Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: CG Pro Prints Canvas

funny pictures - hold it-hold it!  PUUR-FECT!!
[photo source]

A few months ago I came across a review on a forum I frequent online raving about a new canvas company they'd discovered called CG Pro Prints. I was skeptical but for the price I figured that it was worth a shot to see if they would even come remotely close to the quality I've come to expect from my normal go-to printer for canvases.

Item: CG Pro Prints Canvas

Website: http://www.cgproprints.com/

Price: $12.99 - $64.99 (you read that right!)

What I bought it for/what I was expecting: For the price I was expecting something along the lines of the cheapo canvases that are always offered on Groupon or at Walgreens. I'm just being honest. Something most of the normal population would be wowed by but almost all professional photographers would sneer at.

Expectation met? Holy moses, boy was I wrong!!!!

Pros:

+ High quality canvases.
+ Sturdy as sturdy goes frames/backing. My CAT decided to lay on mine and they were totally fine.
+ Hardware already attached. + Closed back (I like this better than the open back due to dust issues).


Cons:
- Not quite as sharp as other companies, make sure to sharpen your images a tinge before printing.
- Some of my canvases had stray fibers that needed to be cleaned up.
- You have to digitally stretch the image yourself or choose a solid border for what wraps around the outside of the frame if the subject is too close to the border (most of the higher end companies do this for you).
- Is the low price a gimmick or is it going to stay low? I want to restructure my pricing for them but worry that they will rise as popularity surges.

Final Thoughts: As you can tell, I wasn't expecting much. Even though other photographers were raving about their product, I was somewhat ho-hum about it. How good CAN it be for that cost? I was floored when I got the canvases in and was so elated by them! I was crazy excited to hang them up in our home - I decided to be my own guinea pig because I didn't want to risk it on a client order. While side by side you can tell the other canvas from a different pro company is a bit more expensive, you'd be hard pressed to pick it out off of a wall and I can't justify spending 3 to 4 times the cost for the other canvas. Beyond that the CS from CG is brilliant and amazing. I couldn't be more pleased!!!

Want to see some pics?  I posted some over on my blog and detail shots of them here.
Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista (runs Clothes for Pros, clothing suggestions for photographers), travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Making It Big Without A Big Investment



Did you know it's cheaper to start a business than it is to get an MBA?  To top that off, if you invest in a business for 2 years and only break even, you will be better off than someone who has gone to school full time for two years and has to pay back a $30,000 loan for the next 30 years.  Plus, when you work for yourself, no one can fire you and you can create your own pay scale.  This is why I enjoy being an entrepreneur and making my living by doing what I love the most.

Inevitably, the diatribe I get from new photographers is... "but, I can't afford the fancy equipment, the fancy blog, the fancy website, yada yada yada yada."

Who said you needed these things?  Not me.  I certainly didn't have any of those things when I started out.  What did I have?  I had a hand-me-down Olympus OM10, 35mm with manual focus and manual advance.  I just gave people photos as gifts after family gatherings or weddings.  My photos ended up on their walls and on their coffee table, and THAT was how my business started- even before I knew my business was starting.
 I actually didn't set out to become a professional photographer- people just loved my work and asked me if I could work for them.  
I had no website.  All of my images were being posted to Shutterfly galleries (after I finally got a small point & shoot digital camera and learned that labs would scan my film to disc), just so other out-of-state friends and family could see them.  I did headshots for people who wanted to be actors, models, and performers - simply because they were my friends and I had the technical know-how of working a camera with depth of field.  They paid for my film, and my processing, and I even got a little extra to help me upgrade my lenses and buy more batteries.  Eventually I was asked to photograph a wedding and I knew I couldn't photograph a wedding without an auto-focus SLR to get the results I wanted, so I just asked to be paid enough to cover the cost of a 35mm Canon Rebel and an extra flash.  They got all of their images to scrapbook, and I put a few on a basic "dot mac" website, as well as on a photo.net free gallery and on a flickr gallery.

That was how I started as a professional photographer- no website, no fancy lab, no fancy gallery, no fancy lenses, no fancy cameras, just whatever I could put together with what I already had.  Of course, that's not how my business or my equipment looks now, but that's what got me to where I am now- where I can own all the professional equipment I want to own, where I can hire people to help me, where I can go to the workshops I want to attend, where I can pick and choose the clients I want to work with, and where I can take vacations and time off when I want to rejuvenate.
The reality is, if people want to pay you for the work you're already doing, with what you already have, than it's a good sign that you have enough talent and skill to earn a living from your craft.
Whether you have the talent and skill to run a business and turn a profit is an entirely different subject, but you most certainly can rely on the economic engine of people wanting to hire you for your talent to be a good judge of whether you can become a professional.  Actually, this is how many entrepreneurs start out- by simply sharing their passion with other people and creating from their heart.  Anytime someone says "I will pay you to do XYZ for me"- it means that you have a talent or skill that is valuable enough and desirable enough for other people to pay for it.  The key to being profitable and making a living from it, is to always spend less money than you make.  If you only make a little but spend even less, than you're creating good business habits that will help you sail easily toward long term success and a great retirement plan.
Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business. She loves helping others find smarter solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.