All Posts in Photography

January 18, 2015 - 1 comment.

Photojournalist Lynn Johnson’s Website Redesign

The standard for most photographers in the 1990s and early-to-mid-2000s was to build a website using Flash. I remember LiveBooks being super popular along with BigFolio and a few others. Most photography website companies back then offered Flash-based templates. Oh, how presentation and marketing has changed!

Lynn’s former website served her well and she felt it was time to finally update. So when she engaged me to redesign her website I was excited and of course extremely flattered.

Research

Every website I work on starts with research. I have loads of questions so we discussed a lot of options: budget, structure, content, marketing and maintenance; all of which overlap and how I determine the best solution. Time is precious and she wasn't keen on spending a lot of it updating software, plugins, backing up her site, security, etc. Naturally she wanted to focus on people and stories — her passion.

Note: Of course there are ways to automate backup, security, etc. but those require additional and typically on-going costs.

Squarespace

Squarespace was the best option and after several rounds and tests of the various templates they offer, we moved forward with the Fulton template. CSS was used to tweak the template. 

Template Limitations

We ran into a few frustrations or “not crazy about” aspects of working with a template but both of us did our best to come to terms with those limitations. Designing websites can be a tremendous challenge because it is often about working with constraints. There is always the dream scenario but in most cases, that is not an option. Still, the best part of the job is figuring out creative ways to get around constraints.

The one section where I had to compromise was the “Library”. It contains an archive of selected stories that she has published over the years. It is quite a body of work and I wanted to give it the real estate it deserved.

I started in one direction but realized I was making it too complicated for her to do on her own. Working around the built-in functions to present the content differently would require too many steps. So, the best option was to stick with a baked-in format. It’s a bummer that we’ve already had some feedback that the Library section is confusing so it’s my hope to revisit after we do some training, review the analytics and do some training. Perhaps it won’t be too complicated (crossing fingers).

Dream Client

Working with Lynn was incredibly satisfying and flat-out fun. She placed a great deal of trust in me and that felt great. It was a true collaboration; my favorite type of relationship.

Congratulations Lynn!

January 18, 2015 - No Comments!

Multimedia Photojournalist Janet Jarman’s Website Redesign

I’m excited to present Janet Jarman’s new website!

She announced the launch last week but I’ve been so busy with another website project and finishing up the details of my personal branding and marketing course that I just haven't had the time! It's all good stuff of course 😉

Janet, her assistant Kati, our developer Alex and I worked on the redesign for nearly two years. Gasp if you will but Janet has been pretty damn busy working which naturally shifted her focus to making pictures; something she cannot afford to not do! It was a bit like ships passing in the night but we finally made it happen and I'm excited for her and proud of what we were able to accomplish.

Reception to her site has been positive — yay!

Content Relationships

A website redesign of course is not without its challenges. In terms of design and development, Alex and I had to figure out a way to present her video and still photography in a way that met her requirements: one type of media format needs to takes priority over another but there could be a situation where only one type of content was published.

Meaning: If say a video for a story was the featured format type but she had a still photo gallery version of the same story, she wanted the video to be presented first and the still gallery presented second. It could also be reversed or there could be only a video or only a still gallery.

HonestlyI was super confused at first because when I hear the term “related content” I immediate think “related stories or articles”; content that could be related in terms of topic but not the same story in a different format. You know, like “Other Stories You May Like”.

Our language while the same meant different things! So it took awhile to hash it out since we were working primarily via email and Basecamp. Alex is based in the Midwest, Janet in Mexico and I’m in Syracuse!

But, because the content also drives the direction of development — a reason why development or developers should be involved in the project as soon as it begins — it was critical to reach an understanding. I was trying to avoid was the possibility of a major CMS implementation nightmare.

We eventually created 4 different templates which I believe works but it was an intense point of discussion since the actual presentation of secondary content was purposefully designed not to be consistent.

Mobile

Janet’s new website is fully responsive thanks to Alex’s mad skills. Mobile use surpassed desktop last year and it will continue in that direction so building a responsive website was one of the most important requirements. Her previous Flash-based website wouldn't even show up. A mobile-friendly website imho is a non-negotiable for website owners.

Photoshelter

We used a BEAM template to create the archives section of her website and we had a few limitations. 

  1. The URL for the logo cannot be modified to be linked to an external web page
  2. Templates have a lot of customization limitations.

The first kinda drives me bonkers. The second I can live with. In the end it was a decision based on priority. We went with mobile-friendly over customization. So, it isn't an ideal set-up but as always you gotta work within constraints and I personally do not feel that every section of a website or web page these days needs to be feel like an exact match.

What I Love Most

Perhaps it is bad form to share what I love about my own design but I feel like I gotta say how glad I am that it has some warmth and texture. It feels approachable just like Janet.

July 19, 2014 - No Comments!

A Book Maquette Collaboration with Photographer Matt Eich

At last, I’m posting a few photos and details of a maquette I designed with Mike Davis and photographer Matt Eich.

I asked Matt awhile ago about sharing some pages from the maquette and he gave me the go ahead but you know how it is, something else comes up that requires your attention toute suite and that blog post you were supposed to write moves down the list.

But now that Matt has announced the maquette in his newsletter, I felt motivated to share.

I hope he does find “a home” (publisher) for The Invisible Yoke.

Below are stacks of the printed and bound maquettes. (Thank you Christina!)

I’m DYING to hold one in my hands!

Photo by Conveyor Arts

Photo by Conveyor Arts

Here are some of the book details:

  • Roughly 7x9 in size
  • Binder's board, Foil stamped
  • Red Gaff Tape for the binding
  • Mohwak 80# Superfine Ultrawhite Uncoated
  • Typeface: Pitch by KLIM and available at Vllge.
  • Printed by Conveyor Arts
Proofs, proofs, proofs!

Proofs, proofs, proofs!

And a few pages from the book.

The maquettes are available for purchase from Matt:

Five copies are made available for sale with an 11x14 limited-edition print, five copies will be sent to select publishers in the hopes of finding a home for this work. Send me an email (studio@matteichphoto.com) if you are interested in acquiring one of the five copies available.

PS: Matt has an exhibit of the work at The Half King (an amazing space with a yummy salmon dish I might add 🙂

The Invisible Yoke
July 15, 2014–August 30, 2014

The Half King, 505 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

Get some food, a drink and view the photos.

April 20, 2014 - No Comments!

Video: Randy Olson Packs for National Geographic Assignment

National Geographic Magazine contract photographer Randy Olson made this time lapse of himself as he packs for an assignment in Lake Turkana.

Every time I see Randy prep and pack for an assignment, I'm quickly reminded how many times he and so many other photographers take so many risks to bring home compelling images that move and inspire us as individuals and the world.

The amount of time they get in the field has been reduced dramatically due to disruption and yet they still deliver despite the realities of working on assignment for The Natty G.

As he says, “It's an art.” packing for a variety of conditions and situations. Check it out:

March 12, 2013 - No Comments!

Marketing, Branding & Grant Proposals: Notes from the NPPA Northern Short Course 2013

Mike and I are just back from the NPPA Northern Short Course in Elizabeth, NJ. Major kudos go out to Michelle McLoughlin and team for organizing several days of excellent speakers.

Some of the talks I was able to attend included, Alan Spearman, Meredith
Birkett
, Andrea Bruce, Tim Rasmussen and Jamie Rose. The work of course
was powerful and energizing. We left feeling warm and fuzzy, too.

My goal was to attend as many business-related talks as possible since I teach my students about design, branding, marketing and basic business practices for photographers and designers. So, for those of you who weren't able to attend, below are some notes from talks about marketing, branding and grant proposals.

Wonderful Machine's Blog

Wonderful Machine's Blog

Branding and Marketing with Bill Cramer

Bill Cramer is CEO of Wonderful Machine and his presentation was about branding and marketing. Here are a few takeaways from his talk:

  • Specialize: His example was that of a food photographer. Instead of food, why not focus on beverages?
  • Your work: Show the right work and gear your portfolio to what you want to do. What does your portfolio say about you? Show your personality.
  • Graphic identity: Create marketing materials that support your photography Presentation matters as well as your style.

For websites

  • Use yourname.com for your primary domain
  • Present large images and use 30 images max
  • Keep your navigation labels simple (about, blog, contact) and keep your site easy to navigate. Your website should be intuitive.
  • Ditch the music, watermarks, splash pages and intros. Less is more.

(Hmmm ... All of that sounds so familiar 🙂

  • Social media and blogs: Remember your audience and gear your topics to your clients.
  • Don’t get too personal or rant on personal politics.
  • Make it easy for people to find you: There are many clients who have never heard of you. Take advantage of directories, pay attention to SEO (search engine optimization).
  • Seek out your clients: Take charge of your career and think beyond just word of mouth. Focus on which clients are appropriate for you
  • Use direct mail: Print may be more expensive but it is worth it.

Wonderful Machine has some great resources on their How We Help Photographers page. Be sure to check it out.

And, be sure to read Portland, Oregon based photographer Lincoln Barbour’s answers to Brian Stevenson’s questions about Wonderful Machine.


Louie Palu's website

Louie Palu's website

Grant Proposals with Louie Palu

I really enjoyed both of Louie's talks. He's a great example of a photographer savvy about business, brand recognition and the value of his work. It was pretty obvious that his confidence gives him the freedom to do work that is important to him and it seems, do it his way.

Here are some highlights about packaging a grant proposal:

  • When writing a grant proposal, include what is required. Highlight the criteria and make sure to get the basics into the proposal.
  • Show evidence of access. Include images that show you do have access; that you can do what you propose.
  • Be persistent in getting funding. Just because you aren't awarded the first time doesn't mean you can't be in the future. Don't give up on any project before you begin.
  • Include a budget estimate. How will you use the money? Be clear and transparent.
  • Do your research. Provide supporting and contextual information (maps, graphics, etc.) Strategically add supporting information in your captions. Bridge the connection between history, current events and data.
  • Publish and sell your story as a package. Don't sell single images. You'll minimize or lose the chances to get additional funding.
  • Create and manage your brand. People are watching you and making notes about you. First impressions matter. Your personality matters.

The big takeaway for me from both of his talks: Position yourself as an expert.


When people who are not photographers are talking about your work, you are getting somewhere.

— Louie Palu, Documentary Photographer at The NPPA NSC 2013

Below are links to interviews with Louie on writing grant proposals and his work:


Photoshelter's photography guides.

Photoshelter's photography guides.

Marketing with Andrew Fingerman


Business as usual, results as usual.

— Andrew Fingerman, CEO, Photoshelter

I’m a big fan of Photoshelter
for many reasons but the big reason?
The people who make up the company.
So, when I learned Andrew would be speaking I made a point to catch his
talk about marketing.

Andrew's take on marketing was fresh and so useful:

  • Focus
    on audience rather than clients.
    Your audience is larger than your
    target client pool. Your audience is anyone who wants to consume content
    and rich storytelling.
  • Create an ecosystem. Make it easy for your audience to connect the dots.
  • Specialize. Don’t be afraid to be hyper focused.
  • Partnerships. Develop relationships with like-minded organizations to maximize exposure.
  • Increase discovery. Where can you be discovered? (Flickr, 500px, Instagram, Facebook, Quora, Vimeo, etc.)
  • Brand advocates. Help your audience spread the word about you.
  • Maximize
    SEO
    . Increase organic search results with a search-engine friendly
    website. Use keywords and tags where possible. Layer keywords in your
    headlines and blog posts. (Note: This is why blogs are so important and why using Photoshelter for your images is a step in the right direction)
  • Personality matters. It’s your brand. Be consistent and show who you are as a person.
  • Provide solutions. Cumulative efforts will pay off. Provide helpful, useful content. (This is typically referred to as “content marketing”.)

Marketing is keeping yourself on people’s radar.

Andrew also  some really solid case studies:

Washington, DC photographer Stephen Voss's website

Washington, DC photographer Stephen Voss's website

I love the quote (below). It's so accurate. You need some kind of greater motivation to light that fire in your belly to go make your next best picture.


Survival isn’t a reason to get out of bed.

— Andrew Fingerman, CEO, Photoshelter

Visit their Free Guides page to download a slew of helpful guides on the business of photography.

The Value of NPPA

The NPPA is making a concentrated effort to bring great content to the photography community. Their recent website redesign, this conference and many other changes are worth supporting. Don’t let the word “Newspaper” scare you off. Sign up for membership and show support for your fellow photographers.

“Newspaper” is being redefined. That, is exciting!