Take The Perfect Picture For O Magazine With Lori A. Cheung

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Take The Perfect Picture for O Magazine With Lori A. Cheung

I’m here with award winning pet photographer, Lori Cheung on how to take the perfect picture to get into O Magazine. I met her at a NASDAQ event for storytelling. I found out that she was on my E-zine subscriber list. It was really wonderful to see her in person. We found out that we both did martial arts. That was three connections in one.

We’re interviewing Lori today because she got into O, The Oprah Magazine. She’s got quite a background because she has been photographing for over 40 years. That is 280, probably more by now, because this is just from your website Lori, happy dog years. She’s an expert in capturing the essence of dogs, and cats, and horses, and their humans. There’s such a wonderful picture of you on your website, it’s so cute because both of you and Flash have got this big adorable grins together. You just both look so happy and lovely.

Thank you. He’s the mascot.

He is the mascot. You couldn’t have a better mascot. Lori is the founder of ThePetPhotographer.com and also ThePortraitPhotographer.com. She does both portraits of you and your pet or you by yourself. She’s also the founder of Pets for World Peace, which she’s going to tell us a little bit more about. It’s such a beautiful vision. Her intention is to inspire love and joy. Lori’s style illuminates the essence and the brilliance of her subjects, which I can totally attest to because I’ve looked through your portfolio and it is so joy filled. That’s part of who you are. I just want to say you are a super connector. You know everybody and you’ve already connected me up with some wonderful people. It’s part of your personality and your mission, is just to connect.

BAMD0037 | Picture for O Magazine

Lori’s portfolio is so joy filled, all of which could be a perfect picture for O Magazine.

Thank you, Susan. I think connecting people so that their dreams can come true is really one of my life’s purposes here. I just love seeing people’s visions and their creativity come through. Maybe they just need to know one more person and that’s the key person.

I love that. We’re going to talk today about how she got into O Magazine, what the process was and anything that might give insights to you to make it easier for you to get into O Magazine. Tell us a little bit about how it started that you got into O Magazine.

O Magazine actually invited me to photograph an incredible veterinarian here in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dr. Harb-Hauser. This article actually happened to be about domestic violence and how that topic usually, it’s the humans and the pets that are involved in that. It’s a very educational article. They invited me to photograph Dr. Harb-Hauser and her dog Daphne, which was such an honor and such a joy.

I got to work with the photo and editorial departments at O Magazine. It was a pure fun experience. It was really a dream come true to work with them. It was awesome because they said that they liked what I provided them because I gave them lots of portraits to choose from. They actually mentioned they had a hard time choosing. That was a good thing. If you give them great photography, then it gives them a cornucopia to pick from, which is what they need.

How many did you give them? What was a lot?

I gave them about a dozen portraits to choose from.

They were all of the veterinarian and her dog?

Dr. Marcella Harb-Hauser and her dog Daphne are together in this portrait. They were a critical part in getting the help that was needed for the domestic violence victim basically. The Marin Humane Society was involved in this particular story.

Were the victims the animals themselves or the people when you say domestic violence?


It was both the people that were being abused and the pet?

Yes. That’s great education because if a veterinarian or someone notices that a dog or cat has been abused, it might mean that the wife or the husband in that case, whatever, the partner in that household might be getting abused too.

Got you. I hadn’t even thought about that really, that connection. I see how that make sense. I know that’s one of Oprah’s pet peeves in terms of both the abuse of pets and the abuse of people, children in particular, girls in particular even more. She’s so involved in that. It’s interesting that your cause connected both of those things, of the things that were so important to her. I’m just trying to be clear about how this came about, because you didn’t send anything in. They found the veterinarian or they found a picture of you. I wasn’t clear about how they found you both.

They found us through the Marin Humane Society. The Oprah article, I guess the writer perhaps called the Marin Humane Society. We had this really important story to share. They found Dr. Harb-Hauser and Dr. Harb-Hauser said, “Wow. We need photography for this article. Can you please do it?” It was very straightforward. We needed it done quickly.

That’s another tip. It’s nice to have actually portraits ready or a photographer ready that actually understands the quality of portraits and the style that Oprah Magazine enjoys. If I were one of your clients, I’d say, “Why don’t we just start studying the types of portraits that are in the Oprah Magazine so that you fit in to the editorial style.” Clean lines, not a lot of background, very elegant, clean and emotionally powerful make for a perfect picture for O Magazine.

That’s a very great tip to take a picture for O Magazine. I just want to back up for a second just so people understand. What happened is that the trajectory, it was an interesting trajectory. The writer was aware that there was domestic violence and violence to animals. They connected with the Marin Animal Shelter. The veterinarian who was involved knew you and connected to you to pull together the story. The writer wrote about the doctor, the veterinarian, the situation, and you took the pictures, is that right?

Yes. Actually the veterinarian was an existing client, so that was fantastic.

Got it. You already had some photographs done of her or you had to do all new ones?

We actually did both. We wanted to give them a choice. I already had some portraits of her that she looked amazing in. We also wanted to freshen them up and see if they wanted a new style. We photographed again, which was great. Think about being an editor of a magazine, you want variety. That’s another tip. Variety of maybe clothing type, backgrounds, the colors even.

Because there’s an ad, there’s an advertisement on the other side of this page. The colors that are actually in my client’s clothing, it’s so complimentary to the ad that’s next to it. The same colors even there as a complimentary color in the ad. It’s pretty wild actually.

It is wild but it’s not wild because that’s part of the job of the editorial, to make the flow of the magazine always look good and look natural. An ad would look as natural as an article. I think that was probably done on purpose to have that flow, especially now in the Internet age where there’s advertorials where you can’t necessarily tell the difference between an advertisement and a story. If they’re closely matched like that, somebody might move on to that advertisement thinking that it’s a story.  

BAMD0037 | Picture for O Magazine

The picture for O Magazine that Lori took featuring Dr. Harb-Hauser.

BAMD0037 | Picture for O Magazine

Ad that matched with the picture for O Magazine Lori submitted

Great point. Totally great point. I photographed her in her veterinarian uniform as well, which is plain white.

They didn’t choose that one?

No. They decided to choose a blue shirt on her instead.


That blue happens to be, beautifully, the highlight color in the advertisement next to it.

Interesting. That’s fascinating. It was really great that you gave a variety of photographs that were done before and then ones that might be more current so they had a choice of what would fit in to probably their advertorial or their advertising, who’s paying for the magazine, as well as what’s going to be of interest to readers. Because we can’t discount that, that’s how the magazine gets supported. Whether people say, “That’s not a good thing,” it’s actually very smart because that’s what’s supporting the magazine, it’s not your $18.

Exactly. Another tip is, I gave some portraits that are vertical and horizontal so that they could crop how they wanted it to crop. It depends on how much space they have. The photographer needs to give them extra space around the subjects. There’s more wiggle room, more flexibility in the designing of the magazine’s layout.

Give them the option, vertical, horizontal, and give them the option to crop and keep with the look of the magazine, which is clean and beautiful and gorgeous and sumptuous and all of that. Those are super great tips. What else did you do? Was there anything else that you did to make it easy for them?

I really wanted to make it easy by giving them the portraits as quickly as possible. My turnaround time from the day that I knew that we were doing the photoshoot to getting the proofs. They’re called proofs when it’s the first round basically. I did that on the same day so that they weren’t waiting around for it. I know that there are a lot of deadlines that they’re working on. I think that was the big thing, is just be really quickly responsive as far as touchups. If they wanted me to do touchups, I was ready and just wanted to do anything I could to make their life easier.

Did they consult with you on the content of the actual article?

The writing was actually finished I think before the photography was placed.

Did you have a chance to read it before you did the photography or did you just know what the feel was and went through with the photography based on what they asked?

They didn’t release the text to inform me what it was really … I knew what it was about generally. I think I asked them if I could read it first. I don’t think it was just available to us. Maybe they want to surprise us. I don’t know. I’m a big Oprah fan. That’s so amazing. Who knows?

You didn’t read it until after?

I read it afterwards. It was such a moving, incredibly important article that I wish everyone can read it. It was great. It was an honor to work on this article.

I’m hoping we’ll be able to link to it so people can read it and see the process. Would it be possible also for you to give us the photographs that you sent to Oprah and then the ones the she chose? It would be really great to see if you still have them. I don’t know if you do. If you even have a few of them to say, “This is what I sent and then this is what she chose.” I think that might be a really nice thing for people to see it visually. Is that possible?

Yes. I would be happy to do that.

BAMD0037 | Picture for O Magazine

Take the perfect picture for O Magazine with Lori’s tip on giving extra space around the subject.

I think that would be really great. Because I know sometimes how hard it is to get a photograph right. I was working with a client who was in contact with Oprah’s Magazine. She had food, she had cookies. The photographs were not beautiful, they had shadows, they weren’t vibrant and crisp. I had advised her, just like what you said, she needed to get a professional photo shoot and someone who was a food stylist to create the look that Oprah was going for. They loved her cookies but I don’t think they loved the photographs. They couldn’t use the picture for O Magazine. If they can’t use the photographs, they can’t put the cookies in the magazine no matter how good they taste.

We have certain tricks of the trade we use for food photography to make it look extra yummy. It comes across differently when you’re looking at it two dimensionally on a glossy magazine page versus three dimensionally with real lighting around it and all that. Lighting is particularly important for food, very important.

What about for pets and people? Because you do both. You have ThePetPhotographer.com and ThePortraitPhotographer.com and Pets for World Peace. Do you do most of your shots outside?

Yes. I love using nature as my backdrop. I just love it. I love natural lighting. I love sky, and ocean, and rocks, and mountains. I think it’s because the dogs love being out there. For cats and kittens, I love photographing on their favorite sofa with maybe a really gorgeous pillow behind them or a fabric that really pops in color or something that makes their eyes standout, their eye color standout or something.

I love that. I love that idea. Take us through what else happened after. How long was the process of getting your picture for O Magazine published? You said they were on a short deadline. I’m curious also from the time that they asked you to do the photo until the article appeared, how long was it?

I believe the turnaround time from the photography submission was about a month later or so.

It got in the magazine a month later?

I think it’s about a month or so.

That’s fairly short. It sounds like they already had the article. That was done and they were just waiting for the last … Since it was already in process. Just so the audience knows, the typical process is three to six months to two years to get into O MagazineSometimes after repeated attempts. What happened with Lori is that the article was already done, so they wanted more components of it. It sounds like it was already scheduled for that issue and they then tapped you for the last step of that issue, they needed the perfect picture for O Magazine. That was a fairly tight deadline.

Yes. That’s another thing. The high quality photographs, the quicker you can get them there, the better because it’s like a sigh of relief. I could almost hear it in New York from the San Francisco bay Area, “This is the piece, done.” It’s so deadline driven. There are so many components going on. The sigh, I could feel, of relief came over here.

Was there any other thing that you needed to interact about or any other requests that they had of you before they finalized the spread?

It was so smooth. It was really with ease and grace. They want to make sure that they have the copyright information correctly. The photographer’s copyright or the writer’s copyright. They want to make sure they have everything spelled correctly and just everything’s perfect. By the time they’re out printing, it’s all ready.

When it posted in O Magazine, did it have any effect on your business?

It was wonderful because people would remember that I was printed in there and I was able to just enjoy the feeling of having a dream come true actually. The synchronicity is that Oprah is one of the persons in my life that inspired me to become a photographer after I was doing my environmental consulting career in skyscrapers in San Francisco. It was a perfect whole moment that came around of fulfilling my creative dream and gratitude I have for Oprah and her whole team.

I love that. Obviously, getting into O Magazine is really a big thing. How have you leveraged that? You have it on your website right under, “Award-winning Pet Photographer, Lori A. Cheung” you have, “As seen in O, the Oprah Magazine and on Animal Planet,” which is really fantastic too. Underneath, you have all your other media placements.

BAMD0037 | Picture for O Magazine

Leverage the fact that you have a published picture for O Magazine on your website.

How have you used that or leveraged that for either getting clients who are maybe not in the Bay Area or who are philanthropic? I know you do a lot of work in the philanthropy area especially for Pets for World Peace. Do you use that to just give you credibility for people who need to vet you?

I think that so many people know about O, the Oprah Magazine that it’s really a connection to the kind of people I’m actually looking for as clients and supporters as well. It’s been leveraged in the sense of it’s such a household name and such an amazing magazine. I think it’s probably one of the most inspirational magazines ever created on the planet. Just that mention of it in any social media or PR has been very helpful. I’m just very grateful to be part of it.

If it hasn’t, no worries, but has it actually helped you close a deal or something that maybe was on the fence? People who you deal with, especially for Pets for World Peace, are people who maybe have a lot more influence in the world who can help that movement go forward. Is that something that you needed to leverage or was that getting people involved in Pets for World Peace or having their photographs taken? Was that something you used to close the deal or you didn’t even need to?

I don’t think I needed to. I was just thinking about an amazing client that I photographed recently. He is a vice president at one of the wonderful startup companies here in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the high tech field. What’s great about it is that he went to the Oprah University classes. I did too actually.

Where she has that big stadium full of people, that kind of thing? Is that what you’re talking about?

Yes. That kind of thing. That was a really wonderful connection point for even me and my client. He was happy that I was in O Magazine. At the same time, he’s a big O supporter as well.

After it came out in O Magazine did you see any change in your business? Did anybody contact you via phone or was it more just something that was a wonderful accolade on your website?

It’s a wonderful accolade on my website. I think that if I had a product for example, like your friend who had the cookies or whatever, it might be more of a … It’ a difference in the kind of attention one would be getting. Whether it’s a product or service, I believe that they call it the Oprah effect, which is so beautiful. It can just happen in a different way.

BAMD0037 | Picture for O Magazine

My Amazing Day by Lori Chueng, Karin Fisher-Golton, and Elizabeth Iwamiya

I would love to photograph another children’s book. I actually had the joy of collaborating with two friends, Karin Fisher-Golton and Elizabeth Iwamiya on a children’s book called My Amazing Day. We had an amazing time putting together a crowd-funded successful children’s book. It would be awesome to have a book in Oprah’s Book Club, that would be another dream actually.

I love that. I love the idea of Pets for World Peace being in Oprah’s Book Club as a photography book. I could totally see that. By the way, you gave me that book. I love that book. It was so charming and so lovely. I love that idea. I think it fits in with Oprah’s vision as well, to have a book like that in her magazine, especially since it combines two of her interests too. Obviously, world peace and pets, dogs in particular.

Exactly. I think that if your amazing audience could really study the Oprah Magazine and say, “What kinds of articles are in here and what keeps occurring? What’s the pattern of these articles?” They’re going to see a theme of inspiration, of authenticity, of animals, women’s rights. All kinds of amazing topics are shown over and over again. It’s so beautiful. Producing something of great art or quality, like a culinary cookie or whatever it is, it’s about making life the best we can make life and helping others.

I love that. I actually created a free report that we just finished called, The Fifteen Best Places To Be Featured In O Magazine. I went through the whole entire magazine and showed all the places where you can get in and described them. There are even some places for brand new businesses and also for people who have self-published books. It’s not in the review section of the book but there is a section where self-published books can get in. That might be some place where you could get your Pets for World Peace book in for self-published books. There now is a little place for it.

Oh my gosh. Susan, you are so phenomenal. You just did the homework assignment for lots of people.

I did do the homework assignment, yes I did. Distilling all of that down is a big job. It took me a week to go through and look through all my years of magazines to make sure that it was accurate and consistent, and that they were still having all of those different sections in there to make it easier for people. It’s not immediately seen exactly where you could get in. Yes, you do have study the magazine. That is a super great thing to do. There are plenty of people who’ve called me and they’ve never even read an O Magazine and want to get in. When I’ve had The Ultimate Guide to Getting Booked on Oprah, I can’t tell you how many people called me who had never watched Oprah.

You can’t really get into a magazine like that, at that high level, if you don’t understand the look, what they’re looking for, the look and feel of the magazine and the content of what they’re interested in. Everything from wellness and beauty and inner beauty and animals and people’s relationship to animals. There’s a lot of different variety in the magazine but they have their own definite slant that is unlike any other magazine. Whether you get the Fifteen Best Places to Get Into Oprahwhich is free, or not, I still recommend that you study the magazine. Even if you just go to your local library and look through all of the issues.

BAMD0037 | Picture for O Magazine

Take the perfect picture for O Magazine with these tips.

It’s critical. Actually, I would be happy to write up some photography tips for your folks too because it’s so important to have the quality across the board. You know in Oprah that visuals are such … A picture is worth a thousand words. I think Confucius or somebody said that. It’s so true because if the portraits are so dynamic and emotional and powerful, someone will stop on that page and start reading that article. It’s so important to have a balance of great writing, great photography and have it just ready for them to place.

That’s exactly it. Yes, I would love to have you write up those tips. That’s exactly right. If it’s done in the way that Lori says, then it’s ready to place. They don’t have to say, “Could you do these other photographs?” because in the meantime, somebody else may have come in with their beauty ready photographs that fit the bill better. If they need to fool around with you instead of giving them that upfront and then having them make the decision on the spot. “Yes, these are great photographs. They’re so great that we don’t even know which one to pick. But we’re for sure going to pick one of them.”

That’s what you want them to say, versus, “I don’t know. These photographs aren’t that great. Maybe we should look at someone else.” That’s the key. If Lori’s photos weren’t up to snuff for the veterinarian, you bet they were going to get another photographer. Since you gave them what you called “Oprah ready photographs,” then there’s no thinking, or the decision has already been made.

Make it an easy yes for them.

Is there anything I haven’t asked you about taking the perfect picture for O Magazine that you wanted to add?

I’m thrilled that we’re having this wonderful conversation because I’m guessing that the people that are on this call are wonderful amazing people who have a big vision, that are inspired. They have a flame of inspiration inside that says, “I really have something to contribute to the world and that Oprah would be an amazing person and O Magazine would be the perfect vehicle for what I have to share with the world.” It’s such an honor to be on this wonderful call with you, Susan. I admire you so much.

I admire you too. I just love finding out even more about you. For our audience who’s listening, Lori Cheung is the founder of ThePetPhotographer.com, ThePortraitPhotographer.com, and Pets for World Peace. She does fly all over the world doing portraits of people and their pets. If that’s something that you’re interested in, please contact her at ThePetPhotographer.com. They can find you at ThePetPhotographer.com.

Lori does all kinds of philanthropic work. She’s the most amazing connector I think that I’ve ever met. You have a couple of super powers. You’ve got the photographer super power and you have the connector superpower.

Somebody said I’m from a family of the original LinkedIn kind of person.

That’s right because you run those big groups on LinkedIn too. I don’t know how you have time to do all of these. I’m amazed by your fluidity and fluency in all of these different worlds. Moving in the startup world as well and the philanthropic world. I think those are very intricately connected. I love that you’re in both of them. You’re in the humanitarian world, I think that’s really wonderful.

Thank you, Susan. I think LinkedIn is an amazing place. Anybody, if you want to reach out to me, I want to help you to get your dream into reality. I know that sometimes people just need to know just one more person to get there.

I’m going to give your LinkedIn address too. It’s LinkedIn.com/in/LoriCheung. People can connect with you in LinkedIn too because that’s a really great place for them to just pop in and ask you for a connection.

Great. Thank you so much.

Thank you so much. It’s really been fantastic to have you today to talk about taking the perfect picture for O Magazine. Thank you.

You’re welcome. Take care.

About Lori A. Cheung

Lori is the founder of ThePetPhotographer.com and also ThePortraitPhotographer.com. She does both portraits of you and your pet or you by yourself. She’s also the founder of Pets for World Peace. Lori lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She travels internationally for photo shoots. Wherever you are, you and your pet can have Lori go and have your photograph done. It’s really so unique. Her dynamic and passion in photography honors and celebrates animal’s and people’s legacies through fine art photography. Lori’s celebrity clients include the winners of the Olympic Games, Academy Award, the Grammy Award. She’s been published by the New York Times, in international books by Chronicle Books, one of my favorite publishers, Time Warner Books and others like O Magazine. She has been featured in O, the Oprah Magazine, and aired on Animal Planet. She has the honor of photographing leaders, including: Arianna Huffington, Dr. Jane Goodall, United Nations leaders, Eckhart Tolle, Stedman Graham, Guy Kawasaki, and Tim Ferriss. Lori’s award-winning photography captures the essence of pets, people, non-profits, corporate brands, and events (TEDx photographer).

Would you love to have my eyes on your pictures or pitch letter? You are welcome to apply for a free strategy session with me, called by many the “Go to Girl” for getting on Oprah. Apply for a time for us to talk now and we’ll explore how I can help you get featured in O.

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Get your pet’s photograph taken with you or without you – in a soulful and joyful way.

Get into O Magazine: Ten steps to getting you, your business, book, product, service, or cause featured in Oprah’s magazine (Which includes Lori’s fantastic photography tips!)

The 15 Best Places For Products, Services & Books To be Featured in O, The Oprah Magazine—Even if you’ve just started your business or have a self-published book! (It’s free!)

Media Training Tips for CEOs

Media Training Tips for Entrepreneurs, Authors, Coaches, Consultants, CEOs

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Hi, I'm Susan

I’m a media coach, martial artist + marketing strategist who helps you communicate your values, mission + message during media interviews to multiply your revenue while building your brand + business. I believe that you don’t need to brag, beg or whore yourself to get the publicity you want. Nor do you need to be an axe murderer, a shamed sports star, or be involved in a sex scandal. There is another way…

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