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Knowing Your Subjects Well

Chris
One of the most important considerations of a photograp […]

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ESSENTIALS For Photographers

Win The Craft & Vision Grant At Inspire Photo Retreats

Chris

I love winning contests, especially if money is involved. Money, that I can put towards my business in some way. I just got word that Inspire Photo Retreats and ShootDotEdit are working together in offering a special grant for photographers just like you.

So this is the email I received:

“We are happy to announce Inspire Photo Retreats is collaborating with one of our Community Sponsors, Shoot Dot Edit, to offer a business professional, Craft & Vision grant at our 2015 retreat!

Inspire Photo Retreats is committed to helping professional photographers at all levels, grow their business and master their craft. Shoot Dot Edit shares these same values and we couldn’t be more excited to offer this unique opportunity with them!

We will be funding the grant by the amount of purchases of Shoot Dot Edit’s “Unlimited Plan”. They will generously allocate a portion of the proceeds to funding the grant which will be given to one of our attendees in 2015. The grant will be awarded at Inspire Photo Retreats 2015 in Portland, ME, at The Westin Portland Harborview Hotel. Please feel free to share this with your colleagues. We hope you take advantage of this amazing opportunity. We look forward to seeing you in 2015.”

Inspire Photo Retreats - ShootDotEdit Grant

Please note that this special offer ends on June 30, 2014 … that’s 3 days from now folks! To be eligible you must be an Inspire Photo Retreats? ticket holder and be present at the event in Portland.

To enter the drawing for this grant, click the graphic above and use the code “Inspire2014″. I hope to see you at Inspire, to congratulate you on your winning this grant!

Author information

Seshu | Editor, Curator & Publisher

Seshu | Editor, Curator & Publisher

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Views, Reviews & Interviews For Photographers On Tiffinbox

Working With Your Designer & Life After the Launch

Chris

This is the third guest post by William Bay, in a short series about customizing your website. Here are part 1 and part 2 of the series. You might want to read those first before jumping into this last part of the series. Thank you!

Even though developers and photographers get paid to do something artistic and technical, there can be communication pitfalls along the way. You can learn all about it in my new book entitled: Photographers are from Venus and Developers are from Mars. Just kidding. But in all seriousness, language-wise, photographers tend to be more on the artistic side of the spectrum, and developers tend to be on the technical end of things.

Photo by: Cory M. Grenier

Photo by: Cory M. Grenier

Another important aspect is that most designers and developers just want be in front of their computer coding, and not dealing with clients and business issues.

Does that sound familiar, photographers? Yep, you just want to do what makes you happy: photograph, and not deal with clients either.

The reason I’m telling you this is so you can remember these pointers when you feel some level of frustration coming on. All you need to remember is that you’re talking two different languages. The best way to communicate is to use a common language. So, be clear in your speaking and writing. Think before you send a set of instructions. A good thing to ask is “would a 10-year-old understand what I’m asking?” Use diagrams or screenshots if necessary.

Remember, this is your future website. It’s your responsibility to ensure that it turns out the way you want it to. A web developer is your facilitator to help make your dreams come into being, not your punching bag when you can’t understand each other. You’re on the same team.

Whatever you do, don’t “try” to speak the developer’s language. Mistakes will be made, and you’ll look silly. You know when Uncle Bob comes up to you at a wedding and tries to get into a technical conversation with you? Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

The Process

There are different phases to building your custom website. Below is a list of the phases that work for Flaunt Your Site. These are not hard-and-fast rules, and not every developer will go through all these steps. But I’ve found that, for me, utilizing these steps encourages more communication along the way, and minimizes the amount of errors that pop up.

* Wireframe: This is a very simple line drawing of the layout: what content will be on the page, and where it will go i.e. slideshows, content, videos, etc.

* Design Comp or Mock-up: An JPG or PNG image file of what the site will look like. This is usually done in Fireworks or Photoshop, so you can see what the site will look like before the building process starts.

* Scope: The mock up is then looked at very carefully and each element is examined to see if there is a function that it’s supposed to perform, like what element links where, are pictures static or part of a slideshow, what things have rollover behaviors, etc.

* Development Site (the Building Process): Usually performed on the developer’s computer, offline. This is where the design comp is turned into an actual website. It’s best to build this offline so clients don’t see “how the sausage is made.” It’s not as disturbing as a slaughterhouse, but you don’t need to see the build process. It’s actually boring and slow.

* Staging Site: When the site is finished and you can actually see it up and running, we put it on a staging server. Many developers have their own server that they’ll use (e.g. client1.flauntyoursite.com). It’s online, so the owner can see the actual site in use. Final changes and bugs are found and fixed. This is also a good opportunity to import any existing content that you have on your site or blog.

* Soft Launch: I like to include what’s called a soft launch phase (not everyone does this, though). This is when the site is pushed onto your server in place of your old site. I know you’re really excited to have everyone come look at your new site, but before you invite the masses, it’s good to test everything in its final live environment. It’s a good practice to have just a couple friends with keen eyes look for mistakes, typos, and any final web gremlins that need to get squashed.

* Hard Launch: The pièce de résistance! All the hard work and months of waiting come to this point where you can blast the whole world, Facebook, and your email list that your new website is open for business. This is when you pop the bubbly.

A Word On When Design Happens, And When Design Changes

Design happens during the design phase. To drive the point home: Design does not happen during the build process or after the Soft Launch.

If you want to change the design that you’ve approved, we will charge you for going back and changing it (frequently called a Change Order). A small tweak might not be a problem, but don’t be surprised if we tell you that you’ll be billed for the change, or that you have to wait till after the site is completed and initiate a Phase 2 on the site. So if you’re on the fence about something in the design, get it resolved right away during the design phase. You can even ask for an extra week to sit with the design to see if you’re 100% happy with the design, or if additional tweaks need to be made.

Again, I’ll remind you that it’s your responsibility for the project turning out the way you want it. But if you’re looking for a quick way to make a developer go from an overweight nerd into a full-on, enormous green rage monster, just tell them that you’d like a design change while they’re in the middle of actually building the site.

Payments

What I’ve found that really works for my clients and myself is to base the payment structure on certain phases from the above list. This is how I typically work (again, all developers are different):

* Initial 1/3 payment: Upon signing contract. (This pays for my time to design a concept).

* Second 1/3 payment: Upon client approval of Design Comp. (This mean that the client likes what they see and they’re committing to building the site).

* Final 1/3 payment: Upon completion of website and prior to Soft-Launch. (This indicates that the developer has done his job and it’s ready to go live).

I do ask for final payment before launch. It’s just the preferred method of ensuring final payment for many developers. It’s our version of “delivery on payment.”

When Problems Arise

Yes, there will be problems. We’re not launching a rocket, but there are still a lot of things to juggle in launching a website. Web developers are people, and occasionally, we make mistakes, so try to be understanding. We’re on your side, and mistakes are just that: mistakes. We’re not intentionally trying to screw up your day.

If multiple mistakes are happening, and it becomes a competency issue, the developer isn’t willing to be open about the cause, or you’re just getting excuse after excuse, then you do have cause for concern. If you’re not sure what you’re dealing with, please feel free to call me. I have no problem helping disputes so feelings don’t get hurt, or people have to revert to legal actions (which is the absolute worst for both parties involved).

Photo by: Randy Merrill

Photo by: Randy Merrill

Life After Launch

This is not the time to make design changes! Okay, just checking to see if you were paying attention.

I say that tongue-in-cheek, but there is the occasional client that waits until after the launch to raise design issues or concerns they’ve had. And while it’s a rather frustrating phenomenon for developers, it’s really just going to end up being costly to you – not to mention, you’ll probably end up at the back of the line of the developer’s client list, since they have promises to other clients. So, again, get your design done during the design phase.

Once you’ve launched, your focus should be on the content – this usually means blog posts and/or photo galleries. If you have existing posts, you may think about going back and figuring out what the best keywords for each post are, and re-optimizing them for search engines. If you have questions on that, Flaunt Your Site offers one-on-one SEO training and we can teach you.

For new content, I would suggest a regular schedule. Every week or every other week depending on how much you shoot. Again, you’ll want to focus on the right keywords for your blog posts (And I guarantee you, it’s not “Your City Wedding Photographer”).

Here Are Some More Tips On How To Take Care Of Your Site:

* Keep WordPress and your plugins updated! Part of the reason WordPress releases updates is because they increase the security measures constantly. Don’t lose all that hard work because you’re running an old version of WordPress.

* Keep the plugins to a minimum. Plugins are really great, but too many will bog down your site. And the wrong ones will open up your site for vulnerabilities.

* Use Google Analytics to track the effectiveness of your site. This includes things like:

o How many visitors do you get?
o What content is the most popular?
o What is your bounce rate for important pages?
o Where are most of your visitors coming from?

* Use the information from Google Analytics to make decisions about the content on your site.

* Visit Google Webmaster Tools every two to three months to ensure that your website is in good standing, and that the Sitemaps are being submitted properly.

* If you have questions about the usage of your site, ask your developer. It’s a good practice to stay in communication about things. I can’t speak for others, but I’m fairly available to my clients afterwards.

Above all else, be proud that you have something custom and unique. You totally deserve to give yourself a high five when you get compliments on how easy to use, or how beautiful your new website is.

Author information

William Bay

William Bay
Chief Flauntreprener at Flaunt Your Site

William Bay is the Chief Flauntreprener. He’s studied all kinds of SEO goodness, and what makes great web site design. On a typical day, he’ll be immersed in code, or dissecting rankings, or sneaking in a quick yoga session between client calls. When he’s not photographing, SEO’ing, or designing, he’s dreaming about surfing the perfect peeling reef breaks in the Mentawai Islands.

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Views, Reviews & Interviews For Photographers On Tiffinbox

Going Back in Time

Chris
The great shooters of Project 52 Pros, 2014 just comple […]

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ESSENTIALS For Photographers

ReBranding With Photography

Chris
This was an interesting week. An old friend and colleag […]

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ESSENTIALS For Photographers

On-Assignment: Full-Sun Group Shot

Chris

If you have never done it before, lighting a group shot outdoors in full sun can be daunting. After all, sun is pretty bright. And your subject is pretty big and thus harder to light at a high level.

But with a leaf-shutter camera and a couple of battery powered monoblocs, you can easily own the sun and just about anything you can put under it.

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Strobist

Using Sexy Light On The Beach

Chris

Behind The Scene Look: How I Got That Shot

The image you see below was created as part of an engagement session. It was towards the end of shoot when we were at a beach and sun had already gone down. The park visiting hours were already over and there was a cop driving everyone out. And it was cold, the chill factor in the wind was sending shivers down our spines. We quickly grabbed couple of shots and drove out of the park.

MPSingh Photography - Couple On The Beach

This shot was taken with the help of an off camera flash, Nikon SB900 inside a Lastolite 24″x24″ softbox, triggered with my trusted Pocket Wizards. The following is a lighting diagram showing the set up for this shoot.

MPSingh Photography - Couple On The Beach Lighting Diagram

The flash had a full cut CTO (color temperature orange) gel on it. I wanted to give the feel for the post dusk bluish night sky. So I turned my camera to tungsten white balance. This gives the blue tint to the whole image. To compensate the blue tone on the subjects and bring the skin color back to normal yellow/orange tones, the flash had the orange gel on it. The full cut CTO gel fully compensates for the tungsten white balance.

Another challenge was that we required the light to be very close to the couple and we wanted wide angle shot to include more of the background for context. So the assistant was in the picture.

MPSingh Photography - Couple On The Beach

The Photoshop Work

To fix that we took two shots, one with assistant lighting the couple and in the shot. Before the second shot, the assistant ran out of frame and switched off the light. So the second shot was taken with the couple without any light. Once we take these two shots it is very easy to do a composite in Photoshop:

1. Open both the images in Photoshop as layers, with the image with assistant as the top layer.

2. Auto align layers (Edit –> Auto-Align). When we don’t use a tripod there is always a slight movement of the camera and the frame changes. To compensate for that, we have to align the layers.

3. Once the layers are aligned, select the top layer and use layer mask to mask out the assistant. Now we are using everything else from this layer except area where assistant was. That area is picked up from the layer beneath.

4. Make other changes as required.

And, voilá, we have our final image. Do you have any questions? Feel free to ask below!

Author information

MP Singh

MP Singh

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Views, Reviews & Interviews For Photographers On Tiffinbox

Musea: Online Proofing, Lab & Gathering For Photographers

Chris

Michael Howard, a wedding photographer based in Nashville, Tennessee founded Musea, an online proofing solution for busy photographers.

Instead of establishing the same old basic business model that tonline proofing systems have followed, where a photographer pays the host a monthly sum and also surrenders a portion of the sales profits as commission, Michael chose to dedicate 2% of the 16% commission he receives towards Water.org. Plus, he eliminated monthly fees!

Among the topics Michael and I covered when we recently spoke were his intentions to start Musea, the new offering called Musea Lab and lastly the intimate conference he calls Musea Gathering that will take place from February 22nd through February 25th in San Francisco.

Want to learn more about how Musea is serving serious photographers like you? Listen to the many podcast interviews Michael has conducted with industry leaders.

MUSEA Gatherings are for those photographers that want to bring more intimacy into their work. Weddings and portraiture photography trends currently put much of the focus on amazing locations and the people are often interchangeable. Gatherings take a different approach by encouraging photographers to find vulnerability, connection and humanity in those we document.

PLEASE NOTE: For the next 24 hours, you can apply to win a seat at the Musea Gathering. Enter the scholarship giveaway now!

Author information

Seshu | Editor, Curator & Publisher

Seshu | Editor, Curator & Publisher

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Views, Reviews & Interviews For Photographers On Tiffinbox

Worth a look: Kola Superdeep by Sergey Novikov

Chris

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Please visit dvafoto for more.

Russian photographer Sergey Novikov wrote in a little while ago to share his project Kola Superdeep. The project offers a glimpse into a remote area in Russia’s Murmansk Oblast above the Arctic Circle that is home to one of the deepest holes ever drilled on Earth. Drilling and research in the area, which borders Norway and Finland, was abandoned in 2008, but a small population remains and Norilsk Nickel continues some mining operations which have a devastating effect on the landscape.

Take a look at the project and be sure to look at the rest of Novikov’s work. I particularly like his series of street portraits in Moscow and Grassroots, a look at Russian soccer fields, which reminds me of Hans van der Meer’s European Fields.


dvafoto

Canals of Birmingham - worth capturing on film or an eyesore?

It is said that Birmingham has more canals than Venice. However, think of Venice and you think of romance, gondolas and Venetian balls. Think of Birmingham and you think of… well, very little. So is this because the canals are an absolute eyesore, or are they actually worth photographing? Should Birmingham do more to become a little Venice, or should they just give up?

Whether or not Birmingham actually has more canals than Venice is something of a discussion point. What we do know is that there were 174 miles of canals in Birmingham by the middle of the 18th century. This would have been more than Venice at the time. Now, however, a large proportion has actually disappeared, leaving only 114 miles of navigable water. That’s still a lot, but perhaps not as much as Venice.

Those who walk the towpath have the opportunity to see not just Birmingham, but also all the surrounding towns. That is certainly a perfect opportunity for some beautiful photography as it doesn’t just show 15 entire miles of improved canals (for safety and nicer walks), but it also means you don’t have to take a boat.

We know that the canals have been partially responsible for the development of Birmingham as a city, and for the Black Country as a whole. It helped to develop a range of different industries in the area and had it not been for these, Birmingham would probably have been nothing but a small village, if that.

Birmingham will never be Venice. It was never, nor will it ever be, a city of art and culture. It is not romantic, but rather industrial. You don’t want to go through a canal in Birmingham on the front of a gondola with your loved one. For one, the weather in Birmingham doesn’t really allow for that sort of behaviour.

However, perhaps we should also stop romanticising Venice. It is, all things put together, a very dirty city with a sordid history. The Venetian balls, now so popular and emulated across the world (think of the Rio carnival and Mardi Gras in New Orleans), was actually a punishment for those people who were masked every day of the week, getting involved in orgies and criminal activity. Birmingham isn’t like that, so perhaps it is actually better than Venice. It certainly is worth going over and taking a few good shots, even if it is just for fun. If you are interested in architectural photography, talk to Paul Arthur, an architectural photographer in Birmingham. Paul is located at Paul Arthur Photography, The Fireworks, The Old Fire Station, 68 Albion Street, Birmingham, B1 3EA. Call: 0121 4 050505. Or maybe you're looking for an established corporate photographer like Seven Star Photography?