Attracting Seniors to Your Business! by Peg Buckner

pegbuckner_headshotIt’s always great to stay in the minds of your clients and potential clients. Remember, it takes at least seven times for someone to become familiar with your brand. Its worth your effort to advertise at all times, to keep your business looking active and desirable!

Here are some of our recent “Back to School” specials! We made flyers and posted them at our favorite businesses around town! We also used the same file images for our Blog, Instagram and Facebook. We wanted to spread the news about the limited opportunity to take advantage of the savings we offered at the beginning of the school year.



The colors were bright and eye-catching and provided a good visual. We created our outdoor sessions for seniors in many colors, so clients could see how well our Nevada desert can be portrayed.  Sometimes, people forget how beautiful their surroundings can be! Cherish, our senior, in these images, enjoyed her session and loved how beautifully the colors of the images turned out! Another good idea for marketing and broadcasting is that we ask all of our clients to let us know about their experience and provide them with a small paper to fill out, while they are choosing their images at their order appt. This is a great way to add a testimonial to our blog and other social media.



Using our studio camera room, and different lighting, we ran a second ad. We always make an offer and an incentive in our ads. A discount and a time to action is very important in any campaign! This time in our ad we used a dramatic dark moody lighting and were trying to catch the attention of seniors that like the fashion looks! Also we have wonderful displays at some businesses in our community. We’ve been told that our senior displays (framed portraits) at restaurants around town are exciting and fresh!  I think this kind of advertising is incredible and the best you can get!

The image below was a companion image that we used on the blog and social media with the ad. It was a good follow up image to include in the advertisement of the senior specials. Doing a different lighting in these images was important to show our versatility and our modern capabilities. We always try to stay current for everything, especially our seniors that expect a different level of photography!




Have a great week and stay picture perfect!


Peg Signature









How to create a simple 3d effect…by Mark Overstreet of Art-Mark Ink

markoverstreet_headshot_forwebI have had many requests to show how I do my 3d effect style images, so I finally took the time to sit down and write a very direct tutorial that assumes you know how to navigate through your version of PS without going into extreme step by step detail.

This is a very popular session I have been offering my seniors! It is a perspective that gives the simple illusion of 3d. When photographing for this effect it works best to have the object or part of the body that you want to extend past the border closet to the camera. In this example it is the girl’s glove.  This can be done with a background, at a location or as a composite.  In this particular example I did it as a composite so you will get some bonus info on creating a composite.




First you want to make a clean selection of the subject then make a new layer via copy. Why copy, because I generally will set the new background to 90-95% opacity so some of the fine details that are impossible to select in the image layer show through to make the end result more believable.


[spacer height="30" mobile_hide="true"]

screen 2


Now that the selection is ready bring in a background of your choice, move it behind the selection and as I mentioned above set the opacity to your preference, I used 90%.

[spacer height="30" mobile_hide="true"]


screen 3

screen 4


The next step is adding shadow to match the direction of light and again to aim for believability. To do this I duplicate my subject layer set her to black going into Image/adjustments/Hue&Sat then sliding the lightness bar left to black. (There are many options to achieve this; this is how I do it…) Next a scale the shadow done the move where I feel it would be cast from the direction of light.

Screen 5


To achieve a more realistic shadow I go to filter/blur/gaussian and slide to the right until I like the look in this case it was 78.










It still looks artificial to me so I go into blending on the shadow layer and change it to soft light. Now make it a layer mask and brush off areas where the shadow should not be visible. *I ended up duplicating the shadow/mask layer to give the shadow a little more darkness. Why didn’t I just use overlay or hard light, it had too much contrast for my liking.


[spacer height="30" mobile_hide="true"]



Almost there, as you can see I added some flare and some pop to the image which I will not cover in this tutorial. So now it is time to add the white border and then bring the image past it to help create that 3d effect.  There are so many ways to do this and I personally use several ways depending on my image. In this particular demonstration I hand made the border by measuring how far in I wanted it to go. The further the object or body part can extend past the border the more it will look 3d. Let’s start, make a duplicate layer of your image depending on how you finish your image you may need to flatten or merge layers first. (The reason I am going to duplicate this layer is so that after I add a white layer in-between the two I can paint away or back the image or border.)




Make a new layer make sure it is white or whatever color you plan to use and place it in-between the two image layers (mine are marked hdr touch and hdr touch copy).




I decide where I want my border and measure and mark it by using guide lines, and then draw a selection along the border, select then inverse selection. On your top image layer erase the selection.




Now move down to the white layer and if you like, add a border, I made a black splatter edge with several different brushes.




Finally nearing the end we are going to select white layer, make it a layer mask and paint back the glove being careful not to include the background.  Now sign your piece and you are finished!



Working in PS we all know there are a hundred ways to do the same thing and over time you find the way “you” like to do it, feel free to share any alternate options or questions in the comments section below!


Thanks for reading,

mark overstreet






Silencing the Noise by Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman of JellyBean Pictures


I would love everyone who is reading this to just stop for a minute.




Shut your eyes and breathe in. Deeply.




For 7 seconds, you just silenced the noise.


But we cannot walk around with our eyes shut breathing deep all the time now, can we?


The noise in the photography industry has reached an all-time SCREECHING high.


Most of the noise is coming from the unparalleled access we have to each other’s work on a daily and minute by minute basis.


It’s the digital age not just for cameras, but for connection.


And it’s so very hard to hear our own creative voice when there is all that mumbling going on, rattling our confidence and our nerves:


‘Why did that image of hers get so many likes?’
‘Why can’t I shoot/edit like her when I pour my life into this craft?’
‘Why did my fan count drop—did I post too little? Too much?’
‘Someone HAS to comment on this image ‘ *refresh feed, refresh feed, refresh feed*


It’s maddening. After I wrote an article on this very topic a few months back, titled Get Out of Your Own Way, I spoke to the many killers of confidence that exist in the photography industry.


The roadblocks that pop up and paralyze you on your path.


Today, I’d like to make a few suggestions on how you can start the process to silence the noise just through social media alone:


1. Unlike the likes

OK so maybe not unlike them, but hide the feeds. So YOU can decide when you want to see them. The more ‘liked’ pages you have, the more inundated you get with other people’s vision and the comparison game starts. It’s great to find inspiration. But ask yourself: Am I finding inspiration, or am I finding more reasons to question my own eye?’ If you answer the latter,

It may be time to clean up your feed.


2. Filter the forums

Do you really need to be a part of every new forum that launches? Not ll forums are created equal. Find one that nurtures people’s souls, has some like-minded fellow professionals, and keep your time on them to a minimum.


3. Set the timer

I have an old fashioned glass sand timer. It’s a half hour long. When I jump on Facebook (be it professional or personal) I set the timer. In that time I can check my friends updates, load my business images/messages and hop off. But I tell you, if you ever truly time how long you are on Facebook you will be amazed.  That half hour FLIES by that I set for myself. There are so many more productive ways to ‘grow’.

In photography, and being on social media constantly is not going to get you there. Walk away from the computer and shoot. Read a photography magazine. Work on a project.


It’s not easy to silence the noise and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight but the more you are conscious of the things in life that contribute to it, the more you can pull back give your brain a break.


It’s time to FREE yourself.




*Does the topic of noise and insecurity hit home? Then be sure to follow Jennifer and JellyBean Pictures on Facebook ( for the announcement of her class on dealing with insecurities—coming January 2014.


Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman of JellyBean Pictures is a New York photographer who captures real, documentary moments of children. Because real is awesome. You can find her work at where she also offers mentoring, and her manual {don’t} say cheese which is filled with tips + tricks for the just starting out photographer.


SPU Template of the Week: Senior Adrenaline

The Adrenaline campaign gives student athletes graduating in 2015 something to get excited about for their senior portraits. Sports stadiums and arenas make wonderful locations for these portraits, though you can also get stunning results in a studio environment. Either way, these sporty senior portraits are sure to be a hit. Get the word out with a coordinating campaign including a postcard, eblast, blog post and Facebook announcement.

As a Sandy Puc’ University member you will receive templates and art products like this every month for only $24.95 (savings of over $200!). Or you can purchase this campaign today on for $20.00.

Senior Adrenaline Campaign


Digital Files – To Sell or Not to Sell? by Sandy Puc’

Sandy Puc'Hello everyone,


Throughout my career I have seen the continual adaptation to digital photography and digital files. There is often a misconception over how I handle the selling of digital files. It’s certainly a hot button issue within the industry, so I wanted to take a moment and discuss my stance. First let me say that my way is not the “right” way… it is just my way. It is an ever-evolving process for us at Sandy Puc’ Photography. However, we have great success with our methods and we hope to continue to improve and share our techniques.



A little history lesson:


Here is the Sandy Puc’ how-to-sell-your-files progression from a teaching perspective.


If you saw me speak:

15 years ago: NEVER sell your negatives. They are your copyright and you must keep them safe

10 years ago: Although the world is going digital I will NEVER sell my files. They are mine!

8 years ago: Ok I will sell my files but I am going to charge $800 per image so that no one will buy them

5 years ago: I am getting punched in the gut by shoot and burn folks. I will now sell files for $400 per image

3 years ago: If I have to hear one more time that Joe down the road will shoot and sell all the images for $99 bucks I am going to explode.

2 years ago: Alright I will meet you 1/2 way. With a $1500 purchase I will give you 3 archival files, $2000= 8 archival files etc.




I have learned that most clients just want social media files. However, some want full res files for printing. I also understand that now is the time to really look at the future and embrace the thought that digital files are now a part of the business but they STILL do not need to be the only business we do.



At this point we have three ways you can get digital files


Legacy clients:

A legacy client is someone that has been coming to our studio for 5+ years. Once they hit 5 years they receive a lifetime Legacy title.

These clients get social media files and archival files of all gift print order poses. (Those are 5×7 to 70″ wall portraits.) They do not get files of album images, wall collage images etc. Only the files that they purchased at least one print 5×7 and up from. A $500 min purchase applies.

Legacy clients also receive many other perks like a free family session every 2 years, 50% off all other sessions, 10% off family orders, special bonus’s etc. We want to reward their loyalty.


Non-Legacy Clients:

If a client is new or has been using our services for less than 4 years they can BUY a Legacy membership for $150 per year and have the above options. If they do not join the Legacy program they have 2 options:


Spend $500+ and receive social media files (690×490 at 72 dpi) of the gift print and wall portrait images they ordered (does not include album images, wall collages etc.) So a typical order is 4-6 poses and we email them the social media versions. They have a large Sandy Puc Photography logo on them because they are free to the client and they are a marketing tool for us.


Spend $2000 and receive archival images (8×10 at 300 dpi) of the gift print and wall portrait images they ordered (does not include album images, wall collages etc.) Typically these clients are getting 6-10 poses. These images have my digital signature. It is placed in the right hand corner and it looks more like a signed print.



Digital-only clients:

Yes it is possible to just buy digital collections. We very rarely see that happen but we have to have it on the menu because they ask.


Up to 5 images-USB drive is only $899

Up to 12 images-USB drive is only $1999

Up to 22 images USB drive is only $2,800

Up to 40 images USB is only $4,999


With a digital collection prints are 50% off



All clients:

To be eligible to order any digital files, the order must be placed within 30 days of the session and the order completed on the first sales appointment. No exceptions. (This is how we close the sale and collect the payment)


All images WILL bear the studio watermark.


I feel that this approach to digital files has served our clients well and given our studio success at the same time. Overall, I believe that it is also helping preserve the integrity of the industry too.


Please share your insights in the comment section below!


Big hugs,


Sandy Puc’



The Success of Failure by Mimika Cooney

Failure is inevitable. We all attempt things and fail. But do you know that failure is a good thing? For many of us, we see failure as something we don’t want to talk about, nor do we want anyone to know about it. We put on a brave face and pretend everything’s a-okay,


After reading the book “Business Brilliant” by Lewis Schiff, my attitude towards failure now is that I embrace it! Bring it on baby!


In the book Lewis Schiff discusses a national survey he conducted that revealed the eye-opening findings between middle class workers and self-made millionaires. Through the research it reveals the truth about how the wealthy get rich. It also dispels some commonly believed myths and conventional wisdom about the definition of success.


Where I found it fascinating is that the difference between self-made millionaires and the average middle class worker, is that setbacks and failures taught them what they are good at. In the survey fewer than 2 out of 10 middle classers agreed.


What this tells me is that when we fall off the horse, the millionaires’ mindset is to get straight back on. For the general populace, the instinct is to nurse our wounds and walk away. Why is that?


All the people profiled in the book faced serious setbacks, but their experience of failure turned out to be a key ingredient in developing “business brilliance”.


[blockQuote position="center"]“Failure is not really about what happens to you. Its how you deal with it, and what you make of it”. ~David Neeleman (founder of JetBlue Airlines)[/blockQuote]


So how does this relate to us as photographers? I believe it means we need to embrace the “Failure Faith” mentality if we are to persist through our failures to get to our ultimate success. Failure faith is described as the “conviction that even though you try to stretch and achieve something special, failure yields unforeseen lessons and benefits.”


This means that even though you don’t get the job, win the client or fail at landing a big opportunity, consider it a practice run for the next attempt. You’ve already learned something new you can apply to the next attempt.



“Rejection is a zero-cost failure. And since the risk of rejection only offers upside, you might as well go out and risk as much rejection as you can.”

~Lewis Schiff


Many successful companies are not very keen to let the public know of their failures, the habit has been to cover things up and put on a brave face. However, we now live in the age of transparency as the amount of information available to the layman is readily available. If there is a problem it will be uncovered so it’s in our best interests to embrace it and learn from it.


In the book Lewis talks about the four broad areas of daily activity that successful self-made entrepreneurs do consistently. He calls it LEAP…



Millionaires spend more time and effort discovering what they do best and pursue opportunities related to their best attributes.



They take on projects that maximize the dollar potential while limiting their downside risks.



They actively cultivate networks so they can get help and advice beyond their own capabilities.



They take an authentic interest in their failures and see them as necessary aspects of their eventual success.


So here are my Tips for Overcoming Failure…


See rejection as a benefit. When you don’t get the wedding job or session with a client, look at it as one step closer to your next success.

Cultivate the “Failure Faith” mentality and embrace failure as a necessary step in adjusting your path. Now you know to stop wasting your efforts on the wrong things.

Use your failure to course correct toward moving yourself in the right direction.

Learn what you do best and do more of it.

Pursue opportunities to use what you do best by following the money. Just because you love to shoot a particular genre doesn’t mean you should become the best at it if there is no money in it.

Ask for assistance, learning from others, cultivate a network.

Be persistent and never give up!




So believe in yourself, you are worth it. Don’t doubt your dreams. You can do what you love and be paid for living it!


{Big hugs}






What is your opinion about failure? Share your comments below…



Grab a free download of Mimika’s book here

husband thinks I27m crazy (1)

My husband thinks I’m crazy… by Lisa Francescon

Lisa FrancescanWhen I told him I was thinking about getting half naked in front of a camera. “Why would you want to do that?” he asked. And he’s right. I don’t care to have my picture taken. I tend to tense up when the girls get out their little point and shoot cameras.


Last June, I took a Noir Portraiture Class. I then returned home to photograph a couple of sessions.  After working with the models who were at the class, and then my clients, I found that this was something I wanted to do for myself too.


When I signed up for the class, I assumed that the focus would be working with women to capture the beauty of their bodies through light. It was. However, there was another element that was addressed that day. My instructor is a true believer in telling a story every time you pick up a camera. He has pounded this into my head often. Not only am I photographing women; but I am telling a story as they reveal their wonderful personalities and their inner beauty. What a marvelous thing to capture.




By the way, both models in the class were in their 40′s. I photographed the two women under the instruction and guidance of Michael Barton. As the day progressed and we continued to photograph them, their confidence was astounding and not once did either of them whisper, “You can Photoshop that, right?”


Not only did I learn to light; but I walked away with the tools and understanding that I needed to tell a story.


But as a photographer, I believe that although the goal is to tell the stories of our clients, shouldn’t our own stories be told? Shouldn’t we experience what we want our clients to? A year ago, we had our family portraits made. I spent the time putting together the outfits, stressing over my hair and crossing my fingers that my girls would behave for our photographer.




Now it is time to take another journey as a photographer. My Noir session has been scheduled. And I’m beginning the process of deciding what I am going do with my hair, makeup, and clothing (or lack of) that I will take to my session next month. Am I nervous? Absolutely!  However, I’m kind of excited and intrigued with the story that will be told of me.


How will you tell your story?


[blockQuote position="center"]

“As if you were on fire within. The moon lives in the lining of your skin.”

~Pablo Neruda



Until next time,

lisa signature jpg






follow your heart

Follow Your Heart by Lisa Francescon

Lisa FrancescanI’m going to start this blog saying that I truly believe in competition. I’ve been competing with the PPA for four years now, and the lessons I’ve learned have been incredible and have truly contributed to my growth as a photographer.


In trying to become more proficient in competition, I’ve taken two classes that focus on the 12 elements and what the judges look for in a print. When I worked with clients, I made sure that I was not only shooting for them, but was always on the lookout for a competition print.


I gave myself self-assignments in hope that I would receive the coveted merits from the PPA.


However, as I was constantly shooting for competition, I was losing something. My vision of what my work should look like and feel like. Although I thought I was telling a story, it wasn’t the story that I wanted to tell in my heart. It was becoming the story that I thought the judges wanted to hear.

0013 rose

Because of this, my competition work was not receiving the high marks I wanted. It was not reflecting how I felt and viewed my world.


So I reassessed my goals and took a break. I started over with a clean slate.


I have a love for the artists that were painting during the Impressionist period and knew in my heart that’s where I wanted my inspiration to stem from as I told stories through my camera.


In order to do that, I went back to the basics—lighting patterns. Rembrandt, loop lighting, modified loop lighting, sidelighting, backlighting, and even horror lighting became my focus. I went out and purchased a styrofoam mannequin head. It sits on the corner of my desk and I have been known to use the flashlight on my phone to practice the lighting patterns.


As I was working with clients, I slowed down and watched the true stories unfold, capturing them as I placed my finger on the shutter.


In making this decision to change how I was doing things, something incredible happened to my business. My work was setting itself apart from the sea of photographers and clients, both old and new were starting to take notice. As I watch many photographers in my area shut down their studios and go out of business, I continue to thrive.


And although that is the first thing I must focus on as a business owner, I’m ready to return to competition.  For the first time, I’m not scrambling to find images that might work and I’m enjoying working through the process.


Next month, the Professional Photographers Association of Northern Illinois will have print competition following the meeting. This is my first competition since I’ve changed my focus. Not sure what the judges will think of the images when they swing around. However, no matter what the score, the lessons I’ve learned in the last few months will carry me forward.


Until next time,

lisa signature jpg





DSC_6760 2