JCarncross Photo Website
Client: Jcarncross Photo
Develop the Jason Carncross brand
Design, Develop, and Deploy the JCarncross Photo website.
DESIGN, DEVELOP, AND DEPLOY
TOOLS: ILLUSTRATOR, PHOTOSHOP, DREAMWEAVER, MYPHP ADMIN, MAMP PRO
in 2013, after having experimented with photography for about a year, I decided that I should start taking steps to actually pursue it as a career. My first step was to rebrand myself, and the second was to determine what type of photography I wanted to do for a living.
In 2013 started shooting event photos for a local online concert review website called Colorado Concerts and decided that shooting creative performers was something that I enjoyed. I had started developing a simple mason style website that would allow me to display my images but thought that I could do sooooo much more to make it better technologically.
Two directions that I pursued with my site were photo related SEO (Serach Engine Optimization) and the second was to make the Events aspect of the site something special.
SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION)
In order to have the control that I wanted with regards to the data I had to begin by determining what data I could extract from the images and then see what use that data had. Most JPEG images contain several types of data. There is the actual code that is used to store and display the image, The EXIF data which is a standardized set of information, not all of which is utilized, that is passed along by the camera, and the proprietary data that applications like Lightroom and Photoshop store in the images. My first task was to create an extraction program that would read the actual image file and parse the EXIF and proprietary data and place it into a database.
In order to parse the data I first had to open one of the images that I had exported from Lightroom in a text editor and see what code was actually legible. I started with a test image and filled out all of the metadata fields that were available in Lightroom in order to see where that information actually landed within the exported file. The EXIF data was pretty straight forward, but the proprietary data from Lightroom turned out to be very convoluted. I was able to build a PHP import program that read through the file, separated out the EXIF data into variables and then sucked the proprietary data in to a list variable which was then parsed and separated into list variables. Upon completion of the script the data is then written into an extensive photo table that I had created in the database.
Now when I upload an image via the administrative panel on my website, the image data is automatically transferred to the database. This allows me to manage all of my images in Lightroom, including the proprietary Lightroom metadata, and utilize the data on my website. I also have the ability to make images active, edit any of the data from the database, and determine whether or not the images display on my home page or not.
Once I had all of my image data at my disposal I was ready to see what I could do with it.
Because the data that I captured included metadata fields like subject, description, title, job, genre, sub-genre, etc. that were passed along from Lightroom, I decided to provide my website users with the ability to view photos of the same artist or subject, similar keywords (dance, jump, LED, etc.), similar types of people (models, musicians, singers, etc.), similar shot types (head-shot, three-quarter, full-body, etc), or similar locations (live music, studio photography, location photography, etc.).
These additional links appear when hovering over any one of my image thumbnails.
Clicking on the image displays a larger version in a light-box on the page.
Clicking on one of the links for an image reloads my home page to display the new filtered content.
I also created a small Facebook application that allows my website users to post the image on their Facebook page. These reciprocal links insert the photo in someone's timeline, provides a link back to my website that includes keywords identifying the image, and enhances SEO for my content.
The result of utilizing the additional content was amazing. Now when I update my site with new images they will be spidered and indexed by Google within 2 days and more often than not, appear in the top results for images. I usually have at least a few image results returned above the fold when searching Google for the name of the artist that I photographed.
Because of my work with live events, I thought it would be fun to make my presence at the event an event of its own. I created business cards that contained a QR code on one side and an event code on the other side. There was no other URL or words on the cards at all. When going to an event I would create a unique event code, usually the date 0214 followed by a dash and a few letters from the event or artist (0214-FTR). If I had more than one artist at the event I have the flexibility to add additional characters to the code in order to separate it from the other artists. The code is then stamped via a changeable alpha numeric rubber stamp.
At the event I would only leave a handful of cards around the venue. Sometimes I would hand them out and sometimes I would just place them strategically for people to find.
The result was a viral push of my event photography that made anyone with a card feel like they had just stumbled on gold. They would share the event URL and the event code with their friends, which would grant them all access to the photos of that particular artist or event.
This resulted in people feeling like they were VIPs that had exclusive access to photos from the event. People actually started looking for the cards if they knew that I was going to be there to photograph an event.
My administrative event page allows me to determine if the images are publicly viewable or if they require the event code in order to view them. It also allows me to state what events I have coming up and has a list of past events.
Most of the past events have been made public now, but the effect of my plan was quite interesting. I never even got the time to finish coding that section of the site. The events are listed but I haven't gotten a chance to update the styles so that they display in a clean fashion.
So… I have realized that the people that I love to shoot, models, actors, dancers, musicians, etc. don't typically have money to pay for my services. What I thought would be a great direction to head in as a business is now what I would consider to be a hobby. I still love shooting these people and events, however I don't do it for the money. Occasionally I get paid for my efforts, but mostly I do it because I love doing it. Colorado Concerts no longer does show reviews so now I am no longer shooting events for them on a regular basis.
I have also realized that businesses do have money to pay for my photographic services. I have transitioned my professional photography business to focus on Commercial, Industrial, and Product photography. Doing so allows me to continue shooting the things that I love for little or nothing. I do completely love doing the commercial photography too, it just takes a different approach. Some of my Industrial shoots have been amazing and have resulted in some astounding images.
I don't know if I will ever get back to updating my personal photography site now that it is more of a hobby but it still does some amazing things. Maybe I will turn some of my technology into something that other photographers can utilize as well. Who knows.