Friday, April 2, 2010

Digital PhotoPro - Misinformation indeed!

There are plenty of purveyors of misinformation on the web, and to be sure, in print too. Yet, I was shocked to find one whose core readership are DIGITAL PHOTOgrapher PROs (hence Digital PhotoPro) telling photographers that it is a myth that "stolen images are a bad thing." What kind of idiotic advice is that, anyway?

The article, Misinformation - Copyright Tech, on the last page of the magazine (pg 118) itself espouses the notion that you can gain notoriety if your images propagate over the internet, and are appreciated by "...a lot of fans out there who want stuff for free." (I'll address that one later).

The article then says "The fine line between good publicity and outright thievery is a matter open to debate." No - that's idiotic line #2.

The article then suggests that Creative Commons is a good solution for photographers who want to share their work. Let's get this straight - Creative Commons is a mechanism for conveying a license (i.e. permission) for end users that is set by the photographer. Most people who use CC licenses are granting broad rights, often seeking only photo credit, or allowing for all uses except commercial. This - CC is a manner of granting PERMISSION to do something.

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There is all manner of PWC (person with camera) in the world who doesn't give a damn if they ever make a dime of their photography. Their "payment" is photo credit, an atta-boy, or bragging rights amongst their PWC peers. However, images that are "stolen" are done so without anyone's permission. If you leave a broken toy on your front lawn and it gets stolen in the night, you may not care enough to call the police, and in fact, might thank the unknown thief for taking something you were going to throw away. Yet, in the end, not only is it still theft, but you are also telling the thieves that in your neighborhood it's ok to steal, and the next thing to go will be items of value. Teaching a community that theft is ok is just plain wrong. Telling a readership of photographers that they should get over it, and evolve from "...the old-school way..." The article then suggests that CC "...provides you flexibility in protecting your works for meeting the ever-changing world of supply and demand." So, DPP editors - which is it? It's a "Myth [that] stolen images are bad thing", or, you should use CC to protect your work? You CANNOT have it both ways.

The article suggests your work will be appreciated by "...a lot of fans out there who want stuff for free." Guess what? Fans who want stuff for free is a growing audience that...wait for it...won't want to pay you. So, you can grow an audience of people who want to free-load off your creative works, which will not pay your bills.

I looked to see who wrote the article, or generally writes that column - but I couldn't find a name. Perhaps no one was willing to put their name behind the piece? Perhaps it was written collectively by the editorial staff. Among the "professional advisers" on the masthead are Jeff Schewe, Doug Sperling, and Ryan Stevens, alongside contributing editors John Paul Caponigro, Robert Hawk, Michael Guncheon, and William Sawalich. I am pretty sure that most if not all of them would NEVER want their images "stolen", let alone endorse the notion that stolen images is an idea that should be spread around. Some might want a broad CC license granted to their work, but that's a license/permission, not a promotion of the attitude that theft is ok.

In addition, a CC license extends to every single person on the planet, is perpetual and irrevocable. Further, CC does not clearly distinguish between commercial and non-commercial use either. Lastly, when applying a CC license you FOREVER forfeit the right to issue an exclusive license to anyone who approaches you to use that image. CC is a great means of destroying your exclusive rights and sapping nearly all of the value out of an image.

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, March 28, 2010

Google SEO Antics - Revenge of The Algorithms

Well, Google's at it again! Back in September of 2008 (here), I wrote all about how the good people in the bowels of the Googleplex, in an effort to improve peoples' search results, had tweaked the algorithm just enough that a number of photographers websites fell off the radar. This was happening to a number of photographers across providers, platforms, and hosting companies. This is akin to a "rolling blackout" where whole areas of a geographic region get hit with a loss of power, in a coordinated manner to reduce the load on the power grid. However, in this case, entire sections of the web are getting lost in Google purgatory while the algorithm experts decide if you should return to your "little spot of heaven" or be banished to the hell that is beyond page 3 in the search results.

If you're in that purgatory right now, you're feeling the heat in the form of a fear that you will lose clients, and perhaps never return to your previous search-engine-return-position (SERP). Know this - you are not alone, it's just your time to feel the pain of the "rolling blackout" of Google's dominance.

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Make no mistake, friends, about you marketing efforts - SEO is definitively not a "set it and forget it" effort. Get out there and build quality links from relevant places to your website. Switch out your images with new ones - all of these things (and others) are what makes Google happy - fresh content that has inbound links from trusted sources.

If you did a half-hearted SEO effort with your provider, regardless of who they are, and have just let it go - you have little to blame but yourself. If you did a decent SEO effort, realized the results, and rested on your laurels - you have little to blame but yourself. SEO is an ongoing effort that you must stay on top of if you are to experience good results over the long term. Blaming Google or your provider isn't a solution. Am I aware of users of certain providers (NeonSky, liveBooks, etc) experiencing this? Yup. Are they to blame? Nope. Just like some crappy self-built-by-your-college-age-nephew website can rank #1 and then fall off the map, so too, can a $3,000 premium-brand website that was ranked #1 vanish. Your success is up to you.

Since both Rob Haggart's sites, along with those of liveBooks (disclaimer - liveBooks advertises here on PBN) have "shadow" sites showing an HTML edition to be more easily spiderable than a Flash site, let's discuss the concern about what some are worried about called Google's "duplicative content" penalty. On the face of this, it's a flawed argument, because if Google could spider the Flash edition of the site, then there would be no need for the HTML version, right? Thus, Google is blind to the Flash version of a tricked-out site and only sees the HTML version, so how can Google see, for example, celebrity portrait photographer Brian Smith's flash site (here) when it can only read his html version of his site (here)? The answer is, they only see the HTML version.

If you're looking for someone to handle your SEO for you, I encourage you to contact two people I trust on SEO matters, William Foster (a Sacramento-based photographer who does SEO consulting), or Blake Discher (a Detroit-based photographer that also does SEO consulting).

Lastly, unless your name is Richard Avedon, Annie Liebovitz, or some other celebrity photographer, no one is searching for you by name - they are searching for you by geographic region/area, or by your specialty - maryland portrait photographer, or maryland wedding photographer, for example. So, don't go gauging your visibility by a vanity search, unless you're vain.

Search Engines And Your Website (9/26/08)

It's Google's World, You're Just A Small Part Of It (11/28/07)

SEO - Wild Wild West or Reason and Logic? (3/4/08)

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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