Thursday, February 16, 2017

Another Fuji fan.

 She said "Fuji X cameras have a soul." I get that. I could never figure out why they thrilled me like no other camera but that just sounds right.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Using Online Booking for Photographers

Genbook asked me to write about why I use their online booking service for my studio. 

By Robin Spencer, owner of Spencer Studio

After being a professional photographer for 36 years, I still love it when I discover a new “studio hack”, something that just makes my life easier. So, I started using Genbook’s online scheduling software, and now I get excited when I hear the ‘Bee Boop’ followed by a ‘Ding!’ on my smartphone, because it tells me that I have just booked another appointment online. All with no effort on my part.

While I keep regular business hours, Genbook doesn’t. People often book online appointments after midnight, Sundays, or over the holidays. Times when I simply wouldn’t answer the business phone. It’s comforting to see appointments booked for the week and knowing all the contact information is there and it’s all accurate.

Like many people attracted to photography, I am dyslexic. I often jumble or transpose numbers and letters especially when I’m tired. So for me to have to ask someone to repeat their phone number, spell their name slowly or give me their email address again is common and embarrassing. But with Genbook, since the client fills in all the information themselves, I know it’s correct.

After an appointment is booked, it sends out a confirmation email, then a reminder the day before. It’s helpful, because my driving directions and my “What to wear for your portrait” tip sheet is attached. I could do all this manually, but this way I know I won’t forget.

When they book their appointment, I also collect their mailing address, so I can follow up with a thank you note or a Christmas card. Handwritten thank you notes, who does that anymore, right? They are appreciated, they get noticed, and they set you apart from your competition.

Even after 36 years, I still find it awkward to ask for payment. “I’m an artist after all, not a businessman,” I keep telling myself. So the fact that they enter their credit card when they book their appointment avoids that whole awkward conversation for me. After the photo session we shake hands, they leave and I walk over to the computer and click “Charge Card”. Too easy.

The collection of the credit card number also avoids no-shows, which can be a bit of a problem in the photography business.

Let’s face it: there are a million “professional photographers” out there. Some are great, many are not. So how should you find a good one? A referral from a friend or relative, of course. But online reviews are the next best thing, and I choose restaurants, hotels and many products after reading online reviews. Genbook’s Verified Reviews is a blessing for me. With over one hundred five-star reviews (and another ten on Google), I know it gives me tremendous credibility over my competition.

Now, with the advantage of social media whenever I get a five-star review I tweet it, adding a link to all my Verified Reviews. If I want to include my favorite photo from their shoot I always ask permission. Adding a photo to the tweet gives me a chance to show off my work.

I think of Genbook as the perfect employee who works cheap, works 24/7, never makes mistakes, never shows up late or calls in sick. Now if only I could just get Genbook to make me coffee…

Robin Spencer is a Master Photographer in Ottawa Canada, and has been using Genbook since 2010. He has been in business since 1980 and has won 9 national awards and 11 international awards, and has been awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary International for his community and humanitarian efforts. Check out his website, his Genbook Scheduling Page, and his 16 Photo Studio Survival Tips!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Light L16 Camera. The Future of Photography?

The future of photography? Maybe it's not a better camera... but a better cellphone. Are the days of traditional cameras numbered? It occurred to me today the might be.

 #lovemyjob #ottawaphotographer

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Do They Have A Betty Ford Clinic For Photographers?

When will the cravings end? You buy a new camera and a newer updated model comes out 18 months later, then an even newer one 18 months after that. Is it just me or do you also feel a craving to buy every newest version as soon as it comes out? The previous versions work great and you can't really justify the newer one, but the craving almost compulsion is still there.

Remember the good old days when you bought a expensive medium format like a Mamiya or Hasselblad and you were good for about 20 years. But then not much really ever changed.

I see the newest Fuji X100F is out today, lots of new bells and whistles. Sooo tempting, for not reason other than it's newer. But can't justify it, sorry Fuji.

Testing My New Ringlight

Fooling around with my new ringlight. It's supposed to make everyone look like a model...well almost everyone :-)

It's a lot brighter than I would have expected making it hard to look at and that's a concern for the comfort of my clients. Plus the fact it needs to be on, warming up for a couple of minutes before you should use it. The colour temperature is said to be daylight, but not really. So it still requires a custom white balance on the camera.

The other thing I noticed was the rapid fall off of light, your subject has to be almost right against the background or the background goes real dark. I am experimenting with a white background, that way it goes gray and I prefer that.I need to find a couple of people to test this on. But I am optimistic that with a little experimentation it will be great.

Maybe some nice B&W images. If I get some good ones I'll post them.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I Love This Square Gizmo

I love this little gizmo. No paperwork on my part. It automatically sends the receipt to your client, after you swipe their card, it collects the sales tax then sends all the info to Quickbooks. So I do nothing and the money gets in to my account much faster too. 

I've been testing it for over a month now and is great for collecting payments on location shoots. The percentage is higher (about 0.5%) but I no longer pay the $30/month I was to the bank for the use of their credit card reader.

A real win. They offer you a deal if you sign up through a referral, I didn't get it because I signed up direct through the website listed on their TV commercial.

Here is the secret website. When you activate a Square account through this link, you can process up to $1,000 in credit card sales for free during their first 180 days.

Photographers/business people This is a great little device that lets you accept credit cards anywhere. We use it at the park or when doing location/home portraits. Free reader, no monthly fee