Category Archives: blog

Happy New Year

The new year is still fresh enough to announce resolutions. Mine is 72ppi.

Ok, lame joke. But nonetheless I am starting off the new year with resolutions good intentions. Same procedure as every year, James.

2014 I want to…

  • take make more pictures
  • try more new things with photography
  • finish at least *one* photography project
  • get more photography work
  • make my blog live up to its name (TWO pics a week, for Cod’s sake, can’t be *that* hard, can it?)

The last one is possibly the easiest resolution to reach. I am making my start now – on the penultimate day of week 1 in year 2014. At least that gives me the opportunity to post the second image tomorrow…

Antrim

Whitepark Bay, Co. Antrim

Happy new year, everyone!

Ok, Off Your Arse, Missy

Nothing better to get your arse in gear than talking with other photographers. I have just had three hours of catching up with a photographer friend of mine, and I am mightily impressed by the photography-related activity that he has been engaged in in the last three months that I hadn’t seen him. Whereas I… Well, ok, I had settled for myself, that my path is not leading me towards the lofty heights of art photography. So portfolio reviews and calls for submission are not really my scene anymore. But that doesn’t excuse my ignoring art photography. Or neglecting my blog.

Two pics a week. Well, two pics per month, more like, at this stage of the sad affairs. And not really for want of having something to say. Because, looking back on the last month since posting, I *did* actually do quite a few photo-related things. I all but skipped Photo Ireland, the annual photography festival – to my shame, yes. But I actually did make the effort and went to see two photo exhibitions when on holiday in good ole Germany. (I hereby resolve to review them asap. They were worth it.) I kept writing my weekly photo-analysis on a different blogging-platform than this. I have been updating my notes for the Kildare Artist’s Notebook Project.  While holidaying I took plenty of pictures. I have made two photobooks (ok, holiday snaps, but hey, that involved long hours of post-production *sighs*). My creative juices got flowing last week on holiday when I embarked on a mini-project involving close-ups (to be disclosed here, soon). And *whoa* – I even did a semi-commercial shoot for a friend who needed pro-photos for a competition entry.

Looks like I wasn’t really quite as ass-focussed as I thought *hm*. But nothing to show for it. At least not here. So in the old tradition of the blogosphere as a mighty big confession box, I shall absolve myself from my sins by publicly punishing myself with at least four blogposts in the next three weeks. I will hold myself accountable.

Back in Black

So, 2picsaweek is back after a four month hiatus. The reasons for the break in blogging were mani-fold: First of all I had technical difficulties. After two years of blogging, the domain finally ran out in early November 2012. Unfortunately I was not only unable to renew the domain, for administrative reasons I also could not remove the automatic URL forwarding from my blogger home to the (now un-)paid domain. I was stuck in a black hole, so to speak, unable to rescue my pure and sweet blog from the association with dodgy picture sites the links to which were loudly advertised on the domain parking website that showed up on my regular 2picsaweek.com URL. Hmph.

Murky reasons for absence… but hey, I am back in black (and white)

Secondly, in November I was still at the end of my graduation-induced photography-aversion. I hadn’t quite come to terms with the end of my degree, with the end of three years of almost-daily meetings with my fellow students who had long become firm and close friends of mine. In hindsight, I think I was grieving for the end of a great period of time in my life. And the forced hiatus was almost welcome to me, as it meant I had no pressure of coming up with any photo-related posts and could ignore my painful photography-indifference.

Coinciding with that, however, was a development in my private blogging life that meant that I was actually thinking and writing about photography more than ever. It wasn’t my own photography, though, that I was writing about, but the portrait photography of other photographers that I started analysing for a private project of mine week-by-week. Gratifyingly, my work there has not only met a lot of interest but led to interesting discussions about details of my analyses – and the subjects of my analyses – so as to make me forget that I had another photoblog that I used to love writing…

With the new year came new resolutions. And even if it is now two months in, I still hold fast to the resolution of continuing with 2picsaweek. My portrait blogging activities have shown me that I still love photography. I may even love writing about photography more than producing photography *shock* and that is an interesting development in its own right. Especially when considering that I am toying with the idea of an MA in Photography – or Photo Theory? Maybe my strengths lie in the combination of both – writing and photography. So I resolved to resolve the barren status of 2picsaweek. As the domain name situation remains unchanged, but the name of my blog is kind-of established, the best option seemed to be moving the entire blog to a new platform. And so I am now based on WordPress – which allows me to continue to blog under the title of 2picsaweek – only with a new suffix: .wordpress.com.

I can live with that – and with the slight design changes. Unfortunately WordPress is not as easily customizable as Blogger, and so I had to abandon my beloved typewriter font and minimalist design that is directly related to my website design. The general gist and look of 2picsaweek.wordpress.com will remain the same, though: two pictures (of mine) a week, with an assortment of ideas, critiques, tech garblings and private warblings on the side. I look forward to 2013 and hope I haven’t lost all of my two-and-a-half readers in the process of waiting, breaking and resurrecting. Keep shooting, guys, Sonja shoots back.

Communication Breakdown

Hello there, I have a bit of a housekeeping issue going on here. 


There isn’t a huge amount of commenting going on on this blog. Not complaining, just stating the facts, guys. I write, you read – a few brave souls occasionally give me their two Cent’s worth in the comments. Until recently – when I started getting loooooads of anonymous comments. 

No, nothing sinister, nothing threatening, nothing naughty. (Do I sound almost disappointed? Nah, I can do without stalkerish molestation.) Simply annoying – comments written in broken English, quite obviously just run through Google Translate to make up some kind of gibberish that was then posted in my comment box. The point of all that? To include links to dodgy websites, I presume. I never cared to click any of the links lest I should get infected with some nasty virus.

Anyhow, after a smallish trickle of comments a few months ago, the whole thing has become so regular and so annoying that I have finally come to the point where I have to close the comment box. I don’t particularly like moderating comments. I believe in free speech and all. But not if that is being used to post dodgy advertising on my blog. 

So, dear *real* readers. Sorry if I am putting a nuzzle on you. You can still comment away – it is just that the comment will come to me before it gets published on the blog. That way I can make sure that none of that fishy advertising cr*p gets through to the blog.

And to you advertising leeches out there: I have some strong words on my mind, but all I’ll say is – please stay away!

Happy Christmas, Everyone!

It’s the day before the big day. Well, for us of the German persuasion it is the big day tomorrow, with the main present exchange happening on the 24th of December. I have travelled back to the Fazerland to celebrate with my Teutonic family. 
The camera is at the ready – to capture happy children and bewildered grown-ups while unwrapping presents, stuffing their faces with food, rolling going on digestive walks every once in a while and meeting relatives. Will these images ever see the light of day again? I have noticed that my collected Christmas pictures 2007 – 2011 have only once left the digital realm, when I produced a Christmas photo album, in 2008. 
I have the slight little hope that my course in large format photography will already have left a mark on me  in the sense that I am less trigger-happy these days and limit myself to fewer photos than before. Maybe there is the first resolution for 2012: To edit ruthlessly but to print generously. Because photos that only exist virtually are as good bad as unseen photos. 
Wishing you all a very happy Christmas – if you have any hopes, dreams and wishes, I hope they will come true for you.
Lots of love,
S. xxx

Social Media for Photographers, Part 2

No navel-gazing today, let’s be practical. I have decided to shaaaaaaaaare with you something that might come in handy for you if you are a photographer with a) a Facebook fan page and b) a photography blog. Or even if you haven’t got a FB fan page yet – cos, let’s face it, a lot of people shy away from “yet another platform” because they think it is too much work to maintain it all. Well, here is the good news: There are plenty of Social Media clients out there that actually make it fairly easy for you to use all the available channels for self-promotion on the internet! You can, for instance, be active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace by only writing your status update once – applications such as tweetdeck or seesmic provide a desktop or mobile app which lets you post cross-network.
Sorta navel gazing… well, gazing through something roundy, anyway…
As you know, I have only recently started my own FB fan page for my “serious” photography. On my private profile I have been integrating the posts from my various blog endeavours for quite a while already. Since inaugurating Sonja Kroll | imagewerk I had actually manually imported my blog posts into the fan page’s news stream. Not very satisfactory. But strangely, the automatic import app did not seem to be available for fan pages. However, I have found a way of getting my blog posts fed into the page eventually. And I’ll show you how to do it because it is not particularly intuitive:
  1. Log into your FB fan page
  2. Click on “Edit Page” and go to “Apps” in the menu on the left, then click on “Edit Settings” under the “Notes” section. A new window will pop open. Click on “add” in the middle and then OK.
  3. Click “Edit Page” again and “Apps” again. This time under Notes you click “Go to application”.
  4. In the menu on the left, click the link “Edit import settings”. You will now be given the option to import one blog into your fan page stream.
  5. Simply paste the URL of your blog into the box, check the tickbox stating that you are importing your own blog and click “Start Importing”. That’s it.
FB will let you import only from your own blog and only from one blog. I understand point number 1 – for copyright issues. Why they assume that you may only have one blog to import from, I have no idea. I personally have about five blogs at this time – and I know plenty of people who have more than one, too. But hey, don’t worry – I am more than happy that I only get to import the one relevant blog into my fan page.
Hope this helps!

Social Media in Practice

Turns out that my Social Media post from last weekend came just at the right time! I have just come across a wonderful example how NOT to do SM. And even better – it comes courtesy one of the largest camera manufacturers in the world, Nikon.
Laudably, Nikon has a very active SM stream on FB. Their use of the social network is commendable: They post on a regular basis, i.e. once a day. Their posts are written in a conversational, almost personal style, avoiding too much tech-speak and therefore managing to be inclusive across the amateur-pro divide. They try to be topical, i.e. referring to current events, holidays and seasons. And they always phrase their status updates in such a way that they engage the readers either by posing questions or by sparking discussions. However, the poor PR person is who is responsible for the Nikon FB updates produced a major slip-up yesterday (click here if you want to read the whole of the 2300 comments!).
A lesson in how to alienate your readers by trying a little bit too hard to push a product while creating a brand-community. Because the issue is clear: A photographer is NOT as good as his or her equipment. If you had top gear and a rather bad eye for composition and motif, you’d still produce crap. And similarly, you can still produce great photography even if you haven’t got the money to buy top glass. Photography is NOT about the hardware. If it were, we could send robots out to take photographs and to produce art. The lenses and the cameras and the filters and the post-production effects are tools but not necessarily prerequisite to producing great images.
To get back to the SM aspect of this storm in a waterglass: As you can see from the screenshot, Nikon’s FB subscribers were very quick to come back with critical feedback. That’s what SM is about – it is a channel for quick, easy and barrier-free communication with clients/users/fans/customers. Administrators of a FB fanpage need to be conscious of that at all times – SM can easily turn against you. And will spread a negative message faster all across the internet than a positive one. Cos, let’s face it, everyone loves a little schadenfreude or a measure of gossip. 
The update has received 2300 comments and 810 shares – take a guess how many of those were positive? You could argue that any PR is good PR. But a SM post like Nikon’s there, even though it doesn’t concern me in the slightest (Canon girl through and through), reinforces my prejudices or the way I perceive the rival brand to my preferred camera manufacturer. 
So… sorry to say this, but I remain unimpressed with Nikon!

UPDATE: Nikon eventually released an apology via their FB stream. Just goes to show the power of Social Media. At least Nikon is clever enough to understand that. Here’s their apology:

We know some of you took offense to the last post, and we apologize, as it was not our aim to insult any of our friends. Our statement was meant to be interpreted that the right equipment can help you capture amazing images. We appreciate the passion you have for photography and your gear, and know that a great picture is possible anytime and anywhere.

New Social Media Project

This is the Queen of Social Media speaking. You may look up from your curtseys and bows now, subjects, and listen to the profound pronouncements your Queen is about to make. Social Media is my realm. Seriously, years ago, in my previous incarnation as an employee of a large, American corporation, I had to do personality test and it turned out that I am a “communicator”. Well, really??? Not that this chatterbox hadn’t known this herself… I love interacting with others, communicating, socialising, discussing, negotiating, informing, distracting…
Anyhow, social media is somewhat my expertise. I write about social media in my daily work and I use it extensively in my private life. (And may I take the opportunity and apologize to my FB friends here – I know, I am a bit too talkative…) But when it comes to photography, Facebook had increasingly become a mishmash of my private “snaps” and my more serious attempts at photography. Therefore, I figured, the time had come to separate the pleasure private from the duty professional and I have started a Facebook page for my photographic persona. I just don’t want my more serious photographic endeavours like my fashion shoot from Tuesday to sit beside some jokey snapshot of myself beside a wax sculpture of Qui-Gon Jinn.
Joanne
And so I am shamelessly plugging my FB-page here. What’s the point of all my SM knowledge, if I don’t use it to my own advantage? However, I am not only a communicator but also a “multiplyer” – that means I enjoy sharing knowledge, passing on what I know to others, and creating a pool of knowledge. So here are my top five tips on Social Media for Photographers:
1. Choose your platform wisely
Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or Blog? Social Media for photographers takes many shapes and forms. Ask yourself what your primary goal is – do you want communicate about your photography business? Do you want to comments? Do you mainly want to show your images? Or do you want to share thoughts and insights about photography? All four platforms have their particular strengths and weaknesses. For feedback on photographs, Flickr (or any other photography community) is ideal as you can post your images in groups and receive proper feedback from other photographers. If you really want to share more than just photos, a blog might be a better platform as you can add your ideas and thoughts in it. And now that Twitter has enabled photo-upload, the short messaging service is nearly as good as Facebook at creating a platform where you can both post your images and also share thoughts, promotions or insights into your business.
2. Post regularly
There is nothing more frustrating than subscribing to a page which is updated irregularly. Readers like to know that there is a constant presence of the administrator of the fanpage, so post at regular intervals. Your subscribers will come to look forward to your postings. However…
3. Don’t overdo it
Post regularly but do not spam your readers. Two or three posts per day max! Everything else is too much and will make your subscribers resent the amount of info that is pushed their way.
4. Illustrate what you are posting
If you are a photographer, you are a visual person and you like being stimulated by images that explain or illustrate a text. A good image draws the attention of your readers. It also often says more than a thousand words.
5. Establish dialogue
In order to grow your business or your page stats you need to make readers engage with you. Ask real questions, throw in a competition or two, and ask for comments. Likewise, always reply to comments. And do so asap. 
That was SM for photographers in a nutshell – I could elaborate on each and every point, but I’d be violating rule 3 if I did that in this post. There is enough here already. Let me know what you think about this – or if you have other experiences with SM. I would be interested to know.

Bits ‘n’ Pieces

Blogging is such fun! Even if you don’t get any feedback *hint hint*. My whole previous blog post looks pretty dumb so far, just like I feared. *Meh*. Noone wants to exchange photos with me. How extremely embarrassing. Undisturbed, Sonja plows on. And has a cunning plan up her sleeve – the major blog offensive starts NOW – with geeky gadgets and intriguing improvements.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I have included a new slideshow box at the bottom of my sidebar. Just a tiny little glimpse into my gallery “Namibia” on LebeDeineKunst.de where I just opened a free account. It is a photography website where you can show your profile and your images – and sell them (if you sign up for a pro account) with all profits going to yourself.

I am much more proud of the gimmicky other change I have updated the 2picsaweek with – my brandnew favicon that now graces marks my URL in your browser and on the tab. See it here >>

How computer-savvy are you as a photographer? Chances are that you are much more computer-literate than I am says Photoshop-hating Sonja and you don’t want or need a full-blown explanation on how to include a custom favicon on your blog. I’ll spare you the fool-proof instructions. Drop me a line if you need the code for including a favicon on your own blog/website.

Oh, and a word about the above image. That was taken two and a half years ago on my trip to Namibia. Yellow grass and azur blue sky – I was amazed by the colours of Namibia, had imagined it much more browny-beige. Shot with aperture of f5.6 at 1/1000. 55mm focal length. I love the blue/yellow contrast.

Two Pics A Week…

… is title and programme of this blog. The concept is easy: I will be posting two pictures a week – all my own work: experiments that went spectacularly wrong or were satisfyingly successful, images which are subjectively noteworthy, fun captures and personal highlights. All of them will be accompanied by my private ramblings musings, mainly on photography, but also on life in general.

So who am I? I am a photographer and journalist, currently studying for a BA in photography. Writing this blog is giving me the opportunity to combine my two great passions for photography and writing. Creativity is my middle name, so to speak 😉 , but I also answer to Sonja. I write this blog from Dublin, Ireland, but am not an Irish colleen but a German Fräulein Frau.

I would love to hear back from you, readers – with suggestions, applause, criticism. Well, maybe not on this posting – not much to comment on here. But I’ll give you my first picture for 2picsaweek – an image that is meant to describe the current situation: snowed in in Dublin.

More pics soon!