Monday, February 25, 2013

On Your Blog: How Many Images is Enough?

Recently, a question was asked in a Facebook group ; how many images should someone put on a single blog post?

This is one of those areas where I think many people go overboard. Some blog posts have so many images and so much repetition, I'm clicking out before they even load. Really . . they don't need to be so big, and there certainly don't need to be 15-20.

If you feel the need to show more than a few, my suggestion is to build a collage that has multiple images, then upload it as a single file. It's more efficient use of your time and your blog space.

You have to think of it from the perspective of the viewer; if you were to interview them after having read your blog, would they remember a specific image, or did the impact get watered down by overwhelming them with tons of images?

You want them to remember you for something awesome. Show them 3 awesome images, and they'll remember. Show them 20 average images and they won't remember anything.

The problem is that we as photographers and artists fall in love with our own images. We had the experience of the session and become attached to these images. Our clients do the same.

However, random viewers on our blog look at this proliferation of images to which they have no emotional attachment and think "yeah, they're nice . . . <yawn> . . . this is the same one, only in black and white . . . <yawn> . . . why are there 5 of almost the same pose? . . . <CLICK!> . . . I'm outta here."

Pare it down to a number that's reasonable. You don't have to show 20 and you definitely don't have to show an image in both BW and color. You're the artist; you make that call.

That's why the collage idea works well . . . you can put a half-dozen images together and display them; boom.

It's about keeping the viewer engaged, not trying to show them every image from the session.

- David Grupa

More articles on this subject - Are Your Blogging and Facebook Habits Sabotaging Your Efforts?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Print Competition - or Print Education?

It's that time of year when photographers everywhere are preparing images for Print Competition. It's really a lot less about "competing" with others, however. It is a lot more about the inner challenges you make with yourself and the educational value it holds for you in your photographic career.

When I entered my first competition nearly 30 years ago, I picked my 4 best selling images from that year, made 4 16x20 prints and sent them off to PPA. I even included the extra fee so they would send me the critique; I wanted to hear how good I was.

When I received the case back from them some months later, I was shocked to learn that my highest scoring print was a 68. 68!?!? (Remember, you're shooting for 80 and above; anything below 70 gets put back in the case and doesn't even get displayed!)

I wasn't very happy. I popped the tape into the player to hear the critique and the judge's voice said something about "I'm not sure how much experience you have in this . . . while these are probably images the clients enjoyed, they're not at all what we are looking for in professional competition."

I was PISSED. "Screw them. The first ribbons I want are green ones with dead presidents on them. Who cares about print comp, anyway."

Fast forward to a year from then. A friend of mine drops by the studio because he had invited me to go along to the meeting of the local PPA Affilliate. "Oh, and it's print competition; bring some prints!" he says (as he's pulling prints out of frames on my wall.)

So . . . I go along to watch this. As I'm watching, one of the judges says to the others "If we're just handing out ribbons, we're doing ok, but if we're trying to help the makers prepare for PPA competition, we're not helping anyone by being lenient with our scoring."

Guess whose prints came up next? Yup - mine. 73, 71, 70. I listened to the comments, but knew I was done entering. Forever. This print comp thing sucked.

The next day I'm putting my prints back on the wall and the judges' remarks are still going through my head.

"The lighting is too flat and broad."
"Her hand looks like a claw."
"Cropping on this is too tight."

I had a session that afternoon, so I loaded a 220 roll instead of a 120. (For those of you who never shot film, that means I used a 2g card instead of a 1g. )

I used the first 10 frames to do the session the way I normally would have and the second 10 frames to do what the judges said (mostly just to prove those bastards wrong.) When the film came back from the lab later that week, I looked through the images and was stunned . . . the second set looked so remarkably different, I never even showed the client any of the first 10.

It completely changed how I handled every session. My old "style" was no longer . . . it just didn't have the same impact. Images I would have shown the client in the past were now ending up in the reject pile . . .their only purpose was to show me what I'd done wrong and how to correct it.

Take the time to look at the work of others who have been successful in print competition. The link below will take you to a few galleries of various makers' work that did well in competition.

As Travis Gugelman says "If you want to be fat, eat what fat people eat. If you want to be successful, do what successful people do."

Good luck!

(BTW - I lied when I said I was done entering . . . I received my Master of Photography Degree in 1998.)

- David Grupa

Friday, February 8, 2013

PPA Charities Celebration of Smiles Day

Now is the time to start planning your Spring studio promotions. If you haven't yet explored PPA Charities' Celebration of Smiles Day event, you really owe it to yourself to do just that.

For just a $25 donation, you get a complete Marketing Guide along with all the templates, text and instructions you need for mailing pieces, Facebook posts, Twitter updates, press releases . . . whew! The promotion kit makes the entire project a turn-key event for your studio.

Best of all, you're helping save a child's smile with each portrait session you photograph. Each 10 sessions you photograph with a $24 donation to PPA Charities will repair the cleft lip or palate of one child through the efforts of our charitable partner, Operation Smile.

This promotion can open the door as a way to gain new clients or simply give existing ones a reason to come back to your studio.

Besides, charitable marketing is an excellent way to contribute to a great cause and offer your clients the same opportunity.

Check out all the details at If you're a PPA member, you can sign up right now! If you're not a PPA Member yet, this may be a great excuse to join the world's oldest, strongest and best organization of professional photographers.

(Don't forget to follow @PPACharities on Twitter and use the hashtag #CelebrationofSmilesDay to find out more about this exciting promotion!)