Posted on February 5, 2017
In 2008 I was contracted by The Texas Observer to photograph some portraits of 2 people being affected by the then new border wall. The two people you see below were challenging the government because they lived on a property in Brownsville, Texas and Granjeno, Texas where the government had plans to build the border wall literally in their back yards. The two won the fight and the construction of the wall was pushed back about 50ft – 100ft from their property.
Here is the original article titled Holes in the Wall by Melissa del Bosque featuring my work: https://www.texasobserver.org/2688-holes-in-the-wall/
I hope to go back to photographing major issues happening in our community! It was an interesting assignment that I had privilege of photographing. It actually got picked up by many other publications outside of the Texas Observer.
Posted on November 3, 2016
One day, after work, Andrea approached me when I was leaving work. She asked if I could take some photos of her because she was running for Student Governemnt Association President. Well guess what? She actually won and I’m very proud of her and happy I was a small part of that achievemt.
This is her story.
“As an International student, moving to the United States has been a time of difficulty. The adjustment of immersing myself in a new culture through the language and personal experiences, was overwhelming. South Texas College has been my very first school in the United States, and I wanted to start getting involved on campus. During my first semester, Spring 2016, I joined the Student Leadership Academy, the Honors Program, and the Student Government Association. I became the Secretary of SGA, and having that position as officer helped me to learn leadership, communication, and networking skills. Currently I’m an SI Leader here at STC for College Algebra, and enjoy the gratification I get from helping my students. I wish to continue serving students and helping them in any way possible.
Deciding to run for President of SGA was a simple decision, and what I have learned is that people will try to push you back and undercut your goals, but the only limits you have are the ones you set for yourself.
Give me your trust.
Help me win this battle.
Help me win by voting this Wednesday and Thursday at Building H.
Give me the privilege to be your voice, and to be the voice of all STC Students.”
Andrea E. Almaguer
Wishing you the best friend!
If you are interested in getting photos done for a special achievement please fill out the form below.
Posted on September 20, 2016
There comes a time in your life when you have to ask for help! It is inevitable because as much as we think we could do everything and anything, truly, we can’t. And after we receive help it usually customary to thank that person. Today, I thank you Stephanie Rios!
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines help as the following: to give assistance or support to. Allow me to be the first to admit that I constantly need help and thus call one people for assistance. Mrs. Stephanie has become one of those people who has become my go to for support because she’s simply amazing.
Stephanie Rios is a wonderful mother, a gracious wife, a trusty worthy friend, an amazing sister, and ambitious and talented photographer.
I often refer to Steph as my shooting partner because the relationship is beyond a paycheck. I got to witness Stephanie walk down the isle as her wedding videographer. I got to witness Stephanie carry her beautiful son for nine months and document that milestone in her life. And I cannot forget about her husband, whom I have come to love equally, because to be 100% honest, Mr. Carlos Rios is badass. [Excuse my french.]
Stephanie has helped me on numerous events, photo shoots, photo booths, and everything photography related. She’s extremely talented. She has an eye for detail. She has personality to become a super-star photographer. And I support it all. I support her ambition so much that I will defend her against anyone who tries to discredit her or worst not give her any credit for the skilled photography she provides anyone who hires her.
This morning my friend Steph posted a genuine question on a photography forum on Facebook called South Texas Photo & Video Community on how to approach photographer’s she second shoots with for credit on photos they share that she shot. For those familiar with forums you know it can get rowdy, and mainly by the know-it-alls [me included]. Well the question sprouted a healthy debate and insightful opinionated information. [my two cents included]
The simple solution that I proposed to this type of issue is for the hiring photographer to create and have all second shooters / freelancers sign an agreement. Within this contract the hiring photographer should include the verbiage and clarify the expectations, responsibilities, and intellectual property privileges of the second shooter. Sadly, none to very little photographers do this at all. I don’t blame them though, business knowledge is not that common in the photography industry. Many don’t take the time to see their brand as a business and that later become issues. [please read business books photographers]
A while back Stephanie and I did establish an agreement on how we will handle credit and images she has taken for my brand. And far from it do I ever not credit for her the help she provides me. I go beyond and link my clients to her personal brand; Stephanie Rios Photography because she’s worthy of praise.
Photographers who are reading this I challenge you to credit your second shooters or assistants after your next photo related job. Give thanks publicly. Post your favorite shot they snapped for your brand. Take a behind the scene of them passionately grabbing capturing a moment. Take even further and share their personal portfolio so that your clients can see that you hire top quality talent.
If you are looking to hire a photographer for your next event or photo shoot I recommend you a talented photography by the name of Stephanie Rios.
Posted on May 7, 2016
This blog is for all the iphonetography enthusiast. Have you ever seen the perfect shot that to your eye is beautifully lit and framed but when you when you finally take out your iPhone to capture the image you cannot document what your eyes sees? This happens to me all the time. We probably still end up shooting the image anyways and then taking it into an app like Snapseed or VSCOcam to edit the heck out of it to try to get it close to what the eye saw.
Could you image in we could add our own lighting to these iPhone photos? How much better will your shot be? A lot of great photography is spontaneous and in the moment but now there are a lot of times when you do pose a subject because you just see a shot but yet again the lighting is out of your control. Well a few weeks back I was going through this super awesome photography concentrated website called Petapixel and found an article on a new product app combination photography iPhonetography enthusiast. Check out the video!
Isn’t that awesome? Could you imagine how much fun and convenient this product will be for us who just love taking photos with our iPhones? I love taking random portraits of my friends and sometime strangers and I think this app Tric would really super helpful in really capturing the image you see with the eye because now we will be able to control the lighting. For the seasoned professional this app could take their photography to the next level. Journalist would be able to provide quicker images, wedding photographers could upload images immediately instead of waiting to go home and backup the files to a computer with wifi and ultimately this can be a fun tool to have in your camera bag for any iPhotography enthusiast.
Posted on March 9, 2016
Women In Photography
Posted on December 15, 2015
In 2009 local Edinburg, Texas photographer Lori Alaniz created a photo essay on my passion for photography for a class assignment. Lori was a student at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas where she studied photography. Six years later the story still continues.
To place you were I was in these images here is a small story. In 2009 I had recently moved to Austin, Texas to attend The University of Texas at Austin. Before being accepted to UT-Austin, I attended The University of Texas Pan American (UTPA) in Edinburg, Texas. My passion for photography was molded at UTPA by the opportunities at The Pan American Newspaper and many local and regional publications like The Monitor, The Mid-Valley Town Crier, Texas Observer and Laredo Morning Times, where I freelanced.
Moving to Austin I had to start fresh; rebuild my self as a photographer in a big city setting and highly ranked university. I got accepted into the photojournalism program at UT-Austin and that took my passion for photography to the next level. The challenge there was that everyone in the program was just as ambitious and passionate. My dream of becoming a professional photographer was becoming a reality.
Today I am a professional photographer for my personal brand Ben Briones Photography, recently rebranded to Ben Briones Studios and I am also the PR-Marketing photographer for the South Texas College brand.
Photo Credit: Lori Alaniz
Posted on April 16, 2015
How valuable are reviews to your photography business?
I would say that having good reviews or any type of reviews, rather they be good or bad, is extremely important to your business and to your potential client.
A good review assures you that you’re fulfilling your responsibilities and allows potential clients to see that you’re creditable.
A bad review also allows you to see were you need improvement. It challenges you as a business owner to correct the issue and lastly it shows potential clients that you’re human and make mistakes too. Just make sure to correct the issue and make it known to your online community.
On what social platforms should I have client reviews?
How do I get my clients to leave me reviews?
To get a client to leave you a review is a job in itself! Don’t get me wrong, many clients would love to leave you reviews but getting them to actually follow through is tough. In my business, I remind them at our product delivery meeting, via email, via Facebook, and through personal texts.
At times, we have offered an incentive to our past clients to leave reviews on all our platforms.
Client Reviews Take Home
Obtaining reviews is good business practice. Reputation management is an area in business (especially a photography service type of business) that gets overlooked. Usually, a business only gets attention when it is being badmouthed! I urge you, as a aspiring professional, to look into boosting your client reviews.
If you would like to have a one-to-one conversation about the importance of client reviews, please email me at email@example.com
Posted on February 6, 2015
Have you ever asked yourself what your greatest fear a photographer is?
Last week I took a survey to see what photographers dread the most and many had valid fears such as; equipment malfunction during a job, or equipment being stolen, and not making enough money.
We have all faced the fears listed above and overcame them and that’s why we can share those experiences but there has to be something deeper that will just shut us down and make us put our camera away forever.
My greatest fear is the image of success without feeling successful.
It tears me apart that people look up to me and yet I can’t stand to see my own reflection. This is me being completely honest with the photography community. Now I am proud of the success I have had as a photographer but during those successes I was actually there, but today I feel my image is not a true reflection of my “success” and that I am living on the image of who Ben Briones once was. The photographer in me has reached a plato. The businessman in me has lost count of all the numbers. To my clients I look busy and to my family and friends I’ve made it but honestly I’m just floating without paddling.
Reversing the fear and moving forward and doing work!
Today I woke up wanting to work, wanting to serve and being thankful for the life my God has given me. I may still be disorganized but I am acknowledging it. I may still be behind on work but I am rushing to catch up. Slowly I am regaining momentum and motivating myself to accomplish more than the day before. Last year I chose to be more transparent with my business through this blog and today I let you see directly into my world and my unspoken fear as a photographer. Now it’s time to work even harder than before.
The photographer lifestyle shouldn't revolve around your image but the work you put in to making that picture.
Posted on January 31, 2015
One of the first things beginners always ask industry professionals is what equipment they are using. I know when I started off it was it was a question I would always ask.
Now I am not a gear-head nor do I care to have the latest gadgets in photography. I do not want to break the bank. In my opinion, an artist creates with what he is given.
The most common misconception in the photography industry is that the equipment makes the photographer better. My advice to any aspiring photographer looking to make a living off the trade is to stick to the equipment they begin with for 2-4 years at least before switching out or upgrading. The reason I say this and many industry leaders agree is because you must master your equipment and not let it control you.
I have owned my equipment for more than 7-years. The newest piece of equipment I own is probably my Canon 6D purchased in January 2013 and my travel light stand. The rest of the items I have had for 5-years or more.
Today you will get to see all the equipment I use;
LENSES: Canon 25-35mm f/3.5, Canon 50mm f/1.4, Canon 40mm f/2.8 and Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8
LIGHT STANDS: Manfrotto 420B 3- Section Combi- Boom Stand and ProMaster LS-CT Compact Travel Light Stand
If you would like to play around with any of the equipment listed here or try out anything else from my arsenal, then feel free to fill out the rental form below.
Posted on October 14, 2014
J’aime Les Livres (I Love Books) is a cool little book store located at 1219 N. Main Street McAllen, Texas 78501. Martha “Marty” Medina has owned and operated this quaint book store for over four-years. One day a friend and I decided to explore the small shops on N. Main and when we walked into J’aime Les Livres (I love Books) we struck a cool conversation with the owner. She gave us the history on the book store and then told us about this special event that she was hosting titled Single In The City. The event sounded cool; she was going to have food, drinks and fun secure social environment to meet new people. When she went deeper into why she was hosting such an event is where it stuck some heart strings. I personally love volunteering my services for great causes and she told us it was a PINK cause by faith; I volunteered my photo booth to this event. I want to be part of the local community of business owners so I knew volunteering the booth for this event and this cause would get me closer to that goal. I even took it one step further… I created this video for Marty and the event she is hosting.
So all you singles out there, come out and enjoy a nice night at a cute book store and meet new people and make a donation to good cause!
If you have an event for a good cause and would like to have a short video created to promote it please fill out the contact form below.
Posted on August 14, 2014
The race to the most Facebook page likes is the “in thing” these days, especially in the photography industry. There is a misconception that the more likes you get, the better you are than your competitors. Every now and then you’ll be scrolling through your Facebook feed and you see that photographers update their statuses with “Please like my page” or “10 likes away from 500 Likes, please visit my page”. I usually ask myself, “Why should I like your page?”
Think about it. What value does a “Like” bring to both you and the person who liked your page? I’ll be the first to admit that I was one of those people that would constantly ask for likes. I used to think the more likes I had the more potential clients I could gain, but now I know that likes does not necessarily transfer to paying clients.
A while back I made a small survey for local photographers and asked them to share their thoughts on why people should like their Facebook business page. Names will not be mentioned but I’d like for you to read what your peers are thinking and to see if it’s similar to your thoughts about Facebook likes.
Next week I will update with a blog post that will list ways Page Likes bring value to you and your clients based on some of the responses here.
I think I’m really good at what I do. My photos can bring a smile to people’s faces. I have 600 likes on my page but it doesn’t mean I have 600 clients or even potential clients. I like to think I have 600 people who appreciate my work and wanted to show it by liking my page. So people should like my page to see and appreciate the memories we, the client and I, make and bring some light into their Facebook News Feeds.
My Facebook page is obviously meant for people to see my work, but also to find out info about my schedule, etc… I make all of my announcements there, like when I will and won’t be available. Also, since my business is 99.9% word of mouth, and contact related, people like to see posts about other people that they know, so mainly I would say they should like it so they can see people’s kids that they know, and to find out about scheduling…make sense?
I think it’s important for people to like my page to get my name out there. For me right now I have a lot of ideas and tips and techniques that I’ve learned and want to put into practice. The more people know about me, the more I get to shoot. But as per Facebook, when a client or friends like your page they restrict the post they can see, since basically it free advertising. This is something I’ve recently heard of but for any page I think maybe “shares” need to be incorporated as well. So other people who haven’t liked your page can see it also.
Free advertising for small business. You got top dogs in the game like Alaa, Yoi and Jay and you got Eric Sierra and then You got the rest of us that have barely entered the game. The more people that like your page the more active your page gets. As long as one “likes” there goes the whole networking. That’s how Facebook works.
For me, personally, my personal page resonates more with my client/prospective client base than the actual business page. I struggle to maintain it and it doesn’t have as much reach as my personal page. When I started a few years ago, Facebook helped a lot and it was solely my personal page. As with my blog, my business is based off of me, who I am, so the blog and the personal Facebook page helped people connect with who I am. Honestly, my business page feels so cold to me and I have little interaction with it and with clients through it. So to answer your question, I actually think I feel indifferent if people like my photography page or not. I enjoy a more natural and tangible feelings everyday with my business so while social media helps, I have found other ways to connect with people than simply through the Facebook page.
Serious note: If they like it, they like it. I’m not one to push weight on people to “check something cool out” or anything in that similar sense. If I had to I’d say “Take a gander at the raw intensity I portray in my event portraits!” Only because I truly believe it’s my strong point in my work
I don’t know if I get the return on promoting it with Facebook new sponsorship pricing. So no.
I think people are always looking for something different and by liking someone’s page they might see something they like and have it made or done that way! It doesn’t really mean they will book you for it but keep you in mind.
To see my promos.
People should follow us if they like what we have to offer. They keep up to date on anything we do. Who doesn’t want to see great pics of people they may or may not know. While not necessary, it is a useful tool for publicizing your business.
That’s honestly a question I never thought about, but why should people like my photography page. Well not only are people able to contact me through there but they can also check out my work and see if my style of work, the way I edit or where I shoot is what they want for their photos. I think it’s easier to navigate and easier to stay posted on upcoming things like in case I do another park mini or even another one of my RAW shows if they are interested in going to check out my stuff up close and meeting with me. I like that it’s easier for clients to share there photos and also great for obtaining new clients.
Thats actually a tough question. haha. I suppose mainly to support local art, but to also keep updated with promotions and specials or giveaways. Everyone needs beautiful photos and its a chance to see some or to book a session for yourself. If anything its to continue to see the beautiful moments in the lives of others and to remind ourselves of true beauty in the world.
To be updated on any work I’ve done or to updated on any contest or deals. Simple!
Hey Ben! Actually I don’t have a photography page due to Facebook rules that require paying a handsome amount of cash to reach for your fans. However, if your question is related to Facebook posts related to the photographer’s work, then the answer is that they should follow it in order to get familiar with the photographer work. Photographer also may offer specials from time to another, that’s a good reason to follow him/her. A photographer can ask for a model male/female, so if the person think he could fit in the description, then it’s an awesome opportunity.
People should like my page because not only would it keep them up to date on the projects and sessions that I’m doing but it would also give clients an idea of what they would like as far as a photo session theme or location. I feel that my page is not limited to just one certain audience, which provides a plethora of inspirational ideas. My page also shows a small portion of who I am, which I think is important to a client. I try to connect with my clients in a way where they can see not only what I look like, what I’m up to, but also so that they can feel at ease during a session – even if we’ve never met previously.
1. Because they like what they see…photos. 2. They’re interested in some type of session….(wedding, XV, senior) and 3. So they can see whenever I offer any specials.
Posted on June 18, 2014
In 2007 I became a volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club of Edinburg. My goal was to complete a 900-hour volunteer program for a hefty scholarship but my relationship with the club lasted beyond the time required. I am proud of being a Boys & Girls Club Alumni and I fully support their programs for our community.
Last week I had the privilege of being a guest speaker for various classes. I showed the students the type of work a wedding photographer does and had a Q & A. My goal was to inspire these young mines. Photography is such a beautiful trade and we need to teach the younger generation that photography, rather it be a hobby or career, is an art form to embrace.
In every class I asked the question, “How many of you can recall your favorite photo that really touched you?” One little girl replied with something that was touching. She said, “I really love this picture of my sister and I that we took together during a holiday.” I asked why she loved that photo so much and she said it was the last photo she took of her sister before she passed away.
I think it’s important to keep the passion for photography strong amongst the youth. The Boys and Girls Club has an Annual Digital Arts Festivals that allows students to express themselves through photography and other forms of digital media. For the past two years I have been asked to judge the Regional Digital Arts Festival and it has been exciting to see a lot of young talent in photography.
Photographers, if you can make the time, give back to the community.
To view more photos from this event please click on this link here: Boys & Girls Club of Edinburg RGV
Posted on May 2, 2014
Posted on May 1, 2014
Yesterday my friend Imanol Miranda reminded me of a question I posted in photography group we belong to called RGV Photoshoot Connect: When do you know if you have made it as a photographer?
Before I give my opinion on that question let’s Throw Back Thursday to the time we use to do photography for fun. Picture that first photo shoot you ever booked. Are you visualizing it? If you were like me you were probably asking your most prettiest friends to model for you. Remember putting the camera to your face and seeing endless possibilities? One, two, or three hours would fly by but you didn’t care because you were having fun. And don’t forget the hours spent in post processing contrasting the sh#% out of the shot because you wanted to show it off to your friends who would tell you your camera was the best and you would agree!
Those were the good’ol days!
Now we’re booking sessions left and right for both the pretty and the ugly. The possibilities have ended because every photographer and their mother have shot at so and so spot. The three-hour-for-fun photo shoots are now 30-minute mini sessions for ten-times the amount of money because our time and knowledge is now “valuable”. And if most of you haven’t outsourced your editing you’re probably still spending hours in Adobe Lightroom until your a$$ has gone numb.
So have we made it as photographers?
I’ll tell you this much…I freaking miss those days when you didn’t have think about paying taxes every time you pick up your camera to photograph a client. Creating a business is like birthing a hungry monster who never stops eating. But we’re making money doing what we love right? What’s that saying? “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. Some of you are doing well for yourself. You have your own studio, you’re featured in magazines, and even traveling to shoot gigs. Still there’s some of you struggling who have a career job because photography does pull in enough cash. So who’s made it as a photographer; the full-timer or the part-time shooter? My opinion is both can claim to have made it! This why I say this.
You have made it when you learn to value free time and your passion over money!
Take this time to reevaluate your passion for photography. Sit down with a pen and paper and plan the next best thing for your brand. Approach a fellow photographer to talk shop. Share some your best work from the for-fun-days to remind you of why you picked up a camera in the first place. Take a Monday off to take your kids out to lunch at a park and take silly selfless with them. Time cannot be bought and we as photographers, know the importance of memories — so go out and make some.