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Many professional photographers start out taking photos as a hobby or a creative outlet. At some point, you realize that your talent is too good to be limited to a few nights and weekends here and there, and take the leap to become a full-time professional photographer. Starting your own business can be challenging. Once something goes from a hobby to livelihood it’s easy to get lost among all the things that need to get done. Building your photography brand and voice is an extremely important piece of creating a successful business. Here are some tips to help you build your photography brand while still enjoying what made you take that leap in the first place: capturing amazing images.

Take photos because it makes you happy

One of the best ways to find your voice and build your brand is to always remember to take photos because it makes you happy – not because you need to sell them. This may seem intuitive, but many times photographers will spend so much energy researching the perfect equipment and collecting different lenses that they forget to step back and enjoy taking pictures. Having fun, trying new things and exploring will naturally bring out the creativity in you and lead to some of your best work. Plus, taking beautiful photographs comes from the heart – trying to “force” a perfect image for the sole purpose of selling it will probably result in a lot of frustration. Bottom line: if you do it because you love it and it makes you happy, people will feel more of a personal connection to the pictures you capture, in turn helping you to build a consistent voice and brand.

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Study your previous work

Chances are that if you’ve been photographing for a while (professionally, or otherwise) you have thousands of photos to look through. If you are just starting out with your business, devote some time to studying all of your previous work. Try to find common themes in your images – do you tend to like a certain time of day best? Do you prefer shooting people or landscapes? Do you prefer candid shots, or giving your subjects more direction to stage the perfect image? Once you’ve determined some common themes, this will give you a better idea of how to brand yourself and describe the type of work you do to others.

Build your portfolio to reflect your brand and voice

Studying your previous work is also the best way to start building your professional portfolio. Once you’ve landed on common themes in your work, figure out which photos you’ve taken that have garnered the most responses out of people in the past. Utilize social media. It is probably pretty likely that you have posted your previous work to some social media outlet at some point or another. It would be very simple yet extremely beneficial for you to go back and look at the comments people made on the photos that you shared. Which ones resonated the most with your audience? Which ones got the most attention, likes, shares, or engagement? This will help you determine your best work and what should ultimately make the final cut for your professional portfolio.

Write a stellar ‘About’ page that shows off your brand and voice

While most of your brand and voice is going to be conveyed through your images, being able to show off your personality through your website’s ‘About’ section is also very important. The ‘About’ page is most likely the first time a potential client is really “meeting” you – and it will set the tone for all your written communication with your clients. The page should tell your story, but also help create a connection between you and your current or potential clients. Whether you decide to use that space to talk about the inspiration for your work, your camera gear, or your personal journey as a photographer or creative – what you decide to say and how you say it will tell a potential client a lot about the way you do business.

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Don’t kill your creativity

So much of your voice and brand as a photographer comes from your creativity and is what makes you unique and sets you apart. Sometimes, when photographers start to take photos for a living, they become perfectionists – always critiquing and criticizing their work. Constructive criticism is definitely a good way to learn and grow, but too much of it can cause you to shut yourself down as a photographer. Some of the best and most famous photos have some technically “imperfect” aspects, and yet those are part of what has made them so fantastic. Don’t lose sight of your voice in an attempt to create an image that everyone else will love – focus on why you love it.

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What other tips have you employed over the years to help build a successful photography brand? We’d love to know!

 

How to Find Your Unique Voice as a Photographer


Four Tips to Finding Your Photography Voice

January 25th, 2019

How Social Media Can Grow Your Business

Posted by liveBooks

Tuesdays Tip

Social Media 1-1

With so many social media outlets available today, it can sometimes become overwhelming to choose which ones you should be using to engage your audience and bring in new customers. It may seem like the best course of action is to ignore all the choices and just stick to one outlet. What many photographers do not realize, however, is that each platform offers opportunities for growth – whether this may be through brand recognition, followers, or potential customers is your choice! We have outlined the platforms we believe will give your photography business the biggest growth potential!

Instagram

Instagram

With over 800 million monthly active users, Instagram has the power to become one of the most important means of outreach for your photography business worldwide. This platform offers you the chance to build a portable portfolio where you can showcase your work. This doesn’t mean that you have to post every picture from your shoot, but rather the one(s) you consider to be the best.

With its massive hashtag database, Instagram can help bring in clients that are looking for your type of work. By using specific hashtags, clients will be able to find you more easily. When used correctly, these hashtags can become similar to how SEO helps your webpage get views. In addition, creating a unique hashtag for your business can help create a viewing gallery for potential clients. For example, using #johnsmithphotography on your images and having your clients use it when they post your images on their profiles, will ultimately increase your brand’s recognition!

Facebook

Facebook is one of the first platforms that come to mind when talking about social media. Having 2.2 billion monthly active users makes it one of the most widely known social media platform.  It not easy to figure that this platform can be a very powerful tool to drive new customers to your business!

Instead of using your personal page to showcase your work, create a Facebook page that allows anyone to access your profile. With the use of analytics provided by Facebook, you’ll be able to measure the effectiveness of each post and activity on the account. Additionally, creating a page allows you to boost a post and create advertising campaigns. These two options allow you to choose your target audience (residing area, gender, age, etc.)!

Another great tool that Facebook offers is the creation of events. If, for example, you are giving a photography seminar and would like to invite your followers to attend, this tool helps you reach out to an audience, track the number of attendees, and keep the discussion streamlined all in one place!

Twitter

Twitter is oftentimes overlooked by many photographers. It requires time and energy to fit everything you are trying to communicate about a shoot into only 140 characters. However, this is a powerful form of expression. You do not need to give your audience an entire explanation of what the picture is about. Rather, allow your image to speak for itself. The saying holds true in this scenario: “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

Many photographers do not realize that when they share their work through Twitter, it can get picked up surprisingly fast. The environment surrounding this platform is very much based around retweets. When your followers love your work, they are very likely to retweet your posts.

To start promoting your business through Twitter, you can see the marketing tips they offer on their website!

YouTube & Vimeo

As with Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo are often ignored by photographers. Many argue that they are not videographers and do not have any content to upload. These video-based platforms are often relevant to the type of photography that you dedicate yourself to. If you are a Wedding Photographer, uploading samples of the “Wedding Day” videos you have created would be a great way to showcase your work to new clients.

If the type of photography you dedicate yourself to doesn’t require the use of videos, you can create video tutorials for your audience and peers. These types of videos create a sense of trust in your viewers that can easily translate into a client-based relationship. By creating a channel on YouTube or Vimeo, your audience will be able to more easily find you and find more videos created by you.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images and videos to their pinboards. The main idea is to create a variety of categories that contain pins, resources, photos, and other information that the viewer finds interesting.

As a photographer, creating your own account that not only showcases your work but also has pins of the type of things you like, allows viewers to better connect with you in a personal way. Landscape photographer, Joshua Holko, shares his work from his projects in various boards that viewers are able to see and pin onto their own boards.

It’s also important to note that this social media platform is largely based on shares. Since photography is such a visual business, it can be a great tool for photographers to market both themselves and their business.

Snapchat

Similar to Twitter, Snapchat is often overlooked by professionals. However, Snapchat offers you and your business the ability to reach your followers organically. The video content you create for the platform is unfiltered, unedited, real and shared in real-time with your audience. Once a follower clicks into your Snapchat story, you have their undivided attention. In a world ruled by constant interruption and many outlets calling attention to your followers, this is a great resource to have on your side.

It’s important to note that Snapchat is a platform that should be used to share how you work rather than to display your work. For example, if you are on a photo shoot, you can record a quick ten-second video showing your audience what you are working on, what brand you’re working with, or even give a quick how-to tip. Audiences create a better connection with you when they feel the work is authentic and organic.

It’s important that as a photographer you choose the social media platform(s) you feel are the best to represent your business. Whether you choose to activate social accounts on all of the above-mentioned outlets or just one, remember to have your business goals in mind. Once you kick off new campaigns or themes through these platforms, maintain your business perspective, marketing efforts, target audience, and specific goals all in line. With this, you’ll be able to accurately measure your success.

January 24th, 2019

Should You Be Watermarking Your Images?

Posted by liveBooks

You spend hours upon hours getting the perfect photo. You love everything about it and can’t wait to showcase it everywhere possible – your website, blog, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. Then your worst nightmare as a photographer happens – a few months later you notice your photo is being shared around, but with absolutely no credit to you as the photographer. In the digital age we’re living in, this scenario happens all too often. How do you protect yourself against this type of situation? Watermarking images is a constant debate in the creative community. In this post, we will explore the pros and cons of watermarking. We will also lay out a few other easy options to protect your work.

Pros of Using Watermarks

Watermarking is popular with many photographers. Placing a watermark on your images can serve a few purposes:

  • Additional Protection – Placing a watermark on your images makes it more difficult for others to steal your photos. Copyright violators may not always want to bother removing a watermark from a picture, as there are plenty of non-watermarked images available online. In addition, even if a watermark is removed or cropped from your photos, having an original “watermarked” image saved could be used as an argument in a case of stolen property.
  • Free Marketing – Photos get shared on the internet (and social media) at an alarming rate. Having your logo, name, or website URL in a subtle place on the photo can act as free advertising for you. This is especially effective for wedding and portrait photographers; people will always share their wedding or family photos on their personal social media pages, which in turn goes out to all of their friends, and their friends’ friends. Having that watermark not only gives you credit but drives potential customers to your work.

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Cons of Using Watermarks:

  • Distraction – If a watermark is not subtle enough, it can distract the viewer from the main subject of your photo and can sometimes look amateurish, cheap, or arrogant.
  • Doesn’t Always Protect Your Images – While watermarking does add an extra step for would-be thieves, it does not completely protect your photos. Many watermarks are easily cropped out and there are several apps that can find and delete watermarks in images. Even someone with very little Photoshop experience can easily remove most watermarks from images and pass them off as their own.
  • Less Sharing – Watermarks are a great way to get some additional advertising for free; however, people are less likely to share heavily watermarked images on their social media accounts. Furthermore, the people who are most likely to steal your photos probably never had the intention of paying for them in the first place, watermark or not.
  • Creates Difficulty When Changing Branding – When your business grows, many changes can take place. You may change your business name, logo, or website URL. If you want to maintain consistency, you would have to update all of your old watermarks on your images.

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Watermarking the Right Way:

In an effort to combine the best of both worlds, here are some quick tips for watermarking your images in a way that allows you to enjoy all of the pros and experience few of the cons.

  • Subtlety Is Key – Place your watermark in the bottom right-hand corner with a low opacity. While image thieves may still be able to easily crop it out, they would likely try to remove the watermark regardless of placement.
  • Class It Up – Another option is to place a strip at the bottom of your image that brands your name with a nice font but isn’t disrupting the actual photo itself.
  • Don’t Overload – Having your name, website URL, logo, copyright symbol, etc is overload for a watermark. Choose one of these items (your URL is a great way to drive people to where you actually sell your photos!) and use only that on the image.
  • Hide Your Logo – If you want to get really fancy, you can incorporate your logo into the photo somewhere where only you can find it. This will probably only work if the images you create are very unique, less so for everyday photos.

Other Alternatives:

Let’s take a look at some easy alternatives to watermarking your images that will still provide you with some protection from theft.

  • Don’t Upload a Full-Resolution Photo Online – For social media sites where sharing is rampant, this is extremely important and in the event that your work is stolen, will be an easy way to prove the original work was yours. If you sell your photos or prints on your website, you can always upload higher-resolution files there.
  • Utilize Your Camera – Most DSLR cameras will allow you to add some metadata directly into your photography via a menu on your camera settings. This can help make sure that every shot you take has your name, copyright, and URL injected straight into the digital thread of your image.
  • Description + Google Alerts – Most digital thieves will not bother to rename your photos, so using a description that is personal to you and setting up a Google Alert for that exact description can help let you know immediately if someone has tried to publish your work online.

Lastly, make sure you are educated on the tools out there to help you keep track of your images. TinEye is a service that allows you to submit an image to find out where it came from, how it is being used, and if modified versions of the image exist. Google Image Search is also an easy and free way to track your images – you can enter the URL or upload your image to see where it’s been or see any images that look similar to it. Whether you choose to watermark your images or not, it is always best to make sure you register your photos with the US Copyright Office.

Sources:

Why You Shouldn’t Watermark Your Photos

The Pros and Cons of Watermarks

To Watermark, or Not to Watermark?

How to Protect Your Photography Online

Watermarking Your Images: Pros & Cons

Why This Photographer Thinks You Should Watermark Your Photographs

January 23rd, 2019

SEO Best Practices for Website Images

Posted by liveBooks

seo tips for website images

When it comes to websites, content may be king, but it’s most effective when combined with great imagery. And this isn’t just guesswork, either! A major portion of our brain’s primary functions is to process visual information, which is why your website should be visually appealing as much as it is informative.

If you’re a wedding industry professional, chances are you depend pretty highly on photographs to showcase your samples of work. As you should!

Couples love seeing examples of previous weddings. They are great for inspiration and give potential clients a sense of your style.

However, if your website images aren’t optimized properly, they could be doing more harm than good. Be sure you follow these search engine optimization (SEO) best practices when publishing images to your website.

Consistency in Style

Our first tip is more directly related to user experience, but when your online visitors are more engaged with your website, it can indirectly help your SEO.

Before you even think about adding a photograph, image or graphic onto your website, ask yourself some key questions:

  • Does it match my brand?
  • Will it speak to my ideal audience?
  • Does it look consistent with other visuals I have already placed on my website?

If the image would look cohesive with your branding style, colors and niche market, great! Move on to our next steps. If not, look for something better (or create one yourself!). Remember to focus on quality over quantity.

Resize for Web Use

As great as high-quality photographs are for printing, big files (especially images that are several megabytes, or MB, in size) can only slow down your website load times.

Why does this matter? Well, for one, website visitors may leave and find another faster website if yours is loading too slowly. Second, your site speed directly affects how well your website performs on search engines like Google.

Photographs don’t need to be more than 72 dpi (dots per inch) for digital purposes. Most photographs, however, start around 300 dpi, causing them to be bigger in size (bytes). Ideally, images should be around 200-800 KB maximum each.

This may be way over your head, but you aren’t alone. That’s where liveBooks’ advanced image compression tools can help. When you upload your photos to your liveBooks website, they are automatically optimized for the best combination of quality and performance. If you would like to choose each image format on your own, then you can configure the advanced settings. You change an image’s quality and performance by dragging a slider – one direction will improve the resolution, while the other side will improve the image’s loading time and performance.

Image Titles and Alt-Text

Ever wonder how Google knows which images to pull up when you do an image search?

To put it simply, search engines use what they call “spiders” that scan through websites all over the web for information. In order to know what an image relates to or depicts, it relies on the image title and alt-text.

When your website images rank well for the same keywords within the actual content of your website (such as your services or about pages), your overall ranking for those keywords increases.

With liveBooks’ image tools, you have the ability to easily optimize your images for search engines. In the SEO tab, you can add keyword-optimized image title tags and alt-text to your images. For example, if you post a blog highlighting a recent wedding you photographed at a popular wedding venue, the image titles and alt-text should reflect keywords couples would search for on Google to see what weddings hosted there typically look like.

You might even add a few that focus on your particular role as a wedding photographer. Some you might use for this situation could be:

  • Mansion wedding venues in Chicago
  • Wedding photos at the Stan Mansion
  • Stan Mansion wedding portraits
  • Best wedding photographer in Chicago
  • Chicago wedding photographer

Showcase Your Work on a Beautiful Website

liveBooks offers stunning, customizable website templates for wedding industry professionals and creatives.

Impress your potential clients with a visually stunning website that is ready for search engines and looks great on any mobile device!

We’ve also got a top-notch support team who’s here to help you every step of the way. Start for free today!

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