Category: Admin Stuff

You’re Not Getting the Most Out of Your Event Photography. Here’s Why.

National League of Cities Past President Ted Ellis at the organization’s 2015 Congressional City Conference.

You have an important event coming up. You’ve been planning for months. Hundreds, maybe thousands will be in attendance. With so much going on, photography seems simple. You have the same person doing the job each year—or, you send out an RFP on LinkedIn, and bring in a freelancer to cover the event. The photographer gets you the photos within a couple of weeks. You post a few on Flickr, and use the best shots for your latest marketing brochure.

The thing is, you could be getting much more value out the images. When I enter a room to take photos, there’s any number of possible shots. There’s the authoritative gesture that signifies leadership; there’s the wide-eyed smiles of colleagues as they laugh and share stories; there’s the reflective-look of a board member considering an organization’s plan of action for the coming year.

Each shot carries its own potential. It can be the face of a new branding campaign. It can perfectly complement that blog post you’ll want to write. It can communicate to prospective attendees that can’t-miss-quality your event delivers.

And it doesn’t stop there. When planning your photographer’s schedule, absolutely consider how you can leverage the event for future content, but what about during the event?

Is your photographer giving you images in real-time to execute on your social media strategy? Successful communicators say, you must show, not tell. That great quote in your CEO’s remarks during the opening general session, are you posting it on Twitter with a complimentary photo?

An image is what you make of it. So here are three ways to make the most of it:

1. Have A Plan

Segment the event into two categories: during, and after. For during, consider how you will make outsiders into insiders. First, think about your target audience. Say, the media, potential customers or industry influencers. What social media platforms are they on? Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, have a content plan before you start the event and tell your photographer what you need and when.

Ok, so now let’s think about after. Stock photos no longer work. People can tell that Banana-Republic-looking-model isn’t a real-life executive. What photos do you need to compliment your editorial, media and marketing strategies?

Phone-2

2. Technology Can Help

Did you know your photographer could connect a phone to their camera, via built-in WiFi? Harness this feature by having your photographer send photos in real-time. In a world where information spreads in 140 characters or less, and attention spans are even shorter, don’t miss your opportunity to communicate your organization’s most exciting moment to the outside world.

Systems

3. Have The Right Systems

Now we’re ready to execute. We have a plan. Technology is helping us work creatively and powerfully. Have you considered how you’re storing the photos, and the process for retrieving them? This is where creating a system of categorization and tagging really helps. Categorize and tag the photos in a searchable database that allows you get the images you want, when you want them. Images are a valuable asset. Good systems allow you to stockpile images and retrieve them efficiently.

Bottom line. Smart organizations thrive in this new media environment by equipping themselves with the tools to tell great stories. Your photographer matters. The images matter. Make each opportunity count.

Want to chat about your next event? Send me an email. Take a look at my portfolio here.

2015: A Year of Photos in Review

Panoramic view of Washington, DC taken during rooftop event
As 2015 comes to a close, I can barely believe how fast the year has gone by. So many events, headshots, commercial shoots, landscapes, and portraits have been fit into this year. Based on the image count in my Lightroom catalog, it looks like I made over 200,000 images in 2015. Many of those images will never see the light of day, but throughout the year I’ve looked at every single of those images to decide what meets the standards that I’ve set for myself and that my clients have come to expect.

2015 marks the first full year (January through December) that I’ve worked as a full time, self employed, small business owner. I couldn’t have done with without the support of friends, family, and clients (both old and new). I’m incredibly grateful to my ongoing clients who continue to work with me to help them build their brands, and my new clients who have taken a chance on something different.

I’ve been afforded some amazing opportunities. This year alone I photographed President Obama and a dozen members of his presidential cabinet. I traveled to Georgia, California, Florida, New York, and Tennessee on assignment — I suppose you can count next door neighbors Virginia and Maryland too :-). I’ve photographed events ranging to a few dozen in size to over 4,000 attendees. I’ve worked with non-profits, international organizations, universities, publications, startups, and multi-national corporations. I’ve met and chatted with Steve Sasson, the inventor of the digital camera (pretty cool, huh?).This has all occurred because of the trust that my clients have given me, and I am immensely grateful for it.

Most importantly (for me and my clients), I’ve grown as a photographer and continue to grow. Next year’s images should be better than the last year’s, with each year raising the bar. And though I’ve been privileged with access and opportunities I never dreamed of, what’s more important than who I’ve photographed is how the images have turned out. A good photo is a good photo, regardless of whether you know the person in the photograph. I hold this principle at the core of my work, and give every subject my all, wether I know them or not.

I have some big ideas for 2016, and ways to continue to momentum of creativity.

Thank you for everything you’ve done, even if it’s just visiting this site and looking at this post. I’m looking forward to seeing you in the New Year!

If you’re new to my site and are interested in discussing ideas in 2016 for your organization’s event photos, marketing and advertising images, or headshots just send me an email at jason@jasondixson.com.

President Obama speaks to the National League of Cities in Washington, DC
President Obama speaks to the National League of Cities in Washington, DC
First Lady Michelle Obama
Vice President Joe Biden in Nashville, TN
Vice President Joe Biden in Nashville, TN
Malala Yousafzai speaking at an event in Washington, DC
Malala Yousafzai with children at an event in Washington, DC
Malala Yousafzai autographing a young girl's book at an event in Washington, DC
Secretary of State John Kerry accepting the Diplomat of the Year Award
President Obama greets people walking along the photo line
Excited youth at the NLC conference
Energy and enthusiasm on-stage at the NLC Conference
3500 youth at BBYO's 2015 International Convention
Youth gather at BBYO's 2015 International Convention
Flo Rida performs for a youth audience
The National Cherry Blossom Festival at the Ronald Reagan Building
Candid moment at the National Cherry Blossom Pink Tie Party
Mark Jackson, winner of the 2015 Cafritz Award
Ruth Trocolli, Ph.D., winner of the 2015 Cafritz Award
Commercial photoshoot for Ithaca College
Rooftop party at sunset overlooking the White House
Formal event at the Ronald Reagan Building
Frankie Muniz and a member of congress at the Ronald Reagan Building
Enthusiasm at a formal dinner
Formal dinner gala at the Ronald Reagan Building
Composited group photo for the winners of the 2015 Cafritz Awards
Mayor of West Hollywood, Lindsey P. Horvath, speaking in Los Angeles, CA
Lobby day in Washington, DC
Environmental headshot for the Ronald Reagan Building
Environmental headshot for the Ronald Reagan Building
Festive party photo
Launch party for technology startup, Split, in Washington, DC
Launch party for technology startup, Split, in Washington, DC
Owl at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA
Sunset at a fundraiser for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA
Sunset at a fundraiser for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA
Campfire smores at a Smithsonian fundraiser
Corporate photoshoot for Oracle
US Trade Representative Joshua Froman
Handsom beagle pet portrait
25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for the at the Newseum in Washington, DC
Commercial photoshoot for ride sharing startup Split
Commercial photoshoot for ride sharing startup Split
Personal project making portraits in San Francisco, CA
Personal project making portraits in San Francisco, CA
Commercial food photo shoot for Wise Sons Deli in San Francisco, CA
Commercial food photo shoot for Wise Sons Deli in San Francisco, CA
Commercial photography shoot for a software developer training program in San Francisco, CA
Commercial photography shoot for a software developer training program in San Francisco, CA
Celebatory toast during an event
Photo of environmental cleanup day at a National Park
Selfie at a party
Port Lockroy, Antarctica
Two Gentoo penguins in Antarctica
Icebergs in Antarctica

I’m Quitting My Day Job To Do What I Love (Photography)

Me on a photo shoot (doing what I love) in the woods of Great Falls, VA. A few months ago, I read an Onion article titled Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life. While the Onion is a comedy publication, the sarcastic sentiment of the article resonated with me: “It could be anything—music, writing, drawing, acting, teaching—it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that once you know what you want to do, you dive in a full 10 percent and spend the other 90 torturing yourself because you know damn well that it’s far too late to make a drastic career change, and that you’re stuck on this mind-numbing path for the rest of your life.”

Running my business full-time has been a dream of mine for several years now. Everyone I know in photography (or with any small business for that matter) started out gradually, testing the waters to figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are, what business model they’re going to follow, and to develop a vision of what success looks like. My initial career path coming out of college was public policy, and my education and experience brought me to Washington, DC to pursue that path. Many great things came out of it including a good Federal job that’s taught me all sorts of cool and crazy things about our education and criminal justice systems, and it’s where I met my wife when we were both just interns with big dreams of changing the world (she might still have a chance).

Meanwhile, something new was sparked inside of me when I purchased my first DSLR as I was finishing grad school and brought it on a trip to Israel and Egypt just before moving to DC. I took five-thousand photos on that trip. “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”, according to Henri Cartier-Bresson – I’m glad I got half of that out of the way. That trip, and the kinks in my photography it hammered out, planted a seed that grew — capturing the world, both places and people, slowly became my passion and I found a way to monetize it into something sustainable.

As that passion has grown, I’ve wrestled with the decision to leave my day job to focus all my efforts on this business. While I mostly enjoy what I do during the work-week, once you figure out what your true passion is, it ruins you for everything else. All this has driven me to take the plunge to focus on my business full-time.

Still, why didn’t I make this decision years ago? It’s been said, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet” — that point has finally come for me. After many hours of planning over several months it’s become clear that my prospects of success outweigh my risk aversion (risk aversion can be a good thing, without a little bit of it we’d do crazy, reckless stuff all the time). The final decision wasn’t easy to come by, and judging the “right time” was a tough call, but I’ve been fortunate to have both creative and business input from a trusted group of colleagues, friends, family — not the least of which is my loving wife. I’ve had strong support from some wonderful clients, who’s business and support were absolutely critical to this transition.

My new photography studio located in Columbia Heights, DC.

My new office space!

So, what’s going to be different going forward? For my clients: The main difference will be my increased availability to provide photography services. For me: The main change will be more time to do what I love — Producing quality images that meet my clients’ needs, whether it be commercial, portrait, or event related — Translating to more happiness.

Another big change I should mention, for both myself and my clients, is my new office space. I’ve established a studio space to work on strategy, shooting (when a studio is preferred), and post-processing. While I’ll still have a desk at my new full time job, it’ll be my desk with my hours working on what I’m passionate about. And since I’m doing what I love, I can’t really call it a job, can I?

Finally, I want to take the time to thank all my friends, family, colleagues, and clients that have pushed and supported me over the past few years. I’ve appreciated all your feedback, both constructive and positive. It’s helped shape me and get me to this point. I’m looking forward to new adventures and learning more than I ever have before!

Overdue, But Overhauled

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted an update—This summer has been packed with client jobs and independent photo projects, making it a little harder than usual to keep up with the web content.  But, over the last few months I’ve built up my portfolio and have started to cycle out some older content on my site for some of the newer work.

Screen shot of the new portfolio

Most notably I’ve redesigned the “portfolio” section, which now has a simpler layout and streamlined categories.  Check the page out, most notably the “portrait” and “fashion” sections.  There’s also a fair amount of new work in the “around the world” section, which has a selection of travel and landscape photography from various places I’ve been to.

I’m still working on adding a couple sections and making other small tweaks, but  this is the first major overhaul of my portfolio in over a year!