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Katee McGee is a California-based international award winning editorial and commercial photographer, serving the wine industry! Since 2005, Katee has specialized in wine-related photography and has shot in some of the world’s premier vineyards and estates in California, Italy, and France. See more of her work on her website: www.pendergast-mcgee.com.

How did your career begin as a professional editorial and commercial photographer?

My first paid professional gig was as a unit stills (set) photographer for Universal Pictures on location for the movie The Hitcher II. It was exciting and so fun to be a (albeit small) part of a larger group of creatives. Great energy – I learned a ton on that shoot. Most exciting was that they chose one of my images as the hero image for the poster and DVD cover.

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How did you become interested in the wine industry specifically?

I grew up in the wine industry, running through vineyards and playing hide-and-seek with my brothers on the weekends in the enormous 4-acre barrel room of historic Alamadén Vineyards. Back in those days it was still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the World’s Largest Covered Wine Cellar”.

My dad has worked in the wine industry in sales and marketing since before I was born – and still does. Through that exposure to the industry, I began noticing the imagery inherent to wine and its culture at a really young age. In addition, my father always brought a lot of enthusiasm to whatever his latest projects were and I think it rubbed off. In a sense I think I was “sold” on wine and the wine country culture long before I was ever able to actually partake.

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Would you say that you are a wine enthusiast?

Of course. I have had the privilege of not only photographing incredible wine locations around the world, but also have had the opportunity to taste the amazing wines at those locations. Wine culture is really all about sharing. Sharing stories, sharing your hospitality and sharing something you’re proud of. Artistry and craftsmanship is appreciated and communal in wine culture – everyone wants to share what they’ve made, so my palate was educated by some of the best “teachers” in the world.

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Which is your favorite type of winery to photograph?

I can’t say I have a favorite. Each place needs something different. Sometimes it’s simple, like just capturing the beauty of the location of the architecture. But sometimes it’s more of a challenge. A lot of times, big producers want to look small and artisan and give off a boutique vibe, while some of their smaller boutique counterparts want to present the image of being bigger players than they are, so that make things interesting. I genuinely like the problem solving involved in delivering what each client wants and needs – each client is different and I think it’s one of the best part of what I do.

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Is there something you would like our viewers to know about wine photography?

Wine photography really requires you to be multi-disciplined. There are so many aspects to it – you need to be able to do a lot of it well. You need to be able to produce striking landscapes, make interesting images reflecting nature and architecture, work as a photojournalist during harvest and crush and around the winery, connect with owners and winemakers to create compelling portraits, and then have the technical studio and lighting skills to create clean product shots.

Most of all, you need to be a storyteller. I know it’s cliched but it’s still true, because at the end of the day you are hired to tell the unique story of the client and their brand.

In pursuit of that unique story, you can also get some strange requests. Frequently, I am asked to visually represent elements of the terroir (For those who don’t know – “terroir” is the unique natural environment in which a particular wine is produces, this includes factors such as the soil, the topography, and the climate in that area.) I remember one gig where the creative brief requested that I show “wind”.

But in the end – this is their life’s work. There is only one harvest a year and each vintage is unrepeatable, so creating images that help tell the story of that brand, that vintage, that location is paramount, and a good wine photographer needs to really understand that on an innate level. Understanding that and respecting that is critical.

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Your approach to wine photography seems pretty versatile – are there other services you provide to your clients?

I have a creative collective called Garage Industries and I coordinate and art direct multi-disciplined creative marketing projects. For example, for one client I’m currently working on a promotional project that includes photography, letterpress printing, original oil-paintings and comic book art, copywriting, video and digital media and my task is to keep all of that coordinated and aligned with the creative direction of the project. I have a deep network of creatives from my years in the business and its been great to be able to assemble dream-teams of professionals and work together on specific projects. Its a great outlet for my more grand creative concepts.

Do you have a special project or photography you would like to talk about?

Since my daughter was born, I have become slightly obsessed with children’s portraiture. After she was born, I found myself spending a lot of time in the world of kids in addition to the world of wines, and I was always kind of put-off by typical children’s portrait photography. I wanted to have images of my daughter that were cool and contemporary and modern – print large. Not something that would look dated and be embarrassing to either of us in 20 years time. I would look at adverts for Gap Kids or Crewcuts and think, “Why can’t I get pictures like THAT of my daughter?” I didn’t find anyone making them so I decided that I would just make them myself. (Years ago I had worked as a Creative Director for two first-generation skate/streetwear contemporary clothing companies in Southern California so the idea wasn’t a stretch.)

Based on that spark, I started putting together custom children’s portrait shoots that follow more of a fashion editorial trajectory, with all the bells and whistles of a commercial fashion shoot – but for “regular” kids who aren’t professional models. (Although in truth, I think many of them could be if their parents wanted to go that direction.) You’d be amazed at how awesome these kids are! I love creating images that are genuine reflections of their unique personalities – no stiff poses, cheesy props or strained, fake smiles – just capturing their pure, beautiful spirits. It’s magic.

I have found that there are other parents like me out there that want images of their kids that are cool, timeless, and done to the highest professional standard. It’s great to be able to offer this level of production and quality to the parents that “get it”. (I knew I couldn’t be the only one!)

To some it might seem a bit incongruous to do both wine photography and children’s fashion portraiture, but if you know me – it makes perfect sense. And anyone who has kids knows that a glass of wine can often be your very best friend.

Cheers!

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November 30th, 2016

Elena P. | Meet the Team

Posted by liveBooks

Meet the Team

photo-on-28-10-16-at-14-17-2We are excited to introduce Elena, our amazing Support Manager! Elena has been working with liveBooks for almost 7 years. In her time with liveBooks she has seen the company evolve into what it is today. The move to migrate our clients to our HTML5 platform has been managed by Elena and her team!

Quick Facts: 
Hometown: Brasov, Romania
Favorite liveBooks8 Feature: Video Galleries! I love that it’s really easy to use and the end result is just awesome!
Favorite Brand: Urban Outfitters
Words to live by: I have found that is you love life, life will love you back.

Posted in Photography

Tuesdays Tip

What’s next once you have finished creating your website? Publishing it for everyone to see! This instructional video shows you how to add your domain name to your liveBooks settings and helps set up all DNS records to correctly point to your liveBooks site. Note: GoDaddy is used in as the registrar example but all settings and changes apply to any domain provider.

If you have any questions while publishing your site, we urge you to contact our Support team at support@livebooks.com!

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John Johnston is an advertising and editorial photographer based in Denver, Colorado. His client base includes Chipotle, Ford, Forbes, Guiness and Newsweek. To see more of his work and liveBooks8 website, visit: www.johnjohnstonphotography.com.

I’m originally from Southern California, but now live in Denver with my wife and two girls. I went to art school to be a painter/printmaker, but decided to go into photography. I fell in love with it and found a way to do both photography and my artwork. I shlepped bags for photographers out of school and decided that I was ready to go out on my own. I called everyone I worked with and told them that I was done working with them to pursue my own career. I have been shooting now for 16 years.  I shoot advertising and editorial work. I love meeting people, I love going places, I love that I get to live in a creative world. I am really fortunate to do so many fun things every day.

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Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

JJ: Clean, honest, storied

Q: How often do you typically update your website?

JJ: With the new site it is a lot more often. I like to update with at least a group of 6-8 images. If there is something I am super excited about, I will update it right away.

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Q: How do you choose the photos that you display on your homepage?

JJ: There is definitely a connection to the photos. They can be brand new or something that is a little older. There is always a story about the location or maybe the person I met. I add the photos that make me happy.

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Q: What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks8?

JJ: Overall it’s pretty easy to get around. Its simple enough that you could change the entire look of the site in just a few minutes.

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Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website?

JJ: Keep things simple. Try and make it easy for people to navigate through your site. They probably won’t stay long, don’t confuse them with lots of buttons or menus.

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Have a website you’d like us to feature? Email us at social@livebooks.com.

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My name is Kari Alana Heron. I am a storyteller. I tell three-dimensional stories about food, culture, people, travel, and life using images and words. My portfolio site is www.kariheron.com and award-winning food blog is www.chefandsteward.com.

I started out taking photos of food when I decided to delve into my ambition to start a food blog with my chef husband some six years ago. As expats, it was a great way for me to introduce myself to Dubai, which was my new home and to merge our skills, expertise, and interests. I have been shooting since I was 9 on a 24 mm and eventually inherited my father’s 35 mm in my teens. I trained in photography from age 16 and went pro when I left the Caribbean and moved to Dubai. Why food? It doesn’t talk back. Seriously though, food is one of the most challenging subjects and I love the reward of conquering something that is so dynamic. Food and culture have always intrigued me.

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I have a mad love for the Middle East. I fell in love some years ago. There is so much there – even though it may seem very basic to Western eyes. I felt I had my greatest personal growth in the Middle East. Jordan has been my most sacred place to shoot so far.

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Since I have an extensive background in Media and Communication, I have learned that relationships are everything in business. It is the same with small clients and those names that make your client list look lush. Waldorf Astoria was a brilliant brand to work with and their Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates location is one of the most spectacular hotels I have ever shot in or had the pleasure of staying at. Red Bull is a fun brand and I headed up Marketing Communication for their largest Soapbox Race in Latin America.

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I consider a perfect food photograph one that makes you want to reach through the screen and take a bite or want to go to your kitchen to cook or book a reservation immediately for that restaurant. A perfect food photograph is an invitation to treat.

Like most creatives, I am multi-talented. The body of my work that I am most passionate about includes photography, video production, writing recipe development, and food styling. I am a content producer. It is a blessing to be able to move seamlessly through the arts and not only express my God-given gifts, but earn a living income internationally from them. I love to travel for work and hop across the Atlantic up to three times a year. Travel is the best school life can offer.

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I was commissioned to collaborate on a book which will be published soon. My husband and I are looking for some cookbook deals as we have got a few great books inside us. Food is a universal language that unites people from all over the world and as people who have lived our adult lives outside of our home country, it has been an integral part in our travels in our travels. My work is based on my respect for food, people, their culture and where they live. I am pretty big on social media and love connecting with people on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, and Periscope.

November 23rd, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving from liveBooks!

Posted by liveBooks

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The liveBooks team would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! We are deeply thankful for having you as our loyal client. All of our work goes towards helping you create the perfect website and we appreciate every moment that you have dedicated to our brand!

In observance of this holiday, please be advised that our customer support communications will be affected.
  • Phone Support: Will be limited and only available between 9:00AM – 5:00PM EST.
  • Email Support: Our email team will be online and available to help. All emails received will be answered within 24 hours as per usual.
As always our Self Help portal is available 24-hours for your convenience with an extensive library of articles to help with any question you may have!

Posted in Photography

Tuesdays Tip

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be one of the most important features that your website can have. This feature encompassed the technical requirements needed to improve your website’s rankings, drive organic traffic, and increase awareness in search engines. liveBooks is proud to boast that our built-in SEO tool offers our clients the ability to customize their SEO settings on a photo, page, and site-wide level.  Additionally, all liveBooks8 sites automatically include micro date that search engines, web crawlers, and browsers can extract and process to provide a richer browsing experience for users.

Learn how to start utilizing our SEO Everything™ tools with our quick tutorial below.

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Emily Dryden is primarily a food, product and portrait photographer based out of Brooklyn, New York. She has worked for world-renown clients and was awarded second place in the International Photography Award 2015 for the Food/Advertising category. To see more of her work, visit her liveBooks8 website: www.emilydryden.com

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I am primarily a food, product, and still life photographer, though I also have a penchant for editorial portraits and storytelling. Most recently my photography has been exhibited in Luchon, France, and in New York City. My clients include Uncommongoods, Wine Enthusiast, Citibank, Staples, Mercer, Kroger, Horizon BCBS-New Jersey, BNY Mellon, Edible Brooklyn, Edible Manhattan, and Atlanta Magazine. Originally from Georgia, I began taking photos seriously while I was a student at the University of Georgia. I graduated with a degree in Journalism (specifically in video journalism), but quickly went back to school at the Portfolio Center in Atlanta, Georgia where I focused on photography. After I graduated, I began working with editorial clients in Atlanta but after a year, I decided to move to New York City where I have been based ever since.

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Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

ED: Clean, Minimalistic, and Professional

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Q: How often do you typically update your website?

ED: I like to update it with new work every few months. I think it’s important to always show new work as it comes out and I’m constantly refining my portfolio. Fortunately, the liveBooks interface makes it very easy to do this.

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Q: How do you choose the photos you display on your homepage?

ED: For the homepage, I wanted to pick a mix of images that show a range but that also work well together as a group.

Q: What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks?

ED: I love the new galleries. It’s great that you can view an entire collection as a contact sheet but you have the option to click and view each image one at a time if you choose to.

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Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website?

ED: I would encourage them to spend time experimenting with the different gallery options to see which one shows their work the best. I can imagine that a landscape photographer might need something different than a food photographer – just like a portrait photographer would need something completely different. There are definitely plenty of options to pick from.

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Have a website you’d like us to feature? Email us at social@livebooks.com.

Posted in Photography

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Have you been paying attention to how your website’s search engine mobile performance results have been doing? If you haven’t, it’s time to start now! Google has now announce that it will create a mobile index separate from its existing search engine. Due to the fact that over half of Google searches are now being made through mobile devices, it was only a matter of time before Google took actions to improve its users’ experience.

Google plans to create two separate web indexes – one dedicated to mobile pages and another to desktop pages. Mobile versions of the pages will be prioritized on its search results page. A desktop version will be displayed if the website has no mobile pages available.

What Does This Mean to Your Website?

Google will now place value on mobile pages when indexing a site and determining its position on search results. Once Google sets the change in motion, websites that do not have mobile-friendly designs will likely see significantly reduced search engine traffic.

If you host your mobile content on a separate subdomain, this could cause some problems for your search engine results. This is to say that if, for example, a mobile user attempted to access “yourcompany.com” on a mobile phone, they might see the URL displayed as “mobile.yourcompany.com”. If this is the case for your website, it may be time to revise the content you display on the mobile website. Google will be prioritizing the content on that subdomain rather than your desktop version.

Testing Your Website

You can now test how your mobile website is seen by Google’s web crawlers! Visit Google’s test for mobile friendliness to find out how your website performs. You will enter your website’s URL and click the “Analyze” button. If you’re website is seen as mobile-friendly, a green message will display letting you know.

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liveBooks is Ready for Google’s Mobile Index. Are you?

liveBooks is ready for this change in search engine indexing! We are proud to say that all liveBooks websites are fully-responsive. Regardless of screen size, your website will adjust its width and features such as text and images to optimize its mobile visibility.

If you haven’t started using liveBooks yet, start your free trial and begin creating your beautiful, fully-responsive website today!

November 16th, 2016

Albert R. | Meet the Team

Posted by liveBooks

Meet the Team

albert-r-photoWe are happy to introduce Albert! Albert has been working with liveBooks for 11 years. He is one of our Production Design Managers and has been working diligently with our Design Department to ensure that our clients get their websites migrated over to our new HTML5 platform! Apart from being one of our amazing Design Managers, Albert dedicates a large part of his time to being outdoors and riding bicycle!

Quick Facts: 
Hometown: Brasov, Romania
Favorite liveBooks8 Feature: Easy Responsive Preview!
Favorite Brand: La Sportiva
Words to live by: We are our dreams. If we don’t dream, we are no longer alive.

Posted in Meet the Team

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