Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Photo Watermarking for Direct Sales


Photo Watermarking for Direct Sales


So many people today are earning a living in non-traditional ways, and proving to everyone that a standard 5-days-a-week-from-9-to-5 job isn’t the only way to do it!  With busy lives and multiple priorities, today’s career-seekers are looking for more flexibility, and a better balance for themselves and their families.  Nowhere has that been more evident than in the recent boom in direct sales companies, who can offer their sales representatives the opportunity to be creative, set their own hours, and work at their own pace.  Companies like LuLaRoe, Stella & Dot, and Young Living have not only changed the way we shop, they’ve changed the way we work!
Although a healthy work-life balance may be the thing that first attracts people to direct sales companies, often the creative outlet they provide is what helps their sales reps truly thrive!  Often sales representatives choose a product or company that speaks to their own personal passions and supports their own personal goals.  While it helps to have a great product line or a unique product offering, we all know these products don’t sell themselves.  The key to successful sales lies purely within the sales rep!
If you’re a sales representative for a company like LuLaRoe or Young Living, you know that your unique personality, your unique style, and your unique marketing strategy are the true discriminators when it comes to making big bucks in this industry.  Your own marketing materials and communication style are what speaks to your customers and capture their imaginations.  The relationships you build with your customers are what keeps them happy and coming back for more.
Although some companies and their reps still rely heavily on the old paradigm of “get your friends to host a party, and they’ll invite their friends, you’ll make some sales and find more people to host more parties and they’ll invite their friends” and so on (you remember Tupperware, right?), today’s savvy rep harnesses the power of social networking sites and electronic communications to reach their customers.  And sending around a link to a product catalogue or company website just won’t do!  Your competitors are doing way more than that (and making more money too!).  Remember earlier when we mentioned that it’s the uniqueness of YOU that makes the difference?  
Photo Watermarking for Direct Sales

To draw customers online, you’re going to need a strong online presence at sites where you know your potential customer base already frequents.  Of course, sites like Facebook and Instagram will be crucial to initially connecting with your customers, and frequent activity on these sites will keep your products in front of buyers.  
But, we also need to remember that, just as we’re careful on social media with what information we post on social media sites, we need to be careful with our marketing.  Because it is our uniqueness and style that compels our customers to make that purchase, we simply cannot allow our competitors to make sales by poaching our marketing materials!  It is SO easy for others online to “borrow” our photos and “borrow” our advertisements, and make big money without the effort.  This is why you MUST protect your online photos and ads.  The best way to do this is to insert un-removable watermarks on every photo you post online.  These watermarks identify your online marketing materials as belonging to you and you only, in such a way that others can’t use them.

Online watermarking sites like Water Marquee offer the ability to watermark as many photos as you like without having to install any software on your device.  If you have a logo you like to use in your marketing, you can place it wherever you like on your photos, in a conspicuous enough place that your photos can’t be re-used by someone else, but that doesn’t detract from the focus on your product.  Even better, insert your contact information as a watermark, so your customers always know how to buy, and the sale proceeds end up in YOUR pocket!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Turning Your Drone Hobby into a Professional Photography Career

Turning Your Drone Hobby into a Professional Photography Career



Turning Your Drone Hobby into a Professional Photography Career


Have you ever wanted to make a professional business taking stunning pictures from hundreds of feet in the air? Drone hobbyists have begun taking their skills piloting the small aircraft into the world of professional photography, creating stunning art pieces. Drone piloting has become one of the swiftest growing hobbies, with hundreds of thousands registered and more to come. As the trends grow, let’s take a glance at what you need to take your drone hobby to a professional photography business.

Why Drone Photography?


Drone photography is an incredibly dynamic method of photography that differs immensely from traditional photography. The rules of lighting and focus change when the lens is dozens, maybe hundreds of feet in the air. This advanced method of photography allows budding professional photographers to achieve unique shots that may not be achievable through the use of traditional photography. The mobile nature of drones also lends itself well to videography, for photographers that may wish to dip their toes into that pool.

What You’ll Need


It goes without saying that you’ll need a drone with camera capabilities, but how do you pick the best gear? The best thing that you can do is lay out a budget that you feel comfortable allocating to your professional efforts and act accordingly. There’s a great number of high-quality drones that come equipped with cameras, so do enough research to determine which fits your needs.

Depending on your experience piloting drones, budding professionals may find it useful to purchase a cheaper drone to practice their skills on. This can help lower the chance of accidents while piloting the camera drone that you intend to base your photography business around.

Past ensuring you have the proper drone for your uses, much of the gear needed is the same as for traditional photography. You may not need a tripod, but photographers make use of multiple different lenses, cameras, lighting, and photo editing software. Make sure that you account for these in your budget as well, as they’re just as necessary to your photography career as the drone itself.

Drone Hobby into a Professional Photography Career

Ensure You’re Licensed


Depending on where you are and what gear you’re using, there’s a good chance you’ll need to license your drone. In all likelihood, you may have already done this as a drone hobbyist, but you may have had to make a new investment to have the best camera for your needs. Over the last few years, the United States Federal Aviation Administration began to add to the rules and regulations that drone operators must follow. It’s vital to make sure that your equipment and usage complies by these regulations, or your photography business won’t be able to make it off the ground.

Practice Aerial Photography Techniques


There are some techniques that apply to traditional photography that fly right out the window once the camera is airborne. For example, utilizing a camera’s zoom is a swift way to ruin a photo taken with a drone. The vibration of the propellers is exponentially magnified the more zoomed the camera is, rendering zooming useless.

There’s a stunning number of differences between traditional and drone photography, so work towards practicing what new techniques work and what old ones won’t. If you don’t have enough practice piloting a drone, use this training period to practice some simple maneuvers until you’re comfortable. It’s strongly suggested that you don’t attach cameras until you know how to pilot the drone alone to help prevent accidents.

Professional Photography Career

Work Towards a Portfolio


The most important part of any creative freelance adventure like photography is to have a compelling and interesting portfolio. If you intend to base your photography around a specific genre, like wedding or newborn photographers, fill your portfolio with your favorite pictures you’ve taken that show your ability in that topic. Similarly, if you intend to be a general photographer with no specific specialty, make your portfolio as diverse as possible.

There’s a fine line when it comes to building your portfolio. It's useful to have a sizable portfolio, but not one so massive that possible clients find it a chore to look through hundreds upon hundreds of pictures. Photographers also must take special care to make sure that each photo in the portfolio serves as a powerful representation of their abilities and skills, so avoid putting in any photograph that isn’t high quality. Many experts recommend having no more than a dozen photos, so pick and choose your absolute best for your portfolio.

Build Your Platform


Once you’ve built a portfolio for drone photography, you can utilize it to begin to build a platform. In the information age, social media is one of the fastest and most effective ways to build an audience. About 77% of businesses use social media to market and platform their services, and your budding professional photography will be best served by following the same plan.

It’s important not to limit yourself to one social media platform, so work towards a platform on everything from Facebook to LinkedIn. That said, Instagram is incredibly popular for professional freelance photographers due to the photo-heavy basis of the website. Those dipping their toes into videography would likely find expanding onto popular video platforms like YouTube to bring as much attention as possible to their efforts.

Drone Hobby into a Professional Photography

Be A Professional


Building a business takes a massive amount of effort and patience, so don’t expect to blossom into a huge following over a week. Treat the clients that come your way with respect and a professional decorum to help build a reputation that keeps clients returning and your business growing.

Above all, never give up! Creative pursuits can take a lot, and professional photography requires a lot of time and practice in shooting and editing. You’ll be adding in the skill needed to pilot a drone-operated camera as well, so expect to spend plenty of time practicing and honing your skills. With the proper work put in, you’ll be able to turn your recreational drone hobby into a professional photography business.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

500px: The New Hotness

500px: The New Hotness

500px: The New Hotness



An overnight success 9 years in the making, photo-sharing site 500px didn't really take off until last year. Since then, it's been capturing a lot of professional (and want-to-be professional) photographers away from Flickr.




The early-adopters that have made the switch have been posting some amazing photos, which tends to attract other great photographers, creating a righteous circle that should lead to more growth for the site.  Right now, the smaller community means that it's easier to get your photography noticed.

500px: The New
500px is just getting started, but Flickr's best days may
be behind it.

While Flickr has a lot of options, 500px goes for more of a minimal approach.  You can't do as much with the site, but fewer options means a leaner interface with more room to show off the photos, putting them font and centre, which is what many people find attractive about the site.  Each photo is given a "pulse", which is a metric of how popular a photo is based on how many people "like" it.  A photo's popularity automatically declines over time, so it's easier to get your new photos on the front page.

500px: watermark photos
The simple interface of 500px lets the photos do the talking.

One new feature of the site is the ability to sell your photos easily.  Photos for sale on 500px come as either an HD digital download or as a canvas print.  The system is very limited currently - you can't set your own price, you can't sell different resolutions, you have to meet the 500px standard size constraints, and you can't dictate license terms.

You can sign up with 500px for free, and upload up to 20 pics per week, or pay $50/year for their "Awesome" account.  That lets you upload an unlimited number of photos and track image views with Google Analytics.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Flickr-ing Out

Flickr-ing Out


Flickr-ing Out
Flickr has been one of the best places to find great photography for the better part of a decade, which makes it ancient by today's internet company standards.  But I'm starting to wonder if it's getting a little long in the tooth.

When was the last time Flickr came out with a new feature that really blew you away?  It seems like the only news coming out about Flickr is bad news.

AllThingsD is reporting that Yahoo, Flickr's parent company, is preparing for another major round of layoffs that are "likely to number in the thousands."  There's no word yet on if any of that will hit Flickr, but this follows shortly on the heels of the layoff's of Flickr's support staff back in January.  It's never a good sign when the people who interface with the public get let go because they're the people most often pushing for improvements based on the input they get from the public. 
 
According to Compete.com, Flickr traffic is down 18% since it's peak last summer.  Where did everyone go?  Google+ opened to the public in September, and apparently, a large percent of photographers online are starting to call it home.  Facebook has more images overall (though I would hesitate to call most of it 'photography'), and 500px is the new cool kid on the block.

Still, according to Thomas Hawk's math, Flickr brings in over $50 million annually, which would make it 2% of Yahoo's total revenue (at $2.3 billion annually), and that may below.  I can't imagine a desperate company, like Yahoo, killing off a decent part of their portfolio.  However, I can imagine them selling it...


Saturday, March 2, 2019

How to Choose Your First Professional Camera


How to Choose Your First Professional Camera


How to Choose Your First Professional Camera

If you’re in the market for your first camera, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the possible options. A high-quality, professional camera is an investment--and not an inexpensive one. The good news is that most cameras on the market today are of good quality, so you’re not likely to select one that simply doesn’t work. The trick is finding precisely the right camera for your specific needs so that it will serve your photography business (or hobby) for years to come.

With such a wide range of options when it comes to models and features and accessories, how do you narrow the field? It’s easier than you think if you understand what you want and need before you start shopping. You’ll be better able to zero in on the models with the features you need, without feeling distracted and overwhelmed by the many others that you don’t need. Here is what you need to know before you begin your search.

Know the different camera types


There are many different types of cameras, ranging from simple smartphone cameras to high-end digital versions. If you’re looking for your first professional camera, however, there are two major types you should investigate.

DSLR


Your First Professional Camera


DSLR, or digital single-lens reflex cameras, are what most people think of when they picture a professional photographer snapping away on a photo shoot. These cameras are composed of two distinct parts: the body of the camera and the lens. They also feature a mirror, or “viewfinder” of sorts, that allows you to preview the image before you shoot it.

When it comes to DSLR cameras, the right lens makes all the difference in image quality. The better the lens, the better the image. Since lenses are interchangeable, it’s easy to customize the image output and quality by experimenting with different lens types (more on lenses in a bit).

For most beginning professional photographers, a DSLR camera is a safe, simple choice with adequate functionality to meet their needs.

Mirrorless


Mirrorless cameras have entered the scene in the last few years, as an alternative to the DSLR. While they have most of the same internal components as their DSLR counterparts, as well as interchangeable lenses, they feature an electronic (or mirrorless) viewfinder, making the entire camera smaller and lighter.

A downside of mirrorless cameras is that their sensors are smaller than DSLRs. As a result, they aren’t as advanced when it comes to registering image depth or shooting in low light.

A note on brands


The bottom line is that the brand of camera you buy has very little impact on image quality. It all comes down to the quality of lenses and the artistry of the photographer behind the lens. While the two most well-known manufacturers are Canon and Nikon, one of the several other emerging brands may suit your needs at a lower price. Rather than getting hung up on a specific brand, try several models from each manufacturer to find the one that is most comfortable for you to use and that best suits your needs.

Set a budget


When it comes to professional cameras, “ballpark pricing” doesn’t really exist. DSLR cameras range from several hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars. The best course of action is to decide how much you want to spend and look for a camera within that range. You’ll find one. The key is to narrow down which features you can’t live without and which you can sacrifice to stay within budget.

Identify “must have” vs. “nice-to-have” features


The list of flashy features you could get as part of your new camera are nearly endless. Some are essential, while others you’ll probably never use. One feature that you’ll definitely need as a professional photographer is the ability to switch to manual mode. In automatic mode, the camera decides on shutter speed and light exposure for you. In manual mode, you control the settings yourself, giving you greater artistic freedom to take a variety of shots. Speaking of light, you’ll also want to double check the ISO, which is the camera’s sensitivity to light. A higher ISO will ensure that you can shoot in low light conditions without a flash.

Other features, like megapixels, might seem like crucially important concerns at first glance, but you should be aware that a huge number of megapixels won’t add to your image quality. Past a certain number of megapixels (around 20), there isn’t a noticeable difference in quality. Don’t be distracted by the “noise” of features you don’t really need. Instead, focus on the features that best suit your needs and will help capture the types of images you want to shoot.

Decide which lenses and accessories you need


Whether it’s interchangeable or permanent, the right lens will make all the difference to your photos. Here’s a breakdown of what you should know about lenses.

First off: focal length. It determines the angle that your lens will capture. Wide angle lenses cover a larger view, while telephoto lenses capture a narrow view. Next up is the aperture, which is the hole inside the lens that controls the light that enters the camera. The larger the aperture, the more expensive the lens will be, but you’ll also be able to shoot in much darker conditions.

There are plenty of lens options to choose from-- all with unique impacts on focal length and aperture. If you have a particular niche or style in mind for your photographs, you may want to consider a specialty lens like a fisheye, macro, or tilt-shift lens.

Know where to shop


There are many different outlets to purchase your camera, including online retailers and brick-and-mortar shops. The best course of action is to start with your online research and once you’ve decided on your budget, type of camera, desired features, and required lenses, to start comparing prices.

Keep in mind that you can purchase a gently used camera or even rent a particular camera before you buy it to make sure it suits your needs. Many local shops offer used cameras and rental options.

As you search for your first professional camera, remember that the only “perfect” camera is the one that is perfect for you. Don’t be intimidated by the many choices available. Take the time to understand what you need before you ever start looking. The choice will become much clearer when you’re armed with the right information
.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

7 Best Camera Apps for Your Smartphone


                  7 Best Camera Apps for Your Smartphone

Estimates suggest than more than one trillion photographs are taken each year, and more than 80% of these are taken with a smartphone. If you take a look at your camera roll, you’ll likely see that you contribute a decent amount to this trend. Thanks to constantly improving technology, most cameras embedded in your smartphones take high-quality photos. If you want to make these photos look even better, here are seven camera apps to try.

7 Best Camera Apps for Your Smartphone

Take Better Photos


The following apps allow you to do more with your smartphone’s camera, so you can get better pictures with every shot.

1) Moment Pro Camera App


If you want DSLR-like capabilities with only your smartphone, the Moment Pro Camera App is the way to go. With this app, you can shoot photographs in RAW with fully manual controls. This allows you to adjust ISO, shutter speed, exposure, image format, focus and white balance, just like you would on a DSLR camera. Shooting in RAW allows you to get better results out of photo editing. It also has an anamorphic lens option, so you can de-squeeze photos. It’s available on iOS (free with in-app purchases) and Android ($2.99).

2) Halide


This app is currently only available on iOS devices (and the company warned about a rip-off version on Android devices in early 2018). It turns your phone’s camera into a premium piece of equipment. You can shoot in fully manual or auto mode. All photos are captured as RAW files to give you full editing control. With a recent update, you can shoot pets and other objects in portrait mode, and a feature called Focus Peeking allows you to see where your photo is in focus. It costs $5.99, which is a minor investment for a tool this powerful.

3) Open Camera


This Android-only app is available free of charge with no in-app purchases required. While this open-source app is not as sophisticated as others, it’s still loaded with features. Your photos will not contain metadata but can set the app to capture time stamps and geotags. You can choose between auto-stabilize and adjusting modes, color effects, ISO, exposure and more. The app also has a clever option to take a photo remotely with a voice command.

4) Focus


Another DSLR-quality camera app, Focus is available for free with in-app purchases on iOS devices. Highlights of this app include large aperture, real Bokeh, 3D lighting and more. This app leverages computational photography technology so you can edit the photo – including making adjustments to focus, aperture shapes and adding lights – after you have taken the photo. The app is easy to use and is a great substitute if you don’t have an iPhone XS or XS max. 

Enhance Your Photos


Many apps have been developed to help with the photo editing process as well. They range from free to subscription-based, but you don’t have to pay a lot to get decent editing capabilities.

5) Snapseed


Snapseed is one of the best free photo editing apps available on both iOS and Android. You can edit JPG or RAW files using any of the 29 tools. Beyond the basic functions that are included in most editing apps, this program also includes capabilities such as:

  • Healing: Removes photo-bombers and other unwanted objects
  • Lens blur: Adds Bokeh
  • HDR Scrape: Create the effect of multiple exposures
  • Double Exposure: Blend two photos
  • Face Enhance: Improve portraits


The app also has a unique “Control Point” or Selective features where you can select up to eight points on your photo to assign enhancements and then the app’s technology does the rest.

6) Afterlight 2


This app is billed as an all-in-one photo editor for iOS devices. Note, currently only the original Afterlight is available on Android devices. Underlying its simple user interface is a wide range of editing capabilities. From basic edits like color, exposure and sharpness to advanced modifications such as curves, selective hue/saturation, clarify and tone, this app will help you upgrade your photography skills quickly. They recently added dust and light leak overlays and are continually offering new filter packs from talented photographers. One of the best perks is that after paying the $2.99 for the app, there are no additional subscription or in-app fees.

Dual-Purpose


If you want one app that will help you take better photos and make them look better during editing, here’s our pick:

7) Adobe Lightroom CC


Anyone who knows a little about photo editing, knows that Adobe Lightroom is one of the main photo editing tools that professionals use. Now you can enjoy some of these capabilities on your iOS or Android mobile phone. Lightroom offers a powerful camera and photo editor in a single app. You can shoot in RAW and adjust shutter speed, white balance and ISO. The apps comprehensive editing abilities include one-touch pre-sets and advanced adjustments.

Before you post your photos online, be sure to watermark them. Watermarquee.com is a free online photo watermarking tool.



Saturday, January 12, 2019

Equipment that every Beginner Photographer Needs

Equipment that every Beginner Photographer Needs

Photography is a great hobby to get into, and it’s one that can even blossom into a fulfilling career if you’re dedicated to learning the craft. However, it’s not exactly cheap, and with the huge number of options available it can be confusing to know exactly what you need to get started.

That’s why in this article, we’ll be going over everything you need to get started in photography. While the list can seem a little daunting, don’t forget that sometimes you can get used gear for cheaper. Many people who are moving on to the intermediate level will be eager to get rid of their introductory gear, and that could bring your costs down significantly. Here’s what you need to get started.

Camera


Equipment that every Beginner Photographer Needs


The camera is, of course, the most important piece of your gear. A quality, yet affordable DSLR is your best bet here, and fortunately, these cameras are getting cheaper every day. You should be able to invest in one for around $300 to $500. Many times you can even save a bundle on a great camera by picking up a used one.

These cameras take great photos, and you’ll be able to get a wide variety of accessories for them, including interchangeable lenses to help hone your craft. Canon and Nikon are both popular brands which come in many different price ranges.

Lenses


Beginner Photographer Needs

When photographers take really cool shots that you can’t seem to make happen, part of that is likely thanks to their lenses. Of course, you also need to know how to select the right lens for the right situation, but picking up a variety of nice lenses will help you to figure out which ones are appropriate for each subject. Finding some tutorials can help you out, but don’t be afraid to experiment either.

It should be noted however that not all lenses are created equal. The ones in camera kits are typically lower in quality. Purchasing just the camera with no accessories and then investing in better quality lenses that you really want will likely serve you better than a kit. Here are some of the more popular varieties that you might want to pick up.

  • Fisheye Lens (For panoramas, artistic photos, and skyscapes.)
  • Macro Lens (For up-close photography, think flowers and butterflies.)
  • Telephoto Lens (Far away shots, good for nature watching and sports photographers.)
  • Wide angle lens (Good for landscapes and architecture shots.)
  • Wide Aperture Lens (Good for portraits and night time shots.)

While lenses can be expensive, the good news is that you don’t have to buy them all at once. Instead, pick up the type of lens that corresponds with the type of photography that you most want to pursue, and then you can slowly add more lenses to your kit later as you can afford them.

Lights


watermark creator

Good lighting is a requirement for good photographs. Unfortunately, natural light situations are not always accommodating, and you may need some external light sources in order to capture your art on film. There’s a lot of ways to do this, and in order to choose the correct lighting, you’ll need to decide what kind of photography you’re looking to do. The idea is to go for bright, natural bulbs that produce a light that is not overpowering. However, you also need a setup that fits the situation.
Lightbox Setup

If you’re looking to photograph products or small still life scenes in a studio, then a lightbox might be the way to go. This is a tiny, confined area that allows you to adjust the lighting situation to your liking. It’s of course only good for a limited number of applications though.

Manual Flash


If you’re filming outside then a manual flash is likely the way to go. This solution is lightweight and easy to carry, and that makes it good for photos where you’ll need to be quick to get the shot. If you’re doing action shots or wildlife photography in poor light conditions, you may want one of these.

Continuous Lighting Kits


These are studio style kits that are used mostly for video or still life photography. You’d use this if you plan to be shooting a series of photos or videos in one location, and you want to be able to set up the perfect lighting situation. If you were a Youtuber or a portrait photographer, then you’d likely want to invest in this equipment.

Tripod


free watermark creator

Shaky hands are no good when it comes to taking great photos, and a tripod is a great way to get things just right. There are several options for this, and you’ll likely want to invest in full size as well as a tabletop version for when space is limited.


Photo Editing Software


Like it or not, the beauty of most photographs actually happens long after they’re taken. Investing in a good photo editing suite can take your photos from meh to wow! While an editing program won’t make you a good photographer, it can help you to bring out the best in your pieces.

It will take you some time to learn how to master photo editing, but there are plenty of free tutorials online. Adobe Lightroom is the most popular option here, and you’ll be able to get plenty of help if you go with this option.

For simpler needs like watermarking your photos before you post them online, check out Water Marquee - it's free!

A computer


Odds are you’ve already got one of these. Most decently new computers should be able to run photo editing suites. However, Lightroom is actually a web app now, and that means that you can use it to edit your photos from virtually any device including Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, Android, and even Linux devices.

It’s important to remember that this is a basic list. Photography is an extremely varied art form, and the equipment that you need will depend heavily upon what type of photography you want to do. If you have some favourite photographers, then make sure to check the notes for their photos! Many of them will actually tell you what kind of equipment they’re using to get their shots.