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Join Us for a Photo Walk at NMX 2014

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photo walk Recently, we confirmed that Aaron Hockley and Darlene Hildebrandt will be leading a photography workshop, “Photography for your Website: from Camera to the Web” at NMX 2014, and now we have even better news for photographers: this dynamic duo will also be leading a photo walk at NMX 2014.

The official NMX 2013 Photo Walk will be held on January 3 starting at 3:30 PM. Meet us out front of Bally’s Hotel on the Strip – look for the gang with cameras near the garden and taxi stand area.

You do not have to be a professional photographer, or even have a fancy camera. Just come with whatever you have to take a few photos, even your Smart Phone is fine!

Then, attend Aaron and Darlene’s workshop to learn how to take those pictures to the next level.

This special event is free, but please register here if you’re thinking about attending so Aaron and Darlene know how many people to expect. See you at the show!

Putting Pen to Paper: P H O T O G R A P H Y

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Have you ever had a challenging time coming up with a blog topic? Everyone has a different way to jumpstart their juices. I simply take notes (yes, actually take to paper, pen in hand) and jot what comes to mind. So if you’re at a complete stop, simply grab a piece of paper, then start jotting anything that comes to you. Every dot is a powerful connector.

I love photography, so I decided to jot down each letter to jumpstart this post about my inspiration for taking photographs. Perhaps one of the letters will stick-to-mind on your next jaunt into the world of photography, or in your own writing discovery.

P-H-O-T-O-G-R-A-P-H-Y

Passion: everything that gives this little planet a voice excites me. I am always present-minded aware that life is fleeting. It gives me that sense of urgency to capture unique moments of truth.

 Autumn Rainbow

 

Honesty: many people ask me if I “stage” my subject. I am a true believer in what you see in that moment is truth, and I want to snap it and share it, exactly how it presents in front of me.

Asbury Park Americana

 

Opportunity: opportunity is all around you. Look down, to the side, up. Frame a spot catching your eye. And snap the shot. Right place, right time.

Three Umbrellas

 

Timing: sometimes you’re simply in the right place at the right time. And, sometimes you’re not. So create that timing. When you anticipate that perfect moment wait, patiently… patiently.. patiently… then snap your shot!

Tent Sweet Tent

OOH!: it’s that feeling: “STOP THE CAR” ~ you just *have* to stop what you’re doing, grab your camera and take the shot. There’s nothing like the feeling that you captured a moment no one else had the chance to see, and immediate need to share it!

Sandy Moment

 

Gratitude: when I’m in the right place at the right time; when I upload my photos to my computer then discover the camera captured something I didn’t see, I say “thank you” aloud to The Universe.

Kiss

Readiness: goes without saying.  A photographer is *always* ready to take the shot. Whether it be camera-in-hand or simply cell phone with camera, anything with a lens, and memory.

Grandfather

Amazement: I truly am amazed by life. Its design, texture, color, shape, expression. Everyday is a day of wonderment and inspiration to capture that moment.

Celebration

 

Patience: admittedly, not my strongest ability, though, interestingly, if I anticipate that perfect shot, I can hold tight and still for as long as it takes.

Effervescent Rainbow

 

Happy: the moment I have the opportunity of time to grab my camera and head outdoors to shoot, I’m happy, and all in the world is good.

Serenity

 

Yay! The feeling of sharing my photos and seeing a person’s eyes light up and say “Wow! I love this!” It gives me complete joy to evoke emotion with a photograph. It gives me a true sense of accomplishment and confirmation of purpose in the art of photography.

Snowswept Beach

 

So if you find yourself at full-stop on ideas for starting your post, or you’re a budding photographer interested in looking for a way, or reason to begin, simply grab your pen, and sheet of paper. Your mind already knows the answer; it just needs the pen and paper to jot the “how to” and then, you’re on your way!

Do you have more tricks for coming up with, and moving ideas ahead?

Free Gift: “Picture This” Photography Guide from Aaron Hockley [12 Days of Giveaways]

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A free gift from NMX Speaker Aaron Hockley: Picture This: Proven Techniques for More Impact and Attention with Photos for Blogging and Social Media

Here at NMX, planning for our January event is in full swing…but that doesn’t mean we don’t have time for the holidays! That’s why, every day from now through December 25, we’re featuring a brand new giveaway for the entire NMX community!

Images are becoming more and more important online, especially with the rise of social networks like Pinterest. In this guide from photographer Aaron Hockley, you’ll learn all about using pictures online. His guide covers:

  • Photo copyright for bloggers
  • Where to find pictures for your posts
  • Using visual social media (Instagram, Pinterest, etc)
  • Image use for SEO
  • How to edit/prepare pictures for the web

And more! If you’ve been struggling with using images in conjunction with your online activities, this is the giveaway for you!

Like all of our 12 Days of Giveaways gifts, Aaron’s guide is completely free for members of our brand new community, NMX University. (Don’t worry – membership there is also free!) You can download the free PDF for a limited time!

Find out more about this guide and register for NMXU here, of if you are already a member, simply log in to NMXU here to download your free copy today!

The Photography Wars Heat Up

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My entire life I’ve enjoyed taking photos. Follow me on Instagram and you’ll see that I’m constantly capturing moments from my life and sharing them with the world. This allows people to connect with me in a way that my blog, podcast or other mediums have never allowed.

Most of us leave the house every day with a camera in our pocket (aka a phone) and yet businesses big and small seem to be ignoring or not fully realizing the power of photography when they plan out their marketing efforts.

Repeat after me: Photography MUST Be Part of Your Marketing Plans.

I’ve been saying it for years and yet not everyone was listening. We even dedicated a whole chapter to photography in Content Rules because Ann and I knew that no matter what business you were in, images are important.

This week we’ve seen the battle for photography heating up online as Instagram pulled their images from Twitter, Flickr unveiled a major update and Twitter added editing capabilities to their native app.

It is easier than ever to take a photo, post it online and get reactions to it. Take one minute to look at your social network of choice and you’ll see photos throughout.

Images are the most important content you can create to get attention online.

I’m not discounting other forms of content, but I am telling you that if you are not creating and sharing images as part of your marketing mix you are in trouble.

Humans enjoy looking at photos. They stand out and get attention from even the most click happy of web surfers.

During my session at NMX I’ll be discussing the importance of photography, but I’ll also be sharing tips on how anyone can find, take and share images that people will enjoy.

While I won’t have time to teach a full photography class, I do plan on sharing my personal workflow and plan on everyone leaving thinking and taking photos in a new light compared to when they walked in.

7 Ways to Inject More Creativity Into Your Photos

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It seems everyone’s a photographer now (and that’s kind of awesome) but I gotta be honest… not everyone is an interesting photographer. The good news is that photography isn’t a field of magic secrets and you don’t have to sacrifice any animals to make better pictures. I’ll be speaking at New Media Expo in January about photography tips for blogging and social media, and I wanted to offer up some quick suggestions how to inject more creativity into your photos.

  1. Get close – And when you think you’re close enough, get closer. We see too many snapshots from a very wide angle and the interesting subject is only a small bit of the scene. Very few photos have been ruined by moving closer to the subject.
  2. EmissionsCrop Creatively – Most cameras make images with a 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio (the ratio of the long side to the short side of the image) and 1:1 ratios have taken off since Instagram became popular, but don’t hestitate to crop a photo into different dimensions. Have a wide, short subject? Make a wide panaorama. Something tall and skinny? Make a tall and skinny photo (this one might fit well alongside a blog post).
  3. Find the Light – Sure, you could get all fancy and use speedlights or other external lighting specifically for photography, but odds are that most of the photos you’re creating are happening under either natural outdoor light or the ambient light indoors. Look at that light. Look at the angles. Look where the light is hard and casting harsh shadows vs. where it’s soft and diffused. Move around. Place your subject where the light is better when you can. As a specific example, if there’s a window (not directly facing the sun) you’ll often find nice light coming through that window and nearby would be a great place for an indoor portrait.
  4. Fly High or Get Down – Far too many photographs suffer from “six foot guy with a camera to his eye” syndrome. They’re created in the most natural way as someone simply holds the camera up to their face and clicks the shutter. As a result, photos offen suffer from this similarity and lack of variance in perspective. Try something new… get down on the ground and shoot upward. Find a vantage point that’s up above the crowd. I’ve been known to bring a 6’ stepladder with me on some photo trips… it’s fascinating how just a few extra feet really change one’s ability to make a compelling image. Even without extra gear, holding your camera above your head can be a great way to change things up.
  5. Look for Reflections – I live near Portland, which means that a puddle of standing water is a frequent sight. Puddles aren’t the only option of course; great reflections can be made in lakes, fountains, or other bodies of water. Smooth water can make for some interesting straightforward reflections, but a rippled surface can also make for some interesting (although more abstract) patterns, especially at night.
  6. Leave Part of the Subject Out of the Frame – Most photos include the entire subject in the frame, but what if you left some of it out for a bit of mystery or to get your reader thinking a bit. Sure, you could write about a popular board game and include a photo of the game board… but what if, instead, you included a photo that only consisted of part of a recognizable game piece?
  7. Blur on Purpose – No, you probably don’t want to go out and create all of your photos blurry, but selective blur can be an interesting effect. Want to show motion as cars or people move by quickly? Put your camera on shutter priority mode (or use an iPhone app like Slow Shutter Cam) and set it to 1/2 or 1 second duration and see what results you get. Experiment.

These tips are a sampling of the sorts of things I’ll speak about in my Photography Tips for New Media session I’ll be leading at 2:15pm on the first day of NMX (Sunday, January 6th). In addition to the creative aspects, I’ll offer an overview of basic exposure and lighting, as well as a few things to keep in mind when shooting specifically for your blog or social media. I hope to see you at NMX!

Who Swiped Photos from Your Blog? If You Care, These Tools Can Help

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You’re a savvy blogger who knows that it’s important to share not only words on your site, but photos as well. Visitors will be more likely to engage with an article that catches their eye with a great photograph, infographic, or drawing than they will with a wall of text.

Lady Against RedA wise blogger knows that you can’t just use any random photo you find online, so perhaps you’ve purchased some stock images or used Creative Commons photos on your blog.

But what about the opposite scenario? What if you’ve posted your own photos and you have this gut feeling that folks might be taking them or using them elsewhere?

Should You Care?

Before diving into how to police your images, it’s worth considering if you want to spend time doing this. Most interesting images that end up on the internet stand a good chance of being repurposed, reblogged, swiped for a personal blog post, or stolen for some other purpose. Technically most of these uses constitute copyright infringement and in theory the offender is liable for damages, but it’s also worth consideration if policing the web for unauthorized image use is the most productive use of your time. There’s no right answer to this question, but consider what you feel is the harm caused by a potential infringement versus the other work for your business that you could do in the time needed to monitor the usage.

Okay, Let’s Go Photo-Hunting

If you’ve decided it might be interesting to track some of your more interesting photos, there are a couple sites/services that I can recommend.

The leading service in this field is TinEye, which allows you to search for an image on the web from a variety of sources. In the example here, we’re curious about your photo that you originally posted to your website or photo sharing service. You can either upload the image to TinEye, or give it the source URL for your photo as a starting point. TinEye performs some analysis on the photo and then returns a list of results where it thinks it has found that same photo being used elsewhere on the internet. You can browse through the results and see which uses are legit and which might be the result of someone “borrowing” your work. In addition to ad hoc queries, TinEye offers commercial services if you’ll want to search for large amounts of your work on an ongoing basis.

Another good option for the occasional search is Google’s Search by Image feature, which allows for searching the web with the power of Google, except instead of starting with a text query, you start with an image. Much like TinEye, you can start with the image URL, a direct upload, or even use a browser extension to enable easier searching. Google then presents a Google search results page including other copies of the photo with contextual information about where it is being used.

Once you’ve found an offender, you can contact the blogger, webmaster, or even the web host and request either that the image be taken down, linked and credited, or licensed.

Do you police for your content elsewhere on the web? Do you consider the occasional image theft a cost of doing business? Do you use another service that folks should know about? Please share in a comment below.

How to Instantly Make Your Content “Pinable”

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Want to instantly make every blog post you write pinable? Of course you do! According to PR Daily, Pinterest accounts for 3.6 percent of referral traffic, which makes it just about neck and neck with Twitter. So, the more your posts get pinned, the more traffic you’ll get to your site – and that’s a good thing all around, right? Yay, traffic!

It should come as no surprise that the best way to instantly make your blog posts more pinable is to focus on your images. But what if you don’t work in a visual niche like travel or food? Not to worry; you can still create images that will make your blog posts extremely pinable.

The following is an edited excerpt from The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast, and Videos with Pinterest, an ebook you can download for FREE right here on the NMX blog. In this excerpt, we’ll talk about how to create great images for Pinterest that make sense for you blog, no matter what your niche.

Images for Visual Niches

Start by analyzing your niche. Do images work hand-in-hand with your content? We’re not talking about your personal practices. A lot of people get a little lazy when it comes to adding pictures to blog posts. But what’s the standard in your niche? Do people generally use a lot of pictures? In any basic how-to niche (food, crafts, etc.), this is often the case. That’s why those topics are so widely spread on Pinterest.

If pictures are a huge part of your niche, half the battle is already done. The other half is making sure that your own content is up to snuff. Simply put, you need a money shot.

In film terms, the money shot is the scene that often takes a disproportionate amount of time and money to shoot, but is essential to the success of the film. It’s that moment in a film where viewers feel like the price of the ticket was justified. Money shots are those big movie moments that you remember forever, like the scene where Luke Skywalker loses his hand in Star Wars or Leonardo DiCaprio shouts “I’m the King of the World” in Titanic.

You need to use pictures that serve as money shots for your blog posts or other digital content in order to gain traction on Pinterest. You want readers to need to share because they’re so enticing. It’s that shot of freshly baked rolls with melting butter when you post a bread recipe. It’s that adorable shot of your daughter covered in finger paints on your parenting blog. It’s that shot of your finished product when you post a tutorial. Stock photography certainly doesn’t give you a money shot (in most cases).

And not every picture you take yourself is a money shot, either. These pictures have to be special; they have to make you want to click through to see the amazing website they came from. In other words, these pictures have to be evangelists for your content.

When the Money Shot isn’t Easy

The concept of a “money shot” picture is pretty easy to implement on sites that are already inherently visual. But on other sites, this is not as easy. For example, if you blog about social media and write a list of the “Top Ten Tips for Using Twitter,” there’s nothing physical to photograph, other than maybe a screen shot of you using Twitter. And that’s not exactly a money shot. Or if you’re a virtual assistant and sell services instead of products, there’s nothing to really photograph other than yourself.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful on Pinterest. On the contrary, if you work in one of these niches, you can be super successful because others aren’t using the network. Less competition means more opportunity for you! Creating a “money shot” picture that’s eagerly pinned is easier than you might think.

Step-by-Step Image Creation

The first step is to find a picture that makes sense for your post. It can be one of those dreaded stock photography images, as long as you’re making sure to use Creative Commons pictures that allow users to alter the image. Fair use photography can be found at a number of sites, include SXC.hu, Flickr, and Wikipedia. Again, make sure you check the licensing of any photo you want to use to ensure you’re giving attribution properly and to ensure that the owner allows people to create derivative works.

The second step? Add some text. In most cases, your headline works just fine, but remember, the focus here is on the picture. So if your headline is too long, alter it. You want the text you use to convey information and entice readers, which is why you should use your blog post/podcast/video title—you should already be creating headlines that attract clicks.

If you’ve never really thought of the power of headlines before, here are some great resources:

In addition, Brian Clark at Copyblogger has an 11-part series called How to Write Magnetic Headlines that you should check out.

The third step is to make the text look professional (and readable) by adding a drop shadow, highlights, and if necessary using photo-editing software like Photoshop. Looks matter. I know your content might be great, but that alone won’t help you get shares and clicks on Pinterest. You need to present a pretty package.

Even if you don’t have a photo editing program, you can quickly and easily add text to pictures with PicFont.com.

Examples of Great Images for Pinterest

These images can take on lots of different looks. Here are a few pins to check out to get some ideas for your own pictures:

We also have used images like this here on the NMX/BlogWorld blog. Here are some examples:

There are some challenges with creating these images. Sometimes, if you have a theme where the homepage pulls images of different sizes, it can be difficult to create images with text that work across the board. We have that challenge right now, so it’s one of the things we’re thinking about with future redesigns of this blog. If you aren’t a designer, placing the text on an image can also be challenging so that it looks good.

What’s important is that you’re trying, and that you’re making as many posts as possible pinable on Pinterest. This isn’t just about Pinterest. If you don’t like or don’t care about this platform, that’s your prerogative. What it’s about is realizing that a more visual, interactive web is where we’re going as an industry. If you aren’t making an effort, if you’re just using stock images and logos, you’re going to get left in the dust.

Want even more awesome Pinterest advice? Get the entire ebook for FREE here: The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast, and Videos with Pinterest

How to Create a Slow Motion Video Effect Using Only Images

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Adding special touches to your videos can make all the difference between a project looking super professional and looking like every other amateur video out there. Luckily, you don’t need a ton of special equipment to get started. Have you checked out this tutorial on creating a white background, for example? If you take the time to learn the tips, your videos can look stunning.

Another tutorial I wanted to share with you is this one about how to create a slow-motion effect. You don’t even need video for this! Using only images, you can create a really cool slow motion video. Check out some great examples and learn how to do it yourself:

Now that you know the basic technique, get a little creative! The possibilities are endless. How will you use this in your videos?

How to Find Free Images for Your Blog with Flickr

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I highly recommend you include at least one image with every blog post you write, in most cases. Using images has several advantages:

  • Your content can be pinned more easily if you include an image.
  • Derek Halpern taught me a great trick – psychologically, people are more likely to read shorter lines, so adding an image at the beginning of a post helps lead them into your content. (I featured a video from Derek here last week.)
  • Images can break up your content, making it easier to read.
  • Images can illustrate steps in a tutorial or complement reviews.
  • You can even monetize images.

Some blog themes also require images to work well, so while I won’t say that you have to use an image in every blog post, I do think you should have a compelling reason why you aren’t using an image if you choose to go this way.

One of the main challenges with images, however, is that most of us aren’t also photographers. You should NEVER simply do a Google search and save an image you find, as this does not uphold copyright laws. However, there are a few free sources for images online, including one of my favorites – Flickr.

In this video, one of our community members, Brankica from Online Income Star, shows you how to use Flickr to get free images for your blog, and she also shares some great tips about finding and working with photographers on this site:

I highly recommend checking out the rest of Brankica’s channel, which includes more great video tutorials for bloggers.

How to Quickly Watermark Every Photo for Your Blog

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video screen how to watermark pictures

One of the struggles for bloggers who like using their own photographs is that people aren’t afraid to steal them for use on their own blog. Watermarking your photos won’t stop everyone, of course, but it is a measure you can take to deter others as well as ensure that you’re still getting credit, even when your picture is taken without your consent.

I personally never watermarked pictures in the past because…well…it always seemed like such a hassle. Then, I found this video on how to set up a action in Photoshop to add a watermark quickly and to batches of photos, rather than going through the steps of doing each one individually. Genius! Hope it helps you guys too:

Of course, it should go without saying, but don’t watermark images you don’t own. Also, if you want the picture without the watermark as well, make sure you also save a copy in another folder – once that image is on there, it can be difficult to remove.

Thanks to Bethany Gilbert from Capturing Your Market for posting this video on YouTube and making my life so much easier in less than four minutes.

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