Part 2: Trends Sometimes, the next big thing taps you on the shoulder.
The suite stretched before me, two lux bedrooms separated by a curved living area, plate glass floor to ceiling windows overlooking the LA skylilne. A white leather sectional sofa in the suite’s living room, full wet bar, and two private bedrooms — both hosting king size beds.
How did I score this? The Westin’s suite was one of the nicest in downtown LA, and I was paying about $200 per night. The benefits of platinum status! (Little did I know this suite was about 5 blocks from the World’s Suckiest 5 Star Hotel, the JW Marriott, where my cameras would be stolen out of my camera bag in their ballroom a couple of years later — and security would shrug, asking me if they were insured. A standard room at the World’s Suckiest 5 Star Hotel goes for $250, FYI. But I digress.)
However, on this day, I felt like a captain of industry. I popped open a bottle of pinot, and sat back on the leather sofa. Pure contentment.
That day I’d spent shooting a greenscreen at the Wango Tango Festival, a hispanic centered outdoor event on LA Live. I’d worked for Got Toyota, a major dealership in LA, and did fake Ryan Secrest meet and greets. The event lasted all day; I was beat.
During the course of the “meet and greet” a guy tapped me on my shoulder.
Now, this is something that drives me nuts. Sometimes it’s an over-zealous client, whispering some instruction in my ear they think I don’t already know. Sometimes it’s a video guy, bitching at me for my flash getting in his shot. And sometimes it’s some arbitrary dude who wants to show me his new camera. W h a t e v e r, dude, I’m working.
“Look, I know you’re busy,”said the shoulder -tapper, “I’m going to shove my card in your pocket. I have software you might be interested in.”
I guess because he was so nice about interrupting me, I’d been diffused. And, as I reclined on the white calfskin sofa in my posh suite, I reached in my pocket and pulled out his card.
WTF, I thought, I might as well see what Brian had to say. I called him, feeling like a big shot in my suite with LA, literally, at my feet.
It turns out Brian had developed some software that ran on a Windows based PC, but used iPads to upload photos, live, to participant social media. I’d been searching for an efficient way to do just that — prior to Brian, there wasn’t any great way of doing it. As he launched into a sales pitch, I cut him off.
“Dude, I am so sold. Just tell me what I need to do to get started.”
Turns out, all I had to do was download a bit of code to my computer. Then download an ap to an iPad. After setting up the event in Brian’s software, the photo would automatically pop onto the iPad and be available for social networking.
I was flying out the next day, so I did the only logical thing: I hit the LAX electronic’s store and bought an iPad. My first. I tested the software, sitting at my gate, waiting for my flight. It worked perfectly.
Brian’s software was a great framework, but I needed a few tweaks to customize it for my business. I started talking to the developer, and he customized the software to my specific needs. That ability to work hand in glove with Brian? It’s what won me my largest client to that date, Honda.
The reason I received the first Honda contract? According to Ashley, there were two: 1) We (Matt and I ) are so full of energy and 2) we had the capacity to upload photos to social media, in a way customized to Honda. #2 was a direct result of Brian, and his slipping his card in my pocket as I was shooting Wango Tango.
Time distance between Wango Tango and the first Honda Indycar shoot? Less than 12 months. More like 6 months.
Brian’s software is now the industry standard, though I still have a few tweaks which help customize it to my business. He’s gone on to roll out one of the best photobooth applications I’ve seen — though I’m not a big fan of photobooths. (I don’t mean the type of photobooth we do, but what I call “vending machine photobooths”, which rely on a technician, not a photographer.) Still, if I was going for a fully automated experience, I’d go with Brian’s booth. And, I think there is a place for them in event photography. It just doesn’t excite me.
And those booths are another photo trend. And, frankly, they’ve cut into a bit of what I do. But I don’t care, it’s a trend I don’t intend to follow — I feel too passionately that a great photo is captured by a great photographer using great equipment. Not just the equipment part (or the photographer part), but both. I’m sure Brian would argue you can PUT a great photographer on a booth — but it just doesn’t seem logical to me. I think I’ll pass.
So, what will be the next big trend? Who will slip their card in my pocket, resulting in a complete remodel of my business? And, more importantly, will I have enough sense to recognize the potential, spend the money on infrastructure, and go for the next big thing?
Sometimes opportunity calls on the phone. Sometimes it is nestled in an email. And, sometimes, it’s slipped into your pocket while you work.
PS — I’ve had some requests wondering why I don’t identify the software by name in my original blog post. Well, you know, you all could do a little research! But, fine. You want to know? You really want to know? It’s Photo Party Upload, and Brian is Brian Miller. There’s no secret, here.
There is also other software out, now, to compete with PPU. I confess I’ve tested it — and while it’s useful for certain things, I find PPU more reliable. The other software is “Pic-Pic”. Google it.
One problem with being a leader — whether you are Brian, from PPU, or myself — people (competitors) are always trying to copy what you do. It’s our job to always stay ahead of that game. With that in mind, I have customized options that differentiate me from other people using this software. But, given the amount of emails I’ve had, I thought it best to clarify.