6 Photography Tips for Beginners
by Jessica Billings
The best thing about art is that there’s always room for growth. At the beginning of the year, I challenged myself to become a better photographer, and here’s what I discovered.
1. Manual mode is a must.
My photography improved immensely as soon as I left the comforts of auto and aperture priority mode on my DSLR. Take the time to learn ISO, shutter speed, and aperture and how they work together. This will take your camera from essentially being the same as a point-and-shoot or an iPhone to a tool that helps you create amazing images.
2. Golden hour is your friend.
Shooting in the middle of the day? Not so much. Golden hour, the hour after sunrise and before sunset, yields photos with softer shadows and more dynamic skies. It also allows for longer exposures, which are perfect for waterfalls and can help smooth out lakes. When taking photos of people during this time, I put the sun behind them for a beautiful glow. It’s a great time to get photos of alpenglow, the rosy light of the setting or rising sun seen on mountains.
3. Patience is a virtue.
My tendency initially was to get to a location, quickly snap some pictures, and head onto the next place. I’ve found that quality photos require much more intention. Now I’ll arrive at a location and do some exploring. I’ll look for things I want to be present in the shot and things I’d like to avoid. Sometimes a better angle is only 10 yards away. I like to arrive before sunrise so I can give myself time to take in a location and find my vision.
4. You’re going to get messy. So is your camera bag. And your tripod.
Photography is an adventure. I climb over rocks, lay down in the dirt, walk in the water – all to get the shot I want. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that allow you to kneel, lay down, bend in odd ways, etc. But don’t get too crazy for the shot – always be aware and cautious of your surroundings.
5. Tripods are a girl’s best friend.
In the early morning/late evening light, a longer exposure is necessary in order to avoid having to bump up the ISO. Before a photography workshop I recently attended, I rarely touched a tripod – in fact, I didn’t even own one. Now I don’t go anywhere without it. My tripod has also served as a trekking pole of sorts on icy/snowy terrain – that’s my kind of multipurpose tool.
6. Never stop learning.
There’s always room for improvement and growth, no matter how long you’ve been taking photos. Follow your favorite photographers on social media, invest in workshops, and never stop challenging yourself. Every time you step outside with your camera is an opportunity to grow, learn, and create something new.
World Tourism Day 2017
This World Tourism Day, the Wendt staff wanted to take the time to showcase the wonderful places our state has to offer. Montana has seemingly limitless possibilities when it comes to sights to see, people to meet, and places to discover. So pull out your map and plan a road trip to somewhere new in Montana. No one ever regretted taking the time to be a tourist in their own state.
Can you believe we are already halfway through 2017? To say a lot has already happened is an understatement. From elections to celebrity news, social media has been an integral part in breaking this year’s biggest stories. Social Media Day is June 30—in celebration let’s take a look at some of the biggest social media stories that have happened in 2017.
As the dust settled from the presidential election, fake news, and especially its prolific rise on social media channels, came into the spotlight. Currently, more than half of U.S. adults say they get news from social media sources. While fake news sites aren’t new, they are now more dangerous because they completely model real news sites and often skew the truth to influence opinions. The influence they were able to wield during and after the election was vastly aided by headline scanning, comment sections, and mass sharing on social sites. In response, Facebook announced the launch of a new initiative, The Facebook Journalism Project, to combat the rise of fake news on its platform and develop a stronger relationship with journalists.
TBD if this will do anything to curb the problem.
While video was the social media buzzword in 2016, it has been integrated into all social channels and continues to reign as king in order of engagement and ROI for users. In a recent Verge article, they talk about Facebook employees’ popular use of “the camera is the new keyboard” mantra. Snapchat has coined itself a camera company from the beginning and continues to move in a video-centric direction with this year’s launch of Spectacles.
Stay tuned for updates across all social media channels that focus on putting videos front and center, with text and images taking a backseat.
Everyone’s On board
It’s 2017, talking about social media and its influence on our lives doesn’t only pertain to our youngest generations anymore. As mentioned above, more than half of U.S. adults get news from social channels. Social media users are getting older; 53% of U.S. users are over the age of 35. While there are still divisions with Facebook trending with an older audience and Snapchat and Instagram predominantly younger, the gap is quickly decreasing.
Look for social media channel user breakouts to become evenly spread across generations and for new innovations from Generation Z as they put their own mark on social media.
The growth of virtual reality and augmented reality is largely thanks to social media. According to an eMarketer forecast, 40 million people in the U.S. will engage with some form of AR this year. We’ve already seen innovations this year with Snapchat leading the charge on social media. But Facebook and Instagram are also rolling out more ways to include AR in their stories for users. VR adaptation has been slower due to costly hardware, but as these costs decrease, expect to see more headsets and glasses being incorporated into your favorite social channel.
Here’s a glimpse at VR’s future: Facebook Spaces
*Augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality and real life. A good example is Pokémon Go.
*Virtual reality is the creation of a virtual world. A good example is gaming or traveling with Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR.
United Airlines, Pepsi, who’s next? “Backlash media” will continue to grow as brands try to align themselves and their products with social causes.
This new feature allows users to share their location with friends and see snaps happening around them. This has many people worried about security, but this trend of location-based social media isn’t going away.
There truly is no one-size-fits-all answer for communications outreach, and the 8th graders in Sarah Milling’s class at East Middle School demonstrated that when they created and implemented their own campaigns aimed at marketing a book to their peers in the 8th grade math class.
Regular readers of this blog might remember that Wendt got involved in this project last February, when Sarah reached out to us. Read all about it here.
With the school year coming to an end, it was time for the top two students in each class, 12 students in all, to bring their presentations to The Wendt Agency for a show and tell. And what a show it was; these young marketers had done their homework and then some!
We watched animated videos, heard about scavenger hunts and special PA announcements, checked out customized websites, read peer reviews, took quizzes, and played online games based on book characters. These middle schoolers used any and every tactic they could to reach their target audience in an impactful way that would lead to action. Marketing at its simplest and finest.
In the end, East Middle School’s 8th grade math students learned about a lot of good books for their summer reading lists, the 8th grade English students developed their marketing muscles, and The Wendt Agency got to watch the next generation of communications specialists get their feet wet.
Win – win – win!
It all started with an unexpected email in February. Middle school teacher Sarah Milling wanted to encourage her students to become excited about reading, and also help them learn a bit about marketing. Her idea? In a nutshell, task her 8th graders with marketing a book to their peers. Her question? Would The Wendt Agency be willing to help? Why, of course we would!
The students got to choose any book they wanted, and that means there is a wide variety of types—biographies, fiction, sci-fi, even a graphic novel. But while the content might be different, the challenge is the same: convince other middle schoolers to read your book.
Three members of the Wendt team—Brenda Peterson, Jennifer Fritz, and Carol Kruger—spent a day at East Middle School, walking the 8th graders through a lot of marketing basics:
- Defining a brand
- Doing market research
- Determining your target audience
- Developing a marketing plan
- Deciding on the right mix of communications outreach tactics
We even had a little fun with it, testing their knowledge of logos and tag lines for brands like Pepsi, Beats by Dre, Amazon, and All State. The only one that stumped them? The Quicker Picker Upper, which is for Bounty paper towels. But to the 8th grader who thought “The Quicker Picker Upper” was, or should be, Uber’s tag line—call us when you graduate, because that is genius!
The students are hard at work with their marketing efforts now. We can’t wait to hear how things go and will be keeping all of you updated on the student’s progress as this project moves forward!
2016 was an exciting year for broadcast work and even more exciting is the fact that we were honored with four Bronze Telly Awards! View the award-winning work for the Montana Lottery and Resolve Montana below.
Montana Lottery – Big Sky Bonus
Montana Lottery – Grills Gone Wild
Resolve Montana – It Isn’t Easy
The Telly Awards were founded in 1979 and honor outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs; video and film productions; and online commercials, videos, and films.
We do more than just work in Central Montana. We live here; play here; explore here.
Central Montana is home in every sense of the word. So The Wendt Agency has always been thrilled to work with the Central Montana Tourism Region to promote the authentic and unforgettable adventures that surround us every day.
Wendt has been a partner with Central Montana since 1992, back when it was still called Russell Country after famed Western artist Charles M. Russell. We’ve traveled to every corner of the region, and we have the photos to prove it! Pics or it didn’t happen, right? And yes, we know that phrase is almost as old as this relationship!
Below is a glimpse of a Wendt road trip experiencing some of Central Montana’s gems.
Success can only occur when there is a deep agency-client partnership built on mutual respect and dedication to cutting-edge ideas and solutions.Wendt and Central Montana have built this together, and it shows in our work. Want to see an example? Check out our recent “Fun with Dick and Jane” campaign. It’s just one way Wendt has brought the Central Montana message to the target audience of potential visitors.
We look forward to many more years of sharing the Central Montana story. If you can’t wait for that, head on over to the Central Montana Facebook page or follow them on Twitter and Instagram. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
We are proud to say that creativity is abundant here at The Wendt Agency, and not just in our professional work. Many of us like to exercise our unique talents to help create joy, especially during the holiday season.
Taking extra time to do something special this Christmas can go a long way, whether it’s for your family and friends, your customers, or for those you don’t know personally but are in need of help.
No matter what you do during this festive time, do so with a genuine heart. Your customers, social media followers, and—of course—those you love will appreciate your sincerity and generosity.
Click through our recipes and craft projects below to explore how some of us express our creativity and spread holiday cheer.
Katie’s Homemade Vanilla Extract
This is a great, easy project. This vanilla is perfect for baking (or flavoring holiday cocktails!). It may be a little late for gift giving this Christmas (it does take some time to turn into vanilla), but it would be a breeze to throw together now for an easy holiday present next year.
- 1 bottle bourbon or vodka
- 7-8 vanilla beans
- Small jars or bottles for gifting
- Slice vanilla beans in half lengthwise.
- Place your vanilla beans in the bottle of alcohol (you may need to pour out drink a bit to make room).
- Cap tightly and shake gently.
- Store in a cool, dark place for at least 2-3 months, shaking occasionally.
- When ready to gift, pour into small jars (airplane liquor bottles work well).
Jessica’s Plaid Ornaments
I was inspired to make these after seeing plaid ornaments in stores and because I had some scrap fabric at home. Being from Virginia, I’m not used to such cold weather during Christmas time, so I knew I wanted my tree and house to feel very warm and cozy. I decided to use burnt red colored fabric to match the plaid scraps I already had. Any round plastic ornaments will do for this project; mine are about three inches in diameter. You will also need a pair of scissors, paper clips, and some jute twine.
- Cut your fabric
I cut my fabric to be about 12” x 12” square-ish. The edges don’t need to be perfect as this will add character to the finished ornament. Just make sure when you bunch the fabric around the ornament that it covers the entire thing. The larger the piece of fabric, the more fabric you’ll have bunched at the top.
- Wrap your fabric around the ornament
Place your ornament in the middle of your fabric and bring the ends up to create a nice bunch at the top.
- Tie your jute bow
Take a piece of jute twine about 14-18 inches long. This will be your bow, so the longer the twine, the larger the bow. Tie it around the fabric bunch at the top of your ornament.
- Make your hook
Now take a paper clip and open it to create an S shape. Hook the bottom loop on to your ornament, and then hang on your tree and enjoy!
To me, the holiday season is a time of coming together, whether it is with your family or the friends that have become your family when you are away from home. It’s also a great excuse to watch Christmas movies, listen to happy music all of the time, and really embrace the season of giving and caring for one another.
Alyse’s Christmas Lanterns
I love crafting AND I love Christmas, so combining the two creates hours of entertainment for me and meaningful gifts for my friends and family.
I find repurposing items for crafts and home décor to be especially fun. Resourcefulness is key—what an accomplishment when I take scraps or unwanted items and turn them into something great!
So when I had several white lanterns left over from my summer wedding decorations, I was inspired to transform them into Christmas decorations to give away as gifts (and, of course, keep a few to decorate my own home with!).
I had already spray-painted these lanterns white, so all I needed were decorative items to add to them. I bought ribbons, twigs, pinecones, berries, glittery items, shiny items, beads, etc.—pretty much anything in green, red, white, or silver that would fit inside the lanterns.
Then I simply stuffed the lanterns. This is where happy accidents play a big role! The bottom layer included the heaviest material, and then I added varieties of shapes, textures, and colors as I worked my way up.
In the two larger lanterns, I decided to use a candle as the centerpiece. I surrounded the candle with decorative items that added more colors and textures.
To finish them off, I tied colorful ribbon and small pieces of the interior materials to the top of the lanterns. Voila!
Brenda’s Swiss Cheese Fondue—The Real Thing!
Several years ago, we took a winter vacation to Switzerland. We enjoyed so many wonderful culinary delights, especially the cheese fondue (more than once)! When we got back to Montana, I could hardly wait to incorporate it into our holiday season. Now it has become a tradition for our Christmas Eve dinner.
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 8 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated
- 8 oz. Jarlsberg cheese, grated
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- 3 tbsp. Kirsch (cherry liqueur)
- Salt, fresh ground pepper, and a dash of nutmeg
- French bread, cubed
Rub a heavy pot or ceramic fondue pot with garlic, leaving shreds in the pot. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Slowly add cheeses, continue stirring, and lower heat until all the cheese is melted. Dissolve the cornstarch in the Kirsch and add to cheese. Add a dash of salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Keep over very low flame. At your table setting, provide everyone with a shot glass of Kirsch and a plate with fresh ground pepper. Make sure the shot glass is wide enough to dip the bread cubes in the Kirsch.
Dip a bread cube slightly in the Kirsch (just a little corner of the bread). Then dip it in the fondue, swirling it around in the cheese. Finally, dip a small corner of the cheese-covered bread in the pepper. Pop it in your mouth, enjoy, and start the whole process over again. Once dinner is over, if there is any Kirsch left in your shot glass, make a toast to the holidays!
To me, the holidays are about spending time with family and friends and enjoying the season with fantastic food and drink. Those are the best gifts one can receive!
June 6, 2016
Developing creative messaging that motivates and resonates with target audiences and invokes action is what we strive to do at Wendt every day. Being tasked with this responsibility for an organization that helps provide a means for a better life for Montana children makes our jobs even more rewarding.
Achieve Montana, formerly Montana Family Education Savings Program (MFESP), provides college savings vehicles to help families save for higher education expenses and avoid incurring added debt in order to send their children to college.
MFESP hired Wendt as their marketing partner at the same time they were transitioning to a new plan manager with an enhancement in product offerings. With these changes on the horizon, it was the perfect time to go through a rebranding process with MFESP.
The first step in the process Wendt recommended was to rename the organization. We presented four options that included taglines and rationales for each recommendation. The chosen name was Achieve Montana with the tagline, “Their tomorrow starts today.” Achieve represents the goals of the savings program: parents want to achieve savings for their children and children will be able to achieve their academic dreams because of the program. It is easy for parents to get caught up in the short-term tasks and concerns of raising children. The tagline reinforces an important message–childrens’ futures are impacted by decisions made today. If you have the foresight to save now, your child will look forward to a more successful tomorrow.
Once the new name was chosen, we walked through multiple branding exercises with the Achieve Montana team to help guide the brand identity and creative messaging. Utilizing strong imagery, meaningful headlines, informative copy, and an inviting call to action, the Achieve Montana creative campaign centers around the dreams and aspirations of both children and their families. The campaign was created to feel touching, empowering, authentic, memorable, and to resonate with Montana families.
For a complete look at this creatively executed campaign and the elements used to establish an emotional connection with Montana families, click here.
There are a lot of benefits to working with an ad agency: you can save time, money, and effort while getting access to the best industry research, customized marketing strategies, expert branding advice, deep media discounts, and high-end creative. That’s all good news for your business. But did you know there are some additional, specific benefits to working with a MONTANA ad agency? Let’s take a look at a few of them:
1. MONTANA’S BREATHTAKING SCENERY IS INSPIRING.
Those of us lucky enough to live and work in this amazing state can replenish our creativity by immersing ourselves in the landscape surrounding us as we hike, float, or even take road trips to business meetings!
2. TEAMWORK IS A WAY OF LIFE HERE.
Whether you’re branding cattle or branding a business, anyone who lives in Montana knows bringing people together as true partners produces the best results.
3. OUR ROOTS RUN DEEP IN MONTANA AND ARE GROUNDED IN HARD WORK AND DEDICATION.
We’re not looking for the easy answer or the short-term solution, we’re looking for the best solution to create success.
4. HIGH-QUALITY OF LIFE ATTRACTS HIGH-QUALITY PEOPLE.
Farmers markets, hiking and biking trails, blue-ribbon trout streams, art galleries, local microbrews, and more all help keep us balanced while creating a high-quality of life, which attracts high-quality people.
5. WE SEAL DEALS WITH A HANDSHAKE, AND THAT’S NO JOKE.
Our word is our bond and that handshake signals a steadfast commitment to the partnership, the project, and everyone’s success.
These are just a few of the reasons this Montana agency might be the right agency for your business. A tour of our website will give you an even deeper understanding of our company, people, and work. So take a moment to look around, and then let us know what your marketing challenges are. We’d love to help!