ON OR OFF: THE BEST INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM DECISION FOR YOU

   

 

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On or off, that is the trending question.

There is no shortage of opinion on how to respond to Instagram’s decision to display posts based on their new algorithm. A simple Google search will confirm that. This is further compounded for wedding photographers and every visual artist.

- Turn ‘off’ which is the same as leave it as it currently is, meaning the default position and allow the new algorithm to take effect. Similar to Facebook, it determines the post it serves up based on what it thinks you like or will like. - Or, the new rave, turn ‘on’ so that you will be notified each time the profile you follow uploads a post.

Here is the major opportunity or challenge depending on your position.

- ON and you’ll never miss a post. In fact, you receive a ding (notification) each time that profile uploads a post. - Since you receive a notification per upload, question is, how many notifications do you wish to receive in a day? An hour? During peak post time? Because notification is based on post upload, for each profile are you following and have enabled. So, how many times do you wish to be notified again?

Let’s make this relevant, say just one of the profiles you follow uploads 5 posts, that equals 5 notifications right? Not bad. Now let’s multiply that by say 10 or 20 or maybe 50 of the profiles you have enabled … you see where I’m going with this? Don't worry, I’ll help with the math, that’s 50, 100 or 250 notifications respectively. And that’s only 50 of the how many profiles do you follow again? I don’t know about you but I often find myself constantly turning notification OFF in several Facebook posts simply because it interrupts my day. Why? I get caught up in ‘being social’ if I take a peep when it is not my dedicated ‘social’ time. By the time I look up I find I’ve been on Facebook longer than intended.

I did say in my Monday post to turn notification on for not only me but also for the profiles you know and love. To be clear, I will turn notification on for a handful of profiles I love because I wish to be notified when they upload a post. Those accounts have a message or are on a journey I wish to follow. For profiles I follow and love, and may have missed their post, I purposefully go out of my way to search their profiles for new posts if it is not presented in my current feed for whatever reason on both Facebook and Instagram. They may have posted at a time that’s different from my social interaction time, but because they are important to me I go searching and show some love.

My goal is not to tell you what to do – ON or OFF, rather it is to cause you to PAUSE before you turn notification on, and then MAKE THE BEST DECISION FOR YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS because it ‘fits’ your business style.

On or off? What is your position? Please comment below. And share this post if you find this blog post useful.

BEST 3 APPS FOR A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

This week in the small business app series, I share the three applications I use for my wedding and lifestyle photography business. When it comes to photography, there are literarily several hundreds of apps to enhance your images. From the mega apps such as Adobe to quick on the go apps designed just for held devices, there is no shortage of apps. Deciding which app is right for your business can come from various reviews and recommendation. I believe you will find the app that fits your particular editing style. best-3-apps-for-photographyFor me, here are the three apps that have worked well.

  1. Photo Mechanic by Camera Bits is one of the best apps I adopted early on. It lives up to its reputation as an ‘image browser and workflow accelerator that lets you view your digital photos with convenience and speed.’ Imagine needing to cull through several thousand imagines after an 8 hour wedding day. For culling images, Photo Mechanic does a better job than Adobe Lightroom. I use two of its features - cull and export. I do not edit in this app.
  • Cull images. My RAW image handling preference is set to open with Photo Mechanic so it automatically opens the app. The initial selection is supposed to be quickly decisive. The question I ask myself when I look at an image is this: does it have a story or not? That’s it in Photo Mechanic.
    • So, with fingers poised on the keyboard, I use these three selection criteria: 1, 2, 3. 1 is a definite keeper while 2 is a definite no. I use 3s as maybe.
    • The ‘maybe’ is my undoing, and this is where I waste time agonizing over well… maybe… major time waster.  Make your selection. Move on.
  • Sort and export. I sort and export images into a ‘selected’ folder. I will share my folder structure in the coming weeks.  Any images I have not decisioned are moved into an ‘extra’ folder.  The card is ejected and stored away. That’s it!.

Of all the features and functionalities this great app is capable of, I only use cull and export.  Free to try, $150 to purchase

  1. Adobe Lightroom, now part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, is where my images are edited. It is a non-destructive app, meaning you can edit an image to your hearts content but the original file remains untouched.
  • To be clear, I only edit small job, major jobs are sent out for post processing and I receive what is called a catalog in return. The catalog holds all the edits or changes made to the original file. The catalog is imported into Adobe Lightroom directly into the ‘selected’ folder I talked about earlier.
  • Launch the catalog and you’re notified that the file is missing and needs to be located. Browse to the ‘selected’ folder, click the correct image number and Lightroom will automatically copy the metadata from the edited file onto the original file, and does the same for all files in the folder. From here, I apply my set of preferred ‘Presets’ to achieve my desired look.

Of all the features of Lightroom, I love, love, love the preview feature which incidentally is another time-wasting trap. I waste time wanting to ‘see’ what an image will look like using this or that preset. Multiply 2-3 minutes by oh, say 50 images? You get the point.

3. Adobe Photoshop is  another part of the creative cloud suite.  To say this app is a beast would not be an exaggeration. It’s easy to learn but a lifetime to master, and I doubt if that’s even possibly because they keep coming up with new and efficient features.  This is my go to app for a handful of images I need to take to the next level.

  • Images are exported from Lightroom or opened directly from a folder into Photoshop for further manipulation. Like Lightroom presets, Photoshop uses ‘Actions’ for image manipulations. And I’m sure you guessed it here, I thumb through several actions before I pinch myself.
  • It is also used for album design, although InDesign, another member of the Adobe creative suite is better suited for album design.

The two features I love the most about Photoshop is its use of layers and workspace.  Layers you probably know are efficient when neatly grouped into a folder but nearly impossible to ungroup once flattened. For this reason, I export my finished job in whatever file type I need but try never to flatten a layer. Once flattened, the original file is destroyed.

Now a subscription service, it is still free to try with multiple membership levels. Photography is $9.99 for Lightroom and Photoshop.

My goal was not to review any of these apps, extensive books have been written on each one, lectures and workshops have been and continue to be delivered daily. If you wish to learn more, I recommend Creative Live, a 24/7 online teaching site. My goal is to share the apps I use and the features used in my personal workflow.

What application have you found useful in our workflow? Its your turn to share. If you've enjoyed this series, please consider sharing with your friends, and remember to leave a comment. Next week, I'll share my folder structure.

Social Media and Sanity Saving Apps For A Small Business

This week I continue with sharing three more go to tools and gadgets on my solopreneur adventure and achieving the work-life balance. The three tools are grouped into two categories - social media management and all round ‘sanity saving’ must have gadget.ronnie bliss photography

 

  1. Writing and publishing a blog has so many moving parts it is easy to want to throw in the towel but it doesn’t have to be. Preparing the images used in each blog post for social media used to send me back into Photoshop until Amy and Jordan Ramos did a review on Blog Stomp and I was hooked. As the app touts, “Blog like a boss, then relax – you’ve earned it.” Seriously, their website says so but of all the bells and whistles of this app, the following three features are my go to: a. Automatic image sizing, multiple layout with preview option before you ‘Stomp It!’. Be forewarned, the preview option can become your new friend. b. Writing my blog and having direct access to just the perfect image that is correctly sized for all hand held devices; all within the same app is an awesome timesaver. c. Add categories, alt or title tags for SEO (yes, there’s that too) and you’re ready to either publish directly or upload as draft to Word Press to add your finishing touches.
  2. Next is Hootsuite. Finding just the right time to post on Instagram and connecting with your ideal audience in a sea of visually stimulating images reminds me of mastering the art of tightrope walking. Enter Hootsuite! The social network management platform that performs wonders for my business. My two go to features are: a. Ability to manage my 3 social platforms – Facebook, Instagram and Google+ b. IT analyzes my audience interaction and recommends just the right time to post. When its time, Hootsuite sends a notification to my smartphone, follow about 3 or so prompts and it's done. As in posted. Online! That alone is worth the admission for me.
  3. Ever needed to save the day? Or your sanity and you’re stuck in a major metropolis traffic? Oh, like let’s say Maryland/DC/VA i495 beltway or Houston, TX loop? I have just the remedy. Waze App! This magic GPS uses the power of social media to “outsmart traffic” and I can vouch for their claim to fame. Here are the three of the features I LOVE. LOVE. LOVE the most: a. You can customize your preference and it remembers your favorite way home, or out. b. It alerts you on upcoming gridlock and automatically reroute based on that info. c. It very nicely informs you when one of the ‘state finest’ is up ahead, hidden or visible.

Wave outsmarts traffic so well I once considered making a donation just for saving my sanity after a particularly difficult rainy 45-minute-ride-turned-to-90-minutes on I495 beltway only to find Waze has been purchased by Google at which point I promptly put my card away, nah, Google doesn’t need my 2 cents but the app IS. THAT. GOOD!

As you already know, there are more apps out there that does similar or better than these three, they are simply the ones that I rely on for my business. Next week, I will share the three go to apps for my images. Full disclaimer, I use the free version of most applications and only subscribe until I absolutely have to.

I hope you find these apps useful. If you do please consider sharing it with your friends.

 

Mint & Gold Styled Photo Session | Houston, TX

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Ronnie: I’m visiting Houston & would really love to meet anyone that’s available for coffee, wine, a meal or just hang out. Kelsey: I'm always game to grab coffee or wine. If you wanted to pull together a quick shoot somewhere let me know.

Those two Facebook messages began a flurry of instant messages (IM) that culminated in a mini styled Mint & Gold shoot collaboration by a handful of spectacular Houston, TX wedding industry creatives from the local group of Rising Tide Society, the Houston Tuesday Together.

Kelsey Vawter, a Hair and Makeup Artist extraordinaire earned that title because this collaboration would have been impossible without her. She reached out to other creatives and our team began to form. She had a real-life power couple to model, we tossed some venues and timeline around settled on 10:30 am to give everyone a chance to get on with their valentine’s day plan.

I had a minor problem on my part though.

My original outbound Southwest Air flight conflicted with the timeline ; it was scheduled to arrive much later in the day. What’s a girl to do? Change flights of course, except it’s 2 days before departure. Enter American Airlines who happens to have an early morning but connecting flight that would get me into Houston IAD, not Hobby by 9:30 am. No time for deliberation, change flight plan already and pray there is no delay. Flight changed! Oh, remember to cancel outbound Southwest into Hobby. Canceled! And then there was the matter of the rental car, change pick up location to George Bush Airport, drop off at Hobby. Done!!.  I arrived at BWI so early that I was in line even before TSA opened. #firsttimeever.  Mercifully, AA arrived on time, I grabbed the rental car and thanks to the power of Waze (GPS) I made it to the venue, in time to receive the next IM: we’re inside.

Showtime!

When I first saw our real-life power couple Meaghan, an MD/Ph.D. student and Chris, an aerospace engineer, their chemistry was so strong I forgot my typical getting-to-know-you mental script. Meaghan looked so stunning in the exquisite gown provided by Christine of Private Label Wedding Dresses. Chris looked something straight out of the pages of GQ. The only question I could come up with was are you guys a real couple?. I don’t remember their response but their faces and body language said it all.

 

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Oh, Chris, Chris, Chris

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A quick touch up just to make sure her girl shines! Christine!! Ronnie Bliss Photography_0171.jpg Ronnie Bliss Photography_0170.jpg

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Not a strand of hair out of place.  Hair and Makup by Kelsey  @styledbykelseyvRonnie Bliss Photography_0192 Ronnie Bliss Photography_0176.jpgRonnie Bliss Photography_0172.jpgRonnie Bliss Photography_0173.jpg

When you're in a sweet shop, there's only one thing to do. Did you notice the mint straws?  Elizabeth! Ronnie Bliss Photography_0177.jpg

I cannot wait to work with again with one of the best Houston’s wedding planners, Elizabeth Abshire of EA Events & Design. She was so on point with planning the day that she even picked up a new set of mint chairs to match. Just in case! Ronnie Bliss Photography_0178.jpgCalligraphy by Lilly and Rose Studio Ronnie Bliss Photography_0179.jpg Ronnie Bliss Photography_0180.jpg Ronnie Bliss Photography_0181.jpg Ronnie Bliss Photography_0182.jpg Ronnie Bliss Photography_0183.jpg

This creamy goodness, to borrow from Fat Cat Creamery was by Natalie at Jade Magnolia Sweets. Ronnie Bliss Photography_0184.jpg Ronnie Bliss Photography_0185.jpg Ronnie Bliss Photography_0186.jpg Ronnie Bliss Photography_0187.jpg Ronnie Bliss Photography_0188.jpg

 

What happens when several passionate creatives put their mind to a common goal? Made possible through the collaboration of these passionate wedding industry creatives:

Hair + Makeup: Kelsey Vawter - http://www.styledbykelseyv.com - @styledbykelseyv

Photography: Ronnie Bliss Photography -  http://ronniebliss.com - @ronnieblissphotography

Planning: EA Events & Design - http://www.eadesignevents.com @eadesignevents

Wedding dress: Private Label Wedding Dresses - http://www.privatelabelweddingdresses.com

Calligraphy: lilyandrosestudio https://www.etsy.com/shop/LilyandRoseStudio @lilyandrosestudio

Wedding Cake: Jade Magnolia - @jade.magnolia

Models: Meaghan - @m_roars GQ model Chris -  @cvdubs11

Venue: Fat Cat Creamery - @fatcatcreamery

I love to travel, see new places, meet new people.  My last trip to Houston, TX  did not disappoint. I met not just new people, but new friends, new places. I drove and drove some more, and had the lucky grace to meet spectacular wedding industry creatives. My adventure was so awesome, the next one is already in the works. Are you in Houston or surrounding areas mid-March? Would you like to grab a cup of coffee, wine, lunch or even dinner? I'd love to meet you. Better yet, do you have an idea we can collaborate on? Send me an email [email protected]

WRITE THE VISION MAKE IT PLAIN

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Write the vision, make it plain ...(Hab. 2:2). So, I wrote my vision for 2016, on this hi-tech tablet.
A #bosslady once told me to write my big hairy AUDACIOUS goals, naturally some are lofty goals, some requires nothing but discipline while others will challenge me. In the process of writing, I managed to work some personal goal into the vision. Here's to 2016.
Business goals:
  • Introduce Vibrant Journal, a weekly journal to bring you along on my journey, share relevant  and even entertaining vibrant life, love and living.
  • Expand Ronnie Bliss Photography. More to come on this topic in future posts.
  • Enhance the Ronnie Bliss Wedding Experience. My ultimate goal is to pull off an annual weekend getaway with my brides. Lofty for now but I'll get there.
  • Continue to improve my craft by getting out of my comfort zone. Never stop learning.
  • Surround me with people that are smarter, wiser and all round interested in my success. Business coach, mentors and cheerleaders.
  • Improve blogging to at least 2 times a week. Consistently. This blogging thing is HARD work!
  • Read at least 1 business book per month. January read - Jab, jab, jab, RIGHT HOOK by Gary Vaynerchuk.
  • Hire an intern or part-time assistant. I can't do it alone.

A great segway into my personal goals:

  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep. Every day sleep. Any small business owner will understand this one.
  • Travel, travel, travel. Did I say travel? I promise to bring you along through my images. Or better yet, pack a bag, let's go!
  • Read 2 books per month for pleasure. My daughter does not agree that audiobooks are same as 'reading', so I will 'listen' to at least 2 books. 
  • Complete a 52-week photo challenge just for pleasure. This is a CHALLENGE I'm willing to try. I already missed week 1, but I'm not deterred, be patient with me. Clickin Moms is my source of inspiration, in case you wish to tag along. 
Phew! There I wrote it. If you have read this far, thank you for spending part of your day with me. If there's a topic you would love to read, please let me know. Don't forget to subscribe and share my posts with friends. Wishing you a wonderful year ahead.
 Ronnie
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Hand Written Note | Ronnie Bliss Photography | Maryland Wedding Photographer

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Happy Labor Day, especially for those of us in the United States. And if you’re lucky enough, you’re either on vacation, you get to sleep in late, or it’s smooth sailing work. Whatever your situation is, let us take a moment to do something good for someone else today.

If you are new here, this is an action blog with a new activity each Monday. Simple tasks that can be accomplished within minutes, or before the day is over, the choice is always yours. The idea is to take the spotlight off yourself and make someone else’s day. Be a blessing. Simple!

Today’s task? Write a (handwritten) note and mail or deliver it.

What? Yes, a handwritten note, on a notecard, paper or napkin if you wish and mail (don’t forget the postage stamp) or hand deliver it. Anything but the use of technology.

Think about it, when was the last time you sent or received a handwritten note? I’m sure you can think of at least one deserving person to write.  Let’s do it.

Do Something Good. For Someone else. Happy Monday! 

Did you do it? Well? How’d it go? Tell us all about it in the comment section.

Love the idea? Share the post. Have an idea? Share it and it just might be featured. Until next Monday…. Do something Good for someone.

A Bottle of Watter

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How was your weekend? Laid back? Exciting? Busy? Boring? Glad its over? Whatever your individual response is, let's see if we can do something good for someone else today. We truly do have the power to make a difference in other people's lives, no matter how small it is.

If you are new here, this an action blog with new activity each Monday. Simple tasks that can be accomplished within minutes, or before the day is over, the choice is always yours. The idea is to take the spotlight off yourself and make someone else’s day. Be a blessing. Simple!

Today’s task? Offer a bottle of water to someone today.

Ever wonder when service people have time to take a break? A simple thing like a bottle of water goes a long way. Especially when it is unexpected. Here's a short list of people we come in contact with everyday but often overlook: delivery guys such as FedEx, UPS, mail carriers front desk personnel security guards cleaning crew your assistants, co-workers the list goes on and on

A nice cold bottle of water has the power to refresh and to refuel, when it's unexpected, it has the power to make someone's day. What's the cost to you? $1.09. That's less than the cost of a donut or grande bold drip in my case. (coffee for those that does not speak starbucks). Let's make a difference today, offer a bottle of water to someone.

Do Something Good. Happy Monday! 

Did you do it? Well? How’d it go? Tell us all about it in the comment section.

Love the idea? Share the post. Have an idea? Share it and it just might be featured. Until next Monday…. Do something Good for someone.