Social Media – You need to go fish where the fish are.

Wednesday Works post from guest blogger and professional photographer, Kenny Kim.

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Kenny Kim has always been fascinated by the visual arts, especially the connection between art and photography. This passion led him to study graphic design at the University of Illinois where he also became a Web designer.  But he eventually realized that the greatest outlet for his artistic expression and technical skills would be through his passion for photography.

With the launch of Kenny Kim Photography in 2006, his vision instantly resonated with his audience, and Kenny Kim Photography very quickly grew into a nationally recognized studio. Kenny has captured over 150+ weddings in locations throughout the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and in Italy.

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I recently got back from a trip to The Big Apple. While wandering through the familiar streets of New York City, riding through their elaborate subway trains and walking through the familiar halls of airports, I couldn’t help but to notice something that all these difference places had in common: Almost everyone was looking down at their smart phones! Without glancing at their screens, I could probably guess that the majority of them were either on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and/or another form of a social media application. It was a good reminder to me that we are now living in the social media era. Use of mobile technology has transitioned from an option to a necessity. It has become the main channel for communication, news, advertising and even building relationships.

Wedding images of Bethany Scheuerman & Matt Whipple

When I got into the wedding photography industry nine years ago, social media was just starting to scratch its surface. I recall talking to many of my colleagues who were on the fence about joining the social media bandwagon at that time. Even just a few years ago, during my classes and workshops, I informed everyone about how having social media was a nice addition to incorporate into your business. Times have now changed and my message has evolved. It is now ESSENTIAL to integrate social media into your business.

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As a destination-wedding photographer, social media has played an integral part of my business in helping me get the ideal clients. Aside from traditional referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations, it is now the biggest form of marketing for my studio. The best way to define marketing is that you need to go fish where the fish are. Most of the brides are using their smart phones to plan their weddings. They spend time looking at Pinterest and wedding style blogs for inspirations/ideas. They are viewing and sharing photos on Facebook and Instagram. Social media is now the ocean where your clients are swimming in. This is where you want to go fishing.

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Kodak Alaris has always been the leader in the photography industry. They also recognize the importance of social media as one of the essential steps in sharing and preserving the images we capture for our clients. I am thankful that they have given me the platform to share this message at WPPI Conference in Las Vegas next week. Please join me on March 1st for my Master Class about Destination Weddings. Then on March 2 & 3rd , I will be at the Kodak Alaris booth from 11am to 12pm, where I will dive more in depth about this topic and share some practical social media tips with everyone. Can’t wait to see you there!

Are you on social media? Let’s connect!

Facebook: @kennykimphotography / Twitter: @kennykim / Instagram: @kenny_kim

Guest photographer blogger: Thea Dodds

What a great time of year to be a wedding photographer: tradeshow season.  Wedding photographers are incredibly busy people, so we pretty much have just a few winter months to rest, recuperate and educate ourselves.  Every year I make the trip out to Las Vegas Nevada for the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Expo.  Vegas is just about the most unlikely place you would find me otherwise, but this conference is the “gold standard” in wedding photography education. I owe much of my growth and development to the education I have found at this one conference.

This year I have the privilege of my name being listed next to many of the world’s finest photography instructors and I also have the responsibility of offering the first presentation on same-sex weddings at this show.  Yes, 10 years after marriage equality began it’s journey across the nation, we are on the brink of a Supreme Court ruling which could bring legally recognized same-sex weddings nationwide.  So it is mighty time that us professional photographers start talking about how we can best serve the fastest growing, emerging market in weddings.

In my 15 years as a professional photographer, I’ve photographed more than 200 weddings, so you could say that I’ve gotten pretty comfortable working as a wedding photographer. I have an established routine to meet and exceed my clients’ expectations, and I’m able to offer guidance, based on my extensive experience, to better create beautiful and lasting wedding photographs for them. But in 2005 I photographed my first same-sex couple’s wedding and realized that although I had plenty of professional experience to lean on, in many respects I felt like a beginner.

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That first gay wedding represented many firsts for me. In fact, it was the first same-sex wedding I’d ever attended. It was the first wedding I’d ever photographed where neither member of the couple was wearing a wedding gown. And it was the first wedding where the ceremony kiss turned out to be the first time this couple had ever kissed in front of their families.

This couple was fantastic, two beautiful people who truly and deeply loved one another, but capturing their love on camera was challenging. My “regular bag of tricks” was no help when I tried to convey the level of intimacy I usually capture at a wedding. Even simply posing this couple, because they were so similar in height and weight and couldn’t physically dip or lift each other, made the “standard” images difficult.

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Flash-forward to today, and I’ve learned a lot, namely that love is love and that gay and lesbian weddings have a lot in common with straight weddings. However, there are some key differences that a photographer must understand, and I wanted to do something more to share my experience with other photographers.
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That’s why I called Kathryn Hamm, president of GayWeddings.com and together we wrote a groundbreaking guide, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Photographing Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography.  Now I am taking the tips and information included in Capturing Love on the Road to the WPPI Wedding and Portrait Photography Conference and Expo: Kodak Alaris Booth #1319 on March 3 at 10am.  Hope to see you there! – Thea Dodd

The New Art of Capturing Love from Forget Me Not Media on Vimeo

So Much More Than Survival: Achieving Sustainability in Professional Photography

Guest blog post from Tim Kelly, M,Photog., IE, Cr., Fellow-ASP

I love the art and business of photography.

Photography was and still is “magical”. Running a business was, is and always will be a challenge. The rewards are both personal and professional, and often extraordinary for those who are serious and diligent.

The digital revolution took its toll on many of us and many studios could not survive because they didn’t adapt quickly enough. I began experimenting with digital a full decade before it really hit our profession even though I was told that digital would never be good enough for anything serious. It was so expensive! Because I wanted my business to have a future, I was willing to work, experiment and invest. Still, there are things I don’t love about digital, but it is the language of our industry, and for the most part, we must accept it.

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I say this as a film lover – understanding that many reading this may have never known the excitement and wonder of what can be created on film.

If you’re in Photography now, you’re likely shooting digital and 97% likely to be using a lab to print your orders. This has been one of the industry’s biggest changes and challenges in the last twenty years.

While most don’t print themselves, it’s imperative that the digital photographer understand profiles, color space, and the importance of calibration to produce a decent file for the lab to print. Serious photographers need to stay current with the latest techniques for shooting and handling image files so that we get the best images possible from digital capture. ‘

I’ve been a Kodak Mentor for more than twenty-five years and I’ve witnessed the positive effect that companies who train and educate can have. Largely speaking, our vendors want you to succeed and Kodak Alaris is providing products and software systems that help you get the most for your clients and from your lab. Take advantage of the support they have to offer.

Being the photographer is just one of the hats you wear. If you own your business, a lot more responsibility comes your way and good business practices and policies are just the start. You’ll need to work towards mastering sales and marketing too, another necessary cog in the machine. You’ll need to be the visionary for your company, bringing in new products and services, motivating clients and employees.

I’ve always felt there is a balance between what needs to be done now, and what I want to do next. Everyone’s list is different, but real growth comes from the extra hours you put in proof of the passion that you have for your craft. I hope that if your camera work needs improving, or your retouching skills need work, you’ll put that ahead of buying new studio lights. If your studio lighting or posing could be better, you won’t jump into digital painting just yet. I also hope that you go above and beyond for your clients, always bringing them your very best work. Bring new services and products forward once they are fully tested – once you’ve proven that they work – and when you have your pricing, delivery, and all your other ducks in a row. It’s good for you and good for our industry.

This is a fantastic business, as individual and unique as you want it to be. Take the time to develop as an artist and as a businessperson. Change is constant, adaptability is a must and enthusiasm is the fuel! Photography is equal parts art and science and disregarding either is a mistake.

As a Professional Photographer, I’m always looking for new ideas, things to get excited about, and that’s why I’ve started producing large format film portraits again. This format challenges me, and revisiting film, large format film in particular reminds me why I’m in this business. Learning and growing helps sharpen my skills so I can continue to offer new and fresh ideas to my clients.

In fact, I’d love to get your feedback, meet you and talk about the future of film and digital capture. I’ll be making a special appearance at PPA’s ImagingUSA 2015 in Nashville, and Amherst Publishing will be releasing my new book on B&W portraiture there. I’ll also be sharing ideas from my new book at the Kodak Alaris booth #726.

This is an invitation. Come on by – Kodak Alaris #726.

– Tim Kelly, M,Photog., IE, Cr., Fellow-ASP
timkellyportraits.com

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Capitalizing on the Preservation Era: The Opportunity for Photo Labs with Hard Copy Prints

By Joe LaBarca – Pixel Preservation International

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There’s a potential risk associated with the rise in digital photography. Most of us are unaware of the real possibility of losing our digital photos. We take countless images on digital cameras and mobile phones, storing them on hard drives, laptops and in the cloud. But what happens when you lose your phone or technology standards change or you have so many images that sorting through them is not only impractical, it’s nearly impossible?

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Printing is the simplest way for consumers to preserve their most valuable images. There’s a tremendous amount of technology and media that exist today that can preserve digital images for more than a hundred years at room temperature conditions. And yet, in today’s digital world, printing is rarely done. This represents a great opportunity for photographic printing labs – wholesale labs, large and small professional and school labs, in-store retail labs as well as on-online fulfillment services – to take advantage of a classic product: the hard copy print.

The key is to get the message out on the need for hard copy preservation. The trick is how the message is presented. A positive, value added approach is going to be more effective than a scare tactic. The positive approach is a message created about precious digital files of family events and how important it will be to have a record of these events in 20 or 30 years. Producing prints and photo books today will ensure the memories will be around for the future. The alternative scare tactic approach – imploring a consumer to make prints or photo books or else – is not only going to be less effective, it could also hurt repeat business.

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It’s also critical to make sure that you’re reaching the right demographics. Start with young moms. While historically it was often dad taking the pictures, it was mom who managed the pictures of the family through photo albums and scrapbooks. She essentially became the CFPO – Chief Family Photo Officer and that remains largely true today. As millennials become parents, they will easily identify with the preservation message for two main reasons: 1) they observe first-hand how quickly their children are changing and growing up; 2) their parents likely had hard copy photos of themselves as children and they will recognize the importance and value of seeing these images of themselves from 25 or 30 years ago. This easily translates to the importance of having images of their children 25 or 30 years from now. This will happen even though they may never have taken a film photograph or made a digital print in their entire lives.

While it may sound odd, a second important demographic is the baby boomer generation that are now becoming grandparents. Boomers made prints of their children when they were young and immediately recognize the value of pulling those photo albums and scrapbooks out to show their children who are new parents. This group also reinforces the value of printing and preservation to new moms and dads. Boomers are also active photo enthusiasts and will be taking their own digital pictures of their new grandchildren. Since they already recognize the long-term value of hard copy photos from their children’s photos, it should not take much encouragement for them to realize their best digital photos are important and need to be in hard copy form as a means of long-term preservation.

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A further component to hard copy prints and photo books, adding even more value for the consumer, is that hard copy comes “full circle” in the digital world. A print today was likely “born digital” – that is created from a digitally captured file. Because high quality scans can be created from hard copy prints, a new digital file can be created from the print, should the original ever need to be replaced. Clearly there is strong value from many perspectives to having a hard copy print and the key to unlocking this value is to insure that the consumer recognizes all the benefits the print has to offer.

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With state of the art image permanence and the longest lasting image in dark storage of any silver halide media in the industry, KODAK PROFESSIONAL Endura Premier Paper is the logical choice for long-term preservation. This paper provides high image quality today and maintains that image quality for generations to come in the future.

As a photographic lab, professional photographer, or a consumer, you’re probably interested in learning more about how you can take advantage of the opportunities presented by hard copy preservation using KODAK PROFESSIONAL Endura Premier Paper. Please check out two papers that were recently presented at the Society of Image Science and Technology 5th annual International Symposium on Technologies for Digital Photo Fulfillment at the annual PMA/DIMA/Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The first paper: Hard Copy Printing for Long-term Preservation as a Growth Engine for Prints and Photo Books, takes a deep dive into the trends around preservation and how to take advantage of them. The second paper: KODAK PROFESSIONAL ENDURA Premier Paper: Still the Digital Imaging Media of Choice, looks at digital print technologies and how KODAK PROFESSIONAL Endura Premier Paper is optimized for long-term, hard copy preservation.

Wednesday Works: IS&T Archiving Conference and the Importance of Preservation by Joe LaBarca

Technical Blog – By Joe LaBarca – Pixel Preservation International

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IS&T, the Society for Imaging Science and Technology, is an international organization that for nearly 50 years has been dedicated to advancements in the field of imaging. Every year IS&T holds an Archiving Conference where scientists, curators, librarians, government officials and private businesses gather to discuss the most pressing issues related to the digital preservation and stewardship of hardcopy, audio, and video.

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This year’s Archiving Conference will be held May 13-16 at the Arsenal at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany (home of the Berlin Film Festival) a very appropriate venue for topics of preservation.  One key theme during the conference is the critical need for the protection and preservation of digital image files to professional labs, professional photographers, and consumers. It’s a hugely important and timely topic as there has never been as great a need to focus on preservation of digital photography.

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Last year’s conference was held at the US National Archives and featured several papers that were directly applicable to labs, photographers and consumers on the importance of preserving digital image files. Given the historical and emotional significance of photographic images, the high risk of losing digital files has made it critical to discuss these issues at many different levels.

When we hear the term “digital preservation”, our first thought is often of preserving analog originals (think scanning of film and prints) into digital formats. IS&T and companies like Kodak Alaris, are helping to put a major focus on “born digital” files, i.e., those files originated directly from a digital device.  Clearly, digitally captured photographic images fall into this category.

The idea of creating human readable objects from digital files is very appropriate.  For us that means making prints and photo books. Whether printing at professional labs, including those with on-line fulfillment websites, or even a trip to the store for printing on a kiosk, making prints is easier than ever.  And new Facebook and mobile apps from Kodak Alaris allows for easy print and photo book creation from images stored in social media.

A key point for the long-term preservation of images is to use high quality paper and print media. This includes Kodak Endura papers (look for “Kodak Endura” on the back of the print), Kodak consumer photographic papers and Kodak thermal prints from kiosks (look for “Kodak” on the back of these prints).  This also includes Kodak-recommended materials for photo books, including those using KODAK PROFESSIONAL ENDURA Premier Paper.

A full session of last year’s conference was devoted to film and its ability to create “future proof” storage of digital assets. The idea of “future proof” storage and preservation applies to any physical object having excellent long term keeping properties, and which operates or exists independently of the technology used to create it. This certainly applies to photographic prints as well as film.  A photographic paper like KODAK PROFESSIONAL ENDURA Premier Paper clearly fits the bill and will easily provide long term preservation of digital photographic images for over 200 years when properly stored.

Other interesting topics at the conference session included the continuing high growth rate of digital files and the use of the newer JPEG2000 standard for photographic encoding of digital files.  These are both applicable to our professional and consumer markets and customers.  Clearly the huge growth of digitally captured images comes via the growth of smartphones.  This means that there are ever-more image files for the consumer to manage, share between devices and preserve.  And the larger a digital photo collection gets, the harder this task becomes.  This is true for large institutions and individual consumers alike.  The continued use and support of JPEG2000 (“.jpf” and “.jp2”), as indicated by several papers presented at IS&T last year, implies that older photographic encoding formats like JPEG (“.jpg”) continue on a slow trajectory towards obsolescence.  At some point these vast collections of JPEG image files will need to migrate to a new encoding format or risk being lost forever.  There is no better way to prevent this than by taking those most precious images and making prints.

IS&T Archiving 2014

For more information about the 2014 Archiving Conference including the preliminary program, and to see abstracts of papers from past conferences, go to: http://www.imaging.org/ist/Conferences/archiving/

 

KODAK Photo Service

Greetings from San Francisco. Yesterday was a pretty exciting day here. First (and most importantly), I was lucky enough to celebrate 25 years of marriage to a fantastic woman. That, in and of itself, made yesterday great.

Second, on the professional front, we introduced the KODAK Photo Service at the first ever Mobile Photo Connect conference. When Kodak Alaris first formed, we committed ourselves to thinking of new ways to drive business opportunities and revenue for our partners in the imaging business.  KODAK Photo Service is just that. It takes the core competencies of Kodak Alaris, our retail partners and the roster of creative content developers and brings them together to create a solution that bridges the digital and physical worlds.

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But how? And more importantly, why?

Let’s start with the why. Hans Hartman, the host of yesterday’s conference, shared some compelling data. Today, there are more than 28,000 photo and video apps. Of the top photo and video apps, 90% are photo apps. Yet only 1% of those apps offer printing capabilities, mostly because setting up the infrastructure for printing and payment can be pretty complicated. So you have these insanely talented developers creating incredibly popular applications that remain trapped in a digital world, with limited opportunities to extract revenue from their brilliant ideas and execution.

That’s on the app side of the equation. On the other side, we have our retailer partners. We have more than 100,000 kiosks globally. In these locations, we have retail partners with the equipment, expertise and infrastructure to create high-quality output from this treasured digital content.

At the same time, consumers have said “we’ll print, but you have to make it easy.” Last year, we entered the market with our own apps to test that theory – if we created an easy-to-use connection between consumers’ mobile devices and the retail environment, would consumers print more? The answer is a resounding yes. We’ve seen more than 1 million downloads of our apps and our retailer partners who have implemented our wireless connectivity have seen a significant increase in sales of premium products.

Creating the apps gave us fantastic insight into consumer behavior. Yet our core strength lies in our high-quality KODAK Picture Kiosks, KODAK Printers and a proven, global net-to-retail infrastructure. Therefore, we realized that we could create the bridge – between the digital and physical world. Between content providers and retail partners. Which brings us to how.

With the KODAK Photo Service, we’ve opened our KODAK Network Services APIs, which allows content providers to write to our API and create a simple print-to-store option for their consumers. At the same time, they gain access to our global, trusted network and relationships with multiple retail partners. Think about it – by writing to a single API and choosing from one of two business models, content providers gain access to thousands of consumer touch points and a new revenue stream. No worries about payment. No need to create multiple agreements with multiple stores and locations. No need for marketing plans. We’re excited to have the developers listed here as part of the program launch and look forward to adding more names in the coming weeks and months.

Now, consumers who create content using any of these apps can transmit this content to their local retailer, where they will pick up and pay. For retailers, it builds volume, revenue and relevance as the imaging space evolves. Retailers participating in this program include Target and Bartell Drugs in the US. Also, dm-drogerie markt in Germany intends to join the program in time for the holidays, with more retailers expected to join globally in the coming months.

For more information on joining the KODAK Photo Service program, please visit https://www.kodakdeveloper.com

Retail merchandising – Improving the customer experience

Ahh… the shopping experience, so fun and rewarding.  Retail therapy is a proven fact.  Consumers love to shop and buy, and they will if the shopping experience is a pleasant one and guides them on a journey to purchase.  Too frequently however, retail escape is cluttered and confusing.  The product sought is muddled and mired in a wealth of communication, and eventually, the consumer becomes overwhelmed, raises the white flag, and walks out.

Retailers seem to have approached merchandising one of two ways – either focusing on a broad assortment encouraging the impulse purchase and creating a busy environment, or adopting the “clean store policy” making it easy on the eyes, hard to navigate.  There is middle ground though, a solution to feature multiple products, create inspiration and drive purchase, but in a pragmatic and engaging process.  And the key word is process.  Marketers love processes, matrixes, grids, and funnels – like the path to purchase, the consumer buying cycle, the loyalty loop, etc. But often, we get so excited about communication real estate and products that we push aside well-worn practices in favor of promoting depth and breadth.  All that product promotion can be as overwhelming as a circular on Thanksgiving Day.

Here are some simple principles that create a communication process for in-store merchandising. These principles can offer a more engaging and profitable environment by increasing conversion, up selling, and bringing shoppers back for a repeat experience:

  1. Announce – Let consumers know what you have to offer in the simplest and broadest terms.  What is your core competency? Printing photos? Photo Center.  Fixing watches?  Watch Repair.  Selling Tickets?  Ticket Booth.  This communication attracts consumers who may not know these products and services are available in your store.
  2. Amplify – Tell consumers more about what your product offers, the features and benefits.  Take this opportunity to UP SELL and INSPIRE – prints instantly, create photo books, watch repair in an hour – new watches for sale.  Tickets to shows AND exclusive merchandise from of the show.  Now that consumers are aware and considering a purchase, make it the best sales experience possible.
  3. Inform – Close the sale by providing, detail clearly and concisely.  Pricing should be easy to follow.  If you have other products to promote, present it in a relatable and compelling communication.  Consumers are ready to buy, but will abandon the purchase if they get frustrated.

So the process seems pretty simple – only three steps(!). Now where does the communication fit it?  Below are examples of in-store marketing tactics and messaging:

Announce – ceiling signs, cross-promotional collateral (shelf talkers, stickering), department signs.  Messaging: define the destination and make the destination intriguing

Amplify – backwall signs, countertop signs.   Messaging: claims, product assortment, inspiration – end benefits, promotions, special offers

Inform – brochures, sales associates, pricing lists, QR codes/links to informational websites, samples.  Messaging: pricing, education on product benefits, instructional – how to use

Below is an example of an in-store environment, from a retail partner who provided us with the opportunity to apply these principles to its photo center.

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After (rendering): after2

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Key Improvements:

Announce:

  • Disruptive branding that defines space and creates a store within a store destination
  • Clear department name
  • Destination definition

Amplify:

  • Backwall features promotional messaging, menu pricing, and samples
  • Front counter image offers lifestyle/inspirational images and additional product information
  • Counter top sign features special offer

Inform:

  • On kiosk signage and UI provides additional product information, educational and instructional content

The principles, applied to a larger in-store footprint, can be applied to a countertop merchandiser just as easily.  There might be a more selective approach on what key points of communication are conveyed, but if you follow the communication process consumers will engage and you will be rewarded.