This is episode number 89, my interview with Michael Downey, head photography instructor at Unique Photo in Fairfield New Jersey and a great friend and he’s also featured in my book, ”Visual Marketing Secrets: how to use smartphone photography to engage online and attract more customers.”
In addition to his teaching classes at Unique University at Unique Photo Camera Store in Fairfield, New Jersey, Michael owns and operates Michael Downey Photography out of Somerville, New Jersey and has photographed hundreds of moderate to high-end weddings throughout the northeast. He also teaches during photo walks and workshops, which I’ve been on myself. His images can be seen at New Century Artists’ Art Gallery in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. So you can see why I was so excited to interview him and gain his insights into photography, especially smartphone photography.
Michael, how did you get your start in photography?
“I actually picked up photography way back in high school. I was an architecture major in college, and I never stopped with the photography. I actually had a whole career in information technology, but even during that time, I stayed with the practice of photography. I found it a wonderful way to express myself. Then in 2001, that’s when I made the career change to become a photographer full-time. In 2001 on, I’ve been doing photography. That’s how I’ve paid the mortgage. I’ve always said that if … I don’t know who said this originally … I heard it was Confucius, but I’ve always said that if you pursue a career you’re passionate about, you never work a day in your life. I determined that I wanted to pursue travel, photography, and teaching. I worked with a wonderful business coach. We developed a career around that, and I’ve been thrilled ever since. Life occurs for me differently since doing that.”
Tell me about your smartphone photography.
“Well, photography … the way I like to say it is, it’s not the violin; it’s the violinist. Once you get proficient at the skills that it takes to take a good photo and use it as a way of self-expression, the medium, or the device that you use can be pretty much anything. Anything that can take a nice photo can be used to communicate what I call that synchronistic moment in your life. That’s what I use my smart phone for, to document the synchronistic moments of my life.”
Can you tell me a little bit about composition and how you compose what’s in the frame of your photographs?
“There are several compositional guidelines, but one of the basic ones is the one that we’re all taught, like even in third grade art class. It’s the rule of thirds. Lots of smart phones, the native camera app, or even the apps that you can buy after-market, have the rule of thirds grids that you can implement. The rule of thirds said very simply means to put your point of interest somewhere other than center square. Put it in one of the other quadrants. Use the quadrants so that you have a more interesting area outside of the center, giving the viewer an area to dance through and then land on the point of interest. You can also use the junction points of the grid. The grid just simply means that it looks like it’s a tic-tac-toe board for field of view, and use one of the other squares. That’s a very simple, very easy to follow guideline. Like I said, most of the smart phone applications, even the native camera applications in smart phones allow you to superimpose the grid on the view finder.”
Tell me a little bit about what your advice would be to a business that wants to take stuff behind the scenes.
“I say no matter what business you’re in, both photography and video can communicate who you are for your community … whether it’s a service or product, who you are. Document everything. Document everything photographically. If videos don’t intimidate you, document things with videos. That gives your prospects an insight as to who you are and what you’re up to, what you’re looking to provide for the community. Learn how to use a camera. It’s going to show them in the best light. That’s one of the things we pride ourselves at Unique Photo, that we have a wonderful university that even if you know nothing about photography. We can get you up to speed and have you document the behind the scenes, the employees. Like I said, whether you’re providing a product … here’s the production. Here’s the end product. Doing that, and doing that on a level that your common customers can relate to makes a huge, huge difference. That’s what building the business relationship really is all about.”
Be sure to listen to this podcast, or watch the video, to hear more of Michael Downey’s insights as a photographer and a business owner.
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Download Transcription for Episode 89 of the Smarter Online Marketing Podcast
Visual Marketing Secrets: How to Use Smartphone Photography to Engage Online and Attract More Customers (Kindle Edition) by Vickie Siculiano (affiliate link) http://amzn.to/1dsZAgY