How to Beat ….

This post has been removed at the request of a national picture company.

PodCasts

I have learned that a great way to keep up with what is going on in photography and the computer industry is through Podcasts.  A Podcast is a digital media file distributed on through the Internet.  I listen to different personalities speak or discuss the latest technologies.  You can find them about any subject, including sewing, cooking, wood working, politics, religion, etc.  They can be from 5 minutes long to even a couple of hours long.  It’s like listening to a radio program on talk radio. The easiest way to find Podcasts that you may like is through iTunes.  It’s a free download from Apple and you don’t need an iPod to use it.

When I first heard about podcasting, I thought I needed an Ipod to listen to them.  I didn’t own an Ipod as I have a really cool Omnifi mp3 player installed in my car. It is a hard drive based mp3 player that has a head unit controller much like a regular car stereo.  It will synchronize each night with my computer wirelessly while my car is parked in the garage.  Whatever tunes I add to my computer automatically gets sent to my car.

I thought it would be really cool if I could upload Podcasts to my computer and have them synchronized to my car each night so I have something to listen to for my commute to and from work.  When I started checking into Podcasting, I was happy to learn that there were basically two types of Podcasts.  One type contains video, but the audio Podcasts is just an mp3.  Any mp3 player, or even your computer will play the audio version.  Some people prefer to call them “NetCasts” as not to confuse people into thinking that they need a Ipod to play them.  But, even the Zune, an mp3 player by Microsoft, calls them Podcasts on the Zune interface.

zune2.jpg

I can use free software such as Juice to automatically download the Podcasts I subscribe to as they are published to the Internet.  It does not cost me a thing to receive these Podcasts.  So now each morning, I wake up with a fresh set of Podcasts that have been downloaded automatically to my car over night.

Of course, Podcasts will work on an Ipod.  Most Podcasters make the video formatted for the Ipod, but it can be played on your computer or a device such as Apple TV as well.

Some of my favorite Poscasts are from Leo Laporte.  You can find his podcasts at twit.tv.  Most of his Podcats center around technology.  But, he has a couple, including Munchcast cast and Jumping Monkeys, that are not technology based.  My favorite programs of his are called TWIT and Windows Weekly.

There are other great PosCasts I recommend also:

Photography related:
TWIP (This week in Photo)
Digital Photography Tips from the Top Floor

Technology Related:
Geek Brief
Diggnation
TekZilla
DLTV

FujiFilm Links to PhotoLynx Website

I was just checking out the statistics for the PhotoLynx website and noticed something very cool.  One of the highest number of links to the PhotoLynx website was coming from FujiFilm USA.  I followed the link over and sure enough, FujiFilm has a link over to the PhotoLynx website.Go check it out!

WPPI…It’s Over…

We are all packed up and ready to go home…..But earlier I walked the floor…

The WPPI trade show floor was mostly geared toward wedding photographers.  As I walked the floors, I tried to keep my eyes peeled for things that I thought would be interesting to the school photography segment of the business.

Throughout the floor, there were many labs.  In fact, a good percentage of the exhibitors are labs. Many of the PhotoLynx labs such as American Color Imaging, Bay Photo, Burrell Colour Imaging, CPQ Professinal Imaging, H&H Color Lab, and McKenna Professional Imaging.  For a complete list of PhotoLynx labs, please see the PhotoLynx website.

I found an interesting product to help take away from some of the abuse that school photographers do to there cameras.  It’s called Camera Armor.  It’s a rubberized jacket to help protect the camera body from usage wear.  It would also provide some protection if the camera was dropped.

HiTi Photo Realistic hard card printer.  Modwl CS-310/CS-320.  It can print either single sided or double sided plastic (PVC) ID cards, depending on the model.  It has 32 MB of built in memory, so it won’t bog down your computer while trying to print.  But what I thought was most interesting is that it works on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and MAC!

For about $200, a company called croplines will place crop lines directly onto your focus screen.  You send them the camera ans they will put the screen in for you.  They offer many screens to select from. They can be set up with lines for the top of the head and bottom of the chin for more consistent head sizes.  The lines can also show 8×10 crops.

MicroSync has a Wireless strobe sync system.  What is unique about this system is it’s size.  It is far smaller then Pocket Wizard. The transmitter which slides into the hotshoe of your SLR seems less likely to snap off of your camera.  Also, they have modules that any on camera strobe can connect to for off camera operation.  They also offer a remote shutter release. You can focus the attention of your subjet away from the camera, as you are no longer required to be within reach of your camera to trigger it.  Additionally, they have many adaptors to convert the pripriortary PC cord connections built into many of the newer cameras to a standard PC connection.

Check out pccords.com for all different sorts of PC cords and other adaptors.

Hoodman offers a shade to make it easier to view the display on the back of your digital camera.

Oh and thanks McKenna for letting me borrow your booth to post my blog while you packed up. ;0)

News from WPPI Las Vegas

PhotoLynx takes Sundays off to spend time with their families.  So, I was not in attendance for any of the talks on Sunday.  I spent the weekend with my girlfriend, Sandy, seeing the sights of Las Vegas. Today was the first day of the trade show part of WPPI.  I didn’t have a chance to walk the floor to see what may be of interest, but I’ll make sure that I do so tomorrow and write about it tomorrow night.  PhotoLynx is in booth 837 at the trade show.

The good part of my morning was spent working with an existing customer to get data and images onto a Palm Pilot for PSIS.  PSIS is software that is can be put on a Palm or Windows Pocket device to make the images and data for of all the students at a particular school portable.  The principal or security can carry the device around and find an image, contact information, and schedule information for any student.Tim, Tawnya, Mary Jean, Paul Schulz, Brenna, and  Mary Ann all worked the booth today.

This show is different the PMA from our perspective, as most photographers attending are not school photographers.  Many want to learn about school photography, but they have  a way to go before they understand the school market.

Tonight Tim, Paul, Mary Jean, and myself went to dinner with our Canadian distributor, Technicare.   We had a nice dinner mostly talking about U.S. politics and upcoming updates to the software.

All About Schools Part 2

After Lunch, Bob Dicaprio spoke about photographing seniors.  He presents the images to the clients using a large projector.  He doesn’t present with proofs right away.  But, he will print them color proofs through his color printer.    He concluded with Event photography.  He provides prints on site.  He uses PC Pro.  Events are like proms, he uses one light right behind the camera. He photographs many of them on green screen with an image of something from the local area.  He is able to get business by giving the businesses what they want.  He uses Kodak printers and Kodak cameras.  He purchased many of his printers on Ebay.  He charges a flat fee to cover the event to the corporation and prints as many images as is requested of him.

 

Why Schools? Calvin Harrell, Jr of ABC School portraits spoke about the process of his business.  His family name had been part of the business name for many years, but he finally took on ABC School Portraits because his name would be at the top of the list.  For 52 years ABC Harrell has continually adapted his business to todays world.  He said that he doesn’t fear technology, he may not know a lot it, but he hires people who do.  Although the economy has been changing, he hasn’t seen a cut in his revenue because he continues to grow his business.  He has a captive audience with the students from schools versus family or weddings.  He distilled myths about school photographer.  He admitted it’s easy to mess up schools.  School Photography is a REAL type of photography.  School photographers may not get awards and recognitions.  But, school photographers get REWARD$.  School photographers get weekends off, family time, and vacation time. 


All About Schools Part 1

We just broke for lunch from WPPI “All About Schools” presentation.  Traditionally the WPPI trade show has been directed toward wedding photographers.  The presentations, so far, has been directed toward showing about the School Photography Business.   It is designed for those who are looking to expand their wedding photography business to do schools also.

 

Paul Schulz of PhotoLynx is the MC of the program.  He opened up the program with a short presentation of what school photography is all about.  His golden rule is that you don’t “shoot” school children, but you photograph schools.  Later in the week I will post his PowerPoint presentation for download.

 

Pat Cahill from Cahill Studios spoke about how he got involved in the photography business.  He and his wife started out photographing seniors and after a few years learned that they were pretty much spinning their wheels.  Everyone was getting paid except them.  His studio is within 60 miles of Lifetouch’s main headquarters in Minneapolis.  His philosophy is to make sure to at least get the schools in your own backyard.  He demonstrated that the School Photography business is recession proof and that the population in elementary schools is constantly getting larger.  He finished by showing his lighting system.  He passes out cards to each student that have a barcode and a hole punched into one corner.  His photographers stack the cards onto pegs to help keep them in order.  They then put a tie strap through the hole in the cards to help keep them in order.

 

Paul Schulz and Tim Kaiser co-presented using green screen technology in schools.  Tim Kaiser was fast announce, that, for his software, he uses products by PhotoLynx.  Tim he pointing out that the distance between the subject and background is important to help prevent green reflections back on the subjects.  He mostly spoke about his marketing approach.  Parents really don’t care about the technology used to replace the background, they just want to see that they have many background choices.

 

Gary Kranz of Kranz Photography went over what he offers at his school photography business in Los Angeles, California.  He photographs 100% of his business using green screen.  His order percentages are small, but he makes it up in volume.  When it comes to sales, he makes sure he stays in peoples faces.  He makes sure to personally attend every school principal’s conference and district meetings for the area he services.  His business if primarily focused on elementary, he stays out of the senior portrait business.  He has a thriving panoramic business that grosses over 1 million dollars a year.  He photographs the entire 5th or 6th grade classes as a large group and sells them as 8×20 inch prints.

Hey I’m at WPPI – All About Schools

Today I am out in Las Vegas at the WPPI “All About Schools” program and trade show.  Tonight, I will summarize what happened at the meeting and post it here.   Keep checking back through out the week.  I will be posting information from WPPI all week.

Your Life – On Demand

Instant is nice.  I would be the first to admit that I like to getting instant results. But, everything is relative.  How often do you sit at your computer, impatient because it is taken a while to download a file?  But, what is the alternative?  Have it sent to you on CD through the U.S. postal service.  Even Fed-Ex takes over night.  So what is a few minutes, or even hours, when compared to the alternative?  Yet, it seems to take for ever.

Take an image into Photoshop.  You might spend 30 minutes fixing or retouching a photograph.  But, if you were doing the same thing in the darkroom, how many tries would it take before it turned out right?  How long did it take?  How much in materials did it cost?

Chimping provides instant feedback of the images you have taken with your digital camera.  You know instantly if you got the shot, not after the film gets processed.

Instant results has reached beyond computers.  When was the last time you watched something “on demand” from your cable provider or in a hotel room?  Apple TV allows you to rent and download movies right to your TV to be watched instantly.  No more trips to the video store.

Looking for a particular song?  When was the last time you went to a music store?  Go to Itunes or Amazon and you can have that song almost instantly.

Did you know you could download books right onto a book reader like the Amazon Kindle or  the Sony portable Ebook Reader?

When was the last time you looked at the phone book?  I just received two on more door step and they immediately went  into the recycle bin.

How long did it used to take to plan how to get some where?  Now Map quest provides instant results!

Have you mailed a letter to a friend lately? Why?… an email will get there within a few seconds.

Every Sunday, I used to pick up the L.A. Times for the calendar section.  I would look to see if any of my favorite bands where going to be nearby in concert.  Now, I just go to CheapTrick.com or TicketMaster to see where they are playing, plus I can find out all of the latest news.

I don’t even think about calling the movie theater to find out what time movies are playing.

Heck, at a push of a button, this whole article will be available for the world to read.

So next time you are waiting in front of the computer to download a file, or get frustrated because something is taking a long time to save, remember what the alternatives used to be.  It won’t be long before the things that now take a few minutes to do on a computer will only take a few seconds.

Now, I wonder when it will be that I can download a pizza for lunch?

Back in the Day….

25 years ago, I was on my high school yearbook staff at Fontana High School, in California.  I never left working on yearbooks one way or another since then.  My yearbook adviser, who is my best friend to this day, used to share with me a day where he thought computers could be used for putting together yearbooks.

Back then, we had “quad packs” that were 4 forms with 3 sets of carbon paper between each sheet, with the top sheet having a grid.  We used to take rulers and draw out our layouts using the grids.  We used to insert the quad packs into a type writer to type the names below each student and type out our stories.

Images where delivered to us in had written envelopes, with the students name’s hand printed on the outside.  We had to place stickers and number each of the pictures according to the square they were going to be placed on within that page.

Soon after high school, I went to work for a school photography company that supplied images in hand written envelopes back to the school.  I always envisioned finding a way to automatically print the names on the envelopes that the pictures were delivered in.  I was always a geek, so even while I was in yearbook, I was printing out my homework using a computer, so I knew it could be done.

The paper advanced in the printer using a tractor feed.  So I had to find some sort of envelope that could run through a tractor feed.  There was no Internet to search, so I just had to keep my eyes open for a solution.  I looked into getting them custom done, but it was cost prohibited through any of the local printers or even from printers in the yellow pages.

I had a lab send me a bunch of samples in the mail.  I was thrilled to find that they had sent an envelope used specifically for inserting prints (that we called glossies).  Right on the envelope was the name of the manufacturer, Multi-Graphics, along with their number 1-800-388-7776.  Immediately I called and was able to order the envelope that I knew would help set the company I worked for away from the competition, and make my life easier.

My friend and former yearbook adviser, Jim Dunn, and I used to go out on photo shoots together.  We often went up to Bishop in the High Sierras.  (We still go to this day.  You can see some of my work from this year here).  We used to imagine and talk about SLR cameras that would auto focus and meter several points within a scene.

If we went out to a shoot at a school and something went wrong, we would have to track down a pay phone to call the office bring replacement equipment or supplies out to us.  If the office was closed, we were just out of luck.  We couldn’t just pick up our cell phone and call someone else on their cell phone to ask them to bring us something.

Recently, I attended Pro Photo Summit  at Microsoft.  The photographers were wishing that there was an easier way to catalog their digital images.  They were complaining about how much time that it took to do this.   I couldn’t help but ask myself what they were complaining about.  Sure filing digital images could be a chore, but, when compared to the time it used to take to process the film, print the images, and then file the film AND prints by hand, moving images in folders on an computer was far quicker.

When is quick, not quick enough?

Tomorrow – “Your Life – On Demand”