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January 2008 Archives

January 1, 2008

Ten Web Portfolio and Blogging Mistakes

Maintaining a blog with fresh stories and images can attract attention to your business and help your positioining in search engine results with increased traffic. There are a lot of guides that offer tips to create a better web portfolio, but they often don’t mention the things an artist should avoid. Below is a list of blogging mistakes and how to fix them.

1. Adding music or sound effects

Flash animation that is done well can provide an extra touch if it’s not too distracting, but playing sound is an unwelcome surprise to readers in an office environment.

2. Neglecting to include easy-to-find contact information and an About page
Your potential clients want to know who is talking and how to reach you. Transparency in your portfolio is a big aspect of attracting more viewers.

3. Using the default template
If you don't have custom design, there are lots of great templates to choose from. Instead of just using your Web or blog provider's first default option because it’s easy, find the template that best fits your personality or consider creating a new one.

4. Using the hosting platform domain
Everyone needs to start somewhere, and trying out a site hosted on a blog or website-building domain makes a lot of sense. However, professional photographers really should purchase their own domain name. The domain name is part of the URL address people use to navigate to your site, e.g. joecameraphotography.com, and it should be your brand identity, unencumbered by your host site's name.

5. Not tagging your photos
Make sure to add some text information around your images, ideally with some tags, like a title, keywords, and a description. This doesn't need to burden your workflow but significantly helps bring search engine traffic to your site and provides a reference for your viewers.

Continue reading "Ten Web Portfolio and Blogging Mistakes" »

A Photographer’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

200801we_SEO.jpgBy Bob Coates, Successful-photographer.com

In the old days, 7-12 years ago, you could build a Web site and people would find it because there weren’t that many sites on the World Wide Web. When I launched my first site in 1996 there was immediate response. Within days I fulfilled a job from Norway—never met the people, just e-mail contact and a certified check.

I had no optimization, nothing special to help people find my site. This definitely doesn’t happen the same way today. Oh my, has that changed. Just having a Web site isn’t enough. You need to make sure the search engines recognize your site for what it is.

Do a search for the word photographer and your search engine will return about 27,400,000 results. Be a little more specific and search for wedding photographer: 1,440,000 results, better but still a mighty big list. Even narrowing the search to Sedona wedding photographer yields 264,000 results. Realistically, if your Web site is beyond the third page of results, or even the second, your potential clients won’t see it.

How to help your chances: SEO—Search Engine Optimization

Why do you need to know how it works? If you have an idea of what will help with SEO, you and your webmaster can make your site more viable to the search engines. If your webmaster isn’t versed in SEO, you should find one who is.

Continue reading "A Photographer’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization" »

The boutique photographer, a franchise of one

Defining Yourself

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.Cr. 

This article inaugurates a year-long monthly series appearing on www.ppmag.com in our Web Exclusives section about the special needs and concerns of boutique photography studios. Frances shares insights on the art and business of the boutique, including converting to digital, remodeling her studio, and  retooling products and pricing.

A franchise of one says it all—the successful boutique photographer does not simply hang out a shingle. Planning for success requires understanding and implementing many of the same business principles as a nationwide franchise. A far cry from the skills and love of art that brought most of us to the photographic profession.

The dreaded term “business plan” was something I avoided until I was led to a eureka moment that made perfect sense. A business plan for a boutique photographer is just a bunch of definitions and verifications made in a step-by-step sequence. Now that’s a concept I can get my mind around.

Yes, you have to gather concrete information about yourself, your skills and products, your market area and your clients. You have to analyze those facts to create definitions of who you are, what you offer and who are your customers. Yes, it’s an ongoing process; that’s the verification part. Your definitions probably will change a lot over time as you recognize errors, refine your business scope and re-vamp to accommodate changes in your own situation or that of your desired clients.

Distilled to the very basic foundation, it’s all about you. Your photographic boutique is defined first and foremost by who and what you are. Each subsequent definition of absolutely all other aspects of your business builds the architecture of the profitable franchise of one.

Continue reading "The boutique photographer, a franchise of one" »

A Simplified HDR Technique

By Ellis Vener

There were three major problems to solve for this view of the State Capitol Building in Atlanta, Georgia:

  • It is a large multi-level space with lots of fine detail.
  • There were multiple light sources: daylight, fluorescent and tungsten.
  • The interior composition spanned a broad EV range with important detail at both ends.

Solving the first two problems was straightforward, solved with a Nikon D3 and an AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikkor lens set to f/8 at 14mm. I chose f/8 for depth of field and optimal resolution. I set the Nikon D3 to manual focus, ISO 200, and aperture priority 3-D Matrix metering. Once I secured, checked and doubled-checked the camera settings and position, I took seven exposures, bracketing from +3 to -3 stops in one-stop increments. Given the total spectrum hash of light sources, I thought it best to give Auto White Balance a try.

Image ©2007 Ellis Vener 

Continue reading "A Simplified HDR Technique" »

Posing and Lighting to Flatter Your Subject

Please enjoy this bonus for Professional Photographer magazine readers, a free lighting lesson from Web Photo School.

By Norman Haughey, Web Photo School Contributor 

The impact and success of a portrait can be the result of lighting, composition, body language, lens choice, camera angle, clothing, color, texture or even luck. With a few portrait techniques, your luck will improve dramatically. There are many stylistic methods which can make a photographer's work a little unique and help your own style develop over time.

In this lesson, I will merely try to pass on some basic tips that will bring immediate positive results to your photography.

Many of the techniques shown are subtle and require only a slight adjustment to the subject to create a more pleasing and natural representation. I will touch on some common techniques to affect the viewer’s impression of the subject's personality.

Topics Covered:

  • Facial Analysis
  • Double Chins
  • Narrow Lighting
  • Broad Lighting
  • Split Lighting
  • Profile
  • Masculine & Feminine Pose
  • Eye Problems
  • Glasses Glare
  • Portrait Lens Choice
  • Expression

Go to Posing and Lighting to Flatter Your Subject at Web Photo School.

A lesson produced by www.webphotoschool.com 


January 2, 2008

The Boutique Photographer: Protecting Your Pixels

An optimistic look at defeating image theft

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.Cr.

Copy and remix. No industry is immune. Competing businesses try to improve on each other’s products or blatantly duplicate them outright, seeking greater profit, lower cost basis and market share. Mining the Internet is the norm; search engines themselves are a form of information scraping. No one thinks twice about harvesting quotes, music, scientific formulas or images. I’ve witnessed advanced degree university classes where scraping without regard to copyright is not only tolerated, but encouraged.

Photographers need to wake up to the fact that our industry is no different. Even though we insist our product is not a commodity, customers see only square inches of a print, not the result of years of artistic development. “It’s my portrait anyway …”

Same old argument; new rules and consequences. Shawn Davis, manager of internet services at Marathon Press, says “There is simply no foolproof protection for your images once they leave your studio in any form. Showing session proofs on the Internet essentially means making them available and accessible.” Internet posting in itself does tend to equate images with products sold via catalogues, validating the hated commodity comparison. Check back with Marathon soon, as the buzz is they’re working on an underlying image protection tool for session proofing that will not be so easily defeated.

Facts about exposure to theft on the web:

• Copyright notice added on a viewing site is usually only a facsimile, and therefore easily defeated.
• Logo and copyright embedded in Photoshop is harder to eliminate, but doable with pirate-friendly      software.
• Logo and copyright placed less conspicuously at the bottom or in a corner of an image need only be cropped off.
• Small size, low-res images can be very successfully interpolated to 8x10 and larger with current software.
• Java script for right-click disabling is virtually useless, not worth bothering about.
• Posting enhanced or greatly retouched images without prior substantial client purchase commitment obviously elevates the studio’s financial risk.
• Clients can become dissatisfied and sales drop if posting is not color/density corrected, or if wedding images are jumbled out of logical storytelling order.
That’s optimism, you ask? Well, there is a brighter side, particularly though product innovations that help clients fulfill contemporary needs for social site postings, iPod movies and limited licensing for small size consumer printing.

Continue reading "The Boutique Photographer: Protecting Your Pixels" »

Review: Fujitsu Lifebook U810

A Portable Computer for The Photographer on the Go

By Ron Eggers

Small computers are nothing new. Palm tops and PDAs (basically computers without keyboards) have been around for years. In one way or another, their functionality was limited, though, with marginal screens, proprietary or stripped down versions of operating systems, or an inability to run conventional software. Even models like the sub-compacts from Sony and OQO that use full versions of Windows Vista are limited by keyboards that required thumb typing and screens that are just too small.

But the Fujitsu Lifebook U800 series computers hit just the right combination of size, weight, functionality and viewability. Fujitsu has been on the cutting edge of compact computing with its extra slim, extra light, Lifebooks. The U800 series takes the technology to the next level. The newest model in that line is the U810, a full-functioning Vista palm top that easily transforms into a tablet PC. (The logo on the system says it's Vista Basic, but it's actually Vista Business.)

Not much larger than a day planner, it's designed around an Intel A110 800 MHz microprocessor with 1GB of memory and a 40GB shock-mounted hard drive. It also comes equipped with WiFi and Bluetooth for wireless Internet access and device communications.

I like numerous aspects and features of the U810. It has the look and feel of a regular laptop, not a flip phone or pocket communicator. Its standard QWERTY keyboard is large enough to actually type on. If you have large hands, 10-finger touch-typing might be difficult, but it’s easy to attach either a Bluetooth or USB keyboard and mouse for heavy-duty work.

You can also attach an external monitor. The Port Replicator, which comes with the unit, provides a monitor adapter port and an Ethernet port for network access. But it attaches to the front of the unit, making it awkward to type on the built-in keyboard. If your setup includes a desktop monitor, plus external keyboard and mouse, then the position of the monitor adapter doesn't pose a problem.

Continue reading "Review: Fujitsu Lifebook U810" »

January 3, 2008

Painting Portraits from Collaged Photos in Corel Painter

By Karen Sperling

Many photographers now offer photos with brushstrokes added in Corel Painter as a special high-end product, but the application’s versatile tool set offers much more to the portrait photographer beyond this basic  technique.

For instance, you can create a painterly collage to commemorate the events in someone’s life. Take several photos, collage, paint and you have a fitting tribute for everyone from corporate executives to brides, seniors or children.

You might charge a premium for this sort of portrait above what you'd charge for the basic portrait with brushstrokes because of the additional work done for the collaged background. You can get the photos you need for the background by getting a variety during the photo shoot, whether it's in the studio, at the subject's location or at a wedding. You can also add old family snapshots or mementos, which you can scan, or favorite digital photos that the subject has on hand. The possibilities really are limitless.

I painted this portrait of Laurence Gartel to commemorate the debut of Digital Long Island (DLI), an event he founded to celebrate digital art.

Painting and photos ©2007 Karen Sperling

Continue reading "Painting Portraits from Collaged Photos in Corel Painter" »

January 8, 2008

2008 Hot One Award Winners

Professional Photographer magazine congratulates the 2008 Hot One Award Winners below. You'll find our full coverage in the February issue of the magazine.



Digital SLR (35mm style) Less Than $1,000 — IT’S A TIE!
Pentax K100D Super
Olympus Evolt E-510

Digital SLR (35mm style) Between $1,000 and $3,000
Canon EOS 40D

Digital SLR (35mm style) More Than $3,000 to $7,000
Canon EOS-1D Mark III

Digital SLR (35mm style) Over $7,000
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III

Medium-format Digital Camera System
Mamiya 645ZD Digital System


Macro Lens
Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZF

Medium-format Lens
Medium Format Lensbaby 3G

Standard Zoom Lens
AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Lens

Telephoto Lens — IT’S A TIE!
Zeiss Sonnar T* 2/85 ZM
AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8G ED VR

Telephoto Zoom Lens
smc Pentax-DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 ED AL[IF]SDM telephoto zoom

Wide Zoom Lens
AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Lens

Wide-angle Lens
Zeiss Distagon T* 4/18 ZM


Kodak Professional T-MAX 400

Color Transparency
Fujichrome Velvia 50 for Professionals (RVP 50)


Camera Flash
Metz Mecablitz 58 AF-1 digital

Light Modifier
Paul C. Buff Foldable soft boxes and octaboxes

Portable Light Unit
Profoto AcuteB 600/600R

Power Pack
Paul C. Buff Zeus Power Packs

Slave/Trigger System
Elinchrom EL-Skyport Wireless

Studio Lighting System
Profoto ComPact R


In-camera Memory Card
Lexar Professional UDMA 300x CompactFlash Card

Portable Hard Drive and Display
JOBO Spectator


Dye-Sub Printer 
Mitsubishi CP-9800DW

Inkjet Printer Less Than $500
Epson Stylus Photo 1400

Inkjet Printer $500 to $1,000
Canon PIXMA Pro9500

Inkjet Printer Between $1,000 and $5,000
Epson Stylus Pro 4880

Inkjet Printer More Thank $5,000
HP Designjet Z3100ps GP Photo Printer


Fine-art Medium
LexJet Sunset Select Gloss Canvas

Glossy Paper
LexJet Sunset Fibre Elite 285g

Matte Paper
Moab Lasal Photo Matte 235

Semi-glossy Paper
Hawk Mountain Papers Sharpwing Luster


Multi-format Scanner
Epson Perfection V500 Photo


Contemporary/Unmatted Photo Album
AsukaBook Book Bound EX in Varnish

Display Item — IT’S A TIE!
Finao Seldex Image Portfolio
Collages.net Gallery Wrap

Frame — IT’S A TIE!
Digital Foci Image Moments IMT-083
JOBO Photo Display PDJ701

Novelty or Add-on Sales Item
eMotion Designer Picture Shows

Online Printing/Order Fulfillment
collagesDesktop + collagesColor


Album Design
Art Fotografic Album DS PRO—My Designer Studio Edition

Camera Capture/Processing
Craig’s Actions Production Assistants—Creative Suite

Digital Asset Management
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.3.1

Image Editing
Adobe Photoshop CS3

Image Editing Plug-in — IT’S A TIE!
Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0
Ron Nichols Digital Solutions Palettes

Corel Painter X

Photodex ProShow Producer 3.2

Studio Management


Denny CP6262 Rusty Metal

Camera Bag or Traveling Case — IT’S A TIE!
Jill-e camera bags
Lowepro Apex AW Camera Pouches
Think Tank Photo Airport International

Color Management

Digital Projector
Epson PowerLite 77c

Posing Tool
Lastolite HiLite

Power Supply
Paul C. Buff Vagabond II Portable Power System

Tripod or Camera Stand
Manfrotto 055XPROB


“The Adobe Photoshop CS3 Book for Digital Photographers” by Scott Kelby

Kubota RAW Workflow for Lightroom

Web Site
Collages.net Build Your Brand


NEC MultiSync LCD2690WUXi Display

Honorable Mention 
PhotoShelter Personal Archive



January 22, 2008

Digital Portrait Retouching: A Question of Truth or Fiction

By Gary Lott

Since switching over to digital several years ago, I’ve considered the retouching that I do for clients to be an idealized representation of them.

Recently, however, my philosophy came into question when a woman I know jokingly accused me of being dishonest. She wondered why I didn’t see making people look better than they really do as less than truthful.

In response, I spoke about the joy I see in people’s eyes when they see a retouched image of themselves. I spoke about the satisfaction I get when going into the home of someone who has hung a 20 x 24 fine art portrait that I produced. Yes, I even mentioned that the frequency of which I sell wall art is a testament to my clients’ satisfaction. That was enough to convince my friend what I was doing was okay. After all, I’m not robbing banks.

The truth is, it wasn’t enough to convince me. The next morning, I sat and contemplated the conversation. I began to question what I was doing. Was it right? Searching for answers, I went back to the beginning. I asked myself, “What is photography about.” The answer that came to mind was light and shadow.

Continue reading "Digital Portrait Retouching: A Question of Truth or Fiction" »

Sharpics D-Flector and Compact Studio Light Kit

By Joan T. Sherwood

The Sharpics D-Flector and Compact Studio Light Kit combination gives you the bare basics to begin dabbling in product photography: white, black and reflective backgrounds in a standalone case and two tabletop lights with 30-watt fluorescent bulbs around 5,000K. You'll also need a tripod, light modifiers to tone down the hot spot of the lights, and a suitable lens. The products are economically priced, and the materials used and construction feel in line with the cost. The lights are extremely lightweight with two-section, mostly plastic stands. I wouldn't want to see what happens if you accidently hooked a cord and sent one skidding across the room.

The new version of the D-Flector uses a big cardboard portfolio design with a desktop photo frame style support in back. Each end of the case features a clamp in the center and clear plastic corner holders for the backgrounds. It seems durable enough for what you'll be using it for, but I really liked the wooden case design of the previous model.

Continue reading "Sharpics D-Flector and Compact Studio Light Kit" »

January 31, 2008

Review Supplement: D300 ISO range

By Ellis Vener

From the L1 setting (approximately ISO 100) to ISO 800, Nikon D300 resolution remains near constant and virtually unaffected by noise. With the onboard High ISO Noise Reduction function turned off, at ISO 800 the visible noise-to-signal ratio starts to change to the point of becoming noticeable on a good monitor, but it is nowhere near the problem present in the D200 or D2X. If you are forced by circumstances to go to ISO 1600 and higher (the top end is 6400), the resulting images are still very usable but are softer and more freckled with noise than what you see with the D3. The ability to easily go up to ISO 800 with only a very marginal loss in quality has big implications with the way we work: not only can we work in dimmer ambient light, but it has broad implications for our choice of lighting tools.

Following is a series of targets showing the Nikon D300 performance through its ISO range. The images were shot using a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. Click any image for a larger view.

ISO 100 

Continue reading "Review Supplement: D300 ISO range" »

The Boutique Photographer: How Sweet It Is

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.Cr.

Are you ready to be a boutique photographer? Can you offer the products and services that command high price? Can you adjust to the business model of working on just a few projects at any one time, giving up the ostensible security of a constant stream of customers?

Initiating a new order or approach to an existing business is difficult to carry out, and also uncertain of success. Yet boutique businesses are springing up in some unexpected industries. A good example is how some hospitals and medical practices, traditionally egalitarian, are recording unparalleled profits from health care options featuring extra cost boutique style amenities such as personal chefs and same-day test results. Hefty up-charges are not supposed to reflect a difference in basic quality of care, but rather innovative products, attractive presentations and superb experiences. I’ve often noticed how people can be quite concerned about being photographed, just like being nervous about visiting physicians, thus the comparison is a valid one.

What does this mean for the would-be boutique photographer? There are four basic requisites, all of which define how a franchise of one takes on characteristics of a large, mature organization. 

Continue reading "The Boutique Photographer: How Sweet It Is" »

About January 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in January 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2007 is the previous archive.

February 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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