Event photography is one of the best ways for a photographer to test their speed and ability as a photographer. With each moment coming and leaving sometimes in the blink of an eye, it is important that event photographers are ready and equipped to produce their best possible photographs at any given moment. This post will offer 5 tips for getting good event photography shots.

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1. External Flash – External flash is specified because of the range that the flash will illuminate. A built-in camera flash is bright, but will only illuminate a photograph to a certain distance. Bringing along an external flash will make a great difference as there usually is no place or time to set up free standing lights. Having a flash handy and ready to go will make your chances greater at becoming an event photographer known for producing good images. 2. Light Diffusers – Be sure to bring a light diffuser or soft light for your flash. As mentioned above using a flash is vital to have as an indoor photographer – with poor light sources provided. With your flash you’ll get the lighting that you need, but direct lighting, much like the sun, can provide a harsh light which casts heavy shadows. Using a light diffuser ensures that your subjects are well lit, while maintaining  their original softness. 3. Bouncing the Flash – You never want to aim a flash directly at your subject, doing so will raise the chances for red-eye and over-exposure. 4. Natural Light – Assuming your clients aren’t vampires, natural light is your friend! Whether the event is indoors or outdoors, knowing the position of the sun or moon is important for an event photographer, or any photographer. People photograph best if they can be lit using the light of the earth. You can even use a reflector to distribute light evenly on the subject. 5. ISO – Unfortunately, there are those occasions where a flash is inappropriate to use at an indoor event. And with lower light comes a higher ISO – meaning out of focus, noisy (grainy) photos. In this case it would benefit you, the event photographer, to use cameras and lenses with good low-light settings. Using full frame cameras such as The Canon Mark III or the Nikon D4 will have wider sensors with larger pixels, enabling you to use a lower ISO. Here are some additional links with more great event photography and general  photography tips:      

“Social media is the ultimate equalizer. It gives a voice and a platform to anyone willing to engage.” ~ Amy Jo Martin

The key to successful social media marketing is building connections and engaging your followers with captivating content. Consider these simple, low-cost social media tips to increase engagement with your followers:

Call to Action

One-directional broadcast social media posts are not always effective at fostering interaction with your followers. Every post you include on social media should have a specific purpose and provide a call to action. Be direct and tell your users exactly what you want them to do: watch a video, click on a link, answer a question, share a post or like a page. Research indicates that social media posts that contain a call to action have higher engagement rates than posts that merely inform.

Participate in Daily Trends

On any given day, there are  number of designated internet trends. For example, #ThrowBackThursdays encourages social media users to post old photos of life events on Thursdays. You can creatively engage your audience by posting content that corresponds with these daily themes. For content ideas, visit Digital Trends, which provides a list of popular hashtags for every day of the week. You can also post social media content focused around designated holidays. Visit Holiday Insights, where you can browse a list of all the various holidays that occur during the year, including notable dates in history, holidays around the world and unusual observances for content ideas.

Get Personal

Market research indicates that social media users engage more frequently with content that is visual. Why not create a video to help promote your product or reinforce your message? Twitter has a video app (for both Apple® and Android™) that allows you to tweet a video message using its platform. You can also create a Twitter link for an existing video. For example, if you work for a non-profit and your organization is launching a fundraising campaign, a personal, well-crafted video appeal from the Executive Director may be more persuasive than an impersonal email blast soliciting donations. Videos allow you to humanize your messages and appeal directly to the emotions of your followers more effectively than text alone.

Host a Twitter Chat

Twitter chats are events that take place on Twitter in real time.  These events are generally initiated by a moderator, who poses a specific question to participants in a live online session. Participants respond to the question by posting a comment and using the designated hashtag assigned for the chat. Inviting your followers and even your competitors to join a Twitter chat on a relevant topic is a great way to stimulate conversation and engagement on social media.

Pose a Question

One of the easiest ways to generate dialogue with your social media followers is to ask them a question. For example, a publisher may ask followers to help them determine which book cover to use for an upcoming release by asking followers to select their favorites. This strategy provides an opportunity for high engagement because users enjoy giving their opinions and commenting on the opinions of others. Note that placement of your question is important. Research shows that including your question at the end of a post, as opposed to the beginning, has a 15% higher engagement rate with users.

Sponsor a Contest

People love competitions. Contests are easy ways to generate product excitement, reward royal followers and drive traffic to your website. Trivia games, sweepstakes (drawings for prizes) and competitions among followers are all promotional gimmicks that foster engagement among followers. For example, you can ask your followers to submit a caption for a product photo and then offer a prize for the best submission. Get creative. HootSuite, the social media management company, offers some ideas and case studies of successful social media contests in one of their blog posts: 5 Awesome Social Media Contests (Plus How to Create Your Own).

Tweet Live from Your Event

Create buzz around your event by live tweeting from the venue as it is happening in real time. People respond to immediacy and the feeling of living vicariously through others. You’ll want to use a corresponding hashtag for the event in all of your tweets. Don’t forget to make your live tweet more appealing by including photos and videos with your posts. A recent study suggests that social media posts containing photos with special effects and filters have higher engagement rates.

Create a Google+ Circle

Google+ is Google’s social platform with a feature called, “Circles,” which allows users to categorize different people into specific groupings or lists. This feature allows you to share targeted content to specific audiences so that you can customize your messages. You can also join new circles and view content posted by users that you find interesting. Create a circle for your brand/product/organization and create dialogues with your members. You can join new circles and include those members in your conversation. Another bonus is that everything you post on Google + is immediately indexed by Google, increasing your search ranking.

Stuck? Can’t seem to get your creative juices flowing? Blank page syndrome?

Writer’s block (noun): the problem of not being able to think of something to write about or not being able to finish writing a story, poem, etc.
That’s how defines writer’s block, also known as blank page syndrome, but there is so much.  Anyone who has ever had to face a blank page or a glowing screen with an approaching deadline can surely tell you about the stress they face.  Here are couple of techniques that I use when I am in a rut and need to do away with writer’s block.  
  1. Revisit Inspiration: I keep record of ideas I want to go back to, whenever I am stuck and can’t seem to get those creative juices flowing. I will come back and review these thoughts. I jot down topics and ideas I come up with and save them to Evernote before I forget.  I will type it up on my computer, my tablet or my phone, whatever I have on hand when inspiration hits.  OK, truth be told I am not always that organized, sometimes I write in on a Post-it and stick it to the back of my phone so that I don‘t forget to save it later, but you get the point
  2. Try something new: The topic you were planning to write about isn’t doing it for you? Try a new one. Sometimes switching up an idea is all we need to get inspired and get your creative juices flowing.
  3. Research: Not sure what you want to focus on? Do some more investigation, reading up a on a subject maybe just what you need to remember why you were interested in something in the first place or may just teach you something new.
  4. Think outside the box: Do something completely different, don’t stick to what you normally do.
  5. Take a break: Staring at a blank piece of paper or a glowing screen sometimes just makes me more frustrated, so I take a break and do something else for a while. Lately I have gotten into doodling and coloring mandalas. There is something soothing and methodical to this that gives my brain the break I need and sometimes that is all I need to get those creative juices flowing. I don’t recommend taking on too complicated of a project or you just might get sidetracked.
  6. Ask for help: When all else fails ask someone else for their opinion.  Sometimes just starting a conversation and getting someone else’s input is all you need to get those juices flowing again.
  7. Sleep on it: Sometimes the best thing is to just sleep on it.  I get some of my best ideas when I am sleeping or when I am just waking up.
  I hope you find these tips helpful and good luck.  Still need some more tips? Check out these other helpful sites: Beat Blank Page Syndrome: 10 tips to Get You Started and The 10 Types of Writers’ Block (and How to Overcome Them)
About the Author Alexandra Bonilla @chicaperiodista is a journalist and columnist who knows all too well what it is like to face the dreaded blank page when you have an impending deadline. 

Want to see San Francisco attractions, but not follow crowds of tourists? Some of the best San Francisco attractions aren’t on the beaten path. Tour the city like a local and explore the hidden gems each neighborhood has to offer. First up? Skip the Alcatraz tour and head over to the sunny Mission District, home of the oldest building in San Francisco and some of the hottest restaurants in the city. Start the day right with a jolt of caffeine from local institution Philz Coffee, near the 24th street Bart station. This location is the original Philz Coffee shop and you’ll soon understand why it has developed a fanatical cult following. Don’t linger too long on the comfy couches, though, there is more of the city to see.
Sightseeing on an empty stomach is never any fun. Head over to Tartine bakery and snap up a buttery croissant before they disappear. Don’t let the queue dissuade you, there is a reason why locals line up around the block for the freshly-baked treats. Walk off that flaky goodness with a quick stroll down the street to the urban oasis that is Dolores Park. On a sunny day you’re hard pressed to find an open spot on the grass. A microcosm of San Francisco, Dolores Park brings a diverse crowd together to relax in the sunshine—spread out a blanket and prepare to people watch! While you watch the hippies hula-hoop and the hipsters sip their Pabst beer, chances are likely you’ll be offered a wide array of items from vendors selling everything from marijuana-laced cookies to fresh coconuts brimming with rum. Stick with your coffee, as there is still more to see in the Mission District.
Time to get out of the sun and walk down the shade-covered Dolores Street. You’ll soon find yourself at Mission Dolores, the oldest building in San Francisco. Take the tour if you’d like, or continue down 18th Street and find yourself near  the Sycamore, a gem of bar with a sun-drenched back patio. Sit outside and get some vitamin C with a bottomless mimosa. San Francisco locals love to have brunch, and this bar’s brunch menu rivals some of the tastiest restaurants around. Make like a local and indulge yourself with a pork belly donut or the chicken and waffles.
As evening approaches, head over to one of the best restaurants in San Francisco, Beretta. Their craft cocktails, hipster staff, and astronomical wait times are key indicators that this place is not to be missed. If you’re craving something more low-key, take in the Mission District’s iconic Mexican food at El Farolito. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant is home to some of the best burritos in the Mission. Grab a basket of the chips and load up on the guacamole to tide you over while you wait for your order to be called. No matter where you decided to go for dinner, head over to the Techo de Lolina for a nightcap. Take the elevator to the roof of this new San Francisco hotspot and you’ll be treated to some dazzling views of both the city and bay.
What are some of your favorite places in the Mission District of San Francisco? Leave a comment below.

web-content-planningAfter reading numerous articles online about web content I’ve come up with five tips, that can assist a person when creating content for their website or web channels. My content tips are simple and straightforward, (1) a professional writer or novice writer can create thought provoking copy that a site visitor will take action after reading, and (2) the goal of your content is to land on the first page of search engine results. Listed below are my content suggestions. 1. Be Informative-The reader should come away with something he or she may not have known or thought of before. Whether the knowledge is how-to or news, educating your reader goes a long way in getting them to come back and learn more. 2. Be Motivated– Creating content that motivates the audience to purchase your product or service might be your goal, but that’s not the only motivator you want. What about encouraging readers to take a more general action such as to get in shape, go green, donate to a charity, or revise there online presence. 3. Be Considerate- People are busy and they don’t have time to read long, drawn-out web content. So, make sure your content is captivating, succinct, and easy to read by utilizing subheads, bulleted points or numbered lists. Fresh unique content can keep your existing visitor base coming back, while also bringing new visitors. 4. Share the knowledge– Make sure you always include share buttons on your content so readers can easily pin, post and share with friends and colleagues on the popular social networks. 5. Be Accurate– This is an important component of SEO so your content can be found by a quick search, but you better deliver what you promise. Inaccurate information causes sites to lose their reputation as an industry leader, plus lose its standing in search engine results. What are some of your tips?