Tag Archives: SmugMug

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta