It’s much more common in the US than it is in the UK to send a personal Christmas card to friends and family. In fact it’s something of a US institution for families to don their Christmas sweaters for a professionally shot Christmas portrait to adorn their family card. Here in the UK we’re naturally less forward (or more lazy!?) about these things so it’s unusual to receive a non shop bought card. As photographers, and particularly as working professionals I feel we should put in the effort to create our own card, but unless you’ve got a particularly photogenic and willing family (will is rather lacking in our house) perhaps not a family portrait one!
I love doing my card. It’s a chance to get creative but also a great way to market my work to existing and potential clients while also giving them the gift of something pretty. This year I was inspired by the Nutcracker and combined a technique I’ve used before with mirrors and directional lights, along with a borrowed pair of ballet shoes to create the design I eventually had printed on A5 size, fine art cards.
The fun thing about this shoot is that I actually created a whole bunch of images, so I had plenty to choose from and use for various purposes. I chose this one for the printed card because I wanted something different to the normal Christmassy looking things so that my card would stand out among the huge number that most individuals and business will receive. I wanted something with plenty of texture (I used a burnt paper texture overlay in Photoshop to enhance the patina on the shoes) and something with a vintage feel as this is a look I go for a lot in my work.
However, while this works brilliantly for a paper card, I also used another variant with montage techniques and my favourite crumpled tin foil for Instagram as I wanted something more jolly and bright there and I really love the twinkly bokeh this effect creates.
This third version I’m less sure about but I think there’s something here for the future.It’s a little too space age for what I wanted this time around but I’ll hang on to it for the future as I do like the effect.
Of course you’ve always got the option to sell your card design to make a few extra pennies, but I tried this last year and the profits were minimal so I’d rather keep my designs exclusive to me and make people feel their special to receive.
So Merry Christmas to all of you, I wish you a wonderful 2017!
So this is my first new blog post on my shiny new WordPress blog – yay! I thought I’d just do a quick post to explain why all the changes, as I think there are a couple of useful nuggets of information here.
Essentially I became pretty frustrated with Zenfolio as a platform for my website. It started with annoyance at the fact I couldn’t change the gallery pages to get them how I wanted – they have these annoying side bar arrows (see below) and there’s no acceptable way to get rid of them without adding equally ugly thumbnails. The available layouts just started to feel very dated to me and I couldn’t find a way around it. Call me fussy but that one fact drove me so nuts that I started looking around for another hosting option.
As I was shopping around for other options I started thinking about the blog and realised that there was no way to export or back-up the blog in Zenfolio. So basically if I wanted to keep my blog content I had to stay put with Zenfolio or copy and paste everything into a Word file as a back-up. As an information professional this annoyed me no end – it’s a basic tenet of information product selection to ensure you can always get your data out and I was vexed that I’d overlooked the lack of this when selecting my own website platform. I’d been sucked in by the integrated blogging capability and hadn’t given any though to what I’d do if I wanted to move platforms – stupid really! So I decided it would be better to have my blog and website separate – so that moving the website between hosts wouldn’t screw with the blog.
It’s taken weeks to manually copy and paste and then pre-date all my posts into WordPress! I decided not to move everything and have a bit of a cull, so I’ve just moved the reviews as this was what people pre-dominantly wanted access to – but even with just that it’s been a total pain! You can easily copy and paste the text but the formatting goes all squiffy and you can’t do the same with the images which have to be re-uploaded into WordPress and then added to each post in the right place. However, I think it’s worth it as I can now play the field with website hosts as I want without worrying about the blog. I’m not convinced that integrated blog functionality is really that big a deal anyway as you can very easily link to a WordPress (or other provider) blog from your website menu and if you style it consistently with your site the user experience remains very good. Plus by being part of a blog provider you get some gains on search engine visibility.
So – if you’re thinking about moving away from Zenfolio, or about using integrated blogs these are some things to bear in mind!
Also – check out the new website at www.siantphoto.com. It’s on Smugmug now – more about why I chose it and what else I considered in a future blog post.