Photography Spark is honoring the best and brightest digital products of 2012 and for the year ahead in 2013. Across 10 business categories, these companies showcase exceptional quality, widespread usage and big impact in the photography business. Some of these are businesses I have worked with for some time; others are affiliates. I try to find and partner with the best companies in the industry. The favorites are …
Best Website or Blog Template
ProPhoto is the most-respected photo blogging tool in the industry, whether for a mobile device, an iPad, or your desktop. With unrivaled customization options requiring no previous web expertise, and a top-notch support system, it’s easy to see why ProPhoto is the No. 1 choice for both professional and amateur photographers.
ProPhoto offers a stunning blog, website and portfolio all in one. With 13 built-in designs, photographers have the power to start with a strong website, and the freedom to change the appearance of their business. Its long list of features includes everything you could ask for in a web theme.
- layouts designed to showcase photos;
- mobile site customization;
- Flash-free slideshow galleries;
- built-in social media integration; and
- search engine optimization controls.
ProPhoto has built its reputation on high-quality customer service. The company responds quickly, and with thorough, helpful support for whatever you need.
B School offers much more than a standard forum. It’s a social mentoring and referral network for wedding and portrait photographers. For example, you can team up with other photographers to refer business.
Your community experience begins with a customizable “homeroom” dashboard where you can organize content from the forum as well as outside resources like Twitter streams and RSS feeds. You can follow your favorite threads from the homeroom as well — a sweet feature for keeping track of all your discussions.
Members can create a public profile page that’s much richer than a typical forum profile, and it’s public, which can help your search results.
B School includes Study Hall, a weekly live broadcast covering specific photography topics and live Q&A.
- forum supported by successful photographers;
- customizable homepage;
- social gallery for sharing photos and getting feedback;
- high-definition training videos;
- hundreds of face-to-face local interests and clubs;
- public profile pages to help SEO;
- special member Study Hall access; and
- referral system access.
As B School’s homepage says, there are a lot of places you can hang out online. But B School distinguishes itself by focusing on supporting your business.
Best Digital Magazine
Professional Photographer Magazine
For more than 100 years, Professional Photographer, the official magazine of Professional Photographers of America, has helped readers advance careers in the photographic industry. Each issue contains practical yet cutting-edge lessons in the artistic, business and technological aspects of professional photography. No other magazine offers such an influential presentation of the people, trends, products and photographs changing and defining the portrait, wedding and commercial photography landscape.
Print and digital editions are available by subscription. The digital experience looks great on a mobile device and comes complete with flipping pages, live links to additional content and search features.
- articles on everything related to photography;
- business tips;
- interviews; and
- trusted product recommendations.
This Photoshop action set combines the most versatile and user-friendly workflow actions with beautiful color and black-and-white conversions. Together it brings you an action set with infinite possibilities. Not only does MCP Fusion Photoshop Actions help guarantee beautiful images, but it will also allow you to experiment with different recipes in order to create a style for your photos that is truly unique. This package is the only Action Set purchase you will ever need.
There is even help and support provided if you need some extra assistance installing or utilizing these actions!
- 21 color workflow actions;
- 8 black and white workflow actions;
- 7 exposure-adjusting actions;
- 13 special effect enhancers;
- 7 contrast and sharpening actions; and
- Photoshop AND Photoshop Elements compatible!
From Portfolio to Profit Engine by Jenika McDavitt
Time to look at the psychology of web browsing. Of marketing. Of memory and influence and persuasion. Jenika McDavitt’s From Portfolio to Profit Engine: How to Build an Absolutely Irresistible Photography Website, is one of those e-books that’s changing the industry.
With a master’s degree in psychology, she dives into phenomenal ideas about how customers, think, act and make buying decisions. Then McDavitt teaches the reader how to align your photography website to those principles in order to convert visitors to booking clients.
This e-book is more like a workshop in PDF format. You get step-by-step help for creating a target client profile that covers what you most need to know. It teaches how to build a photography website that markets for you and brings in the clients you most want to work with.
- learn to write a full pricing page plus other action-eliciting web copy;
- understand how to write and arrange your website so people take action;
- how to disguise key information in delightful ways;
- how humans naturally view a screen;
- what content people share with friends;
- ways to use galleries;
- what memory research says about your navigation bar;
- how to draw a client in with interactivity; and
- why narrowing your target audience actually widens your reach.
Best Online Workshop or Webinar
Sal is one of the most sought-after business consultants in our industry and is someone with a proven reputation for helping studios and photographers take their businesses to the next level. His Creative Live seminar on Wedding Photography Bootcamp is one of the best!
In 2007, gross sales for Salvatore Cincotta Photography were less than $50,000. Today, his business is a million dollar brand that’s shooting weddings, seniors, babies, and families. Find out how he did it. Salvatore Cincotta Photography includes several brands, including Studio C, Salvatore Cincotta Films, BehindtheShutter.com and Signature Collection Albums.
Not only does this workshop include five full days of classes, but it also includes bonus materials as well as a host of contracts and paperwork you can start using in your business today.
- learn how to run your wedding business successfully;
- develop a business and marketing plan;
- prepare yourself to succeed at bridal shows;
- learn how to educate yourself and your clients during the pre-consultation;
- rock your engagement session;
- how to post-process and sell to your clients after the wedding; and
- learn how Sal navigates the wedding day
Best Pricing Guide
Easy as Pie by Alicia Caine
Pricing is one of those business decisions that can be completely overwhelming. With Easy as Pie, Alicia Caine manages to nail it down and make it easy to set up your pricing in a way that works for you.
Easy as Pie first outlines the philosophy of pricing. Then it turns the spotlight on your goals, helping you to create realistic numbers for the continued growth of your business.
- worksheets for every step of the way;
- truly understand why to price for profit;
- price each product you offer; and
- build collections easily.
Learn more about Easy as Pie Pricing (Affiliate)
Best Album Software
Sometimes photographers shy away from selling albums because they are afraid of the work needed to design them. By utilizing Fundy Album Builder by Fundy Software, you can create beautiful designs with the click of a button.
Not only does the software work seamlessly in Photoshop — allowing you to utilize the tools you normally use to edit images — but the company’s customer service is fantastic and there are constantly sales going on. You cannot do any better than Fundy Software!
- auto-design double-page spreads in less than 5 seconds;
- full manual double-page spreads in less than 15 seconds;
- templates by Jerry Ghionis, Gene Higa, Frank Salas, Michelle Turner, Anahi Navarro, Spinnaker Graphics and Fundy;
- automatically resizes and drops images into designs;
- works directly inside Photoshop, where you can retouch images on the spot;
- free design auto-aligns images for you; and
- compatible with Photoshop CS6, CS5 and CS4
Essential Workflow Studio Assistant by Design Aglow
Do you frequently find yourself relying on sticky notes to recall important client information and product details? You need an organizational intervention — and you can find all the tools to do just that (and more) in the Essential Workflow Studio Assistant template for photographers. It’s designed to help you with virtually every aspect of studio life, from organizing your client lists to organizing your entire production system. Distinguish your workspace by keeping orderly schedules and by designating places for items and processes. This whiteboard template helps you create the ultimate organized workspace with photographer-specific best practices and workflow system, session checklists and more. It’s a complete photographer’s guide to studio organization. And everything is fully editable and can be customized to your own specifications.
- creates a way for you to schedule and organize things you didn’t even know you needed to plan out;
- allows you to easily find where clients are located in the process;
- assists in making sure nothing and no one gets lost; and
- four sample letters to submit to your clients.
Best New Product
Designed by professional photographers in early 2012, StickyAlbums has taken the photography community by storm. The idea is genius: create a custom photo album app for each of your clients so they can share your work via their mobile device. Clients access their own album— complete with your branding — via their phone or tablet. They can share the album face to face, or they can send the app to the devices of their friends and family.
On your end, StickyAlbums’ software makes creating the albums as quick and easy as creating a new blog post. It takes just a few minutes to produce albums that are clean, professional and guaranteed to impress your clients.
StickyAlbums works as an add-on premium, as part of top-level packages, or as a value-added giveaway.
- create digital mobile app photo albums;
- easily update albums at any time;
- custom “app” icon for each album;
- embed YouTube video in albums;
- keep private albums secure with passwords;
- unlimited images; and
- lifetime album hosting included.
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