Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photography Blog by Trifon Anguelov Photography

1090 Clark Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94040 | (650) 930-0743 | http://www.trifonanguelov.com


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Top 10 Online Photography Forums for Photographers


abstract photography by trifon anguelov photographerPhotography is an interesting and broad area of graphical art. With so many photography areas as: weddings, engagements, portraits, landscape, wildlife, documentary and abstract, it takes lots of time to learn and master. Most of the beginner photographers start with learning about the photography equipment: camera, lenses, filters, flashes and strobes. The amount of information one has to digest and understand is mind blowing.

And there are no shortage of information sources: books, DVDs, online classes, magazines, Youtube, blogs and forums. Once one start to follow the path of the “white rabbits” it takes him/her from source to source in a never ending conquest of knowledge.

However with all the written materials and produced videos, there are always follow up questions or doubts to be clarified before a concept is well understood. There is a photo to get feedback or provide feedback and validate ones vision or ideas. That’s where photography forums come to help. These are online communities where fellow photographer in all stripes come together to talk, bread and live photography on a daily basis. One can find a photography forum for almost every type of photography.

A word of advice: There are different photographers with different level of experience and different “agendas” participating into these online communities. From experts who are willing and happy to help, to thinking-they-know-all pseudo “experts” who derive their happiness from putting everyone else down and criticizing the majority of users and images on display, as well as very new to photography users who can have genuine but annoying basics questions. it’s a good idea to keep this in mind and don’t take anything personally or you might lose your sleep over aggressive comments and offensive remarks.

So if you are still looking to join one or more of these photography online communities, here are few for you to consider:

 

1. Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

Probably the most visited and used forum on Internet today. It has good user interface, plenty of categories: gear, techniques, weddings, portraits, wildlife. You name it. The members are very involved and provide very useful comments and information. it is truly international forum which means you will get responses while you are sleeping and more diversity, means richer information. As of April 2014, it has 35,945,300 posts and 3,643,231 threads. You can also find what camera, lenses and flashes the photographer used to take a certain image

 

2. Canon Digital Photography Forums (photography-on-the.net)

This forum was started by Pekka Saarinen and it is all about discussing Canon only photography gear and photography techniques. It also features showcasing images and critiquing. Required registration to visit all categories as the marketplace where users can trade, buy or sell user or new gear or access the nude photography category which are hidden from unregistered users. As of April 2014, it has 16,322,862 posts and  395,622 members.

 

3. The Photo Forum (thephotoforum.com)

This forum has wide variety of digital photography topics. The categories include contests, image critique, weddings, portraits, camera and lenses, analog/film photography, and much more. Moderated forum which means all comments will be reviewed and approved before being published. As of April 2014, it has 2,899,356 posts and 153,932 members.

 

4. Digital Grin (dgrin.com)

This forum is about photography gear, image critique and photography techniques. Many users posts their images and the feedback by other members is genuine and educational. It is moderated as well. Activity is slow but that means you can get more attention from the members and your posts doesn’t have to compete with many others for attention. As of April 2014, it has: 1,911,245 posts and 74,901 members.

 

5. The Professional Photography Forum (theprofessionalphotographyforum.com)

Started in 2009, this forums is a good mix of showcasing photography work, professional / business works, and photography categories as: wedding, portraits, landscapes, still, commercial, etc.). As of April 2014, it has: 69,991 posts and  1,201 users. It might be bit small and slow, but worth considering.

 

6. SLR Lounge (slrlounge.com)

This forum has topics about photography techniques and tutorials. It features weekly and monthly contests for its members with prices and incentives to be creative. The design is HTML 5 bases and has a cool look. As of April 2014, it has: 6,745 posts and 1,701 members.  Moderated by Christopher Lin.

 

7. Photography Corner (photographycorner.com)

Another photography forum which also includes marketplace for registered users. Topics include: general photography topics, camera, lenses, and a premiere member’s lounge. As of April 2014, it has: 771,231 posts and 28,533 members. Owned and moderated by Tim L. Walker.

 

8. Digital Wedding Forum (digitalweddingforum.com)

This forum is exclusively about wedding photography, wedding techniques and wedding photographer resources. Users share their wedding images and video for other users to critique and discuss. It has membership fee, which means it is not free to register. You have to decide if it’s worth it to you but judging by the total number of posts and members it seems like a good online community. As of April 2014, it has: 2,430,377 posts and 38,431 members.

 

9. Fred Miranda (fredmiranda.com)

This forum has wide variety of categories like: seminars, tours, gatherings, photography techniques and image showcasing. It has marketplace for registered users to buy or sell used gear well organized by manufacturer, gear class and features.  As of April 2014, it has: 1,301,411 posts and 191,411 members.

 

10. Photographycorner (photographycorner.com)

The forums is all about generic and gear related discussions. Members are active and provide useful information. Overall is a good place to share your work and get feedback. As of April 2014, it has: 65,599 posts and 3,121 members.

 

I am sure there are many more photography forums and information sources, but the above 10 is what I have found to be most useful and relevant to me. Think differently? Agree or disagree? Drop me a line or more in a comment section…

 

By Trifon Anguelov Photography

Portrait and Wedding Photographer in Mountain View, CA, 94040

http://www.trifonanguelov.com

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Finding Different Point Of Views To Take Your Pictures


Highlights, Texture and ShadowsEvery photographer has a style which he or she develops over the years. This includes first selecting a type of photography one enjoys and wanting to work in: portraits, photojournalism, architecture, events, weddings, engagements, maternity, children or baby photography. So many types to choose from but ultimately it comes down to how passionate one is about this type of photography and how much energy he or she is willing to put into it.

Then it comes the option of digital camera model and types of lenses. Does one pick Canon, Nikon, Sony or Fuji, Pentax? Also how much depth of field matters for the type of photography and style one already selected. Having the right equipment is an important decision every photographer has to make. it would influence the quality and look of the photographs one would produce. Not an easy or cheap choice if you ask me.

And will all the selections already made, then it comes the time for one to start practicing, getting experience working with clients and building solid portfolio. As some are better at the technical aspect of photography, this could be a quite a steep learning. Managing client’s expectations, booking appointments and advertising a business takes so much energy from the otherwise creating and pleasurable activity. Wasn’t all going to be interesting and creative, one might ask? Yes and not. Managing the business aspect of the photography business takes time and efforts.

So finally with choices made, gear available and clients coming for photo sessions, it’s all about fun, isn’t it? Well wanted to bring another point which each photographer should consider and this is: unique look and vision. Finding this secret ingredient which will make the clients whooa the images one produces. This means finding interesting compositions and creative points of view to frame the compositions. A photograph is just a framed one dimensional representation of  the reality around us. What to include or exclude, what to emphasize or what to diminish it up to each artists and creator. The reality can be shaped and represented in some many ways, which makes the portrait, wedding and engagement photography so interesting.

So what is the point of view? This is the angle from which the camera is positioned and subject appearance can be manipulated. Look from above is diminishing the subject dimensions casing it to appear smaller and shorter, while look fro below elongates the subject and makes ti appear longer. One technique which I have been experimenting with is the Dutch Angle. It creates a sense of tension and gives a dynamic look to each composition. For more on this point of view and to see examples, read this article on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_angle

So in summary, photography is a very creative process and takes time to master. It requires lots of patience and time to get proficient into  and lots of efforts to constantly improve. Many factors contribute to becoming a good portrait or wedding photographer, but the good thing is that if one is committed it can only get better over time. I know I have been working to add more clients and images to my portfolio and client galleries at: http://www.trifonanguelov.com/Clients/

 

Have a different opinion, agree or disagree? Drop me a line or post your comment.

 

Trifon Anguelov Photography

Portrait and Wedding Photographer in Mountain View, CA

website at: http://www.trifonanguelov.com


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Smugmug vs Zenfolio: Photo Sharing Site Comparison


Abstract Image by Trifon Anguelov PhotographyA portfolio is a must for any visual artist: graphic designer, animator, videographer or photographer. It presents potential clients with quick overview of the artists best work and sets the expectations of what to expect. It helps to visualize the vision and experience of the artists into 8-10 pieces of work.

I as a photographer decided to build and maintain online photography portfolio so that my clients can see my best images. And not just the images but also post-processing skills which I have built over time.

And are there plenty of choices one has for online portfolio? Yes. Way too many. But after reviewing some of them I was able to distil the options to two which I decided to consider: Smugmug and Zenfolio. The good part is that both offer 30 days evaluation period during which one can test the features of each offering and take them for a “test drive”. At the end as all things in life, it comes down to making a decision.

For me the choice was Smugmug based on my needs and features which I think worked better for me. Here is the list of some of the decision considerations:

– Smugmug offered a complete customization (can write your own HTML and CSS, customize the headers and footers of the page, many menu options, custom HTML contact, info pages, etc) which is what I needed to tailor my website to my vision and needs

– Smugmug had much better website site-index (this is what search engines read to understand the website organization and crawl it, then add the results to their index). if you are planning to offer services and make money from the website, then you need to be placed higher in SE results and site-index helps

– There are more than 20 website themes on Smugmug to start with (you can stay with the default themes or use them as starting point and change to your taste and needs) as base foundation and them modify and customize. Having choices is better and having more choices is best in my view. I used one of the templates and them changed the background color, fonts, layout to come up with the final look for my photography website

– Smugmug offered access to up to 6 professional photo labs (including one I like BayPhoto.  Zanfolio uses MPix  which is also good choice) which my clients can order prints from. Again, lots of options is best as each client might have used one of the 6 labs in the past and feel comfortable with the prints quality, so the whole experience is better

– Smugmug customer support is more responsive (during the trials of both I had questions on how customize the templates and fount Semugmug support answered within 1 hour while Zenfolio took more than 6 hours)

– Smugmug picks up the image tags you assign in Lightroom and adds them to each image you upload. You can also add hyper-keywords to each image which are later being picked up and indexed by the search engines. This allows your images to be available in the images search for certain search terms (family photographer, baby pictures, etc). Gold when you need clients to find you online.

– Smugmug has up to 12 levels of gallery hierarchy (you can have Portraits (first level) : Headshots, Baby, Family (second level) : Headshots Male, Headshots Female, Baby Newborn, Baby One Months, Baby Two Months, etc (third level) etc. useful if you want to sell prints and need to organize your images by themes in different dimensions.

– Website customizations are available from grin Smugmug forums and many users have already shared examples of their layout customizations and HTML / CSS code.

– Smugmug offers a hierarchical organization of site layouts. On the top level there is a content that will appear on all pages, followed by a gallery specific content, and on the bottom there is a page specific content.  Each level can be customized and edited for the greatest flexibility in site customization. It’s bit more complicated than Zenfolio layout organization but once one understands it, is is quite easy to build and customize the site and pages.

– e-commerce on Smugmug allows much more customization and greater control over the pricing and offers much more merchandize options. For a starter,Smugmug offers much more print options of paper type, framing, gallery wrap, canvas, etc. – using photo sharing site on mobile devices is a must nowadays. I tested on both Motorola DROID and Apple iPhone mobile phones as well on Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tables. Some of my images were not displayed correctly on iPhone when using Zenfolio but on Smugmug the image rendering was working flawlessly.  While using Smugmug the images appreared sharper on Galaxy Note tablet compared to Zenfolio. Each Smugmug gallery has an option to apply default sharpening on all images from the gallery which I guess made the difference.

– The new Smugmug interface was recently released and new set of tools were added to further customize these templates and add in basic elements to further customize the front page or galleries: slideshow, HTML and CSS boxes. Adding to the website is as easy as drag and drop into the desired position and later customizing all the settings by drop down menus.

– Optimization for all three user devices: tablet, browser and mobile devices.  Rendering is adjusted for each screen size and I find the images and text are scaled down very accurately. Some long titles in the menu options wrap on mobile screens but it still looks very well.

– Social networking integration has been added to Smugmug by having complete set of customization to add and modify blog, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter links. These links can be added on both the front page, galleries and on each HTML page which makes is easy for your clients to share the site and pages with their friends.

– Lastly, Smugmug offers website usage statistics for the views per site, gallery and individual pictures which is useful to understand the visits and views of your galleries and site as overall. And if this is not enough or granular, there is seamless integration with Google WebTools and Google Analytics. Registration code is easily pasted into a designated field without having to modify any code or meta tags.

Decision however depends on how comfortable you feel on customizing photo sharing website and do you really need to do it. Zenfolio offers out of the box with less customization option, while Smugmug offers powerful customization but needs  HTML and CSS, web design knowledge for customization (out of the box is fine).

Whichever you decide to pick, look for discount promo codes. Most photo sharing websites offer promotions and why pay more. At the time when I made my choice, Smugmug was offering  20% discount. Bu so did Zenfolio as well. The market for photo sharing sites is very competitive and saturated so the competition is heating up and companies are offering sign-up discounts.

To see my photo sharing site and photography portfolio using Smugmug, visit: http://www.trifonanguelov.com

 

Think differently? Agree or disagree? Drop me a line or more in a comment section…

Trifon Anguelov Photography

Portrait and Wedding Photographer in Mountain View, CA, 94040

http://www.trifonanguelov.com