Buissink Workshop Notes


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Feb 29, 2004
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I took about 3 pages of notes during the workshop that Malachite and I took with Joe Buissink. Some of the things he had to say were no surprise and some really made me think. Either way, the guy really knows his stuff. He shoots and does business very much 'outside of the box'. The workshop was $139 but would have been a bargain at twice the price. I learned so much and I think Malachite has a new photo hero. :lol: For those of you that are interested, here is the first installment of my notes of Joe's tips.

Joe charges on a flat rate basis for his time = fee based. 7 hours of coverage for $10k. He ALWAYS retains his copyright on all of his shoots but offers up negatives and digital files to his clients as he feels that they are their images. He shoots primarily film - mostly black and white with digital and IR as well. He is now shooting weddings as a 2nd shooter. He's hired an assistant to shoot all of the standard stuff (1st shooter) and he feels that being 2nd shooter frees him up to play (aka be more creative).

He shoots roughly 2000 images per wedding with digital proofs are given on cd with film proofs presented as 3x5s in a 5x7 box purchased from DNL Frames. He isn't concerned with his clients scanning to make prints for 'Uncle Bob' as his main after wedding sale is albums. Most weddings take 2 to 3 volumes. He puts no more than 3 images to a page and each volume contain 80 - 100 images. His albums are printed by Leathercraftsman or Graphi Studio and he sets them up using a sketch pad that he has the client sign each page off on. 50% is due upon signing to hold the date with the balance due 2 weeks before the event. 50% is due upon approval with the balance on pick up. He uses A&I, Still Moving Pictures, Image Experts for his regular prints. He believes that his work is a 50/50 deal with half being his vision and half being his printer's work. Display prints are hand printed on double weight fiber based paper by Robert Cavali. He's expensive but he's definitely worth the money as his prints are works of art all on their own.

He never takes deposits, he takes retainers. A deposit is refundable but a retainer isn't in the event that a client cancels or doesn't pay the balance. He does offer refunds if he is able to rebook the date. He has 2 part timers that work on albums, prescreen clients and act as assistants at weddings. When he meets with prospective clients he shows them prints instead of albums. Lights dimmed, candle lit with soft music playing, he brings out one print at a time and tells the story about that moment. By the time they see the 3rd print they are usually in tears and are ready to sign. His standard mark up for prints is double his cost.

Tune in tomorrow for more business, tech and shooting tips from Joe Buissink. :mrgreen:
Thanks for sharing sharing that, PG. I have seen his DVD . It's amazing to see him at work. He shoots from the heart!

He never takes deposits, he takes retainers. A deposit is refundable but a retainer isn't in the event that a client cancels or doesn't pay the balance.
Good info. I was under the assumption that both were same and that it isn't refundable.
Even though i'm in oz, very informative! thanks and look forward to hearing more tomorrow! xx one dicky question though....."His standard mark up for prints is double his cost"...do you mean if his costs are say $10 for a 5x7" he charges $20 OR... is this $20 on top of his 'price' - sorry!!!?????? x
Great stuff, I also look forward to reading more.
jemmy said:
....."His standard mark up for prints is double his cost"...do you mean if his costs are say $10 for a 5x7" he charges $20 OR... is this $20 on top of his 'price' - sorry!!!?????? x
Your cost times 2 is what was meant. Which is a standard practice in most businesses for mark up of a finished product or part you had to buy to repair something.

Awesome, thanks so much guys!
Final Installment of Joe's notes

Marketing tips for the just starting out...
Submit your work to Inside Weddings (or any regional publication) to the Photo Editor's assistant. Photo editors 'round file' almost everything as they rely on their assistants to screen the photos. Just make sure that your cover letter states "Mandatory Photo Credit". If they choose to use your work for the magazine, your name will be seen by every bride that reads it. Network with coordinators, caterers, venue managers and florists. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get jobs. When you can't get an appointment with a top coordinator, just show up. It's easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission at that point. This is exactly how he got to shoot Kelsey Grammar's wedding.

PJ = Camera Unaware. He often shoots with the camera nestled in the crook of his arm. Know where your focus light hits for aim. Formals are almost always wanted by the bride and groom or their families but should only take 15 to 30 minutes. He poses them by telling them to "stand over there" and lets them pose themselves. That way the people that don't like each other stand away from each other, everyone else stands where they want. They are all comfortable so they'll smile. He only adjusts if people are standing in front of each other blocking the shot.

He shoots RAW almost exclusively in P mode (P = professional) using the center AF sensor and matrix metering. He states that with all the sensors in the camera, you can't possibly out think it. This is where knowing your equipment comes in. If you see a back lit scene, point the camera at a darker spot, lock the exposure and then raise the camera and take the shot. It takes a lot longer to manually adjust the camera than it does to just lock the exposure, re-point the camera and shoot. Shoot with wide open aperatures to blur the background and capture the moment before your subject reacts to seeing you. If a shot is soft but the bride and groom love it because it captured the moment, who really cares if it's soft.

Use available light. If flash is what's available, use it. Fill flash outside setting - 1/2 to -2/3. Inside during receptions, common exposure is 1/4 of a second with 1st curtain sync panning with the motion. For more (reflective) light - no need to carry extra lights or reflectors. Just use what's available... sheets, pillows, curtains, the train of the dress, table cloth, etc. For subtractive light, use a man's jacket or any other black cloth.

IR shots are shot with Kodak IR film rated at 250 ISO using a medium yellow (not red) filter. Make sure your camera doesn't have the IR advance feature as it will fog your film. Bridal portraits have an ethereal quality with IR. He feels that film is a niche market and he uses t-max. His film is all hand processed by Robert Cavali by inspection method to make sure the developement is spot on.

Building a rapport with your customer makes capturing the moment easier. Build trust. It helps your cutomers to open up, show emotion. He has at least 2 meetings with the bride and groom plus an engagement sitting. This way despite the fact that he's paid, he's more like family or an invited guest. He is rather touchy but watches body language to make sure they are comfortable with the physical contact.

PP of A has great standard contracts but have an attorney review them to make sure they are suitable for your business. Make sure you submit your work (tiny thumbnails on a dvd) to the Library of Congress annually to copyright them.

He has a liability and theft umbrella policy for $2 million through Harford Insurance that costs about $500 per year.

Joe's phrase - There are no perfect pictures, only perfect moments. :mrgreen:

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