Keeping The Creative Child Alive In Your Business


Most of you went into Photography to be creative. The job comes with great perks: traveling, working for yourself, being involved in visual marketing, to name just a few. But when your Photography business faces the harsh reality that it is a business what happens? Your love of being a wanderlust creative crashes into reality. Balancing acts of marketing and sales, customer service, and all the other daunting tasks of a business. How do you cope as a creative?

Some things you can do to make sure the creative child in you (that survived growing up) stays nurtured are:

  • Start your day with a walk
  • Write in a journal
  • Keep a you book that tracks happenings that affect you
  • Stop to smell the flowers
  • Sing in the shower (even if you’re tone deaf)
  • Volunteer at a pet shelter to walk dogs or pet the cats
  • Schedule a date night with your significant other
  • Plan a throw back family game night (I recommend charades)
  • Take a drive with no destination
  • Let your voicemail do its job… take messages for you
  • Plan a Sunday brunch with your closest BFF’s
  • Conquer a fear
  • Call an old friend just because you can
  • Pay someone a compliment
  • Smile at a stranger
  • Pack a blanket and go stargazing
  • Wear a hat to work
  • Listen to a new cd of an artist that you have no idea about
  • Go to a matinee alone
  • Sit by the ocean


Sometimes the best thing you can do to get back to you is remembering why you went into business for yourself to begin with. Business gets clouded with rules and management, schedules and conformity. Think outside the box and focus on your own time management. Never forget to schedule time for the creative child in you!

How’d You Get That Shot with Kevin Steele

A Spotlight Series About
The Technique Of Photographic Imagery by Photographers For Photography!


Mt Rushmore and men. © Kevin Steele /



Kevin Steele
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I shoot People in Motion: active lifestyle, travel and portraiture for advertising and editorial.


Life began in the darkroom every day after high school. Although I went to a university to study astronomy I never became an astronomer.  But I’ve been an engineer, author, climbing guide, and tech specialist before focusing full time on photography the past 7 years.  Photography had been on the side until word of mouth led to my first big location ad shoot.  Which fittingly enough is this photograph on Mt Rushmore.


White gaffer tape. Black coffee. The Nikon D4 and D800 with 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8, 85 f/1.4 lenses most of the time.   When shooting motion I love using Pentax 6×7 lenses adapted for the Nikon, nice long manual focus throw, beautiful optics and the full frame 35 sensor uses only the sweet center spot of those medium format lenses.   And really my absolute favorite and sentimental tool is the Rollei SL66 with Zeiss lenses, alas it seldom gets out. It’s original owner, my Dad, handed it down over 20 years ago  – it’s a 46 year old beautiful piece of kit.


iPhone. I just always have it with me, great for scouting and snapshots.  I’m so bummed about Instagram – I’m about to bid them farewell as they’ve screwed up their terms of service.  I love the simplicity of it (I stick with one filter) and the creativity born of constraints.


A fellow photographer turned me onto Seth Godin’s post of the recent Christmas Eve: “True Professionals don’t fear amateurs”. In a nutshell professionals love it when passionate amateurs show up – it pushes us to higher levels. I think it’s great that everyone can create and share and film and edit and experiment.  Maybe it’s just capturing a retro snap of their friends or maybe it sparks entry into a creative field that we don’t even have a name for yet – everything moves forward.  I do feel that those pros in the middle that had satisfying careers for years can’t rest on their laurels, especially if they’re in client direct portrait, wedding or corporate work.


I expect the tech will always move forward – better tools. I do like where we are right now and feel that we’ve come to where it really is almost good enough. Maybe the industry should take a break for a while and let us flesh out the craft of what’s in our lap.  But people never rest J.  On a recent shoot for Adobe I saw some amazingly talented digital artists stretching CS6 in ways I would not have imagined.  I think the business side will continue to evolve: agency Art Buyers and Art Directors are being hired by their clients: in-house work will expand as the ad side becomes less about a single campaign and more about a broad brush of digital, social media, print and viral campaigns.   Editorial is changing rapidly and favors the niche mag that has great content.  Publications that deliver only good-enough images, design, and story will find themselves behind. It doesn’t matter if it’s on paper or pixels – one doesn’t kill the other, the source material is what counts.


My favorite kind of shoot day is when we are all feeling the love.  The client, maybe an agency, definitely the crew, are all making it happen. I’ve had great shoots recently with FedEx, Adobe, Oakley and Polartec. On the editorial side – Runner’s World, Trail Runner, Men’s Journal, WebMD, Parade Mag. There are a few local clients that really get to benefit although my rates are a stretch up from the local norm.  I love shooting athletes of all ages. I love photographing people with passion.  Much of the local work doesn’t go in my portfolio but it keeps my chops up and is always fun.  The locals include Opera Santa Barbara, The SB Triathlon and California’s regional visitor’s bureaus.


The concept here was an iconic image that shows the monument with a unique viewpoint.  The client, CMC, manufactures and distributes equipment for the rescue industry: firefighters, police, SWAT, search and rescue teams.  Their customers get into some dramatic locations and each year CMC publishes a catalog with an epic cover shot of their gear in action.

Mt Rushmore and men. © Kevin Steele /

The immediate issue was access: the client and ad agency worked well in advance, almost a year, to get permission from the Park Service and Homeland Security. We flew into Rapid City, South Dakota and spent three days on location shooting in early morning and late afternoon.

With a climbing background I’m very comfortable working at heights and on ropes. The models were actual Park Service rangers and although some may mistake the rangers for climbing the faces they are actually rappelling down  – part of their job is to inspect the cracks on the faces.  There’s a big one crossing Lincoln’s nose and in 1998 an instrument was installed to monitor the expansion and contraction of the crack with the seasons.

Mt Rushmore and men. © Kevin Steele /

For this shot I’m standing on the tip of Jefferson’s nose, secured by a rope to my climbing harness, leaning over to frame Lincoln, the rangers and the landscape.   If you watch Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” you’ll see Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint drop down between Jefferson and Washington at the end of the film (they were actually on a replica built back at MGM’s studio).

Mt Rushmore and men. © Kevin Steele / kevsteele.comThe strenuous approach to the top of the heads was almost as exciting as being out on the granite faces. Step off the trail and over the “No Access” fence, up past security cameras and sensors, scramble behind the heads, past the large Secret Chamber which was envisioned as a “Hall of Records” and onto the top.  Ropes secured and harnesses checked, the rangers went up and down, moving across the faces as I shot from different vantages.  Changing lenses had to be done with care.

Mt Rushmore and men. © Kevin Steele / kevsteele.comThis was not the client’s first select. But as I looked through the edit again and again this was clearly the photograph that best represented the sublime feeling of being out on the tip of Jefferson’s nose with a view very seldom seen.


Shout outs?  All the support from my wife Linda and boys Nico and Aidan. Mom and Dad. My rep Doug Truppe. And of course my interns and assistants Meg, Meagan, and Megan (thank god they’re spelled differently!), Karla, Jerry and Anna.  Those embarrassing light-test photos we’ll save till the next spotlight series…



To check out ALL of Kevin’s work 
please go to his website! If you are
a professional photographer or know
of one that should be in this series
please email us today.
image (c) Alex Geana

How’d You Get That Shot with Alex Geana

A Spotlight Series About The Technique Of Photographic Imagery by Photographers For Photography! 

Alex Geana
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I work in fashion and still life, with a focus on fine art conceptual pieces and commercial work.  I know – vague.

I’ve always loved it. When I was in high school I had a really amazing photography teacher named Mr. George Talley. This was before all electives were cut. He showed me how to develop film and work in the dark room – an experience that forever changed me. It wasn’t until I got published by Gawker and started attending fashion shows that I really looked at photography as a career. I had access to an industry I loved and the moments to make good pictures were plentiful.

I use a 5D Mark II and have a Leica D‑LUX 5 for my blog. I work with a variety of lights, from Impact to ProFoto, I’ve even worked with Alien Bees. Each shoot is different. I’ve really wanted to work with Broncolor but I’ve never had a chance to.  Recently I’ve become obsessed with Hahnemuhle Baryta for my fine art show.

I try to always keep my Leica D‑LUX 5 with me. I really want an M9, but that’s really just a dream till I book more commercial work. The small camera takes really honest photos. When you have a DSLR with you, the camera takes over the moment, people try to pose, we’re in an age of over-styled street fashion and everyone’s watching out for cameras, they’re either drawn to them or afraid of them. I really like having a small “walking about” camera. But readers on blogs are really judgmental and they need a good photo. If you can’t make a good photo for your blog, they turn away quickly.

It makes educating the client harder. I’ve had clients tell me they can’t afford to work with me because they spent 4k on a camera and don’t know how to use it. They wonder why they can’t get the same pictures I do with the camera we both have. It breaks my heart, because for half that cost, we’d have enough cash to make some good photography.

Photography has really moved away from the camera, it’s just a tool we all have. It’s become more like sculpture. Michael Weschler (@MichaelWeschler ) a photographer friend of mine likens being a photographer to being a director. We produce photography. We make the picture happen. That’s what people don’t really get about photography. We need to make the photo. Then you also have to know how to record the image you’re making. It’s a holistic 360-degree process, which people don’t get. You don’t just show up, point and shoot.  Then fix everything in Photoshop. Photoshop can’t create a pixel. You need the right exposure to capture an image that Photoshop can improve on.

We can’t stop clients from thinking it’s the camera, but it would be nice if they spent more on photographers they liked, instead of gear they can’t use. It would help everyone and make better content.
Clients, especially new clients don’t understand how much time and planning photography involves. I also think this is effecting the top of the market, because art buyers seem very weary to try anyone new, unless they have proven themselves a countless number of times.

Have no clue. Probably the same as 2012, I don’t see technology effecting us greatly. I think their needs to be changes. Lots of changes and I see no organization. Which is frustrating. Lot’s of young photographers are depressing their own industry because they’re jumping at every “Work for Hire” contract sent their way and lowering their rate to next to nothing. It would be great to educate and figure out a way to communicate to all the “cool kids” who don’t really understand the business of photography. I was one of them. Now I really understand how to estimate and say no and build value for my work. So much of art has to do with making your own market. I don’t know if my long road will pay off. I’m hoping it does. When an emerging photographer gives in to a “Work for Hire” contract everyone suffers.

My work is in two museums. The Museum at FIT and Leslie Lohman, I had a chance to work with Icon Fitness and Elisabeth Hasselbeck (she’s really sweet, smart and nice in person). Daphne Guinness is my hands down favorite subject and model, she was a joy to work with and I’m very excited to have been included in her Yale University book. I’ve worked with a variety of fashion designers and look forward to growing in that realm. I’m never satisfied with my work and always want to get better.  I also love getting published on La Daily Musto – Michael is a lot of fun to hang out with, I love going out with him and taking pictures of club kids. Daily Intel hired me because they saw my work on his blog.

I started applying my knowledge of fashion photography to food; I really loved the concept of manipulating and styling. So I just started making work and wanted to experiment with process and light. Finally it came together as a show, I’m trying to place it now and starting to build relationships with galleries that have a base.

I don’t know if it’s a unique technique per say, I think it’s obvious that it’s on a light table. It’s two lights above, two below. What does make it unique is my obsession with styling and creating the work. It took me two hours to find the perfect lettuce, take it home, and style it just right. Add water droplets in all the right places and redo it a few times. Eighty frames were shot. I finally chose one and spent two hours retouching and refining the printing process. All told each photo in the series took an average of eight to twelve hours to make.

Photography simply takes time, we become more efficient with it, but good pictures take time and patience and there’s nothing we can do about it. Everyone wants everything to happen quickly because of the just in time Internet culture. But to get something truly extraordinary – it’s simply, time, patience and planning and there’s simply no short cut.

Check out my blog Making a Picture and check out my Online Portfolio.


To check out ALL of Alex’s work 
please go to his website! If you are
a professional photographer or know
of one that should be in this series
please email us today at: 



Rule Your Marketing Track…. Don’t Run Around It Aimlessly


Many business owners often find the task of marketing daunting. Staying on track with your plan can be a challenge and often takes a single person to keep on track with the plan throughout the year. If you are a small business owner and do not have the luxury of an assistant or a full marketing department don’t worry, staying on track can be easily obtained by following this short list:  

1. Keep It In Your Face. Never file your marketing plan away in a file cabinet. Keeping your plan posted on your wall or board will allow it to be a constant reminder. If your plan is wordy get creative and make a nice visual chart that will enhance your decor!

2. Organize By Time Horizon. Divide your marketing plan into months. Following a timeline is often the best way to stay on track. More important put your monthly reminders into your electronic calendar to act as a back up. When you schedule meetings and appointments you will get reminders of things to do. For help with setting up your marketing plan follow our Roadmap of Marketing directions here

3. Plan and Prioritize Special Promotions. If you are like many small businesses you have special promotions or advertisements that need to go out at specific times. These are most often a greater part of your marketing budget. Keeping close track of these is crucial to your success. If your piece is not planned already leave time in your schedule for an ample planning process. 

4. Monthly Reviews.  Your marketing goals are like targets. Reviewing monthly to make sure all your targets have been met can be very rewarding. Proving you can stay on track and follow your marketing plan successfully will build confidence in this segment of your business!

5. Estimate Your Time Spent. Estimating your time spent on all of your marketing tasks will allow you to plan for next years marketing. Your business grows year after year. Keeping track of time spent on marketing is a great way to see what tasks you will want to delegate later. Examples of good things to track is:

  • How many hours do you spend on specific marketing activities?
  • What are the three main marketing activities where you spend the most time?
  • How many hours each week do you spend on marketing? Be specific: mailing, addressing, setting up, dealing with designers…

You’ll likely find that you are spending half your time on your highest marketing priorities. Some business owners haven’t carefully thought about their targets, and often neglect important marketing tasks until it becomes a crisis, demanding their full attention.

Marketing can be easy and fun when planned around your main business activities. Remember a solid, successful campaign must be consistent and followed throughout the life-span of the original plan. If you cannot stick to a full year of marketing it may be time to revise your budget and bring help in immediately. There are plenty of resources at your local chapters of APA, ASMP, ASPP, and PPA. Remember to utilize your core support groups for advice, referrals, and insight on steps to follow with the most success!

For assistance with your marketing and staying on track contact iHeart Marketing or book your FREE no-obligation consultation today!

Feeling Inspired…. or NOT?

30 Ways

To Keep Your Creative Inspiration Flowing

How to keep up with inspiration is quite a chore when you are a small business owner. Adding into the mix that you are a creative business owner could almost be a recipe for disaster. What are some sure fire ways to keep yourself inspired even when your inspiration “bank” is running on low?

  1. Get off that high horse – don’t take yourself SO serious
    Half of our battle is usually within ourselves. Laughing at ourselves is great.
  2. Make a lunch date
    Whether you call up a friend you haven’t seen in awhile or take your honey out to break up the day inspiration can be found
  3. Dance like there’s nobody watching
    Not only is this in many quotes and well known inspirational sayings but it works… I do mine to Cake!
  4. Go to the aquarium
    There is beauty in sea life that can be magical
  5.  Keep an electronic notepad with you at all times
    I use evernote and it rocks! Ideas, voice notes, images, everything!
  6. Google “Get Inspired”
    Let’s face it we are not alone in any phase of life. If you’re feeling something chances are someone else has been there and you can find it on the www.
  7. Cloud watch…
    Such an under rated relaxing past time, what do you see!
  8. Read a good book
    A good book not only offers an escape from reality but it exercises  your brain
  9. Wake with the sunrise
    This is very reminiscent of a new beginning. The amazing thing…. it happens everyday!
  10. Pop some corn with that movie
    Psychological sensors in your brain will relate the smell of pop corn with fun, the movie is a bonus of a momentary lapse of reality for the length of the movie.
  11. Stretch your muscles
    Stretching your muscles will get the blood flowing to your brain and your body
  12. Take a midday stroll
    There are few words that describe leaving the phones behind and strolling midday, even if it is only for a half hour
  13. Create your own “project” that means nothing to anyone else but YOU!
    Something as simple as shooting something you love everyday keeps inspiration flowing
  14. Sing your favorite song… even if you’re tone deaf
    Music speaks a universal language, we all know it. No matter what your taste it’s easy to be inspired by singing along.
  15. Camp in your backyard and watch the stars
    Add the kids for an added lifetime memory!
  16. Un-clutter your workspace
    Lets face it if the gutters on your house are filled with clutter nothing drains, your office should flow the same way.
  17. Have a deep conversation with a friend
    I’ve been blessed with many friends that can talk about theories and the meaning of life. It never fails to inspire!
  18. Keep those visuals of your loved ones close
    Whether it’s a picture on the dash of your car or a simple photo key chain being reminded we are surrounded by love inspires
  19. Treat yourself to a berry filled smoothie
    Not only do antioxidants get your blood flowing but they are like a natural workout for your brain.
  20. Go cut the lawn
    Nothing like the smell of fresh cut grass to inspire something fresh!
  21. Listen to a friend in need
    Sometimes hearing others problems makes ours seems foolishly simple.
  22. Get to the beach
    Crashing waves, misting salt water, sand in your toes… I think my brain just left me at my laptop!
  23. Inspire someone else
    I love inspiring others, it’s like my own personal guarantee  that inspiration makes the world go round.
  24. Get involved with your community
    Walk a dog, be a big brother, touching the lives of others will reward your inspiration.
  25. Take your child to the park (and get on the swings with them!)
    Something about giggles and swings that is just contagiously inspiring!
  26. Keep a “To-Do” list
    Checking off the items on this list acts as positive reinforcement.
  27. Basque in the sun
    The warmth and light of the sun really do create happiness. Happy people inspire, it’s a fact!
  28. Take a long, hot, fully decorated bath (candles and aromatherapy do wonders)
    Even if you’re a man you know ya wanna be lavished in lushness.
  29. People watch at your local park
    We are the most amazingly, creatively, inspiring breed out there… other than dogs maybe?
  30. Visualize your final goal often
    Keeping your eye on the prize is always motivating and inspiring. 
Now there you have it, 30 ways to stay inspired. Try any of these to get out of that non-inspiration rut. I’m sure there is something new on the list you haven’t tried. If you know of some fresh ideas you don’t see, please share them with us!
~ Until we meet again, stay inspired, or better yet, inspire someone else!