Setting Up a Studio for You

With the new Nikon D7100 digital camera, you would expect to be able to turn your hand to almost anything. This versatile and flexible camera is designed to excel in all areas of photography. So, once it is out of the box, many new owners will be rushing to take portraits and still-life images in studio conditions. Obviously, if you can, you should always try to shoot in natural light – particularly if you are shooting portraits. If that is not feasible, the pop up flash can usually provide the necessary fill-in, or you could use you flash gun, carefully placed and fired remotely. In most circumstances these tools will help you to get a decent result. But a time will come when you decide you need more control and at that point you will want a studio set up.

If you are setting up your studio at home, the ideal scenario is to have a room specifically put aside for your photography. It should have plenty of space, a high ceiling and be at least 5 meters long. Paint the walls a color that does not reflect too much – black is ideal, but if you have to share the room, then gray would be OK. Cover the windows with blackout material to ensure that the light can not get in and also cover the doors to prevent further contamination. Ideally you only want to have the light that is under your control to be effecting your images. You will also need a good supply of electrical sockets.

Having closed out all external light sources, you can decide what lighting you want to have in your studio. Lighting falls into two categories – continuous or strobe. Continuous also has two options, either tungsten or fluorescent. Tungsten is very popular for portraititure because it gives good skin tones. It is naturally a ‘warm’ light, both in light and temperature (this can be a problem, if you make your subject sit under them for a long time). You would also want to use tungstens if you were shooting video.

Fluorescent lights have a more sterile white light with a blueish hue. They are often used for stock shots ad still-live photography, because it is felt that the colors are more accurate. Of course, it is up to the photographer to choose which he prefers. White balance, in the D7100′s settings will be able to rectify most light settings, but, as you are in charge of your lighting, it would be better to set the lights so that the subject appears as you want to see it. Relying on in-camera correctives is just another think to try to remember and sooner or later you will be cursing your memory and catching up in Photoshop.

The one great advantage of continuous lighting is that you can actually see how the subject will appear in the picture in real-time. This means that you get the lighting right and can then confidently address other variables like content and composition. With the strobe, you are sometimes not sure if the flash fired or not. In many ways continuous lighting is a lot easier, and I would recommend that you start with this. However, when you need to photograph something or someone and give the impression of movement, or freeze them in action, you will have to use strobe lighting.

Although strokes are more difficult to set up, they give the photographer bit more flexibility. The power of the flash can be increased or reduced to suit the photographer’s needs. This means that the photographer can design his lighting around his shutter speed requirement. Obviously, if the subject is moving and you do not want blur, you will need a fairly fast shutter speed. Once mastered, strobe lights are a great way to get the images you want. However, because they operate on a burst, they sometimes take a while to recharge.

If you start off with a couple of lights, the easiest way to set them up is with the soft box at the front and the spot at the back. The soft box emits a softer more even light that is easier to meter against. The soft box should be 6 feet away from the subject, near the camera. The other light should be at least 3 feet away from the back drop so that it gives an even background. I would advise getting some barn doors for the back light, so that the light does not spread where it is not wanted. Always set your trigger up to the front light and ensure that both lights fire at the same time. Most lighting systems have slaves built into them these days.

I usually begin a shoot on a standard 1/125 at f8 with an ISO set at 200. This gives me enough flexibility to change things around gradually if I need to. Most studio lenses operate comfortably at f8 and the shutter speed will catch most fluid movement. If you find the lighting a bit flat, move the soft box out wide to get some more definition and shadow, but always be aware that more shadow can be very unflattering, particularly if the subject has an angular face or large nose. I always start by getting the standard shots done – the full length, half-length and then move in tighter for head and shoulders or portrait. By the time you want to try something more interesting your model will have relaxed and you will have become more confident in the equipment and you abilities.

How To Choose The Best Digital Marketing Agency For Your Business?

Often do we read news of fraud, scam and reports of some digital marketing agencies that add no value to their clients’ businesses. In a world where companies spend millions of dollars every year on digital marketing campaigns, the need to distinct good agencies from bad cannot be stressed enough.

Combining various internet marketing tactics with other forms of media and strategies, digital marketing has become one of the most effective methods of lead-generation, branding and procuring bigger customer-base. Broadly speaking, it can be subdivided into internet marketing, mobile marketing and offline marketing.

The importance of having a digital marketing agency for any type of business is obvious. It is the nature of any firm to focus its whole attention to the industry that it is in and subsequently to the primary objectives that form the company. This necessitates delegating other works like digital marketing to external agencies.

For example, a company that manufactures clothes will devote most of its workforce to manufacturing and selling clothes alone. The business of that company is clothes, not marketing or advertising; and even if it does its own marketing campaigns, there’s a better chance that a marketing agency, whose sole business is creating marketing campaigns, is going to do the job far better than the company’s marketing department.

And in a world where most consumers are now equipped with mobile phones, TV, internet and other electronic media, the need to digitize one’s marketing campaigns need not be mentioned. Because there’s a simple truth above all else: digital marketing works. It is cheaper than traditional strategies and visibly more effective.

So how does one find the right digital marketing agency to work with?

Choosing the right agency can be a daunting task especially because there are new companies springing up almost everyday. And because the variety of services offered by these companies is not the same. Let’s take a look at the various elements that will help you choose the best digital agency for your business:

Services Offered

The first thing you should always consider when looking for digital marketing agencies to work with is the nature and variety of services they offer. A good agency should offer as many services as possible under one roof. This will save you the trouble of finding another company for a specific service as you can easily delegate all your digital marketing needs to that company.

A full serviced agency typically offers:

- Web design and development

- Search engine optimization and marketing

- Mobile marketing

- Email marketing

- Social media marketing

- Online advertisement

- Online reputation management

Portfolio And Testimonials

A good digital marketing agency will always have a portfolio that consists of clients with visible levels of success. You can easily access this portfolio from their website. A portfolio page that lists a good number of clientele is more trustworthy than one that displays only a few.

Testimonials are another criterion to help in choosing a digital agency for your business. Good agencies will have feedback and testimonials from previous customers. The more testimonials, the better.

Online Presence And Reputation

It’s only natural for a company that deals in digital marketing to have a visible online presence. Does it have a Facebook page and if so, how many Likes does it have on the page? What is its Twitter following like? Social media presence and activity is a good measure of a company’s repute.

A quick Google search using the company’s name as the search term will reveal a great deal of information about the company, including reviews and feedback on review sites, if any. A search query that returns very little result may not be the best company to have your marketing work delegated to.

Support

Any good company should have excellent support. Try contacting the digital marketing agency that you’re currently researching on from their website or via their Live chat application, if they have one. How long does it take for them to respond? Call them up and talk to them. Find out how knowledgeable their support team is. This is a company that you’re going to give a lot of money to, it’s important to know before-hand if they are worth investing in and that if you ever run into problems, they are there for you.

Investing in Your Mental Well-Being

Hmm … where did I leave those keys? What did I come in here for? What was I going to say? Or in my case – 'you just asked me that question dad', to which I think, I do not remember getting an answer, in fact, I do not even remember asking the question.

Being mentally responsive and perceptive is something a lot of people take for granted and does not give a second thought to. Unfortunately, your memory is a precious thing that needs to be taken care of and kept 'in shape'. Believe it or not, we do not realize how valuable our memory really is until it is taken from us as we get older, or for some, when stricken with health issues.

Taking care of your mind means you will need to invest in things that keep it sharp and responsive. Believe it or not, it is as easy as having regular sleep patterns, uninterrupted rest, exercise, less stress and mental challenges. All of which, can cause a loss of mental alertness when ignored.

Investing in yourself is a foreign concept, especially for those with busy schedules and families to tend to. For example, mothers are unselfish and unwavering when it comes to their children. When a new mothers will tend to their babies while everyone else is eating. If she is lucky she will eat with the babies still in her arms or after everyone has gone to bed.

Improving your concentration and focus should be something you work at every day. If you do it consistently, it will definitely prove rewarding. Experts suggest that investing in certain food and brain fitness items will go a long way to sharpening your mind. Brain fitness is an actual term that means "the capacity of a person to meet the various cognitive demands of life."

To get your brain fit again, try:

  • Word searches
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Mind teasers
  • Sudoku
  • Scrabble
  • Taking a course in something new
  • Reading books that make you think

When I read the part about taking a course in something new, I suddenly understood why my children used to come home from school saying that their heads hurt. Learning a lot of new things is taxing and tiring, but education is an investment in their mental capacity, and should not be ignored. Teaching others is also something that keeps your mind sharp and thinking. Teaching a new college the ways of the office, walking a volunteer through what you do on a daily basis or helping your children with their math homework. All of these are good for you and should be thought of as investing in yourself.

In addition to brain exercises, physical fitness helps you maintain mental stability and focus. Studies have shown, and I have personal experiences that prove, that aerobic exercising several times a week will improve your self-esteem. Regular exercise clears your mind of everything else that was there and allows you to focus on the tasks at hand. Investing in a pair of running shoes and tackling a new and challenging sport will certainly pay off in more ways than one.

The phrase, you are what you eat, certainly applies when it comes to investing in your mental wellbeing. A deficiency in Vitamin B and Omega 3 Fatty Acids can lead to poor cognitive functions.

There are certain foods, seeds and natural health alternatives that have been linked to mental stamina. It is well worth looking into these items and investing in them. Some include:

  • Green tea
  • Dark chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Flaxseed

Antioxidant-rich foods are not only tasty, they're also good for mental stamina. They include:

  • Fruit: black plums, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, sweet cherries, avocado, oranges, grapefruits and grapes
  • Vegetables: dark green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables, spinach and kale

In the end, investing in your mental health will not only result in a sound mind and body, it will also make a happier you. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Concentration is the secret of strength." Go ahead, invest in your mental wellness for a sharper more efficient you.

Traditional Marketing – An Introduction to Offline Marketing – Part 1

The Art of Marketing as a whole

Marketing is the process of establishing which products or services that might attract certain customers, and then determining what strategy to use to promote them. This mutual procedure is intended to create value for customers and build strong customer relationships in order to obtain trust and recognition within a business. The main purpose of marketing is “to attract” a target audience or specific individuals who are interested and want your product or service that you offer. That then leads to the primary goal of any business which is to ultimately make sales, or in other words, “to sell”.

While referencing to customers, it can be said that they are the main focus of marketing activities. It is pertinent to ALWAYS do these three key things:

  1. Identify the customer
  2. Maintain the customer
  3. Satisfy the customer

With these key factors in mind and the impact that advertising has on the potential success or failure of a business, it is correct to say that marketing in general is one of the most vital pieces of the business world.

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing is also referred to as “offline marketing”. The term traditional simply means the “passing on” of something, such as beliefs, customs, or practices. So when you think of traditional marketing, you should comprehend that it consists of techniques and strategies that have been used for a very long time. In addition, you can think of its relative term, “offline marketing”, as any method or means of promotion that does NOT include the internet.

Traditional marketing mainly focuses on the company and the product, as where online marketing centers on the customer and their interests. So basically, you would use traditional marketing to expand your business and strive to distribute your product through the three main geographical levels (local, regional, national) and ultimately worldwide. There would apparently be less focus on the actual customer and their needs although some might disagree with this logic.

The Four Ps

The four Ps, also known as the “marketing mix”, was developed by Jerome McCarthy after the term became widespread in the early 1960s. The four Ps are the four essential ingredients of marketing. They incorporate the following:

1. Product – All businesses revolve around a product or service. You must first develop a unique and quality product or service that you intend to sell. Here are other aspects:

  • Brand name
  • Purpose
  • Style
  • Safety
  • Packaging
  • Support
  • Warranty

2. Price – Second, you should investigate the price value of your competition (if any), and then determine the cost of your own product or service that’s both affordable and will earn you revenue. Other things to consider are:

  • Discounts
  • Types of payments
  • Seasonal pricing

3. Place – Third, you have to decide how you will distribute your product to the customers or where you will offer your service. More decisions to be made include:

  • Market coverage
  • Inventory management
  • Warehousing
  • Distribution centers
  • Order processing
  • Transportation

4. Promotion – Lastly, the marketing and campaign portion comes into play. You must determine who you will market to and what advertising methods and strategies you will use to acquire potential prospects. This is the most important piece of the marketing mix and can make or beak a business. Additional things to take into account are: 

  • Workforce
  • Publicity
  • Marketing budget

All four elements of the marketing mix must be completed and well thought out before you can think about starting any campaign for your product or service.

Is traditional marketing beginning to slowly disappear?

Traditional marketing is becoming a lost element in the business world. Many people are now marketing their businesses online as the number of internet users grow substantially every year. To give you a quick insight, there are currently over 1 billion people who use the internet today. I mean how can the offline market even compete with that? But just because a new revolution has arisen doesn’t mean the old ways are no longer effective. Traditional marketing can still produce plenty of customers and lead to major profits if it is used correctly. So don’t think that you should just market your business only on the internet. The idea is to incorporate both online and traditional methods to see maximum results.

Things to remember

The crucial points to keep in mind is that in order to achieve success in the business world, you must always do the key three factors of identifying, maintaining, and satisfying the customer and you have to constantly fulfill the four Ps of the marketing mix. The more often and the more effective you complete these two tasks, the higher amount of profits you will see yourself earning in your business.

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