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Available for local and destination weddings and portrait sessions.  Each project is different, so contact me for an exact quote.  Portrait sessions start at $300 and wedding coverage begins at $3,000.  Typical wedding fees are about $5,000 - Send an email to me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Getting Your Photography Business Online - Part Three

In the last post, I told you that I would show you how to get a free e-commerce site, and give you some hints on developing your own web site. If you haven’t read Part 1 and Part 2, scroll down and read them, then come back here.

In Part 2, we talked about putting a collage from the wedding online, the day after the ceremony. Next, we designed a proof album, and posted that. Now, about 10 days – two weeks after the proof album has been online, you will need to put all of your proofs online.

There are two reasons for putting all of the proof files on line. 1. Your bride will need to see them, so she can ask for any additions to the album. 2. So that you can sell photos to family and friends of the bride and groom – without having them bother the b&g – and without them needing to contact you, directly.

A good reason to be concerned about #2 is that many photographers regularly make $300-$500 (some much more), from individual print sales to wedding guests. You might find this surprising with so many guests carrying digital cameras, but mostly, they take snapshots. A wedding is often the only time, all year that a whole family gets dressed up and goes out together. Take advantage of this by getting nice, semi-formal portraits of family groups, throughout the day. Get couples, brothers and sisters, parents and children – you can quickly arrange them in front of a nice background and take a few portraits, then hand them one of your cards, with the blog address. You’ll me amazed how many people will appreciate this – and you’ll make a few extra dollars.

There are many places where you can post files and visitors can order prints. Some are just ways for photo labs to make money, and you get nothing. Others allow you to set prices, but they charge you to host the images, and they take a commission on sales.

I have found only one (there may be others) that allows you to store 1,000s of images (no restrictions on the quantity) for FREE. Actually, you only store a thumbnail. When an order is received, you get an email with the file number, and the path to where you have the photo stored on your computer – even if on external hard drives. You can also log in to your account and see the status of orders.

Once you are notified of a new order, you log on to your account, edit the photo, if necessary, and send it to the lab (there is a network of labs, nationwide, to choose from). When you have finished making any adjustments to the image, you release the order to the chosen lab (there is also a self-fulfillment option, so that you can print the order, yourself). It will be printed and mailed to either your customer, or to you.

They will charge the customer's credit card, deduct any lab charges, charge the appropriate tax, and mail the order. It’s a complete, turnkey e-commerce solution and it costs you NOTHING until an order is placed.

You can add as many galleries, or catalogs, as you want, for each event. For example, if you shot a wedding, you many want to break the event into sections: Getting Ready, The Ceremony, The Reception – and you can break it into even smaller segments, if you want to.

You can set up a storefront, displaying a few of your best images, and well as your contact information, and a few words about you or your studio.

I’ve been using this site for more than five years. Well, I’ve told you everything but the name. Go to Set up your account, upload the files from your next event, and wait for the orders to come in.

OK, now you have a blog, a place to host you album showcases, and an e-commerce site. They only thing left, to get your photography business online, is to develop a website (this is the last step, but it is an important one). While the blog is an excellent ‘first-step’, it is most effective when it works, hand-in-hand, with your website. That will be the topic of the next post.

Setting Up Your Photography Business Online - Part Two

In a previous post, we talked about the necessary first steps to getting your photography business online. If you haven’t read Part One, please scroll to the post just below this one, and read it, then return here.

We have been using the example of a wedding. You shot the wedding, and Saturday. On Sunday, you made a collage and posted it on your blog. You sent an email to the bride and groom, and as many family and friends as you have email addresses for. You will want to collect these email addresses, either throughout the reception, or before hand (in the case of the bride and groom, their parents, and members of the bridal party.)

If you clear it with the bride and groom, prior to the wedding day, you can print inexpensive ‘business cards’ that say something like:

Jane & Tom’s wedding photos online at

Log on tomorrow, for a surprise!

(123) 555-6789

If the bride and groom agree, you can add one of these to every place setting, at each table. You also have a stack of cards near the guest book.

If you want to save money, you can get larger quantities and have a generic first line:

“Today’s Photos Available At”

If you really want to impress, add one of the engagement photos to a custom card.

In Part One, we told you where to get the software to design you wedding collage. You will use that same software to design a proof wedding album. Yep! You are going to design the proof album before your bride and groom even see their proofs. Hey, it’s a proof album, it is online (you don't have to pay to print it), and you are the professional storyteller. Oh! Did you think you were a professional photographer?

Sorry, Bubba! The only reason you capture those images it to tell a story. In fact, you will soon learn that the best way to decide what pictures to take – and how to take them – is to shoot with the album in your mind. Every time you take a photo, you should have an idea how you might use it in the album. Of course, you won’t actually use every image, but you will always have a reason for releasing the shutter -- and you’ll do a better job of setting up your shots, rather than just reacting to what happens.

Don’t get all-uppity and tell me that you are a ‘purist” – a photojournalist and you capture events – not set them up. That’s not what I’m talking about. You see, you have options: Flash or no flash, bounce or direct, diffused or not? What angle are you going to use? Are you going to print is in color, black & white, sepia tone? You have lots of choices, and we will discuss them at another time. Right now, we are just trying to get an effective web presence for your business.

Now that you have your proof album all designed, you to do two things. First, you want to get it to your bride and groom. Secondly, you want as many other people to see it, as possible.

You can use Photoshop’s Web Photo Gallery. While that is an option, it is not a very dynamic one. There is a better choice – one that will take you album design and turn it into a Flash movie. First it will place your 2-page spreads into a frame that looks like a real book. It will allow you to put links to your blog or web page, a link to your e-commerce site, so the family and guests can purchase prints (without bothering the bride and groom, or you), and it will allow the bride to email the link to her album to everyone she knows. Whoa! What are you going to do with all THAT free marketing? Do you think she has any friends that might be looking for a wedding photographer, in the future? You just got a free, unsolicited recommendation from a satisfied customer!!

So, you ask, where do I get this amazing software that will all me to become a well-publicized and highly recommended photographer, almost over night? Dude, if I know that, I wouldn’t be writing this blog at 1AM! Wait a minute – maybe I do. Yes, you can use a program called Web Album Showcase. You can get it from Gary Fong. It’s neither cheap nor expensive, for what it does – about $150. If you are just starting your business, you might not want to spend that, right away. There is an option – a service that will take your album design and create a Flash movie for you. If you are shooting less than a dozen weddings a year, it may be more cost effective to have the service create your online ‘shows’. If you shoot more than a dozen weddings a year, then you should probably purchase the software.

Purchase here. Contact the service here.

To be really successful, you have to WOW your customers. You have to do things that almost no other photographer can do, or is willing to do. Putting up the collage on Sunday (the day after the ceremony) was the first step. The second step is to have the proof album ready and online by Wednesday or Thursday. Expect that the bride will want to make changes, but have her album online before she even gets back from her honeymoon. Oh, and remember all those email addresses that you collected? You got it: email them a link to the proof album. Of course, when you emailed them about the collage, they came to your blog. On the blog, you mentioned that the proof album would be up by Thursday.

Put the cover, or one of the album pages, or 2-page spreads on your blog and link from there to the actual album.

Now are might be wondering where you put that album, for all to see. After all, you only have a blog, not a full-blown website. If you do have your own website, and have the capability to create folders and upload files to those folders, then you can host them, yourself. If you can’t yet host them, yourself, you can use the same service that you used to create your show. They will host your shows for you. Details here.

There are two more steps to getting your photography online. 1. Setting up an e-commerce site. 2. Developing a website to complement your blog.

The next post will cover both of those issues.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Photography Business Online -- Part One

This is a step-by-step guide to getting your photography business online.

I will give you some free resources, and some that are not so very expensive, especially if you don’t have to invest in them, all at once.

Step one is to get an overview of how to run your business. The best resource is Gary Fong’s “Getting Rich as a Photographer”. While not free, it is the single most important tool in your camera bag. Written specifically for the wedding photographer, it has lots of good information for all photographers, regardless of your specialty.

I’m not going to cover everything that Gary mentions in his DVD, but I will tell you that you have to have a web presence. We’ll use the example of a Saturday wedding. By Sunday evening, you will have designed a collage from the wedding and posted it online. While you can create the collage using one of several pieces of software, my suggestion is to use the Album Designer and Collage Builder – also available from Gary Fong. If you are seeing a pattern, it’s because Gary was a well-know wedding photographer, for 20 years. Recently retired, he has been inventing and discovering tools to maximize his profits as a photographer since he entered the business. In recent years, he has made these tools available to photographers, both professional, and aspiring, from all over the world.

If you don’t have a website, yet, you may be asking how you are going to put your collage online. The answer is with a free blog. There are other sources, but I use blogspot.

When you apply for your free blogspot account, you will have to choose a name:, so it is important to pick a name that you can also use for your website. Even if you don’t have a website, yet, you can reserve a name (a domain name). You can check on name availability, and sign up for a web hosting account at many places. I use HostMonster.

Reserve your name, as soon as possible – even if you don’t sign up for a hosting account, you will want to reserve your website’s name. Let’s say that you registered “”. When you create your blog, you will use the name “”. If the name you want is already taken, try using a hyphen: johndoe-photography”.

Back to the collage. Your collage can be approximately 12-20 images from the entire day, or just a portion of it. Often, you will have a series that tells the story of a particular portion of the day – for example, the cake cutting. It may be less the 12 photos, but it can make a nice collage. Put it on your blog, along with a paragraph or two about the couple, or the big day.

Be sure to have email addresses for the bride and groom, their parents, and members of the bridal party. Tell everyone to check his or her email on Sunday evening. Not only will the collage be a big hit with the bride and groom, but it will get your name in front of many of their family members and friends – some of whom my be looking for a wedding photographer in the near future. People buy form those whom they know and like. By getting to know family and friends, and showing them your great work, you will have the inside track when they are looking for a photographer.

This is the end of part one. If you haven’t already done it, register your domain name and get a blog started. For your first entry, just introduce yourself. Talk about your love for photography, the reasons you became a photographer, your specialties, your family, your dog and cat – anything that makes you human and give people a reason to like you. Put a photo of yourself on the blog.

In a following post, I’ll show you how to put a display album online and how to put all of your proofs online, at no charge. We’ll also discover how to create an e-commerce site so that you can sell photos to wedding guests and you will not even need to have a merchant account to accept credit cards.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

One of My Favorites - Nikon Coopix P5000

From time to time, I will post information about a piece of equipment that I think is worth noting. This is the new Nikon P5000. It is an amazing little camera. Not to bore you with technical details, but it is a 10 mega pixel digital camera with both program modes and full manual capability.

It is a really great camera for learning about aperture and shutter speeds, without spending thousands of dollars on a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) and lenses. Nikon developed VR Image Stabilization - vibration reduction - for its pro lenses, to minimize camera shake. It now carries the technology to its newest point-and-shoot digital camera. Combined with a sensitivity of up to ISO 3200, and you will be able to shoot long after the other compact cameras have been put away.

Speaking of compact, this is the perfect camera for a pro shooter to carry all the time. How many great shots have you missed because your regular DSLR is just too big to carry when you go out to run errands, take a walk on a Sunday afternoon, or just plain don't want to carry a lot of stuff? It has a 3.5x optical zoom.

To be fair, this is a link to my Amazon affiliate page. I do get a small portion of the sales -- and it helps keep this site available to you. That being said, I will only recommend those products that I believe in. Now, for you Canon shooters, please don't let the fact that I mostly recommend Nikon stuff make you think that I don't like Canon -- I do like Canon -- but I use Nikon. Just a personal choice.

Using Photo Filters -- in Photoshop

Look at these two images. One is just a little bland, and one is much warmer.

It may be too warm for some tastes, but it illustrates a point. Photoshop provides a group of Photo Filters (in film days, you had to screw these onto the front of your lens). With digital photography, Photoshop has become your digital darkroom (there are other image manipulation programs available. Some are very good, but Photoshop is the choice of most professional and serious amateur photographers).

Back to the images. The first is straight out of the camera. The second has been warmed up in Photoshop.

Open Photoshop (either version CS or CS2 – this will probably work on CS3, but I haven’t used CS3, yet).

Open an image – for this example, use a headshot/portrait.

Now, on the Layers Palette, create a new Adjustment Layer.

A popup menu will appear. Select Photo Filter. Make sure the Preview box is checked, then scroll through the filters, looking at the effect they have on your image.

Also, notice that you now have the Adjustment Layer, and it is labeled Photo Filter 1. We are only going to use one Photo Filter, but if you plan to use several, you can click on the words, and change the text to something more meaningful.

In this example, select Warming Filter (85). You can adjust the Density using the slider.

When you are satisfied, click on OK.

Duplicate your original image layer. You can do this by dragging it onto the Sticky Note icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette.

Drag your duplicate layer (background copy) to the top.

Change the Blending Mode by using the menu at the top of the layers palette. Select Overlay. The default is Normal.

Decrease the Opacity – on the duplicate layer – with the Opacity Slider, until you have the effect you want.

Finally, Flatten the image.

You can download a PDF version of this post, complete with screen captures.

Friday, April 13, 2007


OK, this isn’t actually about digital photography … ah … isn’t about any kind of photography, but it’s still pretty cool. Come to think of it, you might be able to come up with some ways to incorporate into your photography. It’s called podcasting (and no, you don’t need an iPod).

What is podcasting? Well, basically, it’s a recorded audio or video broadcast that you can either play online or download for listening to or watching later. There are thousands of podcasts on the internet. Some of them are about photography, especially digital photography.

So – how do you get started?

First, decide what your podcast is going to be about. Have a specific topic. Get your ideas together. It’s not much different than writing an article. Once you have the points you want to cover laid out in some logical manner, you are ready to start.

What equipment do you need?

You don’t need any kind of studio – you just need a way to capture your audio (or video – or even screen captures if you want to demonstrate how to use software). But that’s for a different post, at another time. There is a free audio capture program called Audacity. If you are a MAC user, you’ll go with GarageBand.

Next, you’ll need a microphone (and web cam, if doing video). Sit down and record your podcast. When you are happy with it, save it as a .mp3 file.

You can host your new podcast on your own website, or use a hosting service. Check out Upload the .mp3 file.

That’s it – you are now a podcaster! If you are going to make podcasting a regular event, you can offer automatic notifications to your listeners. If you offer a feed – RSS or XML – listeners can subscribe to it and get the latest.


The depth of field (DOF) is the distance in front of and behind the subject that appears to be in sharp focus.

Have you ever wondered how professional photographers make their subjects stand out from the surroundings? While you can’t do this with a fixed focal length camera, you can do it with most consumer cameras, and will all SLRs (single lens reflex cameras – those with interchangeable lenses), if you have the right lenses.

For example, a flower may stand out against a blurred background, or a small insect is set against a blurred leaf. Perhaps, the most striking example is when a person seems to be almost detached from the background – they pop out of the page. Well, it’s not difficult to achieve this effect.

The trick is to use selective focus.

With this technique, we can choose one part of the image to be sharp and in focus, while the rest of the image is kept out of focus. It's very useful in macro and close-up photography.

So how do you achieve selective focus? Here are some tips.

Aperture Size

For selective focus, try choosing your widest f-stops (i.e. aperture size), such as f/2.8 or f/4. Couple this with a fast shutter speed to ensure enough light is present in the photo.

Focal Length

A good tip is to zoom (remember to only use the optical zoom –- not the digital zoom feature, if your camera has that option -- in as much as possible, or choose a telephoto lens. The longer the lens, the less depth-of-field it has -- conversely, the wider angle, the more DOF.

Angle to Subject

This tip takes a bit of practice, but is very effective at times. Choose an angle to the subject that causes background and foreground elements to be farther from the focused subject. This causes them to be strikingly out of focus.

Note that it is in fact possible to achieve the selective focus effect using image editing programs. You can simply select one part of the photo, keep it sharp and then blur the rest. However, if shoot the image with selective focus because the effect always looks more natural.

We will talk about achieving selective focus, with software, in another post.

Photography Tutorial - Depth of Field

This is a nice sample of what you can achieve with different depths-of-field.

Adventures in Photography: The One-Year Old

OK, this isn't really a photography 'tip' except to say, "Get out your camera and shoot!"

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Get Closer

Some of our photography tips are pretty complicated and technical. Some are very simple. Here is one that will improve your photography whether you are using an old box camera, or the latest digital camera.

Here it is. Are you ready? Write this down

Move in closer to your subject!!!

Nearly every shot will improve if you move a little closer – even if you just take two or three steps will help. Whether you are shooting landscapes or people, filling the frame entirely with your subject will make a big improvement.

Of course, there are times when you can’t get any closer. In those cases, use the optical or digital zoom of your camera to get a closer shot.

Instead of putting the whole body in a shot, try framing the head and shoulders – or even just the head. Think of how much more dramatic and old man’s face, with it’s wonderful character lines, would be than a full body shot with almost no details.

We all naturally look at the eyes. Make sure they are in the sharpest focus – even if the background is out of focus – we’ll talk about how to achieve ‘selective focus’ in another post.

Sometime you can't get close enough and you might not have a zoom lens on your camera. All is not lost. In another post, we’ll talk about cropping your images, using Photoshop, or some other image manipulating.

One final note: The zoom lenses on digital SLRs are optical zooms. Most point-and-shoot digital cameras have both optical and digital zooms. Avoid the digital zoom -- which isn't truly a zoom. You can achieve the same zoom effect later, when you edit the image in your software. Stick to the optical zoom and crop the image in 'post-production'.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Purpose of This Blog

The purpose of the Photography-Solutions Blog is to offer -- hmm....... let's see -- how 'bout photography solutions for a range of digital photography topics. Whether you are a long-time professional photographer or an advanced amateur photographer considering how to make the jump to pro, we hope to provide solutions to many of your photography questions. Even if you are just interested in digital photography as a hobby, there is something here for you.

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