Photo4me Consumer Blog - May 2016.

Photo4me Consumer Blog

Spring is finally here, and no doubt you’re thinking about giving your home a bright new look ready for the sunny season.


Whether you are looking for guidance into new ideas, or you have your own that you just want to refine further: we have been bringing you all the latest in wall art trends to inspire you to maintain your interiors ‘a la mode’. So, let’s get a pair of scissors and some glue to start our mood boards!


Photography has been considered an art form for many years, as a result, interior designers will often choose to use photographs and wall art to aid their creative expression. During the early 20's, avant-garde artists started engaging with it for its association with technology and science- initially the reason it was disapproved of by many artisans, half of a century earlier.


This continuous link with technology, science and art has seen photography evolve throughout the years influenced by art movements, engaging a diversity of styles, materials and subjects on trend.


As you may have seen in our recent Style4You email newsletter series, It’s all about the 70's theme this season. Here we can delve deeper into the elements to be found within the 70’s trend, characterised by the variety of colours, shapes and materials that are hot right now.

We want you to feel inspired to experiment with these current state-of-the-art trends and get creative yourself as you choose a palette and materials for the look of each room.


One trend that hasn’t been referenced in our previous communications is the use of fabrics and texture. This theme has inspired some photographers to take pictures of fabrics or simply, textures that resemble woven materials, manipulating images to create abstract effects not possible using fabric alone.

The infographic mosaic below reflects the range of styles relevant in the broad 70’s concept and featuring a few photographers who have identified and adopted contemporary trends here at Photo4me.


Among these photographs we found funky, abstract and saturated images that can provide statement pieces for your interiors. Some of them combine complex textures, movement and reflection, creating retro and dynamic compositions.


We have also featured some photographs composed by the use of warm metals and materials, which would give a sharp and elegant finish to your interior space. But there are many more to choose from within the 350k + images to be found in Photo4Me so get exploring to find something Unique and Stylish for your home!


A photograph can transmit serenity, nostalgia or joy. It can express something meaningful to you as well as your taste in art. It has the power to add value to a room and play with emotions that sometimes cannot be described with words. It is important to choose photographs correctly as energy will be transmitted through into the interior space. It is essential then, to above all, choose photographs that you can stop and admire and feel connected with.


Getting Started and Not Stopping, the key to selling photos!

Getting Started and Not Stopping, the key to selling photos! by Frank Irwin

 

I don’t make that many sales, one here and one there and given my age of 75 the income is not important to me but, of late within the space of a few weeks I managed to make several sales.

 

A lot of you will know of course that Photo4Me aims for the wall decorative market, which is becoming more popular by the minute. The requirements for printing must be pictures which people are able to live with on the walls of their homes and offices without getting tired of them. Pictures uploaded for sale on the site must also be of sufficient resolution that they will not pixelate at the sizes to be ordered. Historically Photo4me requires them to be uploaded as a JPEG 3000 to 4000 x 5000 to 6000 pixels range and in sRGB.


Editors note: Example - If you send us an image 4,000 pixels by 3,000 pixels the biggest that will print before pixelation starts to become unacceptable is 30 by 40 inches. If you send a file for a square image that is 2,500 X 2,500 then 25 inches square would be as large as we go before pixelation. So in short - the more pixels you can send us the better however it has been best when one side of the image has been between 3000 to 4000 pixels.

 

Now then in order to fulfil the market requirements on Photo4Me, in my opinion it is essential that the photographer knows what he is doing as far as equipment is concerned. I certainly feel that as far as new photographers are concerned, a course on basic photography is a wise investment - where camera owners at a similar knowledge level, study together, the aspects of lighting, apertures, shutter speeds and of course ISO values to be able to understand the relationships between these aspects and how they work together. Leaving a camera set at “Automatic” will not help in this regard and indeed although it may well work for a lot of photograph taking, it will never work all the time. I would highlight as a good example, “contre-jour” work where some exposure compensation will be always be required.

 

Composition is a crucial factor when taking photographs for the Wall Art market.  There are rules of composition, which will stand the photographer in good stead as a starting point, in particular the “rule of thirds.”  Notice how the lighthouse is right on the 3rd line, also the horizon is on a line of thirds. 




People will always say “Rules are made to be broken” but it is my belief that before knowing when to break the rules one needs to fully understand the basics otherwise one will never know when the time is right to break them. One of the most important rules is to ensure a level horizon. Remember the sea runs neither up nor downhill! One thing that will definitely greatly decrease a photographer’s chance of a sale is when the sea and the horizon are prominent within a picture but the horizon is not level. If there is no horizon to level off of, use an object that should be vertical.



 

Levelling can be achieved either within the camera using viewfinder grid lines, live view on DSLRs or a spirit level on the tripod, but a final check and correction if necessary within software, is essential. If you’re having problems with levelling the tripod on sand or an un-even surface, a great suggestion was given recently by John Farnan is to use 3 plastic flowerpots which hold the tripod steady and prevent it from moving or sinking into sand.

 

Generally, these photographic rules make a picture look better and far more natural, with leading in lines and the attitude and direction of the subject matter being very important. It is these rules that creates the ‘balance’ of a picture which could well be what attracts a person to want to own the image after the location or subject matter has first led the purchaser to the search for it, making tagging essential.

 

See the tips in the Photo4me FAQ section: https://photo4me.desk.com/customer/en/portal/articles/652115-wording-master-class

 

After a short while, inexperienced amateur photographers will have to learn to process the pictures on their memory cards, therefore some software will be required and I would recommend something cheap and cheerful at first.  It will soon become obvious when the time is right to invest in better software like Adobe Lightroom to be introduced including the ability to also process RAW files. Basically, RAW files are needed when a picture contains a high range of light and dark, which is too great for the camera to handle. A typical subject would be a wedding on a sunny day when the dress is brilliant white and the groom’s suit is black.

 

At this time I do believe the photographer just now needs experience. This cannot be taught but comes with time - as long as the learning curve has not come to an end. There is a lot more information to be gleaned, lots of tips to be squeezed out of old photographers.  Perhaps one answer is to buy a subscription to a good Photo Magazine. A few should be sampled as they differ in content so the final purchase should be one that the photographer is comfortable with and which helps the level of photography achieved to be constantly improved.

 

 

Frank Irwin

It's cold outside . . . There's no kind of atmosphere . . .

Well it's been a while since I last posted here so it's about time the grey matter came out of hibernation.

 

And, says he, creating possibly the most contrived lead in line ever - talking of hibernation as I sit here typing I do think hibernation would be a great option as the temperatures go sub zero, rain, snow and grey skies dominate the short UK days and inspiration seems itself to have taken an extended holiday.

 

But this is an ideal time for many types of photography that perhaps aren't our normal style - for one thing later dawns mean even the slumberly challenged of us can be awake at sunrise without getting up at silly o'clock and the longer, darker evenings make it easier for those of us lucky enough to live anywhere north of the UK Midlands to be in with a chance of Northern Light images.

 

So often people take a look out of the window, see rain or cloud and give up. One of P4M's long standing members John Farnan has just come back from the US. For those not familiar with John's work he specialises in long exposure, mono images - specialises isn't perhaps a strong enough word - he excels at them. He is the only person I know who goes to the US and complains it isn't cloudy.

 

Rain brings great opportunities too - all you need is a tripod, big umbrella (to keep the rain off the lens) - and preferably a willing assistant to hold it and the reflections from hard urban surfaces like paving slabs, tarmac and even concrete become wonderful reflection creators yours for the taking. Do this at / after sunset and a whole new glorious range of photo opportunities await you. Recent experience tells me something dry to kneel on is also a good idea.

 

Still not convinced about going out in the cold?  Try some indoor macro work - spend just a few pounds on a bunch of supermarket flowers, get the tripod out so you're free to arrange and compose and there's a whole world of images to be had. Experiment with flash - master isolating your subject by controlling the light, practice your depth of field skills . . . .

 

Someone once said "There is no such thing as bad weather - just the wrong choice of clothes." - or something like that anyway. Similarly there's no such thing as 'nothing to photograph' - just a lack of seeing opportunity.

 

I'm not for one moment saying every such image is going to be a best seller - but every such 'not my normal style' image adds to your experience and enjoyment - who  knows - these cold, dark and wet times may just be the thing to set you on a new photographic journey.

Zoos that allow photography

Animals are always a big attraction for amateur and professional photographers.


We do ask that you have permission to sell pictures taken at zoo's and other wildlife sanctuaries. With the help of the community, we can help everyone by getting the right information.

If anyone would like to contribute to the list, please send and email to: customercare@photo4me.com with the name of the zoo, location (post code) as well as proof of the ability to sell your image for commercial gain. A short list of animals could also be helpful.

Keep in mind the following when taking pictures of wild animals in zoo's or animal sanctuaries.

- No fences, cages or anything that would hint that they are in a closed/confined space.

-  Please take into account the nature of the picture and avoid flash photography if possible at zoo's and sanctuaries that allow it.

Current list that will allow commercial photography, and has the appropriate accreditation.

Exmoor Zoo

Paignton Zoo (location credit required)

- Living Coasts (location credit required)

- Newquay Zoo (location credit required)

Plymouth Aquarium (not permitted to use their logo, brand identity, or name and no flash photography is allowed)

- Tropical Birdland, Desford, Leicestershire (They have a sign at the entrance that says it is OK to photograph for sale though they do ask for the location to be included in the description.

- Dartmoor Zoo (location credit required)

- Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens (location credit required, accreditation required, agrees that if picture is "magical" You would need to give them the picture which could be used on posters, guide book or advertising, CWPG would use it free of charge)

- Wingham Wildlife Park (location credit required)

- Twycross Zoo (They ask for location credit and ask for use of image for free for their own publicity) 

- The Aspinall Foundation Howletts (location credit required)

- The Aspinall Foundation Port-Lympne (Location credit required)

- Battersea Zoo - London -- (Location credit required - allow Battersea zoo the right to use your images free of charge)

- Blackpool Zoo (Location credit required)

- Paradise Wildlife Park (Location credit required - Asks that some art work be donated when possible to help raise funds for conservation work)


Many thanks to Jay LethbridgeSteev Stamford and Dave Godden who helped contribute to the list.


List updated as of May 4th 2016.

Please note: The Member is the owner of the image(s) uploaded to the site including the copyright therein and if there is any illegalities of the image uploaded by the member this is the members responsibility and the member will be liable. No liability or responsibility will transfer to photo4me.com and photo4me.com will cooperate with all legal requests to the best of their ability.

Uploader news

Hello Photo4me members!

As you may have noticed by now, we have been working on the uploader. Last Thursday night the old uplader had stopped working and there was little we could do to repair it. Luckily, we were working on the new uploader for the past 5-6months. With the old uploader now none existant, we had to take the new uploader out of the building stages and implement it right away. We were a few days short of having it thouroughly tested, it was good enough for a BETA version.


Jon has been hard at work trying to fine tune the uploader which has been quiet stressful on all of us over here. 


Jon has said the following:

Releasing new software is always a stressful period for stakeholders IE you the members and us the developers.

We appreciate all the help we can get. If a file fails to upload for some reason we will work on it to solve the issue.

To help us please do this:

Take a snap shot of the screen (alt print screen) and attach it to an email along with the image you are attempting to upload and send it to customercare@photo4me.com along with any other info that may help us like the computer operating system and browser you are using. And lastly please let us know which version you are using it will state at the bottom of the uploader BETA 1.4 etc we need this to reference with the code.

The current live development link is here:
http://up-test.photo4me.com/uploader

The current test link is here:
http://up2.photo4me.com/uploader

Many thanks
Jon & the team.


I will keep you all updated on the blog with new versions and developments.


Update: Wednesday 20th of January 10:30am.

Beta version 1.5.0

Please note this application is in beta. If you notice any issues please report it in our Facebook group or report below in comments.

  1. This version solves issues with empty EXIF
  2. With reduced sharpening.


Stop hoping and increase your odds

I've been asked a few times by members on what they need to do to be more successful in selling their pictures on Photo4me. So I thought this write up might help for those looking for that extra edge.


In my experience, people want to see a few things. If you do these things, I think it would make a difference you would start seeing results.     Working/Descriptions   A lot of people tell me about their personal stories about an area, a place or an event that happened somewhere. I then try to match that description with what they've told me. I then send that picture to the client.   I also try and find a description which makes an emotional connection with the client.   I don't know how many times I've seen, say, Brighton Pier for example, good picture but the description says "On holiday took a picture. I think it looks nice." OR someone took a picture of their dog and said. “This is Charlie, he’s 8yrs old.” It’s a lovely picture of your dog and you have that emotional connection, but I hate to be blunt, but people won’t care about your dog, they care about their dog. Put yourself in the customer shoes, work it for them.   We've stressed it many times but please be descriptive with your image. Pull on people’s emotions and make them want to buy your picture.   Sometimes, I'll send a customer 4-5 picture links which match the description the client was looking for and 9/10 times, they'll go with a feel with the picture and an emotional touch. They want to know as much information about the picture or area. Try to avoid the Wikipedia copy and paste job, people want a personal touch.     Your portfolio

http://mem.photo4me.com/Home/Index/Upload/1   Another point would be to have a strong portfolio. This idea of more is better is a complicated one.   - You want people to see your portfolio and all the nice stuff. - To much stuff leads to substandard photo's. - You want to keep all the emotional storied photos and take out the "meh" pictures.   People look at other images from that photographer. If they see great photo's and substandard photo's they question the professionalism and skill of the photographer. Never underestimate the power of your own portfolio.   Moreover, notice that those who sell multiple pictures tend to be those with great photo's? Sure you have the 1 time seller because they have a specific area and that great shot of it. But notice it's more or less the same people in the "Top sellers last thirty days” It’s because they have found that taken quality pictures, they have put in the right keywords and descriptions, and they have advertised themselves.   I would advise members to avoid pictures which don't sell often. For this reason we came up with the redundant decline. Insects/Swans/Ducks/Geese/Cats/Mushrooms don't sell often and the site is loaded with them already. This takes away from the power of your portfolio.   Planes get flagged as well from time to time, because they need to fit the Photo4me guidelines, which could be found further down the blog – http://blog.photo4me.com/post/2015/10/07/replicative-images-planes.aspx     Pricing   People are also looking for the best price. Sure some can get away with having 100% mark-up and if that works for that member, great. Keep in mind however that people are always price comparing. I'll see potential carts/dropped carts through admin and they'll have 4-5 same images and be comparing the price. Don't give your away but don't make it out of reach of a persons budget.

The current site averages are: Min: £14 Max: £157 Commission: 43% 

 No need to change the pricing per individual picture, it can be changed globally on your pricing page: http://mem.photo4me.com/Account/MyPricing


Advertise:   Try uploading one of two pictures a day, do your own picture of the day. Put ads around Facebook and twitter. Do something different. Make business cards with your link on the site to your portfolio, start your own following. Hand out flyers, get your name out there and self promote, think outside of the box, tell your friends, understand how Google Adwords works and advertise through there, use Google Analytics, family anyone that will listen, send out emails to people who might be interested.   Some people will upload to the site and think they are going to sell automatically, however with the site consistently growing, it is not like the old days when we had less than 50,000 pictures and images would be found quickly and purchased, those days are long gone. With a few thousand pictures being uploaded to the site every week, the competition to be found is always increasing. I believe that the new successful member will need to do a little self-marketing, get the right pictures in their portfolio and have the right keywords and description.   To break it down even more, if you have 150 pictures in your portfolio, and we have 350,000 pictures on the site, you have 0.0004% of the content on the site, how do you turn this into a better percentage with the hopes that someone finds and purchases one of your pictures. I don't mean to say this to dishearten you, but the opposite, to encourage you to do more and to stop you from hoping - be proactive, get your name out there, you never know what will happen!   Mike

Use of public domain images

When posting pictures, in particular public domain images, we do ask that they be unique in their own right. Meaning:


Because anyone can take a free public domain image and upload it to the site and due to the high possibility that duplicates will happen, thus losing the “unique” factor, which Photo4Me promotes, we ask that members upload images that are in the artistic spirit and not easily replicable.


If we were to allow straight rip and upload of public domain images, the site would become over saturated with these images from free domain websites and duplicates would definitely happen + other complications we foresee.


Compilation works using free domain pictures have been fine in the past (as far as we are aware of) because it's original and made in the artists eye. These images are heavily altered and using various pictures from free domain images + the artists own work in some cases; moreover the accreditation of where these images have come from has been well represented.


Free domain images posted as compilations are subjective and will be judged upon upload.

The world through a lens – Sharon Lisa Clarke

I never thought as an untrained photographic artist I would be able to sell my images. As a lot of my creations are photo manipulations I refer to myself as an artist rather than a photographer. I still work mainly with post processing and don’t have the photographic knowledge of many of my colleagues, but it works for me.

I have only been taking photos for about seven years. I took a few images with a friend and started to mess about with them. I’ve never thought of myself as artistic but to my surprise I started to produce some half decent art work. I noticed my friend was selling on Photo4me so I joined, and  it wasn't long before I had a sale. Over the years I have sold 33 images on Photo4me and I’m proud of my achievements. I have sold all over the world through other outlets but mostly through Photo4me in the UK.


My proudest moment so far was when my Egret image was featured in Peter Andre’s 60 Minute Makeover on national TV.  I also had an image selected to be on display at a Hospital. It's strange to think someone has your photograph or artwork hanging up in their home, it still amazes me.

  


The secret to my sales I think is my diversity. I have created images from most genres, ranging from Flora, Architecture, Wildlife, Sea-scape to Abstract and Digital montages. I’m a big fan of Topaz software and prefer post processing images rather than taking them. I love messing around with an image in Photoshop or creating something new digitally.


My advice is to stick at it and imagine what your image would look like up on the wall. Is it art? Would you buy it? Be diverse and open minded as buyers may love something you would not choose personally yourself. Art is very personal and it’s hard to predict what a buyer wants. Take time to look at other portfolios as you can learn a lot and gain inspiration. I view the world through a lens and everything I see is seen as a piece of art.


The dream now is to get the chance to photograph polar bears in their natural habitat, but if I can't I can appreciate all the beautiful images out there to see.

Sharon has amassed a magnificent collection of over 1500 artwork images on the Photo4Me platform and would appreciate your feedback and comments on the platform. View all her work on her members page.

Replicative images -- Planes

With the increase of members and images, so has the content, in particular airplanes. There has been a massive influx of these images from recent air shows. 


What we will accept: Images of planes will need to have some sort of emotional attachment, something artistic to the image, they will need a second element to the picture. It could be scenery, lighting, be creative! The picture will need an “edge” to it. Something different.


What we will decline: Turning a "blue sky shot" from colour to B&W, a blue sky with the underbelly, a flyby, depending on the composition a plane on a runway and etc. 


To be even more specific;


Acceptable Lighting: Good light on the plane and a nice sky in the background, (not plain grey cloud or a clear blue sky), there should be an artistic element to the shot. B&W pictures will be assessed on artistic value as well as lighting and tones.

Silhouettes: Where the aircraft is an element in the image rather than the focal point.

Acceptable Viewpoints: Images that have the belly or the back of the plane will more than likely be flagged unless there is an emphasis on the detail of the under belly or if it is not the main focus of the image. Normally there should be a hint of the cockpit, front of the plane or the top of the plane is the focus. 

Aircraft on the ground: Will be considered if creatively shot, for example use of a wide angle lens, but backgrounds should be clean of distracting objects. A run of the mill plane taking off will probably not make the cut, there would need to be an artistic element to it.

Creative Elements: Depending on the aircraft type and situation, prop driven aircraft and helicopters should be shot with shutter speeds to blur the rotating elements of the subject. However it’s more preferred than a necessity, if you have the rotators, make sure they don’t look like a model Photoshopped into the image, there should be at least a hint of a blur.

From what I’ve been told --- Typically shutter speeds of no more than 1/400th and ideally no more than 1/250th second should be used, and helicopters may require considerably longer.

General Environment: No clutter around plane or oddities in taking the picture, Example -- A control tower sticking out the top of an aircraft fuselage (unless shot at slow shutter speed to blur background and thus separate from subject).

Unique subjects: Images which do not confirm to the above would only be considered if there is some uniqueness to the image, such as rarity of subject matter, location, etc. This should be made clear in the title and description such that if flagged for review there is a justification for the image to remain on the site.

Images with Multiple planes: Should respect the guidelines above, but as long as there is an artistic feel to the image it should be accepted.


Conclusion, snap and shoot images from air shows will not be accepted and will be flagged as replicative. 


We don't want dissuade you from posting and trying to sell images of planes, far from it. We still want images of planes and plane-like themes however we want to push the limits of creativity and artistic merit for the subject.


Many thanks for your understanding.
Mike & Jon