Friday, February 22, 2008

Worth Revisiting - Teachable Moments, Hypocrites, and Client Dialog

Sometimes, it's worth looking back and reminding folks of the great content that is on this blog that you, dear reader, may have missed because you weren't reading, say, last January!

At least the Hypocrite Knows Right from Wrong

I have a great regard for photojournalist P.F. Bentley. Back in 1989, when I was a young, inexperienced buck, I ran across P.F. in San Francisco while I was covering the San Francisco Earthquake and he and I talked for awhile. We looked on with amazement as another photojournalist took some "police line do not cross" yellow tape and moved it so it looked better in her photo. We both shook our heads at this ethical breach, yet I was probably more shaking my head because PF was, not because I disagreed, but because, I was taking a que from him, as he affirmed what I knew to be wrong.

PF was celebrated by the President of Time in this article, which reads, in part, "...Gingrich's heady first 100 days were documented close-up by TIME's prizewinning photographer P.F. Bentley. "P.F.'s passion is recording history as it happens," says picture editor Michele Stephenson. "He has great instincts, and he gets rare access because his subjects trust him."

Yet, this trust seemed to actually not carry much weight with the folks at Time, when they devolved their contract with onerous additional rights demands without increasing compensation to their contributors several years back.....CONTINUE READING!
Teachable Moments
There are times where you are more susceptible to learning-and retaining-knowledge than others. Take the proverbial parent who said to me once "Johnny, don't touch that hotplate, it's hot. That's what cooks the pancakes." and what did I do? Defiantly looked at my mother square in the eyes, and put my hand on it. Lesson learned.

It's when you sign a contract with bad terms in it that you learn not to do it again. It's when you estimate an assignment for a portrait that is outdoors and that you will be using a large softbox on it, and you don't include an assistant to keep hold of the soon-to-be airborne softbox, lightstand, and flash head, that you learn to always book atleast one assistant for an outdoor assignment. It's a costly mistake to repair that head, one that you cannot pass on to the client and must now absorb.....CONTINUE READING!
Wise Words for your Client Dialog - When there's a problem or Question
Woe be the photographer who does not respect the value of customer service as a key to their longevity in the business. Your choice of words can make a big difference when dealing with clients and ensure that you keep them coming back....CONTINUE READING!
Now, go check them out, and don't forget, there's over a year's worth of insights (and a few rants!) that are worth reading!

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Effective SEO - Please Welcome liveBooks

I've been in the "website game" since about 1995, with my first website on my Compuserve webspace. My second website is still floating around the internet, housed on AOL's servers. I recall switching between NCSA Mosaic and NetManage's Chameleon. Each year, the web expanded, and I endeavored to keep up. Pre-Google, the game in town was Yahoo, Altavista, and the like. Staying abreast of everything took a great deal of effort, but being online, bleeding edge, has been profitable for me as a photographer. A few years ago, I was finally able to place my trust in someone to do re-do my entire site, with a critical concern being to remain in my current positions for the various search terms that were important to me. At the time, there were no effective turnkey solutions, and moreover, because of the 100+ pages of pricing and other information, only a custom solution would work for me.

Since then, a field that was limited, at best, has grown. Anyone with Dreamweaver now calls themselves a website designer, and anyone with Google's ADD URL url calls themselves a search engine optimizer. Moreover, if you can compartmentalize your flash/javascript with a few variables, and tweak an e-commerce backend, you will call yourself a website service provider.

Below are links to several really amazing studies and other click-able insights.

(Continued after the Jump)

Some of these purveyors have built something, and they're being used, and they're not SEO optimized, nor really easy to use. It's like the programmer built it, sold it, and continues to sell it, without significant interest in additional revisions, with the "if it ain't broke, don't revise it..." mentality.

Yet one service - liveBooks, continues a commitment to excellence, and has now come on board as an advertiser here. I've meet with these folks over the past year on a variety of issues. At first, I was skeptical, for SEO reasons. They established, and have revised, their HTML/SEO-friendly shadow pages. They're made much of their client commitment doing everything they can to make it easy for their customers' sites to be found.

Rob Haggert, known better to most as A Photo Editor, wrote:
Livebooks: I’ve said it before, “I love livebooks.” They revolutionized the online portfolio. Big, vibrant photos and not much else. I’m not shillin’ for them at all and I can honestly say photographers have risen a notch in my book by switching to their product. Contributor Terence Patrick coined it “the black leather portfolio book of the web.” That’s how I feel about it as well. If you can’t beat it, don’t bother.
Yup, and I still have some of those black leather portfolios in my office from my analog days.

Last November, during a trip to San Francisco, I stopped in to liveBooks' offices, met their team of people - your potential team of people - and talked about all things web. From SEO, to functionality, update-ability, and so forth, we covered everything.

Think that liveBooks sites can't rank on SEO? Think again. I did a little research about how well they are doing on that front. Check the following sites where liveBooks sites are ranking extremely well (click the ranking link to see the position for yourself) :

PhotographerSearch termGoogleYahoo

Brad ManginSports PhotographerGoogle #1Yahoo-#3
 San Franciso Sports PhotographerGoogle-#3Yahoo-#3
Lou Mannafood photographerGoogle-#2Yahoo-#14
Ken Weingartheadshot photographerGoogle-#3Yahoo-#33
 Los Angeles fashion photographyGoogle-#3Yahoo-#11

One very valuable insight is this article, from awhile ago, about search position versus click-throughs, and just how where you fall is critical. They also did an "EyeTracker study" which is absolutely worth reading, and shows just how much attention there is on the first page. It's extremely insightful.

The one - and there's only one, really - concern I hear from people who've done some of their research into website options and liveBooks - and that is one of cost. It's just over $3k for their full package. Once those people have actually completed their research, they realize that it's atleast that much for a well designed site, if not more. Further, the update-ability of their new custom site isn't easy - certainly not as easy as liveBooks. And, there's no team of people that remains, on the backend, looking for ways to improve a product you've already purchased. Many site designers have moved on to their next project, and requests for updates/fixes take a back seat.

So, please join me in welcoming liveBooks as an advertiser here.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

ASMP SB2 - ATLANTA This Friday!

If you're reading this blog, you should be there! The second of what will be a total of four stops takes place starting this Friday, February 22, in Atlanta. If you missed LA, I did a video report on it (here) and it has been widely reviewed as a success, with people traveling to LA from as far away as Alaska and Florida. So, this isn't something that you should be saying "oh, it's not near me, I'm not going." Planes, trains, or automobiles - it doesn't matter how you get there, because this is worth traveling for! It is going to be a remarkable weekend that will either get you started right, or bolster your existing business skills.

At this program you won't learn lighting, or video, or any other skill-set except how to run your business better and more efficiently. Beginners have come away with massive amounts of information and exceptional resources, while long-time photographers have taken away new tools and refined their current business practices to be better and more efficient in how they run their existing businesses.

Need to know about marketing? ASMP has brought in Leslie Burns Dell'Acqua to give you real tools to use to begin to market yourself, or to evolve how you marketing into the new era that is e-mail and the latest in marketing trends, helping you to reach your intended audience.

Blake Discher is also on hand to discuss the great unknown that is client negotiations and gets you thinking in the right direction about how to price your work so you stay in business.

Don't know how to store, archive, and deliver your work safely? ASMP's President, Judy Herrmann will set you straight about how to protect yourself from the inevitable hard drive crash, and deliver clients images when they want, and how they want them. Judy knows a great deal on the subject, and listening to her is like pouring pure octane into your gas tank - you're getting so much fast-burn information, every tidbit is valuable.

Further, and what is the starting point, Richard Kelly and Susan Carr start off with the basics, and make sure we're all on the same page, establishing baselines and foundations so we all are on the same bus together.

(Continued after the Jump)

Oh, and I'm also there talking about the critical tools for your photography business. It's like this blog, come to life, with a bit more restraint and carefully chosen words than you might find here, except the information I'll be presenting is, as it's titled, critical to your business, including copyright registration, dealing with contracts (both yours and the clients), and so forth. As I said before, if you're reading this blog, you should be there.

But it doesn't stop there, because that was just DAY ONE!

Ready for day 2? We spend the morning training you to negotiate better. We show you how we do it in several situations, role-playing, and then we break up into small groups, and guide these groups of 15 or so through the process, pausing and refining, and everyone else gets to chime in - it's all very interactive.

After lunch (included, on both days!), there are smaller workshops, delivering more details and specifics on Marketing to Move Your Business Forward; Business Workflow to Bring You Profits; Taking Control of Your Career; and Is Your Website Doing All It Can to Get You Work?. Don't worry though, they are repeated, so you can take two of the four.

Not enough? You're crazy then, but, well, ok - how about we have Sean Kearnan give the keynote on Saturday night, before the free Digital Railroad reception that's included? Kearnan gave the keynote in LA, and it was a not-to-be-missed experience (literally!)

Register now, figure out how you'll get there next!

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Moms With Cameras - Revisited

One of the many problems for photographers is how those who couldn't care less about the business of photography do damage to the business of photography. Often, these are people who have other jobs that pay the bills, and they look to photo credit to give them pleasure, acclaim, and notoriety, getting their satisfaction at the expense -- literally -- of those who earn a living making pictures. Many times, these are "moms with cameras", or MWCs. What I'd like to highlight today is something different. It's a MWC who is endeavoring to do things right.

She is writing a blog, titled "Hey Girl, Nice Shot - It takes more than a camera to go pro." She's got several posts I'd like to highlight, and encourage you to read. They are:

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

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NPPA's Northern Short Course in Photojournalism- Approaching Fast

For seven or eight years, one of the things I've looked forward to each March, is the NPPA's annual Northern Short Course in Photojournalism. I get the pleasure of going because I've been speaking there that long, refining and updating my presentations as time, and technology evolve.

One of the amazing things about the NSC, is the number of photo editors that come, from newspapers large and small, to critique your portfolio during the portfolio review sessions. I know more than one NSC attendee that, as the result of a portfolio review, is now working as a photographer for the paper that the photo editor who reviewed them edits for. You'll get an amazing amount of insight into your portfolio and how it can be better, during these reviews. It's like a job interview without the pressure of not being able to pay the bills if it goes poorly. But, it won't go poorly, because you get to talk to the editor, and ask them questions you never would during that interview. They are actually there to help you!

Beyond that, which would be worth the price of admission in and of itself, you get a ton of lectures, on multiple tracks. Don't know Photoshop CS3, or why you should update? The classes on CS3 (Basic Photoshop CS3; Photoshop CS3 - Color Correction; Advanced Photoshop CS3) will not only teach you the application, but also why it's a must-have upgrade that will save you time and money. How about studio lighting (Studio Lighting) in the real world? Need to learn Final Cut Pro (Final Cut Pro Tips & tricks; Introduction to Video; Advanced Video), Soundslides (Soundslides and Multimedia Storytelling), or audio capture techniques (Intro to Audio; Advanced Audio) to evolve yourself into the 21st century? Presenters are on hand to teach you all of that as well. In fact, if I wasn't presenting my own Business Practices workshop on Thursday, 3/13 at 1pm, I'd be in Regina McCombs' on Advanced Video seminar. Maybe I can get a private tutorial or, at least a few tips that evening?

(Continued after the Jump)
Discussions on the ethics of photography, and web marketing with Bill Foster are also well worth attending. When you're able to get onto the first page (or first listing!) for phrases like "Sacramento editorial photographer" (see his placement here), or "Sacramento corporate photographer" (see his placement here) you know you're listening to a guy who knows how to leverage his website into more work. And, to top it off, he's the official photographer for Gov. Schwarzenegger as well.

Not enough? Well, even though it should be more than enough, already, to convince you, how about we throw in in-depth lectures from Gregory Heisler, Chris Usher, and Al Bello on Saturday, among several other notables? Oh, and there's an NSC contest too, (deadline, 2/25!) so you could leave with a few feathers in your cap if you enter and win!

Register now, it's going to be a great time, I promise! (deadline for the discounted hotel rate is this Tuesday, 2/19!)

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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