Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: book cover, book deal, client thanks, dog photography, dog photography for dummies, dogs, editing, editors, finding an editor, how to get published, poll the audience, pride parade, write, writer
Well, the end is in sight! We can’t believe it’s gone so fast…but here we are in the “Author Review” stage already–basically, we’ve turned in all of our stuff and now our editors are filtering it back to us, a few chapters at a time, to look at the edits and changes they’ve made. They do this by emailing Word documents that track their changes…and because we have 2 authors and 3 editors (who sometimes work on a couple of different computers), the thing ends up looking like a Pride parade puked all over it–but in a good, rainbowy way*.
The first editing pass is always taken by our project editor, Vicki. She checks it for general flow, consistency, and organization. Then she gives it to Todd, our copy editor, who goes through it with his style, grammar, and mechanics fine-toothed comb. Then it’s passed on to our tech editor, Jenny (a fellow pet photographer), who checks all of our photography and doggie facts to make sure we’re telling the truth and stuff.
It took us awhile to get used to writing within a well-established style and template. The For Dummies brand is so successful that they don’t want any of us creative types messing it up. One false move, and “taking liberties with” becomes “driving a great brand into the ground.” None of us want that to happen. Now that we’re into it, and have been for quite sometime, it’s been great to have a whole team of people to figure things out with. We all stick to our own little silos for the most part, but if we have something to contribute that’s a little out of our wheelhouse, we still pipe up. Not only do we want this book to be the very best it can be, we just love the process of working it out.
Speaking of that, a BIG THANK YOU to the fans who answered our call a few months back for dog names. We’ve worked just about everyone into the book and with a couple more batches of chapters to go, it’s looking good that everyone will get their mention (with many of our clients having actual photos in the book)! And thank you for all of your opinions about the cover shot and random photos throughout the past few months. Your participation has been vital in helping this book reach its potential! If you haven’t yet had your chance to influence this book’s future, be sure to stop by our Facebook page–when we need to poll the audience, that’s where we do it!
It’s been an incredible journey so far, and as the pages are coming to an end, we’re getting a little weepy with gratitude aimed at everyone who’s ever done anything to lend a paw. We couldn’t continue to do this without you guys…and that just means the world to us. It’s very tear-inducing. But enough of the waterworks–cuz more than anything else, we’re really, really excited to see how this 320-page love letter to dogs turns out.
*Congrats and thank you to NY for passing the latest legislation for equality!
Filed under: Uncategorized
As you know, we’ve been hard at work on our book, Dog Photography For Dummies (Wiley, 2011). We know some of you out there are curious about how it’s going so far. We also know that some of you out there are hoping to write your own book one day. Here’s a little peek into our experience and what we’re learning so far.
Working with the big guys
When Wiley contacted us out of the blue, we considered it part luck, but also part hard work. Wiley found us through the Internet research they did. We still don’t know what made them put us into the ring over others, but we DO know that they found us because of all of the marketing and business development we’ve done. Whether you’re a writer, a photographer, or entrepreneur, having a presence is key.
Some might argue that working with a well-seasoned giant when we are but infants makes us extra vulnerable to pooping all over ourselves. For us, it happens to be very positive so far and we consider ourselves lucky to have this as our first publishing experience.
The vetting/application process was rigorous and lasted awhile, so we didn’t allow ourselves to get too excited. At each phase, we made it a point to give them what they wanted, when they wanted, with as little drama and maintenance as possible. We kept our heads down, did the work, went above and beyond where we could to shine, and handed it all in on time. A long-standing, well-established operation such as Wiley needs authors who can work within the proven structure and formula and can meet deadlines. We figured if we could do that and demonstrate our competency with our own PR and platform-building, we’d have a good shot.
As we were working on the actual writing portion of the vetting process, we simultaneously tended to our fan base. We were far from a contract, but we knew part of their decision would be based on how motivated and skilled we’d be in pushing our potential book and how big our potential audience would be.
Didn’t put all of our dogs on one bed
With such a (for us) huge prospect in front of us, it may have been easy to put everything we had into the process and then just sit back and hope we’d get it–after all, we’re good people and hard workers, right? Good things happen to good people? Well, even though we worked our butts off on it and gave it everything we could, we didn’t stop there. We kept the photog biz moving like nothing unusual was happening.
We kept a lid on it…and so did some of you
Except for our closest circle, no one knew that we were going through this process. We remained tight-lipped about it. Even though Wiley hadn’t given us any guidance around that, we decided to keep it to ourselves. We wanted to both demonstrate discretion and not have to be embarrassed in front of a ton of people if we didn’t get it. Yes, it’s exciting…and we did feel the need to share things along the way, which is why we chose trusted people in which we confided. The last thing we wanted was some sort of rogue Facebook status to lose us the opportunity.
Along the way, we got a lot of positive feedback from our Wiley contact…and even when our acquisitions editor called to give us the good news over the phone that we had indeed scored the contract, we didn’t go public. We waited another two weeks until we had our signed contract in our hands to make the official announcement. And it was worth the wait. 🙂
The real work is upon us
Now that we’re in contract, it’s all about cranking it out. The acquisitions editor who found and signed us turned us over to our project and copy editors. Our deadlines are broken up into quarters, at which, 25% of the book is due. Our project editor, Vicki, helped us out by breaking our first quarter up into weekly deadlines. This has been really helpful for us. As new writers, this has given us a structure by which to train ourselves. So far, we’ve turned in three full chapters and we’ve got another one due on Monday.
Admittedly, it took us a second to figure out a good working relationship, but now that we have, it’s running like clockwork (like a sleep-deprived, caffeine-hazy clock, but hey, it still tells time).
Kim does all the technical writing. I do all the intro/scene-setting stuff, banter, and pacing. It’s nice because the For Dummies books give equal weight to education and entertainment of their readers. Usually what happens is Kim will take the first crack at a chapter to build the technical framework and then she’ll pass it to me. I add my “hey, I’m a Dummie too” stuff and do a full edit of the chapter. If Kim wants to see it again, I’ll give it back to her for a review, and then I do ANOTHER edit before we send it to Vicki. Last week, we gave Kim a break, though, and we’re doing one of the tech-light chapters. Roles were reversed.
We should get edits back on our first chapters soon to commence another step–revising. Even if we totally bomb (I don’t think we will), Vicki is a great cheerleader and organizer. She’s teaching us a lot so far and is always insightful with her ideas. Before she hands us back edits, she always says, “don’t worry about all of the red! You guys are in good shape.” Tracy (the acquisitions editor) was the same way with us. I wonder if it’s an editor thing, a woman thing, or a Wiley thing. Or if we just got lucky?
Once we get through our first quarter (March 21), we’ll only submit chapters on our quarter deadlines…until we reach June!
It pretty much boils down to us needing to keep up this pace of a chapter per week.
Once we get through this first quarter, we’ll probably start working on a marketing timeline (which we hope will include a lot of client and fan participation). We’re not sure what the formula at Wiley is for that, but we know it’s robust–they’ve got an entire department for it. Either way, Kim and I intend to work equally as hard on that…cuz writing a great book is one thing, but it doesn’t matter if no one knows about it (speaking of that, if any of you out there would like to host us for interviews, signings, demos, etc, let us know).
And on that note, it’s time for us to get back to chapter twelve…
Filed under: Uncategorized
I have to admit, when it comes to changes I’m usually not the first to jump on board. I tend to do things a certain way and get comfortable there, so when I was contacted to test out Adobe LightRoom a few months ago it proved to be the catalyst I needed to get my photo library in order. Since the beginning of Bark Pet Photography I had been using Adobe Bridge to do what I call my “first round edits” – correcting color balance, exposure, contrast, etc. in my RAW files. Once I had the basics out of the way I could open up my files in Adobe Photoshop, do some re-touching, and save the files to their final format, TIFF.
It’s been a while since I’ve opened a new program and felt the frustration of trying to “figure things out”. I know it’s not the smartest way to learn, but really it’s the only way I can ever seem to grasp a new program. Sitting through a class or following along with a video tutorial actually drives me even more bonkers than banging my head against a desk when I’m stuck on a problem I can’t seem to figure out. Maybe it’s the triumph I feel when I finally DO figure something out on my own, or perhaps it’s just the way my brain is wired to learn, but whatever it is I was not looking forward to the self-induced pain of learning a new program.
When I received LightRoom I immediately loaded the program onto my mac and opened it up to putz around in. Since I knew next to nothing about the program I was confused by the completely BLANK screen looking back at me. Where were my photos? LightRoom’s first major difference from Bridge was quickly apparent – it’s NOT a file browser. In Bridge, you open it up and BAM you have your whole computer at your fingertips and can browse away just like you would in your finder window. LightRoom on the other hand is a database in which you have to first IMPORT the files you want to be able to access through it. At first this seemed like a useless and painful step to me but once I started importing files and saw how much quicker I could actually preview the files, the fact that I had to import them in the first place became a non-issue. But just so we’re clear, the term “import” is a bit of a misnomer in my opinion because it makes me think I’m actually MOVING files into the program when in fact that is not the case at all. You see, when you import a file into LightRoom it’s creating a “link” to the file’s location on your computer or external hard drive. It also creates a full-screen preview of the image that can now be accessed very quickly without needing to actually “call up” the original file. This is advantageous because if you’re like me and have external hard drives that you tend to use on multiple computers you can still access your photos “offline” during the times you accidentally left your drive plugged into your work computer.
Another feature about LightRoom that is important to point out is the fact that is totally NON-DESTRUCTIVE. So, when you’re color-correcting, cropping, sharpening, etc. you’re saving all of these changes into a little “side-car” metadata file that accompanies your original file. You’re NOT actually changing the original file, but only changing how it is being viewed on the screen. This also means that at any given time you can “revert” back to your original file or even make alternate variations of your file by using “virtual copy” which creates another metadata file – tiny in size compared to a copy of your original file which is MUCH larger.
Once you’ve imported your desired files into LightRoom you can then take advantage of the plethora of sorting and organizing tools available to you. You can “rate” images with stars and sort them much like you can in Bridge, but you can also create custom filters which enable you to sort images in pretty much any way you could ever imagine. Recently, I was confronted with a task of finding a photo specifically shot at f/11. A task that seemed daunting at first became a breeze when I realized I could simply create a “smart collection” that filtered out all of my photos shot at f/11. And once I actually started using “keywords” to categorize my photos the task of finding a certain breed, age, or colored dog could be done in seconds! No more racking my brain with questions like “was Buddy a golden retriever? How about Norman?” while manually searching through my files for an hour straight when trying to turn around image requests for a commercial client or creative director at a magazine.
Sure, going through your entire image library and keywording your files takes time. It took me a few months (of on-again-off-again work) to actually get all of my files imported and cataloged, which is why I’m only now getting to this review. But once you realize the power of your keywords and the ease at which it allows you to find stuff, I can guarantee you won’t go back to your old way of working. For me, it also opened another door – the ability to quickly turn around image requests for stock photos. Need a dog running on the beach? How about a cat photo in black and white? I can now find these photos and get samples out in seconds. Taking this idea even further I started to think that it would be nice to actually have an online database that could be search-able by stock clients. I had already been making use of LightRoom’s integrated “web galleries” (more on that in a minute) for my clients’ proofing sites, so I wondered if LightRoom was capable of creating a similar gallery that actually exported each photo’s keywords with it so that the photos could be filtered online, much as they are within LightRoom. Unfortunately, this was not a feature that came built-in with LightRoom – a surprise considering the program is so powerful when it comes to filtering photos and has amazing web-gallery functionality built right into it, so it only seemed natural to be able to merge those capabilities into an online SEARCHABLE gallery.
Since this was my first disappointment with LightRoom I decided to do some research and dug up a few different plug-ins that would extend LightRoom’s capabilities and allow me to do exactly what I needed. Some of the plug-ins I came across were paid applications, while others had a free version to work with. Since I wasn’t sure how well this experiment would, or would not, work I opted for the free plug-in and downloaded FotoPlayer for LightRoom. Since this is a review on LightRoom and not Fotoplayer, I’ll keep the details of my weekend fighting with the plug-in to a minimum. All in all I was able to get the plug-in to function immediately within LightRoom, it just took a lot of trial and error to get it to actually work the way I needed it to. Once I got my settings dialed in (which if you do download FotoPlayer you’ll see there’s about a billion and a half settings to play with) I was good to go, but it still left me yearning for Adobe to build-in this sort of functionality so it’s as intuitive and easy to use as the rest of LightRoom. (hint, hint Adobe!)
Rounding out the pluses of LightRoom is the incredibly easy to use “web” feature. In the past, uploading proofs for my clients was always a round-about annoying task that consisted of creating a pdf contact sheet through bridge, adding a watermark to the pdf through adobe acrobat, exporting the individual pdf pages as low-res jpeg’s, importing those jpeg’s into iPhoto, and finally uploading the album to my free .mac gallery. I know, I know probably couldn’t be more inefficient but at the time it was the easiest FREE solution. Now that I have lightroom, creating custom proofing galleries for my clients is as easy as pressing “upload”. I can add my watermark right in LightRoom, save my website’s ftp info, and then LightRoom will automatically upload web-sized images for me! I was actually pretty skeptical when I first saw this feature and realized I had to put in my ftp info. For some reason whenever dealing with ftp’s and websites in general things are never easy, so the fact that this feature worked on my FIRST try was downright awesome!
Pretty much I’m a convert – Adobe LightRoom rocks. I took the leap to try a new program and in the process have become way more efficient and organized. A big thanks to Adobe for letting me try out their software! If you’re thinking of making the switch or want to improve your own photo workflow I’d highly recommend starting with Adobe Lightroom.
Filed under: Holidays, Uncategorized | Tags: chevy chase, christmas, family, holidays, national lampoon's christmas vacation, neurotic pet owners, pet safety, Singamajigs, thanksgiving, visiting relatives, Xbox Kinect
The TSA is feeling people up, the commercials for 3 am doorbusters are on loop (“Mountain series. Level 10. Backwards.”), and weird weather has unleashed itself on all corners of the country. This can only mean one thing: the holidays are upon us!
Amidst the shopping lists, relatives filing in from far-flung places, and attempts to impress the in-laws, we can’t forget to do some deliberate planning to make sure our pets are safe and sound this season. You’ve spent all year being good so you can get the XBox Kinect and a trio of Singamajigs; you don’t want to blow it right at the end because you killed Fluffy.
We’ve put together a little list to help you avoid the guilt that comes with being a neglectful parent (though we can’t do anything about the kind your mother will heap on you; sorry), so have at it!
Joking aside, pet safety is definitely an important and serious matter, and if you take a few minutes now to think about things, you can make the holidays happy and safe for everyone.
- Resist the urge to let the little ones join in on the feast. They might be pretty successful in convincing you that they haven’t eaten in months with one pathetic look. Believe me, you’re the one who’ll be looking pathetic when you’re dealing with explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting while trying to get dessert on the table. Worst case scenario, little Kali could end up with a pancreatitis attack, which can be fatal. Between the sudden diet change and the massive amounts of fat, holiday meals are just plain toxic (and they’re bad news for pets, too).
- That goes for bones. Though they are oh-so-savory and delicious, they are just plain dangerous. They can splinter and puncture your poor little guy’s insides (that’s assuming he gets it all the way down and doesn’t choke on it first). Unless you have a Brontosaurus femur hiding in the back of your freezer, bones are a no-no. Not every pooch or feline (or bunny or snake or bird or pot-bellied pig) will be as lucky as ol’ Snot in National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation. Instead, give them something that’s designed specifically for your type of pet.
- Snot’s got another little example of what not to do–and that’s the classic trash can rifle maneuver. Things are going to be a little crazy, and the last thing you need is a redecorated kitchen à la garbage (very urban, but not so chic), which is bound to happen if you leave your pets unattended around the amazing smells of leftovers that are wafting just at their nose level. Though it certainly led to much hilarity and hijinks in the movie, I doubt Chevy Chase will be sitting at your holiday table so the humor will just be completely lost on everyone except maybe the cat who tore into that sweet-smelling abyss of carcasses and casseroles. You might as well bite the bullet, throw on a coat, and traipse outside to take the trash out right away and just head that little nightmare off at the pass. You have permission to gloat as you pass your pet on the way out.
- Speaking of the way out, if your pet likes to play welcome wagon and greet all visitors, make sure you have a tight grip on him as people come and go. Also be sure to keep a collar with current ID tag on at all times, in case he gets you back for that little move you made with the trash and darts.
- Another thing you can consider doing for people who haven’t met your pets before is provide them with a little tip sheet via email, like I did. Now, yours doesn’t have to be a 6 paragraph essay that details each pet’s personality (yes, I’ll admit it–I’m a little neurotic), but a few pointers sent ahead of time like “don’t bend down to pet Sammy; let her come to you” or “if you value your hands, don’t stick them in Piko’s cage” will go a long way. Luckily, my family is full of dog people and they understand my neurosis, so the email generated quite a fun thread of discussion that I was included on, instead of secretive “reply-all-except-take-Sarah-off” responses or sudden declined invitations. Now, I know that while the intros won’t feature any sort of polished choreography, I they will be as stress-less as possible.
- You might also want to set up a few extra beds or quiet areas in the corners of various rooms for your pets. Their usual favorite spots might be overwrought with relatives you don’t like and that weird neighbor you had to invite because you borrowed his electric mixer. Consider also getting some extra toys or something new to occupy your companions while they wait for the party to clear out (who says you can’t buy love?).
- Don’t forget about their regular needs. I know this sounds totally basic, but I’ve gone to many a party where I’ve seen dry water bowls or stares locked on the food bag because their owners are too caught up to remember their routine. To avoid guests going rogue and giving your pet the entire bag out of guilt (like I’ve been known to do), maybe set a timer or put it on your list to feed your pets, take them to the bathroom, and check their water frequently.
This isn’t an end-all-be-all list. It’s just meant as a little primer to get your wheels turning. If you have a tip or idea you want to share, feel free to comment; we’d love to hear from you–especially if you can work a movie reference into it.
Be safe out there and happy holidays from all of us at Bark!