Coaldale water tower – Some more from days gone by

In the process of cleaning up some old files and came across some more old negatives of the Coaldale water tower.

Coaldale Alberta

Removal of the water tower, shot on film then scanned. I always love it when I come across old negatives or even digital files. History is important and loosing it is worse than loosing the original structure. When we forget something it is gone. For us and for future generations will never get to know what the past was like. Most of the small towns on the prairies are gone forever. Many of the grain elevators are gone, only by pictures can we walk to the past!

WTR1 Coaldale water tower
Coaldale Water Tower Removal #1 © Paterson Photography Ltd.
#2 Tower Removal © Paterson Photography Ltd.
WTR3 Coaldale water tower
Tower Removal #3 © Paterson Photography Ltd.

Grain elevators, our history

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Marketing your Photo Business Part 3

It has been a while since I wrote anything on Marketing your photo business as things have been so busy but over the past several weeks I have been seeing a trend that I have to address.

As you probably know if you are starting a photo business you are competing with dozens if not hundreds of other photographers. Many may have more experience and possibly many have more business knowledge.  One trap that I see so many fall into is that when trying to set themselves apart they do it using negatives, statements like “cheap photos”, “new photographer looking for subjects”, “low prices” and many more statements that do nothing to impress the client.  Yes these statements are setting you apart but in what way?  Do people look at you as a cheap newbie looking for victims to photograph and unless they are related to you will never call?  Are they looking at your pictures on Facebook or Kijiji and saying “these look like a cheap newbies work, why would I want them to photograph me or my family”.

So how do you market yourself?  Look for the positives that you have to offer, statements like “creative black & white photographer”, “artistically oriented photographer” or “photo journalistic wedding photographer” say a lot more positives about you than the negatives. BUT, and this is a big but, NEVER EXAGGERATE YOUR SKILLS or try selling something that is not true!!! Saying “have done dozens of weddings” when you have never done a wedding will come back to hurt you.  Saying “family oriented photographer” when you only shoot cars is going to cause issues. Lethbridge is a small area and people will find out, sometimes quicker than you could imagine!  Also be very careful listing statements like “award winning photographer”. we all know that you can get awards from may places, some less than honest (send $25 and an image and we will award you with one of our exclusive photo awards) is not a honest way to get an award.  Or it is not truthful to say “award winning wedding photographer” when the award that you have is for a picture of a tree and the award says “awarded 117th place in trees of America”.  It has nothing to do with weddings or does it mean anything in the grand scheme of things in relation to a photographers wedding skills.

Before you post any ads think VERY carefully about how you word your ads, before posting photos look over your images and be very critical before posting.  If you are not portraying a very positive truthful image then STOP, you are doing more harm than good.

Who are we……….

Paterson Photography offers a variety of courses, workshops and adventures around Canada.  From our classes at our Lethbridge studio, (our one on one classes and  group classes), adventures, workshops and expeditions and more you will love learning your camera. Visit our web site, E-mail or call for more information.

Paterson Photography is the only custom photo printer in Lethbridge and area.  We offer prints from wallets to 44″x100″ on a variety of media.  No cheap, poor color poster prints – all our printing is done on archival media at the highest resolutions. We print for individuals, companies and groups that want quality prints.

Paterson Photography has operated in Lethbridge Alberta since 1985.  We are proud to offer wedding, graduations, personal portraits, commercial and industrial photography and more.


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The business of photography – Part 2 – Marketing: Prints, Web Sites and Email

Well now that you have gotten through part 1 of the business of photography and my less than encouraging comments lets move on to something a little more encouraging, Marketing.

This is a overlooked area when starting a business.  People think that if they take some okay pictures that word will quickly spread and clients will come beating down the door.  Well in some industries that is what would happen if you have a good product, but in photography it does not happen.   Why? Just look on advertising web sites at the number of people that are doing the same thing as you are.  So what should you do?

1 – Display Prints: First you need to set yourself apart from the crowd.  If you want people to call get some amazing prints and start showing them around.  Put them on web sites, find display space, show them to every potential customer.  Now when I say AMAZING prints I am talking about the best of your best.  Don’t show okay prints.  Don’t have any amazing prints?  Get some.  Start shooting pictures that take time to set up, use great lighting and great subjects.  For the nature people that means get out first thing in the morning or late at night to get the exceptional light.  Everybody else is showing prints shot at 1 in the afternoon with flat light, go for the amazing!

Southern alberta windmills with a full moon
Full moon rising

For the wedding and portrait photographer find poses that will blow the clients away, work on lighting and shoot, shoot, shoot. As for the size of your display prints?  A good saying to go by is “You only sell the sizes that you show”.  I have proven it time and again to people that if you only show 8×10 prints that is the maximum that you will sell, show bigger sell bigger.  People do not want to buy a large print if they do not know you can print that size.

2 – Get a web site and a real E-mailI am not talking about a Facebook page, but a real web site that you can design and modify as you like.  Facebook is not a real web site and limits a lot of what you should be doing.  Nothing wrong with having a Facebook page and your web site but you need to show clients that you are serious and not just a fly by night operation that did not even bother to spend on a real web site.  (Whoops sorry about the honesty again 🙂 )  In addition to a web site get a real E-mail address, not but one that advertises your web site and shows people that once again you are a real business, one like shows people that you have a web site and you have taken some time to set up a business.  Whenever I get an E-mail from a company trying to sell me something the first thing I look for is do they have a real E-mail address, if it is Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail (now Outlook) I am VERY cautious about the company.

Question – Should you spend money at this point to market you web site?  I have to say at this point no.  There is a lot more to do before you should be spending money on SEO and other marketing for your web site.  I would make sure that ANY thing you send out about your business has your web site address on it and you are letting people know about the web site but wait on the marketing of it.



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Buying used – a photographers guide

Buying used can save you some money, if you are careful! Well it is that time of year again when people are looking at either buying a gift for themselves or for someone else. Many people look at used.

This can be a great way to find some good deals but a few things to be careful of:

1- Before you do anything make sure that it is what you want or need. No point in spending $600.00 on a great wide angle lens when you need a telephoto or a portrait lens to do graduations.  Also no point in buying a Nikon body if you shoot Pentax, even with it being a fantastic price.

2 – Make sure what you are buying fits the equipment that you already have and will not cause any harm.  Had a lady bring in a lens last week that was amazing. Unfortunately it was for manual focus Canon cameras (before digital) and would not work with her cameras.  Many lenses will not fit today’s cameras and if they do fit some will not work correctly or at all.  Some equipment like old studio lights will ruin your camera.  I have one set at the studio that I can use as a slave (not hooked up to a camera but triggered remotely).  If I hook it up to the camera it will fry the camera in seconds. Other things like flashes will fit the camera but they do not work correctly. I have one flash that will fire when on the camera so you think it is working. But actually it fires after the shutter has opened and closed and does no good. Had a wedding photographer bring in a beautiful flash that they were told would “fit” their camera and it did fit it. It just did not work.

Check the prices.

3 –  I see a lot of  equipment advertised as “Like new”. Problem is it is priced like it is new as well.  If the equipment has been used, has no warranty,  shows any wear or tear – it should be less than new price. It should not be the same or more. Of course if it is a unusual piece or a collectors item that is different). I just saw a package deal of camera and a couple lenses for $1100 Like new. New price today is $850.00 plus GST – something is wrong with this when you can by new cheaper than used.  Also a lot of photography equipment is listed as “collector piece” and all it is good for is as a paper weight. It is not a collector piece and you can probably buy the same thing at a second hand store for a couple dollars, not the $200 that they are asking.

4 – Try it out with your equipment and take pictures with it.  Then look at the digital files (or negatives) before buying. It may look like it works but only by closer examination will you find a problem.  I remember a client bringing in a camera package that they were going to buy. I checked it out and everything looked great.  He shot a roll of film, had it developed and found that the camera had a MAJOR light leak.

5 – Don’t rush into it. “Limited time offers” or “I have another person that wants this” is more than likely a lie. Usually is done to pressure you and many times people are trying to hide something.

If you are concerned that something is not right walk away. If it feels wrong or to good to be true it usually is.

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Some more work with a Full (or almost full moon)

I have been having a lot of fun these past few months shooting some work with full moons, or as it has been – almost a full moon.  In the past when I have wanted to shoot with the full moon more often than not I never knew when it was going to appear, or where on the horizon, and sky, it would be till it was too late. 

Then I got my hands on The Photographer’s Ephemeris ( and it has helped a lot with my planning of shoots, not only for the full moon but to know what stage the moon is in and where it is in the sky so I can shoot without the moon.  The other thing that I did was to add a calendar on my tablet to let me know the stages of the moon.  Using the two of these tools it has made shooting a lot easier.


The only problem that I have been having is that every full moon for the past several months it has been nice before the moon is full but then the day it is to be full and the days after it has been cloudy.  REALLY frustrating for trying to plan some shoots.  Add to that the light winds that we have been having and long exposures have not been fun.  The shoot shown below I had to shoot in RAW and then really add sharpening to take away from the shake of the camera and tripod because of the wind.

Moon & well
Moon & Well
Moon, Well & City Lights
Moon, Well & City Lights

Or if you want a picture without the moon and need to know that the moon will not be in the picture this is great as well.  Nothing like taking a picture with part of the moon in the picture and you did not want it there.

Oil Well
Oil Well

The other thing that I like about the programs that I am using is that I can locate the rising moon a week or more before and know exactly where the moon was going to rise.  I was always finding out too late that the moon was rising above a great landmark and I was not able to be there to catch it. A number of times I was driving home and watching the moon rise and would have loved to do a picture of the moon with something in front of it like the windmill picture below.  On my list still is to do a picture with the moon and a elevator and the moon and the reflection in a lake (one that is not frozen or with waves)

Rising Moon
Rising Moon
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Coaldale Parade Of Lights

Well you know that Christmas is fast approaching when the Coaldale Parade Of Lights comes to town. I don’t think that I have seen a better day for the parade, it started to snow early in the day and continued till just after the parade. A great scene seeing the floats with a light snow falling around them, it sure beats the minus 30 a couple of years ago.

As always some great floats lighting up the night, for our family it is the kick-off to the Christmas season. Add to that a great Turkey dinner at Wally’s and I am getting excited about the next 28 days.

Here are a few of the 300 plus images that I shot at the parade..

Coaldale Parade Of Lights
Coaldale Parade Of Lights
Coaldale Parade Of Lights
Coaldale Parade Of Lights
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