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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Become a photographer in a week? Why not!

One of the best parts about having my own business is that it's never boring. I get to do a diverse range of interesting tasks every day, and if I want to learn something new I just go for it.

Rachel and I took down GouletPens.com for 9 full days, partly to relax with family, and partly to update the site with awesome new features like a wish list, mobile browser, and individual color swabs next to the ink sample products. After making all these changes, what we quickly noticed was that the site's product photography was incredibly lacking.
We had a hodge-podge of stock photos, pictures taken by my sister-in-law (Rebekah Goldman, an actual photographer) and ones I'd taken, yes, with my video camera. It was a hot mess, and the new changes to our website were exposing this fact and showcasing it.

The day we shut down our site, I had one of those clear moments when you just know what you have to do. I knew I had to get a good camera and learn to the product photography for our site, and I had to do it immediately. So I did. I dove into the deep end head first, picked myself up a snazzy little Nikon D3100 and a 35mm Nikor f/1.8 lens. You see, Rebekah's a professional photographer, and I knew I could learn pretty quickly what I needed to do with her guidance while visiting with her at Christmas. I did a photography blizt/crash course and I'm pumping out some pretty alright pics if I do say so myself!

Just check out the improvements we've already made to the Diamine ink page:


Nice bottle pic, seemless white background that blends into the site, integrated color-adjusted ink swab for each color....I gotta say I'm pretty proud of it! And we're going to do the same thing with all of the other inks on the site. I'm excited.

We're working on updating all of the pictures on GouletPens.com. We want to have a professional look to it, but also a warm and personal feel like you would expect from a mom and pop store like us. We're going to be focusing pretty heavy on this for the next few weeks, so I'm going to be focusing (haha, no pun intended) more of my efforts on GPC over posting daily at Ink Nouveau. Once I get things up to pace on GPC, then I'm going to start blasting awesome photos all over the place here on the blog!

If you have any ideas about how the photographs could improve on our site, please post here in the comments! We're going to do our best to convey the most amount of information about each product through pictures, and if you have anything you'd like us to showcase, we're all ears.

And just to show you a bit of how I'm coming along with the photog thing, here are a few pics I took of my son from his very first Christmas:

26 comments:

  1. wonderful pictures of your son!

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  2. Wow!! He's so big already, it seems like just yesterday that he was born.

    Wonderful shots from his first Christmas.

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  3. Well done...with the photos and choice of camera. Next thing you know you'll be upgrading to a Hasselblad ;).

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  4. Considering your stated site photography goals, I was a little surprised that Rebekah didn't steer you toward a macro lens coupled with a light shed and compatible lighting system.

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  5. Nathaniel, haha....maybe if 2011 is a good year for us an H4D-40 Ferrari Edition will be next year's Christmas present from GPC! :P

    Anonymous, I built my own light shed with a custom light setup that I'm really happy with! It's amazingly unfancy, but it does a great job of putting the light where I want it!

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  6. Ooh, those D3100's are snazzy alright! Someone in a local camera shop stated that the sensor in those are the same as in $30,000 cameras. I don't know if he was being hyperbolic, but I don't think he was telling an outright lie either. Your initial shots look great. Professional looking photography is a no-brainer to improve any website, especially one that sells things. Looking forward to the new and improved GPC dot com.

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  7. Erin, the sensor it in is crazy nice. It's the first of a new generation of Nikons, so a lot of the features are unlike what's been seen in a camera in this price range. I was looking into a D90 or D700, but for what I need to do, the D3100 is plenty. It's my first DSLR, so I wanted to ease into it a bit. ;)

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  8. I don't think anybody expects 150%, Brian. We appreciate your enthusiasm for your business and serving our crazy little niche of the world. If the blog goes to once or twice a week, I think we can all cope. By the same token, remember a perfectly acceptable blog update might just document what you've been up to with your GPC work. We have pretty much boundless enthusiasm for this stuff, but I think we all understand the need to balance out what you do for us with what you do for that cute little guy above.

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  9. I appreciate your understanding, Jimmy. I'm not going to go to once or twice a week, I don't think. Honestly, I've tried cutting back how much I blog before, but there's really SO much to talk about it's almost harder NOT to post! I just don't have a lot planned out for the immediate future for the blog, so I'm not going to 'stretch' to try to fill each day. If a topic comes up and I can blog about it 'naturally', I will. But it'll be a couple of weeks before I'm really back to scheduling out blog posts.

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  10. I think adding the color swap next to the ink bottle is a really nice touch. just last night, i was shopping for Noodler's and I was so confused because all the ink has the same photo and it was hard to make out the ink titles quickly.

    Another comment that i have is that with the old format of showing all ink as a list, it makes buying multiple ink quicker as you can tick the boxes at the same, and just click "add to cart". Now you'll have to click add to cart for each and every ink.

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  11. Kite, yes, the ink swab next to the bottle is huge!! We're going to do that for everything. I think Noodler's is what we're going to tackle next. It's going to take longer because we want to take a pic of every individual Noodler's bottle (since they all have different designs). With 100ish colors, it'll take a little bit! But yes, what you mention about being confused by having the same pic for every ink, that's exactly what motivated us to do this photography.

    Yes, with the old format it was nice to be able to select multiple items like that. It's a compromise we made with the new change. Previously, everything was listed as a 'child' under one 'parent' product. It made it easy to select multiple items, but it made it so that a wish list feature and a mobile store were not possible. Sometimes you just can't have it all! We do at least have a 'soft add to cart' feature, so you aren't actually navigating away from the page when you add a product.

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  12. Are you shooting in RAW and processing on the computer or just simple JPEGs?

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  13. Dannoffs, shooting RAW. Takes up a ton of drive space, but it's worth it! I'm outputting as JPG though, of course.

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  14. Brian, good to hear! That's one of the biggest tips I'll give to newbies with a DSLR. But of course manual processing won't let you make a bad photo good, but it will let you take a good photo and make it pop!

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  15. Yes, shooting raw was my #1 priority. My sis-in-law went to photography school and said that on day one before the professor even introduced himself he told everyone to turn their cameras to shoot raw. I do have a pretty decent point-and-shoot that I've used in the past, but getting that raw image (plus other features like interchangeable lenses, a better sensor, more focus points, etc) was my main reason for getting a DSLR.

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  16. Sounds very similar to every professional photographer I know's story. Well, Congratulations! You are now a Nikon guy! It is now your duty to look down upon Canon users, rave about your camera's superior colors and buy one of these:
    http://100milligrams.com/nikon-2470mm-lens-thermos-coffee-p-261.html

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  17. LOL. Ferrari red, excellent choice, Brian.

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  18. Awesome changes. LOVE the ink swab right with the bottle photo. I don't mind going to individual pages to buy each ink - I sorta prefer it that way - and the wish list feature is HUGE.

    (And dangerous. Very dangerous.)

    Thanks for keeping it amazing!

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  19. dannoffs....that's AWESOME!!!!!! Oh, I'm so getting one of those!!!!

    Nathaniel, it's not just the color, it's an actual Ferrari limited edition camera! http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/746006-REG/Hasselblad_70480512_H4D_40_Ferrari_Limited_Edition.html Too bad it costs more than my Aztek....about 8 times over!

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  20. Missive, I'm glad you like the changes! The swab with the ink bottle is a labor of love, let me tell you! It's a lot of post-production to make the background white to blend in with the site, but it's well worth it in the end. I'm really, really happy with the result!

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  21. Oh, I forgot to add how much I like the ink swab next to the bottle. That makes it a lot easier when considering purchases. The extra work it took is appreciated!

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  22. Erin, thank you! The response has been overwhelmingly positive about the ink swabs listed with each ink. That wasn't even something we set out to do when first planning to take the site down! I went with my gut on that one, and it sounds like it was a good decision. Now I just need to do the other 220+ ink colors :P

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  23. The changes to the site and new photos look fantastic! Keep up the great work.

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  24. Thanks, Dizzy! I've taken pics of allllll the Noodler's bottles now, I just have to mush them together with the swabs. It'll take a little while because I can't just merge them in a large batch, I have to match up the unique bottle to it's swab. Once it's done though, it's going to just freaking rock!!!

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  25. You are doing an excellent job with your products - keep up the good work.

    I used to teach at one of the best art colleges in the world (until 2 years ago) and we wouldn't let anyone touch a digital camera until year 3. Film all the way! Much more fun - not as easy and direct to computer screen though, (I think that is a good thing btw!)

    Glad you went with the Nikon - I see too many of the other brand around and I've always been a Nikon baby despite checking out other brands with every purchase. The 3100 is a decent camera - glad to see you are not just using it for your products! RAW is the only format to use - I don't want to give the golden rule of digi, but I'm sure everyone knows it!

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  26. I haven't had the luxury of learning on film first, I'm a digital baby growing up in the new age of images. But I greatly appreciate film, after all, that's where all the concepts of digital effects come from! As it is right now, most of my photography has been product shots and pictures of my son, but now that the weather's getting warmer I can certainly see going outside and snapping some shots ;)

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