Field Report:

The Non-Glamorous Side of Photography

(Photo) Business Efficiency Decisions

When thinking in terms of your own photography business, it would be wise to observe what other types of businesses are doing like retail stores, restaurants, business-to-business service industry, etc… There is a lot that can be learned from evaluating the good and bad decisions that these other businesses are doing. I’ll use this local Japanese restaurant as an example:

I got this menu in the mail a while back. It was fully illustrated with nice pictures of sushi and other dishes. It probably cost them a lot of money to produce so I decided to order take-out from that restaurant one night. I knew where the place was located on the map right on Route 66 but while driving into the strip mall parking lot, I started to question whether or not I was in the right place. The reason why is because from the traffic flow directions, there is no line of sight to the restaurant. The view is completely blocked by a Merrill Lynch office from every angle. To complicate matters, on the strip mall marquee, the restaurant wasn’t listed.

Now I can understand that if the restaurant does okay business-wise during lunch when there is foot traffic from Merrill Lynch, but when I went for dinner there was no one in the restaurant except for the owner’s family and another fellow take-out patron. I wasn’t surprised because due to the location of their restaurant, it is impossible to get unsolicited walk-in diners after the work day ends. Heck, I knew where the place was and still was unsure of where it was.

All of the restarant’s dinner customers are being driven there purely by their direct mail efforts. Well that costs a lot of money per customer so as a result, they are probably not as profitable as they would be located in a more strategic location. This strip mall doesn’t have the type of businesses to bring people in during the dinner hours either so really at this rate, they should either consider relocating their business or just shutting down for dinner IMO.

My point is that if there are opportunities to get customers for your business that do not require your direct involvement then that is the most efficient type of sale you can ever get. It is about getting visibility as efficiently as possible. Whether those customers are parents driving by on the highway looking for dinner one night after work or a local hospital looking on the internet for prints to decorate their hallways, a smart business owner considers these factors in their business marketing plan before setting up shop.

November 28, 2008 Posted by | Photo Business | | Leave a comment

Highlight and Shadow Details – LR2 v.s. CS

Photoshop CS Highlight Detail Crop

Photoshop CS Highlight Detail Crop

As mentioned in my previous Adobe Lightroom 2 post, I was able to obtain a greater dynamic range from my Maroon Bells photo than I had thought possible. There’s no need for scientific analysis. The evidence is here in these 100% crops of both the contrasty highlight and shadow detail areas.

Lightroom 2 Highlight Detail Crop

Lightroom 2 Highlight Detail Crop

I even tried decreasing the exposure and contrast in Photoshop to -100 and still couldn’t even get detail in the burnout areas of the cloud whereas Lightroom 2 was able to retain highlight detail without affecting other parts of the image. To be fair, I haven’t tried CS3 so I’m not saying that Lightroom 2 is better for image processing but it is clear that Lightroom 2’s RAW converter is very powerful and well worth the money for anyone who is on the fence about whether or not it is worth the money.

Photoshop CS Shadow Detail Crop

Photoshop CS Shadow Detail Crop

Lightroom 2 Shadow Detail Crop

Lightroom 2 Shadow Detail Crop

November 21, 2008 Posted by | Digital Workflow, software | | 2 Comments

Lightroom 2 – Wow!

Maroon Bells Reflection in Maroon Lake in Winter, Maroon - Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

Maroon Bells Reflection in Maroon Lake in Winter, Maroon - Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

I bought a copy of Adobe Lightroom 2 the other day and am extremely impressed for reasons I didn’t expect. Initially I just wanted a RAW converter for the latest cameras and a more efficient way to cull down a large batch of images. While I’m still working out how to incorporate Lightroom 2 into my existing workflow, the quality of image processing I’ve been able to get from LR2 has blown me away. I really didn’t think I would do any photo processing with LR2 other than hit the import and export to Photoshop buttons. That all changed the minute I open my first image and started experimenting with the various sliders.

Maroon Bells - Adobe Lightroom 2

Maroon Bells - Adobe Lightroom 2

Once I processed a few images from the Brea Canyon fire, I decided to try it on this Maroon Bells image. The top photo was processed two years ago in Photoshop and I tried my best to pull as much detail out of the image as possible. With Lightroom 2, it required minimal effort to get detail from my picture that I never even knew existed!

If this isn’t enough evidence to convince you to try Lightroom 2 then I don’t know what is. Image quality should the first and foremost priority for photographers.

November 20, 2008 Posted by | Product Reviews, software | , | 3 Comments

LicenseStream

I’ve been reading about LicenseStream on various blogs and photography business forums so I decided to sign up for myself. The first year is free for the standard account and then $50 afterwards. There is also a pro account which you can get 1/2 off for the first year but I am testing the standard account on myself to see if this is potentially a viable option for licensing images.
LicenseStream Stock Photo Invoice

LicenseStream Stock Photo Invoice

This image is of an invoice that I processed to myself. The price should be on there too but I whited it out before posting it online. If you are like me, that hates to do paperwork, then LicenseStream is definitely worth looking into. All I did was select the terms of use via drop-down menus and then email it to the “client”, then once I received the email, I clicked on the link to receive this invoice and payment options.

LicenseStream was touted as being fully integrated with the PLUS system hence the code under “Media Summary”. Basically how this works is that this code is embedded within your image meta data and the person who licenses the image should be able to copy and paste this code into the PLUS Decoder and get the terms of use instantly.

I personally think this would have limited use to buyers because only hardcore industry veterans would likely know enough to understand how this works. It is hard enough to get some photo buyers to understand the basic concept of image licensing to begin with. The plus side is that you can theoretically protect your copyrighted work a little better since the license would be embedded in the meta data. Given all of the Orphan Works b.s. that is happening in Congress, you can never be too safe.

PLUS License Decoder

PLUS License Decoder

PLUS Stock Photography License

PLUS Stock Photography License

Photoshelter’s payment and distribution options are pretty similar to LicenseStream’s but the difference is that the photo buyer can’t look for another photographer’s images on the site. This is a pretty big deal because whenever you send an instant license via Photoshelter you risk losing sales to other photographers if they decide to browse the Photoshelter home page out of curiosity. On the LicenseStream home page, there is no such site-wide archive search.

If you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, check out my LicenseStream gallery.

November 17, 2008 Posted by | Photo Business, stock photography, Web | , , , , | 6 Comments

Photoshelter Archive 2.0

Recently Photoshelter re-launched an updated version of their archive service. I have been with them for nearly a year and a half now am pleased with the updates. Among the cool features are widget-based slideshow galleries and licensing options that first appeared in the Photoshelter Collection. What I am most happy about though is that they finally adopted a suggestion that I made when I first joined and have inquired about several times.

Previously, the individual image pages would have a title like, “RW4986.jpg” on the internet browser. This was a problem because my images would show up on Google occasionally and have that listed as the webpage title. How does a title like that make someone want to click on the link? Not to mention that if the photo was ranking despite not having a good title tag then imagine what would happen if it actually had a relevant title tag. But now with the re-launch, my captions are in the title bar of the browser.

Ferry Landing Marketplace, Coronado Island, California - Photoshelter Archive

Ferry Landing Marketplace, Coronado Island, California - Photoshelter Archive

More than anything, what this says to me is that Photoshelter is serious about continually improving their product and doing what is best for photographers.

November 2, 2008 Posted by | Photo Industry News, Web | , , | Leave a comment