With the opening of CHP studios earlier this year, I made a conscious decision to market the CHP brand. I do not have a commercial background, and I've not exactly been accustomed to my name being so public, but I have been around business long enough to realize that brand recognition is extremely important. So with the help of a local graphic designer, and the ideas of my marketing major husband, we set off to make known the Christina Holcomb Photography brand.
Business Cards - check. Window Clings - check. Website Design - check. Studio Sign - check. Sponsorships - check. Work Shirts (as of today!) - check.
Ultimately, I firmly believe that high quality services and product, that which I define as the customer LOVING their image, is the difference between an average business and a great one, and not whether or not there is a snazzy marketing plan in place. However, I can tell you that a foot in the door is critical. And in just a short time, I have been floored (and extremely humbled) by the number of potential clients that have recognized me by my little teal box and CHP logo. My brand has done everything that I have asked of it. Now it's up to me to take that recognition and create a highly professional reputation for my photography.
Qualifier: I am not nearly experienced in the world of sports photography to be offering "expert" advice. However, I have spent a great deal of time around athletic competitions over the past few years to learn what works for me. Below are some tips for taking cross country / track & field photos that I recently offered to a friend. Since these are primarily focused on fast movement, daylight activities, they don't necessarily apply to all sports. However, many could be considered for other competitions as well. I hope they are helpful.
1. Use a Zoom Lens! It will provide the most flexibility. You can zoom in close for a more personal shot or zoom out for a wider angle, ALL from the same spot. With a daytime outdoor event like track and field, you will have alot of give and take from the aperture range on your zoom lens. (The same cannot be said for some indoor or evening events.) If you are wanting to get especially close (from a distance) then consider a 1.4 or 2X teleconverter. I LOVE my 70-200mm 2.8 zoom. It is my go-to for sports.
2. What are my Settings? In most cases I shoot in manual mode because it gives me the most control. For sports, I start with setting my Shutter Speed. Then adjust my aperture and iso. A fast shutter is better, unless you are looking for an intentional blur. Start with 640/sec or more. The sunnier the day and the speedier the action, the faster you need to go on shutter speed. I like isolating runners with a shallow depth of field, so I bump up the shutter speed even more to try and get the aperture open to at least f5.6. (Note: the compression on a zoom will also help to isolate the runner).
3. Use Continuous Focus ... but don't forget to move it back to single focus later or you will be upset with the results. Been there, done that :(
4. Focus Point - Choose your focus point. Know how to find this button and get comfortable using it while looking through the camera. Leave enough room to ensure you don't cut off the feet. If going verticle, move the focus point to the top. When the subject approaches they will fill the frame. Keep the focus point on the face or jersey. For unpredictablemovement, the eyes are just too difficult to pinpoint, and if you miss, then the background will be what is in focus.
5. Scout out the route, field, gym, stadium, etc. Pick the right vantage point for the image you want, and consider the light.
6. In addition to #5, think about the background in the picture; pick the trees over the parking lot. Sometimes you just get what you get. Try to capture runners behind or spectaors ahead to better tell the story.
7. Try panning to capture a focused runner and blurred background - you might create a really unique image.
8. Practice on other runners before your athlete / team arrives at the spot. Sports photographs in general are very fast paced and there are no re-takes. Doesn't hurt practicing during a team's practice or warmups.
9. Beware of changing light during the event; clouds, time of day, stadium lights, etc.
10. Have fun! Sports photography is full of energy and emotion, celebration and defeat. Capturing those moments should be fun and rewarding. Not every image you take is going to be a winner. Be patient, allow yourself some mistakes and keep trying.
It is great to be back on my blog! The activity of life and a new studio have pulled my attention from updating this site. Being busy is good, but I have missed sharing much about the past few months!
In celebration of opening a new studio in Clemmons, NC, I recently I issued a facebook challenge requesting suggestions for a fresh website tag line. I received many really good ones, mostly building on the idea of "capturing" or "developing" something special or memorable for the client. I also received some pretty funny ones that, unfortunately, wouldn't work for the official CHP brand; i.e., 'Shoot the Kids, Hang the Family and Frame the Wife', or perhaps 'Oh SNAP!'
Looking for originality, plus something that truly captured (there we go again) my philosophy with the business, I narrowed it down to a handful that were difficult to separate. However, after reading these over and over, I kept coming back to 'My Camera .... Your Story', submitted by Krista and Korey (your Panera gift card prize is on the way).
I especially like this saying because I believe the most compelling images are ones that share a story. My camera is the creative tool I use to capture this story. As a photographer, I aim to find YOUR story and record it through my lens. "My Camera...Your Story"
Thanks for all of your entries and words of encouragement!
I would love to photograph your story!
Yes, I have "officially" been in business for two years now. I have been learning a great deal, meeting wonderful clients and having an absolute blast with sporting events, senior portrait sessions and various photography organizations.
However, until now, I have been in a state of limbo with my actual studio. Inviting families over to the garage has made it seem a bit less professional than I would have liked, not to mention the additional effort required to set-up and tear down on a regular basis, all the while manuevering around the lawn mower and bicycles! We have made it work and those clients have been super patient and kind. THANK YOU!
All this to say, I have made the decision, and the leap of faith, to lease some space. So, let me introduce you to the new Christina Holcomb Photography Studio. Located in the Broyhill Suites (C-101) in Clemmons, NC. It is exactly what I have been looking for and meets all my current needs. I have loved getting to know the various tennants in the buillding and the staff at Broyhill is incredibly small business friendly.
Attached are a few photos from our first month remodeling, move-in and set-up. We will continue to look for ways to make it both comfortable and practical for the client, as well as efficient and technologically advanced for the business.
I hope to announce a grand opening soon, and would love to personally show you around.
Remodeling the space : Demolition, lighting, paint .....
Can shoot against drops on both walls, and against the third open wall
Broyhill is very gracious about common space and allowing tenants to "own" areas outside specific suites
Will begin client viewings at studio shortly
Located off of Clemmons Road (next to Clemmons Elementary), the Broyhill building provides CHP with conference rooms, changing areas, restrooms and waiting areas, as well as a suite that is across from the main reception hall (a busy place for weddings and receptions).
The following is an article published in Focus on Carolina, the Professional Photographer's of North Carolina's magazine. You may read my article, "Confessions of a Photographer", below or check out the publication by following this link. FOCUS ON CAROLINA
CONFESSIONS OF A PHOTOGRAPHER by Christina Holcomb
I must confess I was not sure what to expect two years ago when I attended my first PPNC seminar. I had just made the jump from photographing as a hobby to photographing for hire. I had a website, business cards, and a small portfolio, but I defiantly didn’t consider myself a “professional” photographer. Worse than that, other than a friend in California, I didn’t even know any professional photographers. The lonely realization that I had no local community to collaborate with, learn from, bounce ideas off of or even recommend others to, is what prompted me to attend my first PPNC seminar. I am so glad I did!
Continuing with this theme, I would like to ‘fess up to a few unguarded thoughts that have popped into my head these past two years during PPNC events. Following each confession is also a truth regarding PPNC. Ultimately, all of these truths support the reason why joining PPNC is worthwhile and the reasons why I consider it the single best business decision I have ever made.
CONFESSION: “That’s a lot of BLING!”
This was honestly my first thought when I met Mr. William Branson. He was a living prism, reflecting light with all kinds of pins and metals. I tried not to gawk too much and I’m sure my small talk inquiry with Mr. Branson about his many awards seemed so awkward. After all, he is only one of the most recognized photographers in the world. Somehow, I went from knowing only one photographer to discussing “bling” with a highly decorated photo champion and Fellow of the American Society of Photography. Yes, at my first PPNC seminar William Branson III taught me what a merit award is!
THE TRUTH IS: PPNC is full of talented and notable artists who are masters in photography. They have spent years dedicating their life to studying this art. Their knowledge is deep and wide. PPNC’s expertise is something to brag about! It is reflected in its leaders’ achievements. PPNC members earn a lot of "BLING"!
CONFESSION: What am I doing here? Am I really a professional photographer?” Admittedly, after my first PPNC seminar, I was a bit overwhelmed. At first I couldn’t take enough notes and then finally I couldn’t possibly record anything more in my notebook or my brain. It was overload! All I could do was wonder, “Was I meant to do this…whatever this was?”
THE TRUTH IS: If you want to be an EXCELLENT professional photographer, PPNC can help you! Being part of PPNC provides opportunities to learn from and be mentored by the country’s top photographers. Each quarter PPNC puts together a themed seminar with a top-notch group of speakers. Thus far, I have learned how to photograph everything from NASCAR to models. The annual convention provides an even more comprehensive learning arena, including: a print competition, individual print critiques, vendor presentations and plenty of opportunities to connect with fellow photographers. By far, the most impactful learning experience has to be PPNC’s East Coast School. This is an intense week of focused study in an area of your choice. I am still applying things learned from my experience this past summer. Jamie Hayes and Mary Taylor Fisk’s class was the perfect fit for pushing me forward as a professional photographer. It was here that I discovered what I was meant to do! I am grateful to have been able to attend this course, learn much and develop true friendships with other photographers. I am already signed up for next year!
CONFESSION: “I want to do that!”
Last year, I heard Adrian Henson speak on print competitions. I had no idea of the intensity and seriousness of this event. His presentation compelled me to volunteer for PPNC’s print committee and sign up for my first-ever print critique. Being involved with the print committee was great training and fun work. I loved handling all of the prints and hearing the judges’ banter. But, I was scared to death to go to my own critique. Even so, the critique was extremely helpful and encouraging. Thanks to this opportunity, I plan on enter at least one of those images in next year’s competition.
THE TRUTH IS: Mastering photography takes time. Learn it! Do it! Share it! PPNC is a friendly, sharing community. This is what I most appreciate about this organization. If there is something you want to learn, there is someone willing to teach you! Check out PPNC’s Pro Share classes, library collection, attend East Coast School or simply reach out to others and ask questions. Allow yourself to make mistakes… plenty of them. Then share what you have learned with others!
Finally, no confession would be complete without a humble heart. And with that spirit, I recognize that no matter how much more I learn, I will always remain a student of photography. Thanks PPNC for giving me a place to learn, grow, and share.