plotting my career in the early ’80s, I never imagined my photography career today. Photography industry insider Stephen Mayes describes my current lifestyle as having a “portfolio career,” one that includes multiple income streams from various services over a range of industry sectors. What my mother calls having “a lot of irons in different fires.” Although not what I envisioned, my portfolio career is right for me.

My single most valuable character trait is my curiosity; it has fueled all aspects of my creative life and continues to lead me to new opportunities for creative expression and commercial exploitation.

Just the other day, a longtime client and friend from my New York City days introduced me as one of the most interesting people she knows. She mentioned that I was someone who is always reinventing his work and life.

I learned in that conversation that all my work has a common core, which is storytelling. In essence, I like to learn, I want to experience things, and then I share my enthusiasm. My activities vary from day to day. I read, I write; I make pictures, I do interviews, I capture video, I splice images together, I teach a class, I consult with a client, maybe moderate a panel discussion, watch a classic film with my teenage daughter, I push a few buttons, just another day in my life.

A few years ago, I learned I needed to rethink my business. This process included a fair amount of self-evaluation. Reworking my brand – the promise to my clients. To some degree, I need to rephrase how I described myself to others—ultimately changing the perception of what I am selling. A colleague last evening over dinner said you are no longer a “photographer,” sure you take photographs. Still, you bring more to the marketing and board room – you build a vision and a strategy a visual experience for organizations. 

I continue to fuel my insatiable curiosity. I learn something new every day. I have tons of new experiences and stories to share. Best of all I get to illustrate them all with pictures – some moving and some still. I live in a state of ‘always be reinventing.’

Updated and adapted from The ASMP Strictly Business Blog , June 25, 2015