Category Archives: Photo business

All things related to the business end of photography.

A Photographer’s Guide to SEO & Social Media

Hey Folks,

What’s your page rank? How many friends do you have? Retweets? Have you shared anything today? What’s your title tag? Incoming links? How’s your website rank?

Now that summer is over, and it’s officially “office season”, you’re probably spending your time doing much of what I’ve been doing lately; website work, photo editing, marketing and promotion via the sticky, tricky and infinite webs we call SEO (Search Engine Optimization) & Social Media (making me wonder what, exactly, Anti-social Media might be).

SEO is a pretty tricky beast. It’s a lot of research, reading, re-reading, web-coding, overhauling, reviewing, more research, re-coding and hair pulling. It’s mostly a lot of trial and error; it’s not a given, for example, that what works for one site is applicable and relevant for another. And it’s almost certain that what works on the article you just carefully absorbed will not work on your website. So, it’s mostly guesswork.

Sometimes the results are what we hoped for, and we pat ourselves on the back, and think how clever we are. Sometimes, despite all out best efforts, the old googles kick our superbly optimized page to the bottom of page 11 on their results; this really hurts when you see some trashy, 1993-styled geocities looking webpage showing up on the first page of rankings. Continue reading

RAW files and stock photo sales

Bull Moose in fall color, Denali National Park, Alaska.

A bull moose standing on the fall tundra in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Vegetation includes Dwarf Birch and Alaska Willow. Please click on the image to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks

Recently I saw a tweet the other day from photographer Richard Bernabe: “Just had a photo editor demand raw files to process as they see fit. I turned the deal down.”

I saw and enjoyed at least some of the following conversation. We discussed the merit of sending out a RAW file to a photo editor instead of some other file format, such as a tiff or a jpeg.

For myself, I can’t see any reason to not send a RAW file if an editor or graphic artist requests it, unless there was some very highly unusual and extenuating circumstance; the only one that springs to mind is if the final image was a manual blend of multiple exposures, and/or a panoramic stitch that I’d put together. Even in those circumstances, I suspect I’d most likely explain to the person I was dealing with about the amount of time involved in finishing the product from camera to computer screen, and suggest they simply use the finished 8-bit tif or jpeg file, but if they felt they really wanted the RAW files, I can’t see why not; it’d mean they have to do (in some cases) a whole lot of work I’d already done, but if that’s what they wanted, I can’t see a good reason to refuse. Continue reading

eBooks and microstock

An early fall snow coats the peaks of Mount Edith Cavell, Edith Cavell Lake, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.

An early fall snow coats the peaks of Mount Edith Cavell, Edith Cavell Lake, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Looking around the web recently I can’t help but notice the surge in photographers’ promoting eBooks. I wonder if eBooks aren’t the newer version of microstock photography? The hallmark of microstock sales is, IMO, an incredibly low price for (typically) royalty free sales; at best only very loosely managed rights. That seems to be the industry marketing model for eBook sales as well.

I’m not saying this is all a bad thing. One plus I see is that the bulk of eBook sales are direct from the photographer to the customer; cutting out an agency, which I think is (virtually) always a good thing.

Another plus is the quality of the material; the eBooks I’ve seen have been absolutely first class stuff. Microstock photos are often pretty sad images.

I think the above 2 positives are more than likely related.

Just wondering out loud is all.



Click This; April 2011

Brown bear backlit at dawn, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

A coastal brown bear, Ursus arctos, walks along Brooks River shoreline at dawn, backlit, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.


Hey Folks

Next up in this series of news of the month pieces.

This month, I haven’t been spending as much time in the woods, and even less reading the news. Mostly, I’ve been grating sandpaper over my eyeballs … more commonly called “working on website updates”. I need to take about a  year off, and learn how to do this properly, then start over from scratch and rebuild everything (yeah, that’s gunna happen).

Below I’ve compiled various bits from around the web that held my failing attention long enough to actually read through the piece.  Feel free to add your own stuff of note, I’d love to see some things I’ve missed.

In a completely random order: Continue reading

Click This – March 2011

Backcountry Skiing trip, Kuskulana River, Mt. Blackburn, winter, Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Backcountry Skiing trip, Kuskulana River, Mt. Blackburn, winter, Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks

The next of the monthly series for 2011. The biggest news, of course, in photography this month was the Oscars. I, of course,  missed them. Again. Ahh well – there goes pop culture, I spose.

The next biggest piece of news is that I’ve been spending quite a bit of time out of town, tooling around in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, enjoying the mountains. A few days here, a  few days there; beats the heck out of navigating the treacherous icy roads of Anchorage. And much more interesting than reading the news. 🙂

Below is what caught my eye this month. I’ve been in the mtns a bit, so might have missed some good stuff. Feel free to add your own stuff of note.

In no particular order: Continue reading

Photography Gear Insurance

Backpacking to Mt Jarvis, Wrangell - St. Elias, Alaska.

A backpacker (me) sets out on a trek toward Mt Jarvis, in fresh fall snow, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

One of the most problematic issues with photography is also one of the most glaring; the cost of all this gear. A new pro camera can easily  cost anywhere from two thousand to eight thousand dollars. A second camera, assorted lenses, tripods, ballheads, etc, etc, etc .. it’s insane how much this can quickly add up to (not to mention increasing photo requests for < $75.00 usage – another topic).

Compounded by the fragility of most of this gear, photographers face a real issue; use it, be careful with it, and try not to have to spend more $$$ on it than necessary; i.e., don’t break it. So, given the fragility of the gear, for most of us, that means insurance.

Several years ago I researched this, and it seemed that, for me, a personal articles policy with State Farm was the best route to go. It wasn’t too costly, and yes, they covered all my gear, knew I used it professionally, and life was good. Just to clarify,

Me: “I use this photo gear professionally, is it covered?”
State Farm: “Yes”.

I added the cost to my car insurance, and moved on. Too easy.

This past fall I bought a brand new 500mm lens from Allen’s Camera in Levittown, Pennsylvania. Great folks, and a great price. I then went to my local State Farm rep, showed them the receipt and added the expensive lens to my list of insured gear. All good. Continue reading

Free Photos – bull elk photo

Bull Elk bugling, Jasper National Park, Canada.

Bull Elk bugling, Jasper National Park, Canada.

Hey Folks,

I had another photo request for free use of my images today; they come in pretty regularly, it seems, particularly for wildlife and landscape photography. We nature lovers obviously love what we do, and so must have a desire to give our work away for free. How can we not?

I’ll be the first to admit it folks; these are tough times, for buyers and sellers alike. There’s no denying that truth. I thought I’d try to find some kind of compromise here. I always like to develop a relationship with someone who may potentially pay for my work, and I also wanted to help these people out – theirs is a just and worthwhile cause. And hey, maybe helping these folks out might provide the impetus for some real economic activity in the world? I hoped to do my bit to help the economy get rolling, my own little stimulus plan, if you will (I still can’t believe the government got away with labeling theirs a ‘stimulus package‘). At the same time, I didn’t really want to give away my work for free. What to do?

I tried to explain to the person on the phone; I listened closely, and sympathized – “yes, I realize you’re a non-profit organization, but  my business, on the other hand, is NOT a non-profit“. This didn’t clarify things, apparently.

A different tact:  “Well, you see, my rent doesn’t go down according to the charity work that your business does, and the food I eat doesn’t become free simply because I did a good deed for the day“. We got nowhere. Continue reading

Blogs, Social Media, Tweets and Gibberish

Caribou herd on the coastal plain, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Caribou herd feeding on the coastal plain, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Click the thumbnail for a larger, more epic, version.

Hey Folks

Recently I read a photographer ask the following question:

Now I know that blogging gets your profile closer to the top of the heap and web traffic will probably go up. The question is have any of you actually seen a raise in the amount of sales as a result? Is it all worth the amount of time that it takes to do all this stuff?

Now, I hope the photographer doesn’t mind me mentioning his name, but I only do so because this guy is a total BAD-ASS. Readers, meet Mr Adam Gibbs. Adam is an amazing photographer, and I don’t mean ‘amazing’ like ‘oh yeah, cool’ – I mean like his images are simply gorgeous. If this photo doesn’t make you cry, you’re computer is broke. If this photo doesn’t move you, it’s time for you to retire from your position as CEO of Exxon-Mobil, Mr Tillerson.

Anyway, the discussion that ensued revolved, as suspected, around blogging, facebooking, tweeting, etc, etc. Is it “worth it”? Continue reading

Is Facebook the online version of Walmart?

A beaver (Castor canadensis) hauling willow back to his lodge, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Beaver, (Castor canadensis), hauling willow back to his lodge for the winter, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

You undoubtedly heard the news; today’s bling is Social Networking. You need to be on Facebook and you need to Tweet (loud and often). You need people to Digg your Flickrworld, you need to be Linked In, Hooked Up and Decked Out. You need to do this because you can’t afford not to, because everyone else is doing it, and because if you want to get ahead in life, to succeed, you need to do what everyone else is doing. Right?

It’s true, so I jumped right in. In the last few months I’ve opened the pages of Facebook and Tweeted my first Tweet, and just this week started a Flickr photo account. Additionally, my guiding business, Expeditions Alaska, is now Linked In. Social networking, I’ve been instructed, is the key to my future success and now, after wrapping up a summer of hiking and backpacking in the mountains, I’m giving it a shot.

It’s an interesting and somewhat challenging process. You don’t need me to write about the ways in which successful folks engage this ‘social networking’, as this has been covered elsewhere far more effectively than I might manage. The topic here is the pervasive, engulfing nature of such sites as Twitter and Facebook, etc. According to their stats page Facebook has more than 300 million active users (irony of the term ‘users’ duly noted). Continue reading