Monday, January 2, 2012

Showing Off...(Your Photos)

For this posting, I'd like to share my experience with photo sharing sites.  I've been at this for several years, sharing photos online.  And looking back, I've learned a lot from all of them.

Starting out, I was lucky enough to have a friend that was into photography, and sharing photos online (thanks Walt!).  He got me interested in a site called Photo Points.  This started out to be quite fun, I'd upload a photo, and people would not only rate it with points (1 - 5), but also provide a critique.  In addition to learning from good and not so good critiques, I also started to learn just by viewing all of the other entries.  There were/are some very good photographers on this site.  Unfortunately, this point system started to get out of hand, and people got offended if they didn't get top points for every image they posted.  At times it got quite nasty.  So, I moved on.  Life is too short to put up with nonsense.  Here's a link to Photo Points if you want to check it out.  It's been awhile since I've been away, and maybe things have gotten better:  http://www.photopoints.com/main/

Next up - Pbase.  Pbase is an interesting site, quite different from Photo Points.  Once you've joined you can customize your site, create galleries, and start posting photos.  There are quite a few forums to get involved with covering a range of subjects.  People can find your photos in any number of ways, and you can tell if something is popular by the number of hits it receives or how many comments are posted.  As with Photo Points, there are a lot of very talented photographers on Pbase, and I learned by looking at their beautiful images, and the comments others left on my photos.  I enjoyed this site and would still be there except it seemed to suffer from poor performance and crashes on more than one occasion.  It seemed like the site was down for weeks the last time it happened, and the response from the site owners was very poor.  So, once again I packed up my photos and searched for another venue.  Here's the link to Pbase in case you are interested:  http://www.pbase.com/

After doing some research, I decided to go with Zenfolio.  This was a fairly new photo site and offered some interesting features.  There are templates that you can use to build your site, or you can tweak them or create your own to really customize your sites look and feel.  There is a great slideshow feature and if you'd like, you can add music.  Zenfolio has a great following on Facebook, and they had a contest that gave the winner a free site review and critique with a professional web designer.  I entered on a whim, and actually was selected.  This turned out to be a great experience, and the web designer was kind and gentle with her critique and suggestions.  So, my Zenfolio site has recently received a face lift.  Here's a screen shot of the home page:
The link to my home page is: http://salbano.zenfolio.com/  Check it out if you have time.
If you're interested in Zenfolio you can go here for more information: http://www.zenfolio.com/
One thing I should caution you on is that Zenfolio is not really geared to be a photo sharing site like the others I've described above.  It's a place to show off your best images, and a lot of professionals use it to market their work.  You have the ability to sell your photos and services directly from Zenfolio (with the proper level of account).  I use it because I think my photos really look good here, everything works as advertised and so far I haven't had any negative experiences.

Since Zenfolio is for showing off and selling, I still wanted a fun place to share photos and get more involved in community experience.  Flickr has been around for awhile, and for some reason I never really took it seriously.  About a year ago I decided to give it a try and as it turns out, I really like it.  While you can't customize it the way you can with Pbase or Zenfolio, you can share your photos in various groups and contests.  I've made some Flickr friends and have enjoyed all that this fun site has to offer.  A "Pro" account is a bargain and you can upload all you want.  This can be another great way to get some exposure for your images and learn a thing or two along the way.  You can find Flickr here:
http://www.flickr.com/  and here's the link to my photostream (my collection of images): http://www.flickr.com/photos/steves_photoart/  I just renewed my Pro account and after a little time off will become more active as time goes on.

And finally, there is my Fine Art site:  Fine Art America  While this isn't really a photo sharing site as it is a place to sell art  (photography included) I thought I'd give it a quick comment.  This is where I upload what I consider to be marketable images, set my prices and keep my fingers crossed that folks will like what they see enough to make a purchase.  This is what the home page looks like:
It's a little early to tell if this venture is going to be successful or not.  One of things I like is reviewing the stats.  People from all over the world have been to my site and taken time to look over my images.
This site was easy to set up, and once I uploaded some images, I was able to offer them for sale almost immediately.  The options are all set for prints, canvas wraps, and fully matted and framed images.  The site owners take care of printing, handling, and shipping.  I like this because I can concentrate on my images, not running a printing shop.

So, that's it.  Photo sharing, commenting, critiques, selling, it's been and continues to be quite a ride.  You never know who may be taking a look at your images and what you can learn by looking at the photos of others.  If sharing your photos is something you're interested in, then pick a site, and just do it.  
Don't worry about the camera you are using.  As photo blogger Ken Rockwell says "It's not about your camera, it's about you, it's about your ability to see, it's about your vision"  Ken Rockwell, It's Not About Your Camera.

That's it, leave a comment about your photo sharing experiences!

2 comments:

  1. Steve,
    A month or so ago I got hooked on to photography and I have been taking 1000's of pictures on my weekend walks I do. I have not tweaked them much since because I am still learning about HDR and other such terms.

    Here's what I got:
    A Nikon D7000. It's feature full and I love it. I found a really good book by Darrell Young who walks you through the features really well.
    I read a lot of websites that give advice on how to shoot good photos but I end up getting confused.

    Because, most of the folks go off on this "tell a story with your image and make the viewer feel it." stuff.....

    You even Posted something --- "As photo blogger Ken Rockwell says "It's not about your camera, it's about you, it's about your ability to see, it's about your vision"

    I am a Web developer by trade and maybe I think too logically about things but I never really feel like I am telling a story. I see something I think is cool or nice and I take a picture of it.

    For instance My blog is mostly photos, some with my IPhone some with my NIKON. When I took those pictures I mostly thought "Wow, wonder what that would like If I took a picture like this.... Snap snap"

    So finally to my questions. When you are walking and looking for something to snap what are you looking for and how do you interpret that. I guess I am looking for advice on how to take better pictures. Is it take as many pictures as you can or change the way you look at stuff.

    Sorry for the long post. but, reading through your stuff has really helped particularly with the HDR

    Thanks,
    Tommy

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  2. Hey Tommy, thanks for your comments and great question. It looks like you have the tool (the D7000 is a great camera). As for the vision, that's the trick. I know some of this sounds like nonsense, but I think there is something to it.

    So, when I'm walking around, what am I looking for? First, I love to be outdoors, and since I'm up early (hence the name of the blog), I've come to love the quality of the light. It can really make the difference between an ordinary snapshot, and something much more interesting. It helps to be familiar with your subject, and as it turns out, I love the Eastern Sierra and have spent a great deal of time learning about it. That helps because I have an idea of where I want to be and at what time of the day.
    I also look at the sky, especially if interesting clouds form or there's a chance of some weather moving in.

    When I find a subject (lake, old building, trees, etc...), I try to get a sense of it in my minds eye, and begin taking photos from several points of view. And, because we are shooting digital, we have instant feedback and can quickly tell if we have a winner. I'll do everything from laying on the ground to climbing rocks to get unique vantage points. I've frozen my butt off at 9000 feet to get the sun rising and lighting up a ghost town.

    Sorry to be so long winded, and I hope this helps a little. Keep shooting, and don't be afraid to try different things. Also, take photos of something you are interested in, something you really love. I'll post more about how I do HDR in the near future.

    Thanks for reading!!

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