Tag Archives: Flickr

Studio 5 Graphics Year in Review 2015

Bre Projector NSFW
Bre Projector NSFW

Studio 5 Graphics Year in Review 2015

 

I know I have not posted since April of 2015, but it has been interesting even if I don’t write amazing things every day about taking pictures. These year end reviews are important to me to help me bench mark where I am and what I have done over the year. One of the hallmarks of 2015 was the reduction in picture taking because of you know life and things like that. 2014 I took somewhere on the order of 28,000 pictures, 2015 saw about 18,000 pictures taken, but the pictures that are coming out are cleaner, brighter, and jacked up, I’m finding my signature now, and you can tell a S5G picture just by looking at it.

 

It is funny where my pictures end up, that will not stop I think.

 

The biggest changes that came this year was watermarking, with the sheer amount of appropriation and borrowing I decided in August to start watermarking everything and pushing up the low res images rather than the full high end images online. This caused no decrease in traffic, but a wad of name recognition that would do a porn star proud. It is just a simple watermark, easily removed by those who chose to do it, but with the amount of meta data in the images now a person has to be really dedicated to remove all the watermarks as they are embedded throughout the image and metadata now.

 

Now to the numbers, we know that was what you are reading this for; image views are how I am measuring success in getting my name out there. Sales are how I am measuring success in turning this into a full time gig.

 

Flickr, starting number 30,631,971, ending number today 53,726,372 comes out to 23,094,401 million picture views this year. Good times on that one seriously. I did not post to Flickr as much as I could have, and keeping somewhat steady with last years 20,408,331 million picture views is a small gain of an 11.64% increase in picture views with some 10,000 pictures uploaded. I also saw a sharp increase in followers, almost doubling going from 700 to 1,587 followers now. Flickr continues to be the top performing site I post at, with a great group of followers the community is strong on this one. We have won awards on Flickr this year, which was new and exciting to experience. As always we really honestly wish that we had a way to sell pictures on Flickr.

 

Smugmug, total for the year comes out to 11,092,337 million picture views, which is just a tad lower than last year’s 13,500,000 million picture views. A 17% decrease in picture views. This year we did not have the great Smugmug boudoir hack, but because of that hack, we have a small and loyal following going on for our work. We also had some sales on Smugmug this year that was nice to have. We posted almost everything into Smugmug this year and used it as a drop site warehouse as we have done almost since inception.

 

Deviant Art – meh, it’s dead, we still have it, but not really using it, we posted maybe a 100 pictures this year and got 17,520 picture views. Time to shut this sucker down. It’s not really an art site anymore, it’s a site where children post their crappily drawn My Little Pony Friendship is magic shit that would be better on their parents refrigerator. Seriously if you are 13 DA is probably awesome and edgy, but it simply is not a place for anything else at this point.

 

Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook – we really tried to use them this year and are seeing a little fame, just a few hundred followers and some likes. Most of what we do is not safe for work, so Tumblr really has been a key for us as we really do not want to spend time in limbo while having our Instagram and Facebook accounts shut down. We would dearly love to have a space that we could post our stuff without having to worry about the morality patrol. You know it is just skin folks. You are all naked under your clothes.

 

This years total, 34,204,258 picture views, with book sales going strong over the year and being a primary source of income. Not many new titles this year, it’s been one of those times where I wanted to cut back and try other things, but 2016 promises to be even more interesting as I have my ideas back and have some amazing photo shoots set up in my head. 2016 is going to be an interesting year.

 

 

Flickr’s Camera Roll Beta rocks

Flickr Camera Roll BetaFlickr’s Camera Roll Beta rocks

 

It is not every day that a photo dumpsite comes up with something interesting, let alone helpful for the photographers. But the new camera roll beta from Flickr actually helps solve some of the problems that photographers might have with understanding how their pictures are consumed or viewed.

 

Before camera roll, finding out how people were consuming pictures was to say the least painful. Camera Roll solves this problem for me in an elegant and beautiful way to determine what pictures are popular, how many times they have been viewed (because I am much more interested in specific picture views than full gallery views for weeding purposes) and which ones are the most popular in a given set.

 

This is a great way of seeing how many picture views each individual picture gets. The tabular format is pretty sweet for seeing how many people like a specific picture that you have and then working backwards from there to work out which pictures are the most popular in a gallery. With the one terabyte limit, this makes weeding out pictures so much easier, you simply drop the ones that have the fewest picture views.

 

The ones with the most picture views stay, the ones with the least get deleted off the system in favor of the better ones, or the ones with the most picture views.

 

I am also finding out that with camera roll some of my experiments of “less is more” or “more is more” in terms of driving picture views, this makes the data pulls much more intuitive than digging through the pictures bit by bit, piece by piece.

 

I am really digging on the new camera roll, and I really hope that the Flickr product management group keeps this feature as part of Flickr.

 

The only other feature that I would really love to see come out of Flickr is a shopping cart so that people can purchase pictures from me directly and I get to use their site to make money. It would totally turn Flickr from a dump site into a portfolio site if they were to do that.

 

If you have not had a chance to take a look at the Camera Roll Beta, and start incorporating it into your statistical view of how your pictures are consumed. Now all that remains is a shopping cart, I really want to see people have the ability to purchase pictures from me there. My stuff is not the kind of stuff that is going to show up in a Getty image search, but it is the kind of stuff that someone might purchase.

 

Latex Model Justine

Justine Latex ModelLatex Model Justine

 

I had a great opportunity to work with Justine one last time before she headed off to the big city to boost her career. There is always something wonderful about shiny latex, and taking latex pictures can be a challenge.

 

Latex is great under flash photography, under continuous lighting the shiny sometimes does not work out the way that it needs to work out with the light reflecting off the model so you get the super shiny highlights.

 

One of the interesting challenges of lighting this is to ensure the backdrop stays white, and that the colors pop all the way through the outfit. In the end I used two barn door spots on the background, and then two 30-inch soft boxes for the model to make sure I got something shiny. I do tend to use a four light setup, one set of lights for the background and one set of lights for the model.

 

To make sure I got the shiny on the latex I used a latex polisher and silicone based lubricating gel. The latex polisher was an excellent touch to make sure I got the shiny look and feel while the lubricating gel was all about getting into and out of the latex while giving it that wonderful wet look that is essential to taking good latex pictures. The stark white background was used for the shoot so that I could get the colors to pop off the outfit and give additional texture and vibrancy to the colors.

 

I am still learning how to do amazing latex pictures, but what I find the most interesting about shooting latex is the phenomenal costs associated with purchasing the outfits. Latex models are also a breed apart when it comes to working with the materials. Some of the best suggestions I got on the care and feeding of latex was from the models I work with. In all this is a fun project to work on, and while I wish I could show you much more, I am still plagued by people trolling through Smugmug looking for naughty pictures, so much of what I do has been locked off and is no longer publicly accessible.

 

 

 

So your naughty pictures on Smugmug got hacked

So your naughty pictures on Smugmug got hackedSo your naughty pictures on Smugmug got hacked

It seems that on February 7th, and ongoing through the end of last night people were trolling Smugmug and Zenfolio for all those naughty boudoir pictures that people have been taking and putting behind a password. The good part is that the link was taken down at the site collecting them, and the admin of the site was being pretty cool about it even if it is a voyeur web site. It was pretty easy to find with all the traffic going on about how this was happening.

Really your stuff wasn’t hacked, it was more using an automated scraper to find anything with the word nude in the title, then a quick automated check to see if you were using any one of the 100 most commonly used passwords for the gallery.

example of geolocation of IP Address

So if you used a name or the password password you can pretty much so figure out that someone saw the pictures who is not the client you were taking pictures of at the time. So nope, not really hacking, more like some pretty effective social engineering and those are two things in my mind. My adventure with this started last night when one of the most impressive smugmug support heroes gave me a quick shout that someone was trying to guess the password to a gallery I posted a year ago, I am kind of flattered that they would try this, and I am guilty of using password hints up through this morning when I reset all the passwords on my protected galleries. I am also thankful that really nothing got to where it should not have gone because I use at least some sort of password security, and now the hint shows the old password when the password has changed just because I want to be a jerk about all this.

From there it was a quick dive through my Smugmug Organizer and resetting about 2 dozen passwords, then going on a hunt, while I am a photographer by hobby, I am a computer security person by trade, so this was a great way to exercise just a few of my skills this morning. But you might want to keep an eye out on your traffic levels, looking for anything unusual, and if you have a pop on a password protected gallery, change the password on it. This one will come around again, now that people know to do this, hey there it is.

Geolocate the IP Addresses, Smugmug will do that for you, check your referrers too if you allowed embedding along the way. Smugmug recommends setting the password before uploading, that way it does not get slurped into the RSS feed of smugmug while you are uploading, don’t use the same password, and for the love of all that you believe in don’t use an easily guessed password. Don’t use password hints, turn off Right Click Save As, and one site recommended not to post them online at all, meet up with the client and hand them a CD of their pictures. Of course that won’t matter if your computer gets hacked, but that is also a risk we face in this day and age.

SLRLounge also has some good advice to follow along the way as well.

So check your stuff out today, don’t wait, while the main thread is down at the creeper site (voyeur site), it does not mean that this won’t happen again, you might as well take good steps now to secure your stuff. And keep your clients from showing up in places they didn’t think they would show up in. There is nothing quite so much as to ruin your day as having a client ask you why their pictures are all over a porn site.

 

 

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SEO for Photographers

SEO for PhotographersSEO for Photographers

Well the book is out and I hope that you really enjoy it. It is just a couple of days old so through Friday we are offering the book for free so that people get a chance to read it and let me know what they think. I hope that people write reviews for it on Amazon, the book is right here, and if you downloaded it for free this week, please feel free to write a review. I am really interested in hearing back what you think of it.

I know when we think about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) we have a hard time picking out keywords, and trying to describe the picture in 400 characters or less in some cases. This book really pulls out everything I know about getting picture views and following people through a web site to see what they do, where they go, and how long they stay there. What images or movies are the most popular, and how to attempt to sell them to people who are looking at the pictures you are taking.

I generally do not take pictures that people can like in public, and as I work my way through the vintage nude series, something like SEO for Photographers has been important in getting attention. I have already crossed over two million picture views for the year, and if you know anything about e-commerce, it is all about views. The more views, the more chance that someone will actually purchase something, and that is why this book is important, it really dives deep into the things I do to get those amazing picture views. In all this has been a fun book to write, and put together.

There are a ton of pictures, a ton of good ideas, a bunch of different ways of using site keyword clouds to pick out the ones that people are always looking for. The book goes into how to balance Flickr and SmugMug and Tumblr and everyplace else you might post pictures to. We also look at how to balance 500PX, it is a fun site, but has some interesting tweaks that people might not be all that aware of in how 500PX pulse actually works.

The bottom line to all this is to keep on posting, keep on taking pictures, keep on doing the media things you do and have some fun with it. Picture views are not everything, selling pictures is awesomely fun and sometimes happens when you are wondering if anyone is noticing. But the key is using the right keywords to attract the right internal audience. In all, I really hope you like this book, and through January 25th, it is free on Kindle right here.

 

 

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Creating a Picture Book using Amazon Comic Creator

Creating A Picture BookCreating a Picture Book using Amazon Comic Creator

If you try to make a picture book and get it published the more pictures you add the more expensive the book. It is so easy to price yourself out of the market with publishing anywhere that I know a lot of photographers have basically abandoned creating picture books for themselves. Previous versions of the Kindle, and the problems with creating an e-pub also mean that our pictures basically sat on our hard drives or in places like Smugmug or Flickr where we were lucky to sell anything.

The good part is that when Amazon moved into the comic book market allowing independent comic book creators to self publish to Kindle directly, that opened the door to photographers using the same tools to create an awesome picture book along the way.

Some caveats, your pictures need to be 800 X 1260/1280 in size, and have a max size of 126K, so you need to set your DPI at 96 to make sure you can keep your pictures at the right size to work with Amazon Kindle. Over the last couple of days I have gone through my archives of China and some of the cooler photo shoots to create books for Amazon Kindle. The fun part is that one of them sold within the first 24 hours of being posted so I am really hoping to see how sales go with Amazon Kindle.

The book I used for this project is FU We Are: Seattle Punk Rock, a picture book about the Seattle Punk Rock scene I have been trying to get published for the last two years. It took an hour or so to build it for the Amazon Kindle system, without having to argue with publishers who are becoming increasingly gun shy about taking on projects that might not have any economic output. Now given the price of publishing, I can understand that. The Seattle Punk Rock book is somewhere on the order of 130 pages, and there isn’t a popular band in there, but there is a lot about the Seattle Punk Rock scene.

Even if you never sell a copy you are only out about 2 hours of your life, and using Amazon Comic Creator for picture books is about as easy as anything I have encountered in online printing anywhere for any reason. No haggling, no pain, easy to use, there is also a really handy video of about 15 minutes that walks you through the whole process. I did pre-stage everything for this, but honestly, set aside an hour or two to make this happen and you will have your kindle ready picture book uploaded and for sale very quickly.

 

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Setting Keywords and Captions in Smugmug

Flickr Tags and KeywordsSetting Keywords and Captions in Smugmug

So many of my friends and fellow photographers have been asking about how I get so many picture views. In general I pay close attention to what I am taking pictures of, and while I do tend to overshoot with too many pictures of the same pose, I really try to take a good quality picture. The other side of this is understanding how communities work at Smugmug, and other sites like Flickr and Deviant Art. Smugmug is a semi-closed community, where the search engines do not tend to index them as much they could, so there are two ways to get hits to your gallery.

One blog with at least 400 words what you took pictures of, why they are awesome, and link back to your gallery or have a small gallery included in your blog entry like I do here. The search engines are able to build a context around the pictures and will then go check out your gallery so they will end up in Google. Each person with a link @smugmug.com will tend to have a low Page Rank unless they do this, making it hard for people to find your galleries from the internet.

The other part is the internal audience to Smugmug, Flickr or anywhere else. I would say that 90% of all my traffic comes from internal audiences, not from search engines. Internal audiences are people on the site looking for pictures. People will search Smugmug looking for keywords about your pictures. From what I have been able to gather, the search feature of most of the picture storing sites is geared towards those keywords, popularity, and the captions that go along with them. That is why you will see keyword clouds for just about every photographer on Smugmug.

Setting Keywords and Captions is the most important thing you can do with Smugmug or any picture site. You should stick to somewhere between 15 and 25 relevant keywords about what the picture is about. It is generally a bad idea to use keywords that do not describe your pictures because you want traffic. With the changes to Smugmug, it is sometimes hard to find out where to set keywords and captions not just for the pictures but for the galleries as well. So I made this sweet little video to help you the photographer understand how to set keywords and captions for your galleries and individual pictures. Hope you enjoy it. Feel free to share it to anyone you think might be interested.

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2013 The Statistics Year in Review

Behai Park Beijing China2013 The Statistics Year in Review

We all know that being a photographer means that you have to be an attention whore in a number of ways. We need to get people looking at our pictures online just to even think about getting started selling them. That means we need to stand out from the crowd, we need to keyword and tag what we are doing, as well as dealing with age gates, other photographers, linking and embedding, and all the processes that help us literally stand out from the crowd.

According to the blogs on Flickr and Smugmug something on the order of 3.5 million pictures are uploaded daily on those sites. Instagram if you use it and Facebook are more than billions a week. It is very hard to stand out from the crowd, and 2013 is the year I took SEO (Search Engine Optimization) seriously.

And it paid off, this is the first year I sold pictures, and sold enough pictures to pay for all my hosting plans at DA, Smugmug and Flickr. Here is how the numbers work out.

Flickr:

Starting number 700,000 ending number 10,223,640

Total picture views this year

Sales – Nada, Flickr really needs to figure out a way that others can purchase our pictures. While linking back to Getty Images is cool, that has turned into a dead process for me because of the pictures I take. I don’t do stock pictures, and that complicates Flickr for me. So no sales and unlikely to have any sales via Getty any time soon.

Smugmug:

Total picture views for the year 4,649,198

Sales – enough to pay for hosting and a small craft beer, which is not bad because this is the first year I have ever had sales. The interesting is the graph below, you can see the obvious difference between understanding Smugmug keywords and its internal audience and those days I did not understand them. The midyear point is an amazing turn for people looking at my pictures.

Deviant Art

Starting Number 112,000, ending number 236,927

Total picture views for the year

Sales – enough barely enough to pay for hosting, but this is also the first year I have sold pictures on DA so that makes it special. I mostly sold electronic downloads there, no prints.

Total picture views for the year are: 14,297,765

Facebook and Google Plus

After a small ruckus caused by my pictures from AMDEF 2013 this year, I had to move all the photography over to a page. I was effectively shutdown in Facebook for something like 30 hours this year because people would flag them as porn or something else. While I have had thousands of picture views on both sites, I had to move everything over to a fan page to keep the flaggers/trolls at bay and not upset their fine sensibility, or run afoul of Facebook’s solid issues with Nipples. Seriously Facebook has almost a deviant psychosis when it comes to nipples, or at least some of their users sure do. Although I am ok with it because a lot of other international and national photographers also found themselves shutdown at times. So I am not going to count them this year because of the transition from timeline to fan page.

All other sites, I don’t really post much to 500PX or Instagram or others so they don’t really count. All the numbers are below 10,000 and insignificant in comparison to what is happening over on Flickr, Smugmug and Deviant Art. 2012 was in comparison a pretty paltry year, with maybe a couple hundred thousand picture views, and with the millions of picture views this year along with making enough coin to make hosting payments I really cannot argue where this year ended up. Remember to do all the SEO you can to help you stand out of the billions of pictures that are uploaded weekly.

 

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SEO for Photographers Part 1 Tagging Images with Keywords

Flickr Tags and KeywordsSEO for Photographers Part 1 Tagging Images with Keywords

This is something I have been meaning to post for a very long time, but one of the issues that so many of my photographer friends have is not tagging their pictures. Or if they do tag, they are all over the map thinking that a ton of tags are what is going to drive the picture views. If you are using more than 20 tags on your images you are typing too much. Really what you want to do is work out a plan for how you want to tag, keeping in mind the most popular tags on Smugmug and Flickr will cross over to Deviant Art and 500PX. They should work on instagram but that is a different audience and I don’t really do instagram. They will work on Tumblr, but Tumblr is pretty much so fragmented into communities. So you are going to want to use community specific tags over there for your pictures.

For this article though I am just going to go over the most popular tags on Smugmug and Flickr. They are the two major warehouses for images, used by people all over the world, and store hundreds of terabytes of data that people are going to be looking through. There are millions of pictures uploaded to both services every day, so you need to be smart about tagging to cut through all the noise. The good part is that Smugmug and Flickr both make it easy to find what people are looking for on their sites, and gives you a lot of information about popular keywords.

Smugmug – Surprise, Smugmug only indexes the first 30 keywords and tags, if you added more than that, Smugmug is going to totally ignore them. Smugmug also has a great page of recommendations here, but the real heart and soul of the system is Smugmug’s own search page. The Keyword cloud is one way of finding out what people are searching for on the Smugmug site. It looks like this, and is really hard to find with the redesign. You can find your own keyword cloud at yoursite.smugmug.com/keywords/ but they might not be what people are really looking for.

Smugmug Keywords and Tags

This is where Flickr comes to the rescue with their own keyword cloud right here. You can see three sets on Flickr, last 24 hours, last week, or all time. I usually use the all time keywords as they are somewhat the same across both Smugmug and Flickr for tagging your pictures with the right keywords. This does not mean that you will suddenly get millions of picture views a day, but it does help Google, Bing and Yahoo find your stuff better. It also helps people who search internally to the picture warehouses find your stuff better as well.

From a user perspective, you want to try to use the same keywords on both sites, and Flickr’s cloud is pretty similar to Smugmug’s hard to find hide and seek keyword cloud. Adding keywords is one of the only ways that a search engine is going to know what your picture is, and what it is about. Remember though, Flickr has the same kind of cut off for keywords, if you are keyword stuffing then you pretty much so are working too hard.

Use the right keywords for your photo or video. If it is not about California, then don’t include it, if it is about Hawaii then use the keyword Hawaii and if traveling use the keyword travel. For example when I am in Beijing every summer I always come back with thousands of pictures. I break each set into their own location, like the Forbidden City, add the year, and then add china, Beijing, travel, and other key words to describe the area I am in.

It is always important to use keywords wisely. Google and other search engines are onto keyword stuffing and other techniques to try to gain page views. Most of your searches especially on Flickr are going to come from other Flickr users. Smugmug is about 50% internal and 50% external users for search. Keywords are the way to have people find your images.

 

 

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Unveiling the New Smugmug

Unveiling the New SmugmugUnveiling the New Smugmug

I have been a fan and user of Smugmug since 2005, and since then I have seen a lot of changes with the site, most of them have been under the hood, but this is the first time Smugmug has rolled out a new look and feel. Anytime any web site updates the User Interface (UI) you wonder what all is going to break along the way. This time though, no breaking, just good clean solid programming making things much more pretty, and a way to harmonize your Smugmug site with the other web sites that you use to showcase your pictures.

If you want to check out the changes – trot on over here.

It took about 5 hours to roll my 60,000 pictures over on the Smugmug site to the point where I could get to the new UI and then actually go tinker with it. There were a lot of people out there yesterday trying to do the same thing and while they say it might take a minute or two to do this, the more pictures you have the more time it will take to roll everything over to the new UI. I have some friends who had 150,000 pictures or more that are still waiting and we all tried to do this about the same time yesterday. So figure about an hour for every 10,000 pictures wait time for the roll over and that means you can go grab a cup of coffee or take a nap, or go do something useful along the way while you are waiting.

The wait is worth it.

Smugmug wait screen

The new UI is clean, pretty, and allows you to really customize a lot of what you do or how you want to showcase your stuff. I personally made a special gallery of my latest stuff or the stuff I really love and then used that as my main linkage point back into the rest of the site. You are going to see a drop off in traffic as people try to get used to the new Smugmug layout, and some of it is counter intuitive. For example, there is a browse link, I wanted to change the name over to Check out the other Galleries, but you can’t change the text on the default links. You can however finally make a link back to the other places you store stuff, so you can interlink your Smugmug with your web site, flickr, Deviant Art, and other places to build a route to the other places you share your stuff.

The wait was so worth it.

Honestly I really love what Smugmug has done here, I am generally not a foaming at the mouth rabid fan, and there were some hitches with Smugmug last year with the pricing model that they had proposed. But I also know that Smugmug will listen to people, so while I whine about the browse vs galleries link – if that is the only think I found lacking, then I consider myself very lucky. Smugmug is worth the cost, and the time, and the new UI roll out last night just hit on all the numbers. Thank you Smugmug, as always, you are awesome.

 

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What photographers should do when blocked in Facebook

What photographers should do when blocked in FacebookWhat photographers should do when blocked in Facebook

Yes, I am on yet another suspension/ban on Facebook for some of the pictures I posted from this weekend’s Steampunk Exhibition Ball.

Facebook is an amazing tool for getting the word out about your art, but it comes at a price. The ironic thing is that people can post pictures of abortions, abused and tortured animals, drugs, drinking, the night they were DUI, but post a little side boob, or god forbid a nipple no matter how accidental and that is a banning.

While there are humans that look over what is flagged and reported, this is the gallery that initially got me into trouble so you can check it out. It is also one of my favorite ones from the show, so of course I want to share it. I think it is awesome and wonderful, and some really good work on my part. Other banning events included a picture of the Freemont Summer Solstice Parade, really you had to blow the picture up 300% and you only had a 1 pixel nipple, but that is a banning.

First calm down, relax take a break, and then delete everything that is even remotely sanction able out of your data stream. When you are shut down you usually have read only access to your data stream, and you have read/write/delete out of your time line. You can do this only through the web browser; you cannot do this through the mobile interface. Once done, just sit back and wait out your suspension.

Ask yourself when you have calmed down a bit, gotten over the sense of “who reported that picture/gallery?” that feels like betrayal, and have everything cleaned up so that your Facebook page is PG 13 again, do I really need Facebook?

Take a look at your stats, when I am posting maybe 1% of all my picture views come from Facebook, the most come from Google, G+, and internal system searches at Flickr and Smugmug. If you look at your stats, how many people are really seeing your work, if you have a photographer page, you can see your stats through insights. The other thing to remember is that just because they saw it on Facebook does not mean they interacted with your gallery on other sites. The other thing you can do is simply remove the preview of the gallery if it seems that it might be over PG 13.

I take a lot of pictures of subcultures, because I believe they need to be documented. I also do a lot of modeling work lately, and usually I shoot Rated R or X pictures. They are not for children, but rarely full on nude pictures. I take pictures of burlesque dancers and punk rockers, the homeless and the destitute; I do a little urban exploration, and otherwise have a good time with my camera. The majority of the stuff I post can go on Facebook as links back to the gallery in question.

Sometimes you just have to think that your normal is not everyone else’s normal, and that can cost you down time with Facebook.

Think before you post, if there is a possibility that someone could be offended by your picture, not only are you doing photography right, but you face a high probability that Facebook will shut you down for a day or two.

Post to G+, post to Deviant Art, post to 500PX, post to Flickr and Smugmug, post everywhere but Facebook. G+ is a lot more photographer friendly, and they seem to be a little bit more ok with R rated pictures. God forbid Facebook ever opens up a search engine, because it will be a happy Disney wonderland of PG 13 material content. Stick with the places that work, and if in doubt, don’t post, and if you post, remove the preview of the link. Or just abandon Facebook altogether and go someplace more photographer friendly.

Facebook has banned or shut down a lot of famous photographers, internationally recognized, national geographic type photographers, we are small fry, and they won’t even hesitate to do it in the future as we march towards a plain vanilla experience over there.

 

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Steamcon IV in Bellevue 26 October 2012

Steamcon IV in Bellevue 26 October 2012
Steamcon IV in Bellevue 26 October 2012

 

Well Steamcon Four is coming along in two weeks, and the negotiations for being one of the Staff Photographers has finally been hammered together. If you have not been to anything Steamcon ever, Steamcon in Bellevue is a good place to get started, and learn a bit about the culture and see all the cool things that people come dressed as.

So how do you become a Staff Photographer at an event? Or how do you even get a press pass? It depends on the event, and both carry a lot of obligations for the photographer, so make sure you are up to what I think your obligations are. Of course depending on the event, those obligations will vary, but one of the most common things I have seen with a press pass or a staff badge is that no one talks about the show online in a meaningful way. They don’t post the pictures they took of the event anywhere, which kind of short circuits the reason for getting any kind of official credential at a show.

A press pass or a Staff badge obligates you to posting the pictures you took, even if was only one picture that came out ok. It obligates you talking about the show and helping out with some of the PR or publicity that a show is doing.

To get a pass, ask, seriously, just ask, show them some of your previous work, and see what they say. They might say “no” if you have never been to an event of theirs before which is also ok. But go anyways, pay for a pass, take pictures, then share the pictures you took with the world. Honestly that is how I got started, by going to Sakuracon in 2005 and just taking pictures of the awesome Cosplay. Seven years later most everyone who goes to anime or comic cons knows who I am, and people seek me out now to take pictures of them.

Always post your work on Flickr, smugmug, deviant art, 500PX, anywhere including Facebook and G+, people are generally really cool about seeing their pictures, and they will want copies. It is really cool when 1000’s of people look at and download your event pictures. Flickr is always your best bet, they have better integration with Google, Deviant Art is your next big bet for Cosplay as they have a huge community dedicated to Cosplay and costuming.

I have seen far too many people with credentials never ever say word one about the show they got the credentials for, and that is pretty not “ok”. I have yet to find a show that did not have a “Flickr pool” or other group photo sharing pool, and if you have credentials, you need to make sure your pictures of their show are up and running and good to go. Even if you only had one picture comes out awesome. You should always post your work; you are there to help them out by getting free access to the show. It is not enough to just show up nod your head, wander around a bit, and then walk out never saying anything about the show at all. They need your help, you are getting in free, and you need to do your work.

Yeah, I have seen this a lot, there are always people who want in free, but won’t talk about, post about, or share their impressions on the show that they got free access to, and that is a shame. Don’t be that photographer; odds are highly likely that the convention needs you to talk about them, especially the smaller ones.

Events are awesome, they are a great way of networking and meeting awesome people, but it is work, it is a job even if you got in free, so make sure you are posting and talking about the show. I have seen photographers, bloggers, and even news journalists not being able to acquire a press pass or staff badge because they have burned through their reputation by getting free stuff, then not paying back with a blog entry or a photograph, so don’t torch your event reputation before you even get started.

 

 

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Rope Suspension

Rope Suspension
Rope Suspension

 

I know I had a hard time with this one – rope suspension in a crowd, with interesting lighting to go along with that, and some very worried people along the way. What was cool was that they let me continue to taking pictures with the idea that I would be willing to share them, which I am sharing them on Flickr right now. I’ll post over to Smugmug once I figure out why the uploads keep on failing. In the meantime, rope suspension was an interesting thing to shoot, what made it more interesting was all the IPhones. There were a ton of people with IPhones taking pictures, and while there was nothing too sexy going on, it really made a lot of people nervous.

So we went over and talked to the suspension group and let them know who we were, what we were doing, and that we would share the pictures. We also had to talk to the event organizer Pickles (she was awesome by the way) and let them know we were not being Mr. Creepy Man Photographer. And yes, there was at least one creepy guy in the crowd, and he was really being super creepy to go along with just being a simple creep.

And this brings me to the point, it is your right to refuse to be photographed, I respect that, and it is your right to throw people out of the tent as well. It is also perfectly in your right to shut down all the stage lights so that photography is impossible, but for the love of God please have a photography policy, post a sign that says no photography on the door by the tent, then actively police the photography action if you really mean it. Almost every photographer I know short of Mr. Creepy Man will respect that and follow along, although they might try to negotiate a couple of pictures along the way because they are not Mr. Creepy Man with a camera.

Rope suspension in the meantime is pretty cool, and it was fun watching people turned into human swing sets. I almost wanted to try it.

 

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Ignition Fire Troupe at Seacompression 2012

Ignition Fire Troupe at Seacompression 2012
Ignition Fire Troupe at Seacompression 2012

 

I have to admit that sometimes you get really lucky when you are taking pictures. You get lucky when everything just seems to come out right, and I had such an experience with the Ignition Fire Troupe over at Seacompression 2012 this weekend. There is nothing cooler (well ok, maybe there are things that are cooler than this) than night time fire breathing. There are always interesting things going on in Seattle, and the Seacompression show was just one of the cooler things that happened along the way. These are some pictures of the Ignition Fire Troupe that was doing the fire breathing or fire eating routine at the show. The full Flickr galleries are here – but hope you enjoy these cleaned and edited pictures.

I was asked by a lot of people what my camera settings were for this shoot, so I’ll share:

3200 ISO

Auto Focus

F2.8

Anywhere between 1/100 to 1/125 second on the shutter

Some of the fire effects did not come out the way I was hoping for, some came out way beyond what I was hoping to get. As always with any advice, your mileage will vary, but if you get the chance to do some fire eating shows, give it a spin, see what you come up with.

 

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