Escalate LIVE is meant to be a highly interactive conversation to challenge you, inspire you, and offer the ability to change things for you and your photograpy business. It brings various people from within the photographic industry together both in-person and online to engage in ideas and dialog. Last year there were two Escalate LIVE conferences that shared these philosophies, tools, and best practices. Escalate LIVE is co-produced by Dane Sanders and Kevin Kubota.
Be Boutique – October 4-5 2010 is the recording of the fall conference that took place in Washington, IL in the studios of Jed and Vicki Taufer. The host of the conference is Dane Sanders and there are six guest speakers including boutique portrait photographer Vicki Taufer, Adobe Evangelist Julieanne Kost, portrait photographer Lori Nordstrom, child photographer Tamera Lackey, and photojournalistic portraiture specialist Julia Woods.
The layout of the conference is first the speaker comes out, presents their talk, and then the speaker is interviewed by Dane Sanders. In all but one case, there is a photo shoot that takes place afterwards. In the timeline of this video series, after the speakers present, there is a panel discussion and then two walking tours to a couple studios. The video comes on three DVDs and is over 12 hours in length.
Session 1, “Introduction – Dane Sanders,” kicks off the conference by first talking about the various changes in the industry and telling some stories which are meant to try to come to terms with the idea of if pro photography still makes sense. He presents arguments of what professional photography is and what it brings to the market even amongst all the changes that is going on within the industry. The goal of the conference is to take an industrial strength commitment to bring excellence in photography. He finishes by doing a brief introduction of each of the speakers.
Session 2, “Building a Foundation with Limited Editions – Vicki Taufer,” shows that you have to first define your business – what it is you are trying to do and who your customers are. Then she takes you through the process of building limited edition packages that consist of short, prepaid sessions that have a limited number of images and provide a small package at an affordable price. These editions are offered several times per year but are limited to the number who can participate with them. Because they take place on a single day they generate good cash flow, and, if done correctly, can be very profitable. At the end is a 25 minute photo shoot put on by the speaker where she works with a young child as well as a family of four. There is a 40 page PDF of her presentation included as well.
Session 3, “Portrait Workflow – Julieanne Kost,” takes a look at building a workflow through the use of Adobe Lightroom – and to a lesser degree, Photoshop. She walks through working with catalogs, working with short cuts, and many other things that make your workflow much more efficient. She provides a lot of information in this session on how to really work with Lightroom She also provides you with outside resources such as cheat sheets and video training resources.
Session 4, “Photographing Newborns – Lori Nordstrom,” begins by asking the question “Why you?” With a photographer on every corner what makes you unique? In this session she discusses what works and what doesn’t work when building a photography business. She talks about marketing, building connections, networking, and planning and preparation. Even though the title of this alludes to newborns, the real focus is on the child during the first year. After the interview portion, there is a 20 minute live session where she works with both a newborn and a four month-old baby. There is also a 26 page PDF that documents her presentation.
Session 5, “The Study of Spontaneous Captures – Tamera Lackey,” talks about the ability to capture the moment when it all comes together naturally. These may be before a session starts, it may be where you start something in motion and let it unfold, or it may just being ready when the spontaneous happens. She talks about knowing your equipment and how to work with aperture, shutter speed, and ISO so when you are shooting you no longer have to think about what you are doing. The last 24 minutes is a live shoot with 2 sisters. There is also a 74 page PDF that documents her presentation.
Session 6, “Shooting to Sell – Julia Woods,” explains how to set up your business to take on higher dollar sales through the use of selling investments in photography. In this session she explains how to work like a farmer in tilling the ground, nurturing the soil, and bringing the harvest bearing of the significant sale. She shares many different techniques that allow you to not waste time on lost sales. She also does an in studio senior shoot live. There is a 54 page hand out from the session.
Session 7, “The Be Boutique Speaker Panel,” now has a conversation with the entire group of speakers. This actually takes place earlier in the two day seminar. Topics include, how to make studios work in small towns, defining styles, scheduling time, creating products, as well as many other topics.
Session 8, “Studio Tours,” takes you on two tours of local studios. The first is at PortraitLife Studio – owned by Jeff & Julia Woods. You are taken on a tour as Jeff Woods explains the evolution from mobile home to owning their own studio as well as a walking tour of the facilities. The second tour is of V Gallery which is owned by Vicki and Jed Taufer. This is a bowling alley turned into a gallery. Jed Taufer explains the systems that they have in place to ensure a pleasant experience to ensure satisfied customers.
Be Boutique – October 4-5 2010 is incredibly well done and very informative. The five speakers provide very different, yet very valuable information on the subjects with which they present. Each is very unique in their delivery, yet they all present lively, entertaining subjects that keep you wanting more. The balance between presentation, interviews, and live shoots make this a worth wile package – a lot of information is presented in a reasonable amount of time.
The quality of the filming is high definition and comes through very crisp and clear as does the sound production. There are a couple points in the walking tours that the sound varies a bit, but the presentations are sensational. The video comes in both the form of a download as well as on three DVD’s. Both are meant to be played on a computer system and will not play in a television based DVD player. You can purchase this from Escalate LIVE for $99. If you saw this when it was presented live, or if you missed it completely, I highly recommend this video.