Some would say that with the advent of the internet that the days of the little guy in a local market are numbered. Then again a lot of folks don't really understand the opportunities before us that allow the small companies to jump out into larger markets. The biggest obstacle is often time. Time, a commodity that is not infinite in the game. Being able to take the time build your online presence can be a challenge, but the alternative can be costly.
For many small companies the time factor is the killer. I encounter so many small businesses that can't afford the big marketing companies budget and can't even or have not claimed their business in Google Business. Google for this minute in the internet stratosphere is the king. Then there is social media. A shifty moving target that works for some and not for others. Again it's all about time. Take the time to sit down and look at your digital presence. Block off time in your week to study. You will be rewarded.
IF I HAD A Dollar
If I had dollar for every email I get from companies purporting to revolutionize our website and improve our SEO (search engine optimization) I would be retired now. If you are going to go the route of hiring a company then do your research. You can spend a lot of money for very poor return on investment. If you want to do a better job on your own then I advise you try the following.
1) Google your company. See where you show up and note all sites that list you and your services. Sites like Bing, Yelp or Yellow Pages can affect your inbound traffic.
2) Claim your own business on google. Make sure your location in Google places is correct. When you claim your business Google will send you a postcard with a code that will allow you to control your own identity. Do the same for Yelp and Bing and any other site that allows you to claim. You will be surprised to find that some of the information about you is wrong right down to the address.
3) Review your Website content. Make it real and tell a story. Landing pages with keywords that can be found in a search are more effective. Use Google keyword planner to help out. If you sell widgets then make sure that you say that on your landing pages.
It's usually around this time of year when calendars start to roll in at APS. And Christmas cards, ornaments, photobooks, mugs...er...this blog is about Calendars. Right. I'll leave the rest for another time... if I don't drown in all of these christmas orders before Santa arrives.
It's also around Christmas when people start to get sentimental. And dare I say...stressed? So here you are, staring blankly at your high-def screen; a single bead of sweat rolls down your forehead as you wonder what the heck to get your dear 'ol Mum this year. You are fresh out of ideas and know you can't buy her another pair of slippers.
So you go on Facebook. Because that's what we do as a society now; we escape to our screens. Because for some reason it makes us feel better? Who knows the reason, but as you scroll and de-stress you open an album from the summer - now what seems like a distant memory. It's a wedding album. Your sister's wedding. Some of the photos make you laugh. Well, let's face it: most of them do. Some of them make you cry, ugly cry, and even snorty-throat cry. Yeah, snorty-throat.
As you snorty-throat cry, you have a revelation.
Remember that time you went to your friend's place and saw the gorgeous canvas hanging above their couch? You asked where they had it made, and they told you they were recommended to Atlantic Photo Supply. Then they showed you a calendar that they had made for their son earlier in the year, also from APS. A CALENDAR! So I googled it. Because that's also what people do (and Google rules the world). I learned that you can make the calendars online, using your own photos and special dates!
*If you have trouble seeing the images, right-click the image and Open In New Tab to view the full size version.*
10 STEPS TO MAKING A CALENDAR
at Atlantic Photo Supply
STEP 1: Sign In
Create an account if you don't have one already and ALWAYS sign in. It's fast and easy (I promise!) All you need is an email and password. When you sign in you are able to save, edit, leave and return to your projects. The system holds them for 30 days!
STEP 2: Select "Photo Gifts" from the menu
Once you select Photo Gifts, you'll see the screen below. Note that until Christmas any orders over $50 get FREE SHIPPING! So you might want to order a few extra calendars, just in case. Plus - you could just have it shipped to your house if you're not paying for it. That means more Facebook time. Win Win.
STEP 3: Select the Photo Calendars icon
There are 3 options:
One Page Calendars are great for office spaces. Choose from your favorite photos from Facebook or your computer so that you won't get tired of looking at it! Comes in sizes 8x10, 11x17 and 12x18.
Monthly Wall Calendars are great for anyone and can go anywhere. Who's going to stop you? Unlimited photos, 6 templates available, and customizable. Add special dates, change background and font colors. Sizes 8.5x11 ($19.99 for 1/$14.99 for 2+) or 12x12 ($24.99 for 1/$19.99 for 2+)
Magnet Photo Calendars are for the fridge or filing cabinet - any magnetic surface! Choose up to 12 photos on any of our 5 templates. 8.5x11 only.
STEP 4: Choose Calendar Type
For this lesson, we are using the Freestyle Layout - Custom Colour Light calendar. Note the Dark option, which is great for landscapes! When you order 2 or more of the same calendar, you get a price break. Maybe Dad should have one, too...
Select Begin Creation to go to the Calendar editor.
STEP 5: Add your photos
Select the blue + at the bottom left-hand side of the screen.
Hint: It is recommended to first create a folder on your desktop with copies of ALL of the photos you are thinking about including in your calendar. Then upload from this folder for a quick selection and upload of your photos! Make sure they are the best resolution possible to avoid low resolution prints. Facebook and Instagram photos may sometimes be problematic depending on size. Note that the product viewer may make images that you thought were high resolution look soft around the edges. Try to ignore it - I promise they will print beautifully!
Once they finish uploading, you are free to place photos and text anywhere within the borders of the calendar (shown in red).
Use the arrows highlighted in red to navigate the thumbnails at the bottom of the screen. Note that when selected, each one says exactly the Month and Thumbnail. You can add text to both the calendar pages and the photo pages.
Select Show All Images for a dropdown menu. Choosing Show Unused Images Only is a surefire way to ensure there are no duplicates! Unless of course you want duplicates. In which case, duplicate away.
Oh. And don't forget to save. The floppy disc icon at the top will do that for you. If you have correctly saved your project a confirming "Order Saved" will pop up near the bottom of your screen.
Drag and drop the images you want to use from the thumbnails on the left to the canvas on the right.
Hint: If you drag and drop your image to the center of the canvas, it locks to the center for easy alignment. If you want to make sure the image is centered on your page, select the photo and - rather than dragging it - grab the crop line arrows and drag in the direction of the corners. This way, it's ensuring that the photo is in the exact center of the page.
Add multiple photos to the same page and arrange them by dragging, dropping and resizing using the above technique. When a photo is selected, you can remove it by hitting the garbage can icon in the upper left hand corner. Here you can also bring the photo forward or backward (helpful when overlapping images), crop the photo, change it for another, or add a colored border.
To crop your image, select Crop and drag the slider to the right. You will see your photo start to adjust! The green bar indicates the constraints to your crop according to how you've chosen to size the photo.
You can also add borders of varying thickness and colours to your images.
Slide the Add Border slider so that it becomes blue. Choose a color from the swatches below (be careful of white-on-white, etc). You can have either straight or rounded corners, and you can choose the thickness by using the Size slider. You have the option to have multiple images bordered and overlapping, all with individual colors and sizes.
STEP 7: Add text to your calendar
Select the Add Text button at the top-left of your canvas. A great big text box will appear in the center of the page. DON'T PANIC! You can change what it says. Although, sometimes people forget to change it and I'm printing calendars with TYPE TEXT HERE across Grannie's head.
Yes - what you see IS what you get so be careful!
You can drag around text like you drag around photos. All of the options can be found on the left side of the screen: color, size, font type, border, and alignment. The fonts are in a dropdown menu so hover over or click the selected font to open it.
Dragging the edges of the text box will not make your text larger. Font Size is controlled only by the slider. In this case, note how the textbox is placed on the trim lines to ensure the text is centered on the page. Add, color and resize important dates as you see fit using the cut lines for guides.
Obviously I'm adding Mom's birthday...
Hint: Sometimes the page gets tired and decides it doesn't want to work anymore. When that happens, simply right click and Reload the page. You will be redirected to exactly where you left off. Wouldn't hurt to click that little floppy disc either.
STEP 8: Background Color
Decide if you want to change the background colors of your calendar or simply leave it white. Select BACKGROUND, and then you must click on Color for the dropdown menu to appear. You can make each Calendar page a different color as you wish! Go crazy - we dare you.
STEP 9: Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Take an extra minute to scroll through each individual page to make sure you are happy with the colors, fonts, images and layouts you have chosen. Once you checkout, you are agreeing that what you see is what you get. If you see something that shouldn't be there, like a stray text box, remove it or change it. The last thing you'd want to have is a lab rat fixing and tinkering with your calendar order because you forgot something......We have photoshop you know.
Step 10: Complete your order
You've looked at your calendar one final time and are happy with what you've created. Mom is going to cry and Dad will pull you close to give you a manly shoulder hug. It's going to be a hit. What do you do now?
Once you've selected Checkout, you're on your way out the door. I'll show you the important things and will try to answer potential questions as I go.
In Options, you can decide on how many you want to order (remember the price break!) and you can also ask us questions in the note section. We will call or email you back as soon as possible.
Click on Next Step to continue.
Now we are going to review the order ONE more time. Here you can see a summary of the options you've selected, what you can expect to pay, and the comments you've added.
Once you choose Add To Cart, you are able to enter a promotion code. Check Facebook for promos!
Proceed To Secure Checkout when you're ready.
Here is where you sell us your soul. We want to know EVERYTHING. Okay, maybe not everything. Just the regular stuff - and thanks. Don't forget to choose whether we are shipping your order to you or if you want to pick it up at any one of our two locations in HRM.
Select pick-up at either our Halifax location or our Dartmouth location.
Our Halifax Store is located at 1535 Dresden Row in Halifax, NS.
Our Dartmouth Store is located at 202 Brownlow Avenue, in Burnside. Right next to the Burnside Vet and near Pets Unlimited and Goodlife.
Choose to pay when you pick up, or pay online (you must choose this option when having your order shipped). Sometimes, paying upon pick-up is your best option. If any adjustments have to be made to your order, which does happen from time to time, totals can change and then begins the refunding game.
This page is very important. Especially note the Order Number (in this case it's 9113309). If you need to contact us about your order for any reason, you must provide this number so that we can quickly help you. The lab rats are always working hard to streamline your products and turnaround times!
If you are okay with everything at this point, you may as well order the darn thing.
Once your order is submitted, you will recieve an email confirming that it went through properly. Calendars will be made right until December 24 at noon. Right now they are taking up to five days but we will get them done for Christmas!!!
Once your order is complete, you will recieve a second email to tell you that you can come and get your order. Or, that your order was shipped to you.
I hope that these steps were easy to follow and that they helped make your calendar creating experience more enjoyable.
Your Mom will love it.
Merry Christmas and happy creating!
Everyday, people upload their digital images or bring film to our lab and few understand what it takes to produce a quality print product. The process is not so much magic, but the practice of due diligence. The first thing I would like to point out is that as some of our equipment is state of the art, the procedures or fundamentals behind maintaining proper workflow or best procedures go back to 19th century photographic theory and the study of sensitometry. So just like the concepts in capturing the the perfect moment and having the best exposure with your camera, film or digital, the same backbone in theory resides in the modern photo lab. I would like to tell you about the basic steps and procedures that make your prints look as good as they can be; a story of magic of printing in a modern digital lab.
OUR "WET LAB"
The term "wet lab" is a recent label for a photo lab that uses traditional silver halide process that involves chemistry that has a developer and a bleach and a fixer as well as a wash system. The paper is light sensitive and must be exposed in absolute darkness. We have 4 processors that we have to maintain on a daily basis. One of them is a film processor that develops colour negative film. The other 3 are printers that expose and develop RA4 colour paper. Two of the machines are lasers and one - the Chromira - exposes with LED technology.
The first step to the quality control process is to balance the chemistry itself. I like to compare the chemical process to that of a human body, and specifically to that of a person with diabetes. The developer is an alkaline and is the key to optimizing the exposure made by the printer. It is kept in balance by being replenished by fresh developer (food) from separate replenisher tanks. When the paper or film goes into the developer, an oxidation process begins. Similar to how water and air make a nail rust, the developer reacts with the silver creating the beginning of the latent image. A developer that is too weak will result in flat, muddy images and too strong will result in darker contrast ones. We use a tool called a control strip that process before the start of everyday. It is read by a densitometer that shines a light through the strip and reads the red green and blue layers. The industry is standardized thanks to Ansel Adams and the Zone System. We have a standard process control strip to compare to and the difference between the two is plotted and graphed to allow our technicians to take action where and when required. If the developer is too active then the machine requires starter, like insulin to a diabetic, to bring the process in control. In a nutshell, it's the balance of acid and bases, and if you're a good wine maker you would catch on fast.
The next step is to balance the printer to the chemistry status. That involves yet again a standard print with grey patches (again the zone system) that are read on the densitometer. In the case of our chromira 20 zones or shades from complete black to pure white including 18% grey are read and graphed. The process can take a hour or more to meet the target before a single print is made.
Once we have a perfectly balanced machine, we when then can create custom profiles for every paper we use. This involves a similar process to balancing, except we use different software and read 1800 patches to define the profile, allowing you to have the widest colour space and best print quality from your images. Important point - if we are not balanced to true Black and White then your colour or B&W photos won't look as good as they should.
The "Dry Lab"
The dry lab is another term coined by the industry that is basically any process not wet. Our Dry lab consists of Epson 11880's and Rioch printers that are Giclee or Ink jet. Since no chemistry is involved the procedures are strictly on product specific custom profiles. Our Dry Lab in many ways sets standards for our quality control. Although it is a collaborative effort, Geraldine has a true touch when it comes to tweaking the profiles for canvas, watercolour and any other print product we wish to use. This, in a nutshell, is what we believe separates us from the rest. We adhere to procedures and set our own standards. Box stores and many Pro labs don't drill this deep as it takes experience and resolve to stick to what can be a time consuming, but ultimately rewarding process. Would you want us to trade off quality for speed?
One of the perks of working in a facility that sees so many incredible and unique photographs is the opportunity to single one out for "Pic Of The Day." It's not always that jaw dropping image that makes the cut, but more often the one that tells a story. It may be a happy dog on a beach, a grandfather and son walking on a beach, or a flower. They opportunity for staff to make a connection with our clients and allow them to tell their story is extremely rewarding. It also celebrates the print, and what we do; it allows us to tell our story using social media. Many of the folks who get their picture chosen are excited and want to share that with friends and family.
Last year we had the opportunity to give back in another way. We decided to produce a Calendar with the images that were chosen. We had our Facebook friends choose the ones they liked the most, and then we printed the calendar. The proceeds of the calendar went to our main charity, The Children's Wish Foundation Of Nova Scotia. It created a bit of a photo festival and many of our clients ordered some for Christmas. So in a nut shell the whole process was fun and contributed to a great cause, granting a wish to a sick child.
This year we are starting earlier and have decided to give a prize to the "Pic of the Day" with the most Facebook likes during the run of the contest. A DJI Phanthom 2 drone is on the block to give away.
Here is how it will work. All "Pic of the Days" that were selected this year will be put in a Facebook Album on the Atlantic Photo Facebook page on October 16th. From there it will be up to the folks on Facebook to vote for their favorite images with their 'likes.' The voting will end on October 22 and the top 13 images will be picked for the Calendar. The one with the most 'likes' wins the Drone. We will then produce the Calendar and start selling them as soon as they are ready. We estimate November 12th for the launch. They will be available in both the Brownlow and Dresden locations as well as for order online.
We are pleased to see that Lynn Ellis is giving back by hosting a great opportunity to engage in the learning of Photography. Here is her announcement.
Ellis Gallery has the honour and privilege of presenting Photography Workshops by the award winning and renowned Christopher Porter. A graduate of Dalhousie and Ryerson, Porter is a still photographer with many international exhibitions to his credit. His lighting and cinematographic work is legendary with movies such as ‘The Disappeared’, ‘Down By Law’, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and ‘Shipping News’ among his accomplishments.
Porter will be offering three workshops in Lunenburg this fall and winter at Ellis Gallery. He will be personally involved in working with you to create your best work and develop photographic skills that are uniquely you.
Each workshop will be three intensive days of discovery. Every level of photographer is encouraged to attend, you must bring your camera, manual and laptop as well as an open attitude to learn, stretch and grow as a photographic image maker. You will be shooting daily and examination and critiques of your images will make for interesting and open discussions.
Workshop one: Point of View
Will take a critical view of your image making skills, reflect on your knowledge of technique and personal point of view when making images. Time, space, density and memory are what each image contains. There will be much discussion as your images improve both in technique and content to meet your own individual goals as a photographer.
November 13 - 15, 2015
Space is limited to 10 participants.
Workshop two: Progressive Lighting
Learn lighting from a true artistic lighting master. You will learn lighting from studio to natural light sources. Shooting will be indoors and outside. Creating lighting to meet your image goals is what it’s all about.
December 4 - 6, 2015
Space is limited to 12 participants.
Workshop three: Beyond the Basics
This is a more advanced class for those who really want to move into advanced image making. It’s a great followup on the previous classes. The focus will be on preparing a concept, critical discussions, developing a personal look and expanding your opportunities as a photographer.
January 8 -10, 2016
Space is limited to 10 participants.
Be it a professional career or a family album these workshops will vastly improve the quality of your images and understanding of photography from the basics to advanced skills. Workshop fees are $600 each or all three for $1500.
Here is your chance to work at this level, with a professional of Porter’s standing.
For more information or to register please call or email Ellis Gallery at: