Well, I've taken a bit of a break from photography for a bit lately and now I can feel my artistic juices start to stir again. I just attended the workshop by Steve Fraser on the weekend in Perth, absolutely amazing, and it's got me inspired again.
I have written a list of things I want to change with my business as I feel like I grew stagnant because I wasn't moving forward. There are some things in there that are slightly embarrassing (I've been a photographer for some time and had my own business for 5 years, but I'm very much self taught and therefore stuck to things that seemed safe to me - ie. shooting in jpeg *gasp*!). Please be kind. I know these things in my head but I've been too busy and too (scared) to try expand on what I know from there. I'm about to take those steps and if anyone has any great tips I'd appreciate the pointers.
- JPEG to RAW. I'm about to start a free trial with Capture 1 Pro. I've heard great things about this and just had a chat today with Team Digital about the software and it seems like it's exactly what I need to speed up my process and allow me to move into RAW. Any pointers? Any great websites or videos that show a very newbie to this world, exactly what to do til I get a good idea? Or is just playing around on it the best way to learn?
- Calibrated my gear and had it all professionally cleaned. (Thank goodness because I kept trying to ignore those little specks on my images and just fix them post production!) How often do you all get your gear cleaned or do you do it yourself? I've watched the video 100 times, but still can't bring myself to clean it "just in case"... is it really that easy?? It cost me $150 for 2 bodies and 4 lenses.
- I've got my old (new actually, never been used) lights out and ready to trial them out instead of natural light which sometimes lets me down. I've decided to stop doing "house calls" and sticking to a studio setting at my house rather where I can have everything set up. Anyone a wiz kid with lighting and want to share? I have a whole massive window for lighting, but if it's not enough do you just use lights on low for fillers or do you get rid of the natural light and just use studio lighting? Is there a trick to making studio lighting look natural or do you just use your white balance and it all sorts itself out in the wash (so to speak)?
- Going from package prices which include their photos on disc to used as they please to an online gallery with a session fee. Anyone done this and can give me any advice on prices to charge or what people are willing to pay? I don't want to rip people off or anything, but I also want to make it worthwhile and make a profit.
- SEO and advertising - ANYONE use someone good for this? I can't pay a fortune. But I do want results (hahahaha... oh, is that me laughing at myself??). To be honest, Ive had so many experiences with IT guys - sorry, I'm not generalising but just being realistic based on my own personal experience - who promise the world but don't deliver once the bucks have been paid. Any referrals from people who actually use an SEO person or use an advertising forum that actually works and brings in the work? I'd LOVE to hear about it. I've done fetes, run competitions, given out freebies, advertised on forums, facebook, magazines... didn't even make my advertising money back, let alone it be worth while. IS pay per click better than SEO? Or a mixture of the two?
- New website that is SEO friendly, easier to update on a weekly basis (my one is super hard and it means I don't find the time to tackle it - meaning Google sees it as a stagnant website with no new information...) Or can I keep my old website and just link a BLOG and update that? Does Google view it as the same sort of information update?
- Online gallery for client purchases. I just had a look into *removed - refer to the site rules, in particular rules 3 & 4* for this - but it's just under $500 per year. Is this good? I can see you can change the facia so it's personalised to look like your website etc which is what I want (I don't want to use Dropbox or anything), but does it have all the fruit? Does it stop people "saving" images, does it do online shopping carts and are there any other hidden costs? Anyone use it and is it worth it or is it better to create a gallery within my own website?
- Training - anyone else out there discovered *removed - refer to the site rules, in particular rules 3 & 4* Helllooooooooo - super amazing! I sit at home with my coffee in my PJs at night and watch a seminar from brilliant photographers around the world and learn things I never would've learnt so fast anywhere else. Its even free if you can stay up during the night to watch it live... if not (like me) you can pay to watch the series which has been well worth it. Strongly recommend checking it out! Sorry if I'm rehashing on something that's been doing the rounds for the last 10 years or something! There is no question here - I just wanted to share something I've just discovered with you in case you hadn't seen it.
Well - that's about it. I've got my first client I have had in a few months rocking up on Tuesday with their 5 day old baby for a free shoot to trial out my RAW shoot, with my lights up, new props and hopefully editing on my new software package. It's going to be an exciting week. Any input would be very welcome.
Have a great weekend everyone. Sorry if I've bored you to death!