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Photography web site tip – It’s not about traffic it’s about conversions

June 30, 2014 in Business Tips, How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Marketing Tips by admin

Is your photography website converting? Do you even know what that means? In many businesses that have web sites, a conversion is simply a sale on the site. Traffic comes in, and the conversion percentage is the number of those people who actually buy a product on the site. But when you are a photographer, a conversion is not so impersonal. Your photography web site needs to effectively convince your visitor to contact you… hopefully by phone, because this is your best chance to book their photography session. And traffic does you no good at all if nobody is doing that. A lot of photographers have really pretty web sites that are completely ineffective. Their photographs are nice, but there are components missing that keep visitors from picking up the phone.
Does your photography web site convert? And, are the people that call you the target market you are going after? If not… you may need to re-vamp your photography web site a bit.
Tell me what your biggest challenge is with creating an effective web site. What questions do you have about your photography web site. Then… on Friday I will announce the winner of a one on one web site analysis for the best comment and/or question.

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Photoshop Tip – Work Non-Destructively

June 27, 2014 in photography education, Photography Tips by admin

Today’s photography tip is to work non-destructively. If you work in Photoshop, Lightroom and/or Painter, you need to learn how to work non-destructively. If you already know what I’m talking about, and understand how to do this in all of your programs, then you are good to go! If not, this is why you need to do your work non-destructively. Photoshop especially has many different ways to accomplish the same task, and oftentimes, we, as photographers, have gotten into bad habits… or habits that do not serve us in being efficient. This started out being because the program didn’t allow us to work in such a way that we could go back and change things. Layers were the first way in which Photoshop allowed us to undo things. The History palette was also a useful addition. But for many years we were very limited in the changes we could make to an image after making certain adjustments. When smart objects and smart filters came out, many of us already had very ingrained habits that kept us from adopting these great new tools… or maybe we just didn’t know about them, or why to use them. Here’s the deal! Using a smart object or a smart filter will let you make an adjustment, close your image (as long as you save it as a PSD), re-open it, and change whatever your adjustment was. If you use CTL T to resize a regular layer, for instance, and then you try to size it back up, you have just lost a ton of pixels and a ton of detail. BUT, if you turn that image into a smart object first. Then, when you size it back up… voila! … no lost pixels! YAY! The same goes for the smart filters. If you change the brightness or contrast… or something else using a smart filter, you can always go back and change it again later. If you don’t know how to use smart filters and smart objects in Photoshop, and if you don’t have a good way to work non-destructively in your other programs, then you need to take a class, or get educated in some other way. This will save you a TON of time and headache!

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PPA Loan Collection Book

June 25, 2014 in 12 Elements of a Merit Image, photography education, Photography Tips, Print Competition by admin

If want to be truly inspired in your photography, getting yourself a copy of the PPA Loan Collection is a great way to do it. Printed by Marathon Press, the PPA Loan Collection is a publication that includes the best of the best images from entries made each year into the International Print Competition. These images have not only been judged merit-worthy and will be exhibited at Imaging USA for the year they were entered, but they have also been judged to be of excellent image quality by the highest standards in the industry. If you want to grow your skills as a photographer…. get yourself a copy of this publication and judge your own images against this standard.

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In camera metering

June 20, 2014 in photography education, Photography Tips by admin

If you don’t use a hand-held light meter, and prefer to use in camera metering, you may want to keep some things in mind to get a proper exposure. You camera’s meter works in such a way as to try to make your image neutral. Your camera’s meter wants to make everything 18% gray. This can cause issues for you, from an exposure perspective, when there are areas of your image that are white or black. If your camera is metering off white, it will try to make it look gray. This is going to darken your image and underexpose it. The opposite is true when the camera sees black. It tries to make the black gray, which will over expose your image. This can be especially tricky with weddings where you have a bride in white and a groom in black. (And… it’s another reason to photograph in manual mode, but that is a topic for another blog). So what do you do if you have this situation? The easiest way to resolve it is to go to manual mode, where you essentially override the camera’s metering by choosing the exposure yourself. Using a hand held meter in this situation will give you a consistent proper exposure. But let’s say you need to use an automatic mode (like program) or semi-automatic mode for some reason. For example, maybe it is a cloudy day, but the clouds are moving quickly, so the light is changing rapidly. In this case, you can keep your camera in program or aperture priority and use the camera’s meter by selecting spot metering. Then choose a spot to meter off of that is as close to 18% gray as possible. This will allow your camera to do what it does best… keep gray … gray…. and will result in a much more accurate exposure and better detail in your highlights and/or shadows.

I also need to add that this is another good reason to have a professional camera, as opposed to a consumer or pro-sumer camera… as pro cameras have the ability to spot meter, while some others do not.

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Photography Business Tip – Be Flexible

May 27, 2014 in Business Tips, How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship by admin

Today’s photography business tip is to Be Flexible! As a general rule, being flexible is a great idea, but it’ especially helpful to have flexibility in your thinking when it comes to times when *&%^* Happens. There is a real freedom that comes with being able to accept circumstances exactly as they are. The fact is that there are times when you can control your circumstances and there are times when you can’t. But you can always control your own response to circumstances. If you can accept whatever is occurring, without anger or frustration, then you will be able to focus on what you actually can control… your response. If you are locked up in your frustration about a situation, then you won’t have the power to think, and without the ability to think clearly, you will miss opportunities  that might be right in front of you. In our event photography business, we always have a plan B and C and even sometimes a plan D, because at events, it is quite often that things do not go exactly as planned. We have to be flexible enough to move on to our next plan to make the event a success. But sometimes… even with lots of planning and lots of backup… things go wrong. And usually these things are beyond our control. It is during those times that it’s important to take a deep breath and accept what is happening. Then, with a clear head, look around and see where the opportunities are and capitalize on those.

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Photography Tips – Photographing faces for maximum attractiveness

May 23, 2014 in How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Tips by admin

Today’s photography tip is a lighting and posing tip on photographing faces. Everyone has a closed and an open side to their face. The easiest way to see this is to look for which eye is more open. The smaller eye is on the closed side. Then, after determining which side is closed, turn your subject so that side of their face is facing the main light and turn their face toward the camera so that side of their face is closer to the camera. The light will open up that side of their face and make the two sides seem more symmetrical. The more symmetrical your subject looks, the more attractive they will appear. Also, having the smaller eye toward the camera and the larger one farther away will have their smaller eye appear larger and tend to even out any difference in eye size.
When photographing multiple subjects, try to follow the same rules for each person, but if you can’t make it work for everyone, err on the side of the women. They tend to care more than the men do about how they look in their photographs, and they are often the one making the buying decision.

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Photography Tips – Jump Start your photographic creativity

May 21, 2014 in How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Tips by admin

As photographers, we have so many things that need our attention on a daily basis that it’s easy to have our photographic creativity stifled and our work to get stuck in a rut. But you don’t need to create big projects for yourself to jump start your creativity. Focusing on small things, one at a time, can help you to begin to see things differently. For example, when I was photographing in a studio for a nationwide corporation, there were certain rules that we followed with regard to selecting and cropping our images. There were rules for posing and for how to obtain a good variety of portraits with the limitation we had on us to do so using only 9 frames. Following these rules worked well for this high volume studio concept because it made it easy to complete a session quickly and arrive at 5 sellable images that the client could easily afford. With these images all packaged together, along with a few frames, it was practically a “no brainer” for clients to purchase our most expensive package when we, as photographers, did our job well. And, that program worked exceptionally well for the studio that I managed here in Austin nearly 20 years ago. We had the highest sales average in the company by following this simple system. But there was a big downside to all of these “rules”… all of our images tended to look the same. Even when we did a great job at capturing wonderful expressions… the props, the backgrounds, the cropping of the images… everything looked like it was photographed at that studio… and by the same photographer. Now, as I mentioned… this was a great thing for the company that I worked for. It was fabulous for the brand, because the photographs were recognizable. But as far as creativity was concerned… not so much.

You may be running a photography business that survives purely off of volume. And… if that is the case, I highly recommend this McDonald’s approach to photography. Design a system that works… then fill in the people to carry out the system. Voila… you have a viable franchise concept. However, as I see it, high volume photography is declining. Cameras are getting better, and with digital mom and dad can see what they are getting as they capture it. There is far less demand for the high volume, low priced photography of just a few years ago. Photographers… and even huge photography chains are going out of business because this model isn’t working well anymore. The number of customers in that market have declined to such a degree that it’s nearly impossible to stay in business.

If you really want to remain profitable in the photography industry, you need to stay as creative as possible. You need to offer things that your clients cannot obtain on their own, and you need to have images with impact!

So… what can you do to keep your creativity thriving? Do one little thing. Look at your images and ask yourself… what am I doing the same way every time that I could change up? For me… in my McDonald’s photography view, I always cropped images a particular way. But as a pro, who owns her own business, I don’t have to do that. I can print images any size or shape that I want. I can create images with a cinematic feel in a 16×9 format. And… I can add big beautiful mats and thin little black frames to give my images a museum feel. I don’t have to stay stuck in my little “rules” box… and neither do you. What can you play with today in your photography to make it more interesting? What can you do to add IMPACT? How can you tell a story with your images?

If you don’t have a Loan Collection book from Marathon Press… order one. They are a wonderful way to get inspiration. Now go have some FUN!

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Photography Business Tips – Photography Branding

May 20, 2014 in Business Tips, How to start a photography business, photography education by admin

Today’s photography business is on photography branding.  It’s important to align your brand, your pricing and your customer experience. Take a look at your business from your client’s perspective and make sure that everything you are doing inside your business is congruent. Think about what you want your client to experience when they come to you. Does everything you do and say speak to the experience that you are trying to create for them? Does your pricing line up with your brand? If you want to offer bespoke products and services, your pricing needs to reflect that. If you want to compete on value, then your pricing will reflect that. Do you want your clients to feel like they are getting a “great deal”, or are you more concerned with having them feel like they are the “star” or the “most important person in the world”?  These are very different from each other as far as how you price and package your photography.

Check out today’s video for more.

 

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Photography Tips – Print Competition

May 19, 2014 in 12 Elements of a Merit Image, How to start a photography business, Photography Awards, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Tips, Print Competition by admin

Today’s photography tip is on entering print competition. Print Competition is a great place to get feedback on your photography in general, but it’s also a great way to improve your images along the way. What I mean is that there are several levels of print competition. In Austin, we have a local monthly print competition, an annual print competition, Kerrville, SWPPA’s print competition, and the International Print Competition. If you are strategic in entering, you can learn a lot along the way and give yourself the best chance at obtaining a merit at IPC… or even a loan print.

Local monthly competitions are a great place to try out new things… take chances and enter images where you are trying to expand your creativity. Maybe you are working on learning to paint… the monthly print competiton is a great place to take your first painted image to see how it fares. Then you can take comments that you receive to improve on that image. Once you have made adjustments, you can take that image to the next level… maybe the local annual competition or the state or regional. This gives you several chances to improve on your images before you enter them at IPC.

Check out my photography video for more …

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Photography Tips – Understand Exposure and White Balance

May 13, 2014 in How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Tips, Photography Workflow by admin

To maintain consistency in your images for your photography business, it is critical that you understand proper exposure and white balance, and how to obtain them in your camera. In this photography tips video I show you a couple of tools that we use to get proper exposure and white balance. You don’t need to get these specific tools, although the X-Rite Color Checker and the target/reflector we use are great ones to choose, you do need to have a plan and a system for how you will consistently get good exposure and white balance in your images.

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