All posts in Photography

January update – published, published and published

Time for a quick update on what’s been happening at Moore Consulting Towers recently.

It’s partly been the usual unusual mixture of writing, web work and photography – new sites are underway for a graphic design firm I’ve done a lot of work with, and a homeowners’ association where I’m doing some photography as well as the web development.

But I’ve also been lucky enough to have a couple of photographs published recently, one of which shows how good photography can get you better press coverage.

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Two and Two: Interview with Environmental Photographer Dave Walsh

Time for something a little bit different. I’ve been wanting to interview photographers for the site for a while now, and eventually this desire concentrated around getting them to talk about photographs. Not gear, or techniques, but the finished work – both theirs and the work of other photographers that they liked. And we do it on video so you can see the photographer and the images we’re talking about.

The idea is simple: each photographer suggests two of their own images and two by other photographers, and then we have a chat about them.

So recently, I sat down (virtually) with Irish documentary and environmental photographer Dave Walsh – an old friend – to launch this endeavour.

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Dogs in the office – living history dogs (lots of them)

“When I die, I want to come back as a dog and get to stay here,” Leroy from El Rancho de Las Golondrinas is clear that the dogs in this ‘office’ have a great life.

And so they should, with tons of room to run around in at the living history museum just south of Santa Fe,  and a dog-friendly working environment that sees up to nine employees’ dogs on the property some days.

And what a range of dogs they are. There’s Sarge, the sweet lolloping doberman that sometimes gets out and is found heading down the road outside.

And Jax, who was in costume the day I visited because it was Halloween.

They share the main office building with The Mayor (who’s also known as Big Dog, Big Red or just Sir). He was found on the property one day, adopted by one of the employees, and years later, he’s still in charge. He follows school parties around, just to make sure it’s all going well, and while he’s slowed down a bit now, he’s clearly the boss of the place.

Patch is Leroy’s dog, and since Leroy looks after the water resources on the 200-acre site, Patch spends most of the day on Leroy’s four-wheeler, coming into the office for breaks and meetings.

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Audio Slideshow: Curbside Cuisine from Le Pod

You might recall the photo project I did earlier in the year about Jean-Luc Salles, the French chef who runs Le Pod – a restored 1960s Airstream trailer that serves French street food to go.

I interviewed him recently, and put together this audio slideshow about him and his work.

I think it communicates the unique appeal of Le Pod well (and it makes me hungry). I’d love to talk to you if you think a similar approach would work well for your organization.

Bon Appetit!

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How to take better photos for your blog and social media channels

It’s great to see real organizations posting regularly on Facebook and Twitter, writing blogs and being open and authentic in their communications.

Part of this is strategic – we’re moving away from the old days of a senior figure in the company or non-profit checking every communication that goes out of the place themselves and  hiring PR people or ad agencies to polish a message until it shone (even if it didn’t represent the truth of the organization). Now, your audience wants to know what’s it really like behind the scenes, and for its employees to show some of their own personality and that of the organization.

Not all images are the same

But after the strategic comes the practical – you’ve got the plan and now you have to implement it well. So let’s assume that your organisation is writing blog posts, tweeting up a storm and using Pinterest like nobody’s business. You’re taking lots of photos at events or of products, but the problem is that none of the images look very much like the ones you see on the charity: water or ONE sites.

Poor photography makes you look amateurish, and turns the most lavish party into a dull-looking event or an attractive product into an e-Bay advertisement. NYC event organiser Jeremy Norman speaking in a Photoshelter blog post on event photography made it clear: “We’re very big on creating moments in the events – different opportunities for exciting photographs. Because if you’re going to spend one, two, three hundred thousand on an event you definitely want to have memories that are well shot and well photographed.”

You might not spending that much on your events, but the chances are you still need some better photography to create more impact and reflect your organization more positively. And if your blog posts have a more news feel to them, or you case studies tell particular stories, then you also need good photojournalism-style photographs to accompany that content. Finally, if you’re a fundraising organization, photography can play a key role in engaging potential donors.

I can make a very good case for employing a professional (and I’d love it if you’d call me, especially if you want documentary-type work or multimedia), but if that’s not an option here are some key tips to help you get better social media and blogging photos on your own.

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Finding your core as a creative professional – where subject, tone and medium meet

Tony Bourdain can teach us a lot about finding your core. And making the perfect beurre blanc. Photo: Sifu Renka

I once saw an interview with polymath academic George Steiner. He’s written on a range of topics and he was asked what field he thought he really belonged in. ‘Fields are for cows,’ he replied.

I too am suspicious of the idea that you have to specialise so thoroughly that you only do one thing. But how do we balance doing interesting work in a number of areas, without spreading ourselves too thin or presenting a confusing message to potential clients? Nobody wants to be seen as a jack of all trades, master of none.

The key is to find that core of your personality that remains consistent, however differently it gets expressed. Especially if we work in creative endeavours, this seems to me to be the real goal of our working life.

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“Everything we do, we film or photograph” – how Greenpeace uses photography

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The crew of the Greenpeace ship MY Arctic Sunrise construct a ‘heart’ with the flags of the 193 country members of the United Nations on an ice floe north of the Arctic Circle. © Daniel Beltra / Greenpeace

In a recent interview the magazine for pro photographers Photo District News spoke to John Novis, head of photography at Greenpeace International about the way his organisation uses photography to further their mission. (The article is here, sadly behind a paywall.)

For the past three years, Greenpeace has won World Press Photo competition prizes for news and nature stories they’ve commissioned – showing their commitment to quality photography, and also showing how the lines between journalism work for publications and for non-profits and NGOs are blurring.

Novis was very clear about the results Greenpeace get for their investment in quality photography (emphasis mine). ” We have always put a big budget in visuals. Everything we do, we film or photograph. We hire good freelancers, go to remote places and do good stories. . . It used to be basic direct action [coverage] on the hard news side. Now there’s much more documentation and stories in response to environmental news events.”

He’s also very keen on adding a multimedia element to the work the photographers are doing as the expectations change: “Everything is more Web based, so we’ve been doing a lot of work that combines photography, video and audio.”

One element of this is the Greenpeace Photos iPad app – a regularly-updated portfolio application that showcases the best of Greenpeace photography.

Like all NGOs and non-profits Greenpeace is trying to have the most impact for the least amount of money. If they’re investing so heavily in quality photography, it’s obviously because it works.

That old online forum cliché that ‘this thread  is useless without pics” has never been more true across the internet, especially for social media channels. Look for strong stories in the work you’re doing, and then tell them visually. Are there events, programs and projects that your organisation is engaged in that aren’t getting the photography they need?

 

Dogs in the office – public relations dogs

Welcome to the Office

A lovely open office with a great view in the hills above Santa Fe – not a bad place to bring your three dogs to work. Especially when your commute is a walk across the yard from your house, as is the case with Clare Hertel, principal at public relations firm Clare Hertel Communications.

When I show up, Clare’s black lab Hatch is so excited to see me he jumps in the back of my car, and even when we walk up the stairs to the office he’s very interested in me and all my gear.

Eventually though, he resumes his normal position in the office – sprawled on the floor with old golden Huck. Young buck Mellie takes the first watch sitting outside the door. Read more…

Make it Personal – Six Ways Non-Profits Can Connect with their Audience

One of the many strengths of the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market is that people get to meet the artists they’re helping with their donations and purchases of authentic folk art (such as Mireille Delismé from Haiti, shown above) . You can’t get much more personal than that, but there are ways to communicate this immediacy online and in print, too. Photo: David Moore.

Why one person’s story is better than all the pie charts in the world

I’ve worked with a range of non-profits on projects, and it would seem they have the perfect material for the content-rich, engaging type of web presence that really works.

But all too often, they can’t see the wood for the trees. How they explain what they do and its impact often sounds more like a briefing to market analysts than anything that will grab an audience and make them want to get involved.

Too often, it’s ‘We fund this many projects in this many countries, and every year we raise this much money to do it. Our average grant is this much, and this percentage of our donations goes directly to projects on the ground.’

This might be how to outline a rational case for why I should donate (along with PowerPoint slides containing some pie charts), and I certainly want your organization to be run on a rational basis, but reason alone isn’t going to make me want to help.

So how should non-profits articulate their purpose and results powerfully? You need emotion – harder to control, not quite so businesslike, but so much more effective. We support those causes we connect with emotionally.

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North to Chama and Beyond

Just before school started this week, we headed up to Chama in northern New Mexico, to ride the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, which winds its way through some amazing scenery on its way to Antonito, Colorado.

It was a family trip, but I brought the camera and got some images that communicate something of the day.