Posts Tagged ‘easy upload’

After buying the spiffy new camera, the first accessory most photographers want to get their hands on is a mighty new lens.

It ain’t necessarily so.

This is a list of things photographers should buy in order to improve their sales. It is in the order of our suggested priorities at fotoLibra.

Remember, as a picture library / stock agency we’re not necessarily reading from the same page as our photographer friends. Most photographers want to create beautiful, stunning images, and of course we want to see those as well, but above all we want photographs that sell.

And if that interests you, then here is what we suggest you need to acquire.

  1. A decent DSLR or large format digital camera. The make is unimportant, as long as you’re comfortable with it. One famous old tip to get comfortable is to put the camera in a bag, then put your hands in and spend days looking odd and learning how to use it blindfold. Feel your way round the apparatus. Learn to use it without thinking, so it becomes an automatic, natural extension of your eye. Nowadays the camera back should deliver a minimum of 12 mexapixels.
  2. Adobe Photoshop, Elements, Corel Draw, GIMP, Irfanview or some other photo editing software. This is your digital darkroom. You must always shoot in RAW and then post process. It’s no use having a digital camera without photo editing software.
  3. A tripod. Your hands shake, I promise you.
  4. A subscription to fotoLibra. “Yeah, yeah, what a surprise,” you smile, but this is where you get regular lists of the photographs that buyers need, hints, tips, blogs and newsletters. A huge amount of storage space for your images. And all your sales and back office admin taken care of, leaving you to get on with pressing that shutter.
  5. Lighting, unless you plan only to photograph landscapes by available light (a very small market). At the very least, a separate and moveable flash unit. The flash built in to the camera is strictly for amateurs.
  6. A large roll of white paper to act as a neutral background, such as this. Professional picture buyers like plain backgrounds and cut outs. Cut outs are virtually impossible to achieve successfully without starting with a plain background.
  7. And of course Goalposts, on which you put the paper. You get to move them, as well. Properly called a “background support system’. Here’s one.
  8. Books from the fotoLibra Bookshop. I like the intelligent and elegantly designed Rocky Nook titles. You will never, ever stop learning as a photographer. Even Snowdon, one of the twentieth century’s most famous photographers, admits he’s still learning at eighty.
  9. Photography courses, such as those offered by Nick Jenkins at Freespirit Images. You will learn tricks and techniques which would never have occurred to you on your own.
  10. Apple Aperture or Adobe Lightroom. Post processing taken to new heights. I know it will hurt to spend money on bits and bytes before lovely, smooth, hefty glass and metal, but would you prefer to collect kit, or make a name for yourself as a photographer?

NOW you can start to splash out on more expensive lenses, camera bags and all that other non-essential kit. But armed with the Top Ten, you will have what you need to take photographs that SELL.

And my lens suggestion for when you finally buy a second?

Go for the widest aperture you can afford.

And if you don’t agree with this list, please post your own in the Comments!

Here’s an index to the fotoLibra Pro Blog for the whole of 2009.

As I complained 6 months ago, it takes a surprising amount of time to compile, so if there are any WordPress experts out there who know how to automate this process, we’d love to hear from you.

If you’re new to fotoLibra, welcome, and may we suggest you read through the HINTS & TIPS section, and if nothing else read Great Expectations. If you enjoy a bit of controversy, read BAPLA Shock Horror.

Comments are welcome, even on old posts, and will be read and often responded to.

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A Third of a Million

September 3rd, 2009

fotoLibra passed the third of a million images online mark this morning.

fotoLibra’s Gwyn Headley is speaking at a seminar at the Frankfurt Book Fair titled “From Gutenberg to Google: The Use of Imagery in Publishing.” It will be held on Friday October 16 at 10:00 in the Workshop-Raum.

fotoLibra’s unique feature for book publishers is its Picture Call — publishers can send a list of images they are looking for and fotoLibra’s 17,000 photographers in 160 countries go out and take them, with no obligation on the publisher.

It’s our job at fotoLibra to make uploading as easy and painless as possible for our members.

It’s our job at fotoLibra to make sure the images we sell are print repro quality, ready to go without endless expensive manipulation by the purchaser.

How do we reconcile these two sometimes opposing forces? By publishing our Submission Guidelines, and enforcing strict parameters on uploaded image files. If we say we want 300 ppi, we won’t accept 200 ppi or 400 ppi. If we say we want 8 bit, we won’t accept 16 bit. if we say we want a minimum width or height of 1750 pixels, we won’t accept 1700 pixels.

Tough but fair.

The snag is, how can we tell if your images won’t made the grade until you upload them?

And that can take hours.

So what happens is that a member collects his images together, does what he can to ensure they meet our specifications, then drags them across to the fotoLibra DND (Drag And Drop) window. An hour or so later he gets the message “Image is 1514px high. Minimum height is 1750px.”

The upload has been rejected.

How annoying is that? I know I would throw something at the screen and storm off in a sulk. Yet we couldn’t figure out a way round it. How could we tell what members’ images were like BEFORE they were uploaded to us?

“We can’t, so let’s ask the members to do it.”

“But we do, and they don’t always do it. Then they get annoyed. With us.”

“So make them do it.”

“Yes, but how?”

“Make the pre flight check part of the upload process.”

THAT’S IT!

If we build a piece of software that reads an image file and checks that

  • it’s 300 ppi
  • it’s a top quality uncompressed JPEG
  • it’s 8 bit
  • its shorter side is longer than 1750 pixels
  • it’s between 1 MB and 100 MB in file size

then it can report any errors back to the member before all that time is spent uploading a file which will be rejected.

So that’s what we’ve done. We’ve built it for Windows Vista and XP, for Intel and PowerPC Macs running OS X, and for Linux. We’ve built it into the forthcoming fotoLibra DND v3, so all you will have to do is to drag the files you want to upload into the DND window. The app will check your images and tell you what’s hot and what’s not.

Then you can upload safe in the knowledge you won’t get those nasty unfriendly error messages after a failed upload.

Is this a dream? A fantasy? Or simply vaporware?

No. It’s here, it works (I’m using it right now on an Intel Mac running OS 10.5.6) and we’re testing it at the moment. When we’re confident it’s bug free, we’ll release it.

Jacqui will tell you when it’s available for you to download. It should be in the next couple of weeks.

We haven’t yet got the resources of a Microsoft or an Apple, so we don’t have the facilities to test to exhaustion. But we think it will work well.

And if by chance it doesn’t, no doubt you will tell us.