Author: Rafael Concepcion
Publisher: Peachpit Press, 2011
Aimed at: Photographers
Pros: Easy to read style, strong opinions
Cons: Misleading title
Reviewed by: David Conrad
The subtitle of this book is: The Fastest, Easiest Way to Show and Sell Your Work and my guess is that most of its readers are reading it in the hope that they can make some cash from their hobby or even more cash from their profession. It is certainly true that a great deal of the emphasis of the book is on professional photographers using the web as a way of promoting and selling their work. Most of the content of the book is however about using WordPress and other free web applications to create sites that present your photos, i.e. it's a book about computing rather than photography.
It starts off with the basics of getting a domain name and finding an web hosting service. The book has a big bias towards GoDaddy for web hosting and I'd just like to put in a word that there are other very good hosting services that are as cheap and offer more support than GoDaddy. Indeed there are a lot of free options and many users might already have web space from their ISP. The book then takes you on a step-by-step, the first of many, through setting up a GoDaddy account, getting and setting up a domain name and so on.
Chapter 2 takes us back to a bit of photography in the shape of getting your photos in a form suitable for a website. Some of the advice is a bit strange - sharpen your images is an easy thing to say and very easy to overdo. The comment on registering your images with the copyright office probably comes as a sober reminder, however, as does the comment on using a watermark. We next have some step-by-steps on sharpening in Photoshop, Elements and Lightroom. I would have thought that if you didn't know how to do this already then the idea of selling your photos is probably over ambitious! A walkthough on exporting in sRGB format follows, watermarking, adding metadata and so on. The security issue is taken seriously with a look at using Digimarc for copyright protection and how to submit to the Copyright Office.
Chapters 3 though 7 are really a mini how-to-use WordPress book within a book. Chapter 3 gets down to using WordPress. This is just a lot of step-by-step guides to getting WordPress up and running - again with a GoDaddy bias. Chapter 4 continues with adding content to your WordPress site in the form of blog entries, image galleries and slide shows.
Chapter 5 looks at how to extend WordPress with plug-ins. The next chapter goes even deeper with a list of HTML tips and tricks. This is perhaps the least successful chapter in that it is out of its depth. How can you do tips and tricks on a topic that you assume the reader knows nothing about?
Chapter 7 discusses using template with WordPress to customise your site. I think that this probably should have been treated earlier in the book. It doesn't tell you how to make a template or modify one - just how to find pre-defined templates an how to use them. At this point you should know many of the things WordPress can do for you and you might know how to do some of them. If you are serious about usng WordPress to present your photos I would suggest that you get a longer and more in-depth treatment of the application. After all you are a photographer which is an artistic calling but one that is about technology - so embrace the technology.This is my opinion and differs from that of the author of the book who steers you away from anything he deems too technical.
Chapter 8 returns to a more photographic concern - printing your images. This is in principle a very technical problem with color profiles and printing methods. However, this chapter avoids most of the problems by passing it off to an online service - MPix and Artistic PhotoCanvas. Then there is a section on using Fotomoto which sounds like a complete solution to the photo sales problem. You upload your photos, people look at them, buy them and order prints. Simple, direct and to the point - why bother with WordPress?
Chapter 9 confused me for a brief instant when an abberation made me think that "Creating a flash-based portfolio" was going to be about flash photography. No its about the Flash plugin that most browsers support. Basically this says "Flash is about programming. Programmng is hard so don't do it." Instead get someone else to do it or use off the shelf components.
Chapter 10 moves into a completely different area - using social media. This suggests that you use Twitter, Flickr and Facebook to publicize your work. It provides a number of step-by-steps to show you how to sign up to each of the sites. What it doesn't explain is that it takes a very long time to establish a presence on any of these social networking sites and you have to be prepared to be mostly ignored at first. This means you have to put work in when there is little reward.
The final chapter returns to a computer topic with a n explanation of how to use FTP to add and manage images. The tool of choice is Filezilla and there are walkthroughs of how to use it.
This isn't a terrible book on the topic and I enjoyed reading sections of it where the author expressed his usually very firm opinions on how to do things. The style is good and very easy to read. However, the parts that discuss the web technologies needed to get your photos on a site just aren't enough. It would be better to have a shorter book that outlines the possible choices and then allow the reader to go off and learn the applications that they had decided to use for real. For example, there are no end of web construction kits and HTML editors that if you spend the time to master them can lead to a unique and impressive presentation.
If you are going to be a photographer who uses the web for commercial purposes you either need to have enough money to pay someone else to be your web master and imaging technician or you should set your mind to learning the technology in earnest.
There are lots and lots of things that this book doesn't cover, including issues of resolution, file formats, color profiles, printing methods, deriving edited versions from a single RAW master, keeping track of your photos and so on. What it mostly concentrates on is setting up a WordPress site and uploading photos to it. This is a topic covered just as well and in more depth by many other books. If you are a web developer then you will be disappointed by the content as there is very little about photography or selling your pictures on the web.