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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.

 

 

Advice on taking pictures in a riot

Occupy SeattleAdvice on taking pictures in a riot

 

This is probably one of the most dangerous things that you can do as a photographer. When the press gets shot at, and photographers get arrested for taking pictures of Ferguson, you know that you are entering a dangerous environment. While Photography is not a crime, there is a wide held belief in law enforcement that taking pictures of the police in action is illegal.

 

Plan on not resisting what ever the police tell you to do.

 

First things first, make sure your camera is connected to the Internet so that as you take pictures they are uploaded to a secure cloud service like Flickr, Smugmug, Zenfolio or other service that can take the storage of pictures as you go. I also highly recommend taking advantage of the Comcast XFinity public WIFI and carrying your own cell hot spot for your camera. You can expect jamming or at least the use of Stingray equipment so do not contact anyone on your phone just use it to upload your images to the net. Police will have a copy of everything you send when they use Stingray, and it might not transmit to the Internet depending on how Law Enforcement has the system set up.

 

You might want to transfer data laterally using Blue Tooth to a number of connected devices (more below).

 

In some ways it would be better to use an IPhone or something else that connects automatically to the internet, however you can set up your camera to use a WIFI enabled card on your camera like EyeFI and/or Transcender cards that way you have your local copy and one that is already on the internet. It is possible to jam the signals from your camera, which was seen in Hong Kong during the recent protests, but you can always use Blue Tooth to share the pictures laterally amongst a number of cell phones or connected devices.

 

If you transfer data laterally via Blue Tooth, carry a spare cell phone on you to store data, or travel with a friend that can also try to upload the pictures for you onto the Internet. The thing to remember is that you can have 7 devices connected, and that there is one master node with six slave nodes, however, the slave nodes can be masters in another mesh. This does work, but requires set up before you get to the event, and understand that you will want to have an in-depth mesh for this process to work. However it worked in Hong Kong to successfully get data out of the local Law Enforcement jamming of cell phones and networks.

 

Use twitter as a sending channel as well on the spot understanding that the signals can and probably are being intercepted. What you share with the Internet Law Enforcement will also be keeping an eye on.

 

If you are independent, hang out with a local news crew; some of the pictures I have taken have been from right behind a local news crew. We hung out, we talked, I told them I was an independent stringer, and I sold pictures to the local TV station while I was at it. This is one safeguard, as Law Enforcement will see you with a local news crew and make the assumption you are news and leave you alone along with the news crew. Don’t be an idiot about it, move around the crowd to get the pictures you want, but when it gets hairy, be close to a news crew.

 

Use professional equipment; using your IPhone to take pictures immediately says you are not a pro. Take professional DSLR gear with you; use your IPhone in your pocket to get the images onto the Internet. Your DSLR gear can take video as well as stills, you goal is to make sure you have access to the images and video you took off your devices in case you are arrested and have your gear confiscated.

 

Always cooperate with Law Enforcement requests, if they want you on the sidewalk get on the sidewalk.

 

Don’t argue, don’t complain, just do it.

 

A number of times Law Enforcement has after the protest asked me for copies of the pictures, that one is up to you. Your goal is to sell the pictures; you can sell them to Law Enforcement as much as you can sell them to the press. That one is up to your own ideas, but as long as they are in a public gallery Law Enforcement can also download them unless you have set up to sell the pictures first.

 

Cooperate with Law Enforcement, if they tell you to move on, move on. Find another vantage point to take the pictures from.

 

Stay out of the way, your goal is to document, not get arrested. Have a camera for close in, but if you are moved out of the way along with other media, find a roof top vantage point, and a super fast F1.8 200MM or 400MM lens to work with.

Try not to look like a sniper, police will have an issue with that, I highly recommend an orange reflective vest and a sign that says “PRESS” so that the police do not thing that you are a sniper.

At least you will get some good long distance shots. Shoot RAW to get as much data as possible, but if not shoot JPG Fine. The problem is going to be the upload and distance from the picture. Make sure you have plenty of remaining room on your cell phone or hot spot plan to cover the event. If you think you are going to shoot a full 32 Gig card, plan accordingly with your data plan so you don’t get over runs and the higher cost associated with that.

 

Be careful about flying drones around the area if you are using one. The FAA might have declared it a no flight zone. Make sure you are streaming the video to a storage system in case the drone gets shot down or gets interfered with or jammed. Use a cheap drone with a cheap camera because it will be likely that you will lose it. Fry’s electronics has a good collection of sub $100.00 dollar drones that have enough lift for a small video camera. You can hack a small video camera like the $20.00 Bang Good HD video camera and connect it to the drone and transmitter. You need to transmit it and connect it to power, but that won’t be hard to do either. Have a separate power source for the camera so you don’t interfere with the battery life of the drone you are using. In all you can cobble a good video drone for under $100.00 if you are of the type. You will need to be aware that they run on the same frequency as Cell Phones WIFI 2.4GHZ, and also subject to jamming. Some transmitters have multiple channels and work in the 5.4 GHZ range, so test your drone before you fly to make sure audio and video is coming through and not being jammed.

 

However, cheap disposable drones are an exciting advance in photography for covering important events. That cannot be understated, it keeps the photographer safe and somewhat untraceable, while capturing amazing photography and video of an event.

 

While the goal here is not to antagonize Law Enforcement, being an independent stringer for covering riots and other actions carries its own risks. If you are detained expect your devices to be gone through, and in some cases the video will be copied or erased from your devices. It is easy to recover the data using commercial off the shelf forensics tools, but you might need help with using them, or pay for the data recovery.

 

Be prepared, be realistic, and above all be safe when doing this. There is something sweet about close in photography, but the inherent danger might require that you move out of the way and go remote.

 

Studio 5 Graphics 2014 Year in Review

Studio 5 Graphics 2014 Year in Review

 

2014 ended up being a pretty interesting year as far as things go in relationship to exposure, with 34 million picture views, getting caught up in the naughty boudoir hack over on Smugmug, watching my traffic grow, putting out a book, and otherwise trying to get things in place for 2015.

 

By the Numbers

 

Flickr

 

Flickr start number 10,223,640 ending number 30,631,971 (I’m a day early) so traffic doubled to Flickr, with no prints sold. Lots of interest, and I am obviously doing something right to get that kind of attention on Flickr because the site is crowded. You can check out my Flickr right here if you are so inclined.

 

Smugmug

 

What an amazing year over there, with traffic growing from 4.6 million to 13.5 million picture views. Some of that was driven by the boudoir hack and from its hold over (we are still seeing traffic from it, but no idea where it is coming from, we have seen a lot of anonymous services this year like anonymouse). You can check out our Smugmug here. 

 

Deviant Art

 

We didn’t do much with Deviant Art this year, and saw traffic go down to 88,623 views, while 2013 saw 236K picture views. We are not abandoning DA, it is just trying to find a home there. You can check out our DA right here.

 

Sales

 

Nada, zilch, zippo, nothing. Which is interesting, given the number of picture views we should have sold something to someone at some point this year. It is hard to reconcile 34 million picture views with zero in sales figures, but there it is. People want to watch, but they don’t want to pay. I think that photography shares this with porn, it is fun to watch but very few want to pay anything for it.

 

Books

 

Interestingly enough we focused our efforts on books in 2014, and are selling 2 to 3 books a day across 23 titles. The feedback from Amazon (we only do e-books, we might do published books for a special case) has been interesting, they want it cheap (2.99 price point) and they want it great (not just pictures, explain where the pictures came from, and how they were taken). We average 50 dollars a month with some highly critical reviews.

 

For the love of whatever god you believe in, do not believe the free give away will lead to more sales BS. Our SEO for photographers book was given away for free for a week then we set the sales price for 2.99. We gave away 200 copies of the book, and zilch for sales after the free offer expired. We didn’t get any reviews or anything else that would have been of use to us. Set a price and keep it, you will still sell books. A 2.99 price point is ok as long as you are willing to sell copies at that point. EBooks are pretty disposable, and you end up with a good print ready interior as long as you have a reduced copy of the picture for the eBook and a full 300 DPI print ready interior.

 

So not bad for 2014, and this has been a difficult year with a lot of personal stuff happening that distracted from taking pictures. So for not a lot of posting, but a lot of down time to plan out 2015, I can’t argue.

 

Thanks for being part of that.

 

It is time to talk about Smugmugs Terms of Service

Polly Latex Model
Polly Latex Model

 

It is time to talk about Smugmugs Terms of Service

I love Smugmug – and just renewed for my 8th year there, but I have a problem. I can post nude, fine art nude, and other pictures just about everywhere else than Smugmug. Section 13 of the Terms of Service at Smugmug specifically forbids nudes; unfortunately I take them from time to time. I am also getting feedback from people who look at my Smugmug account that the pass wording system in place is tedious – they want instant gratification. Some professional photographers and many amateurs make their money off nude pictures. Tasteful or not, this is one of the ways of making money as a photographer.

I really want my Smugmug viewers to be happy – and while I post the password to certain galleries right in the description – many users do not read, so I get e-mails, which I have to answer and shoot them the password along the way. Tedious, boring, no instant gratification. The user sometimes is the lowest common denominator. We all have to live with with that.

However there is also a solution that other photo hosting companies have in place, one that would be good for Smugmug to emulate.  Flickr, Deviant Art, 500PX, Instagram, and many other photo sites have provisions for adult, fine art nude, or other works that could be offensive to some, but make money for the photographer. On all these systems you merely mark that they are restricted for nudity or whatever reason, then continue on with your upload.

It is well past time for Smugmug to fix this problem and open up a whole new avenue for photographers. While in private correspondence with Smugmug Support Heroes they said that as part of the discretionary portion of the policy they only enforce it when someone complains. That is a tenuous process; no one who is taking fine art nudes or fetish work knows when someone is going to complain.

This is one of the very few ways that Smugmug could be more competitive in the market. And it is a simple fix – new column in the database with 1, 2, 3 good, hot, oh my god this is nude, and then let the photographers simply mark their pictures as to if they are safe for work or not.

I’ll still stay with Smugmug for as long as they exist, but I would really like to see this small simple change be moved right into the board room for discussion. There are already fine art nudes and other works throughout the system. It is time to help photographers out on this one, people who take fetish, nude, fine art, and in some cases controversial works could benefit from this change to the system.

What say you Smugmug?

 

 

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