Friday, 29 July 2011

The First Steps to Making Money with Photography

If you're into photography to the extent that you're always looking on advice or inspiration on what you can do with your camera then Photopreneur might just be the blog for you. I mean who isn't looking to squeeze a few more dollars here and there in this sort of economy?
Photopreneur exists to identify opportunities for professionals, hobbyists and for camera-owners who want to earn from their photography and has some great advice worth listening to. Photography is getting more and more competitve as the years pass putting more and more emphasis on mastering a technique to define yourself, either way though check out the blog and see what it can do for you.
The First Steps to Making Money with Photography

When txt messaging = FAIL!!!!!

Check out the hilarious auto correct txt fails here

FIREFALL-World of Warcraft with lasers and shit

Check out the fantastic gameplay trailer for Firefall from Red 5 Studios, an open world co-op bug hunting shooter for PC. Red 5 Studios was founded by former World of Warcraft team lead Mark Kern and introduces Class-based combat which focuses on competitive multiplayer and massive cooperative play.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Decline of the Italian Plumber

When Nintendo launched the 3DS in March of this year it was fairly safe to assume that the all conquering Italian Plumber would break new ground with a new found audience, its brand new 3D technology, built in camera and bells and whistles was sure to have people lining up in droves eager to experience the valhalla of handheld gaming. Or was it?, latest figures show a disasterous sell through of the handheld which has forced Nintendo to commit Hari Kiri on the retail price and dropping the units retail price by up to a third in an announcement that went global today, in the US the $249.99 figure will be axed to a more shopper friendly $169.99.

Nintendo sold its entire allotment of 400,000 Nintendo 3DS units during its February 2011 release in Japan,In Europe, Nintendo managed to offload 303,000 3DS units during its first two days on sale and initially it was a good sign that the handheld market was good for another rinsing. However, a bad ecomony, inflation and a poor launch title lineup have eroded much of the initial sheen that Nintendo came to the market with. Nintendo reported a net loss of 25.5bn yen ($324m, £201m) for the April-to-June quarter, compared with a loss of 25.2bn yen last year.Nintendo's total sales during the quarter fell by more than 50% to 93.93bn yen. The lower price aims to create "momentum" for the console and "accelerate its market penetration toward the year-end sales season," Nintendo have stated.

The lower price will no doubt have a strong effect particularly during the Christmas season but unless Nintendo can deliver a much broader range of titles it will struggle to reinforce consumer confidence. Buyers are extremely savvy when buying into tech, price is a core motivator for purchasing but price alone will not commit consumers into a device that can't sustain its users with product that fully embraces the new tech it contains. The continuing rise of smart phones, tablet devices and online social games all take market share away from Nintendo. As for the economy, families are buying less and have less money to spend on luxury items. The increased VAT in the UK from 17.5% to 20%, movements on taxation and tax credits for families and increased fuel prices all have a say in what people are prepared to spend money on.

For years Nintendo has been complacent about its place within the videogame market throwing vast sums of money at Celebs such as Beyonce, Kylie Minogue, Ant & Dec and Helen Mirren ( Dame Helen Mirren was paid £500,000 to promote wii fit for ads that lasted no more than 30 seconds) in advertising designed to show a broad user for its products. While no one can deny the Wii Fit has been a success in terms of market penetration it makes little difference to the money men at Nintendo who are counting the costs of a tough economic climate. By all intents and purposes Nintendo had a pretty strong E3 earlier this month but it hasn't quite hidden the fact that the latest figures show a company literally haemorrhaging cash and is in more need of an Italian plumber than we are.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Has Digital killed Photography?

Nan Goldin has said the arrival of digital technology has compromised photography as a medium: 'The whole issue is so depressing to me.'
Despite the fact I've never heard of Nan Goldin or familiar with her work although as ignorant as that comes across-considering she's won more awards than I've had hot dinners ( won 2008 Hassleblad photography award and Kodak Fotobuchpreis, Stuttgart to name but two) I will say that for me, if anything, digital has allowed me to embrace photography in ways I would never have imagined.

Digital for me is about accessibility and while I would agree that the entire concept of taking a photo in this modern age is probably taken for granted a little too much due to the myriad of mobile devices that can take a photo I still think its empowering to be able to capture a moment in time wherever and whoever you are.

Purists will argue that the processes of taking photos and developing them in a dark room is the only way to take 'real' photos. I agree to an extent that traditionally the darkroom processes of creating photos has to be experienced for you to be able to truly appreciate photography, I was fortunate enough to learn the basic skills at art college but for me the process was a long drawn out chemical soaked affair that potentially put me off, I'm not patient, and I don't have the time and space for darkroom processing.

25 years later I embraced photography again but this time with a digital camera, eighteen months in and I'm still getting to grips with exposure but the important thing is the accessible way that I can shoot and delete within the same time frame. To perfect my photo and get the image I want there and then means everything to me. The frustrations of getting a roll of film back from the chemists that came out black or covered in quality assurance stickers are long gone. For me digital has meant being able to use the photos I take for other purposes, for example provides a marginal income that has allowed me to pay for the editing costs of my first novel. The only problem I see with digital is that photography exists in a digital format more than a physical one. Do you print out your photos or share them on Facebook?

Are we killing photography by forwarding links to our Flickr and Facebook pages rather than driving to a friends house and sitting down over a coffee to show them off in a book or as a batch we printed earlier that day?

I'd be the first to agree that more people should print more photos of the images they take, memories shouldn't exist just on a memory card and we should all be encouraged to print more images than we do now in order to share and socially interact. Maybe thats what Goldin is getting at I don't know ( I'm ignorant remember) but digital photography opens the doors to a larger audience than traditional photography does whichever side of the fence you're on. Surely thats the important thing isn't it?

What do you think?

VIDEO: Skittles Newlyweds - best viral ever? (NSFW)

One of the things I love about marketing is the myriad of directions you can take in reaching your target audience. Obviously the way in which you position your message is important to your brand and having a single benefit that hooks in your audience is vital especially since media approach is even more mobile than it was five years ago.
Virals are nothing new of course, they've been around for a few years and there are thousands of them vying for your "forward" click. When I think of Skittles I think of thousands and thousands of the sweets falling from the sky (Taste the Rainbow) or the 'King Midas' advert where everything the guy touches turns to Skittles.
Rarely though do I associate Skittles with porn, I buy packets of Skittles for my kids for god sake but I have to say this viral though extremely adult in theme is irresistibly one you would most certainly forward to a bunch of friends.(I have to say my own wedding night was a lot tamer by comparison).

Many years ago I got into a huge heap of trouble when I tasked a London based viral agency with creating a viral for Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks. As you're no doubt aware the MK franchise is one of the bloodiest beat em up video-games on the market and made its name through its gruesome finishing moves of spine removal and dismemberment. So I tasked the agency with creating something equally as gory and outlined an idea about a group of businessmen around a conference table discussing sales numbers and having them fight, the viral is known as "blood on the carpet".

When it went live it went everywhere, and I mean everywhere, when we saw the viral seeding report after a couple of days it had been watched from places as far away as the Faroe islands to Tibet...then we got a phone call from the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority)and a not very nice man asking us to remove the viral.
"We want you to remove the viral" said the disgruntled ASA employee.
"What do you mean you want us to remove it, remove it from where?" we replied.
"From the internet"said the ASA man.
"Exactly how do you imagine we do that, this is on thousands of sites all over the world?" we replied.

Now if memory serves me right we never quite got a reply to that one because no one really knew (including the ASA) much about establishing guidelines for age gating videos and online content. From that day forward though the ASA enforced specific guidelines for viral advertising and kept a close eye on what we produced for our campaign material. We didn't have the balls to tell the US office in Chicago about the viral because we knew they'd kill the concept but I'm pretty sure that Ed Boon, Mortal Kombat's creator liked it. So you can personally blame me for that, little ol me changed the rules for ASA guidelines on virals, well, me and London's premier viral agency Maverick anyway.

The problem is you will never ever be able to successfully police the internet for content, everything from Extremist manifestos to 'that video' (the one with the two girls and the cup) go viral because its user generated and seeds to thousand if not millions of sites because it forms social currency. We all value the need to contribute to conversation, your own hierarchy within your group of friends is influenced by what you contribute socially to that group, if you know something that one of your friends doesn't your social hierarchy is one of influence and knowledge for that specific subject and your standing within the group is increased. Personal recommendation from a friend, the concept of word of mouth is marketing gold, as an owner of a brand you can influence it with your audience but you can't control it, that is to say you can't make people want your product,you can certainly make them talk about it but you can't control the end users decision to own it. Marketeers want you to engage with their brands by forwarding their brand messages on, they encourage the conflict of social heirachy within your group at every possible opportunity.

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Art of Levi Hopkins: Aqueducts, Forests, and Sinkholes (GW2)

The Art of Levi Hopkins: Aqueducts, Forests, and Sinkholes (GW2): "Concept Art for Guild Wars 2 as seen on the Arenanet Blog."

Having worked in videogames for the last 19 years and witnessed first hand the amount of work that goes into concept art I've always been a sucker for what I call fantasy art. The majority of dev art never sees the light of day external of a dev studio unless a savvy producer or the artist decides to publish an art book or run a blog, thankfully people like Guild Wars 2 artist Levi Hopkins does just that.