Tag Archives: marketing

Happy Birthday to America!

7 Jul
'Merica

‘Merica

This weekend, I spent a lot of time away from my phone.

It was a nice feeling, to unplug a bit. As a photographer trying to grow her business, I spend more time than most people worrying about my edits, planning my blogs, working out marketing and social media strategies, networking, educating myself, etc. It’s a labor of love, and it doesn’t weigh on me…but every once in a while its nice to just enjoy the friends and family around me without worrying about the next whatever.

Fireworks Fun

Fireworks Fun

I did put a few photos on IG and FB to document the weekend, but haven’t done much catching up on you guys until this morning. (I hope y’all are enjoying the fireworks, the barbeques, the beaches and ‘Murica’s bday!)  The whole process made me think a little bit about the whole social media as a way of marketing thing, and the interesting cultural decisions to embrace one social media over another.  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, G+…why are they leading the pack, ya know?  Why are Flickr and 500px such powerful photo sharing resources?  Why one and not another?

IG

IG

Most of those are rhetorical questions, but what I do want to know is which social medias do you use the most?  Which ones do you enjoy?  Get feedback and interaction on?  Which ones are a worthwhile investment in your time?

Also, obviously, if you want to follow me on any of your various social medias, I’d appreciate the support.  It helps spread the word about SSP, and as we all know, word of mouth is a powerful thing.  At one point, I think someone said something along the lines of…never toot your own horn, let other people do it for you.  I believe it was Abraham Lincoln.  On the internet.  Therefore, it must be true. haha

Attention to Detail

8 Nov
Connecticut Colors

Connecticut Colors

Although I tend to love big sweeping landscapes, often, its the little details that make those scenes work.  Patterns, textures, colors, catching something at just the right moment…  They are just as important as a good sunset or a nice foreground.  Macros and details are an art form and skill set in their own right.

Peruvian Salt Harvest

Peruvian Salt Harvest

A while back, I began putting together my “Free Banner Thank You’s”…just a little way to say I appreciate you guys.  My gift to you?  A spruced up FB page.  Now, when I go out on photo excursions, I try to keep a full eye our for nice landscape compositions, and half an eye out for “detail” shots.

Factory Folige Facebook Banner

Factory Folige Facebook Banner

I happened to be going through my “to-be-edited-still” photo folders, and it occurred to me that often, those very same “details taken with a purpose” shots are some of my favorite.  They’re not a big moody landscape or an emotional portrait…but they’re cozy, they’re interesting and they have a quiet confidence to them that I like.

West Coast Shamrock

West Coast Shamrock

For those of you who haven’t done so, check out my FB Page, like it, and then enjoy the banners folder.  For those of you who already have liked my page, you have my gratitude.  Word of mouth is my only form of marketing.  Your support is my inspiration…it helps me make time for just one more edit when I’m tired, and just one more photo-trip when I’m poor, and just one more sunrise when the warm bed is calling.  Your support helps me book weddings, and music promo gigs, and keep food on my table.  I couldn’t do this without you guys.  I’m so glad we’re taking this photo journey together. ❤

Sending gratitude your way.

XO

Shannon

Scavenger Hunt

2 Jul

As a general rule, I don’t put up much in the way of pictures of myself as a way to market my photography, but there was no way around it. My super genius ideas for the Hunt categories “What’s Your Sign” and “Lyric Quotograph” required my participation.

I enlisted the help of a good friend, and fellow photographer for the 5 minute shoot.  I told her the idea, we found a good place with the appropriate lighting and viola! Instant photo!

This particular image turned out exactly as I had envisioned it, and it gives a sense of what I wanted to convey about myself to the viewer.  Photog, yes.  But a photog who is willing to work for the photo. =)

What's Your Sign

What’s Your Sign

So why don’t I put up a whole lot of images of myself?  Well, to be honest, I have thought about it.  I’m definitely not a “look at me!!!!!” kind of person, but at this point in America, there is no doubt that marketing a woman’s…ummm…attributes will gain you fans.  But obviously, since I don’t have photos of me taking scenic landscape shots in a bikini, you can tell I’ve hesitated to go that route.

The reason?  First and foremost, it’s not who I am.  I’m not opposed to spending time in front of a camera (in fact, I think it’s an essential learning step for anyone who wants to shoot portraits.  You should have experience with the things you are asking a model to do!), and every girl likes to have a few purty photos of herself…but it’s not the side of the camera where I get the most out of the experience.

Second, I don’t want my photography to be all about me.  To some extent, every photo you take has a piece of you in it.  It’s the way you see the world, or the way you feel about a situation.  But I want to do more than just express my vision of the world.  I want to share those moments with you.  I want you to feel the same sense of awe I do at a gorgeous sunset, the same sense of peace I feel at the top of a mountain, the same smile I get when I look at an adorable puppy/horse/child…

And finally…well…to put it bluntly, privacy matters to me.  I know, I know…old fashioned thinking.  But too many people – especially younger generations – forget that once something is out in the interwebs, it’s permanent.  A hurtful comment, a thoughtless decision, a tasteless photo…they’re like a bad tattoo.  It may not mean much when we’re young, but it’ll haunt us later in life.

So I wonder, has anyone else put any thought into this matter?  Privacy vs Marketing your business?  How personal you make your brand?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! =)

Phoneography

24 Apr
Instagram - Powerlines

Instagram - Powerlines

I’m just going to say it.  The people at Apple, Inc. are marketing geniuses…es….ess. (How do you pluralize that?)  There was a time…before my time…yeah…that’s it…when the Mac had nothing on IBM. People looked at the Mac as inferior. All the cool kids had IBM (or IBM compatibles…Gateway, Dell, etc) and the rest…well, they had Macs.

That all changed with the white ear buds.  Even now, several years later, I still remember the first silhouette commercials with indie music playing on the iPod…and the white ear buds.  Those things became a status symbol.  If you had the white ear buds, you were part of the club. The ‘in crowd’. You were the next generation of cool kid.

Since then, Apple seems to have mastered the idea of brand loyalty and proprietary marketing.  After all, those go hand-in-hand.  The cool kids club comes with benefits.  A year ago, Hipstamatic was making non-iPhone owners drool.  And after that, Instagram.  iPhone users, and only iPhone users, could churn out vintage/retro images to a community of other vintage/retro image producers.  And did I mention it was cool?

Obviously, with the Android-Instagram app release, and subsequent purchase of Instagram as a whole by Facebook, the game has changed for that particular application.  But, the impact Instagram and Apple have had on the world of photography has not.  I’m going to break it down for you, mmmkay?

The first thing that I think is notable about community apps like Instagram is that it opens the creative door for people while at the same time providing affirmation.  Now, there are a number of photographers out there who decry Instagram as another way for the “me” generation to spew self-centered garbage out into the world.  (Disclaimer: the views of those individuals do not necessarily reflect the views of Seeing Spots Photography.  And whhhhyyyy? Well, let me tell you!).

I’m all for creativity.  I’m also, obviously, a huge proponent of photography. I also remember that my first camera was…ummm…limited. So were my photo editing skills.  And while my images might not have been quite as good as the work I produce now, it was still a creative outlet for me…  In the words of David Pasillas, an iphonetographer-friend, “I suppose we all started out with simple edits or bad filters and evolved into much more complex edits. I know I was guilty of putting awfully harsh vignettes on most of my images a few years ago. haha” (Check out his work with the iPhotos. He impressed me with how much he can do with just a cell phone and some apps!)

The second thing I respect about apps like Instagram is the likeability factor.  (I’m not even sure if that is a word…catch me if you can, Grammar Police!)  I think community apps like Instagram catch on because they make photography accessible.  Brian Jarvis, of the Brian Jarvis Band, uses Instagram as a marketing tool for his music.  He noticed that as a culture, we embrace technology that makes life (or in this case, creating art) easier and more accessible.  He gave examples he was familiar with such as Auto-Tune and Pro Tools.  People have readily adopted those programs because they make decent quality music recordings a whole heck of a lot easier. The polished studio sound still requires knowledge and hard-earned skill, but for the average consumer, a program like Cakewalk is a dream come true!

It would seem my friend Nick from Nick Exposed agrees.  He pointed out, “I think it all boils down to these companies bringing the ease of photo development into the hands of the average person. It gave the average Joe the ability to make their images stand out in a way that they haven’t had access to before without the help of a photographer or similar creative.”  That, in conjunction with the community aspect of the application – where you gain both affirmation and a sense of inclusion when you post images – makes Instagram a marketing win (times two)!

The obvious success that Apple has had in creating a culture of brand loyalty has, I believe, encouraged a whole generation to be creative.  In doing so, it has changed the face of 2012 photography by affecting demand.  For the “me” generation, the vintage feel of Hipstamatic and Instagram images is normal…and the “me” generation are our newest crop of clients! Is it any coincidence that there is a noticeable trend among portrait / event photographers (at least, in my area) to produce slightly desaturated images with adjusted color balance? As my photographer-friend Will from WhereToWillie.com said, “It’s a trendy thing now to have photos that have the retro feel. Vintage clothes are in, vintage looks are in.” Will finished that thought with a note about individuality, though. “I’m sure those of us ‘in the industry’ will be influenced by people’s notion of ‘what is cool’ in how we will process photos for them, but at the end of the day when I work on my personal photos, I’m doing it for me, and will continue to impart my personal style however that may evolve.”

That statement is, I think, a nice segue into the difference between iPhoneography and Instagrammers. While all of the creatives I talked to seem to agree that there are good things to be said about community apps like Instagram, it is also clear that there are limitations to individuality.  As David Pasillas said, “For me, there is a lack of fulfillment if I just apply a filter or an action to an image and call it good. Is that really art if you do the same thing to every image, or are you [just] showcasing a product (i.e. a filter or action?)”

He went on to say that iPhoneography is much more than applying a filter. It involves vision and education, just like in traditional photography. “At the end of the day, a camera is a camera. If you know how to use your camera, you can create awesome images regardless of the camera’s limitations…you can do impressive things with the iPhone if you take time to get to know the different apps available. And there are no shortage of awesome apps at very reasonable prices.”

Spoken like a man with some brand loyalty, right? =)

****
Important other stuff!

I want to give special thanks to all of the people mentioned in this blog.  They were kind enough to share their time, opinions, experiences and expertise…greatly appreciated!

I don’t even own an iPhone! But Droidography isn’t making quite as big a splash.  Hey Apple marketing team…wanna donate some time to me?!

“Talk About What You Do, Talk About What You Love”…

4 Jan

…that’s been the mantra of my friend (entrepreneur and founder of the equine rescue – Second Chance Ranch Equine Rescue – that I volunteer for) for years now.  And to be honest, when you love what you do, it’s easy to talk about it! =)

I think what he’s been trying to convey all this time is that without putting your name and your accomplishments out there, you’ll have a difficult time achieving your goals.  It may be your vision and hard work, but at some point, you need to involve others in your business plan.  Clients need to see your work, other professionals help you by giving you constructive feedback or creative inspiration, investors make your goals more attainable…and all of these people (and more!) have a place in the recipe for your success.

For me, I find a mix of real-world relationships with other local artists, involvement in online artist communities and being involved in art displays/shows works well.  All of these connections help me become a better photographer, and are invaluable in marketing my work.

A print of "Lake of the Clouds" at a local art display

A print of "Lake of the Clouds" at a local art display

So, get your work out there, mmmkay?  It’s not all going to be perfect, but we only learn by making mistakes!

Also, stay tuned…speaking of friends, I’m working on a joint blog post with my good friend William Woodward (www.wheretowillie.com).  It’ll have my first photo of 2012, it will have some exciting equipment mentions, some talk of goals for the new year…and possibly some mushy, girly thank yous for all of your continued support. =)

Product of the week: http://www.zazzle.com/lake_of_the_clouds_mug-168943196765871885

The Interwebs

15 Dec

Today, a photographer has to be so much more than a person with a camera. At the very least, to run a business, most photographers need to be proficient in email, become a master of online marketing and learn to use social media (Facebook and Twitter, for example) as a means to understand their clientele. For me, it also involves the use of search engines to research, online shopping for the best deals on camera equipment, google earth for location scouting…and online photo communities.

Now, in my mind, online photo communities and forums can be an invaluable resource for inspiration, education, networking and constructive feedback. There is, of course, varying degrees of quality for all of those items based on both the skills of the community contributors and the intangible “standard” that all participants adhere too.  In other words some forums…G+ or pbase, for example…tend to be supportive environments compared to some URL’s where the M.O. is less civilized.

Another great resource for the evolving photo enthusiast is YouTube…I’ve found that for editing in particular, seeing a video of someone’s signature method is helpful!

It seems that the modern photographer needs to have their hands in several pots.  They need to find time to develop relationships with clients on the FB, tweet about the newest trends, learn from upper echelon artists on G+, get feedback and inspiration from their community of choice (pbase.com, flickr, etc), market their wares at zazzle/cafepress/redbubble, learn the newest masking technique on YouTube, research with Goodsearch.com (shameless plug!  Choose “Second Chance Ranch Equine Rescue – East Longmeadow, MA” at your charity of choice and they’ll receive a penny for every search)…find your way with Google maps, write about your experiences with WordPress (double shamless plug?)…and….  Oh yeah!  You need to find time to actually practice your craft and shoot a few frames.

This is what I call multi-tasking...

This is what I call multi-tasking...

Piece of cake, right?

So seriously…find me at:
www.seeingspotsphoto.com
www.pbase.com/seeingspotsphoto
https://seeingspotsphoto.wordpress.com/
www.facebook.com/SeeingSpotsPhoto
www.zazzle.com/skalahan
https://plus.google.com/?tab=wX&gpcaz=7c5e53f4#110144804314450410619/posts

seespotsphoto@yahoo.com

Product of the week: http://www.zazzle.com/happy_holidays_card-137367144163460445

To HDR or Not to HDR?

30 Nov

…That is the question.  As High Dynamic Range photography continues to grow in popularity, “To HDR or Not?” becomes an important question for several reasons.

First…what is HDR? The short, layman’s term answer is a process meant to create an image with tonal range that is more comparable to what the human eye can see, as compared to an image captured with standard digital techniques. Often, with standard digital techniques, it is difficult to expose all parts of a scene properly at the time of image capture. For example, without filters or some sort of post processing, a landscape shot taken on a sunny day would likely have either areas that were blown out or under-exposed.

The process of HDR photography combines multiple images of the same scene, all with different exposures, through use of an algorithm that pulls the best pixels from each image to create a composite that has a greater tonal range than any of its individual components. That’s a checkmark for the ‘pro’ column!

Non-HDR vs HDR

Non-HDR vs HDR

Now for the ‘cons’…  In my mind, most photos are improved by a wider tonal range. In fact, the problem many people seem to have with HDR images is not the concept of a more dynamic range, but rather, it’s the individual artist’s application of the process. 

The major complaint I’ve heard time and again is that often HDR images, as a result of tone-mapping and color saturation decisions, look “fake”.  Tone-mapping is a process of compressing the brights and darks of an HDR composite image, and as one photographer put it, over-compression makes the image look like “HDR on drugs”.  Along those same lines, some artists over-saturate the already-wider range of tones to create images with colors that seem unnatural.  Truly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and every photographer must create images that are true to their style…but if the intent is to create a photo that is closer to what the human eye can see, then over-compression and saturation misses the mark.

While there will forever be disagreement between traditionalists and non-traditionalists, there are arguments to be made for HDR beyond that of greater tonal range.  From a marketing perspective, HDR is growing in popularity.  Whether you embrace the change or not, our current consumers are showing appreciation for HDR and while it may not become your signature style, it wouldn’t hurt to have some knowledge of the process.

Furthermore, if you are the sort to plan for the long term, HDR images often have an appearance that is similar to the computer generated images seen in video games and movies.  That means that the younger generations (AKA future consumers) will easily identify with HDR images, and in time, may even prefer them to images processed with traditional techniques.

That being said, at this time, while I often bracket when shooting, I treat every photo as an individual during the editing process.  Many times, my personal preference is to try to create images that have greater tonal range but have a more natural feel than something that has been noticeably tone-mapped and has heavy saturation.  If I can accomplish that with layers and masks, I will.

Layers and Masking

Layers and Masking

On the other hand, if the photo calls for HDR, then so be it.  I’m an equal opportunity photographer!  But that’s just me…  What I want to know is, how do you feel?

To HDR or not to HDR…?  That is the question.