We are heading for the end of 2016 at supersonic speed and I would like to share my thoughts and plans for DPC and Photo Critic for next year...
On Monday, after looking at the statistics for DPC, I just realised again how far we've come since I decided to resign my day-job, and throwing all my time and savings into DPC. Since 2010, we had a whopping 1855 people, completing Basic – Intermediate photography courses with us. Almost the same number of people committed to weekend and practical workshops! We can proudly state that we have the highest rate of retaining our students among all other photography schools in South Africa now.
Sure, it was not all moonlight and roses and we had our ups and downs. Nevertheless, looking at the constant growth of our course presentations, materials, and student base, we can count ourselves very blessed indeed. It is with mixed emotions that I look back over the past years. Partially proud, but at the same time extremely humbled and thankful for all we have achieved. I honestly couldn't have done it by myself. Without Jenna and a team of committed and talented instructors, DPC would have remained just a dream.
Deon leaving Photo Critic
Sadly, Deon, who has been a cornerstone of our Photo Critic website resigned to focus on his own photography business. Deon, joined us way back in 2010 as a freelance instructor, and we will surely miss his inputs. We wish him Godspeed and all success with his future exploits.
A brand-new Photo Critic app!
Some of you will remember how much I boasted about my plans for a new Photo Critic website and how hard I've been working on it. Our aim for the new website was to make it more user-friendly, with improved social interaction, while also including an online learning system and extension to our photography courses. Unfortunately, after countless hours spent, we encountered just too many problems with the web-based platform I decided on. Gutted, and utterly disappointed, I realised that what we really needed, was a brand-new platform, designed from the ground up. But being a mere script kiddie with limited coding experience, I lacked the technical wizardry to make it happen. Then middle October, the solution came to us!
I contacted an old student, Liam Beeton, who is one of SA's foremost App Developers, to assist me in building a customised website. Liam, who just returned from living abroad in the UK, was so excited when I prompted him about the opportunity. He mentioned that he was looking at ways to incorporate his two great passions in life, technology, and photography; for some time now… This was the opportunity he waited for and he enthusiastically agreed to partner with me on this venture! I've been between a rock and a hard place, but I could feel the weight lifting when Liam agreed to join our ranks!
Liam has been working day and night ever since on developing our own customised app. Without boring you with the technical mumbo jumbo, all I can say is that the new Photo Critic will be a cutting-edge, cross-platform application, that will run seamlessly on your Computer, IOS, and Android devices. It will be fast, responsive, and beautiful. It will also be future proof. Owning the source code ourselves means that we can easily adapt, or add features without the limitations of a web-based platform.
Yesterday, I had the privilege to test some of the code, and oh wow! It is blistering fast compared to our current ageing platform. Obviously, we are still a few months away from launching the new app, but good things come to those who wait right?
Course Programmes and Schedules for 2017
The "Expanding your Vision" series was one of the highlights of the year, with over 150 people doing the creative workshop in different areas. Due to the positive feedback, we got, I realised the importance of presenting similar, short, affordable, yet highly creative topics throughout next year. My next series will launch in January and will be on Developing your own Photography Style and building a Portfolio. I will also be announcing future creative and advanced topics throughout next year.
We will be posting our course schedules for 2017 on the DPC website within the next two weeks. To remain market leaders in this very competitive creative industry, you can expect additional practical courses as well as updates to our current course materials and structures. The good news, however, is that we won't be increasing our course fees for at least, the first half of next year!
I will broadcast a message on Photo Critic as soon as we're done with the 2017 schedules; or you can simply view the courses online, by visiting our Courses Overview Page.
In the meantime, should you have any suggestions or questions, please feel free to leave a comment below, or message me personally.
Danie, time is often the restriction people have when it comes to attending multi day courses or workshops. You only have so many Weekends available, and like a doctor your time is limited and potential to earn is therefore also limited. You need to look at the passive income stream... I would say that selling online or hard copy workshop material may help get your material to the many photographers who cannot always fit into the limited available time....
Once a workshop has been completed there will be limited access to Photo Critic... possibly for a year, and thereafter another course or workshop needs to be attended / purchased in order to keep the link active.
What about rating system for mages... "Nice photo" does not rate well, so possibly have a template that needs to be filled out with each image submission....
Camera, lens and setting, and include rating criterion... Focus, composition, impact, etc.
Thanks for the feedback Glen. Member feedback will be essential if we want to create the best Photo Critique site in the world!
In regards to the income stream; I understand that one cannot work for free forever, and obviously our main income comes from courses. Therefore, we are looking at a paid membership option where members will get extra benefits, which will allow us to pay our moderators / curators for their time. However, students who have done courses with us, will have free access to material related to the courses they have done, but obviously with limited photo uploads. In this way, we feel, we can continue to give back to our students for their support.
In regards to using images for class materials is indeed a very good point. Using student shots in our materials builds confidence too with the new guys. I've already started with a process of selection some top shots for our class materials, but we obviously ask for permission. With the new platform, we will automate this process.
In regards to the Rating system, we will follow a 5-star rating system, where the moderators and members can vote for their favourite images. The feature photo option will remain too.
Your idea about standard - rating criterion is really a good one and I am already listing ideas for it.
Some extra functionalities we're looking at, which you might find very interesting...
Children and newborn photography has become major over the last few years. There are a few people offering courses but with some I have been to.. i felt that i walked away with noting new.
Sharing and gaining new knowledge is something that i just love ..especially when it comes to the type of photography I am passionate about. Its so important for beginners to learn the fundamentals of working with tiny humans .. especially with newborns. Baby safety among other things is often sadly never considered with beginner newborn photographers so a in depth training course will be really resourceful.
Im sure that adding a newborn and childrens photography course to your list will really be great and a lot of people will attend.As you said yourself... newborns scare the ... out of you.. i am sure there are a few people that feel the same way.. haha. As for me personally... i think it would be really great if you started recording your classes and making them available for purchase online .. or if you have attended the class .. having the capability to run through it one more time is always welcome.
Thanks for the feedback Robyn!
I have been canvassing for kids and family photographers for some time now to join our team, and if you keep on delivering this type of work... who knows...
In terms of video recordings... You are so right! It has been part of our planning for some time now and I already made a few recordings. Unfortunately, my quest for perfection has cost me a lot of time, to the extend that I deleted almost everything, because I was not too happy with them. Nevertheless, we're definitely heading in that direction and we hope to get going at the start of next year.
Danie this sounds so exciting!! Can't wait to see the app and have easy access to this amazing platform.
I guess you know my wishes. I will pay the equivalent of a course for the course material / videos of the courses. Or possibly a live stream via Skype... ;-) Especially your creative courses, which I am so incredibly sad about missing.
I also think a paid membership service is a good idea. And I love the EXIF auto upload idea.
Your next series sounds incredibly exciting. I am jealous of those students who will be able to attend it! Damn this 8000km to Jhb distance issue :-)
I think something that could be interesting is a themed contest / challenge once a month for instance. It gets the creative juices flowing, and is fun. Obviously it will be in addition to the normal uploads. You can have a "Shot of the Month" winner, and a contest winner. Maybe a contest every 2 months. You can chat to me....I can maybe sponsor a prize for the contests if you're interested.
As you know Danie I have been a big supporter of DPC for a couple of years now and will remain so for the coming years.
With regard to you "Expanding your Vision" series I feel should be at the core of your workshops that you will be presenting next year as this will lift any student wanting to get a deeper insight into their personal photography. Like Glen said time is a problem so the option of going online will be of great benefit to students that want to do the courses but cannot make it either because of time or being in another country of which there are a couple.
Photo Critic, do the students at DPC realise what a wonderful oppurtunity they have to have their pictures displayed and critiqued by their fellow members at DPC, but I feel is not being used enough by the students of DPC. I feel there might be an option of opening it up to a larger audience other than the members of DPC with a diffrent pricing structure for so called "outside members" . I think that this will give us an oppurtunity to see what other work and photographers are out there. This will have to be policed very carefully as I have seen some really personal attacks on facebook whereby the picture is not critiqued but the photographer is and it becomes personal.
Looking forward to the exiciting times ahead for DPC and you can count on my support.
Totally agree on the fact that PC is very under-utilised. Not sure why, as I have grown so much because of the critique. It is also not something you easily find on the web, the only other place I have found that offers professional critique is 1x, and this comes at a hefty price. The problem is however that with more members requiring a high standard of critique, comes more work and the need for additional professionals to critique the work. Not sure how many pros are available for this.
An option is of course to adopt a similar structure to 1x, whereby photos are uploaded and featured or not, same as now on PC, but instead of always receiving critique, the member has to request it. And to have the option to receive critique, you have to pay a fee. You also have to write a bit of a narrative about your method / vision etc to receive better critique. Something like that. Of course, I will always request critique for every photo I upload. But some people might be happy to simply upload and see whether they are featured or not. And receive feedback from the community. Just a thought?
Thanks for the feedback Nadia. A view valid points to review :)
Thanks for your feedback and support Luke!
I have been a member of Photo Critic since 2010...and one of the reasons i'm still a member is: "Send us your photos for straightforward, constructive critique"...one can only make progress with your photography ,if you submit your work for constructive critique by experts , and then learn from your mistakes. I agree with what has been discussed already and support the idea of a monthly"members choice" and "experts choice" image. From me , Danie, a humble , but big THANK YOU for the time you spend creating PHOTOCRITIC with your skill and knowledge...may God bless you and your journey with Photocritic in 2017!
Thanks for the kind words and wishes Doc. It works two ways though; if it wasn't for members like yourself, who participates, comment on others work, and who continually push the standards up, we would have failed dismally. A big thank-you to you and all the others who make this community website great!
Looking forward to the "Developing your own Photography Style and building a Portfolio" workshop.
Hopefully in Alberton ...