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2018 Social Media Photographer's Shot Kit
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Things change. I wrote my last post for "The Social Media Photographer's Gear" here in March of 2017, then dramatically changed my setup and workflow a few weeks later. It's time I write another post since I have made big changes to my setup.


My Hardware & Software Setup

This is the current gear I use on a day-to-day basis to deliver award-winning SEO and social media marketing results to my clients. It's all been tested in real-world situations and on real jobs and, as always, everything on this list is highly recommended by me personally. 


I focus on efficiency with my hardware and software budget, which is not the same as being frugal. I won't sacrifice the quality of work I produce for the sake of saving a few dollars. However, I don't want to throw money away either. So, I work hard to get the tools I need versus the ones I just want. How does this manifest itself?
One example is that all my content is delivered in 1080p HD. That means I don't need to be worried if my next camera has a 4k option because I won't be needing it. 
I'm also focused on getting my workflow, hardware and software setup optimized so I can get as much done as possible, as quickly as possible, and with the lightest footprint possible. This means scaling back not only the hardware, but also the number of programs I use. While my flirtation with Windows Pro 10 is over (for now), I have adjusted my workflow enough that I can now make the move to Windows quickly and painlessly if necessary. 


In this past year I have experimented with re-integrating a mirrorless system back into my workflow. I tested using two FujiFilm X100F's as higher-quality photo/video cameras. Unfortunately, they were too finicky when working with them for video and the additional steps required to get photos and videos from the cameras into my editing process (as compared to what I have been used to over the past year with only using iPhones) were their undoing. I absolutely LOVE the look of the photos and videos that come out of the Fuji's - but I am looking to achieve balance with overall quality, ease of use, and flexibility. Frankly, especially with the iPhone 8 Plus - I am happy enough - and more importantly, my clients are happy, with the video and photos that the iPhones produce. 

The best part of all this - I'm now running leaner than ever before, even though I carry three cameras and two computers with me everywhere I go. That's a win.

Without further ado, here's the list: 

Computers / Mobile

  • Late 2015 Apple Retina 5k, 27-inch iMac (2TB HD, 3.3 GHz i5, 32GB RAM) w/ Apple Wireless Magic Keyboard With Numeric Keyboard & a Logitech G-Pro Gaming Mouse. I have two 27" Apple LED Cinema displays with this iMac (see photo above) - I'm THRILLED with this set up at the moment. 
  • Apple iPadPro 10.5 - My laptop replacement. I haven't used a laptop now for over three years. I have used the iPad & iPadPro as my only mobile computing device since January 2015. It was a difficult transition for the first few months but now I don't think twice about it. 
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus is used as my primary camera and occasionally as a mobile phone. 

Cameras & Gear

  • Apple iPhone 8 is used as 2nd shot camera or main camera when making in-studio vlogs. I need to make a post about my video podcasting set up... it'll open a LOT of peoples' eyes!
  • Apple iPad Pro 9.7 is used as an in-studio video monitor in conjunction with FilmicPro Remote. It's also used as a second screen to be more efficient when working on the road. Since I don't carry a laptop, having an extra big screen for reference is a great alternative to true multi-tasking with multiple windows. I rarely have both iPadPros out at the same time (they are mirrored copies of each other) but when I've needed the second one, it's been a lifesaver!
  • 1st generation Apple iPad with ProPrompter PRO Mobile used as a teleprompter for vlogging. 
  • Drobo 5D 5-Bay direct attached storage for desktop storage & backups
  • DJI Spark drone
  • Cinetics Cinemoco & Edelkrone sliders
  • Contour ShuttleXpress
  • Moondog Labs lenses for iPhones
  • Domke bags & Pelican cases
  • Manfrotto ball heads, tripods, monopods, stands, & lights 
  • Rode, Shure, & Sennheiser microphones


Taking the Backroads, Again

One weakness I’ve always had as a photographer is that I have never personally liked my own work. I think this is a curse for many creative types. In my past life as a musician, I rarely remember being satisfied with the music I played or produced. Fast-forward to today and I still live through a never-ending cycle of feeling generally unfulfilled with the results of my labor. That doesn’t mean I’m not passionate about my work. I love my work. I have enough “ah-ha” moments which keep me “almost satisfied” and let me know that the “BIG AH-HA” is, perhaps, just around the creative corner. This drives me to keep seeking those small “ah-ha” moments, those fleeting minutes of satisfaction when everything comes together and makes me happy enough with the result in the moment to propel me to seek out the next one.


I look at the work of photographers I admire most and silently whine to myself that I will never achieve their level of artistry. At the same time, I am making a living by providing services which are heavily weighed towards producing video and photos for clients. Photography has become democratized and the market value of professional photography has plummeted. I realize my situation in today’s photo services market is a rare and blessed one – especially for someone who struggles so much with the craft. But I’m doing what I love and making a living at it. …and that’s the big point.


One key element of being able to do what you love and continue to love what you do, is to not allow outside forces to mess up your situation. I'm looking at you, overachieving multitaskers. 




I've always been interested in the myth of multitasking. We fool ourselves into thinking that we can do multiple things at once when in actuality all we are really doing is switching from one thing to another and perhaps to another in rapid succession. The end result is that we are not paying total attention to any one thing and everything suffers. 


It's understandable that we find ourselves in this situation. Demands on today's workers are unrealistic to the point of being insane. We have the additional stressor of watching peers, family, and friends pretend on social media that their lives are perfect when we all know they aren't. 


So how do we create a reality which allows us to slow down and not react to unreasonable requests from bosses, clients, customers, and not carry the weight of thinking we have to keep up with the fictional lives of those we follow on social media? The answer is simpler than you think.


Just stop. Slow down and react on your terms at a rate that is comfortable for you.


This doesn't mean that it's time to get lazy. It's important to have a strong work ethic. You still need to respond to clients, bosses, customers, and your work peers in a reasonable amount of time. But the key here is that you do so in a "reasonable" amount of time and that you control what that means for you. Do not let outside forces dictate that for you.




So, I said the answer was simple. I didn't say it was easy. If you are going to do this, you have to be responsive to others' needs but disciplined about exercising your free will to control what reasonable means. I guarantee it means something different to you than it does to others. Developing an understanding with others about what your boundaries are is critical - but it can be difficult at times. 


I mean it. It can be hard, messy, and uncomfortable but the pay off is living a daily life that is immeasurably less stressful.


Would you rather:


1) Spend every day of your working life dreading the phone calls, emails and text messages from clients or co-workers; or


2) Be able to relax on a daily basis because you have control of the relationships and expectations with clients and co-workers?


If you chose one, you're dumb.


You obviously chose two. OK - how do we get there? 


Setting Expectations


You have to set expectations early and often with any person who is difficult to deal with. It is critical that you mentally prepare yourself for dealing with difficult people who run over others. They demand more than they should and generally bully their way through life. This behavior is in their DNA.


Once you set your expectations about how the relationship with this person will proceed, they will continue to push the boundaries to see where your weaknesses are. If you bend, they will push until you break. This is a power struggle and all you need to do is not give in. 


It doesn't help that most people they encounter reinforce their bad behavior by putting up with it and not calling them out. They feed the monster by trying to live up to the unrealistic expectations which have been set.


How do I deal with this? I don't. The solution is really that simple. Just don't put up with it. The main ingredient in this recipe is a backbone. Say "no" when you need to say no and mean it.


My basic tactic is two-fold. 


1) Limit communications to text-based platforms (email, texting, CSM platforms). Most stressful situations arise out of verbal communications because either participants come away from conversations with a different understanding of what was agreed to or conversations get sidetracked by unrelated issues. Additionally, there are usually no notes of the conversation so you don't have an accurate record of what was discussed and agreed to, if anything, and who is responsible for what tasks.


To be fair, sometimes a client or a coworker is more comfortable just speaking rather than typing or there may be in situations where talking is their only means of communication (they're in traffic, perhaps). In those situations, I ask them to leave a voice mail and I will respond via email. If I need to keep a record of their communications, I can text the voicemail to myself and save it as an audio file in an archive. This is a feature of the iPhone so I'm not sure if it's available to Android users. 


2) Respond via text/email. I have boilerplate responses to typical requests that I can cut and paste into emails and texts. Much of the stress involved in these relationships are created when having to constantly respond to the same unreasonable requests over and over again. You can remove that stress completely by sending the exact same response that reinforces your position and resets focus on the real tasks at hand. 


Always be professional, respond only to items which are work-related, ignore personal comments (until you are ready to quit over them), and always, always be courteous and positive, even when you have to fake it. 


If it helps, imagine the difficult person you are dealing with as a speck of dirt on the mountain you are climbing. Focus on the mountain, not the dirt on the bottom of your shoes.


Real Talk


So here's the real secret of being successful at this: you have to passionately care about your client's success, their customers, and you have to deliver what you say you will deliver when you commit to it. This means kicking tail and not taking names. This means having a servant's heart and practicing humility. This means committing to realistic deadlines, not fantastical ones. This means owning your mistakes and keeping your client/co-workers in check when necessary.


This also means being prepared to quit, get fired or removed from a project if the time comes for any one of those scenarios to play themselves out.


Standing up for yourself will not be popular with everyone around you. It will certainly be unpopular with at least one person on your team or you wouldn't need to be utilizing my advice. 


You have to be good at what you do. You must keep yourself in demand at a level that getting fired may be an inconvenience, but not a crisis.


Your goal here is not to start a personal war with anyone. Your goal here is defending your mental and physical health so you can perform at your highest level for the longest amount of time. The difficult person who demands too much of you will not see it this way but that, frankly, is not your problem. Let them get their own self-help. You are responsible, first and foremost, for you. By taking care of yourself, you can fulfill your obligations to those who you work with, including the overachiever, and those who count on you.    


When you find yourself at a place when "the worst that can happen" is not a factor in how you handle a situation, you are freed from the chains that the overachiever wants to saddle you with. Once you are there, you will find that you command attention and respect because you naturally carry yourself with more confidence. It's amazing what working hard, performing at a consistently high level, and staying focused on what's really important does for your daily life.   


I'll prepare a post later with specific suggestions about my successes and other successes with this. I call every situation a success because no matter how I handle it, I remove the stressor from my daily life. Sometimes I stay on a project, sometimes I fire a client, sometimes the client fires me. I've even had a couple situations where I parted ways with a client only to work with them again in the future. So many stories... I'll have to start a series. 


I promise, this really is simple. I understand it's not easy. Rarely is anything worth doing easy. The payoff is worth the effort. 


A Tip For You When You’re Traveling ABOUT DIFFUSING STRESS


I have to drive to Austin from Dallas frequently for shoots and events. It’s a soul-sucking drive on three to five-lane highways of nothing but construction and chain restaurants. I have stopped taking I-35, our main cross-state thoroughfare either direction. I don't like it so I stopped doing it.


I avoid I-35 using one of two strategies. One: I’ll drive 281 via Hico, TX to Austin or back. Or two: When time allows, I tell my GPS to “Avoid Highways” and then travel to Austin/Dallas using an alternate route with a city or town I’ve never been to as the mid-point in the drive. This means that on occasion I take a 3 1/2 hour drive via I-35 and turn it into a 5 or 6-hour excursion via small towns and two-lane roads. The added time includes frequent stops to shoot interesting things along the way. Of course, most of you are not traversing I-35 across the great state of Texas. Apply this to the I-35 in your work-life.


I’ve rarely shared the pics from these excursions because the travel is more of a way for me to collect my thoughts, plan ahead, and to explore the greatest state in the US. Maybe I’ll start posting these at random intervals with a little backstory. Maybe seeing what you’re missing off the I-35 in your life will persuade you to take the backroads sometime.


Evant, Texas


This is Evant, TX. It’s a town of less than 400 at the crossroads of highways 281 and 84. Evant was first a settlement called Langford Cove, settled by Asa Langford and his family in 1855. Langford served as postmaster in the first post office, named Cove, established in February 1876. By the late 1850s, Langford had built a general store, a blacksmith shop, and a sawmill near the current site of the town. In 1884 the town changed its name in honor of local land-owner Evant Brooks.


This image was shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR using a Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L Series lens at 17mm. I shot this at about 9 PM at ISO 3200, auto WB, aperture set at f/18 with the shutter open for 15 seconds. This was obviously before I sold all my Canon gear and converted to Fujifilm so it's a pretty old photo. 


I have to give credit to singer/songwriter Beth Wood from Portland for the inspiration to make this change in my travel. Do yourself a favor and pick up “Backroads” by Beth Wood for your next trip. You can thank me later.


“Here it’s all neon and noise
But I am denim and turquoise
I’m trying to find the meaning in all the chatter



The moment’s demanding a little understanding
You go on ahead, but I’m gonna take the back roads



Always running two steps behind
Truth be told, lately, I don’t mind


It’s a mystery where we go when we die
But some folks try and crack that code
You can spend your attention looking for redemption
You go on ahead, but I’m gonna take the back roads” – Beth Wood

Bloggiovanni gallucciComment
Tips For Buying Your Next Memory Card

So, you didn't ask for this, but I'm going to tell you everything I know about choosing your next memory card. When we're done, I'll offer some recommendations on cards I use everyday.

If you're a regular reader of photography blogs most of them will have some kind of list of essential items you need to keep in your camera bag. One of the items on that list will always be something like "extra memory cards."

As an aside, but also related to this subject, you will also come across articles which direct you to "grow up" and shoot RAW format. Many, actually most professional photographers will claim that you can't be a real photographer if you shoot JPEG. 

I shoot JPEG. 

It's one of the great myths of digital photography that JPEG images are so inferior to RAW as to make them unsuitable for professional work.  So much so that it has been adopted as gospel by both photographers and editors alike. 

JPEG is different from RAW, that's for sure. Each format has advantages and disadvantages. But to automatically consider JPEG files unsuitable for professional work across the board is simply wrong. Anyone who claims this as their truth is not knowledgeable about how the compression in RAW and JPEG’s work and has not considered all the situations where JPEG file format is simply a better choice than RAW. But that’s for another time.

So far so good. 

Maybe you have a trip coming up and will remember the this list of photography essentials from a blog you've read. Or if you have "grown up" and have begun to shoot in RAW format you've noticed that the RAW files occupy three times as much space as the JPEG's did. One of the down sides of shooting RAW is that you must use either more or larger capacity memory cards than you do with JPEG. 

Armed with this new knowledge, you head down to the local big box store in search of a new memory card or two.

Let's not kid ourselves. You never thought that there might be too many options for you to easily decide upon, you just thought maybe there were different storage capacities. 8, 16, 32, maybe 64 GB. You assumed you'd stand at the counter (or in front of your computer) ready to make an easy and quick purchase.

But then, you’re about to choose your new memory card and you realize, too late, that there are many different kinds and types of memory cards. So many! More than you had imagined there would be! Am I wrong? Well luckily you're watching this video where I will help you be an expert or expert on the subject for the next time you go to a new card. 

A large volume or multiple smaller capacity?

This is the first question to ask yourself. Do you get a few smaller capacity cards or one large capacity card? Most articles I have read recommend that you get several smaller capacity cards. Losing a card or having a card get corrupted can hurt. If you have several smaller cards, you might avoid losing all the shots you've taken since your photos will be spread across several cards. 

However, if you're disorganized and have a tendency to lose things, it may be difficult for you to handle yourself with more than one card. Perhaps you should cross your fingers and work with a couple of cards with greater capacity.

Before leaving home ...

Look at the specifications of your camera to see what type of cards your camera supports. Your manual will tell you what maximum capacity and what the maximum speed your camera will accept. Not all cards are compatible with all cameras. Sometimes your new card will not be recognized by your camera. These cards can be expensive, so you need to make sure you are getting the right one. So don't waste your time or money. Before you buy, know what kind of cards are supported by your camera.

Now, let's talk about some basic information which will help you with selecting your next memory card. I'll try not to get into too many technicalities. 

What are the main features you should know when buying a memory card?

Let’s talk about the different types cards.

For prosumer digital cameras, most likely you need SD (Secure Digital) or SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) cards. Many professional cameras use CF cards - but we're going to skip right over those. Perhaps we'll talk about those in another video .

SDHC cards are the "improved" versions of the SD cards. In general, SDHC cards are newer and more capable of providing faster write and read speed and higher capacity than the earlier, SD Cards. That does not mean that there are no fast or good SD cards. A card's suitability for your situation will depend on the model of card and your camera's needs but, in general, you just need to know that an SDHC card is an improved version of an SD card.

Let’s talk about card capacity.

This is probably the feature that most folks have in mind when they go shopping for a new memory card. Once you have identified what the maximum capacity or size card is that your camera brand and model accepts, you know what the maximum capacity is that you need to be looking for. And like I said before, many photographers will recommended you have more than one card of a lower capacity rather than just one card with a large capacity. However, if you have decided to shoot in RAW or you have used smaller cards and have already decided you need to increase capacity, then you already have an approximate idea what the minimum and maximum size cards are that you need.

Now let’s talk about card speed.

The speed of a memory card refers to the speed of writing and reading information (i.e. your pictures and videos) to the card. It's very important that you seriously consider this if you often shoot stills in burst mode or if you shoot video because these are the situations where you'll need faster cards.

If your camera supports SDHC format it's also likely to work properly with SD, but remember that a card with slower performance can make your camera stall. That is, your camera may technically be able to shoot a high frame rate per second, but if your card is slow the performance of the camera will suffer and you will not be able to shoot at the camera's maximum frame rate.

On the other hand, if your camera supports SDHC but you're not going to shoot RAW in bursts or if HD video isn't a priority, you're better off keeping your money in order to invest in something else; a good SD card might be just fine for your needs.

Cards are marked on their packages as being of a certain class. Looking at a card's class helps you determine what you can expect performance-wise from a memory card. Here are the classes of different SDHC memory cards and their corresponding minimum transfer speeds at which they can read and write information.

A Class 2 SDHC card will write 2 MB per second minimum. A Class 4 card will write a minimum of 4 MB per second to the card. A Class 6 - 6 MB per second minimum and a Class 10 will write 10MB per second at its slowest speed.

If you are considering an SD card, note that the class numbers correspond to the maximum speed at which a card can read or write information. No reference is made to the minimum read/write speed as it is in the case of the SDHC cards. That's just something to be aware of. 

Let’s talk about card brands.

There are many brands on the market with very different prices. Unfortunately, it is almost always the case that the very cheap cards are rarely good. So try to focus on well-known brands and read the reviews for the cards on amazon to make sure what you're buying is really what you think. At the end of this video, I will suggest some options.

Caring for your memory cards.

You will have to replace your memory cards if you do not take care of them properly, so I leave a few quick tips that you get the best life possible with your cards :-)

Keep them protected in some kind of case. Not only will this help you avoid them getting scratched or dirty, it will help you keep them organized and prevent them from getting lost. 

I keep two Promaster Weatherproof memory card cases with me in my bags. The blue case is where I keep cards that are freshly formatted and ready to be used. The red case holds cards that have already been used and which need to be ingested to a computer or external hard drive. I picked these up at the local Academy Sporting Goods store, but you can find them on Amazon for about $20 each.

Be sure to eject the card properly once you've downloaded to the computer.

Do not delete photos directly from the camera as you reduce the lifetime of the card. It is preferable to delete all the photos at once after you successfully download the files to your computer.

Format the card in the camera - not in the computer.

And of course ... treat the card with care. Do not force it when inserting or removing it from the camera or in other devices.

An extra tip…

Do not get obsessed about cards. Capacities and speeds are constantly increasing every few months. If the price of the card you want seems like it’s too expensive, wait for a couple months to see if you can find it on sale or if the price comes down. If you can’t wait, or just don’t want to wait, then just buy the card but do not worry about being the last one to buy the card before a price drop or a feature improvement. I can assure you, no matter what you buy in tech, a newer, better, cheaper version is just around the corner. 


So what do I recommend?

If you want a good memory card, you can try these. Any of them will work fine as long as you need a SD.

Eye-Fi MobiPro SDHC 32GB (Class 10)

I love  Eye-Fi cards. The Eye-Fi MobiPro lets you connect your camera to your computer via Wi-Fi, even if your camera does not have the Wi-Fi function. If your camera does have WiFi, you will find the Eye-Fi works much better than the camera's built in wireless functionality and it brings more features to the camera to boot! Eye-Fi cards simply work and they eliminate the pain of manually importing photos to your computer. 

Delkin Devices & Sandisk 32GB (Class 10)

Across all my cameras, I use 32 GB SD cards except in my Vixia Mini X video cameras - I use SanDisk 64 GB SD cards in those. I could run the risk of losing everything in a shoot since I shoot JPEG and can pretty easily get several hours of constant shooting onto a single card. Part of me is just simply taking the chance since I've never had a card in a camera fail on me (knock on wood). However, the cautious part of me makes sure I am always shooting with two cameras. So if a card in one camera gets corrupted somehow, I at least have the shots on the other camera. 

To be a little more cautious, when I think of it, I will take a card out of my camera during a break in the shoot and back it up on a self-powered Western Digital My Passport Wireless hard drive, which has a memory card slot built in to the disk enclosure. This allows you to back up a memory card without needing a computer to act as a traffic cop for the image files. I used to use a HyperDrive iPad Hard Drive for the same purpose, but the Western Digital My Passport Wireless is multifunctional - it acts as a regular external hard drive and connects to my iPhone or iPad via WiFi as well - and it copies the files off the SD card faster than the HyperDrive does. When I travel, I take two of the Western Digital My Passport Wireless hard drives and I copy all the photos from the day's shoot onto both drives for redundancy.   

So, when it comes to brands, while I have tried several, I have consistently used Delkin Devices and SanDisk memory cards for well over a decade now with literally not a single data failure. Because of their physically fragile nature, an SD or SDHC card is likely to wear down eventually. By this I mean it is likely to physically break after a certain amount of time depending on how you treat them. As is the case with all my gear, I don't purposely treat my gear badly, but I certainly don't go out of my way to treat it like it's irreplaceable either. And the SD cards are usually a victim of normal wear and tear on shoots.  

Many photographers will gasp, but I have some cards that are over 7 years old that are still in my regular rotation. The CF Cards are practically indestructible. The SD & SDHC cards, not so much. But if you treat them well, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to get several years of use out of a brand-name card. 

I hope these basic tips help you when going to buy your next memory card. I wish I knew all this when I was starting out. If for no other reason, I could have saved some money and used it to build in some redundancy into my storage or to get a few more burritos. 

Vloggiovanni gallucciComment
App Store Optimization (ASO)
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Mobile users are constantly looking for new apps and with over 3 million to choose from, App Store Optimization (ASO) has become more important than ever. When approaching ASO you should work with someone who has hard-earned experience and understanding of the Apple and Google app stores to develop a strategy for boosting discoverability for your app. 

Your strategy should include the following: 

  • Analyzing the collected data regularly and using it to adapt widely accepted ‘best practices’ in the ever-changing mobile app industry

  • Writing descriptions, titles and keyword lists, based on in-depth keyword research

  • A/B testing, measuring, and getting the right results!

How do you measure success?

  • Complete a comprehensive analysis of your app store presence.

  • Review of your competitors’ presence.

  • Create compelling text and creative visuals to highlight your app’s USPs and engage your users.

  • Boost your app’s organic discoverability via optimization that is the right fit for each store and by driving social engagement about your app.

  • Drive app store conversions - turning browsers to active app users.

  • Monitor and grow organic downloads every day.

  • Continually monitor your app analytics so you can improve and adapt to market changes.


The average user takes 3 to 6 seconds to decide whether they want to download your app. Once users have found your app, the challenge is getting them to download. It's critical that you focus on great storytelling, insight and eye-catching visuals in order to engage potential users and encourage conversions.

What are the benefits of ASO?

  • Discoverability: Improve your app store discoverability.

  • Awareness: Build brand awareness through increased visibility.

  • Conversions: Increase app page conversion rates.

  • Organic: Get more organic downloads.

  • Acquisition: Enhance user acquisition results.

  • Ranking: Get to the top of the app stores on the right keywords.

How To Contact Facebook For Customer Service
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How To Contact Facebook Customer Service

Contacting Facebook when you have a problem is not easy. We desperately look for a help email to contact Facebook or a phone support contact and they are impossible to find. Because I care, I have compiled several Facebook help links for those occasions when you need to contact Facebook directly. 



Facebook Help Community:  If you have not been able to solve the problem in the previous resources, you can always ask your opinion in the community, a kind of forum where incidence is shared and Facebook staff offers help or possible solutions. 





-  Report behavior on Facebook - You can report offensive content or spam on Facebook of pages, personal profiles, groups, ads, events or publications in your biography and much more. 

-  Link to denounce unauthorized photos or videos -  If you need help to contact Facebook because someone is threatening to share something that you want to keep in private, follow the steps that are detailed in the form of this link.

-  Spam problems on Facebook - You can use this link to contact Facebook if someone is sending you messages that you do not want to receive if they are posting unwanted links or requests for friendship or assistance to unwanted events on your wall. 

-  Problems of non-compliance by an application

I hope you have been helped by these links to contact Facebook Customer Support. If you have had another problem that is not included in these categories, leave a comment and I'll update the post.


Hello Again, Windows
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In the last blog post about my 2017 gear list, I mentioned that there was something strange about the gear I work with. Along with getting rid of my DSLR/Mirrorless cameras, I haven’t used any laptop at all for about two years. The iPad Pro 9.7”, at that time, was my mobile computing platform of choice. 


Of course, the only constant in my gear setup is change. I don’t like that. I prefer finding and sticking with the same gear & software as long as possible. But after using an iPad as a laptop replacement for almost two years, I am using a laptop again. It's not what you think. At least, it’s not what you think if you think the iPad was not a suitable laptop replacement for everyday business use. It can be, depending on your circumstances, of course. 


It's because Apple no longer cares about the professional creative. And no, a one line quote from Tim Cook about caring about the creative pro at a press conference doesn't change that. I am basing this on what Apple has been doing over the last three to four years. More accurately, I am basing this on what Apple has not been doing over the past three to four years. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple releases an "Apple Watch Pro" or an extended keyboard for the iPad Pro as “proof” of their commitment to the pro market. 


You have to either not be paying attention, or there has to be a wanton disregard for the obvious not to know this. The creative pro’s favorite computer company has become the world’s favorite phone maker. Apple is more concerned about form over function. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s Apple's prerogative to follow the money if that's what the overarching company mission has become. But choices have consequences. In this case, the creative professional has gone from being Apple's most-treasured brand evangelist to collateral damage in their quest to do whatever it is they are now doing in Cupertino. 


I've more than done my share as a loyal Apple consumer by using their software and hardware over the years. I've been an Apple user for over 25 years.  Shout out to the Apple II and Performa veterans! While I've used multiple platforms simultaneously in the past, I've exclusively used Apple software and hardware for the last decade. Heck, I was using Pages, Keynote and Numbers exclusively instead of Google Docs or Microsoft Office for four years. That was no small feat. It was terribly inefficient - always converting from one format to another in order to function with the rest of the world. I can only assume I was one of just a few dozen non-Apple employees who were actually that dedicated to the Apple office suite for that long.


Apple industrial design is second to none. But at some point, the platform I use must deliver value on a level that allows me to work efficiently, is cost competitive over the life of the product, and allows me to plan for the future for my business. Apple does not fulfill these requirements for me any longer. I have held out hope that they would throw us a bone, to no avail. So I am beginning my transition back to Windows. 


This begins with not using the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement any longer. My iPad has been relegated to being a media consumption device. Of course, I don't want to give up the smaller size advantage the 9.7 iPad Pro provides, so what should I move to?


I've decided to move to a 4GB, 1.8 GHz 2011 11" Macbook Air. I have upgraded it to a 1TB SDD. I will be running Windows 7 on it as the specs don't allow for running Windows 10. This has already proven to be good enough to be used as a travel device. If I need more juice, I'll transition over to a 2.2GHz 11” 2016 Macbook Air with 8GB and will upgrade it to a 1TB SSD. We'll see if this machine can cut the mustard first, though.


As an aside, and to further back up my claim that Apple is abandoning not only creative professionals but also prosumer users, check out this comparison from Laptop Magazine:

The newer 12-inch MacBook has a faster hard drive than the 11-inch Air, but the older, cheaper 11” Air outperforms the more expensive 12” MacBook on every other test, including battery life. The newer 12” MacBook has just one USB-C port, while the Air has two USB ports and one Thunderbolt port.

Starting at $899, the Air is $400 cheaper than the least-expensive MacBook. Even if you were to configure the Air with the same amount of RAM and storage as the starting-model MacBook, you’d still save $100
— Laptop Magazine

As the first step in this transition, I converted a 3.2 GHz 27" iMac so it's dedicated to running Microsoft Windows 10 Pro desktop natively. This is now my primary workstation. Yes, I still use Apple hardware (for now). Holy cow that Microsoft Surface Studio is pretty. I am making software changes in my workflow while I still have the ability to do so at my own pace. I have transferred all my productivity, administrative, technical, marketing, photo editing & development work to Windows 10 Pro. 


I continue to do video editing on macOS mainly because I have such a large investment in the FCPX ecosystem. Color me shocked when Apple announces that they are no longer maintaining iMovie or FCPX instead of a new “Movies” app (see previous Aperture/iPhoto -> Photos announcements). I’m moving my Photos back to Lightroom and have started making the painful move to Premiere as well. I assume it’ll be a year or so until I’m completely off FCPX. As it stands now, I am only maintaining FCPX for legacy video projects. All my new projects will be started on Premiere Pro from this point forward.

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I still use iCloud as a backup/restore solution for iOS and macOS, for now, but I have transferred all my document storage back to Dropbox and reduced my iCloud storage from 2TB back to 1TB. I no longer use Apple Mail, Calendar, Reminders, Notes, Pages, Numbers, Keynote or Safari. I have switched to Microsoft Outlook, OneNote, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Google Chrome on all platforms. Another huge undertaking will be to move off iCloud and onto another cloud-based mail/calendaring solution. I haven't even looked at what's available in that arena yet. I'm assuming I'll go to Google Mail but will look at and seek out other solutions as well.   


Aside from the video editing, I have a 24TB Drobo storage array which is formatted as OSX Extended. This drive array contains ALL my photos, video, and document archives for the last decade. So, I'll need to get that data transferred over to an array which is compatible with Windows during my move from FCPX to Adobe Premiere.


This is not a change I was planning on making even a month ago. But here's the bottom line: Apple has become so concerned with form over function that their products, while still well-made and visually striking, perform at a very average level. Apple still charges a premium for hardware which simply no longer performs at a professional level. After using the Mac for over 25 years (exclusively for the last decade) and using Apple productivity apps for over six years, Windows felt clunky and over-complicated to me when I reintroduced myself to it. After a couple weeks of full-time use, it feels as natural now as it did back when I was a full-time .net developer.


This is what happens when some of a brand's most loyal users get tired of feeling like the brand no longer cares about them. Brand loyalty takes years to secure, but that doesn't mean you can take it for granted.


Apple's silence regarding the desktop/laptop platforms, and then the mediocre release of the new Macbook Pro lineup after three years of it collecting dust speaks volumes about the lack of priority Apple has put on macOS's future. I have decided to make the transition to Windows on my terms. As I'm getting reacquainted with Windows, I have already found many things are easier to do on Windows than on macOS/iOS. I'm also finding the iMac as hardware functions well when paired with Windows 10.


I still love Apple's industrial design but I've been putting up with the mediocre hardware inside and an operating system which has fallen behind Windows in features and functionality since Microsoft released Windows 10. Yes, after all my moaning about Apple, my last point is that Microsoft is back baby! Who knows? Maybe I'll fall in love with the Surface Book and Surface Studio also...


That last sentence was for Apple. Know this: the halo-effect matters. When you lose a user on the desktop, said user's ties to the rest of your ecosystem becomes fragile. So fragile that I'm also test-driving a Samsung Galaxy S7 Active right now. I am running it side by side with the iPhone to see which provides the best integrated experience with Windows 10. More on that later.  


Hello, Microsoft. Hello again, Windows.

What To Do About Changes To The Facebook Algorithm
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My last post on the Facebook algorithm must’ve made you feel like someone walked past you and told you your Google Glass was on upside-down. So much for all that time and effort we put into Facebook, right? Well, yes and no.


So what do we do about the changes in Facebook’s algorithm? First, learn what “reach” actually means. Understanding the different levels of reach on Facebook is critical. 


Facebook reach is the number of unique people who saw your content. This is the umbrella that covers all other metrics on the site. It includes engagement, views, comments, likes, click-thrus and any other feedback on both posts and pages whether they be organic, viral or paid. 


Where should your focus be? That rests on whether an individual piece of content or event is most important to you or whether you are wanting to grow your overall brand on Facebook. For an event, a video or a single item you need to focus on average “post” reach. For your brand, focus on your organic “page” reach. 


You want as high a viral reach number as you can get. This indicates that your content is being shared on Facebook outside your immediate fan-base. This can include shares from both organic and paid sources.

Second, change how you view performance on Facebook. People typically think about the percentage of reach as the number of unique viewers vs. their total number of fans. That’s not a realistic way to look at it. Look at the graphic below from an account with 22,500 fans.  



What To Do About Changes To The Facebook Algorithm


This shows, in the “DAYS” section, the average number of total unique fans who logged onto Facebook during the week. The graph below it, labeled as “TIMES” shows us how many of those 17,500 fans are on Facebook on average during each hour of the day.  


We see that our best hours for posting are between 11AM and 10PM with most of our fans being online at 8PM. At that time of the day we usually have just under 8,000 fans logged into Facebook.


If at any given time only 7,000 of your 22,500 fans are actually logged onto Facebook, it doesn’t make any sense to include those additional 16,000 users who weren’t even logged in at the time you posted.


If a post reaches 500 people don’t look at it as 2.2% reach (500 out of 22,500) but as 7.1% reach (500 out of 7,000). The 100% reach metric is from the pool of 7,000 active, online fans at the time you posted. That’s the yardstick you should be using to measure your performance. This is critical when you explain facebook performance to others.


What else can you do about the changes in Facebook’s algorithm? Get off Facebook. We’ll talk about that in the next post.

2017 Social Media Photographer's Kit
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(UPDATED MARCH, 27th) - Things change. This article was live for no more than a few weeks and I dramatically changed my setup and workflow. So, let's do this. I'll leave this article up so you can see a snapshot of what I was doing at this particular point in time. However, If you want to see the most current gear and software that I'm using, head over to my Social Media Photographer's Gear page. I will update this page as needed, at least once a month. 


While I shoot photos and videos for a living I am not your typical photographer. Specializing in social media photography, I must compromise between achieving high-quality results while maintaining a small footprint. If I were still shooting for broadcast or print, this would pose a serious dilemma. But since the content I shoot is targeted to the internet I have found the right products that fit my particular situation where I can carry several days' worth of gear with me in a single shoulder bag. I have updated my readers on my software and gear each year for the past several years. So, not wanting to disappoint, here is the 2017 edition of the Social Media Photographer's Gear.


In the past I have owned and maintained several computers (Mac Pro, Macbook Pros, iMacs, numerous DIY Windows servers and desktops) and storage systems (4 separate Drobo arrays!) because I thought the needs of the job required it. I also carried huge bags of Canon and Fujifilm equipment including four camera bodies, up to 9 lenses and all kinds of accessories and tripods. Add to that list hard-shell Pelican cases full of GoPro action cameras and a drone and you’re starting to get a picture of what I was putting myself through. Today I am thrilled that I can do my job, and do it well with a relatively small amount of very specialized gear. It has only taken me 20 years to figure it out! 


After I abandoned Canon DSLRs in 2014, I switched to the Panasonic Lumix GH4 mirrorless with Rokinon Prime Cinema lenses as my preferred video camera for a short time. I loved this camera but with my never-ending quest to reduce the gear I travel with I also abandoned the GH4 and began shooting all my cinematic-themed projects with Fujifilm X-T1 cameras and (gasp!) my iPhones. I love the treatment of the video that is applied to the footage using Fuji's Classic Chrome LUT and found the iPhones more than adequate for shooting b-roll. 


The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 was water resistant so I used it in the rain or when the conditions are otherwise hazardous for my iPhones. Once the iPhone 7, with its water resistance was released, I was able to switch to it and take the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 out of my camera bag for good. 


For video podcasting, I started using the iPhone 6S with a ProPrompter/1st Generation iPad set up. This meant less cameras, chargers, and batteries to be packed and carried. The theme of 2016 was “doing more with less is good!” It was during this time period that I started shopping for a smaller replacement for my Scion xB. We'll talk about my decision to go with the Smart Fortwo as my daily vehicle in a later post. 


In 2016, I shot much of my still photography with the Fujifilm X-T1. I primarily used two lenses on the X-T1: the Fujifilm 14mm prime & 50-140mm zoom but I also used the full LensBaby optics system. The Lensbaby lenses are very specialized so the Fuji glass was used for 90% of all my X-T1 still photography. 


That was in 2016...

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Since January 1, 2017, I have been shooting 100% of ALL my still photography and video with a set of iPhone 7's and 6s's. I am using the super wide, wide, tele, and macro lenses from Moment lenses along with the DXO One on the iPhones when appropriate.


For the 6s iPhones I am using the Helium Cine Core Pro cinema cage to attach mics, lights, stands, etc. As soon as Helium Cine releases the iPhone7 compatible cage, I'll use that for my iPhone 7's as well. 


With the help of the BeastGrip Pro and DOF Adapter, I'm also using Canon FD mount manual focus prime 28mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses with the iPhones for video shoots. With the 7.21 crop factor of the iPhone 7's 1/3" sensor, these lenses will effectively provide a reach of 200mm, 250mm, & 360mm respectively as compared to a full-frame 35mm DSLR. 


The iPhone 7 is now my go-to camera in all situations unless otherwise requested by the client and provided for in the project budget. Since mid 2015 I have produced hours of b-roll footage and thousands of stills on either the iPhone 6, 6S, 6SPlus, or 7 so I knew what I was getting into when I started this project. As a proof of concept for this current phase of my photo/video career, I started using the iPhone as my only video camera in the summer of 2016. I used Moment Lenses with the iPhones to increase their flexibility and the results have been amazing. Like with any working photo or video setup, I also use sliders, tripods, gimbals and jibs to get the best movement out of the devices. 


Fast-forward to today. All of my Canon and Fujifilm cameras and lenses have been completely retired and sold. Yes, I know: SHOCK-HORROR. I know myself. It's best that I simply don't have access to the other gear at all if I'm going to be successful at this. I plan to see this project through and the easiest way to do that was to eliminate all access to my FujiFilm and Canon gear by getting rid of it altogether. I've been accused of being "Mr. Extreme" by those who claim to love me. You get a pass if you have the same impression of what I'm doing here. 


And so it is done. 100% of ALL the work I produce in 2017 will be created using iPhones and perhaps a DJI Mavic every now and then.

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Before we have a look at my actual gear list, you're going to notice something strange here. Along with getting rid of my DSLR/Mirrorless cameras, I am also no longer using a MacBook pro laptop - or any laptop at the moment. I tried the iPad Pro 12.9 for a few months, but in the end, the size of the tablet forced me to use larger bags than I wanted to use. I loved the huge screen, but I'd rather be able to run around with a small Domke shoulder bag than a standard-sized laptop bag or a backpack. So I gave up the larger iPad for the 9.7" Pro version. Essentially, most of the specs are the same, but with a smaller footprint. 


While there are couple critical things I am still missing in my new mobile-based workflow, I have found that overall it is possible to do the majority of my day to day administrative and photography work now on iOS from shooting to post-production. I use the iMac video editing, audio/music production, media archiving, and mac-specific software development. 


I use Dropbox Plus to access files for all devices in both my Apple and Microsoft ecosystems and to transfer and share files with clients. Of course, there is a messy smattering of random drive storage space from Google, Apple, and Microsoft floating around in the ether that I am always threatening to clean up...but I never find the time to get a handle on that. 


While it's just been listed below - I am absolutely adding, but also considering replacing the 9.7" iPad with a 11" Macbook Air (11", 4GB, 1TB, 1.8 GHz) running Windows 10 Pro since I can do everything on the iPhone that I'm doing on the iPad. 


This is not a change I want to make. After using the Mac for almost 30 years (exclusively for the last decade) and using Apple productivity apps for over 6 years, Windows feels clunky and over-complicated to me. But I'm tired of feeling like I believe more in the future of the macOS platform than Apple does. Their silence regarding the platform speaks volumes about its future and I have decided to make the transition to Windows on my own terms. While I'm still getting used to Windows again, I have already found several things easier to do on Windows than on macOS. I'm also finding the iMac is wonderful when paired with Windows 10. Maybe what I love about apple is their industrial design and I've just been putting up with the operating system...


Let's get to it already!


This is the current gear I use on a day-to-day basis. The items on this list have been tested in real-world situations on real jobs. This is the gear and the software I use to deliver award-winning results to my clients.  If it's not obvious yet, everything on this list is highly recommended by me personally. 



Unboxing The Fujifilm XF-50mm-140mm Lens

Are you ready Grammy? Okay. Hey look guys, what I got in the mail today, a Fujinon X50-140 millimeter lens. This actually makes me a real photographer.

I just literally yesterday posted a video of me shooting FC Dallas. And I'm gonna be honest, that's kind of a challenge 'cause the furthest reach I had at that shoot was 36 millimeters. Look at this beautiful, gorgeous thing that Fuji has come up with. John you're making me nervous. You're so tall today.

What the hell is this? Oh, this is a bag case I guess to wrap it in, which will never get used. That will end up in my daughter's room. And who knows, she'll stick make up in it or something. Manuals never get used. I'm terrible about that.

What do we have in here? Here's the [01:04] ____. We have the lens right there. And we have a lens here, and it's very exciting. Oh, that feels good. It smells good. Oh that smells delicious. Look at that. I don't think there's anything else in here. There's not. A couple of things. Number one, if you are north Texas-ish, I didn't think that Fuji had any dealers here in North Texas. Well, they do. Competitive cameras down in downtown Dallas, carries everything Fuji, all the lenses, all the cameras, which is all news to me 'cause I've been getting my stuff online. I'm super, super stoked about this 'cause I'm shooting a fashion show tomorrow night. And I'll be using this for the first time at a fashion show. God knows what... I mean, I scream fashion, don't I? So we'll do that tomorrow, I'll put some images either in the bottom of the description after tomorrow night for this unboxing, or I will post a different post with the images. Look at that, it's beautiful.

Okay, I've gotta go to work now, I've gotta pay for this.

Thinking About The Words We Use Online



A conversation with social media expert, Giovanni Gallucci. Your co-hosts are Brad Davies, Director of Web Services, and Greg Gorman, Senior Communications Strategist for Dunham and Company. Now let's join the conversation.


So we're with this client, and they just... Re-doing their website, working on copy, looking for input, haven't really considered SEO. They're in a space that's pretty occupied by the same search term a lot of people have already captured on. And they kind of are behind the ball as far as where do we start, how do we get going. We've already walked through and looked at some of the words that are... It's in their copy, that they wanna rank for, looked at the competition there. Talking about including that into the copy so that it fills up the sites, and becomes subject matter expert. But what are those other kind of next steps they need to be considering that they should be talking about? 


Can I interrupt before you start? 


You may.


So the thing that caught my ear was the words they want rank for. And my first thought on that would be, it doesn't matter what they wanna rank for, it's what they need to rank for, what people are searching on. So if a client comes to you and gives you a list of the words they wanna rank for, you look at that list, and that's a starting point. But if a word they choose that they wanna rank on is not getting any traffic, there's no harm in ranking for that, but there's certainly no benefits, so what's the point? And so when you've got someone coming at you, and whether they've created the copy themselves or you're doing the copy and they've given you a list, the thing you step back from is not, "What's the next step?" It is, "We need to take this list of key words, see where they rank in Google, see how many searches are done each month, see what kind of competition we're up against, and then look for synonyms that mean the same thing."


Look for what is your client's top three competitors in the space? And look at what they're ranking well for. Look at the keywords that they're getting traffic on, and do some research. And it doesn't matter, it really doesn't matter if you do that research before they wrote the copy or not. 'Cause I would typically go to a client and tell them, "Just do that search. Just do that research, whether you've started on the copy or not, because I want the copywriters to be free of any burden of being worried about a list they have to write to." So you get them to write the copy for the website. Then you do the research on your keywords. And then you take the keyword list that you've decided upon, and you usually confer about two keywords per page or two keywords for every, say, 300 to 500 words. And then you find places that those words would naturally fit into the copy, and you take that approach.


But as we've identified these, how much do we literally change the scope of the website? 'Cause we know that there's certain terms that they wanna rank for and they need to rank for, as far as searching.


That's something I think is...


And so how much do we change the page titles, the...


Well, even the featured content. That's something I think ministries generally, non-profits really generally broadly defined, have not engaged in. They want to have a, just like we were talking before, a ministry wants to, "Here's the terms we want to rank for, because this is what we believe, this is who we are. This is who we believe that we are." Whether the market place agrees with that, who knows? We'll find that out over time, and we'll find that out by looking at your analytics, and looking at search terms, how do people find you? We deal with that all the time, with organizations that have... Some have lots and lots and lots of content. Some have great multimedia content, sermon videos, sermon audio, devotional videos, audio. Some have sermon notes and documents that are really, literally giant databases.


And the way that they present those, and what I call, I use the term merchandising, where they merchandise that content on their sites, is the way that they use terms that they use. They use, it's all inside baseball.


If you ask them in a conversation if they use inside baseball or jargon, absolutely not. "No, we love our customers. We love our constituents, and we wanna speak their language. When we proclaim the gospel, we proclaim it in the language of the people we're talking to. We wanna be Pauline in that. We wanna be all things to all people." Well, then why do you... Why does your media merchandising on your site break things down by DVDs, MP3s and PDFs? Who in the world goes to a website saying, "I loved the message that that ministry provided to me last week. I hope they have a DVD."


Or a PDF...


Or a PDF. "I sure hope they have a PDF. I don't care if they have a devotional email I can sign up for. But by gum, if they've got a PDF, I'm golden." But we see that time and time and time again. And even in sites that are probably a little more mature in that, and a little bit farther down the road, that they'll decide, "We're going to merchandise our sermon content, our message content using keywords." Okay, great. And even on the homepage. And even with little thumbnail images, to make it really visually appealing. And we're gonna use terms like, this is a media ministry that I'm talking, television radio ministry, we're gonna use terms like, "The Trinity." What were some others that we saw? Things like that that the average viewer, if they're gonna come to your website...


I'm always searching for the Trinity online.


Yeah, I can't wait to get more Trinity in my life.


I'm not discounting the value of solid Christian doctrine...


Because that's factually accurate.


It is. Exactly. We are...


And so it's not that it's wrong. It's that there's a more right [chuckle] way to do it, and it gets back to... And the thing is it's not hard work, and I think that's part of the thing that working with organizations that do this stuff, they think that it's so daunting, and for us, it's easy 'cause we do it everyday. But it's really... When I show clients what we do two or three times, they can do it by themselves.




But you've got to go and do it. And Google will tell you, [chuckle] it's not a secret.


Listen to Google.


It's free, and Google tells you...


Use the Google.


This is how people will look for your content. And it doesn't mean that they can't use the phrase, "The Trinity." But it means they have to use other phrases also, so that when people search for the content, it shows up in the engine.


Let's be honest. People who are searching their site aren't looking... They can rank for "The Trinity," but people that are gonna find them...


Yeah, let's look at your analytics. How many hits have you had to your website based on things like that? And "The Trinity" was probably one of the least arcane terms that I saw on that particular site, but again, we see this all the time, and it's not just limited to terms of Christian doctrine. It's all kinds of terminology that the organization uses, and they all use their internal jargon. And we often engage them in a website redesign project, where we get dropped in as communication strategists, sort of mid-stream. They've already selected a development design and a development shop to do the site, and they're going to, essentially... That design and development shop does not have a copywriting arm. They either can't afford it, or don't offer it, or it's not even on the table, and so the organization says, "Well, gosh, we'll just use the copy we have on our current site. We'll just dump that in."


That's easy.


That's perfect. Well, it's perfectly... You can have a very sharp tool aimed the wrong direction, and you're not gonna get anywhere with it. So, I don't even...


Or you can have a very dull tool in the right direction.


Either way. Yes. And so we have turned a corner in our conversations with our clients now, where we engage them on these broadly-defined copywriting strategies, really at the outset. And where we want the outbound digital marketing to match the inbound digital marketing to the extent that it can, but we want everything to match well in terms of using the terms that the customer uses as opposed to terms the organization uses.


So roll back five minutes when you mentioned the DVD, MP3, PDF. So, most of the people watching the video are gonna go, "Huh!"


That's us.


So what would be the alternative? What would be the more effective path to solving that specific issue? 


Well, the first...


How would you promote that content? 


That's a great question and...


Thank you.


And the first...


Thanks for the soft ball.


And the first part of the next conversation that we have in those settings is often, well, we can just use the titles of the messages, which is a really earnest and noble thought. Most of the sermon message titles that we encounter are titled for piquing interest, not describing deliverable. Look at any so-called "mega church" today. Look at their website, look at their television program, look at their billboard, their sign out in front of their church. "Next Sunday, Pastor Smith is going to talk about Sex and the City." Well, that was a popular HBO TV show.


My church would never talk about that. [chuckle]


And gosh, people will be curious, so they'll come in. Well, just use that title in your sermon search keywords in your site, and see how many hits you get on that. Probably not very many. So it ends up having to be more of a deeper look, a deeper analysis of the content of the message of the commonly-used terms in all the messages, not just we want people to get this message, because if you've got a search engine on your site, which I hope you do, you can usually manually rank high importance messages more highly in the search results. So we think that it takes a little more work long term. It takes a little more heavy lifting at the outset to get there, but it's worth going back and looking at those things. And you can do that in an automated fashion. You don't have to... Certainly, if you've got transcripts of the sermons, if you've got PDFs, if you've got sermon notes, that type of thing, you can use that as a basis, and you can do some... Cobble together search algorithms of your own within those to generate that content. And then you back into your merchandising of the products. You back into what do people talk about? What do we talk about the most? 


What are the things that we get the most interest in? You can start with broad topics and go down to actual specific sections of messages. You can start with broad sections of the Bible and go down to specific passages that speak to specific issues in people's lives. And I'll bet that you could narrow the top 10 issues, the top 10 even search strings for your average website visitor for any ministry, I'll bet you could narrow that down fairly quickly into terms that they would use, not terms that you say, "Well, that's our sermon on tithing." Well, most people who are new to the church or who are casual in the church, the concept of tithing is not one that they're going to respond to quickly. The concept of stewardship, however, and not even the word stewardship, but money, budgeting, spending too much, saving, credit cards. I wonder how many ministries actually use those kinds of terms in their onboard search strings, let alone their SEO makeup.


Yeah. It's a shame because there's so much low-hanging fruit there. And they're leaving so many potential visitors to the site, which then a portion of those would be converts somehow for them, that they're leaving it on the table because there's no thought towards it, or there's a fear of it. I'm just... We were talking about an organization here in Plano earlier, and I personally have the mindset that you run to where people need to hear the word. And if you're always preaching to the choir, you're using the terminology where you're preaching more to the people that are already in the flocks.


They're already for you.


Yeah. Then your website's serving those folks, but it's not doing anything good for the faith. And so the point here is that you're doing things that bring new people into the fold, so you've got to be using terminology that they're going to be using to help them find out ways that the word and the message would help solve problems in their lives, and help them live a better life.

How To Shoot Rock Star Photos



So my description, I spend about half of my time doing social media, and it was driving me nuts earlier when people were talking it was all distorted. So if it gets distorted someone wave at me so I'll back off. I spend about half my time doing social media, SEO, things like that. And then I spend my other half of my time doing media stuff like photography and video, but I never really kinda promote myself as a photographer so much. I just kinda get the jobs through word of mouth. So the bold stuff is what we're looking at. Giovanni is an online brain strategist. And I teach boot camps and workshops. And I do natural light mainly photography. So we're gonna talk today... And one thing I do wanna pimp out is the latest project I'm working on is a show called Troubadour Texas, which is not just 'cause I'm working on it, but it's super awesome. It's a one hour weekly docu-reality show about musicians in the state of Texas, singer songwriters. We've already had two episodes. It's on CBS here in Houston on Sunday nights. It's pretty neat because you'll see a lot of folks that you recognize, the Kris Kristoffersons, the Willy Nelsons, the Hank... Though he's dead, the Lyle Lovetts.


And then you'll see a lot of folks from Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas that you haven't heard of that you might enjoy and become a fan of. So that's neat. With Troubadour Texas I'm the still photographer on the show, so when you look at the website, when you look at the TV show and there's still photography, that's all me. And then when they have somebody hanging off the bridge by their ankles with a video camera I'm usually the one having their ankles held, because nobody else would hang off the bridges. So just like with social... Usually when I talk about SEO and social media, I start with the fact that I have no business teaching anything about social media marketing, because I'm actually a programmer. And I stumbled into marketing and SEO. I think most people stumbled into SEO by accident, but certainly into marketing and PR. And I certainly stumbled into photography. I have no training in photography. And I do photography the same way I do marketing, which is by the gut. Now, doesn't mean that I'm a complete moron and I'm out there just going, "Oh, I hope this works," but it means that it's street smarts. I didn't go to school anywhere. I don't have a degree in any kind of art or media. So I'm not gonna really try to teach you anything, but I'm gonna show how I do what I do and what works for me and what doesn't.


We're gonna cover four major areas, the equipment that I use, then we'll talk about what happens before a shoot. What do we do during a shoot to get great pictures. And then what do you do after the shoot. And after the shoot we will go directly into marketing about what do you use... What do you do with your photographs, because the point here is to teach folks how to take good pictures for marketing purposes, right? So part of this talk is about getting the right equipment, setting yourself up for success, good composition. The other part is once I have my picture, then what do I do with that to enhance my marketing online. So, it's two classes in one, the double mint twins. Okay, so with the equipment we're going to talk cameras right off the bat. I need these back. And if y'all want to or... I brought two of the main cameras that I use and I'm gonna explain what the good and the bad and how much they cost and what you can use also. Canon 5D, which is their second to most expensive camera is here, and I gotta be honest with you, I've got major buyer's remorse with this camera. It's a little bit over-technology. You can hold on to it and pass it around and see how heavy it is. Takes amazingly gorgeous photos. It's about $2500.


Beautiful photos, but it's a little bit over-technology and I've had to relegate myself using this camera to using it on the tripod, using it at a studio, using it in a very controlled environment. And if you look at these images, this was actually a shot I did yesterday. It's for a CD that this gentleman, Ron Bailey, is about to put out. This is gonna be the CD cover. And these are folks that played on the album with him. And these are him just sitting in a coffee shop. The photography is absolutely beautiful as long as you're in a controlled environment. Now this, for the most part, is natural light, and we're gonna talk about composition here a little bit later on. The only thing that I'm using... I hardly ever, with the exceptions I'm gonna to show you, use flash. I hate flash because I don't know how to use it well enough and it's pretty uncontrollable for me. So what I do is I use these really small lights that I just point at people, these micro lights, and the website is called Litepanel or micro light. You can do a search and you can find them. You can get a really small one for about $69.


And in this situation you see how well... There were no lights here in the café. You see how well lit Ron's face is. I've got a light sitting right on the piano just pointing right at him. And it's meant for video, but I use it for photography because it allows me to point the camera at the subject. The camera meters on what his face is and then takes a picture and then expose it properly. It's a total hack. And I'll tell you that a lot of stuff that I'm going to show you today are things that professional photographers would absolutely die that I do and that's why I started off with I'm a hack. The Canon 7D, which costs less than about half of what that 5D does, this is my work horse. And it looks and feels almost exactly like the 5D does. It's about $1,500. Main differences here is that this takes a smaller picture than that one does, but the sensor's in and the technology inside of it is newer technology.


The camera is a lot more forgiving. And it also shoots about eight frames a second, which is really important if you're doing sports or you're doing like concert photography. The 5D that's being passed around only shoots about three or four per second. And so again, it's a situation where if you're doing stuff that's live action, there's a lot of stuff going on, you definitely wanna have something like a 7D. The highest end camera they have the 1D or something that I'll probably never, I can never stomach going in and putting it about $8,000, $9,000 up for that. These shots are taken with the 7D. This is just at a night club, this is obviously behind the band, I'm standing behind the drummer and shooting that. And again, the thing that really surprised me about the ability of that camera to take shots like this, is this is pretty obvious. This is Robin Creasman standing on stage, speaking to an audience, and he's really well lit. There was next to no lights over here, because we're looking behind the band looking into the audience. So the lights are typically coming this way. And if you sit there, and you use the 7D to focus on the subject, man, it lights them up beautifully using the ambient light in the room. And use the technology well enough, you start to learn where it will cut you a break and do favours for you. The Canon T21 is an old version, they have a Canon T3 now. The T21, the simplified, this is unbelievable simplified.


The T21 is basically a 7D in a different body. It's got a little bit different sensor in it, but when you're shooting video off of one of these guys, these guys are about $1,600. This guy can be gotten for about 800 bucks. When you're shooting video with the T2i, it's the exact same file, it's the exact same video coming out of the camera. There are other, obviously, other differences. The 7D will take a lot more punishment in the field, it's water resistant, there's a lot of other stuff, and the sensor in there is different, but to the lay person, not enough. If you're an amateur, if you're beginning it's not enough for you to be terribly worried about. And then the Canon G12 is my point and shoot. I always have that with... I'm gonna say I always have that with me, I don't have it with me now. Canon G12 is a camera that you use when you're not allowed to do photography in an event. So you're getting in somewhere, you wanna take photography, but they're not allowing it. You didn't get a photo pass, there's next to no event around today that you can't pull out a point and shoot camera and use that at the event without a security stop you. Canon G12 has a lot of the same functionality as these larger DSLR cameras.


It's got a lens that's built into it. So that is limiting, but you have control over timed releases, you have control over aperture, stuff like that. So if you learn the controls on the camera, you can get very specific with the kind of photography. This is shot with a G12. Now, obviously I'm standing off stage, I'm looking directly down the guitarist. I'm looking down her guitar. I'm probably standing about eight feet away from her, so I'm zoomed in all the way, but it's amazing to me, and when you look at a lot of photography out there these days, it can be pretty mind blowing the quality of pictures that can come out of some of these cameras. That G12 was like $300. You set yourself up, you get the right light, you learn the controls on the camera, the stuff that comes out of here can be really, really beautiful. So those are the basic cameras I use. I use iPhone for Instagram, and then for video stuff I use GoPros a lot. I use the Canon VIXIA video cameras.


I really love shooting video with the DSLRs, but be cautioned, if you're at a company and you wanna go out, you've heard a lot of great information about how you can shoot video with a 7D, with a 5D. The video looks amazing. They overheat really, really quickly, especially if you're shooting outside. When we were running through these 105, 106 degree days, these cameras would literally overheat and shut off in seven to eight minutes. So in those situations, when you're using these cameras, I've got these other regular Canon video cameras at the ready. I've also got a couple... I usually carry two 7D with me, a couple of T2is, you always have something to back you up as well.


When I got here today, this is interesting, Kurt was in here talking about Camp For All. Now I'm sitting here listening to this guy who runs a camp here for people with special needs, whether they're learning disabled, whether they're blind, whether they're burn victims, there's all kind of folks they cater to. And when you talk about somebody that's got a job like that, he was explaining about how part of his job, there's some people that suffer from incontinence, and so he's gotta go and help adults go to the restroom sometimes. And when he explains to the people what his job is at this camp, most people's response is, "Oh my gosh, you're more man than I am. You've got an amazing heart, it's unbelievable." And his response is, "I have never, ever had a job that I wasn't absolutely passionate about, that I didn't love," because he gets so much out of that job.


Well, one thing that I've learned really quickly about the technology we have with photography today, is the filters that you have on cameras, you go look at instagram, and you have these people taking pictures with iPhones, and the photography looks amazing because you got 12 fantastic filters to choose from. You take a picture of your friend standing on the dyke, and then you go and put a filter on there and there's a beautiful sunset, you've got a lake behind them, They're standing on the dock. You're like oh my gosh, that's amazing. You have to make sure that you don't confuse the, and I don't wanna say gimmicky nature of that stuff, but whenever you're thinking about using rich media for your marketing, and for a tool to create a message for your brand, that the people doing this have an absolute passion for what they do. You can get somebody that knows some of basics of photography, but you've gotta get somebody that absolutely bleeds and loves photography, and wants to be able to tell a story through photography. And it doesn't matter if they've got a Canon 5D, or if they've got an iPhone.


The point is, is that they will do what they have to do to convey a story behind your brand, behind your marketing messages. Whenever I go and run programming teams as a project manager, I always focused on getting a hold of programmers that had a good work ethic that were B team players. I hated hiring A team players that were full of themselves, that were not humble, because they would come in and they would strut around the place because they're the best person on the team and they knew it, and it would create a cancer on the team force because then all of a sudden you create all this resentment. Same thing with photography, when you're picking someone else on your team, I would suggest you pick someone who is dying to be a photographer who may not have the skills yet, 'cause they will do what has to be done to learn how to do it correctly, and they'll go the extra mile for you.


Building relationships, and this is actually another shot of a band from Tyler called Eisley. I discovered them... I saw them for the first time last year at South by Southwest and absolutely fell in love with them. They're a family from Tyler, three sisters, their brother plays drums, and their cousin plays bass for them. First time I saw them at South by Southwest, I did some search on the internet, found out their dad is the manager for the band, saw his picture. First thing I did, I didn't even bother with the band. I went and found their dad and introduced myself to him and said, "Hey, photographer up in Dallas, the next time you're there, please I'd love it if I could shoot the band when they're up there."


They come up to Dallas, I go and I shoot the band. I do the best job I possibly can, 'cause at this point, I've become a fan of these guys and I wanna get access to them. I shoot the band, I do the best job I can. I do the best job I can at editing, I send them over to their dad, and I say, "You guys use this for whatever you want to, whatever you wanna use it for." He's like, "Can we use it the next CD?" "Absolutely, whatever you wanna do." So that allows me to first and foremost have the servant of a heart, I've gone and I've seen something that I want, but I have to go and prove myself first by providing value to them, if I'm gonna turn around and get something back in return. So you have the heart of a servant, you go and you deliver value to get access, to build a relationship.


This picture was taken about two weeks ago. They did a tour of the southeast, they came back and they played a show at the blah blah blah... The blah blah blah theatre in Tyler I can't think of... Liberty Theatre in Tyler. And one thing that I love and that I... I love shooting music because it's fun, I hate shooting music because you're usually stuck in front of the stage looking up people's nostrils trying to find a good angle. And when you're there and there's eight other photographers there, you're shooting the exact same stuff they are. I really, really work hard and strive to find different angles and get different shots of stuff. And so for me, and I'll talk about this in a little bit, I don't wanna give away the... I don't want to give everything away right now. But for me, I got there at the Liberty and I took all the shots I was gonna take, and then I started thinking, "How do I get the shot that no one else is gonna get?"


Go back over to the dad, "Hey, how you doing? Remember I'm Gio, I gave you the pictures from Dallas." "Hey yeah, how are you doing?" "Can I ask you a favor? If I'm like really careful, can I go back in the side, to the side wings of the stage and shoot from backstage" "Yeah, that's fine." He walks me... He lets me back in there and as I'm walking I turn around and said, "Can you do me another favor?" he says, "What?" "Can you not let anybody else back here?" Because I want the shot, and I didn't tell him that but he knew what I meant, and he said, "Absolutely, no problem." So I get back there and this is them playing on stage in the middle of a song and I'm literally... From here, curtain's here for the stage, and Chauntelle's sitting here, and I'm sitting here shooting her directly from the stage, and I get this amazing shot of her with the prime lens so I didn't have a zoom. I'm literally sitting this far and this is the kind of shot that I know that when I get I'm like, "That is the money shot, that's what I'm looking for."


You guys have to find ways, and don't get me wrong, you can take good pictures, but the point here is to find ways for you guys to take amazing pictures that will help get more views on them, create a fan base, create engagement. Because the fans of Eisley, they can find 10,000 pictures of this band from the front row shot up like this. I've gotten so many amazing comments about the photography from behind the stage, because it's photography that those fans can't get anywhere else, which builds my credibility as a photographer. Also it's helping my SEO, because I'll talk to you later about how I optimize the pictures. But this is a direct result of... In a very quick turnaround, I met the dad in South by, shot them a few months later at Dallas, gave them the pictures, few months later they go to Tyler, Boom! He gives me access backstage. That was a really... Sometimes it takes years to build up relationships like that. Before you go out, and this is kind of a chicken before the egg deal, If you wanna go out and you wanna do this stuff on a professional or semi-professional basis, you have to build a portfolio. 'Cause it's like, "Hey, I wanna go shoot shots of great music, I wanna go shoot shots at fashion shows, I wanna get invited to events and stuff."


Well, how do you do that? You show people all the pictures of the shows you shot, and the events you shot, and the fashion shows. "Well, I don't have those, how do I get those?" You go and do it for free. Now, there's two ways to do it, and it's really critical and I've got that second line there, but number one is, I'm gonna give away something here really quick. Number one is you just simply ask, and you ask it as a journalist. If you can, get yourself hooked up with a website that needs content that's got decent amounts of traffic. I shoot a lot of stuff for a site up in Dallas called JAM Magazine Online, obviously directly related to music, to, Arts and Entertainment and stuff.


And so I can point people to my work on those sites which I've done for free. They're basically blogs, but these sites have hundreds of thousands of hits on them per month. Not millions but hundreds of thousands. And I can point to these sites and say, "Hey, here's examples of my work. Can I get access to your event?" And the sites can look good enough, and I'll show you screen shots of them here in a second, that right off the bat the band, or the event, or the fashion show, or whatever it is says, "That's a nice looking brand. I'm fine with being associated with that." When you go and ask for access to something, one of the most important things people are looking for is, "What is it gonna do for me?" So don't go and ask them if you can shoot for your blog. They don't care about your blog. They wanna know what website, what publication, what you're shooting for, and they wanna know the size of the audience.


Now, one trick that you can use when you're coming up with an audience number, look at the traffic on the website, and whatever brand you're shooting for, if they have a Facebook fanpage, add the Facebook fans into that. Add the Twitter followers to it. If you have YouTube, add that. Get an accumulation of all of the engagement you have with that brand, and don't call them and say, "Look, we get 9,000 hits a week." Say, "We've got an audience of 9,000 plus everything else." You do everything you can to let the people know that you're asking for access to this place for what the totality of the audience is, and if you really wanna get crazy you can say, "Look, I've got 8,000 Twitter followers on my brand. On average each Twitter follower has about 400 followers themselves. About 10% of those people will see this, which means we're gonna extrapolate that out and we actually have an audience of about 42,000." Whatever. But you want that number to be as big as possible. That's the only thing... That is the only thing that people are interested in whenever they're making a decision to give you access to something or not.


The other thing is, I think I wrote this fairly big, you're gonna go and do stuff with people and establish relationships with them, like with Eisley. I've gone and I've done some stuff for them because I wanted to get access to. The first time that Bud, their dad, the first time he calls me and asks me to be somewhere, I'm establishing a value for my product. I will never, ever, ever let anybody ask me to shoot something for free. I'm the one who asks for free. And just like in the previous session over here in the other room, dead on with Four Kitchens' Ted Nienkerk mentioned, the second that you establish the value of your product as zero, you can never go above that. You're pushing the bounds here, but what you're trying to do with photography, if you're trying to get yourself out there, is to show people what your work looks like. The second they show you that they're interested in buying it you have to charge them something 'cause if you don't you will never be able to charge them anything.


Okay, going... Some planning stuff, and this is some, and these are like school of hard knocks, the things I've learned as doing this stuff. And it's interesting with the planning stuff is that I would never dream of starting a programming project, a website design or development project, without planning ahead. You would never dream of starting a social media campaign without planning. But there's so many people that do photography that are just like, "Hey, I got access to so and so. I'll see you there." And they've never been to the venue. They just show up when everybody else gets there. And they walk in and they're just like, "Its dark." And they just sit and to wait for the band to come on. You've gotta plan ahead to know where the entrances are, where the exits are, where's the green room, where are the bathrooms. All kinds of stuff.


Make sure that before you get there, if you're shooting with multiple people, if you're going in there, you're the photographer and you've got a writer with you who might be writing something, you need to make sure that you've got contact with them. This is totally nerdy and you look like a complete dweeb when you're doing it. But phones and texts typically don't work in places like that because you're busy shooting whatever. We've gone out and bought these really cheap Radio Shack radio, kinda hand radio things that have the ear pieces in them so that you can just sit there and talk to each other while you're working. Because if you rely on phone, it never fails that I'm sitting there working and I'm like, "I gotta check," and I look down here, "Oh, so and so tried to contact me 45 minutes ago." Too late. Missed an opportunity.


Make sure that you plan the kind of shots that you wanna get when you're shooting anything, really. Music, and I'm using music as an example mainly because of the title and because it's really good to kind of split stuff up between a singer and the rest of the band. Whenever you're shooting anything, let's say you're at an event and as part of a marketing campaign your company's been hired to go produce an event. It's a wedding or it's a reception or something like that. It's painfully obvious that you wanna get shots of the host. It's painfully obvious that you wanna get shots of three or four people that you know through the process of being hired for the event. You've gotta make sure that you have a list of the other things you've gotta make sure you capture. Are there catering elements at the event? Do you have two or three people... And this is one of the things that I'm terrible about, is knowing when there are famous people in the room. 'Cause I am... For being somebody who works in media, and PR, and online, I don't have a TV at my house. And I swear to God I could be standing next to David Bowie and I have no idea that it was David Bowie.


And as an example, literally, last week we're shooting one of the episodes for Troubadour Texas and my wife and my two girls are there. And I'm gonna bring religion on you. So I'm sitting there with my wife and my two daughters there and I'm running around shooting and they're kind of shooting the episode and stuff. Then my wife, as I'm walking by one time, she kind of leans over and she says, "Number one, you're sweating. Go wipe your forehead off. Number two, is that Kari Jobe sitting right there?" And if you know Christian music, Kari Jobe is like a mega Christian music star. And my daughters go to a Christian school and it just so happens that one of the parents at my daughters' school wrote a song called Revelation Song, which won a Dove Award, which is the Christian music version of an Emmy or a Grammy.

I recognized the name totally, right, and I look over and I'm like, "I have no idea. I don't know if that's her or not." So I turned around and asked her producer. The producer says, "Yes." And so I'm sitting there walking around this woman, and she probably was fine with it because she probably gets inundated any time she goes anywhere, but she's this major star in Christian music and I have no clue. In that situation, thank goodness my wife was there to go, "Oh. You might wanna shoot some shots of her sitting here watching your TV show." Even if you do recognize people that are important, local socialites, things like that. If you're there with a group, you've got to make sure that people communicate to you when somebody of importance, whether they are related to your client, whether they're a celebrity, whatever, has come into the room so you can make sure you get that shot. Absolutely critical.


We'll talk about alternate entrances later. Asking for access, but being prepared to beg for forgiveness. And this leads into a couple of other things. As you start doing this stuff and as you start posting your pictures online and developing relationships, some of the relationships you're gonna have with PR companies, marketing companies, venues. And you'll start just getting notices ahead of time when they're having events, which is really, really nice 'cause then you... It took me about eight months to a year to start just being notified when things were happening, which is totally... You never get everything, but it's super nice to not have to be hound-dogging everything all the time, right? But there are situations where you have to beg forgiveness, which means you ask for access. Access is denied for some reason. And if it's a concert, you go in and buy your ticket and you find a way to get your DSLR. Obviously, I can't bring in my whole backpack then, but I will at least go to the door and see if I can get in with a DSLR so I can get good shots. If they're frisking you and checking you to make sure you're not bringing anything that they don't want you in there, you may not make it in. If they're not, then you take your G12, absolutely understanding that you didn't get permission to shoot the stuff. So there's a very good possibility that you might be grabbed by the back of the shirt and led out.


I'll talk about another situation that, once I did get access, I pushed the bounds a little bit. But if you wanna get the good shots, if you want to really push the bounds of becoming a really, really good photographer, that's a measure for me of the passion. If someone is focused on shooting something, an event, a show, concert, whatever, you find a way to get in and you find a way to get the shots.

Small footprint. Any chance you get, no matter if you've got access or not. I tend to be a pack rat and I carry this huge thing around with me. And this is as small as I've been able to get. I'll usually carry two cameras in there. Usually it's not the 5D, it's a 7D and then a backup 7D and a few different lenses. Especially if you're working places that have a really huge area to work in, let's say you're at the Houston Rodeo or you're working a football game over at, is it Reliant Stadium here? I was about to say the Astrodome. So you're working something like that at Reliant Stadium or you're working at some kind of a huge conference, like you go to Vegas and they have these gargantuan conferences and stuff. This doesn't mean that you have to be there as a photographer. If your company hires you to go and write about an event, they want you to live blog it, then you want great photography, but you can't be walking around with a huge backpack like that. I actually popped, I popped one of the... What am I thinking about? Spiny things. Any doctors in the house? I blew a disk in my back, and so I'm taking meloxicam every day to kind of manage the pain, but I haven't learned my lesson. I'm still carrying that thing around.

Oh. Something else for show and tell. So these are the keys to the kingdom. And this is really what I want you to look at. This little thing that you hang around your neck that just says media in big letters on it, this will allow 99% of the people that you walk by just to kind of move out of the way and let you walk. We made these at Kinko's. And I swear to god, it's the key to the city. The other media badges, I mean, I've got a ton of them because I put my other... A lot of times, people don't give you badges and they give you stickers, so we just kind of put stickers on there and cover them up. There's one there for Troubadour Texas, and this generic one is for YouPlus Media. It's unreal. The combination of that and these things are unbelievably heavy. But walking in, the bigger the camera you have, the more access you get. And it's in one of my tips. We'll talk about that later. The media badge is probably the cheapest, most valuable thing you can do if you wanna get access to places and do photography or videography.


These are a couple websites I mentioned earlier. Also, it's really important that whenever you're calling and asking someone for access to something, don't describe yourself as a blogger. I think the bloggers are cool. We think bloggers are cool. Most of the world thinks that we're a bunch of nuts that sit at home in our underwear and complain about Obama or W, whichever one you don't like. If you're doing photography, and I learned this a long time ago and it was an accident, I'm a photojournalist. I don't take pictures for my blog. I'm a photojournalist. If you're writing for a blog, you don't ask for access to ACL or South by Southwest by saying, "I wanna write for my blog." You're a writer, you're a journalist and you want access.


And it's amazing how little things like that will be enough to turn the tides and get you access to somewhere as opposed to we don't... And you will get responses back that say, "We don't give access to bloggers." Then you're like, it's kind of like when you leave money on your table and you're like, "Doh!" I should have used the other word. That's covered up. This is fairly important too, when you're out, and this happened to us yesterday when we were shooting this CD cause we're doing a combination of shooting the CD case and it was going to be an episode for Troubadour Texas. So we shoot the CD in the coffee house, we go outside and the host is interviewing me about the whole process of photography for the show. And we're on a public street, guy walk... Anytime someone walks up to you with a clipboard, be concerned.


So we're... And it's a public street, it's Downtown Dallas, guy walks up with a clipboard and starts asking us, "What are you shooting? What is it for?" And these guys, you know they're security for the building right, but they're plain clothes and they're taking notes. Really super important that when you're out shooting stuff, that anyone... No one but a police officer can make you stop shooting anything. Whether you're a blogger or a citizen or a professional journalist, no one has the right to tell you not to shoot. The first thing they will say when they don't want you to shoot, you can be walking in the middle of the street in Houston, turn around and start shooting the building of... The offices of a building or something, security will come out and say, "Well, for protective services," or they'll say, "Since 911," and your response is to look down and say, "Am I on a public Street?"


They'll say yes or no. If they say no then you ask, "Where does your property end? Where's the property line?" Three steps back, lift up your camera and start shooting again. There's nothing they can do about it. It's public space. The next thing they will do is threaten to call the police. You tell them, "Please do." The police will come and the police will go, "You in a public space?" "Yes." "Nothing you can do." "Well, we don't like them shooting." "I don't care. Nothing you can do." But it's one of the biggest things that you will get hassled with as a photographer if you're out kind of shooting lifestyle stuff, you're shooting urban landscapes, things like that. Now, there are plenty of situations where you will be shooting something, not plenty, there's some situation where you may be shooting and you're shooting something sensitive. Maybe I'm shooting a National Guard Armory because I like the tanks in there. Well, certainly they could come out and say, "Stop it because there is an issue with... Since 911 that those are sensitive areas and we don't want you shooting that stuff."


Use your brain. Don't be unnecessarily confrontational when that stuff pops up. But if you do get into a situation, A, whenever you have private security coming at you and you start to feel a little bit threatened or when you have the police there, the second that something starts to happen, as you're talking to somebody you open up your camera. I don't care if they see you do it or not, you open up your camera, you pop out the card, you slip it in your pocket. You've always got a crappy blank card in your pocket with you. And I'll tell you what, 9 times out of 10 the person you're talking to won't realize what you're doing. You pop in the other card, it's blank. And so as you're talking if you feel like you're being threatened and you got to give them something to get away, you never hand them your equipment. The police, if they ask for it, give it to them. They shouldn't have any reason to. They certainly may say, "I want those disks." "Okay, cool, I'll give you the disk out of my camera."


You hand it to them and you've got your pictures in your pocket. Then you walk away. If the police, and you've got to be clever about this, if they say, "Give me the disc in your camera." That's what you do. If they say, "Give me the pictures you took," you don't want to screw the police over. And so typically what you're doing is you've got a backup with you. So your shoot... Maybe you're outside and you're shooting for half an hour, an hour or so. This guy will recognize that I'll pop a disk in there. And it'll copy them onto the hard drive in here. So even if I do have to give it up, and I'll pop that in there and throw that back in my bag and I'll take a clean disc and put it in here. So I've always got maybe an hour's worth of pictures on a drive but that's it. I don't lose everything I've been doing that day.

So this obviously gets into an area where you're like, "Holy hell, what kind of situation am I gonna be in?" As you start doing this more and more often, you definitely will find yourselves... And if you're not prepared and don't think about this stuff... This is the hard drive backup. It's actually a hyper drive, it's for iPads, but it works awesome for CF cards and SD cards. It's like $199. If you're doing it and people are paying you to do this stuff, you've gotta make sure that you're thinking about, "Well, I backup my data at home. I've got to make sure that when I'm out here shooting that I'm keeping copies or that I'm only shooting for 30 minutes on a card and I'm putting it in my bag and I'm pulling a new card out. So if something like this pops up then I don't lose everything that I've been doing that day." Be patient, be nice, be respectful, and make sure that you try to be invisible whenever you're shooting.


Part of your planning process, and you should've done this ahead of time, but you've got to make sure that your disciplined when you get somewhere, is that you should have a shot list of the things that you need to get. And if you're shooting just because you wanna shoot, get yourself disciplined so that you're thinking about this stuff so you could be more purposeful about what you do when you go out. And you don't show up and you're just like, "Click. Click. Click. Click." Whatever. Have a purpose when you get there. You will find that you're much more... You become much more appreciative of the work you did because you had a plan ahead of time.


If you're doing it for somebody and they're paying you, good God please have a shot list. Never show up somewhere and just go, "I'll just take shots." When you get somewhere, get the shots you're supposed to get ahead of time. Get that just out of the way. And they don't have to be amazing shots, but make sure you cover the basics. It sounds a lot like my gray hat, black hat talk. Once you get those, then you start becoming creative and looking for different angles that nobody else would get. Again, we go back to the point that because the technology... 7D, this camera and the T2i, these things are so unbelievably forgiving, anybody can take amazing pictures with these things. You've really now gotta push yourself to find ways to get shots that other people aren't gonna show up with afterwards. Look for different angles, things like that. Couple of things on this one, [chuckle] Robin obviously speaking in San Antonio. A, the fisheye. The fisheye is such cheesy thing to use in photography. Professional photographers are like, "Oh my God."


But two things, number one, time and time again, it's the crowd favorite. People love pictures taken with the fisheye lens. Any time I wanna go and I really wanna exaggerate something, I do it with the fisheye lens. The reason why I purposefully was laying myself out right in front of the stage when Robin was speaking is that believe it or not, Robin is shorter than I am. When I'm out here shooting, I'm doing everything I can to make him look tall 'cause the photography here is... He's a member of the International Speakers Association and the photography we're taking is to become part of his new portfolio. So he's gotta look in command and big, and any time I'm shooting in the audience, if I get him at the wrong angle, even though he's on stage, you can tell that stature wise, he's a short guy. So make sure that you... Obviously, I'm in front of the stage, I'm not invisible, but you're gonna break some rules. Make sure that you're doing things... And if you're sitting here shooting and you look around, you're feeling awkward, you just have to get over that. You just really have no option.


Be present, be alert. This is one of my very, very favorite pictures I've ever taken. This is at Kerrville Folk Festival and I know now that this woman's name is Heather Reese. I didn't know who she was when I took her shot, when I took her picture. What? Is that amazing? That's one of those pictures that after you take it, you're like, "Who did I give my camera to? That's awesome." This is like when the stars really align. I'm actually... When I saw her, I'm standing over here on the other side of the crowd and she's over here absolutely by herself just kicking up dust and just dancing to the music all by herself in this big area here. So I make my way around and I'm already at the mindset that I'm gonna beg forgiveness. I'm just gonna start shooting pictures and if she stops and gets freaked out, I'm gonna have to apologize, but I cannot stop her from being in the zone. I got about 20 pictures off and what happened here is obviously sun's going down, dust is all up in the air and look at the rays coming through that.

If I had not been standing... 'Cause I was in the situation where I'm actually working. We're covering Kerrville Music Festival, Troubadour Texas. So I was having to do other stuff for the TV show, but any time I get a break I stop and I'm scanning and looking for something 'cause I'm, "Okay, I've got 15 minutes, what can I do?" The only thing that caught my eye here was that she was out there by herself. I had no idea that this was happening until I got on the side of her, and obviously I'm really close to her. She saw me, kept on dancing. I found out later that she was unbelievably drunk. That's why she didn't care. [laughter] But even in a situation like that, after I take her shot I saw her a couple of times after that during the night, and I finally handed her my card and said, "You know, I'm the guy that was taking your picture over there. I'm not a weirdo, if you want the pictures, shoot me an email." Turns out I have four friends in Dallas that went to school with her at Texas A&M and all of them were like, "Oh yeah, she parties."


Shoot everything and shoot until you get kicked out or until there's nothing else to shoot. Let me see if I've got this pulled up over here. Let me pull my phone out so I actually do see the time. 'Cause I don't wanna keep you all here past eight. Eight minutes, we're screwed. [laughter] That's not a... I'm just gonna tell the story. I'm not gonna pull it up. One of the very first things I shot was KISS up in [40:43] ____ park up in Frisco. It's a suburb of Dallas. It was one of the first things I got hired to do and I was going nuts. I'm like, "Oh my God, it's KISS." We get up there and when we go to get the photo passes we find out that our photo passes allow us access to everything but KISS. It was an all day music fest so I'm like, "Pat Green, really? I want shots of Pat Green? Not really." So we're doing the shots and I get everything that I can and then we're doing some interviews and stuff like that. And then when it comes time for KISS to come on, their PR company people come down to the photographer's pit and they just basically push, everybody's out. Now, if you've been given access, come back over here. Only people that got access with the Dallas observer and the Dallas Morning News. Nobody else gets access.


So I'm like, "What do I do now? I've got to get pictures of KISS." Before then, when I was walking around, I was busy building relationships. We're doing our shots and stuff and I'm making friends with the roadies and stuff and I go and I establish myself as being somebody that's supposed to be back there behind the stage, talking to the roadies and what not. About 30 minutes before KISS came on, I go back to one of the guys and I go, "Man, I lost my lanyard. And I'm not quite sure am I gonna be able to stay back here? Because I don't wanna get myself in trouble."


The guy knew me from talking to me all day long. He's like, "Man, don't worry about it, I'll take care of you." He goes back to the back, he comes back with a lanyard that has KISS on it, working crew, which gave me access to everything. So then, and I don't have the shots up there on my Flickr account, but I'm literally again standing on the side of... The photographers are down here in the pit, getting the crotch shots, shooting up their nose, all that kind of stuff. I'm standing on the side of the stage and Paul Stanley's about 15 feet in front of me, and I'm just shooting him straight on. That lasted about three songs before security goes, only two people have access to the [42:34] ____. So a guy comes up, pulls me off, says, "You need to go back into the audience now. I know you don't have access 'cause you're not with these guys."


I go down into the audience, and I'm, "Okay, I'll shoot what I can here. I'll start shooting what I can in there." The guys were watching me, and I also am in the crowd like a complete freaking moron. I'm in the crowd shooting this thing up in the air, "Hi, can't see me here." So they catch me again, and they're like, "No, you've gotta put your camera away." Put the cameras away, I go to the other side of the stage, and I'm like, "But I've still got the working badge, maybe I can get back over there." So I go back over to the security guy behind stage, I show him my badge. And in these situations they just glance at it, wave you on. So he waves me on, I go backstage, I get on the other side of the stage, and they get through about half a song, then a guy comes up that was probably eight times larger than me, and looks at me and he goes, "You know we got radios." I'm like, "Oh." And he escorted me out to the parking lot.


But I still have my KISS badge, which is pretty awesome. But the thing with that situation, I've never had anybody take my card. I've heard of people have their cards taken from them, but in those situations, they're like, "You're breaking the rules. Get out." That's the worst thing they can do for you. I'm like, "Cool. I got 150 pictures of KISS, I don't care." And that kind of stuff scares the bejesus out of my wife, but I'm like, "Honey, it's not like we're in Syria. It's a KISS concert, they're gonna kick me out and I won't be able to go back in, it's not a big deal."


Same thing I just said earlier. Couple of things I wanna cover here. And these slides are gonna be available to you guys. And I'm gonna go to something that is a big hit on my social sites. So we've taken our stuff, we've taken our pictures. And I talk a little bit about using filters and composition rule of thirds. You can go to Google and type in "Top 10 photography tips," and you're gonna find this stuff up. Absolutely critical though, whenever you're using a marketing campaign, once you get your pictures back home, what do you do with them now? What do you do with them to... Besides the fact of... Besides the visual aspect of I've got something that tells a story, what do I do now to help with social and with SEO and stuff like that? 


Most critical thing you can do, and it amazes me that people that do SEO still don't do this stuff, is to optimize the files. Now we know, if we're SEO people, that Google doesn't know what's inside your picture. But there's an unbelievable amount of data that you can shove into this file that all the search engines read, and that helps you categorize this content. And it includes hyperlinks. And so whether you're using iPhoto on a Mac, and even with iPhoto, you see that up here I've got "Photography by Giovanni," "Kylie Ray Harris" with a hyperlink here and a description down here. IPhoto, which is free and comes with every Mac, allows you to edit metadata. And if you really wanna go nuts, Aperture unleashes all kinds of stuff that you can edit. This is all text content that is stored inside of a photo file.

You have the same thing with video. We could talk for three hours on optimizing video content that has nothing to do with tiles and tags. It's all the information that's stored inside of a file. And look at the amount of data there. That's more data than you would put on a webpage. Hyperlinks, whenever this goes up to Flickr, and some of y'all if you have seen me speak have seen me show this stuff on Flickr. I haven't shown that detail though. But these things get converted into live links. When I uploaded this to Flickr, I edited nothing. I took that file, uploaded it, Flickr read that metadata, and it just populated it for me automatically.


Google photos, that's what you see down here. You don't see all the crap whenever it shows up on the web, this is just a picture off of Google. But all that data is stored inside that image there. Now, the rules apply doing that stuff the same way they would for a web page. You don't spam, you don't stuff key words, you make sure that what you describe inside the picture is actually what's in the picture. And you be respectful of the fact that you're trying to do something to help you get ranked, but you don't go too far. Once you get that metadata in there, you share it everywhere you can. SlideShare drives tons of traffic. If you've got a really nice portfolio, you've got 15, 20 pictures of a conference you went to, here's a trick, you go and create a PowerPoint deck of your images. You make sure that all the people that you have pictures of, their names are in that. 'Cause what do we do as bunch... We're a bunch of navel-gazing nerds. We go home and search for ourselves.

So this stuff pops up. SlideShare is one of the most popular websites out there. And all the links inside this content, inside your SlideShare presentation are feeding the Google algorithm. Instagram, I haven't done a whole lot of tests with that, but you can still put the metadata in there.


Sorry, are you saying...


Don't you dare interrupt me again. What is this, your conference? You think this is your event? 


So what you're saying is if you do a PowerPoint and you put in your [47:56] ____ it's populated with metadata, that will be read by Google? 


Yeah, absolutely. 'Cause Google can read the text inside of the PowerPoint, right? You take that image and you drop it in there and PowerPoint can read the Exif data inside there. All that text is still shoved in that file. It looks hideous but it's still readable by the search engines.


Got it.


Get on it girl. Are you making a slideshow right now? 


So lastly... Did I embarrass you? Be in touch with the softer side yourself, you're fine.


Sweet. All right. So last thing and you guys get out of here and go drink. So then how do you measure results? So it's... Todd, y'all were the ones that mentioned... No you weren't. The Google stats presentation [48:46] ____, the woman that was talking, and she was from your agency, I don't remember her name, but mentioned how we don't know what the ramifications of Google Plus are yet with SEO. Certainly, I don't know what plusing a website or a link does if it does anything at all. But I have done tests of... Just for the last five years, I've been riding on the coattails of stuffing metadata inside of pictures and putting it in Flickr and ranking well in Google for that. I started to do some tests with just taking images with targeted key words in them, uploading them into Google Plus only, and seeing where the results are on those.


So whenever you are doing these images, one of the things you are looking for are people finding you based upon that content. This is the Google Plus account that I use for all my imagery. And this was about two weeks into Google Plus and there were already 3,000 people following me. There's no way in hell that those people are people that I actually know. They found me through doing searches on stuff and finding my content, liking what they saw. Because I went through that list and I know these two people, and there's like eight people I know that were following me there. And it's not because I'm young and sexy and hot, so there's that.


Other way, look at the engagement on the imagery, this is again on Google Plus. These are all people that I go up there and I upload this content and then people comment... I never have people, when I don't optimize content, engage with photos like that and leave with those kind of comments and favorite them that much. And probably this is because it's [50:15] ____ and she's got her own fan base with GeekPeek. But here, 88 pluses on this different portfolio. What does it look like in the search engines? Now, this is my shtick whenever I talk, I go and I tell people what I do, then I go, "Here is the results." And I do a search and I pop up number one, two or three for social media expert. Feels so slimy.


What about photography? So I didn't start promoting myself as a photography until about two months ago. When I took these screenshots, I was about a month into it. Look at this, for Dallas concert photographer, I didn't rank anywhere. I didn't ever optimize for it. Nobody knew I was a photographer at that point on the web. About a month into this for Dallas concert photographer, one, two, three, four, five, six, those are all me. And those are all places where I post my images. Six out of the top ten on the first page of out of 108 million results. And that's only Google Plus, and it's only metadata inside of pictures. For Dallas fashion photographer, number 10. And God knows I'm all about fashion.


Page two for Dallas and photography, number 11 there for that. So it works. And again from Kurt from earlier today, one of his last quotes in his slide was, "Find your passion, use your talent." For me, my passion is photography, my talent's kind of SEO. I think SEO is boring, but I certainly love photography, and any way that I can take that one thing that I love and use my skills and help feed my babies, it's a good thing. Make sure though that you're honing your talent in order to feed your passion, which means you're going out there and you're taking risks. You're doing things that are uncomfortable. You're sticking cameras where they shouldn't be. You're putting yourself in places where they shouldn't be because that's how you get those pictures.


There's so much content out there, you've gotta do stuff that's gonna stand out. And there's the spam. I can give you this, plus I have... And there's a few people that have seen me speak, but I do have a thing called a social media manifest, which is basically the way that I run campaigns in social media. So if you go to, I'll ask you, "Did I suck or was I awesome?" I recommend you selecting awesome. It's anonymous, but then you go to the next page after you answer that questionnaire, and then you can give me your e-mail address and you'll be e-mailed the social media manifest. I don't care what you do with the manifest, just don't repost it to the web, but you can take it and tell people you wrote it yourself, I could care less. And with that, if you need to go drink beer now, leave, and if you have questions, I'll take questions from you. And someone stole my camera. Don't take my camera. Thank y'all.

A Ray Of Light
search social strategy 318.jpg

A previous coworker of mine, Johnny Thompson, once introduced me to a group as “The Madonna of Technology,” explaining that I had a tendency to seek out new technologies and trends in mar-tech as a means to stay fresh and relevant. This description has stuck with me through the years. It was a hilarious way to introduce me and he nailed the description. I have never been one to sit tight for too long when it comes to my career. I mainly attribute that to me having a short attention span. I didn't end up this way out of some overarching strategy. I just get bored easily. 


With that, and keeping with the same theme, I’d like to welcome you all to the “Ray of Light” era of my career. Let me explain.




While shooting photos and videos is a big part of what I do for a living, I am not your typical photographer. I certainly haven't arrived at where I am via the conventional route a photographer would take. I make a substantial percentage of my income from photography and video, but I have never thought of myself as a “pro photographer.” Partly because I have yet to achieve a skill level that I would consider necessary to have earned the moniker and partly because the photography and video I shoot is never the end-product of what I’m creating. Photo and video have always been a means to support other work I do in digital marketing. 


With my work in social media, I must compromise between achieving high-quality results while maintaining a small footprint. If I were still shooting for broadcast or print, this would pose a serious dilemma for me. The content I shoot now is targeted to the internet so I've worked hard to find the right products that fit my particular situation where I can carry days' worth of gear with me in a single shoulder bag. 


In the past, I owned and maintained several computers and storage systems because I thought the needs of the job required it. I also carried huge bags of camera bodies, lenses and all kinds of accessories and tripods. Add to that list hard-shell cases full of action cameras and a drone, and you’re starting to get the picture of what a photo nerd I was. Now in 2017, I am thrilled that I can do my job, and do it well with the relatively small amount of very specialized gear I use. It has only taken me 20 years to figure it out! 




In 2014 I abandoned the Canon 7D's I had used for years for good. I switched to the Panasonic Lumix GH4 mirrorless with Rokinon Prime Cinema lenses as my preferred video camera for a short time. I loved this camera and the lenses but with my quest to reduce the gear I travel with I also abandoned the GH4 and began shooting all my video projects with Fujifilm X-T1 cameras and (gasp!) my iPhones. I love the treatment of the video that is applied to the footage using Fuji's Classic Chrome LUT and I found ways, klunky as they can be sometimes, to color the video from the iPhones to mimic that look. 


During the “great switch” of 2014/2015, I also got rid of all my GoPro cameras. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is water-resistant, so I used it in the rain or when the conditions were otherwise hazardous for my iPhones. Once Apple released the iPhone 7 I was able to switch to it and take the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 out of my camera bag for good. 


For video podcasting, I started using the iPhone 6S with a ProPrompter and 1st Generation iPad set up. This meant fewer cameras, chargers, and batteries to be packed and carried. The theme of 2015 was “doing more with less is good!” 


In 2015 & 2016, I shot much of my still photography with the Fujifilm X-T1. I primarily used two lenses on the X-T1: the Fujifilm 14mm prime & 50-140mm zoom but I also used the Lensbaby Composer Pro II with the Edge 50mm and Edge 80mm optics. The Lensbaby lenses are very specialized, so the Fuji glass was used for 90% of all my X-T1 still photography. 


That was in 2016...

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I have sent the Fujifilm cameras and associated lenses off to get cleaned and refurbished. When they are returned, they will be put into storage. As of the publishing of this post, I will be shooting 100% of all my still photography and video with the iPhone. I will be using the super wide, wide, tele, and macro lenses from Moment lenses along with the DXO One when appropriate.


The iPhone will be my go-to camera in all situations in 2017 unless otherwise requested by the client and provided for in the project budget. As an experiment, I started using the iPhone as my only video camera in the summer of 2016. All the video I have produced since mid-2016 was shot on either the iPhone 6S, 6SPlus, or 7 so I know what I’m getting into here. I have successfully used Moment Lenses with the iPhones to increase their flexibility. Like with any photo or video setup, I also use sliders, tripods, gimbals and jibs to get the best movement out of the devices. 


So, for 2017, all my Canon and Fujifilm cameras and all related lenses will be completely retired for the year and put into storage. 95% of ALL the photography and video I produce in 2017 will be created using iPhones. 




What about the other 5%? For drone photography/video, I currently use DJI Phantom quadcopters with DJI stock cameras. My current favorite drone is the DJI Mavic Pro. We're working on a theme here: small footprint, excellent quality. The Mavic fits the bill perfectly for all I need in a flying camera. 


I will still have access to several different in-house cameras for various scenarios but I am aggressively moving to small footprint devices by design. This helps me travel light and keep my rates competitive while offering a whole array of media solutions for my clients. If a customer prefers “pro” cameras on a shoot and can’t be convinced to go along with my little plan for the year, other cameras or equipment can easily be rented from rental partners assuming I am compelled to take the project.



Nope. The technology is simply not ready yet when it comes to producing decent quality content on consumer-level 360 video cameras. I've tried them all over the last couple years and they are all universally pretty terrible to work with or they produce pretty terrible video. They'll get better. They're just not "there" yet.




This adjustment in gear will also come with a change in focus. I am gravitating back to social media & search strategy. My marketing skills have always leaned towards the technical due to my background in .NET programming. I miss that part of myself, so I am going to be focusing on software development again as well. 


I’m working on macOS and iOS devices now, so while I am re-teaching myself VB.NET and C# with the help of VMWare Fusion via Windows 10 and Visual Studio, I am also dusting off Xojo and taking the wraps off Xcode for Mac/iOS and Android development. Who knows, I might even start working with Filemaker. I have no idea why, but Filemaker has always seemed appealing to me. 


So I will no longer refer to myself as a photographer or videographer. At least for the next few years. Of course I will still shoot and the photography and videography will be a big part of my digital strategy, but I will be much more focused on building apps and developing apps and technical solutions for social media and search engine optimization-related projects. I will no longer take on jobs strictly to shoot and won’t promote myself as a “photographer.” My tagline for “social + search + photo + video” will now be “social + search + software + strategy.”


Of course, I’ll be blogging about it all along the way. As I write this, I realize I am going to have to produce a companion “What’s In My Bag” video for this post so I can get into some of the details explaining how I intend to pull this off. The last ones I shot were from two and four years ago…and a bit has changed since then. You all will love the gear I use now - especially when you see the results I'm getting. So look out for that soon. 


This should be fun. Let's see how far I get into this little journey.

UPDATED: The Social Media Photographer's Shot Kit

Note: I continually update this article as I change my workflow and gear. The "publish" date on the post will tell you when this article was updated last. With that said - The video above no longer represents my current set up. I will have to create a new video with gear and workflow as soon as time allows. For now, I have updated the gear list below. The most dramatic changes include the removal of all DSLR's and mirrorless cameras from most of my shoots and removal of the macbook pro as well. 


If you're an online marketing maven, or if you just got stuck managing the social media for your organization because no-one else will - you no doubt have long since realized that photography and video are the leaders in content online. It can be a bit intimidating when you see all the amazing photos online shot by people with the budgets to afford the latest DSLRs with huge, expensive lenses. 


I'm here to tell you - that all that heavy, expensive gear is not necessary. To be honest it never really was. To be fair, I was just as bad as anyone about lugging around loads of expensive gear in multiple backpacks - all essentially to shoot images destined to the web. Well, I've had a change of heart and I'm here to give you some new recommendations on gear if you are shooting for the web. 


After years, and I mean YEARS of loyally using Canon DSLRs, I recently switched over to Fujifilm mirrorless cameras. Why?


Trey Ratcliff of Stuck In Customs was a trailblazer in the mirror-less switching movement. When he announced he was dropping Nikon for the Sony mirror-less cameras, I realized that considering a switch was a reality. However, Trey shoots primarily landscapes and architecture. Putting any camera on a tripod and shooting a non-moving subject allows for more leeway in selecting gear than when one is shooting fast-moving subjects, handheld, in various light. I knew intuitively that just because he was producing stunning results with his Sonys, it didn’t mean that I could because our styles are so different. In any event, his switch made me start looking for a camera line to move to.

After looking for over a year at other mirror-less cameras and assuming that I was going to make the move to Sony, I did a quick survey of some of my favorite photographers on flickr and 500px. Without realizing it, I had self-selected many mirror-less photographers that use Fujifilm cameras over Sony. So, without so much as seeing a Fujifilm mirror-less camera in real life, much less testing one, I began selling off all my Canon gear (years worth of it) and replaced it all with Fujifilm gear.

Side note here - Let's talk briefly about cost since I mentioned it above. I've realized while I was editing this piece that cost and "expensive" are relative. As I look over the gear I use in my bag now, I have to admit that we're not talking about the blue-light specials at Kmart. However, the kit I have is about 1/2 to 1/3 the cost, piece per piece as the kit I carried before. In addition, as part of this process I've eliminated many items in my kit that are simply unnecessary or that didn't bring enough value when I came to the physical and monetary cost involved. 


I said physical - there is also a physical cost when it comes to deciding on what to carry all day in the Texas heat in a backpack. The physical cost of shooting how I used to shoot was a driving factor in me making this switch. I just had to wait for the mirrorless technology to catch up for me to make that move. Aside from the cost of the gear at retail,


If you travel for your work like I do, you also have to consider the extra $50 - $125 you spend per bag on airlines today once you go past your allotted limit. I've been on flights where we had over $1000 in extra bag charges alone, even with the breaks some airlines give to media crews. 


One last note on this cost - if you are considering making a switch like this, know that I was able to pay for the ENTIRE new kit through the sales of my old used equipment. That's a very important thing to be mindful of here. If you are considering this, you need to act fast while your current gear has value in the used marketplace. 

Iggy Azalea @ SXSW

Admittedly, this was potentially a bone-headed move. It could have been one of the stupidest things I’d ever done. Now that I've been using the cameras for a few months I admit there are a few shortcomings with the mirrorless cameras, especially when shooting sports indoors. But luckily, I absolutely love the Fujifilm line and the photos I’m producing now are closer to what my vision is for my photography than my photos from the Canon gear ever were. This is going to sound counter-intuitive - but the photos I produced with my Canon 7D’s and 5D’s were sharper overall and more crisp than what I produce with the Fujifilm cameras. And that is exactly why I love the Fujifilms. The overly sharp, sterile images produced by the Canon DLSRs, while technically excellent, tend to lack soul to me.


Canon/Nikon fans relax. This is a personal opinion, not a technical review. I’d liken this phenomena to an audiophile’s preference to vinyl recordings over digital recordings. I love the soul and the timber of the colors that the Fujifilm’s produce. It's something like I've never seen produced from a Canon or Nikon.

I have also converted from shooting in RAW and then doing post processing on all my images to shooting in JPG. This allows me to stop carrying around a Macbook Pro - I now only take an iPad with me for all my post processing and publishing on multi-day trips. This, in turn allows me to stop carrying my Lowepro 300AW backpack. In fact, I have already completed a week at CES and a week at NABShow this year without taking a laptop with me at all! I did all my post-processing and distribution on my iPad and iPhone. I even edited and uploaded a couple of videos from the conferences entirely on the iPad.


You should be getting the picture here. If not, let me make it clear for you. Moving from DSLR cameras to mirrors-less has a snowball effect on everything you do and all the gear you carry. Everything becomes smaller and lighter.

photo by giovanni gallucci

With that, let’s get into the nitty gritty of the gear in the bag. Here is a complete inventory of all the still photography gear I take with me today, no matter what size the job is or how long the schedule is. I’ve done ALL my work with this kit (with a few small variations) since the beginning of this year. All this gear also fits into a small shoulder bag - where I used to carry the LowePro 300AW and a Timbuk2 Messenger bag, I now only carry a single Domke bag for everything, which also makes flying much easier.



2 Fujufilm X-T1 with the Fujifilm Hand Grip X-T1 Camera Grip cameras. I have now converted to iPhones (6S, 6SPlus and 7) for video almost exclusively and I use the iPhone 7 for half my photo shoots. I carry the Ricoh Theta S for 360 photos and video. 







P.S. - I do pack battery chargers for the cameras, a Fotodiox Flapjack-C200R LED Edge Light LED Round Light Kit, a Fotodiox Flapjack-C200L LED Edge Light Daylight LED Light Kit, and a Manfrotto 680B 4-SCTN monopod in my main luggage on multi-day trips just in case I need them.


P.P.S. - I also have an additional Domke bag/kit with video and audio equipment in it for video shoots. We'll chat about that in another post. 


So what's in your social media shot kit?