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Archive for August, 2009

liveBooks recently created a partnership with ImageSpan, so I have been learning a lot about the company and what they do. Aside from providing photographers with LicenseStream, a web-based service to easily license their images online, ImageSpan also has an informative blog, which includes tips that can help any photographer optimize their online presence. I particularly like these “don’ts” for search engine optimization, many of which are “dos” taken too far. More images than ever are found through search engines like Google. These tips can help your work rise to the top of the page. I’ve included the first five. See ImageSpan’s blog for all ten.

The following are ten things “not” to do to ensure your website remains listed on any search index and, most importantly, to ensure that people can find your work through search engines.

1. Keyword Stuffing: If you use the same keyword repeatedly within your website’s text or in your keyword tags, you’ll find yourself penalized and likely removed from the search results index. How much repetition is too much? Use a keyword density checker to make sure that you’re not over the legal limit. Experts say 3-7% for your major keywords and 1-2% for your minor keywords. We touched on this in our last blog post about keywording, Licensing Fundamentals: Keywording for Search Results.

2. Duplicate Content: Duplicate content deliberately tries to trick search engines into improving a website’s ranking. Search Engines have built-in algorithms that analyze pages with similar content. How much similarity are they looking for? Use this duplicate content tool to see if your pages duplicate too much information. If so, the search engines may omit your web pages or site from the search index. A good place to read more on duplicate content is the Google Webmaster Central Blog. If you need to see a more visual presentation on the subject, check out the blog posted by

3. Free-For-All Link Exchange Programs: There is a difference between natural link building and free-for-all link exchange programs. With natural link building, you’re linking to relevant sites or reciprocating links with partners or associations. Free-for-all linking occurs when you use software to put your links out to hundreds of thousands of sites.

Free-for-all programs are essentially spam, and if a search engine discovers this practice, they will likely penalize your website and lower your ranking (if not blacklist you). Stay honest — start a link-building program by establishing reciprocal links with relevant, reputable websites. It really is that simple. If you’d like a good online resource to learn more about this, check out this blog by on link building.

4. Robots: Do not use a robot to rewrite your content. Such robots alter content just enough to generate a set of new, duplicate pages for search engine indexing, with the ultimate goal of increasing your search engine ranking. You may be seduced by the offer of having your website rewritten for you. Don’t fall for it.

Such robots, or programs, typically rewrite your content with very few changes. If you’re caught with duplicate content, your search ranking is likely to plummet so far that no one will ever find it. Needless to say, if you use the LicenseStream HTML code to publicize your store on your blog or personal website, don’t submit it for a robot to rewrite — not only will it affect search engine rankings for your personal website, but it could also affect rankings for your LicenseStream store.

5. Keyword Dilution: Focus on the main keywords that pay off for your online content. To get an idea of what keywords people are looking for, use the free service from Wordtracker. Plug in your keywords and see how many searches they have initiated. Focus the copy on your website and each page on a specific theme. This will naturally ensure your keywords are specific to the types of content and images that someone can find at your website. You may want to refer to the previous ImageSpan blog post about keywording practices.

For all ten tips and other helpful information, check out ImageSpan’s blog.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: What techniques do you use to improve search engine ranking for your images?

In June I interviewed Eric Beecroft, the founder of the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, which took place recently in Manali, India. I was impressed with the multimedia pieces that came out of last year’s workshop, and wanted to showcase a couple from this year’s participants. Dhiraj Singh, a freelance photojournalist based in Mumbai, won the workshop’s top honors for student work. He and Tristan Wheelock, a freelancer from Florida, share their multimedia pieces from the workshop here, along with their experiences at the Foundry.

Miki Johnson: Why did you decide to participate in this year’s Foundry Workshop?

Dhiraj Singh: I had heard about the Foundry Workshop on Lightstalkers and was even more keen after I read the list of tutors for this year. However, a huge concern was finances. Since I’m a freelancer and work is sporadic, gathering finances for the workshop was nearly impossible. I had almost decided to give the workshop a pass. As a last resort, four days before the workshop, I emailed Eric Beecroft. I told him frankly that, even though I would love to attend, it would not be possible because of financial constraints. He replied immediately, suggesting I come as an assistant and be a part of the workshop. I was in Manali 48 hours later!

MJ: What was the most beneficial part of the workshop for you? What did you learn?

DS: For me, the basic multimedia approach and nuances that I picked up from Tewfic El-Sawy was the most enriching part of the workshop. The other tutors, such as Hendrick Kastenskov from the Bombay Flying Club, Ami Vitale, and Ron Haviv, also shared a great deal of experiences, which helped me reach a deeper level of understanding of photojournalism and its current stage of evolution. How to take print-based photojournalism to the next step and preparing for the online aspect of the field has been an important lesson from the workshop.

MJ: Tell me about the multimedia piece you created at the workshop.

DS: In My Name Is Dechen, I photographed the inner mind of a woman who wasn’t quite in her senses. When I saw her on my very first walk in Manali, her moods, emotions, and communication with her environment captured my interest. I bonded with her instantly. I wasn’t sure what kind of project it would turn out to be, but I just couldn’t walk away from her. She had such a lively spirit and a sort of melancholy that touched me deeply. I spent time with her for a couple days and kept shooting and recording whatever I could. At the end, editing it down was simple — with huge help from Tewfic of course!

MJ: How was the community at the workshop? Did you meet people who you’ll continue to be in touch with and who taught you important things?

DS: I certainly hope to keep in touch with the people I met at the workshop. Photojournalists are a dying breed, and keeping in touch with the few that you meet is important, especially as for me as a freelancer. These people become your motivation and your best critics. The lessons stay with you even when the camera doesn’t.


Tristan Wheelock

I’m from Tampa, Florida, and worked at the St. Petersburg Times there. I quit my job to come to India and pursue freelance work. I’m currently based in Delhi and mainly work in multimedia. I make short documentary style projects combining video, sound, and stills using the new fancy Canon 5D Mark II.

A few months back I was reading PDN‘s 30 about photographers to watch in 2009. One of the photographers, Jared Moossy, mentioned the Foundry Workshop and how he made some good contacts there. I had never heard of it so I Googled it and it turned out that it was going to be happening in India about the same I was going to be there. It also turned out that the Bombay Flying Club guys, whose work I am in love with, were going to be teaching. It was pretty much a done deal from there.

At the workshop I met a lot of amazing photographers and saw some work that really inspired me. I learned a lot about incorporating sound into multimedia from my teacher Henrik Kastenskov of BFC. It was really great to hear what he had to say about the changing media marketplace. It was a tough week and I really felt like I pushed myself the entire time. I was working frantically right up to the deadline to get my project done. It was a challenge for sure, but in the end I was really proud of what I managed to complete.

Gene Higa is a destination wedding photographer based in San Francisco, but he’s got great tips for all kinds of photographers. In today’s Tip of the Week, Gene talks about the importance of discovering and distilling your photographic style in order to build a successful brand from it.

“Shoot A LOT and figure out what you’re really good at.”

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: Gene has some great tips lined up, but we’re always eager to hear what you’d like to know more about. Leave your questions in the comments (with a link to your website, of course) and Gene will be happy to respond.

New York Magazine last week published the most in-depth article yet chronicling the sad financial downfall of celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. The question on everybody’s mind is how a person who’s making an annual salary of $2-to-$5 million could run into a debt of over $24 million. The Wall Street Journal blames it on her “leverage-and-live-large lifestyle.”

In a surprising move, Time Inc. has purchased a house in Detroit to serve as a long-term base of operations while its publications document the struggle of the nation’s automobile capital. This seemingly unprecedented move will allow Time’s journalists to cover the story not only as observers, but as part of the community.

The iPhone emerged this month as the most popular camera on Flickr, ousting the long-reining top uploader, the Canon Rebel XTi. We’re not surprised considering how easy  iPhone images are to upload and the improved picture quality of the new 3GS. At the time of writing this post, the XTi has climbed back to the top of the chart, but we’re betting Canon is paying attention and expect to see wi-fi upload capabilities in their DSLRs soon.

Matt Mandelsohn’s The Lesson of Lindsay is a beautiful story of young girl struggling with personal tragedy. The fact that the piece was turned down by every potential publisher, one because they wanted “happy” news stories, is just a tragedy. A Photo Editor boils it down to the “duh” soundbite that publishers still refuse to listen to.


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