Miller Photography NW Blog
Saturday, May 30, 2015
By Mark Miller
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Many moons ago I was a Business major. I actually took some additional course work around 2001-2003. It was amazing how much had changed during that gap in time. I have seen that gap occur to an even greater degree between the early 2000`s and now, 2015. It is really all about technology. Specifically, how that technology and it`s developement has changed nearly everyones life. About a month ago I happened upon a reporter standing in front of a rather long table. Stacked on nearly every inch of that table were devices, books and materials. Then is explained how one little device, which he held in his hand, replaced everything on that table. It was amazing, because we so quickly forget. Forgotten were the days of the big corded telephone, telephone books, encylopedia`s, dictionaries, a big old early model Mac computer, pens and pencils, paper and pads, coupon books and newspaper ads, newspapers and books, cassette tape players and large headphones,cameras and boxes of loose photos,VHS players, video camerascalendars, clocks and games.Whew! Replaced by one smart phone. And that phone costs a tiny fraction of what the big, slow, heavy and expensive original items cost. I showed my daughter, because she never lived in a world without efficient micro and nano electronics. And truth be told, it continues to change all the time.

 

So what does all of that have to do with photography you might ask! Well alot actually. Because there are different types of things that we should be concerned about than in the past. We no longer produce thousands of little 3x5 or 4x6 prints. Most of which probably got thrown in a box. Our images now reside on our devices memory cards, internal storage or on our computer hard drive. My question to you is this. How much do those improptu photos of your kids, family and friends mean to you. Along with the collection of vacation snaps and such we grab each year. And then there are those of us that do this photography stuff for a living. I cannot afford to lose tens of thousands of images in an heart beat. 

 

This has been my week this week. Backing up my photos and catalogs. I recently bought a Seagate 5TB back Up Plus to make another backup of my work. Both professional and private, portrait, weddings, events and sports work. That simple excercise tied me up for almost the entire week! First, I am a Mac guy, for better or for worse I made the switch for my business.My machine has a SSID solid state internal drive in it. I use it only for loading my software and operating system onto. I DO NOT store any of the photos or video I shoot on that SSID drive. EVERYTHING, goes to external drives. That is beneficial in a number of ways. And from here I hope I can help you to consider maybe caring for your photo and important document files differently than maybe you do now. First, todays cameras take pretty large sized file images now. And that continues to grow with the Nikon D810 36MP sensors and the new Canon 5DS soon to be available at a whooping 50MP sensor. Those sensors mean lots of detail in those images and massive computer slowing file sizes. That eat up lots of hard drive space quickly.

 

This is what I do, not the only or the best way neccesarily, just how I do it. There are entire books written on this subject. One of which I own. The DAM Book, or digital asset management book! So at the beginning of the year I got a 4TB Thunderbolt G Drive that is my main working drive. It is screaming fast,(thunderbolt connectivity) and is as reliable of a drive as I know of.It has worked flawlessly all year.But over time I migrated my 2014 catalog and my 2013 catalog to that drive. Suddenly, my 4TB drive with lots of space was getting cramped. And it was obvious that there was no chance I would make it out of 2015 without filling that drive. Heck, I was not even going to get half way through the year. so I got the 5TB backup drive to move some of those folders off my main drive. Thus creating more room on my working drive. I have already shot something in the realm of 77,000 photos plus some video this year alone. Shooting sports consumes lots of space, and that is with shooting my sports shots in JPEG, which are compressed, smaller file sizes than the full raw files would be.

 

So here is what I do. I download my memory cards onto my main working drives lightroom photos folder. My folders are completely organized for ease of finding stuff later. That is for another blog someday. Then, I download that card onto my studio backup drive, the 5TB Seagate. I double check both drives for intergrity of the file down loads. Then, once a month, I update a third hard drive with my newest work and hand that drive off to a third party to store at their house. That is so if a fire or theft happened. I would not lose my work and memories of my daughter. Then there are cloud storage options, which I may use someday, but do not as of yet. Now, I do this for a living, so the three copies is prudent. But for everyone else, I highly recommend at least two hard drives and copies. One kept somewhere else and updated regularily. Then you can rest safely that your babies photos will still exist when they graduate from High School. As many will be very soon.                                                Congrats to all those 2015 graduates!

 
Saturday, August 16, 2014
By Mark Miller
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    Good afternoon North Idaho! In honor of Robin Williams!

Anyhow, yesterday a friend of mine, Shaun Schlager and myself spent sometime on campus at Post Falls High School shooting quite a number of head shots for the football programs at Post Falls High School. Coach Hinz contacted me and shared their plan to produce programs for each of the home games this season. I am excited for the players, parents and fans to add these programs. My mom, many years ago, saved several from my Senior season, which I still have in a scrape book she made. Let me encourage you all to come out this season a purchase a program to support Post Falls High School Football. The first home game is Friday September 12, 2014 against University High from Spokane Valley.The programs will feature the head shots of the players and coaches. As well as some up to date action pictures from the team. Coach Frank Morton has stepped up to put the program together and get it printed 

 
Saturday, June 14, 2014
By Mark Miller
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    Back a few weeks ago, May 31, 2014, I announced some changes to my session pricing conventions. Actually, for those of you who go to the KREM 2 News homepage, you may have seen it there. As that was the first time I publicly announced the changes. What I chose to do was eliminate the session fee. Let me try and explain. As a business person it is a "great idea" to make it as easy and straight forward as possible for customers to hire us and do business with us. My aim in going to a no session fee pricing was to make it easier for people to understand the cost structures for the products and services they desire. And to be able to figure out without a calculator, how much of an investment their products will cost. The word investment is very important here. If we price our services and products like a commodity to compete with the hobbiest photographers. Well then we are really competing on price and are treating our art as if it were toliet paper, dish soap or tooth paste, a commodity. That is a diaster waiting to happen. 71% of small businesses fail and fade off into history within five years or less. You can only imagine how that fact also negatively effects the owners personal financial situations. It ain`t good, that is for sure!

    So you might ask what exactly am I doing to survive without charging sessions fees. Well I am glad you asked! First, I am not at all sure it will work. The idea seems good, but as a real business person who has a couple hundred dollars a month fixed costs, whether I make any money or not. Then I must pay a slew of taxes, sales, federal and state income taxes, self employment taxes( and that is a healthy one) equipment insurance, liability insurance and of course I have COGS( cost of goods sold) all coming out of my income. Wow, maybe i should go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. Which reminds me to let every closet photographer wanna be know. The truth, photography as mechanical feat, has never been easier. The barriers to entry in photography have never been less. BUT, the business of photography has never been more difficult and bleak. I am really thankful now that I was a business major!

    Okay, enough of the heavyness of reality! My new business model is to charge a minimum order fee at the time of a customers session. The minimum order amount differs based on the length of time, the number of locations, wardrobe changes and  the number of re touched images shown at the investment meeting. My minimum order packages now start at a 45 minutes, possibly 2 locations and changes of clothes. And doubling to twice the time, locations, wardrobe changes and re touched images shown. My final package doubles it all again and adds a proof book. No digital images for sale a la carte until the client reaches a certain price point. We need to sell items people can walk out with and show off, not CD`s. 

    Happy father`s Day to all you dads! I am a dad, and that is a way more important title to me than photographer or business man.

 
Friday, June 13, 2014
By Mark Miller
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    I have been in the process for a while of  my business becoming incorporated and setting up corporate accounts. This process became way more involved and costly than I ever could have imagined. But still, I am glad I chose to do it. You never know when something crazy is going to happen. I have read and heard of so many photographers and videographers being sued for so many different reasons. The ones that make it to social media or onto photography blogs have been so scary. And the more you photograph, especially weddings, the more you are at potential risk of having you and your families personal assets taken in a lawsuit Hopefully, we all have come to realize that there is a cottage industry out there that tries to hit the lotto off of any tiny miscue or issue. Sometimes, no true actionable issue is even identified and lawsuits still get filed. And once you are involved in a lawsuit you have already lost, as attorney fees and such can easily ruin the average business person. All it takes is one guest at a wedding tripping over your camera bag. Or perhaps a guest consuming too many alcoholic beverages and knocking over your lightstand. A lightstand that you properly placed and weighted down in the corner. It will not matter that no reasonable person could forsee some drunk individual staggering behind the DJ`s set up and knocking over that light. Because once it falls and injures someone your family and your business could be wiped out.

    Which brings me to my second related topic, Business Insurance. I know that both of these issues are tough for so many photographers now. There is a glut of people calling themelves professional photographers. Setting up Facebook business pages. Advertising their services and getting some gigs. One of the reasons that we all need to charge a fair rate is because we need the money to protect our families and ourselves from potential financial calamity. We need to pay state and federal taxes. If we do not, then we put ourselves at tremendous risk of repurcussions. We also set ourselves apart from the masses of photographers if we get insured, set up a safe business structure and pay our taxes. So insure your equipment and get yourself a good miilion dollar liability umbrella policy. Then sleep well at night knowing that you did everything that you could do to protect your families assets. And it only costs a few hundred dollars a year. 

    Now onto more exciting stuff! Look for a post tomorrow morning where I break down my new business model and pricing schedule. If you check out the KREM 2 News homepage, you may have seen my new banner ad and coupon go up on May 31, 2014. Tomorrow I will outline just how it will work. In addition, to why I chose to make those changes. See you tomorrow!


 
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
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How big of a deal is this?

Some reports suggest as many as two-thirds of the sites on the Internet are using OpenSSL, the encryption code that we now know is flawed and vulnerable to so-called Heartbleed attacks.

This is still developing, but here’s a partial list of vulnerable sites:

  • Canada’s CRA
  • Yahoo (parts of which have been updated)
  • OkCupid
  • Eventbrite
  • Indiegogo
  • Imgur
  • and even the FBI.

Facebook, Amazon and Google were affected, but say they have updated systems already. To date, no major Canadian bank has been identified as being at risk.

The Web developer resource Github has been testing sites, here’s a working list of the vulnerable, not vulnerable and no SSL sites: Heartbleed-Masstest. The caveat for this information is that there is no central "is my Internet broken" government agency that can verify these checks; Github's community of volunteers appears to be our best resource but maybe think of it more like Wikipedia than a peer-reviewed journal.

There are also a few services, such as filippo.io/Heartbleed, that let you test a website domain yourself.

So, I’m supposed to change all my passwords?

That may sound like a good idea... but it won’t do you any good to change a password on a site that hasn’t updated its OpenSSL yet: The new password will be vulnerable too.

As Toronto-based password-managing site 1Password says "The time to change passwords is after sites patch vulnerability *and* update certificates."

The smartest thing to do at this point is diversify your passwords, so that if someone hacks your OKCupid account they can’t get into Google with the same password. My rule of thumb is that no site that connects to my credit card shares a password with any other site I use. We just started a series on how to live a more secure digital life and here’s some totally crucial password advice from Technology reporter Omar El Akkad:

Most people use terrible passwords. There are a number of reasons for this. One is the sheer variety of password-enabled devices we have to deal with every day (how many people still have the default “1234” as the password on their vehicle’s Bluetooth connection?). Another is the fault of certain products and web sites that either don’t care what sort of password you choose, or force you to jump through a bunch of hoops that result in the creation of a convoluted password you end up forgetting a week later. As Randall Munroe notes, the most important determinant of password strength is entropy. Basically, the more stuff there is to guess, the better the password. So choose a long password. And if you don’t think you can remember multiple passwords and don’t want to use a password manager, at least memorize a strong password and use it exclusively for your most important digital transaction. The last thing you want is your banking login compromised because someone hacked into a gaming forum you frequent and stole your password.

Is this a virus?

No. A virus is a piece of malicious code that seeks to infect your computer systems. Heartbleed appears to be a mistake, a flaw in the encryption code that many websites use to protect passwords they ask you to use to log in, as well as other information.

How long has this been going on?

According to the researchers who found the problem – and let’s be clear, this is a gaping hole that words like “flaw, bug and vulnerability” barely describe – the bad code was introduced two years ago. To quote Codenomicon (who found and named Heartbleed): The affected code is called OpenSSL and “is the most popular open source cryptographic library and TLS (transport layer security) implementation used to encrypt traffic on the Internet.”

Can you geek out for a moment, how does this work?

Let me quote the Globe and Mail’s ops boss Steve Mickeler (Team Lead, Web Operations): “The flaw allows the attacker to access 64kb chunks of memory at a time and can often be used to retrieve the private keys, allowing the attacker to decrypt the SSL session and discover usernames and passwords. It can also be used to perform a man-in-the-middle attack by spoofing the site the user is going to since they now have access to the SSL keys and the client would not deem anything to be suspicious.”

As security expert Raymond Vankrimpen explains in our story about the CRA shutdown: "The Heartbleed vulnerability occurs when OpenSSL is used in combination with a communication protocol called the RFC6520 heartbeat. Such "heartbeats" help a remote user remain in touch after connecting with a website server ...

"A small chunk of the server’s memory content, about 64 kilobytes of memory, can leak out with each heartbeat.

"While 64 kilobytes doesn’t represent a large amount of memory content, it is large enough to hold a password or an encryption key, allowing an unscrupulous user to return to exploit the server further."

It's also important to note that 64kb is not the limit of leaked information, a potential attacker could collect many "heartbeats" of data.

Again, for even more information, including info on how to fix your site, check Codenomicon’s specialty site: Heartbleed.com.

One piece of good news? The password you use on The Globe and Mail’s website is not vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug (we use a different security protocol, and in places that use OpenSSL we used the older, not broken, version).

Whose fault is this?

Well, it's hard not to blame this on the OpenSSL Software Foundation and the developers who maintain this code. According to the Wall Street Journal, there are only four staffers to maintain the open-source libraries, and only one is full time.

"There's no question more effectively applied manpower would be a good thing," said Steve Marquess, 59 years old, who is the president of the foundation. "Formal code audits would be a good thing." Indeed.

But we might also blame all those sites who relied on this open standard (which, the WSJ reports, was created in the 1990s) rather than write their own encryption software.

 
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Coeur D` Alene, Idaho and Spokane, Washington areas Senior, family, children, wedding photography