Commercial Photography: Be Distinct

It’s funny that when we are young, we find it important to blend in.  Myself included.  By the time we reach adulthood, we realize that it is — and has always been — best to stand out.

Choosing the right graduate school is the same way.  You want a school that is positively distinctive, so you can continue to be unquestionably distinct too.

That’s why it was such an honor to return to Rice Business School for a one-day Commercial Shoot.  There were so many new bright faces with even brighter minds.  They were proud and thoughtful and….

Distinctive.

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Commercial Photography: City Build

It was time for shoot #3 of the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) adult education ad campaign.  This time, I photographed students from their City Build program.  [Here is my post about the first two CCSF shoots.]

They only need one of these images.  Good luck with that ‘cuz I love them ALL!

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Commercial Photography: City College of SF

Perhaps you returned to school after you identified your passion.  Maybe life got in the way and you are now back on the path to earn your GED.  Whatever your story is, I applaud those who return to school because it takes a lot of tenacity and desire to grow to do that.

I met a few students from City College of San Francisco and had the privilege of capturing part of their lives with someone who supports or inspires them.  It was invigorating to hear their stories, and the culinary class made me want to take a class (and made me hungry).  :P

Here’s a peek of my 2-day Commercial Shoot with City College of San Francisco.  I can’t wait to see the ads around my favorite city!

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Whoops, that’s my iced tea!  ;)

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Relaxed Headshots

Julia and Aaron needed headshots for work, but not stuffy ones — so I pulled them aside at the end of their Landfill Shoot.

We walked to an area between the water, parked cars, and large shipping containers (seriously!) where there was diffused light.  The light was so pretty there that I widened my scope to include the kids.

These relaxed headshots are more like relaxed portraits.  Ahhhhh…

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For more information about taking headshots, you can read A Change Is Coming and How Your Subject Feels.

Or if you just want a LAUGH, you can read about doing headshots of my Worst Client!

Commercial Photography: The Coder School

I met this guy in College who told me I apologized too much.  My response was:  “Sorry?  What did you say?”  haha…just kidding.  But it wasn’t far from the truth.  So I’m going to make it a point to NOT apologize for this super duper long blog post!  And I’ll tell you why…

This after school program I photographed was so cool:  The Coder School.

Headquartered in the Silicon Valley, The Coder School offers a variety of coding classes to kids and teens.  Knowing how to code has changed from giving people an edge to being a basic building block necessary to excel in many professions.

I photographed several classes, hung out with the founders and some of the managers, watched the coaches make their classes fun, and pulled out a few solo students for a marketing campaign.  There is a lot to share in this Sneak Peek… and I’m not sorry.  :)

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Commercial Photography: Oakwood

When I photograph a school, my goal is to answer these questions through imagery:  What makes this school different than other schools in the area?  Are they the programs and classes?  The faculty?  The campus?  The student body?

From being at this Preschool to Grade 12 private school for 2 days, I could clearly see that there were teachers who felt passionate about infusing knowledge and confidence into their students, and there were students who were eager to learn and having fun.

Oakwood School was surrounded by natural beauty, but the coolest part was seeing all the joyful, hopeful, and thoughtful faces that filled the grounds.

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Commercial Photography: The Bigs

I call them “bigs”, but they’re still littles to me.   :)

High School students are very special because they are capable of applying what they’ve learned academically, socially and emotionally compared to the lower grades.  It’s also a time they are preparing to soar into their adulthood.  The possibilities of their achievement are boundless.  Their excitement for College is palpable.  And to photograph them at this junction is invigorating.  Whoa, that’s a lot of adjectives!

Below is my final sneak peek of last week’s Commercial Shoot (Pinewood School, Upper Campus).

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Commercial Photography: The Middles

Middle School students are sometimes the hardest to photograph because they either love being photographed or they’re the complete opposite, so getting the kind of images I want usually takes more patience, a long lens (so they don’t see me — heehee), and a certain flair for making the students feel at ease.  :)

Here is a sneak peek from last week’s middle school shoot (Pinewood School, Middle Campus).

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Commercial Photography: The Littles

Photographing schools is so much fun because A LOT happens in a school.

Students are studying and playing, they’re laughing and quiet, they’re working by themselves and in groups, they’re listening and sharing, they’re sitting still and moving… and often very fast!  :)

My secret to photographing schools is striking a balance between being a fly-on-the-wall where I don’t disturb anything and sculpting a “prettier” scene by talking to my subjects or re-positioning things and people — all the while, being mindful of the light, backgrounds, composition, expressions and lines.  Most of my time is spent doing the latter (“sculpting a scene”), but the trick is doing it in a way that doesn’t discredit the authenticity of a moment.

Below are some images of the littles (Pinewood School, Lower Campus).

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Why Photography Matters in Business

With the prevalence of internet usage and infusion of social media in our daily life, consumers have become more visual now than ever.

Not only do they count on a website or app to look appealing, they also are more inclined to notice — and judge — if an image is an authentic one or one that is a stock photo.  Does the image provoke a feeling?  Does the image look real?  Is it believable?  These are the questions that consumers answer subconsciously.  Unintentionally.  This is what happens now with visually-savvy consumers.

A content-heavy landing page is no longer desirable.  What is enviable are sites with eye-catching images that make the viewer feel something.  A connection.  A feeling.  A desire to buy it, to attend it, to be a part of it.  Whatever the business is, the images can make a consumer intrigued.  It is then up to the total content of the pages to seal the deal with whatever the business is selling.  Without the compelling images and a buttoned-up marketing strategy, consumers will exit the site.

You only have a few seconds to make a first impression.

So if you’re a business owner or you manage a business, take a look at your website and ask yourself, “What does my home page say about my business?”  “Does it command my attention?”  “Does it look modern and exciting, or boring and dated”?

As an example, I’ve attached print screens of Rice Business School‘s Before and After home page and program page.  This was a recent Commercial Photography project I worked on, and I am very proud to be a part of it.  I think you’ll agree that the Before and After are like night and day.

*HOME PAGE*

Before

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After

These are a few of the rotating images…

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*PROGRAM PAGE*

Before

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After

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Websites have been vital for businesses for eons, but with each year, I believe that Commercial Photography has increased in its importance.  What do you think?  Can you have a great business without a strong web presence and imagery?