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October 16, 2014
by admin
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Decorating With Photographs – Selecting Colors To Set A Mood

If you are in charge of selecting photographs to decorate your home or business, there are several things to consider about the photographs. These include:

  • Size
  • Mounting – Frame, glass or no glass, adhered on a sheet of clear acrylic, on metal or canvas, etc.
  • Subject matter
  • Dominant colors

Selecting photographs with subjects that match the theme you want to create is important, but pay attention to the dominant colors too. Is there a big section of sky? Is that sky a mid-day blue or sunset red and orange? Do you have underwater photographs that have a blue tinge or winter scenes with lots of white?

My wife used to work in a picture framing shop. Some customers would bring their pictures in along with instructions from their interior designers as to what color mat to use. The interior designer wanted the mat to complement the room’s color scheme, ignoring what would look good on the photograph. Generally, their choice clashed with the colors in the photo, resulting in a piece of art that looked bad, and made the room look bad.

The dominant color of a photograph can be as important, or even more so, than the subject of the photograph. That’s because colors make a strong impact on our psyche. You wouldn’t paint the walls of patient rooms in a hospital bright red, but you would paint them blue or green.

If you run a high power, high energy company, red would be a good choice as the dominant color in a photograph because of its high energy, whereas an environmental company would use green or blue to mimic nature and to have a calming effect.

The same color means different things in different countries too. While red means warmth or anger in the United States, it means good luck in Africa and Europe and strength in Japan. To have a better understanding of the meaning of colors around the world, go to Information Is Beautiful http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/colours-in-cultures/ and check out their infographic.

A person’s personal experience can also change the way they feel about a color. While a room with a lot of green will make most people feel calm and relaxed, some people may feel anxious or ill.

Here’s a breakdown of the meaning of popular colors in the United States.

Black is a power color that also represents evil, mystery, elegance and formality (black tie event). I’ve heard that we get about 90% of our knowledge about the world around us through our vision. Black represents the night, where we can’t see, which brings out fear in many people. Black also makes colors pop because of the contrast. That’s why many photographers use a black mat around their prints.

Blue is most often seen in the sky and ocean. It creates the feeling of trust, loyalty (true blue), intelligence, spirituality and truth. Blue creates a calming effect and can slow down a person’s metabolism.

A color’s shade can affect how it’s perceived. Light blue is often associated with health and tranquility while dark blue represents knowledge, power and seriousness.

 

GDEL0283

Image GDEL0283

 

Gold has reflected the feeling of wealth for thousands of years. It represents prestige and wisdom. Most people also associate it with high quality.

Green is the color of plants and nature. When people see it, they feel growth, fertility, health and harmony. It represents safety as much as red represents danger. People think of money when they see this color, but it can also represent security and growth.

Dark-green is associated with jealousy and greed, while a yellow-green makes people think of sickness and cowardice. When you’re sick, do you look a little “green around the gills?”

Orange shares the qualities of red and yellow. People feel joy, enthusiasm, creativity, success and vitality. Overall, it stimulates the body and mind. Orange is also the color of some foods and fall, so it works well to represent healthy food and helps to stimulate appetite.

Purple is seen as a royal color, and has been worn by royals for a very long time. It also represents wealth, luxury, power, wisdom, dignity, creativity and magic. While light purple can feel romantic, dark purple can be gloomy.

Plant0460-2

Image Plant0460

 

Red has two distinct and opposite meanings. It not only refers to war, anger, danger and strength, but also to love, passion and desire. It increases a person’s metabolism and can also raise blood pressure.

While snorkeling in Hawaii, I got too close to a rather large octopus. He stood up on the tips of his tentacles and turned bright red, and I swam away. I didn’t feel like tangling with the guy 40 feet underwater while holding my breath.

Pink and light red symbolize love, romance, joy and sexuality, where dark red is more indicative of rage, courage and leadership. It’s a good color to use to promote sports and sports related items and other activities that are highly physical.

White is the color of purity (pure as the driven snow), sterility, virginity, goodness and innocence. It represents safety and cleanliness and people feel positive about it. People in a hospital may like it because it represents sterility, or hate it because it reminds them of hospitals.

SWNTR1116

Image SWNTR1116

 

Yellow is a sunny color, and represents energy, hope and happiness and stimulates the body and mind. Like other energetic colors, you don’t want to use too much of it in a room as it can make people a little jittery.

A dull yellow gives a feeling of caution, sickness and jealously while a light yellow represents joy and intelligence.

Plant1555

Image Plant1555

 

Keep this color information in mind when selecting photographs for décor, especially if you want to set a specific mood in a room.

Have Fun,
Jeff

October 5, 2014
by admin
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Fall Colors Across The Country

Fall colors have arrived in many places, and are spreading across the country. Reds, yellows, oranges and other colors are popping up everywhere, so grab your camera and take some great photographs of Mother Nature’s big show.

To help you get the most out of your shooting, I’ve updated my annual list of links about Fall colors and where to find them. Since I live in Arizona, I’ve put together a special section for my state.

As you go to these sites, you will often find many links to other sites. You could easily spend an entire day following link after link, or just go to the main pages I have listed here.

I hope you get some fantastic photographs this year. Feel free to leave a comment with a link to your images of changing colors. I’m sure everyone would love to see them.

Have Fun,
Jeff

Changing colors

Image # FCOLO975

Arizona

Finding Fall Color in Arizona – An About.com site with lots of links to information about changing colors in Arizona.

Fall Colors on the Coconino – This Coconino National Forest site explains why leaves change colors, what trees produce what colors, and hikes to see this wonder of nature.

Fall Colors – Current Forest Information – You can find up-to-date changing color information here.

Fall Colors in Payson – Here you’ll find information on hikes in this area with Fall colors.

 

The Rest Of The Country

Current Fall Foliage – The Weather Channel has a map of the U.S. showing where the leaves are changing colors by region.

The Weather Channel Fall Foliage Maps – Similar to above, but there’s an extensive list of states, and areas in those states, where you can get more detailed maps.

Fall Color Report – Wisconsin – Detailed information on color changes, and when the colors will peak.

The Foliage Network – Lots of information on Fall Foliage for the Midwest and East.

Fall Color Report – Minnesota – Detailed information on where the leaves are changing color in Minnesota.

Fall Colors – The Great Smokey Mountains – A National Park Service site with detailed information about leaves changing color in the Great Smokey Mountains, as well as hikes and drives to take.

National Fall Color Website – See a national map showing color changes and select a state or forest to see events in the area.

State by State Guide to Fall Foliage – An About.com site with information on changing colors in many states.

There’s a National Fall Color Hotline too, 1-800-354-4595. Call this number and choose the area of the country you’re interested in and get information on leaf color, scenic drives, peak times for the colors and other fall activities.

September 17, 2014
by admin
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How To Sell Your Own Stock Photographs

Stock photography used to be a great source of income for many photographers, and some made all of their money from stock. But things have changed over the past few years.

The stock photography industry had gone through major changes due to five main factors:

  1. Photography went from film to digital.
  2. Microstock sites came into being.
  3. Royalty free images were offered.
  4. Getty Images’ embed feature lets people use images on blogs and social media for free. Some claim this was meant to put the small stock agencies out of business as their main income is from sales to blogs and social media sites.
  5. Everyone, and their cousin, putting photographs online.

These changes have reduced the income from stock sales for most photographers. I know of some photographers whose stock sales used to be 80%-90% of their income, but now make up only 10%-20% of their income. They’ve had to totally redesign their photography business model to generate income from other sources.

I never focused on stock sales, but I did get occasional sales over the years. But for the past ten years I haven’t had even one enquiry about stock usage.

It’s tough out there, but stock sales can still be a viable revenue stream, and you have three options to do this:

  1. Sell through a stock agency. Prices here are usually set by the agency and you don’t have a lot of say.
  2. Sell through sites like 500px.com, where you set the price.
  3. Sell images on your own website, where you also set the price.

I’m going to explore the last option here. The first two are topics for future blog posts.

Unless you have some unique kind of photographs, which are in demand, like American Eagles, icebergs, erupting volcanos or movie stars, you will most likely sell few if any stock images. The competition is just too steep, and too many people are giving their images away. If all you have is generic images, like landscapes, travel images from Hawaii, etc. you may be out of luck.

When selling from your own website you will need some things.

  • A form on your website where clients can tell you what images they want and how they will be used. You can see mine here http://www.jeffcolburn.com/StockOrderForm.html
  • A contract between you and the client stating all the details about how the photograph will be used. I email the contract to them as a PDF (already signed and dated by me) and have them sign it and email it back. After I get the contract and payment to my PayPal account, I send off the image.
  • A spreadsheet or database to track sales and clients. You want to stay in touch with the companies who buy from you.

Stock pricing is pretty complex. It depends on the image:

  1. Size
  2. Placement
  3. Circulation
  4. Number of uses
  5. And much more

To decide on an industry standard price, you have three choices:

  1. If you’re a member of an organization like ASMP, you can use their price calculator https://asmp.org/links/32#.VBI1JmPqXe4
  2. You can purchase price calculating software and services like the Stock Photo Price Calculator http://stockphotopricecalculator.com/ and fotoQuote pro http://www.cradocfotosoftware.com/fotoQuote-Pro/index.html
  3. You can use free online price calculators like:
    1. http://www.humanistic-photography.com/pricing/pricing.htm
    2. http://photographersindex.com/stockprice.htm
    3. http://www.pacificstock.com/pricecalc.asp

On your site you can have set prices, but you need to be able to negotiate too. You may want $1,000 for a cover image, but if they want to buy additional images for inside the magazine, they may want a discount.

If a nonprofit wants free images in exchange for offering you great exposure to people who will hire you, which almost never happens, ask them this:

  • Do you have a salary?
  • Does the CEO have a salary?
  • Is the organization’s rent and utilities current?
  • Then why can’t you afford to pay me?

I do provide a 10% discount to nonprofits, but you need to decide what you want to do.

Since your sales will likely be small, don’t invest much money in a website and shopping cart until you see a consistent volume of sales coming through. When sales start to grow, you can invest in a site that has a built-in shopping cart and fulfillment, like http://www.Photoshelter.com. Or you can buy your own shopping cart from places like http://RedCart.com.

I wish you the best of luck.

Have Fun,
Jeff

August 28, 2014
by admin
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Do you need photographs for your business? Then you need to know this

Your company needs a photograph of your town for a brochure you’re going to use to promote your business. You contact a photographer who supplies you with the perfect photo. When you get the brochure printed up, the photograph looks so good you decide to put it on your website.

A week later you receive a bill from the photographer for several hundred, or thousand, dollars for the right to use it on the website. But wait, you paid the photographer to use the photo; you should be able to use it any way you want, right? Wrong. It all depends on what rights you purchased. It can be an expensive lesson for you and your business.

The first thing you need to realize is that when you pay a photographer to use one of their photographs, you are leasing it, not buying it. And you don’t own the copyright, they do. You can only use the photograph according to the contract you signed. It’s the same as if you rented a moving van for the weekend. If you decide you really like it, you can’t keep using it for the next five years, or even one more day, unless you pay for that additional usage.

When leasing a photograph, or hiring a photographer, you need a contract. In that contract it’s essential that you spell out exactly what rights you need and how the photograph(s) will be used. This prevents confusion on both sides, and keeps you from getting a surprise bill, or lawsuit.

Don’t only think about how you want to use the photograph today, but how you will want to use it in a month, or a year.

You want to have a very clear picture in your head of what you need, what you need it for and for how long. Know that the more you want, the more it costs, so don’t ask for rights that you aren’t going to use. You can always lease the photograph at a later date for any new project you may have.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where will it be used? In a brochure, flier, magazine article (local, national, international), advertisement, billboard, newspaper, website, trade show, etc.
  • How long will you need it? Is this something you want for a one-time ad in a local newspaper, or will it be on your website for years?
  • How large will it be? Do you need a 1″ x 1″ image, or something big enough for a billboard?
  • How many people will see it? A photograph used in a small community newspaper will cost less than that same image in a major national newspaper.
  • How exclusive do you want the photo to be? You can get exclusive use, so no one else can use it while you are. Or you can get it exclusively for your industry. If you lease a photograph to promote your bakery for a month, no other bakery can use it for that month, but a butcher shop could use it because they are in a different industry.

This will give you a good head start on what you need in a contract. Right and usage can get pretty detailed, but if you know what you want you’ll be miles ahead of most businesses.

Have Fun,
Jeff

August 9, 2014
by admin
2 Comments

August Computer Wallpaper Is Ready

I just put up the computer wallpaper for August. After several days of rain, mushrooms popped up everywhere at the Lamar Haines Wildlife Area near Flagstaff. These tiny mushrooms were growing out of a fallen log.

Head on over and get your copy of this month’s wallpaper at www.jeffcolburn.com/wallpaper.html

Have Fun,
Jeff

Wallpaper-2014-08

August 6, 2014
by admin
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What To Charge For Your Prints

An opportunity has presented itself, and you are asked to sell your prints in a gallery or a business. But what should you charge? Set your prices too low, and you’ll go broke. Too high, and no one will buy. What is a realistic balance?

The answer to that question is as much magic as science. The problem is that there isn’t a hard and fast rule to determine pricing. Instead, it’s what the market will bear.

Here are a few things to consider when it comes to setting a print’s price:

What does it cost to make a print? Many photographers have no idea. I’ve gone into stores and seen an 8×10 print, double matted and framed behind glass for $15. If the photographer isn’t losing money, he’s only making a couple of dollars. He also gets all of the local photographers mad at him for selling his work so cheaply, because it devalues their work in the eyes of the consumer. This is no way to run a business, and when you start selling photographs, you’re running a business.

Some photographers think that selling in a shop or gallery makes them a pro, but if you can’t live off of these sales, then you’re still a hobbyist. You’re feeding your ego, not your wallet. And it’s your wallet that you want to be fat and happy.

What commission will you pay to a business or gallery? Probably 50%, 40% if you’re lucky. That’s the dark side of selling through a gallery or shop. If it costs you $25 to print and frame an 8×10 print, and you sell it for $50, you make no money. You’ll spend your $25 to replace the print you just sold, and have nothing in your wallet. Sell that same print for $100, and you get to keep $25 before taxes. How many of those prints do you have to sell to make a livable $30,000? About 1,200 prints a year. Do you think you can do that? Neither do I. That’s why your photographs need to have a decent profit margin.

Use the calculator above to determine your business expenses. They will be much higher than you think. Save money where you can, especially when you first start your business.

A good starting point to setting your prices is to see what other photographers in your area, with similar subject matter and framing, charge for their work. This also gives you an idea of what the public will pay for photographs. When my work was going into a gallery, I visited galleries and shops in a 20-mile radius and made notes about what everyone was charging.

A couple years ago, I also talked to a local artist who had work like mine that she sold in art shows. I found out that the price point that people will buy at was $99. She sold plenty of prints for up to $99, but almost none over $99. This was valuable information for me, and made me decide to put off doing art shows until the economy got better. I just couldn’t make the income I wanted with $99 sales.

When you start out, your prices will be low. But remember, you can always raise your prices, but never lower them. Imagine how angry people will be if they paid $300 for one of your prints, then come back to your gallery a few months later to find that same print is now $200. You better have your checkbook ready because you’ll be giving a lot of refunds.

Start low, but have a fair price. Increase your prices by about 5% once or twice a year. You can also increase your prices as you get into more galleries, your sales increase and your notoriety grows.

You can charge more for limited editions too. And as the edition sells out you can increase the price of the remaining prints. You can have anywhere from 5 to 250 prints as a limited edition. I like the 20 to 50 range.

See what your local market is like to see if you can make a decent income. If not, check markets that are further away, but in wealthier communities.

Don’t stress over what to charge. Set a price, see how it works and start increasing your prices from there.

Have Fun,
Jeff

July 26, 2014
by admin
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New Lightning Photos

I finally had the chance to use my Lightning Bug lightning trigger and I love it. No more holding the shutter open for 30 seconds hoping to get something. No going out and taking 100 shots to get 3 photographs of lightning. It was great.

Here are two photographs taken at the Little Painted Desert about 15 miles from Winslow, AZ.

Have Fun,
Jeff

Lightning0169

1/4 second at f 4, ISO 200, 24-70mm f/4 L EF IS (USM) at 31mm

 

Lightning0172

3/4 second at f 4, ISO 200, 24-70mm f/4 L EF IS (USM) at 31mm

July 19, 2014
by admin
5 Comments

How To Sell Products From Your Website

Selling products from your website is a great way to add another revenue stream to your business. You can sell physical products and downloads with ease. On my site I sell ebooks, greeting cards, stock photos and prints with ease. But to do this, you do need to take credit card payments and have a shopping cart.

There are two ways to accept credit card payments:

  • Have your own merchant account
  • Use another business’ merchant account

To create your own merchant account, you need to set up a business checking account at your bank. Then set up a merchant account with them. When approved, you will pay a monthly fee and a fee per transaction. The transaction fee us usually a percentage of the sale, plus a flat fee per transaction.

Having your own merchant account is fine for larger businesses, but can be expensive for one or two person businesses. In that case it’s better to just use someone else’s merchant account.

There are a lot of companies that let you do this, including: PayPal, 2Checkout, Authorize.net and ClickBank. When deciding which one to go with, don’t only compare their fees and price per transaction, but what other features they offer.

For example, PayPal offers Buy buttons, printing of invoices and mailing labels and more. Also, go online and do a search for “Complaint” and the company name. All of these companies have complaint sites about them; just see if what people say is something you can live with.

Next you need a shopping cart, and possibly a fulfillment service. Fulfillment is when a company sends out the purchased items for you. Some of the merchant account companies offer this, or there are other companies that specialize in this service. I found that E-junkie worked great for me because they could deliver purchased ebooks without me having to lift a finger.

There are website companies that offer shopping carts built into the websites they provide, like Photoshelter, PhotoDeck and Zenfolio. Other companies offer stand-alone shopping carts, like E-junkie and RedCart.

With places like RedCart you pay once, unlike companies like Photoshelter, where you pay a monthly fee. Some of these places include additional features, like a pricing module. So if a client wants to buy a stock photograph from you, they put in the usage they want, and a price is automatically calculated so they can buy instantly.

Which way you go depends on your needs. It’s best to make a list of the features you need to automate and not automate with these services, and then find the company that best meets those needs at your price point. Keep in mind that online sales are usually pretty low, so don’t spend a lot of money until your online income justifies it. You can always add features as your sales increase.

So what do I do? I mainly sell ebooks and prints from my website. While I wanted my ebooks sales to be automated, I didn’t want print delivery done that way. With prints, I feel it’s necessary to examine them before shipping to a client to be sure they meet my standards. While this can also be automated, I didn’t want to run the risk of a bad print being sent out.

I set up a PayPal account to handle my credit card sales. Then I created an account on E-junkie for fulfillment. I started out using PayPal for my Buy buttons, but I’m switching over to E-junkie because their buttons let me offer coupons, discounts for high volume sales and more.

E-junkie is linked to my PayPal account, so when someone buys an ebook:

  1. E-junkie sends the sales request to PayPal.
  2. PayPal tells E-junkie when the sale is complete.
  3. E-junkie sends an email to the buyer with a unique link where they can download the ebook(s).
  4. E-junkie sends me a copy of the email that the client received.
  5. E-junkie and PayPal send me emails telling me what was sold.
  6. E-junkie deposits the money into my PayPal account where PayPal takes its transaction fee. E-junkie takes a flat monthly fee out of my PayPal account. I can sell one copy of an ebook a month, or 10,000 copies, and it’s still the same flat fee through E-junkie. Their monthly fee is based on how many different products you sell.

All of this happens in the blink of an eye. I just check my emails once a day and see how much money I’ve made in the past 24 hours.

For prints, I use a Buy button and complete the order manually. It takes a little more work for the client, which may cost me sales, but the volume is so low that there’s no reason to automate the process.

This system works well for me, it may not work well for you. Only you can decide.

Do keep one thing in mind. When you use a website like Photoshelter you’re pretty well locked into them. If you decide to move to a different provider, like Zenfolio, you will need to upload all of your photographs again, put them in their proper folders, add titles, keywords and more. That’s a lot of work.

Your options for making sales online are anywhere from almost free to expensive, so choose well and balance your needs with the costs. Happy sales.

Have Fun,
Jeff