Websites for Your Business: Yes, Your Images Matter

Sample Image Display Page
Sample Image Display Page

In my last two articles in this series, I talked about planning your business needs then organizing the structure of your site to best meet those needs. Today, I’ll talk about making sure your site and your images look great.

The background color of your site is important. Neutral colors are usually best, which leaves white, black, and shades of grey. Because colors tend to appear more saturated and lively against a dark background than a lighter one, I usually recommend darker greys (but not black) for color photographers, on the other hand, I think white or light grey backgrounds look great with a lot of monochromatic work. Spend a little time experimenting with your own images and different background tones to see just how big a difference it makes. (more…)

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Site Navigation: Websites for the Business of Photography

Your navigation bar is perhaps the most important element of your website.
A navigation bar is perhaps the most important single element of your website.

Last week I covered some of the basic strategic questions you need to answer for yourself before putting together a web site. This week, I’ll talk about making your web site usable. If you have a large web site, it’s very likely that most folks who come to it will never see more than a couple of pages. It’s essential that your customers find the information they need.

To start, take out a piece of paper and jot down a list of what information you’d like to include on your site. Minimally, you need some of your images, and contact information, but depending on your business and how you hope to use your web site as part of your business (as we described last week), you may want to include: news, reviews, perhaps a blog or links to other social networking sites, and/or a biography that explains who you are, what you do and why. Don’t include an item on this list until you have a clear understanding of how it fits into your business. For example:   “If a customer wants to place an order, they’ll need to contact me, so I’ll give them contact information.” (more…)

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Determining Pricing

One process that plagues many photographers is setting pricing. Whether you’re just starting out or re-evaluating your business, having a deliberate process for determining your pricing is key. One of the common complaints among photo buyers, whether they’re professional art buyers or consumers, is that pricing seems to simply be arbitrary. To a certain extent they’re correct, but being able to justify how you’ve arrived at your pricing goes a long way towards blunting some of that criticism. (more…)

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The Days Inn Diffuser

Let me start off by saying that I don’t necessarily condone this sort of behavior–being the good Catholic boy that I am, I was riddled with guilt afterward, but I need to set up my scenario so hopefully you’ll see my point. Here’s what happened. I had a shoot in North Carolina to cover something that I have always wanted to experience: a soldier’s return home from deployment. I was asked to cover a squadron of Marines returning home after spending nine months in Iraq and I immediately said yes. I flew into Raleigh-Durham the day before and then proceeded to drive almost three hours to my hotel (which was NOT a Days Inn) just wanted to clarify that. When you’ve been flying and driving all day the hotel is always a welcome sight “¦ sometimes.


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The Tuesday Composition: Working your Borders

The edges of your image (the borders, not the edges within your image), play several important roles in composition.

Puffin and Distraction, Iceland
Puffin and Distraction. Iceland. Don't do this! (Or at least, crop the distracting bit of bird, right.)

If you like this article, you can now get the book! Joe has expanded the “Tuesday Composition” series into an inspiring new ebook on composition, especially for nature photography. Check it out: The Tuesday Composition.

First, it’s easy for distractions along the border of an image to pull the eye “out’ of the image, and thus, they are usually undesirable. Highlights near the edges can be a particular problem. Edge distractions are best noticed and corrected for in-camera. One of the firm habits I have when doing landscape photography is taking a moment before shooting to glance around the edges of a photograph looking for distractions. If I find them, often only a very minor adjustment in camera angle or position is necessary to move the distractions off-stage. (more…)

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Websites for the Business of Photography

Your website goes here.

I’m just starting a third revamp of my own nature photography website, (the first two dating from 2002 and 2004), and I wanted to share my thoughts on creative, effective photography websites. While it’s tempting (at least for geeks like myself!) to drop immediately into the nitty-gritty of implementation details, it’s far more important to first plan out what your web site is going to be for and how it will function as a part of your photography business (or even hobby.)

First, consider how your website will fit into your sales cycle. What is the site supposed to do for you and your clients? The most common mistake I see from aspiring nature and fine art photographers is (more…)

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Wedding Photography: Death of the Formal Portrait?

Oh Formal Wedding Portrait, we hardly knew ye.

It seems that lately I am beginning to see more wedding photographers who are “photojournalist only” or “natural light.” I don’t want to get into a debate about the merits of these specialties as I’m a big believer that whatever works for you and your clients is great. Everyone doesn’t have to do it the same way. In fact, it’s a good thing we don’t because then wedding photographers would be like gas stations: Whoever has the lowest price gets the business.

That being said, it still seems like we are starting to move towards a complete elimination of the “formal” wedding portrait. I know for a fact that many photographers hate to shoot them and some flat refuse to. I don’t understand that mentality.   (more…)

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Where’d My Saturation Go? Understanding JPEG Export Woes

Photoshop, LAB, no embedded profile
Photoshop, LAB, no embedded profile

Many times I’ve heard the understandable complaint that, after a good bit of working an image to get just the right color, that those colors are sapped by Photoshop or Lightroom when the image is exported to JPEG and then viewed on the web. There are all sorts of explanations on the web about this, and a lot of posturing about the “right way to handle things,” and there are all sorts of issues with the wealth of uncalibrated monitors out there, web browsers that don’t support color management at all (IE, Chrome, older Firefox) vs. those that do support it (Safari, more recent Firefox).

I figured it was time to do some testing. (more…)

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How to stand out in the client interview

Of all the things that I do, from the late nights working on new lighting techniques to the hours of building wedding albums and retouching photos…   nothing is a stressful as the client interview. When a client comes in to interview you about shooting their event, it’s like the worst job interview in the world. Unlike other jobs, photography is so subjective that just being able to convince someone you take good pictures isn’t enough.

You have to convince them that the pictures you take are substantially better than the pictures that your competitors take, or at the very least, possess some form of artistic merit that screams for them to hire you. While it’s true that they would not even be speaking to you if they didn’t like your work, it’s also true that there are usually at least a few other photographers in town who produce work similar to yours.   This is why it’s important to differentiate yourself from those photographers during the pitch. (more…)

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