Tag Archives: wordpress

New Year, New Site


[dropcap_1]I[/dropcap_1]  hate New Year resolutions as a rule. To promise to change something for a new year because you feel guilty about it can not be a good way to effect a change. But, in this case, I decide that this year I would do a few things differently. I started early by joining the studio coop in December. I posted about that a bit ago and so far, it has been a very good arrangement.

A second thing that I really wanted to do was make over my website. I had not been happy with my hosting service for a long while. It’s not that they were “bad” or anything but I had ongoing issues with memory and WordPress plugins not having enough and they could never get it to work quite right. In truth, they sell canned templates and hosting service for those templates. I dumped that two years ago and built my own wordpress site using iBlog. So I was already out of their comfort zone in doing that. I was also paying alot more than I needed to since I was not using their sites or any of their features. I had found them too limiting for what I wanted to do.

So last month. I ordered up a new domain name which will be the umbrella name for my photography, my fusion video efforts and some training work coming down the pipe. Signed a deal with Machighway.com (they host on Macs) and started a new site. After one disaster of a template, I started over, found a cheaper template that worked alot better and you now see the results.

[blockquote]Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.- Henry Ford [/blockquote]

Welcome to my NEW and IMPROVED website and blog for Michael Sweeney Media.. aka Michael Sweeney Photography. I’m able to put up my blog, my galleries, a nice splash page and more without any issues with memory or other troubles. I plan to get back on a regular posting schedule and I plan to put up more images now I can get it all to work better. Please, take a look around and be a bit patient while I get the bits and pieces moved over and working again.

Thanks for visiting!




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Posted in commercial photography, equipment, photography, studio, Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , , , , |

Repurposing Your Software Tools

Photoshop or your editor of choice actions can  help you cut time corners to make a better end product like blog entries. Say what?  Oh yes, you can adapt tools normally used for a task  like making albums into a killer tool for making story boards for blogs or displays or whatever else comes to mind. I just used my favorite album software from Fundy to make a batch of story boards for my blog here. Yes I could buy actions to do this but I wanted to see if I could do something close on my own with Photoshop.

I already have a couple of flavors of album making software, LumaPix, You Select It (YSI) and FundySOS Album builder. Since I’m on a Mac, I prefer to use Fundy Album builder. While LumaPix would do a really nice job, it’s Windows only and I need to start up XP just to make these. It’s more work then I want right now. Fundy means I never leave my workflow.  This is not intended to be a review of Fundy’s software but suffice to say it’s pretty powerful and is adaptable to virtually anything that requires arranging images, not just wedding albums.

Here is a sample of a three by three story board of a shoot in Colorado that I shot last year.  I tossed together in Fundy Album builder in a few minutes. Not only can I make the grid but I can save it as a design then load it back up and automatically fill the grids or fill them by hand. It can takes less than 5 minutes to make the entire grid and fill it this way. And I just have to insert ONE picture into the blog instead of a dozen or more.

3x3 Wedding Story Board

3x3 Wedding Story Board

And it does not have to be squares, it can be any shape I want, singles, squares, grids, puzzles and more. Also,  this is not just for blogs, this technique of story boarding or building paneled images  can be sold to a client or used in an album or picture book. So the time invested in making the templates can be time well spent. And yes, I had to buy the software but I had bought it  to make my wedding albums so now I’m using the same software for two or three other uses without having to buy anything else. That is money saved and in your pocket.

Here is a type of grid that is called a “puzzle” with several images from a local coffee house in the city of Orange  called Chapman Coffee. My business, Michael Sweeney Photography, had some art hung on the walls  there for a while and I had taken pictures for their website. Now I’m using them to illustrate a second type of collage that you can put into your blog by using album building software. I started with a blank canvas set to 1024 pixels square and used Fundy’s Album Builder Ninja layout and CS4 to make the puzzle. You can of course, make the squares manually using just Photoshop.

Chapman Coffee House Puzzle

Chapman Coffee House Puzzle

And you can take a single picture and use the panels as a design element. Use a strong picture and add a bit of space between the sections and you get a very cool effect. In this case, I made a quad panel and used a picture of a 1957 Chevy Bel Air automobile that I shot at the “Cars and Coffee” car show in Irvine, California. This image of the car works well spread across  the four panels with a visual break between each panel and gives an idea for a wall hanging upsell to the client.

1957 Chevy Quad Panel

1957 Chevy Quad Panel

If all this is cool but you either dont have existing tools like FundySOS  or you just dont want spend the time to mess around with Photoshop, then you can buy actions from a variety of places such as MCP who has the “Blog It Boards” among others. The actions give you a very fast way to get started on this type of presentation of your images.  You can find some free ones at coffeephotography.blogspot.com but keep in mind that free is good, sometimes paying for something is better.

So the take away is that for your blog, instead of fighting with posting a dozen images which can also be swiped, make a storyboard of them and post that. Everyone gets to see the pictures, admire your artistic skills in layout and you can shave time off the editing of your post.  You can also incorporate your album software or actions into your workflow as design elements.

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Posted in Album Software, Business Aids, editing, editing software, photography, portraits, technique, training, wedding photography, workflow Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Down the rabbit hole

Sometimes you need to be reminded what the priority should be and not what your think it is. I decided a few weeks back I wanted a new website where the site and the blog were one and the same. I dislike most “Photography” blogs since you end up with miles of images to scroll down through. I like blogs that are informational like what I’m doing right now. I dont like pages of stuff just to look at. The website has images and key info but it’s pretty static, too static in my opinion for today’s customer. So I start to look around. This blog is based on WordPress and I can use a “Theme” to divide up the content and give a “look and feel” to it that fits with my branding or my personality.

So I started “theme shopping” and there are ALOT of themes to choose from. But I did not find one I really liked till a few days ago. I liked the demo and so I bought it for a very cheap price. There was a reason why it was cheap. Just to get the basics to work right, I had to hack my way through a few pages of code and work out what they had done or not done. No biggie so I think, I can do this. After all, I am a geek and a pretty damn good one if I say so. The problem was that I have now spent almost four days on this stupid template and I was very much caught up in it and into it. I do like coding when I have a project like this and I can and have wasted hours on projects like this.

So today I’m listening to a podcast called “This week in Photography” (TWIP) and they are interviewing the owner of Livebooks.com. One of the things that was mentioned just jumped out at me. If you are working on your site, you are not shooting pictures.  Sounds like a no-brainer but when you are down the rabbit hole, you dont always see the light till someone shines it in your face.

In my case, I was way down the rabbit hole and I needed the light really bright to remind me that while coding is fun, it’s not helping shoot, get business, develop new skills like photo painting and more. I need a site and I need to do it with the minimal time and effort on my part. So my template efforts are being put on hold for now and I’ll stick with this simple blog for the time being. It’s not very fancy but it is serviceable and I dont think it is ugly, just kinda of plain.

I did look at Livebooks since they also made some very good points about trying to keep up with the various media players to support like the iPhone, iPad, Android etc..etc. Again, another time sink that I should avoid. I do have a plug in for iPhone support and it was free and fast to install. That worked well but spending time to develop or to hack something into working for me is not what I should be doing. I need to making images.. I need to be bettering my skills with photoshop, Lightroom and other revenue generating skills. After all, people who pay me want pictures and choose me for my skill at making pictures, not for my coding skills or website design.

So if anyone knows a really cool but easy to set up template for a blog/website, let me know.

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Posted in Business Aids, photography, ramblings, workflow Also tagged , , |

Shadow Boxes and Simple Views

I’ve been toying around with the blog trying out some different plug ins and tools. One that I really love is a widget built into CS4 called “Zoomify”. You can buy it but a simple version is included in CS4. I also love “Shadowbox” which gives a nice semi-transparent black background for displayed images. My new best friend is called “Simpleviewer” which gives a way to have a single image anchor a flash or other type of slide show in the shadowbox.

Here is a sample post of my family decorating our Christmas tree with the slide show made in CS4 using the Simpleviewer script in Photoshop. You could make the slide show in Lightroom and use Shadowbox also and I plan to put together a demo of that also in a different post.

This is a very cool way to gen up a slide show of the newest wedding shoot or other shoot without making your blog run pages in length.

Where did I find all of this information? Well, my buddies over at Kelby Training have a new online session with RC (Rafael Concepcion) on setting up WordPress for photographers. Actually, there are two of them and I went straight to the 2nd one which has all of this information plus more. If you want to learn it fast, spend the twenty bucks for a months subscription and watch it a couple of times. Well worth the money.And there are alot more there to watch.. I’m just warning you 🙂 I have a yearly subscription myself so I get nothing out of recommending them other than a warm fuzzy for helping you.

Posted in editing, editing software, photography, training, workflow Also tagged , , , , , , , |