COM0015 – BLOG #4 – One more piece of the puzzle

As a photographer (working for federal government) I also have my side business and I understand what’s involved in the challenge of managing your own enterprise.

When I started this Social Media Course about a year and a half ago, I felt that Social Media and Photography would be a great complement to each other. I also knew that I wanted to eventually work on a plan for the Martial Art School I am attending. It is a small local business with an owner who comes from Venezuela and since I joined only a couple months following the opening, I get to witness the progress of his academy as one of the first adults in the group. I regularly have discussions with the owner about his school and processes, whether it concerns physical renovations or social medias posts and recruiting, etc.

Creating a social media plan and especially the SWOT analysis for a business that is outside my field (photography) and comparing its performance to other schools in the area was something that allowed me to analyze somehow outside my comfort zone.

I realized that I was really enjoying having an input into his growing business. Integrating Networking + Social Media + Business/marketing turned out to be very interesting. It felt as if everything was falling into place. Just the way I felt Social Media and Photography would complement each other. I think that, moving forward, I will be seeking some courses in marketing, as this is probably the missing piece of the puzzle.

Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 21.55.04 PM

Screenshot of ebomartialarts.com

COMM0015 – BLOG #3 – Make friends

At some point in my military career I was an official photographer for a VIP. During this time, I had the extreme opportunity to work and travel alongside some of the best news photographers in Canada and abroad.

Knowing that this assignment was only temporary, I was preparing the next phase in my career and I needed to work on a Plan B. I decided to register my business as a photographer and started to compare my workflow with what the other photographers were doing.

MEDIA PIT 2

Prime minister Swearing In ceremony, November 2015 – Photo by Justin Tang

In order to gain access to their incredible knowledge, I had to extend my hand out, introduce myself, observe how they were working, ask questions and most of all, try my best to return the favor and I would even take some pictures of them while working some of the historic stories we had the pleasure of covering. Make friends. That was my strategy. And it worked.

Fortunately it was during the time that Facebook and Instagram were becoming popular so that helped me connect with them on the longer term. I have since continued to pick on their brain from time to time but the best of all is that I managed to follow their incredible work, daily.

Regardless of the network I am trying to create, online or in person, this is the strategy I would adopt in order to grow my own network:

  1. Be friendly,
  2. Ask questions,
  3. Try my best to give back,
  4. Stay in touch,

It has since become a habit to look around to see what my colleagues are doing and how I can connect them. I believe that once you have added this to your routine it just becomes second nature. I don’t believe much in competition; after all, we are never going to run out of light…

In the near future, I plan on growing my network by connecting with other colleagues within government to see how they manage Social Medias in their department. I will of course start with our own then go from there.

Would you know someone with a photography background that work in social media?

The Healing power of Art

People are visual beings. According to branding expert Ernesto Olivares, we are 90% visual beings. While animals like dogs and cats use their sense of smell, and bats have a heightened sense of hearing, people are undeniably visually stimulated. Research from 3M Corporation tells us that humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Visuals catch your eye, grab and sustain your attention more so than text ever can, at a speed and rate that text cannot match. HubSpot social media scientist Dan Zarrella found that tweets with visuals are more likely to be retweeted 94% more than tweets without visuals. This is a statistic I have known for a long time, and not because I work in the field of  advertising/marketing. Here below is a famous advertisement from the 1930s advertising agency, Young and Rubicam. It is a classic example of how a visual can affect the way we feel and think.

From Young and Rubicam Inc., July 1930, Public Domain

Also, when I think of the magazine National Geographic, I visualize the iconic photo of Afghan refugee, Sharbat Gula, captured by photographer Steve McCurry. It remains a powerful image etched in my and the collective world’s memories.

Afghan girl, Steve McCurry, National Geographic, 1985

Donghwy An and Nara Youn of South Korea’s Hongik University write that “appreciating art induces inspiration, which in turn facilitates performance on creative tasks.” Their research show that simply displaying art in the work environment could enhance and intensify employees’ creative capabilities.

This research is no doubt part of an increasing amount of scientific evidence that has proven that visual art enhances brain function. It has an impact on brain wave patterns and emotions, the nervous system, and can actually raise serotonin levels. Art can change a person’s outlook and the way they experience the world.

For me, looking at photos and artwork put my mind at ease. This could be the reason why I have loved going to art galleries around the world while on vacation. Whenever I go to London, I always visit the Tate Modern, and the British Museum. In 2018, I was fortunate enough to spend my birthday in New York City, where I visited the Guggenheim, The Met and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). It was a dream come true, and a bucket item I could tick off my list! When I spend time with art, I feel uplifted, inspired and transported to another time and place, and my momentary worries dissipate. Even if for just 5 minutes. Looking at art is for me, a healing balm in a sea of daily monotony and anxiety.

Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night 1889 at MOMA
Claude Monet, Water Lilies 1914-26 – at MOMA
Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 at MOMA

On social media, I read posts that include a story with an image, or just a hashtag with a video. I find that as a hobbyist photographer, I love Instagram for the window it opens for me, to view other photographers’ work and to admire the creativity in art; in fact, it downright inspires and motivates me. When I am having a bad day, I spend time scrolling Instagram and being motivated by countless photos of food, landscapes, fashion and art, lifts me right out of the doldrums. Many times, posts don’t need words. Visual art speaks to me like no other medium can. I don’t have to process text, dialogue, nor lyrics. I don’t have to concentrate on the meaning behind the words, or the scene. I just have to stare at it, for possibly just seconds, and I feel its emotions, and connect with its message. That is the healing power of art and the visual medium.

References

Ernesto Oliveras (January, 2013). We are 90% visual beings. Retrieved from https://ernestoolivares.com/we-are-90-visuals-beings/.

Rachel Gillett (September 18, 2014). Why We’re More Likely To Remember Content With Images And Video (Infographic). Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3035856/why-were-more-likely-to-remember-content-with-images-and-video-infogr.

Image of Afghan girl, Sharbat Gula. Steve McCurry, National Geographic, June 1985. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghan_Girl.

Scott Martin (July 10, 2017). Attention Grabbers: 5 Essentials to Make your Marketing stand out. Retrieved from https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/attention-grabbers/.

Tom Jacobs (November 23, 2017). Exposure to art inspires creativity at the office. Retrieved from https://psmag.com/news/exposure-to-art-inspires-creativity-at-the-office.

Renée Phillips (May 13, 2019). Art Enhances Brain Function and Well-Being. Retrieved from https://www.healing-power-of-art.org/art-and-the-brain/.

All other images of art from MOMA, taken by MKwok003.

COMM0014 – Blog #7 – There is always 2 sides to a medal.

As a photojournalist, telling stories is what my job is. There are always 2 sides to a medal and, as a staff photographer I get to show our side of it. The medias can take care of the other side.

VICTORIA CROSS MEDAL

Photo of the medals awarded to Lt.-Col. David Currie during the Second World War including the Victoria Cross. Photo by Serge Gouin

With a minimum of information, a time, place and a contact name, I need to be able to show up at any location with the appropriate gear, and document any event in a way that will go along the lines of what my client is hoping.

There is rarely only one client since, many department can benefit from these images. If I do it right, I can supply images for the event manager (most likely to promote the event the next year), the social media team, the recruiting team, our image bank and even the participants themselves.

Understanding your audience, the impact you are hoping to get is crucial. Learning to please most of it is something I need to deal with on a daily basis. Experience is the key and feedback is the most precious thing you can ever get.

Telling a story is not hard for me. That being said, the challenge is always there. What if the light is not as nice as you expected? What if only 10 people showed up to this rally? What do you do if it rains? …

You just need to find the right angle. Our angle. Our side of the medal.

 

 


 

If you wish to read about the medal’s story, click here

COMM0014 – Blog #6 – Photography was my plan B.

Sego Basic Training

Basic Training portrait taken by the base photographer, 2002.

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to wear a uniform. As a teenager I wanted to become an Infantry soldier. But I wanted a plan B in case that did not work or I change my mind. I made sure to complete my High School and went to CEGEP (College in Quebec) in order to get a diploma in something else. This is where I started photography in a Photo club and I loved it so much that I chose to study it at La cite Collegiale in Ottawa.

Perfect timing: about a month before I graduated, a Military recruiter came to our class with openings in the dream job I did not even know existed: Imagery technician in the Canadian Armed Forces. “Where do I sign?” was my question when I raised my hand at the end of the presentation.

Sgt Serge Gouin

Portrait of me before I retired from the military in 2012. Photo by MCpl Pierre Thériault, DND.

Fast forward 11 years in my career as an Image-tech, it was time for us to make some tough choices and decided that we did not want our family to move anymore. I had to be realistic: photography is not a trade that offers a lot of permanent openings. As a plan B, I registered my business and started getting equipment and taking small jobs on the side. This way, even if I did not find work in my field, I could continue to work my art (and pay the bills).

Once again, I was lucky and I managed to score a position, as a photographer, within our federal government where I have been working for 6 more years now.

sego silhouette

Silhouette of me working in 2017. Photo by Rick Millette.

As the saying goes: “Timing is everything”, and if you have a Plan B, you increase your chances to be happy in life. At least it worked for me.

Do you have a plan B?

COMM0014 – BLOG #3 -Variable audience

As you may know by now, I’m a photographer . I have two kind of clients: 1- The strategists from my full time Job and, 2- my sideline photography business.

Serge photographe

Taking pictures of Garance

I quickly realized that I always have more than one client for my products of the same event. For example, if I take photos at a parade, I might take some close ups that can be used by the recruiting department and artistic photos for the social media teams. If I am lucky, the boss might use some for her twitter account and so on. The audience varies depending on the strategists and their specific projects and I try and bring home a variety of images that tells the story and will suit everyone.

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 20.51.04 PM

Screenshot @CommrRCMPGRC ‘s Twitter account using my pictures of a parade.

For my business, it is a totally different picture. My audience consists of my friends, my family, local families and businesses in my community. They usually come from my network, meaning people I work/train with, friends or mouth-to-ear referrals. They are mid-class to wealthy people (meaning they can afford professional photography services). I find it interesting when I look at my client’s sessions page. It gives me a visual of who they and who is reaching out for my services. My blog, website and Instagram are used to share my work with them, including what I do at work.

At this time, my strategy is not aimed towards getting a lot of clients. Since I work full time, I keep my online presence to maintain a reputation and, from time to time, find opportunities for assignments.

While we are here…

We are currently taking part in an international photo contest with one of my image! Head to this @Policenationale Instagram post and please like my picture to help us win! – and become part of my audience!

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 20.43.22 PM

Please vote for my picture on @policenationale ‘s Instagram account!

 

 

COM0011: Using images in your social media posts, 3 easy steps

Importance of imagery on social media

Let me ask you, when scrolling through your Facebook feed, how often do you stop to read a lengthy block of text? I can tell you my answer, and it’s ‘hardly ever’
In addition to that, unless you’ve read through that text, you’re not going to get the message let alone stop scrolling and ‘like’ it which would provide organic engagement.

Now let me ask you, how many times have you scrolled through your Instagram and saw a stunning image and ‘liked’ it without reading the text? For me, it’s all the time.
The value of images is so important for story telling and engagement on today’s social media channels.

According to HubSpot, a well recognized inbound marketing platform,
“Photos on Facebook pages received 53% more likes than the average post.
Photo posts attracted 104% more comments than the average post”
facebook-engagement-metrics-hubspot-resized-600
Above graphic courtesy of Hubspot.com

Where can you find images for your social media?

1. Try out a royalty free stock agency
Stock photography/vector sites’ accessibility and affordability have increased dramatically even over the past 10 years thanks to digital cameras and the amount of contributors.
Here are a couple I personally recommend from free to less than $1 per image:

Creative Commons
With 1 billion works and counting you’re bound to find exactly what you need to deliver your message. Always remember to credit the creator of the image.

Dreamstime
98 million royalty stock free images available; there is a free content section and a paid one as well.
Even Narcity Canada is using Dreamstime images for their social media posts!

Shutterstock
200+ million images available, from pay as your go to subscription or try the free image of the week
merry christmas

2. Make your own content: stage a photoshoot
Photograph your neon open sign to advertise your Spring hours or style a ‘Thank You’ card to accompany a personal shout out to your followers for following along.
The camera quality at our finger tips is crazy.
thank-you-card-18531979

3. Leave it to the pros
Lifestyle/branding photography is huge right now. Consider spending a couple hundred dollars on a customized professional session to show off you and your business; in your work space or on location.
Images can include your products, headshots, or environmental shots of you working that will be eye catching and can be used to promote any of your services or make an announcement. Customers love to do business with people they can see so get in front of the lens.
1 satin-and-snow-brand-photography 2Bonus tip:
Only use relevant images to the topic you’re writing or posting about.

Add images to your posts and see the difference in your online reach!

How have images improved your social media experience? (Either as a business or a consumer)
Leave a comment below to join the conversation

 

 

Facebook:
The importance of images on your social media; 3 tips to include photos on your feed for 100% more engagement: https://bit.ly/2FeQnbu

Twitter:
3 easy tips for including images in your #socialmedia will have you questioning why you haven’t started yet: https://bit.ly/2FeQnbu

COM0011_S18_

Hello fellow social media fans! My name is Mel and I’m here to improve my understanding of trends in social media and learn how to engage more personally with my followers and the followers of the brand account that I manage.
I’ve been in the creative field of photography for the past 15 years since graduating from the Algonquin College diploma program and am finding more and more how importantly photography and social media go hand in hand.
When I started photography, it was still film and social media wasn’t even a term, so I’m interested to develop my skills in this ever changing field and delve more into the benefits of trends I’ve been seeing pop up such as the popularity of stories and Facebook live, and how they can be applied to my photography based career.

To me, social media is the practice of online engagement: the producing of, sharing and commenting on content created by users for users via social media platforms. It’s truly fascinating how much content on any subject is available at our finger tips at any given time.
One of my favourite aspects of social media is blogs. I find the majority of blogs that I follow are photography related (occupational hazard) but what draws me into their content the most are use of images (is it appropriate for the blog content? Is it beautiful and eye catching? Is it original?) and the tone of the text in the blog.
When reading personal interest blogs I’m looking for a friendly conversational tone; I want to be included in the conversation and feel like I was there when I read the back story about the images that are sparking emotions as I scroll through.

Here’s one of my favourite blogs by Two Mann Studios, an Alberta based husband and wife photography team: https://twomann.com/blog/2019/02/26/kimmi-dwaynes-wedding-negril-jamaica-spa-retreat-boutique-hotel/

Copyright: Two Mann Studios (https://twomann.com/blog)

How do you feel about their latest post?

Find Your Audience via Instagram

instagram_logo

Saturday, M. (2013, May 2)

As a photographer, likely one of your goals is to gain an audience for your work. The Internet allows you the opportunity to do that on worldwide scale. The challenge is finding the best way to find that audience. For a long time sites like Flickr, Smugmug and 500px were popular with photographers but now they are looking to Instagram.

It’s easy to see why photographer’s are making the move to Instagram. Instagram is rated the world’s 14th most popular site according to Alexa.

Instagram

Alexa (2018, June 24)

Here are some things to consider as to whether or not Instagram is a good option for your photographs.

Pros for using Instagram

  • Only social media application that is specifically designed for photos.
  • Instant feedback on your photo!
  • Great place to get inspired and to inspire.
  • Can target your audience through hashtags.
  • More likely to get your photographs discovered / noticed than on sites such Flickr or 500px.
  • Don’t need a large number of followers to have an impact.
  • Fastest growing social media platform.
  • Doesn’t limit the reach of your photo unlike Facebook which will only let 400 people see your post.
  • Don’t need a smart phone or iPad to post photographs, although it makes it easier.
  • Potential of getting clients depending on how you want to use it.

Cons for using Instagram

  • People can “steal” your photographs.
  • Privacy setting is set at the account level and not per photo.
  • You cannot arrange or group photos together. They display in the order that they are posted.
  • You need to post consistently to gain / maintain followers.

Is Instagram the right platform for your photography?

social-facebook-box-blue-icon Is Instagram right for you? https://bit.ly/2jVojNI

Twitter_icon Find an audience for your photographs via Instagram. https://bit.ly/2jVojNI

References

Saturday, M. (2013, May 2) Instagram Logo Retrieved from: https://dribbble.com/shots/1054954-Instagram-Logo

Alexa (2018, June 24) How popular is Instagram.com Retrieved from: https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/instagram.com

In Search of the Boneyard

I saw some stunning photos of a location called the “boneyard”.

Tree

All I had to go on was that it was located on the coast in South Carolina. It took some Googling but eventually I found the location – Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area which is located on Edisto Island in South Carolina.

Here is what you need to know, if you want to visit this location.

Address:

7510 Botany Bay Rd
Edisto Island, SC 29438

GPS:

32.539498, -80.260708

Google Map

Copyright Google Maps

Notes:

  • There are no signs that will direct you to the planation so using a GPS is helpful because the street signs are small and hard to see in the dark.
  • SC Highway 174 is a single lane winding road that you will be driving in the dark so drive carefully.
  • There are speed bumps on the planation roads which you might not see in the dark.
  • To get to the beach, you need to make a right at the second road where you will see a small sign.

Accommodations:

There are no hotels on the island however there are house rentals available but unless you want to rent for a week, this isn’t a feasible option. Edisto Beach state park is close and has campsites as well as 7 cabins otherwise expect to stay in either Charleston or Beaufort which are both an hour away.

Open:

The planation is open from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset. There is an automated gate so even if you arrive early you will need to wait.

Note: The planation is closed on Tuesday’s for hunting.

Cost:

There is no cost to access the planation but you need to obtain a day use pass which can be found at the kiosk that is located near the main gate. If you get to the gate early you can walk in and obtain the pass while you wait.

Getting to the Beach:

There is a ½ mile causeway that you need to cross before you reach the beach.

Prior to Hurricane Matthew the most interesting trees were located to the left of the beach access path. I haven’t been back since the hurricane so this might have changed.

Tips:

  • Given the damage from the hurricane, you might want to scout the beach prior to trying to shoot a sunrise.
  • Given the amount of time it will take to get from the gate, across the causeway and to the beach you will want to ensure that you have all your gear ready to go.
  • Beware of the tide schedule so that you are not attempting to photograph during high tide as there will be no access to the beach.
  • There are no bathrooms or washrooms available in the planation, the closet are located in the town.
  • This is a natural beach which means that by law you are not allowed to remove shells.

More Information:

https://www2.dnr.sc.gov/ManagedLands/ManagedLand/ManagedLand/57

Sunrise at Botany Bay in South Carolina. from Holly Lumley on Vimeo.

Twitter_icon In search of the boneyard. #DiscoverSC #EdistoIsland https://bit.ly/2JLdjjC

social-facebook-box-blue-iconFinding the boneyard on Edisto Island. https://bit.ly/2JLdjjC

References

Google Maps (n.d.) Retrieved 14 June, 2018 from https://www.google.ca/maps/dir//Botany+Bay+Rd,+Edisto+Island,+SC+29438,+USA/@32.5519299,-80.2434002,2810m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m8!4m7!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x88fc2fad5edef157:0xcd75d8a68a5a25f4!2m2!1d-80.2329335!2d32.5528632