The other day I came across another of these pay per entry photography competitions.
This time it was Facebook sponsored post connected to the British Journal of Photography ( BJoP). $15 per entry.
As the post was on Facebook it naturally attracted some skepticism from others and rightly so yo might think as there are more and more of these pay to be featured/reviewed/get followers/get in a gallery type 'competitions' floating around the internet.
What I found with this one was a bit of a badly worded offer once you looked at the web site. It wasn't actually from the BJoP but directed you to a site called open walls. The offer was to have your photography exhibited in an exhibition in France in 2019. Not bad you might think... but for $15?? .. sounds to good to be true.? You mean the printing/framing/shipping to France for $15... this was the unclear bit and why people deduced it might be a scam. The sponsored post on Facebook was clearly not monitored and had appeared several times on my feed and had a fair amount of people calling it a scam each time I saw it including 'why bother entering these comps' type of replies, so I decided to call the BJoP and make them aware and to see if it was genuine. The guy confirmed it was genuine but didn't know if it included printing/framing etc
As if by magic, within half an hour the Facebook post had had replies from BJoP. Sadly only directing all the contributors individually to the open walls site again and not actually addressing contributor concerns. One post pointed out that the BJoP had existed since 1854 and therefore must be genuine. Sadly this didn't take into account the quickly written and vague TnC's that are on the site that didn't convince entrants that the weight of history and professionalism might actually come through in a simple competition like this.
Recently I have been approached by several people to ask if I would like to be featured/reviewed/published etc for a small fee.
Another example I have was on Instagram from Beautiful Home Inspiration who started off by being very complimentary about my photos and offering me to be featured on their IG page. So I replied asking 'I guess you charge per submission?' What I got back was a copy/paste standard message now I was on their radar offering to be featured to 100k followers. 1 post $35, 2 post $45 up to 10 posts $145 - I'll receive 200-300 new followers per shutout with a handy pay-pal link included.!
Now I dont know when the world started to spin backwards but at one time photographers were paid for their work. All the photographers I know are hard working, dedicated individuals who have taken years to hone their craft and spent countless thousands of pounds on gear and getting out to the wild at dawn to get a shot or working with products or models to get the valuable experience that means that others can appreciate their art. The culture seems to be that we are the ones who have to pay these days or clever sites and groups have made us feel like that unless we pay for exposure, we are never going to be seen or get anywhere with our work.
How are we to trust which competitions and offers are going to lead to exposure/gallery exhibitions etc and which are not genuine?
Is the web now a place that you can't trust if anyone is actually going to further your career?
Should we take things into our own hands and manage our own exposure and online presence?
I'd love to hear any comments on similar experiences.
So I was contacted by a representative of Lumapod, a crowdfunded startup making a new type of tripod that you can see here.
I was delighted to have some positive comments in the email approach.
"We researched various mediums trying to find people who have an abundance of knowledge about photography and think you are the right person! We know you probably haven't heard of us, but we are hoping to get your honest opinion on a new travel tripod we have designed."
So I responded positively asking where I can get one to test and even blog or podcast about.
There isn't much information on the website so naturally its difficult to give an opinion unless I can use it on the top of a windy mountain or a quick setup inside a busy cathedral, something that I find getting gear out can be a bit time consuming or environmentally unstable.
So after some time of waiting I got a reply..
"We would love to send you one and get your opinion. Unfortunately, we have very limited prototypes at the moment and can't send any out because we need to use them for our own internal use… "
OK then... I'm not 100% sure in this case if I can give an opinion from just a photograph of something that at first glance doesn't look too stable to be honest.
The design looks good and compact but to be honest the feet are a bit worrying and I cant see it doing the trick in a challenging situation like an established stable competitor such as Manfrotto.
I'm all in favor of startups looking for feedback but without something that can be tactile and usable i'm not sure there is much point in reaching out for opinions. With no price or availability info available at the time of writing this either, then it's ineffectual and inconsequential marketing that I don't think has helped the startups cause.
I look forward to getting one if the company honor their promise and writing a good review. Watch this space.
So recently I was interviewed for a podcast about how photographers are not making money from photography and potential ways where you can.
This is outside the pro photography categories of wedding, portrait and commercial where the excellent work done by these pros makes them a good living.
The podcast theme was about how amateur photographers can make money by using the various sites that allow you to upload art to be turned into t-shirts and even shower curtains and the arguably slightly more profitable route of stock photography.
The sites I have mentioned I have actively contributed to over the last few years and the difficulty I find is holding your hand higher than anyone else in the vast sea of items available pointing down to your own work for people to buy.
Stock photography is the latest avenue I have tried and the sites are quite picky about what they accept and I have changed the way I look at some things to take pictures of in order to make them more appealing to that selection process.
Going back to the podcast interview, we spent around an hour discussing these aspects of trying to, and for most of the time, failing to make decent money from non professional services.
You can hear the full interview here.
So at the end of the interview my colleague whos show it is allowed me to say what my website was (so it's possible for listeners to see my work - you know..networking ) , Twitter, Instagram etc but only after he'd stopped the recording and after he mentioned his own Patreon link where listeners could sponsor him towards future podcasts and get exclusive content etc. Another good way to make potential revenue you might be thinking to yourself. … but hang on, there's a twist in the tale yet to come.!
Once the edit was finished, I was sent the link to Soundcloud to have a listen and if you have done so or intend to do so I hope you feel that it is a good podcast.
Now me being from a tech background wanted (naturally) to want to market this and try to get some exposure for myself and in return the more people I would send to his Patreon so I recorded the audio from the Soundcloud page and added some of my images to a presentation and uploaded it to YouTube. My thinking being that if listeners could see some of the pictures I talk about in the podcast then it would accompany the interview quite well.
In 2 hours i’d had 19 listens compared to the 27 in 3 days of it being on the podcast Soundcloud page. Not bad you might say. It also had had 41 blog reads on my web site. All good stuff you might think and it was clear I was heading toward more listens through my channel than his.
Then…. I got an email.
“ I am unhappy to see that you’ve put my podcast episode on Youtube without my consent. Can you please take this down.”
Now I did ask at the end was it ok to use for my own marketing and the guy said yes.
“ By all means use the link on Soundcloud, but I did not give my permission to my podcast being put on Youtube.”
Im on several Facebook groups where you can promote photography and the members run into thousands, a point I made to the owner of the podcast but he was still insistent on me taking the film off YouTube which I did.
Now it strikes me that for someone who is looking for sponsorship to help make podcasts and having one of those podcasts the theme of NOT making money from photography and good ways where you can make a little extra, that you’d want as many people and post to as many places as possible to gain the max exposure. But no, he insisted that I take it down and 24 hours after this the amount of listens remains at 27 on Soundcloud.
I do feel slightly that I wasted my time over this as there seems to be no incentive by the owner to push this and earn something from his (and ultimately my) efforts.
“ This isn’t about exposure for me and I’m not desperate to chase exposure.”
Patreon is a complete hassle to set up, so to go to all this effort to then not want to have as much exposure for your work seems to be a little ineffectual and unproductive.
So ironically the podcast that talked about NOT making money and ways you can, itself seems to be dead in the water and the owner seems really and truly NOT want to make money from photography.!
Please listen to me being interviewed here on how photographers are not making money from photography in the 1/160 second photography podcast.
500 UK business leaders talk about the truth of doing business outside of London. Have you read the report?
So after only 2 weeks contributing some of my catalogue to Shutter Stock I made 25 cents form someone downloading one of my sunset pics.!
Its not amazing but its a start.!
Get stock images from my portfolio here.
You have to love the internet for the endless amount of opportunities there are now for making money online.
In an upcoming podcast that I was interviewed for I talked about the different avenues I have tried to make money from photography.
I thought i'd share two with you here.
1, Stock Photography.
I have work on Shutter Stock that you can see here. They currently are offering me an opportunity to earn an extra $200 by referring people to their site, signing up and buying not just my pictures but pictures in general. This then means that you will also get the offer once you have signed up. SO if you are looking for stock photography then click this link and we can all benefit from earning something a little extra.
So I have framed art for sale at Spreesy here.
A nice way they offer incentives to make money is on a comission basis.
For you the promoter/plugger whatever you want to call it, there are absolutely no outlay costs at all, its all done by me.
You simply have to promote art with a specific URL and if someone buys it via that link you get a generous % commission.
Currently I offer 7.5% - 8.5% on the work I advertise, so to put that into real money
Art for sale at £199.00
Promoter Commission Per Sale (7.50%)- £14.93
Not bad for just blogging,vlogging or tweeting about it.!
So if you'd like to get involved with this and try to get yourself some social media promoting cash then I go here.
So I received a message from Gareth at 1/160 photography podcast of which you can hear his previous interviews here.
Initially he was interested in my Lightroom skills which I found very complimentary and as a photographer editing your own work, it's subjective as to whether your edit actually work and looks good to others.
After a half hour phone call about the subject and talking about other aspects of photography it became more apparent that the podcast interview might be more appropriate to talk about trying to make money as an amateur photographer and all the options out there that you can monetize your work.
So we agreed to meet in Central Milton Keynes for a chat.
The interview went well I think and although we were in a quiet spot we did get interrupted by a noisy quad bike.!
We discussed a lot of aspects of trying to make money online with photography and i'm looking forward to hearing the finished version when it comes out.
So after a bit a faffing about with my web site provider, i'm now back online.!
The deals you get from these people, in my case Weebly tend to offer you one deal for a domain and several price breaks for the content editing. This is what had expired and unusually they didnt email me to say 'hey, you need to renew your plan..! awesome..'
So I usually like to add something to my latest work page so that anyone who follows me (and I get quite a lot of regular viewers ) can see what i've been up to and it was at this point of trying to add a picture that I found out I couldn't edit the site.
Confusingly it wanted me to add my domain name to a free plan which I had defaulted back to despite you being able to type in my website name and it will take you to it.!
I've no idea how these companies work sometimes.!
So I had to pay a 2 year deal to add the domain which I already had to the free plan I'd defaulted to in order to add content to the site that already existed.
Thanks for bearing with me and i'll be back to posting regular stuff from now on.
1: Use the Rule of Thirds
This rule helps you take eye-catching pictures by using one of the most effective rules of composition.
If you want to take pictures that have a “wow” factor built in them, the Rule of Thirds is the composition secret you need to take advantage of!
To use the rule of thirds, imagine four lines, two lying horizontally across the image and two vertical creating nine even squares. Some images will look best with the focal point in the centre square, but placing the subject off centre at one of the intersecting points of the imaginary lines, will often create a more aesthetically composed photograph.
When a photograph is composed using the rule of thirds the eyes will wander the frame. A picture composed by the rule of thirds is usually more interesting and pleasing to the eye.
2: Avoid Camera Shake
Camera shake or blur is something that can plague any photographer and here are some ways to avoid it.
First, you need to learn how to hold your camera properly; use both hands, one around the body and one around the lens and hold the camera close to your body for support.
Also, for handheld shooting, make sure that you are using a shutter speed that is appropriate for your lens’ focal length. If you’re shutter speed is too slow, any unintentional movement of the camera will result in your entire photograph coming out blurry. The rule of thumb is not to shoot at a shutter speed that is slower than your focal length to minimize this problem:
1 / Focal Length (in mm) = Minimum Shutter Speed (in seconds)
So, as an example, if you’re using a 100mm lens, then your shutter speed should be no lower than 1/100th of a second.
Use a tripod or monopod whenever possible.
Are you confused by any of the terminology? Do you want to easily control your camera and finally get rid of the confusion about focal length, aperture, shutter speed and other settings?
3: Learn to use the Exposure Triangle
To get your photos looking their best in terms of exposure and overall appearance, you need to master the three basics: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.
You also need to understand the relationships between these three controls. When you adjust them, you would usually have to consider at least one of the others, to get the desired results.
Using Auto Mode takes care of these controls, but you pay the price of not getting your photos to look the way you wanted them, and often disappointing.
It’s a better idea to learn how to use Aperture-priority or Shutter-priority modes, and ultimately shoot in Manual mode.
4: Use a Polarizing Filter
If you can only buy one filter for your lens, make it a polarizer.
The recommended type of polarizer is circular because these allow your camera to use TTL (through the lens) metering such as auto exposure.
This filter helps reduce reflections from water as well as metal and glass; it improves the colours of the sky and foliage, and will help give your photos the WOW factor. It will do all that while protecting your lens. There’s no reason why you can’t leave it on for all of your photography.
5: Create a Sense of Depth
When photographing landscapes it really helps to create a sense of depth, in other words, make the viewer feel like they are there.
Use a wide-angle lens for a panoramic view and a small aperture of f/16 or smaller to keep the foreground and background sharp. Placing an object or person in the foreground helps give a sense of scale and emphasizes how far away the distance is.
Use a tripod if possible, as a small aperture usually requires a slower shutter speed.
6: Use Simple Backgrounds
The simple approach is usually the best in digital photography, and you have to decide what needs to be in the shot, while not including anything that is a distraction.
If possible, choose a plain background – in other words, neutral colours and simple patterns. You want the eye to be drawn to the focal point of the image rather than a patch of colour or an odd building in the background. This is especially vital in a shot where the model is placed off centre.
7: Don’t Use Flash Indoors
Flash can look harsh and unnatural especially for indoor portraits. Therefore, there are various ways you can take an image indoors without resorting to flash.
First, push the ISO up – usually ISO 800 to 1600 will make a big difference for the shutter speed you can choose. Use the widest aperture possible – this way more light will reach the sensor and you will have a nice blurred background. Using a tripod or an I.S. (Image Stabilization) lens is also a great way to avoid blur.
If you absolutely must use flash, then use a flash with a head you can rotate, and point the light to the ceiling on an angle.
8: Choose the Right ISO
The ISO setting determines how sensitive your camera is to light and also how fine the grain of your image. The ISO we choose depends on the situation – when it’s dark we need to push the ISO up to a higher number, say anything from 400 – 3200 as this will make the camera more sensitive to light and then we can avoid blurring. On sunny days we can choose ISO 100 or the Auto setting as we have more light to work with.
9: Pan to Create Motion
If you want to capture a subject in motion, then use the panning technique. To do this, choose a shutter speed around two steps lower than necessary – so for 1/250, we’d choose 1/60. Keep your camera on the subject with your finger half way down on the shutter to lock the focus and when ready, take the photo, remembering to follow them as they move.
Use a tripod or monopod if possible to avoid camera shake and get clear movement lines.
10: Experiment with Shutter Speed
Don’t be afraid to play with the shutter speed to create some interesting effects.
When taking a night time shot, use a tripod and try shooting with the shutter speed set at 4 seconds. You will see that the movement of the object is captured along with some light trails. If you choose a faster shutter speed of say 1/250th of a second, the trails will not be as long or bright; instead you will freeze the action.
Try shooting other compositions with moving objects or backgrounds such as waves on a beach, crowds of people walking, cars commuting, with different shutter speeds to either capture blurred movement or snapshots that freeze everything sharply in time.
Whenever using slow shutter speeds to blur movement, it is critical that the camera is stabilized to eliminate camera shake.
See image below.
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