With an ever-increasing line of new photographic studios popping up, how do you carve out an income for yourself and at the same time create a niche for your business? Have you considered iris photography?
One such entrepreneurial photographer who did just that is Elias Branch, and he recently spoke to Fstoppers about where the idea came from, the process involved, and his newly released course, which teaches you everything you need to know about photographing the iris and creating your own niche.
Elias has always been interested in nature photography and, in particular, macro photography, where the minutest of details are involved. With his 13 years of experience in multimedia and graphic design, he decided to take the leap and combine these disciplines to create his own iris photography business.
What Is Iris Photography?
Iris photography combines macro, fine art, and commercial photography to produce stunning, high-quality, and unique photographs. With every human eye being different, carrying characteristics unique to that person, it's not something that can be replicated. However, it is something that will intrigue the viewer and become a timeless piece of art.
As seen in the images above, the results can be stunning, and with the detail of the iris itself, you cannot help but be captivated and drawn in. This is how your customers will feel.
What Process Is Involved?
Normally for Elias, his customers attend the session as couples, as they are his biggest clientele. He talks them through the process involved and discovers with them both their left and right eye in order to choose what eye would look best in the image. Yes, not even the left and right iris is identical.
This is a special and personal moment for my customers, and I like to make them feel at ease during the full session.
After talking at length with Elias about his business and practice, I can see that he would have no problems in doing that, as he is a very humble man but with a sincere passion for iris photography. During the interview, he happily went into further detail about what you can tell about the eyes in relation to health, how each eye differs, and what you can learn from them.
Typically, each session for a couple lasts around an hour, and then, he spends time cleaning up the photos using Photoshop and producing the high-quality final images.
"Nature is its own beauty," he said, "and being able to capture that in detail and produce images from it, creating individual pieces of art in Photoshop, and seeing the client's reaction is a big part of the entire process."
100% of Elias' business is iris photography, and to do this, he produces high-quality images, examples of which you can see in this article and on his website. He told me he works one day a week shooting with clients and then spends the other days creating the artwork for them. That is something to think about if you value your own time while creating less administrative work for yourself, yet still creating a good income.
Who Is the Course Aimed At?
The course is aimed at everyone, whether you are trying to carve a new niche for your photography and create new income streams or looking to build upon the ones you currently have. The course will allow you to discover the process involved in creating these unique pieces of art. Perhaps no one else in your area is creating this type of imagery, so it might be a prudent idea to become the first in your region. The pandemic has changed all our lives, and so, we need to create that momentum that drives change and propels us forward in our businesses.
What Do You Learn in the Course?
The downloadable course from Elias contains everything you need to know about starting your own iris photography business and is filled with his own experiences to get you up and running in no time and to help you better understand everything involved in the business.
- Full gear list
- How and where to set up an iris photography studio
- Settings and setup of gear
- How to shoot and problem-solving during the shoot
- Post-production of artwork
- Insights into his business
Who Are Your Potential Clients?
90% of Elias's customers are couples who want a very personal, symbolic image in the form of the clash (two irises colliding), which represents a "symbol of love, unity, and worlds coming together."
Iris family portraits also offer that unique style of imagery. Wedding cards and invites again offer the individual approach, as do gift vouchers for friends and family.
Due to the individual nature of the images, you can probably tell that repeat business isn't really going to be a thing. The flip side of this, however, is again the uniqueness of the images and the art form, which brings in new customers. This type of image is so distinctive that it draws everyone in and people want one to make their own mark in their homes. It's an art piece that can never be repeated. If you think about it, even if you were only to produce the clash images for couples like Elias does, not one image would be the same. The format and editing could be the same, but the images still remain unrepeatable.
Producing this type of artwork to a high standard and offering it in various formats, such as prints, framed prints of different sizes, digital copies, business cards, and canvases means that you can price accordingly.
Another outlet for iris photography is event photography. This one perplexed me slightly, and I was keen to hear more, as I couldn't understand how you could produce this type of imagery at an event. Elias went on to explain the setup and provide examples from weddings, where the guests could have smaller photos of their irises taken. This created another talking point for the guests and allowed them to take away a souvenir from the day as well as the memories.
There is no time like the present to move forward with your business ideas. Iris photography is gaining momentum in Europe, and smaller chains have moved into the USA. So, perhaps this is something that you would like to add to your studio repertoire or something unique to use to start your own business. Elias has created this course to enable you to do just that. As I mentioned, he is a humble man and not a salesman. He merely has such a passion for iris photography that he wants to share it via this course to allow you to start creating unique artworks for your clients.
For the first five people signing up for the course, Elias has very kindly offered a 50% discount. So, if you are eager to learn about the processes involved, from the actual shooting to post-production and beyond, you can find more information here. Remember to mention Fstoppers when applying, and if you are one of the lucky first five, you'll receive a 50% discount.
I have always thought that irises are uniquely beautiful. I am very interested in photographing irises. But I have little to zero interest in photographing irises of humans. My interests lie in photographing the irises or the wild animals that I already photograph. Der. Bighorn Sheep. Rattlesnakes. Spadefoot Toads. Etc.
I thought I could photograph snake and toad irises with a 1:1 macro lens, so I bought such a lens and gave it a try this past summer. Sadly, I discovered that 1:1 macro doesn't come anywhere near close enough to filling the frame with the little critters' eyes - not even when using a crop sensor camera, a 1.4 extender, and an extension tube. Still not even close. So I will have to explore what my options are at something around 5:1 macro magnification ratio.
I found this Gecko last spring in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. Wouldn't her iris make for a spectacular image?!!! I wanted to photograph her iris close up, but as I said even my true macro gear fell far, far short. Really want to get up to 5:1 or 6:1 sometime soon.
Mmm, I suspect your issue has nothing to do with magnification. The issue is that you would need to be very close to your subject to get only the eye of the animal. What you need is a macro lens (I guess 1:1 is enough except if you are photographing very small eyes) with a very long focal lens. Like you would need a 600mm 1:1 lens which doesn't exist! I have no idea what is the longest focal that exists for a macro lens?
Magnification is indeed what I am talking about. That's the term that is most frequently used in macro photography.
"Magnification", as such, refers to the ratio between the size of the real life subject and the size of the image of that subject on the medium it is being recorded onto.
This means that if the eye of the Gecko is 3 millimeters in diameter, a macro lens with 1:1 magnification will allow me to get close enough to have that eye cover a 3mm circle of my camera's sensor.
Hence, if my sensor is 35mm by 24mm, and I want to almost fill the frame with an eye that is 3mm in diameter, then I would need a macro lens capable of 6:1 magnification in order for the eye to cover an 18mm diameter circle of sensor area.
It's not really about focal length at all. A 65mm macro lens capable of 5:1 magnification will allow me to get a much closer, more frame-filling view than a 180mm macro lens that is only capable of 1:1 magnification. And a 600mm 1:1 lens would not give me any more of a close up view of the eye than a 100mm lens with 1:1 magnification.
Beautiful, but somehow also horrifying. It looks interesting, but I would never hang it on my wall.
I agree about this just being an advertisement. Even if I was interested in "the course", I would NOT use the live link in this article to get there. I would open a new window and Google it and get to the webpage about the course that way.
The last thing we need is to use live links from the Fstoppers page, because that will just encourage Fstoppers to keep running articles that are really ads.
Yes, you definitely don't want to help a site that provides you with copious amounts of free content alongside occasional ads (which are used to keep writers paid for said free content and keep the website running). That would be a horrible idea.
If you don't like ads, it would be prudent to avoid the posts marked as "Sponsored."
I didn't realize that this article was sponsored. If I had known that, I would surely avoid it, as you recommend.
When I am on Ftsoppter webpages, I already endure a stunning amount of advertisements on the screen. To the right of the article's text there is a huge block of ads. The bottom 2 1/2 inches of the screen is filled by an annoying ad that actually blocks some of the text and comments on the article until I close it out, and of course the top of every page is crammed with more ads.
I am willing to endure all of that because I know that some income must be generated in order to keep the site going and the writers paid.
But those ads, although annoying in the extreme, are tolerated because they are obviously advertisements. No one is being obscure about the fact that those ads are only there to get money.
But when people try to generate income in ways that are masked, like affiliate links within the text of an article about a lens, then that brings the integrity of the content into question. Is the author really giving us this article just because he/she thinks it is information that we can really use? Or is there a bit of an alternative motive where they are bringing us the content that will generate more dollars?
Each article that is paid for/advertising is marked with a "Sponsored" tag on the featured image of the home page and at the top of the article once you open it. You can choose to navigate as you wish with that in mind.
Thank you for letting me know about that "SPONSORED" tag at the top of the page. Now that I am aware of it, I will avoid such content in the future and focus instead on the articles that are not serving as advertisements.
There is a lot of good content here on Fstoppers, but sometimes it is "buried" under a lot of ads and things that are done to try to get my money away from me. I just need to be more diligent in separating the two!