The NoBs Digital Dogbowl Newsletter:

Keeping you up to date and informed on the latest, coolest, and outrageous happenings inside the world of NoBS Photo Success.

Loaded with Free photography tips, Photoshop tutorials, photo reviews,
and other totally relevant essentials. Be sure to check out the whole thing!

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August 2007 Digital Dogbowl

Keeping The Creative Juices Flowing by Rob Provencher

Sometimes, it's tough getting into a creative 'head space'. Our profession more often than not asks we be just that: creative, artistic, able to create new and exciting images over and over.

Over the years, I have looked into what it takes to be creative. I also discovered along the way some techniques and philosophies on the fundamentals of creativity. Years ago, somewhere around 1987, I asked my subconscious to come up with an answer to the creativity dilemma. I wanted to know more, didn't know where to look, or didn't even know if I would recognize the answer if and when it came into my life. But, I asked anyway (By the way, that is a cool technique. Ask your subconscious for something, then let it go, and wait for the answer.)

Read More

July NoBS Monthly Chat: Navelgazer

I would like to thank my last Chat Room guest for the month of July, Navelgazer (Jodi).

Jodi has a full-time job other than photography. She has two young children, and she still manages to keep very busy with her photography business. She even has an assistant doing all her selling. This meeting went on for 90 minutes.

By popular demand, and a BIG THANK YOU to Riff for doing this, there is now a transcript of the meeting in my section "Digital Shop Talk" under the post "Chat with Navelgazer." A must read if you want to learn about marketing.

There will not be a Chat Room Meeting in August. I have a very busy month, and I will also attend a week-long course at Niagara School of Imaging. Riff will also be in my course. James and Rob will be teaching a class at that school, so it will be nice to see all three, plus I know there will be other members of this forum taking courses at NSI. I love to meet fellow NoBS members.

There will be a Chat Room meeting in September, and we will be back with a bang! I will have a very special guest for that meeting. I will be posting the info very soon in the forum.

Have a great month of August, and see you in September!

Dan aka The NoBs Stalker!

How To Ru(i)n Your Business

We're always hearing about the latest craze in customer service and what technique is sure to have people knocking down, nay, breaking down your door for you to be their photographer. There are a lot of proven ways to drive in business, yet you never hear about what NOT to do. I'm here today to tell you that I've stumbled across an invaluable resource that is sure to kill your business and send customers running the other way.

From come the following gems to send you down the path to self ruin:

Apathy: If we don't take care of the customer,maybe they'll stop bugging us.

Ineptitude: If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Disservice: It takes months to find a customer, but only seconds to lose one... the good news is that we should run out of them in no time.

Individuality: Always remember that you are unique. Just like everybody else.

Fear: Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea.

Mediocrity: It takes a lot less time and most people won't notice the difference until it's too late.

Risks: If you never try anything new, you'll miss out on many of life's great disappointments.

Wishes: When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteorite hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death by meteor.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Note: This article does not represent the opinions of the Top Dogs of NoBS or NoBS. It is meant as a commentary.

New Vendor: StudioZap

NoBS is pleased to welcome StudioZap as a new preferred vendor. They offer a cool collection of tools for Photoshop CS2 (and later) called StudioZap Suite. The powerhouse is Proofs & Prints -- using either existing templates from the StudioZap Template Library or templates you design yourself right in Photoshop (templates are just regular PSD files). It automatically populates the template, which can be anything from a proofbook page to a watermarked web gallery frame to a sports Memory Mate. The source images can be a folder full of images (great for proofbooks, proofs, and online galleries) or images highlighted in Bridge (which is perfect for creating multi-image print products from specific images).

One thing StudioZap Proofs & Prints can do is transform template files created in Photoshop (like the one shown on the left) into a finished product in seconds -- without any time-consuming manual positioning, cropping or resizing of images!

Other tools in the Suite include Guide Wizard -- a cool alternative to the "File > New" dialog that allows you to put precisely-positioned guides on either blank documents or existing documents (the guides are great for creating new templates!), Eazy Mats -- a simple way to add realistic-looking digital mats to any document or template, and Albums & Collages -- a set of actions to make creating freestyle albums easier that includes Super Placer which makes it easy to add multiple images to page at once.

Check out the tutorial videos on the StudioZap site to see the tools in action. Remember that all NoBS members are eligible for a great discount, so be sure to mention NoBS when you contact them!

Newsie Bits by Rob Provencher

Newsie bits

*July, ahh, summer time. My favorite time to get out on the motorcycle and have fun. This summer, I took two weeks off and spent it with family. Well, almost. We rented a log cabin on Lake Huron. Amazing. However, I did have to drive back and forth to shoot four weddings and a bunch of family sessions. It's been a busy summer so far, but I ain't complaining.

*The Niagara School of Imaging is filling up fast, so if you are interested there are a few seats left.

*The Inferno at the Falls for Inner Circle Members was launched earlier this month, and we had a run on registrations. The event is one-third filled already and we fully anticipate a full house. Last year, we had to turn some folks away because we didn't have the room, so if you wanna go, don't wait: Boot Camp.

I have verbal commitments from 2 outside speakers for the Inferno who will be there to give you amazing presentations. We don't want just anyone and are very selective about who speaks. Remember, this event is designed to give you the very best educational bang for your buck. We don't want fluffy, feel-good, heard-it-all-before content, but real, proven content to help you skyrocket your photography business. And, we're serious about that commitment.

The speakers we have lined up are personal friends Julie and Guy Robichaud and Carl Caylor from Michigan. The Robichaud's are hugely successful in photography, creativity, and business. They RARELY ever get out and speak, preferring to stay home and make oodles of cash running their photo studio; but, since we know them and they sorta like us :), they've eagerly agreed. Especially since we told them about last year's Inferno and all the fun we had. Carl is a true master of natural light. We've never heard anyone speak on this technique to the level that Carl does. You will LOVE his content on lighting.

At the Inferno, all attendees will receive a free manual I've been working on. It's 8.5"x11" and hopefully up to 200 pages of pure gold. It's called The Big Book of Ads for Photography Studios. If you are a member and would like to have your ads reviewed for possible insertion, contact me:

*I uploaded TONS of videos and an audio on shooting and marketing baby and children photography. All Inner Circle Members of NoBS Photo Success have access to these helpful tutorials. In my city, I've built a very successful business shooting babies and kids, and these photography tutorials reveal everything I've done to build my business up. If you are a NoBS member, go get 'em in the Dangerous Downloads forum.

That's it for now folks! It's hot and sunny, and I'm going for a bike ride. See you next month.

SteveH Freakn' QUIT

well..that's it! I gave the full time job my two week notice!!!!

Scary as hell, but we are thrilled beyond words to be taking this step. We have hit a crossroad bad as of the last few months. We just are out of anymore time to give to our photography. The craphole has had me on 9 hour days 6 days a week since the first of June, with promises of it continuing on until at least Sept! We are starting to lose precious shooting time and that just didn't stand well with me.

Time to put all the eggs into one basket as James told me. We'd like to think we kinda gotta knack for this photo thing and our images seem to sell themselves during our sales sessions. We can now focus on ways to just get people in the door and the rest will be gravy!

Thanks very much to our NOBS family. You guys have given us a lot of help and ideas over the last couple years. The support we (as any member) gets from this forum can't be expressed. James and Rob; we are never ones to leave out those who have been both in inspiration to us and have helped us down the path we're about to take. Thanks guys!!

We're looking to REALLY starting takin' some pictures now!!! We look forward to the adventure and thanks again everyone!

Read the thread here.

Tools & Tips For Archiving Your Work by James Hodgins

Well, I know there are hundreds of variations on this, and I also know that some take it to the more "extreme" than others. I also know firsthand that some photographers are not taking the precautions they should with image/file storage. I remember a few years ago I was visiting a studio in another city, and at the time I was there, they had seven weddings on their harddrives- and nothing was burned to cd. WOW. "What would happen if I kicked your computer tower?" I asked. The face said it all haha. So, with everything you can do, I'm sure my storage procedure is somewhere in the middle. I will use my weddings as the typical scenario.

When I get home from a wedding, I immediately download all my cards to my laptop, and use Exifer software to rename the files in incremental order. That's pretty well it for any metadata or archiving referencing I do. After the files are downloaded and renamed, I then burn two copies to DVD's. These are placed in the clients folder. I then backup those files to another external harddrive. So at this time, I have 5 copies of the files. 2 dvds, 1 on my laptop, 1 on the harddrive and the original images on my cards (which I do not delete until my next wedding).

When I workflow my images and create proofs, dvd slideshows etc., all these "products" are burned to cds or dvds and backed up onto the external harddrive. This way I always have a copy and a backup copy on hand. After the external harddrive is full, I simply lock it up in storage and purchase another.

Now, where do we put all these "folders" that contain the CD's and DVD's? We have a huge file cabinet that has bigger folders listed from A to Z and the clients "folder" which contains all their information like name, address, phone, email, and other helpful info about them goes into these folders.

We are currently creating a database on our PC to faster track the info we need for our clients, but the system we have now seems pretty fast, as we know exactly where our clients images are.

Hope this helps.


NoBS August Member of the Month: Kris Gay

You know her as the bionic poster of NoBS. Yes, the 10,000-post woman, Kris Gay. Kris is probably one of the most, if not THE most active member on the forum. She has tirelessly asked questions, posted her work for all members to critique, and her hard work has paid off for her as she becomes NoBS' August Member of the Month. Here's her story.

Steve & Shelley: WPPI Winners

This one was titled 'Simply Shelise' and took 1st place at the 8x10 First Half Comp at WPPI in the high school senior category. She was a rep for us this year until she found out she would be moving to Oregon this summer. This image just came from a rep session we were doing for her before she left. We'd shot Shelise a couple times before, so this session we were gonna kinda 'cut loose' and try some different stuff. We really liked the black and white/high key thing we had going here and it had kind of a fashion flare to it with the blowing hair. We thought it was a strong image for WPPI but never 1st place strong.

This image was titled 'A Vision in Red' and was again Shelise, taking 3rd at the same 8x10 WPPI Comp again, in the high school senior category. It was shot during the same 3-4 hour session as the first image. We just KNEW this image had the impact for a competition the second we saw it on the LCD. The funny thing about this image though is we never posted this shot on our website or showed it to anyone in the local area. That was one hot dress, and a lot of leg showing for a 16 year old, at least where we're from. :) Around this area we were actually afraid of what signal that might send to potential clients. Even though Shelise, her mom AND her dad all approved of the image and were thrilled to hear we wanted send it off to a print competition we were keeping it the image under wraps. Not until we got the news it took 3rd, did we decide to post the image for all to see. I thought this image was strong from the beginning, and would have guessed this to be our strongest image we sent. Just goes to show you, you never know what the judges are looking for.

Smart Objects for Fun and Profit by Bill Guy

There are Smart Phones, Smart Kids, Smart Pets, and now for those with CS2 and CS3, there are Smart Objects. Smart Objects in Photoshop is a whole new way of placing an image or images into a composition. Now, we all know how to cut and paste (and some know how to Paste into a selection), but Smart Objects are handled slightly differently and allow for far more creativity and adjustments.

Read more.

Photo of the Month

Congratulations to Kelly (a.k.a. Bonjovi Girl) for her image that was selected to be August's Photo of the Month. About the session Kelly told us, "I was stunned at how incredibly BEAUTIFUL this girl is! I still am. I showed my husband and he's speechless. I told her she looked like Angelina Jolie. Anyway, I told Dave that this was one of the best experiences I've had in a while. I learned SO much about the Islamic culture, and her mom was one of the nicest women I've had in the studio.

I told myself I was going to pose her like any other girl senior, but I found myself holding back. Before the session was over, I woke up and smelt the coffee.

Read the full story of how this photo was created.

New Downloads Available!
In case you missed the announcement, Top Dog Rob recently made his Babies and Children System available in the Dangerous Downloads section. Click here for access to this indispensible resource.

Coming To The Inferno
NoBS member, Brian, struck gold with his innovative use of the templates offered by Graphic Authority. They liked them so much that they had him put together his designs for their collection. Well, Brian is now striking out on his own and designing templates which will first be available for NoBS members coming to the Inferno this year.

According to Brian, "It will be three disks. One disk with new senior templates-varying sizes; one disk with senior book pages on it - a roughly 10 page book/20 sides; and one disk of multiple magazine covers.

They will be available separately or in a 3-pak at a discounted price. I am unsure on the prices at this time but there will surely be a discount for NoBS members. I won't have them ready until the Inferno. That will be when I display them for the first time.

Anyone who is interested could pm me with questions or anything. I want to make sure I bring enough to the Inferno."

MacGyver Returns! Wrinkle Free Muslins
Courtesy of NoBS member tabyrd, NoBS members learned an ingenious way to put away their backgrounds so that they remain relatively wrinkle free in transport. Check out the thread. Thanks, tabyrd!

New Vendor: Event Photo Market is managed by working Event Photographers giving them the upper edge in the industry. They regularly consult with their clients on matters of Technical, Business and Marketing Support to better improve their event photography business. Read a letter from the founder, Jim Roshan.

NoBS Self Portraits
Have you posted your "self portrait" yet? Many NoBSers posted their mug recently, but it looks like we have a ways to go to get more NoBSers to participate! Whatcha waitin' for?? Here's the link. Thanks to photaphreak for getting this thread going!

For the Fashion Conscious Photographer
In a recent thread started by Nichole, fellow NoBS member calgal gave a thorough review on the new Shootsac. The Shootsac reflects a somewhat recent trend of making photo gear look less like photo gear and more stylish for the fashion-conscious photographer. Here's the link to the thread. You can check out the Shootsac here.

Last Call For Niagara School of Imaging
Staying at the top of your profession requires continuous study and practice. One of the best ways to get this is through the Niagara School of Imaging. This summer, Rob and James will be teaching a course there. Seats are filling fast and if you want in on this great opportunity, check out this link.

Model Release Form
In today's lawsuit-crazy environment, getting a model release signed from your client is of the utmost importance, especially if you want to use your images in your advertising. If you don't have a model release form, look no further than here for templates provided by Hodgy.

Hot Topic On NoBS: Using Copyrighted Music
In the past month or so (longer it seems), NoBS members have bounced around the topic of using copyrighted music. An interesting and incredibly informative article recently appearing in Studio Photography Magazine was referenced. To read the article click here. The article is concisely written and answers everything you need to know about the copyright issue specifically relating to music.

Coincidentally, the Professional Photographers of America, which was interviewed for this article recently sent an e-mail out to members regarding the very same issue. Read the email here.

News Flash! Proselect Discount for NoBS
Many thanks to Aussiegirl (Rebecca) who contacted the folks at Time Exposure to see if a special group rate for purchasing ProSelect would be available for NoBS members. Although there is no group buy, the good people Down Under are extending a limited time offer special for NoBS members purchasing ProSelect. Click here for details. Thanks a million, Rebecca!

Photographing A Dormroom
Hodgy recently went to Cambrian College to photograph one of their dorm rooms to show how spacious and cozy they are. He used a two light setup and his Canon 5D with the 17-40mm lens. View the video here.