Video: Randy Olson Packs for National Geographic Assignment

National Geographic Magazine contract photographer Randy Olson made this time lapse of himself as he packs for an assignment in Lake Turkana.

National Geographic Magazine contract photographer Randy Olson made this time lapse of himself as he packs for an assignment in Lake Turkana.

Every time I see Randy prep and pack for an assignment, I’m quickly reminded how many times he and so many other photographers take so many risks to bring home compelling images that move and inspire us as individuals and the world.

The amount of time they get in the field has been reduced dramatically due to disruption and yet they still deliver despite the realities of working on assignment for The Natty G.

As he says, “It’s an art.” packing for a variety of conditions and situations. Check it out:

Web Design: I Made This for Us

I Made This for Us was a website birthday present from independent radio reporter Mara Zepeda to photojournalist Amanda Lucier — two close friends separated by distance..

I was thrilled and flattered to be asked to help with the design.

I Made This for Us was a website birthday present from independent radio reporter Mara Zepeda to photojournalist Amanda Lucier — two close friends separated by distance..

I was thrilled and flattered to be asked to help with the design.

heck out their first post for the week. The pairing of image with audio is quite beautiful and touching.

Thank you Mara and Amanda. I look forward to your continued conversation.

Squarespace website design for photographer Amanda Lucier and radio reporter Mara Zepeda. 

Toronto Photographer Zun Lee’s New Logo and Identity

We've been working with Toronto based fine art and street photographer Zun Lee on a logo and identity pieces for the past few months. Here are the results!

Business cards, letterhead, envelopes, logo design

We’ve been working with Toronto based fine art and street photographer Zun Lee on a logo and identity pieces for the past few months. Here are the results!

Above are the unassembled pieces straight from one of our favorite Portland Oregon printers, Brown Printing. The pieces include stickers, letterhead, flat note card, coordinating envelopes and business cards.

Overview of Identity Designs for Zun Lee

Here are the pieces assembled. The sticker wraps around the die cut in both the letterhead and the business cards.

Close up of identity design for photographer Zun Lee

And a detail of Zun’s business cards. The business cards were letterpress printed.

Zun and I have “being Korean” in common and it has been a great collaboration. I think he might enjoy laughing as much as I do!

Give Rachel a round of applause for her excellent work, too!

Next up: A brand spankin’ new website for Zun. Stay tuned.

Don’t Trash the Wedding Photographer

Awhile ago I met with a newspaper photographer who confessed that her colleagues give her a hard time about shooting weddings.

I’ve heard this before. Apparently wedding photographers aren’t real photographers.

Really? Seriously? That sounds so 1989. Clue me in because I don’t get it.

The last couple of years have been rough for all of us. Many of our friends have lost jobs; others we know worry because the phones aren’t ringing like before.

Making ends meet while dealing with all the stuff life throws at us isn’t easy.

Photography is a tough, competitive business no matter what niche. Why is any type of photography superior to any other?

Is vanity stopping you from making money, forming new relationships or worse, from following your own heart, your own gut?

I mean, I know these wedding photographers deserve respect. And so does this wedding photographer.

We do what we need to do to support ourselves and our loved ones while fulfilling our dreams; following our passions. We shouldn’t have to defend wedding or any other photography to people’s poo-pooing.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Some people choose wedding photography because they love it; they enjoy the whole idea of weddings and they get to make money doing what they love.

Some people choose wedding photography to help fuel their true passion and/or help pay the bills.

Whatever the reason, all are valid.

Every choice we make leads to something else. Who knows where it will lead, and that’s what makes following your own path exciting.

Just don’t trash the wedding photographer. 

Weegee on Making Photographs

“When you find yourself beginning to feel a bond between yourself and the people you photograph, when you laugh and cry with their laugher and tears, you know you are on the right track…Good luck.”

~ Weegee

Last night, Mike and I headed to the photography exhibit and lecture of “Weegee the Famous” at the White Box in the Stag building in Old Town. The quote above was underneath a few of the photos and I felt compelled to keep it and share it with you.

Throughout my career I’ve heard on numerous occasions about how photographers (photojournalists) should be “objective”; that they are to only document and be the so-called “fly-on-the-wall”.

I’ve had photographer friends (especially women) who were told they “care too much” or are “too emotionally invested”.

I say bullshit.

I think you can tell when a photographer cares or doesn’t care. And from what I’ve seen, the stronger the point-of-view, the understanding, the compassion; the stronger the photograph and the body of work.

If you are a fan of Weegee, head to Old Town and see just a handle of photographs from a much larger exhibit.

White Box
24 NW First Ave
Ground floor of the White Stag Building, Old Town
Portland, Oregon
Open from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays
Admission is free.

Why Photographers Should Consider Photoshelter

As a professional photographer, your post-production time has increased. The cost of doing business has increased and you know you need more opportunities to make sales. The current state of the economy and the fact that professional photographers are competing with hobbyists certainly doesn’t help matters. So, you do more: more branding, more marketing, more optimizing for SEO. You may even be mastering audio, learning Final Cut Pro and making pictures. Whew

I can’t help with Final Cut Pro but as a web designer looking to help you make smart decisions about your websites (your best 24/7 marketing tool), I spend a lot of time researching to find the best tools.

One great platform is Photoshelter. After integrating a few websites with Photoshelter, I’m convinced it is the best all-in-one solution for e-commerce, archiving and image sharing/delivery for photographers today.

Here’s why (in no particular order): 

Image Viewing, Delivery, Licensing is Simple

Photographers who use Photoshelter’s image delivery features get a major thumbs up from me. I’ve had experience going through a workflow process with a few photographers and I love how easily I can download comps and high resolution images with a click of a button. Viewing images as a group or individually is faster than any Photoshop generated gallery page and the interface is very user-friendly. It saves me time. It can save your customers time. It can save you time.

Ease of Use and Brand Message

When we buy a certain camera or buy a certain car or even an iphone, our purchases say something about us. We naturally put each other into groups and attach labels. The choices we make when purchasing goods and services communicates several messages about us, our brand. This may be a small factor and as more buyers gain familiarity with Photoshelter, I’m betting there’s a benefit to photographers. Why? Because Photoshelter is associated with “professional photographers” who make the hassle of viewing, buying and searching for images easier. You = High quality images + Easy-to-use website + Easy delivery of images = Happy Art Director. Remember, brand is not just about logos. It is a promise; an experience.

Search Engine Friendly

Photoshelter has put a lot of resources into making their software work hard for their members. They understand “the fundamental construction of a website can help attract visitors”. They know the value of solid coding; that the title tag; heading tags; keywords, descriptions, alt tags and unique urls create maximum receptiveness to organic search methods. Photoshelter has created a tool to help photographers update, modify and adjust your content in order to maximize your archives as a viable marketing tool. Mileage varies of course and a solid foundation makes it easier for you. 

Photoshelter resource: 2009 SEO Cookbook for Photographers

Quick, Robust Website Solution

If you are looking for a quick base solution with robust features, Photoshelter is a great way to get up and running. Remember, your photographs are your greatest asset (content). Ease of use and quality of content is far more important than fancy Flash moves. Keep the design simple (minimalist always wins, imho), get a domain name and increase your opportunities to bid (a.k.a “Lead Generation”). Seriously, if you have a tight budget, Graph Paper Press just released several more Photoshelter-friendly WordPress themes worth checking out. The combination of an open-source blogging tool and Photoshelter is a win-win solution for photographers on a budget.

Customization of Templates is Available

I’ve shared my two cents with Photoshelter on how it could be better (phasing out all those table tags among other things) and its nice to know they value feedback. Why is this important? It is mutually beneficial for both Photoshelter and the community at large. Just like photographers, there are many web designers. Your preference in working with a designer/developer with a particular style, personality, skill set, experience, etc. is personal. It has to be a good match. The more designers/developers who offer Photoshelter services means more choices for photographers.

Documentation is Excellent, Support is Available

Sometimes I get stumped by a question from a photographer about a function or feature unique to Photoshelter. Enter their Help section and voila! 9 times out of 10, I am able to find the help I need without having to contact support. Having an excellent user manual for users and developers is telling about a business. They seem to be up-to-date and if I am still unable to find an answer, I can always contact customer support. It’s always nicer having a conversation with a human

E-commerce Made Easier and Cost Effective

Sure, you could host your own archive and integrate it with say PayPal or any other payment solution but why? There are so many headaches with maintaining your own database and heaven help you if your server has a meltdown with no redundancy. Add to that the cost of hiring a designer and developer to implement and integrate a custom e-commerce solution. Integrating Photoshelter is going to be more friendly to your wallet than a custom, start-from-scratch database solution. Leave the worrying about servers to Photoshelter. Go make pictures!

Photoshelter Makes it Easier to Pool Resources

Photo collective Luceo ImagesWild Photography, Holmes & Johnson, and Snowboard Photosare just a few examples where pooling your resources and talents into one marketing effort can payoff for the whole. Each photographer controls his/her own archive as well as monetary transactions (depending on your collective agreements) and benefits from the power of multiple photographers marketing with a shared, common mission.

The Focus is on Photographers

Photoshelter does an amazing job giving shoutouts to Photoshelter members. They place an emphasis on photographers and how they can help you market, sell and get exposure for your images. You work hard making your images. Photoshelter works hard helping you show and sell. Between the A Picture’s Worth blog and their twitter account, Photoshelter actively promotes their users, features and even helps source other useful resources/tools for all photographers. 

Smart Decisions and Direction

I remember thinking that closing the Photoshelter Collection a few years ago was a smart move. Their core business mission is more focused and they continue to further develop a great product.Photoshelter helps photographers with easy-to-understand, and easy-to-implement tactics to market their photographic archives. Some think Photoshelter is too spendy. I think you have to choose wisely.

Photoshelter Integration & Customization: Nic Bezzina Photography

It’s been a crazy busy week and I’m so excited to announce that we just finished the customization and integration of a Photoshelter archive for Nic Bezzina Photography

Nic Bezzina Photography

Nic is a photographer based in Sydney, Australia with an incredible collection of images — portraits, live music and documentary. His portraits and music galleries display some stellar images of some truly awesome creatives: Musicians, Artists, Illustrators, Designers…

The visual design of the site was not designed by me. We took an existing design concept and development (by Newism – a super fab design studio in Australia) and customized Nic’s Photoshelter archives to match his existing website. (Don’t you just love the curtain?)

Nic Bezzina Photoshelter ArchivesNic Bezzina Photography : Music Portraits CollectionNic Bezzina Photography : The Captains Image detail

Nic also wanted the ability to rename, reorder, and create galleries in addition to the ones he already had so we also completely revamped the ExpressionEngine integration to allow Nic to do just that. Each time Nic adds or removes a gallery and then reorders them, the main navigation automatically reflects his changes. (Take note: This would get any geek excited.)

Nic seems to be very happy with our work and that makes us feel warm and fuzzy…

(Note: A big thank you to John Knotts of Code72. John is the genius behind the code here at Cococello. We met during a Train-ee class here in Portland last June and have been working together ever since. We are a stellar partnership of complimentary skills.)