Archive for ‘Business of Photography’

August 19, 2013

Celebrating the Free Gift of Photography Today

On August 19th 2010, World Photography Day hosted it’s first global online gallery. With 270 photographs shared and website visitors from over 100 countries, World Photography Day was born.

Although the earliest surviving photo dates back to 1826, the history of photography dates back to 1790 associated with the invention and development of the camera and the creation of permanent images starting with Thomas Wedgwood.

So what is so special about August 19th? It was on this date in 1839 that the French government announced the invention of Daguerreotype technology a gift “Free to the World”.

Daguerreotype photographic processes, developed by Joseph Nicèphore Nièpce and Louis Daguerre,were officially unveiled by The French Academy of Sciences on January 9, 1839. Though from the modern perspective daguerreotypes were expensive and time consuming to produce, at the time it was the first practicable photographic process. Being unique images, daguerreotypes could still be copied by re-daguerreotyping the original. Copies were also produced by lithography or engraving.

The invention gave boost to the portrait photography market that became a flourishing business practiced by traveling photographers. For the first time common folks could afford to get the likeness of themselves and their loved ones captured.

By 1853 an estimated three million daguerreotypes per year were being produced in the United States alone. This might sound like an insignificant number given that today over 200,000 shots are being uploaded to Facebook every minute. But in those days someone would spend a day’s worth salary to have a family picture taken. These were family treasures to be kept through generations.

Nicéphore Niépce's earliest surviving camera photograph, circa 1826

Nicéphore Niépce’s earliest surviving camera photograph, circa 1826

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April 7, 2013

Sears “Amazing Photography” Is No More

Sears-Portrait-Studio-closesCPI Corporation, the St. Louis-based operator of over 2,000 Sears Portrait Studios, PictureMe Studios in Walmart and Toys R Us portrait studios abruptly closed all studios nationwide.

Blaming the Digital trend as they do is just an excuse not to take the responsibility for having been stuck with an ailing business model in the face of the modernization of the Photography industry that rapidly evolves as consumers are taking charge.

While a whole host of specialized high-quality vendors were beginning to command this very personal Photography industry branch – Consumer Photography, CPI was still bundling services from “good enough” providers.

At the production point, the photographer on duty could be bad at handling kids or didn’t know how to pose pregnant women. The backdrops and props were outdated.

At post production, there were problems with cropping for framing, forget about editing out stretch marks, fixing awkward smile, or skin retouching.

Printing took weeks and months instead of the promised 72 hours.

This is why consumers chose to beat feet the hell out of Sears Portrait.  They had options. There are plenty of specialized photographers to choose from and who will come to you to take pictures in your natural environment.

Then you can submit your photos online (professional or amateur) to companies like PhotoHand.com to get professional grade photo editing for the price of a Starbucks coffee.

As for online printers, there are gazillions to choose from offering everything – from plain prints to photo books to photo blankets and photo cake tops. Even professional grade printers like NationsPhotoLab are beginning to serve amateurs.

Lesson learned: Don’t mess with empowered consumers!


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August 22, 2009

PhotoHand.com Catches Growing Attention of Professionals and Small Businesses

Fast and affordable online service for image editing and photo design – PhotoHand.com is quickly turning into one of the most valuable online resources for small/SOHO business, entrepreneurs and professionals looking to boost their images.

Traditionally limited by modest marketing budgets and now influenced by the current recession, professionals and small businesses are reconciled with the fact that their promotional images can’t rival those of corporations. PhotoHand.com is changing this perception by bringing Madison-Avenue quality image editing and photo design to Main Street folks.

The strictly online mode of operation might not fit the processes of large companies but it is perfect for Actors, Models, Consultants, Dentists, Indie Designers, Small Manufacturers, Beauty Professionals, Tattoo Artists, E-shop Owners… the list goes on.

Just upload your photos through PhotoHand.com website, supply your directions in plain language (what you want or what you don’t like in the photos) and in three business days you have the images that will make you or your business stand out – all without breaking the bank.

PhotoHand’s fees start at $3.50 per photo for complete cosmetic retouching. For $11.95 your product photo will be altered into an ad worthy of glossy magazines. Online proofing and changes are free.

Unlike many photographers, PhotoHand works under the “work-for-hire” clause and thus does not claim copyright over retouched photos or photo designs. This means PhotoHand’s clients have the full ownership of their images and can take them to any printing company of choice.

PhotoHand.com works with amateur photos as well as with professionally shot images. The company realizes that many business owners or professionals take one shot at a time when they are ready with a new sample and paying $75-150 an hour for one-two photos is excessive. Most of them have long figured out how to use powerful digital cameras and how to set up the lights for a shoot.

Naturally, such DIY photos need some editing help but so do professional shots, as PhotoHand can attest. With a little bit of post-production TLC, PhotoHand makes such photos shine.

After all, it’s 60% how you look, 35% what you sound like, and 5% what you say.

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May 18, 2009

Shooting for the Book

The wedding season hits in June and we at PhotoHand expect a rise in custom photo books design orders. Most of our clients have been in the wedding photography business for a while but there are a lot of talented young beginners who have been asking us to give them some tips on how to be prepared so that they are in the right place at the right moment and shoot enough material for a lively photo story.

We looked at the weddings albums that we have created so far and came up with this cheat sheet. A bride can also use this list when giving directions to her photographer.

A spread from a wedding book designed and photo retouched by PhotoHand prosfessionals.

A spread from a wedding book designed and photo retouched by PhotoHand prosfessionals.

A wedding is a celebration of a tradition and traditions by their nature adhere to certain scripts. Below are the points general to any wedding but if the wedding is to include some ethnic traditions or special family customs, that photographer must be notified of all such details beforehand so that he or she is able to capture every key moment.

Behind the Scene
The dress on a hanger
close-ups of any remarkable details on the dress
Accessories: flowers, shoes, jewelry, the rings
The bride getting ready (makeup, hair, jewelry, dress,shoes)
Family and bridesmaids assisting the bride
Others getting ready
Portrait of the bride
The groom getting ready (adjusting the ties tie or cuff links)
Portrait of the groom
Waiting for the Ceremony
The wide-angle view of the location
The groom waiting for the bride
The groom, the best man and the officiator
The ring bearer and flower girl
General view of the seated guests
Arrival of the bride

The Ceremony
The best man and maid of honor coming down the aisle
Each groomsman and bridesmaid coming down the aisle
The bride coming down the aisle
Wide-angle view of the ceremony
The vow and ring exchange
Signing of the marriage license
The kiss
The bride and groom coming down the aisle
Any special musician, singer, speaker, etc.

Formal Photos
Hands with the wedding bands
Formal group photos
Romantic bride and groom photos

The Reception
Details: centerpieces, the cake, decor
The wedding party entering the reception
Toasts
Cutting of the cake
The first dance
Dances with parents
Bouquet toss
Garter removal
Guests at each table
Dancing guests

Final Scene
The newlyweds waiving or walking away
Departing Limo

That’s it! Have a great shoot!
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April 21, 2009

Citizen Paparazzi Cash in on the Celebrity Craze

One of PhotoHanders with Paris Hilton at the launch of her new line of sun glasses

One of PhotoHanders with Paris Hilton at the launch of her new line of sunglasses

Crowdsourcing is cutting into the paparazzi business. Some time ago we reported on how amateur photographers can sell their photos online and now another kind of photographers gets upstaged by amateurs.

In recent years, more tabloid magazines have begun accepting picture submissions from non-professionals which lead to a growing number of citizen paparazzi agencies that act as intermediaries. Here are some of them: peoplepaparazzi.com, Cash4yourpics.com, Scoopt.com, Spymedia.com, and Thesnitcherdesk.com. Gawker.com incorporates more amateur photo submissions as a way of enhancing its popular “Gawker Stalker Map,” which maps out celebrity sightings around the city each day.

A lucky shot can make you rich. The snapshot of Britney Spears Las Vegas nuptials that ended in annulment was sold for $150,000 by a couple who also got married there that night. But keep in mind that if you act like a papparazzo, you are at risk of being treated like one by body guards. Bookmark and Share

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March 12, 2009

A New Source of Imagery – Every Man and Woman

In 1953, the Time magazine reported amateur photographers were taking estimated 2 billion pictures a year. In our Digital Lifestyle age, when there is no cost of film and development associated with clicks, one enthusiast might account for this number.

AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER: Every man his own artist. Time Magazine - Nov 2, 1953

AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER: Every man his own artist. Time Magazine - Nov 2, 1953

Photography today is the national pastime. People seem to be carrying cameras at all times in hopes of one day being at the right place at the right moment. Well, they might get lucky. After all, some amateur pictures made history like the shots of the sinking of the Vestris in 1928, the explosion of the Hindenburg in 1937, or the Hotel Winecoff fire in 1946. Can amateur photos compare in artistry and technical quality to the professional photos? Artistic quality is largely in the eye of the beholder and even Robert Capa himself once observed: “Most of the people in this country take pictures, and most of them take better ones than I do.” And now most amateurs are walking around heavily armed with semi-professional and professional cameras that become more and more affordable with every year. Professional-grade cameras now cost less than $1,000 The borderline between professional and amateur photographers is beginning to blur. Back in 1953, selling your lucky shots means a lot of legwork. These days, all you have to do is open an account at one of the photography microstock websites that serve as marketplaces for images, and you can proudly claim yourself a professional once you have sold. One of such sites iStockphoto’s clients now include bulk photo purchasers like IBM and United Way, as well as the small design firms that used to buy from expensive agencies like Corbis and Getty. As a matter of fact, Getty Images – one of the world’s largest stock and editorial photo vendors has made a deal with Flickr to add a hand-picked set of Flickr users’ photos to its catalog. The deal will almost certainly cut further into the market for professional stock photography. You won’t make too much cash selling your photos though. Thanks to the collective effort of millions of you, stock photos are no longer scarce and the going rate for royalty-free photos is $1. But who knows, you might produce a photo that will be hugely in demand. So, click away for extra cash or maybe fame! Here is the list of some of the microstock websites to consider with an overview in their own words:

ShutterStock is the largest subscription-based stock photo agency in the world.

Dreamstime is a distinguished leader in stock photography and a major supplier of high quality digital images at unbelievable prices.

BigStockPhoto provides designers with an alternative to high-priced stock photography, in addition to providing photographers with a marketplace to sell their work.

123 Royalty Free is your one-stop royalty-free photo library offering stunning, practical stock photos at the most affordable price!

Crestock – stock photo & image bank that has the stock photography industry’s highest standard in royalty free stock photos & images.

iStockPhoto is the Internet’s original member-generated image and design community. We offer millions of royalty-free stock images for as little as $1 each.

YAY Micro claims to be the best creative and editorial microstock agency in terms of quality, turn-over, reputation and satisfaction. Our vision is to be the leading digital content provider.

CanStockPhoto is one of the world’s largest microstock photography agencies.

FeaturePics is an Internet tool for the realization of the free market; where an Artist is responsible for a product and supervises its price, and a Buyer completes this market by buying the Art.

Fotolia offers the largest image bank of free and affordable royalty free photos and illustrations perfect for any medium, web or print.

Cutcaster is a dynamic, licensing exchange where members buy, sell and request the rights to use digital photos, vector illustrations and images.

PantherMedia is an online marketplace for royalty-free photography. Buyers and sellers of royalty-free images meet on one common platform.

Zymmetrical – the site’s moto is ‘Digital Art to Go!’, but they let our Artists determine the prices of their files – you may find some files to be cheaper than you’d expect, some may seem expensive; however you can always be sure the quality is top-notch.

Fotomind is a royalty-free stock photography agency delivering high quality photos under affordable prices.

Albumo is the Royalty Free Photo Stock – where everyone can sell or buy desired images.

ImageCatalog is a Royalty-Free stock photography web site with the goal of providing exceptionally high quality images at micro prices.

ThePhotoStorage – a royalty-free stock photography website where anyone can purchase photos or vector illustrations for less than $1.00

MostPhotos is a democratic marketplace for stock photos and images.

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February 13, 2009

Perfect Memories of a Perfect Day

PhotoHand Wedding Photo Retouching & Photo DesignThe Wedding Day! You spend months and thousands of dollars planning it: choosing the perfect theme and colors, the perfect wedding dress and shoes, the perfect venue, the perfect menu… the list goes on, not mentioning the preselected perfect groom who must at least look perfect for the day. His best men are the lost cause and you just hope for the best.

With all the gargantuan efforts that you put into this production that will fly by like one moment, what do you still have years after? I photohand-wedding-photo-retouching-moderate-level-fix-clothes-blogvmean besides your husband?

You have your great memories of that perfect day and your photos. Especially today, when wedding photography has gone journalistic style and you can relive that perfect day in all its excitement. That, of course, if the photos turn out well.

This rarely happens and you can’t always blame your wedding photographer because things like unfavorable angle shots, smudged makeup, bunched up clothing, squinting eyes, ominous shadows, glare on eyeglasses can and do occur.

PhotoHand Wedding Photo Retouching & Photo DesignThe truth is that all photos need some correction. And luckily these days photo retouching is quite affordable. For example, PhotoHand offers such services at $3.50 for complete cosmetic retouching that includes fixing your hair and makeup, removing the appearance of any skin imperfections or double chins, or wipe the perspiration off the groom’s forehead. For a little bit extra we’ll slim you down, adjust your wedding dress or “open” squinting eyes. At $11.95, we’ll remove any annoying objects or your sister’s ex-boyfriend from the picture.

We’ll keep your memories of that day perfect. After all, this is how you remember it.
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January 28, 2009

‘Tis the Headshot Season

Headshots on Actor's Gallery Page

MyActingSite.com: Headshots on Actor's Gallery Page

An actor needs at least two headshot photos – one for commercials and one for for film and theater. The commercial image has to be very natural and relatable. When we retouch such images we make sure they have the “everyday look”. Such images will get you a part in a commercial but will not help you stand out when considered for a role in a movie. To make your image really pop, we apply cinematic effects to infuse a dose of magnetism in them. (The fee for both types of retouching stays the same – $3.50 per shot.)

When applying for a role you submit the headshot that is appropriate for the situation, but your contact information should include your web page that gives the full impression of your range.

Headshot Gallery

MyActingSite.com: Headshot Gallery

Online casting is still in its infant stages, and casting agents will hardly search the web to find you today. But the web address on your submitted headshot will lead them to your extended virtual resume showing them the full range of your talent through dozens of headshots and still shots from film and theater shows. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and then you can post your video clips…

Setting up your website is easy. There are online services for that as easy to use as an email application. Take MyActingSite.com. They let you use your own web address like YourName.com. You can post as many photos as you want and they will be well presented to a casting person in a thumbnail and enlarged clickable gallery view. We usually recommend this service to our clients and actor friends because it gives a good presentation of our retouching work and includes the mass emailing application that lets actors invite all the friends and fans to their shows at once. And we do like being invited 🙂

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September 19, 2008

Undeniably Indefinable

By Heather Joy Roth

Spontaneous moments and candid photography is a growing trend among couples getting married. Look through some recent wedding albums and you might see pictures of brides, half-dressed, getting dolled up for the big day or the littered reception floor. The trend in television and print media is reality. You see celebrities exposing much more of their everyday lives than ever before, letting us peek into their homes and special occasions. Brides try emulating casual images of celebrity couples on their big day, and fashionable magazines such as In Style. The posed, “say cheese” portraits your mother had are being replaced by warm, artsy shots.

Documentary Wedding Photography is a take-off on Photo Journalistic style. Photographers capture candid moments, such as the mans face when he sees his blushing bride walk down the aisle. Formal photography for the new generation of brides just won’t do. This allows the photographer to express his or her own sensibilities and expression through his work, greater artistic freedom. Not unlike traditional wedding photography, the cost of the documentary approach varies, with prices from $5,000 to over $15,000 for a celeb-favorite photographer.

Many photographers are opting to meet the couple beforehand and get a “feel” for their personalities. This visit can be extremely useful, guiding the photographer on how to take shots the couple would like to see. All the things learned about the couple will guide the photographer in creating a storyline to go with his or her photos.

Although this is the current trend in wedding photography, traditional photos are not “out of the picture” yet. The couple almost always wants a photo that can sit for years on a counter-top or mantle. But, this portrait does not have to be awkward or contrived. Also, many couples opt to have both a journalistic style and more traditional style of photography for their special memories. This may be the best idea yet, because you get the best of both worlds. Couples have often had only candid, photo journalistic photos taken and realize there are no pictures of their parents or siblings, which can be upsetting.

Many photographers are capturing moments of frustration, such as a bride fighting to zip up her wedding gown. These humorous shots lighten the serious tone of the day and always brings a smile to the couples face, once the tension-filled and sometimes severe mood of the day passes. Emotions are at an all-time high during a bride’s big day, so it is essential for the photographer to know when and how to shoot a photo.

You may want candid shots of the bride and groom preparing for the ceremony, but the bride may not want to be photographed without make-up. If you know how to gracefully shoot one of the most important days in the couple’s lives, capturing beautiful, genuine photos can be easy. Many awkward moments can happen during a wedding, especially at the reception, where intoxicated women in strapless gowns can reveal more than they would like too. Tactfully choosing to not photograph these indecent moments is the best route a photographer can make. These are moments that the couple would like to forget, not remember.

Many brides will walk around in their undergarments without shame, but may not want this image displayed in their album for everyone to see. It really depends on the comfort level among the couple. A temper tantrum the bride has over a mishap during the day should also not be photographed. The bride most likely has been dreaming of this moment since childhood, and her expectations are usually set high. Therefore, a mere mishap could set her off into distress. A respectful, professional photographer will sense when shot could be interpreted as humorous versus embarrassing. A special moment is something that has a feeling to it. Real, visual proof that the bride and groom are to live happily ever after, and these shots are sought after by not only the couple, but the photographer as well. A moment like this is not posed or unnatural. It is the couple glancing into each others eyes after saying “I Do”, it is the first dance as Mr.  & Mrs. and it is undeniably indefinable.

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August 28, 2008

Go Digital = Go Green!

Green mentality is taking over, at least at the personal level. Everyone I know favors products packaged in recyclable materials, buys energy-saving electric bulbs and rechargeable batteries, tells ConEdison to switch them to an alternative energy supplier, etc.

I am proud to say that I created paperless work environment for myself five years ago. It took some effort to get into the habit of charting down those notes-to-self on the computer screen instead of paper and saving digital copies of magazine articles, but it was totally worth it: I can always find them. My aspiration was an efficient work environment but, as a side effect, I reduced my carbon footprint too.

This is a logical chain: by being more efficient, you waste less and become greener. Technology makes us more efficient, so technology can make us less wasteful, especially digital technology.

I realize that by saying this I make a lot of enemies among the defenders of analog photography, and you would think that these days no one in his right mind would mess with film processing but there are a lot of old-time photographers who stick to analog probably out of reluctance to re-learn. The usual argument that you can’t achieve the same quality with digital photography only shows that a person is not well familiar with digital post production.

Digital is more efficient, it’s a fact. You can shoot thousands of pictures with no additional expense and then weed out the bad ones, view them on your computer screen in full format without printing and have them retouched right away by yourself or through online service like ours;-) No emulsion or chemistry, no scanners, enlargers, timers and darkroom supplies, no transporting. You are not only saving your time – you are saving the environment.

Online proofing is another way to save on time, expenses and environmentally. Instead of 400 cheap prints that poorly represent your work, post your photos on the Web in a FREE online storage. Your clients would be able to review the proofs and give you directions before you have invested in post-production. I usually recommend our photographer clients to check out MediaFire.com that offers unlimited storage with up to 100MB per file and image galleries for free. If you know of a comparable service, let us know and we’ll spread the word for the good cause.


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