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Monday, May 30, 2011

What to put on a main webpage?

I have been doing research on what categories to include on a hompage that I design in Dreamweaver. Needles to say, the answer is- IT DEPENDS. First of all, figure out what is the use of a homepage?
- to sell yourself/ employment purposes (the focus will be on you and your work)
- to build your freelance business
- to showcase your work
.... or because you are just bored, you want to learn web design, but you can only learn it if you try to design a site.

So, after much redesign and research, here are my categories: multimedia, photos, video, print, radio, teaching, research, blog, about, contact and related links (besides my logo in masthead and copyright in the footnote). These categories sounds exhaustive so I have two options:
- I can leave the categories as is or
- I can create a main category called multimedia work/portfolio (include the multimedia, photography, print, radio categories). This way there would be less categories on my site but if I state under my name that I am a multimedia journalist, this should be fine?
Which option do you think is the best in web design?

I've got mail?!?!?!

Emails, Facebook messages, Twitter updates come and go, but personal mails STAY. Communication patterns change, I hope this is due to the availability of technology only. I do appreciate this mail from my good photographer- friend, Mike MacKay who took the time to write me a personal note on a handcrafted postcard. I feel the sun is shining again!

It's been so long since I received a personal note on a card! Thank you, Mike for shaking up my communication patterns, my creativity and spirit!!! I learned a lot from you as photographer, mentor and friend!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Some Web Design Basics

This is my journey in the realm of web design: information overload but I hope to learn a lot and I hope to learn FAST from Debbie Wolfe, a web designer, instructor, and freelance journalist in Tampa Bay.
A couple of things Deb pointed out in her web design workshop:
- file management (understand where your file lives)
- use appropriate key words (because the search engines are like a spiderweb)
- use the 2 clicks rule to design your site
- place the most important items in the top 20% of your page
- most websites are shaped like an F
- use heatmaps or Google Analytics to measure your views
Her last advice- you are selling yourself, not where your stuff got published, so don't place logos from other media companies on your site!!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Portraits with Alexandra

I shot Alexandra last weekend Downtown St. Pete. She is a journalist and she also likes to be a model. Thanks, Alexandra for the opportunity. It was a pleahsure working with you! The weather was great and I even had nice clouds to photograph.

Check out Alexandra's album on Flickr.

Strobist Photoshoot at the Pier

This was fun!!!!! I did some strobist style portraits this weekend in St. Pete.
Thanks to the model, Candy Cooke.

Family Photoshoot with the MacDonalds in Treasure Island

My recent photoshoot with the MacDonalds went well. Laurie wanted family portraits, a portrait of Ian for the invitation for his communion and business portraits for their website. They own an insurance company in St. Petersburg.
Time went fast, photoshoot was done all at once at sunset in Treasure Island.
Thank you all for the participation, it was a lot of fun!!!!

Maternity Photo Shoot

A glimpse into maternity

Using Social Media to Grow Your Business

Use Social Media to Grow Your Business, says Carrie Wildes wedding photographer + social media diva. Carrie demonstrated how she uses social media as a marketing tool attract clients and market herself:
- she blogs about the events and people she photographs to generate buzz
- she posts "thank you" emails she receives from clients and vendors
- she pays attention to keywords (keywords depend on your business, of co
- she created a Google business profile (it's free)
- experiment with all social media platforms: Word Press, Twitter, Facebook, Squarespace, etc.
- she uses a blogsite as her website
- she uses hyperlinks and tags to rank her SEO
- she also uses her blogsite as her working photography archive- keywording makes even more sense now :)
- she creates photo galleries on Facebook, tags the subjects in the photo and through a link she redirects those interested to read more about the event and the subjects on her website!

But she agrees, using social media as a marketing tool takes a lot of time. It is well worth it for her and she schedules blogging and Facebooking into her work.
If you plan to follow her path, you should learn to manage your workflow and your time. She religiously blogs and monitors her Google ranking- you should do the same because it is fun and FREE!

I also suggest you follow other photographers to learn how they use social media for branding and creating a buzz!

Thank you Carrie Wildes for sharing the information and spreading your love for photography at the Menaul Gallery. I am looking forward to attending your next workshop on social media on June 6th at the Menaul Gallery in Clearwater! Special thanks to Jerri and Scott Menaul for hosting these workshops.

Full Moon Over the Pier

Armed with a DSLR camera, a tripod, a wide angle lens, and my Yongnuo wireless remote control I headed to the St. Petersburg Pier for an astronomical experiment. I was hoping to see the full moon rising above the pier. If you are a Google Earth users you should should keep in mind these GPS coordinates:
27.776756 N, -82.630451 W (It's just South of the Vinoy on Bayshore-East side of Straub Park)

Here are some of my shots of the Full Moon Rise Over the Pier.
I wish I had a long lens too to capture the moment!!!!

More Full Moon shots are posted on Flickr.

I wanted to get the starburst effect so I stayed with high f-stops (f13 or higher, I kept the ISO at 200 or 400). Other tutorials siggest these parameters to c the full moon with that orange glow near the horizon: ISO 200, f/8, 1/40-1/50s.
Here are more details on capturing the moon.

Exposure calculator

This great tutorial on night photography also covers the basic terms I used in this blog. Thanks,!

Another tutorial on photographing the moon.

Article about this topic on DP Review.

My previous posts on blue hour photography.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Brooker Creek Preserve

Shooting video was not an easy task as I have an inexpensive, tape based camera. I edited the video project using Final Cut Express and I managed to convert the file into a movie file that works on Youtube. Crunching the project THE RIGHT WAY is so important when you post your images on YouTube. If you don't keep the right parameters, your video would loose quality. This tutorial helped me crunch the video file to the right size!!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How to become a good photographer? Be inspired, learn from the best and shoot !!!!!

I was asked this question by many of my photojournalism students last semester at the School of Mass Communications at USF. I posted some ideas in an earlier post, but I decided to give this question a second thought. My short answer is- LOOK FOR INSPIRATION, LEARN and SHOOT!!!!!
My long answer is next.
• I believe that practice makes me a better photographer. I learn my own mistakes so, yes, shoot, shoot, shoot. I would suggest you take on small projects, like shooting a flower, etc.
• Shoot, shoot, shoot to learn your lens. I mean it. I have been shooting with my wide angle zoom Tamron lens for a year (yes, I use third party lens, I know Zack Arias says otherwise. The only caveat- he has money and I don't). I know this lens inside out :) My other favorite lens is the dirt cheap 50 mm Nikon lens (it is not zoom, but you can't have a sharp, cheap and zoom lens :) And, BTW, Zack, awesome website!!!!!
• “Photography is not a happy accident.” (Bambi Cantrell)- It’s not the gear, it is the photographer who creates the shot. So, yes, I am a budget photogr who believes that you can have good and CHEAP gear
• Learn, learn, learn…. Obviously, you have to know the difference between “an fstop and a bus stop,” as photographer Bambi Cantrell said in her workshop on creativelive. I often participate in workshops to learn and network with other photographers. I also suggest you follow other photographers, look at their pictures, read about their work. Knowing the basics about lighting, posing, and proper exposure will allow you to be creative and to start defining your own style, your own voice. You must define your own style if you would like to sell your work.
• But apart from knowing the technical aspects of photography, you have to learn to listen. What does the client need?
• Use the camera in manual mode, use your flashes in manual mode- this way you have control over your settings. I have never used the flash in iTTL mode, nor do I want to ever use it in that mode. I did however, shot in auto when I got my camera three years ago. If you learn to shoot in MANUAL mode, you can adjust your settings at all times. If you don’t learn to shoot in manual mode, you will be lost when you have to shoot sports in dark or you have to shoot pictures at noon when the light is strong. So start raising the bar on the quality of your photos!
• Post only your best photos to give people a reason to hire you (and yes, to improve your photography, you should take classes, workshops, get books, read blogs- there is ton of information out there. I take classes from local photographers, this is the best way for me to learn more about lighting).
• Learn how to accept critiques and how to build on them. There is no other way to improve unless you accept constructive critiques from your peers. I don’t get the feedback I need if my peers post comments like “Nice shot,” “Cool!,” and “I love it.” It’s great that my peers like my work, but if I can find out what is good in my picture and what is bad, I can grow as a photographer. Sometimes, you might have to pay to get a thorough review of your work from a photographer, but it is money well spent.
• Learn to live with the ups and downs of the market, learn to stand out, and use different techniques to attract clients. Some photographers advertise on Facebook, some advertise in a local paper, etc. Find out what works best for you and if you are in doubt, hire an expert to teach you or guide you. If you are on a shoestring budget, like myself, well, then we just have to learn on our own 
• Accept that sometimes you don’t feel like picking up the camera. That’s okay. Sometimes I don’t feel creative, sometimes I just want to use my cell phone and sometimes I just don’t want to shoot. But if I am hired to do a photoshoot, I always do my best because the client is on the first place.
• Learn everything about your audience/clients: age, gender, education, create a folder containing your clients’ name, birthday, family members, pets and send them an email/card for their wedding anniversary, birthday.

Feel free to share your ideas about this!