Is Photography School for Professional Wedding Photographers a Must?

photography-school-for-professional-wedding-photographersGoing to photography school for wedding photographers is a personal choice, determined by numerous factors, such as a desire to learn, but also time and financial constraints. The general outlook on this topic can seem divisive: some extoll its advantages and believe attending such courses is mandatory for those who truly wish to call themselves professionals; others, on the other hand, fail to see the perks of it and regard it as a general waste. So, which one is it? Read on, for our version of the pros and cons, and don’t forget to tell us your own opinion in the comment section.

Yes, it is!

You get all the information you need

The main way in which photography school for professional wedding photographers can help is by providing  with the time, space, and structure to accumulate all the essential information you need, on the art of taking pictures. After all, you’ll be dedicating several hours a day, 5 days a week, for at least a few weeks, to this purpose alone. When’s the last time you were able to take some time off for learning, as a pro photog?

You’ll get the degree to show for it

Now, you don’t absolutely need to go to photography school for professional wedding photographers in order to land gigs and develop a lucrative business. However, if you do, chances are that such credentials are going to make you look more dedicated in the eyes of your (potential) clients.

You get to connect and socialize

‘School is not for making friends!’ Well, that might be true for business school, but photography school for wedding photographers is a great opportunity to meet and connect with like-minded professionals. Not only will you get to exchange views with people who have the same interests as you, but you can also strike up lucrative partnerships, or business opportunities. And this social aspect is vital to the success of any photography business.

No, it’s not!

Photography school for wedding photographers disregards business

Sure, it’s great to learn about all the theoretical aspects of photography, understand some history of this art, and hone your technical skills. But what about the business aspect of this trade? Most serious photography courses nowadays do offer business courses, too, but they’re largely theoretical and no match from actual, hands-on experience in running a business. The best way to learn this skill is by going out and doing it.

It’s a waste of your time, really

And since we’re on the topic of running a business – ain’t nobody got time for school, as the popular refrain goes. Think about it: instead of learning a bunch of theory you’ll never use, you could be spending that time actually starting and running a business.

… Not to mention a waste of your money

A lot of the most influential professional photographers out there started out as self-taught amateurs. In the day and age of information, online photography resources, and the Internet, there’s really no need to shell out thousands of dollars for something you could be teaching yourself, for an infinitesimal fraction of those costs.

It doesn’t help with actually succeeding as a photographer

This is perhaps the most contentious moot point, between those who believe photography school for professional wedding photographers is important and those who don’t. At the end of your courses, you will have expended precious time and money, but without actually making any headway with developing your business. A business requires far more than technical, artistic, and even theoretical business knowledge. There’s marketing and branding, shooting and editing, business acquisition and shoot pricing – and, of course, learning. Photography is not the kind of field in which a one-time course will take care of your education. You need to keep learning and developing for the rest of your career.

Photographer’s Best Friend: Google Reverse Image Search

It’s all diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks when it comes to image usage and propagation online: while some photographers are happy to have their work featured on Tumblr, Facebook, various blogs, and media outlets, others are less than excited about it. Today’s post is for those who fall in the latter category, rather than the former. It’s here to teach you how to use Google reverse image search, in order to find your pictures all over the web. Perhaps you’re not happy with not being credited, or maybe your image is used in a context you don’t want to be associated with. Whatever your reasons may be, here’s the way to find those pictures and prevent further occurrences from happening.

How to start the Google reverse image search

Image search is a service provided by search engine giant Google, in order to help others find specific photos online; conversely, the Google reverse image search is what you do when you have the image already, but want to know who else has it and has been using it. There are two ways to start your Google reverse image search: one is by uploading your photo into the Google images search bar, and the other is by copying the photo’s original URL (say, off your own blog or website) and pasting into the search bar. As far as the first option goes, you can also simply drag and drop the image into the search bar, if you find this easier.

The Google reverse image search results

google-reverse-image-search

Photo via Photo Shelter

The results that Google reverse image search delivers look much like a collage of visually similar pictures. Note that they may not all be precise and exact matches of your photo. However, chances are you will come across websites that have been using the photo without your explicit authorization. Another great feature that Google delivers at this point is a brief text-based description of your photo and the context in which it’s being used. Perhaps yours is not so much a case of being offended by ‘photo theft’, but maybe the website owner or blogger that’s featuring your work has misspelled your name or attributed the image to someone else by mistake. This feature will allow you to identify such errors and contact the people in question, to ask them to amend the issue. You can also use the advanced image search page to find your work online. Google can help you specify various words your photo might be used in context with. It will let you whittle down the results by image size, aspect ratio, colors, type, usage rights, and many other filters.

More Google reverse image search tips & tricks

-          Search for as many different variants of the same photo, even if the differences between them and the original picture are subtle – especially if you’ve uploaded more than one version of the same photo online. Some might be cropped differently or uploaded in other color schemes.

-          You might find your work online edited by third parties: cropped, rotated, in black and white, etc.. Try searching for differently Photoshopped variants of your own work by creating these variations yourself.

-          Don’t disregard smaller sizes of your image. Perhaps someone has resized an initially large photo and is using it as such. Google has a harder time spotting visually similar images in smaller sizes, because, the smaller the photo, the less data it has to work with. Resize the photos yourself and look for them like this.

In terms of what you decide to do with the results, the choice is entirely up to you. It all has to do with the way you license your work and whether or not the people using the pictures are making money off your back – case in which you might even decide to prosecute for copyright infringement.

The Future Of Online Photography – Monitize Your Images With Stipple

As a photographer, your images are your livelihood. Every time you put an image up on a site, the first thing that crosses your mind is “how much money will I be losing by putting this image up?”

And while the online world does truly have its benefits and can help you expand your marketing potential from a few miles around your studio to literally all over the world, it does take away your potential profits. Why should someone buy your images if they can see them and share them everywhere?

Once your image is up, people can link, modify and share it just about anywhere. And every time your image “moves” to a new place, you lose the potential of connecting with the viewer.

Because your value is in your photography, it makes sense to be able to “watermark” your images so that people know it’s you and have a way to come back to your information again and again. But “old” watermarks are just that … old. And if you put them in the wrong place, they are easy to crop out and ignore.

Which is why photo tagging is growing in popularity. And a new site may have enormous potential for future photographers.

Imagine creating a fine art studio in which you photograph and sell landscape images online. With Stipple, you can place a low resolution file online and connect it to a variety of other things online that showcase who you are. Take a look at one photographer, Lars Van DeGoor, recently did with his image:

The image as it will appear on sites as it is shared

 

The image displaying a link to video

The image with his information

 

The image with a link to his image for sale

 

Now if that image is shared via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, his “ads” go with it. Meaning he always has the potential of showcasing his talent and selling his artwork.

From a photography standpoint, this is huge. It’s also leveragable for your potential clients and customers. Imagine creating images exclusively for online sales; photos that make it easy for people to shop right from the photo itself. Your customers are no longer paying you just for your images, but also for your knowledge of bringing sales into the company itself.

The CEO of Stipple, Rey Flemings, has said that people mouse over a photo with a dot 46 percent of the time. That means almost 1 in 2 people are intrigued enough by a dot on a photo to want to take some type of action. And users that actually touch the dot will click on it 12.5 percent of the time. That’s huge – and will definitely grow as people grow accustomed to finding out instantly what they want when they want it.

If you are a commercial photographer who shoots regularly for a clothing designer, you can create images specifically designed for clickable images. Not only can you sell your customer on your images, but also on your knowledge of how to make the images more sellable online. Double your knowledge, double your profits.

Is this one way to move your photography business into the future? Definitely.

Are you using it today in a profitable way? I’d love to hear from you.

Jumpstarting Your Photography Business – You Gotta Try This Resource

Today I spent some time going through some of most well received information on VirtualPhotographyStudio on sales and bringing in new clients. With well over 1200 posts helping you sell and market your photography, there are many different posts that have attracted attention, and its always fun to go back through information that can have a huge impact on your business.

Instead of putting it together as just a post, I thought I would give you another option.

Head over to my Virtual Photography Studio – Jumpstarting Your Photography Business Magazine.  There you can easily read through everything in magazine format, clicking over to read more detail as you wish.


Now that you’ve viewed content in magazine format, what did you think?

See the possibilities for your own business?

By creating a variety of posts on one subject matter, you can create multiple magazines and send them to your customers for more detail.

How about one on creating the perfect outdoor portrait?

Or one on senior portraiture?

Or describing a Trash The Dress sitting in detail?

Whatever you specialize in, you can create detailed magazines – all for free.

The process is easy. If you have the content in place on your blog [you do, don’t you?], then its as easy as dropping in your URLs to your select posts and managing them with a click of your mouse. Zeen’s editing panel makes it easy to bring in content, edit and move it around, add titles and cover photos, preview and publish. You can have something made in minutes.

Just one more cool and innovative way to spread the word about your business.

Cutting Your Costs: 11 Cheap Tools To Grow Your Photography Business

One of the most common questions people ask me is:

“I’m trying to grow a photography business on a very small shoestring budget. What should I do?”

As a small business owner, “shoestring” automatically becomes a word commonly used in your vocabulary. Times are tight and when you have a very limited budget, you attempt to do whatever you can at the lowest cost possible.

With a photography business, it takes more than a camera and a computer to run it. You need many different things to make it both functional and profitable. So if “fast” “easy” and “cheap” are now permanently ingrained in your vocabulary, take a look at some of these tools and tricks for running a business on a budget. You may find some new ideas that are perfect for you to move forward with this year.

Google Voice

A virtual phone center to run your business from anywhere in the world. Google Voice offers a wide array of services. Start by choosing your area code, then use the system to help you with everything from budgeting your time by setting up “do not call” hours, to sending multiple SMS messages at a time. Read my review to learn even more.

Gliffy

Gliffy is an easy to use processing system for graphics, diagrams and flow carts. With easy to use formatting, you can create dynamic presentations for your website or presentations. [Read more...]

How To Handle The Unglamorous Part of a Photography Business

The models. The lights. The action. The creativity. The people. The images! The fun part of photography is getting into the action and creating the images.

But when the day is done, you still have to do the other, not-so-glamorous parts of running a photography business. The daily tasks that make your business a business.

One of my least favorite tasks has always been accounting. So I’ve purchased systems like Peachtree and Quickbooks, and plod along doing only what’s truly necessary to keep my business in line. I’ve also done a ton of research over the last couple of years because I wanted to move away from software applications that reside on your computer, and move to a web based application that I can take and access anywhere.

A few days ago I was emailed an introduction to Wave Accounting. Intrigued, I started doing a little research, watched their video and looked through their screen shots, and decided to give them a try.

The best part of Wave Accounting is it’s Internet based, and it’s free. Yep, they won’t give you something for free at the lowest level, then charge you an arm and a leg down the road when you move up to the next level. It’s free from beginning to end. They make their money on the offers they make to you through your dashboard – business items like phone services and office products. If you choose to take advantage of any of the offers, Wave makes money from the supplier.

What makes Wave so powerful is its automation features. When you sign up for Wave, you can link your accounting system to your banks and credit cards. This means you don’t have to double enter many of your daily tasks – they are done for you. The dashboard system gives you an instant view of where you stand today, and you can quickly move from place to place seeing the things that matter most to you. Like who you owe – and who owes you.

While I’m still getting used to the system myself, I received another email today from a Wave Communications Assistant, Kathleen. One of Wave’s target markets is photographers – which means they have special features just for us photographers.

They’ve made June photographers month, and will be offering a variety of specials exclusively for photographers during the month of June. Things like

  • Photographer of the week profiles
  • Guest bloggers
  • A photo contest
  • Tips and FAQs about running a photography business

Which means now is the perfect time for you to give Wave a try.

To get started, head over to their Photographer’s Survey – it’ll take just a couple of minutes (I did it myself) and you’ll let them know what issues you would like highlighted during the month of June.

Then click the Sign Up Now button. You’ll have access to the backend system in just a couple of minutes, and you can start using a great tool that may just make accounting a little more bearable.

Adjust and Modify Multiple Light Sources Within Your Digital Images

Have you ever shot an image with several light sources, and wish you had a way to easily adjust each light source differently? While you can do a lot with Photoshop, wouldn’t it be nice to have an easy way to adjust without having he work involved with Photoshop?

Now there is a way. Check out this video that shows how Oloneo PhotoEngine modifies light sources within a digital image file.

Oloneo PhotoEngine is currently in beta, and is a free download for you to try out. Oloneo PhotoEngine

Add a Little Style To Your Photography Blog With Animoto

Tired of just adding photo after photo to your blog? Looking for a way to add a little style?  Show your clients what you’ve got, and put together a dynamic presentation.

With some old photos I used to publish my first book, I created this video in about 2 minutes:

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

They make it super easy to add photos, text, even video if you have it. You can rotate things and move them quickly until you have it just the way you want. Then pick out music and create. It really is that easy.

While the one I created above is a great 30 second demo, you have to leave the Animoto logo icon on the player, taking away from your look. Animoto thought of photographers, and offers a program where you can have your own branded player, linked back to your site, for less than $250 a year.

Use a quick slideshow to showcase each of your clients. Start up your own YouTube channel, and fill it up with client work. It also adds another level of protection as your images are embedded, and can’t be copied directly. Plus you build your presence on another social site. Don’t stop with YouTube. There are plenty of other video sites as well.

10 Publishing/Printing Solutions For Your Photographs

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.
[Read more...]

Organize Your Photographs With PicsMatch

Have you ever spent more time searching for a file, than actually manipulating it once you’ve found it?

Have you ever put a photograph into a file – knowing its location made perfect sense when you originally put it there – yet even a few days later you have no idea where it is?

PicsMatch can help you find what you’re looking for, and even help you organize based on what your plans are for the photograph.

PicsMatch - photo recognition software for photography studios

PicsMatch is a facial recognition software that assigns an ID for anyone in a photograph, and will sweep through your hard drive finding any other matches for that facial ID.

Once you have your images together, PicsMatch gives you a variety of tools to work with the photos. You can use one of the tools in the Zoom Editing Suite, such as the crop or sharpen edit options, or choose an effect such as the black & white feature.

Once you find your images, create a special album folder with the images you select. You can even share the images using the PicsMatch tool bar, and choose to print, burn to disc, or share with family and friends on your Flickr account.

At $49 for a downloadable copy, it’s a tool that’s easy to use just about anywhere. PicsMatch is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems – so if you are PC, this may be a great tool to add to your toolbox.