Branding History of HoustonPhotowalks.com

Branding History of HoustonPhotowalks.com

Since the day I started the group in June of 2009, HoustonPhotowalks.com has been a real blast. There are hundreds of amazing photographers in Houston, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many, many, many of them over the past 4 years.

Not The First Rebranding

To help keep the group’s web-site fresh (and to repair things that break when Meetup.com changes the header size or formatting options), our community’s web site has undergone a few “face lifts”. Through each rebranding, we maintained a few common features to remain recognizable: The Big Lens, the font, and (for the most part) our name.

Starting off Year Four – Going Back To Red

And now, at almost our 4-year mark, Meetup.com has kicked in with another major overhaul of their Look and Feel. Since we are along for the ride, HPW is going to rebrand too. This time, a bit more drastically than in previous years. Note however, to provide consistency in our branding, we continue to use the same font and message.

In fact, we are somewhat returning to our roots, going back to our original fire-engine red.

Old Logo History

I’ll admit it, some of these are sick-embarrassing to display. But they are what they are: our history in logos.

June 2009:

At first, the group was called “Houston Photowalk Events”, you can still see this reflected in some of our email addresses.

December 2009:

Meetup was tweaking their interface just like we were. And at one point, I was able to create large graphics for our header. Around December of 2009, we saw the familiar Orange and Black logo appear. Click to see full size.

February 2010:

It was about this time that our community really started to evolve. We weren’t just about “events”. The group was doing discussions, DIY’s, movie-theater presentations, and had eaten lots-and-lots-and-lots of food together. Rather than focusing on the nature of “Events”, the branding was changed so our community had a name. We rebranded to Houston Photowalks.

June 2010

In June of 2010, I couldn’t really keep calling the group an experiment. We had organized and executed dozens of photowalks and meetups. To celebrate our 1st birthday, I purchased the web site domain name we use today, and rebranded as a proper “dot com”.

September 2010

After organize events to small home-town parades, tours BEHIND the Galveston Strand to photograph the cracked walls and garbage dumps, and visits to the famous National Funeral History Museum, the group and our events were sometimes a little weird. So I added “Interesting and Unusual” to our branding too.

This logo remained with us from September 2010 to April 2013.

April 2013

On the heels of another major Meetup.com redesign, we jumped in and rebranded again. We kept The Big Lens, the font, and the branding. But as we near our 4th anniversary, we switched back to red. How long with this logo last? Time will tell.

September 2013

After Meetup made more GUI changes, part of our slogan was no longer visible on the site.  To help solidify our branding, we added the tagline to the image, below the URL.

December 2013

For the holidays in 2013, I had a little fun.

August 2014

Meetup made a GUI change that added a colored bar along the bottom of the header image.  For our group, that bar was red, and looked exactly like the underline we had been using since September of 2013.  So I recreated the logo without the red bar.  Also, in keeping with more current design standards, I reduced the intensity of the drop shadow behind the red text.

Its fun to see how branding and designs change over the years.  I’m curious to see where the HoustonPhotowalks logo takes us in the future!

Sharing Images on Facebook Groups (most bang per share)

Sharing Images on Facebook Groups (most bang per share)

Get the most out of your Facebook Image Posts (and keep from getting ignored)

As a member and admin of several Facebook groups, I see a lot (a LOT) of posted images. This often includes unintentional pitfalls, missed opportunities and non-preferred behavior by members who don’t understand their options (or etiquette). Here are some suggestions to help group members get the best possible results from image posts.

BTW, this posts comes with a couple of notes.

First, regardless of the advice below, follow the instructions of your Facebook group Admin(s). If they say do something that’s different than this article suggests, they are in charge, not me.

Next, the moment I publish this, Facebook will change it’s interface and all of this will go out the window. What can I do?

Group image posts

We post for exposure and comments. Many of us work on the economy of Kudos, some of us want to market our professional services. Either way, being an active and participating member in a group can certainly help.

To understand why there is etiquette when posting images in a group, you have to know three important details:

  • Group members may have “Notifications” enabled, meaning, they receive an email every time you upload a photo. Upload 15 images, they get 15 emails. This can lead some members to
    • leave the Facebook group thinking it’s too spammy
    • turn off notifications, reducing their participation level in the Facebook group
  • Your group posts represent you and your business, its part of your marketing and branding! So if you just finished your first 15 HDR image attempts and want critiques, upload 1 or 2 of the best ones, not the entire blurry mess.
  • Image and album management for Group Admin(s) isn’t terribly easy. For example, moving images from album to album is (currently) impossible.

Photo-posting (*sharing*) methods

Members usually post to Facebook groups in one of several ways:

  • Direct upload by clicking “Add Photo / Video” on the group’s main page
  • Direct upload by clicking “Add Photos” on a group’s album
  • Uploading to your personal timeline, and then “Sharing” to the group
  • Uploading a personal album, and then “Sharing” to the group
  • Uploading to your company/fan page, then “Sharing” to the group
  • Uploading an album on your company/fan page, then “Sharing” to the group

Each of these methods has different pros and cons. Instead of providing a specific method that will be successful in all situations, here is a list of each method and the pros, cons and best times to use them.

Direct upload by clicking “Add Photo / Video” on the group’s main page

Pros:

  • Really quick. This is the equivalent of impulse shopping. You see the button, you have an image, click click click.
  • Privacy. If you post a photo of the oozing boil on your foot, but don’t want your employer to see, posting it directly to a private group keeps it off of your personal timeline.

Cons:

  • Posting multiple images results in multiple notifications.
  • If you want to share the image on your personal page or profile, you’ll have to upload it twice.
  • Its one image, clicking on it does not result in seeing your other images too.
  • Someone other than you can delete the image! A real pain after getting 50 “likes” and 40 positive comments.
  • Once the image scrolls down the timeline of the group’s conversations, your exposure is essentially over.
  • Really (really) difficult to locate the post after days/weeks/months of time have passed.

Use When:

  • Probably best used for short-run exposure, such a special notice or event announcement.

Direct upload by clicking “Add Photos” on a group’s album

Pros:

  • Allows related subject matter to be maintained in a specific location
  • Group albums can be created for specific functions (critiques, event, contest, etc)

Cons:

  • One of the more difficult-to-manage information nodes for Facebook group Admin(s).
  • Individual image posts still trigger individual notifications.
  • Member-created albums may have little or nothing to do with the group’s subject or interest.

Use When:

  • When asked to do so by an Admin of the group.
  • The image fits the album’s specific topic or event.

Don’t willy-nilly create albums, it creates several problems:

  • They are a pain for Admin(s) to manage. Just about the only thing an Admin can do is “Delete” it.
  • It appears on every single member’s Lightroom plugin drop down forever!

Uploading to your personal Facebook Timeline, and then “Sharing” to the group

This has identical Pros, Cons and Use When of uploading directly to the Group’s Timeline with one additional Con.
Cons

  • Your personal default security settings take preceidence over the Group’s security. If you upload an image to your timeline as “Friends Only” and then share to a group, everyone in the group will get notified that you posted, but won’t be able to see your image even if you can.

Uploading a personal album, and then “Sharing” the image (or album) to the group

By far, I have found this to be the best way to post an image to a group! Here’s why:

Pros:

  • You can post multiple images around a single subject, but trigger only one group-wide notification of your “share”.
  • People can view the single image, but click left-right to view other images you share.
  • People who are new to the group that might be interested in your work have quick-access to previous posts.
  • You can share one image, but all other images you shared are available by clicking back-and-forth.
  • In the case of a “situation”, you can quickly remove ALL the images by simply changing the privacy level.
  • The “description” you used on your personal posting is automatically available to the Group.
  • Your “likes” and “comments” are aggregated in one spot, not spread in two or three different uploads.
  • You control the image, someone may delete the group posting, but can never delete the image itself.

Cons:

  • People outside your personal network can comment on your photos. This could be a pro-and/or-con
  • People who posted comments may receive email replies from other people. So if your mom said “wonderful” and the next guy is a stranger that rips you a new one, your mom is going to get that in email.
  • Or your boss. Or your friends. Or the client in the photograph (oh yeah, that’s happened to me).
  • As mentioned, if your security setting for an image or album is restrictive (“Friends Only”), members of the group who are not your friends cannot view your images.
  • Thusly, you have to leave the album and image available to “the world”.

Use When:

  • When appropriate, but almost always.
  • This provides the best possible exposure, ability to link back to your other images, and combine your “Likes” and “Comments”

Uploading to your company/fan page, then “Sharing” to the group

Identical to “Uploading to your personal Facebook Timeline, and then Sharing to the group”

Uploading an album on your company/fan page, then “Sharing” to the group

Identical to “Uploading a personal album, and then “Sharing” the image (or album) to the group” except one additional plus:
Pros:

  • It points users directly to a full album of images on your company page, where they may choose to linger and “Like” what they see.

Other considerations

  • Post images in groups where it’s appropriate. Don’t post your blurry lensbaby shots in the Canon L-Series group trying to be funny. Don’t do it. Just don’t be that guy.
  • Think about the audience before tagging a person. If the audience is a brutally honest critique group, don’t tag your client. If they have shared it to their wall, all of their friends who post “you look wonderful” will get follow up replies that say “the head position accentuates the subject’s excessive double chin.”
  • A watermark will never prevent your image from being stolen. 15 minutes with photoshop can remove just about any watermark. If you watermark for branding, then keep the ‘subject’ of the photograph the most important thing on the screen; your watermark is secondary.
  • People do not buy pictures of watermarks, they buy pictures of themselves, their family, or places they think are cool.
  • Always remember that any upload or post is going to trigger notifications. So don’t post 15 individual images unless the goal is to destroy the group.
  • Careful about marketing to peers. If you’re in a group of 200 photographers, do you need to post an image with a watermark that takes up 2/3rds vertical space?
  • The height, length and cleverness of your watermark does not specify your level of professionalism. If you JUST got your first camera, and you have NEVER sold a photograph, and your are posting “what went wrong with this photo” messages to Facebook photography groups, a 3″ high watermark is completely unnecessary.
  • If you spend more time creating and placing your water mark than actually composing the image before you took it, you have priority issues that will be apparent in the quality of your photography.

Now go post, or don’t.

You now have some good suggestions on how to post, when to post, and what to post. Your photography is an important part of your brand and how you are perceived to others. Don’t blow a good opportunity by posting images in a way that annoys those around you!

  • Don’t create an “Album” in a Facebook group unless asked by an Admin.
  • “Share” images from your profile rather than posting directly to the group.
  • Stick to the subject matter.

Did I get it wrong?

Feel free to post comments and suggestions for changes to this article below.

The “Nice Shot” Comment Myth

The “Nice Shot” Comment Myth

Don’t let the Comment Haters slow you down.

Most people appreciate and maybe even crave feedback, especially positive. When it comes to photography, there are those who are very comfortable providing constructive, well crafted critiques. These paragraphs of personal opinions are often (at least hopefully, always) provided with the best intentions in mind, to help the photographer understand what works, and what doesn’t, in a particular photograph.

But there has been a growing trend of fellow photographers withholding their positive encouragement for the most silly of reasons: embarrassment and shame.

How Can Leaving A Comment Be Embarrassing?

Recently I have seen or heard photographers suggest (or outright telling) someone that if they can’t “intelligently” explain why they like someone’s image, they shouldn’t bother posting a comment. In other words, if a photograph catchers your attention, you show your own ignorance by posting “Nice image!” Telling someone they are unqualified to post a comment on photographs is frankly one of the most degrading remarks one photographer can say to another.

I’ve heard HoustonPhotowalks.com members mention mention occasionally that they loved one image or another from their fellow community member, but didn’t comment because Joe Blow Pro Photog told them that “Love it!” Or “great pic!” is amateur. Frankly, telling you that you are not qualified to “like” a photo makes Joe Blow Pro Photog lame and amateur-ish. (Point him to this blog post is he disagrees).

All Feedback is Important

It’s true that learning to read a photograph, how to detect subtle use of intersecting lines, angles, strong color (or not), and other composition techniques is very important. And providing details when commenting on a work is always helpful and informative, even if that feedback may include some “suggestions for improvement”. The end result is that we help each other grow, right?

As we grow as artists, we slowly learn to talk the trade, learn the language, etc. And as we grow, we can spot areas that seem to “not work” both in our own photographs and others. These are important steps for an artist’s maturity. So by no means am I saying that learning how to “Read” a photograph or provide constructive critiques aren’t important skills to grow into.

But someone should never feel intimidated or uncomfortable telling another photographer that their work had an emotional effect … even if the viewer is not prepared to specifically explain why.

It is Rude to Look at a Sketch Without Making a Nice Comment …

We are not required to withhold friendly feedback for other art forms. If someone shows you a quilt, lawn, drawing, or pottery, do you withhold positive feedback because you don’t know specific technical terms?

If someone shows you their drawing with stunning detail, strokes, and perspective … do you just hand the image back with no comment because you haven’t taken a proper sketching class? No, you say “OMG”, because you recognize skill, and its polite and encouraging to our peers!

So if someone creates a composition that affects your perception positively, they have knowingly or unknowingly tapped into the skills of artistic expression. They would like to see your “Like”, “Fav”, or “Amazing” just as much as a three paragraph examination. Don’t let the rules of a staid and inflexible photography critiques keep you from telling a fellow photographer, “I really love your work.”

If you like it, Like it! Don’t be shy, don’t feel judged. The recipient will really appreciate the time you took to comment. Don’t let some cranky old photographer make you to think you are unqualified to like something … or to express your appreciation for someone else’s work!

Feel free to post comments on the subject, I’m interested in hearing your view … or if you find this article helpful.