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Published in USA Today

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Recently, I was contacted by a reporter from USA Today. He was interested in learning more about the growing trend in people hiring professional portrait studios to do senior portraits for their seniors instead of sticking with the traditional school photos. So I told him my experience when it came to working with my clients and my approach to senior portraits photography.


I explained that when it comes to senior portraits, my approach is more about capturing that senior’s individuality. Everyone has multiple aspects to who they are. I find this is even more so for seniors in high school. That’s why I created packages that allow my clients to bring multiple outfits and travel to multiple locations. Even some of my packages include portrait albums to showcase all of the variety of different images we capture throughout their senior portrait session. We even provide professional makeup services by the best team of makeup artists in Austin, because makeup for the camera is very different than day to day makeup.

I find the results from my senior portraits sessions are a huge confidence boost for seniors during a time in their lives when they’re still learning about who they are as an individual. Many parents thank me again and again for the photos, as well as for the experience and the positivity they see in their senior after their portrait session.

It’s not about making seniors look different than who they are; it’s about enhancing them. I don’t try to do edgy or ultra modern photos. I just try to capture who they are on the inside. You can’t get that with typical blue-backdrop school photos. You can’t fit every senior into a pre-made tiny little box and categorize them as the same. Every one of my clients is unique. I try to bring out the person inside with my photography. And my clients see it in their senior portraits. The investment is something that keeps giving back to them in the years to come.

You can read my entire interview with USA Today here…

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To Follow or to NoFollow?


Forgive me, everyone, but I’m going to deviate a little from the usual content. In fact, I’m practically going to “geek out” on this post. You have been warned…

For many of you small business owners, blogging has become a way of life for you. In fact, aside from social media, blogging has become an essential part of our marketing routine. Some of you have even forgone a typical website and replaced it with a blog. Why? Because it allows you to easily provide fresh content for your current and future clients.

Just a warning: This post is for those of you with a WordPress blog. Particularly, a self-hosted WordPress blog.

Nowadays, all that every blogger thinks about is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)… aside from providing notable content. Also, if you’re a charitable fellow, you’ve taken the time to comment on other people’s blogs. Why? To help provide fresh new content on their current posts. You see, search engines love new content. What easier way to create it than by having your readers contribute to your blog? Hence, the comments section at the end of each post.

Unfortunately, towards the beginning of blogging, spam in the form of blog comments became rampant very quickly. Autobots and Decepticons were spreading far and wide across the inter-verse and adding generic spam comments to blog posts just for the sake of linking back to their own websites.

WordPress caught onto this fairly quickly and introduced the “nofollow” attribute to links generated from comments. This tells any web crawlers to basically “not follow” any comment links back to their contributors site. It is a built-in security measure that cannot be switched off from the user dashboard. WordPress and other site developers hoped this would cut back on the comments spam. For a while, it did. The drawback is that all backlinks from comments are blocked. Even legitimate comments left by your committed readers.

However, most people now have Akismet or another spam blocker for their blogs. Plus, most people have to approve any comments on their blog before they’re published. So why does WordPress still embed the “nofollow” feature into all of its comments backlinks?

Well, now you can fix that. No, I’m not saying that you can override the “nofollow” feature on other peoples’ blogs. However, you can get rid of it on your own site. But why would you want to do it on your site? First off, you already have spam blockers in place on your blog. Secondly, it encourages more people to leave comments on your site. This in turn generates more content for your blog posts, which search engines like to see.

To turn off the “nofollow” feature on your WordPress blog, you can install a plugin such as “Do Follow“. This WordPress plugin removes the unwanted “nofollow” command from any links on your blog generated from reader comments. Do Follow can be installed either by downloading and remotely installing it to your blog using an FTP client. Or, you can use the “Add New” feature under the “Plugins” menu inside your WordPress site dashboard.

To double check and see if it works, first, go to any post on your blog that has user comments. Choose the “View Source” option under the View menu in your browser. This will allow you to see how your site looks in HTML to a search engine. Before you install the “Do Follow” plugin, you can see the command “nofollow” embedded into the links left by your readers comments. Use the key command “Ctrl-F” to find the term “nofollow” and it will display on your screen where it can be found. After you’ve installed the plugin “Do Follow”, run this check again to see that the “nofollow” has been removed.

So, what’s my mission behind all this? I believe people that contribute to my site should get the perk of having a link back to their site. It’s only polite. Also, with all of the spam security measures we have these days, I believe we should be the ones to decide how links behave on our sites.




Today’s post is sponsored by ADORAMA More than a Camera Store

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Grab Your Business By The Horns


We’ve all been there. Whether you’ve been in the business for years, or you’re just starting out with your photography business. I’m talking about that moment when you realize that you’re no longer running your business. Your business is running you.

“What do you mean Dustin? I’m staying busy, that’s a good thing right?”

Of course, staying busy is good. Shooting photos, editing images, spending countless hours in Lightroom, designing wedding albums, retouching print orders, answering phone calls, returning client text messages, sending emails… sounds familiar, right?

“Well yes, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing as a wedding/portrait/commercial/editorial photographer. Isn’t it?”

Well, that’s partially true. However, are you so busy with your head down that you have no idea where your business is headed? Some of these day to day responsibilities should be maintained by you. But, think of it like a car manufacturer. There’s the CEO of the company, the high level executives, marketers, designers, accountants, managers, and people working the assembly line. Every person in that company has their specific role to play. However, in your photography business, you play all of those roles. But, do you really have to?

Obviously, you’re the CEO. You’re running the business, right? You have the vision to see where you want your photography business to go next. But do you see a CEO working the assembly line? Perhaps. But a car company with a CEO working the assembly line may not last for very long. Who is driving the company forward if the boss is busy with their head down working on piecing each car together?

Now bear with me here, I know this metaphor is a bit of a stretch. But, your photography products are kind of like the cars made by this imaginary company. Let me explain…

Here’s my business level hierarchy:

Business Development > Marketing > Finances > Clients > Shooting > Editing > Products

Every professional photographer is different, however this can be considered as a very general business structure. My main point is that all of the things on the left side of the hierarchy can only be done by you. However, as we move towards the right, more of these items can be handled by employees or outsourcing. Whether you’re a volume portrait/wedding photography studio, or a fine art photographer, to some degree each of these items can either be handled by you or by someone else. The biggest mistake however is when we let someone else handle our business development. This most often happens when we allow our clients to run our business.

“But wait, Dustin. It’s my business, how am I letting my clients run it?”

Let me ask you this, how often do you respond to emails? Is it the moment they come to your inbox? Do you drop everything and do whatever is needed pertaining to that email the moment it comes to you? What about the times of day that you answer emails? Are you guilty of returning emails late at night after business hours? Do you even have established business hours? When your client sees that timestamp on the email you sent them at 1am, what do you think that tells them? Do they now have access to you at all hours? And what exactly were you doing when that “drop everything and panic” email came through in the first place? Were you shooting, meeting with a client, editing photos, working on a print order…? Where on the hierarchy does the interrupted task fall?

My point is this: Identify what makes you productive and outsource what doesn’t. For example, make priorities to go over your finances and see what’s making you money and what’s wasting it. Or, schedule a lunch with one of your favorite wedding vendors and do some networking. Or, look back at your slow periods throughout the past year and come up with ways to bring in more profits during your next slump.

“Ok, hotshot. You seem to have all of your priorities in place. Who do you use for outsourcing so you can run your business?”

First off, I had to identify what was slowing me down. I realized that even though I’m picky about how my wedding images look, it was also a huge amount of my time spent editing in Adobe Lightroom. So, I outsource my RAW image file corrections to Their post-production experts spend time with me, making sure their edits look exactly as if I did them myself. Secondly, there’s no way I would have the same level of style and creativity as a professional wedding album designer. I make the images, but I’m not a graphic designer. It’s not my forte. also designs and binds my albums for me. And when it comes to prints, even retouches my prints before drop shipping them from their professional photo lab to my clients. As for my finances, I use a local bookkeeper and CPA. There’s just no way I’ll even pretend to be an expert on finances and taxes.

Everything else, shooting, clients, marketing, business development… all of those responsibilities are mine. When I started Dustin Meyer Photography, I made a conscious decision to use my name for my business. My business is a reflection of who I am. My studio is caring, compassionate, emotional, professional, enjoyable, and personal. I can’t maintain this professional image if I’m getting caught up with the minor details.

With all of this being said, it’s time to ask yourself “Am I really in charge of my business? And if so, where am I going with it?”. My hope is that you will find the means to take back control of your photography business and actually enjoy it :)

This post is sponsored by Helping Photographers Profit.


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Reader Question: How do I Improve my Wedding Photography Skills?


I get emails, Facebook messages, and Twitter mentions quite a bit from people that are asking for ways to improve their wedding photography skills. I honestly try to answer as many as I can. Once in a while, another wedding photographer will ask me a question that I feel needs to be shared with everyone. I’m posting this message with the photographer’s permission, however their name is omitted for privacy purposes.


May I ask you two very simple questions Dustin? Please. I’ve looked through countless portfolios and I’m not buttering you up by saying yours is the best. It’s absolutely frustrating to me that I cannot do technically what you and a few others can do. May I please ask you (1) did you go to school to learn the technical photography? (2) with the advent of YouTube and CreativeLive if you were me, which avenue would you use to become better. // Yes, I know to shoot shoot shoot, but I want to learn and the mistakes I’ve made in the past two weeks shooting weddings I can’t figure out- so yes I made them but don’t know what to do to change it. Thanks for your tuteldge, it’s appreciated beyond words.


Here’s my answer:

I definitely know where you’re coming from. To answer your first question, yes I have a degree in Photography from St. Edward’s University here in Austin. It covered everything from studio photography, large-format camera, black-and-white film printing and processing, digital photography, video production, art history, web design, and more. However, none of that honestly prepared me for photographing weddings. The degree program at St. Edwards University puts more emphasis on fine art photography rather than commercial or retail photography.

I guess you could say in a way, it did impact me at some point. However, I honestly feel like most of what I learned about shooting weddings and portraits was done in the field. I did at one point attend the PPA Texas School back when it used to be hosted at Texas A&M University. I signed up for Ralph Romaguera‘s portrait lighting class, which improved my portraits a hundredfold. It was worth every penny.

Because of your current schedule as a full-time working professional, I do recommend that you look into some form of online training program such as CreativeLive and others. Especially if it includes the ability to watch programs on your computer as well on your mobile device at any time. The biggest challenge will be to find programs that are within your budget and are developed by professionals with a lot of experience. Joe Buissink is one of my personal favorites. I have yet to discover another professional photographer that still has the same amount of passion for shooting weddings as he does. His main philosophy is, “know your camera inside and out “. This will enable you to focus on the experience you provide for your clients as well as focus on getting the shots you need.

Because of his teachings, I decided to always set my camera to Aperture priority, at f2.8 or so, a high ISO like 1600 or higher, and just fire away. Digital noise is taken care of in postproduction using Adobe Lightroom.

As much as you may not want to hear it, your biggest teacher will be yourself. Yes, that includes shooting in the field, but you will learn the most from looking out for patterns in your shooting style that you have created. These patterns may be what improves your style, or what is preventing you from getting to the next level. After you have identified these patterns, it is your job to decide whether they need to be broken or improved.

Just keep in mind, that the time you designate for improving your style should not be the same time that you are shooting weddings. Don’t waste your time trying to “fix things” during the wedding. Your focus should be on looking for the right shots. If things go wrong, analyze it later. Just remember, it’s your job as a professional photographer to make the time outside weddings to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening the next time.

All my best,

Dustin Meyer

This post is sponsored by SnapKnot


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Wedding Photography Workshop


(Copied over from my original post on

Once again, Precision Camera and I have teamed up to host another “no nonsense” wedding photography workshop for professional photographers. Our goal is to keep it simple. Provide you with plenty of opportunities to improve your wedding photography skills in a fun and controlled environment.  I cover everything from lighting and posing to shooting techniques. Lunch is provided by the venue. Plus, I even conduct an honest and open Studio Business Q&A for the last 2 hours of the workshop.

See what other photographers have to say about our workshops…

Melissa Skorpil

Cynthia Miller

Brianna Light

G. Blair Photographer


This time, we’re hosting our workshop at the beautiful historic Neill Cochran House Museum. The price is $225 and worth every penny. In fact, I encourage you to contact the photographers listed above to get an honest and unbiased opinion. Class size is limited to 15 attendees and both of our past workshops sold out in a matter of days. Sign up now and save your spot…

Here’s some samples from our last workshop…

Mark your calendar for October 18th, 2012 for my Wedding Photography Workshop withPrecision Camera, see you there!

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Getting Better Bokeh

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of senior portraits for local high schools. Of course, the majority of photographers are looking for a “do everything” lens when it comes to doing a lot of portrait sessions back-to-back like I am. People will immediately reach for their 24-70mm f2.8 or the monster 70-200mm f2.8 IS in their camera bag. However, I urge photographers to stop and think.

First, are you satisfied with the quality of images you are getting from your zoom lenses? Remember, you’re not shooting a wedding. It’s a portrait session, where you have complete control over the shooting situation. Therefore, why use a professional camera lens that was built for “reacting” to a shooting situation? Wouldn’t it be better to premeditate what lenses you will need for the upcoming session?

The correct answer is Yes.

This decision brings us away from the world of zoom lenses and into the unparalleled quality of prime lenses. Most photographers already rave about their favorites, such as the 50mm f1.2 L series lens. Sorry Nikon, only Canon shooters get a f1.2 lens…

The Canon 50mm f1.2 L lens is a superb lens for portraits. It works great for situations where space is limited, light is less available, and where very shallow depth of field is desired. However, I don’t recommend shooting wide open at f1.2 unless you have a steady hand and can keep your heartbeat from shaking the camera. I’ve found that f2 is perfectly sharp and with nice bokeh. But what if you want more full length portraits with more blurred background? When you move back from your subject, you increase depth of field, which makes everything sharper.

For this job, I use the Canon 135mm f2 L series lens. By setting my aperture to f2.8, I get razor sharp portraits with beautiful blurred backgrounds. Shooting from all angles, this lens is perfect for full-length portraits, headshots, and everything in between. And unlike the 70-200mm f2.8 IS L series lens, it weighs far less and sports a smaller form factor. Because it’s a prime lens, it also lets in much more light and focuses super fast.

A gorgeous senior portrait of a beautiful brunette indian teenage female.


Time and again, I reflexively reach for my 70-200mm f2.8, and every time I put it down and pick up the Canon 135mm f2 L series lens. It’s lightweight, razor sharp, and has beautiful bokeh that everyone raves about. It’s less weight on my neck, and easier on my wallet. Pick one up and you’ll see why it’s an essential part of my photography toolkit.

A senior portrait of a brunette in blue jeans white shirt denim jacket and hat.


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How Pictures Can Better Your Website

How pictures can better your website

In this day and age the images on your site are an important factor. If not one of the most important ones. Once upon a time a website consisted of text and nothing else. But then images began to be introduced, and the world saw the benefit they have to your web browsing.

Nowadays whether you are on partypoker, MSN, or an entertainment website like Perez Hilton’s blog, you’ll notice the ratios between pictures, text and white space are fairly levelled out. There’s a balance that’s pleasing to the eye. Why are pictures so important to the success of a website though?

Brighten it up – A website without pictures can appear very dull, especially if it has many blocks of text, the only brightness being the contrast between the background and the writing. Pictures give your eyes something else entertaining to look at and brighten up the page.

Give clarity to information – Sometimes a person can read an entire opening paragraph of a web article, and still have no clue what it is talking about. When you add a picture though, you are giving the user a visual clarification that will help them put the information together in their mind. Thus helping to ease any confusion.

Give the eyes a break – When your eyes are straining to read or search for information, they need a place to rest for a moment. Pictures are the perfect spot for them to do so. Then once they’ve had their fill of the photograph, they can go back to reading again.

Relevance – So long as a picture is relevant to the site or page, it will be interesting to the user. In fact the more relevant the better, because as I said earlier, people use pictures for clarification, and to prove a point. They pay attention to a photo when it has meaning.

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Where in the world is Dustin?

In case you don’t follow me on Google+, you may not realize that I’ve been busy with a new project with my friend and fellow photographer Eric Doggett.

Photog.TV is our online pro photographer talk show. We cover everything from the latest news in the photo industry, to live Photoshop tutorials, and live lighting demonstrations. Plus, every once in a while, we snag a special guest to speak to our viewers on the show.

Come over and see what all the buzz is about…

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Facebook Timeline and Privacy Settings

With the upcoming new Facebook Timeline, there are plenty of reasons to be excited, especially for photographers. I was invited to try out the new Timeline feature, so I thought I’d give you guys a preview.

First off, it’s pretty incredible how far back the Timeline goes. In fact, the first thing I realized was that I probably wanted to polish up a few things before all of my past photos, tags, and posts were on public display for everyone.

My first impression however is that I really like the large banner photo at the top of your profile. In fact, this made me think that Facebook is now directly going after the blogger market by having a similar appearance as current blog headers. You could even go so far as to create a custom image header and use that as your timeline banner. I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing some of this in the very near future as more people adopt the new layout.

My next favorite is the larger photos on display. This is a great opportunity to display some of your current work with large colorful images.

However, as always with Facebook, privacy is a big proponent of online controversy. So, I’m taking a moment to remind you some simple steps to control who sees what on your new Facebook Timeline.

First, go to the down arrow on the very top right of your profile. Clicking on the Privacy Settings option will bring you to this page:

Here you will be able to select individual settings for how you want to control your privacy. Facebook has recommended certain settings, however I prefer a little more privacy as I’m sure you do as well.

Click on “How to Connect” and you now have full control over your privacy for each way you connect with people on Facebook. Here is how I have my settings configured:

This allows me to still let people know I’m on Facebook, but without letting them see absolutely everything about me before I have a chance to connect with them.

Continue through the different options to personalize your privacy settings. You’ll find very specific options, such as allowing people to tag you when checking in to Facebook Places, or allowing you to review any photos you’re tagged in before your friends on Facebook can see them.

Facebook is a wonderful tool to network with colleagues, as well as stay connected with family and friends. Rather than jumping on the naysayers bandwagon about losing privacy on Facebook, take the time to figure out your privacy preferences. Take control and make Facebook work for you.

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