sunday photo/art quote 1/25

Be like the Energizer Bunny Rabbit ‘Eveready’!

Sometimes creating the great image is being aware enough and having good habits to not miss an opportunity. Today’s Photo/Art Quote comes from one of the top photographers in the field today. Listen and remember.

joe mc nally photo quote

“Don’t pack up the camera until you’ve left the location.”  Joe McNally

The idea is to stay aware of possibilities, and be ready for serendipity to strike at any moment. Simple thought. Great habit.

Want to learn more from a master? Check out Joe’s books

Yours in Creative Photography,         Bob

PS Here’s the Meet Joe text from his blog.

“The thoughts, notions, and ideas here come from thirty years in the field as a shooter. Twenty plus on the road for National Geographic. LIFE staffer. Sports Illustrated contractor. 54 countries. 50 states. Read on, and welcome to my blog.” Check it out.

photography marketing writing articles for newspaper

Keeping your name in front of your potential clients is job when when you are in business for yourself.

If you have writing skills you can reinforce your status as the go-to photography person and stay front of mind by writing for your local newspaper. Here’s an article I wrote for the Villager a local paper here just outside of Sedona. It will be delivered in the next few days by mail. In the meantime you can read the article using the link above online.

photography article in villager newspaper

Article in local newspaper.

The article is written partly as a local area piece featuring a human interest angle combined with a photography how-to. With hummingbirds being a well loved subject in the area and being difficult to photograph and my wife’s experiences with the delicate birds it’s a perfect pair.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

good results in imaging competition part tres

Lets review before we go further…

Enter Professional Photographers of America or PPA Affiliate type judging to get feedback on your imaging. Try to attend the judging live. Or watch online if that’s available. Order critiques if available.


Put into practice what you’ve learned…

Pretend these instructions are on the side of a shampoo bottle. ie repeat. Enter again. Learn. Enter again.

Now that you’ve entered and learned enough to win awards it time to use them for marketing. Display awards in your studio.

press releases image
This is a sheet I add to my clients contract packet to reinforce their making a good decision with past press.

Send out a press release to various outlets in your market. What should a press release look like? I’m going to post the one I’ve written for this event here and break down the items you need to be aware of. You’ll see comments in Italics.

Press Release – For Immediate Release
(This should top your release. If there’s and embargo date it should read for release after x date.)

 Contact – Bob Coates Phone 928-284-0200 Cell 928-300-0535
(Make sure you have plenty of contact info. They may have questions, want to do a feature on you or need something before going to press)

 Sedona Photographer Named Arizona Photographer of the Year
(Make your headline fit the story and hopefully garner extra attention – This headline is based on local does good)

 For the fourth time Bob Coates of Bob Coates Photography has been named Photographer of the Year by the Arizona Professional Photographers Association. Coates competed in the state’s annual competition recently held in Phoenix and won numerous awards including the Emil Eger Photographer of the Year Award, first place in the Masters Commercial, Portrait and Illustrative categories. Coates also received the American Society of Photographers Award for the highest scoring image by an ASP member. In addition, this was Coates’ 15th time being named to the AZPPA Top Ten in 16 years. All jurors of this year’s competition were International Jurors approved by Professional Photographers of America. (PPA)

(the first paragraph sets the stage and gives details explaining the headline)

 The imaging competition is an opportunity for photographers to have their images judged by a panel trained to score images against a standard. “The actual competition is against yourself,” said Coates. “You are trying to score against the standards set by PPA. The awards themselves are just a bonus. The real win comes from a chance to have experienced peers review your work and hopefully come out on top as you try new techniques and imaging ideas. I am extremely honored to have done well in the competition but my clients are the real winners as I expand my photography skills creating interesting imagery.”

(The second paragraph goes into more detail and set the stage. Note that I am writing this in the third person just as the newspaper would)

 Master of Electronic Imaging and Master Craftsman Photographer Thom Rouse said, “It’s always a great pleasure to view Bob’s photography! Coates works in a number of genres, from portrait to landscape to conceptual fine art. His recent work ranges from depicting Sandhill Cranes, a collage of Day of the Dead symbols, to a traditional black and white image of a stand of Aspens. Throughout his work is a unifying style and an understanding of the visual culture and traditions important to each individual subject he represents.”

(Praise for your work should come from third parties. In this case I asked the judges to comment on my body of work)

 Master Craftsman Photographers Bert & Cindy Behnke shared, “Bob’s work is so original and artistic, it is exciting to not only judge in the competitions but to view and enjoy as a photographer and fellow artist. What we really like about his work are the varying concepts, it is all very original and fun to see. His work really shows off both his artistic and technical expertise.” Cindy was especially taken with the image ‘Sandhill Cranes’. “This is a beautiful art piece. I see it as an exercise in Japanese art. The color harmony is wonderful. It’s almost as if this has been printed on rice paper with an interesting glow and color with warm tones.” She also awarded this image with her Judges Choice ribbon.

(more follow-up judges comments)

 To learn more go to to see more of Bob’s photography and art imagery.

      #   #     #

(The three # signs are a signal that you have sent out press releases before and signify the end of the release)

(Hopefully the contact for follow-up info will get printed also. The article needs to be written with the most
important information at the top because the editors will cut from the bottom first.)

In addition to the actual press release don’t forget to send images with your release. Always add a head shot too. This will often lead to getting many more column inches and add to the versatility of your material increasing the possibility of your release getting printed.

I’ll also share the press r

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob


#   #     #

good results in imaging competition part deux

Yesterday I shared the images I entered at the Arizona Professional Photographers Association annual convention. Today I’ll show the awards I received as part of the competition and talk about the marketing value for business.

arizona professional photographers association awards bob coates 2015
Emil Eger Photographer of the Year Award for high scoring print case (341 out of 400)
First Place in Masters Portrait, Commercial and Illustrative categories.
American Society of Photographers Award for High scoring image by an ASP member.
AZPPA Top Ten Award for the 15th time in 16 years

OK Bob, big deal, how can this be used in marketing?

I am excited to have earned these designations and will proudly display them in my studio. This is for marketing purposes and what I call a ‘stick’ for when clients walk through the door to be photographed. When people make decisions to spend money they ALWAYS want to be reassured that they have made a good choice on where they’ve decided to spend their hard earned dollars. Seeing the awards gives people more confidence in my skills. Almost everyone comments on my award case… in a good way. Thus they will ‘stick’ with me because of the positive reinforcement of seeing the awards.

Tomorrow I’ll follow up on the next step in making the winning of awards really pay when we chat about press releases.

By the way, as an aside for people who are still on the fence about the quality of Lumix cameras and the micro 4/3rds format… Four of the six images were captured with my Panasonic gear and they scored the highest of my entries.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

good results in imaging competition

Arizona PPA had it’s convention this past weekend. Of course it included the annual imaging competition and as usual I entered images for feedback on new work I am creating. I am always trying to create new artistic looks and it’s good to get feedback from my peers in a formal setting like imaging competition.

My results were favorable. I was awarded the Emil Eger Photographer of the Year Award, first place in the Masters Commercial, Portrait and Illustrative categories. The American Society Of Photographers award was also presented given for having the highest scoring image by an ASP member. This was the 15th time being named to the AZPPA Top Ten in 16 years.
While receiving awards is good for the ego (and sending press releases) the real value is in receiving opinions of fellow photographers to find flaws that were not apparent when working up the images. I found some things to tweak as a result of hearing the challenges between the jurors during judging…

I’ll share my entries here. Wouldn’t mind some feedback from you too…


‘Awakening’ scored 86


‘Catrina – Day of the Dead’ scored 83


‘Old World Juniper’ scored 81


‘Last Stand’ scored 83


‘Sandhill Cranes’ scored 88


‘Sarasota Polo Magazine Comps’ scored 84

I always recommend getting your images into competition for review. Remember it’s not a competition against the other photographers… It’s against yourself and the opportunity to grow your skills.

Yours in creative Photography,       Bob

nilmdts and the today show

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. An amazing organization and an opportunity to give back using your photography skills. Pass the word of this post so more people become aware of the organization and know of the service. Monday the 19th of January at 9:50 AM. If you get a chance to watch… Even better.


today show and nilmdts

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and the Today Show

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

sunday photo/art quote 1/18

A recurring thought and one I fight on a regular basis is fear.

Fear of failure.

Fear of not doing something right.

Fear of making a mistake.

And strangely enough fear of success can come into play.

I’m guessing that fear plays into a lot of artists’ lives as this theme keeps appearing in many quotes from writers, painters, sculptors, musicians and of course photographers.

miles davis quote

“Do not fear mistakes – there are none.”   Miles Davis

Mistakes are magnificent opportunities to learn new lessons. If you are not making mistakes you are not stretching and giving yourself the chance to become the best you can be.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

paul c buff dedicated service

I’ve been a little off in my posts between travel for speaking, holidays and general ‘taking a little break’ kind of mood. It’s time to saddle up and get it rockin’ again. And today’s post was one I had to share as I think good customer service is the one of the most important things you can do for your business. Here’s an example and a salute to a stalwart in the industry.

Paul C Buff lights have been in my quiver of tools ever since I first started. Quality, consistency and great customer service has made me a fan. Before the end of the year I was looking a a tax bill that could be lowered by a ’179′ purchase where I would get to use the money in my business rather that giving it to Uncle Sam. I am a great believer in paying taxes, it’s what keeps this being one of the greatest countries in the world. BUt, the rules are there for a reason and should be taken advantage of.

paul c buff

So with some money I had to invest I decided to beef up my lighting kit. I ordered some modifiers like strip and  octagon boxes and a couple Einsteins. Very happy to say the least…

Now here’s where the service comes in… I got out the Einstein lights and after working with them for a little bit I realized that they were way more than I needed electronically speaking. I didn’t want or need all the extra controls. I emailed and asked if I could swap them out for a similar powered but less ‘busy’ flash unit more like my other units. Here was their response…

Hey Bob,

No problem! We do not do exchanges but you can return anything during the 60 day guarantee for a refund and then order the X3200 units at your convenience. You do not need any RMA# and we do not charge a restocking fee. All you need to do is box up the flash units with a note that includes your name and contact info and something stating you would like to return for a refund. Once we receive it we will apply the refund to the card the original purchase was made on. This is usually done within 2-3 business days of us receiving the return and we will email you a receipt for the refund once it is done.

Please send return to:

Paul C. Buff, Inc
ATTN Returns
2725 Bransford Ave
Nashville, TN 37204

Please let me know if you have anymore questions or need anything else in the meantime.

Have a great day,
Paul C. Buff, Inc
Alienbees, White-Lightning, Einstein

Be sure and check out our NEW products:
Vagabond™ Lithium Extreme Check out our must-see VLX™ comparison video at
Foldable Giant Stripbox
The OMNI™ 18-inch Reflector
…..and if you’re looking for some technical help visit our tech forum here

I salute their superior customer service!

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

cold and warm photo

I get a warm feeling in my heart when I see this cold hummingbird…

hummingbird in snow on feeder photo

Humming bird on the feeder during snow in Sedona, Arizona

Why? Because I know the story of how this hummer (AKA ‘little shit’ because he chases away the other birds).

It’s my wonderful wife Holly. She was a big feeder of hummingbirds when we lived in the Virgin Islands to the tune of many pounds of sugar every week. (And may have single handed made it possible for many of the critters to survive after the 18 hour hurricane called Marilyn but that’s another story)

After being stopped, literally, by a hummingbird from cutting back some blooms she thought were past prime in our yard she started hanging a feeder for it after swearing many years ago to not start that again. Now we have four feeders. And because it has been going below freezing she is taking down the feeders after dark, sometimes trudging through the snow, and hanging then at first light.

She’s one special lady my Holly.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

photo imaging competition

Imaging competition has helped me become the photographer I am today. There I’ve said it again and I’ll continue to sing it from the rooftops and encourage every photographer that want to grow, or continue to grow to participate in two to four imaging competitions a year.

I recommend you choose between your local PPA Affiliate, PPA District Competition, International Photographic Competition and the WPPI 8×10 and 16×20 competitions.


It stretches you to push your image making to a higher level. It makes you aware of minor mistakes in posing and exposure and composition and the awareness works its way into your everyday captures keeping you from having to deal with the mistakes over and over again.

Making better images leads to better sales.

Making better images leads to winning awards which leads to having an excuse/reason to send out press releases which leads to press coverage and name recognition in your community.

sprouting photographer banner

I had a conversation with Skip from Skip Cohen University on the Weekend Wisdom Podcast on Sprouting Photographer about Photographic Imaging Competitions. Check it out.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob