Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Blog Blog


Summary on "10 QUICK and EASY Ways to Improve Your Photography". The rest of this information will be posted on our Training Site.

1. Read Dane Sanders book, "Fast Track Photographer". It's $25 and can literally save your photography career from going down the wrong path.

2. Promote and Network! Tag, you're it. It's up to you to promote your photography. Shout it from the top of the world and let everyone else decide if they like your work. Share Facebook pages and "Suggest to Friends". Comment on blogs. Post your images. Tell your friends and family.

3. Constantly improve your portfolio
a. Consider your potential customer asking this question when looking at your portfolio: “Why should we hire you to capture our most important day?” Put yourself in the client’s shoes.
b. Are you jumping at the chance to improve your portfolio? Are you taking every opportunity to shoot and improve upon your work?
c. Have you submitted/uploaded your best work?
d. Use Lightscribe and pochettes (or similar) in your packaging. Impress your customers from the time they meet you to the moment they receive their long-awaited images.
e. Have friends, family and acquaintances review and edit your work. Ask them to take out five images from your portfolio.

4. Biography
a. Biographies and blogs help to break the ice. Potential clients like to feel connected to the person who will document one of the most important days of their life. They need to trust in the person who will give them their finest artistic representations of themselves.
b. Have you provided a bio; one that tells a story about who you are, what you believe in, what your photography style is and what’s important to you.
c. Give your potential customer the opportunity they’re looking for. They’re looking for a reason to connect with you. They want to feel safe and taken care of. Put yourself in the client’s shoes.

5. Survey, Listen and ask for Referrals
a. Don’t tell the customer what they need. Ask them what they need and simply listen.
b. It’s not about you. It’s all about them. You’re awesome…but they’re awesomer.
c. Referrals: This is the lifeblood of your business. Ask for it.

6. Attend Workshops
a. Learn from the pros, like Dane Sanders and Mike Larson!
b. These are FREE to TPG Photographers!

7. Professional Web Site
Simple, consistent, fresh, professional, easy to navigate, images come up quickly. Your web site will change many times over the course of your career. You will look back on your old web sites with disgust. You will ask yourself, “What was I thinking?”. Do not blaze your own path on this…too much. Do not get fancy. People just want to see your work, with a small amount of effort, in a short period of time. Review what the top photographers are putting up. There is a method to their madness. It’s simple, they load quickly, it’s easy to understand, it’s good for search engines, it’s clean, it’s not confusing in many aspects. There are some terrible sites from some of the top photographers. Use what you like, throw out what you don’t find necessary.

If you were to have the opportunity to shoot for a big time celebrity, for the President of the United States, for National Geographic, or a client who can appreciate your photography, would you be proud to show them your site…are you ready? If the answer is “no”, this web site is keeping you from getting the business you need. Same goes for the images you are displaying. Do not cling to images because of a personal attachment (i.e., we hiked for seven miles in the snow to get this shot).

You are showing your potential customers, in a few seconds, who you are and how much they should value your work. Where are you intending to get your business from? Your web site is your FIRST IMPRESSION.

8. Network and Promote your sites on Facebook. Don’t keep it a secret! SHARE ALL SITES YOU ARE ON WITH EVERYONE

From www.Photobiz.com
a. Create a vanity URL: Any Fan page with more than 25 Fans can create a shortened URL for their page similar to PhotoBiz (i.e. http://facebook.com/photobiz)

b. Remember that anytime you leave a link to your Facebook Fan Page (Or your Website for that matter) include the http:// of your domain so that it appears as a live “clickable” link rather that just text that you would have to copy and paste in the address bar. (i.e. photobiz.com OR http://photobiz.com)

c. Be sure to spend a majority of your time on Facebook engaging on your BUSINESS PAGE, not your personal page.

d. Treat the Inbox at the top like it’s the inbox to your business email; respond appropriately and promptly.

e. Accept and deny causes, groups, pages, etc… as you want your customer’s to perceive you and your business (Religious, Political, and Controversial)

f. You can create a vanity URL by going to http://facebook.com/username. *NOTE*-You must have at least 25 fans. You will need to be logged in to Facebook and look toward the bottom. Once you have chosen your name, it CANNOT be changed!

g. Don’t Waste Your Time! – Efficiency

h. If you’re a mobile “data” user, download the Facebook App on your iPhone or Blackberry to help manage it.

i. Don’t get caught up in spending too much time on here as it’ easy to do and can be more “Fun” than Effective…

j. If you have a blog, use Social RSS to have your blog content automatically transferred to Facebook.

k. If you are a Twitter user, there are a number of applications that allow you to automatically update both with the same message. We choose “Selective Twitter Status”.

l. Be Human! Don’t be so business and promote your own products ALL of the time. This will get annoying and spammy to your fans. Mix it up a bit and throw some fun into it.

m. Utilize your ability to “Send an Update to Fans” wisely. DO NOT do this all the time or you will lose fans rather than gain. Include incentives and a lot of resourceful information.

n. Are you a part of Forums, groups, blogs, other Facebook pages, etc…? Tell people to become a fan of your page and you will return the Favor. There was a recent post on I Love Photography Forum with well over 100 posts and each person was cooperative in this.

o. Use the “FBML Application” if you are familiar with HTML to build custom tabs to your site at the top. You can designate a particular tab to be the landing page like Coca Cola (http://www.facebook.com/cocacola)

p. Did you know that each Tab at the top of your Facebook Fan page has a unique URL that you can send people to? 1) Go to “Edit” your page, 2) Click on the Modify Button (Pencil), 3) Click “Link to this Tab”

q. Use the “TAG” feature. When creating a wall post, if you are mentioning someone, add @ before their name. This will allow for anyone to click on that “tagged” name and visit their profile or page (whichever you tagged) Viral Marketing!

9. Be a Professional and Set the Standard
There are specific things we all need to do to continue to receive referrals and recommendations from our clients and vendors, above and beyond just making stunning photographs. There are things like our relationship with them, our attitude, our appearance, our ethics and communication.

Some wedding coordinators will ask you to show up a half hour early, just in case you have trouble finding the place, or traffic or just so you can get the feel of the location and potential spots for your shoot. Even if they don’t ask, or if it’s just you and the couple, show up early. From the coordinators point of view, they are concerned that everything is in place and ready to go. If you or the musician shows up at 4:00pm for a 4:00pm wedding, this causes stress. If you show up a half hour early, this creates happiness.

If you’re running late with the photographs or have any complications, let the coordinator or clients know immediately. Communication is super important. Most of my clients are okay waiting eight weeks, if they know I’m going to provide them with exceptional images. Most clients are okay when you tell them, their images are taking a little longer to edit. They like the TLC (Tender Loving Care) you provide to them.

There is a definite relationship between us and the coordinators. We need each other. We all need to appreciate the opportunities we have and nurture them everyday. It won’t be long before people start noticing you…good or bad. Remember, your work, attitude and professionalism is a direct reflection on you.

Consider that in order for you to improve your photography and increase your income, you may have to completely rethink your way of doing business. If it hasn’t worked in the past, by all means, change it. Having a business means being super, super…super flexible…and of course, able to leap tall business. The business side of photography is the part that’s forgotten about, or ignored by most photographers. I know, most times it’s not fun, but if you ignore it, it’ll be like the blob…it won’t go away.

...come back tomorrow for more!

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TIM GREY (Digital Darkroom Questions)
Today's Question:
Is there any simple and effective method to remove flare from a digital image? I have a number of images , typically from shooting into the light, where there are small flare spots that are not in a uniform parts of the image such as blue sky so making removal more difficult.

Tim's Answer:
There certainly isn't a magical formula for removing lens flare from an image. Obviously the best solution is to avoid the lens flare in the first place. In general, that means using a lens shade if available for the lens you're using, or shading the lens with something else (such as a piece of cardboard or your hand) when the situation allows. Of course, in some cases you are including the sun in the frame, or there are other circumstances that make avoidance impossible (or not practical), so you're going to have to deal with the lens flare after the capture (or simply accept it as part of the image).

One approach I often take with lens flare when I'm comfortable with the flare actually appearing in the image but prefer not to see the color shift of the lens flare is to change the color without changing the luminosity of the area affected by the flare. In other words, there will still be a bright spot in the image in the shape of the lens aperture, but it won't have a strong color element. To accomplish this I would create a new empty image layer directly above the Background image layer by first clicking on the thumbnail for the Background image layer and then clicking on the Create a New Layer button (the blank sheet of paper icon) at the bottom of the Layers panel. Change the blend mode for this layer to Color using the popup at the top-left of the Layers panel. It is also a good idea to rename this new layer so you'll know why it is there, so double-click on the name of the layer on the Layers panel, type a new name (such as "Color Fix") and press Enter/Return. Then choose the Brush tool from the toolbox and hold the Alt/Option key and click on an appropriate color within the image to set that color as the foreground color. Set the Hardness to 0% using the Brush popup on the Options bar, and make sure the Blend Mode for the Brush (on the Options bar) is set to Normal and the Opacity is at 100%. Then simply paint in the image to change the color of the lens flare, without affecting the luminosity (and therefore texture) of the image. You can choose a new color as needed at any time by holding the Alt/Option key and clicking within the image to sample a new color.

The other option is to completely remove the lens flare, which as you've realized can be considerably more challenging. If this is your goal, you need to stop thinking of the lens flare as a brighter area within the image that might have a color cast, and instead think of it as a solid object that is completely blocking an area of the image. The reason for this is that it is very difficult to adjust an area of lens flare to eliminate the tonal and color variations, and much easier (even in challenging circumstances) to simply replace the area altogether. In this case I would click on the thumbnail for the Background image layer to make it active, and then click the Create a New Layer button (blank sheet of paper icon) at the bottom of the Layers panel to create a new empty image layer. Choose the Clone Stamp tool from the toolbox, and on the Options bar click the Brush popup and set the Hardness to about 50%. Set the Sample popup to All Layers and click the button to the right of the popup (it has a half-black and half-white circle with a line through it) to disable the effect of adjustment layers. Adjust the brush size as needed by pressing the left square bracket key ([) to reduce the brush size and right square bracket key (]) to increase the brush size. Then hold the Alt/Option key and click on an area of the image that represents a good replacement for the area you want to fix (in this case the lens flare). Then click and drag on the lens flare to paint it away, replacing it with the source you defined. You may need to select a new source several times while working in a small area as you work to blend replacement pixels into the new area. Ultimately, removing lens flare is far more difficult than avoiding it in the first place. But if you have lens flare you need to correct, you can either remove the color or replace the lens flare with another area of the image in order to minimize the impact of the flare in the final image.