Radio Interview Transcripts

MorePhotos Radio - Ellis Williamson of Ellis Williamson Photography


ANNOUNCER:  Welcome to the More Photos’ Radio Photography Spotlight brought to you by helping professional photographers with all their internet needs world wide. Also brought to you by Finally, an e-commerce solution for professional photo labs that makes sense. Now here’s your host, Damien Allen.  DAMIEN: Good morning and welcome to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen and joining me on the phone today is Ellis Williamson of Ellis Williamson Photography in Durham, North Carolina. Good morning and welcome to the program Ellis.
ELLIS: Good morning, Damien. What a joy it is to talk with you.
DAMIEN: And it’s an absolute pleasure to have you on this morning, sir. I hope you’re doing well down there in North Carolina. 
ELLIS: We are doing well even though this may be the winter time, it’s still a little cold, but we are excited.
DAMIEN: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about Ellis Williamson Photography?
ELLIS: We are a home studio based photography business in Durham, North Carolina, of course, that has been run by my wife and myself. We service the triangle area even though we do do some destination weddings, we have gone to Washington D.C. and also we have photographed in New York City, New York.
DAMIEN: What are the specialties of Ellis Williamson Studios?
ELLIS: Currently we are specializing in wedding photography, maternity photography, and with some emphasis in commercial photography. We have done well over 100,000 postcards for people like Duke University Medical Center, actually Duke University Student Store, Wake Forrest University, and of course, University of North Carolina and NC State University as well. One of the things that is so exciting about what we’ve been doing is that one of the hosting people we have used in the past is being and we have actually put a few weddings there. They selected one of my weddings to be the wedding of the week. It has been sent out nationally and internationally which I thought was a great honor, but anyway so that tells you we aren’t just fly-by- night. We take photography very seriously, and we want your images the best possible anywhere in the country.
DAMIEN:  Howe long have you been a photographer and how did you get started with photography?
ELLIS: I have been in photography a little bit over 20 years, and I actually got started in photography as a dare from a medical student at Duke University. He was on route to Europe to take a trip, and he just purchased what we call a single lens reflex camera, and I told him I thought that was interesting, and he told me because the level of photography I’d be doing I’d just need to get a rangefinder which I didn’t like his answer. I took it as a challenge and I went and got me an SLR like every one else with interchangeable lens, and I was off to the races.
DAMIEN: Now did you take some kind of course of study to become a photographer, or is this just something you have done on your own?
ELLIS: Both actually. I started out I read everything I could, and my loving wife said, “Ellis I think it would help you if you got some more education.” I said, “I think you’re right and I took my very first class at PPNC as what we call East Coast School, and I took a class with a gentleman by the name of Will Crockett out of Illinois. He has a program called as a matter of fact. It’s a phenomenal website, and I took his class in commercial photography, and honed in some of my skills, and I was very pleased with the class and with all that I have learned.
DAMIEN: Now we know you just did a seminar, a Central Winter Seminar that was in January 17th and 18th, and you had a seminar discussion "Put the Wow Factor in your Business". What was that about, and is this something you do regularly?
ELLIS: Well actually in North Carolina this is one of three Guilds that we do every year, and also we have what we call annual conventions. And what we do is since this year I was the chairman of the Central Guild it was my responsibility to get a slate of speakers to come in and in the process of doing so, we were going to have the first seminar for PPNC of the year, I really wanted to kick it off so that’s why I named it “Put the Wow Factor in Your Business”, and we had a phenomenal slate of speakers. Anywhere from master photographers, to Will Crockett, himself. He came in and was my day speaker. We had speakers that were from the western part of the state in terms of how to hone in your skills as a professional photographer and be able to address issues like how do you survive and do well in economic times that people say the economy is not the best, and also we talked about things such as how do you prepare yourself to do well in what we call print competitions.
DAMIEN: Now as a member of the Professional Photographers of North Carolina, do you find this has benefited your business? Is this something that photographers in your area should join? Should you be part of a professional organization like this?
ELLIS: To be sure. The reason why I think you should be a part of Professional Photographers of North Carolina specifically is because this is an opportunity for you to be able to network with other photographers. You may have questions or problems that you run into as a photographer, and you don’t know quite how to fix that problem, but being a part of PPNC, what you do is you’re around other photographers and if they are wedding photographers or if they are senior photographers, whatever the case may be, you find someone else who you feel that may be able to answer that question, and also because of the slate of the speakers that we have coming in through the four events that we have throughout the year, that’s the Central, Eastern, and Western Seminars, and of course, the Convention and East Coast School, there is someone there to take your business to the next level. They can answer your questions, be able to give you information and help you market your business better, help you strategize your business, and also if you find ways to reach the client you may need or want for your individual business.
DAMIEN: We’ve checked out your awesome website. There are some very stunning photography up there, how do you get your models and your clients and subjects so relaxed and what allows you to capture that image?
ELLIS: I’m glad you asked that question. I hope you have a lot of time, but I’m going to take a few minutes to answer that question.
DAMIEN: Please do.
ELLIS: Ok. One of the things that we do is that, first of all, you need to hone in your skills on how to be able to use posing and lighting. Secondly, once you get those skills honed in, you can work on your interpersonal skills in terms of working with people. The main thing that makes photography well or sing as I call it is to get your person comfortable in front of your lens. In other words, forget about the lens even being there and interact one on one with you. One of the issues that I run into is that because I photograph a lot of different skin tones and complexions of skin and because sometimes it’s from the very dark to the very light, to the very fair skin completion person, I have to really hone in my skills to be able to keep that detail in that dress, keep the skin tones correct in the person’s face, and sometimes people don’t always tell you the things that is a problem for them, but as you talk with them and get to know them, they begin to get relaxed with you, then you will be able to analyze their face, do what we call a 5 Planes in her face or his face and be able to flatter the parts or the emphasis of a face that you want to and the things you don’t want to, you don’t emphasize. If you understand those technical aspects of it then you can work all your times, spend all your other time really working with the client, talking with them about the things that interest them, and this is very important. When I do the consultation, beginning with I find out some of this information then. By the time they get in front of my camera, they have had my second if not third time talking with this person; therefore, I begin to be almost like family. One of the things about our maternity photography, I don’t think I’m mentioned to you, is that all the moms get very, very relaxed with me. Of course, my wife is also present as well as the person’s mom or husband, and because of the relationship that we establish prior to getting into the shoot room, it’s very easy to get good expression. I used to do photography also for an art school, and because of that, I had to learn and work with people to pull out of them the expression and soon as I sensed their personality has come through is what we call portray of portrait, then I snap.
DAMIEN: Now you also have some digital art work that is up on your website. What got you started doing the digital art, and what are some of the processes that you go through to create those images?
ELLIS: Well actually digital art is not that much really. I’m kind of old school in the sense of I believe you do it right to begin with you don’t have to do a lot of digital art to start with. And what I do in terms of digital art is just actually do things to make you hone in or view the part of the image that I want you to see the most. If you get a chance to go to the website which is you’ll see that as you look at the image you forget the stuff on the outside fringes and hone directly into the person’s face. So in terms of digital art work, I do some. I do some retouching, but I try not to do too much, because I still want the person to look like them if you know what I mean.
DAMIEN: Now you’re a speaker and an organizer, you have a successful studio. Could you give the listening audience a couple tips on growing and staying on top of the game in the photography business?
ELLIS: First of all, by being a member of PPNC, you’ll always be on the cutting edge of whatever new technology is, what is the strategies and marketing schemes that are available, but also one of the things that helped our business is staying in touch with your clientele. One of the things I began to utilize a lot more is what we call Facebook and you become a friend and other friends become friends and they get a chance to ask you questions. One thing about photography it is really relationships. Relationships build businesses. As a person feels comfortable with me, my business grows. As a matter of fact, we are in Durham, North Carolina, which is about 7 hours from Atlanta and a bride now is coming to talk to us from Atlanta, Georgia, to come and do her wedding. So what we do is that we make sure we treat our customers as if they were family, and we give them a product they will be very pleased with to hang on their walls, and I found out when you service a customer well, they will be more than happy to talk to other people about what you do.
DAMIEN: Now in the digital age and the internet being so much of the world today, are you finding Facebook and the social media sites are becoming more and more of your business?
ELLIS: Not as much as I once thought, because most of my business was built without the internet believe it or not. And now my internet, actually I use the internet as a way to confirm that they chose the right photographer. So if someone goes and they see a business card with an image of mine on it or into a bridal shop with my images in their in the dressing rooms, then they are not sure about this guy named Ellis Williamson. They go to my website and they see other images, and then from there they’ll call me and set up a time to come in and actually talk about their particular event that is coming up be it a wedding or a maternity shoot or whatever.
DAMIEN: What’s going to be new for Ellis Williamson in 2010 and is their some pet projects for the studio? Are there more seminars you’re going to be conducting during the year?
ELLIS: Well actually there is a couple things. One thing is that I am becoming more active in PPNC. Another thing is I have been asked to start speaking more locally as well as nationally. I’ve been kind of hesitant about doing it, but some friends of mine are on the national level and they say, “Oh it’s time for you to get out there.” I’m going to mention this, and I hope this not offensive to persons seeing it, I really do understand the needs and desires of African Americans and of people of color and the issues that may be around complexions and skin tones and those things, and because of that I can address those issues and other necessities that I also do very well with, but because I have to really hone in my skills that made me better. I used to say this when event planners send a person to me, I say right away, what problem do I need to solve? You know? They don’t always tell me that. So when they get there I say, “Ok, I see what the issue may be.” And it may be a tattoo or it may be something, oh I don’t know, it could be any one particular thing, any one thing or another, but once they get there and talk with them, I find out very quickly what it is I have to solve, and then I portray the portrait to them. One of the things that happens with all my brides, that comes through, when they come back and pick up their 16x20 or 20x24 bridal portrait, they will be looking all around and they say where’s my portrait? I say here it is and they didn’t even recognize themselves. Now you would think immediately think that I did something to enhance their image. I did very, very little retouching, because of my knowledge of lighting and knowing how to flash someone by posing them, I can make them be at their best and so because of that a lot of enhancement is not really needed. Some is, but not a lot.
DAMIEN: Now besides the studio there in Durham, is there some places you find yourself shooting more often than most or some wedding facilities or banquet halls or anything like that in the area where you find yourself shooting at more often?
ELLIS: They vary. There is a very, very nice venue in Garner, North Carolina, that I have photographed in. It’s very popular and high scale, but I begin to find more and more of my brides are using me at Duke Gardens, at Duke Chapel which are here in Durham. And then mainly there are churches and the churches reception halls.
DAMIEN: Could you kindly share your website and contact information with the listening audience, Ellis?
ELLIS: I’d be happy to. My name is Ellis Williamson. The website which you can view the images is And you can reach me at (919) 598-6571 and of course my email is Call me and let me be your friend.
DAMIEN: All right. Thank you very much for joining us today and sharing a little bit about Ellis Williamson Photography with us, Ellis.
ELLIS: Ok. Thank you very much, Damien.
DAMIEN: You’ve been listening to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen. Everybody have a great afternoon.
ANNOUNCER: This net cast is powered by optimizing your brand and web presence world wide. be heard, be seen, be found.