Brand Marketing for your Photography Business

Brand Marketing for your Photography Business

Brand Marketing and Brand awareness is key to any business.  This, I learnt during my marketing sessions at university and later, whilst running my own businesses.

When I first entered the wedding photography business I took time out to try and identify what my brand could be – or at least, what I would like it to evolve into over the forthcoming years.

My style of wedding photography dictates that my clients must be fully aware of the type of wedding coverage they will get when employing me as their wedding photographer. For that reason, I have lent heavily on the photojournalism/reportage wedding phrases throughout my branding. As with all businesses, your brand reputation is one of the primary selling tools you have. If your brand is strong, it can do much of the marketing on your behalf. For example, Jeff Ascough is synonymous with the documentary wedding photography genre, and most people in the “wedding bubble” are aware of that – because of the strength of his brand (built on the strength of his great photography of course).  People like Barrie Downie have a wonderfully strong brand too – creating gorgeously artistic and stylised wedding portraiture.

brand marketing

I try to permeate my brand through to my clients at all times. The website is very self explanatory and I have lots of sections backing up my preferred style of wedding photography. This is replicated throughout every “point of contact” with the client. All emails have brand awareness messages, whether that is subtly it the content, or slogans in the signatures of the email themselves.

This is very important not only for me, but also for the client. I really don’t want to spend time discussing with clients if they clearly do not want a documentary style photographer. And likewise, I don’t want them to waste their time on me. It works both ways and by ingraining the style in my branding in all communications it means that any contact that I get from potential clients, I already know that they are at least interested in my “style”.

One of the take-away points I got from all the lectures at university was the power of “Calls to action”. A call to action can be many things, but essentially they all achieve the same result; encouraging the potential client to take some positive steps. By simply adding three buttons at the bottom of all my pages on my website (one for Newsletter, one for Facebook and one for Contact Me) I immediately noticed an increase in Facebook traffic, along with more people stepping through the website and contacting me. Additionally, each email has a call to action – often that may be a simple “Have you seen my latest blog post?” or a more direct call such as “Call the studio now to secure your wedding date”. The marketing experts tell us that this form of physiological marketing works, and I believe it does. [Read more...]

10 Blogging Tips for Photographers

10 Blogging Tips for Photographers

Some photographers love blogging.  Others hate it.  Personally, I enjoy crafting blog posts, but there is definitely an element of “we are photographers, not writers” at play and so I’ve drafted my favourite Blogging tips for Photographers for you here today.

These tips are relevant now, and form part of my blogging strategy as we start to think about 2014.  These Blogging Tips for Photographers are written with Panda and Penguin in mind.

#1 Content is “always” king

A dilemma we all face as photographers is whether we build our websites to gloriously display our images, or build them to be useful for search engines. Sadly, Google don’t make a very good job of indexing images and this is one of the primary reasons that Flash based websites are on the decline. Google, really, wants to gobble up your textual content. Yes, there are mitigating circumstances, and your off-site SEO will always play a major part in how you rank, but ultimately you need to put text into your website. And a reasonable amount too.

#2 Keep it fresh

Having a blog that is rarely updated is almost as bad as having no blog at all. If you go to the effort of having a designer build an SEO friendly blog for you, then you really need to put the effort into feeding the blog.

Just like I’m a firm believer in these blogging tips for photographers, I’m also a firm believer that 95% of the photography business, is business and only 5% is taking photographs. Blogging, and in fact all your marketing, is part of that 95% which should be so important.

The more you blog, and keep the content fresh on your website, the more Google will be interested in it. Keep feeding the Google monster.

An analogy I heard once was that Google is like the postman. In the UK we learn not to check for the post on Sunday’s. Google learns to check your website in the same manner. Keep the content coming and Google will keep its interest in your photography blog.

#3 Keep it original

Assuming you are blogging often, then the content must be original. This is absolutely essential. If you are wedding or social photographers then the images, presumably, your images will be at least. Make sure you are keeping Google happy by giving it fresh, original content (see how points 1,2 and 3 all come together there).

Blogging Tips

#4  Keep it substantial

Simply blogging a single picture, or a set of pictures isn’t going to be enough from an SEO point of view. Yes, with a decent off-site SEO strategy that single image blog post may blow the rankings apart, but by and large, it won’t and you will need to give Google enough substantial fresh, original content (see the pattern here?). [Read more...]

Macro Photography

Macro Photography

Macro Photography is defined as taking pictures of objects with ratio of 1:1 or larger. Meaning an object will appear life size or larger on the frame of the camera. In simpler  words, you can take close up pictures at actual size. Macro Photography is very rewarding in terms of the unusual exciting images you get.

This is an applied part of photography.  Macro Photography has many applications in many fields like dental photography, jewellery photography, forensic work, biology and zoology requirements etc.

Macro Photography

Macro Photography has some special characteristics from normal photography. The lightning requirement in macro photography is somewhat different from normal photography. As the lens is very close to the subject the subject would be in dark. Artificial lighting is also an area which is must to master in almost every macro image. Other areas like composition, shutter speed, aperture etc all are relevant issues in macro photography.

The lenses and flashes are somewhat different from other routine photography equipment. There are special tripods, bellows and tubes for capturing macro images. I will talk in detail about these methodology, equipment, techniques and tips related to macro photography on this site.

Macro Photography can take  you into the unnoticed and unseen world to capture beautiful images. With the advent of digital photography, macro photography has become more advanced. New lenses, digital flashes and immediate preview has made it easier for beginners to step in this area.

Basic Photography Lesson

Basic Photography Lesson

This post will give you a basics photography lesson and prepare you for macro photography. Let’s begin with overview of cameras in our lesson:

Camera: Cameras come in all types and sizes ranging from old film point and shoot to new digital medium format cameras. Chances are you would be using a digital SLR or digital point and shoot camera. Whatever camera you have, make sure to read the manual from start till end at least 2 times, since every camera has different controls and you would not want to carry the manual with you all the time.

Digital SLR Camera

Digital SLR Camera

The digital cameras have a CCD or CMOS sensor inside which captures the images and then the camera records it on the storage card. The size of the sensor is important as a large image can be edited and also printed out on large size. Nowadays, anything above 10 mega pixels is fine and is easily available.

Compact Digital Camera

Compact Digital Camera

Lens: If you have a point and shoot the lens would be fixed in the camera, while in the digital SLR you have the option of changing the lens as per your requirement. It is here that the digital SLR gives you great versatility over the point and shoot. The focal length of the lens shows you the angle of the lens i.e what is the coverage of the lens. The lens coverage ranges from wide angle (very wide view) to telephoto (very narrow view).

Telephoto Zoom                                            
Wide Angle Zoom Lens                                  
Macro Lens

Lenses are made for a variety of applications ranging from macro to sports photography. The aperture and focal length of the lens is made according to the purpose it is made for.

Aperture: Aperture is the opening of the lens. Inside the lens are shutter blades which control the light passing through the lens. A smaller number like 1.0 means a bigger shutter opening as compared to a bigger number like 32.

WaterProof Compact Camera

WaterProof Compact Camera

Depth of field: The depth of field is determined by the aperture of the lens. Depth of field means how much area of the picture is in focus from the point where you focus. A small aperture will give a shallow depth of field, while a high aperture like 32 would give you a high depth of field.

Shutter Speed: The shutter speed is controlled in the camera body. It depends upon the light entering the camera through the lens. A higher shutter speed is very essential for macro shots if you are holding the camera in your hand. Generally, a shutter speed reciprocal to the focal length of the lens is enough to hand held the camera. i.e a shutter speed of 1/100sec on a 100mm lens is ok.  Any shutter speed less than that would require a tripod.

Exposure: The exposure in layman terms is the amount of light falling on the sensor and it is responsible for the photograph taken. The exposure can be adjusted via mainly shutter speed and aperture. There are also other variables like ISO (sensor sensitivity) which can affect the exposure.

Tripod: For slow shutters speeds where you cannot hold the camera in your hand a tripod is essential to get sharp pictures. The heavier a tripod is the more stable it is. A tripod is an essential item in macro photography involving static objects.

Storage Media: The last lesson is about the storage media. The camera captures images on the sensor and then stores it on a storage media. Different cameras have different media slots like compact flash (CF), secure digital (SD), microdrive, smart media, memory stick, xd picture card etc.  As a basic rule, estimate the number of photographs you intend to take in a single trip away from home. I would recommend at least 2 GB to hold images.

This was a basic photography lesson from my side. Hope it is enough to get you going on your macro photography.

 

Best Camera for Macro Photography

Best Camera for Macro Photography

When you start thinking about the best camera for macro photography, the first choice to come to mind is point and shoot camera. This is the easiest choice for reasons I will explain later.

The main choices for best camera for macro photography are point and shoot camera and single lens reflex camera. Choice of film and digital is there but the easy and practical nowadays is the digital. In film cameras you know the result once the film is developed while in digital you can instantly see the results.

Point & Shoot (P&S) Camera

Point & Shoot Camera

Point and shoot cameras are the small compact cameras with a retracting lens (zoom lens) and a small flash built in the camera.

P&S have a mode called macro. It is sometimes written as M on the mode dial.  This is the easiest way to use macro. Just dial in the macro mode and start using the macro mode. The camera automatically adjusts everything for macro photography. It cannot get easy than that. It is very good for learning the basics. You can carry it with you all the time and try your hand anytime an opportunity presents itself.

The point and shoot can focus very close to the subject however it will not give you an image of 1:1 meaning life size image in photo. You can get very close to the subject without disturbing / scaring it. You can use the built in flash for macro photography, but as it is on one side of the lens the light might not be the best one.

Single Lens Reflex (SLR) Camera

Single Lens Reflex (SLR) Camera

The SLRs are made to cater from beginner to the professional photographer. SLRs can be customized for your usage for any kind of photography.  The downside is that SLRs are bulky and expensive than point and shoot.

SLR gives you the option to use specialized lenses as per your requirement. You can change lenses to do portraits, sports, macro or landscape photography. You can use a dedicated macro lens like Canon EF 100mm Macro 2.8 Lens or you can use some techniques with a reverse lens / bellows to get macro shots. You can also use dedicated flashes for macro photography or you can make some improvised flash setup at home. The possibilities with SLRs are unlimited for macro photography and you can get the best result for macro photography.

Conclusion

The choice of best camera for macro photography depends upon your requirements and the way you intend to use it.

  • If you intend to carry it all the time in your pocket and a decent image is all you want then a point and shoot camera is the best choice.
  • If you are looking for professional quality photographs and are not encumbered by a heavy setup comprising of SLR body, lenses and flash then SLR camera is the best choice for you in macro photography.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review

Canon EF 100mm macro f/2.8 is one of the Canon prime lens aimed at photographers who want to venture into macro photography on a budget. The price of this lens and the features make it the favorite canon macro lens in the market. Its sharpness would ensure that every tiniest detail on your tiny subject would stand out.

Should you buy Canon EF  100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens?

This is a true macro lens giving a magnification of 1:1 (life size) reproduction of subjects, meaning you can capture the exact size of your subject on the camera sensor. The minimum focus distance is 1’ while you get 6” minimum working distance from the end of the lens. You can increase the magnification by 1.19x and 1.39x with 12mm and 25mm extension tubes respectively.

This optics in this lens is sharp. At f/2.8 tiny aberrations are hardly observable and by stopping down to f/4.0 the images get incredibly sharp.  However, do not expect this sharpness while holding the camera in your hand. Canon claims that the secondary diaphragm blocks stray light at f/2.8 and increases contrast in backlit situations.

Colors are amazing and you would find less time using Photoshop to enhance the saturation in your images.  The bokeh is great like it should be all smooth and creamy.

Although Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro is not a L series lens and not build to that quality, it is still solidly well built with metal construction ensuring a long life.  It performs exceptionally well in cold temperatures.

The lens uses internal focusing which means the lens length always remains constant and the front element does not extend when you focus the lens. The focus ring is easy to use.  Manual focus is available all the time with override option (even in AF mode) to let you take capture great images before they flee. Whenever you feel like controlling the focus, just grab the ring and there you go.

If you are using automatic focusing, Ultrasonic Motor is quite fast at all distances. In fact, some people rate it much faster than the Canon 180mm macro L lens on autofocus.

With focal length of 100mm this makes for a great portrait lens. The bokeh as mentioned above is also smooth and creamy making great head shots.

If you are using this lens on compact sensor, the magnification is 1.6x. This means more working distance in macro and more telephoto effect. However, at 160mm it becomes difficult to handhold the lens and it is better to use a  support like monopod.

As this is the propriety lens by Canon, you would find it far way better than other 3rd party macro lenses ensuring complete compatibility in all areas. Tripod collar and lens hood are available as options.

You can use this lens for reproduction of art and advertisements of selling items online. I personally know people who experienced great difference in their sales based on the images taken with this lens.

There is no Image Stabilization (IS) on Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro the lens which is quite a difference from the L series lens in the same category but with this price this is hardly anything to complain about. I have also experience that AF is sometimes slow in lowlight, but if you are taking macro pictures you should ideally be using a ring flash. Another weak point I noted is that there is not button for shifting from macro mode to telephoto mode, which can sometimes make the camera go focus hunting.

The main competition in macro category would be Canon 50mm and Canon 180mm. The Canon 50mm has a shorter working distance while 180mm although giving more working distance is much more expensive.  The Canon 100mm 2.8L with IS is tough competition but it is almost twice the cost making it out of reach for beginners and hobbyists.

Childhood Memories in a Photo

Childhood Memories in a Photo

For many parents, how quickly their children change, develop and grow can come as something of a surprise. But being desperate to hang on to every moment, make the most of everything and provide you and your kids with lasting memories can leave little time for anything else. Even though capturing children, friends and relatives on camera and even on film has become increasingly easy, these moments are often rushed. As a result, they can fail to create the desired lasting memory.

The Perils of Amateur Photography

But taking on the role of photographer yourself can present a couple of difficulties. Firstly, the onus falls on you as photographer/organiser/editor to produce the photos in the first place; secondly, you run the risk of failing to produce a final outcome capable of rendering such important moments in time. By using a professional photographer, you can eliminate these concerns and get truly pleasing results.

SONY DSC

How Professional Photography Has Changed For many, the words ‘professional photographer’ may bring back less than fond memories of excruciating school photos and images subsequently banished to the back of wardrobes and the bottom of drawers. But as with many things, professional photography has moved on. Gone are the staid, unnatural shoots of old to be replaced by pictures that celebrate the personalities of the subjects – this is never more important than when it comes to capturing little ones on camera. Working with your chosen professional photographer, you might consider the following ideas:

• Not just limiting yourself to one image of your child, but choosing a selection and turning them into a montage. This might be especially suitable for babies and toddlers as it can capture a truly experimental time in their life when they are learning how to communicate in a range of ways.

• If your child has a particular passion for sport, a talent for performance or maybe even a love of learning, this can be incorporated into a photo shoot. You might even opt for a series of action shots which truly represent your child’s passion for work or play.

• As soon as they are capable of independent movement, it is very rare that children will choose to stay still, so why not make the most of how they look on the move? Even a decidedly wobbly walk is a memory worth keeping.

• Many children have a much-loved toy, a favourite dressing-up outfit or even a treasured pet that they can’t bear to be away from. If this is the case, involving the item (or the animal) can make for a truly happy subject for the photographer to work with.

• Is your child often complimented on a particular feature? Maybe it’s their curly hair or their big brown eyes? Either way, capturing it on camera can be a great way to remember their formative years.

Of course, there will always be a place for everyday snaps capturing fleeting moments, but professional photos really can preserve a memory forever. Whether it’s a particular emotion, a favourite place or even something to embarrass your child with on their 18th birthday, taking the time to find the right photographer really is worth it.

A Guide to Purchasing a DSLR Camera for Beginners

DSLR Cameras are becoming very popular as they’re now within reach of the average photographer as prices fall and as manufacturers produce easier to use models. In addition to price, there are a number of reasons why you might decide to invest in as dslr camera.

Reasons to Invest In a DSLR Camera for Beginners

Image Quality – As a result of the greater variety of image sensors in a DSLR, accommodating higher pixel sizes, a DSLR camera is able to utilize a faster ISO, resulting in a faster shutter speed and therefore less grainy.

Speed – DSLR’s are quick with respect to start up, focusing and shutter lag.

Adaptability – A DSLR’s capability to change lenses provides numerous possibilities for photographers. A DSLR camera can be used with a variety of quality lenses varying from wide angle to telephoto depending upon what you’re photographing and your budget. Image quality is impacted largely by the quality of the lens you utilize.

Optical Viewfinder – Due to the reflex mirror, what you see through the viewfinder will accurately represent the resulting image.

Large ISO range – This differs among cameras but usually a DSLR camera gives you a big range of ISO settings which allows for flexibility in shooting in numerous conditions.

Manual Controls – A DSLR is created in such a way that it takes into account that the photographer will want control over the settings. While s DSLR camera possesses helpful guide modes, the manual controls are usually built so they’re at the users finger tips as they are shooting.

Value Retention – The lenses you may own are usually compatible with other camera bodies of the same brand, so if you upgrade within the same make, you will not need to purchase a new lens.

Depth of Field – A DSLR camera will be versatile when it comes to depth of field, which allows the photographer to put everything from foreground to background into sharp focus through to blurry.

Quality Optics – There is a  substantial amount of variation in quality among DSLR lenses, but the lens that comes with a DSLR camera for beginners will be of better quality than that of a point and shoot camera. I suggest DSLR buyers get the best quality lenses that they can afford. If choosing between a high end lens for a medium range camera or a medium range lens for an advanced camera, choose the higher quality camera lens because they add so much to photos end result.

How to choose a Digital SLR Camera for Yourself

It depends a lot on a person’s profession and usage when it comes to choosing a digital SLR camera. There are many advantages of choosing a digital SLR Camera. One of the key feature is the lens attached is used for viewing and focusing the image. The other cameras don’t have such function; the object is basically seen through the viewfinder and not the lens. Whatever image is seen in the camera before clicking the same comes on the negative. SLRs are parallax error free. The SLRs have multiple features that can be implemented for various uses. Use of different lenses makes the camera usable in many situations. Keeping this in mind most manufacturers have come up with a wide range accessories and lenses for SLRs. For example some lenses come with very long focal lengths making the objects clear especially when a wildlife photographer uses it. As it won’t be possible for them to go near to the wild animals still the image is not blurring.

When you go for choosing a DSLR then first thing to click your mind should be ‘what you would like to photograph?’ What are your photography styles? Few of them are listed below:

  • Landscapes

A landscape photographer would like to click the beauty of nature. There is no human figure to be clicked so the main focus is on clarity of stationary objects.

  • Wildlife

A wildlife photographer would like to click only moving objects. As the focus will be on wild animals so the images to be captured are for running or moving objects. Overall sedentary objects are not to be captured.

  • Small objects

If a photographer likes clicking small objects for example a flower so very minute details of that flower is to be captured. And fine details of the surroundings are also focused. Another name for this is macro photography.

  • Availability of light

If you love to click objects during night then such lens are required which makes the objects clear irrespective the availability of light.

  • When you travel

While travelling no one would choose such a camera which is bulky or requires accessories for its use. It’s not convenient to carry loads of things when you travel. You should be able to click objects while biking, hiking etc.

  • When you want to click indoor

The light availability is the maximum if the objects are clicked at home. And most of the time the objects are stationary. So it’s very easy .The focus and clarity of objects is very easy.

  • Frequently moving objects

If you like photographing frequently moving objects then you need a different lens. For example if you want to photograph a small child then obviously small kids keep on moving and changing expressions. The SLR should be able to capture the moment which you want to capture for the lifetime.

  • Portraits

When you want to photograph the facial expressions of a person the clarity is a must.

Take Pro-Quality photos with your DSLR camera

Take Pro-Quality photos with your DSLR camera

After our son was born I started noticing the amazing photos others were taking with semi-professional and professional digital SLR cameras and I knew I had to take the leap from “point-and-shoot”. Opening the box to my spanky new DSLR, I was overwhelmed with settings, options and buzzwords. I wanted to take awesome photos right away – not get an engineering degree in optics!

Once I finally sorted out all the jargon I was relieved to understand how simple DSLR photography really is. This is the quick-start guide I wish I had back then…

The goal is to get a shot that is sharp, bright and clean. In outdoor sunlight this is easy. (You could just use the camera’s “auto-mode”.) It’s really for low-light indoor shots that you have to know what you’re doing.

It turns out that the qualities of sharpness, brightness and graininess are trade-offs among each other. So the trick is to adjust the camera in low-light to get the right balance of each.

ENEMIES OF SHARPNESS:

1)      Poor “original” focus.

Auto-focus doesn’t always get it exactly right. You might have to use the manual focus to get the subject as sharp as possible.

2)      Camera shake

If you got the original focus exactly right, the subject will still come out blurry if the camera shakes even a little while the shutter is open. If the shutter is open for a long time, then you are more likely to see blur from camera shake.

To minimize camera shake on hand-held shots, you should use a “fast-enough” shutter speed. As a rule of thumb, “fast-enough” is 1/30th of a second for a 30mm zoom length, 1/60th of a second for a 60mm zoom length, and so on. Note how the numbers sort of match. (When the camera doesn’t have settings for these exact speeds, use the closest faster speed. e.g. 1/60th of a second for a 50mm zoom.)

3)      Subject movement

Even if your original focus is exact and you don’t shake the camera at all, the subject must be in the same place while the shutter is open, or you will get some amount of blur from subject movement. The longer the shutter is open, the more potential there is for motion blur. The faster the subject is moving, the faster the shutter speed must be.

4)      Large aperture

The aperture is the size of the hole in the lens that the light comes through. It turns out that a large aperture will produce blurriness for objects behind (and in front of) the original focal point. This can be an acceptable, even desired, type of blur since you can use it to make a sharp subject stand out from an otherwise blurry background. Using this effect for shots of people in particular will give your photos a professional quality that a typical point-and-shoot camera can’t achieve. [Read more...]