Tuesday, 29 March 2011

A day for catching up

Well I have managed to get myself a bit behind on uploading news stories (well press releases) so three new stories uploaded today.

Lastolite announce a new baby posing coat - Seems like a nice idea to be able to hold a baby for photographs while remaining hidden!

Baby posing coat.


M-Rock - Announce 2 new bag systems, one larger and one smaller. These guys are new to contacting me with press releases, and we welcome them to our press release database.

M-Rock bag


Well hopefully more to come over the next few days, oh and I finally managed to add some images.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Reviews


I have been fortunate to have been offered some products for review (not many so far, but they are building, and more are coming in), so I thought this might be a place to explain how I go about reviewing a product.

I’m not a technical whizz kid, or very scientific, so my reviews will, very likely, only record the technical specifications supplied by the company. Fortunately I list plenty of reviewers websites who do go into the technical aspects of photographic equipment, so I’ll leave it to them and just give my opinion of the product.

I like to test products well before I write a review, there is no point writing something if you haven’t actually put it through its paces (or in the case of books I read them fully first). Once I have done this I will write about how I found the product to use, how easy it was, whether it was good at its job and if I liked it. Its one man’s opinion but I try to be as honest as possible.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The art of blagging


Well the title is a bit misleading this blog post is all about the hard work I have done in trying to get large companies to send us press releases and information about new products.

You would think that companies would look at any way to promote their products, and would therefore include on their websites a simple way for websites such as Fatphotographer to contact their press department or press agencies, well I can tell you for nothing they don’t! Ok so maybe they don’t want hundreds of people say can I have a freebie, I understand that, but I want news about their releases to publish on my pages not free stuff (well if I’m honest free stuff would be quite nice, I’m not going to lie).
 
I have contacted, to date, 127 companies from camera manufacturers to book publishers, and a whole range in between, yet I have heard back from only 39! Now I know we are a young site, and maybe they look at the site and feel they don’t want us issueing their news, well fine, but how about doing the decent thing and letting me know? How hard is it to reply to an email?

So which companies are good and which are bad? Well I could list both, but I guess that isn’t fair, I will give three examples, Canon, Lowepro and Fogg Bags (yeah you’ll note I only linked to two of them!!):

CANON – Have so far to date not replied to any email I send them! I’ve sent a few, to a few different people, and they do not respond! Not great in my opinion.

LOWEPRO – Wonderful service, not only do the send me news, but I have had products to review (one already done the Vertex 300 AW) now this is a company you can get on with, although press is handled by an outside organisation.

FOGG – An honest couple who run the small business said they had enough work already and couldn’t handle any more so thanks for the offer but at the moment no thanks. Again they way things should be handled.

So it’s the large companies that don’t reply? Well no, Olympus are great, Nikon got back to me and send me information, while Gary Fong (a small business) hasn’t! You really can’t tell who will respond and who won’t. As for publishers of books, well don’t get me started, so far ONE has replied AVA Academia not only did they reply, but a day later I had two books of theirs to review (lovely company to deal with, and great books!!).

Well I guess as http://www.fatphotographer.net grows  these companies will come to me (well I can hope!).

Still no pictures...hmm.... maybe next time.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Promotion it’s not just about pay rises.


Well as you have seen building Fatphotographer has taken a while (we went live in October 2010, although some of the changes mentioned in an earlier post occurred after that), but all the while we have been building or populating, we have been carrying out another ongoing task, one of promoting the site, after all it is no good having a wonderful site that no-one knows about!

Part of the initial promotion was to be listed by as many search engines as we could (not such an easy task sometimes), the big boys of this field are pretty easy, it’s finding the smaller search engines that is tricky. Once that task was complete, it was on to trying to get directories to list us, a task that is still ongoing but growing numbers are taking note (shame Yahoo haven’t yet), but we are getting there also.

My current latest promotional tool is mailing the hundreds (if not thousands) of camera clubs around the world (well OK I have started in the UK so far, but with 20-30 clubs in some counties it is a big job) to let them know we exist and what we offer, after all they have access to our key demographic – Photographers!! This is slowly gathering pace and a good number now link back to us.

Of course there are other forms I use to promote Fatphotographer this blog will help, our facebook fans are growing in number as is our twitter following, and I do post on a number of forums, although never just to promote Fatphotographer I would prefer people to like my advice and then find my site that way.

Of course I still need more links to us (a higher number of in-links will help our rankings in the search engines) so if you fancy linking to us, well of course I wouldn’t say no!!

I must find a way to get some pictures on this blog? It’s looking quite dull.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

And so to populating


The task of populating http://www.fatphotographer.net has so far proven to be the most time consuming aspects of setting up the site, and I doubt I am even a quarter of the way through populating each page (although I am near to finishing England).

Initially I started out before we were in a position to launch the site (which paid off well) by simply adding all the camera shops of the UK to an excel spreadsheet, this work took a long time, but did mean that populating this information straight onto the site when we were ready was very easy. I did similar in the UK with camera clubs, and photographic agencies, and I think I can say with some confidence we are THE most comprehensive site for these elements anywhere!!

So what about the other sections, and more importantly the other countries of the world? Well I’m getting there, I have a bit of a scatter gun approach to be honest and will often pick a country or region at random and begin populating those pages, but it all takes time. Type photography into google and you get some 790 million hits!! It takes time to add these things.

One area we need help in though is populating the introductions for each area, if this is something you think you could do then please get in contact (contact details on another page) anyone submitting an introduction gets a special contribution link high up the page to help them stand out from the crowd.

We also need photographs submitting for use and for this purpose I have a flickr group that you can add images you would like us to use to (not all will make it in, but we appreciate the effort). http://www.flickr.com/groups/fatphotographer/ I will always ask permission before using an image so if you think it doesn’t suit the area I would like to use it you can always say no. Any images submitted and used will get a link below the image with copyright information.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The setting up process

To start this blog posting off, I'll start with how fatphotographer came about.

10 Years+ ago, my old man (Bo Beolens) was frustrated by the lack of web resources for birdwatchers, plenty claimed to offer links, but fell flat, so he set about starting his own, and the website www.fatbirder.com was born. It has proven to be a very popular site for birdwatchers across the world and in this circle his fame is still growing. After his success with a birding website he decided to set up a second web resource but this time aimed at his other hobby of fishing and so www.fatfisherman.com came into being, search for fishing or birding in any location, and you will usually find his sites high up the ranks.

So I thought, why not join his growing network and suggest colectively we set up a new one but this time for photography, well as it isn't his thing he agreed, but with me running it all (ok basically I'm trading off the good name he has built up, nepotism has it's place sometimes).

In deciding to stick with a similar style to the two aforementioned sites, the design process was quite easy, but we had to find a developer to back engineer the sites (previously designed, then added to over years) to cut down on un-needed coding. This proved possibly the easiest task and Russell Freeman was duly hired to do the work.

The next tasks were to decide on  page headers now I have to say this took quite a bit of thought as I wanted to include sections for professional photographers, but to lump them all as one would have made those sections hard to navigate and overly large. So I chose to have seperate sections for wedding, portrait, event and fashion photographers. Other section headings were obvious, workshops and tutorials, would go together, travel would be easy etc. I'm not going to list all the page sections here.

So we had page sections, but what about the different pages accessible from the menu? Well the geographical pages that were such a success on Fatbirder and fatphotgorapher were an obvious choice so they were easy, but I needed an area for photographic gear, so the camera bag pages came about, I felt it was important to include areas for fun, such as forums etc, so that went in, then things like book publishers and photographic organisations were needed so the facts section came about. Baiscally as I thought of a need for a new section we added it, the rest followed easily.

So we had our basic elements in place, next we needed a colour scheme, and plumped for using a few reds for the menus with basic white overall, but after a while of working with that it didn't sit right, and to be honest felt a bit like we were sponsored by canon! So changes were made and after much delibration a simple black and grey scheme (the one you can see now on the site) was developed.

We were finally ready to go, well in terms of design, so the basic landing pages were uploed to the webserver and we were off http://www.fatphotographer.net was live and kicking. All that remained was to populate the site!! Perhaps a story for my next postings??

Friday, 18 March 2011

A Delayed Start

I meant to start this blog when I first started setting up Fatphotographer but was so caught up in the actual work that things got placed on the back burner.

I guess we should start really by an introduction, I'm Ashley Beolens and  I have set up the global web resource site www.fatphotographer.net a site designed to be a one stop shop for all things photographic from proffesional photographers to camera shops, amateur websites to holidays and courses, basically if it is photography related we want to include it.

We have seperated the links by geographical regions, first by continent, then country and then in many cases down to county or state level. But it isn't a site just about the links! Each page has a space for a local photographer to write an introduction to photography in that region, we hope this will be of use to those photographers who are planning travel, they can check the page for their destination and see what the photographic potential in the region may be.

Beyond this split though we also have sections for the stuff you, as photographers, keep in your camera bag, with links to manufacturers of ALL photographic equipment.

But that is not all, as well as carrying news (which takes a lot of networking, to gather press releases etc) and reviews, we also have two special sections entitled How to shoot.... and How to post process.... where we will be adding instructional write ups (we already have some excellent tutorials on photographin birds in flight and snowy owls). Again these sections are not just going to be written by myself but experts in their field (if you fancy writing for us, then please get in contact).

So what is this blog going to be about, well, I hope to include some of my thoughts on the whole process of being a website owner, my rants on certain aspects and a place for our readers to learn something about the progression of the website.

You can follow the websites updates, here, on Twitter or on Facebook or alternatively just visit the site daily for new news and reviews, and page updates :)

Well that will do for my first post. My next post should be about the process of getting the site from an idea to where it is now, a fully functioning resource for photography. Please drop by the site and let me know what you think.