Archives for June 2011

Who Really Owns Your Photos On Social Sites?

Like most people, you probably don’t think twice about it.

You head over to the newest social site, sign up for an account, check the “terms of service” box without really reading it, and begin posting. Content, photo videos – it all goes up without much thought as to the true impact.

But what rights do you have to your content, photos and videos after you put them on a social site? What rights do you have to it after the fact? And more importantly, what rights do they have?

Almost every photo-sharing site has some type of license agreement to your content. While the agreements change from site to site, what you are agreeing to can change significantly. Here’s an overview of 12 major photo-sharing sites:

But even after you sign up with an account and start using it, things can change. For instance, on June 1st, Twitter announced the company was partnering with Photobucket to make sharing photos easier. Which means if you have a Twitter account and post photographs using the new API, you’ll also be subscribing to Photobucket’s terms of services by default.

Therein lies the problem.

It’s fun to use social sites, and most of us don’t think twice about signing up for an account. In fact, in many cases the benefits far outweigh the detriments.  Who wouldn’t want the possibility of reaching out to millions of people that spend hours on a site every single month?

Yet problems do exist, and will continue to grow as we spend even more time online. Whether you are trying to avoid your high school senior using a photo posted on Facebook for other uses, or you are trying to gain compensation to a photo you tweeted on a monumental event, its important to think before you post.

3 Rules Of Advice For Photographers

Think Before You Post
I often tell people to think before they write up a quick post and place it into their newsfeed. Would you want your mom reading it? Your grandmother? Just a few seconds of contemplation can save you years of embarrassment – as Senator Weiner can now tell you.

The same applies to your photos. You may love the image you just captured. But before you tweet it and share it, what are the implications? What are your goals for the photograph? In some cases, putting the image on hold for a few hours or even days can save you in the future.

Where Will Your Compensation Come From?
Instead of thinking about it on the fly, sit down and come up with your own policies on posting photographs.

If you hope to be compensated for your work now or in the future, make sure you are fully covered before you post. Include it in a package price for your clients. Take the necessary steps to copyright it. Or use a watermark to protect the integrity of the image.

If you’re using it as promotion, post it to showcase what you do. Always make sure the image leads back to you, and you keep up to date on your profile. Also realize that as much protection as you use, there is always the possibility of your photos being reused without your permission and without your credit. It’s a new fact of the social atmosphere.

What Is Your Ultimate Goal?
What is your ultimate goal for posting a photograph? Are you using it to capture a new audience to your work? Are you using it to try and gain sales? Are you using it for marketing and exposure?

Know your goals ahead of time. It’s possible to use social successfully in a variety of ways. But your first task is to know how it will benefit you. Only then can you take the necessary steps to make sure you are protected.

Will Facebook Comments Be The Way Of The Future?

One of the reasons I fell in love with blogging is it allowed me the opportunity to connect with people all over the world. I could write an article and post it, and people can comment and write what they choose in response to what I’ve written. It’s a great way to communicate, and to add value to what we do every day.

A few months ago Facebook came out with a new social plugin that people can use to power the comment section of their blogs. I’ve played around with it on several of my sites. It offers two main benefits over using the typical comments section that comes with your blog: (you can get the plugin here as well)

Social Relevance: Comments Box uses social signals to surface the highest quality comments for each user. Comments are ordered to show users the most relevant comments from friends, friends of friends, and the most liked or active discussion threads, while comments marked as spam are hidden from view.

Distribution: Comments are easily shared with friends or with people who like your Page on Facebook. If a user leaves the “Post to Facebook” box checked when she posts a comment, a story appears on her friends’ News Feed indicating that she’s made a comment on your website, which will also link back to your site.

Are companies accepting this as the new norm in commenting?

This past week, Big Picture announced it is moving to the Facebook comments platform. And I completely agree with their reasoning.

1. Facebook is the major player in the online world. With a growing base expected to reach 700 million users in the next few months, and a worldwide presence with over 70 different languages, you can’t ignore it as a marketing tool.

2. Commenting with this system means your exposure increases tenfold across many platforms instead of staying within your site or blog. Because people have the opportunity to include their comments in their newsfeeds, you have the potential of increasing the viewers of your content and information.

3. No more anonymous comments with rude and vulgar remarks. This stops when you require people to use their real names.

While more people are starting to use this new form of commenting, I do think it will be even more commonplace here in the coming months. The true reason for social is to easily share anything anywhere, any time. This makes it even more possible.

Are you using Facebook comments on your site?

5 Videos To Inspire Your Photography (and one bonus)

Inside the B&H Conveyor System

You’ve heard of the infamous B&H conveyor system set up in the Manhattan B&H store, but have you ever seen it? Watch this quick video to see what the merchandise sees as it makes its way through the store.

Inside B&H conveyor system… from Lense on Vimeo.

Photo Shoot With iPad and Eye-Fi

Want to know how you can use your iPad for a better shoot? Watch this as the BYU photo crew shoots a poster for the BYU Women’s Gymnastics team.

A New Way To Light Your Food

Are you a foodie? Foodie blogs are turning up everywhere. But if you want your photos to turn out fabulous, you might need a bit more than your iPhone. Check out this for a tip on how to make your food pictures pop.

18 Years of Polaroid’s

Not a video, but definitely something worth checking out. For nearly two decades, Jamie Livingston took a Polaroid every day, including through his own journey with cancer. The series ended on the day of his death. The story is now being told in an exhibit, and you can view them online.

The GoPro Camera

With the advancement of technology, you can now take a camera anywere. There are amazing videos on YouTube showcasing what you can do with you GoPro – here’s The Ski Move.

The Artic Light

An amazing look at the Artic, when the sunrise and sunset are connected. Not only is this video an inspiration, you have to read the story of how it was created as well.

The Arctic Light from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

5 Tiny Details That Can Change Your Potential Customer’s Experience

Have you ever sat down at a great restaurant, and loved the food – until you spot a hair? Instantly your opinion changes, you push the food away, and always remember “the hair” when anyone suggests that restaurant. It not only changes your opinion, it alters it for always.

That’s because we focus on details that matter most to us. Every person has a different perspective on customer service. And if a store, restaurant or service doesn’t match our perspective, we form an opinion and take that with us wherever we go.

Think back for a moment; I’m sure there are several stores and businesses in your area that you won’t use because of an experience. It touched you, affected you, and you hold your opinion close to your heart.

The same can happen within your photography business. While you can’t avoid this completely – there will always be some people you can’t please – there are things you can do to put your best foot forward. It’s something that you can refine again and again, throughout your career. Here are 5 tiny details that impact you and how your customers perceive what you do.

Your Words

Every word you use has meaning.

We use to use the phrase “we shoot people for a fee”, and it used to be funny. Until Columbine happened here in Colorado. Instantly that phrase took on a completely different meaning, and it was no longer socially acceptable.

That’s a little extreme, but the same applies with many of the words we use every day.

One hidden word can mean all the difference in the world to your potential customers.

Dig Deeper: How Much Power Your Words Really Have [Read more…]

Is Facebook Killing Your Website?

Just a few short years ago, the online world was pretty simple. Design a website, make it pleasing, and you could find success online.

Then things started changing. Social hit and nothing has been the same since. While MySpace gave a first shot at connecting up with like-minded people, it wasn’t until Facebook made waves that we began to see an alternative to building a presence that is both professional and personable.

The best feature of Facebook is it’s free. Where else can you create a presence and market your business – all for the price of FREE? So of course many new start up photography businesses are using it instead of building a website.

But is that the best course of action? Can you really build a strong, successful business with just a free Facebook account?

Yes. And no.

Facebook’s War On Websites

Historically we went online to search out content relative to what we were searching for. If someone typed in a keyword or phrase, they were looking for a website filled with content that could answer their questions, and possible provide them with enough information that would convert them into a customer.

Today, time is short. And our methods of gaining information make the necessity for short information even greater. If we’re standing in line at the post office and do a quick search from a smart phone, we want short tidbits – directions, 140 characters of content, photos, videos, an app to get the details we need. Which makes the Facebook platform perfect for what we need.

We can use a Facebook app to get to our account. See what’s new in our newsfeed. And connect to any messages or requests we’ve received since we logged in the last time. The “like” feature has added tremendous value over the past few months because we can control what we want to see and what we want to share. It helps build your credibility as a company.

Dig Deeper: How To Use The Facebook Like Button

With a few simple steps, you can create a Facebook Page that emulates your brand. And because you can build as many “tabs” into your page as you desire, your Page can be quite complex.

Dig Deeper: How To Make Your Facebook Page Attract Customers

And with many of the apps now available both within Facebook itself, and outside with third party developers, your Facebook Page can do just about anything your traditional website can do. With galleries, shopping carts, and more, a customized Page is just a few clicks away. [Read more…]

Can Your Photography Business Be A Lifestyle Business?

Chances are you’ve been seeing the word “lifestyle” much more in the general media.

I’ve seen lifestyle malls, lifestyle TV, and lifestyle consumers. I’ve also seen it attached to “photography” and “business” again and again.

According to Wikipedia, they define:

Lifestyle Photography: a style of photography which aims to portray real-life situations in a controlled setting. Lighting is bright, airy and natural-looking. There are many commercial applications including magazine editorial and advertising usage.

Lifestyle Business: Businesses that are set up and run by their founders primarily with the aim of sustaining a particular level of income and no more; or to provide a foundation from which to enjoy a particular lifestyle.

So when you combine the two, from my viewpoint you get: [Read more…]

18 Easy Ways To Fine Tune Your Photography Business

Once you get your photography business up and running, and a few clients start coming through your doors, the business side becomes easier. As you long as you provide great customer service, and market in the same way over and over again, the business seems to run itself.

While this is great and allows you to focus in on what you love – photographing – it can also be harmful to the future of your business. Business “happens” at that point instead of evolves based on what you love. And if you end up working with clients and project you don’t like, you can slowly see the fun drain from your life.

That’s one of the best reasons to own your own business. Instead of letting this happen, take a step back once in awhile and reevaluate your business. Every business needs a bit of maintenance and fine-tuning along the way to keep things running smoothly, and to keep the passion in what you do.

Here are 18 ways you can quickly fine-tune your business.

1. Raise your rates to match your experience. The more experience you have, the more you can charge. Don’t be afraid to raise your rates, especially your hourly and ala carte pricing.

2. Evaluate your packages. If you love or hate parts of your current packages, change them. Make sure your packages give you what you want in sales, and keep the customers happy by providing what they request the most.

3. Focus on a niche. If you’ve started out a generalist, what do you love the most? Find ways to bring in more clients doing what you love. If you focus on it, it will come a lot easier.

4. Look at your financial reports. Whether you choose to keep the books yourself with a program like Wave Accounting, or hire an accountant and bookkeeper, spend some time every few weeks looking at your financial reports. Look at your total sales, accounts receivables, and how much cash you have on hand. The only way to grow in the future is to know where you are coming from.

5. Find a mentor or two. One of our greatest assets when we first started our wedding business was finding several other wedding photographers to mentor with. We met monthly to talk about the business, marketing, strategies, and anything else that came up. We could never have done all we did without the mentorship and friendship that came from that community. [Read more…]

8 Things A Photographer Should Never Do

Trying to run a successful business? Unfortunately many photographers think of themselves as photographer’s first, business owners second.

If you’ve started up your own business, your business is everything. Your niche, or what you specialize in, just happens to be photography. Business is business. If you want to be successful, you have to make sure your business has key characteristics in place before you grow it to the next level. Yet that can be hard for some. Take a look at these 8 things, and see how many you are currently doing.

1. Hold checks and bills until “payday”

Do you ever find yourself holding a bill back until a client comes in with an order? You have a cash-flow issue.

Many businesses go under not because they are low on clients, but because they don’t have enough cash on hand to pay current expenses. Start a savings account now and build up three to six months of cash-flow. If you normally spend $2000 in a month, have $6000 to $12,000 on hand. This will help you during downtimes and slow periods.

2. Do everything for the first time

Do you find yourself typing up the same email again and again? Do you find yourself answering the same questions over and over? You may be lacking a system.

Chances are you repeat yourself a lot throughout the week. “Do you have this date open?” is a common question emailed to wedding photographers. Sit down and come up with a great email for both answers – yes and no. In the yes email, you can describe your services, ask for more details like where the event is taking place, and lead them to different portions of your website. In the no email, you can refer a friend that may have the date open. If you create a great email upfront, you simply copy/paste, and change a few of the details.

For every instance you find yourself repeating your actions, sit down and create a perfect system. Then use it again and again. It will give you more time to do the important things in your business. [Read more…]

10 Sites That May Inspire Your Photography

Every day I spend time surfing and checking out all kinds of links, resources and videos. And when I find great ideas, I save the URL in a special file as a reminder for future posts or stories.

As I was looking at some of them today, I realized that many of these sites have many meanings, and can inspire you at different times for different reasons. Whether you are stuck in your business, and don’t know what to do next. Or you just need a little inspiration during a few minutes of down-time, here are a few items that can trigger a host of ideas for you.

A Great Site To Help Our Military

I’ve written about photography with a cause before, and fully support combining your love of photography with a charitable cause you believe in. The latest one I’ve found is Yellow Ribbon Photography, which works to boost the moral of our service men and women serving overseas by giving their families free professional photography sessions.

Want Creative Business Cards?

Start by watching this video – these cards can give you a dynamic presentation, and are perfect if you are looking for a way to WOW a few people within your niche. Then check out the Cardnetics site to order. I haven’t seen them in person, but can immediately think of a variety of campaigns they would be perfect for.


QR Code Art

By now I’m sure you’ve seen a QR code a time or two. They are fun little codes you can put just about anywhere, and have someone instantly be lead to a URL of your choosing just by capturing it with their smart phones. While I love the QR code concept, this story takes QR codes to a whole new level. Check it out. It makes you wonder what you could do with your own QR codes.

Social Resource For Photographers Interested in Modeling/Fashion Industries

If you are into fashion, product or commercial photography and you regularly are on the hunt for great models, you may want to give One Model Place a try. It’s an online social community exclusively built to help connect models, photographers, agents and clients together.

[Read more…]

How To Make Your Facebook Page Attract Customers

Putting up a Facebook Page is easy. Click on the Create A Page button, and it walks you through a few screens to add content.

The challenge comes from turning your page from a stand-alone, no one knows you’re there Page, into a Page that brings in new clientele every day. After working with Facebook steadily for a couple of years now, I’ve discovered there are four key steps that will help you move from a Page know one knows about, to a Page everyone raves about.

Use The Features

One of the reasons Facebook is so popular is its user friendliness. You can check in on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone. You can use your browser window, or use an app. Phones, cameras and video equipment now come with “push one button” technology that allows you to go from concept to sharing in a matter of minutes. And in today’s me-society, that’s powerful stuff. Everyone is a reporter. Everyone stays connected.

With Facebook features, all of this is easy.

It may seem overwhelming at first, but most features can be enabled and used in a matter of minutes. Start with the basics. Then commit to trying something new everyday.

“I’m scared to post anything. I know it will be there forever, what if I make a mistake?”

I had a client ask me that recently. So we talked for a while. We had just set up her page, and she had 25 people liking her page – most were friends. With 25 friends, they will be forgiving. So I had her start out small. She photographed a few images on a hike, and sent them to her Page with a simple caption. She included photos of a conference she attended, and learned to tag the people in the photographs. And she made a couple of “mistakes” – spelling errors, and incomplete thoughts. But she learned, and is now much more confident about posting. And her friend base is growing in the process.

Develop A Strategy

What if I asked you what your marketing strategy is? What would your answer be?

I’m betting you would have a variety of ideas in place.

  • Advertise in the local magazine every month.
  • Monthly mailers to my client base.
  • The local bridal show.

I’m sure you have a number of campaigns and tools in place in order to keep clients coming in all the time.

Now let me ask what your Facebook strategy is? Hmmm… [Read more…]