2018 Time for a website update.

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So we’ve been quiet for a while and there is good reason for that, we have building websites.

We are updating and creating exciting new sites for csfotoimages the photographic section and main company of Chris L Smith. We have started a second sister company to csfotoimages called csfprinting which is a wide format fine art printing company that will service artists, photographers and The Vintage Poster Company –  another sister company of csfotoimages selling vintage posters from 1900-1960.

We are building exciting new websites showing you that in 2018 we will be offering big, bold prints for your walls, offering handmade aviation style frames for our vintage plane images, shooting new images for stock in the West and we will be offering a bigger variety of vintage poster at competitive prices and bigger sizes.

Remember if you need high quality photography – 28 years experience, wide format printing or something to hang on that wall – reach out – chris@csfotoimages.com

Thanks

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Happy Holidays

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I want to wish all my FB, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest friends and fans a super “Happy Holidays” 2017 and may 2018 be as interesting (politically) and exciting as 2017.

I haven’t posted to my blog for a week as time has been in short supply! I have been preparing the foundations for a third business which i’m happy to announce is called CSFPrinting.

As a Photographer of many years and the former Chief Archive Photographer and Printer for the Royal Naval Air Service, the opportunity to expand my business into the World of Fine Art Printing is now here. We will be using the fabulous Canon ImageProGraf 44inch large format printer and Hamelmuhle papers

We will be launching a website early 2018 with a selection of size options and prices for photographers and artists alike to get their work printed from a company that prides itself on attention to detail and competitive prices.

More details to come, so keep looking for our blog posts….

Last day for Online Purchases

Last-Chance

As Christmas looms nearer, owning a mail order company it’s our last day for sales on-line to actually get delivered before Christmas……. How many people out there wait until the last minute before either buying on-line or buying from a store? Thousands!

I remember working in retail when I was in my early 20’s and people would rush into the store ten minutes before we closed the doors. You could sell sand to an Arab or snow to an Inuit during those golden minutes! Men are different when it comes to buying. They should want to buy their “other arf” jewelry or something that shouts “You are special”. For some reason they often make the biggest mistake of the year. For goodness sake, don’t buy a household gadget… it’s such an insult and saying “I didn’t know what you wanted so i bought”….. a vacuum cleaner, crockpot etc. Women, if you are buying for a man, don’t buy socks or a tie….. that’s like saying, “I don’t know you and have no idea what to buy you”

If you don’t know what to buy your spouse or partner, save the day and go with the latest trend……

So what is the hottest thing this year? Well, its Ancestry dot com’s DNA test. People want to know where they come from, its’ knowing your roots. As the World seems to be more and more divided over politics and religion, people want something to hold onto. For Americans, we want to know our roots. Surprises and disappointments are inevitable, but what a gift.

So there you go. If you haven’t got a clue what to get your spouse, partner, parents, siblings, give them the opportunity to find their roots…..

Remember, Gifts: give it with love and receive with grace.

 

Drones

 

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If you are a photographer like me you probably want to try out the world of aerial photography. So if you are looking for a drone, which one is best for you? Its another financial investment minefield and its just like starting out in photography all over again, Nikon or Canon, which one do I buy?

I think when it comes to drones, it’s pretty much down to one choice of manufacturer: DJI. The thing with DJI is they are a longtime established Chinese company but I have to say  their customer service record is less than impressive.

So you’ve never flown a drone, you don’t come from the age of video gamers like the kids have today. Do you want to save yourself some heartache? Buy a cheap $50-100 drone and start with that. Play with it, crash it, fix it and fly it again until you get the hang of the hand controller joystick controls and how sensitive they are. Remember, you are not driving a tank, you have to be graceful and make small movements with those joysticks, otherwise you will zoom up, down and hit something hard in minutes of your first flight. You don’t want to invest $800 and crash it in seconds!

Now you have a grasp of flying, just like those Boeing 777 pilots who trained on those small Cessna or Piper planes, you can think about moving onto the bigger “toys”. So which one?

Do you buy a Phantom 3 or 4, a hand sized Mavic or the Inspire 1 or 2? It all depends upon your budget. Your biggest criteria is what do you want it for, stills, video or stills and video. Chances are you will try out a video or two and get hooked. If this is the case, you need to make sure you buy a drone with a 4k or higher video capability.

So if you want small and easily transportable, pick a Phantom 3 Advanced or Pro, they are cheaper than the Phantom 4 but just as good unless are one of those people who must have the very latest technology.  Dont buy the Phantom 3 Standard ($500), it has a 2.8k video which is basically useless unless you want it just for fun. If you want interchangable lenses and cameras then look at the Inspire 1 or 2.

You can buy a Phantom 3 Advanced and Professional with a fixed 12mpxl stills camera and 4k video for around $800

 

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and the Inspire 1 with an interchangable Zenmus x3 12mpxl stills camera and 4k video for $1800. If you want the Inspire 2 then expect to pay a lot more. You can add the Zenmus x5 or x7 camera to either the Inspire 1 or 2 which have interchangable lens capability. With this option you are looking at budgeting for around $5000 and more.

One big drawback with all drones is the flying time. A battery will at best give you 15-20minutes flying time. You can do a lot in 20minutes but if you’ve driven many miles to get to a place to fly, you might want to invest in a couple of extra batteries – Look to pay around $100-$150 each.

You haven’t stopped their with your spending just yet. If you haven’t already got one, an ipad is a must… remember your camera sends real-time video and you want to see where you are flying and what you are recording…. An iphone 6s Plus is a great option too.

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OK, so now you’ve bought your drone. Do you want to fly it for fun or to make money? You’re a photographer, so of course you want to make money. OK you have to register it with the FAA if you are in the US and this bit is free or it was! You will get an aircraft recognition code which you have to place on your drone – just like a Cessna or Boeing plane, and you have got to go to Flight School and pass your commercial operators part 107 license test…..It’s a bi-annual test designed to give you the knowledge of how to operate your drone professionally and safely in most environments.

So now you are good to go….. Well, nearly!

It’s not manditory, but you really need to insure your investment and if you haven’t already got it, public liability Insurance. You can insure your investment against crashes and repair or replace costs with State Farm under the Personal Property Insurance policy (US). Its around $75 for an Inspire 1 but that’s a fraction of what it would cost if you lost it or crashed it.

You are set to go…. Now go fly your drone and have fun….

 

 

 

Marketing your Website

Internet Marketing

OK, so you have decided on your website design, bought your domain name, bought a hosting package, built your website and launched it. Now what?

Well if you have added a counter to your website, you most probably haven’t seen the numbers move past 1….. You are confused, the site looks great and every link works, where are the visitors?

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Now comes the hardest fact you will have to swallow about websites: You are just one of millions of websites and nobody knows where you are, you are a speck of sand in a desert. So what now?

Marketing your website. Go to Google and look for FREE SEO tools. prepare your site to be crawled by spiders, these are bots that seek out information such as  your keywords – if you type into google “Photographer” “Sarasota” for example, providing you have added these keywords to your site’s metadata, you will be seen on Google…

OK so getting yourself on Google, Yahoo and the thousands of other search engines, google “Free search engine submissions” and start adding your name. it helps but you still will only see a trickle of visitors. It takes time and you need to work on a blog, social media and good old fashioned business cards.

It’s not easy and there is no quick solution. The best way to get visitors is to pay social media for advertising. Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Dont be shy, be proud of your business, drop business cards around, ask your family to help…. Your site is a landing page, its an airport for your visitors and if you are not on the map, they will just fly past you…. you have to light up that airport and shout “Look at me”

Good luck and keep thinking positive when you think all is lost… you will succeed.

 

Website Software

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Wednesday I talked about the idea of building your own website and the pitfalls of long domain names and single or multi-page websites.

Today I want to talk about software to build your site.

I am a photographer, a techie and a cheapskate! For starters, I don’t have hundreds of $$$ to hire some person to build me a website that might not be what they interpreted from my wishes and goals from a meeting. I also want total control over what photos are on my site, links and when I want to make changes.

So, whats the easiest wysiwyg software to use needing no knowledge of html coding and that looks good when you’ve finished?

Well, if you aren’t technically minded, feel totally confused about the whole process, then save yourself a headache and sleepless nights in front of your computer screen by going with Wix or WordPress. You can choose a template, get a domain name, an email and its all from one company with just one monthly or annual payment. They have pretty much simplified the whole process with a drag and drop set up and if you need help, you have a techi at the other end of the phone to help you.

For myself, I started building websites around 20 years ago so have some years of experience on what I want and how I want it to look. I started building my website using Microsoft Frontpage V1. It was a good program, easy to use, with a lot of recognizable tools and a design view associated with MS products such as Word. This was around until 2006 and I liked it very much but it wasn’t keeping up with trends and so frontpage sites began to look dated. In ’06 Microsoft decided to give it a facelift and call it Expression but it was just adding fresh lipstick to an old queen!

Today’s software choices are vast. In the beginning there just a handful, but now its confusing and costly as you can pay from $20 to $400. The biggest requirement I can see is any software worth purchasing has to offer platform conversion to include auto resizing for desktop, tablet and phone. Think about it, you design your site on your desktop, how many people use their iphones to view webpages? MILLIONS!

For my choice I use Adobe Muse. Its not the easiest of programs but if you have any other Adobe family members on your desktop it will be easy to navigate. It has a few limitations but it has a lot more to offer for those who want something different.

I have to say Terry White has some amazing step-by step- tutorial videos on Youtube. He shows you how to build a simple website and also how to improve your skills to create that website you’ve always dreamed about.

Whatever you software you decide to use, remember don’t make it hard to navigate and don’t over complicate thing. The more complicated you make it, the harder it is to fix and if something doesn’t work on a live site, people will just walk away.

 

 

Updating Your Website

Web Design

I have always believed that you should update your website at least twice a year and for one, I update mine quarterly. So as I sprained my back on Monday, I thought it was an opportune moment to work on updating my website.

The most important thing about a website is it’s www name. If you are starting out you may forget that the longer the URL, the more chance that someone will mispell it and so they will see a page 404 instead of your site that you have spent many hours building it.

I made this mistake when I started by a website: http://www.csphotorestoration.co.uk

The second biggest consideration today you have to ask yourself is: One page or many pages?

Well as people now use their iPhones or iPads more and more, multi-page websites are no longer the way to go. I update a single page website that the viewer can just scroll down on his/her mobile device. People are busy, they don’t have time to find the link on their phones and possibly cannot see it anyway because it’s so small!

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The next big question is what are you building a website for?

If like me you are a small business, you want that site to be easily navigated by potential clients. You want links to social media and other sites that probably would have been those multiple pages that you’d have designed years ago. For instance:

Why have an “about me” page? In todays world, you just add links to a Facebook business or LinkedIn. If you are a Photographer like myself, you probably either have images on Instagram or Pinterest. I for one have been in the stock photography business since 1994 so have links to my Agents….

Lastly, to blog or not to blog. Well it takes time to get one started but I believe that telling people about new additions to your website, be it services or new images, anything that you might be of interest to customers or followers who might be potential customers is a great idea.

Above all else make your website interesting and colorful.