Social Media...follow up.

I wanted to take a quick second to follow up on my previous blog post about social media. There were two things that I forgot that I wanted to mention as food for thought.

One of the major things is the idea of being featured on social media. This can be a huge way to not only gain followers but gain exposure to the type of people that can and will hire you. What do I mean by featured? Well I'm glad you asked! There are many accounts on pretty much every social media channel, but especially for me this applies to Instagram and Twitter, that have tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of followers that simply exist to feature other peoples work. Why not yours?! It will take a little while to find these accounts, but with a little bit of research you can compile a list that would be likely to feature you. Once you've found them start tagging them! Depending on the account you will either use a hashtag or tag them (i.e. #aaronandersonphoto or @aaronandersonphoto) and they can then see your work. Sometimes the accounts will ask you to direct message them with work, so just do whatever method they prefer.

A quick note on this...MAKE SURE YOU PICK ACCOUNTS THAT ARE RELEVANT! This will be a total waste of time for both you and them if you start sending your super conceptual poodle portraits to a surfing feature account. So make sure you do your homework before you hashtag. If you're looking for a place to get started just head over and Google "Top Instagram Feature Accounts", it'll get you heading in the right direction :)

Along the lines of this same idea is being featured by manufacturers or companies that are relevant to you. If you're an artist who makes your brushes? If you're a photographer who makes your camera, lenses, lighting, backgrounds, etc.? If you're a wedding photographer who makes the dress? If you're a...and the ideas go on and on. This type of exposure, if you can be featured, is extremely helpful and can not only aid in finding clients but funding your habit. Why not ask to get one of the latest pencils or paintbrushes to test out and feature on your blog? The worst they can say is no!

Ok, so my second thought, and this one is more personal than anything, is that I have a day when I don't post anything at all. In fact I try not to even look at social media on that day. I have a lot of reasons why I do this, the biggest one being quality time with my family, but there are many many other sources that say this is very healthy for you, even necessary. I am not the first person with the idea that social media is an emotional roller coaster, all the likes, the follows, the comments...it's a lot to take in and I would say addictive. It is important as an artist, and I would say as a human being, not to find your identity in this. You love to create, to make beautiful things, don't let people not liking your images/art stop you from doing that. On this social media free day spend it being inspired, and with people you love. Remember what it means to exist and take in beauty instead of thinking about how many people will like what you created. If you'd like more ideas on this you can check out another blog I wrote about being a Dad in our industry, which is not only about my journey but about time management...find it here: http://www.aaronandersonphoto.com/blog/being-a-dad

That's all for today! Below you'll see a screenshot of one of images that was featured on @downhilladdiction...just so you can see that this actually works! Until next time...be awesome!

 

 

Ideas on Social Media

I recently had a conversation with a friend about social media, in fact it wasn't the first time I've had this conversation in recent history, so I thought it might be of use to talk about some of the things I am doing to grow, maintain and use the following I have. Let me be the first to say these probably aren't original ideas, but they are compiled ideas that seem to have worked for me. I'll try to keep it brief and useful!

1. Brand yourself - If you went to Art School you probably had this rammed down your throat, like I did. If you were anything like me you said it was stupid and a that you could do ANYTHING! Well, turns out I was wrong. People (especially agencies and art directors) want to see who you are, and that's really hard to do if you don't have consistent branding. All I can say is find your style, your look, your feel, whatever you want to call it, and hang on like your life depended on it! I should know it's you, they should know it's you...we should all know it's you, without having to check the name.

2. Post Consistently - I have found that posting between 7 am and 8 am every day is the best time for me. If I miss that window then I will typically wait until the evening to post, all those tired people getting off work like to scroll through an endless sea of photos...it reminds them of the desk job they left. Please notice that I said EVERY day, and yes it's a lot of work. Sure, I will miss a day from time to time, but for the most part I wake up and post first thing. (I woke up at 4:30 today and I started getting my posts ready, no joke.) You might be saying "What the heck am I supposed to post every day?!" That's kind of dependent on your brand and what you do, but there are a million ways to post stuff, like BTS, Gif's, Videos, your work or work in progress...the list goes on and on, and yes you will need to be creative. I find that I am typically either creating work, planning work, shooting work or retouching work...all of those can be posted with an image. When I am planning work I typically will find inspiration to use in the mood board, this can also be posted (see point #6) Sometimes you might even throw a selfie in there...or not.

3. Have a Purpose - I think the black hole of social media happens when you don't know why you're there, and I'll give you a hint, it isn't to waste time and avoid work you should be doing. Social media is a tool that should be used to gain exposure to the people you want to work for and with. If you really think about it, we have access to an audience that the photographers before us never had, EVERYONE! You used to have to pay thousands of dollars to put your pictures in print so that Art Directors and Agencies would see your work, now you can send them a tweet for free. It's said that it takes more than 7 times having your face/work in front of someone for them to have a chance of remembering you, today it's way way easier, but I would say you need to be in front of them even more than 7 times because of all the noise. 

4. Know your audience - This point is definitely not original, but it ties directly into the point above. One of the most depressing thoughts is to send out a tweet, instagram, etc and just be hoping that someone special might see it. I spend time researching and following potential clients, even creating work just to send their way. It's a lot of work, it takes a lot of time, but it's worth it. One of the most pertinent sites for this is Linked In, and I will give you a cheat for that in a minute.

5. Don't buy them, earn them - I am not a fan of the whole "buying followers" idea, and while I do use Crowd Fire to control who I am following (which is a paid service), I also use it to follow specific people and the people who are influenced by them. Think about the people you want to see your work and who they are following, the photographers you want to be like, the agencies you want to work with, and start to grow your list. Then make sure you are posting things that are relevant and they will notice.

6. Be Social - I know this is cliche, but you should be engaged with the people that follow you. They took the time to follow you and look at your work, and it isn't that hard to say thank you. Also, and this is especially for Twitter and Facebook, don't always just post your stuff. If you see things that are helpful, especially pertaining to your audience, then SHARE it! Don't be afraid to share awesome work, it all comes back around.  

This last part isn't a point, but it has been one of the most useful tricks I learned as a photographer. This is specifically for Linked In, which I strongly believe every serious photographer should be active on...at least for the moment. When I started Linked In it seemed impossible to reach out to the people I really wanted to connect with, that is without paying gobs of money every month to send invites and e-mails. So here is what I did. Start connecting with photographers who work with the companies you want to work with, and yes you will need to research that. Photographers tend to be much more welcoming then many other professionals when you are first getting started, especially if you have posted some rad work. Once you've connected with those people then you have access to the people they are connected with, and while it's never a guarantee, it will most definitely start helping you to connect with and network inside of the companies you want to work for. I have grown my Linked In network to thousands of industry people, and yes it has turned into clients. I have found that the mobile app is a little more friendly when connecting with new people...so you might want to try that, wink wink.

Ok, so those are 6 things and a bonus that can help get things going. Just so you know, it takes time...or at least it did for me. Maybe you are a social media phenomenon and I would love to hear if you have any radical tricks that have worked for you!

Until next time...be awesome!

P.S. The image below is of actual human interaction...and yes, it can be used on social media.

Dragon Alliance

Hello Everyone! I apologize for the gap in bloggin, it's been a crazy couple of months. In fact I am taking a break from retouching over 800 images just to write this :)

Recently my images for the Dragon Alliance Floatable sunglasses came out, and I wanted to give you a little behind the scenes look at how those were created. When the client came to me they wanted something that was epic and showed off the glasses, while implying that they floated (which they do and it's awesome!). We ended up shooting the glasses out of water so we could control the lighting and perspective more readily, and then shooting the water and glasses in the water separately to pull from for the final composite. All said and done this composite is well over 100 layers and was shot in the studio in pieces to create the exact shape and look that the client wanted.

Couple cool tricks for shooting this type of image in case you want to try something similar!

1. You can pick up a large fish tank at most pet stores for relatively cheap, no more than $50, so getting all the splashes and water images doesn't have to break the bank.

2. When you are making the splashes have your assistant use a squeegee on the inside of the tank, as they pull it across you get some great waves and the glass stays clean!

3. Make sure you light your background and the background is white! For these images we had a white seamless lit from behind to reduce any kind of lens flare.

4. Use Hi-speed flash or hi-speed sync. To really freeze water you need to have hi-speed flash (meaning the flash duration is short). You can look at the Elinchrom ELB 400 with HS heads or Action heads. The HS heads are hi-speed sync and the Action heads have a very short flash duration. I know there are other brands out there that can do this as well so start your research!

5. Plan! I've said it before and I'll say it again, Plan! Make sure you have a shot list for a project like this. You want to know what you are going to need in post production so you don't have to go back to the studio and do this huge set up more than once! Make sure you shoot WAY MORE than you think you'll need, I mean we're not shooting on film anymore :)

Alright, enough typing, let's look at the final images. Below is a simplified animation of how the file was made and the final images with the graphics from Dragon. You can also head over to their web page: www.dragonalliance.com to see it in real life :)

Until Next time...be awesome!

Dragon Alliance Final
Dragon Alliance Roadblock

Locals

This year has been incredibly busy, and one of the reasons for that is a project that has become a bit larger than I originally anticipated. I call it the Locals Project. It started out as a simple idea, showcase people in my community who are doing great things in and for Colorado Springs. It has turned into something I didn't imagine, an unveiling of an underground population of incredible people.

Now, if you don't know about Colorado Springs it is an interesting kind of town, in fact even calling it a town (which most people do) is weird; we have almost 500,000 people in our "town". You'll see bumper stickers that say things like "Keep Colorado Springs lame" floating around, and we are known as one of the worst dressed cities in the country. All that being said, there is a stirring in the belly of our city that is driven by incredibly talented people and is just now coming to light.

The Locals Project started out with a couple of people over a month ago and it is still growing, mostly because with every person I meet and with every story I hear, there is another one that goes along with it. I am excited about the community that we are building and I hope that this project can help to propel us in a new direction, one that doesn't keep us "lame", one that makes us awesome!

Below are a few of the images from the locals project...stay tuned on Facebook for more!

BE BOLD

Welcome to my completely revamped web page! It has been a long journey with countless hours not only in the studio, but also sitting at the computer. It finally came together and I am glad you made it, heck, I'm glad I made it! You'll find a ton of new work, especially in the portrait section, and now we have a place for all those BTS videos we have been posting.

2016 is sure to be an exciting year, we have already started production on 3 shoots for this next month and we have some really fun personal projects planned. I'll be blogging more regularly and posting more bts content, but if you want more, head over to my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages. Also, stay tuned for the unveiling of our ad campaign for Dragon Alliance in the next week or so! 

My theme for 2016 is BE BOLD, I hope that it can encourage you to step outside your comfort zone this year and create images you never thought were possible!

Until next time...be awesome! (and BOLD!)

Slow time

Well, it's almost Christmas, and that usually means things are slowing down in commercial photography for at least a little bit. I wanted to take a second to talk about some things that can help during the slow times and how to stay busy.

Most photographers go through ebbs and flows of work, and I would say it's more about how you handle the ebbs then the flow. Not only that, but it's important to remember that after a really busy period you will probably have at least a few days without work. Here are some thoughts on how to handle it and some things to remember.

1.  It's not a vacation. Yes you should take vacation sometimes, but it should be something you schedule not something that happens to you. My first thought is to treat photography just like any other job, you go every day no matter what. Most bosses would agree that there is ALWAYS something to do if you look, and you are your own boss, so you can figure it out.

2. Start making contacts. PICK UP THE PHONE. When was the last time you called someone and set up a meeting? Our industry is a very large one, full of really cool people that can help you in your journey.  Do some research, find some new people to meet, and get out there! A few good places to look would be Linked In and Agency Access. I am sure there are more, but that's what I use the most.

3. Take a creative day. This is very different from a vacation. My last creative day consisted of me sitting in a coffee shop looking at websites and re-writing my business plan and direction. I'll also walk around department stores and look at images to get inspiration or go walk around the city. Do what inspires you, and do something different than you do every day, this is a day to break the mold and step outside.

4. Personal Projects. I have so many personal project ideas that I can't actually keep up, which is great because that means we are really busy! But as soon as I see a lull in the schedule I book a personal project, this will help keep you sharp and growing as a photographer. Over the holidays my team and I are shooting over 10 personal projects and I am completely revamping the web page. We work on new lighting, find new subjects and make new contacts, all at the same time! If you are lacking inspiration then look at what other photographers are doing and try to copy it, I guarantee it won't look the same and you will learn something in the process.

5. LEARN! Photography is always evolving, and you should be too. There are incredible, not to mention free, resources out there now that can help you grow exponentially. Even just watching short videos that show behind the scenes lighting can be so helpful.

To finish this blog I am going to post some videos that I have found really helpful so you can watch them and maybe be inspired by them as well. As a side note, if you enjoy stuff like this I tend to post the videos I find on Twitter, so follow me there if you're interested :)

This is just a few to get your juices flowing...go out and find more, would love to see them! Until next time...be awesome!

Ballet meets Dia de los Muertos

My team and I just finished an incredible shoot last week and I wanted to share the results with you. We were able to shoot at a beautiful location in Colorado Springs (abandoned locations are by far my favorite type of backdrop). If you add in 3 amazing dancers, 2 very talented MUA's (Tasha Ditchman and Molly Hardee) on site working all day, assistants and lots of lighting, you get some pretty awesome stuff.

Below you'll find the BTS video (Filmed and Edited by Andrew Forrer) to give you an idea how much work goes into a shoot like this, and some of the images that we ended with.

Thanks to my incredible team and I hope this inspires you to dream big...now, go be awesome!

DOD_Ballet_Photo
DOD_Ballet_Dancer_Movement
DOD_Ballet_Dancer_Movement
DOD_Ballet_Dancer_Photo
Ballet_Dancers_Industrial_Photo
Ballet_Dancer_Industrial_Sun
Ballet_Dancer_Industrial_Sun_2
Ballet_Dancer_Industrial_Sun_3
Ballet_Dancer_1
Ballet_Dancer_2


See the light.

I have had a number of people ask me if I would be putting tutorials up on my page, and that is definitely in the works for 2016, but I think there is a fundamental problem with a lot of people trying to break into composite photography, and that's lighting. Sometimes I think our digital crazed culture has become so reliant on the term "fix it in post" that we forget the little things that make photography special.

When you look at some of the great photographers before us, like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams, you realize that they saw light, it didn't just happen to them and it most certainly wasn't luck. You might be asking, what do two guys who shot mostly black and white film have to do with a digital composite photographer in 2015?! To that I would say, everything! I have had multiple people come to me and ask how I make my composite images look so real, and yes, I use Photoshop a lot, but Photoshop can only do so much. I think most of what makes composite images look real is lighting. More specifically being able to identify lighting and re-create it.

So, what can you do? How can you start to learn about lighting? Well the first thing you can do is go outside! Look at shadows, haze, highlights, soft light, hard light, night lights, natural light, artificial light, fog, etc. and study them. The more you know about what light looks like the better. That's the fun part, I am still obsessed with shadows and I take pictures of them all the time...it's a little weird. I can't stop it though, I think light is incredible and beautiful, I think at the heart of what we do is the fact that photographers love light.

What do you do after that? You learn how to make it. First, learn how to make light and shadows in a studio. This part can be harder if you don't have access to lights, but it most certainly can be done on a budget. This is a critical step if you want to be a composite photographer because your ability to take an object and put it seamlessly into a background is what will set you apart from the competition. There are a ton of tutorials that you can look at online, like kelbyone.com, that will teach you lighting, but make sure you don't just watch videos, go do it!

Finally, you need to learn how to make lighting and shadows in Photoshop. I think this is where things get a little backwards for a lot of people. I can't tell you how many people have said the know a ton about Photoshop and still can't make their images look right. Honestly, if they really do know a ton about Photoshop (I have my suspicions), it's probably the lighting. I think if you just try to learn Photoshop without learning lighting you are doing yourself a disservice, and it makes things very frustrating in the beginning. When you're ready though, there are a ton of websites and resources to help you learn about lighting in Photoshop (Phlearn, Lynda, Kelbyone, Youtube, etc). 

I might be crazy, but I think you need to know this stuff to be a professional photographer, not just have a nice camera. I mean, having a nice camera is great and all, but I would rather hire a photographer with a cheaper camera who knows what they're doing then one with a super expensive camera who doesn't have a clue.

I just recently went in the studio and did test lighting for a shoot that I am getting ready for and to learn more about lighting, because you never know it all! Below are some of the shots that I took from new lighting set ups I am working on, and a little bts video of me running around taking pictures of myself! Until next time, be awesome!