Day 2 (there is always something learned from these kinds of experiences if you take the time to bring something away with you. )

Mina Santiago sticking to a commitment.

Mina Santiago sticking to a commitment.

Day 2 of the New Year brought yet another cold weather shoot; in fact it was colder than day one. 16-year-old model Mina wanted some time in front of the camera in a wooded setting. The location would be the beautiful and rustic Tohickon Valley Park located up in the hills above the Delaware River in the Point Pleasant area of Pennsylvania.

The weather a crisp 28° F, with a light wind, mostly sunny and just an all-round normal winter day for this area. You know… one of those days when you look out the window and it looks so nice until you step out the door and turn around and go back inside.

The shoot was short about 45 minutes at best. Mina did not handle the cold as well as the previous day’s model. But I have to say she did follow through with her plan and got a few new images that she needed.

I feel there is always something learned from these kinds of experiences if you take the time to bring something away with you. I found that the camera and lens were not working in the same manner as it would in warmer weather. I had some focusing issues that I had never had before in cold weather. Most times that I can remember if I was out in the cold I would be shooting a landscape and had plenty of time to get focus. But on this day the shoots needed to be captured quickly before it was time to wrap the model in a blanket. Then there was the inevitable redness that would soon appear on the edges of the nose and spread to her face and bare skin. Goose bumps… and then it’s time to say “stop” and we did.

So for next week’s shoots I’ll into the studio and get creative.

Instagram Lives (IG has no adds that chase you around like an evil stepmother)

"Reaching" Model Kendall Strampel, hair & makeup Aryn Wilson

“Reaching” Model Kendall Strampel, hair & makeup Aryn Wilson “Dreams can be so elusive like a whisper on the wind. Like the moon above seen yet never touched. Through perseverance, hard work and a long road traveled… One day the moon is replaced by the earth in the sky.” -Richie Smith Jr-

My experience as a photographer with Facebook is dead. I have two active Facebook pages; my personal page is where I interact with people I know, most of whom I have met in person. However there are a few very interesting people on my friends list that I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person, but I have found them very interesting and I like to follow and read their postings.

My Recklesspixel Facebook page was created as a way to get my photography and illustrations out to the rest of the world. Sure I have a website, a blog site and media content site that are all integrated, but social media is for the most part free and as the name implies it is social. But Facebook has gotten greedy when it comes to getting your message (mine is photography) out to the masses. They want you to pay to “boost” your postings and it really is a bunch of BS.

Here is my personal experience with Instagram vs Facebook. Ok so I have paid to boost a post on Facebook and all it ever got me was a few “Likes” and that was it. I received very few comments and I received absolutely no business, no business interactions what-so-ever, zero.

The short of how I started with Instagram was a friend in China asked me if I would use Instagram to share photos with her and this dates back to 2009. I downloaded the Instagram app to my phone and I had one follower and I followed just one person, my friend Grace. We originally started out on Skype and as Grace’s career changed and she was on the go Skype was no longer functional to connect with a quick real-time photo or comment and given the fact the Chinese government does not allow Facebook we found a work-around solution.

So I had IG for a few years and soon I started to get followers from my Facebook friends list, just a few here and there. Then I noticed in 2012 that when I would meet a younger person say 15 to 24 years old they would ask what my IG name is and they would all but puke at the thought of Facebook. “Facebook” that is where grandma goes to play Farmville or they would say things like “Facebook sucks because it only shows you what Facebook wants you to see.” That statement came from a fifteen year old five years ago.

So I plodded along and every so often I would open the IG app and check it out, but not too much would happen. Then in 2014 I set some goals to take my photography to newer and higher levels, I knew I needed to be more active on social media. Now let me explain that this is not the typical social media activity many are guilty of where they just sit and push a “Like” button or view mindless videos of cats only to get to the end of the climax-less video to wish you had those two minutes of your life back. Or worse to sit and rant and comment about a Photoshoped image of an abused animal, child or whatever… to me that is all pointless stuff one does when they have nothing better to do. No, my social media activity on IG became calculated, but first I had to educate myself a little bit with everything IG, such as etiquette and what people are really using IG for. So for the most part there are really two groups of people on IG; there are people who what to post content for others to see and there are selfie queens who must post a selfie every few minutes because their fragile mindless ego dictates they have to do that. Don’t get me wrong I think everybody has posted a selfie, but if it becomes an obsession than as far as media content is concerned it is pointless.

So I started actively following people or businesses that I thought would help my photography, I also would interact with them. And as time pressed on I would post content that was 99% about my photography and 1% about other stuff such as a cool and interesting location or activity. Then one day I got a DM or direct message and it wasn’t from Grace, it was from a fellow photographer asking advice. What? From me? Then more DMs started to appear in the coming days/weeks from models wanting to shoot with me, photographers who wanted to shadow me at a shoot and people asking Photoshop questions. Although I had interacted with IG users by nothing more than leaving comments on posts I had never sent a DM to anybody, well other than Grace. Then the phone calls started coming, I have my Google Voice number in my profile. I had people asking about portrait pricing and dates. I was like OMG it really can happen, social media can really work for you if you work for it and I have never given Instagram a dime, FUCK YOU FACEBOOK!

So with the good comes a little bad I guess. I have had some images stolen from IG and amazingly enough one moron edited the photo and posted back to his IG and credited me as the photographer and he even credited the model, but his edit was horrible and …yeah his IG account went down in flames like Russian jet over Syria lol.

Now as I said my posts on IG are calculated to get the most impact. Timing is everything; using software to know the best time to post has really helped me. But I think the most powerful tool was learning how to use hashtags. Hashtags are more powerful than older people realize because they travel across social platforms. I say “older” people because I find the younger crowd knows fully how to use them and their power.

Instagram really has taken a good swing at Facebook and as far as I’m concerned it landed a critical blow. Almost like when you’re hit and it doesn’t show till the bruises appear later. I’m sure Instagram will evolve even further, but I just hope they stay as organic as possible. IG has no adds that chase you around like an evil stepmother nor is there a sidebar showing you aunt Martha just liked her 800th cat photo of the day, no game requests and best of all if you get sucked into a video they are only 15 seconds long, that’s the limit and they’re sticking to it… so far.

Love my IG.

 

Photo of The Day (Put Emotions Aside And Stand Your Ground)

Stand Your Ground

Stand Your Ground! Model Danny Sturdivant

This photo shoot was a lot of fun, the studio was so cold that morning and poor little Danny was frozen. Then we put her in the emoji outfit and I asked her to start going through different emotions. For a little girl she sure gives a mean-ass look when I asked for “angry.”

 

Photo of The Day (model & makeup artist Ambré Baxter)

Ambré Baxter

Ambré Baxter

A throwback to October 2014 with the extremely gorgeous Ambré Baxter. Ambré is so peaceful and a joy to work with. She is also a talented makeup artist and we have worked together on many shoots. Always a joy to work with this lady.

Photo of The Day (Just choose your steps wisely.)

Watch your step.

Watch your step.

Live your life day by day and step by step. Believe in yourself and have confidence in every step you take. You control your feet, you have the power to decide where to place your foot for each step. Following a road well-traveled is very safe, venturing off the road is where adventure begins… Just choose your steps wisely.

Happy Birthday Nicole ( it was fun, it was challenging and I felt in the end we came away with some nice images.)

Nicole Gallagher - Hair & Makeup by Megan Motter

Nicole Gallagher – Hair & Makeup by Megan Motter

I like to wish Nicole a big happy birthday. We had so much fun earlier this year with the “butterfly” shoot as I called it. Nicole’s idea of recreating photographer Sam Jones’ album cover of Emmy Rossum’s “Sentimental Journey” was an outstanding idea for a studio project shoot. Hairstylist and makeup artist Megan Motter joined us and brought her amazing talent to the project. So why do something like this? Hey… I say why not, it was fun, it was challenging and I felt in the end we came away with some nice images. I think for me the biggest challenge was deciding on the final Hue for the image. Having never actually seen the real image of Sam Jones, I was just going off of images we had found online and given the variations of color from website to website and depending on whether it was being viewed on a monitor or a tablet or phone the color was always different. So what you see here is my final choice.

No we all know bigger is better… when it comes to prints and because the final crop was square to emulate an album cover I ordered a 20×20 for myself. I loved it so much that I thought it would be nice to send one to Nicole for her birthday, and she too was so happy to see it arrive as a surprise gift.

Once again “Happy Birthday Nicole.”

Know Your Self Worth (Most of all you need to have the guts to just walk away…)

"They laugh at me because I'm different; I laugh at them because they're all the same." --Curt Cobain--

“They laugh at me because I’m different; I laugh at them because they’re all the same.” –Kurt Cobain–

One of the hardest things for any artist to do is to figure self-worth. And when I say “artist” I mean anyone who creates something and sells it. I would even go as far as to say “even a person who has a personal service that they provide for money” is also in this same group because the service is personal and therefore in my opinion falls in to the “creative” category.

I’m writing this post to hopefully inspire young creators to dig in their heels and find there self-worth. Your self-worth is how much you need to charge for what you do. Are you a photographer, a model, sculptor, painter, clothing designer, makeup artist. Maybe you are a chef or a cook, an interior designer… or maybe you make little bird houses. Either way you are a creator, you create using the medium of your craft.

All too often creators are never paid enough for what they do and it is their own damn fault. Why? Because they do not know what their self-worth (as I call it) is. Or if they know, they are not demanding it. A very wise attorney once told me he had many clients who were creators of some variety or another and he went on to say that they are they’re own worst enemy when it comes to making money. Let me give you a personal example.

Almost 20 years ago I started a BBQ catering business out of necessity. Laid-off from a job, zero income and no wealthy family members or friends to turn to for help… well I felt like a foot soldier detached from his unit 50 miles behind enemy lines. I guess the word “bleak” would be appropriate and things looked grim. No money soon equates to no roof and you’re down by the river… with no van. First thing “don’t stay in the house” even if you have no gas or transit money, go find a bicycle or use your feet, but get the hell out of the house every day and get around people and network. So I knew how to cook… hell I always knew how to cook, so while working a landscaping job I managed to get enough money to start-up a catering business. From the beginning I was a hit and never really had a problem finding customers. But I had a huge problem charging what I was worth. I came across another caterer who said my price for an on-site pig roast was affordable enough the he could use my service from time to time. Well he knew that I knew he was making money on top of what he was paying me. I didn’t seem to care as long as I made my money. Then one day he told me “you’re doing it too cheap, you need to charge more.” But I was afraid if I raised the price no one would call me. The next call that he got for an “on-site pig roast” he quoted the customer $300 on top of what I would have charged. The customer said I’ll call back after I confer with my spouse. I said “yeah… good luck.” The next day Craig called and said “they booked the job.” After that he always referred the customer to me and it was up to me to sink or swim.

So I sat back and did some real soul-searching and analyzed the situation. My friend had good “phone and people” skills so I practiced that and I got real good… and fast because it meant money. Now cut to today I have a photography business, I create using a camera. Unlike my BBQ business where I have little competition, the photography is very competitive, so to solve that problem, I try to create in a way that leaves the average photographer behind. How? Be different and be better, but don’t be cheaper. With my BBQ business I have cooked tons (not pounds) of meat in 18+ years. We cook it the old fashion way with just wood, no electric, propane or gas… just wood. Everything we make is homemade… there is not a caterer in my area that can compete with what I do because everybody wants to take a short-cut. When I talk to other BBQ guys and they ask me about my process… well I encourage them to take short-cuts. Why? Because I don’t, and never will. Kind of sneaky but it don’t matter… because every loser want to take a short-cut.

So back to my photography, I know I am not the best photographer/Photoshop artist out there, I also know I am not the worst and I know I am different. The opening statement on this blog site I say “there are photographers and then there is me.” Now let me say this; after all I have just written what you really need to do, no matter what your game is “you need to put a price on what you do” that price needs to reflect back to how good you are. If you’re good you will get the price you’re asking for. If you cannot get that price you need to get better at what you do. “Nothing and I mean nothing worth having comes easy in this world.” Let someone else negotiate your price for you, after all that is what happened to me. Most of all you need to have the guts to just walk away if the price is too low. And I know this is a hard thing to do… real hard when times are tough. But I’ll do it, I will just say “no” and walk away or hang up the phone or whatever the case maybe. Sometimes they call back the next day, week or month and I get my price. Other times… it’s like standing in the desert alone.

So don’t expect people think “oh my gosh he/she is an artist and they’re worth every penny.” That isn’t ever gonna happen. But if you work hard at your craft, know your craft, know it inside and out. Live it, breathe it, become it… this is what will make people believe in you. And if they believe in you then price becomes irrelevant. If you’re a model you need to learn your craft from every angle. If your making bird houses then make them the best damn bird houses ever made. Remember… never sell anything, it’s too hard to sell. I couldn’t sell cake to a fat man. It is so much easier to get people to “buy” something than it is to “sell” it to them. If they want it they’ll buy it. So on that note “don’t be a sellout” and have a great day.