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The Psychology of Album-Making



















Today's post is an ex
cerpt from the book Creative Wedding Album Design with Adobe Photoshop, by Mark Chen. It is available from Amazon.com and other fine retailers.


Designing a wedding album is a form of art, but you must also take the audience into account. After all, it is the newlyweds who will spend hours admiring your work. This actually creates a favorable situation: if we get to know the couple, we will know better what they are looking for. So let’s try to get into the psychology of the clients.

Make sure you showcase the full range of your creativity in your demos, then have your clients go through them. By observing th
eir reactions, you will get a good sense of their taste. Ask them to voice their opinions.

Within limits, you can also have them involved in the creative process. For example, you may want to let the couple choose a c
ertain number of the images that will be used.


Watch closely what they spent time and money on. The bride and groom are the lead characters in the album, but there will also be many supporting roles. If there was a fancy cake, show it off on a page. If the ceremony took place in the most grandiose church in town, make it a centerpiece on another page.


On top of the wedding photographer’s role as an artist, entrepreneur, and Photoshop master, he or she is also in the business of making people happy. You might find this a daunting task. It is. But once you get to know the psychology of your clients, you will have a much better chance of accomplishing the mission.



The Key Shots



















Today's post is an ex
cerpt from the book The Best of Wedding Photography (3rd ed.), by Bill Hurter. It is available from Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

As part of the wedding photography, there are some key images that every bride and groom will expect to see. Including these is important for creating an album that tells the whole story of the couple’s special day. The following are a few tips on what to shoot and some ideas for making the most of each moment as it happens.

ENGAGEMENT PORTRAIT
The engagement portrait is made prior to the hectic wedding day, providing the time to get something spectacular. Many photographers use this session as an opportunity to get to know the couple and to allow the couple to get to know them. Engagement portraits may involve great creativity and intimacy and are often made in the photographer’s studio or at some special location.

The engagement portrait has become an integral part of wedding packages. It gives the photographer a chance to work with the couple before the big day so that the trio may get used to each other. Photograph by Tom Muñoz.

AT THE BRIDE’S HOUSE
Typically, weddings begin with the bride getting ready. Find out what time you may arrive and be there a little early. You may have to wait a bit—there are a million details for the bride to attend to—but you might find ample opportunity for still lifes or family shots. When you get the okay to go up to the bedrooms, realize that it may be tense in there. Try to blend in and observe. Shots will present themselves, particularly with the mother and daughter or the bridesmaids.

BEFORE THE WEDDING
You do, of course, want to photograph the groom before the wedding. Some grooms are nervous, while others are gregarious—like it’s any other day. Regardless, there are ample picture opportunities before anyone else arrives. It’s also a great opportunity to do formal portraits of the groom, the groom and his dad, and the groom and his best man. A three-quarter-length portrait is a good choice—and you can include the architecture of the church or building if you want.

Being a fly on the wall as the bride is getting ready can lead to some great shots. Photograph by Ron Capobianco.

When photographing men, always check that the ties are properly knotted. If they are wearing vests, make sure that they are correctly buttoned and that the bottom button is undone.

Joe Photo tries to get a shot of the bride’s shoes as she’s getting ready. Be sure to make a nice shot like this if at all possible.

THE CEREMONY
Regardless of whether you’re a wedding photojournalist or a traditionalist, you must be discrete during the ceremony. Nobody wants to hear the “ca-chunk” of a camera or see a blinding flash as the couple exchange their vows. It’s better by far to work from a distance with a tripod-mounted 35mm camera with the motor off (or in quiet mode, if the camera has one), and to work by available light. Work quietly and unobserved—in short, be invisible. (Of course, it should be noted that recent SLRs—especially DSLRs—are much quieter than past cameras.)

Some of the events you will need to cover are: the bridesmaids and flower girls entering the church, the bride entering the church, the parents being escorted in, the bride’s dad “giving her away,” the first time the bride and groom meet at the altar, the minister or priest talking with them, the ring exchange, the exchange of vows, the kiss, the bride and groom turning to face the assembly, the bride and groom coming up the aisle, and any number of two dozen variations—plus all the surprises along the way. Note that this scenario applies only to a Christian wedding. Every religion has its own customs and traditions that you need to be familiar with before the wedding.

Some churches don’t allow any photography during the ceremony. You will, of course, know this if you’ve taken the time to visit the church prior to the wedding.

Regardless of your style of coverage, family groups are pictures that will be desired by all. You must find time to make the requisite group shots, but also be aware of shots that the bride may not have requested, but expects to see. The bride with her new parents and the groom with his are great shots, according to Monte Zucker, but are not ones that will necessarily be “on the list.”

FORMALS
Following the ceremony, you should be able to steal the bride and groom for about ten minutes—no more, or you will be taking too much of their time and the others in attendance will get a little edgy. Most photographers will get what they need in less than ten minutes.

In addition to a number of formal portraits of the
couple—their first pictures as man and wife—you should try to make whatever obligatory group shots the bride has asked for. This may include a group portrait of the wedding party, a portrait with the bride’s family and the groom’s family, and so on.

If there are too many “must” shots to do in a short
time, arrange to do some after the ceremony and some at the reception. This can be all thought out beforehand.

THE BRIDE AND GROOM

Generally speaking, this should be a romantic pose, with the couple looking at one another. While a formal pose or two is advisable, most couples will opt for the more romantic and emotional formal portraits. Be sure to highlight the dress, as it is a crucial element to formal portraits. Take pains to show the form as well as the details of the dress and train, if the dress has one. This is certainly true for the bride’s formal portrait, as well.

Make at least two formal portraits, a full-length shot and a three-quarter-length portrait. Details are important, so pose the couple. Make sure the bouquet is visible and have the bride closest to the camera. Have the groom place his arm around his bride but with his hand in the middle of her back. Have them lean in toward each other, with their weight on their back feet and a slight bend to their forward knees. Quick and easy!

THE BRIDE
To display the dress beautifully, the bride must stand well. Although you may only be taking a three-quarter-length or head-and-shoulders portrait, start the pose at the feet. When you arrange the bride’s feet with one foot forward of the other, the shoulders will naturally be at their most flattering, one higher than the other. Have her stand at an angle to the lens, with her weight on her back foot and her front knee slightly bent. The most feminine position for her head is to have it turned and tilted toward the higher shoulder. This places the entire body in an attractive S-curve, a classic bridal pose.

Have the bride hold her bouquet in the hand on the same side of her body as the foot that is extended. If the bouquet is held in the left hand, the right arm should come in to meet the other at wrist level. She should hold her bouquet a bit below waist level to show off the waistline of the dress, which is an important part of the dress design. Take photos showing the dress from all angles.

THE WEDDING PARTY
This is one formal group that does not have to be formal. I have seen group portraits of the wedding party done as a panoramic, with the bride, groom, bridesmaids, and groomsmen doing a conga line down the beach, dresses held high out of the water and the men’s pant legs rolled up. And I have seen elegant, formal pyramid arrangements, where every bouquet and every pose is identical and beautiful. It all depends on your client and your tastes. It should be a portrait that you have fun doing. Most photographers opt for boy–girl arrangements, with the bride and groom somewhere central in the image. As with the bridal portrait, the bridesmaids should be in front of the groomsmen in order to highlight their dresses.

Titled The Pall Bearers, this image by J.B. Sallee is a tongue-in-cheek portrait of what the groom and his groomsmen might term “his last day of freedom.” In postproduction, the groomsmen were darkened to make the groom stand out.

LEAVING THE CHURCH
Predetermine the composition and exposure and be ready and waiting as the couple exits the church. If guests are throwing confetti or rice, don’t be afraid to choreograph the event in advance. You can alert guests to get ready and “release” on your count of three. Using a slow (1/30 second) shutter speed and flash, you will freeze the couple and the rice, but the moving objects will have a slightly blurred edge. If you’d rather just let the event happen, opt for a burst sequence using the camera’s fastest frame rate—up to eight frames per second with high-end DSLRs—and a wide-angle to short-telephoto zoom. Be alert for the unexpected, and consider having a second shooter cover events like this to better your odds of getting the key picture.

ROOM SETUP
Make a photograph of the reception site before the guests arrive. Photograph one table in the foreground and be sure to include the floral and lighting effects. Also, photograph a single place setting and a few other details. The bride will love them, and you’ll find use for them in the album design. The caterers, decorators, and other vendors will also appreciate a print that reflects their efforts. Some photographers try to include the bride and groom in the scene, which can be tricky—but their presence does add to the shot. Before the guests enter the reception area, for instance, Ken Sklute often photographs the bride and groom dancing slowly in the background and it is a nice touch.

THE RECEPTION
This is the time when most of your photojournalistic coverage will be made—and the possibilities are endless. As the reception goes on and guests relax, the opportunities for great pictures will increase. Be aware of the bride and groom all the time, as they are the central players. Fast zooms and fast telephoto lenses paired with fast film or high ISO settings will give you the best chance to work unobserved.

Be prepared for the scheduled events at the reception—the bouquet toss, removing the garter, the toasts, the first dance, and so on. If you have done your homework, you will know where and when each of these events will take place, and you will have prepared to light it and photograph it. Often, the reception is best lit with a number of corner-mounted umbrellas, triggered by your on-camera flash. That way, anything within the perimeter of your lights can be photographed by strobe. Be certain you meter various areas within your lighting perimeter so that you know what your exposure is everywhere on the floor.

The reception calls upon all of your skills and instincts.
Things happen quickly, so don’t get caught with an important event coming up and only two frames left or a CF card that’s almost full. People are having a great time, so be cautious about intruding upon events. Try to observe the flow of the reception and anticipate the individual events before they happen. Coordinate your efforts with the person in charge, usually the wedding planner or banquet manager. He or she can run interference for you, as well as cue you when certain events are about to occur, often not letting the event begin until you are ready.

I have watched Joe Photo work a reception, and it is an
amazing sight. He often uses his Nikon D1X and flash in bounce mode and works quickly and quietly. His Nikon Speedlite is outfitted with a small forward-facing internal reflector that redirects some of the bounce flash directly onto his subject, making the flash both key and fill light at once. If he is observed and noticed, he’ll often walk over and show the principals the image on the LCD, offer some thoughtful compliment about how good they all look, and quickly move on. Other times he just shoots, observes, and shoots some more. His intensity and concentration at the reception are keen and he comes away with priceless images—the rewards of good work habits.

RINGS
The bride and groom usually love their new rings and want a shot that includes them. A close-up of the couple’s hands displaying the rings makes a great detail image in the album. You can use any type of attractive pose, but remember that hands are difficult to pose. If you want a really close-up image of the rings, you will need a macro lens, and you will probably have to light the scene with flash—unless you make the shot outdoors or in good light.

Joe Photo always makes it a point to photograph the rings with the wedding invitation. That makes it imperative to carry a macro lens.

THE CAKE CUTTING
Cakes have gotten incredibly expensive—some cost more than $10,000! For this reason, a stand-alone portrait of the cake is a good idea, both for the cake-maker and for the bride and groom.

THE FIRST DANCE
One trick is to tell the couple beforehand, “Look at me and smile.” That will keep you from having to circle the couple until you get both of them looking at you for the first-dance shot. Or you can tell them, “Just look at each other and don’t worry about me, I’ll get the shot.”

Often, photographers will photograph the first dance
by whatever available light exists (often spotlights) on the dance floor. This is possible with fast lenses and fast ISOs. Just as frequently, the photographer will use bounce flash and a slow shutter speed to record the ambient light in the room and the surrounding faces watching the couple’s first dance. The bounce flash will freeze the couple but there is often some blurring due to the slow shutter speed.

THE BOUQUET TOSS
Whether you’re a photojournalist or traditionalist, this shot looks best when it’s spontaneous. You need plenty of depth of field, which almost dictates a wide-angle lens. You’ll want to show not only the bride but also the faces in the background. Although you can use available light, the shot is usually best done with two flashes—one on the bride and one on the ladies waiting for the bouquet. Your timing has to be excellent, as the bride will often “fake out” the group just for laughs. This might fake you out, as well. Try to get the bouquet as it leaves the bride’s hands and before it is caught—and if your flash recycles fast enough, get a shot of the lucky lady who catches it.

TABLE SHOTS
Table shots don’t usually turn out well, are rarely ordered, and are tedious to make. If your couple absolutely wants table shots, ask them to accompany you from table to table. That way they can greet all of their guests, and it will make the posing quick and painless. Instead of table shots, consider one big group that encompasses nearly everyone at the reception.

LITTLE ONES
A great photo opportunity comes from spending time with the smallest attendees and attendants—the flower girls and ring bearers. They are thrilled with the pageantry of the wedding day and their involvement often offers a multitude of memorable shots.

The little ones are especially fragile on the wedding day and present some wonderful photo opportunities. Photograph by Marcus Bell.




Why Is Wedding Photojournalism So Popular?



















Today's post is an ex
cerpt from the book Wedding Photographer's Handbook, by Bill Hurter. It is available from Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

One of the reasons wedding photojournalism has taken off in popularity is that it emulates the style of photography seen in the bridal magazines, like Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, Modern Bride, and Town & Country. Before brides even interview photographers, they have become familiar with this type of storytelling editorial imagery.

Even if a shot is scripted, its execution will be much less formal than in past years. This image by Brian Shindle captures a spontaneity that is quite appealing.

TRADITIONAL WEDDING IMAGES LACK VARIETY
A big reason for the backlash against traditional wedding photography i
s the “sameness” of it. When this type of scripted coverage is employed, similar if not identical shots will show up in many different albums done by like-minded photographers.

Another reason for the similarity is the types
and numbers of formal group portraits. Even with the most elegant posing and lighting, shots can look similar if they are arranged similarly (e.g., bride and groom in the middle, bridesmaids and groomsmen staggered boy-girl to either side). In contrast, when a wedding photojournalist makes group portraits, he or she might make them from the top of a stairwell, or put all the subjects in profile marching down a beach, or have them do something otherwise unpredictable and different. This results in more personalized images and greater variety. Today’s bride doesn’t want “cookie-cutter” wedding photographs. She wants unique, heartfelt images that tell the story of her important day.

TRADITIONAL WEDDING IMAGES ARE MORE TIME-CONSUMING TO MAKE
Another potential drawback of the traditional typ
e of wedding coverage is that all those carefully posed pictures take lots of time. In fact, the bigger the wedding, the bigger the bridal party and the bigger the list of “required” shots to make. As a result, the bride and groom can be missing for a good part of their wedding day while they are working with the photographer. The less formal approach leaves couples free to enjoy more of their day.

In this aspect, the photojournalistic system has mutual benefits. While the bride has more time to enjoy her day, the photographer also has more time to observe the subtleties of the wedding day and do his or her best work. I have heard many photographers say that brides and family have told them, “We don’t even want to know you’re there,” which is just fine for most wedding photojournalists.

So much of what is included in today’s wedding photographer’s skill set comes from the world of editorial and fashion. This shot by Becky Burgin is a classic fashion image treated with split-toning by printing master Robert Cavalli.

NO INTRUSION
Because the traditional photographer intrudes on the naturalness of the scene, the coverage is structured and in the view of many, fictional. When the photojournalist covers the same event, he or she does so without interference and intrusion, allowing the scene to unravel with all of the spontaneity and surprises that will occur at such wonderful events. As a result, the photographer tends to be quietly invisible, choosing to fade into the background so the subjects are not aware of his presence. The event itself then takes precedence over the directions and the resulting pictures are more spontaneous. Many wedding photojournalists even photograph groups with this non-intrusive approach, preferring to wait until things “happen.”

EMERGING STYLES
Despite the advantages of wedding photojournalism, photographers who still provide traditional coverage argue that the photojournalist’s coverage produces below-average photographs. Indeed, one must acknowledge that some of the most elegant features of traditional portraiture are being thrown out in
this creative new approach. After all, the photojournalists can’t possibly be as in tune with posing and lighting principles as the masters of the traditional style. Even in many masterful bridal portraits taken by skilled photojournalists, the trained eye may observe poorly posed hands, a confused head-and-shoulders axis, unflattering overhead lighting, and so on. As a result, formal and casual techniques are intermixing more than ever, allowing both photographers and brides to benefit from the best of both styles.

This mixing is particularly evident in group portraiture. The near elimination of formal group portraiture in photojournalistic wedding coverage is now swinging back the other way. All types of wedding photographers are making more group portraits. The main reason for this is that groups sell, and sales mean increased profits. Also, failing to offer such coverage limits the photographer in his or her professional approach. As a result, photographers are offering brides more options, including posed formals. Because the choice is theirs, brides (and their parents) seem to be ordering them.

The difference between this shot and a traditionalist’s version of the same subject is that the photojournalist prefers to capture the unscripted action as it occurs, much like the stop-action coverage of a sports photographer. Photograph by Michael Schuhmann.


Marcus Bell can make himself disappear into the woodwork. Here an exhausted bride and groom take five without a hint that Bell is recording the scene.

The nature of formal photos is changing, as well, adapting more informal posing and lighting techniques in an effort to preserve the same carefree, relaxed attitude found in the rest of the album. You will also see group portraits made with much more style and elegance than the traditional, straight on-camera flash you saw in wedding groups only twenty years ago. Again, brides are demanding ever more sophistication in their photographs.

Yes, the classic poses are fading in consideration of a
more natural style. However, greater attention to posing fundamentals seems to be evident, as well. After all, these techniques represent time-honored ways of gracefully rendering the human form and revealing character. In the words of Monte Zucker, well known around the world for his traditional wedding portraits, “Photographers are well aware of this [divergence], so they’ve combined a little of both. My particular style of wedding photography still comes from the fact that I’m more interested in faces and feelings than I am in backgrounds and trends.”

The nature of formals is changing, incorporating elements of traditional styles with a more casual look. Here, an unusual pose and composition along with pristine lighting and exposure make this Drake Busath image an award winner.

This combined approach opens up the best of both worlds for the bride and groom. With an adherence to formal posing principles comes a type of classic elegance that is timeless, with the finely tuned skills of anticipation and observation, on the other hand, the photojournalistic coverage unearths more of the wedding day’s wonderful moments. By pairing both approaches, wedding photography is expanding its horizons, and the quality and character of wedding coverage is better today than at any time in the past.


Successful Online Marketing


















Today's post is an ex
cerpt from the book Professional Marketing & Selling Techniques for Digital Wedding Photographers, by Jeff Hawkins and Kathleen Hawkins. It is available from Amazon.com and other fine retailers.


SUCCESSFUL ONLINE MARKETING
How does a photographer capitalize on the rapid expansion of e-commerce and the popularity and effectiveness of an Internet presence?

Let’s begin with a typical example. Pretend for a moment that somewhere there is a small wedding photography company. The business owners would definitely want to create a website, because not having one would negatively impact their image and reputation, right? So the proprietors diligently create a small web page with their company name on it, complete with address and phone number. The page might even contain a picture of the crew donning an array of appropriate formal attire, with all their equipment close at hand. (Most small [and some large] company websites look just like the one described here.) They need to select a name for the website, and it just so happens that www.GetWeddingPhotos.com is available, so they register this name as their new website address.

Imagine that there’s a young bride in need of a wedding photographer
in her metropolitan area. Unsure where to begin her search, she turns to the web. An experienced web surfer, she knows to first head to a popular search engine and type in a few words to get her started. She chooses “wedding” and “photographer” (try this yourself). Fortunately for the small company above, these words appear on the web page that they hastily designed, but according to the search engine, those same words also appear on about 38,300 other web pages. The site www.GetWeddingPhotos.com is somewhere on that list of 38,300.

Make it easy for your target clients to find your website, which should employ beautiful, up-to-date images.

With a lot of luck and some skillful application of key words (called metatags) that explicitly describe the site’s content, it might even appear somewhere in the first 2000 entries. Assuming our bride had the patience to go through several hundred options, she would quickly find that the majority of these websites were for photographers who lived and worked in other states. The moral of the story? Just because you put a website on the Internet does not mean that anyone will ever find it!

Well, our hypothetical wedding photography company learns quickly from its mistakes. In an attempt to solve their “lost website” problem, they opt to place their web address on their business cards and correspondence, so that people can easily get to www.GetWeddingPhotos.com. This is certainly something you should do—it’s a great idea. Don’t embarrass yourself, however, by handing out a business card featuring your web address, and then having a potential customer find only a one-page site with basic contact information (name, address, phone, etc.). That information was already on your business card. You just wasted their time, and they will repay you by taking their business elsewhere.

According to Dan Chuparkoff, an experienced software developer and website designer, there are five simple “P.I.E.C.E.s” to creating a successful website:

Purpose—Define the purpose of the site.
Identity—Determine a name for the site.
Essence—Choose the content’s depth and the frequency of changes.
Creation—Design the site with the help of an experienced web designer.
Enlighten—Begin to advertise to attract people to your site.

Purpose. The most common mistake made by business owners during website construction is that the purpose of the website is incorrectly gauged. The first question to ask yourself when creating a website is, “What is the purpose of my website?” Whatever your product may be, the answer to this question is, “To get customers.”

That much is simple, but it is easy to overlook the fact that the task of acquiring customers is broken up into two stages. These two stages are commonly referred to as advertising and sales. This may seem elementary, but failure to make this distinction is the most common mistake made in business-website development. Making this mistake will lead to wasted money and frustrated customers. The goal of advertising is, naturally, to somehow grab the attention of your potential customers. The goal of sales is, of course, to persuade these potential customers that your product is the best of all the available options. Which of these roles would a website service? Most people answer this question incorrectly.

A website is not an advertising vehicle. Rather, a website should be used
as a tool to aid in the closing of a sale. There are many ways to draw people to your website, and some of them will be described in the following paragraphs. This having been said, however, the assumption must be made that there has been some previous interaction between you (or a studio representative) and viewers of your website. There will be a few exceptions to this rule—people who live in your town and want your services, who coincidentally type in exactly the right key words and stumble upon your Internet doorway, for example. As search engines on the web evolve and people become more experienced at performing searches, browsers will become more successful at finding what they are looking for. Unfortunately, as things are, you cannot rely on attracting clients in this way.

Viewers will most likely have decided to browse your site after:

1. Meeting with you and following your suggestion to check out the site.

2. Viewing an advertisement in a publication or on another website.

3. Making contact with a satisfied customer who recommended your services.

So, whether you design your site yourself or commission a web designer to
complete the task, your site’s purpose should be clearly defined before you begin creating pages. At the very least, provide examples of your work or let visitors view a calendar of your availability. Ideally, your website should contain a completely painless way for visitors to purchase your product or register for your services while browsing the pages that you have provided. Use your website to give prospective customers information that gets you closer to a sale.

Identity. The next step in jumping on the e-commerce bandwagon is coming up with a skillfully chosen name for your website. This is commonly referred to as your “domain name.” The most obvious choice for a domain name is one that matches your existing company name. You can find out if a specific domain name is available by going to the website of an accredited registration service. There is a list of accredited services available at www.Internic.net. One of these registration services is www.Register.com. Try surfing over to the Register.com site to see if your own business name is available. If your business name is a registered trade name and it is already held by someone else as a domain name, you may have legal rights to that domain name. You may dispute such conflicts in a manner similar to disputing other trade-name violations.

If your first choice of names is unavailable, remember these tips when choosing a different name:

1. You may only use letters, numbers, and the hyphen character (-).

2. Avoid the use of homophones (“by” and “buy,” “for” and “four”). These add confusion when passing the site’s name along through word of mouth.

3. Keep in mind your company’s future growth when choosing a site name. The name www.JeffHawkinsPhotography.com is a good name for a wedding photojournalist’s site, but it would be slightly less suitable if used to promote the other consultative wedding services provided by the same business.

4. Somewhere near 99 percent of the words in the English language are
already taken, so don’t expect your first choice to be available. Be prepared to spend some time looking for a name that isn’t already registered.

The task of acquiring customers is broken up into two stages. These two stages are commonly referred to as advertising and sales.

Essence. Here the task becomes more difficult. Determining the depth of your Internet presence can be more important than time spent on design and style. A prospective customer’s visit to your website will generally be their second instance of exposure to your company (the first having been an introduction via an advertisement or a personal endorsement of some kind).

Each time you require your target customer to spend time and energy to interact with you, a few more people will get bored, distracted, or will be somehow motivated to go elsewhere. It is important to make sure that your site isn’t an added stage in your selling process, without offering a clear benefit to the customer. Before you had a website, prospective clients would typically see your ad in a publication and be prompted to call you. The last thing you want to do is run an ad that instructs the user to check out your website, and then have your website do little more than prompt the user to give you a call for more information.

Create a website that works to bring prospective clients a little closer to buying your product or service. The most important thing to viewers of your site is immediate gratification. People want information immediately. They don’t want to wait to meet with you to find answers to their questions. Give viewers of your website as much information as you can possibly provide them. If you have ever received a request from a customer for your portfolio, your biography, or your references, then put these things on your site. If your website has convinced them that your service is the one for them, provide them with the opportunity to purchase or register for your services. This removes the opportunity for them to change their minds while they wait for your e-mail response or a scheduled appointment.

As suggested earlier, creating an online ordering system is the best way to
profitably capitalize on the flow of traffic onto your site. For example, you can offer a program in which clients pay a set fee to have their images posted online. This will allow them and their friends and family from around the world to see the proofs and order images. Set a specific price for placing engagement proofs online and an additional price for wedding images. We also suggest that the photographer selection the prints and the length of online visibility. For more information on online ordering, try contacting www.MorePhotos.com, www.MarathonPress.com, or www.EventPix.com. The cost is minimal, and the response can be incredible.

Creation. In most cases, you will want the help of a consultative web designer to create an effective Internet presence that results in a positive user-experience and, more importantly, in increased sales. On the other hand, there are many tools available (such as Microsoft’s FrontPage) that will allow you to create and design a website on your own.

However, in order to add some of the really productive components, like online ordering, online registration, or an automated response system, you will probably benefit from at least consulting an experienced Internet professional. Enlisting the help of a designer will also free you from the pressure of trying to register your own domain name and trying to find a site-hosting service.


Hire an experienced web designer who can consistently update your website and optimize your key-word phrases and metatags to make your site as easy to find as possible.

Choosing a web designer is a difficult task that may take several attempts.
Depending on the depth of your site’s content and the frequency of its changes, the fee for this service can range from just a few hundred dollars to several thousand. If you don’t have the benefit of a personal referral, the quickest way to find a web designer is by consulting your local Yellow Pages. A slightly better way is to search for “web designer” using a search engine like www.Yahoo.com. Remember that it’s not necessarily required that your designer live in the same city (or even country) as you. Contact with your site creator will most likely be conducted via e-mail and the Internet itself, anyway.

In the experience of professional web designer Dan Chuparkoff, these are
the top things to consider when hiring an Internet site designer:

1. Look at the designer’s past work.

2. Have them create a low-cost prototype before committing to the entire project.

3. Discuss availability in the future to update information as it changes.

4. Get quotes from several different web designers (they will vary dramatically).

When designing (or when helping to design) your website, keep in mind that a well-planned, easy to navigate website is crucial to creating a pleasant user experience. Keep it simple, using common web standards and conventions.

Only use underlined text, for instance, if that text is a link to
another page. Users of the Internet have been conditioned to expect certain things to happen when they browse a web page.

Capitalize on this fact. People know that when they see a tiny picture
(commonly called a “thumbnail”), they can click on it to see that same picture in a larger size. Keep these conventions in mind, but don’t compromise your style and expression. Just as you would “dress for success” when meeting with a prospective client, your website should communicate exactly what your own professional appearance would have conveyed to the client in a face-to-face meeting.

Furthermore, remember that images are very important. Bridal couples
are visiting your website to see your gallery and view your images. Excessive wording or a cluttered page will quickly bore the reader. Replace excessive wording with the images you choose to promote. Keep in mind that not everyone viewing your site has a modem or a computer that is as fast as yours. Always provide thumbnails to any large images on your site. This will considerably shorten the time it takes for your pages to load.

When you are finally finished with your site’s creation, test it on the slowest
computer you can find, and with different web browsers. Try to determine if your prospective client would have been patient enough to wait for the whole page to load, and make sure that it loads correctly on all major browsers.

Enlighten. Finally, you must spread the word that you have a website and let people know what the site’s address is. After all, just because you have a website does not mean that everyone in the world will surf onto it.

Networking and word-of-mouth are still the most effective forms of
advertising. Make sure you include your new web address in all of your promotional materials. Place your web address on all of your business cards and letterhead. Make sure you send e-mail messages out to everyone in your address book, informing your friends and family about your site. Also send notifications to the affiliates on your vendor list and consider adding a signature file to all of your e-mail notifications. For instance, add “Visit our website at www.JeffHawkins.com!” to the bottom of all your Internet correspondence.

Finally, be sure to watch your advertising dollars carefully. Take advantage of free links on related websites to promote your company. In some cases, you can submit your website (and possibly your work), and the partnering site will post your information at no charge. However, some sites negotiate a link exchange. This is where you attach a link on your site, linking them to you and vice versa. We don’t recommend using a link exchange, simply because it sends the viewer away from the site rather than keeping them there.




 

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