Saturday, April 18, 2015

Business Cards & Morro Rock

Sunset At Morro Rock - Morro Bay, California
I just ordered some new business cards. Since I have a new website with my own domain, I needed to have some cards printed with that information on it. Business cards are super cheap so it's no big deal to get new ones.

I had an observation after I submitted my order: these business cards and my previous business cards both featured photographs of Morro Rock in Morro Bay, California. I didn't do this on purpose. It's just the way it worked out. There must be something about the place that subconsciously attracts me.
Boat And Rock - Morro Bay, California
It's no surprise that I like Morro Bay. California's central coast is stunningly beautiful and a highly rated tourist destination. Last year I took a road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway.

The photograph at the top of this post, Sunset At Morro Rock, is on my new business cards. The photograph above, Boat And Rock, which I captured on my very first trip to Morro Bay, is on my old business cards.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Changes To The Website

I've been playing around with my new website, which I completed less than a week ago, and discovered some good points and bad points about some different features. Nothing major, mostly just little things.

Originally I had the galleries set up as slideshows. I liked the simplicity of it. I appreciated that viewers didn't have to do anything--the photographs changed automatically every five seconds.

But there are a few drawbacks to the slideshow format. First, when one clicks on a photograph on the homepage, instead of taking the person straight to that image, it takes them to the slideshow (starting with the first image in the gallery, not the image that was clicked on). Second, links shared to a specific photograph (like what I did on a post on my "other" blog) takes viewers to the slideshow and not to the specific image. Finally, there's a web-store interface that's a little more user friendly that's not available with the slideshow format.

So today I changed four (of the six) galleries to a thumbnail format. I don't think it looks quite as nice or clean or simple as the slideshow format, but it doesn't have those drawbacks that I just mentioned.

One can still very easily view the galleries as a slideshow. Simply click where it says "SLIDESHOW" above the images. Or when you click on an image (it becomes larger on your screen), click the "play" arrow at the bottom-left.

I'm not 100% sure that I'm going to stick with this new look for the galleries or try something else (or perhaps go back to the slideshow format). I'll see how it goes for now.

Click here to see how I created the website and information on how you can create your very own website.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wait To Edit - Why Procrastinating Is Good When It Comes To Post-Processing

Pacific Dudes - Avila Beach, California
I waited over a month to post-process this image.
You just got back from a big trip or an epic outing, and you can't wait to go through your exposures to see what you've got. You're anxious to begin post-processing your pictures.

I have found that it is much better to wait than to edit right away. It's better to procrastinate than to post-process your photos immediately upon getting home.

A common area in photography where people struggle is self-editing. We think that all of our photographs are good. It's not until some time has passed and you're looking back at your old images that you realize that they just weren't as good as you thought they were.

Why is that? Because we have an attachment to our images. We put time, effort, thought and emotions (and potentially money) into our exposures. We have a connection to our photographs which makes us biased. We look at our own pictures through rose-colored glasses.

With time this bias fades. Our emotional connection to our exposures slowly disappears. By waiting to post-process, you are allowing yourself the opportunity to view your exposures with fresh eyes.

It's important to see your exposures with fresh eyes because that is how viewers will see your pictures. They don't have your bias. They don't know the back story (nor do they care).

With fresh eyes you are better able to delete mediocre images. You are more likely to notice which photographs you should keep and which ones you shouldn't. You self-edit more effectively.

This will save you time. You'll spend less time editing mediocre images because you'll realize that the exposure isn't worth your time. You will more easily recognize which exposures are good and which ones are not.

Besides saving time, you'll also appear to be a better photographer. You'll keep fewer forgettable photographs that you thought were good but really weren't.

How much time should you wait? It's up to you. The longer the better, but if you can hold out for at least 30 days I think that's good. There are a few photographers who are purposefully waiting an entire year.

Don't be in a rush to edit. By all means procrastinate! Waiting to post-process your photographs is beneficial because it saves you time. It also means you'll be sharing fewer mediocre images, making you look more talented.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Why I Have Two Photography Blogs

Purple Thistle Blossom Macro - Stallion Springs, California
I was recently asked why I have two different photography blogs. Perhaps you have wondered this yourself. Isn't one enough?

The Roesch Photography Blog, which I started over four years ago, is a "general photography" blog. It's anything and everything related to photography.

There are literally thousands of "general photography" blogs out there on the internet. There are just so many! It's easy to get lost in the crowd. Most have a few followers and that's it.

Can you name 25 photography blogs off hand? I can't. About a dozen come to my mind. Only about half of those a "general photography" blogs. The other half are "specialty photography" blogs. They focus on a specific genre or aspect of photography.

If this blog were to become the 25th most popular "general photography" blog in the world (which it's not even close to), it would still be on the outer fringes of the photography blogging world. My name still wouldn't come to people's minds when they think of photography bloggers. I'd continue to be lost on the vast sea of "general photography" blogs. It's really difficult (and seemingly impossible) to crack that Top-10 list, which is where the relevant bloggers find themselves.

I say that my blog is irrelevant not because of content. I think that I have plenty of quality posts to be considered relevant. But the audience that this blog has is so small that it's irrelevant compared to other bloggers. There are some photography bloggers that would be highly disappointed if one of their posts "only" got the number of page-views in a day that my entire blog gets in a month.

This blog is not likely to ever become popular. There's just too much competition. There are too many other people doing the same (or similar) thing. But what if I had a blog that specializes in a certain aspect of photography? How difficult would it to become a leading blogger in a certain genre?
1956 Chevy Bel Air At Cameron's Dairy - Tehachapi, California
That's why I created The Urban Exploration Photography Blog. My favorite photography subject is abandoned places. So I decided that I'd blog about that. There are not all that many urban exploration photography bloggers out there, so it shouldn't be too difficult to reach the top in that genre. I may never become a household name in photography, but I might just become a household name in this one specialized area.

Of course none of this is about becoming popular. That's not my goal. But if I'm going to have any commercial success, I have to get the word out about my photography. I have to brand and market myself. This is one way (of many) to accomplish that.

So if this blog will never become popular but the other one might, why don't I stop blogging here and focus just on that one blog? Because I have followers here. People read what I post on this blog. The Roesch Photography Blog has steadily grown in popularity every year. It wouldn't be smart to just abandon that.

That's why I have two photography blogs--this one, the Roesch Photography Blog, and the other one, The Urban Exploration Photography Blog. For you that means twice as much content to enjoy.

Oh, and don't forget to check out my new website: roeschphotography.com

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Make A Fantastic Photography Website Quickly & Easily With SmugMug + Sell Your Pictures!


I just finished making a website for my photography using SmugMug, and right away I've been asked multiple times to explain how I did it. I've received tons of compliments about how great it looks and how well it is designed. Someone was surprised when I told him that I did it myself (he thought it had been created by a professional).

I'm far from savvy on these type of things. Even though I have two photography blogs, I'm only able to muddle my way through html learning as I go--I'm not a tech kind of guy at all. But setting up the website from start-to-finish was not hard and it didn't take nearly as much time as one might think. After I was finished I had to wonder why I didn't do this many months ago.

When I set out to create a website for my photography I didn't really know where to start. Several years ago I made a website using Wix, but I was dissatisfied with it. It wasn't what I was looking for and it didn't meet my needs (but it was free). I kept it for about one year and then removed it.

This time around I did some research. I asked some other photographers what they had used to create their websites and I did some web searches. SmugMug kept coming up. It wasn't free, but it did seem to meet all of my needs.

What are those needs? I wanted to upload hundreds of high-resolution images to be displayed on the website. I wanted my own domain name. I wanted something that looked really good. I wanted easy navigation. I wanted a top-notch web-store where I could effortlessly sell my images. I wanted good security so that my photographs wouldn't be stolen. I wanted it all to be simple and fast to create. And I didn't want to spend a bunch of money.

As you can imagine there are not many options available that would satisfy all of those requirements. But I did have a couple of options. I had seen several really nice websites by other photographers who had used SmugMug. What they had created for their photography was exactly what I wanted to create for my photography. So I decided to go with SmugMug, and so far that has proven to be an excellent choice.

Perhaps you are in the same shoes that I was in just a couple of weeks ago. You might be thinking about making your own photography website and you're trying to figure out the best options. Maybe you're looking into this whole SmugMug thing. Then this post is for you.

To get started with SmugMug, visit their website. If you use this link (click here) you'll receive 20% off whichever plan you choose. Who doesn't like saving money?

They have four price options: Basic ($40 per year), Power ($60 per year), Portfolio ($150 per year) and Business ($300 per year). Basic is more for personal use than business--think of it like Flickr, but better and not free. If you have no interest in a web-store (you just want a website), Power might be a good choice. The second two options are the ones that you want to consider if you plan to sell your images. Portfolio is sufficient for most people and it's the choice that I selected. Business gives you a few more pricing and marketing options, and (as the name suggests) is a good plan for those who intend to sell a lot of photographs through their website.

When you sign up, your web address will have SmugMug's name in the url (such as www.roeschphotography.smugmug.com). If you want a custom domain (such as www.roeschphotography.com) you have to go get one. I used GoDaddy for mine, but there are other options, as well. My domain costs $10 a year, and I think that is money well spent (it certainly looks more professional). Once you have a custom domain, you simply enter it into the appropriate place within the settings.

SmugMug has a number of nice-looking website templates for you to choose from. After playing around with a few of them, I went with Pixie for the simple and clean look of it. I appreciated that on the homepage the images keep coming as you scroll down, which reminds me of  how some social media sites work. You can pick which gallery will be displayed on the homepage.

The templates can be customized, and I took advantage of that. It's a little tricky at first (at least it was for me), but it's not hard once you get the hang of it. SmugMug has a great help page with lots of good information, which proved to be an invaluable resource when trying to figure out how to do different things.

It didn't take long for my website to have its own unique look. Having a website that is distinctly yours (viewers recognize immediately that it belongs to you and you alone) is important because it is similar to a trademark or logo--it's an aspect of branding. This is easily achieved with SmugMug.

I set up the galleries in a slideshow format. Since the homepage had so many images, I thought that simplicity was needed for the galleries. Once visitors open a gallery, nothing more is required since it automatically scrolls through the images. With one click the slideshow becomes full-page.

I placed important links at the top of the page. Visitors can click to this blog and my other photography blog. There's a link to my galleries. I included a search page in case there's something specific that someone's looking for. There's a "contact me" form (which wasn't immediately obvious how to set up). I also included a link to buy my photographs. It's not always apparent on SmugMug websites that one can buy photographs, so it was important to include that link right on the top of the front page. Viewers know right away that images are for sale and can access the web-store with one click.

A big reason that I made a website for my photography was to sell photographs. I needed a place to send potential customers where they could buy my images. SmugMug has a first-class store. They use some different vendors that you can choose from. I picked Bay Photo Labs because they're one of the best labs around.

You can choose what products to sell, including prints, canvas prints and digital downloads (with a use license), plus all sorts of other things. There are more options than you'll want to include. You can set the pricing to whatever you want. You can choose which galleries are for sale and which ones are not. You have a lot of control over the whole process. SmugMug keeps 15% of the profits, but they handle everything, which seems worth that 15%.

I think that how much commercial success one has with a SmugMug site depends on the quality of the photographs combined with the quantity of advertisement. In other words, if your pictures aren't good no one will buy them. If your pictures are good but if no one knows that they can buy them no one will. You have to get the word out. My webpage has been complete for less than a week, and I've already had a couple of customers.

SmugMug has included a ton of security options to help ensure that your photographs aren't stolen. You can choose which options you want to enable or disable. You can disable right-click and even include a custom right-click message. You can make galleries private, hidden and even password protected. The most security-minded photographers should be satisfied with the options SmugMug has made available to protect their photographs.

My website was online in less than two hours. It took a week of working on the website in my spare time to finish it. I probably put in eight hours total, and most of that was uploading images.

Because I used a 20% off coupon (like what you receive when you click here), the total cost was $130 ($120 for SmugMug and $10 for the custom domain). Looking at the website and how good it turned out, especially considering the great web-store, I would have expected to pay much more than that. It seems like a bargain! If you are a photographer considering your options for a website and a web-store, SmugMug is a great choice that I certainly recommend.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

My New Website: roeschphotography.com

Red Field, Green Field - Tehachapi, California
Here's the big news I've been waiting to tell you: I now have a website with my own domain! It even includes a first-class web-store. It's very nice, and you should most certainly go and take a look at it.

You'll find my brand-new website at www.roeschphotography.com (click here). I have several different galleries to view and tons and tons of photographs to see. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Your Style Is More Important Than Your Gear (Nokia Lumia 1020, Samsung NX210 & Nikon D3200)

Energy - Tehachapi, California
I'm working on an online portfolio (actually it's much more than that, and I'm hoping that I can announce it here within the next few days), and something stood out to me. My photographs look like my photographs (my family calls them "Ritchie Pictures"), no matter what gear was used to capture them.

Having your own unique style, which I call photographic vision, is much more important than gear. If you have your own unique style, no matter what gear you use your images are going to look like your images.
Surfers - Avila Beach, California
How do you develop your own unique style? It takes time and practice, but most importantly it requires vision. If you develop your vision you will simultaneously develop your own unique photographic style.

The three photographs you see in this post will be a part of the portfolio that I'm working on. They were captured using different cameras, including a Nokia Lumia 1020, Samsung NX210, and Nikon D3200. Cheap "kit" zoom lenses were used on the Samsung and Nikon cameras. I won't say which images are from which cameras, because it doesn't matter.
Imminent Change - Stallion Springs, California
This is a very tiny sampling of all of the images that will be in my online portfolios, and all sorts of other gear was used, as well. Many were captured using a Sigma DP2 Merrill and a Nikon D3300 (and a prime lens was often used). There are a few images that were captured using a FED 5c Russian rangefinder and film.

My point is that they all look like my photographs. Zoom lens or prime? Cheap camera or expensive? Digital or film? It doesn't matter. They all fit in with each other and you wouldn't know the difference unless I told you.

Worry more about what's important in photography and less about what's not. Don't have camera envy. Use what you have to the best of your ability and you'll realize that cameras don't matter nearly as much as you've been told.