…While Helping “Average” People Make a Great First Impression
We have all been there, standing in the checkout line at the grocery store. Our eyes seem to have a mind of their own. We don’t want to look, but we do. Our gaze wanders from headline to headline, heralding the latest celebrity gossip. And as we scan from cover shot to cover shot, we often ask ourselves the same question: “Are those real?”
We know that the Madison Avenue media machine uses the tool of digital photography to capture our attention with cover pictures and ads intended engage our senses. We are bombarded with the glossy results of this advanced technology. Eyes that look brighter and younger. Bodies that look more toned than they really are and of course the touched and re-touched breasts. Oh, and hair. The perfect hair.
All of this is done in order to persuade us to buy stuff that we are made to believe we want and need. That’s how the ad world is ostensibly “helping” us.
How about you? Whether or not you are a business owner, we are all in the business of helping others solve problems. Whether it is working for a company that provides products or services. Whether it is satisfying orders or providing customer service, the professional life of a professional is about making things work better for others.
In this three-part article, it is my privilege to share an interview with a couple of talented people. These are two people who harness the same photographic technology and techniques that I described above. But in this case, the tools that are routinely used to make many feel inadequate are instead used to improve the lives of real people like you and me.
The Digital Age Is Here…
… And with it, the opportunity to make the real look unreal and to make the good look better. Such technology also has the potential of making us feel better, or worse, depending upon the view we have of ourselves.
I recently gained some valuable insight into this dynamic when I sat down with a very talented professional photography team. Meet photographer, Corey Schatz, and his partner, Kat, the administrator and booking agent. I met them at their very clean, very busy, cutting edge, custom-built photography studio in Lakewood, Washington. Their business: DigiShotz.
For the past several years, the economy has been tough for a good many industries. So, I was curious how it is that, in such trying economic times, these small business owners have kept so busy. I also wanted to know what obstacles they have overcome to achieve their success. And finally what, if any, obstacles they are good at helping others overcome.
For starters, I was given a quick tour of the facility. It features a photo studio, the interior of which is two stories high and boasts enough space for vehicles and large group shots. But it can also easily be closed-in for single person photo sessions.
Another separate room upstairs is home to a small video studio for taping video blogs, interviews, etc. These spaces are lined by a shadow-free, soft, bright white background.
Many of DigiShotz’s projects utilize what is referred to as a “chroma key” background (commonly referred to as “green screen”). This is a special effect that, in post-production, makes something called “digital layering” possible, which is the same technology weather anchors use on the evening news. The desired background is digitally inserted “over” anything green. This makes it possible for a picture of a beach in Fiji to be put in the background.
Or if it is a video shoot, a person can be standing in front of the camera, wearing a tank top. Behind them, the viewers would see the trees moving in the wind and the gentle waves caressing the shoreline. Is he in a tropical setting or in a studio? Well, only the photographer or videographer knows. With this cool technology, the subject can be digitally inserted anywhere in the world and/or in just about any situation imaginable… from the DigiShotz studios.
After the shots are taken, some pretty high-end software comes into play to do all kinds of special digital enhancements to every frame. Hence, the business name: DigiShotz, a direct reference to the state-of-the-art technology they bring to bear in every project.
So, if anyone can share the secret to success in this industry, it would be these two. But what about the ways in which the latest photographic technology reflects where we are as a society? They can speak to that too.
Over the years, Corey and Kat have interacted with literally thousands of individuals who have sought the photographic expertise of the DigiShotz duo. Most of DigiShotz’s work comes from professionals who want to harness the power of branding. These are people who wish to upgrade their “look” in photographic form. As such, both Corey and Kat have a fairly up-to-date and unique perspective on the impact technology has on the popular culture. They also see, first hand, the impact technology has on consumers.
I posed my first question to Kat. She is generally the first company representative people make contact with. She speaks with the clients on the phone. And she is also the first person greeting them when the client first arrives at the DigiShotz studios.
JIM: So, can your company be blamed as part of our society’s shallowness problem, or credited as part of the solution?
KAT: [she smiles at this question] I don’t think we can blame technology for bad things, or give it credit for solving anything for that matter. People can either use technology to do good things or bad things. Technology is just a tool. So, if anything, I think we are part of the solution. We use technology to do good things.
Your True Self in Photographic Form
Corey began by discussing how today’s photography client expects the finished product to look: “People are sometimes overly expectant of us achieving their idea of perfection. Now that airbrushing can be done digitally, . We have a strong desire to improve our looks. Part of that is from seeing the beautiful people on magazine covers. We see how celebrities are made to look better than they actually look in person. Frankly, there have been times when I have had to remind clients that that stuff isn’t real. They shouldn’t want to look unreal either.”
JIM: So, as a professional photographer, what problem would you say you are you solving for your clients? What obstacles do you help people overcome?
TO BE CONTINUED…