The internet is the coolest place! It is such a rad experience to meet amazing people in your field. Keith is an online friend who I will finally meet in February! SO EXCITED! I love watching his posts come up in my feed. I love this creativity and his connection with this clients. His dramatic lighting and creative eye help create unique images for High School Seniors. Come see why I wanted this amazing man on my blog!
Keith Powell Photography
Southwest Arkansas Senior Photographer
Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with photography.
I have to adopted children who are real brother and sister. My daughter Madison is 13 and my son Corey is 12. They are the reason that I do everything that I do.
What or who inspired you to be a photographer?
My grandfather and Uncle Bob (I’m not kidding, I really do have an Uncle Bob). They were both really into photography while I was growing up. We would get really pissed off every holiday because they had to take about a million photos while we were together. I’m now the guy everyone gets mad at.
In the professional photography world, no one has influenced me or touched my life more than David Jay. Truthfully, he probably has no idea how much of an impact he has had on me. The way I run my business, the way I look at others, and the way I treat others is a direct result of watching and learning from him, and for that I will always be grateful.
How long have you been a professional photographer? And when did you know you wanted to do photography?
I bought my first “professional” camera 8 years ago. When I was in high school I was really into photography but I lost interest soon after. I went for years without taking a picture or even owning a camera. My Uncle Bob really got me interested again with his passion for wildlife photography, so in 2005 I bought a Canon Rebel and it’s been my passion ever since.
Describe your style in 3 words.
Dramatic, Cinematic, Classic with edgy twist
What does your photography focus on?
I have always said “I’m a wedding photographer”, and I really do love shooting weddings. However, my plan in 2014 is to specialize in high school seniors. Being around seniors keeps me feeling young and I love working hard to give them a unique experience and to provide them with art and not just pictures.
What would we find in your camera bag?
I don’t know if this is a secret or not, but I always carry rubber cement. It allows me to set things on fire! Not like buildings or anything, just basketballs, baseball bats, etc.
Where do you go to learn more about the art of photography?
If I have a question about anything (photography related or not), I go ask Trevor Dayley. He is my brother from another mother and is always willing to help me with my business, my life, my goals, really anything. You can follow The Life of Trevor. I find a lot of inspiration on F-Stoppers. There are so many amazing writers and topics on there. I always find something valuable.
Others who inspire me:
Chad DiBlasio – http://www.diblasiophoto.com/
Timothy Eyrich – http://timothyeyrichphotography.com/
Matt Kennedy – http://www.mattkennedy.ca/
Carrie Swails – http://carrieswailsphotography.com/
Jenn Bischof – http://www.jennbischof.com/#/water/
3 Pieces of Advice for Beginning Photographers
1. Shoot anything and everything until you find out what you absolutely love. Then, only shoot that.
2. Find a community of like-minded photographers to join and focus on serving and helping them. You and your business will be blessed because of it. None of us can do it alone.
3. Remember that your clients can get great photography anywhere (and probably at a cheaper price). They can never go anywhere else and get YOU. YOU are the product. Be the best you that you can be.
You are killing it in the High School Senior market! What would you say are your best marketing tools to reach Seniors and their parents?
Facebook is where I market my business. There are so many ways to do it, but I feel like that’s where conversations are happening in our world today, and marketing is all about conversations. The great thing about conversations is that they are free (most of the time). No one wants to hear me say “I’m a great photographer so you should hire me”, but if a client has a conversation with a friend and they tell them that, and they show them the images I shot for them, then it has meaning, and it’s powerful, and they trust it. Facebook is one of the things that allows those conversations to happen.
How would you go about lighting a subject with off camera flashes for a dramatic look?
The first thing I do is set my camera ISO to 100 and my shutter speed to 1/125. I turn my trigger off so there is no flash. I adjusted my aperture until the sky until it is about 1 stop underexposed (or it until I think it looks cool!).
If I’m shooting a female I will put my Alien Bee at about 45 degrees to the subject. For a male, I will go as far as 90 degrees to give them a real masculine look and feel.
Depending on how much daylight I have, I will adjust the power on the Alien Bee anywhere between 1/4 to full power (full power if there is bright sunlight). I have a 30″x40″ softbox on the Alien Bee.
I will also (most of the time), set up a bare Canon 580EXII flash about 45 degrees and zoom it in some to give a nice hair light and to separate the subject from the background if needed.
I then just adjust my aperture until I’m happy with the photo.
Your images are very unique to you. What would you say is your “secret” to getting the amazing images that we love so much?
Well, first of all, thank you! There really isn’t a secret. I spend a lot of time trying to get to know my clients before the session. It’s really hard to shoot a session for someone if you know nothing about them. When they go into the session knowing that I genuinely care about them, it helps them relax and gets them excited about being there. It also builds trust, which is vital to any business.
Can you tell us what gear and lighting you use?
My main gear:
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 24-70mm 2.8 lens
Canon 70-200mm 2.8 lens
Alien Bee B1600 Flash Unit
Canon 580EXII flash
Pocket Wizard Plus II triggers
What would you tell someone who wants to break into their local Senior Photography market?
The first thing I feel like you need to do is to get yourself in front of high school juniors and seniors. Get to know as many of them as possible. The first seniors I shot were kids from my church. Most of them I shot for free. I got to know them and built a relationship with them and their parents. Because I did this, I was asked to shoot proms and homecomings, where I got to know even more of them. When you’re a senior, you have a lot of stuff going on in your life and your attention span is pretty short. I try my best to make them feel like they are a part of something, that they belong and that I value them. I start each senior relationship with the mindset of “what can I do for them, and how can I serve them”. If I do this right and do it from the heart, then they will tell their friends. I won’t have to market myself at all. My clients will do it for me because I put in the time and energy to get to know them and to give them something of value. Again, it’s all about conversations. There WILL be a conversation about you. You control whether or not that is a good or bad conversation.
In a digital world, what are you doing to stay relevant in the Senior market as far as products vs owning the print rights?
I’m a shoot and share photographer. I truly believe that my business is better because of this approach. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me. Like you said, this is a digital world. My seniors could care less about an 8×10 to hang on their wall. They care about showing off their images on the only wall that matters to them, their Facebook wall. They want (and deserve) to have full freedom to share their senior pictures with the world. PASS gives me the ability to give them that freedom. I love using PASS because my clients love it. However, I’ve learned over time that there are certain products that the parents want. In 2014, I plan to add select products to certain packages to help give both the senior and their parents exactly what they want.
What are you most proud of professionally?
The friendships I’ve built over the years is what I’m most proud of. There are very few things as important as having true friends.
What are your goals for the future?
I would love to one day reach a point where I feel comfortable teaching others photography. I’m a pretty quiet guy most of the time and public speaking is not my thing. I have a lot to learn before I reach that point, but giving back and helping others the way others have helped me is my goal.
Click “Like” to let us know you were here! And leave Keith some LOVE!