April dedicated to the Members

Good afternoon everyone.

We will be dedicating the month of April solely to improve the member’s usability of the site.

Due to the popular demand, the forums will be making a return. We will also be adding folders to the members portfolio page.

We want to also work on other improvements you would like to see. Please comment IN THE BLOG -- we’ll see what is possible. We will disregard comments in the Facebook page. We will only take into account suggestions made on the blog page so it is a fair chance that everyone will be able to put in their opinion regardless if they have Facebook or not.


Going back to the survey that was asked before Christmas, please see the file below.

We have implement certain functions into the site already from the Christmas survey.

We have completed the ability to search other members:
http://mem.photo4me.com/Home/Members/

We have completed the ability to add your TinyURL. (Bottom left)

http://mem.photo4me.com/Account/Settings

We have completed the FAQ which is visible in the drop down.

https://photo4me.desk.com/customer/portal/topics/298841-member-help/articles

We would love to hear what you would like to see and improve upon.
Kind regards,
Mike and Jon

Observations for declined images.

My observations regarding why some images are declined but in fact the reason for declining is not apparent.

Wording declines

Sometimes I will decline an image if there is a lack of wording however there is wording but it can use more work.

For example, I see a lovely image that has the description of a dog.

Description: “My dog Biscuit on the beach.”

It would be more advisable to write, “A Golden Retriever on the beaches at Watergate Bay, Cornwall. “ – Generalize, people will remember their dog at the beach, not your dog. They will have a personal connection with that moment if you can bring them there.

Avoid using the word “MY” in the description, it means something to you, but it won’t mean anything to the average customer.

Quick examples to avoid– My wife, my dog, my cat, my hands, my feet, my friend. You get the idea.


Blown Sky

Another reason for a confusing decline is a “Blown Sky” when there is no sky in the image. It could be just written as a blown object.

A blown sky is a general term, which normally occurs in the sky. However one of the most common places it occurs is during long exposure photography and to be more specific in running water. Over the course of the long exposure, the running water will dominate the sensor and the colours and come out all white. This will cause a blown effect thus bleaching the colours around the blown area.

 

Dust Spots

A word about “Dust Spots.” Dust spots can occur on the lens sensor any part of the photography process, which just needs a quick clean and away you go.

But sometimes we can’t determine what the spot is. More times than not we know from experience that the spot is in fact a bird in the distance. The average customer will see the spot and assume is some sort of problem or defect and move to the next image. Look at your image through the eyes of customer. Does it look like it’s perfect? This is why we call it a dust spot, because it is a spot on the image and the customer cannot determine what it is.


Lens Flare

The last subject is about “Lens Flare.” This is the complete opposite with the dust spot. A customer will purchase a canvas, but when the canvas is made, a 10mm sun flare is in the centre of the picture. The customer, never saw the flare and will demand a return/refund or a re-print. Therefore please be very careful with the flares and unless it is 100% visible and part of the picture it can be flagged, refunded or a re-print which causes a waste of time for the customer, photographer (fixing and disappointment) and for us.


Copyright Infringement

Although sometimes a copyright infringement is straight forward, it can be confusing. Essentially, anything that you need permission to take a picture can be flagged as a copyright infringement. For example last week we had a churchwarden email us asking who gave permission to take and post images of the church. Due to the church being “private property” they needed permission and was flagged accordingly. Please be sure you have permission to take pictures before posting.


 Accreditation

This leads us into accreditation. Closely linked with copyright. If you are at an event which credentials given out, you must have the accreditation to post. It doesn’t matter if the stadium is empty, you are still on private property and accreds are given out at the clubs/events discretion. Failing to comply can land you in some hot water.

If you do have accreditation, then you do not need a model release.


I hope this helps clarify things.

-Mike

Emotional attachment to an image from a members perspective.

This morning I had a lovely email from Steve Purnell contact me with a great example when we mention a emotional attachment is a definite bonus.


A lot of discussion in the past has centred around the ‘emotional attachment’ behind sales.

I recently made a sale of a greeting card on another pod. The following morning I got up to find the following mail in my 'Other' box on Facebook:-
'I am the "buyer from Fairborn, Oh," lol. I wanted to tell you how your photo of the "star-crossed lovers" means so much to me. I am pushing 50, but almost exactly a year ago, my first high school boyfriend found me on Facebook. For over 32 years, we had each kept every photo, letter, momento. My health is failing and we will never be. I saw your photo a while ago when I googled "star-crossed lovers" and couldn't get it out of my mind. It is the expressions, in stone no less, but also how you so beautifully captured them in your photo. So I sought it out again to give him this card on our "anniversary" of being reacquainted. I just wanted to thank you for the breathtaking photo and thought that you might like to know how much your work meant to a total stranger.'

It is an image of a stone ornament in our garden that I never thought would sell in a million years but emotional attachment has obviously played a huge part in this.

Steve 

You can see Steve's "star-crossed lovers" Photo by going to the link below.

http://shop.photo4me.com/401472/canvas



You can see Steve portfolio by going to:

http://www.photo4me.com/profile/10630



Thanks for the email Steve!

Acrylics

We have been busy improving the display of our acrylics on the commercial site on our why us page. We are hoping that this will show off the quality of the product that is produced by our new supplier.



We would like to thank Pablo for kindly donating his image New York skyline in watercolour background so that we can help promote the acrylics and hope to get sales for members with this new product.






Unified design and layout

If you have been a member of photo4me.com for longer than a year you will have noticed a few changes in design and layout, if you have been a member for longer, then you will have seen the site evolve and many pages of the site still have not been updated.

I'm in the process of unifying the design and layout so that the entire site will look and feel more professional. If you are interested in the latest rendition of the layout and how it will evolve you can see a sample of it by checking out our new Why Us page http://www.photo4me.com/whyus.aspx


Canvases at a reduced cost.

Letting everyone know that we were able to negotiate a better cost for our 2 largest Canvas sizes. Notice now that  (1930mm By 914mm 76in By 36in) canvas and the (1524mm By 1016mm 60in By 40in) canvas have been reduced significantly.

For advertising on your website, please adjust accordingly.

Many thanks,

Jon & Mike

Copyright / Trade Marks and IP

My opening line on this blog post is "I am not a legal professional". I have spent a very large amount of time studying the subjects of copyright, IP and TM (trade mark).

 

This post is, out of necessity very general - as ever individual images need individual attention.

 

 

So here we go then:-

 

Broadly speaking copyright and trademarks are Intellectual Property (IP) - For something to be IP it must actually exist. You can not for example claim that your as yet to be taken image of an eagle carrying off a salmon as it flies under Tower Bridge in London as your IP. But when you do get that shot then it is your IP.

 

An excellent resource on the subject (for the UK at least is the government's site

 

https://www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview/overview 

 

 

Copyright

 

Copyright does not need to be registered to exist. The moment anyone creates something (this blog entry for example - or your now world famous eagle under Tower Bridge shot) it is immediately copyright of the creator. Copyright can loosely be considered to relate to just that - a copy. So your salmon carrying eagle photo is a 2D thing - anyone creating a 2D version of it, maybe your original is on canvas and they copy it and make a paper print would be in breach of your copyright.

 

Take a 3D object - a car for example and make a lifelike model of it at any scale and that's a copy - hence copyrighted.

 

However - take same car and photograph it that's now a 2D version of a 3D object - copyright has not been broken. That's why it is legal to photograph 'coins of the realm' but not bank notes.

 

Trade Marks (TM)

 

A trade mark is anything that pretty much instantly is associated with a product or business. A good example is the backwards "R" in Toys R Us" - another would be the petrol station ones - BP's sunflower, the shell of Shell . . .  Logos are a good example of a trade mark.

 

Trade Marks do not legally need to be registered - however if that is an important part of your business then doing so would be extremely wise. That way in the hopefully unlikely event of anyone wishing to use the same, or a 'similar' you can prove 'ownership'

 

Using someone else's trademark prominently in your image is potentially bad news. This is why sites like P4M decline images where things like the London Underground symbol are prominent.

 

Can it be both ?

 

Yes - easily.  Take the London Underground sign. It exists in printed (2D) and physical (3D) forms. Printed on a tube station wall it is 2D and your photograph is a copy - copyright. Take a photo of one of the big 3D signs and that's more likely to be a Trade Mark issue - your 2D photo is not a 'copy' but it clearly is an image of LRT's Trade Mark and they could argue that you are using their material for your financial gain.

 

 

 

What happens if you 'cross the line'?

 

Some companies seem not to care so long as you don't show them in a bad way. Some will grant you permission to use either with or without stipulated conditions. Others do care - enough to at least start to threaten legal action. The first - and if you have any sense at all - only warning shot you'll get from their legal team will be a "cease and desist" notice.

 

All IP offences are in UK law 'civil' not 'criminal. This means the parties involved must make their case, present and defend themselves (or appoint lawyers to act on their behalf). As this is a civil matter there is no legal aid. Get involved in an IP case and if it gets to court then expect a legal bill running into tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds.

 

In Summary

 

Intellectual Property rights kind of cover the whole area - real creations are intellectual property and backed up by a lot of legislation.

 

Everything physically created is covered by copyright. Boot-legging music is copyright theft, making and selling a model of a mobile phone's design is copyright theft, photographing a movie poster and copying it is copyright.

 

Trade marks should be registered for the sake of the owner but they could still call a case against you if they wanted.

Opening the Phone lines.

We are always looking to facilitate the customer’s journey on the site. As of last Monday, Photo4me has started to openly mention on the site that customers can call customer service to ask questions regarding products and placing orders.

We feel this has given us great feedback on how the site works and how to improve user ability and where we need to add information.

We have added these calling info bars on the following pages:

http://www.photo4me.com/canvasprints/ (all search pages)

http://shop.photo4me.com/776/canvas (all details pages)

https://secure.photo4me.com/cart/cart.aspx (cart)

https://secure.photo4me.com/cart/sign-in-choices.aspx?pg=intial (customer signing/creating page)

 

We hope this gives the company a better personal touch and really gets to know the customer and what their expectations of the site is. Customer input along with member input really helps make a difference.

One of the big changes we made from these phone calls was the products information page.

Previously, we when a customer was on the product details page and clicked the “i” button or “about our PRODUCT” it created a slide down effect with the information mentioned, however some customers were not finding this information.

We have now created a new pop-up feature, which we believe will be more helpful to everyone. We are currently updating the pop-up information to helpfully give as much information to the general public as possible.

Let us know what you think!

All the best,

Jon & Mike

 

Referral opportunities in Torquay, TQ2 6RQ

I received an email on behalf of a local business owners in Torquay who are looking for local photographers.


The email I received is from a Mr. Campbell,


It follows:


On Tuesday 24th February, myself and 45+ other local companies are meeting at the Livermead Cliff Hotel, Torbay Road, Sea Front , Torquay, TQ2 6RQ, to network and generate referrals for each other.

We are looking for a Artist in the area to potentially exchange referrals with. You would be interested in coming along to meet the others and see if we can all generate more business for each other?

The meeting is from 7.00am to 8.30am and includes breakfast. The cost is just £10
I'd love to introduce you to the other business owners to see if we may be able to help you. If this sounds like it could be of interest, please let me know and I can send you full details by email.

Please let me know if this is of interest.

Kind regards 

Benson Campbell

benson@bnidandc.co.uk



Please email Mr. Campbell if you have any questions or comments.


Cheers,

Mike

Why has my image been declined?

We hear this all the time and sometimes it's totally unclear why an image has been declined, although more often than not on P4me there is a note to explain. On some POD's such as 500px you simply get a standard email which says your image has not been 'licensed' as there are 'issues' which they can't specify, but there is a list of potential things to look at.
These 'issues' are almost always simple ones that are avoidable and stem mostly from CBBS. (Can't Be Bothered Syndrome)

Some people especially those very new to photography have CBBS because they haven't yet established a workflow. A workflow is nothing more than a set of habits that you carry out after taking photos and while some say they are unnecessary, their own way of doing things usually falls right slap bang into a specific type of workflow.
Everyone develops their own to suit themselves, but for those who don't know where to start or those who have never heard of this, here's mine as an example. 

Import and First Culling

I use Lightroom to transfer my images to computer and I keyword at that point with broad, general keywords to suit the shots. Once imported I quickly scan them and mark for deletion those that are out of focus, so poorly exposed as to be unrescuable, very badly composed to the point they can't be fixed, or where something is in the background that I hadn't noticed and it would take a huge amount of work to fix. You have to be harsh with this initial cull, take no prisoners, if in doubt chuck it out.

Second culling 

The second cull is most important: if I spot more obvious poor ones they are marked for deletion, sometimes at second glance I see that what I thought was a 'possible' would in fact entail lots of work for not much result, I also might see one that I think is definitely a good shot, I mark that in purple. At the end of this cull I have some marked in red for deletion, some marked in purple for definite processing, and some marked in green which I need to think harder about later on. I might end up here with 30 shots from 100 taken, only 8 of which are purple. This process focusses the mind but you have to be harsh. Imagine you're picking shots for a nation wide competition and you know they have to be great.

First process 

The first process is the purple ones that I see are good shots. The very first thing I check is overall exposure and white balance, and then I check they're level. If I need to crop I do that now so I don't waste time on part of the image that won't be kept.
Once that's done the image looks better already so I check for dust bunnies, enlarging the image to 1:1 on screen for this process.  When dust bunny hunt and fix is over I remain at 1:1 and check the image for things that may spoil it: a car bumper intruding in the corner, a pylon cable crossing the scene, perhaps a large piece of litter on an otherwise clean piece of grass. One by one I fix these issues and the key here is not to hurry to finish, it's to make sure you're thorough as you go. I may at this stage change my mind if an image is too much work to fix and simply put it to one side or delete it. 

Second process

I've now got a set of very nice images that are correctly exposed, level, clear of dust bunnies and clean of extraneous intrusions. Now I can check the colour balance, altering maybe some yellow, saturating the blue sky slightly maybe, or toning down the red in something to stop it being garish. With a scene that includes a field of crop perhaps you may indeed want to turn up the saturation of yellow and green for corn. I should end up with an image clean of dust bunnies and other distractions, levelled, with good white balance, good dynamic range of light and balanced colours.

Final process 

Now I've got a great image, I sharpen if need be using a mask for only the main edges, I check for noise especially in shadow areas, areas where I have increased exposure and areas where I have saturated the colour. I'm still in 1:1 view so as I check I also keep an eye out for chromatic aberration at obvious points, where distinct edges of highly different contrasts meet. I then go back to standard view where the image is equivalent to a 10 x 8 and view it from a distance to get an overall feel for it. 

Finishing touches 

Once I am happy with the final image I think of a title for it. The title should be very descriptive, so "Ashness bridge in moonlight" rather than "The moon reflects summer warmth onto a cold night scene" which doesn't really tell us what or where the image is and for selling online it's important that people find images by what they are and where they're located.
Then I write a description. You can get slightly more prosaic here or even poetic but it's best still to include the name again and location. "The moon shines brightly on the Lake District National Park bringing into muted relief the ancient stones of Ashness Bridge, the waters beneath it tumbling chaotically down to Derwentwater near Keswick."
Now I can export the image as a full size JPG, give it a final check and upload.

Conclusion

Your description and keyword are the only things that put your image on the shelf. Whether they're chosen to buy or not is down to your workflow in creating a nice image. Try setting out the major parts of processing an image and make yourself a workflow and give yourself a chance to get used to it. It really does make a difference.