Who needs a Photographer or Videographer

They don’t need you – They need to want you.

Here’s the deal, no one really ‘needs’ photography or videography. This might explain the huge variance of acceptable prices. Mix that with the massive skill range and you have a bit of a mess.

Marketing videos, commercials, internal video products are things customers want. Wanting these products, not needing them hurts the overall budget. You have your prices and maybe a little wiggle room, but honestly there is always someone out there willing to do a project for pennies (and perhaps they are worth that, but the client doesn’t know). How do we freelancers handle this problem?

Most likely, they already want you, now they must feel like they NEED you!

The best way to accomplish this? ALWAYS produce quality work, stuff you are proud of. The word might spread, might not, but no negative words will. It’s on you to help influence the word getting around.

Perhaps after the client goes a different (cheaper/less experienced) option you politely thank them and a month later, ask how it went and maybe include a link to a product you recently completed suggesting, “Maybe we could work together in the future on something like this…”

Remember the kid coming right out of college is hungry. With all the latest tech wiz and do-dads, and worse for you, they are willing to work for very little to get their real world experience up.

Learn something new today! Polish your products!

Remind customers that they NEED you specifically.

It’s the economy stupid

I can’t stand those who prey off the public using fear tactics! Also can’t stand the flip side of that same coin, “best economy EVER.”

My quest with this post: ECONOMY.

Things aren’t as great as the left say and not nearly as bad as the right say. Here are the best numbers I can find and broken down as easily as my intelligence allows!

The overly happy lovey dovey left wingers: “Unemployment rate: 4.9%” (this is the “U3” and some consider a flawed number because it does not include different employment situations). The economic theory “Phillips Curve” says that 5% unemployed is a perfect balance (if inflation stays at 2%) (if EVERYONE is employed there is no way to create new positions). So, yay U.S.A.  BUT! There are six different measurements of unemployment U-1 through U-6.

Another wakeup call: Ready for some really geeky numbers: Another calculation for consideration is the “U6”. Which is U5 (discouraged works and all other marginally attached workers) + Part-time workers who want to work full-time, but cannot due to economic reasons (i.e. underemployment). The U6 number is 9.6%. This number peaked (like most horrible numbers) after the 2008 disaster at 18% and has steadily decreased year-by-year since then. – Then if we take the U6-U3, we get a measurement to see ‘how easy it is to find a job if you want one’ (lower is better). U6-U3=4.8%… looks low, BUT this is too high in my humble opinion, by about 1%. Booo.

Too see all U-1 through U-6 numbers from 2006 to 2016:http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/03/ They are VERY closely correlated. My conclusion for unemployment is, yeah, go ahead and use the typical ‘U3’ number.

Also, a recent article explains the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits is near the 43-year low of 248k. Economist say 300k is a healthy threshold for a labor market. YAY!

62% = Labor force participation rate, which is people employed or unemployed looking for better jobs. This is the lowest it’s been in 38 years. (in those 38 years it ranged from 67% to a high of 62%, in other words a 5% swing). This means 37% of the people in the work force, or 94-million people NOT looking for a job annnnd, not looking anymore. http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/labor-force-pticiparation-rate

GDP for the U.S. is 17.9 Trillion (hey! Almost matches our national debt!… almost) This number has followed an EXTREMLY predictable pattern starting in 1960. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD?locations=US

Bottom line here: no political party, no event (other than 2008 global collapse), no tax system, has shaken this number. Even the 2008 collapse, next year, boom, it was right back on track. This number is following a 55-year trend. (Also a fun number to look at=GDP per capita… follows the same upward trend, which is a good thing). Yay! Side note, the WORLD, yes WORLD GDP is about 73 trillion (2015) so Merica = whoopin butt! In fact, the U.S. is by far the #1 leader in GDP at 17.9! all of the EU comes close to us (yes ALL of the EU) but China is #2 at 10.9. And Japan is #3 with only 4! So, YAAAAY US! (back to the GDP per capita, we are listed around 10th… DOH! China #84th and Japan #27 for what it’s worth)

Welfare; if you dig into the statistics… it doesn’t take long to see this system is extremely broken. To me personally this number is even more deceiving than the different ways we record unemployment. Percent of the US Population on welfare is around 35%! (you can make $1,000 a month and still be on welfare, so they might be working, just at very low paying jobs or part-time). 100 million recipients on Welfare?! This is an easy doom and gloom thing to yell.

According to http://www.statisticbrain.com 39 states pay more than $8/hr in welfare. And the saddest stat… 8 states pay more than the average salary of a U.S. Teacher.

Of the 100million recipients, of different kinds… the estimate is this; $1 trillion a year in welfare (fed/state/local). Of that, nearly two-thirds goes to Medicare (which provides health coverage to around 55 million people who are over age 65 or have disabilities). That’s A LOT.

My opinion rant: Welfare needs to be reformed with the goal of lifting those (who are able) out of poverty. Medicare cost needs to be addressed. Religious or not, I believe we will be judged on how we take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.

The dollar is very strong (which could be good or bad.) Good for world travelers! And cuts the price of imports, but the flip side is true. Strong dollar means our exports take a hit. So, yay, and boo.

Any week now, our national debt will hit 20 trillion. Good news… we can print more money! We literally could print 20 trillion dollars and pay everything off. The 2% inflation would change… probably to 5,000% but hey, debt solved. Sure a loaf of bread will be $300. Anyone want to buy Iraqi Dinaris or Zimbabwean dollars? So, if the current value of the dollar is strong then we must be printing less money.

Historic spikes in the national debt are during war times. Civil War, WWI, WWII and our current war on terror. *Tie it into politics and it’s easy to say “Obama added 10trillion dollars!” (because, … it’s true) and “Bush added 5trillion” truth is they both doubled it while in office. Right-wingers love Reganomics and Left-wingers love the Clinton years. Regardless of which side of the isle, Regan stabilized the deficit (and got screwed due to the central bank jacking up interest rates to nearly 20%) and Clinton eliminated it (having a surplus in the budget (and to be fair, had a republican house/senate during this time)). I cannot stand the current political view of EITHER/OR for reducing spending or raising taxes. It needs to be a reformed by closing insanely large loop holes and include both tax and spending changes.

So, things aren’t as bad as fear-mongers want you to believe and we certainly have a lot of work to do before saying, ‘4.9% unemployment, problem solved!”


Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney by Lee Cockerell.

This book is for any leader out there.

On my second family trip to Orlando we skipped Disney parks, having done the experience a year earlier we aimed at other attractions. That being said, we still swung by Disney Springs (formally Downtown Disney) for an evening. Every single level of staff working, all the way down to the kind gentleman sweeping the walkways were professional, polite, and maintaining the magic that is Disney.

How. How is it possible that EVERY SINGLE employee that we encountered *including the previous year when we stayed at a Disney resort* were so pleasant. I would love to take a guess at how many staff (cast-members) we encountered, and not a skipped beat.

This book lends some insight on the culture of Disney, and it’s not impossible tricks that only work in a multi-billion dollar organization. I plan on using some of this wisdom in my family life.

A lot of leadership books talk about “getting the right people on, and the wrong people off the bus” or ‘hire slow but fire fast.’ If you work for a governmental organization this is nearly impossible, sometimes taking years. In Creating Magic, the strategies apply even to the careers where letting people go is extremely difficult.

I’m not a fan of the podcast by Lee, and am very glad I read the book first and would like to read a book about the dark side of working at Disney (I’m sure one exists) but personally, *I* didn’t experience it.

This book describes how they created the most magical place on Earth.



Sketching Light: An Illustrated Tour of the Possibilities of Flash – Book review

Upon finishing Sketching Light An Illustrated Tour of the Possibilities of Flash by Joe McNally I felt a range of reactions… rejuvenated, fascinated, curious, and excited.
This is a light book but not a lite read (rim shot). Joe McNally is very wordy but not in an off-topic sort of way, in a ‘sit around the campfire’ sort of way. Many of the books I have recently read have been very point A to point B and then includes a short blurb on theory.

Joe takes you on the photography shoot with him. You will hear why he chose this light package over the other options, where he or the situations might have gone wrong and how he adjusted. There are fantastic doodles/sketches with enough detail to satisfy the tech-minded crowds as well. “What settings are you using?” “What kind of flash is that?” Gets asked of photographers ALL THE TIME. As if those are the magic numbers which make you an artist. That’s only a small piece of the puzzle, however, it is a piece. And these sketches are fantastic.

If you have one strobe or a fleet, this book will work for you.

Even if you are looking for a quick 2-4 page how-to this book can satisfy your needs. Personally it took me a LONG time to get through Sketching Light and flipping through it again now that I’m done… I kind of want to read it all again! Seriously, regarding flash, this is a must have.

The most important emotion I fill now, is excitement. I always strive to have my next project my best. Now, I can’t wait to push my use of flash even further. Thank you for the masterpiece Joe.

Side note: I’m a Canon shooter, Joe is Nikon. This book will still apply 🙂

If you are looking for a photographer, please feel free to contact me today!

You can skip the Power of Habit

Book review for: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
If you generally have good habits and understand that habits can indeed change (be reprogrammed) you can skip this book. The first couple chapters are decent and the appendix is really good but there is a TON of fluff here, in my humble opinion. A large portion of the book is used to discuss how Target predicts who is shopping for what. Got it. So there are buying habits when a lady becomes pregnant. Nothing revolutionary here.

If you are struggling with habits it’s not going to tell you how to break them other than replace the reward. Example: drink too much? Your reward is feeling good, well… try a bell-pepper. Play too many video games, try a bell-pepper. A lot of stories about people relearning habits in situations where doctors thought impossible.

I’m certainly in the minority, given that I’ve heard a ton about this book and it’s fantastic Amazon rating.

Sorry 2 stars.

2015 SEA LIFE Arizona – I love my job.

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

That’s a fun quote to toss around for entrepreneurs and there is some truth to it. Running your own business is a lot of work. Work hard, work smart, and strive to be the best then you will be lucky enough to land some amazing clients.

In 2013 I was asked to create an adoption video for a family looking to grow. In 2014, I aimed to give back, and out of those ‘give back projects’ my favorite was the Planet Comicon Free Cosplay Photography project. Last year I was honored to work with the fantastic crew at SEA LIFE Arizona to document the rescue of a young Green Sea Turtle named Cora. Kansas City Photographer Videographer creates Video Project for SEA Life ArizonaKansas City Photographer Videographer creates Video Project for SEA Life ArizonaCora was hit by a boat and rescued by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. It was determined that this youngster was unreleasable to the wild. SEA LIFE Arizona stepped in to give her a permanent home where she will be cared for and serve as an ambassador for the endangered species.

The adventure started with a speedbump as United pulled us out of our boarding line to inform us that we cannot bring a Sea Turtle onboard for our return flight. The SEA LIFE employees had the federal documents and spent over an hour confirming and re-confirming that this was ok. Yet, here we were at hour one problem solving. I suggested, we could drive Cora back to Phoenix. I HAD THE MIX TAPES READY FOR A 27 HOUR ROUDTRIP! That being said, it was a last resort and we would search for better options.

Upon landing in Jacksonville, FL we immediately went to the Southwest booth and tried to get a week’s worth of approval in 12 hours. The next morning, we had the greenlight to fly with Southwest. While reviewing and editing the footage I will say there are at LEAST half a dozen high ranking Southwest employees shaking our hands with smiles. An amazing staff, an accommodating airline, and wherever I fly from now on, if Southwest has a route, they have my business. After we got the go ahead from Southwest, it was smooth sailing and Cora got home without a hitch!Kansas City Photographer Videographer creates Video Project for SEA Life ArizonaIf you are in the Phoenix area, you can visit Cora in person. Swing into the theater room and I believe the video I produced is playing in a longer form story of her journey, but for now you can see the highlights here:

SEA LIFE Arizona Turtle Journey 2015We are so excited about our new sea turtle here at SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium! Not only can you now watch her journey, but you can also help name her through the following link goo.gl/forms/b9dJXIBwwZ

Posted by SEA LIFE Arizona on Wednesday, 25 November 2015

If you are looking for videography services to get your company’s message out there, contact me today! Visit my company’s webpage at www.29pixelstudios.com to see more work. 2015 SEA LIFE Arizona – I love my job.

Jonny Hackett

I would like to take some time to acknowledge my favorite photographer of 2015. Jonny Hackett’s work is so much fun to admire. Jonny Hackett is the man behind No. 9 Photography and I strongly recommend visiting/liking his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/no9photography/ (his ‘official’ website can be found here http://number9.photography/).

I met Jonny when doing my ‘giving back’ project (http://29pixelstudios.com/free-cosplay-photography-from-planet-comicon-link/) at the 2014 Planet Comicon and at that time his stuff was good, really good. But following him throughout 2015, you see his work go from really good to flat out awe-inspiring. His work keeps my jaw on the ground and continues to inspire. If I could use two words which describe Jonny, they would be talented and humble.

Great work in 2015 Jonny, seeing where you came from and the path you have taken has me pumped for what you will accomplish in 2016. Thank you for inspiring me to be a better photographer!

Of all the photographs I have seen and studied, from ALL photographers… this is my Favorite Photograph of 2015:

I’ve been looking forward to doing a shoot with a fire performer for such a long time now and it was well worth the…

Posted by No. 9 Photography on Saturday, 30 May 2015

Business Practices

Every new year one of my business practices is to improve my accounting system. For reference I’m the only full time employee in my business. This spreadsheet is exactly what I’ll use in 2016 and thought I’d strip out my personal finances and share. The numbers included are just placeholder text. Get your copy to modify here: https://goo.gl/amgyIyFreelance business practices income expense recording

I will highlight the rows once the money has exchanged hands. For me, the expenses stay on top and I highlight the row (A-E columns) and change them to blue once paid. For clients and income (A-E columns) I highlight gray once they have been fully collected.

You might not need this much info; you might need more. Once your business practices become habit your year-end freelance finances will be much easier than they were last week *wink*.

Also note a busy month FOR ME might include 10-15 invoices. That being said, if you have more, maybe check out FreshBooks or intuit. For me, these business practices have worked fantastically. My accountant likes to fluff my ego and tells me I’m one of the most organized clients he has.

Again this is the business practice of my company 29 Pixel Studios.

How big of a Star Wars Fan are you?


My wife asked on a scale from 1-100… how big of a Star Wars fan I was.
This bothered me a ton. How do you measure a fan? So I created this quiz.

Score of 1 point would represent “Saw the movies, and they were ok”
A 90-100 I would probably see a psychologist. 

How big of a Star Wars fan are you?

TO TAKE THIS QUIZ… you MUST have watched all six movies and at least said, “Those were pretty good.”

Why I’m not buying a Canon 5D Mark IV.

I’ve only shot Canon cameras my professional tenure. The revolutionary 5D Mark II was a Godsend to artists that do video and photo. So when Canon announced the 5D Mark III, like all Canon fans, I screamed, “TAKE MY MONEY!”

Felt the price tag was a bit high for the new features and improvements but it was a push. The dual slots, more focus points, larger screen, faster/bigger/stronger bits and pieces were enough. I thought the video improvements were worth the upgrade, the photography improvements felt less of an impressive leap.

With the 5D Mark IV release date right around the corner, the fan boys (and girls) are starting to get as excited as a lightsaber-wielding-thirty-something watching the latest Star Wars trailer!

For this Canon shooter, I’m pumping the breaks.

Given the price hike trend that Canon started a couple years ago, it’s a safe bet the Mark IV will be close to $4,000. The rest of this will be based off that assumption.

Here is my current position. I have a 5D Mark III as my main photography camera and B-roll cinema style camera. For more video horsepower I’ll use my C100 (mark I, no auto-focus… me= early adapter, maybe another reason I’m not happy with Canon) along with a bag full of L series glass.

I’m completely satisfied with my Mark III. Trust me, it’s a better camera than 99% of us are photographers. Honestly, the Mark II is also. I don’t need better low-light, faster shots per second, more focus points, or more megapixels for Pete’s sake. Wifi and GPS would be nice but not a game changer (and something Canon should be ashamed of themselves for taking this long). I love my Mark III but would only pre-order if they did something drastic like add a medium format sensor (no way that’s going to happen). Would like to see every focus point allow for spot metering also.

A good portion of my work is video and for that, the Mark II and III are a dream to work with. So I ask, how on earth can Canon compete with other ‘DSLR-killers’ 4/3rds or other brand DSLR video beasts like Sony?

The only thing Blackmagic and Sony seem to do these days is innovate at affordable prices. So when Canon announces the 5D Mark IV will shoot 4k at $4k… I’m going to sigh.

Here’s an idea… take that $4,000 and invest it into Canon stock a week after the Mark IV releases. It will probably drop 2-3% and as of this writing you will get about 140 shares… then a year later when they release the Mark IVc buy it for $1,000 less and hopefully in that year Canon will announce something innovative and the stock goes up. Boom, just saved you $1,500. You are welcome internet.