November Newsletter 2016

November Rain


(Queue Guitar Solo) Maybe? Sorta? No? Fine.

Never mind. Moving on. Yes the weather can be a little cold and wet, but you can still take advantage of the nice days by using the atmospheric conditions or to create beautiful long exposure images. Two fine examples of this are Steve Cowe's exceptional image of Storm Force or for a more recent upload - Mark Leader's image of Welcombe Mouth


News from the community

Congrats to Steve Clark who, in one order, sold his image of 02 Bristol Balloon Fiesta for a record 18 times. Great job, client was really happy with the final result!

Stephen Mole is hosting an exhibition at the Fairhaven Gardens from November 19th to November 27th. Pop-in and say hi if you're in the area! 

Well done to Tony Murtagh who's picture of the Hungarian Parliament at night has been selected in the final 12, out of an entry of nearly 1000 photos, in the Viking Cruises calendar competition for 2017. Now Viking ask for the public to vote for their favourite photo. The winning picture will feature on the cover of the calendar as well as inside. Now you can help and vote for Tony here.


What's happening?

Our American friends will celebrate their Thanksgiving on November 24th which kicks off the Christmas shopping holiday on the 25th; we'll get into that a little later.

This month we have "Bonfire Night" or "Guy Fawkes Night" and of course Remembrance Day.

Most of us know or are familiar with the story of Guy Fawkes however for those in other parts of the world who may not be so familiar, a quick history. On November 5th 1605, Fawkes (and others) had planned to blow up Westminster because he opposed King James (who was Protestant) and wanted to replace him with Princess Elizabeth, (who was Catholic) so to pull off their plot, the plan was to assassinate King James by blowing up Westminster -- makes sense right? His plan however was foiled by someone who wrote an anonymous letter and the Kings Guards captured Fawkes in the basement of Westminster guarding a stockpile of gunpowder. So on the day of his capture, November 5th 1605, to celebrate the King's escape from assassination the population celebrated by lighting bonfires, a tradition which continues to this day. -- The story was romanticised in the 2005 movie V for Vendetta staring Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving and Stephen Rea, if you haven't seen it, I recommend it.

There will be plenty of opportunities to catch a great photo of the bonfires and fireworks. Please however refrain from taking pictures of your TV during the BBC telecast (or any other TV program/station) and trying to sell the images. They are the copyright of the media outlets and cannot be sold. In case you are wondering - yes that has been attempted before.

Remembrance Day. A day of reflection and thanking all the veterans and soldiers who have fought and are currently fighting in war, combat or peace keeping missions. Although we have images for sale depicting poppies, World War's, other combats and remembrance, it is not to profiteer off death, but to give artists a platform and the general public a chance to express their gratitude and so that we never forget those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our way of life.

If you know anyone who is suffering for the effects of PTSD, please get them to contact the good people at The Veterans' Mental Health Charity

Lest we forget... From us here at Photo4Me, Thank you.


The big shopping event this month is the Black Friday and the Cyber Monday specials. Started in 1932, it is considered to be the beginning of the Christmas shopping season although now we're getting advertisements before halloween. -- You can already buy Christmas pies in some stores, do they keep that long?

Anyways, moving on. Most major retailers open very early as the date follows the day after American Thanksgiving as they have a long weekend, Friday and Monday off work and school. Now Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become more of a global phenomenon and we've jumped onto the spending spree over here.

I still remember what happened a few years ago, on the news, the chaos... Yes... So we have that to look forward too, maybe do your shopping online. Which you can also remind your followers that it's easier to buy a beautiful canvas online than go out in the cold and buy it in a shop. =)


What's new this month?

Most of the month has been dedicated to working on the uploader and working on the social sharing functions so that you can add hashtags for each image you upload. 

For more of an explanation, same as before you can share it right away on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest but now you'll have a cap of 90 characters you can add on Facebook and 31 for Twitter to create your own hashtags or jump on to popular hashtags of the day. We have also dropped the countdown from 10 seconds to 5 seconds.

Second thing we have done, was we have found a way to lower the prices of Framed Prints so we hope that this will create interest in the product and which will increase overall sales. Good news for all!


Top effort everyone!

A couple things crept up this month so best to address them here.

Someone asked us about their accreditation when we sell one of their images. On every sale that we make, we send a 8 x 11 piece of paper with the product -- like a letter of authenticity. It will give a quick thank you to the customer, the photographers name, title of the image, a description of the image and a small bio of the photographer. This is why we say it is important for you to fill out all that information when you've signed up.

Avatar and Bio can be found here.
Title and description - that's when you upload, so give it something more than, "It's a nice picture I took." People want to know where the image was taken, what car they are looking at, what shipping lane the ferry takes, etc etc.

Regarding the decline of images, we are given a dropdown menu that has pre-loaded text written in. If we had to write up each decline, we would be there all day doing just that. If you have a question, please feel free to ask and we'll reply the best we can.

One decline that gets disputed a fair bit are blown sky's and digital noise.

Blown Sky: Also includes blown highlights or blown area. We know there is no sky in your picture, but that area in the water, that has no detail or texture and is still "blown" will cause problems in print.

Noise: Also includes grain texture added to the image. We know that it's been added and it looks great as a thumbnail, but when we blow that up to size and print on a product, it looks really pixilated and takes away from the image -- it looks like you're looking at a TV from the 50's with static interference. Adding grain is possible to achieve, but you must walk a really fine line when applying the texture.

Last thing we've seen a lot of is flowers. We'll be the first to admit that we are no flower experts here, but we have seen a lot of "point, shoot and upload" of flowers recently so we have no choice but to be tougher on them during the upload process, they can't be just a picture in a garden with distractions in the back ground. Images for the most part that have already been uploaded will be grandfathered -- unless of course there are some serious issues with the image, but going forward we will be tougher on flowers. (A sentence I never thought I would have to write).

New members help
We see it all the time, and we will keep repeating this.

When it comes to primary key phrase and keywords. This should be 2-3 words that describe your image. When we say “describe,” it means what would someone look up. Don’t say, “sun” or “blue” or “sea” or any general word. We also see nonsensical gibberish like "snowdonia wet sun drive." Ask yourself, “What are you looking at?” Better yet, put yourself in the customers shoes, what are they looking for and what would bring up your picture with their specific search? Rarely will we see someone in our traffic search for something so general looking for the examples given above. A customer knows what they want and they want a specific thing.

Where - Where is this picture taken?
What - What are they looking at? 
Be as specific as possible.

If it's a beach, which beach? What town? Put all that into the keywords, mix it up, combine these keywords. What is in your description? Add those wordings into your keywords. String 2-3 words together.

I would highly recommend you go through your pictures to avoid just generalities. If your keyword is to general, customers will never find your lovely images.

We have instructed our moderators to be very observant and will kick back images which are too general in their keywords.

For more help with keywords, see the FAQ here.


We’re always looking for something to report or to announce, anything that would interest the community. Would you like to write up a blog? Start a photography club in your area? Have any tips? Locations? Advice? Let us know and we’ll be more than happy to read and even put it into the newsletter.

Have a great month everyone, and thank you for being part of the community. 

Best wishes,

Jon & Mike

October Newsletter 2016

October Sky


Unknowingly referencing the 1999 movie about a coal miner's son, this title was more to do with the beautiful sky's and settings October has to offer. A foggy morning with a hint of frost over a golden sunrise, what more can you ask for! -- Well maybe no rain if you're out on a shoot -- that would help.

Some great pictures already starting to come in depicting this setting.

News from the community

Congrats to Nick Jenkins who has managed to sell 2 pictures in just over 2 months of being a member, one of them being The Malvern Hills. His secret to his success? He's uploaded great pictures with the appropriate keywords and descriptions. Nick also self marketed his work heavily on social media using hisTinyURL (which is found in your settings page) which also helped spur interest. Great job! 

South Eastern Trains had a competition with TimeOut Magazine for "SE Hidden Gems" this summer so Dan Davidson entered his image of the Herne Bay beach huts. The image didn't get shortlisted for the final but for some reason they used the image when advertising the shortlist. The Marketing Dept at SE Trains asked if they could use the image to display on a feature wall at the train station.  It went up in mid August and should be there until close to Christmas. Congrats Dan!

Tom Hard had a photograph appear in the August edition of Digital Photo Magazine which is sold nationally. It is accompanied by an article called 'Bucket List Locations.' It was a double page spread and the photo was taken of theWest Pier in Brighton, Sussex at sunset. Well done Tom!


James donating to great causes.

Last month we heard from Bel Menpes regarding her contribution to helping Kelly Turner raise £1.2 million to fund life saving surgery in the US. This month our attention turns to James Biggadike.


We all know James as "Airpower" and sells a lot of pictures on Photo4me. What a lot of people don't know, James puts his work and commissions toward charities and great causes.

Last year around Remembrance Day, James donated roughly £250 of his commissions from his sales of his Tower of London Poppy pictures to the RAF benevolent fund.

A few months ago, James donated a canvas of "Vulcan Farewell" to a local business called "the Sentry Post". The RAF Waddington base has been re-surfacing their runway for the past 2 years, and the owners are struggling to keep the business afloat. - As the cafe sits right at the end of the runway making it a prime sitting spot for plane spotters, the bidding for this canvas is currently at £200. You can bid on it yourself on Facebook.

James has also donated images and a number of prints to "The Peoples Mosquito" to help them raise funds to build a De Havilland Mosquito from scratch. Details of which can be found via their website.

Moreover, he has also donated a number of prints to "The Happy Gurkha", a business set up to get retired British Army Gurkhas back to employment.

Well done James!


What's happening?

To our friends in North America, there is Canadian Thanksgiving (Oct. 10th). Food, family and friends sit around to have a nice get-together, appreciate the summer past and enjoy the yearly harvest. Our American friends will celebrate their Thanksgiving a month later in November.

On this side of the pond, there are a few things going on, in and around the UK.

In London there is the NFL international series on October 2nd, 23rd and 30th. Go and take in the sights and sounds around Trafalgar Square and Regent St on those weekends.

If men in spandex running into each other isn't entertaining, try the sixth annual Bristol Cocktail Week 2016. It will take place from 17th to 23rd October at venues across the city with Bristol’s finest mixologists indulging in seven days of blending and mixing for your sipping pleasure.

In Nottingham, there is the Goose Fair which is one of Europe’s largest travelling fairs and is one of Nottingham’s oldest traditions, dating back more than 700 years. Legend has it that it that Goose Fair got its name from the hundreds of geese, which were at one time driven from Lincolnshire and Norfolk to be sold in Nottingham. -- Cheeky!

Hull will also host a fair with an expected attendance of over half a million visitors throughout its week long run. The fair starts the Friday closest to the 11th October every year.

Lastly, 

Take a weekend country break. Treat yourself to guided walks across the Isles of Scilly.

The autumn is a very special time of year on Scilly – the days are still warm, the softer hues give rise to stunning sunrises and sunsets, and of course the islands are alive with wildlife.


What could be better than Halloween? As everyone with a calendar knows (or at least checked), Halloween falls on a Monday but that's not stopping a couple of events happening around the UK. I'm sure there are others, but this is what we've come across.

Just outside of Bath, there is Longleat’s infamous Halloween Spooktacular Festival and fireworks show. - A quick Google should bring up times and dates.
 

Margate will have it's second annual "Dreamland's Screamland" 

Screams will be heard across Margate this Halloween, not from screams of enjoyment, but the scariness of Dreamland's Screamland.


What's new this month?

As mentioned in the previous Newsletter we were working on a new sharing function. This will allow you to share your images instantly (Once you have 30 approved pictures in your account) with all your followers and friends.

This will happen at the end of the uploading process, you'll be brought to a sharing page.

The tool is simple. The second you upload a picture, you can share it instantly on 3 major platforms. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. We have implemented this function because the more you share your image, the more people see it, the better chance it can sell.  These functions may be automatically selected after you've added your account to the uploading process. If you do not wish to have these options selected, simply unclick the box. These options can be turned on and off whenever you upload next.

I know some of you are a little skeptical of Pinterest, we hear you loud and clear. The Pinterest option will only be possible through the uploading process which you will be able to select or not. We have no plans on adding a Pinterest button on the commercial site or the members site.

Unexpectedly we needed to switch servers mid-way through the month due to a technical glitch. No high res files were compromised and they still remained encrypted. We treat image security with the upmost importance. When we moved the thumbnails across, some images didn't make it so we resolved that issue which has been completed. As always, if you noticed anything out of the ordinary, email customercare with a link to the image and the portfolio and a screenshot. 

So thank you for the emails and the posts concerning the missing pictures and many thanks for your understanding and continued patience. Much appreciated.

Apologies for the inconvenience this caused.


Top effort everyone!

This newsletter is going to cover a few things.

First one is keywords; now you’re going to say, “Guys! Enough of the keyword talk, we've heard it all before!” Hear us out. A lot of you get a little confused with the primary key phrase. This should be 2-3 words that describe your image. When we say “describe,” it means what would someone look up. Don’t say, “sun” or “blue” or “sea” or any general word. We also see nonsensical gibberish like "snowdonia wet sun drive." Ask yourself, “What are you looking at?” Better yet, put yourself in the customers shoes, what are they looking for and what would bring up your picture with their specific search? Rarely will we see someone in our traffic search for something so general looking for the examples given above. A customer knows what they want and they want a specific thing. Make your keywords specific then work you way to general, avoid keyword phishing.

Second topic is something that as we all know. We’re getting ready for the Christmas rush (already? - Yep!) What we need from you more than ever is that when we sell a picture, specifically, you're picture, please check the high res file on your end right away and if you notice a dust spot or any imperfection, please email us with an updated file. This will greatly help us in manufacturing and sending things out in a timely matter and ensures everyone has a happy holidays. Please make sure your images are perfect. Remember, you're picture is going on a customers wall, you don't want to be remembered as the artist with a dust spot right?
 
A couple of questions regarding copyright this month that we went over in theFacebook Group but I'll put it here. 

LEGO.

Mike contacted LEGO earlier this month who pretty much said photographers and artists can generally use them for your personal project or if nobody is making any money from it.

If it is something you would be making money off of (like selling on Photo4me), it goes against their fair play policies. Therefore, no LEGO images can be used on the site to sell, unless of course, you have permission from LEGO.
 
On the flip side of things, Mike also got in touch with the Powerboat P1 SuperStock (Powerboat water racing) which said they were happy to have people take pictures of their boats and sell them as the exposure is good for the sport. - Just remember to take pictures from public land and you'll be alright.


We’re always looking for something to report or to announce, anything that would interest the community. Would you like to write up a blog? Start a photography club in your area? Have any tips? Locations? Advice? Let us know and we’ll be more than happy to read and even put it into the newsletter.

Have a great month everyone, and thank you for being part of the community. 

Best wishes,

Jon & Mike

September Newsletter 2016

Schools in from summer.

Yes, it is that time of the year again. The start of Autumn or “Fall” as Mike says, that crazy Canuck, eh. The beautiful summer days are numbered, a time of year when the days get cooler, the leaves start to change colour and winter (gasp) is around the corner. In saying that, lets be positive! With this, you have a great opportunity in taking some amazing pictures of the change in season and we’re looking forward to seeing what you upload in the next month – not all that bad right?


News from the community

Lots happening this month so lets get to it shall we?
 
Stephen Mole is hosting an Exhibition with Paul Macro Exhibition at Blickling Hall (National Trust) from September 20th to October 2nd and yes he did receive permission. The manager even bought a picture off Stephen of the hall. (It was shot from the road side)
 
Liz Alderdice is opening up her Studio for the North East Open Studios 2016event where artists and makers open their studios for 8 days so that the public can meet the artist and gain an insight into the way they work. Dates are 10th - 18th  September. She can be found here.
 
Thank you to Roger Green. With excellent research Roger spoke with the Senior Counrtyside Access Office for Cumbria regarding pictures of the Castlerigg Stone Circle, who informed him that,

"It seems safe to assert that purposes 'reasonably incidental' passing and repassing includes such things as stopping to look at a view, to talk to passer-by, to take photographs, or to have a picnic on the verge'.

So in my view there would be two questioned to be answered, was your passing 'reasonably incidental' or had you gone to the site to take the photograph for commercial gain.

The other would and I would think the most important were you on the public right of way or had you strayed off it?"

Therefore, if you feel that above applies to you, please reply to the declined image, email a link, or just re-upload.


Bel, donating commission to a worthy cause.

Bel Menpes is going to give all commission payments from the sale of her work to help Kelly Turner raise £1.2 million to fund life saving surgery in the US.

Who is Kelly Turner?
Kelly is a 16 year old from Dover who has a rare form of soft tissue cancer. Tragically, Kelly has been told that without surgery she has just two years to live.

Without surgery Kelly will not have a chance to achieve all she had hoped to. She would like to help others by becoming a radiographer, and to develop her passion for art. Surgery could give her the opportunity to fulfill her hopes and dreams, and allow Kelly to live her life to its full potential.

Bel is trying to spread the word and help raise money to fund Kelly's surgery in the US, surgery she can not have in the UK.

Bel will continue donating her commission until at least the end of Feb
2017.

How can you help?
Please search on Facebook for getkellytotheUS for more details and a link to her crowd funding page can be found here.
Also follow the hashtag, #doingitforkelly


What's happening?

As all parents and grandparents are probably well aware of, school’s return is coming up or for some, has just begun. Last month we saw the conclusion of the Notting Hill Carnival and the amazing performances of all Olympians. Speaking of which, please let us not forget the Para-Olympic games start soon (Sept. 7th to the 18th), so please do your best to watch, cheer and support  these inspirational and amazing people.

What else is? There is the London Design Festival which goes from Sept. 17thto the 25th. Might be worth popping by to see and get inspiration for your own work.

Also in the city there is Proms in the Park (Hyde Park), which takes place on September 10th.

Moving away from London, you can test your fitness levels at the Great North Run, which is taking place in New Castle where more than 54,000 runners will pound the pavement. If running is not your strong point, I’m sure the spectating support would be greatly appreciated.

None of those your cup of tea? (Excuse the pun - you'll see why) There is the Autumn Steam Gala Beer Festival in Yorkshire (Sept. 30th to the 2nd of October) See trains and have a pint, we can think of worst things to do on a weekend. – Google the event for more info.


Not to be outdone, Blackpool will light up the Lancashire skies for “Blackpool’s Light Fantastic” where over a million bulbs will light up over six miles of Blackpool’s iconic Promenade – this runs until November. Below is a picture from Jason Connelly who took the opportunity to take a picture of the event a few years ago. I’m sure there will be some great photo opportunities like this.


What's new this month?

Due to the annual holidays it’s been a quiet time for development work over here. What I can tell you is that we're working on a sharing function for the site that will make sharing your pictures a lot easier. Bigger audience, bigger chance someone sees you work, bigger commissions down the road.


Top effort everyone!

We have found out the reason why when you share your images/portfolio on Facebook, and the image doesn’t come up as your own and your name is not mentioned. This is due to Facebook “scraping” the information from Photo4me is incomplete. To fix this issue, please go to your Settings page, at the bottom under “Commercial profile” add your own unique TinyURL. Once saved you can share your portfolio on Facebook without problems. Not only that, it will also make your link a lot more professional when sharing it among friends in print. For example, photo4me.com/{whatever name you chose}

We’ve noticed an influx of declines because of wrapping issues/cut subject. Remember when cropping and taking your great pictures you need to give about 1cm (on all sides) of clearance on the screen to avoid a wrapping issue.

A few of you have been a little confused when we give an explanation for a declined image, which is understandable. To clarify, we are given a list from a dropdown menu, most explanations are very general, therefore, if it is not obvious, kindly feel free to ask us to clarify and we can be very specific. Now the reason why we have dropdowns rather than the need to type each reason – it’s a time saver. Imagine having to give a specific detailed explanation for every decline, we wouldn't have time to go anything else.

With all these flags, people may feel that they are being picked on – I know getting flagged isn’t fun, but it’s for the best, and no one is picking on you. Yes, you may be getting 3-4 images flagged, it happens, no sweat. Overall we get about 100 – 200 flags over a 24 hour time span, some images are from recent uploads, some are from images uploaded 5-6 years ago. If there is a problem with the image, it’s best that we know about it now, than if a customer purchases the image and we need to stall the order or cancel the order outright. Then it becomes a little embarrassing for us and the photographer because we can’t fulfill the order on something, which we should have been able to avoid.

The flag system is to keep the quality of the images on the site to the highest standards possible.


We’re always looking for something to report or to announce, anything that would interest the community. Would you like to write up a blog? Start a photography club in your area? Have any tips? Locations? Advice? Let us know and we’ll be more than happy to read and even put it into the newsletter.

Have a great month everyone, and thank you for being part of the community. 

Best wishes,

Jon & Mike

Tiny URL is up and running

As mentioned a couple weeks ago, we were working on Tiny URL's. Jon has now finished this.


You can now customize your public link to share or put on your own website.

Go to your account http://mem.photo4me.com/Account/Settings -- On the bottom left there is a form which you can enter your name or artist name. It will let you know if the username is taken or available. Once you have found a name which is available click save. Now, you can share and post your Tiny URL.


For example, my Tiny URL is:

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


You can further customize this according to what you want to advertise. When going to your commercial page with the link above, use the drop downs to come up with different types of URL's.

So say I want to show my architecture pictures, select in the drop down architecture, now that Tiny URL would be:

http://www.photo4me.com/profile/michael/-/architecture/totalvotes/-/


You can customize this as much as you want according to what you want to post.


Enjoy and if anyone has any questions, comment below!


Mike & Jon