Russian History in Photographs

A fascinating new website has recently become available that illustrates Russian history between 1860 and 1999 using both professional and amateur photographs gathered from museums, newspapers, private collections and even visitors to the website.

With over 70,000 photos in the collection it covers everything from fashion, family life, business, culture, arts, architecture and military images. You can set the website to search photos between two dates or use a key word or theme to search a particular topic. In addition you can gather images into your own curated exhibition adding text and comments to enhance your viewer’s experiences.

I think it is a fascinating site and well worth a mooch through. You can easily lose an hour or two going from one topic to another. I couldn’t get the search function to work but as the site is in Russian and I was searching for things in English that’s not surprising. You will get on much better if you ensure that Google translate or other translating service is turned on.

To see more go to Russian History in Photographs.

Selling to Stock Photography Sites

In a previous post, Self-Promotion for Photographers, I mentioned the stock photography site Alamay and how that was probably the best site for me to start with because it offers 100% profit to its students.

While I am a student it might be quite good to take advantage of that offer but what then? The Alamay website isn’t particularly clear. It suggests that the average license selling fee is $90 but how much of that goes to the photographer I cannot see. When I look at individual images there are any number of licenses available for different uses from £9.99 to £150.00. It is all quite confusing and not easy for a busy person to get to the bottom of.

This week I have come across another stock photography site that attempts to make things clearer for everyone. Picfair offers a a single licence at a price set by the photographer. On top of that license fee they charge a 20% commission and a payment processing fee so if I were to charge £5 for my photos, they would add on £1 commission and .37p for payment processing so that my photo would be available for sale at £6.37.

The site has a very helpful area that explains all that a photographer needs to know before uploading an image and I like the idea of a catch all licence even though it doesn’t allow purchasers to use the photographs on paid for advertising (like billboards or a television advert) just yet.

I notice that they are asking for studio images on a white background, although these don’t tend to trend on the front page, they are very popular. I have some chocolate images taken on a cross-section that I may well try on there.

Chocolate Typologies
Chocolate Typology


Print Portfolio v Digital Portfolio

Last year I created a website which acts as an online portfolio and showcases my best photographs. This year I want to make a printed portfolio that compliments what I have done online.

I hope the online portfolio will help me to get in front of potential clients but when I am face to face with a client a printed portfolio will be easier to look at together and will hopefully enable me to stand out from other people. It means that I won’t have to rely on a wi-fi connection or be caught out by low batteries or electronic malfunctions. And it means that I have complete control over how my photos are displayed to clients so that images are not affected by low resolution screens or screens that are set to the wrong display size or colour settings.

A printed portfolio shows that I have taken the time to prepare and come along to meet with a client with images that I am ready to show off. So much better than just telling them a url to to look up. There is something about the tactile nature of a book or prints that makes the experience of looking at photographs more memorable.

There are any number of distractions that can interrupt viewing on a computer, especially email notifications or adverts but a printed portfolio allows clients to focus directly on my photos with no opportunity to navigate away.

On the downside, it is more costly and time-consuming to update a printed portfolio than it is a digital portfolio. Also, if it is too big, a printed portfolio can be a real pain to carry around and then there is the problem of keeping it smart, neat and not battered or dented at the corners.

Despite the failings of a printed portfolio I think it is still a useful tool for today’s photographers.

Portfolio Inspiration

I love the Lonely Planet magazine and would love to see my photographs printed in its pages so I’ve mocked-up a few feature pages, using Adobe Indesign, just to see what it looks like. Although the photographs are displayed very clearly I feel that there is too much copy for use in my portfolio.

I visited an exhibition at the National Geographic Society during the summer and purchased the accompanying book, The Tuareg or Kel Tamasheq: The People Who Speak Tamasheq and a History of the Sahara, edited by Henrietta Butler. Apart from being a really interesting read, I like the way that some of the pages of photographs are laid out, with the photographs large and clear and a small amount of descriptive text. It is quite a thick book that doesn’t lay flat when it is opened and I don’t like that some of the photographs go across two pages and get lost down the deep centre crease.

I’ve also been leafing through The Family of Man, by Edward Steichen. It is a lovely book with photographs displayed on the pages clearly. The only text is a small identification for each photograph, probably not enough for my portfolio. But what I do like are the quotes that are randomly found among the images on some of the pages.

I’ve also been to the Blurb website to get some inspiration from some of the photography portfolio books on there.

  • The Harbour, Savannah, GA is nicely laid out but where there is text, it is too large and distracts from the photos.
  • Free Bird Photography has too many photographs on each page for my liking.
  • Portafolio 2014 is very nice.
  • fotographie 4 is also very nice but I prefer the photographs printed on a white page rather than on a black page.

I’ve seen another couple of website with travel portfolios that I quite like too.

I have also re-looked at the inspiration that I used to create my web portfolio – Tools for Creating a Professional Web Portfolio.

Website Feedback

I have valued the feedback that I have received from others on the course, all of it has been very positive and I have included many of their suggestions in the site.

Feedback has included:

  • I like how when you click on the photos they become larger
  • The bright colour backgrounds are eye-catching!
  • Good that you have separated your photos into groups
  • Very independent work, I love it!
  • Writing/text is a bit small – I have since increased the font size
  • Good idea, instead of pages have different urls.
  • Why orange? – because this is the colour I designed my commercial stationary in last semester.
  • Wow, very mature – I am a bit old!
  • I like the icons and the colour themes
  • You should put your logo on the corner of pics so no one can steal them – I have begun to do this and will go back and watermark the older photos on the site.
  • Travel ‘Buy Now’ images link to Photobox (put favourites first) – I have added a ‘Buy Now’ button to some of the travel photos and linked it through to my SmugMug account where the photos can be bought and printed by a pro lab.
  • Contact details on each – at first I was loath to do this as I really wanted a simple site with as few pages as I possibly could and I have included contact icons on the bottom of every page but I relented and have included a contact me page near the Journal
  • Nice neutral background
  • Very spacious, not overcrowded
  • Very interesting website, lots to look at.
  • Cute cheery music for the video
  • Cool that you can buy books and prints, makes it look professional
  • Love the separate website for each section
  • Love the range of images
  • Video, comparing to website, not enough ‘you’ in it. Your experience is too colourful for one minute!
  • Great website but a little too busy, especially the travel section, could you add a side bar for each section – I’m looking into this.
  • Love the colours for each page, especially the wildlife, it really compliments the photos
  • Logo looks really neat
  • Maybe put email button in a separate place as its under ‘follow’ and may confuse stupid people – good point. I’ve re-labelled it.
  • Good ‘shop’
  • Videos are so cool!!!
  • All pages show that you can do anything.

That last comment has really boosted my confidence.

Artist Statement

I have chosen not to write a single artist statement for my website but instead to include specific statements for each area of the site.

In writing the statements I have firstly considered who will be reading the information and what they may wish to know. I have explained what services I can offer, why they should consider me to take their photographs and what style of photographs I take.

For example the wedding and portrait site is targeted at couples planning to get married and so my statement on this page includes information about where I am based and where I am prepared to work and how I am prepared to journey with the bride and groom throughout their day.

I have written very little about my experience as I don’t feel that I have a lot of experience to write about on the weddings site but I hope this will be something that I can include when I review the website in a couple of months. On the documentary and commercial site I have included a short list of previous commissions.

For each statement I have reviewed and re-worded the paragraphs until I am satisfied that they are clear, concise and easy to read and understand, even cutting out whole paragraphs that do not add anything to the main message.

I have found this quite difficult to do. I don’t really like writing about myself or ‘bigging myself up’ but as that it what is needed here, I’ve had to do it. I have asked friends to read and critique what I have written and made adjustments after taking their feedback into account. Generally their feedback has been that I need to blow my own trumpet more

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