I Get Interviewed - The Customer Centric Show

This is a great show produced by Mel Telecican.  Her entire approach to creating impact in business is Customer Centricity. 

http://customercentriccoach.com/jason-malouin/

There is literally nothing more important to me and it's one of the most basic operational principles of my company Portrait Store (www.portraitstore.com.au).

I recommend a few particular spots throughout the interview:

7:20 - Getting people past the discomfort for optimal results

13:45 - The Customer Experience mapped out, building intention into the process

15:10 - Getting the best audience engagement using long time client, Oxfam as the example...  and humanising demographics

17:35 - My personal approach to portraiture. Empowerment, Positive Self Image, Strength, Connection, Meaningful, Intentional

18:33 - Balancing Intensity and Humanity within the images.  Using the "Push / Pull" balance to get it just right.

22:55 - My advice on improving business and consistency of customers - Niching Successfully

29:30 - The Portrait Store mission and the approach to achieve it.  Changing the standards of what people expect of a headshot by approaching it differently.

Enjoy!

http://customercentriccoach.com/jason-malouin/

Top 10 Before & After Tips

This article was originally written for and published by Liz Campbell over at Makeup Media Marketing. - Master Wordsmith, Editor, and Author of the book 'WOW:  Words on the Web'...  Enjoy!

Top Ten Tips for Maximum Credibility and Impact with Before and After Photos.

You may have noticed images out there in the world of fitness, health/ wellbeing, hair/ make up…  Anything where there has been some sort of transformation.

They are the obligatory ‘Before and After’ images meant to make us cringe and then feel instant relief that our problems as a consumer can be solved through the techniques, potions and methods applied by the professionals.

You may have also noticed that these Before and After images are rarely an honest representation of the actual results which may vary*.

Why is that?  Well maybe the product or process on offer doesn’t actually live up to it’s promises…  But maybe it’s just a case of sloppy Before/ After photo techniques which inadvertently diminishes the impact of the staggering results your product or process provides.

Take back the power of the Before and After images and put them to work for you instead against you with these top 10 tips and tricks from a professional portrait photographer.  No confusing jargon.  No technical training needed.  Just simple to use advice from a pro.


LIGHTS

1.  Make sure the lighting is the exact same for both images.  This is probably the least understood and most critical factor.

The best light is always window light.  But only when the sun isn’t shining directly in through the window.  As long as a person isn’t standing in a beam of sunlight, find the absolute biggest window you can and position them as close to it as possible.

Exactly how you position them depends on a few things.  

Are you trying to show specific texture like skin or muscle tone?  You will want the light to come from the side so position the subject perpendicular to the window (or facing along the glass from one side to the other.

If you are trying to show more general qualities, it’s better to position the subject facing directly towards the window.  This means the photographer will have their back to the window, so be careful not to block the beautiful window light and cast a shadow on the subject.  This is generally the more flattering light for any age and gender.


CAMERA

2.  Make sure you use the same camera for both images.  The more you keep uniform, the more credibility your images have.

If you shoot one with a phone, do them all on the same phone.  Even the difference between an iPhone 4 and 6 is drastically different; not to mention across brands…

3.  Keep the camera at the exact same height.  The relative position of the camera to the subject will accentuate or diminish certain features.  We don’t need to go into the specifics here.  Use something like a tripod and if you don’t have one, even propping it on the back of the same chair/ counter, etc… every time.

4.  Use the same lens/ zoom (or no zoom) every time.  This also has accentuating and diminishing effects on a subject.  On a phone I recommend no zoom which gives you better quality.  On an SLR, use the exact same lens and the exact same zoom.

5.  Be careful with filters.  If you’re using a phone or camera with built in filters, make sure you at least use the same on every time.  I recommend no filter.  It gives the images more credibility because they look more raw and real.

6.  Background.  You guessed it.  Use the same background for both images.  Ideally, you can find a blank or clutter free background with no distractions.


ACTION

7.  To smile or not to smile?  This one can be tricky…  A smile evokes a certain feeling in the viewer.  Showing the Before with no smile and the After with a smile seems a bit manipulative.  Again, I would recommend doing the same thing each time.  And personally, I say no smile!  Let your results speak for themselves if they are truly remarkable.

8.  Posing is the same.  For example… slumpy, rounded shoulders in the Before and powerful attitude in the After can seem misleading.


BONUS TRACKS

9.  Cropping.  This is another very strong factor that influences our perception.  Keep it exactly the same for both and you don’t need to worry about losing credibility.

10.  GIF.  This is the single most powerful tool to use in your Before and After tool kit.  

Since you have meticulously followed all of the above directions you are ready to move onto the big time.

Side by side comparison for our little monkey brains are super challenging to see any subtle differences.  But the way to overcome this is to use a GIF.  It is a single frame which animates or “flips” from one to the other and back again.  For our purposes, showing Before and After, over and over, allows customers and clients to compare the difference without making them work for it.

Try something like http://makeagif.com or similar free services.


There you go!  You’re ready to go forth and dominate your industry with amazing Before and After examples of the wonders your product or process delivers.

Just keep everything exactly the same for each and the results of your images will be beyond reproach, maintaining maximum credibility and giving you a powerful tool to advertise your work.

Voting with Photos...

I just became an Australian citizen on 26th January and at the ceremony.  I had thought I wouldn't make the cut to vote this time around.  So I (foolishly) hadn't bothered to learn anything about the candidates here in Queensland.  

It turns out I was registered to vote right there at the citizenship ceremony and told I'm expected to show up!  Oops.  Ok.  Better start cramming!

The ABC has a very interesting little tool to help you discover where you are in the political scheme of things.  It's called Vote Compass and it asks you all kinds of questions about various topics important to everyone - just as I had expected - which I dutifully answered.

Then, a very surprising section popped up...  

You are asked to rate the candidates for trustworthy-ness and competence using their photos!  

I often hear people say that a good online profile photo isn't very important...  That it's such a small image and people can't possibly make any decisions based on such limited information...

And that can be true...  If it's a crap photo.  And these photos of the Queensland politicians are all equally very weak photos.  But take a look.  One looks a bit like a super-villain.  One looks like a prison mugshot.  One looks like he has no idea where he is.  One really comes across as more genuine and trustworthy...

Politics aside (if that's possible), you really can and do make decisions based on visual cues.  I mean who the hell buys a different bottle of wine based on what the back label says?  You look at price, name and then you judge the "book" by its cover.

Now I'm certainly not saying that this is the way forward for political discourse.  Far from it.  But it is very fascinating to see this method used.

How did I fare with this step you may wonder?  I skipped it.  Visually, I'm super biased and didn't want that to influence my results at all.

But just in case any politicians or aspiring politicians out there are reading this...  Look into a truly exceptional headshot that actually communicates your values and intention.

Who knows how many votes you'll get with a freakin' amazing photo...

 

The Ghost in the Machine

The Ghost in the Machine

As an artist, I have been pushing people to transmit something in the images we create that tells ME the story I want to see in other humans... Strength, confidence, knowledge, depth, integrity, foresight, empathy, joy, wisdom...

Falling Up...

For years, I have ravenously devoured knowledge and ceaselessly practised to get better at my craft from every conceivable angle.  I can honestly describe myself as one of the finest professionals in my industry; consistently creating inspired excellence when I'm holding the camera.

I am a professional.

But I remember what it felt like a bunch of years ago - before I really was a professional at what I do.  It was lots of 'fake it to make it'... going out into the world and telling people who I am and what I do until I actually believed it because my results could back it up.

But I've recently discovered something quite shocking.   Something that I don't identify with considering how far I have come and what I've been able to achieve in so many ways.

I've been 'safely' sticking to what I know...  I'm in the Comfort Zone!  

To anyone who knows me well the 'comfort zone' has been - ironically - not really a place I've felt comfortable.  But I've been hiding.

Only in the last few months has this realisation been dragged out into the stark contrast of brightest midday sun...  What I've been hiding from is being a professional business owner - and all the skills and challenges that make one a true professional.

Mainly, it has come from an epic journey through an amazing program called Key Person of Influence... and the people with whom I have surrounded myself throughout these 40 weeks.  And more specifically through a gruelling two day session with outstanding business coach, David Dugan.  

I've always jumped into everything with both feet.  Blind faith and an inconceivable certainty that I will prevail has taken me far.  The ultimate quote that informs most of my choices is a simple one.

Leap and the net will appear

I don't have to try to believe it.  It's just a fundamental truth beyond question.  But lately, as I've learned a myriad new skills I have pushed myself well beyond the invisible confines of my 'zone of comfort'... Into a terrifyingly foreign realm of organising & planning and measuring & counting.

I have certainly leapt.  But the net hasn't come up to meet me.  I feel like I've been falling.  ...waiting for the net.  And getting nervous that I've been mistaken.  Or maybe somehow this time I got it wrong.

But today it all became so clear.  I am falling.  But I'm falling up.  It's strange to be out in unfamiliar space for so long.  But I have mistaken this sensation of falling from a gravity-restricted reality.

Sometimes it's hard to see when you're so close to the situation... It's hard to get perspective.  But I've seen such profound changes and growth in my business over the past few months I'm not worried anymore that the net will appear.  It always does.  But now that I know I'm falling up it seems to me that the farther I go... well, the farther I go.

And that's pretty awesome.

...Not Good at Everything...

Just a quickie...

I got a very cool write up in a blog post...

http://chrisrichter.com.au/ok-im-good-everything/

Chris helps develop the early careers of singer/ songwriters and this one is about not trying to do everything yourself.  Sticking to what you're best at doing and finding others to bring their best to the party...

It's a great reminder to anyone out there creating something for themselves... and a crucial realisation for the people out there trying to create something exceptional by themselves.

The Opposite of Beauty...

Somebody said that "Beauty is the Opposite of Perfection - It's about Confidence, Charisma and Character..."

I don't know who said that, but I totally agree.

 

The word 'Photogenic' is thrown around a lot in my world.  It's not a word I personally like - or even use - because socio-culturally, it's a very loaded word that skews our self image, striking varying degrees of fear into the hearts of otherwise strong, confident people.

By now, you're probably used to my mantra that 'nobody is photogenic'.  Because that's not the goal.  

Wishing you were 'photogenic' is about striving for perfection which is that unrealistic and completely unhelpful.

There's an amazing Chinese word that describes what I mean perfectly.   It's a very small word with huge implications.  

That word is "Li".

Li refers to the imperfect perfection everywhere in the natural world... The markings in Jade, the grain in Wood... 

These things are beautiful BECAUSE of their imperfection.  Not despite it.  Perfect symmetry and rigid order is not our nature either.  It's Li that makes us special... beautiful.  And it's the Li we strive to see and capture through the camera.

When we truly embrace our own Li, then the important things like Confidence, Charisma and Character are free to come through.  And that is when we connect.

The Plague of 'Personal Branding'

As lifetime consumers of media, our tastes are constantly refining. 

These days, if it feels like you’re trying to tell me something, it makes me feel like you’re trying to sell me something.  And I immediately begin to detach.

I first noticed when I was dabbling with video that people would “present” to the camera.  I’d stop them and ask them to tell me what they were about to say and it would happen in the most natural tone… a conversation…  rather than presentation (effectively advertisement). 

Well I don’t go near video anymore, but my point is the same.  The second we approach portraits from a place where you’re trying to tell me something you’ve lost my respect as a viewer of that image. 

This is why I believe ‘personal branding’ is a disconnected plague of insincerity.

Your ‘branding’ is a fabricated extension of you and what your business represents.  It’s important, of course, because it helps us define your product.  But at best it’s a very rough approximation.  

You, however, are a complete person with a unique story.  And you are much deeper with far more context and relevance than ‘personal branding’ could ever hope to convey.

‘Personal branding’ generally presents itself as a smiling head facing a camera.  Is this the degree of depth we are willing to expect from a portrait or headshot? 

Looking at portraits, I want to be presented with a message from the very core.  A message that resonates with me as a complex person, full of preferences and conflict and experiences.  That is what we should expect from head shots and portraits… not a fraction less.  

And it’s possible.  For real people.  Every time.

When I get the feeling from a portrait that you have something to say you get my attention and that is the biggest commodity of all.  That’s what all businesses are reaching for.  

Our brains are evolved to look for a challenge.  Something unique… unexpected.  We know very well that the familiar and obvious fades into the background very quickly.  It is precisely one of the things our brain does best.  Unfortunately, familiar and obvious is what most photographers deliver.

If the most important thing in business is to approach your audience (your potential clients) with them in mind, then most photographers are really missing the point.  But when it’s done well, we frame the story the viewers tell themselves about who they see.

You see, a photo is not a one way street.  That’s the real magic of photography (and the aspect most photographers ignore).  It is not a passive experience to the viewer.  We can’t avoid putting the face in front of us through the matrix of human, emotional interpretation.  

The same applies when you’re in a room with someone.  You are either building rapport based on some sort of familiar recognition… or you’re not.  There’s rarely anything in between.

If you’re telling me something - like telling me ‘smiling’ - I am left with no way to engage with the image.  If it requires no interpretation it will not demand the viewers’ attention.  

Opportunity lost.  And how many opportunities can anyone afford to lose, really?

This is all fleeting.  The reactions we have to images are instantaneous.  Forget seven seconds!  We process way faster than that because we are forced to.  I’m not sure where this whole seven seconds thing even comes from, but if you think you have someone’s attention for SEVEN WHOLE SECONDS in order to make an impression, you are completely deluded.  

Go ahead.  Do it right now.  It even feels absurd to suggest…  Look at anything in the room and count… 1-1000, 2-1000, 3-1000…  It’s a freaking eternity.

Often, our images get a glance at best.  But that’s all we need.  These days we are wired to accept or reject in a moment.  So we need a headshot or portrait that delivers instantaneous impact.

The only way ‘telling smiling’ is going to have any impact is if the viewer happens to be smiling in the moment they encounter your image.  I’m not willing to gamble on those odds.  Are you?

Go try that little experiment.  I dare you.  

Go and sit in a room full of strangers with a big fake smile plastered to your face and see if it resonates.  It might if someone else is sitting there smiling too because one of the ways we build rapport is mirroring each other.  

Otherwise, you are ‘that’ person on the train or in the waiting room that people move away from… often clutching their bags - or their children - just a little bit closer.

And what is your Portrait or Headshot?  It is you when you can’t be in the room.  It works the same way.  Who do you choose to put in the room?

Your portrait is an opportunity for deeper interaction with you and your story.  And according to the finest business minds out there, that is how we build business these days.

How much more vital to share something deeper?  

This is not merely facial recognition.  Computers can do that.  I’m talking about a true recognition of values and intention… something fundamental.  One of those aspects that only we - the incredibly refined, blunt objects called ‘humans’ - are capable of recognising in each another.

We don’t need to see your face or your ‘personal branding’We need to see you.  All of you… with all the sincerity, power, experience and intention that makes you, you

Sounds daunting?  I know.  But a great portrait photographer will help you get there with proper coaching in front of the camera.  And the closer you get, the more inspired you are to push further… Ultimately creating images of yourself you never thought possible.  

Not the fabricated mask that is the ‘person’.  And not even simply who you are…  When done well, you begin to uncover - visually - who you know your best self to be… and who you hope to become.

That is the magic possible in every portrait session. 

...And anything less is a crime.

 

7 minutes on 'How to Be in Front of the Camera'

Yesterday I shared a few tips on how I prepare everyone that steps in front of my camera.  

It was a great lunch, presenting to just over 40 women at the Your Corporate Lifestyle event held at the new Gambaro Hotel.

Essentially, there are 3 things that must be present in a portrait if it is going to be meaningful.

Power  |  Connection  |  Intension

And then I discuss a few basic techniques that help to achieve those outcomes in an image.

You can listen to the recording here.  **When people are laughing and you don't hear my voice, it's because I'm demonstrating faces we put on for the camera...**

It's just 3MB, but sometimes on slower internet (cough*-australia!*-cough*) the audio window below takes a moment to load...

The funniest thing is that I had only just found out about the event the day before...  AND 45 minutes before I stepped on stage, I had just had my first (ever) tooth filling.  So half my face was numb as I stepped up on stage.  

...Nothing like a good challenge to make you lift your game...

Lean in!

Back in Church... But Different.

The gang over at Surge Media really like pushing boundaries and having some fun in the process...  And I love making their ideas come to life.

This is a sneaky little shoot we did a few months ago with the 2 principles over at Surge...  Aegir and Ben.  

I'm not exactly sure what kind of trouble we could get in (after the fact) for shenanigans like this...  So I'll say that we definitely did not go out on the Storey Bridge and shoot this one summer Sunday morning at 5am...  

But if we had it most certainly would have been far trickier than any of us anticipated...  Since even at 5am, there is a steady flow of traffic - I imagine.  

When they asked me to come in and help them create the Church of Surge, I couldn't wait. You see, their offices are in a little old church over in Wooloongabba.  So they decided to take advantage of their special location.

A few cheap costumes and some outrageously expensive video equipment was all it took to pull it off.  As well as buckets of sweat.

It was one of the hottest days we had seen here in Brisbane and the old circuits at the church couldn't handle the 1000's watts of juice the film lights were using; all my flashes (yes, we still had to light it - even with the film lights); AND the air conditioning...  So in the interest of art, we sacrificed the A/C.

People have been asking me if it is a composite... pieced together using different moments and multiple exposures.  But it is 100% captured in camera.  

Here's the Before and After...  Obviously some effects were added after the fact...  But it's really all there.  

Honestly, that's the most fun for me.  I know I can take components from a zillion different sources and make something completely new...  But I love the challenge of doing it all for real. 

World's Greatest Photos of the World's Greatest Shave...

A good friend signed up to shave her head this year for the World's Greatest Shave...  I decided to capture the fun...  During the event and afterwards in the studio.

The actual shave was loads of fun, but the real magic happened the next day in the studio creating some absolutely stunning portraits.

Amazingly, "World's Greatest Shave raises about half the money the Leukaemia Foundation needs to fund its important work – providing support to people with blood cancer, as well as millions in research."

Valentine raised a couple thousand dollars in the effort and realised one of her own personal dreams in the process...  A huge success!

The Ladies are in Town!

Emma and Bridget - the amazing women from Women's Property Panel - are hosting an outstanding workshop this month over at Portside in Brisbane...

duo 2.jpg

I had the privilege of photographing them a couple months ago and got to see some of their magic, first hand.  In a word... contagious.

They have an event on International Women's Day with some pretty impressive speakers (not to mention a room full of awesome ladies, super passionate about property).

Here's the link to the event page on Facebook...

Come along and get your learn on!

I'll be there photographing the day...  See you there!

Tearsheets... Finally!

It's taken a while to compile some of the work I've done in the actual habitats in which they have been used...  But it's finally here. 

The 'Tearsheets' section of my website is up for your enjoyment.

It's funny, but seeing the work in real world context has a much more powerful effect on the viewer...

Above, the portraits and the product images are from the Strut Stuff campaign... 

And here is some of the great stuff that we shot in Western Australia for Oxfam's Close the Gap campaign.  

There's a few more over at my website, so swing by and have a look! 

 

Different Looks, Same Spot.

I love shooting on location (as I've mentioned before) because there's so much to work with.   

This is a recent shoot for a financial-corporate-type-guy who needed something really powerful and something very approachable.

Shayne 001a.jpg

I've been eyeballing this spot for a few months, waiting for the right shoot to use it.  It's a sweet little corner of the Convention Centre that could easily be overlooked.  Unless, of course, you're me... constantly looking for light and lines.  

Shayne 006.jpg

And my brain is always thinking multi-use...  So you get the clean portrait plus lots of space for copy in case you're on the cover of a trade mag, brochure, etc.

shayne mag.jpg

Early Morning Magic...​

One of the most brilliant 'connectors' I've ever met asked me to make some portraits for her.  

She has just started a new solo enterprise and needed some images to show the magic she naturally, effortlessly brings to a room.

So, how do you show magic?

Well, first I had to get her to stop talking.  The ideas almost never stop flowing so I figured I had to engineer some quiet moments by giving very specific instructions but keeping them open enough for her to interpret on her own terms.  'Cause that's Jenny...  on her own terms.  

But, of course, I also had to capture that electricity that surrounds her... because every moment, you're sharing her constant eruption of inspiration.

She said her favorite place to think is on the swings.    So that's where we went.

I've found that if you get into the space people feel best, you often get a much higher degree of unguarded honesty.  That's why I love shooting on location. 

It's relevant.  It means something.  It's personal... and it matters.   

...And so do the people I photograph

A Double Truck Surprise...

Just a Quickie!

Double Truck Story Lead... 

Double Truck Story Lead... 

Men's Fitness (October 2013) just ran a bunch of my images for an article on the Big Red Run - a 250km Ultra Marathon in the Simpson Desert (a gig I wrote about in my last newsletter that you can read here).

But the exciting surprise was finding one of my images running Double Truck for the story lead!  Too cool!

It's a 6 page article and my images are all over 5 of them...

IMG_2656.JPG

That's a great way to start your day.

 

New Fun with Outcast Performing Arts

It's been a while, so I figured I'd take a chance to share some of the fun stuff I've been working on...

This was a great project I shot a couple of months ago for Outcast Performing Arts.

I was given a handful of insanely talented dancers, singers and musicians...  A half day in the QUT film studio... and complete creative freedom.

Since there were no expectations for the outcome I decided to make something a little different for them.

Normally, the Outcast 'look' is very dark and menacing.   But with the Creative Director's blessing I went in the complete opposite direction.  I wanted ghostly and ethereal.  So I decided to try something I've never attempted.

1.jpg
2.jpg

Crazy, fast motion is normally something you try to freeze and capture in all its detailed glory.  But these are 2 second exposures!  Pretty cool, huh?  The combination of ambient, shutter speed, motion and flash gave me all the sweet details as well as all the blur in the same shot.

It's always a blast working with this crew which I've written about here.

The top composite is my own interpretation of what we captured, but the pieces they used were made a bit darker for the website which you can see here.

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 2.30.45 PM.jpg

I think the most important point to make is that this didn't spring from my mind when I showed up for the shoot.  Yes, it was an untested experiment (which is a bit crazy) but 2 things worked in my favor.

1. Outcast is super experimental, always trying to push the boundaries of what we expect from live performance – so it fit their ethos.

2. I had spent hours considering the concept and technical details.

Of course, I had a back up plan ready to go if the hybrid didn’t work out.  But good planning and conceptualizing is the real reason this worked.