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Rock your first live video!

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So I had my first EVER live video chat with Cyrissa from Sparkle Society at the end of last year (Chip usually does them and he’s THE MAN). It was so nerve-racking! I didn’t know what to do at the start. Wasn’t sure where to look. It’s funny looking back on it.

Anyway because I found it interesting and nerve-racking, Cyrissa from Sparkle Society has put together this awesome post for y’all. This will hopefully help you to rock it.

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Unless you’re living in a cave somewhere, there’s no way you’ve missed the influx of live video across social media. Facebook is playing favourites with posts containing live video and… as the savvy business-owner you are, I’m sure you know you need to play along. How does that make you feel, friend? A little nervous? Unsure? Kind of like you want to jump the social media ship all together? I feel you. I really do. Live video isn’t for the faint of heart. It is LIVE after-all. There’s always a chance that you fumble your words; get a little digital stage fright or commit some other involuntary act of embarrassment right before the masses. I’m here to tell you-you don’t need to worry! I have some super helpful tips that will help you feel confident and ready to do your best on live video – even if you’ve never gone live before! Ready?

Plan ahead

Planning is an essential part of the live video process. You don’t have to prepare cue cards, but you should have a topic planned with related bullet points. Keep it on a screen in front of you or somewhere else at eye level to prevent yourself from looking down/away from the camera. This will help keep you on track and avoid awkward pauses in your presentation. Get more tips on planning from this post.

Extended planning
Get yourself into the routine of producing regular live videos with a social media content calendar that includes live video topics that correlate with your blog posts and social posts.

Create a click-worthy title

No one will spend their time watching a live broadcast that looks boring from the get-go. Create a catchy title that will leave your viewers intrigued and cause them to click on. You may brainstorm some ideas ahead of time and share a few with friends to see which would spark the most interest.

Prompt your audience

A great way to boost engagement is through audience activity. When you sign on, introduce yourself and ask your viewers to share the post; thank your audience for tuning in and then get them in the game! Make sure you ask questions during the broadcast and give your audience simple ways to answer {ex. type ‘1’ if this / type ‘2’ if that / drop an emoji to say you’re with me…etc}. The more comments, replies, shares, etc. the more Facebook will see that you have super-engagement. If you have super engagement, they will make sure more folks see your pretty face in their newsfeeds.

Stop worrying about #s

Remember, it takes a little while for viewers to pop-in and engage with your live videos. But…if you record it, they will come! Remember, Facebook gives special treatment to posts with live videos. While your viewers may not catch you live every time, they will catch the replay. So, don’t despair, dear friends. With some consistency, people will start seeing your videos and you will be Facebook famous in no time.

Rock it, then re-purpose it.

Don’t let your live video die! You can keep re-using your live video to extend your reach. Use your video for a better client experience. You can also use your video to create the oh-so-helpful backlinks as well as ad content. Check this post for detailed info on how to let your live video live on!

Now you’re ready to confidently and creatively rock your first live video! Need more help? I’d love to have you join myself and hundreds of other creative entrepreneurs in the Sparkle Society – a free online community that educates, informs and empowers photographers just like you.  Plus, I like to spoil all my new Sparkles with a FREE mini-workshop of their choosing!  So come join the party and let me help you shine online with social media!

 

Survive Summer as a Wedding Photographer

By | Help!, Tips & Tricks, YOU! | No Comments

Photographing a wedding in the heat of summer requires some planning, so we’ve put together a survival kit to get you through those long days in the sun.

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Shoes!!

Everyone LOVES shoes (or maybe that’s just me), but they are a huge key to surviving wedding season!

Yes, they need to look good, but they also need to help you survive those 8-10+ hours on your feet. From standing in one place during the family photos, to running around like a crazy person during the bridal photos – especially if you’re Jonathan Suckling, – or dancing up a storm at the end of the night, (if you have the energy).

When I'm on a mountaintop in Queenstown how could I not lose the beanie and do a Suckling Special.

Posted by Jonathan Suckling Photography on Monday, May 1, 2017

I love my converse shoes and my “fancy jandals“. I swap one for the other when we get to the reception so that my feet can kind of relax. I also have my Ugg Boots in my car which are super comfy to wear driving home, it’s like my feet are in clouds.

Tom and Amy Hoffer from Hoffer Photgraphy, Sean and Melanie Flannigan of A Fist Full of Bolts Wedding Photography, and Doug and Jackie Treiber from Doug Treiber Photography, all spoke to FStoppers about their shoes. The general consensus between all were Toms, Sperrys, and Converse. Vans — the classic style, Havaianas (the classic Kiwi jandal), and Adidas sandals were also musts – however as a Kiwi gal, Havaianas are the summer/beach go to jandal, so unless you are at a casual beach wedding, they might be too casual; get the sandal version instead girls. Vince Camuto sandals are a go to for Jackie when a more formal attire is required, and well, Doug loves boots, so the Zamberlan Sella’s are a must! There’s a list to get you hunting! I’m off to check out Sperrys and Toms, anyone know if there’s cheap shipping to New Zealand?

One thing I do recommend is that you get good gripped shoes, or just don’t go walking on a concrete boat ramps, because well, you might do what I did and have your feet slip out from under you. Your camera wont appreciate it 😉

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Clothes!!

Light colour clothes are the key, well that’s what they say! However you are an extension of your brand; a walking advertisement, so maybe add some colour?

As a wedding photographer you also need to blend in with the guests. You don’t want to turn up to a formal church wedding in blue jeans and sneakers while everyone else is in a suit and tie.

I love wearing dresses or skirts, but you HAVE to make sure that the only flash guests see, is your camera one. My favourite one last summer was my Augustine dress (left image), it hid my love handles, was a great length, and comfier than my skinny jeans – no plumbers crack 😀

Samantha Spector, founder of Milk & Honey Special Events told Brides.com that if you don’t want the sweat marks showing through, then you should wear an undershirt as well. This may or may not work depending on your location, because, let’s be honest, you might just sweat through them both. So invest in some good quality anti-perspirant and deodorant (mine lives in my camera bag).

Sunglasses are also super helpful! Make sure you get polaroid ones, they ease eye strain and stop you from squinting too much. However if you ask your guests to remove them, make sure you do as well, otherwise that’s just rude.

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Fluids, Food, Sunblock & Insect Repellant!!

Stay hydrated! No one wants a photographer passing out from dehydration. If you’re not a water drinker, take other fluids. My favourite is Powerade (I believe Gatorade is the US version?)! It’s a massive helper! You don’t want to get the wedding hangover, so keeping the fluids up is a must.

You also might get hungry; especially at the reception. If you have dumb clients or a contract that doesn’t get you food at the reception, you will need to take muesli bars or lollies with you as a pick me up. I’m usually surviving on adrenalin until the reception ,and then I start to flake, so dinner is always a lifesaver. Lollies are a must for me, I have one on and off throughout the day, the sugar boost is good and is really needed on the drive home after the wedding.

Sunblock and insect repellant! They are a must to have in your car and camera bag, (especially in NZ with our deadly sun)! You do not in any way, want to become a red hot chilli pepper. If you have sweet blood, you won’t want the mozzie’s and sand flies biting while you’re trying to take photos, you might just start dancing and slapping too much. Also burns and bites are not fun to deal with when you’re trying to sleep after a long day photographing.

If you have any other tips and tricks let us know! Sharing is caring 🙂

5 Steps to Master Your Workflow

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“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”
– Thomas A. Edison

If there’s anything we can glean from these words from serial inventor and notorious hard-worker Thomas Edison, it is that elbow grease is important, but more important is working smart, working intentionally, and not wasting time on repeatable, menial tasks. As a photographer we can streamline our workflow and get out form behind the computer faster by following these 5 simple steps.

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Step 1 – Shoot Intentionally

For the most part, when you or I arrive for a shoot, we know what sort of images we *have* to deliver. No matter the type of shoot, there are always the “must have” shots. As much as possible, execute those quickly and early, so that you can free up your attention for the candid, unscripted moments that are so very important.

Shooting with the end result in mind can help you focus, help assure you get the photos you need, and free your mind and your attention to be aware and attentive in the moment to capture the moments your clients will love forever. And it will also help with Step 2…

Step 2 – Sort Immediately

Sometimes our photo sessions keep us out into the wee hours, and can be entirely exhausting. It’s tempting to crash out and call it a night as soon as you get home. But whether it’s the same day, the next day, or within a set number of days after the shoot, sort your images from the shoot as soon as you can. Your memories of the event will be clearer and you’ll be more strongly drawn to the important images.

Wedding photographer Ginny Corbett has a pretty solid system in place :: “Wanting to get a jump start on my post processing, I will start to download cards and begin the sorting process during the reception. While the bride and groom and guests are eating dinner I’ll download the cards from the early parts of the day and will start to sort in PhotoMechanic. Throughout the night my second shooter and I will take turns taking photos on the dance floor and downloading/sorting. We’ll shoot all the important parts (cake, first dances, tosses, exit) together, but during the “open dance” portions one of us will shoot and the other will download and sort. 

“By the time I get home from the wedding the only thing I’ve got left to sort is the reception, and I do that while the image files are transferring onto my main hard drives. I love going to bed with images sorted, renamed, and ready to send off for post-processing!”

If you’ve shot intentionally as described in Step 1, sorting through the “must have” images will be a breeze since you made those photos early in the shoot, or systematically throughout the session.

Sorting immediately after a shoot or an event will help make the next steps a breeze.

Step 3 – Send Images

Processing every shoot can be a laborious part of your workflow. Especially if you are a wedding photographer balancing hundreds of photos in dozens of lighting scenarios, ensuring your photos have a consistent, professional quality look can take hours or days of your life. Many photographers choose, instead, to rely on the pros for this step. 

In the past several years post-production houses have become an integral part of many a photographer’s workflow. You upload your RAW photos or your Lightroom Smart Previews and a team of image pros makes them look just the way you want them to, based on the preferences and style you’ve established with the company. In just a few days you get your processed files or previews back, and once you sync them up with the files on your computer, you’re done! Some will even upload the processed JPG files to your online gallery for you if you want.

Some folks look at this type of situation with the attitude of “Why would I want to pay for that when I can do it myself?!” The answer is that there are a distinct number of tasks that only you can do for your business, and you have a finite number of hours in your day to get them done. Outsourcing your initial post processing is a fantastic way to free up hours or days of your time so that you can do the important work that only you can do, and get back to doing the things you love faster.

Sending images out to be processed will help you prepare for this next step.

Step 4 – Share Incrementally

Once your images are processed and ready to share, it’s important to maximize their reach online. Sharing photos on your blog is only part of the equation, and a thorough social media strategy is vital to your business’s success. 

Start with your blog. Encouraging web traffic to your blog is paramount. Keeping a consistent stream of content to your blog will help boost your Google ranking and will keep your regular blog viewers coming back frequently. 

Facebook is also a fantastic way to gain traction, and the ability to tag your clients (and their vendors, family, friends, etc.) in the photos takes it many steps further than you’re able to do on your blog. The trick with Facebook is remembering what exactly its purpose is in the world. Facebook is a social connection site, not an image sharing site. They honestly don’t want your images on their servers, so they compress them *dramatically* upon upload to make them as small as they possibly can. This will affect your image quality. So it’s important to remember that Facebook will never be the place where your images look their best online. But the importance of using Facebook is in the breadth of reach it offers. So use Facebook to share images, but make sure you’re pointing people back to your website where your images will look much, much better. 

Instagram and Pinterest are other places to consider sharing your images online. After Facebook, Instagram has the highest engagement in the 18-34 demographic, meaning that your clients spend an insane amount of their time there. Dropping individual images from a shoot or event over time and pointing back to your blog post will keep your website traffic and engagement high. And a recent study from Think Splendid reveals that “Pinterest is (still) the most used social media platform among wealthy brides and grooms. (Instagram is number five. Yes, really.)” [hat tip to Christine Tremoulet for pointing that out to us]. While Pinterest may not be experiencing such explosive growth now as it did in 2013/2014, it’s impossible to deny Pinterest’s importance to your clients and potential clients.

Since every social media platform has its own unique requirements on photo size and shape, it can be frustrating to try and prep the same set of images 5 different ways for use on these platforms. You can always use the same photos for each, but then you’re allowing the likes of Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest to control the resizing of your images — not a good plan. This is where tools like BlogStomp prove their value. BlogStomp allows you to create different Styles unique to the destination, so you can ensure the photo you send up will be optimized specifically for that platform and will represent you the best. It even incorporates tools like an Instagram crop tool that will crop to square or even add “padding” so the entire image shows in your IG grid. And BlogStomp’s FreeStyle Mode allows you to make tall, slender collages of images, perfect for your blog and for Pinterest, both of which love this format. 

Click *HERE* to give it a look. 

Sharing your photos early and often will excite your clients, increase your website traffic, and will result in more inquiries coming your way. 

Step 5 – Ship It!

We often make it our top priority to share images on our social channels. Collecting likes and comments is addicting, and while it can help promote our business, serving our clients should come first. Getting your clients’ images into their hands should be the number one goal of our efforts. Whether you present your clients’ images in person or online, offering digital downloads or printed photos, make a priority of delivering your images. There are companies who make beautiful presentation boxes that you can brand with your logo, add your clients’ name or names, and even include little keepsake items they will be eager to show off to all their friends and family.

Making sure your clients know they’re your priority from the first contact through final delivery will ensure they will sing your praises far and wide, giving you many more opportunities to “wow” the future clients they send your way.

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There’s no “right way” to structure your business or your workflow, so it’s important to arrange a system that is right for you. But following these steps can help to keep your workflow in check, freeing you up to meet with potential clients, maintain relationships within your market, and spend time doing the things you love to do rather than forever chasing a post-production to-do list. 

The right mindset and the right set of tools in your toolbox will give you freedom of time and peace of mind to ensure your business’s success.

Happy Stomping!!

Of Fires and Foxes

By | Blog, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Anyone out there use Firefox as your web browser?

#EmbarrassingConfessionTuesday (is that even a thing??)

I do.

I use Firefox. I use it all the time. And I know I should stop – a buddy of mine refers to it as “Netscape Navigator” every time it comes out that I still use it regularly. I know that it’s lacking and that there are much better alternatives out there like Chrome or Safari, but I still use it. All the same. Well, for some things, anyway.

But there are a small handful of things I definitely don’t use it for, and one of them is a pretty big deal.

I will not use Firefox to view images online. 

I mean, overall it’s a decent-enough browser. It will open a website and help you cruise Facebook like the rest of them. Text renders nicely, just like any other browser. But for viewing images online, it is literally the worst. Here’s what I mean ::

In all these images below, the left-hand side is a screen shot of Firefox and the right-hand side is a screen shot of Safari.

In a few of these examples the difference may be subtle. But very much of the time, using a browser that isn’t color managed will have unpredictable (usually negative) results. To ensure your images look their best online, it is best to use a browser that has their color game on point.

For a more thorough look, click up this article from Arnaud Frich.

Happy Stomping!!

The REAL truth about SEO (and BlogStomp)

By | BlogStomp, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

So SEO, huh? Another cool acronym that helps keep me in a job. Search Engine Optimization is just that – optimizing your website for search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves, Lycos – you get the idea…).

A few disclaimers to start
          1. We’re not full-time SEO consultants who live and breathe this stuff – we’re techies that have a sound understanding of a broad set of web principles. This post is likely to change and we’re happy to be corrected as things evolve. And they will.
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          2. This post is aimed at photographers, the current majority of our users. Examples will be geared towards that audience. But the principles of what we’re saying will hold true across the board.
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          3. BlogStomp’s SEO functionality is available only for users with WordPress blogs.
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          4. YMMV. Or in other words, it may work differently in your situation, or be different in your experience. But whatever.

Here goes.

Content, Content, Content.

A stream of frequently updated content on your site should be your first target. Blog (share) as much of your work as possible. And do it FAST. Engage your clients/readers close to the moment, and get your readers interacting with your site. The more you share, and the more your users share what you’ve shared, the better off you’ll be.  Remember, sharing means caring.

You probably knew that huh? Moving on…

Keywords

Be purposeful about the words, titles and phrases you use in your posts. Use keywords that are important to your business. Search engines will (over time) associate your site with those words. So this is where people go and write a post something like….

 

 [My-Area] Wedding by [My-Area] Wedding Engagement Bridal Trash the Dress Photography Services at [My-Area] Wedding Venue

I am like, totally a great Wedding Photographer in [My-Area] that totally offers the Best Wedding Photography Services in [My-Area]. If you’re
interested in Wedding Engagement Bridal Trash the Dress Photography Services in [My-Area], please contact me.

xoxoxo

Danny
Photographer Extraordinaire
Specializing in Wedding Engagement Bridal Trash-the-Dress Commercial Newborn Seniors Architectural Food Nature Photography Services in [My-Area].

 

Don’t. Just don’t. The above post probably (maybe) would be quite effective. But my goodness it’s lame. Remember that people actually have to read what you write. I, for one, wouldn’t want that associated with my brand. I’d honestly prefer to have fewer hits than have a post like that on my site.

Use keywords by all means (your “About” or “Contact” pages are great places to get these in), but try not to look like a kid in the sandwich board selling pizzas, yelling to passers-by…

You can also put keywords in places that are less visible than in the content of a page/post. You see, the search engines have “spiders” (probably literally a tarantula) that crawl all over the internet looking for things to index.

In human-speak that means Google has software that looks all over the net and stores information on what your site is about. These spiders look at HTML tags and attributes that are less visible to your human readers. In real terms you can put keywords in tags like metadata, title, keywords, alt-tags, etc…

Here we go again….

<meta name=”keywords” content=”my-area wedding engagement bridal trash the dress photography services, photographer, world number 1 photographer, cheap photographer, expensive photographer, budget photographer, the knot, I use a mac so I’m totally creative, I literally live in photoshop (like I have a bed there), photog, I have a cute dog/baby, my photos are better than yours, I bought a fancy camera, kitchen sink”>

Again, don’t. Think of the search engine spiders like people – they can smell a rat, too. The folks behind search engines are, like, MIT folk – almost like the ones in “The Social Network” (which is a very quotable movie, BTW).

This is called ‘keyword stuffing’, and it won’t get you anywhere, or if you’re really (un)lucky, you’ll get blacklisted by Google. Awesome!

Google is very guarded with the intricacies of all of this, but in the most recent news from a Google engineer, they are starting to penalize overly-optimized sites. (If you’re interested, Matt Cutts at SXSW)

In summary, only have a few relevant keywords, please.

Strategy

Merlin Mann (his real name) put it best.

MerlinMann Twitter - BlogStomp

https://twitter.com/hotdogsladies/status/132620388927680513

Man, I like him. The thing is, be yourself. Be sensible and be purposeful. By all means, link to the venue where you shot because you liked them and because they fit with your brand. But don’t sell out (unless the money’s REALLY good…)

This post was rubbish, I thought I was coming here to read about how BlogStomp can help me with SEO.

Please heed the advice above and simmer your keywords and targets to a select few, then apply as follows.

      1. Image file names – You can set BlogStomp to pump out images with custom names. File names can be a sensible place to put a keyword.
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      2. Alt tag – From BlogStomp 2.5 and up you can add alt tag keywords to images. Strictly speaking, these are for the alternate text version of the photo, should it fail to load. Another good place to put something sensible.
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      3. Title tag – From BlogStomp 2.5 and up you can add title tag keywords to images. This is the text that displays when a user holds there mouse over a photo – a “tool tip”. So make it ‘human’ and readable.
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      4. Content – Lets be honest, what you type in the post itself is the real deal. Write something worth reading, add engaging photos, promote conversation, link to vendors, and be genuine. This is key.
Conclusion

It’s easy to get sucked into the rabbit hole of SEO. Over time, hand on heart, this stuff won’t matter nearly as much as you leaving an awesome impression with your last client. That isn’t a directive to put your head in the sand and do nothing about it, just a bit of perspective.

Happy Stomping!!