Crisis in Event Photography?

Horse Show Photographers Are Facing A Crisis

From Chronicles of the Horse…

Wow… you can just feel the pain and hurt in the words.

“I don’t think photo thieves realize how much of our life is consumed by the photos that they are so quick to take without paying. I don’t think they realize they’re putting people out of work. I don’t think they realize I stay up late at night trying to figure out how to employ our staff with diminished sales due to theft. I know these people don’t steal from tack shops, that they pay the braiders and the blacksmith and their horse show bill, or their trainer. So I don’t think they really know what they do.”

Oh no, they do indeed know. They don’t care. That is the hardest thing to face… the customers don’t care about what your personal challenges are. There is a fundamental change hitting that kind of photography (I would insert the obligatory ‘weddings next’ statement but I thought better of it so no one sends me any death threats… this is not the sentence you were looking for…), and there will be fallout and chaos.

“The next issue I want to address is the scab photographer, or poacher, or faux pro. This is the photographer who shows up with nice or not-so-nice camera equipment, with little to no expense involved in being there. They have full-time jobs outside photography and just show up for fun or for the weekend.”

Unfortunately for the professional horse photographer (dogs, events, skating… all are feeling it) the arrival of digital has lowered the bar on acceptable, and a dentist with a bigass DSLR can indeed make a good, sharp image. With some practice they can make killer, sharp, well composed images.

Loyalty to you, the photographer may be more difficult to create.

“The unfortunate truth is that brand loyalty across every industry is declining. According to Ernst & Young, just a few years ago the average customer was loyal to their favorite brands about 40% of the time. Now, that percentage is estimated to have dropped to just 25%.”
— Angela Pointon, “How to Create Brand Loyalty”

Yes, they are taking away your business as a horse photographer. They don’t care. It is NOT their responsibility to care… they want to make pretty pictures, and read somewhere on a forum that they could recoup their lens purchases with the prints they sell. Single purpose ROI.

I am not saying this is right or wrong (and using the word “scab” will certainly not go a long way in public relations… sheesh…) but it most definitely IS the state of affairs with consumer/commodity photography.

I know people get tired of hearing the same old thing… but, sigh… to succeed in this type of business (little capital investment, easy to produce product) one will have to go far beyond what is now considered traditional marketing/service to something totally different and exciting enough for customers to want to pay.

Then get ready for it to fall on its self again… and again.

Change the game!

4. Have a Point of View

In a world of mass messaging, right and left points of view, and chest thumping me-ism, I see so many artists who are reluctant to let their true colors shine. They’re worried that having a point of view might alienate a subset of fans or followers. Well, that’s bullshit. Because the only reason you’d want fans and followers is to genuinely connect with a community of like minded people – connect your authentic self with theirs. Referencing #1 above – you think it didn’t take balls to stand up for a belief in marriage equality amidst the typical hiphop anti-gay mindset? Sure it took balls, but that’s what M&RL believe and so they found it a perfect thing to write about – with confidence. I spoke to them about it here. THAT is called having a point of view.

 

I’m guessing there’s a few things in your world (I know there are in mine…) that you’ve been scared to put out there. Dimes to donuts that this thing you’re holding inside will be a huge benefit when you get out of your own way and share that thing, own that thing, have a point of view. The people that will care about that thing are the people you’ll want to connect with anyone. So what are you waiting for?”
— Chase Jarvis, “7 Lessons Anyone [YOU] Can Learn from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis”

The hockey stick for how this stuff will change and mind-share is at nearly vertical… what is cool this year may not be cool next year. It will be a constant struggle for the minds and hearts of customers.

Not saying it is right, only that it is what it is.

DIY vs Web Professional

Thinking you can go it alone out there in the wide wide web?

Perhaps you can, but this infographic may shed some light on why you should tread lightly when doing it all yourself.

“A new generation of website builders has arrived to help people not only stint on coding but dismiss it completely. But, not all website creators are equal. Webydo, who wants to be the center of your web design business, has teamed up with visual.ly to show the state of the industry as of today in a comprehensive infographic.” — Noupe.

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Webydo-Infographic

Shake It Up… By Being Authentic

I have been listening to music since I was very short… very short indeed.

I was in a ton of garage bands and we played all the awesome hits of the day.

Two guitars, bass and drums.

And today, guitar bands still dominate pop rock music.

Why guitars? Because guitars dominate the pop rock music.

Why bother to think different? That can cause confusion, and confusion can lead to not having a category for people to pop you into.

I eventually tired of guitars only…. and found jazz. And yep… we were back to sax/trumpet, piano, bass and drums.

No oboe. No cello. A violin or two, but for the most part jazz musicians are sax, trumpet, piano, bass, drums…

But there are always new, creative people out there. Frank Zappa went as far away from the traditional rock band of the era that one could go. Don Ellis added strings to an already big band – and three drummers. Harry Chapin had a cello player that was a part of his band.

Why? Because they didn’t let the conventions of the day lead them from what they wanted to do.

Here’s a rock string duo with drummer… and they cut it up big time.

Enjoy while you think of how you can do what you want while staying authentic to who you are.

Facebook Fatigue?

From a very interesting take on how Facebook creates multi-faceted personna’s.

“A friend’s like on an anti-gay-rights page. A comment making fun of your musical tastes. A vegetarian friend linking to an article about the evils of eating meat. A complaint about how Apple (or Facebook?) can’t innovate anymore. A picture of some friends enjoying a get-together that you weren’t invited to. The incessant posting of cat, dog, and kid pictures. We weren’t exactly meant to see these, but they weren’t exactly hidden from us, either. One man’s meat is indeed another man’s poison: these and a variety of other un-code-switched signals in our news feeds cumulatively etch away at our morales.”

Code switching – or ‘bein’ real with people like you’ means many things to all of us. We code switch all the time… going from group to group always with an eye toward not offending – fitting in – being ‘real’ to the group we are in at the time.

“The alternative to broadcasting your unfiltered multifaceted self is presenting a more dilute version, one that’s tempered or, dare I say, code switched, to appease all of your Facebook friends. This version doesn’t stand for anything, likes everything, shares conservatively, and presents a diabetes-inducing timeline of studio-quality photos. While this can be a more successful strategy on Facebook, it can leave both the broadcaster and the receivers feeling let down because everyone, especially those who know the broadcaster well in real life, can see the big, fat elephant—reality—in the corner.”

These temporary switches from one personna to another is becoming more and more difficult. And it will continue to make us kinda nuts…

I prefer a more authentic approach. And it may make me less “popular” than the cool kids who code switch all the time. I am not a code switcher and you see what you get.

Me. Authentic and flawed. Deal with it. Or don’t.

Code switching will eventually lead to marginalizing those who are not part of that ‘code’ you are exhibiting… and in the end, it will gain you nothing.

As an aside on business:

Facebook is a challenge that may need to be looked at more closely by those of us who use it for more than pure marketing. In fact, as a marketing tool, Facebook is beginning to totally suck. I predict a large defection from their ad space in the next 12 months.

As they continue to tighten the reach, there will be a point of no return where the funnel is too small and the advertisers will leave.

ADVENTURE VS HANDWRINGING

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In years passed, adventure was something we reveled in, we aspired to, we recognized as important. Now days, those who do something adventurous are scolded when something goes astray.

(Things mustn’t go astray. Ever. Especially for this NYT writer.)

Things ALWAYS go astray. ESPECIALLY in adventure and science. It is the nature of the endeavor!

In the world of the adventurer things go wrong. Adventurers occasionally get lost. They get hungry. They over-estimage and under-estimage the challenges. They even get stuck in the ice. In the world of the adventurer, shit, as they say, happens.

“Of course the evacuation of the trapped ship, which will require helicopters given the impassible nature of the thick sea ice in the area, is vital. But when you consider the cost and risk attending the operation, and the impact on other science, this raises questions about the advisability of this voyage in the first place.”

In the new ‘handwringing’ wimp world, everything must go as planned. Things going wrong simply must not happen. Plan Plan Plan… and then work that plan, they say.

And yeah, that works well for business, but for nature and adventure… well… not so much. (It’s nature… and nature doesn’t necessarily play by the rules or recognize our plans as utmost in importance.)

“The leaders of the current expedition – Chris Turney, Chris Fogwill and Greg Mortimer — are seasoned field scientists. But the bungled trip now threatens to tarnish the wider field of Antarctic science. Particularly vexing is what seems to be a devil-may-care attitude expressed by some of those on the trapped ship.”

It’s ‘vexing’ to this handwringer that people on an adventure would actually be enjoying that adventure. That they may be working hard to figure out how to make shit happen instead of sitting by a cozy, warm, solar heater that was inspected by a team of government trained inspectors to insure its utmost safety and pounding away, gently, on their MBPro.

What is ‘vexing’ to me is how so many handwringers came to be in charge of shit. How did handwringers get to the place where they consider themselves the authority on adventure? Why do people who are not adventurous feel the need to be ‘vexed’ by those who are?

I would think this writer better suited for writing about dining in safe restaurants (ones with guards) and in ‘good’ neighborhoods, or about environmentally sound, and oh-so-safe toys for kids (the ones no kid wants to actually play with). The writer seems particularly lost as to the nature of an adventure, of an explore, or of something ironic going astray.

Much has been learned when ‘shit happens’. Less is ‘learned’ when the outcome is guaranteed.

I suspect his real angst is in the supposed mischief caused by this adventurous bunch toward the “real science” of Antarctic Climate Change. Is it real science if it must be protected from adventure and fun? If the science is real, and true, it will weather a few jokes, Mr Handwringer.

I hope in the new year we see more people willing to be adventurers and hear less from the handwringers… Adventurers get shit done. Handwringers care only about their own safe passage through life, staying on the pavement, coloring inside the lines, and holding on to the fantasy that the center of the universe is themselves.

While we are at it, perhaps we could bring back the Monkey Bars, and let kids play tag.

Maybe even keep score.

The All Important “About Me” Page

The All Important “About Me” Page

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Did you know that your “About Me” page is one of the most viewed pages on your site? Well, statistics say it is. If you have Google Analytics set up, or are using the simple stats package in WordPress’s Jetpack, take a moment to check it out.

Yep… told ya.

Now what do we do about making our “About Page” the best it can be so we can use it to…

Oh yeah… the first thing we have to decide is what we are using the About page for.

To introduce you to new clients? To keep current clients entertained? Is the goal of your About page to let people know a little bit about your personality, or to make a bold, artistic statement? Or simple lead generation.

Your reasons and strategies are your own, but make sure you have them deeply implanted in your overall online presence.

There are many reasons one should have an about page strategy, but probably the most important is that it is one of the most popular pages on your site or blog.

And that makes it imperative that it be standout… and accomplish your goal.

1. Get a great photograph. Seriously. And don’t get some boring, headshot looking thing with no personality. Find a way to get something cool, something that lets the people viewing it see your personality.

Because personality is very important online.

2. Write something that fits YOUR personality. Are you fun to work with? Are you a little irreverent, or are you very corporate controlled? Speak in your own voice, and please, for heaven’s sake do not draft some sort of resume sounding crap like “Don Graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS in BS. He then got a job at an ad agency that rolled out BS and created an ROI for their clients that far surpassed the… ” Just don’t.

3. Introduce yourself as you would to someone standing right beside you. You wouldn’t turn to them and say… “About Me”… I was born as a child and then attended… blah blah blah. Let the reader know right now and right there on the page WHY they should get to know more about you – AND your product/service/company. I use the tab “About” but you can see I introduce myself in a far different manner than a ‘tab’ would.

Photographer Nick Onken uses a couple of paragraphs to describe his fun-loving, natural approach to the work he does. Designer Craig Morrison uses big type, and modern graphics along with a very fun photograph to let people know a lot about his personality. Jared Christianson and Kohl Vinh take a more modern look at their About pages.

Right away you know who Erika Napolitano is when you begin to read her About page. Personality.

4. Entertain and Inform: Let them know what you are planning on providing for them when they read your About page… Not a long tome, but a short couple of lines to inspire, coach, teach and invite interaction. If this is a challenge, have someone work with you to make that happen… and yeah, it really is important.

5. Tell your story. Not a novel, or a novella… or even a short story… in as few words as necessary, engage your readers with who you are and your story. Story is more important than resume bullets, what school you went to, or how many awards you have receive. It is the authentic you, and it must come across in your words, typography and photographs/graphics.

Work your about page continually until it is as authentic and perfect as you can get. Then change it up now and then by adding clients, or gigs you have done, or cool stuff you are working on… in other words, your story keeps getting better, so do not forget to update it on your website or blog. You can even schedule it in for a once a month checkup… got something new to share about you? Great.

Your About page is the perfect place to keep your story going.

6. Remind the visitor of how they can stay connected. If you have a newsletter, have a link to the sign up. If you want the visitor to consider RSS feeds for your posts, remind them there. Make your pitch for a gig, or continued engagement at the point where you are being you – and remind them WHY they should stay connected.

They should stay connected, right? Right?

Asking them to stay connected to you through an RSS feed, or an email notification or newsletter means you are inviting them in. And that means committing to keeping cool stuff on your site for them to visit.

Invite them to your other sites… Instagram, Tumblr Blog, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter… even G+. People like to engage others in many ways… if you only have one point of contact, it is possible that you are letting some folks slip through the spaces between. Visual people may love your Instagram and Pinterest, while those who want to know more about you personally may want to connect on Facebook or G+. Go where your customers are… and be there with them.

Your About me page should be a fantastic place for visitors to get to know all about you.

Make yours fantastic… and have fun with it too.