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The Photographer’s Pen Pal Promo Piece

The Photographer’s Pen Pal Promo Piece

One of the most important things I’ve learned during my ongoing adventure as a small-town, self-employed photographer is that nothing is more important than the relationships I’m building. So when I decided sometime last year that I was going to do a 2012 promo I wanted to create something that looked elegant, something that the recipients could be a part of and most importantly, something that could start building long-lasting relationships.
What I ended up with is what I‘ve been calling “The Photographer’s Pen Pal Promo Piece” (the most important part of this mailer is the 4×6 self-addressed-stamped postcard but we’ll get to that a little later). 75 went out in total and while I did send about 15% to some heavy hitters around the country, most of my efforts were concentrated near where I live here in South Carolina. I focused my mailing list on art directors, creative directors, editors, photo editors and in-house marketing personal. I reached out to as many of my friends as I could to make sure I was getting the right names and positions of the people I want to connect with (one advantage of living in a smaller market is that you’re never very far from someone who knows someone) and for the ones I couldn’t get to through friends, I used Google and LinkedIn for the information I needed.

I should also go ahead and mention that I started a 2″ x 2″ vinyl sticker campaign on the streets last summer using only my logo, which you’ll see through out this promo. I’m working on more of a long-term approach than a shot-gun campiagn.

Let’s start with the design choices and the little details. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a designer but I knew I wanted this promo to have the same feel as my website which is primarily black. So I decided on using black envelopes. I started with a 6×9 black envelope and screen-printed my return address on them with off-white water-based ink. Screen-printing also allowed me to create a “Please Do Not Bend” label that coordinated with my logo.

One of the many reasons for sending out a multiple mailer and not an email blast every month or six weeks is that I don’t get a lot of junk mail anymore, not in my mailbox anyway, I get plenty in my inbox. So when someone takes the time to send me something through the post office, handwritten and addressed to me, I tend to pay attention. For the hand written names and addresses I used a silver gel pen.

What came next was the insert. This is what holds the content of the promo together. It’s a 5.25 x 7.25 black-invitation envelope. On the front near the bottom it’s been screen-printed with my logo and name in black ink. Black on black keeps it subtle yet noticeable.

Continuing the black on black theme when it’s flipped over to be opened I used a black-wax seal with my logo to hold the flap closed and tie everything together.

When the envelope is opeded the first thing the viewer finds is a small note addressed to them personally. It reads:

“Hi Lisa,
In an effort to get to know one another I’ve put together a small
package for you to explore. I wanted to show you some of the
newest work I’ve been creating and to also give you an opportunity
to challenge me while telling me something about yourself.

Please take a moment to delve into this envelope, when you get to
the self-addressed-stamped postcard, tell me in one word what
you’d like to see me make a picture of. Put your return address on
it and drop it in the mail. I’ll make a photograph based on your
word and mail it back to you.

In the meantime, if you have any questions feel free to send me
an email directly to ian@iancurcio.com
Your Visual Pen Pal,”

And then I’ve signed them.

There is more to this promo than where we are at this point in the post but this is the heart of it. This is the very idea that I’m hoping will allow me to start building a long-lasting relationship with future clients. It opens the door for us to continue the conversation and it becomes more personal now because they have a chance to challenge me to create something specifically for them. Not-to-mention it’s completely risk free for them to participate. All they’re doing is thinking of the most ridiculous word they can come up with (at least that’s what I would be doing) and dropping it in the mail. It’s up to me at that point to keep things interesting but I’m getting ahead of myself, that’s round two. Let’s get to the rest of what’s in this first promo.

I wanted to keep the element of surprise coming so I’ve added one-more black envelope. This one is a coin envelope 2.5 x 3.5 and it’s also screen-printed black on black with just my logo. Inside is a double-sided business card, another card with an image on the front side and a QR code of the back (the white-square spaces have been filled with my logo – see detailed image below) and of course the 2×2 vinyl sticker that I’ve been putting out on the streets for the past six months.

What good is a photographer’s marketing piece without some more images? For this I added six images on three double-sided 5×7 cards. Each with my contact information on them incase they were to get separated from the pack.

Here’s the postcard image:

I did all the work myself. It was a lot of long hours and late nights but I was able to save a good bit of money doing it this way. I’m also ahead of the game for round two when it’s time to start sending back all those individually made images based on each person’s word.

About the author: Ian Curcio is an editorial and commercial photographer. You can visit his website here and his blog here.

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KillShot: A Camera Rifle for Hunting with Photos Instead of Bullets

KillShot: A Camera Rifle for Hunting with Photos Instead of Bullets

The KillShot is a rifle-shaped digital camera that’s designed to let hunters shoot photographs instead of bullets without losing the feel of working with a rifle. Designed to look just like a standard hunting rifle, the camera features a scope with crosshairs on top that serves as the viewfinder. The resulting photographs serve as trophies for your kill that offer proof of your skill at stalking and outsmarting your prey. While it’s only a design at the moment, there’s currently a Kickstarter campaign that aims to make the KillShot a reality. A 50 contribution will pre-order one for you if the fundraising is successful.

Harmless Hunter (via Gizmodo)

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Sony Unveils the A57 SLT: Improved Shooting Speed and Autofocus

Sony Unveils the A57 SLT: Improved Shooting Speed and Autofocus

Sony has announced the Alpha A57 pellicle mirror camera, the successor to its A55 released a year and a half ago. While the sensor resolution is still 16-megapixels — no megapixel war here — the new camera has an increased ISO limit of 16,000 (up from 12,800), a faster continuous shooting rate of 12fps (up from 10), and an improved 15-point AF system with enhanced object-tracking and snappy AF during HD video recording. It can also capture full HD video at 60p, 60i, and 24p. It’ll be priced at 00 for the body only (or 00 with a 18-55mm kit lens) when it hits store shelves next month.

In an interview with Amateur Photographer, Sony states that it will be targeting the DSLR market with its SLT cameras, and that it’s unlikely the company will ever release another traditional DSLR camera.

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Existing Sigma SD1 owners will get approximately ,800 in reward points back

Existing Sigma SD1 owners will get approximately ,800 in reward points back

When Sigma UK announced their reward points program, they actually provided a monetary value of JPY400,000 (around 800) that will be distributed to existing SD1 owners. The US press release from last month did not specify the exact value of the rewards plan. The initial SD1 price was ,899, the new price is ,299 – a ,600 difference.

From Sigma UK press release:

We will be offering a “SIGMA SD1 Point Support Program” for current SIGMA SD1 owners.

This “SIGMA SD1 Point Support Program” will provide points that can be exchanged for a selection of our products worth up to approximately JPY400,000-.
*Points for each product were allocated based on the current market price as of February 8th, 2012.

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Sigma Rewards SD1 Customers Who Purchased Before Massive Price Drop

Sigma Rewards SD1 Customers Who Purchased Before Massive Price Drop

Sigma made a bold move with its SD1 DSLR camera last month, slashing ,400 off the camera’s list price to drop it from ,700 to ,300. The “street” price — how much the camera is actually priced in stores — was lowered from ,900 to ,300. If you thought customers who had purchased at the high price had been betrayed, think again: Sigma is rewarding those customers handsomely for their loyalty. Sigma has announced the details of its “SD1 Point Support Program” that awards those customers with 40 reward points. Those 40 points can be redeemed for ¥400,000 in Sigma gear — that’s ,800 in new gear despite the fact that the price drop was only ,600! This only applies to customers who purchased the SD1 at full price before February 23rd, and you’ll need to contact Sigma directly to claim your rewards.

(via Sigma via DPreview via PopPhoto)

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Fuji promises a modified sensor for the white disc blooming issue, not clear who will get it

Fuji promises a modified sensor for the white disc blooming issue, not clear who will get it

Fujifilm issued a statement about the “white disc/sensor blooming” issue reported few months ago. In addition to the Finepix X10, the X-S1 camera is also impacted. A new firmware for the X-S1 will be released on March 21st. The second part of the statement is confusing – Fuji have developed a modified sensor that will resolve the issue and it will be available from late May 2012. Will all current Fuji X10 owners get their sensor replaced? Will the new sensor be included only in new X10 cameras?

The FUJIFILM X10 and X-S1 digital cameras were made available by Fujifilm late last year, and have been generally very well received by customers, who admire the excellent picture quality, manual zoom lens and viewfinder.

However, we did receive some inquiries concerning the so-called ‘white disc’ or ‘blooming’ occurrence, where exceptional highlights in the picture can appear as strongly delineated rounded shapes. This ‘blooming’ effect can occur with all digital cameras which use CMOS sensors, to varying degrees. It can also occur with the X10 and X-S1 when shooting in certain conditions, e.g. cars with front lights shining in dark night scene. The X10 and X-S1 are fitted with a very advanced sensor, which gives excellent picture quality and low noise, but which does give a different ‘blooming’ effect from other cameras.

Fujifilm has a long-standing history of delivering top quality products to the market. In response to our customers’ comments, we have worked hard to find an improvement to reduce the ‘blooming’ effect of the X10 and X-S1. Below are the actions we have undertaken.

In February, we announced a firmware upgrade for the X10 (version 1.03) which does reduce the white disc occurrence specifically in EXR mode. It works by identifying scenes that are likely to get ‘white disc’ blooming. When the camera recognizes such a scene, it automatically increases the ISO and optimizes DR (dynamic range). As the ISO increases, the white discs are less evident. * New firmware for the X-S1 will be available from March 21, 2012.

We will also develop a modified sensor, which will more universally resolve the ‘white disc’ blooming effect in all modes. We are working hard to make this new sensor available from late May 2012.

We encourage any customer with an X10 and X-S1 who has experienced the ‘white disc’ phenomenon to call their local authorized Fujifilm service centre.

Fujifilm is committed to delivering the highest quality products to the photographic community, and is happy to provide this improvement.

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DIY Gyroscopic Camera Stabilizer Made On the Cheap

DIY Gyroscopic Camera Stabilizer Made On the Cheap

Physics guru David Prutchi recently came across a line of professional grade gyroscopic camera stabilizers by Kenyon Laboratories. They cost thousands of dollars each, but Prutchi noticed that the designs hadn’t changed much since they were first patented in the 1950s. He then set out to create his own DIY version using low-cost gyroscopes from Gyroscope.com. His finished device (shown above) actually helps stabilize his DSLR when shooting video or when photographing with non-image-stabilized lenses.
Here’s a short video demo showing what it does for unstable handheld video recording:

While it certainly doesn’t go toe-to-toe with the professional-grade stabilizers, it’s neat that this kind of thing can be built on the cheap and at home. If you want to try your hand at making your own, Prutchi has written up a step-by-step guide of what he did.

DIY Gyroscopic Camera Stabilizer that Really Works! (via Make)

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Reminder: Change the Clocks in Your Cameras for DST

Reminder: Change the Clocks in Your Cameras for DST

Daylight saving time started this past Sunday. Unless you’ve been operating an hour off from those around you, you probably remembered to change the clocks around your home and in your car… but did you remember to change the clock in your camera?

Image credit: Reminded by kayakeverywhere

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Pentax K-01 Headed To Stores

Pentax K-01 Headed To Stores

The uniquely styled camera is now shipping in the USA

The Pentax K-01 made a splash when it was announced due to its unconventional design by Marc Newsom, but packs some decent internal features, too. Now, Pentax has just announced the availability of this camera, and it’s heading out to stores in the USA as we speak.

The K-01 is available in black, white, or signature yellow, and is available in a kit with the PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 XS, which the company is calling “the world’s thinnest interchangeable lens.” It packs a 16-megapixel APS-C sensor, and a sharp 3-inch, 920K dot LCD. The body on its own has an asking price of 49.95 and the lens kit will be 99.95.

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