Giving away pictures

I gave away about 800 four-by-six prints of my recent pictures at Daytona State College today, so if you are visiting because you received one of those, give me a shout in the comments! :smile:

While I haven’t attended the college besides online classes in a year, next year I am taking the pre-requisites for the education program, so I will be at the Daytona Beach campus four days a week. I met a lot of old friends today and am looking forward to working on DSC in Motion, the college newspaper, after being the Features Editor in fall 2009.

I got my driver’s license on Monday after having a learner’s permit for over a year, so now I can travel wherever I want in my father’s van. Previously, he would have to go with me, drive home, and come back to pick me up, which he only wanted to do if I had class, but not for meetings or socializing. The only downside to having a license is the ridiculous insurance costs, which are currently averaging to $87.26 per month for me. I’m going to try to go somewhere everyday, because if I don’t I’ve basically wasted $2.90 because that’s the daily cost of the insurance. I don’t even have collision or comprehensive coverage and I have the highest deductible, so I think $20 per month would be a much more reasonable price. We are using Response insurance, so please let me know if you know a cheaper company (Progressive quoted us at over $150 per month).

To recoup some of the costs of insurance I’ve added Infolinks to my blog, so if you see words double-underlined those are advertisements and I earn money when they are clicked on. Please don’t click on them unless you are genuinely interested in the advertisements, however. In one week, I’ve made $0.39 from these, so I might remove them soon because they are producing very little money.

Hello Daytona State College Visitors!

If you typed in my web address from a print I gave you at Daytona State College, make yourself known by leaving a comment here.

I’ve been giving out a lot of prints I had made in 2007 when it was very cheap. These are the ones I backprinted in the same year, with my old and very long web address,, which now forwards here. At the time other family members had other subdomains and the home page was a portal, but now I have and I’m the only one left blogging.

If you come here again, type instead which I use in all new print advertisements.

Have a look around at my photos and personal development articles. Feel free to comment on anything you see with the link at the end of each post; I read and respond to everything.

The photos I’ve given out so far are Leafy Droplets on Monday, Symmetry today (Wednesday), and on Friday I’ll be giving Ketchup and Ketchup 2 out as a set. This is on the Daytona State College main campus between 10 A.M. and 2 P.M.

If you need me to take photos for you, I am offering my services at a reduced rate of $20 per hour (min. $20) with free editing and a CD. The economy is bad now so we all have to pick up the slack. I have a DSLR with two good lenses (portrait and zoom).

Enjoy and keep studying!

The Return of the Shop

The shop is back. It’s a bit different now. If you can recall from a month ago, I gave up on yak because it doesn’t work with WordPress MU. I found a plugin that does: Quick-Shop. It’s less fancy, but a lot easier to maintain. When you click “Add to Cart” on any page, you get redirected to the shopping cart, with that item added. To go back, press back in your browser (the old-fashioned way). To buy, click the PayPal button; you’ll be redirected to them so you can enter your payment info. Here’s the cart in action:

the shopping cart

You can change quantities; just press enter to update. The red X’s remove items, and more shipping policies and such are below the form.

Since this new software has no database and keeps no inventory or shipping logic, shipping is USA only now. You can email me if you really want some prints and can’t move to my country, though. Also, you can order like 500 of a print, because there’s no stock tracking. If you do this, it’ll take me a week extra to have the copies printed.

I’ve released all of my portfolio in the shop, to start. The price is $0.95 plus $0.42 shipping per print, and the size is 4*6 for them all. I like the new software because I can put multiple items to a post, unlike with yak, and I don’t have to do tedious updating of custom fields; it’s really quick for me to add an Add to Cart button.

Unfortunately, the plugin has security issues. I tried commenting about them on the author’s site, but just got a blank screen. Here is that comment:

I’m liking this plugin a lot and am using it on my site. It’s so basic, yet effective, and the lack of stock control isn’t an issue if you can produce an unlimited quantity of your products, like with mine. My only concern is the lack of security. You can easily fudge the HTML to get a site to display a lower price. For example with your site, putting the code below in a local file and clicking the button in a browser will actually load your site with the item at the reduced price ($5.00 from $359.99).

<p>Budget Intel PC: <strike>$359.99</strike> <strong>$5.00</strong> <object><form method="post" action="" style="display:inline"><input type="submit" value="Add to Cart" /><input type="hidden" name="product" value="Budget Intel PC" /><input type="hidden" name="price" value="5.00" /><input type="hidden" name="shipping" value="0.99" /><input type="hidden" name="addcart" value="1" /><input type="hidden" name="qslink" value="" /></form></object></p>

Obviously, if anyone does this, you don’t have to send them the item. It gets tricky if you’re giving them a receipt with the price they’ve forged, though. Might even be troublesome if they just cut the price in half and then complain to PayPal if you refuse to take the loss (they’ll have a PayPal confirmation with the product and lower price).

I’m not too worried about it because I’m dealing with low-value items, but otherwise I would be. Nice work on the plugin, nonetheless.

If you do the above to fake a lower price on my prints, I’m taking it as a donation. Most people are good and will use the shop as intended. :sunglasses: Thanks!

How to Brand Your Prints

the back of a photo, annotated with laser printing

Photos in print are much harder to brand than photos on your website. If your printing in any great quantity, the tedious process of writing out your name, website, and other pertinent information on the flip side becomes insurmountable. Secondly, most photographic papers have a resin-coated backing, which stubbornly refuses any water-based inks. My methods in this article are aimed toward unframed 4*6 prints, as that’s what I deal with myself, but they can be easily applied to other formats. In fact, the fundamentals of permanence at the end are essential to any print medium.

Whether your printing photos for your friends, family, art, or business, it is doubtless that any copies floating about can make convincing advertisements. Your very livelihood is at stake; what can you do to make sure that everyone knows that you are the creator of those photographic masterpieces? Luckily, you do have options.

1. Put your name right on the front of the print, straight from the digital source files. This is an easy way to demarcate your work; you don’t have to deal with any hand writing or messy backprinting. Unfortunately, it’s a bit distracting, and anything more than the title and your name is pushing it; include your website and the text will get more attention than the photo. Plus, if you’re going to put the info anywhere, it’ll have to be at the edge of the print, perhaps in a border surrounding the image. You’re going to have to deal with the bleed edge, and it’s a pain because what looks fine on the screen will often get cut off in a borderless print. This becomes especially important if you’re out-sourcing to a lab, as they often crop tightly, and you have less control than with home printing. Nonetheless, as long as you use a big enough border, this is effective, especially if you’re drop-shipping your prints and can’t intercept them to label the backs elegantly. I’m using this very technique for The Freedom Project, my free print offering; the image area is 5×3.34 instead of 6×4, and the extra space is used for a border, with the title and my name at the bottom.

2. Label the back of the print by hand. This is fine in low volume, and provides a connection to your audience. There are downsides though: it’s slow and eats away at your time, your handwriting won’t be as readable as printed type, and getting the ink to stay without damaging the print is a challenge. Don’t even think of using a ballpoint pen; the point will leave a noticeable impression on the front side, and if the ink is water-based, it’s not going to adhere anyway. Your best choice is a pigment-based permanent marker; a Sharpie or equivalent. Ultra fine point is good, as long as you don’t press down too hard.

3. Rely on your lab to label your prints. Usually, they print a tiny dot-matrix label, including the file name or custom text. Winkflash prints the file name, and SmugMug offers custom text, for example. Both are limited to about forty characters—hardly enough space for your name and website. This post by dogwood at the Digital Grin forum sums it up:

Just my two cents, the backprinting option is a GREAT idea… though in reality, it does look pretty poor. The printing is tiny, there are frequent errors, you can’t use symbols (including the copyright symbol), and it looks like one of those 1980’s dot matrix printers is used to create the text.

The provided backprinting is a step up from nothing, though.

4. Label the back of the print with a rubber stamp. You’ll run into the same problem as above: dye or water based inks will never dry. Your only choice is pigment-based or permanent ink, which are less common and more expensive. It’s hard to clean either off your stamps, and the former has the con of not being permanent. Read more here: Ink Pad Basics. Look into alcohol based inks if you pick this route, as they will stick to even plastic.

5. Label the back of the print with an ink-jet printer. This won’t work at all. Trust me, I’ve tried it. It’ll come out looking fine, but as soon as you touch the ink, it smears all over the place, even if it’s sat out for two weeks. It’s fine if you’re using double-sided paper, but if you are, you don’t need to read this anyway.

6. Label the back of the print with a laser printer. Now we’re getting somewhere. This is what I do for all my 4*6 prints using a Lexmark E450dn; the opening image is an example. This won’t work with many printers, and has some problems. For starters, many laser printers get too hot and will damage the finish or curl your prints permanently. Don’t expect any specs on this from the manufacturer. You run the risk that the plastic in the print will melt and get caught up on the rollers, immobilizing your expensive machine. This happens more often with inkjet photo paper, which isn’t designed to stand up to heat. And many printers don’t like to label 4*6’s; you’ll have trouble setting up the tray, and getting the print to be centered. The upside is if it works, you have a cheap and fast way to batch label prints, even with lengthy annotations that fill up the whole back side, like in my example image. The “ink” will always stick, because it’s in fact toner, ground up particles of plastic, which are burned to the paper with a fuser as hot as 400 degrees (Fahrenheit). I lose about one in two-hundred prints, because the printer messes up and crinkles them. But I can run a stack of seventy-five through in eight minutes, usually with no intervention, provided their all the same photo.

7. Use water-based ink, but cover it with a piece of scotch tape. The ink smears a bit under the tape, but remains legible. This looks really ugly. It works, but leaves a bad impression, so I don’t recommend it. Another downside is that the tape may peel with time or under wear.

8. Use printer labels. Get a pack of 2000 clear inkjet labels (just over a cent each), then print on them with your inkjet printer. The ink will absorb into the label, and then you can just stick the label on your print. This is a good method because it overcomes the problems of the prints’ non-absorbent surface, but applying the labels is more time consuming than printing directly as in method five, stick-on labels don’t look as good, and they’re expensive. Plus, they can be easily peeled off.

9. Give up and do nothing. No, no, you can’t do this. Moving on . . .

Now that you know how to do it, the next question is what to do. By do, I mean write. Pick facts to stand the test of time. Your name is a good start, but unless it’s terribly unique (like mine), you’ll want a bit more information so people can track you down—not to stalk you, but so they can buy more of your work and commission you to take photos of their children and pets. Put your website on the back, but be wary that a URI like doesn’t inspire much confidence. It isn’t good for you either—what if Flickr bans you for some unjust reason, or you get tired of the limitations and want to move out on your own? All the photos you’ve labeled and distributed are going to be out of date. Fortunately, you can have the best of both worlds; register your permanent domain for about $10 a year, then set it up to forward to your Flickr account (or SmugMug, or deviantART, or whatever). Any good registrar will offer forwarding, and then if you change photo services or start using your own domain, you can change the settings. All your photos and t-shirts you’ve printed will never go out-of-date, because they’ll be forwarded to the right place as you so smartly set up.

Regarding permanence of information, the same applies to phone numbers. While your number may be better relegated to a business card than to the backprinting on a print, either way, get one you can stick with. You can’t count on your parents or roommates to forever take your calls, but a good solution, if you don’t mind a new number, is GrandCentral, a free proxy phone service with voice mail, multicast forwarding, and other perks. I use this for the 510-936-2417 phone number I bandy about on my contact page and elsewhere, yet it forwards to both my secret home and cell phone numbers, simultaneously. When I change numbers, I just update the record at the website, and start receiving calls at the new number, even though I’m still using 510-936-2417. Since Google has acquired the service, it should remain free and reliable for a long time. You have to sign up for a waiting list, but when I did it, I was chosen in about a day.

So now that you have your shiny, permanent web address and phone number, what else do your fans have to know about their beloved artist? It’s debated, but I feel that every great photo deserves an equally wonderful title, and if there’s anything your print viewers should know, it’s the title of the gem which has entered their collection. Flaunt it proudly on the label. It’s the first thing on mine. An index number is a good idea, so if you’re called for reprints, you can look up the photo by number right away. If each of your photos has a unique title like with mine, I suggest skipping it, however.

Now, what not to write. Unless it’s photo-journalism, don’t write the date. Photos like my Raindrops are timeless, but if I announce that it is from two years ago, people will think it’s old and not valuable, especially when I want to pass it off, implicitly, as recent work. Put the name of your photography studio if you run it, but not if you’re an employee, unless your employer requires it. I have an aversion to “copyright” and “all rights reserved” for backprinting. It’s a waste of ink, your work is copyrighted regardless in the U.S.A., and it won’t deter any thieves. Going with this theme, don’t watermark prints, ever. Even if you’re giving them out. It’s bad karma. Besides, a scanned print won’t be near the quality of your master files.

Do write some notes, if you’re labeling with an efficient laser printer. I do this on a lot of my pieces now, and my friends enjoy reading of the method behind my creative madness. Sign a few prints with a blue Sharpie, so it’s not mistaken for a facsimile signature; they might be collectors’ items someday. Put your website down, but don’t think of detailing your pricing or photography services; people can contact you if they’re interested, and that information is perishable anyway. Whatever you print, make sure it’s big and readable. I use Arial, size 14 for my branding, size permitting, so even blurry-visioned folks can read the title without glasses.

I do hope I’ve helped you in tackling this issue. Marking your prints is a major step toward developing your personal photographic brand, and the virtues of the printed format continue to complement Internet publication. May your followers never wonder who you are, and may your contributions shine through the photography community.

The Freedom Project: Free Art for All

The Freedom Project: Free art for all

I’ve decided, in the interest of promoting photography as an artistic medium and inspiring others with my work, to offer all of my photographic catalog for free. This is limited to twenty 4*6 prints per household, and is valid through 2008-05-31. I’ll cover the shipping (USA only).

You can add prints to your shopping cart; fill out your address and email and I’ll send them to you.

If you’re finding it too hard to choose, click below and I’ll pick for you. You’ll get the ten in the banner, plus ten others I select.

Thank you and enjoy,

New shop with beautiful, framed prints

2008-06-03 Update: The sale is over. Thanks everyone! :big-grin:

sixteen wonderful photos in frames

I’ve printed up and framed sixteen of my favorite photos as 8*10’s. You can buy them in the new, special photography shop for the brilliant price of $49.95 each. :grin: There is only one of each, so hurry! 2008-06-17 Update: gone now.

Speed, and Sunrays 3 are new here. I’ll have a formal release in a couple weeks, but you can check them out by those links now. 2008-06-17 Update: The shop is gone (read Everything Old is New Again), but check out Speed and Sunrays 3 anyway. and Just one week of school left to go, and then I get a week off, and then six weeks of summer pre-calculus. I’ll be presenting my photography portfolio for my black-and-white film class on May 8th at the college (The Gaze, The Rebel, Wine Bottles, and film versions of Modern Architecture and The Stuccoed House will be included). I’ll throw in a few of the new digital prints. :cool: