Interview with photographer Michael O’Donnell (24 min).
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Michael O’Donnell refers to himself as a Creative Visualist, although if you saw him in action, you’d say he’s a photographer. O’Donnell has created quite an impressive business with ZatPhoto, a photography business that’s highly focused on live events, a key element of his media philosophy: “Capturing the enjoyment of the moment.” Success of his live event photos is evidenced by how he uses social media. He was quick to jump on this bandwagon as evidenced by his Twitter handle @photo.
O’Donnell came to our studio for an in-person interview. Here is a list of his “hacks” for publishing professional photos via social media.
Tips for Sharing Professional Photos During a Live Event
Make sure your gear is in order: Check your equipment and charge your batteries.
Configure your online publishing platforms: This requires setting up websites to receive the photos. Investigating the hashtags and Twitter handles for the event. Label the event, location, and time as all this information will appear in your photo’s description when they start autotweeting. You want them tagged correctly so people watching that stream will see your photos.
Configure Eye-Fi card for social sharing: This SD card can wirelessly upload your photos to a multitude of locations such as DropBox, Flickr, and Facebook. Eye-Fi helps you configure your social sites appropriately with the set name and any necessary tagging, where appropriate.
Downsize your photos: You need to balance size and quality with speed. People are just going to be viewing this online, so photos that are 1600 x 1200 pixels is plenty for anyone sharing photos online.
Upload via your phone: Every month O’Donnell uploads between 15-20 GB of pictures via his iPhone. Even if the event he’s at has wifi, he doesn’t switch over because the quality of the wifi signal changes depending where he is in the room. Conversely, his phone stays with him at all times thereby making the signal always constant, assuming he doesn’t dip out of cell tower range.
Tweet out your photos in intervals: O’Donnell also uses a service called Twitterfeed (he actually said, “Tweetfeed,” but this is what he meant) to automatically look at his RSS feed on Flickr to send his photos to Twitter, Facebook, or wherever. But if he’s taking 50 photos during an event, he doesn’t want to flood the feed, so he configures Twitterfeed to only look at the feed in 10 or 15 minute intervals and grab the latest photo. That link will take you to the specific photo plus the entire photo set where you can see all the photos that have been posted so far.
Great way to get noticed: If O’Donnell is trying to court a new client, he’ll just go to an event and take a ton of photos and tweet them out with the appropriate hashtag and Twitter handle. The potential client will inevitably see these photos. O’Donnell has landed multiple clients using this technique.
Test your feeds: Take a test photo to make sure your feeds are working, and then delete it.
Create a simple to remember link: So people can easily remember you and where your photos are, create an easy to remember custom shortlink, or subdomain from your site that forwards to your photoset from the event.
Hand out custom printed cards: After you take someone’s photo, let them know where they can find it by handing them a card with the easy to remember URL you created.
Take photos of business card exchanges: If O’Donnell sees one of these exchanges going down, he’ll say, “Let me take a photo so you two can reconnect.” A picture of them with a person you just met will jog your memory.
Entice others to tag, specifically on Facebook: It’s not worth doing all the tagging on Flickr. It’s not that social. You’ll get a much better network effect if you tag people on Facebook. O’Donnell will often selectively choose people to tag that he knows will go out of their way to tag other people. If he does this right, it can cause a domino effect of all people in all the photos being tagged. He’ll also go out of his way to tag the people who are really big in social media (e.g., celebrities).
Edit photos on the fly: Rate or protect an image. That triggers what image you want to send. He’ll hit the erase button on all images he didn’t protect. His technique for editing photos is to first look at the composition, and then zoom in with the camera on the eyes. They eyes always have to be in focus. O’Donnell will accept other things being slightly out of focus, but not the eyes.
Have lots of charged batteries: When O’Donnell is uploading live with his camera, he can be changing batteries every two hours. If he’s not uploading, that one battery can last four or five days.
Connect with Michael O’Donnell and Hacking Media Production
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