successful photographer happy earth day

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

sedona flower art
A little slice of Sedona I Thought I’d share with you. A flower I enjoyed
while on a hike this AM. Hope you like it as much as I do…
Captured with the Lumix GX7 Lumix Vario 35-100mm f2.8 lens – Exposure f/10 1/80 sec ISO 200 at 100mm

After the capture of the flower it was extracted from the background and placed in another file with an organic background I made a couple days ago. The flower was enhanced and a drop shadow added. It was then duplicated and moved numerous times until I came up with what you see here.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Happy Earth Day to you… Yours in Photography,           Bob

success via photography image competition

SUCK it UP!!

If you aren’t participating in image competition I feel you are missing a huge piece of the education puzzle in becoming a better more successful photographer. Almost every photographer I’ve seen who gets in the game, submits images, attends the judging and listens to the critiques has shown amazing progress in the depth of their work.

It also doesn’t hurt that you can win awards, work toward your PPA degrees and talk photography with a bunch of like minded people. If you wait until you think you are ready for imaging competition you are missing the boat because this is how you get better, not by waiting until you think you are ‘good enough’. If you need some help in getting started, get in touch and I’ll point you in the right direction.

And, as Paul Harvey used to say, “Here’s the ‘Rest of the Story”.

In addition to the education I received by being immersed in imaging competition last weekend I managed to score a few awards.

portrait photo‘Street Portrait – ‘Doc” First Place Masters Portrait
Camera info – Lumix GX7 35-100 2.8 @47mm exp 1/160, f2.8, ISO 200 square in-camera crop

Captured on the 2nd day I had the Lumix GX7 in my hands in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I saw Doc and asked if he’d mind if I made his image after chatting with him for a bit. It was nice to be introduced to him by my friend & fellow photographer Dennis Chamberlain. He told me Doc was quite the character and he was right. I asked Doc to move to put him in some good light.

Saxophone artistic image‘Art of the Saxophone’ earned First Place Masters Illustrative Image – AZPPA Loan Collection and the American Society of Photographers Award (ASP) captured with the Lumix GX7.

Photographing some live music in nearby Cottonwood, Arizona and I spied this Sax on stage. Photographed it with the thought of creating an art piece. Even though I floated the sax in the scene it was the other instruments that help tell the story and add depth to the piece. The look was accomplished using multiple texture images, blend modes, masks, layers and color enhancements. It’s one of the programs I give. See if one is happening near you here. If you have a photo group and would like me to speak get in touch. Depending on the size of your group Panasonic will pick up most or all of the tab.

cathedral basilica sata fe image‘Committed’ – Awarded 2nd Place Masters IllustrativeCamera and gear info – Lumix GX7 7-14 f4 @12mm exp 1/6 sec, f4, ISO 3200 Seven shot bracket.
camera mounted on Culmann Germany carbon fiber tri-pod Magnasit 532C

Check out the tattoo of the Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi from Santa Fe, New Mexico on this young man’s back. I was photographing the Cathedral around 10 PM and he walked by working on setting up for the Indian Market the next day and he said, “I have a tattoo of that on my back.” I asked if he had a minute to spare and could I make his photograph. I bracketed the image with 7 stops automatically with the Lumix GX7. Got off only two bursts because I had him for about 30 seconds before he was called back to his duties.

guardsmans pass Utah imageGuardsman’s Pass, Utah scored an 80 for a merit
Camera  – Lumix GX7 35-100 f2.8 @42mm  exp 1/640 sec, f7.1, ISO 640 (set by camera panorama mode)

This rounded out my image case. This was the first use of the in-camera panorama from the Lumix GX7. I love this feature! That doesn’t mean I don’t also make my panos the old fashioned way with multiple exposures and stitching them together when I want a larger file to work with but this is a great feature.

Managed to make it into the AZPPA Top Ten for the 14th time in 15 years. This information is being compiled into a press release. Check here for more information on how get the most from your marketing.

Til next time. Yours in Photography,         Bob

sunday photo/art quote 4/20

Business & marketing are as important as the art we create as photographic entrepreneurs.

I want to tell you of a very creative mind you can tap into via the Monday Morning Memo. His name is Roy Williams and he often talks about “Our kind of People” in his missives. If that doesn’t ring a bell right away hang with Roy for a few weeks and you’ll get the idea pretty quick. I believe really successful photographers tend to fall into his definition and I invite you to subscribe to MMM to pick up some inspiration, marketing and copy-writing ideas. Roy doesn’t suffer fools lightly but he does fool around quite a bit in getting his messages across.

I’ve picked one of Roy’s quotes for the photo/art quote today.

roy williams quote image “Every door of opportunity begins as a window in the mind.” Roy H. Williams

I’ll leave you to mull that over on your own… share your thoughts.

Yours in Photography,       Bob

where have I been?

The sun was in my eyes!

It was too windy…

The dog ate my posts! Yeah, that’s the one…

OK enough with the excuses. The reality was It was a busy, busy week. Started with the Arizona Professional Photographers Convention in Phoenix. I am always amazed how much I learn, even after all these years, of attending other photographer’s programs. I guess it’s because with the base knowledge that’s built over the years there are new levels of understanding.

Tim Meyer was an excellent speaker on lighting. He is on the faculty of Brooks Institute of Photography. I have heard him speak before but this time I was apparently more ready for the information he provided. His use of light modifiers in unexpected ways is amazing. He makes light dance! If you get the opportunity to see Tim or study with him… DO SO!. Look for his new book coming soon. His current book ‘The Portrait’ Understanding Portrait Photography is available now.

ON the marketing side I was impressed with Steve Kozak and his ‘touch the emotions’ type marketing. Sell by helping people get what they really want verses trying to sell things you want to sell. Check out Steve’s Guide book ‘The Road to Success Requires 4-Wheel Drive’ He had photographer’s crying during his coaching session and that will lead to getting the emotion into their marketing.

A real winning combination for learning is to enter images into competition and then attend the judging. AZPPA had four judges on hand to score the images and offer feedback during challenges. It’s part of my ongoing education and i highly recommend you get in the game if you haven’t already. Participate at your local, state, region and national levels and your photography will grow by leaps and bounds in short order. Who knows you may even win an award or two that will lead to some good press if you follow through in your marketing by sending out properly written press releases. You can learn more here. (I did OK but I’ll share that in another post.)

The rest of the week was running hard photographing, processing images, speaking, delivering Meals on Wheels and enjoying the company of my wife. Don’t let business take you totally away from your family. You didn’t loose out because I didn’t post for a week, but I would have if I didn’t spend quality time with my wife. I’ll fill you in on the other photography stuff over the next few days…

Your in Photography,       Bob


sunday photo/art quote 4/13

I love this quote!

edward weston photographer quote photo“Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph: not searching for unusual
subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual.” – Edward Weston

After learning that I live in Sedona, Arizona people often comment, “Oh! That’s such a pretty place to photograph!” Yes it is but it’s not the place that makes for great photographs it’s the mind and skills of the photographer. Believe me I’ve seen plenty of not so beautiful images made of the red rocks taken in less than stellar lighting conditions that impressed me not a bit. But have seen absolutely stunning photographs of the mundane such as Weston’s pepper image. Please don’t think you need to travel to exotic locations in order to create beautiful images. Start looking around closer to home to capture the unusual. Show ordinary subjects in extraordinary ways. It will push the creative envelope for you.

Edward Henry Weston a 20th-century photographer and has been called “one of the most innovative and influential American photographers…” and “one of the masters of 20th century photography.” Over his 40 year career Weston photographed an increasingly expansive set of subjects, including landscape, still life, nudes, portrait, genre scenes and even whimsical parodies. He truly worked by the thought shared in his quote. I’m finding the more I have my camera with me, made more convenient by using the smaller, lighter Micro 4/3rds format cameras from Lumix, the more I am finding interesting things in my world because I am able to capture an image immediately and explore it rather than think, “That might make an interesting photograph…” and never see the same lighting situation again.

What are you exploring in your world??

Yours in Photography,      Bob

musician images with Lumix GX7

As you probably know I enjoy the challenge of capturing live stage music. In order to keep my skills in top form even when I’m not hired I keep photographing performances even when I’m out to dinner. Sometimes after sharing the images with the artist it leads to the musician becoming a paying client for creating marketing images or CD cover art.

I’ve found the Lumix GX7 micro 4/3rds format has lots of things going for it when working (playing!) this way. It’s got a very low profile, weighs less than 2 pounds with the 35-100mm 2.8 lens vs the over 5 pounds for my dslr with equivalent lens combo. I’m also finding that the camera is a picking up a pretty wide dynamic range which is really helpful as many small clubs are now using LED stage lighting which doesn’t have the full spectrum of color not to mention the range of light to dark.

Here are a  couple images from Sound Bites Grill in Sedona….

susannah martin jazz trio imageSusannah Martin Jazz Trio on stage in Sedona, Arizona. This image was double processed from the same
RAW file with the stage lighting the concern on one process and the outdoor image in another
and stripped in using a mask in Photoshop.

susannah martin photoVocal stylist Susannah Martin live at Sound Bites’ Show Lounge.

ralf illenberger musician photoRalf Illenberger Live at the Sound Bites Grill Show Lounge in Sedona, Arizona.

sunday photo/art quote 4/6

Our quote today comes from the world of writing. Author and poet William Thackeray uses his wordsmithing to help define what we do…

Isn’t it amazing what we can do with a camera?

quote image“The two most engaging things about photography are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.”
William Thackeray

The power of photography is immense. Making something we see everyday beautiful or interesting. Or causing someone to see something as if for the first time. How about the social causes being advanced?

Ansel Adams and Galen Rowell with preserving nature. Minor White & Henri Cartier Bresson exploring black and white visions.

Richard Avedon and Gregory Heisler pushing portrait techniques.

Photographers working for the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration (FSA) and later the Office of War Information (OWI) between 1939 and 1944 made approximately 1,600 color photographs that depict life in the United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The pictures focus on rural areas and farm labor, as well as aspects of World War II mobilization, including factories, railroads, aviation training, and women working.

You, in lighting and posing your people in a flattering manner that allows a person to see themselves as others do in the best light.

Think of the images you can create whether it be of beauty, horror, social issues or… You think. Share here how you are using your camera and image making skills for the greater good and if you are not is that something you might think about??

Yours in Photography,          Bob

new york minute

For a little test of the video capabilities this is one cool study of city life…

I had the Panasonic Lumix GX7 for a little while and was experimenting. Previous I hadn’t shot much video and definitely not on the street. I had been shooting testing some of the pre-sets in the camera and thought, “Let’s see what a video would look like shot that way. I set the camera on Illustrative Art then braced it on the railing and pushed the red button.

A New York Minute shot on the Lumix GX7
It is quite an interesting study on life in the city. In this single minute there is so much interaction. Maybe it’s because I’m a small town guy at heart but each time I watch this I see more and more things going on. There’s a couple joggers crossing against the light. A bicyclist rolls through and rings his bell. People chatting, walking, holding hands. The ambulance sounds in the background and enters the scene and all the different things that go with that.

Sound is very important in video and even in this ‘New York Minute’ it makes a huge difference and was captured by the built in stereo microphones. Enjoy… And let me know what you think. (yeah the art setting blocked up some of the shadows but I think it adds to the grittiness of the ‘film’)

Yours in Photography,      Bob

blues festival

If you follow my blog and life you’ll see that I’m a music fan. Photographing live music is something that I have been devoting myself to and adding in creating art for the musicians. When something like the Old Town Center for the Arts annual Blues Fest comes along I am in hog heaven. It gives me a chance to photograph and practice new techniques.

tommy dules blues guitar musician photoTommy Dukes, Arizona Blues Hall of Fame member. Artistic Photoshop work from blues fest performance. Original capture with Lumix GX7 35-100.. 2.8 lens. Impressive Art filter. Layers and textures add to final art mix.

Did I say it gives me a chance to practice? I believe practicing is as important to photographers as it is to musicians, athletes or anyone else who needs to have the skill of working under pressure. Changing settings, working in new lighting (and often challenging) conditions is something you need to be able to work with almost without thinking so you can capture the essence of a performer. In this case I was playing with some of the presets in the camera and finding some cool looks. In order for you to access the camera pre-sets after downloading you need to capture the images as jpegs. For safety sake and to have all the info presented to the camera you can save as RAW plus jpeg.

blues guitarist Tommy Dukes photoTommy was quite animated and his shirt added to the life of the performance. Capture with Impressive Art filter then layers of texture added to foreground and background.

Then I self assign creation of CD covers, music and musician art and share the ideas with the artists and their marketing people. This has led to being hired to do the work I enjoy. Hmm. Practice. Self assignments. Sharing. Marketing. People often ask me how I get the images I do and the work I want to do. Re-read the last paragraph again and you’ve got he answer. When are you starting your next personal project?

tommy dukes imagePretty much straight out of the GX7 camera using the monochrome art setting. Pretty clean black and white!

tommy dukes blues guitar photoStraight out of camera with the Impressive Art setting on the Lumix GX7

Yours in Photography,       Bob

salutes to the community

Being in business means more than just making money in the community. I feel a great part about being part of a community is being able to give back and support those who are doing good things or providing service ‘over and above’.

One way to bring that to other folks attention is by blogging and telling the world about good things you see. The Internet is full of people who share their bad experiences and spread negativity in their wake… I feel if we reward the positive more often that it will breed more positive behavior. One of the ways I share that is with my images and blog. When I run across something good happening I try to share it with as many people as possible. Here’s an example of a salute to a great employee at our Sedona Community Center.

Following the the post I make a copy and put it in a frame and give it to the business for display. It gets the person who is featured more exposure and lets them know they are appreciated.

helen blog post photoHere is the 8×10 piece for display that also keep Bob Coates Photography name in front of people.

How does this help my business? In looking for stories I tend to have my camera with me all the time so I don’t miss anything. Having the camera all the time generates conversations about photography. Exposure for my business through people seeing the salutes, getting people to feel good about themselves and each other, more human interest material for my blog which helps with SEO. AND, people want to work with positive people… Start sharing the good things and see how it helps you.

Yours in Photography,         Bob