10 Things You Never Want To Do With Your Online Photography Portfolio

16 08 2010

As a photographer, your most important marketing tool is your online photography portfolio. On your website or your blog, this is what’s going to showcase your work, and get you hired. Yet I see mistakes all the time. And I have a ton of questions like, “Why isn’t my site getting any traffic?” and “Why aren’t people contacting me online?” Here are 10 mistakes I see frequently – do you see yourself here?

1. Enter Page

Do you really need to divide up your site, and dedicate one whole page to making your visitors choose? If they type in your URL, they want to see your site. They want to start learning about you immediately, not have to decide if they want to visit your Flash site, Mobile site, Fast site, Slow site, Blog, Flickr portfolio, etc. Yes, you can weave things into your site, and have things on the side of your content that allows them to navigate elsewhere. But don’t make your first impression just a choice.

2. Photo Size
Have you ever gone to a photographer’s site, only to wait 30 seconds for it to load a huge file thousands of pixels in size? Boring. This is the web. You don’t need large files – the smaller the better for loading, and to protect you from clients downloading them to manipulate them. Stick to an image that is between 500-1000 pixels on the long edge, depending on how you are grouping them together.

3. Music

Um, no. Just don’t do it. There is no such thing as setting the mood or creating ambiance. If a visitor heads into your site at work on their lunch hour, you better believe they will back out quickly when the music starts. The web is visual, unless you find a video you choose to watch.

4. Photo Quantity
A portfolio is what you make of it. You can have a flash gallery that creates a slide presentation. Or you can choose to sort by category, client or niche, and showcase a great deal of your imagery. This isn’t a place to put every image from the shoot – showcase what made the shoot special. For a portrait setting, we may have put up 10 to 20 images. For a wedding, around 200 (we shot 2000-3000 images at every event PJ style). There is no such thing as too many photographs, IF you tell a story with what you have.

5. Fill It Up
Every photographer has to start somewhere. If you really want to get into weddings and you’ve only done one, by all means put it up. But don’t forget to quickly put up every other wedding you do as well. A potential client really wonders when they visit your wedding gallery, and only finds one bride.

6. Pay, Don’t Go Free
With all the options you have available to you today, there really is no reason to not have a classy, custom made web presence. Don’t opt for a Facebook or Flickr presence only. You have to control your portfolio, and give it your unique style.

7. Make It Easy
Create navigation that’s easy to follow. Don’t load it up with 30 choices; make it easy for me to decide where to go to next. Don’t label things with “cute” wordings. Go for the normal, and follow what the big stores do. People are used to commonality here, so don’t confuse them by trying to be different. Be different in your photography style, or the way you offer customer service. Don’t go for the cute on things you can’t control – like the way they move around your site.

8. Flash
If you’ve been on this site before, you know my feeling towards Flash sites. Don’t do it. It makes things difficult to control, difficult to navigate, and difficult for the search engines to find. I don’t mind the occasional Flash splashes to show off some of your work. But don’t put your entire portfolio into a Flash presentation. They will always have to start at the beginning, and can’t be specific about images they like. “I like the image at this URL, clicking the 3 category, the 15th image in” makes it a little hard to communicate.

9. Think Sales
I’ve been on photography sites where there is no contact information. Period. The idea of having a site is to make connections, and let anyone and everyone connect with you. Have a contact us form. Put your email on every page. Put your phone number right near your header. Put your address and a map to your studio. Put your Facebook, Twitter and Flickr connections on every page. Tell them how to connect with you.

10. Be Original
Don’t look through photographers sites to find one to mimic. Go to a different industry. Check out architecture, authors or sculptures. Look through Amazon, Oprah and Martha Stewart. Find things you like, and pull from a variety of sources. You don’t want a potential client to show up and say, “this site was just like X’s site”. You want them to say, “WOW”.





Want To Improve Your Flash Photography Skills?

4 06 2010

“How do I use flash on outdoor portraits and still have my portraits look natural?”

“How do I light up the dance floor in a dark reception hall?”

“How do I use off camera flash?”

I receive questions like these almost daily. Flash is definitively one area that can make or break a photographer. Knowing how to use flash can improve your photography, and if your clients see the difference, they will be willing to pay for the difference.

There are two ways to learn about lighting.

1. You can buy several types of flash units, and keep trying. Experiment with the lighting in different situations, and see what you get. Keep experimenting until you get the results you are looking for, and can achieve the same results time and again.

2. Learn from a professional. A professional can give you a ton of advice in a short period of time, offering you tips and tricks along the way.

Are you ready to shortcut your learning curve, and improve your flash photography skills today?

I found a great resource this week that I think you’re going to love. Edward Verosky just released a new ebook called Flash Photography: How To Get Amazing light In Any Improve Your Flash Photography SkillsSituation. I’ve had a chance to go through it, and the advice is right on target. He keeps it simple, and shows you exactly what to do in many situations using photographs, diagrams, and step by step advice.

What makes this a great resource is how he presents the material. He shares ideas by actually showing you photographs he’s taken within his own studio. He gives you a diagram to show you exactly how he set up the image (where he set the subject, how the flash units were set up around the subject, where the camera angle was, etc) and shares his camera and flash settings. By seeing both the diagram and the final image, along with the description of how the final result was achieved, its easy to set up your own subject in a similar manner.

Whether you keep this as an ebook on your computer, put it on your iPad for bringing with you, or print it off for a handy field guide, this is one resource you’re going to love having. If flash has ever raised a question in your mind, grab this up. For only $9.95 a copy, you can’t go wrong.

Buy Flash Photography: How To Get Amazing light In Any Situation Now>>





Photography Studio Layout

13 05 2010

Thinking of starting a studio? How do you know what type of studio is best for you?

Take this simple quiz to determine if you are better suited for a commercial studio, in-home studio, or on location studio.

Then get studio layout plans suited perfectly for you.

studio-display1

Part I

1. I have capital set aside to invest in starting up and growing my business.

2. I prefer to separate my home life from my work life.

3. I want a variety of workspaces available for shooting and production.

4. I like having control over Read the rest of this entry »





10 Publishing/Printing Solutions For Your Photographs

20 04 2010

How do you present your photographs to your clients? Do you hand them a CD – or do you present their images in an album or photo book? Digital technology has made album and book options available in a variety of formats. Take a look at these 10 publishing and printing solutions, and give your clients more options than ever.

Walter’s Publishing
From yearbooks, to prom books, to sports books and posters, to wedding books, you’ll have a full array of options through Walter’s Publishing to help you reach out to your clients.

Mpix
Mpix gives you a variety of options, from online album and sales, to photo books and greeting cards. Mpix is an online division of Miller’s Professional Imaging, and has the resources to help you with all your printing needs.

Black River Imaging
Black River Imaging offers a variety of album options. Check out their Mosaic albums, with color options to match any ideas you or your clients may have.

Black River Imaging

Renaissance Albums
Take a look at Renaissance’s new SOHO albums. Designed to offer panoramic spreads throughout the entire album, they are perfect choices for your coffee table albums.

Albums Inc
Looking for a complete album company to help you with all of your album needs? Check out Albums Inc – now carrying Zookbinders albums too.

Zookbinders
One of your best choices for albums, Zookbinders offers you a ton of sizes and options for your designs.

Vision Art Book
Looking for a true hardback book with dust cover and all? Check out Vision Art Book.

AsukaBook
AsukaBook gives you many options, including their NeoClassic and Zen book, with lay flat pages.

Neil Enterprises
Neil Enterprises has some great options for giving your clients a CD or DVD. With leather bound cases, multiple images on the cover and/or inside, these are great additions to go along with your album sales.

Bay Photo
Bay Photo has a wide variety of album options in many sizes, shapes and colors. Check out their Bay Boxes to put loose prints in.

Price and package your photography





5 Cool Ways To Make Your Photography Stand Out From The Competition

16 04 2010

fotoflot
Have you ever photographed something full frame, that’s perfect edge to edge? Then you try and frame it and you end up losing some of the nuances of the image? Try floating your image instead. With fotoflot, you don’t have to worry about glass, mats or frames. Your image can be seen side to side, with nothing to get in the way of your true meaning.

fotoflot

Animoto
Business are using video to promote their products and services at record levels – almost 85 percent of all businesses are using video in some manner. If you want to move ahead of your competition, and put something brand new to work for you on your website or Read the rest of this entry »





What All Photographers Are Really Missing

14 01 2010

One of the things that hit me today was his talk on abundance. One of his ending questions was, “What would abundance look like for you today if you were to have everything you want?” and “What makes me wealthy today?”

Wealth isn’t something associated with money, although that may be a part of it. Wealth is how happy you are with every aspect of your life. It’s more than just financial; its also about your relationships, your physical well being, and your overall happiness with life and career. You can have a ton of money, but if you have no relationships and no one to share it with, is it really worth it?

As a photographer, you’re probably passionate about your photography. But even if you love doing what you currently are, what would make you even happier?

If you are currently photographing a variety of things – weddings, portraits, commercial, models, etc – what would make you happy if you could do nothing but that all day long every day?

Surfing around today I found an upcoming photo festival – Maui Photo Festival. Where else can you go to a seminar, use it as a business expense, and learn about what you love in an incredibly beautiful area?

I also began looking at some of the speakers. The creator of Maui Photo Festival, Randy Jay Braun, has an amazing business in Hawaii. He sells his artwork out of his own gallery, and off his website. He runs photo safaris and workshops throughout the year. And he does a select amount of portraits when he has the time. His portraits are anything but unique – instead they are an experience. He works with hula dancers, and provides them with the experience of creating a unique hula lei and skirt, and providing a complete photo session built around the dance. At $1650 per session, it’s not your average portrait.

randy jay braun

Randy Jay Braun has found a way to do what he loves and build a life around that love. I know plenty of photographers that have followed in his footsteps. And I know plenty that have not.

If you are jumping into photography because you love taking pictures, and are letting the idea of a general photographer dictate what you offer, you haven’t found your true happiness. Ask yourself these questions.

  • If I could spend every day photographing, what would it be of?
  • Who would see my photographs?
  • Who would buy my photographs?
  • Where would I live?
  • How would I live?
  • How much money do I need to sustain the type of lifestyle I’m dreaming of?

Once you have answers to your questions, how can you build a business around it? Remember anything is possible. Being able to do what you love and get paid for it too is an amazing thing to have in your life.

Helping your photography business, how to start a photography business and wedding photography business visit virtualphotographystudio.com and keep up-to-date with all of the photography happenings via our free newsletter.





Photographers – Make Your Own Light Reflector

29 09 2009

Are you starting your own photography business? Then you know the value of learning how to make your own light reflector. Not only can it save you money to invest somewhere else, but it can also give you a quick way to instantly improve your photography.
When shooting portraits outside, it’s easy to tuck people next to trees and near buildings to avoid the harsh sunlight. But sometimes you find a scene that would be perfect for your client – yet the direct sunlight is streaming in. That’s when a lift reflector comes in handy.
When people talk about light reflectors, they are usually talking about one of two things.  A light reflector that bounces the light.

A light diffuser that softens the light.

A light reflector generally comes in two colors, silver and gold. Silver provides a bright reflection; gold provides a warmer, softer glow. Both are designed to be used close to the subject, using the light as a directional source to bounce back into the subjects face. Play with the reflector until you get the lighting you are looking for – its easy to see results just by tilting the reflector.
A light diffuser is made of white material, and is designed to absorb the light, soften it, and spread it evenly over the subject. The larger the diffuser, the more area you can block from the sunlight. We always carry at least to 3 foot by 6 foot panels with us to make sure we can have soft lighting no matter where we are.
While many different types of reflectors are available from stores and through various Internet sites, there is an advantage to learning how to make your own light reflector.
1. You can make as many as you choose. Save even more by buying in bulk or by watching for sales.
2. Build a frame and change out materials. Less to carry in your equipment pack.
3. Create the sizes you need most.
Want to learn how to make your own light reflector? We’ve used this blueprint for years in our own studio. I know you’re going to love it.








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