Category Archives: Professional Contexts 3

References

 

 

Where I have used an external link for further information either on a speaker, topic, exhibition or to provide further information its been referenced in the text. For completeness here is the list of all references used.

148apps.com. (2017). Autoradiograph – visualizing radiation – Satoshi Mori / Masamichi Kagaya | Apps | 148Apps. [online] Available at: http://www.148apps.com/app/1074077814/ [Accessed May 2017].

Aperture.org. (2017). Negative Publicity: Artefacts of Extraordinary Rendition. [online] Available at: http://aperture.org/shop/negative-publicity-artefacts-of-extraordinary-rendition/ [Accessed May 2017].

Barturphotobookaward.org.uk. (2017). Winner of the 2016 Bar Tur Photobook Award. [online] Available at: http://www.barturphotobookaward.org.uk/ [Accessed May 2017].

Bpb.org.uk. (2017). Brighton Photo Biennial – Photography Festival. [online] Available at: http://www.bpb.org.uk/#about [Accessed May 2017].

British Journal of Photography. (2017). A visual journey along the Oregon Trail. [online] Available at: http://www.bjp-online.com/2015/09/jack-latham-oregon-trail-pink-flamingo/ [Accessed  May 2017].

British Journal of Photography. (2017). On show at Format: the W. W. Winter Photographic Studio archive. [online] Available at: http://www.bjp-online.com/2017/03/on-show-at-format-the-ww-winter-photographic-studio-archive/ [Accessed  May 2017].

Club, B. (2017). Home | Frieze. [online] Frieze.com. Available at: https://frieze.com/ [Accessed  May 2017].

Dan Kennedy. (2017). Dan Kennedy – Portrait & fashion photographer. [online] Available at: http://www.danielkennedy.com/ [Accessed  May 2017].

David Alan Harvey. (2017). selected work. [online] Available at: https://www.davidalanharvey.com/ [Accessed May 2017].

FontShop. (2017). The world’s best fonts for print, screen and web. [online] Available at: https://www.fontshop.com/ [Accessed May 2017].

ForegroundWeb. (2017). Web-design resources & services for photographers – ForegroundWeb. [online] Available at: https://www.foregroundweb.com [Accessed  May 2017].

Formatfestival.com. (2017). All Artists | FORMAT Festival. [online] Available at: http://www.formatfestival.com/exhibitions/artists [Accessed May 2017].

Formatfestival.com. (2017). Liz Hingley | FORMAT Festival. [online] Available at: http://www.formatfestival.com/artists/liz-hingley [Accessed May 2017].

Frankdoorhof.com. (2017). www.frankdoorhof.com. [online] Available at: http://www.frankdoorhof.com/ [Accessed May 2017].

Furmanovsky, J. (2017). Jill Furmanovsky Photographer – Limited Edition Prints For sale. [online] Rockarchive. Available at: https://www.rockarchive.com/photographers/jill-furmanovsky [Accessed May 2017].

Glynn-Smith, J. (2017). Jonathan Glynn-Smith. [online] Jonathanglynnsmith.com. Available at: http://www.jonathanglynnsmith.com/ [Accessed May 2017].

Hagan, S. (2017). Sir Elton John: ‘I collect for the beauty, not the value. I’m in awe of these things’. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/nov/13/elton-john-interview-i-collect-photographs-for-the-beauty-tate-modern-radical-eye [Accessed 24 May 2017].

Herepress.org. (2017). Here Press. [online] Available at: http://www.herepress.org/ [Accessed May 2017].

http://www.wanderlust.couk. (2017). Sebastião Salgado on man’s surprising relationship with nature. [online] Available at: http://www.wanderlust.co.uk/magazine/articles/interviews/sebastio-salgado-genesis-project [Accessed May 2017].

Jill Greenberg Studio. (2017). Contact. [online] Available at: https://www.jillgreenberg.com/contact/ [Accessed May 2017].

Kelby, S., Moore, B., Kelby, S., Moore, B., Kelby, S. and Kelby, S. (2017). Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider – Photoshop & Photography Techniques, News, Books, Reviews & More. [online] Scottkelby.com. Available at: http://scottkelby.com/ [Accessed May 2017].

LensCulture, R. (2017). Vale: Uneasy Visions of the English Landscape – Photographs and text by Robert Darch | LensCulture. [online] LensCulture. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/robert-darch-vale-uneasy-visions-of-the-english-landscape#slideshow [Accessed May 2017].

Lifeintheolddog.co.uk. (2017). Life in the Old Dog | Ageing to Perfection…….. [online] Available at: http://www.lifeintheolddog.co.uk/ [Accessed May 2017].

Lindsayadlerphotography.com. (2017). Lindsay Adler Fashion Photographer – New York City. [online] Available at: http://www.lindsayadlerphotography.com/index [Accessed May 2017].

Maculacollective.co.uk. (2017). MACULA COLLECTIVE. [online] Available at: http://www.maculacollective.co.uk/ [Accessed May 2017].

Monocle. (2017). Magazine. [online] Available at: https://monocle.com/magazine/ [Accessed May 2017].

Murray Ballard. (2017). The Prospect of Immortality :  Murray Ballard. [online] Available at: http://murrayballard.com/work/the-prospect-of-immortality/ [Accessed May 2017].

Parisphoto.com. (2017). Welcome to Paris Photo – international fine art photography fair – Grand Palais. [online] Available at: http://www.parisphoto.com/paris [Accessed May 2017].

Perfectly Clear. (2017). Perfectly Clear – The Award-Winning, Photo-Editing Software. [online] Available at: http://www.athentech.com/assets/perfectlyclear/ [Accessed May 2017].

Phaidon. (2017). Albert Watson and the $25,000 picture of Kate Moss | Photography | Agenda | Phaidon. [online] Available at: http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/photography/video/2011/november/23/albert-watson-and-the-25-000-picture-of-kate-moss/ [Accessed May 2017].

Robert Darch. (2017). Project Information. [online] Available at: https://www.robertdarch.com/project-information/ [Accessed May 2017].

Ryersonjournalism.ca. (2017). Ryerson Journalism Research Centre. [online] Available at: http://ryersonjournalism.ca/ [Accessed May 2017].

Searle, A. (2017). The Radical Eye review – Elton John’s ravishing photography collection. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/nov/08/the-radical-eye-review-tate-modern-switch-house [Accessed May 2017].

Somerset House. (2017). Photo London. [online] Available at: https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/photo-london [Accessed May 2017]

Stirling, D. (2017). Robert Darch. [online] AINT—BAD. Available at: https://www.aint-bad.com/article/2017/02/09/robert-darch/ [Accessed May 2017].

Tate. (2017). The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/radical-eye-modernist-photography-sir-elton-john-collection [Accessed May 2017].

Velourmagazine.com. (2017). JILL FURMANOVSKY | Velour Magazine. [online] Available at: http://www.velourmagazine.com/centre/jill-furmanovsky/ [Accessed May 2017].

Wanderlust.co.uk. (2017). Wanderlust Travel Magazine – for people with a passion for travel | Wanderlust. [online] Available at: http://www.wanderlust.co.uk [Accessed May 2017].

Wedding & Lifestyle Photography by Kim Mendoza. (2017). [online] Available at: http://www.kmendozaphoto.com/ [Accessed May 2017].

Yoast.com. (2017). Cite a Website – Cite This For Me. [online] Available at: https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/#features [Accessed May 2017].

 

Clockwork Imaging Web Site Development Plan.

Development Cycle

The image above shows the usual development cycle for implementing additional functionality to a website, crucially it starts with Understanding Business Requirements or in plain English “What do you want the web site to do ?” Then it’s a logical process of determining and developing the content required, developing and finalising any specific design elements, e.g. company logo, menu structure, general look and feel of site as documented here.  The content section is about what are you actually going to publish and whilst there are some static elements of a website such as name, contact details and so forth the process of adding fresh, relevant content targeted at your intended audience is an ongoing process.

Developing the site to provide the desired functionality as specified in your Business Requirements along with accommodating the design elements and any required content is an iterative process. Not all you want may be either technically or financially viable and some compromise will generally be required to achieve a functional web site on time and to budget.

An under estimated but crucial part of the cycle is testing. The website is a 24×7 resource and, as such, needs to function reliably to service the needs of both site visitor and clockworkimaging.co.uk. A common error is only to test the functionality as it was intended to be used. Remember a website is available to the public and they will try to use it in all sorts of unintended ways e.g. navigating the site in unexpected ways. Generally it is best to have someone not familiar with the design criteria or business requirements to test the site as this is the closest approximation to real world usage. Even after testing its good practice to offer users a means to contact you with details of any problems encountered so they can be rectified. Testing will probably go through several iterations before all issues are resolved depending on the complexity of what is being tested.

Approval is once all testing has been successful and the new functionality can be released to the public. The scale of this depends on the website in question, for a simple, basic website serving just information pages it will be a straight forward replacement of existing pages for large sites e.g. a major web site presence such as bbc.co.uk even simple changes will have undergone extensive testing in a duplicate environment before its implemented on the live environment. Nothing on this scale is envisaged for clockworkimaging.co.uk …. Publishing is the act of actually releasing new functionality to the world at large and maintenance is the ongoing task of ensuring everything remains functional e.g. software updates, anti virus measures and so forth.

The cycle starts again with new business requirements for additional functionality. Although what has been outlined may seem quite rigid and designed for larger IT environments where there will be a formal sign off at each stage, the steps described actually apply to all developments large or small and skipping any steps in the rush to publish is likely to prove detrimental to the smooth operation of the web site.

Current Status of site

As of hand-in date for professional contexts Y3 the following aspects of the website are in place and functional.

  • Personal Domain Name, clockworkimaging.co.uk , implemented
  • Logo design finalised and in place for both screen and printed documentation
  • Image gallery functionality implemented
  • Basic Pages in place.
    • Home Page with personal statement and links to sample galleries
    • Contact Page with ability to submit questions, personal details and receive automatic confirmation of receipt.
    • Gallery page with links to style of shoot undertaken and sample images on individual pages;
      • Headshots
      • Family Portraits
      • Fantasy Portraits
      • Travel
      • Personal Projects, In Step and Hair
    • Blog Page, currently only has links to Professional Contexts 3 and Individual Practice 3 on blog site stevesf8.org.uk which was used whilst clockworkimaging.co.uk was underdevelopment. Full blogging capability of adding, editing and publishing text and images in blogs is fully available and working on the site.

Development Priorities for the clockworkimaging.co.uk site

The immediate priorities for clockworkimaging.co.uk post degree completion are;

  • Refine content of basic pages.
    • Develop SEO friendly textual content for each page.
    • Resolve Image resolution issues and replace sub-standard images with correctly sized images.
    • Address SEO issues as identified by the Yoast WordPress plug in for areas such as  Titles, Descriptions and Alt Text.
  • Start to implement Social Media strategies for driving traffic to the site such as Facebook page posts with links to site
  • Move primary blogging entries to new site and post regular new blogs – at least monthly if not weekly on clockworkimaging.co.uk
  • Start to collect email addresses for regular newsletter
  • Investigate and test e-commerce functionality on 55red.co.uk
    • Direct selling of prints
    • Booking system for shoots
  • Determine pricing packages in order to be able to implement e-commerce capability on live environment.

Degree Show Preparation

 

With hand in for the major work of the year, 2 projects for the Individual Practice module, completed thoughts are turning to the planning and presentation of the degree show which is also an assessed part of the curriculum.

Space is inevitably at a premium and I don’t envy curator Kellie’s job in managing everyone’s wishes. Both my projects, In Step a study of discarded shoes and Tempus Fugit (Time Flies) a series of still life’s about consumer consumption, are designed to be gallery pieces rather than the book format chosen by many.

In Step is a series of large format prints 75 x 106 cm and I have been allocated space enough to display 4 of the 7 submitted, I originally submitted 8 final prints but one is definitely out of place in the set so I am submitting 7 for marking. The final installation will require some work as I need to create a series of panels to mount them on a support structure to be installed in Studio 2 in conjunction with Marc Le Galle who is overseeing the installation of the photography element of the Degree Show. Marc is easy to work with and I am looking forward to seeing the finished installation.

I had a sort of sneak preview by hanging the final prints in the marking area ready for Tuesday 30th and its amazing the difference seeing the large prints, collectively on the wall makes. I have been looking at these images for weeks, refining and re-shooting them and thought I knew all there was to know about them. However seeing them in context on the wall changed my view of this and hence the decision to discard one of the prints. On reflection this could have been done earlier but its a hard, but necessary, discipline to let go of images you like. As a single image the one discarded was a favourite *sigh* but it definitely needs to live in different company than the other 7 images I chose.

Here are some camera phone images of the marking area, the final installation prints will have separate wooden frames around them, a framing technique seen at the Format Festival and described here. I have made 2 already and need to make and paint another 2 ready for June 9th. I am taking a couple of days out this coming week to celebrate a milestone birthday of my wife’s but have a full week to finalise everything from Friday 2nd June with the Private View on 9th June.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tempus Fugit (Time Flies) is a series of 6 A2 (60x40cm) prints for which 2 adjacent panels in the main room have been allocated. This is more straightforward to manage as they will not be moving once marked. The prints are being mounted simply  by pinning them to the back board. What did require a little thought was how to lay the prints out in the space available, particularly as there are 4 landscape and 2 portrait prints. The panels are not 100% fixed in place yet so any thoughts of using them as a contiguous wall space is a non-starter as can’t be done in the time I have available to put them up for marking.

I decided the easiest way to design the layout would be to create a to scale mock-up in Photoshop in order to provide a template for the installation. I can then measure where to position the images easily in the layout and transfer these measurements to the panels to ensure the display is accurately positioned at installation.

Scaled layout of final images on adjacent wall panels.

The best solution proved to be to layout the LH and RH panels separately with 3 images on each. I felt each panel had to work as an individual display as well as the 2 panels viewed together  The sequence of images works well like this and the eye line is acceptable. I placed the the first portrait print at the optimal eye line –  eye level at 2 thirds the height of the print of someone around 5’10” tall. I then placed the 2 landscape images equidistant above and below the centre line of this print. In my opinion having to place the images above and below each other is never ideal for viewing, but positioned like this means all the prints are acceptably placed – neither too high or too low on the wall.

The project is designed to have small snippets of pertinent text referring to the subject of each print displayed with them, for marking purposes these will be simple paper print outs. For the degree show foam board mounted display of the text will be made but that’s all that remains to be done for the display of project 1.

 

Books Purchases in Y3

My Book Selections this year were much more focused on my academic studies than last years somewhat mixed bag of titles.

Contextual Studies

The first project of the year was the Dissertation; 8,000 words on a topic from the lecture series. I chose to write about the reporting of the Vietnam War – I was 21 when it ended and I still recall the nightly coverage of the bombing more than 40 years later. I had already purchased Vietnam Inc and Don Mcullins autobiography, as his images of Vietnam are amongst the most iconic of the period, at the end of last year to begin research over the summer.

I subsequently purchased the following books – Discovering the world of the  2nd hand book market in the process, as many of these are now out of print. They are all either observations of the politics of the time or dense academic analysis of the conflict. Pleased to say the effort seems to have paid off as I have been awarded a first – at least provisionally – for my submission as of May 2017. A result not possible without the excellent direction and encouragement for the project from my subject tutor, Colin Pantall. So my sincere thanks to him.

Anderson, D. (2005). Glass warriors. London: Collins.

Arlen, M. (1969). Living-room war. 1st ed. New York: Viking Press.

Hallin, D. (1986). The “Uncensored War”. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hammond, W. (1998). Reporting Vietnam. 1st ed. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas.

Hunt, M. (2010). A Vietnam War reader. 1st ed. London: Penguin Books

Knightley, P. (1976). The First Casualty. 1st ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Reporting Vietnam. (2000). New York: Library of America.

Wyatt, C. (1993). Paper Soldiers. New York: W.W. Norton.

Personal Practice

I used a number of library books in the research for the major photography work of the year but I also purchased some books.

The Shoe

I purchased this on launch day at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, I actually  purchased it for the inspirational photography as much for the potential relevance to my In Step Project. As it is full of the most beautiful photography from leading fashion photographers of their time including  Hoyningen-Huene, Irving Penn, Corinne Day, Norman Parkinson, Mario Testino and Nick Knight and the reproduction quality of the imagery is excellent.

I hadn’t finalised the subject when I bought this and it is definitely at the other end of the shoe spectrum to my discarded shoes.

Manolo Blahnik Drawings

Blahnik personally hand draws all the designs for his shows starting with sketches. This book is a collection of such sketches and they are works of art in their own right, in fact the original sketches are highly prized by art collectors and Blahnik often donates them for sale on behalf of his favoured charities.

New Shoes. A second edition of his sketches published in 2010. At this stage of the project I was considering a high fashion take on the shoe project hence collecting this material, despite the change in direction of the project I don’t regret buying them as they are fun things in themselves.

As part of the project research I wrote a blog post about Manolo Blahnik which can be read here.

Effectively a look book on the work on any number of renowned still life photographers. Was very useful in establishing some of the approaches to the Tempus Fugit project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purchased at the Tate Modern when visiting the Elton John collection exhibition, The Radical Eye I bought 3 out of a series of mini reference books on the works of some of the influential photographers featured in the exhibition namely Edward Steichen, Walker Evans and Berenice Abbot.

 

 

Other Books

The books in this section were either purchased simply because I liked them or they address a specific topic I want to learn more about.

A Pink Flamingo – Jack Latham. Purchased when the author visited Bath Spa as guest lecturer, it describes an American road trip undertaken by Jack along the Oregon Trail, you can read more about the book and Jack’s lecture by clicking here.

Purchased at the Adobe Photoshop World 2017 event in Orlando and signed by the author. It’s exactly what is suggests – a book about improving techniques for posing subjects, I attended a number of lectures by Lindsay, including one where she covered this topic,  and found her an engaging and informative speaker. Her advice on posing has already proved useful.

Genesis Sebastian Salgardo

Another book bought for the pleasure of its contents and signed by the author after hearing him speak at the Photography Show 2017. The highest possible production values have been applied to the making of this book.

 

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is, as the name suggests, all about improving how easy it is for people (prospective clients) to find your website and thus you. To achieve this the content of your website needs to be engaging, relevant and aimed towards  your target audience. There are a number of places in your website where you can optimise the pages – some visible and some invisible to improve page ranking. Page ranking is where you appear in the result of a Google search. The most popular, widely considered the best in terms of obtaining accurate results and therefore the most important search engine is Google, accordingly most techniques and discussions on SEO centre around improving Google rankings. The goal is ultimately to appear first in the rankings or at least on the first page as research suggests most people rarely scroll past the first page of results.

Pages

Pages can be individually optimised, this helps to promote different elements of your offering depending on the search terms entered. So for example I might want to capture people searching for a “photographer in Swindon area” or a”headshot photographer” I can optimise the specific pages of my site offering such services.

The areas of a website that need to be addressed to get good SEO are :-

Page Titles, this is the short description that appears in a Google search above the site name, it should contain search terms you wish to capture. The title tag of a web page is meant to be an accurate and concise description of the page content.

Page Description, this allows a longer description of the page and appears below the site name in a Google search. This allows for a more human friendly description to be entered and should be more descriptive than page title.

The page textual content itself. In the early days of SEO hidden keywords were important now the content itself is evaluated so this needs to be relevant to the title/description as well as engaging for the reader.

Images 

Captions and Alt text for images. The most important aspect of a photography website is of course the imagery. In order to ensure images are also properly ranked then they should contain similar information to the page titles for caption and descriptions for Alt Text. Alt text is a descriptive text used if the image cannot be displayed and is also used by programs for the visually impaired and it will be read out to them by the computer and thus it should be listener friendly rather than staccato keywords.

Links

Apart from the content pages Google also evaluates the time you spend on a site and this is why the content should be engaging. Further, Google measures the traffic to and from your site in terms of how relevant your site is.

It is helpful therefore to regularly provide fresh content in the form of blogs and links to and from relevant content. For example I am shortly going to shoot the Swindon College media make up show which will be attended by around 500 people. The images will be on the college website, and I am sure will be avidly searched by parents and students shortly afterwards. Accordingly I will ask for a link along the lines of “images courtesy of clockworkimaging.co.uk”. Hopefully as a result a percentage of the Swindon College website users will click through to my site.

Ensuring SEO is always current is a time consuming and ongoing process particularly when it is being retrofitted to an existing site. It will take some time to have the site fully optimised. In the meantime, because my site is WordPress based,  I intend to make use of the free plugin Yoast SEO. The major advantage of this plugin is that it gives a live analysis of your SEO content for the current page or post in the WordPress dashboard, indicating both good and bad aspects, tools to help address any shortcomings along with suggested resolutions.

There is a also a premium, paid version, of the plugin available but for the moment, or at least until I expand my knowledge and understanding of the subtlety of the SEO process, I believe the free version will be more than sufficient. I will review whether the premium version will be of use when I have completed the initial round of addressing the SEO content, probably in around 3 months or so.

To find out more information on the Yoast SEO offering click on the link for an explanation of the features on offer and a comparison of the free versus premium versions.

SEO is also briefly discussed in the post about Website Design.

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Clockwork Website Design Considerations and Finalisation

In implementing  a website there are a number of decisions which need to be considered. In a separate blog post I have written about the desired functionality of the website, this post is about how it should look and feel. Whilst I have reasonable technical skills I wouldn’t count myself as a designer, I have had a couple of personal websites for a few years now and I have learned much from that experience for reference my sites are listed below. They are all WordPress with Photocrati Theme based, none of the sites attracts significant traffic as all were designed for specific audiences,  accordingly SEO was not something I paid attention to because I wasn’t trying to attract traffic to these sites.

www.lifeintheolddog.co.uk was created as a blog and photo sharing site for friends and family during our 7 month sojourn in South America from Nov 2012 to June 2013. At the time WordPress was the blogging tool of choice and that is the platform I still use today, for all sites, as it has proven a solid base to develop on.

stevesf8.org.uk Created to record my academic studies initially at HND level. It is the site I have used for Professional Contexts blogs in Years 2 and 3 of my BA (Hons) course. All HND projects, final images, sketchbooks and research were completed as blog posts, it was therefore something of a shock to come to Bath Spa and have to use a sketchbook for most projects. Oh how we laughed as we sat around on those cold winter evenings pasting and sticking………

55red.co.uk This was originally going to be my company site, I wanted a short name easy to type and remember because as I indicated in the business plan names based around my name were not really options with a number of photographer “Steve Edwards” sites around the world including US and Australia. So this is now largely defunct, occasionally useful to test new functionality on.

www.clockworkimaging.co.uk  My new company site to replace 55red.co.uk, still under development but basically functional as of the end of May 2017.

55red.co.uk has become defunct largely because the domain name, although it met my initial objectives for ease of use, had become misunderstood due to the advent and subsequent heavy marketing of an online gambling site called 32red and people started to assume the site was connected to the gambling industry.

As stated I am not a designer and one of the many advantages of WordPress is you can use themes – basically templates that will automate much of the production of the pages for you. There are thousands of free theme designs, many specifically for photograhers, on the internet and I tried a few but they have limitations for a fully functional commercial site, usually when it comes to advanced features such as e-commerce.

So I decided to purchase a commercial theme – Photocrati – which was less than a $100 and overcame most of these limitations – they claim more than 20,000 active installations. Additionally using a theme is much cheaper than employing a web designer to create even basic layouts and has the added bonus of having an active customer support operation to resolve configuration issues. I would say that using a theme is halfway between a raw WordPress site and the super user friendly environments such as those offered by sites like Wix. So it does require more effort but with the bonus that you retain more control of the eventual site.

You can buy Photocrati for a one time price and use it forever as is or pay an annual fee, $59, and continue to receive support and updates. I have recently opted for this for setting up the new site and feel it represents good value for money. The support service has proven particularly helpful in debugging and configuring the new site. Plus not updating the application means, inevitably, that there will be changes to WordPress that make an old version incompatible. The recent ransom ware attack on the NHS is another example of the potential consequences of not updating older software, the problem is not the lack of functionality in the application but that internal architecture of the software is not up to current standards and becomes vulnerable to attack as this weakness can be more easily exploited.

Domain Name

Having decided 55red.co.uk was no longer fit for purpose, the first thing to do was to obtain a new domain name as whilst it is possible to change the name of an existing web site its fraught with difficulties and far easier to create a new web site with its own domain name from scratch.

As I already discounted using anything based around my own name. I did find and register a few names, as they happened to be on offer for the princely sum of £2 a year at the time, such as swephotography.co.uk and nextimaging.co.uk and lastly aftershockimaging.co.uk. I actually think this last name is quite attractive but probably not suitable for a family portraiture business. It was  actually a tongue in cheek reference to the Brexit and US Election results. So if you know of an edgy documentary photographer who wants a cool domain name I have one for sale……..

I did get as far as mocking up a logo.

I am not keen on names containing photography, I think its hard to type and makes for a long domain name, when combined with my initials it seemed meaningless, so swephotography.co.uk was binned. Nextimaging.co.uk I also decided to reject because of the potential clash with the clothing retailer. There were others available such as wiltshireimaging.co.uk as another general recommendation for naming sites is to incorporate your location, Cricklade I felt was too limited and Wiltshire too bland. So I decided on clockworkimaging.co.uk as giving a professional feel, not too long, easy to type and suggesting imagery if not directly photography. There is a school of thought that a company name will be successful in terms of brand recognition depending on how well its marketed rather than just the name itself,  for example – Xerox, Google and Kodak are all invented names with no inherent meaning yet all are now thought of as synonymous with their respective industries.

Look and Feel

I researched a number of web sites to find ones I liked for inspiration, I looked at many sites but thought the following sites were the most helpful in determining what I was after – both good and bad.

http://www.danielkennedy.com/  Heavy focus on images, minimal yet clear menu structures making it easy to find your way around.

http://www.jonathanglynnsmith.com/ Large single images, even more minimal menu structure but still easy to navigate.

http://www.kmendozaphoto.com/  This is perhaps minimalism gone too far, small white font on pale background is almost impossible to read and also contains a pet hate, namely background music – nice music but that is not what I am at the site for.

https://www.jillgreenberg.com An example of a site I don’t like at all, the home page is confusing, moving images for no apparent reason and the social media links take you away from the site rather than open in new windows.

I now had a much clearer idea of what I found visually appealing and wanted to include in my own site, starting with a very clean look, this in order to show my images to their best advantage. I think this is generally best with images set against a plain white background to replicate digitally what is generally found in a gallery.  I firmly believe the images are the single most important factor on a photography website and need to be central to everything else. I also wanted it to be easy to navigate and personally I like a simple means to do this in terms of menus of obvious clickable links. I am not a fan of having to scroll or guess where to go next, no matter how slick or cool the site looks.

One more site to mention is https://www.foregroundweb.com which I came across in my research, its the company website of a developer who specialises in building photography websites. However the primary attraction of the site to me is the amount of free information available on a variety of relevant topics such as website design and particularly information on SEO which is what I was searching for at the time.

The Photocrati theme is highly customisable in all sorts of ways, from the menu structure to the way images are displayed, fonts used and so forth. As indicated I wanted to have images front and centre and chose to have the front page with images that linked to further examples of that genre of photography. The menu is deliberately simple with the main pages being Home, About, Contact, Galleries and Blog. I may condense this still further as, for example much of the About page could be on the home page to improve SEO ranking. It is clear that refining and developing the website is an ongoing project and I will see where this take me in the coming months.

Font and Logo

In line with the minimalist feel I wanted a sans serif font, I looked at the Google fonts library and selected ‘Noto Sans’ and made this the default font in all the places in Photocrati it can be set including Titles, Descriptions and so forth. The advantage of Google fonts is that firstly, they are free to use and secondly, available anywhere as they can be downloaded on the fly by a web page that requires them. The alternative of using proprietary fonts means a specific font may not always be available and the web page will use a default font as a substitute thus potentially destroying your page design or they have to be embedded in the page source code which can significantly slow down the site as the fonts are being reloaded every time a page is viewed.

For the logo I decided to combine the elements of the name with some graphical elements namely a clock face and a photo of an eye. To save time I looked for royalty free images, there are plenty to choose from on the web.

This was an iterative process and I made a number of versions, some of the key stages are shown below. On reflection it might have been more time effective to have found a graphic designer nonetheless it was an interesting exercise.

Text and clockface is not readable.

Improved readability by changing colour of clock face and central lettering but still not good enough. Addition of name also doubtful.

Much Improved readability but now looks disjointed.

Decided to lose the eye and just use the simple clock face image. By overlaying the text on the image and then deleting any clock elements that clash with a soft brush. This version will be used on the website and the version below on printed material to direct people to the website.

I now had all the design elements necessary to start seriously building the web site. Building a website in WordPress is more effort than some other platforms but in the long term I think the WordPress platform will deliver all I will ever need.

Website Design Considerations

Crane moving letters of the word website into position and caption of 'Website under Construction'

Website Under Construction

The Clockwork Imaging website will be the primary vehicle for promoting its photography services. The primary goal could be summarised as  “to create an attractive and engaging website that will encourage prospective clients to engage in a dialouge ultimately resulting in a commission”. As such the website has a few key requirements that need to be implemented to achieve this goal. There is a separate post here describing the look and feel aspects of the site, this post is about the functionality required to service the needs of Clockwork Imaging.

Firstly and Primarily;

  • Showcase the photography work of Steve Edwards

This will be in the form of galleries by genre, initially it will have galleries for;

  1. Family Portraits
  2. Fantasy Portraits, work done with Media Make Up Artists.
  3. Headshots,
  4. Travel, some of the travel images I have taken over the past few years. At least some of these will eventually be offered for sale as prints, see also e-commerce capability.
  5. Personal Projects, to be finalised but likely to be from my final year BA project – In-Step on discarded shoes and 2nd year portrait series featuring subjects with interesting hair.

These galleries will be accessible directly from the front page by showing a thumbnail for each of the galleries, clicking on the thumbnail will take the visitor directly to the gallery. The galleries will also be accessible from a drop down menu on the gallery page of the main menu on the website. The content and variety of the galleries will be regularly refreshed, I envisage on a 3-6 month cycle to ensure there is always fresh content for return visitors to see.

This functionality has been, at least partially, implemented on the live site and can be viewed at www.clockworkimaging.co.uk. Any missing content will be added in the coming weeks rather than months as I believe the ability to effectively showcase work is fundamental to a photography website. As otherwise I believe any visitors will swiftly become bored with the site.

Capture Contact details of prospective clients.

  • Contact details / Email / Phone

This is a simple form that visitors can use to provide basic contact details of name, phone number and email address along with a free text box to ask questions. There is an automatic reply provided to confirm receipt of the query along with my contact details including phone number. I opted not to have this displayed publicly whilst I think what to do about a dedicated number. I was further dissuaded when within a day of implementing the contact form and no publicity for the site I started receiving spam email from web bots. To counter this  I implemented a WordPress Plugin called CAPTCHA which is an anti-bot measure designed to ensure its a human at the other end. This does seemed to have halted the flow of spam.

This functionality is live and can be seen at http://clockworkimaging.co.uk/contact/

Social Media Links

  1. Email newsletter.
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. Instagram
  5. Blog

In 2017 its considered essential to have a good grasp of social media channels in order to address the domestic market of my target audience for my work. Sadly at this time I don’t have such knowledge as I am only a peripheral user of such technology, I do have a personal Facebook page but only because I realised it was the only way to communicate with classmates. This is an area  I recognise I need to develop my expertise in, this, in order to market the services of Clockwork Imaging. Happily there are several channels to go about this – e.g. on line seminars, training films and ultimately paid consultancy. However I certainly don’t feel I am ready to employ a third party at the moment as I am not even sure what I would want to ask them. I do know some basic things to do such as regularly blogging to add fresh content, create a business Facebook page and post links to the website, build up an email contact list from enquirers and contact them regularly (without bombarding them with spam). I think these are steps I need to take steadily in order to measure the impact and decide what works for the business. This will be an ongoing process to build up the results from this activity.

I have listed what seem to be the major platforms to be active on, however this will need to be reviewed on an ongoing basis as in the world of the internet there is always “the next big thing” around the corner.

SEO Management

There is a specific post about the concept and meaning of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Here I am referring to the functionality required in order to be able to manage the content of the site in order to be able to positively affect the SEO ranking. Happily the WordPress platform provides this in spades, with inherent editing, review and publication capabilities for both text and images. This is further boosted by plugins such as the YOAST toolkit described in an earlier post which helps identify shortcomings and suggest resolutions to SEO issues.

This will be an ongoing process as new content both blog and pages is added and I will make it a standard practice to review and edit the SEO ranking of new content when its published. For the hand in on Wednesday 31st I intend to have the main pages of the site optimised and as many of the image galleries as time allows. However I do recognise both from the information provided during tutorials but also from my independent research on the topic that it is an ongoing process to maintain, review and adapt the site for optimal SEO results. This is both to address existing shortcomings in content but also the fact that SEO is a moving target as Google refines its ranking processes in response to audience behaviour then adjustments are required to maintain ranking.

Accordingly it will be necessary to regularly dedicate time and effort to addressing this issue, as per the business plan I would hope to outsource this task as and when finances allow.

E-commerce capability

  • For selling general prints.
  • Clients to book and review shoots, order prints.

E-commerce is a longer term goal as it is another potentially complex area to address requiring developing of accurate price-lists and payment methods. Ultimately I do want to be able to offer this sort of capability to site visitors as in this day and age I believe its expected to be there. There is some limited functionality available immediately in that clients can review a gallery of images taken by publishing them on a password protected page so that they are not available to the general web browsing public but only those in receipt of the password.

The Photocrati theme which is the basis of my site has extensive e-commerce capability but this needs careful testing which I will probably conduct on the 55red.co.uk domain first. However as stated this is a slightly longer term goal the immediate priorities for clockworkimaging.co.uk are;

  • Create and upload basic content pages.
  • Address SEO for these core pages
  • Start to implement Social Media strategies for driving traffic to the site.

Photoshop World Conference 2017

Keynote Address by Julieanne Kost of Adobe

Having gained much from my visit to Photoshop World in July 2016, I decided to attend the 2017 event which was being held in Orlando, Florida during the Easter 2017 holiday period. This was partly because it is my last opportunity to attend as a student for $149 which represents an 80% plus discount on usual attendee price. Of course there is also the flight and accommodation to be covered but nonetheless I feel it represents good value considering the quality of speakers, workshops and information on offer.

The event is relentlessly commercial in nature which I find complements rather than conflicts with my academic studies and feel it provides a valuable insight into commercial photography at all levels.

Julieanne Kost, Principal Digital Imaging Evangelist, Adobe Systems was the keynote speaker and gave an entertaining and informative overview of the latest  enhancements to the Adobe creative cloud suite of products. Julieanne also provided an insightful view of what Adobe consider coming trends in image processing. Perhaps unsurprisingly there is an ever greater focus on the editing of images whilst mobile, to this end Adobe are putting a lot of effort into improving the integration between mobile version products and the mainstay products such that wherever changes are made they are automatically synchronised.

The other slight surprise was the sheer number of applications included in Creative Cloud suite which includes a number of niche applications such as Portfolio which are included free with a subscription which I wasn’t aware of. Whilst a student I have taken advantage of the educational discounts on offer, now that my studies are ending I have opted for the Photography plan at approx £10 a month which basically gives access to Photoshop and Lightroom.

It was a very busy three days with  9 different streams to follow including, Photography, Lighting, Creativity, Photoshop A & B as well as numerous workshops on specific topics such as a live car shoot with renowned car photography master Tim Wallace.

A comprehensive workbook was provided and the format of the days was a series of parallel events / workshops / seminars which you were free to attend as you saw fit. My only regret is that there were often conflicting sessions and in feedback I did suggest they duplicate some sessions to give everyone the opportunity to see all speakers.

Particular highlights for me were :-

Lindsay Adler a New York based fashion photographer. Lindsay did a number of lectures including sessions on lighting, social media for photographers and posing. All were relevant and informative, what I particularly like about the Photoshop World speakers is that they genuinely seem happy to share information so in terms of knowledge transfer it is more like an  academic session. Other events I have attended with professionals tend to not quite deliver the actual techniques required to achieve the same results.

Her session on posing was particularly useful, based on her recently published book on the subject and I was fortunate to be able to obtain a copy before the on site book shop sold out which I subsequently had Lindsay sign.

Frank Doorhof is a Dutch Photographer based in Emmeloord, North of Amsterdam. Again another very experienced speaker. He focuses on creative images using simple techniques and props – such as getting his wife to breathe on the lens to create the effect of smoke in a fashion shot.  He also has a “thing” about not cleaning lenses, stating that any dust on the lenses will not show in most images but when shooting into the light it can create an interesting effect.

Dust Spots ! Image Copyright Frank Doorhof

Scott Kelby is the Chairman and CEO of KelbyOne an online photographer training provider. KelbyOne organise and deliver the Photshop World events in cooperation with Adobe. I first encountered Scott as an author of books on Photography, in fact he has authored more than 80 titles which have collectively sold more than 5 million copies. Apart from his writing,  busy company and being an award wining photographer in his own right he then demonstrated his musical prowess at the event dinner by joining the professional band on stage and accompanying them for 3 songs, first on drums, then on guitar and finally on keyboards. Somewhat of a polymath methinks.

Vatican City Staircase Copyright Scott Kelby

There were many more useful sessions and it will take some time to assimilate all the information, including the post event downloads, provided. My only regret was the timing was slightly unfortunate being so close to the end of year at Bath Spa but nonetheless an extremely useful event and I felt time well spent.

There were a couple of other useful things going on which I benefited from, Canon Professional Services were on site offering a free sensor clean which would normally cost around £50 in the UK however the real issue I have had recently is that my Canon flashgun is often not recognised by my camera which is a known issue with the particular combination of camera and flash I own – namely a 5D MkIII camera and 580 EX MkII flashgun.

As a result I have tended to avoid situations where flash, other than the studio variety, was required.  I had been quoted around £100 in the UK to upgrade the flashgun to the required specification but the CPS crew said they had the required part – a new foot / contact plate for the flashgun and did it free of a charge.I was delighted with this outcome, perhaps another example of the difference in customer service levels you frequently encounter in the US compared to the UK.

The upgraded flash has worked flawlessly since, for example proving very useful at the Bath Spa Sparks Celebration event which was held in a particularly gloomy room which meant that using flash was essential to obtaining acceptable images.

Lastly I won a copy of Perfectly Clear photo editing software by answering a question thrown out at a presentation “Whats the difference between a good photographer and a great photographer?” my tongue in cheek answer was “Great photographers only show you their best images!” anyway it was deemed good enough to receive the licence key for the software which was subsequently sent by email.

The trip wasn’t all work as I had a free day Sunday before returning to the UK on the Monday. I managed to tick one more thing off my bucket list by taking an air boat ride courtesy of Kissamee Swamp Tours on Lake Kissamee which although located close to Orlando is in 36,000 acres of protected wetlands with very little sign of human habitation.The variety of birds to see is simply stunning in addition to the numerous alligators Florida is renowned for and I managed to get some half decent wildlife images.

One of many such images from the day.

Peer Mentor Activity Training

The Peer Mentor scheme at Bath Spa – and many Universities run similar schemes – is designed to match up 1st year students with 2nd or 3rd year students in order that the experienced students can provide basic information on a whole range of topics about living and studying at Bath Spa.

It is a means of providing re-assurance to new students, many of whom may be leaving home for the first time and faced with lots of decisions such as budgeting, shopping and so forth that up to this point in their lives may well have been taken care of by others.

It also relieves Student Services of answering basic questions and I often think new students feel more comfortable about asking a fellow student what they often feel is a trivial question rather than the full time staff.

Whilst there is no limit to the topics that can be discussed between mentors and mentees, mentors are trained to escalate any issues they feel are beyond the scope of the scheme – so for example if a mentor was seriously concerned about the health or well being of a mentee then it would be escalated to the professional support staff.

From talking to other peer mentors happily any such event seems to be very much an exception and most issues can be resolved by email or a chat over a coffee. I have been a Peer Mentor during my 3rd year and have been assigned 4 students over the year, including one overseas exchange student. In line with the experience outlined above topics have been very routine mainly regarding facilities, teaching methods and so forth.

As a mature student I believe I was able to bring a slightly different perspective to things and actually have had a number of conversations with other mature students about the challenges of returning to education events which I have both personally enjoyed and based on the feedback useful to the other party.

Another common experience seems to be that it transpires that some mentees have required little or no support during the year, nonetheless, I still think the scheme has much merit as I think the idea of having a mentor and the reassurance that provides to new students, and often parents, is as important as any actual help provided. Most people of course arrive at University and adjust perfectly well on their own, daunting as it may have seemed at the outset.

Other activities in the year as a Peer Mentor have included providing photography support for various events such as recruiting mentees during registration and manning stalls at Freshers week and various Student Service events at both Sion Hill and Newton Park. The most recent was a request from Sophie, the Peer Mentor Coordinator to take some photographs of the 2017-18 Mentors being trained to use for marketing the scheme in the upcoming busy student recruitment and registration periods.

For me the Peer Mentor experience has been very positive, I have both enjoyed the interaction with the mentees, further it has helped me feel more a part of University life which I think is often a slight challenge for mature students as so much activity is, quite rightly, directed towards the the 18-25 age group the vast majority of students are.