With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror and Christmas on the horizon, gratefulness and giving back are on a lot of people’s minds. The benefits of generosity on individuals are well known, but not everyone is aware that the same is true for organizations. Participating in the community and contributing to local causes is not only rewarding to individuals, but can also lead to company growth and success.
While the importance of involvement and altruism are widely acclaimed, the benefits often seem abstract or intangible. However, there are numerous payoffs beyond the obvious tax breaks. These include:
- Brand awareness and visibility
- Positively shape attitudes and reputation
- Customer loyalty
- Relationship building and networking
- Employee morale and career fulfillment
By being active in your town and with local nonprofits, your business becomes linked with various public projects and campaigns, which creates brand awareness. Acknowledgements of your contribution such as a logo on a brochure, a thank you from a speaker at an event, a link on a website, or a name mention in a radio spot gets your brand out there. In addition, community and charity-related posts on social media often have high levels of engagement, including shares, and have been shown to drive web traffic and sales.
All of this will lead to positive associations with your company, which influence public opinion. This helps to build a strong reputation.
When your reputation demonstrates your commitment to your community, your potential customers will take notice. Social responsibility is becoming increasingly important to consumers, especially younger generations. Not only do they engage more with brands that reflect their values, but they use their purchasing power to show their support, which translates into sales and your bottom-line.
Giving back also opens doors to connect with other businesses, community leaders, and clients in your industry and area. This network can increase your community impact as well as provide new business opportunities.
Like customers, employees also care about the neighborhood they live in. A workplace that actively encourages volunteerism and community commitment can attract new talent. Providing opportunities where workers feel like they are able to make a positive difference gives them a sense of accomplishment, which helps with employee satisfaction and retention.
So, during this busy holiday season remember connecting to your community and supporting local causes is more than just a nice sentiment. It’s a tangible way to support the people who support you. It benefits you, your employees, and your brand. Plus, it does give you that warm fuzzy feeling.
Every company has a great celebration. Some have their summer picnic; maybe a catered night out at a baseball game. For others, their biggest celebration is the Christmas gift or cookie exchange. At Wendt, we are all about Halloween. Starting a month prior to the largest party of the year, we pull out all the stops. We even have a Halloween Party Planning Committee.
What happens when you put a group of creative brains in the room – each with their own quirks and eccentricities? Innovation! This is great during the year when we are working on campaigns and need to design the next beautiful website, magazine advertisement, or PR push. When it comes to Halloween, though, it means fierce competition. The winner of our annual costume contest walks away with a day off with pay! A day of paid time off brings out everyone’s best ideas.
Take a look back at some of our favorite costumes over the years. Check our Facebook on October 31 to see what shenanigans we have gotten ourselves into this year!
Nothing beats the sights and smells of fall. The amazing colors, the crunch of leaves as you walk down the street, and let’s not forget about cozy sweaters and pumpkin-flavored everything. Oh, and college football! These are just a few of the things that make it a bit easier to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall!
-The Wendt Agency
When you think about fly fishing, whether you are familiar with the subject or not, it may seem pretty straightforward. I mean, all you are really doing is casting something that looks like food on a hook to a hungry trout who hopefully is willing to eat it. It’s as simple as that, right? To some, this is as complicated as fishing needs to be. To me, a graphic designer by profession and fly fisherman by obsession, I have found correlations between the two subjects as my experience with each has grown over the years. There are parallels between fly fishing and graphic design that help me better understand each subject. And when you apply certain principles that are proven to be successful in each field, you begin to realize how similar and harmonious fly fishing and graphic design really are.
Casting and Creativity
Have you ever found yourself watching, mesmerized, as a fly fisherman casts a fly rod? The way the fly line loops and unravels through the air, the fly landing ever so delicately on the water. It looks effortlessly beautiful, and it’s hard not to stare, like you are in some type of trance. At times, I find myself doing the same when I see a well-executed logo or design. The way the layout, typography, and patterns all come together to look effortlessly beautiful. Like a fly cast, a series of well-thought-out steps and methodical actions need to be accomplished in order to achieve a successful design. I often find myself taking the fly cast approach when starting a new design layout. The mechanics must all come together to achieve cohesion and beauty.
Fly Choice/Font Choice
Choosing what fly to use can have a dramatic outcome if not given careful attention. In fly fishing, the size, shape, and color of the fly are the most important factors in getting the trout’s attention and determining how successful your catch rate will be. This same formula can apply when choosing a project’s font. If any one of the aspects within the formula is off, the result can hinder the effectiveness or success of the overall design. Thinking about size, shape, and color when choosing a font for a headline on the roadside billboard will determine how effectively I “hook” the attention of my intended audience, therefore making the overall advertisement a success.
In fly fishing, presentation trumps everything! How well you present or sell the fly will determine how successful you are in terms of hooking trout. This holds true in the marketing/advertising world. As a graphic designer, I must think in terms of how I am going to present my ideas for any given project to the client and their customers. It’s learning about their target audience and what convinces them to buy my client’s products or services. How effectively I sell this message graphically/visually will ultimately determine how successful the campaign is.
Blurring the lines between fly fishing and graphic design has made me think outside the box in terms of how successful I am in each practice. Both are a passion of mine, and I strive to be the best I can be in each role. Ultimately, the goal is landing the biggest client – or trout of a lifetime.
BY JOHNNY EWALD, GRAPHIC & DIGITAL DESIGNER
As marketers, we invest a considerable amount of time celebrating the virtues of consistency, simplicity, and clarity. And all of it is true, especially during the all-important process of defining your brand. Delivering a high-quality, memorable experience at every touchpoint is the very essence of defining and maintaining a brand. It is how customers see your company.
Touchpoints allow customers to have experiences every time they “touch” any part of your product, service, brand, or organization across multiple channels and at various points in time. Parking your company car at the county fair? It’s important that your signage and logo are in excellent condition, as this represents a touchpoint of your brand. In addition, make sure your vehicle is clean and free of dings and dents. Are you parked responsibly? (Asking for a friend – some of us are “between the lines” challenged.) As minor as all this may sound, it’s an opportunity to interact with potential customers.
From a wider perspective, touchpoints for tourism can occur at airports, entryways into the city or destination, front-line staff at hotels, convenience stores and restaurants. Think Disneyland. The company takes great care to ensure a quality customer experience from the ticket counter to exiting a ride. Touchpoints for your business occur online, in person, and with or without the consideration that the smallest transaction can positively or negatively affect your brand. Touchpoints allow prospective customers to become knowledgeable on the brand and the benefits offered and allow them to decide whether they continue their journey with your brand.
It’s also important to realize that in today’s world of social media and reviews, there are touchpoints you can’t control. These can include a customer’s experience when they interact with your product, including visiting your website. Social media has become an amplified “word of mouth,” where a shared experience – good or bad – may influence others’ perceptions toward your brand. There are touchpoints you create to develop and maintain your brand. These include the way you merchandise your space, collateral, and any other messaging through physical channels. Other touchpoints come in the form of customer interaction. Employees, website experience, and customer service all play a huge role in your brand’s ability to provide positive touchpoints and, ultimately, create advocacy with your customers to maintain their loyalty and promote your brand to others.
Whether your business has been around for decades or you are a fledgling new company, brand development – through the care and feeding of your touchpoints – helps you identify a powerful and effective way to connect with your audience. Wendt has considerable experience and success in defining and managing brand reputations. Let us help you identify what makes you unique. Then all that’s left is to believe it, live it, and share it!
BY JOHNA WILCOX, ACCOUNT MANAGER
I spend a lot of time hearing the word “no.” This is no one’s fault in particular. In fact, I’ve been led to believe impossibility is a reality of the fields I’ve chosen to work within. It always starts small: “No, there aren’t a lot of women behind the scenes in advertising,” or “No, creative careers won’t pay well enough to live.” I’m told offices are depressing, firms are immoral, and freelancing isn’t feasible. I’ve heard every starving artist and English major joke there is to hear.
It should be apparent to me by now that my chances at success are slim to none, which is why Wendt blew my mind when I heard of it, and why it has become such an amazing opportunity for me now.
I am a junior at the University of Montana, majoring in creative writing and English literature, minoring in graphic design. I’ve known I wanted to write since I was 12, and have so far avoided the stereotype of the indecisive college student. However, I’ve always known that it’s a long-shot that I will ever become a millionaire with my words alone. Advertising and media arts felt perfect for me. It’s not only a way to feed myself and keep the power on as I write my books but a career that will allow me to stay engaged with my hobbies and feed my creative side. Advertisement spans so many of the fields that interest me– photography, psychology, digital art, design, animation, even writing– that I can’t imagine a more tailor-made career path for myself. That’s even without considering the constant demand and steady growth that’s so conspicuously lacking in many other artistic fields.
But, but, but. There’s still the naysayers. Not many women. Not enough money. Not a good environment. Not much opportunity for advancement.
Since beginning my internship at the Wendt Agency, I’ve job shadowed with many of its employees, spanning from finance to design to social media. Nearly all of these positions are filled by women. Their management is staffed by people who have grown with the company, promoted from within their own ranks. Every day I’ve come in to observe, I’ve been met with laughter and casual camaraderie in what is quite possibly the coolest and most interesting office building I’ve ever been in, with open spaces, curving walls, and music playing through the hallways that changes day-to-day. Several of these employees support families, and since the office is closed on weekends, speak enthusiastically of being able to spend time with them. I find the work, the environment, and the company to be incredibly engaging and uplifting, with projects that speak to my interests and my morals. And those are the days when there aren’t any dogs in the building– because, as I was nonchalantly told on my first day, Wendt is dog-friendly.
In short, Wendt is pretty much what would happen if I could build my perfect workplace. It’s been really inspiring to see such an example against all the negatives and impossibilities I’ve been fed since a young age, especially since many of the stories I’ve heard have been similar to my own in terms of interests and education. Already, many of my own future plans have been influenced by the things I’ve observed at Wendt.
Hopefully, my enthusiasm is apparent. Each day I’m present, someone in the office asks if I’m getting bored yet, and each time, I respond that they’ve underestimated my nerdiness and appreciation for the entire Wendt process. I am far from bored and extremely grateful for the chance to spend a portion of my summer in such an interesting way.
BY BAILEY COLLINS, INTERN
The sun is shining, the grass is growing, and outdoor fun has begun – welcome to summer! Take it all in and enjoy the long warm days with these free desktop and mobile wallpapers designed just for you.
-The Wendt Agency
Have you ever gone to a website to purchase an item or research a subject, but once there you realized the content was full of typos and grammatical errors?
Did your trust in the company immediately change?
Did it make you think twice before entering your credit card number?
Did you *eye roll emoji* at the liberal use of LOL speak?
It’s easy to take small details like punctuation and word usage for granted, but these small details can add up to a lot of trust and can mean the difference between someone choosing your services or going to your competitor.
In fact, Adweek reported in 2014 that a study by U.K. firm Global Lingo found that 59 percent of respondents said they would avoid doing business with a company that had obvious errors on their website.
So what’s a business to do?
The most obvious answer is to hire someone whose job it is to prevent such mistakes. But does such a position exist? It does, and those who do it are called copy editors.
Copy editors work to ensure products are accurate and free of errors before they go out to the public. But copy editing goes beyond making sure you have the correct they’re or their. It includes rewriting copy to make it clearer and ensuring that the tone and phrases are appropriate for the audience. Different audiences require different content – the general public doesn’t necessarily want to read a website full of scientific jargon. And while there’s a time and place for LOLs and emojis, there are also plenty of instances such casual conversation is inappropriate.
Editors will often be tasked with fact checking and ensuring a business’s brand is being used consistently across different platforms (print, online, and social are just a few examples). And a good editor will catch copy that might be embarrassing for the company.
Imagine leaving the “g” out of that delicious angus burger. And, of course, there’s the infamous public vs. … well you know.
There also are plenty of social media pitfalls copy editors can keep your business from falling in. Taking advantage of trending hashtags can be a clever way to get your message out, but it can also backfire if a company doesn’t do its research. In 2014, DiGiorno jumped on a trending hashtag to sell pizza. Except the hashtag, WhyIStayed, was intended to draw attention to domestic violence. The pizza company later apologized, saying it did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.
A copy editor can help spot these errors before they go out to thousands of customers or become billboard-size typos.
So the next time your company is ready to unveil its latest campaign, make sure you have a copy editor take a look at what you’re presenting. Taking that extra step now can save you from embarrassment in the future.
This Mother’s Day will mark the fourth year I am celebrating the holiday as a mommy, and I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on the challenges and triumphs that come along with being a mom.
Finding the right balance in life can be a constant but important struggle in order to be the best version of myself, whether that is creating a marketing plan for a client or playing Barbie dolls with my 4-year-old daughter. While there are days I feel like I am struggling and everything is spiraling out of control, those are balanced with days where I am incredibly productive and proud of my abilities both in the workplace and as an engaged mom. When I begin to feel overwhelmed and question the amount of time I am away from my kids during the workweek, I remind myself that I am working not just for me, but for my little “me”s. I am being a role model for them, striving to set the example that they can accomplish anything they put their minds to. Even though I may have occasional doubts, I know I am modeling strength, passion, and determination.
I can honestly say I find joy daily in both areas of my life – work and home. I feel energized and ambitious in the office, where I am surrounded by people I have a huge amount of respect for, as we collaborate and create solutions and strategies together. After a full day’s work, I can feel drained from all the mental stimuli and problem solving, but as I pull into the driveway to pick up my kids and see them jumping up and down waving out the window, it gives me the energy I need to give 100% of myself to the people who love me most.
I believe motherhood has made me a better leader and employee and, vice versa, my career has given me tools to be a better mom. Problem solving, patience, multitasking, confidence, perspective, adaptability, empathy, and resilience – these are all traits that I practice daily in all areas of my life. It takes perspective and patience to manage my 4-year-old’s meltdown when I give her a pink cup instead of a green one, just as it takes adaptability and confidence to put together a new-business presentation for a piece of business Wendt is pitching. Practice makes perfect! Well, OK maybe not perfect, but practice helps.
I would be remiss to not give credit to those around me who constantly provide the love and support I need to be a productive and happy mom.
My incredible mother is on speed dial daily. She instilled in me hard work and dedication, working two jobs during my childhood, but was there for me always. My loving and supportive husband is an amazing hands-on dad who sets the perfect example for our kids. I am thankful Wendt is an awesome, supportive workplace that encourages home/work balance. I also draw strength from all the other women in my life who play a role in providing support and love as amazing grandmothers to my children as well as my other mom friends who can relate to the daily challenges.
Plus, there is a vast amount of social posts and blogs about the craziness and pressures of motherhood that has provided me with great insight as I continue to practice being the best employee and mommy I can be. Below are a few of my favorite blogs.
So here’s to all the moms out there trying to find balance. You should be proud of everything you do!
Say Thanks to your Mom with a custom Facebook frame
To use the frame, launch your Facebook app and select the camera. Before or after you take a photo, tap on the wand located at the bottom left of your screen. Click frame image on lower right, and it will show you a list of frames. You can also use it as a profile photo. To do so, hover over your profile photo and click “update profile photo” and select “add frame.”
MEET OUR MOMS
By Jennifer Fritz, Client Services Director
Billboards can be a great marketing tool. They can also be one of the most challenging mediums to create. Why? Effective billboards require creativity, considerate design choices and, the most difficult of all, the ability to communicate in brevity. Here are five tips to get you started on creating an effective billboard.
1. Content: Less is more.
Before deciding what goes on your billboard, it is important to decide what the goal is. Is your goal a directional or way-finding board, to get someone to shop a sale, or is it simply for brand awareness? These goals are all very different and will influence what content should be included. It is important that your board have only one goal. There is simply not enough space or time to communicate more than one message.
What content needs to be included? Many people make the mistake of including too much information. With content, less is more. Once you have developed the desired content, consider making additional cuts, such as eliminating unnecessary punctuation and shortening headlines. Remember, most billboards do not need to include a physical address, phone number, and web address.
2. Design: Keep it simple.
The most effective billboards are always the simplest. Focus on your main message with large and easy-to-read text. Evaluate if imagery is necessary. Perhaps a solid color or background texture is the right choice for a simple, impactful design. If using imagery, consider a single image that will attract the reader’s eye to the billboard but won’t make it too busy. If placing text over the image, choose wisely so your text is readable over the photo. When it comes to logo size, pick a size that balances well with the rest of the design. The logo shouldn’t be the main focus, but you also don’t want it to be missed entirely.
3. Choosing the right font.
Your main goal when choosing a font is to ensure readability at a distance. Make sure that the words are large, clear, and easy to read. Bold fonts often work well. Avoid fonts that are too thin, ornate, or script fonts. Adjust the spacing between lines, letters, and words to help improve readability. You can use outlines and drop shadows to help your words stand out. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you are having to add multiple effects to create a readable message, that may mean you need to reconsider the font selection, background imagery or color, or size of the font.
4. Be creative, but don’t stump your audience.
Today’s traveler often, for better or worse, has a busy mind. Billboards need to be a quick read but also need to be interesting and memorable enough to leave a lasting impression. A boring billboard will be ignored or missed entirely, but a clever and impactful billboard will grab attention. Time to put your thinking cap on! How can you approach your message with creativity, but without leaving your viewer confused?
5. Is it really readable?
You only have about 5-10 seconds for viewers to notice, read, and understand your message. If you haven’t gathered yet, readability is incredibly important. Here is a quick tip to test readability. Print out your billboard around the size of a business card and view it at arm’s length. Can you read it? You can make all the best content and design decisions, but all your hard work will be wasted if your board isn’t readable.
The sun is shining, the snow is starting to melt, and flowers will soon begin to bloom – welcome to spring! Take it all in and feel sunny even on a cloudy day with these free desktop and mobile wallpapers designed just for you.
-The Wendt Agency
Click to download wallpapers:
Nowadays, having a strong web presence is crucial to driving people to your business. Here at Wendt, we love designing and redesigning high-quality websites for our clients to improve their web presence and make sure they are putting their best foot forward daily.
When developing websites for our clients, we make sure that from start to finish, we are intentional about the design, content, and overall user experience.
Our solid search engine optimization (SEO) foundation enables us to not only design and develop a strong website to fit our clients’ wants and needs, but it also ensures that they won’t get lost in search results, which helps drive traffic to their site.
Like with most technology, the art of strong SEO is constantly changing and developing.
This makes the job all the more challenging and exciting. We strive to provide our clients with the most up-to-date SEO strategies.
Some of our focus areas when designing and optimizing a site for SEO are:
- Developing a site structure that helps both Google and site visitors navigate the websites we create.
- Writing copy for websites that both readers and Google love.
- Researching keywords to help the site show up in relevant search results.
- Building a strong, holistic SEO foundation on the site to ensure that the website is at its maximum capacity for serving the content to users and Google.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
SEO doesn’t stop with the launch of a website – it is something that requires constant work to make sure traffic is being driven effectively and ensure your site continues to grow in rank. Strategies for this include:
- Linking to your site often from various social media platforms.
- Frequently pushing out new content (ex. blog posts).
- Making sure that your site and plug-ins are always up to date (a bogged-down and slow website isn’t user or Google friendly).
As each new year begins, it’s a new opportunity to restart and do a personal mental check on what’s important. I spend a lot of time driving for my job. And that windshield time is always fantastic for reflection, pondering my “to do” list, singing along to my favorite song (when I can’t carry a tune in a bucket) and occasionally making plans for the future. Sometime in the last year, along the interstate between Great Falls and Helena, I noticed a handmade sign that has become one of my favorites. It states: Just be nice.
Such a simple and perfect sentiment.
I am frequently amazed at how, as human beings, we work so hard to tear each other down. It’s easy to point fingers at others – our leaders, the media, our co-workers, neighbors or family members, and say that they alone have made this world less kind based on their actions. And maybe some of that is true. We all know someone who has nothing more to share than ill will, indifference and meanness. These actions are born of people who are selfish, lack in confidence and are jealous by nature. These traits are heavy-duty and can easily smother kindness, good will and happiness.
We do have the power to make change with every action we take in our lives. All we have to do is to adopt a lifestyle of keeping kindness in the forefront of our hearts and our minds. Seems like a simple concept, but I’m thinking it will take a good deal of practice. However, I’m very confident it can be done. If we start with ourselves, and find ways to let kindness lead us, it will then naturally spill out into everything we do each and every day and ultimately spread to all that we come in contact with.
So let’s talk about what kindness is.
From my perspective, it’s that place in your heart that is wide open, gracious and compassionate. When you look through the lenses of kindness there is no evil, sadness or hate. There is only understanding, tolerance and respect. When we give kindness away it will always come back to us. One kind action leads to another, and another and another. How special is that?
And kindness is free. It doesn’t cost anything to lift someone up with a kind word or deed. This dear friend of mine has an ability to know when I need a little lift. She often will write a little note of appreciation and mail it to me, or at times we’ve been in a meeting together and she has said to me “thank you for this time with you.” Such simple acts of kindness are so incredibly meaningful. And they make me want to do something nice for someone else! It is intoxicating and infectious.
So in this new year, will you join me in finding ways to keep kindness first? We can make this world a better place when our words and actions are both true and kind.
The new year is here and that means it is time to welcome the Pantone Color of the Year: Ultra Violet. Described as inventive and imaginative, complex and contemplative – this is not a color that blends into the background. This blue-based purple seems to need you to notice it, and notice it we have. The internet is brimming with tips on using this color in 2018. In the mood for some shopping? You can find everything from ultra violet chairs to candles here: Shop ultra violet
Looking to spend the cold winter months inside rearranging the furniture and knickknacks? How-to use ultra violet in decor
Of course, the fashion industry is all over this: How-to wear ultra violet
Ultra violet makeup gets a little tricky for most of us, but check out Kerry Washington’s eye makeup at the Golden Globes. Now THAT is a look that will not get you any side-eye!
So, maybe January is a good time to contemplate where you could inventively use this complex color, or just imagine how an ultra violet coffee mug would brighten your day. Either way, you are probably going to be seeing this color around a lot for the next 12 months.
The W³ Awards honors creative excellence on the web and recognizes the creative and marketing professionals behind award-winning websites, web video, and online marketing programs.
Wendt was honored with two Silver W³ Awards, a great accomplishment especially considering there were over 5,000 competitive entries in this year’s awards! Our strong partnerships with the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce and the River’s Edge Trail Foundation provided the groundwork to produce these cutting-edge, award-winning websites.
For more information on each project, click links below.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it’s about to get sweeter!
Introducing a Wendtastic Holiday – 25 of the best Christmas songs, handpicked by yours truly. From timeless classics to off-beat gems, we’ve compiled them all. And if that doesn’t get you in the spirit (it will), download one of our free Christmas wallpapers! We recommend hipster Santa.
-The Wendt Agency
Click to download wallpapers:
Let’s get one thing straight. Public relations isn’t marketing, it’s not advertising, and it’s not social media. It’s not all about media relations and it’s not just for businesses. The PR I practice is all of these and not just one. The PR I practice is not spin, but is truth and honesty in a truly transparent manner. The PR I practice is both everything and nothing like I was taught.
You go to college for four years, or more, expecting to learn it all — how to write, how to speak, what to say, what not to say, how to reach the media, how to write a press release … you get the idea. And in some ways you do learn it all, and in some ways you don’t, you can’t. Here’s the breakdown.
We write; it’s what we do. It’s what we were taught to do. No matter how good the story, or pitch, or topic, if you can’t write it, what’s the use? That much is true and always will be. What we’re not taught is how to write well outside of class. All the time. 24/7. PR, as a profession, is not just a 90-minute class with a take-home writing assignment. It’s your job, for eight hours, every day. My advice: find your zone, get in it, and never leave.
Now let’s talk style. Where I come from, it was AP Stylebook do or die. Where I currently reside, it’s AP Stylebook do or don’t die, depending on the client, plus or minus a few things. Do I still reference the AP Stylebook almost every day? Absolutely. Do I experience inner conflict every time I have to go against it? It would be wrong not to. But at the end of the day, I was forced to learn one giant lesson: we all have to make sacrifices. And yes, unfortunately, that sometimes means using the Oxford comma (cringe).
Now we get to transparency, the characteristic that seems to get in everyone’s way, but which is really the simplest of them all. During my four years as a PR major, every PR class promised three things: an ice breaker, a mock campaign, and a lesson on transparency. What I could never figure out is why transparency, the most important characteristic, was also presented as the hardest. Don’t get me wrong, the correlation between the two is certainly not lost, but there’s a reason they call it lying between your teeth — because it’s hard, or at least it should be. Okay, so that’s not the reason, but the logic isn’t bad. Look around and you’ll find that the most confident speakers are those who know what they are talking about. When it’s the truth you’re speaking, there’s no lies to remember or stories to cover up. Just facts. Confronting the truth may be hard, but speaking it will be the easiest thing you’ve ever done.
The biggest thing they don’t teach you is that school is never over. No matter your education, there are always going to be lessons that are left out or can’t be taught. These are the lessons that you must seek, find, and hold onto for dear life.
Article originally appeared in the Great Falls Tribune.
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.