Monday, March 31, 2008

Paula Abdul and the Art of Listening

Like most photographers, I guess, I spend an inordinate amount of time in the dark by myself creating shots, designing the lighting for my next shoot, thinking about what I did right and wrong on the last shoot and what I'm going to do to change it on the next shoot, and just shaking my head in wonder that I get paid to have this much fun, but that's for another post. Tonight I want to talk about an extraordinary man named Peter Jay, who kindly offered to assist me during an upcoming motorcycle shoot. This guy has done so much work, is very well traveled and well read, and he took the time when applying for the job to view my web site and say embarrassingly nice things about it. So nice, in fact, that I put some of them on my accolades page of, but not all of them, because they were so nice that I thought people would think I was making it up! Now, I have won hundreds of awards. I know that I am good at what I do, but when I posted an ad for an assistant, I received 400 replies, NONE of which even bothered to find out who I was or what I did. In fact, one assistant suggested I send him my resume and he would decide whether or not he would deem me good enough to assist!

How can this transfer to your every day life, no matter what segment of the business you are in? By being prepared, by sincerely believing in the person that you meet, and letting them know it in a positive, open, non-suck-uppy way, by differenciating your self; promising what you can do and over delivering, by being kind, and listening.

Find out about your client. Know what kind of book to bring them, and show only what you know. When I was first starting out in Los Angeles, I was given the opportunity to shoot Paula Abdul, who was probably one of the most photographed people on the planet at that time. To be honest, I didn't really know who she was, and I was arrogant enough to think that that part of it didn't matter, that what the great Barbara Stitzer did was what mattered, no matter who I was shooting, so I shot her my way. I don't even think I came and hung out with her while she was in makeup so that she could get to know me and feel comfortable with me. Well, she was a total pro, she didn't say a word, did the shoot with great aplomb, even signed a few autographs on her way out, but to give you an idea of how bad the shot was, my mom thought that I had put a picture of myself in my book! A compliment, I'm sure... I had great lighting, a great set, great makeup, by golly I had Paula Abdul, but I caught none of the sparkly, spontaneous, glamourous, wild woman Paula. Who cares, I thought. I SHOT PAULA ABDUL! I'm a wunderkind! So a couple of weeks after that, I somehow pulled off arranging a giant meeting with one of those kind of people in the industry that could make or break your career with a phone call, and he's kind of nodding and smiling, and he get's to the Paula Abdul shot and, before he could even help himself, blurted out, "What the hell is that?" I still didn't get it. I proudly drew myself up, looked him straight in the eye, and said something in Valley speak, like "I know, right, like isn't it awesome? I shot Paula Abdul!" He looked at it, looked at it again, turned to page to look at it from the back, then slammed the book and shoved it back at me. He gave me the best advice I have ever gotten; when you shoot the most photographed ANYTHING on the planet, it has to be the best, most interesting, most unique, or don't show it. "And know your client, " he said, "because this might be Paula Abdul, but this isn't Paula Abdul."

Today, Peter Jay took the time to see who I was, and what I do, and, even though he costs a lot more than any assistant I have ever used, by golly, if I can get him on this job, I'm doing it. Now go out there and make someone's day.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

One very cool photographer

I have been in this business for almost 15 years now, and I must say, most photographers are pretty territorial. When I moved to North Dakota, there were only 20 photographers in my town, and when I went by to introduce myself, NONE of them even invited me in to see their studios, so I just got really shy about the whole thing and have never really extended myself to the big guns, expecially to ask for help.

I guess because of that, I pretty much help anyone who asks, which has been great because I get to help people and see their creativity. I needed help today, with a shoot that I simply had no experience in doing...shooting shiny metal and making it look great. I looked all over the web and found Dino Petrocelli...he is incredible at what he does and shoots really beautifully, and I mustered up my courage and asked him how he does it.

Dino really went the extra mile. He totally held my hand through the whole thing, going as far as to give me his cell number in order to make it really easy for me. I was so appreciative! I couldn't even believe how cool he was about the whole thing. He even complimented my pictures, and asked me to tell him about them. What a mensch. Good Karma to you, buddy. You totally rock.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

So You Want To Be A Model-Help Someone Change Their Life--Forever!

Here are some photos of the amazing Amanda, who took my modeling classes in North Dakota and Kauai

I was a model for 10 years, and never EVER want young people and the people who love them to go through what I went through, so I have been giving modeling classes for the past 8 years, in North Dakota, on location throughout the United States, and, most recently, here in Anthem, Arizona. Not those "you're 4'10", 250 lbs, but who cares, if you pay me $5000, you can be a model Barbizon/John Robert Powers deals. I hand pick my models from amateur photos that they send in to me, for their potential. I don't charge a lot for the classes, but we cover very important specifics that you need if you are interested in getting into the modeling business, plus, we take tons of amazing, cutting edge shots. If the girls want to own their pictures, they purchase them. If not, well, at least they have taken some great pictures, know enough to make informed decisions and have an idea of their potential. I have heard from a lot of people who want to be in my modeling classes but don't have the cash, so send me a picture with your reasons for wanting to be in my modeling class, I'll post everything on my blog, and you, my dear readers, can choose one lucky reader to come to class for free and get an awesome start on your portfolio. Tell all your friends. You could help change someone's life.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Workshops Announced!

Wow, What a great response to my last post! and I didn't think anyone read this blog. I am almost full of photo shoot bookings on the Cayman days...I still have some room in Florida and Jamaica, and due to overwhelming response, I will open a photographer's workshop and a model's weekend in Jamaica and Florida. Please email me at for details and dates.

I am one of those people who doesn't keep any photographic secrets...I really feel that if you and I were standing right next to each other shooting, even if I told you every single thing that I know, we would each take totally different photographs. Plus, when I was starting out, I wanted a mentor so badly, and everyone just guarded their secrets so closely that I had to learn it all the hard way. I used to feel very inferior, because I pretty much gerry-rigged everything with fishing line and and eyelash curler, until I noticed that everyone else gerry-rigs too! Maybe not with an eyelash curler, but fishing line is a universal must in the photographic world. Who knew? My mentor, the goddess Marilyn Sholin,, has always been ultra generous in sharing her secrets, and I can only hope to give back as well as she has.

So for those and many more words of wisdom, come on over to my workshops. No, really, I have been giving workshops for 11 years, and my specialty, beside spilling all of my secrets in plain, easy to understand language, is working with you individually to help you achieve your goals, no matter where you are at in your photographic or modeling process. I'm starting to get excited about this!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Location Portraits and Weddings

This is kind of an aside, but If you are interested in having an exceptional portrait experience, I will be shooting on location on the following dates and would love for you to be a part of it.

May 13-30 Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Bahamas.

June 15-July 15 Watercolor, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Pensacola, Destin, San Destin Florida.

I am also available for small groups of clients who live in the same geographical area and would like me to create one of a kind portraits for each of them. I have taken and painted portraits here, in Arizona, and my clients have shown their friends and relatives, who wanted to book me, but they were far away. I must admit, this wasn't my idea...after her shoot, one of my good clients, and friend, Lori Goodnight, of Houston, Texas, who has a winter home out here, kind of shyly suggested that 5 of her closest friends and family would be interested in having me out to shoot for them. We had such a fun time! The shoots were fun and free and amazing, and everyone, including me, had a great time. I left feeling like I made a great group of friends out there. And I'm now addicted to sweet tea.

Take a look at my website, for an idea of what we could do together.

Please let me know if you would like me to be a part of your memories this spring and summer. I would love to be there for you.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Barbara Stitzer Photography...Photographs for the Way You Live.: Oh Famous Me!

Barbara Stitzer Photography...Photographs for the Way You Live.: Oh Famous Me!

Oh Famous Me!

Yes, I feel very famous today. I have been asked to be the lead photog for a brand new magazine! Woo Hoo! I'll let you know more as I learn more. Here is something I shot of my hubby and little girl at her daddy daughter dance. I wonder if she knows that he looks at her with that much love?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Penny, the Amazing Weiner Dog!

I had the distinct pleasure of shooting Penny, the amazing wonder dog. She was so cute and tiny, and, even though I had a daucshund when I was a little girl, I hadn't realized or remembered the range of emotions that could come over one tiny puppy's face during one shoot! She went from sweet and excited, to crazy for her cookies, to mad as heck that she was getting teased with the cookie and back again in mere seconds. I love that dog!