New Orleans Small Business 12n12: Antball
New Orleans Small Business 12n12 is a project, by local New Orleans photographer Traven Stout, that promotes one small business a month. The idea is to reach out to other business owners and simply connect with them, to relate with them, to offer help, and to look for help with running a business.
12n12 is BACK! We had a bit of a delay this year due to covid, but now I'm getting this project up and going again to finish up a total of 12 businesses in New Orleans. Every time I talk to another small business owner I get more comfortable with where my business is. It's nice to talk to other people who "get it", specially during these uncertain times. Angie's advice for someone starting a business is exactly what this project is for me.
This month I met up and interviewed Angie from Antball Landscaping.
What does your business do?
Antball does a little bit everything. We do clean ups and transformations. We do tree and plant installs. Drainage and Limestone. Fences and Gutters. We do small tree work, lily pad ponds. You name it we can do it.
How long have you been in operation?
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
5 years seems a very far away place to to see from here, but I’d love to have my own nursery.
Whats your favorite thing about running your own business?
My favorite thing about landscaping is watching a new lily or sage bloom. Sometimes I get to bring my dog out on the job with me too. I love it when my customers are delighted with our work.
What’s your biggest challenge within running your own business?
Technology, Paper work, and numbers.
What would be your number one suggestion to someone starting there own business?
Make friends with other people starting off with their own businesses. So you can go back and forth sharing ideas with each other and helping each other out.
What’s you social media accounts?
Lenses are measured by focal length and different focal lengths effect your images differently. Wide angle lenses have distortion and large depth of fields and Telephoto lenses have compression with shallow depth of fields. By knowing how these different effects take hold in certain focal lengths you can use the affects to your advantage while composing an image.
Focal length is measured in millimeters and determines your lenses angle of view. The angles of view get broken down into three categories Telephoto, Normal, Wide angle and Super Wide wide angle (sometimes four categories when Super wide angle is included) Telephoto lenses are lenses that are “zoomed in”, normal lenses are near to what are eyes see, and wide angle is a larger angle of view than what are eyes see.
For full frame cameras these are the focal length ranges:
Telephoto lenses range from 85mm-300mm (and longer)
Normal range from 40mm-60mm
Wide angle – 24mm-35mm
Super wide- 12mm-20mm
If your camera has a sensor (or film) smaller than full frame, like a cropped sensor your angle of view will be a different. Same goes for larger sensors (or film formats) Meaning your focal length ranges will be different.
Super Wide and Wide angle lenses
Wide angle lenses are very useful for when you don’t have enough room to step back and take the shot. For example I’m in a tiny room at a event and need to get a group shot but I can’t scoot back enough, a wide angle lens comes in handy. However if there isn’t time constraints and other location options to take the group photo, I will try to move the group somewhere to where I can use a normal or telephoto focal length. Why? Distortion. With wide angle lenses what ever is closest to the lens appear larger than whatever is further back in the frame. This is where the phrase the camera adds 10lbs comes from. So group shots and portraits are not usually best with ultrawide angle lenses unless you purposely use the distortion to your advantage.
In this image I used a wide angle lens to make the crawfish appear really big:
Here I used a wide angle to give the appearance that this 2nd Liner was larger than life:
Telephoto lenses have distortion too, but the distortion is opposite of wide angle lenses. It’s called compression. This is when objects in the back ground of the photo appear to be closer than they really are. Look at the bottom of the blog. See in the 200mm shot the fence seems right behind the manakin head. Now look at the 15mm shot the fence looks really far away. This is compression. I find myself using it when shooting portraits and I want my background to be a little closer to my subject. I’ll have to step further back then zoom in.
Here I used a telephoto lens to fill the background with the screen the the presenter was using:
In this image I wanted the background to be filled with my subjects AutoBody Shop. So I took a few steps back and filled the frame.
Here's some photos I took in Palmer Park for this blog post to show the difference in wide angle vs telephoto.
Notice the flag in the back ground, with the wide angle lens the flag looks like its across the park, with the telephoto its right behind him.
Here’s an example of 200mm - 15mm. Notice how the fence starts to get separated as the focal length changes.
So, use focal lengths to your advantage.
Culling your Photos
Your photography is only as good as your worse image.
It’s a pretty rough statement, but what it means is that when presenting your work, the weakest photos will always take away from your stronger photos. This is where the skill of culling comes in. Culling your images is the process of getting rid of the bad images you shot and choosing your best ones to edit or show to people. It is an important part of the editing process.
There is numerous software’s out there that allows you to cull images. The most common are lightroom, capture one, bridge, and photo mechanic. The first two are editing software’s as well, the last is specifically for culling and organizing.
I use lightroom.
I cull multiple times through post production, a first cull without editing. Then I go through while editing and culling at the same time. Then cull again.
On the first cull I go fast. I try to go through them with out thinking about it and rely on my instincts. It’s also a way of trying to disconnect from the images. (I’ll get into disconnecting later)
On the second cull I’ll go though the images while editing and check in on details. I’ll zoom in and make sure my focus is correct, that there’s no motion blur, or no super distracting things. From there I pick out the best images from the shoot.
Here's a video I made showing the process of how I use lightroom to cull my images while editing:
After the editing process.
Culling is also used for artwork, portfolio’s, and editorial assignments. This is typically after the editing process and where I’m trying to decide which images best represent what I’m going to portray. In my wedding work I want to attract clients that like my documentary style, so I need to put images in my wedding portfolio that best represent that. Photojournalist (or their editor) deals with this when they are shooting images for a story, by selecting the images that fits best with the story. Culling for artwork or an art series is used for boiling down to what best portrays the meaning of your work. It’s a very difficult process if done right.
We must kill our babies. I know that sounds intense, but sometimes the process of culling feels like that. Sometimes you get down to two good images but only one of them can make the cut. It’s important to disconnect from our images for this reason, to look at them objectively. The connection I’m talking about is from when we take the image. Sometimes we get a certain feeling when we take a photo and then when we look at the image, we re-feel that feeling. That doesn’t necessarily mean when other people look at it, they will get the same feeling. It’s important to try to disconnect the feeling you got when you made the photo from the feeling you get when you look at the image. This helps you look at your image from your viewers perspective. Another way of doing this is to forget what you shoot. Literally forget what you shoot. I do this for my Mardi Gras series. I process and develop my film about a year after I take the photos. I do this so I can forget the feeling and connections I had while taking the image. That way I can look at them in a more objective manner.
Get an opinion from someone you trust or even multiple people. There are good ways to critique work and bad ways, so again make sure who you are asking is really trying to help and knows what they are talking about. Be careful you’re not too emotionally connected to the images or prepare yourself to have thick skin. In the past, I have asked people to look at a series of work that I was deeply connected to. They were honest, and it hurt when they didn’t see what I was going for. I did learn from that though.
So, if there’s only one thing you take from this blog post: Quality over quantity is the key to presenting your work and Less is more. Cull, cull, and then cull one more time.
Some of the shots from the photowalk I went in in the video(from 80 images, I'm down to 5):
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On venmo @traven-stout or through cash app- $travenstoutLLC
Hope everyone is holding up alright with the quarantine. I wanted to share with y’all something I use to do all the time when I first got into photography. PHOTO WALKS!
A photo walk is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a walk while you take photos. I used to do this all of the time, when I didn’t have anything in particular to photograph.
It’s something I have decided to start doing again to keep mentally fit during this quarantine. Creative processes are extremely important for mental health. For me personally it is something that helps me get outside of myself and something to put all my positive (or negative) energy into. It’s something that can help me forget my anxieties just for a bit. I also can get my daily exercise in with a walk. If your at all into photography, give this a try. It's a great way to practice and hone in your craft.
Well, get out of your house and take a camera with you. I’ll simply just go for a walk and if I see something that interests me I’ll take a photo of it. This is where all of the fun of photography comes in. Once I see something that I think will make a good photo I stop and ask myself: why? What is it that I am attracted to? Is it certain colors, textures, shapes? After I find what it is that I’m attracted to I try to isolate that thing and make it as pronounced in the frame as possible. Then take the photo.
So this happens to me from time to time. I will see something that interests me, but I decide not to take the photo. What happens is I get in my head with weird thoughts of: What if someone sees me? What will they think? It’s across the street, I’ll take it later. I don’t think this will work compositionally, etc. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Seriously, don't get in your head about it. Just take the image, if it doesn't come out right just don't use the image. Experiment with composition. Try different stuff, shoot as freely as you can.
Now, on the flip side to that there is still social norms in society. If you take a photo of someone, their house, or their property, they might question that. I have had it happen to me. When that happens, I just explain what I’m doing and why I thought the photo I took made a cool image. Most of the time people are cool and understand, but be diligent, read the situation. Legally you can take photos of anything, as long as it is in view of the public and the image is not being used for commercial purposes, but don’t cause more drama in your life or others just because you can. Be kind, especially in the midst of all this covid craziness.
There’s nothing interesting to take photos of
This is what I love about photography. Photographers can take an image of something and turn that image into a work of art. We literally can take reality and turn it into art. If your neighborhood is not interesting, then make it interesting. We can do this with proper composition and lighting. Through this we can take the dullest subjects and turn them into art. Once I got into the mindset as looking at everything as images, I could not stop composing/framing images in my head. Everywhere I would look I think, that would be a cool shot. For me, it’s a lovely mindset to be in. It’s where I am truly free of worldly concerns and focused in on my art. Some photographers call this the photo bug.
No, you do not need an expensive camera.
All of the images in the below slideshow were taken with my cell phone. All you need to make “technically” good photos is an understanding of light and composition. All fancy cameras do is give you more control and more of range to handle different lighting scenarios. Yes, if you do have a nice camera with fancy lenses definitely use it, but if your interested in photography and don’t have a camera, start off with your cell phone.
We are in a weird time right now with covid19 going around. Be as safe as you can, follow CDC guidelines. Don’t do anything you are not comfortable with.
CELL PHONE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP
Stay tuned into my social media. I have a Cell Phone Photography Workshop that I plan to live stream on sunday. I’ve had the entire lesson plan for the workshop written out since the summer and have been waiting until slow season hits to put on a class. With the quarantine happening and everyone going crazy I have decided to class up for free, with the hope to help alleviate peoples boredom and to get some people interested in a new hobby.
You can follow me at https://www.facebook.com/TravenStoutPhotography/
How to work from home: Tips by Local New Orleans Photographer who exhibits a horrible case of ADD
Whatsup guys! Thanks for stopping into my tiny corner of the internet. With the outbreak of COVID19 going around and everyone starting to work for home I decide it might be helpful if I share my experience of working at home.
For someone like me working at home is hard. I simply just don’t want to do it. Period. 😊 I mean don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. I love photography, but making images is only a tiny part of my business. It’s the emails, contracts, phone calls, networking, marketing, website management, etc. These tasks can get very monotonous. So the question comes down to how do I force myself to do the things I don’t like to do? My number one solution to this used to be: grab the laptop and go to the coffee shop. When I was in college it used to be grab the backpack and head to the library. Well the CDC has advised us to stay at home. So no, can't do that.
So here’s some tricks I’ve learned over the years of working at home by myself. These tricks are what work for me. As someone once told me, take the meat leave and leave the bones. So please take what you want leave what you don’t need.
Tidy Work Space
First off, if you don’t have a work space, find one. The kitchen table, the living room table, wherever, but tidy it up. For me, I find it hard to focus without a designated, clean work space. I learned this trick a couple years back through a meditation app (headspace). Although initally i wasn't convinced, once I implemnented it I found it made a huge difference. Logically now if I think about it, it makes sense. With a clean and clear work space it is less likely to be distracted by things unrelated to your task. I feel the same way about having multiple tabs open on your internet browser. I was so often distracted by these things. I’d be working on one thing, then start another thing, forget what I was doing and end up on messing around on Facebook on my phone.
Leave Social Media Alone
Most of us enjoy all the positives that social media has to offer. I love the ability to hop on and see all of my friends and check in with family members. This, however, can be very distracting, especially right now being stuck in the house. I’ll check my emails on my phone and next thing I know I’m on social media, realizing I didn’t stock up on toilet paper, that I’m not going to have any for the next month, to OMG they are shutting down schools, to arguing over politics, to some kind of meme group, to a live feed of a press conference of the mayor banning groups of 10 and the financial dread of realizing me or my girlfriend don’t have any work for the next month, to looking up from my phone and realizing the entire day is gone. Yes, social media can be detrimental to getting work done. Put it down. When I really need to get a solid amount of work done I just put my phone in the other room. I would delete the app but I can’t. I use social media for advertising my business. If you can delete the app I’d say give it a try. Also, there’s apps which will block the social media apps from opening. I never needed to give it a try, but it’s out there.
To Do list
This is crucial. When I first started my business I use to get so stressed out with stuff to do. Without writing it all down on a piece of paper, in my head it became a never ending mountain. From that I’d get anxious and go to my immediate default of procrastination.. So now I write out a to do list, with the due dates of each thing next to them.
This is a new one for me, but several people suggested it, so I gave it a try. It’s making huge strides in my productivity. What I’ll do is at the end of each day is: I’ll take my to do list, and prioritize stuff onto my hourly schedule. Doing this has really helped me learn how long certain tasks actually take. With my kind of work, little stuff will pop up as well (client phone calls, emails that’ll need to respond to immediately, etc) so I’m rarely finishing on time within the hourly schedule. Regardless, it helps in the sense of prioritizing my to do list. The trick is to just not get stressed out if certain tasks are taking longer. If I don’t finish something by the end of the day I just schedule it in on the next day.
Break up long tasks.
This is a thing I struggle with, and may affect me more than others. I do this for culling (selecting which images I’m going to edit) and editing. One wedding can take at minimum 10 hours total in post production. I can’t do all of that at once. I’ll get way too burned out, all the images will blend together, and I’ll start making stupid editing mistakes. So I’ll split editing into two hour or one hour increments.
I try to schedule in a 30-45 minute lunch break for myself. If I don’t, I wont eat and turn into a zombie by the end of the day. The issue for me comes in after I eat and need to get back to work. See I’m one of those people that watches TV while they eat. It’s an issue, because I’ll get sucked into a tv show and just say screw it I’ll watch one more show. Then next thing I know my day is shot. (sometimes the same will happen with sitting on the couch after I eat with my phone(social media)) What I’ve learned is to simply put on a boring show. Something that I absolutely can not get into. My old tv was a smart tv. I would put on a youtube nature video, videos of cool scenery with music on as the audio. It helped a lot. As soon as I was done eating, I'd just start working again.
If it’s a really rough day and I can’t concentrate. I do 25 minutes on 5 minutes off. I set my timer for 25 minutes, force myself to work for that time, then set the timer for 5 minutes and take a break. It’s called the Pomodoro technique https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique .. I use my old dark room timer, but if you don’t have a timer, here is website with a timer on it. https://tomato-timer.com/ This technique big time works for me. It also keeps me from sitting down for too long of a time. Reminds me to get up and stretch.
Call a friend/Network
I find this essientail. Now if you're working with a team of people this may not be a big deal, but if you’re a one man show, CALL OTHER PEOPLE. There has been time I've gone days without social interaction, instead being consumed by work. I’ve learned to call, at least, one person a day. Working by yourself can get pretty lonely, pretty quick. I’ve learned that human contact is gravely important to keep up my morale and stay sane.
When you don’t have anyone to meet not showering all day and working in your PJs gets pretty tempting. Trust me, YES it is AWESOME to do that, but just like everything else moderation is key. I can easily run wild with it. Instead of just walking into my home office, in my PJs, and sitting down to work I treat it as if I am "going into work." This means I shower and get dressed as if I'm showing up to a standard desk job. It just helps me feel a little better, to sit down at my desk clean cut. Some days I even put on nice clothes just to sit in front of the computer. It helps.
Switching Work Spots
This use to help me a lot. I get antsy sitting in one spot for too long. So I’d work in the studio/office for awhile, then switch it up and bring my laptop into the living room. I’m actually starting to do this less lately. I think part of that is a new roller office chair I got.
So just switched out my chair from a kitchen chair to a mesh office chair. I’m really starting to see a world of difference in it. I am able to sit much longer in the studio than I use to and I’ve found myself working in the living room less. However, if you don’t have access to a nice chair try to switching spots if possible.
Let there be light
This might just be a personal thing, but I open the curtains all the way , and try to get as much light as I can into the room I’m working in. It seems to help my mood a bit better. Being alone all day for days at a time gets rough, I’ll take and try anything that will uplift my mood.
Just do it
Sometimes I find just getting started is half the battle. Once I’m started it’s a lot easier to stay focused. So most of the time, I am literally just forcing myself to do emails or my accounting. Once I get into it I typically breeze through it.
This is my favorite. Almost too much of my favorite, to the point where it can get a little distracting. A year or two back I got into home espresso, it’s kind of become my dorky little hobby. So if I’m not careful I can find myself making shots of espresso as a form of procrastination. But bottom line stimulants help. Specially if you have ADD. I use to be on Adderall as a kid. I absolutely hated the way it made me feel. However, I did get stuff done when I was on it. Now I refuse to take it(just a personal thing). I prefer to drink two cups of espresso. Of course again, this is what works for me. Don’t start taking stimulants because some photographer on the internet said coffee helps him focus.
Boundries/ Time Management
One thing I've learned is sometimes I have to put up boundries with loved ones. This is the most challenging for me to do. When I am working, at the house I am still working. It's important for me to not be disturbed, because I can get so easily distracted. It's imperative to explain this to roomates, partners, and family, specially if they do not work from home. It's hard for them to understand, because I make my own schedule and I can do whatever I want. It's important that I make time for my partner and plan activities with them, but at the same time it's just important to take care of my work responsibilities. I've found in the beginning of my career I never had time to socialize, be it with my girlfriend or freinds. This was true in the sense of I was always working, but I was wrong in the sense because I was not managing my time properly. What was happening is I was losing time by procrastinating or not prioritizing certain tasks. Then a deadline would come up and I would have to work straight to meet it. That's why all of these mentioned practices are so important for me to do, so I can spend time with loved ones and so I don't loose my mind. All of this has taken me years to realize and I am still not perfect at it.
Easy Does it
I am my harshest critic. Like no really, I’m a complete jerk to myself sometimes. I am constantly reminding myself to chill. Rarely do I ever have a to do list done in a day. By design I write my to do lists so I can get as much done in a given time as if I’m going to be working at 200% productivity levels. Most of the time it’s not possible to finish my daily schedule. So I have to remind myself to take it easy. BUT at the same time I have to be careful that I don’t take that to an extreme and start becoming complacent.
So yea those are all my tips for working at home. It’s all kind of common sense stuff, but it’s stuff that no one really taught me. All of these practices I have learned the hard way.
I know there’s allot of people who are switching to working at home and I really do hope this can help someone. I’m not lying when I say working at home and staying focused is the most challenging thing about running my own business. I’m assuming I’m not alone in that. Just like I know I am not alone in going through this covid19 stuff right now. With this pandemic happening there’s a lot of unknowns hanging in the air right now and it’s scary. Half my friends have lost there jobs, my partner is filing for unemployment, and I have lost work for the next two months. No clue if this virus can actually kill me(I’m young, but definitely not healthy)and I'm terrified that it’s going to take out my older friends and family. Yet there’s a certain calm to me. I’ve been in this place before, New Orleanians have been here before. During Hurricane Katrina there was many unknowns. We got through that, we will get through this just as we did back then, by coming together and helping each other. We will be ok.
If this was helpful please consider sending me a donation through venmo @traven-stout. Or through my pay pal account: https://paypal.me/travenstoutphoto If your in the same boat as me(unemployed or jobless) and this was helpful, please share this blog. The more people that read this helps with rankings on google. So a share goes a long way too helping my business.
EDIT: I just turned on the comment section in this blog. Please if you have any tips on how to stay focused and productive please share them with us.