6 Important Considerations Before You Change Camera Brands

The post 6 Important Considerations Before You Change Camera Brands appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

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I have finally started to change camera brands. I’ve been shooting Canon since my first ever SLR I got back when I was 16. I wanted to stay with Canon, but their current bodies do nothing for me. Also, the lens prices of the new R-mount system are insane. After spending a lot of time researching, as well as some hands-on time with the cameras I was considering (Sony, Panasonic & Fuji), I ended up moving towards Fuji.

I’ve purchased a Fuji XT3 with the kit lens and a 35mm f2. It has been a decision that I made on several factors, and so far I am really enjoying the images I am getting out of the Fuji. I haven’t sold off my Canon gear yet (nor will I likely do so in the immediate future) but I can definitely see me moving a lot of my kit in Fuji’s direction.

However, the move has thrown up a few surprises, which I wanted to share with you in this article. So without further ado, here are six things to consider before you change camera brands.

1. Know why

The question you must ask yourself is, what are you trying to achieve by moving camera brand? Changing brands is a long, sometimes painful experience that can be as frustrating as it is fun. It is also certainly going to be expensive. However, if you are considering a full-blown brand swap, there has never been a better time. The big two (Nikon & Canon) have changed mounts. This means, even staying with your current brand, you will eventually be changing your whole kit. So for many people, if you are going to move, the time is now.

Why did I move towards Fuji? Three reasons; the weight, the size, and the video functions.

I shoot weddings, and the appeal of lighter gear hanging off me all day is huge. Secondly, as I shoot in a documentary style, the size of the Fuji means the camera is not as intimidating as my 5DMkIV when in close situations. I have noticed in my son already that he is much more himself with the small Fuji camera, as opposed to my DSLR. This is what I see on paid shoots too. When shooting with the Fuji up close on a recent engagement shoot, the couple seemed to relax more. It is hard to put into words, but there is definitely something about the smaller form factor.

Lastly; video. Canon is purposefully, it seems, not putting the video features into its DSLR’s that Sony, Fuji & Panasonic are. I want to shoot more video and am starting to offer it to clients. Fuji beats Canon hands down here and was the deciding factor.

That’s not to say that other things such as Eye AF, a flip-out screen and 100% coverage with AF points are not things I want, they are, but they alone were not enough for me to make the switch.

A king on a chess board with a young player in the bokeh

You will find yourself shooting more to test your new gear out. Here I am testing the bokeh of the 35mm f2, whilst teaching my son to play chess. The smaller size means he acts more natural than when I point my DSLR at him.

2. Be prepared to start again

Unless you are willing to sell off all of your gear to fund your new purchase, you will no doubt (like me) dip your toe in the water first. As a professional, I simply cannot just go all-in on a new system. So it will be a switch over time. The lack of kit is in some ways quite refreshing. It is also making me think about what kit I will need as I begin to build up my new system. However, sometimes I do find myself reaching for my Canon as it has the lens option I want.

A change of system will be expensive and, in the interim at least, you will probably have less gear than you previously had. Remember, it is more than cameras and lenses – you will need to change things like flashes and flash triggers as well.

Little side note here. Pixapro (rebadged UK version of Godox) triggers for Fuji & Canon look identical. The method I’ve used to differentiate them is to color the little quality control sticker red on the Fuji trigger. A quick, simple way to overcome an annoying little problem.

Changing brands and starting again can definitely have a positive impact. As you begin to build a new system, you will think more about what gear you don’t use as well as what you find yourself missing. This means you can save some money in the switching process and lighten the load of your gear bag at the same time.

Important-Considerations-Before-You-Change-Camera-Brands

This was my new kit for 3 weeks. No high-end primes, no myriad of lens options. Just a kit lens. Frustrating, but it did make me think about photography in a way I hadn’t in some time.

3. Retraining the muscle memory

There is nothing worse than the downright dread of coming to grips with a new menu system. Trying to remember which button is the one you mapped for changing autofocus is somewhat frustrating. The remapping of your brain to work with your new camera system is one of those things that is initially fun and exciting.

However, that initial joy soon gives way to frustration. It is surprising how difficult it can be to move systems and retrain your brain to work with the new menu system. It gets easier quite quickly, but you will initially miss shots you would have got, simply because you forgot which button you needed to press.

Important-Considerations-Before-You-Change-Camera-Brands

This has been my workhorse for years. I can operate it in the dark without thinking. I will get there with the Fuji, but it will take time.

4. The cost of switching

It is easy to get carried away in thinking that if you sell off your gear, you will be able to switch systems without a huge outlay. Unfortunately, that isn’t usually the case. Moving camera system will come with a financial cost, and it will probably be more than you think. To move system and a new body and a set of lenses (24-70mm f2.8, 70-200mm f2.8, and a fast prime) you will be looking in the ballpark of £1000-£4000. You can reduce the costs of this by buying secondhand glass. However, with the new mirrorless systems by both Nikon & Canon, the price of secondhand glass is still incredibly high and hard to find.

To give an example, I own the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS I lens. I could look to get around £700 for this secondhand at current value. To move to the new Sony G Master of the same focal length, I would need an extra £1700. To pick up a secondhand copy, I would still need £1000, and that is simply for one lens.

When you look at the numbers like that you have to ask yourself, will a change of system for this function be worth £3000? Is eye autofocus, in-body stabilization, and 100% AF points coverage really worth that much? For you, it may be, but do not think there will not be a cost involved in getting the features you need.

Many of you (like me) will be considering a move to a mirrorless-based system. Even changing to the same brand is now going to come with considerable costs as both Canon & Nikon have new lens mounts. I know that you can adapt existing glass for both these systems, but it will not work as well as the new glass designed specifically for the new mounts.

In both cases, the lenses for these systems are commanding top prices. Over time, these will drop, and there will be a larger secondhand market. But at the moment, switching to a Canon or Nikon mirrorless system, complete with native lenses for the system, is no cheaper than a complete change of brand.

I think the mirrorless camera revolution will see many people taking the plunge with different brands. Switching from a 5D Mk IV to an EOS-R is, in reality, the same kind of investment you will make moving to Sony or Nikon.

Again, most brands now have good quality adapters to use glass from other systems, so it does help you take those baby steps. However, the native glass will always give the best performance. Unless you have a great relationship with your bank manager (and/or partner), you may need to transition slowly to cushion the financial impact.

A cow in a field at sunset

This was meant to be shot on my Fuji. However, the battery died and I had no spares. Luckily, my trusty Canon (and 4 spare batteries) to the rescue.

5. Will the grass be greener?

There is the honeymoon phase in any relationship. I am currently in it with my Fuji. No matter what the sensible part of your brain says, having new gear makes you get out and use it. The more photos you take, the more your photography improves. So, therefore, changing camera gear will make things better right? Well, maybe. If you changed for a specific reason and your new gear addresses it, then, yes, it may be better.

What is more likely, though, is that after the honeymoon phase, your camera will get used no more than your current kit. Your photography will not improve simply because of your choice to change systems. You will again find things that you don’t like about your new system and things you miss about your old one. This is simply because there is no perfect camera.

6. Could you spend money more wisely to advance your photography?

The biggest reason to pause and think about changing systems is whether you could make a different investment that will improve your photography more than a change of brand. It is well documented that lenses are a wiser investment than a new camera body. I have seen countless photographers move towards a full-frame camera, rather than invest in lenses, which is definitely a mistake. Lenses hold their value, will instantly give you better results and will last you way longer than a new camera body.

If you look at a minimum of £1000 to change camera brands, then think of what else you could invest that money in to improve your photography. Portrait photographers, that could buy you a great off-camera flash system with modifiers that will take your portraits to a new level. You could invest in new lenses for your current camera that helps you shoot better in low light, or give you more reach as a wildlife photographer.

However, look beyond gear. What could £1000 worth of education do for your photography? How about spending £1000 on a trip to locations that you have always wanted to photograph? In many cases, changing your camera system is possibly the least likely thing to advance your photography.

For most of us, we simply got caught in the hype and Facebook chatter about a new camera. We think it will be a magic bullet that makes us take more photos or better photos. But in reality, it won’t. You will have a shiny new toy that you love, until the Mark 2 comes out and you will convince yourself again that you need to upgrade.

There are lots of legitimate reasons to change systems. There is also absolutely nothing wrong with switching to a new camera system simply because you want to. Just beware of the hype that it will make your photos better because it won’t.

A tipi near a pond with a tree growing out of it.

The Fuji will make me money. Will I make more money than if I had kept my Canon? No. My back, however, will thank me for the lighter weight.

I’m not trying to convince you either way (you probably wouldn’t listen if I did). I am just giving you some things to think about if you are looking to move from your current camera system. Happy shopping.

Have you made the switch to a new camera system or considering it? Share with us in the comments section below!

 

Important-Considerations-Before-You-Change-Camera-Brands

The post 6 Important Considerations Before You Change Camera Brands appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy?

The post Is Photography Becoming too Easy? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy

The autofocus on the Sony A9 is amazing! Set it to eye AF, point in direction of the subject and let it do the rest. It’s almost too easy.

Everyone is a Photographer these days. It has never been easier or cheaper to create good quality photographs. People sincerely believe that the camera is what takes these amazing images. I am sure you have heard this as many times as I have; “You take beautiful photos, you must have a great camera.”

With the technology we see now though, I sometimes wonder, do they have a point?

We now have cameras in mobile phones, that not long ago professional photographers, paying thousands for their cameras would have dreamed of being able to use. Look at the ‘shot on iPhone’ campaign, and look at Instagram daily. People can take amazing photographs, with a couple of clicks and minimal effort.

Has modern technology democratized photography, or does it mean photography has become easy?

Technology continues to make things easier. But that didn’t start with digital!

Technology has always pushed to make things simpler. Be that the TV remote control or the digital camera. The digital camera was simply the technology industry’s answer to the market forces. Consumers wanted a camera that could take endless photographs. Businesses, noting this need, used the emerging technology to answer their customer cries. Thus, creating digital cameras and changing the face of photography forever.

Let’s get this out of the way early. There was no comparison between shooting digital and shooting film. After the first generations with their inevitable teething problems and huge price tag,  photography became incredibly easy with digital. Instant feedback told you whether you had the shot or not. You were not limited by 24 or 36 exposures (or less if you shot medium format). Lastly, after the initial outlay, photography became much cheaper as there were simply no processing bills.

Depending on whom you ask, the digital evolution is either the moment someone got into photography or the beginning of the decline. However, let’s think back a little. If you had shot wet plates, imagine how easy those punks using 35mm film had it.

Imagine when autofocus cameras meant you no longer needed the skill of manual focus? Well, that is just ridiculous! Imagine a flash that didn’t need the incredibly dangerous use of flash powder for goodness sakes. The ability to refocus after the photo is in its infancy, but I can see it being a mainstay of every camera in less than ten years.

Technology helps make life better for humans. The most common way to make things better is often making things easier. In the modern world, we adapt quickly and then quickly rely on the new tech we use. It becomes part of our lives and frees up vital brain space. Every photography innovation, from the first camera onwards, has been about making it easier to preserve a moment in time.

Remember when we only had 18 megapixels, or 12, or six! How did we manage with only nine autofocus points rather than focus points over the entire sensor? Focus points that you don’t really need to use because the camera finds the eyes of humans (or animals), locks on, and all you need to do is decide which eye you want in focus.

I mean imagine how photojournalists in the ’80s would react to a modern digital camera? Moving even further back, imagine telling painters in the 1500s that one day there would be a box that captured the image of the person in minute detail and all you needed to do was to allow light into a box?

I remember the first 0.5MP digital camera I ever used. It was like magic. You could see the photograph instantly, and you never needed to pay for the processing. I was hooked instantly. Even though I had a crappy job, I saved hard for a digital point and shoot and began capturing photos again. I occasionally shot on an SLR camera, but could rarely afford to buy film and process it. I even took a night school class to get access to a darkroom and shot everything in black and white.

The Pentax 3-Megapixel camera I had been saving for months to own, changed my world. The quality wasn’t as good. I had no control over the shutter speed or aperture, but I could take photos. Hundreds of them. All the time. It was life-changing. I had moved more into film making, but this digital camera brought me back. I got hooked again. If it were not for that 0.5 Megapixel camera I got to use in my job, I would probably not even be writing this.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy - Lancaster bomber coming inn to land

The right place, the right time, but only a phone and no DSLR. Yet I still get an image like this.

Does gear make you a better Photographer?

We are photographers, and we love to lust over gear. The newest this, the better that. Camera companies spend millions trying to persuade us that we need new gear. Will the latest Sony with the mind-blowing eye autofocus really make your photos better? No. Will it make them easier? Undoubtedly, yes.

But, thanks to another wonderful technological invention – the internet – many of us spend more time talking about megapixels than actually using them.

We are as guilty as the influencers who “don’t even use a real camera” because we are the opposite. Instead, we sit pixel peeping the corner sharpness at four million percent and then badmouth how a manufacturer could release such a piece of crap.

A phone camera can take the most breathtaking image, worthy of an art gallery. Conversely, a multi-megapixel medium format camera with the best lens can take a snapshot.

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50 years ago this photo was shot on a modified film camera. Gear does not matter as much as you think. Image courtesy of NASA.

Digital makes it easy, but so much harder to stand out

Estimates suggest that over one trillion photographs were taken in 2018 (if you want to see the zeros, one trillion is 1,000,000,000,000). Ninety-five million photos get uploaded to Instagram every day. Add to that the three hundred hours of footage uploaded to YouTube every minute and the number of photographs and videos we are producing is simply staggering. Now whilst you cannot deny that digital made this possible, digital has also made it much harder to stand out.

Camera manufacturers are great at making people believe that they are artists – that everyone has an amazing movie. In the same way that everyone has a great novel, song, or painting inside of them begging to get out. In reality, that isn’t the truth. Photography (to me at least) is art. And art is, for better or worst, elitist.

Some people are not great artists and some are not great songwriters. And many people are not great photographers.

The problem is, with so much poor and average stuff out there, how do you get to see the good stuff? In some cases, you don’t. There are photographers out there, who are taking photographs that are simply some of the best ever taken. However, we will never see them. There are filmmakers out there creating short films that should see them breaking down the doors of Hollywood, but they don’t. Instead, our feeds are filled up with yet more cat memes and average photos we have seen thousands of times before.

We are drowning in content.

It is to the point where photography seems to be a popularity contest, rather than about artistry.

Look at how Canon treated Yvette Roman because she didn’t have 50,000 followers or more on YouTube. Let that sink in. A photographer whose style they loved for a job, who they agreed to hire, was replaced simply due to her lack of numbers. That shows you how companies want to hire photographers who can use their social channels to add to the marketing campaign.

We live in the influencer age, where amazing photographers are turned down for jobs due to not having followers. On the flip side of that, someone who only uses their phone for photography can be given thousands for merely showing that they use a particular piece of gear. They travel the world for free simply because they are popular on Instagram.

This system makes perfect sense when looked at from a marketing perspective. However, these platforms are where most of us spend our time and where we discover new content. Therefore, algorithms now control the amount of photography we get exposed to.

An algorithm doesn’t care about quality; it cares about metrics. The aim is to find popular content and put it out there for more people to find. Does this mean that photography is being reduced to likes? In many ways, yes, but it also shows the power of a story.

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My 6-year-old took this photo. Sharp, well exposed and decent color. Not even a DSLR, just a compact.

A camera does not know how to tell a story yet

We live in an age where you can throw your work out for all the world to see. The level of photography has never been higher. I can give my six-year-old a camera, and he can take sharp, well-exposed photos, telling the stories of his lego figures. But a camera, in fact, no technology, can yet create an image that tells a story.

A great photograph always tells a story. It makes us want to know more about the moment. It allows us to create our own story based on what we see in the image and our world view. The story I see in a photograph will be different from yours. In fact, you may hate a photograph I love and vice versa.

This is simply not possible with even the greatest camera. There is no Ai that will pick the perfect moment for you to click the shutter button. Yes, cameras may do 20 frames per second or more, but even then, you cannot continually record every second of the day. You need to find the angle, frame your subject in the way that tells your story and then press the shutter. Really, the technical aspect (no matter how much the camera companies persuade us otherwise) is not where the photograph is made. It is not in the corner sharpness – many great photos are not sharp. It is the story you tell.

The story is what you need to learn. Telling a story is hard. It has always been hard, and technology is nowhere near being able to do it for us.

You make the decisions before you press the shutter. You use the light, the subject, and find the angle. Then you open a box and let in some light for a little bit. It has always been the same. It’s just that technology over the years has made it easier to let the light in the box and get the image sharp if that is important to you.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy - Guitarist playing solo

No matter what the camera, knowing the moment to press the shutter is still a skill that is not computer controlled, yet.

The future

I am sure you all saw it? It finally happened – a couple hired a robot to shoot their wedding! Yes, I know it is just a photo-booth style alternative for now, but it does hint to the future. Are we going to be used to weddings where drones automatically take photographs that are better than a human can capture? Photographs that can then be instantly customized by the bride and groom at the touch of a button (or voice command)? Will this mean that people will become obsolete in many photography fields? Will they only need a device; a robot?

Will my future as a photography business owner involve owning several robots? The ten-year-old version of me prays that this is true.  Alternatively, will people not need to hire anyone? Perhaps photography will be built into their daily devices? Will we become so vain that a device follows us around capturing our daily lives and then picks the best moments via an algorithm to share on social media for us? (Let’s hope not! – Editor)

What do you think? Share your comments with us below.

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The post Is Photography Becoming too Easy? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Is Unsplash Really an Issue for Photographers?

The post Is Unsplash Really an Issue for Photographers? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Joseph Barrientos on Unsplash

Unsplash is killing photography! I am sure you will have read this somewhere? After all, photography blogs have been full of articles like this. You may agree – you may hate Unsplash. You may want to educate every photographer you meet on why they should not upload their photos to the platform. However, despite photographers and websites rallying against it, the platform continues to thrive. But is Unsplash really wrecking the photography industry? 

A little history

Unsplash started back in 2013 by Mikael Cho. Cho was the founder of the company Crew – a company designed as a marketplace for freelancers. Cho needed images for the home page of his business website but was unable to find the type of images he wanted online and within his price range. To get the images he wanted, he hired a photographer to create the imagery for the brand.

After the shoot, there were several leftover images. So Cho decided to post them on his Tumblr, allowing others to download them for free and use as they wished. Cho uploaded ten free images every ten days. The blog (which also directed people to Crew) was launched on Hacker News and instantly became the top story.

It took off.

Soon millions of people were searching for the images, and thousands were redirected to Crew.

Unsplash launched in May 2013, and by September it had hit one million downloads. In the first 12 months, it reached ten million downloads. This is when Unsplash moved away from Tumblr and launched an independent website.

Since then, it has continued to grow at an alarming rate. I checked the latest Unsplash stats whilst preparing for this article and the numbers are mind-blowing. 21 photos are downloaded from the platform every second!

Unsplash has a community of over 121,000 photographers whose photos have been downloaded heading for one billion times. A partnership with Squarespace allows users to place Unsplash images into their site directly from one of the most popular website builders. Like it or not, Unsplash has changed the photography industry.

Built into Squarespace. It is simple and easy to get copyright-free images.

How is Unsplash affecting photographers?

It is pretty easy to see how Unsplash is affecting the world of commercial photography. The Squarespace/Unsplash partnership is the perfect example of this. As the screenshot below shows, I can go into Unsplash, search for anything and usually find an image. Not just an image, though – a really good quality image. It is easy to see why photographers might be upset about this.

Why pay for a photographer, when I can get something similar to what I want? Want a photo of a beautiful shoreline for an article on the World’s best beaches? Unsplash has the answer. Want a magazine cover for an issue about coffee? They have that too. It is simple to get photographs of pretty much anything – on demand, and for free. Perfect for an editor, but not so much for a photographer.

The issue with Unsplash is that it devalues photography.

High-quality photography is now literally free.

You do not need to budget for it, which is great for small companies who cannot afford bespoke photography. It also means, in the age of good enough is good enough, the bigger companies who can afford great photography, simply don’t see the need.

For every blogger out there who makes no money from their blogs, but wants to be ethical and use images legally, there is also a large media company who simply want to maximize profits.

This problem isn’t new though. In case you have forgotten, the disruption started with the introduction of microstock.

Ryan Holloway on Unsplash

Microstock

Remember when microstock burst onto the scene? There was an uproar by so many photographers about how it destroyed the stock industry. When researching this article, I found several rants on websites about how microstock was destroying the photography industry. I found stories of people who made a good living in stock photography having their livelihood ruined by the likes of sites like iStock photo. As one photographer wrote about microstock in 2009 “they came in like a drunk bull in a china shop with careless regard for the devastation of the existing market”.

The rise of microstock and the rise of affordable, high-quality digital cameras are easily linked. Technology changed the game – especially the stock photography game – and many didn’t adapt.

The industry changed, rapidly, and many got left behind. When we look at Unsplash, it is hard not to look at microstock. As many photographers use Adobe products, I looked at Adobe stock to see what was happening in the microstock world.

In terms of quality, there is some great stuff on Adobe stock. But whilst it is not free, the pricing structure is hardly enough to make a business out of it.

Looking on their site now, Adobe can purchase 10 images a month for £19.99 (roughly £2.00 per image) or 40 for £47.99 (roughly £1.20 per image). In the UK, the minimum wage is £8.21 per hour meaning that even if the photographer got 100% of the £1.20 per image, they would need to sell roughly 260 images per week to make the UK minimum wage.

I know that if you want to use the image commercially to sell products, the license fee is larger. But still, it is not enough to live off without selling a huge volume.

Yet when was the last time we saw the major photo websites writing hate-filled articles about Adobe ruining photography? Okay, I stand corrected. It all kicked off when it looked like they would increase the photography subscription fee.

But seriously, almost all photographers use Adobe. Even though you can make a little pocket money, Adobe has a business that is strikingly similar to Unsplash, yet nobody mentions it.

The question is though, do we not mention it because we agree with this model, or do we see it as normal now?

I think it is because we see it as normal.

The outrage, the rallying cry of photographers, was drowned out by market forces. This is what is happening with Unsplash. One billion downloads prove that despite the passionate reasoning, arguing, and pleading, once again the market has spoken. They don’t care about your business model; they care about their bottom line.

It appears that the main market that will be affected by Unsplash is microstock. As I said before, microstock was not a way to make a living before Unsplash, so effectively nothing has changed.

Charles ?? on Unsplash

Are photographers hypocrites?

This is the point that tends to make hypocrites of photographers (and the websites) rallying against Unsplash. Many photographers do the exact same thing.

How many photography videos do you see with free-use music in them? Who has used Fiverr for a logo rather than pay a professional designer? Why do we use templates for web design rather than pay a professional web designer to create a bespoke site for us? Photographers do this with other services frequently. What is the difference between free photographs and free music?

Unfortunately, the answer lies in ourselves. We only tend to see the impact of changing business models affecting our own industry. We happily use free music (or the microstock equivalent) without thinking about it, because that’s how it is. Unsplash is now how it is for us. As I said earlier, we adapt, or we die.

My favorite example of hypocrisy was when one of the biggest photography blogs wrote an article about the damage Unsplash is doing to photography. However, in the same article, they admitted that their site had used images from Unsplash for their articles. If that isn’t the perfect description of irony, I don’t know what is.

Education (or ranting at people who couldn’t care less)

I have heard many terms like, ‘we need to educate people about this,’ ‘people need to stop being so stupid,’ ‘how can people let their photography be exploited?’

Whilst this is a noble cause, there are huge issues here.

The biggest is the fact that rather than educate, people tend to rant and belittle. Calling people stupid does not help educate them. The fact is, many of them are educated on the facts and choose to do it regardless. They don’t need your approval and trying to tell them they are wrong will achieve nothing but make an enemy of them.

Many people do not want photography careers. Many love the fact that people appreciate their imagery, and that is enough for them.

Photography for many is a passion and an art. Charging for their work takes away their reasons for doing it. Uploading to Unsplash, Pexels or to Flickr with a Creative Commons zero license is a way to get more peoples eyes on their work. And the feedback and likes are their rewards.

This is not wrong. Some people have to accept that others live their lives by different rules, with their own set of morals and they can do whatever they want with their photos. You might not agree, but that is life.

Finally, even if you are right (in your opinion), you cannot educate everybody. It is the equivalent of trying to push water uphill. Many will admire your determination, but unfortunately, in the end, it is futile.

Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash

Should I upload to Unsplash?

Rather than give a yes or no answer to this (I will leave that to you guys in the comments), I thought the best way to conclude this article was to look at what you need to be aware of when uploading to Unsplash. Things that you might not know that could help you make informed choices.

Exposure doesn’t pay the bills

Lots of photographers will have heard some variation of the following phrase: “We can’t afford to pay you, but it will be great exposure.”

The problem is, exposure doesn’t pay the bills. I can’t pay for my electricity with a photo credit. And, I can’t pay for my food with exposure either.

However, I have done work for exposure, to get in with the right people, that has lead to paid work. I wrote about this in a previous blog post.

There is no doubt that Unsplash provides photographers with great exposure. Unsplash is used by influential people every day. Being on the platform is a great way to get your work seen by these people. There are stories of people out there who, through their work on Unsplash, have been offered high-paid jobs with major clients. However, this is not the norm.

Unsplash, will more than likely not make you any money. Microstock may make you a small amount of money, but without a huge library, this is not an income you can use to start saving for a Ferrari. In fact, you will probably struggle to buy a toy Ferrari.

It is important to go into this with this in mind.

You will not get the respect you deserve

People who use your images will generally not bother to credit you. Most of them will not even care about you. You may end up on the cover of a high-end magazine and never even know about it. For better or worse, this is how Unsplash works. Your photos are free, and they will be treated as such. Your work (and by extension you) will generally be given zero respect.

Zack Arias summed this up best in one of his videos on the subject of Unsplash. He tells the story of a woman whose photo was used on a gift guide for a major UK bridal publication. The photographer was not informed about this or offered a copy of the magazine for her portfolio. Instead, she simply happened to stumble across it when browsing magazines in a coffee shop. This magazine’s full-page ad rate is £10,000, and she did not even get a photo credit or an email to thank her. This shows you the value placed on your work.

The thrill of getting featured can lose a little shine when you look at it like this.

Sasha • Stories on Unsplash

The people problem

This is the educational part. The Unsplash license does not cover the use of an identifiable person in a commercial setting. You, as the photographer, are liable. If a photo ends up being used commercially via Unsplash and you do not have a model release, then you had better have deep pockets (and a good legal team), because if the subject in the photo objects, you are in big trouble.

A model release should be completed by anyone whose photo you plan to upload to Unsplash, even family members or partners. A partner can soon become an angry ex-partner with a grudge. If a photo of them you uploaded to Unsplash gets used commercially, you may end up in a world of pain.

A simple Google search will help you find an appropriate model release. There are also many model release apps. This allows you to digitally store the release and allow the model to sign it on your phone. Simply put, there is no excuse for not using a model release; you need to protect yourself. This should be something you always do when photographing models, Unsplash or not.

Is Unsplash really ruining photography?

Is Unsplash ruining photography? No. It’s changing it.

Photography, like many industries, is in constant flux. It is disrupting traditional income models, but I think microstock was much more disruptive.

Is Unsplash taking advantage of people? Again, it depends on your point of view.

The people who upload to Unsplash know what they are doing. Some may be naive in thinking this is the easy way to photography stardom. However, I bet that for some of them, it will be the start of a great career. Just because it is different, doesn’t always make it wrong.

What do you think? Share with us in the comments below.

 

Is Unsplash Really an Issue for Photographers?

The post Is Unsplash Really an Issue for Photographers? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

How Do You Know When You’re Ready to Start Charging for Your Photography?

The post How Do You Know When You’re Ready to Start Charging for Your Photography? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

An image from my first wedding. One of the scariest days of my life.

How do you know when you’re ready to start charging for your photography?

When someone is willing to pay you for them.

There you go. In twenty-two words, I have answered one of the most-asked questions in photography.

In all seriousness though, that is pretty much it.

You only have to look at the story of many photographers and how they started. They simply took an offer to get paid, fearing they were not ready.

Let’s be honest right out of the gate. You will be nervous as hell – probably convinced you are a fraud – and will be fearful of delivering the images to the client. Awaiting their reaction, you may wonder why anyone would pay you to take photos. This is natural and is more commonly known as “imposter syndrome.”

Imposter syndrome

To put it simply, it is the feeling that your work isn’t very good and doesn’t deserve the attention it gets. Albert Einstein also suffered from this, so if this sounds like you, you are in good company.

The truth is, people who are highly skilled or accomplished tend to think others are just as skilled. Because you see what you do as simple, you don’t see the vast amount of skill involved in the work you do. You take it for granted because it comes so easily to you.

It is also human nature to be more critical of your own work than that of others. Put this into a world of social media where everyone is #livingtheirbestlife, and there is what appears to be a never-ending stream of amazing images you see as better than yours. Now you have the perfect storm.

The fact that Einstein suffered from this shows there seems to be no level of accomplishment that makes you able to see worth in what you do. In some cases, higher accolades and awards make things worse.

You just need to remember you are skilled in what you do and your work is good.

Unfortunately, if you suffer from imposter syndrome, you may never be able to rid yourself of it. However, there are things you can do to make it easier. Tactics include talking with others about your issues and taking note of the positive feedback you get. People don’t have to say nice things about your work; they say them because they mean it!

Most importantly, remember that almost everybody suffers from this in one respect or another. I suffer from this badly. Repeatedly, I think my work is awful and wonder why people want to pay me to take their photographs. I convince myself that unless I have taken the best photograph in the history of photography of whatever I am shooting, then it is a failure.

Luckily, I have a great family who support me through the tough times and remind me that people pay for my work because I am a good photographer.

Band portrait again grunge background

I had shot lots of bands, but few band portraits at this point. They were nervous as I had photographed artists they loved. I was nervous because they were paying me for portraits. Imposter syndrome at its finest.

Fake it til you make it – except for weddings! 

There is always a huge element of “fake it til you make it.” You sometimes need to have faith in yourself and go for it. Standing at the edge of the diving board is the worst place to be because you have time to think. Sometimes you need to jump off and try your best. At times it will be graceful, sometimes you may bellyflop. However, in reality, all that is hurt is your pride (and your belly obviously).

Let’s say a friend asks you to photograph their kids because they have seen photos on your Facebook and want some of their kids. They are happy to pay you for the photos too.

My advice is to go for it.

Let’s say the worst happens, and the photos turn out to all be awful (this is more than likely not going to happen. Even if you do not get loads of great shots, you should get a few keepers).  All you do is own up and say you are not happy with the photos and they deserve better. The only thing that is an issue is you have to give up more time to retake the photos.

Photographing a family portrait is the perfect example of when fake it until you make it is okay. Shooting a wedding, however, is not!

The fact that weddings are a one-off event and if you are not 100% certain you can deliver, then you shouldn’t do it.

I have seen (as I am sure many of you have) people on Facebook groups asking questions like “I’m photographing my first wedding next week, I have this lens and that lens. Which will be better? Also, do I need a flash?”

This is irresponsible. You need a certain level of skill and knowledge to photograph a wedding, especially if you are getting paid for it. You cannot gain the knowledge to photograph a wedding by asking questions in a Facebook group a few days before the event. You need to have it before you take on a wedding.

There are always news stories about a wedding photographer getting sued for ruining a couple’s wedding day. Please don’t become one of those. If you aren’t sure if you are ready to photograph a wedding, you probably aren’t.

With that said, your knowledge does not have to be in wedding photography. I know lots of photographers who have never photographed a wedding, but I am sure they would do an awesome job. As a starting point, you need to know how to photograph in a variety of lighting situations. You need to know how to solve exposure issues your camera may throw up, and you need some spare gear in case your main camera dies.

You need a headshot to apply to acting school? Of course, I can (I had no idea).

What equipment do I need if I’m NOT shooting a wedding?

For most photography there are three simple questions:

  • Do you have a camera?
  • Do you have a lens?
  • Do you have a memory card?

If you answered yes to the above three questions, then you have the right equipment to be paid for your photography. Will a variety of lenses and gear make things easier? Yes, but a beginner DSLR with a kit lens is more than capable of producing beautiful images people will be happy to pay you for. 

What equipment do I need if I’m shooting a wedding?

As with the knowledge requirements above, the gear requirements for shooting a wedding are different. A wedding requires a different amount of equipment. The most important is to have two camera bodies. If you have one camera body and something goes wrong, you are in a mess. A spare camera body may not be needed, but it is better not to need something and have it there than to need it desperately and it not be there.

In terms of lenses, most wedding photographers tend to go for two f/2.8 zoom lenses or two to three prime lenses. What is best for you depends on how you like to shoot. Fast lenses are always best for weddings as you can use wider apertures to get more light into the camera in low light scenarios such as dark churches.

For those of you looking for specifics, a zoom lens shooter will use a 24-70 f/2.8 and a 70-200 f/2.8. They may also have a prime lens with an even larger aperture for situations where there is really poor light.

A prime lens shooter mostly works with a 35mm and an 85mm. They may also have a 135mm or a 24mm. These are generally f/1.8 or faster.

Now again these are the basics. I have not included flashes, memory cards, hard drive backups, etc.

I will take this opportunity to remind you again; you really do need a high level of skill and equipment to be able to shoot a wedding. It is hard work if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t, it is like a 12-hour waking nightmare.

camping pods in rural England

Want me to shoot your camping space. Of course, I can. It will be…The first part of the sentence was easy. Asking for the money was always harder. In this case, the client said, “I was expecting to pay more than that.”

What should I charge?

Now for those of you starting to charge, you will always wonder how much should I ask? When you are first starting, you may photograph for an incredibly low rate, and that’s fine.

No matter what some may say, you are not ruining the photography industry by charging $100 including all the images when you are starting out. The truth is, people looking for photography at that price point are not going to be purchasing from photographers who charge thousands of dollars for a photo shoot.

There isn’t a right or wrong answer. My first family shoot I charged £50 including the images. My first full wedding I charged £500. Would I charge that now? Of course not. However, at the time, I got some cash, I built my portfolio, and most importantly it built my confidence.

The follow on question is how do you know when you are ready to charge more? Again this is down to you, your ability to deliver beautiful images and your confidence.

The moment I decided to raise my prices was when I was paid £600 to photograph a wedding where the couple had spent over £10,000. They didn’t book me for my price; they loved my work.

After that wedding, I doubled my wedding prices.

This led to more inquiries. Not only that, but I also received inquiries for the type of weddings I wanted to photograph. Was I convinced that raising my prices that much would mean no-one would book me? Of course, but they did, and I eventually raised them again. You just have to be confident, and remember, your prices are something you can easily change.

A photo from one of my first family photoshoots. I got paid the grand total of £50 including all images. Even then, I convinced myself I might be overcharging.

Conclusion

There you have it. You are now ready to start charging. Or, maybe you’re not.

The fact remains that in most situations when people offer to pay you, you are ready. The only thing that might mean you are not is you and your confidence.

You might be the type of person who will happily throw yourself off the 10m diving board and see what happens. Or, you might be the type of person who starts on the side of the pool and works your way up until you are at the 10m mark, confident you won’t bellyflop.

However, at some point, you need to leap. It will be scary, but I promise you, it won’t be as scary as it is in your head.

 

The post How Do You Know When You’re Ready to Start Charging for Your Photography? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Should You Do Photography Work For Free?

The post Should You Do Photography Work For Free? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

There are normally two points of view that come up when you bring up this topic:

  • Version 1: Never, Oh my god, you are ruining the industry, NOOB! Exposure doesn’t pay the bills. You wouldn’t expect a doctor to work for free. You are the reason photographers can’t earn a decent living. 
  • Version 2: Yes. You need to gain experience and you can’t expect people to pay for it. You are not the reason that people can’t make money at photography. If you don’t need the money, then why should you charge people? Do what you want to do and ignore everybody else. 

Well, as with all things, it is a bit more nuanced than the arguments you hear on internet forums. Free is happening at all levels of photography all the time. From those of you just starting out, taking photos of your friends kids, all the way through to superstar photographers doing a favour for a friend at an advertising agency. Sometimes it pays to shoot for free. Sometimes you just want to shoot for free, and no matter what some might say, there is not always an issue with this. 

Chase Jarvis wrote a great blog post about this years ago that always stuck with me. If it doesn’t give you two out of the following three things, then it is probably not worth shooting: 

  • MONEY
  • PORTFOLIO
  • RELATIONSHIPS

It is a simple approach that really makes it simple to help you figure out whether you should shoot for free. Now, as much as I wish I were at a Chase Jarvis point in my career, I am not. Therefore I changed it; does it pay me, build me contacts or build my portfolio? It has done me pretty well so far. So with this fresh in your mind, let’s look at how you can use free to your advantage.

Pay to play

I will be honest here; if somebody is willing to pay me my rates to photograph paint drying, I will do it.

As much as social media floods our feeds with photographers “living their best life” (god I hate that phrase) and choosing only jobs that feed their soul, most of them will at one point or another (and many still have to) take whatever job pays them. They just conveniently forget to add it to their Insta story. Sure, you only put work in your portfolio that you want to shoot, but if they pay and you need the money, you take the job.

I have been paid to photograph things that will never make my portfolio, but they meant I get to pay my mortgage. The old saying goes that money can’t buy you happiness, but it can give you freedom. If by doing boring jobs it means you can travel to shoot the project you always wanted to, then you get your creativity out of the job, just in other ways. However, this article is about when you should shoot for free, so let’s move on to the most obvious reason to work for free – to build your portfolio.

Headshots are something I always charge for now. I have a solid portfolio and there is no reason for me to do them for free any more.

Building your portfolio

You need to build a portfolio to get clients to pay you for your work, yet you need clients to get a portfolio. It is the classic chicken and egg scenario. When you are starting out and thinking that you might want to have people pay you for your services, you need to be able to show you can do the work you want to do. The simple solution is to offer photography in return for portfolio material.

This option also means you may be able to get into situations with specific people and locations that you may not have ever been able to get to on your own or paid to shoot with your current portfolio. In the music world, I shot for free a lot. I kept all rights to the images and sent them to a picture agency to make money that way. Whilst the website I shot for did not pay; they got me access.

Shooting for an agency is unlikely to get you stage-side access at a music festival. Shooting for the right publication, for free, can. The ability to get five minutes with a person that would look great in your portfolio is priceless. Unless there is similar work in your portfolio, you will struggle to get paid for this. This is the kind of free work that leads to more paid work and builds you a kick-ass portfolio.

Shooting for an agency would never have got me here. Shooting for free for a “cool” blog though, did.

The thrill

Let’s not forget, that being published is a major buzz, especially when you start out. Unfortunately, many photographers used to being paid for assignments can forget this. You should never underestimate this type of boost to your self-confidence.

My photography started in Skateboarding. It was the reason I picked up a camera. I shot everyone who came into my area and sent photos to magazines all the time. Then, something amazing happened – the magazine published one!

Very little replaces the thrill of being published for the first time. A photo I shot was in the magazine I had loved since childhood. That was the best feeling ever! Who cares if I got paid? I was young, and I had done the one thing I always wanted to do – get featured in a magazine. This one thing was a signal I could actually do something with my camera. I was good enough to get featured alongside photographers I looked up to. I still have that magazine in a box somewhere, and I will never, ever get rid of it.

However, this type of free shoot treads a very fine line. When you shoot for free, you are always the right price. Try not to get into making this a habit, especially for the same publication.

Testing, 1, 2, 3

Even more established photographers sometimes need free shoots. It could be as simple as testing a new camera or trying a new technique. I am planning on hiring a couple of cameras soon and I will time it for when I have a couple of jobs on a weekend. However, I will also offer a free shoot for someone during my time with the camera.

When someone has paid for your services, asking them to bare with you whilst you scratch your head and try to figure out which menu setting you need is not a way to build their confidence or your profile. That means I can only really experiment with the camera later in the shoot when I know I have some great images for the client.

By organizing a free shoot, however, I can spend all of the shoot experimenting with the camera, testing it how I want. The person who receives the free shoot will not mind (or will simply have to grin and bare) the time I spend working out which menu setting I need.

After a quick play, this little guy captured my attention. Next step is to hire one and arrange a free shot so I can put it through its paces.

Time for print/gym membership/whatever

Bartering has been around since the dawn of time. The exchange of modeling in exchange for the final images has been around almost as long. You get great images for your portfolio, and the model also gets the same great images for theirs.

However, there are more creative ways in which you can trade your photography for services. As in the portfolio building, this can again be a way to build a portfolio but also get something for your time, albeit not money.

I really need to get back in shape and haven’t been to a gym in years. I am getting older and feel I need to get a level of fitness back. Now, I could simply go out and pay for a gym membership. Instead, I am going to approach gyms in my local area and attempt to trade a photoshoot in exchange for a yearly gym membership.

Why do this? Well, I’ll save money by not paying for a membership for starters. I have my camera gear, and if I book them in for a time when I have no other work on, all I am losing is the time for the shoot (plus processing). It also helps me build a portfolio in this area of photography, which like my fitness, is lacking.

The gym may be interested as they will get some shiny new photos for their website/social media and it costs them nothing apart from letting someone use the already open gym (plus a 30-minute induction session).

Now, yes, I could get paid more for a promotional shoot. However, how many companies respond to a cold call from someone with no portfolio in this area, asking them if they want to pay hundreds of pounds for a photo shoot? In my experience, very few. Then, if other gyms see my great work and the response it gets, then they will be in touch. This is when I can use that shoot to leverage getting paid.

Networking

Depending on what photography you do, there will be people you need to impress. This could be business owners, record companies, or chairpersons. By doing work for these people, it can be a way to get where you want to be faster.

As an example, you could shoot family portraits. One family you shoot are wearing clothes from the local children’s clothing boutique. The shop asks if you would mind them using one of your images on their social media accounts. How should you go forward?

The most important thing is that you must get written permission from the family to use the images in this way. But, assuming you have done this, why would you give them the image for free?

There are two ways of looking at this, and neither is wrong. You could let them know your commercial rates and let them decide whether they want to use it. Alternatively, you could allow them to use it for free, but make sure they tag you in the posts. You could even get them to include your photography flyer in the bags of their customers. This means you get great, targeted advertising for your photography. Also, when the company does want to arrange a photo shoot, you will be the first name that comes to mind.

Charity

Photograph things you believe in. If I can help out a charity I believe in, then I will do it for free. This is the karma side of photography. If your talent can help people, then you should do it. As much as it won’t pay the bills, working for a charity will give you a feeling that money can’t replace. 

So that gives you some good reasons to shoot for free. Do you have any more? Or am I completely mad for ever suggesting people should shoot for free? Post a comment and lets see what people think.

 

The post Should You Do Photography Work For Free? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

How to Edit and Retouch Images Using Capture One Pro

The post How to Edit and Retouch Images Using Capture One Pro appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Before and after split screen of edit

Whilst we all flock to Photoshop for our retouching, Capture One now has a lot of great tools. But is it possible to do a full image edit including retouching? More so, if it is, should you do it and avoid Photoshop altogether?

To find out, I closed Photoshop and settled myself down for a full edit using only Capture One Pro. Lets go through the process and see what I learnt.

Annotate

Capture One’s built-in annotation tools make it easy to plan your retouching for your images. A variety of colors can easily be added to the image should you wish. I really like this tool. It allows you to make simple notes on screen. While it may look like I am practicing my abstract expressionism, I am actually highlighting what I want to improve. In this case, the red is for retouching and yellow is for exposure issues. I love this tool! So far so good.

The annotate tool is great for making notes before you start the edit.

Colour balance

When the image comes into Capture One, the first thing is to get a good neutral color balance. I always start by letting Capture One get me into the ballpark via the Auto tool in White Balance. While not perfect, it gives a good starting point.  I then tweak the color to taste. In most cases, it is only a small tweak from the auto white balance to get a starting point I am happy with.

Exposure

Continuing with the basics, next up is exposure. It always pays to get as close as you can in-camera, and this case required very little. For this image, I pushed up the exposure just under 0.5 stops and added a slight amount of contrast and saturation to my taste. All that was left was a slight highlight recovery to take away the worst of the hot spots. The worst highlights will be taken care of in the next step (and first layer) Luma masking.

Layer One: Luma Mask

New in Capture One 12 is Luma masking. I love this tool! It is such a great time saver for masking highlights. I use it here to mask out the highest highlights in the image and then use the High Dynamic Range sliders to pull back the highlights. Subtly is the key here. I only want to take the harshness out of the bright spots.

An image showing the luma mask in Capture One Pro 12

Possibly my favourite tool in Capture One 12. The Luma mask

Layer two (and three and four): Blemish Retouching

Trying to do any amount of blemish retouching in Capture One soon tells you that it wasn’t designed for this task. The system is clunky. You sample using the alt key (the same way as Photoshop); however, you cannot resample a different area on the same layer. Instead, you need to create a new layer and a new sample. I ended up using 3 layers merely to do basic spot removal (and this wasn’t even going as far as I would in Photoshop). Capture One isn’t effective for any serious blemish removal. I tried this process out on another image to see if it fared better, but it was worse. It got to the point where I just gave up. Yes, it works for simple items, but in the future, blemishes will be worked on in Photoshop only.

Layer five: Skin smoothing

The Skin Smoothing tool is a super-great way to improve skin with a simple mask and a couple of sliders. I use this tool all the time when editing wedding photography. It gives a great effect with such little effort.

The first step is to create a mask using a new layer and the Brush tool. Make sure you leave out areas of detail, such as the eyes and lips. You can then refine the mask to get it more accurate. I tend to use a number between 100-150 for most situations. After this, I go back in with the brush and erase tools until I am happy with the mask. A little tip here is to change the mask color from the default of red when working with people. It just makes the mask stand out more against the skin.

Next, the special sauce. A.K.A The Clarity tool. Just go to the clarity section, choose Natural as the clarity type and slide the numbers into the negatives. I generally find the sweet spot for this technique to be between -60 to -70. Much more than this and it can become a little fake. It comes down to the image you are working on. Simply adjust the sliders until you are happy with the result.

This on its own has a massive difference on the image, but when you add in the Color Editor tool, it takes this to another level.

Layer five continued: Skin Colour

The ability to work with color so precisely is one of Capture One’s greatest strengths. Editing skin tone is a great way to make your model’s skin glow. You can find this tool located in the Color Editor section. To start, click the icon and sample a skin tone. Next, you work with the two sections of this tool, Amount and Uniformity. The amount sliders are to get a skin tone that you are happy with. You then move onto the uniformity sliders to even out the skin tone through the whole face. As with much retouching, it is easy to go over the top. My tip for this is to do the edit, then take a break for a couple of minutes and come back. You instantly see if the image is over done and you can dial back accordingly.

We now have an even, soft skin tone through the image. This layer has made a huge difference to our image. It’s now time to finesse the details.

Capture One screen grab showing mask and colour tools

As you can see, the combination of the clarity slider and the Skin colour editor has really made a difference. The blue mask, maybe not so flattering.

Layer six: Teeth

The teeth need to be slightly whitened. This is as simple as a mask, followed by reducing the saturation. Again, don’t take it down to zero – it will look weird. Take it down just enough so that the teeth look naturally white. In this image, the sweet spot was -51. I then pushed the exposure just slightly to give a whiter smile. But again, as with all retouching, less is more.

Layer seven: Eyes

You sense a theme yet? I created another mask for the eyes. This time I added a very slight bump in exposure and some clarity to give them a subtle pop that was missing before.

Layer eight: The top

The red top the model wore in this shoot was just too bright. Using a combination of a mask and the color editor, I was able to easily reduce the red tone to something less overpowering.

Capture One screen shots showing before and after the colour editor

Toning down the red top means it is not quite as powerful in the image.

Layers nine and ten: The Hair

As the old saying goes; in for a penny, in for a pound. Having worked on the heal and clone layers for basic spot removal, this was going to be something that I was unsure would work. However, with a lot of trial and error, I produced something that was okay. Would I do it again? No. But, I did manage to improve the hair significantly from the previous state.

I ended up using a clone layer for one side of the hair and a heal layer for the other. Again, editing like this shows the limitations of Capture One for high-end retouching. However, after some trial and error, it did an okay job.

Layer eleven: Colour Grade

I generally don’t color grade images heavily – if at all. I usually prefer a natural look. But for this tutorial, I added a color grade. To do this, you add a new fill layer and add your grading there. This also allows you to reduce the effect by opacity or simply turn it on or off quickly to give different looks.

For this image, I decided to use Capture One’s excellent film grain emulations to add some soft grain. Next, I spent some time with the Color Balance tools pulling the shadows into the blues and highlights slightly into the orange. Finally, I used the levels to give a slightly faded look to the final color grade. That’s it. It’s done!

Final photo after retouching

The final edit.

What did I learn?

Well, it is possible to do a full retouch in Capture One. However, in reality, it is clunky and nowhere near as powerful as Photoshop.

The worst part of this was the blemish removals. It was painful to use for more than a couple of blemishes in an image. Also when trying this on another image to remove an eyelash, it was impossible to get it to give a pleasing result.

The standout of this edit is a process I use all the time: the Skin Smoothing and Skin Color combination. These two tools can quickly take care of many skin problems you may see. As a wedding photographer, this is a powerful tool. I can make a bride’s skin look glowing, quickly and easily without the need to round trip to Photoshop. To give you an example, check out this before and after using only this combination. You can achieve quick, simple and powerful results in just a couple of minutes.

A comparison of before and after skin reoutching in Capture One

Such a vast improvement only using two tools.

Conclusion

In general, the color tools in Capture One are amazing, and as well as working well on the skin, they were great for color grading the final image. My regular workflow for an image like this would be a trip to Photoshop for the skin, then back into Capture One for color grading.

Overall, Capture One did give a good final result, but at the cost of time and with some frustration.

Can Capture One Pro do a full edit with retouching? It can – kind of.

Would I recommend it? No.

It’s just not quite precise enough to be able to use regularly for this type of edit. That skin trick though is gold!

Do you use Capture One for your retouching? What are your experiences?

 

The post How to Edit and Retouch Images Using Capture One Pro appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Are Canon and Nikon the New Kodak?

The post Are Canon and Nikon the New Kodak? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Canon Z6 and Eos R

Selling? Yes. Boring? Also yes.

Kodak. Remember them? Back in the film days, never did we think they would be an afterthought in the photography industry. But a complete mishandling of the move to digital became their downfall. At one time a top five most valuable brand in the world, now reduced to a footnote in the photography world we live in today. But are Canon and Nikon beginning to edge the same way? Are they the lumbering giants, slow to move with the times? Or, are they playing the game to perfection?

The recent announcements from Canon and Nikon about profit from their camera divisions are not exactly encouraging, but are they still the brands to beat?

Financials

I’m sure you’ve heard the news. Canon and Nikon did not meet their revenue targets for 2018 and both are rapidly revising their numbers for 2019. Predictions are that interchangeable lens camera sales will continue to fall year on year. There was even a rumour from an internal document from a camera company predicting Canon and Nikon will lose 50% of market share in the next three years. This is serious!

But why? Well there are several factors here. Firstly, there is the rise of Sony, Fuji and others in the mirrorless market. Sony have been producing amazing cameras (although not [yet] sold in the same number as Canon and Nikon), which have carved a nice piece of the pie for themselves very quickly. Add in Fuji, Panasonic, Olympus et al and you have an ever increasing number of cameras to choose from – all with amazing features and image quality

However, the more major factor for the whole industry is the ever-increasing quality of the smart phone. Whilst those of us who read Digital Photography School are generally concerned with DSLR and Mirrorless cameras, many just want a decent photo with minimum fuss, and the phone camera does this amazingly well. For all camera companies, the development of amazing quality phone cameras mean the market for those wanting to get great a “proper” camera is shrinking all the time. The latest series of phone cameras are more than good enough for most people.

The big three

According to the latest data for the year of 2018, Canon continues to dominate the world of interchangeable lens cameras with a 49.1% market share (a growth of 3.9%). Nikon stay second with 24.9% (a decline of 0.6%) and Sony are in third with 13.3% (a growth of 2.9%). All other brands made up the remainder. 

Canon’s market share in photography has sat steady at around 40-50% for around the last ten years. The EOS R quickly became the best selling mirrorless camera in Japan on launch. Nikon’s Z series also stole a decent share of the market that has been dominated by Sony of late. The question is, are the people buying these existing Sony and Nikon cameras, heavily invested in a system? The answer for a large portion will no doubt be yes. It just makes financial sense.

As the market shifts and more people move to other systems such as Sony, Fuji and the L-Mount Alliance, will this continue? Existing customers are a large market, but people buying their first “Pro” camera have a choice that is now much wider than merely Canon or Nikon. You only need to look to YouTube for the number of people singing the praises of brands that are not Canon and Nikon to be able to see the beginnings of this shift.

The L-Mount Alliance is the newest kid on the block. How big will its impact be?

Canon’s video problems

I am a Canon shooter. I have been since my first SLR (I know, I’m old). But, their current business model sucks! In an age where the average photographer uses both stills and video, Canon have fallen behind in DSLRs for video. Evidence includes some questionable codecs (motion JPEG anyone?) and cropped 4K. Compared to Sony, it’s not even the same league. What happened Canon? You are the same Canon that released the classic 5D2! Remember that? A game changer that was so good that episodes of your favorite TV shows were filmed on it and Canon were hailed as heroes. Well, they dropped the ball.

Skip to 2019 and Canon release the EOS RP. A great price point of only £1300 (US$1299) and a decent sensor (basically taken from the 6D2). A great camera at a great price. Yes, you can argue the dynamic range of the sensor is not perfect, but it seemed like a great camera release by Canon. Then the news came that the camera was unable to shoot in 24fps in HD. Wait…what? Yep, the standard video frame rate for movies, the same one that was in the 5DMk2 over ten years ago is now absent.

I know what some of you are thinking. It’s the entry-level model; you can’t expect everything. Most people won’t care. However, to omit such a basic video feature is a sign of Canon seemingly making terrible decisions in their digital camera lineup.

Why are they doing this though? The answer seems to be in Canon’s product lines. Canon’s pro video line has a similar starting price to the EOS R. If they put full-frame 4K video, 120 frames per second at 1080P and more into their DSLR range, they would be basically killing off some of their pro video line customers in the process.

You have to question this as a business decision. Put simply, Canon’s current cameras are lagging behind Sony and Panasonic when it comes to video. Rather than move to their C-line of cameras for video though, most people are moving to Sony and the A7 III.

This move seems to be incredibly short-sighted by Canon. When I look to upgrade my trusty 5DMk4, I’m not sure Canon will be the top of my list. The video features on Sony are just too tempting. Sure, I don’t currently do much video work, but I can see my customers wanting more, and Sony cameras have better video features right now.

EOS RP camera with 24-105

Canon brought DSLR video to the masses with the 5D2. A decade later and they don’t even include 24fps.

 

Two cards are better than one

Shouted about all over the internet, why oh why did Canon and Nikon choose to launch their first cameras in their brand new system with one card slot? This feature alone means that a large amount of working professional users will not purchase a camera with one card slot. There is no way I would risk shooting a wedding with one memory card in the camera. It is just not worth the risk.

Nikon has taken this one step further and only have on XQD card. A more expensive format right now and also a format that most existing camera owners will not own in any great amount.

If photography is a hobby rather than a way to earn your living, then it may not be so much of an issue. However, again, it just seems a little short-sighted.

Shooting without a backup is always fine until a card fails.

Where’s the excitement?

Who was honestly excited by the EOS RP? Or the EOS R for that matter? Who thought that Nikon Z6 & Z7 were ushering in a new dawn of quality? Pretty much nobody. They just seemed to be mirrorless hack jobs of the 5DMk4 and D850 respectively, albeit with limitations.

The recent products from Canon and Nikon seem boring. No style and no killer features. Just OK. Just safe. The initial move into mirrorless feels like products designed and launched quickly to try and compete with Sony. Look at the amazing video features of the Sony A7 III when compared with Canon and their disappearing histogram. Compare the autofocus on the Sony A6400 or Fuji X-T3 with the Nikon Z6. There is no contest (the Nikon may improve dramatically with the eye AF update). The question is, why are they not competing with the best in class at launch?

Are Canon and Nikon’s cameras good? Yes. Are they class leading or exciting camera releases? No.  

Fuji’s retro styling, mixed with cutting edge features make for a very exciting camera system.

The Cameras do not match the glass

Leading with your best glass is an obvious decision. Both Canon and Nikon’s glass for their new mirrorless systems looks great. But it makes Canon’s decision to release the EOS RP all the more strange. Simply put, there is no budget glass for their budget full-frame camera.

There is no glass that really matches the system. The lens offered as a kit lens for this system costs over £1000. A quick Google shows the price of the EOS RP body at £1399 ($US$1299), but the cheapest option with a lens (the 24-105 f4) is a staggering £2329 (US$2199). This is crazy! Especially when you can pick up a Sony A7 III with a 28-70mm  f/3.5-5.6 for £1999 (US$2298). The Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm is even more expensive still at £2514 (US$2596). Yes, you can use an adapter if you have other branded glass, but if you buy a new system, with a new mount, you surely want a native mount lens to play with.

I know the lens is not as good, but the Canon EOS RP is not in the same ballpark feature-wise as the Sony A7 III and you can have a camera and native lens for over £300 cheaper. There is no way I would spend extra to get a lesser camera. The fact that Canon has yet to release a cheaper lens seems crazy given they’re releasing more budget-friendly cameras. Maybe Nikon will launch a similar lens with the rumored upcoming EOS RP competitor?

Sony camera and lens lineup.

Sony now have a great range of lenses built up. Canon and Nikon are, for the first time, playing catch up.

Where’s the flagship camera?

So why not a pro body to rival the Sony A9? With the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, my guess is that Canon and Nikon are working feverishly behind the scenes to get their new flagship cameras out for the opening ceremony. I’m sure Sony is doing the same.

Rumors are surfacing that Canon has begun testing the 1DX Mark III with a very limited number of photographers, so this prediction does seem likely.  Canon is a big Olympic sponsor, and it is also a home Olympics for them. It really does make sense for big product launches on the eve of the event. Whether the new flagships will be a DSLR or mirrorless is going to be interesting to see.

But what about the meantime? What’s next up for Canon or Nikon? The EOS RP was underwhelming for many, and the next in line from Nikon is meant to be a direct competitor to the EOS RP. I feel this camera will also be met with the collective sigh the EOS RP received.

What does the future hold?

In the end, it boils down to this; mirrorless is the future of photography. It took a while to get here, but the benefits are now easy to see. Canon and Nikon were late to the party, but they are working hard to claw back ground they have lost. They seem to have learned from Kodak and their lack of acknowledgment for the digital camera.

The fact that both Canon and Nikon have fully entered the market late is currently having an impact on the quality and excitement that greets their new products. So far they appear to be playing it safe with mirrorless, which might not be enough to keep them on top moving forward.

What would be in your dream camera? As a Canon shooter (and daydreamer), I have thought long and hard while writing this article. For me, it would be a mirrorless update to the Canon 5DMk4. A new sensor. Autofocus to rival that on the Sony A9 (or even 6400) and non-crippled video. Full sensor 4K and 120 frames-per-second at 1080P in C-Log and preferably without a histogram that disappears when you press record, or at least zebra stripes. Maybe IBIS would be nice too. Oh, and two card slots. Is that too much to ask? I also would like it under £3000.

Or maybe, I’m getting tempted to move. The Sony A7III keeps tempting me to rent it. The A9 with that new autofocus update is a beast of a camera for a shade over £3000. I also want to see how Panasonic’s latest offerings play out.

I’m heading to The Photography Show in Birmingham, UK in March for an annual look at what is out there. On top of my list of stands to visit are Sony, Panasonic, and Fuji. The fact the Canon and Nikon are not even on my radar says a lot about their current appeal.

What are you looking for from Canon or Nikon? Or, have you moved to another brand and never looked back? Let me know in the comments.

The post Are Canon and Nikon the New Kodak? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Capture One Pro 12 Review – Whats New and Should You Upgrade?

The post Capture One Pro 12 Review – Whats New and Should You Upgrade? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Screenshot of Capture One

Capture One have recently released version 12 of their image editing software. Capture One have made a name for their high quality imaging software that offers professional users the best control of their images. But does version 12 deliver this? And, more importantly, is it worth upgrading to from version 11?

What’s new?

Capture one say “Capture One 12 delivers better, faster, and more creative control. New features includes advanced masking functionality, an even more efficient and intuitive user experience, plug-in compatibility, and much more”

In any software, a speed increase is always welcome. In use, Capture One 12 is slightly quicker on my machine, which is nice. Is it enough on it’s own to make me upgrade? Probably not. However, there are lots of other features that make it much more appealing. These include an updated interface, new masking options, intelligent adjustments copying and much more. Let’s look at each of the updated features in more detail.

New updated interface

The menu system in Capture One Pro 12 is more customizable than before. The new icons have been upgraded, which does make it look fresh. I like the new design, but this is nothing to get excited about. There is a redesigned keyboard shortcuts panel though, which is useful for those who like to create their own. I’m not someone who delves deep into creating my own shortcuts, but I do appreciate the new design. If you are so inclined, you have the option to create more than 500 customizable commands.

C1 Interface

The updated interface. Yes, it is a little nicer, but not a massive difference. V12 is on the left.

New masking options

New masking options are something to get excited about. The Luminosity masking allows you to create a mask based on the Luma Range of the file. This makes it really simple to create a mask to bring back only the darkest of shadows or add clarity to the lightest part of the image. It is a straightforward system that works well in practice.

Linear gradient masks have also been transformed to give more precise control, which many of us will really find useful. The addition of Radial Gradient Masks is another handy option for those who like to create custom vignettes on their images.

Screenshot of luminosity mask in Capture One

Luminosity masks are a great time saver and probably my favourite new feature in Capture One 12

Intelligent adjustments copying

I love this update. I use Capture One for about 80% of my editing. This includes minor skin retouching and cropping, etc. It used to be that when I copied the adjustments and pasted across to a batch of images, I then had to go in and undo the crop and remove the retouching on each image. Now, the copy-paste tool ignores options such as crop and spot healing by default, but if you want to add them, it is simple to do so. A great timesaver and a feature I love.

Screenshot of intelligent copy

A small thing, but a massive timesaver. Copy/paste adjustments without adding the crop is huge for my workflow. What about yours?

Plugins

Plugins are the one feature that I love from Lightroom. Finally, Capture One is allowing plug-ins to work with their system. With this being new the range is limited, but obviously, this will increase over time. A great time saver, I can’t wait to see the potential of this increase going forward.

Plugin Screenshot for Capture One

At launch the plugins are limited, but this will grow and become a great time saver for many users.

Fuji Film simulations

I don’t currently shoot Fuji (I do lust over their Medium Format Cameras) but for those that do, Capture One have now developed (alongside FujiFilm) the different Film simulations available in their cameras. This means you can add the FujiFilm preset onto your images and use this as a starting point in your editing. Now if only I can get DPS to fund the rental of a a Medium Format Fuji, I can do an in depth test for you all (editor’s note: I wouldn’t mind one myself). Please comment below to help me out. In all seriousness though, this is awesome for all you Fuji Owners.

Mac OSX Mojave support

As a Mac user, this is my biggest pet peeve with Capture One. With the release of version 12, support for version 11 has now ended. This means that if you want to use Capture One with OsX Mojave, you need to upgrade to version 12. Obviously if you pay monthly this isn’t a big problem, but if you own the software outright, the upgrade price of £150 (US$195) feels a little steep just to use the latest version of an OS.

Whilst I understand it from a business point of view, it does feel like, as a Mac user, you are forced to upgrade every year. I love that you can purchase Capture One outright, but it does feel like they are slowly creeping towards the subscription model like everybody else. 

Should I upgrade?

The million dollar question. I have upgraded. The plugin support for JPEG mini and intelligent copy paste features will save me enough time to easily justify it. The added benefits of better masking is also great for the way I work. However, it is not that simple for a lot of people. If you are PC based, you may want to skip this version unless, like me, there are features that will help your workflow. However, if you use a Mac, this is more of a do you want to upgrade to Mojave. If the answer is yes, then you really do need to upgrade. There are many reports of version 11 working fine in Mojave, but as a professional, I cannot risk it. Capture One have also ceased their discount codes, which again seems to be a little harsh. You used to be able to easily find a 10% voucher, but since the end of 2018, Capture One seem to have cut them. Obviously I am not privy to why, but I am sure they have their reasons. 

Should I move from Lightroom?

If you are thinking of moving from Lightroom, I would say give it a go. Capture One have a generous 30 day trial of the software, which is time to get to grips with it and see what it can do. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose.

Do you use Capture One? If so, share your thoughts below.

The post Capture One Pro 12 Review – Whats New and Should You Upgrade? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

So You Want to Build a Website? Part 5: SEO

The post So You Want to Build a Website? Part 5: SEO appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Well, this is it. We have gone all the way from choosing your platform through to generating content (see article links at the bottom of the article). Hopefully, this series of articles has persuaded a few of you to update your website and even more of you to create one.

The final step in the series is to optimize your website for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Doing SEO is the hardest part – it can even give many web professionals nightmares sometimes! Constant Google changes, and advice that seemingly contradicts other advice, can make it a mine field. This article is not the complete solution to your SEO and doing these things does not guarantee to get to page one on Google. It will, however, start you on the right path. These tips are simple, easy to follow tips that to help you optimize your site and aide your user experience. With that said, let’s get started.

1. Register with Google Search Consoles

You want to rank well in Google. The first step is to make sure you get your site registered for Google Search Console. This is an essential set of tools to tell you how your site is performing, how people are searching for you, and any issues that Google detects when going through your site.

Search Console (like SEO in general) can be daunting but bear with it. Do some reading and utilize what you find. Search Console is the number one tool for helping your website rank better. To add Search Console to your website, you need to register your website and then verify it using a code snippet on your site. It is simple to do. WordPress folks, if you have Yoast installed (if you haven’t – stop what you are doing and go and install it), they have tools to help with this.

The first step when registered is to submit your sitemap. This is normally located at www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. When you submit this you are basically showing Google how your site is laid out and showing them how to crawl it. 

Once you have Search Console installed, you will be able to see how people are coming to your site, what they are searching for and any issues that may be affecting your ranking in Google. 

Impressions and CTR

It is simple to see how your site is performing direct from the source. Google Search Console is the number one must do.

2. Optimize your images

Speed is king. People like fast-loading websites and Google likes websites that load fast too. With photography websites, the best way to help with this is to properly size and compress your images. This is a simple thing to do, but if your site already has hundreds of images, it can take time. You need to check your website for image sizes and then make sure that you export images at that exact size. The reason for this is smaller images equal smaller file size, which equals quicker loading.

Regarding compression when exporting from image software, make sure you reduce it to around 70% or so. You can compress images further using specific software such as JPEG Mini, but this does come with a cost. You can also use a free online tool such as Squoosh or Bulk Image Resize, but this takes a little longer to do. It is amazing how much smaller you can make the size of a webpage by doing this.

If you want further checks on how fast your site is, and what you can do to improve it, Google has a tool called Page Speed Insights. This free tool shows you how your site loads and what you can do to improve it.

Using a free app like Squoosh really can make a difference to your image sizes. Every little bit adds up when it comes to website speed.

3. Build backlinks

To get yourself higher up in the rankings, one of the best resources is backlinks. Getting a link to your website from other sites shows Google that your website has the respect of others. Getting links can be hard, especially those that help to boost your ranking. The links you want to try to get are those that are for popular websites in the specific field. It used to be that you could pay and your website would have links from lots of websites and boost your ranking. However, Google got smart to this very quickly, and this practice now may actually make your site going down in rank, not up.

Genuine, quality backlinks are what you should aim to achieve. The more domain authority a website has (how well Google rates it), the more valuable the link.

As a wedding photographer, I have weddings featured on blogs. The links to my website from these blogs do two things: Firstly, potential customers may read this blog and click. Secondly, Google sees that well-respected wedding sites are linking to my site. So when people search for wedding photography in my area, Google knows that high-quality wedding blogs link to me, so my site must contain quality and relevant content.

How do you get them? You approach people. Flat out asking can lead to refusal, but offering value can work wonders. Asking a blog if you can write a guest post or asking a local business if you can exchange backlinks (so you both benefit) is an excellent way of getting some links (and building relationships).

3. Make it mobile friendly

We live in an age where most web browsing happens on a mobile device. Therefore you need to make sure that your website runs well on mobile devices. For those of you who are creating new websites, this is pretty simple. Pretty much every template is now optimized for mobile browsing. For those of you with older sites, you may want to check. Google ranks mobile first, and therefore you must make your site mobile friendly.

Tools such as such as AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) helps here. Again, setting this up depends on your platform and theme. In Squarespace, it is simple to turn on AMP in settings. In WordPress there are plugins that get AMP up and running on your site.

Website Mobiel view

I’m up to here…

4. Create quality content

Content is also king. Google has advanced and continues to advance. It used to be constantly cramming your keyword into your written content would mean you ranked well, however, that has all changed. As Google makes advances in machine learning, they now read websites more as a human would. Google love content that is helpful for the person searching. So if the user is searching for tips on how to take better photos, Google knows what they are looking for and shows the user sites that answer that question well.

The best way to do this on a continual basis is through a blog. A blog keeps your website fresh, helps Google see your website is updated regularly, and it gives you a place to offer content that is useful for people.

There is so much to blog about in every type of photography, from recent shoots and the latest equipment you have bought, through to how you got a great shot. Having new content gives people a reason to revisit your website and is a way to get new readers to your site. Continual blogging can be tough, but like anything the more you do it, the easier it gets.

5. Turn on SSL

Google likes websites to be secure when using the web. Having a secure website using SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is an easy way for you to help protect people who visit your website.  Having an SSL on your website is essential in 2019. It is super simple. Check with your host if you are using self-hosted WordPress. On Squarespace, it is as easy as turning it on. This is the simplest tip on this list. Just go and do it.

6. Bonus tip: Keep going – it’s a long game

Ranking well in Google takes time and effort. Don’t expect to see the fruits of your labour after a couple of weeks. To rank well can take months. Just remember the golden rules:

  • Keep your images correctly formatted.
  • Work on getting backlinks. Not only does it help your SEO, it helps people see your content.
  • Start as you mean to go on with things like title tags, etc. Going back when you decide you need to do it is a real pain. Start with good habits. 

Well, that’s it. Our website series is finished. I hope you enjoyed it. I’m hoping it got some of you to build your first site. For those with websites, I hope it gave you some ideas to make your sites better or something new you could try. As always, let’s see your sites below. 

Other tutorials in this series:

Part 1: Squarespace versus WordPress

Part 2: How to Create a Website

Part 3: Creating Your Portfolio

Part 4: Adding Website Content

 

The post So You Want to Build a Website? Part 5: SEO appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

So You Want to Build a Website? Part 4: Adding Website Content

The post So You Want to Build a Website? Part 4: Adding Website Content appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

If you’ve been following along with this series (part one, part two, part three), you should now have a great portfolio to proudly display on your website. Next comes to what many think is the hardest part – writing about yourself and your photography. Whilst it may seem hard, there are some tips and tricks for adding website content.

Write for your audience

I cannot stress this enough. You need to know who you are talking to with your website. Are you talking to newly engaged couples looking for a wedding photographer? Are you talking to art directors who are looking for a photographer to shoot their next advertising campaign? Or, are you talking to family & friends, showing them your photography? You will speak to all of the people in these examples differently, therefore your website text must do the same. When you know who you are talking to, you know how to talk to them. Therefore, make sure you have an audience in mind before you start to write.

The fab five

The main pages on almost all websites are; the Home page, your Portfolio, an About page, a Contact page and a Blog. We’ve already covered the portfolio in a previous post, therefore if you’ve not read that, do it first. The Contact page is super easy, simply let people know how to get in touch with you, that’s all there is to it. However, the Home, About and Blog pages are a little more complicated. Let’s have a look at these in a little more detail.

The home page

DPS home page

A website you all know well. Straight away you see a relevant image and a call to action.

The home page is the introduction to you and your work and it is the first thing people see. For those of you who are art/commercial photographers, it is standard to lead with your portfolio. Therefore, if this is the field you are aiming for, it is best to stick with this format. Also, if your website is currently aimed at showcasing your work to family and friends, a portfolio is also a good option for your home page.

However, if you are setting up a website for selling photography services, things are slightly different. The main aim of your home page is to answer the three basic questions any potential customer will have within five seconds. Who are you? What do you do? Where are you based? If these questions can’t be answered in their first few seconds on a website, people will generally click back and look somewhere else. We live in a world where attention spans are shrinking all the time. You need to make sure that your website is geared toward this.

Your home page still needs to feature images to draw attention, therefore starting with a hero shot is the best idea. This is the main image for the page and can usually take up all/most of the screen when first viewed, therefore it is essential that this image should be your best work and relevant to your audience. This image will make the right people explore your site further and the wrong ones exit. Remember, you are not looking to please everyone. You need to attract your tribe. 

Adding a good headline can grab your readers attention and get them to further explore your site. Write it for your audience. Photography is a service industry. People come to you with a problem (they need photos) and you provide the service to help them fix their problem (you take their photos). Explain how can you help them. What can you do to make their life better? Make it short, snappy and always tell them the benefits of using you.

166 Photography Website Homepageomepage

This homepage passes the test. It shows the name, what they do & where they are based quickly. Also note the call to action.

The main text should be light in tone and friendly. It should tell the viewer about you, your site and services. Keep it focussed on your audience and include a Call to Action. A call to action tells visitors what you want them to do (for example, a click to contact button). You should try to have multiple calls to action on your page and preferably one that the user can do without scrolling down the page. Making it easy for the visitor to know what to do next is key. 

Lastly, add a couple of testimonials for happy past clients. Not only past clients but awards and competitions you have won. This shows viewers you are able to deliver great photos and can be trusted. Think about it, how many people check a hotel on Trip Advisor before booking? Social proof shows you mean business!

The About Page

This is where you get to show the real you. A list of facts will not interest anyone, neither will a simple list of how wonderful you are. This is the chance to showcase who you really are and what you believe in. This isn’t the place to brag about what cameras you own, this is the place to explain why you love photography. 

You can tell the story of your photography journey. How did you get into it? What do you love about your work? Again make it interesting and try to avoid listing facts. Show your passion. 

The about page is also a great place to add social proof. List any publications you have featured in, and showcase more reviews from happy customers. Remember, people want to know you can be trusted and social proof is the best way to show this on your site.

You should always write in the same way you speak on your about page. If your website speaks to people in a certain way, but when they meet you there is a disconnect it is never good. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Be you! Now, whether you write in first or third person is down to personal preference, but know your audience (and yourself) and write accordingly.

Lastly, you need a photo of you. A well-shot photo where people can see and connect with you is always worthwhile.

About page screenshot.

An example of an about page aimed at Art Directors. Short sweet and shows who I have worked with

The blog

I’ve saved the most important (and most daunting) until last. No matter what type of photography you do, your blog will be the reason people come back to your site. Think of your blog as a magazine for your audience. It shows your latest work (and progress) as well as letting you explain your thoughts behind your photography. 

I know some of you reading this now will be filled with dread. Not only do I have to write a load of stuff for my website, now you’re asking me to write all the time? However, like taking photos, writing becomes easier over time. 

Some examples of good blog posts include “Why I like this image”. Talk about a photo you love and then explain why you love it and possibly the technical stuff behind it. A blog about each photo shoot you do. Again, explain your thought process and how you approached the shoot. Another post idea could be showing your personality. Talk about films or records you love. The choice is endless, but the important thing is to write them. One other thing to remember is to aim for at least 350 words as this works great with SEO (search engine optimization). 

DPS posts

There are few better examples of a blog than Digital Photography School. Constant content that keeps us all coming back.

Get feedback

As with creating your portfolio, get others to give their opinion. When you have written your content, it is particularly important to check it thoroughly and get a couple of people to proofread your work before you go live. It is so simple to misread your work (trust me I do it often) and nothing gives off the impression of an amateur like spelling mistakes. 

For example, my wonderful wife proofs all my work. Just remember, if you do spot a spelling or grammar mistake in my articles, it is her not me! (dPS editor’s note: or me!)

On that point (and whilst my wife shouts at me for that last comment), it is time for you to take these tips and begin to craft your own website copy. In the final installment of this series, you’ll learn top tips to help your site rank well in Google. Until then, get writing your copy and let’s see the fruits of your labor in the comment section. 

The post So You Want to Build a Website? Part 4: Adding Website Content appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

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