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Photo Marketing 101: Create that Marketing Budget

Welcome back to Photo Marketing 101, our semi-weekly blog series on marketing yourself as a photographer. In our last post, I laid out a couple of ideas that you can use to begin to market yourself and your services for free.

An investment in marketing is an investment in your business. Each dollar you spend should pay for itself and then some. Here are a few things worth trying:

Paid Search Marketing

Paid search marketing is a way to spend your marketing dollars in a controlled environment to attract potential customers who are already searching for you. Whenever you search something on Google or Bing, you will see paid ads show up on the top and right hand side of the natural results that the search engine displays. These ads are targeted to the keywords that you entered into the search field.

You can use ads in search engines to attract potential customers. Step 1 is picking your keywords. What will people be searching for when you want to bring them to your website? If you’re a wedding photographer in Springfield, you might use “wedding photographer in Springfield”. It can be that simple. Google provides a simple keyword generator tool which can help you build a list of keywords similar to yours that people are searching.

Step 2 is to create the ads. You have a limited amount of space to get across your message. The key here is to give accurate information, and let the person know what you’re offering before they click. Because in paid search, you only pay when someone clicks on the ad. You can even use a phone number and pricing in your ad to stand out from the crowd.

Step 3 is to set your budget. One reason why paid search is a good place to start spending money is you can limit it very easily. You can spend as much or as little as you want per day, or per week, and turn it off whenever you need to. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Google AdWords and the AdWords Learning Center.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook ads work a lot like paid search marketing. The ads on the right side of all pages on Facebook are easy to create and target only those people who might be interested in your services. You can use an image to call attention to your ad, and target people based on location, age, gender, and interests. In addition, you can cap the amount of money you want to spend, just like paid search. With the amount of time people spend on social media sites these days, this might be a very profitable place to advertise for a lot of people.

If you’re interested in getting started or learning more, visit the Facebook Advertising Page.


Sponsorships are an interesting form of marketing, because they’re a way to tap into an existing marketplace instead of trying to create your own. Organizations, websites, and companies are often looking for sponsors to help them launch a product, promote an event, or offer something special to their customer base.

Get a sense of who your potential customers are, and where they might be spending a lot of their time. Maybe there is an event taking place near where you work or live, and a lot of potential customers will be attending. By sponsoring the event, you’d be able to get your name in front of that audience when they buy tickets or attend the event. It gives you a little credibility because the host of the event is essentially introducing you to their audience.

Sponsorships can be very successful, but are tougher to find. You will have to do more work, researching the potential sponsorships that exist, contacting those people in charge, and negotiating the relationship. Often times you might be able to give something away for free or help them promote the event/product which can limit the monetary cost to you.

In the next edition of this series, I will ask you – the readers – for some new marketing ideas that you’ve looked into or tested and the results.

Homework: Get over the fear! The fear of spending money on marketing is something that can cause hesitation for anyone that is doing it for the first time. Use the comments below to discuss this fear and share insight and encouragement that others can use to help get past this hesitation.


Analogue Photography Sounds - Don't You Miss Them?

Director Lv Sisi, while at the Glasgow School of Art, made this week's Video Pick that lauds the sights and sounds of analogue photography. All the clicks, hums, and whirls from a collection of antique cameras are captured in this hip-hop, almost Bring-It-On drum corps piece that uses lots of stop motion technique with over 6,000 still photographs. Sisi (available on Twitter: @ft_jelly) observed that "speed and accessibility have come at the expense of mystery, intimacy, and tactility - qualities exclusive to analogue photography." Do you miss analogue's "the way we were"?


Join the conversation on Twitter.  Follow along with Facebook.

Tune in on YouTube.  Visit the Official Site at



One Buck Camera Glee

For just $1, I entered the world of faux-film photography. It was a whimsical purchase after seeing several retro type shots taken by the multi-talented Dianna Agron of Glee. She used it as an off-camera camera, revealing the intimate side of the cast members on and off the set. Like the TV show, the Hipstamatic app soon became a household name infiltrating its way into the fabric of our society. Not a day went by where my Facebook wall wasn't littered with photos that looked like they were taken 50 years ago. Still, despite being overused at the peak of its popularity, there was an authenticity to the images that ordinary phone snaps were lacking. What some may have initially written off as a fad appeared to have staying power.

This shift was first evident after New York Times photographer Damon Winter used the app to document war in Afghanistan.  Winter is a Pulitzer prize winning photographer whose work I've long admired for its creativity, and technical brilliance. Yet, when his photo story "A Grunt's Life" was awarded third place in the Pictures of the Year International contest, a flood of naysayers took to the Internet to bash the ethics of his camera selection.  In his thoughtful response, Winter said "I will always stand behind these photographs and am confident in my decision that this was the right tool to tell this particular story." In studying the series of twelve photos, it's difficult to envision them any other way. The quiet, introspective moments he captured coupled with vintage aesthetics make for a telling look at life behind enemy lines.

Recently, an Associated Press article asked "How much longer can film hold on?"   The number of users has plummeted dramatically, and declining sales numbers indicate impending doom. Ironically enough, the first Brownie sold in 1900 for just $1.  Over a century later, it appears we have come full circle.

Here are some images I've recently taken using faux-film. They were all shot in Hipstamatic with the iPhone 4, John S lens, and Ina's 1969 film option.  I'd like to hear your thoughts on this topic. 








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Tune in on YouTube.  Visit the Official Site at


King of the Cardboard Camera

Hyperbole Studio's Kiel Johnson has a mania for designing 3D sculptural forms, and he's turned his attention several times to designing cardboard cameras. Shown above is one of his SLR 1 creations, and in the following video, you'll see his step-by-step, time-lapse creative process in putting together a cardboard twin lens reflex camera. He even turned it into a pinhole camera and took pictures that you can see here. 

Click to read more ...


Transform the iPad into a Mobile Tabletop Studio

Editor's Note: The moment I heard how NYI Student Tom Freudenstein was using his iPad as a lightbox, I knew it would be something that would interest our readers.  Tom was gracious enough to write about his experience creating a mobile tabletop studio. The results are stunning. - CC

I was fascinated by the lecture on light tables in the NYI Pro Course and then had the idea to use the iPad 2 as a mini light table. My camera set up was the Canon 50d with a 24-70mm 1:2.8 L lens. Because of the rather long exposure times (between 1/3 and 10 seconds), I needed a tripod and a 2 second shutter delay to avoid shaking the camera when pressing the release button. All pictures are large JPEG and the ISO is set to 100. I started with a couple of pictures taken in P mode and then used these values as the basis for manual changes to aperture and time.


The application Soft Box Pro can be obtained through the App Store. It is free for iPhones and $3 USD (2.39 Euro) for the iPad. The app offers a variety of light options. For my setup, I used the simple white full square light and varied the intensity from time to time. I did not want to place any objects directly on the iPad. Instead, I took the glass out of a picture frame, the size of the glass being a little larger than the iPad. I placed four small wooden logs (from my sons toy drawer) around the Pad and placed the glass on top. There was my mini light table. 

I bought an image cube backdrop through ebay ( It is a small cardboard backdrop that can be set up on the dining table or even in a cluttered hobby room in the basement.
The objects I chose for my still life photo were a glass of dry sherry, a few grapes and a cork - very simpe. I added the bottle towards the end of the session. I tried to make the grapes look fesh and wet by adding drops of water in some pictures. I followed the instructions of the Pro Course and first applied some glycerin and then sprayed the water.

I came across a number of problems. My first setup was on the dining table. I found too many reflections from various windows to be a little disturbing. I could close the shades on one side, but not on the other. I have played around with a reflector and two household flashlights. One of them was directed at the backdrop, which created a nice separation but did not really help with the reflections. Then, I relocated the set to the hobby room in the basement. Because of some reconstruction, we store a lot of stuff there and it is absolutely cluttered and full. But only one window which could be covered with a dark cloth. Now I had full control of the lighting. The iPad light from below, two flashlights and a standard floor lamp did the job.


Another problem was the small size of the iPad and the backdrop. Depending on the angle of the camera, the frame included the iPad or the wood logs or something else I did not want to have in the picture. This is clearly a disadvantage of the small setup and a problem that does not exist with a pro light table. I moved the camera fairly close and zoomed in to solve this.

 Finally, the depth of field was an issue. To make the background nice and soft I first used a wide aperture of 2.8. The depth of field often was too shallow, which was nice in some pictures but not in others. The other extreme at f22 created a sharp and crisp image, but also showed every little piece of dust, dirt or roughness of the backdrop. I finally ended up with f 6.3 as a middle ground that felt and looked right to me. I really like the "sparkle" at the side of the sherry glass, which I have created by pointing a flashlight from behind the set at the glass and using a small aperture.



To see more of Tom's photography, visit online here.