I’ve been in this world of online Marketing for a while now – ever since I decided to quit my “real” job in Corporate America and venture out with my own business almost 10 years ago. That’s an eternity in online years! (I must be ready for retirement by now…)
Anyhow…during all this time I’ve “played” with every marketing tool out there, was on social media before it was a thing (MySpace anyone?) and tried #allthethings to grow my business. I feel like I’ve been on every list and hungrily consumed all the podcasts. Whenever anyone who I admired made a recommendation to try out a new thing, I was all over it!
I’m a sucker for new tools and technology, so this online world was just like a shiny, new playground for me.
Look at this awesome sandbox over here!
Those swings look awesome!
Anyone coming on the climbing wall?
Wait – SQUIRREL!
So yes – Really fun.
Really awesome. Except for one thing. I wasn’t “supposed” to be playing. There was work to be done and I wasn’t doing it.
There came a point where the similarities between me my 6-year-old on Christmas morning were staggering. I’d move from one shiny new object to the next without ever spending long enough to discover the potential of each one. I’d make myself dizzy from the number of tabs open across the top of my browser and my to-do list never got “todone” as I was so easily distracted by the next tip from that one guru who was making it rain.
And I got absolutely nowhere. Fast.
My wake up call came when I was just starting a Facebook ads course – ‘cos you know, gotta know #allthethings, and in the first module, the course instructor laid out a sales funnel for us. She stressed the futility of running Facebook ads without having a funnel in place.
And I was blown away by the simplicity of what she was saying.
If you don’t know what a funnel is, it’s basically the path that your prospective customers move along until they are in a place where they want to buy from you. You create the path and help your customers by providing useful, actionable information as they progress along.
It truly was like that “well-oiled machine” that everyone talks about.
Of course, this was not a new concept to me. The customer journey is a foundational concept in my Marketing degree back in 1997! Business doesn’t change THAT much – just the tools. and my obsession with the tools was becoming my downfall.
I didn’t need to learn any more new things, I just needed to put into place what I already knew and the best funnel for me. One that suited me and my business, my life, my values and my goals.
I had to pick one marketing system and stick to it.
Once I had that revelation, what was once so seemingly super complicated was so, so simple.
I let go of all the things and put my focus on the path someone needed to travel to move them closer to working with me. I figured how what they needed at each stage in the journey and met them where they were at. Like delivering care packages to a hiker along a trail, I was there with the clean socks and fresh undies, just in the nick of time! Figuratively speaking of course – none of my clients really ever needed clean underwear, lol.
Deciding on that one strategy was hard for me. I don’t like to limit my options but as any creative will tell you, out of restriction comes creativity and this, is always a good thing!
So if you find yourself trying Pinterest for a week, Instagram for a hot second and dipping your toe in and out of FB ads then I’m going to urge you to stop for a minute and take stock. Plan out your customer journey and pick ONE best strategy for where you are right now in your business and your life to make it work for you.
I know many of you reading my blog love taking photos just because you love taking photos. I also know that many of you love photography so much that you want to share that gift with the world and get financially rewarded for it too. If you have that desire then keep on reading. You’ll see more blog post from me over the coming months about this side of photography and how you can turn your passion into a full time income.
Sometimes a business can happen quite naturally. Chances are, if you love photography so much, you are THAT mom on the baseball field taking ALL the pictures ALL the time. At some point, the other parents realize their iPhone photos can’t compare with the beautifully captured images you are taking and they start asking you to shoot their kid’s photos. Or perhaps you’re so excited to use your new lenses you jump at the chance of photographing the preschool Santa photos and business grows naturally from there. If these types of situations have happened to you now is the time to leverage that. People already know that you are “snap happy” so make sure you tell them that you are open for business!
Its easier than ever to reach out to you friends and and your family. One click of a button and you can shoot an email to everyone in your address book. You’re only one status update from declaring your new venture to the world! Use the power of social media to tell your circle that you are doing some mini-shoots or send them a personalized message inviting them to a shoot. Telling your inner circle first will give you the confidence and practice you need to start pitching your services to strangers.
You actually have to ask people to share you are doing this new venture. Often times, friends might be hesitant to refer you if they are unclear that you are taking new clients on. Make sure your circle knows that you are open to shooting new people and actively ask them to refer you to their friends.
If you’ve already taken photos of them encourage them to share on social media and tag you or ideally your business’ social profiles.
Sweeten the pot even more by given them something in return for sending you a referral. This can be a formalized thing such as a free mini session for every three referrals given to you, or something a little more spontaneous by just rewarding those people in your network who you know are good for referrals. Perhaps a free 10 x 8 print or session every so often will help nurture that relationship and keep you top of mind when they are being asked to recommend a photographer. Personally I like a more formalized solution which is baked into your marketing plan. Having a system in place for this will ensure that this marketing strategy can essentially run itself and something I help my clients set up all the time.
As has been said a bajillion times before, there has never been a better time to get yourself and your business seen for FREE using the internet and social media. But because of this super low barrier to entry it is harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. Its important that you fully utilize your social media profiles to represent your business. Make sure the basic information is filled out correctly and for a local business put all of your contact information on there.
Encourage clients to write a testimonial for you on your social sites – e.g. Facebook, as these will be some of the first places people will look when researching your business. A good testimonial is priceless and you should use them everywhere in your marketing.
And of course, it should go without saying, the photography you share should be your absolute best work and an example of the type of photography you love to shoot. If you want to be a wedding photographer, tone down the baby shoots and most definitely those sweeping landscape shots. Post lots of beautiful brides to solidify your position in the market. If you are not getting the type of work that you truly want to shoot then take a good look at what your social media photos are saying about you. If you’re lacking the shots you desire set a plan in motion to go out and shoot them!
Being a photographer you have the luxury of constantly creating content that should sell your services for you. Every photo you take can be a piece of marketing material – its just up to you to put it in front of the right eyeballs. The next time your in your local Dentist Office, check out their wall decor. Does it need updating? Could you provide them with some pretty pictures in exchange for a utilizing their wall space? Think about the amount of people that are going to see your work on a daily basis. Even better if you can negotiate a deal with a very aligned vendor such as a Pediatric’s Office if you are a Newborn Photographer or a florist if you specialize in Weddings.
Also consider joining up with aligned vendors who operate in your industry vertical for cross referrals. Start to build this network of people who you like to work with and nurture them the way you would your clients. Word of Mouth Marketing has been around a long time and is flourishing now more than ever thanks to our super connectedness on Social Media.
These best thing about all these marketing strategies is that none of them need to cost you any money – which in any business is a good thing!
For the second part of this series I thought it would be fun to do a video so that you can see my screen as I import my photos into Lightroom. I know a lot of people get confused at this stage of Lightroom. This video shows where I’m importing from and where I’m importing to.
If you are considering making the move to Lightroom I can highly recommend taking Lesa Snider’s Course on Creative Live : Lightroom Essentials. Lesa has really great way of explaining complicated concepts in an easy to understand manner and I love her relaxed, easy going style of teaching. Like all Creative Live courses, this one is broken down into easily manageable chunks and clearly takes your through the program covering all the bases in a fun, practical way.
And if you don’t gel well with Lesa’s style there are lots of other awesome Lightroom courses available on Creative Live to suit every skill level. You’ll find yourself, as I do, referring back to them often.
Some of the Resources Mentioned:
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about your import system and if you missed the first part of this series you can catch it here: http://ingridkellyowens.com/organize-pictures/
Last year I read Marie Kondo’s best seller, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, and although I still battle the clutter everyday, its basic principles has helped me to control the “stuff” in my house. Where I do suffer from enormous amounts of “clutter” and disorganization though, is in my digital life, most glaringly, in my photo organization. I have photos EVERYWHERE and I don’t mean beautifully printed out, matted and framed! This is despite having Adobe Lightroom and the know-how to sort this issue out. So I have decided that this summer is the summer that I’m finally going to organize pictures, videos and all things digital and I’m going to document it all here on the blog so hopefully it can help someone who is suffering from the same problem.
As you might know, I am a photography educator. I teach people how to use their cameras, photography basics including Adobe Lightroom and how to organize their pictures. Why then are mine such a mess? Its not for lack of knowledge of how to do it. I believe its more that my home is completely overstuffed with photos everywhere I turn. They are on my iPad, on my Phone, in text messages, emails, on hard drives, flash drives, and on a whole other PC that I no longer use! And to make matters worse, every day I add to this crazy pile. Some day my kiddos are going to look for a photo of themselves aged 3 and I won’t be able to find one and believe me, its not because I haven’t taken any… This makes me very sad so enough of the craziness!
I realize we are all starting at different points in this process so before you start moving things around, give a little thought to your current situation.
In my Lightroom Library, everything from 2013 to date is pretty well organized, but I still have the issue of iPad pics, emails pics and old PCs and laptops to sort out. If you are just a beginning photographer you likely have no bad habits yet so you get to start from scratch. Organize pictures doesn’t even feature on your todo list yet. Give yourself a pat on the back 😉
Give some thought to your current situation and how you could improve upon it. Think about the end goal of all that picture taking. At some point I’m sure you’ll want to retrieve your beautiful images or perhaps it might be someone else doing the searching. Will they be able to understand your system and find what they are looking for?
I can hands down say the Adobe Lightroom is the powerhouse when it comes to organizing pictures and photo management. If you are not already invested in a system that you are happy with then you can purchase Adobe Lightroom 6 outright or you can subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud which includes both Photoshop and Lightroom.
You will also need a place to store all of your photos. In my opinion it is better to first have anything in one place and then back up from there and my “one place” of choice is a 3 TB External Hard drive. I purchased this one from Amazon but do your research to see what’s a good fit for the size of your photo library and your budget. Ultimately you will have a back up of all your images, but as of now, this is your single place for all your photos for $9.99 per month.
My last step in this phase is to gather all of my photos in one place. I know I have a ton of duplicates so this should help me get over this issue and my one place is going to be my 3 tb hard drive. I also have issues with videos and video clips, but right now I ‘m focusing on photos! I might even end up needing a 2nd drive purely for videos. We shall see…
Next, I’m going to do a search on my laptop, my Old PC, my iPad, iPhone and a few other random drives I have lying around. If you are joining me on this quest, then you might also want to check out old CDs, old Phones and flash drives. I’m pretty confident all my other phones were at one point put onto my computer, so I’m not too worried about mine.
So I’ve created a folder on my external hard drive called “PHOTOS TO BE ORGANIZED.” The next step is to copy everything that is currently all over the place into sub-folders within this folder. If your photos are already in folders, keep this folder structure when you copy your images over. If they are not, then just create sub-folders to represent each device or starting folder and label appropriately. You can drag and drop your images onto this folder or simply “copy” and “paste” each folder individually.
So this process is going to take a little time, but I cannot stress enough the importance of gathering everything in one place. In my next post, we’ll discuss importing the images into Lightroom in such a way that future retrieval will be a piece of cake.
So your homework for this week is:
Step 1: Think about your current situation and how you need to improve of that.
Step 2: Purchase a dedicated external hard drive or decide on the single place to gather all your photos on.
Step 3: Gather all of your devices with images on them. Download the images into sub-folders within the PHOTOS TO BE ORGANIZED folder on your hard drive. Do not delete them off these devices yet until they have been further backed up.
Would you like to join me in organizing your pictures? If so sign up below to get the next blog post delivered to your inbox and get a copy of my CameraShy Gear Guide as well.
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I’d love to know your biggest challenge with all of this so let me know in the comments.
Check out the video below about Aperture Priority Mode. Even if you don’t have a DSLR you most likely have this mode on your Point and Shoot camera.
If you switch your DSLR camera to Auto Mode do you know that you are only using about 20% of its functionality? That’s like having a zippy sports car and keeping it parked in your driveway (as one of my students rightfully stated!) Why spend all that money on a wonderful piece of photography equipment to do that? When you shoot in auto mode, the camera takes over all of the control of your camera settings. It decides on exposure, ISO, WB and whether or not you need flash amongst other things.
While you think this might be a good thing when you are just starting out, when you are learning photography you must challenge yourself a wee bit more.If you want to improve you need to move out of auto mode learn to shoot in the Creative Zone.
Using the P, Tv (S), Av(A) and M modes correctly by controlling the settings, will bring your photography to the next level. Although every shot may not necessarily be a winner (Hey! everyone’s gotta start somewhere) you’ll be a step closer to improving your photography. Remember; we all learn by our mistakes, so don’t be afraid to make ’em.
Using Flash inside is something that most people think is a necessity. In many cases this is true as the light is just too poor or your subject is a wiggly 2 year old. There are many times however that it is possible to shoot without flash indoors:
These lighting conditions work well without flash especially if your subject is not moving, for example if you are shooting ingredients for a recipe.
So to shoot with out flash inside you simply need to turn it off. However, if you are shooting in Auto Mode you will have no control over when your flash turns on and pops up.
This is always the great giveaway as to when a photographer is using Auto. I’ve seen countless students who initially think the only way to keep that flash off is to press down against the pop-up action of the flash unit … eh…great way to break your camera by the way.
Go ahead and turn the camera to P and simply don’t turn on your flash.
In P Mode the flash will only pop up if you tell it to do so. The camera will make adjustments so that it will compensate for the lack of flash and you should get a correctly exposed shot. Shooting in low light can of course be improved by using better lenses and changing some other settings such as ISO but by just doing turning off the flash in P Mode you will have a good jumping off point to see which settings you can further tweak to improve shooting indoors with no flash.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ve probably already taken my free mini-course on taking Better Photos where we cover all of this stuff. You can still sign up to get access to it here.
When your photograph lacks a focal point the viewer of your image doesn’t know where to look in the picture and ultimately their eye leaves the image. Having a definitive focal point ensures that your photo is engaging and the viewer of the image gets what it is that they are supposed to be looking at.
Usually the Focal Point of the Image is where your FOCUS POINT is.
Your FOCUS Points of your camera are highlighted within the viewfinder as red spots (or squares) when your press your finger on the shutter button. Always make sure that your focus points are over the area of the image that you want to be in focus.
If they are not, then you can reframe your image so that this is the case or you can manually set the focus point by accessing the focus point selection function of your camera. Personally I always like to have my focus point set to the middle point. I can then use Focus Lock method to reframe my image exactly how I like it. This ensures I always know where my focus point and hence my focal point is in the image and helps to make my photos more visually stronger.
I’ve just come back from a week at the beach. Lucky me eh? Well, it wasn’t all work and no play. When you work for yourself, vacations always involve a little bit of “work” so my days of hopping on a jet with merely my toothbrush and overnight bag in hand are long gone!
These days you are more likely to see me with 10 different bags for 10 different purposes. A bag for my laptop. A bag for my camera. A bag for my other electronics. Never mind the snack bag, the toy/entertainment for the kids bag and of course a sick bag for my littlest bad traveller 🙁
So you can image my delight when the kind people at Aide de Camp sent me the beautiful Nadine camera bag to review. They were adamant that I gave it a thorough testing and let me tell you, I jumped at the chance to give it a work out!
The Nadine bag is much bigger than my previous camera bags – yes – I’ve had a few! This is because not only does that Nadine comfortably fit my Canon 7D + additional lens and speedlight, it can also accommodate my laptop. And friends, my laptop is not one of these svelte wafer thin things, but a very desperate-for-an-upgrade MacBook 15″ dinosaur. And it all fit in the Nadine bag! PLUS I even had room for my external hard drive that I felt necessary to take as a back up due to the age of my computer – did I mention I need an upgrade?
Make no mistake, this mean’t that Nadine was packed to capacity but it still zippered closed no problem , with a double zip to help me out. It also mean’t that it now was quiet heavy and I wouldn’t recommend carrying this lot on a shoot, but for the proposes of my trip and having everything contained it was excellent. If I had have been hopping on a jet, Nadine even has a little trolley sleeve in the back to slip over your luggage handles to make it easy to navigate the airport. Perfect for weekend getaways.
So lets take a closer look at this beauty!
The Nadine is positioned as Aide De Camp’s Weekender bag so your getting a lot more bag than something which will only fit your DSLR. First off, she arrived beautifully packaged within her own dust bag and in a gorgeous black box. No danger of it getting damaged in transit.
Unlike my previous camera bags, Nadine is made from a wonderful lightweight but durable premium canvas material. I can’t stress enough how important this is as camera gear can get really heavy. It’s also water resistant. I have the beautiful slate color which is a delicate grey, but she’s also available in cream and charcoal. I was a bit worried that it might show the dirt but so far so good and I think a quick rub with a dampened sponge would clean up any messes.
Two long shoulder straps means that it easily carried and I found that it sat really well on my body. Because its so light weight, I would have no problem using this as an everyday bag – I love its “oversizeness” and I’m known for carrying everything but the kitchen sink in my purses!
The interior like I have said, is super roomy with several zippered pockets which I used for lipbalm, and business cards. But here’s my absolute favorite thing about Nadine. The padded camera insert is fully removable and she turns into a regular bag! This means you can cut down on yet another bag when traveling as I nearly always take a ginormous purse with me. Now I can just leave all the lenses and stuff at the hotel if I’m heading out for an evening, armed with just my cell phone in my bag for all the usual selfies 🙂
If you are a mommy with kiddos still in diapers you will absolutely adore Nadine. Not only does she have enough room to stash a few diapers and wipes and a spare change of clothes for your littles, the laptop protection sleeve can double as a diaper changing mat. Totally ingenious!
As you can see from my photos this bag really packs a hell of a punch in both functionality and style – both of which are extremely important to us ladies!
An important element of improving as a photographer is learning about composition. Composition is how we put together and arrange things in a photo to make it look well balanced and artful. There are tried and tested ways of arranging the elements in a photograph to look “pleasing” to the eye and they have been used in art for centuries. Sometimes nature does this composition for us and all we have to do is point the camera in the right direction and click, but mostly we have to work a little at it to make our photos look the best they can be.
If you struggle with knowing how to best compose your photos, I want to encourage you to first of all SLOW down and think about your shot before you take it. All too often we are in a hurry to shoot and we miss things that could help bring the shot to the next level. Slowing down will help you focus on the beauty or the emotion that you are trying to capture and allow you time to think about how to best approach your shot. Slowing down will give you time to think about the following four things:
The Focal Point of your image is usually the most important thing in the frame. Its that end place that you want the viewer’s eye to rest on when they are looking at your final photo an it is usually the sharpest thing in your frame.
ACTION: Place the camera’s Focus POINT (red dot or black squares) over your FOCAL POINT by toggling your focus points or use the “Focus Lock and Recompose” technique .
Evidence suggests that placing your focal point bang slap in the middle of your frame is not a good look. One of the most widely known “rules” of photographic composition is the Rule of Thirds. the Rule of Thirds is where you think of your frame being divided into a tic-tac-toe grid. The rule suggests you should place your points of interest (including your focal point) where the gridlines intersect. A good exercise is to go through your image library and see how you could re-crop your photos with the Rule of Thirds in mind to improve them.
There are many other composition “rules” and we cover each of these in depth each month in my Take 52 PLUS membership group. Another basic one is the concept of Balance. There are many types of balance in an image one of which is when an image just ‘feels” well balanced. This could be because the visual weight of each side of the image is in check or even everything is perfectly symmetrical. Think about what might throw an image off balance for you.
Perspective is also something that can completely change the composition of your image. Taking time to consider your point of view, your choice of lens and you choice of focal distance can help you to create improved compositions.
You want to give as many clues as possible to the most important part of your image and there are many various composition techniques for achieving this. Some of the more basic things you can think about is using Leading Lines which draw your viewers eye into your image, or using a natural frame to frame your shot.
Bright highlights as they will draw the viewer’s eye towards them and shadows will generally lead the eye away from an area so be mindful about where these appear in your image.
This last point is probably the one that will make the biggest difference to your photos. If something doesn’t add to the story that you are trying to tell in your image, then leave it out of the shot. Use your zoom to crop in nice and tight if your main subject is a person. Leave no question about what the main focal point of your image is. Sometimes, you need supporting information in your frame to add to the story. If this is the case, then by all means, leave it in. It’s all your call. But if something makes it into the frame, there should be a good reason for it being there!
If you would like to delve deeper into COMPOSITION theory and technique I’d love to have you join us in the Take 52 PLUS group. Its an awesome way to step up your photography game with directed monthly assignments and peer feedback from a supportive community.
And if you are thinking, how on earth am I going to remember all of this stuff when it comes to taking a photo, sign up below to get your free Cheat Sheet on Composition!
I Love P! I do! Ask any of my students 🙂 I tell them all P is their best friend – their buddy, their pal! So who or what is P I hear you ask?
Ah! P doesn’t stand for Professional, ahem, as I’ve heard, ahem, at least twice before…
P = Program Auto Mode! See it up there on your camera Mode Dial?
Program Auto Mode is your best friend because it gives you all the benefits of shooting in Auto Mode such as, the camera takes care of all of the exposure decisions for you, but lets you override any setting you wish. And as you know, there are lots of other things to worry about on your DSLR or mirrorless camera other than just exposure. In Program Auto Mode you can control the Flash, the White Balance, the Metering, the Auto Focus Modes etc. while the camera makes sure you have a well exposed shot every time.
All of these things are functions of your camera that you really need to take time to learn. These will make the difference in your photography between just “blah” photos to something that you’re really proud of. And while you are learning about these things, you don’t have to worry about Shutter Speeds or f-Stops – all that is taken care of by P so you can spend your time getting to know all the other stuff while still getting correctly exposed shots.
I believe that you should run before you can walk and using P mode allows you to do just that. Before you start manipulating the exposure get to know how your camera sets things and you will see how small tweaks can make a huge difference.
For example, look at the following two shots:
Pic outside with Flash
In Auto, the camera will never decide to pop up the flash when you are outside as it only worries about whether there is enough intensity of light or not. Using Fill in Flash when your outside will help to avoid these shadows and totally change the look and feel of your image. You can only add this pop of flash in the P mode but it is as simple as just by pressing the Flash Button on the side of your camera flash.
As you can see, using your flash outside as a Fill In Flash can bring your photos to life!
There are so many of things like this that cannot be done in Auto Mode and once you’ve been using your camera for a while you’re bound to come across these limitations. In fact, if you’ve had your camera anything more than a wet weekend (or a snowy one) I’m willing to bet you have already.
Program Auto Mode also gives you little clues as to how the camera is deciding to set the exposure. If you pay attention to the numbers on the back of your camera, you can quickly begin to see the exposure combinations that work best for various scenarios. This will give you a clue as to where to start when setting manual exposures.
The first number you see is the Shutter Speed and the Second is the Aperture. These two varibles will dictate the exposure along with ISO. And ISO can be controlled in Program Auto.
As your photography progresses knowing the variables will be come very important
I actually believe that getting a firm grip on ISO and its impact on your images is a great foundation in shooting in manual and P mode allows you to play with ISO and figure out this important part of the equation.
So the next time you are at the park, or messing around with the camera outside, don’t be too hard on yourself and have a go in Program Auto Mode and see what you can change 🙂
If you’d like to learn more about all the things your wonderful camera can do, then join me for a live webinar on “Simple Things you can do to Improve your Everyday Photos.”