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Presenting Image to Client

Lesson 31 from: Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World

Karen Alsop

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Lesson Info

31. Presenting Image to Client

Lesson Info

Presenting Image to Client

I would like to share with you another of the stories. Another heART Project that we created recently and this one was for Sienna and her family. So the background of Sienna is that she comes from a set of triplets, so she actually has two older brothers but she's just turned six, and her brother and sister that are six, so a set of triplets. And Sienna has cerebral palsy, and she is unable to walk. She's unable to speak, and she's regulated to a chair, and she watches, her parents wrote to me basically and said, "She sits and she watches her brother and sister "and she wishes she could fly with them." And when they sent that to me, I was really moved to create something for her. To be in that position and to have a brother and sister that are fully able and just to watch them, just must be so tough. And for the family to have to, just continually support her and work around that. So when they wrote to me I thought of an image that would help tell Sienna's story, and we talked about it...

and created something that was a fantasy, that was a fairytale, that was a joy for the kids to see, and to be involved in, but it also helped to tell Sienna's story and free her from those restrictions. So I'd like to share that with you now, thank you. (dramatic violin music) Sienna has always, as much as we try to include her in everything we could, unfortunately just because of being in a wheelchair she has always kinda had to sit back and watch her siblings you know fly ahead so to be able to have a photo where she's flying with them like that. That is amazing for us, so thank you. ♪ Hold your breath ♪ ♪ Feel it ♪ ♪ Close your eyes ♪ ♪ Breathe ♪ ♪ Spread your wings ♪ ♪ Feel it ♪ ♪ You can fly ♪ When Sienna's parents contacted me about being part of the heART Project, I read about their story, and immediately I was moved to create something that gave Sienna the ability to fly with her brother and sister. Sienna is six and she is one of a set of triplets. She has a brother and a sister also six, and her brother and sister are unaffected but Sienna has cerebral palsy, severe cerebral palsy, and is unable to walk, unable to speak, and sits in her chair, and watches her brother and sister play, and grow, and I can imagine that deep down inside Sienna would want to be able to do the things that her brother and sister are doing. She's unable to. And so I hope that this project, this heART Project, this image that tells Sienna's story gives her the ability to fly, and brings her imagination to life. (bright music) So today we took part in a heArt Project and it was a chance for Sienna and Karen Gross to come and be a part of this amazing story that Karen's putting together, Peter Pan. And it was so special to us, is that Sienna will be alongside her siblings. ♪ Raise you hand ♪ ♪ Feel it ♪ ♪ Touch the sky ♪ ♪ Feel ♪ ♪ Spread your wings ♪ ♪ Feel it ♪ ♪ You can fly, fly away ♪ (inspirational instrumental music) ♪ Fly away ♪ ♪ Fly away ♪ ♪ Spread your wings ♪ ♪ Feel it ♪ ♪ Close you're eyes ♪ ♪ Feel ♪ ♪ Spread your wings ♪ ♪ Feel it ♪ ♪ You can fly ♪ ♪ Fly away ♪ (gentle piano music) The best one. I can see Sienna in the chair, is that Sienna? (mom laughing and crying) Oh my goodness. She's flying with you. Oh my goodness, that is beautiful. Don't you think it's beautiful. She's out of her seat. Oh my god, you're flying Sienna with Peter Pan, and Grace is there. Cute little Tinker Bell. Look, isn't it beautiful. You're all looking, Yeah looking at each other. You're looking yeah, I love the connection between Harry and Sienna. Yeah it's beautiful. And then Grace was looking at them both. Like I'm actually speachless, I can't, there's nothing I can say that, It's just stunning like. ♪ Have you ever been to Neverland ♪ ♪ Where nothing's by the book ♪ ♪ Where Tinker Bell and Peter Pan ♪ ♪ Make waves for Captain Hook ♪ ♪ Where the dreams we dream are real it seems ♪ ♪ And fantasy is fact ♪ ♪ If you've ever been to Neverland ♪ ♪ You never quite come back ♪ It still tears me up watching it and I've seen it so many times, but to remember the experience of sharing that image with that family for the first time. That was the first time they've seen it, when I shared the print with them. And yeah, it was just an amazing experience and I think it just shows you how important these kind of imagery can be. How important creating joy for families can be. It's not just about fantasy and fun. It can be about changing lives. This family now has that up on their wall and they can look at it. And somehow I hope that it provides hope for them for Sienna's future. Sienna had recently gone to have an operation that would help her. So there is hope for her to maybe walk one day. And yeah just to see that up there I hope encourages her as well. But you can see that printing can also be such a powerful thing. There's so many times we just share our work on the web. But to get this print to this family I needed to drive two hours away to get this to them. I got it framed for them and I took it over to them, and it was just so worthwhile, so much better for them to see that. So this is why I believe in printing. I believe that we spend so much time sharing our images and hoping people will like it on the web. But how the important thing is, these are our clients, these are the people that matter, and this, and seeing that and having that to keep forever is you know a phenomenal thing. So, I hope that encourages you. And yeah the heART Project, this was one of our heART Project images that was actually created in a workshop environment. So in Melbourne we had a workshop where other photographers came to learn about how to create images like this and they were all part of it. And that was the first of our heArt Project workshops, a really, really amazing experience to do that and to, not only for me to create an image for a family, but to be able to help other photographers, and encourage them that they could do the same thing. So pretty amazing. If it's something you wanted to find out more about there is a website called, it's at So there's all of the stories and all of the other activities and things we've been doing recently too, but it's all about photography can make a difference in lives. Yeah, it's pretty amazing, and awesome to be part of it. So thank you, so I'm sure there's possibly some questions, but I'm yeah, anything that, Well first of all Karen, just thank you so much for sharing, sort of again bringing it back to the why we do what we do as photographers, and knowing that it can make such a difference. It's incredible to see. So your journey, as every photographer's journey is different, from wedding photographers, to doing this type of work and finding a niche for that, that is now becoming out of just being a niche, and so for sharing that knowledge with the rest of us, but also the heart of it. We do have some more questions coming in about the whole, how do you do this part, this type of work as a business? So we'll take a few more minutes to answer some of those questions. So to further along that, the road of developing the portfolio, which since this is a unique style and look that everybody has from compositing. How many images or how much time do you think someone should spend creating that portfolio? What would you recommend? For me, I spent a good year creating the portfolio. Now I had the benefit of having portrait clients and having wedding clients that were paying me for general work while I was building that portfolio. At the same time though, I was dropping off all of my advertising and marketing for portraits and weddings. So I was taking a risk and I was wanting to spend a lot more time doing this story at work. So there's some risk involved because the more work you've got in other areas the less time you have to put towards the portfolio building. So I think it really does vary depending on people's situations, as to how much time it takes, because if you're doing it part-time it's going to take longer. But I would spend many hours creating images, finding models, working out where those images would be. The one thing with my portfolio building was though, it wasn't just to put an image up on a website. It wasn't just to have it as a portfolio image. Each image had a purpose. Each finished image had a marketing ability to it, so many of the images were for local shops, boutique shops, that catered to my clientele, to my target market. So I would create the images, I would get them framed, and I collaborated with a framer that would supply those frames at no cost to advertise their framing business. So collaboration is very helpful. So making it so that it's not costing me financially, it's mainly costing me time, and then getting my work out there. So putting those images up in these different places locally. And then expanding that out and getting them onto the websites, into the magazines, into the blogs. So once you've got those images there, getting them out there so other people see them. Entering competitions, everything that you can do to get your images out there. So, it's a process and it's not going to happen overnight, and you have to be willing to invest in that time, but it will pay off if you put the time in. So for me it was a year, but who knows. Well thank you, the question that we expected a lot of people to ask and to want to know, Rowena Cherry. Considering all of the time and skill involved, if you were starting how would you recommend people go about pricing this type of work? What are sort of the considerations that one should take? Okay, very good question. From my experience, what I've realized is that it's very difficult if you price cheaply to start off with. If you are learning though, you are taking a lot longer to do something that later on might take a shorter amount of time. So some of my earlier images could take up to 50 hours, because I'd spend a lot of time playing with them, learning new skills, trying different things out. I can't realistically charge someone for that learning time. So you need to sort of think ahead and work out how much time in the future, when you feel you've got a good idea of what you're doing, would this particular job take, and price for that. And you need to price for your skill as well. So the more skill you have the more you should charge. So charging to little, and just trying to get people in the door, and getting your work out there is not ideal because you'll get known as a cheap photographer. You won't get the right clientele. So as I said before, a lot of my earlier work was portfolio building, I didn't charge for it at all. There would be some clients that would come to me that I would discount but I would tell them very, I'd say don't tell anyone, keep it quiet. This is just between you and me. They had that understanding so if someone else comes to them they don't talk about the price. So you can do that, you can discount if you feel like you've got a good relationship with that client. Maybe it's someone that you know or there's some connection there. But be very careful not to advertise that cheap price out because that will be the stumbling block in the future to charging the right amount. Another thing with what I do here is I don't really advertise a specific price. So I do say that, if someone rings me up and they ask me, I give them a starting price to give them a general idea. But from there we need to sit down and talk and work out how much it's going to cost. So in that respect I'm not setting a precedence with any of my clients. So they are not expecting to pay the same amount as another client because it's based on time, it's based on what's involved, it's based on work. So that's another thing to do. If you set a particular price, like a package price, you're very locked into that and it becomes very hard to jump up to the next price bracket. You'll also need to consider what kind of work you're putting out, how long it takes, whether it's something that you'll speed through. You might as I said earlier, I think that you might have a set background plate that you use multiple times, and you might have a set scene that you photograph multiple times. I've been asked to repeat some of my images and I just won't do it, because for me that degrades my work, and it doesn't work with my marketing plan, so I won't repeat an image. I won't put another child in a plane with a dog because I've already done that and that's like an iconic image of mine. So you need to decide who your target market is and then work with that. So if your target market is actually the lower-end clientele that wants something quickly, maybe you have one background plate or a set of background plates that you start with, and they can choose from that, and you have particular scenes that you work with. Then you charge less because it's less time involved. But you still need to make really the same amount of money that someone that's charging for a lot of time is making, it's just the per hour amount. So you need to think about the per hour amount and work from that. So if you're getting lots of people through the door very quickly you can charge less, it's taking you less time. If you're spending a very long time on a project you need to charge accordingly. So the whole thing with working out how long it's going to take you when you're actually experienced is important. So I'm not gonna charge for 50 hours work, something that I spent 50 hours work on a couple years ago, I would now spend five to 10 hours on. So I would be needing to charge back then the amount that it is for that five to 10 hours per hour cost. And just keeping in mind all of the costs of doing business, and all of the other aspects you need to make sure that you're covering in your business. If you're just starting out, remember there are so many other factors involved in charging. You're not charging a per hour amount that you would work as an employee. You have to pay for your insurances and for all of your property, if you're in a studio. I've got my own studio. So there's many, many different factors involved in pricing but definitely consider the future and don't under-price yourself. Well thank you so much. That was definitely a really big question that a lot of people at home had. And just knowing how you go about it really is an amazing way to go. And like you said, you're positioning it to your clients. You're showing them how much work goes into it with those videos, and the screen-capture, and thinking about it as that commissioned piece. That piece of artwork is a different way to go about thinking about it. Can you give us the tip on how you actually do that screen record for people, what you use? There were people who want to try that too. Yes, absolutely. Now on a Mac I used Screenflick and on a PC, I can't remember the name of it, I think it's Screen Capture, but if you're interested I can send a message somewhere to let people know what that is. Because there are quite a number of screen recording software systems out there, and I did go through quite a few of them, and some are easier to use than others. So finding one that's not too expensive but works well, yeah is really helpful. So I can let people know about that later on as well, if they ask, maybe on my website or something. Exactly, great. So when working with clients, because this is such a time intensive process. What do you set as expectations in terms of the length that this type of project might take from that time of conceptualizing it, to final delivery of a print. I generally allow around three weeks to a month for a project, because we need to have the photography time, and the editing time. So a month is sort of the general amount of time. Sometimes I can do it more quickly if I'm very focused on it and I don't have other projects. I do have one project, one commissioned family piece, that has been dragging out beyond maybe a year. It's fully paid for but it's sort of out of my hands because they've been really busy and they live far way. And just to get that final photo shoot in has been a challenge. So, you know we just keep touching base with that and making sure that we're on track. And so sometimes it can take longer but I always try and make sure that I'm over-delivering. So when I state an amount of time, if I say it's a month, I try and make it happen within three weeks. So always over-delivering and making sure that expectations are met. Well thank you so much for answering just a spectrum of so many questions. Anne Milligan says, "Thanks so much Karen. "I got so much out of it. "Techniques as well as inspiration." So as we finish up the class, do you have any final words of inspiration for folks at home, or something you tell yourself, maybe before you started, and you were doing this type of work? I think that it's never too late to change directions. Sometimes I feel like if I had gone this direction when I was much younger, what would be happening now? But then I realize that all of the work that I've done with wedding photography, graphic design, portrait photography, video, everything in my life is helping me with what I'm doing now. So if you're doing something else, and you do want to change direction, it's not too late. And you know just follow your passion whatever it is. Whatever it is that you love to do, follow your passion because it will bring you so much joy. If you're doing something that you don't enjoy, it's really tough. So just find a way to follow your passion.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

The Story Art Journey eBook
Planning a Composite Video Tutorial (Large download - 1.2gb)

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Photoshop Brushes
Photoshop Hair Brush

Ratings and Reviews

Judy Mitschelen

I've found many great instructors at CreativeLive and Karen ranks right up there at the top! With her relaxed, thoughtful manner of presenting, I was immediately hooked. Her organization, clear explanations and demonstration, and on target response to questions are superb. This course covers an amazing range of skills and tricks of the trade. Whether you're interested in getting better shots to work with, better workflow at the computer, or better output at the end, Karen covers it all.


Karen is very talented and a great teacher and I enjoyed every minute of the course. But what I found to be the best part was seeing what an amazing person she is. The video of compositing the disabled children to make their dreams come true had me in tears. It has inspired me to use my talents to help others and not learn photo manipulation for self enjoyment. God bless you Karen.

Endigo Rae

This was such an amazing class! Karen is so talented, inspiring, and such an amazing teacher. Very forthcoming and open about all of her techniques. I'm so looking forward to jumping into compositing, I feel like this is definitely something my soul desires to explore and Karen has made it so easy and accesible through her beautiful course! Thanks so much Karen and CreativeLive!

Student Work