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Thread: Stepping it up

  1. #1
    Member msm1707's Avatar
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    Stepping it up

    Hi everyone

    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!

    Cheers
    MSM
    Last edited by ricktas; 09-08-2014 at 8:13am.

  2. #2
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Capture 1 Pro - www.youtube.com and search for "Capture 1 Pro". Lots of video tutorials. In your posts back in 2011 on this site you asked about moving to RAW, have you not done so yet? If you are going to shoot professionally you should have done so ages ago (in 2011).

    I clean my own with stuff from cameracheckpoint

    Lighting is much like learning photography (at the beginning), there is a lot to learn, this will take you time. You need to learn about lights, their output, positions, backgrounds, and more.

    You need to work out your costs and how much you want to make, to work out your charging price. No use charging $500 a session if your costs are $490. Include insurance, travelling (incl car costs, tyres, petrol, rego etc), your gear costs (they will need replacing), your time (including processing), printing costs, website hosting costs, computer costs, electricity, superannuation..and more. Work out what it costs you, include your wage, then work out what you need to charge.

    Others can assist with some of your other questions

    When you joined in 2011 you chose beginner, and your posts at that time were about how to take photos etc. Yet above you say you have had your own photography business for 5 years ??? I have upgraded you to advanced as your above post shows you are shooting professionally already. Also remember to give some critique and advice to other members. This site is about both giving and receiving help from others.
    Last edited by ricktas; 09-08-2014 at 8:16am.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

    Constructive Critique of my photographs is always appreciated
    Nikon, etc!

    RICK
    My Photography

  3. #3
    Ausphotography Regular bitsnpieces's Avatar
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    Hi msm, to add on to what Rick has shared also (and just adding my 2 cents - nothing professional here):

    The way I look at RAW is to not stress too much about it - if you're worried, so a RAW+JPEG combination (though it does take up more space and buffer eats up quicker). RAW really is the same as JPEG (generally better quality), but you just have to manually adjust everything on computer to get what you wanted to get on your regular JPEG. Also, there's nothing wrong with JPEG - it's only if something doesn't go well, you don't have a RAW you can start over from, but if you're getting enough shots, and there's always the right shot you want already, JPEG can save on sleepless nights.

    I agree, if you can clean it yourself, great - with regards to frequency, it's up to you. Some people every year, some people once every 2, some people multiple times a year - depends on what you're doing - is it getting dirty already? Do you have a big project and want to make sure it's absolutely top-notch and ready? etc

    Lighting can be fun and interesting - definitely needs practice to get it right. But in starting out and before learning creative stuff, just start using it to fill in and get right of shadows first. Ie. One side of the face too dark, put a flash there, adjust power needed, take the shot. Eventually, you'll start seeing and thinking, it'd be awesome if there was a little extra light there too to make her hair shine, or this glow, etc - you start using more. Just time and practice.

    Prices are up to you - if you know you take quality shots and people love your work, just make sure you don't sell yourself short - be confident. Check your competition, see what they do - price to it.

    With regards to your next 3 questions, I'm not sure to what extent you're looking for, but I personally use Joomla (which right now I can't because Telstra is having problems with it or something) - there are other CMS software also, but I just felt comfortable with Joomla (in the distant past), also because it's big and has a huge community, lots of extensions for blogs, shopping carts, galleries, SEO (it's very easy to do all via Joomla), etc. So just get a host that supports Joomla, hosts are cheaper these days, and try it out.
    Last edited by bitsnpieces; 09-08-2014 at 10:20am.
    David Tran

  4. #4
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    msm1707's Avatar
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    Wow Ricktas - cheers for picking me up on the one thing that I've just stated is slightly embarrassing and please "be kind". I realise shooting in RAW is the way to go, thus I'm getting into it now. I did state earlier that I had a break from photography, that was to get my husband's business up and running and therefore I haven't had much growth time between then and now, which is why I'm still facing my original "photography demons" so to speak. I have every intention of "giving" to the site - you may have noticed as soon as I posted this, I went to have a look at the competitions and voted and had a browse around. I shared the new website I've just found and find extremely helpful (Creative Live). I'm not 100% with the site yet, and don't know the ins and outs and how to critique photos or where to go yet as I haven't had a big look around. I understand you must get a lot of blow ins that fly in and out - but a bit of a warm welcome wouldn't have gone astray. I will endeavour to look into Youtube for some Capture 1 Pro tutorials but just wanted to touch base with some like minded people and see if there were any strong objections to what I was endeavouring to do before I wasted time and money on it. If people have gone down the same track as me - negative or positive feedback on their journey would've been great. That's all I was after. Thanks for your advice.

    Cheers David for your help. I do look forward to playing around with light a bit more. I have a newborn shoot booked for Wednesday and look forward to playing around a bit more creatively again. I'll look into Joomla tonight and see what I can do in there. It would be great to not have to spend $$$ on another website.

  5. #5
    Ausphotography Regular bitsnpieces's Avatar
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    Hi msm, I hope it was helpful

    After 5 years of photography, I'm sure you would have a good understanding of taking photos, and probably have your own style to taking photos. So in providing critique, it's really a lot of helping beginners know more about these techniques if they don't know already, or if they do, reminding them about it, and even seasoned photographers, we sometimes forget too, so even reminding us.
    The great thing about having your own style also is that you can also provide an idea of how you would have taken it, and this can give the photographer new ideas of doing things - it's a learning and sharing experience here, so don't worry too much about fine details for what you need to say, how you need to say, things to cover - just express how you feel - it's lacking a bit of this, or try this way, that way, nice photo, etc

    Also, the idea of contributing or posting up your photos is simply putting up a photo that you like, or don't like, and finding out more ways to improve it - more ideas. So don't be shy to post up some photos for critique - even a couple here and there from your work (I wouldn't know legal law if you would need permission from the clients or not for this part) for ideas of how you can continue to build upon the skills you have now and how to spice up the business more.

    Also, don't feel too upset about removal of the links - I agree that they would have been excellent resources and information for those here, but rules were set up because there are spammers out there too, and maybe other reasons also. But to keep this rule fair, it has to be applied for all users, legit, or spammer, to avoid prejudice, even if sometimes it can be obvious which is what - also helps give incentive to participate more too, hopefully. Kind of like the CC section - just little reminders.
    Also I think Ricktas was probably just a little surprised - you know that surprised look we get sometimes and how we sometimes say/do funny things.

    But back to Joomla, it'll still take a lot of work to get all the plugins/extensions working as it can be a little confusing too - give it a try though nonetheless, the Joomla community is pretty good, so you should be able to get a lot of support from them too.

    Good luck

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