3 Useful Strategies for Photo Blogging Beginners

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” – Ansel Adams

For my last course blog post, I thought it would be a good opportunity to focus on a passion of mine that I will (hopefully) develop into a side business venture one day down the road, and one that I will definitely continue to blog about. In reading the quote above (or the title of this blog post, for that matter) I’m sure you can decipher which passion I am alluding to. Indeed, photography is a hobby of mine. There’s nothing quite like being in the right place at the right time and capturing a moment that would otherwise evaporate to the past, if not represented through a proper medium.

An Ansel Adam's inspired photograph that I took, August 2011

An Ansel Adam’s inspired photograph that I took, August 2011

When starting a photo blog, there’s one subject all aspiring photo bloggers must consider: would my blog be best served through WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Flickr, or another service? And while this question is a necessary one, it is commonly addressed and debated. Instead of focusing on this issue, I am going to offer some basic photo blogging tips, regardless of service used.

Here are 3 tips for photo blogging that will help your blog stand out:

1. Not all best practices for text blogs apply to photo blogs, but some certainly do.  Blogs that predominately display text posts are generally benefited by sidebars and other widgets. Consider if these features would help or hinder your photo blog (read: in most cases they will probably be a distraction). RSS feeds, captions, and fast loading of content, on the other hand, are three examples of features that will greatly improve your photo blog. Similarly, analytics tools can help you profile your audience, which may impact your photo blogging strategy and approach.

2. Determine your style as a photographer and let your blog represent it. Similar to your photography itself, let your blog showcase your own unique style and interests. A photographer who likes to capture images strictly in black and white, for instance, is not going to portray their work the same way a travel blogger or a sports photographer will. Refine your style as photographer, create content that showcases that style, and create your blog around it.  Check out some of these photo blogs that do a great job of this.

3. Do not be afraid to use words.
In his quote at the top of this post, Ansel Adams may have said it best in describing the usefulness (and inherent limitations) of words compared to photographs. Words, like images, are simply tools to portray meaning. It is certainly appropriate to supplement images with words, and words with images. Too many photo blogs only show pictures, which can be difficult for first-time (and perhaps only-time) viewers in establishing context.

What do you think? What other strategies are useful for photo blogs?

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Confessions of An Advertising Man Book Review – 50 Years Later

David Ogilvy’s Confessions of An Advertising Man, published by London’s Southbank Publishing in 1963, is a classic read for anyone interested in advertisement, branding and public relations. In Confessions, Ogilvy, known to many as the “Father of Soft Sell Advertisement,” offers his “rules” on how to build effective ad campaigns, manage an advertisement agency, and keep high-profile clientele. Given as required reading to new employees hired at Ogilvy’s agency (now Ogilvy & Mather), this book helped shape the focus and culture of his own company, but it also helped attract new clients and improve his reputation in business.

David Ogilvy, The Original Ad Man

After Confessions was translated to 14 languages and approximately a million copies were sold, in 1988 Ogilvy explained how the book, itself, was its own miniature PR campaign by revealing why he wrote it. “First, to attract new clients to my advertising agency. Second, to condition the market for a public offering of our shares. Third, to make myself better known in the business world” (p. 16).  He also went on to argue that most of his tenets in Confessions, which were based on substantive research at the time, still held true 25 years later – in 1988. He pointed out a few items that needed correction and went on to suggest his chapter on television commercials could also be updated as not much was known about the impact of T.V. in 1963.

As almost another 25 years have since passed—a quarter-century in which the Internet has brought forth an immense new outlet for advertising potential—I wonder how Ogilvy would view his book today if he were still alive. Would he argue most of his principles are still applicable, as he did in 1988? How would he view social media advertising campaigns? Or how about the use of mobile technology in advertisement?

This book review takes a look at some of Ogilvy’s arguments and analyzes them in the context of the current digital age:

  • “Every headline should appeal to the reader’s self-interest” (p. 134). For as self-assured Ogilvy was (and if you read Confessions you’ll see he did not lack confidence), he always cited research to back his claims up. In the 1960’s keywords like “how to, announcing, amazing, easy, advice to, the truth about, bargain” were proven to illicit the greatest number of responses. These keywords are strikingly similar those used in the titles of various blog posts, online articles, and advertisements today.
  • “You cannot bore people into buying” (p. 124). When Ogilvy wrote Confessions, the average family was exposed to more than 1500 advertisements a day. While this number has undoubtedly increased due to the internet, Ogilvy’s recommendation of creating a unique voice– and one that sticks out– still holds true today. Just ask the Old Spice Man or Tom Dickson, CEO of BlendTech, and the brain behind the viral campaign “Will it Blend?
  • “If you don’t show it, there is not point in saying it” (p. 160). Even working predominately in print ads in the earlier stages of his advertising career, Ogilvy knew that if you say something which you don’t also illustrate, the viewer will immediately forget it. Whether it’s a organization that has it’s own YouTube channel or one that accompanies every product and blog post with pictures, this practice still holds merit.

For years, ad professionals and managers have taken insights from Confessions and applied them to their professional careers (just read the praise offered by book reviewers). A surprising number of Ogilvy’s tenets still hold true today. After passing away in 1999, Ogilvy wasn’t able to incorporate lessons learned from social media and web 2.0 into later versions, but there is no doubt Ogilvy would be keen to study the impact of these strategies if he were able.

If you are looking to leverage the web for an advertisement campaign Confessions will not give you all the answers. It will, however, provide you with the fundamental principles of advertisement. In an era where best practices are constantly evolving, and the form of advertisements can change as much as the content of the advertisements themselves, not many books can do the same.

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Top 3 Ethical Concerns Driving the Right to Be Forgotten

Have you ever done something on the internet — such as post an inappropriate picture on Facebook or let loose a politically-charged rant on some blog — only to later regret it? Truth be told, most of us have. Naturally, our next course of action after such a revelation would be to go to where the content was shared and delete it at it’s source. “Pheww, glad that’s gone” is what we’ll think to ourselves, unwilling to accept the fact that while the content may no longer be shared as easily, it is still likely hosted on the platform’s server and accessible through other avenues.

Our digital footprints cannot be erased this easily

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you view it) the concept of the right to be forgotten may help select individuals who find themselves in such circumstances. Since its  EU proposal, the right to be forgotten has caused quite a stir across the cyberethics community and will certainly remain a debated topic moving forward.

Here are 3 of the largest ethical drivers pertaining to the right to be forgotten, which make it one of the most contentious issues of our current digital age:

1. Privacy versus the public’s right to know

Contradictions are everywhere we look these days.  We can share pretty much anything with almost anyone on the planet, and this gives us a collective purpose. Yet– at the same time– we find ourselves isolated, unwilling or unable to share information and insights, and protective of the information we do have. We all want our data to be private, yet we applaud transparency whenever we see it. But when it comes to a current or prospective employers, how transparent are you willing to be?

2. Censorship versus free speech

Self-privacy setting for sites like Facebook, Google+, and other social networks make a lot of sense. We should be able to have greater control of who we share personal information with. But, when it comes to the right to be forgotten’s more conservative aim, users would be able to request that information be stripped from 3rd party sites or search engines like Google or Yahoo, which gets into issues of censorship for companies who do not want to play any part in it.

3. Digital negligence 

Unfortunately, many people conduct themselves on-line as if their actions are harmless. Perhaps the largest culprits of this are younger generations who, despite being entrenched with computers and mobile devices at such a young age, still are not taught to self-reflect before they self-reveal. But of course this isn’t just an issue for youth. Mistakes made–whether on-line or in the real world– happen frequently, and can certainly happen to anyone.

What do you think? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

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Want More Followers? It Can Be Easier Than You Think (Unfortunately)

Juxtaposed with the wide followings of various athletes, politicians, and media personalities, seeing a big goose egg next to the number of “followers” I had upon creating my Twitter account was quite laughable. This was to be expected, of course, but it did get me thinking about how to attract an audience.

Researching this matter, I found Garin Kilpatrick’s 50 Innovative Ways to Get More Twitter Followers to be a useful starting point. From hashtags and bio descriptions to advice on how and when to tweet, it seems like all prominent strategies for fishing for followers throughout the Twittersphere are covered. One rising strategy, however, was nowhere to be found: the practice of purchasing followers.

Fake twitter (and facebook) accounts created for purchase have become rampant as abusers seek a boost in their perceived influence and/or popularity. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Lady Gaga, and others in the spotlight have all been accused of purchasing followers. Some performers even admit to doing it. For those that do, their argument is this: 1000 followers will cost, on average, a mere $18. If people can be fooled into the herd mentality mindset– to purchase an item or follow a trend simply because others are doing it– then so be it. It’s certainly easy enough to purchase fake followers out in the open via Ebay or Google Shopping, so where is the harm in it?

Personally, I think the practice is rather unethical and a sad reflection on the extent to which individuals will go to seek recognition (or profit). The argument for purchasing followers is also somewhat contradictory. If an individual would go so far as to pay to have their voice heard, but those receiving the message are not real, did that individual just pay someone to basically hear themselves? The most effective social media strategy is about creating a meaningful connection with your audience, something social networks allow you to do when done right. Whether that connection causes one to buy a product, volunteer, or simply follow a blog varies by individual business and blogger alike.

What are your thoughts on fake followers and their impact on social networks?

Also, don’t forget to follow me on twitter:  @DdotMunn (and no, I will not pay you)

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A Note to Readers

Stuart Hall once wrote “the reader is as important as the writer in the production of meaning.” Considering this wisdom, It is not without some hesitation that I embark on my blogging journey, as many have done so before me, with no set audience in mind. Like meaning itself, however, this blog will evolve over time. I will write about social media, technology, ethics and the environment. I will post pictures. I will link to items I find interesting.  I invite you to come along for the ride.

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