Sunday, November 30, 2008

My idea...continues to change

Earlier this month I proposed an idea of a photography group, I threw out some ideas of what it should hold and started a series of posts on each of its points. This is the third post int he series and in this post I will address the fact that a photo group should allow its members to sharing ideas and resources in a non-threatening manner.

Well at least that was the plan. However the more I research this line of thought the more I discover that creating a photo group of this nature will only create more duplication and further muddy the waters out there. I think for the time being I will focus my energies on the [B] school.

This idea however of a local group will not die so though I am refocusing I will continue to brainstorm on it and endeavor to make contact with more and more of my fellow West Virginia Photographers.

RAW vs JPEG

A recent article on Photocritic refers to an increase in the use of RAW over other photo formats. I myself use RAW for the majority of my work, in fact I use JPEG almost exclusively for sports photography. Photocritic based their information on an informal pole of blog readers. The first poll was ran in 2007 while the most recent one is currently underway. According to the findings in 2007 on 36% of the readers of Photocritic used RAW mostly or exclusively while today 66% of its readers use Raw mostly or exclusively.

The researcher in me can't help but wonder about a few points of the analysis and findings. This is by no means a slam on their work or their findings.

My questions:
  1. How many people participated in the two surveys?
  2. Was the questions on the first survey exactly the same as the ones on the second?
  3. Was the two surveys conducted for the same length of time?
  4. How much has the readership of Photocritic grown from the time of the first survey to the time of the second survey?
  5. Were people allowed to respond to the survey multiple times?
Now that my questions are on the table I look at the results and what I see is that they report an increase in the use of RAW. I would think that this as a general statement is true. Most cameras are providing better and better RAW capabilities, and with the larger size of memory cards and faster write speeds it is becoming easier to shoot in RAW. Sure you have larger file sizes to deal with but it also makes it easier to do post processing work if need be. I still use JPEG for sports and action but I do this because of the write time and the need to capture images. Though to be honest I have shot and will probably shoot more events in RAW in the future due to the faster write speeds on my camera.

My thanks go out to the folks of Photocritic for putting up the survey and taking the time to analyze the results. I know what a task that can be, part of my day job requires research and analysis and it can be scary to put your findings out there. Great work folks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tim Ray Photography

Tim Ray is a fellow West Virginia photographer and his blog is one of my regular stops. Today I was pleased to read a post he has made concerning West Virginia as a destination wedding location. In his post he names Coopers Rock, Valley Falls, and Snowshoe Resort as just some of the great locations to have and hold weddings here in West Virginia. He couples this with some of his work in the state.

Tim is right, West Virginia is a great place for a destination wedding. The seceneary is beautiful and we have many great resorts and lodges at which events can be held. Not to mention the wonderful state parks. If you haven't read Tim's post or seen his work check him out at http://timrayphoto.blogspot.com/2008/11/west-virginia-has-some-beautiful.html

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Scarlett Lillian

Photographer Scarlett Lillian is a Jacksonville, FL based photographer who is just phenomenal. She has placed on her site a video inviting other photographers to join her on a photo shoot for a day, where they can ask questions and shoot with her. I contacted her and received permission to post a copy of the video here. If you haven't looked at her work you need to check it out. You can find Scarlett's site at http://www.scarlettlillian.com/.


Spend A Day With Scarlett Lillian from Scarlett Lillian on Vimeo.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I was playing in Photoshop

I was playing around in PhotoShop this evening after Matthew's Cub Scout meeting. I started with a little quote I picked up over on the [B] School. I wish I could remember who I read it from so I could give them credit. I stated looking for one of my images to put it with and settled on one of the shots I took of Cathedral Falls this past summer. I added in the text I wanted and played around with it, then I decided I wanted a texture to the image. My first thought was to go to the built in textures in PS but then I remembered a stained glass window I shot a while back.

The stain glass was nothing fancy just a single solid sheet of glass with a texture to it and lit from behind. I shot the original near dusk and the window just glowed, I threw it in file figuring I'd find a home for it one day. Tonight was it's day. I placed it on a separate layer and used it as a matt for the image. Of course I desaturated it and made it partially transparent.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Doctor Who

As some of you know I am a fan and have been a fan of Doctor Who for a long time. So tonight I was a bit saddened by the news that David Tennant, the 1oth Doctor, has decided to move on. While sad it is also exciting, we get a new Doctor this year. I found this in my YouTube run, its a lead in for the Christmas special and it looks like the cybermen may be back.

A new look

As you probably noticed I have been doing some sprucing up around here and over on UKVphotos.com. I finally worked out a logo I liked and today I set about branding the sites to match, the waterfall image in the background is one of mine, will likely change it from time to time but I rather like the new layout here. Hope everyone enjoys it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Photographer Group - Question One

I hope to provide my thinking on each of the questions I raised in my earlier post concerning the need for a photographic group or resource for photographers in West Virginia, here is the first of those posts. The original post was titled "An idea is forming..."

Connect with other photographers.


The first part of the process that I have outlined requires me to get into touch with the local photographers of West Virginia and get them interested in communicating with each other. This in itself will be no easy task. Photographers in West Virginia appear to keep a low profile on the web, as a part of the process I started out by running a series of web searchers for photographers in West Virginia.

The largest single resource I have discovered is the Professional Photographers of West Virginia’s site. A great deal of the members has their e-mails and websites listed on the page. Two thing occurs to me, one that I probably should belong to this group and two their membership list will provided me a way to digital communicate with a large group of photographers here in WV. They are located at http://www.ppwv.org for those who are interested and the membership is $95.00 for an individual annually.

This group in itself may be the vehicle I am looking for or it could be a piece of the vehicle. The concern I see from this list is that it only identifies photographers who are already up and running in the profession. While this goes a long way for possibly creating a mentor base it does not help draw in the rising photographers nor does it bring in the total new photographers.
I have located a number of sites that list photographers from West Virginia and through these I will be able to start an initial e-mail listing once I have completed the fleshing out of the group idea. While not an exhaustive list here is what I have found so far, if any one would like to add any just leave a comment.

www.photolinks.com
http://www.onewed.com/weddings/WV/wedding-126-WV.html
http://www.wedj.com/dj-photo-video.nsf/states/WV
http://west-virginia.uscity.net/Photographers/
http://yellowpages.aol.com/photographers/wv/
http://www.partypop.com/Categories/Event_Wedding_Photographers/West_Virginia.htm
http://www.411marketsource.com/artanddesign/viewlist.asp?cid=10018&sid=50321
http://www.eventective.com/USA/West+Virginia/Photographers.html
http://www.freelancedesigners.com/dir/photographer/West-Virginia/
http://www.allweddingcompanies.com/photography/photographers/west_virginia/index.html
http://www.wpja.com/wedding-photographers/west-virginia-photojournalist.htm
http://www.photographypros.com/westvirginia/index.php
http://www.respond.com/photographers/WV/yellowpages.html
http://www.listphotographers.com/photographers-directory/West-Virginia
http://www.weddingphotousa.com/westvirginia/photographerwv.htm
https://www.ginaalexander.com/photographers-westvirgina.htm
http://www.theknot.com/vs_WEST_VIRGINIA_PHO.shtml
http://photographerfinders.net/west-virginia-photographers.html
http://articles.directorym.com/Wedding_Photographer_West_Virginia-r1070-West_Virginia.html
http://www.topweddingsites.com/West-Virginia/wedding-photo.html

The concept of connecting with other photographers extends beyond just me making a connection with them. I am still grappling with a good methodology to facilitate communications for this group. For a group like this to flourish they need a way to interconnect with each other. To this point I have been thinking of solutions and ideas for this some of my ideas are:

• Facebook
• Myspace
• Linkedin
• Local fliers
• Photo walk events
• Photo workshops
• Forum

At this point I am leaning more toward a Facebook or other type of social networking approach. I like the idea of using a method that will also allow the photographers to communicate with potential clients. In addition the idea of a Facebook group would allow for a web presence, of course there are other solutions and more consideration needs to be made in this area.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Drawing the kids into photography

Photojojo ran a great piece this morning on luring kids into photography. I'm no stranger to this method of teaching photography, for those that know my story my dad lured me in and I thank him for it regurlay. I still find it amusing when he looks at my images and then ask me how I did it. Even though I know my knowldge of photography outstrips much of his now I still look on him as the Master and me the student.

Last year for Christmas shan and I gave Matthew a camera and we have since loaned one to Alexis as well. Both of them are going strong and I recently created two special galleries on the UKVPhotos website for them. Matthew sees the business side of it right away, I coantantly heare him make comments like "Someone will buy this one." To date he has made no sales but a few of his have ended up on the popular list on the site.

Take the time to share your art and your love of it with your family and others.

Matthew's Gallery

Alexis' Gallery

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The idea continues to evolve

Last week I blogged about the formation of group in the West Virginia that would allow photographers to help each other grow their networks and their resources. In response to my post Dane Sanders commented: "I love your thinking... lead us!" Since that time I have been thinking of my idea and the five parts that it calls for. If you have not read the post An idea is forming.... go take a few minutes and read it. Over the next series of posts I will begin to look at the five tasks and break them down with the hope of devise solutions for their accomplishment. I am hoping that as I break down the five tasks a unified solution will be found. The five tasks are as follows:
  1. connect with other photographers
  2. allow the sharing of ideas and resources
  3. create a referral system
  4. create a mentoring system
  5. allow clients a single local referral source
Please if you have feedback leave it, even if you are not from West Virginia, my hope is that this method, whatever it is, can be replicated in other locations.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

An idea is forming....

Over the last year and a half I have been exploring and applying photography skills to both my personal photographs and to my semi-professional ones as well. I have been reading a number of various resources and blogs, some of them I have been sharing here. I have dreamed of and began the work of creating a brand for myself, UKV Photos.

The brand is small and I am working on growing it, not by advertising but by showcasing my talent on the web and through word-of-mouth. It is slow but that suits my needs. You have to understand that during the day I am employed and I enjoy, for the most part, my work there. I started UKV Photos with the intent of growing the brand into a full time business, one I can run after retirement or if it should grow large enough one that could replace my current job. As the business grows I planned to use its proceeds to supplement my income and more importantly to expand my photographic knowledge. Thus growing the business larger and hopefully bringing in more funds.

Somewhere though between the hatching of my grand plan, the reading of Thomas Friedman's book "The World is Flat" and the reading of Dane Sanders book "Fasttrack Photographer" (which I really need to finish) and now as I start a book assignment from my work, Dr. Covey's book "The 8th Habit" something has changed. I don't know if any of the books I have cited above or any of the literally thousands of blog articles and entries I have read are to blame but I begin to see UKV Photos as a brand in a different light.

The light I am seeing now has UKV Photos as only a small portion of the larger picture. In this larger picture, which either needs focused or sharpened or maybe both, I see a group of branded photographers working as a coalition in my area to bring in and refer work to each other. The idea is not new nor can I take the credit. One just has to look at the Wedding Mafia or even Becker's [b] School (to which I belong) to see where the idea came from.

In the case of the Wedding Mafia a group of wedding professionals have banded together in order to create a reliable and dependable network of vendors for couples to work with. The members of the Mafia refer business to and from each other. The [b] school is a social network devoted primarily to wedding photographers. Another similar network is Uberbrides. The concept behind these groups is the network of contacts and the sharing of knowledge.

What I am beginning to see is the need of West Virginia, or at least the Greater Kanawha Valley to have a group similar to the Wedding Mafia. Now I will be the first to admit to my ignorance and that a group such as I am discussing here may already exist. What I think though is that this group need not focus on just weddings and that maybe it should focus on photography in general.

The overall needs of this group as I seem them are:
  1. connect with other photographers
  2. allow the sharing of ideas and resources
  3. create a referral system
  4. create a mentoring system
  5. allow clients a single local referral source
Again I understand and participating in groups with similar focus that work on a much larger scale, I am not looking to re-invent the wheel just size a wheel to fit my local area. I will keep everyone posted as this idea goes through changes, who knows maybe I will focus on that direction.

2008 Rod Run and Doo Wop

I didn't have any doo wop music to use in the video. 409 is copyrighted to the Beach Boys all rights reserved.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Looking for a Model?

As I work more and more on my photography skills I realize that I am going to need more model's. For starters you can only take so many interesting photos of the cat. No seriously, being here in West Virginia and doing a regular day job it is sometimes difficult to find a model to shoot. the other day I ran across Model Mayhem. this site and I am sure others like it may have the answer to my problem.

If you haven't seen the site check it out. As you are looking at the profiles of he members make sure you pay attention to their last activity date. Many of the model's I looked at from my area are not active on the site.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Earth from Below

Steve Alvarez has some incredible work, it is something you really have to see. Shan and I have been underground more than once, but to date I have not drug my equipment underground and made any photographs. Seeing his work and remembering the connection I have in that industry makes me think I may want to try my hand at this kind of work. It would defiantly be something different, the caves near here are no where near as elaborate as the ones he has visited but still it would be fun and isn't that the point...hmm maybe a model shoot in a cave.


Earth From Below from Stephen Alvarez on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Frame

A while back I mentioned The Boston Globes blog The Big Picture. It is a cool place where they post photo stories using large beautiful images and captions to tell a story. The concept of a photo story is not new but the fact that The Boston Globe was using high quality large images in a blog format to do it was.

The idea has caught on and The Sacramento Bee is now doing something similar, The Frame. Go check it out. I marvel at the images that the Big Picture has brought me and love to deconstruct them, photographically in my mind. Go take a look at The Frame and if you haven't already the Big Picture

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Greg and Carmie 2007

I shot this wedding last year for a couple in my community. The wedding was so them, full of laughs and fun. We started early in the day and danced all night at the reception. It's hard to belive that it has been over a year now.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Michael Crichton dies at age 66


Image from Telegraph.uk.co

Though the news is now a day old I just noticed it among my daily review items, one of my favorite authors passed away. Michael Crichton passed away on November 5, 2008 at the age of 66. he will be missed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Customer Service

A big part of any business is Customer Service. When I look for vendors to supply me with photographic products one of the things I check into is their customer service. If you are in business or are just thinking about starting one you have to think about customer service.

I received an early lesson in Customer Service and one I will never forget. It came when I was working for Jim Raubach at Forensic-Computers.com. Jim's small firm produces computers used by law-enforcement agencies and investigative units all over the world. I remember Jim coming in the office and asking me to package a unit for shipment, the shipment was going strait to two agents in the field. I quickly threw all the components together and pulled a station off the burn-in-rack. The whole thing was wrapped and shipped in a matter of an hour. The next day Jim asked me if I had left something out of the box. I went back to our checklists and confirmed that it was all there. He smiled and handed me one of the kits we included in the set-up.

These little kits were small tackle-boxes, like you would take fishing, and contained a variety of connectors and adapters. They also contained the keys that unlocked the drive trays on the side of the machine. The kit that Jim had given me did not have any keys in it! I remembered then that we had made a bunch of kits up in bulk one day. However we had made more kits than we had keys on hand at the time. I had made two stacks one with keys and one with-out. The intent was to add the keys later. However I had grabbed a kit from the wrong stack. The up shot of this was that we, I, had shipped a machine into the field with no keys!

The keys on these drive bays was a barrel key, similar to the kind that most vending machines use. Jim explained that the agents had called during the night, he asked me to amend our production lists so that this did not happen again. He then grabbed his coat and headed out of the building saying he would see me when he got back he was off to deliver the keys.

This did not surprise me, we figured it must be a close delivery and we would see him in the morning. Later the office secretary grabbed me, it was a small operation in those days, just five of use and only three in our location. She handed me the shipping invoice from Fed-Ex. My jaw hit the floor. The unit had been shipped to the US Virgin Islands.

I will never forget it. Jim, without a thought had jumped a plane and hand delivered the keys to the two agents. He invited them to dinner, showed them how to work the machine and then flew back to our offices. He never lost his cool, never lost his composure and we never shipped another unit with out keys.

Jim showed me what customer service was. To this day when it comes to customer service I try to emulate his example. Now I just wish I could forget to ship someones pictures and have to catch up with them in the islands for a hand deliver! No, seriously I always think of how I would want to be treated as a customer and then go one step beyond that. It's important how they feel, particularly if you are building a company based on word of mouth advertising.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Making smiles

This past weekend I put the camera away and instead did the best part of the job, I delivered picture packages. Last month I was selected to photograph the Valley Rocket 'Flag' team cheerleaders. I put many of the things I have learned to work on the project. I selected a location, never before used by any of the other photographers that have shot Valley's photos and took a great series of images. Or so I hoped. I was quite pleased with the results when they came in too.

However the real pay-off came on Saturday when Shan and I delivered the images to the parents and families of the kids. They were all smiles. It made my day.

Photopreneur - by Alex: Why Some People Will Never Be Successful at Selling Photos

We like to think that anyone can be successful at selling photos. Well, maybe not everyone. If your photographic talent doesn’t stretch beyond taking your finger off the lens, then you might be in trouble. But most people who can frame a composition and know how to focus should be able to make money selling their images.

And yet not everyone is making money. There are a number of reasons for that.

First, they refuse to learn fast and adapt quickly.

Anyone who has been in the photography business for a while will be able to tell you how much the industry has changed in the last decade alone. Some of those changes have made life easier for photographers; others have made life harder. But all of them need to be understood and absorbed. If you think microstock is only for people willing to sell for a buck a piece, for example, you need to learn what it’s really about… and get yourself a piece of the action.

But it’s not just being a stick in the mud and clinging on to familiar ways of doing things that can hold you back. Photographers who aren’t prepared to take risks aren’t likely to earn much money either.

Fortunately, you don’t have to bet your house to sell your photos. But you do have to put them online where a skilled thief might be able to swipe them. You do have to license them and hope that the buyer follows the license restrictions. And you do have to invest time and sometimes subscription fees on sites like Flickr and PhotoShelter if you want to get in touch with potential buyers. The risks aren’t huge but if you aren’t prepared to take even the small ones, your income will be even smaller.

Perhaps the most common reason photographers fail to sell though, is that they take the wrong pictures.

If you like the stem click this link and go to their site to finish the article.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

So long daylight savings time!

You get an extra hour to sleep tonight, if you live in an area that uses daylight savings.

Tonight, we will fall back an hour, meaning clocks will be set back one hour for the return to Standard Time. It is also a good time to replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.


How well do you Google?

As many of you are aware my day job is in education. Among my daily readings was an article from the November issue of Educational Leadership entitled "Footprints in the Digital Age" by Will Richardson. The article naturally has a slant toward teachers and educators but it resounded a note in me about my photography life.

The note sounded in the first paragraph when I read these words: "...one of my worst fears as they grow older is that they won't be Googled well. Not that they won't be able to use Google well, mind you, but that when a certain someone (read: admissions officer, employer, potential mate) enters "Tess Richardson" into the search line of the browser, what comes up will be less than impressive. That a quick surf through the top five hits will fail to astound..." Take that in light of a comment by Kenny Kim, "Your network is your networth", he attributed the quote to Dane Sanders. and I began to wonder how well I googled.

I quickly found out. Jumping over to a another web browser window I typed in my name Jason E Perdue and pressed the search button and was rewarded with a screen full of hits on and around my photography work. That was good, of course I also learned that another Jason Perdue is on the west coast and he is doing lomo work. His work was quite nice.

Back to the point though...if we are going to be found in the industry...if you are going to stand out, particularly in these hard economic times. We have to make sure that the image that people see of us, the one they find when they hit Google is a good one.

How do you improve that...to be honest I am not sure. One way that makes sense is to make sure that what we put out on our blogs, portfolios and websites is quality work. This doesn't counter though a negative comment made in a forum by a dissatisfied customer. Things to ponder on this first day of November.

Hope you had a good Halloween!