Monetizing personal work – part two

Monetizing personal work – part two

This is my seventh year working with an entertainment restaurant. The original relationship was due to a personal project I created and shared with them. A quick recap for those pressed for time will find I photographed a restaurant to learn and practice new photography techniques. I gave the restaurant a framed print. For the full story check out part one on photofocus

The story continued and involves another personal project involving a musician, which was also shared with the owners. When the owners saw my artwork they decided to feature the bands and other entertainers in more of an artistic style. While making the artistic images I also supply the restaurant with additional photos for publicity, posters, marketing and social media.

The trade deal

It would be very difficult for a restaurant to pay cash for this service as the amounts can add up very quickly, especially in the beginning, when many new performers were being documented. I’m a big fan of win-win situations so we worked out a trade agreement.

Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame has grown to 130 or so images. I create an artistic rendition of the musicians from their live performance. It would be very difficult to track down people after the fact for autographs. I have them provide their signature and ‘message to the house’ with a black sharpie pen on white paper. I invert the printing from black on white to white on black. Change the Blend mode in Adobe Photoshop to Screen and text will appear white. Viola, I have their ‘autograph’ for the art.

Bobcat Jack: Blues-man with signature and logo art

As part of the deal, art images are printed and framed to 8×10 and hung in the Hall. Additional images are uploaded for the publicity, poster and marketing purposes.

One corner of the SBG Hall of Fame

Additional benefit

In addition to the trade, each of the images is branded with the Bob Coates Photography logo. A metal print in a niche promotes my story and the Hall of Fame information (look in the back of the Hall photo above). I make this deal out to be not only a win-win opportunity but a win-win-win all the way around!

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob

Monetizing personal work

Monetizing personal work

Monetizing personal projects is important to me. I’ve found it to be a profitable way to build my business. You can too!

First connection

I made a twilight photo of my favorite local restaurant while experimenting with showing the lighted interior at sunset. I learned the easiest way to make an interesting architectural photo of real estate was to set the camera on a tripod. Then capture images over a time period of 20-45 minutes and blend them together in post.

After this image was made I entered it in the Arizona Professional Photographers Association annual image competition. After receiving feedback from the judges I realized there was more to learn with this technique. While the image did not merit it earned an above-average red ribbon. If that was all I got from assigning and completing this personal project it would have been a winner. But I didn’t stop there.

© bob coates photography marketplace photo

Original personal project image from 2009 that eventually led to lots of work

I framed the print, adding the award winning ribbon and my business card and offered it as a gift to the restaurant. Even though the image had room for improvement the owners loved it. On display in the restaurant in a high traffic area was solid exposure in and of itself. Even more, it helped cement my relationship with them.

New project

Fast-forward about a year and the owners sold this restaurant. I was hired, because of working with the owners in the past, to help promote the renovations of a new space and create interest and excitement for the opening.

We came up with the concept of combining the photos with text. The voice of the owner was used, explaining the thought process of the demolition and decor choices. These were in the form of a set of ‘Polaroid’ photos released over time before the opening party. One example is below you can see more in the extended story on Photofocus.

Additional revenue

I added additional revenue to the project by offering to design customized music inspired metal prints to decorate the niches in the main dining room.

© bob coates photography niche art photo

Music niche art images, created specifically for this restaurant

Then it was time to create all the marketing images, which included food, interiors and exteriors with the surrounding red rock views.

To be continued

There were many other images made as you can imagine. It started with making an image on spec and sharing it with a potential client. This story continues in part two where there is cross-pollination with a previous personal project involving the musician. More details on my Photofocus blog post.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

PS – See part two of this post here

lumix pro services

lumix pro services

Lumix Professional Services

Panasonic is working toward serving the professional photography market in an exceptional way. As you probably know they have come out with two full frame mirrorless cameras (shipping in April) adding to their micro 4/3rds line. If you pre-order a full frame camera from Hunt’s Photo Video before April 4th you’ll get an extra battery and battery grip at no extra charge. (tell ’em I sent you if you would be so kind)

Just received my Lumix Pro Services welcome packet. It includes all the deals, contact information and membership card. They started this program last year and I used it for the first time myself just this week.

Service was as advertised. I received a Fed-Ex label for overnight shipping. Contact immediately when they received the camera and verified the problem. (the rubber from the SD card door was coming up) They again contacted me right away to let me know it was a warranty repair. The door was replaced and the camera was returned via Fed-Ex overnight.


lumix pro-servicesLumix Pro Services Welcome Packet * Note does not come with GH5 camera!

Here’s most of the skinny on what’s included:

• 2 day turn-around on repairs

• Free next day shipping both ways

• Twenty percent discount on Out-of-Warranty Repairs

• Online order tracking

• Loaner gear

• Free clean and check for two bodies and lenses per year

• As a bonus in the welcome packet, here’s my favorite, a Lumix pro camera strap. One of the reasons the camera strap is my favorite is because Panasonic has partnered with Peak Design. Peak Design makes straps that have a quick release that is extremely handy. I’ll do another post on my Peak Design straps as I could be considered a fan-boy for their product. The post will show you why

There’s more but I’ll let you go dig that out from the Lumix Pro Services site.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

PS – Remember to pre-order to get the extra battery and battery grip from Hunt’s Photo Video before April fourth

coffee shoot java presse

coffee shoot java presse

Java Presse – Coffee Shoot

The Genesis of a Commercial Shoot

Not quite ‘nectar of the gods’ but I’ve found some serious joy in my morning coffee. It was a gradual process to see the pleasure I now have in the morning ritual and enjoyment of grinding beans, brewing and enjoying coffee.

java presse coffe imageJava Presse Coffee image square format final crop

It started with some friends showing the benefits of grinding beans for French Press coffee. Good stuff.

I found myself getting frustrated with the ‘static cling’ that was generated by using an electric grinder that had a plastic bin for catching the grounds and left little trails of tiny grounds scattered along the counter. This led to looking for a mill that had a stainless steel basket. Research showed that prices were more than I wanted to pay. Which turned out to be a good thing! Because that led me to the stainless steel coffee grinder from Java Presse.

The grinder led me to lots more information about the whole process of roasting coffee, the freshness of the beans and proper preparation for the French Press that I use. Thanks to Java Presse the entire experience has turned my morning coffee into an enjoyable ritual. And who knew that freshly roasted beans, ground fresh just before brewing could make such a difference.

I’m a coffee convert.

Photography Process

And, now on the photography section of the making of a commercial image of the product. You can see the final photo at the top of the post above. Below is how the photo was built.

Good, solid commercial images should look effortless and clean. It takes a bit more to achieve the look. I make this happen by creating several images with different lighting patterns which are later combined in Adobe Photoshop. This comes in handy for items that have different levels of reflectance such as the stainless steel of the grinder and coffee storage container as well as making sure logos are readable.

java presse working photoNote the harsh light patterns in the metal especially the one crossing through the logo on the grinder

java presse working photoUsing a reflector I reshot the scene to give more pleasing light on the stainless steel, but now the reflections that give the image life are gone

java presse working photos blendedSee the difference between the two blended images. Logos are a much easier read, and there are highlights right where they are needed without distraction

java presse layers palettePhotoshop Layers Palette is showing some of the work with Masks used to help create the final image.

I also used Skylum software (formerly MacPhun) software called Focus CK. CK stands for Creative Kit. It is a very handy sharpening and blurring tool for directing attention where you want. I often use the ‘Macro’ setting on its layer and mask in what I need.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

PS – Here’s the gear I used in this shoot.

2 Fiilex LED lights with softboxes
Lumix G9
White foam core panel
Posing table
Tripod Necessary for keeping images in registration for compositing the lighting
Ball head for tripod – Siri Model K-20X



hall of fame photo sound bites grill

hall of fame photo sound bites grill

The Making of
Sound Bites Grill Hall of Fame Image

I’ve often been asked how I create the art images for the Sound Bites Grill Hall of Fame. Thought I might share the process here from start to finish.

sound bites grill hall of fame imageFinished Hall of Fame image with Gaelle Buswell and her band members

First, I make photos from the show during the live performance. This is a bit easier said than done as performers are moving in and out of the light, have strange expressions when they reach for THAT note, etc. I need to watch and learn as each performer works and then make sure I’ve gotten enough source material on all the band members.

Then it’s time to download all the images and begin the culling process. Lots of images get thrown away on the first pass. Then I’ll go back through to look for the selects. Those are the photos that have the body position, expression and look I am going for in the final art piece.

The individuals are extracted from their photo and placed upon their own layer so effects such as drop shadows and lighting can be applied individually. Then it’s time to start working on combining all the elements of people, texture, drop shadows, color adjustments and more.

animated gif of building art pieceAnimated Gif of the various Layers

 Above is a Gif showing most of the Layers made in Photoshop to give you an idea of how the pieces work together during the build. Below is a screen capture of the Layers Palette in Photoshop.

layers palette for imageLayers Palette of the Gaelle Hall of Fame image

I’m thrilled with the dynamic range of the Lumix Micro 4/3rds camera gear. The camera is Lumix G9 Panasonic’s stills flagship model with the LUMIX G X VARIO LENS, 35-100MM, F2.8 ASPH 

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob