Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Can a $1 picture say a thousand words?

An old paradigm goes: you need to spend money to make money. No matter how tight your budget is, you can't do without spending on marketing to achieve growth. The trick is to spend wisely.

Let's say you sell beauty products, you'll need a simple but elegant website, printed flyers, probably a catalog, a blogs, e-mail campaigns, sales presentations, brochures, ads. Which means you'll need beautiful pictures so hat your brand is perceived correctly.

Hiring a photographer costs $80-150 an hour and many small business owners have taken this matter into their own hands by figuring out how to use their digital cameras as we reported some time ago. See our post on how to set up the lighting for a home product shoot.

Now, there is a new trend that we have observed among our customers: small business owners purchase stock photography at $1/shot and then send them to PhotoHand for alterations and merging with other images - mostly home made photos - to produce editorial-level ads for products or services.

I this example a professionally-shot image purchased from a stock photography website was altered several times to present different variations of a beauty product. These images were further combined with amateur shots of the branded containers. The total cost with the volume discount - $5.95 per ad.

In another example, a stock photo was converted into an illustration to the company's business model by changing the background, adding some graphic elements and incorporating the company's product pictures. The total cost of the ad production - $16.95.

To create such ads the agency way would have cost at least $300: You would have to pay a photographer, a model, a stylist and still use a photo retoucher. Be smart! A penny saved is a penny earned.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cropping Photos to Improve the Visual Effect

Cropping is a useful tool for photo improvement. Though it sounds like an easy trick, cropping is more art than science and you need an eye for it. Still there are some general guidelines that can help you improve the visual effect of your photos.

Focus in!

Crop to bring the attention to the main object or person. In a portrait, the person's eyes are the focal point. If the person is looking sideways, make sure to allow 'space' for her to look into or include enough of the object so the viewer knows what the the person is looking at. Otherwise the viewer will wonder what is missing. Cropping also lets you remove the parts of the picture that didn't turn well, let's say because of awkward posing like in the example below.


Don't amputate!

Cropping off people's limbs at joints makes them look like amputees. Despite a very popular concern, it's okay to crop part of the head if it's a close portrait, as it will bring more attention to the eyes. Cutting between the joints is alright as long as it's still possible for the mind's eye to fill in the blanks to complete a person's torso or limb.

An example of bad cropping where the hand cut off at the wrist appears detached. The only way to fix this effect is to re-crop the photo to a close portrait."

Combine tilting with cropping!

In some situations tilting can save the day when you realize the only photo that you like is still bad.

Remove distractions!

Remove the view-spoilers, parts of unidentifiable objects and things that distracts from the story the image is telling.

In this picture, someone's back was a view-spoiler in otherwise a nice portrait. The photo allowed for easy cropping that brought the new balance to the composition by seemingly adding to the empty space in the direction of the person' glance."

Watch the 'negative space'!

This is the space around the central object. Cropping too tightly will make the photo look awkward.

Cropping Contextual Images

The images surrounding the person or the object in the center of attention serve as the context and create the picture story and establish the mood. It becomes a critical compositional component that need to be cropped to have a balanced visual effect. To reach the optimal result, it is recommended to follow the Rule of Thirds.

The Rule of Thirds:

Divide the frame into thirds horizontally and vertically. The points where those lines intersect are good starting points to place the main subject. Essentially the primary subject is slightly off center. Look at the illustration bellow. In the original photo the person is put squarely in the middle and the background is cropped too tight leaving no breathing space above and below the figure. By cropping right below the hand (not to lose the gesture) and reducing the space on the left we re-balance the composition to bring it it in line with the Rule-of-Thirds."

You might find it impossible to follow all these rules as they start to clash when your photo has more than one problem. You would need to compromise or send it to us at PhotoHand and we'll apply more advanced techniques to perfect your mementos.


You might also want to read:

Cropping Photos to Match Printing Standards

Other Point-and-Click Tips

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cropping Photos to Match Printing Standards

Cropping is used to make your shots fit the standard photo paper sizes. It's done by bringing the aspect ratio of your photo to the aspect ratio of a standard print size.

An aspect ratio is simply the ratio between the width and height — the shape of an image. A square photo, for example, would have a 1:1 aspect ratio where the width is the same as the height.

Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a set frame aspect ratio of 1:1.33 (known as 4:3) when most DSLRs use the aspect ratio of 1:1.5 (known as 3:2).

In comparison, standard photo paper sizes have the following aspect ratios:
6"x4" - 1:1.5
7"x5" - 1:1.4
10"x8" - 1:1.25

As you can see the DSLR aspect ratio fits the format of 6"x4". In other situations you need to crop your photo.

It is recommended that you crop the photos yourself before sending them to a printer. Otherwise they will use their own judgment what parts of the photo can be sacrificed.

If you need a photo editor, we recommend using GIMP - free open-source software that has been around for quite a while:

for Windows:

for Mac

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking good for 2012

As the New Year approaches, PhotoHand Team wishes you happiness and much needed in these trying economic times prosperity in 2012! We would like to thank our customers - many of you have been coming to our site for years. We value your loyalty and greatly appreciate when you take your time to expressed your thanks. Your letters mean a lot to us!

Monday, November 28, 2011

PhotoHand Introduces Photo Gifts with Modern Aesthetics in Mind

Just in time for the holiday season, PhotoHand unveils PhotoHand Gifts website to offer gift shoppers custom-designed photobooks, multi-image prints, framed photos, standouts Christmas decorations, photo mugs and puzzles while aiming to further expand into other gift types.

Gifts that are uniquely personalized with photos are perfect for Christmas, birthdays, weddings and anniversaries adding a nice personal touch to the tradition. The variety of photo gifts on offer has been steadily increasing. Now it's the time to step up the quality of these keepsakes that is usually impaired by the flaws of the original photo image.

PhotoHand - a leading online specialist in photo fixing and design - comes to the rescue by putting the brains before the brawn and perfecting the image before it goes in photo gift production. Properly edited and enhanced, bland images turn into editorial-style photography that transforms any gift item into a precious memento.

Artful application of photo retouching and graphic design makes all the difference between stylish and cheesy and brings photo gifts in line with the modern aesthetics.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween from Mr. Card – an Overly Enthusiastic Nikon DSLR Fan

We love Halloween mostly for the unbridled self-expression that it bring out. We even compete at who takes more photos of outrageous costumes when we post them on Facebook. And every year you stumble upon a costume that you don’t know how to comment on. This year our award for the most puzzling costume goes to Mr. Card.

With so many options people go for this Halloween, Mr. Card chose to devise a Nikon D3 DSLR Halloween costume that actually takes real digital photos.

Fully Functional Camera Costume from Tyler Card on Vimeo.
If you making a mental note to make such a costume next year, here is an instructional video. After all, given that taking photos is a form of socializing there is a good change Mr. Card was very popular this weekend.

Making of the Camera Costume from Tyler Card on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How We Survived Hurricane Irene - In Pictures

Those of us deserted in the New York City by friends and family who rushed to the suburbs for safety, spent most of our hurricane weekend on the phone reporting that everything was fine. Now, as the deserters were struggling to get back to the city, we decided not to disappoint them and tell them how it really was.

Getting ready for the big wave

No one was safe

After the storm