I haven’t posted in my prints blog in four months, so I wanted to highlight some important changes to Erudite Expressions, as well as mention a couple of reminders about prints.
1) Fotomoto recently released a “Share” button, so if you navigate to the top of a photo, you should see that option (highlighted in a screenshot below). You can share on Facebook, Twitter (though this feature could use a URL shortening by http://bit.ly), Google Buzz, or Digg:
2) I dropped the price of Wallpaper-sized images that you can download to your desktop to just $1.00 (it used to be $2.00). You can find the option to download wallpaper-sized images under the “download” link above the photo.
3) I also found out that I have a few 50% off prints coupon codes still unclaimed. If you want to take advantage of the offer, use coupon code B54D54 after clicking the “purchase a print” option above the photo and entering the coupon in the “Discount” box of the shopping cart. I’ve previously discussed Fotomoto and purchasing prints from Erudite Expressions in this post.
Thanks for your support! I plan on updating this prints blog a bit more often the rest of the year.
Earlier today, I wrote a blog post encouraging photographers to help out in the relief effort of the recent earthquake which has devastated the island nation of Haiti. If you haven’t read that post yet, please do so now.
As I outlined in that post, we photographers can help out by donating a portion of our sales proceeds (either through prints or bookings) to the charities directly working in Haiti right now.
If you want to participate in this effort revolving around the images I have been posting over the last three and a half years on my photoblog, Erudite Expressions, then please continue reading.
I’ve decided that I will do a prints sale where 50% of your order at Erudite Expressions will go to a charity of your choice. If you don’t specify a charity, then I will donate to Partners in Health (the reason? I was moved by the efforts of that organization in Haiti after reading Tracy Kidder’s beautiful work, Mountains Beyond Mountains). You can read the latest news about the efforts of Partners in Health here. Of course, if you don’t participate in this promotion, then I encourage you to give directly to Partners in Health or your charity of choice.
To answer all your questions about this print promotion, the FAQs follow.
I’m holding another prints sale, and it’s the biggest prints sale of the year!
From now until end of day on December 28, 2009 January 7, 2010 you can take 50% off prints which you may order at Erudite Expressions. Just use the “purchase a print” option located above any image, and then use coupon code “B54D54″ (no quotes) at checkout. The code is valid for all print sizes. The orders go through Fotomoto, and you can pay with your credit card (learn more about Fotomoto in this post). You can purchase with confidence.
The code is valid for the first ten (10) customers who take advantage of this offer or until end of day December 28, 2009 January 7, 2010, whichever occurs first. So act fast. It’s the biggest discount I’ve offered for prints, so I hope someone takes advantage of it. Please note that you can purchase multiple prints in a single transaction; if you just click on the “Continue Shopping” box, you can navigate to a different page, with your item(s) saved in the shopping cart. A screen shot of purchasing a print is shown below. FAQs are also presented after the screenshot.
First, if you’re not familiar with Twitter, check out this easy 10 Step Guide to get started. If you’re familiar with Twitter, you know that Twitter has incredible potential for reaching out to customers, promoting products, etc. I am going to focus on holding contests on Twitter. This post highlights five ineffective ways to hold a contest via Twitter, whereas my subsequent post will give you some ideas on what I think is a good or effective way to hold a contest.
Here are five ways of how NOT to run a Twitter contest:
1) Do NOT create an account which simply advertises or promotes your contest. You will come across as spammy and people don’t want to follow spammers.
2) Do NOT make people retweet (RT) a certain message so that they enter the contest. It may be an easy thing to ask of your participants, but I think it’s a fairly cheap and non-genuine way to interact with your followers. For example: I am not a fan of contests where you have to do something like this:
RT @SomeContest: I’ve just entered my name on http://www.example.com for a chance to win a super-duper prize! Yay me!
3) Do NOT require people to follow you (or your brand) as a way of entering the contest. You know how most official contests have a guideline that no purchase is necessary (this is actually an FTC rule; more info here) to enter a sweepstakes? Same with the following. It’s not necessary. I think it’s an artificial way to bring up a following count. If people are genuinely interested in what you have to offer, they will follow you without you asking.
4) Do NOT create a contest where the winner of a contest will be an Xth follower (i.e, a follower milestone). For example, don’t declare that the contest winner will be “my 1,000th follower.” I’ve had personal experience with running a contest this way, and it doesn’t work for a few reasons.
- First, those that follow you may not necessarily be aware that you are holding a contest. So someone may follow you but may not care for the prize of your contest. This happened to me with my 600th follower, who was some kind of big-time CEO who didn’t much care for a free print.
- Second, there are spammers out there. This happened with my 500th follower, who turned out to be a spammer. I had to unfollow the spammer, then wait for a legitimate 500th follower (who also had to be aware and interested in my contest). Luckily, that turned out to be the case, but it’s not something that I want to deal with in the future.
- Third, if you have a large following base, and you declare a prize for an Xth follower, you’ll see a gradual increase in number of followers, but expect a huge spike around the Xth follower. It might be a challenge figuring out who the legitimate follower was. Do you really want to deal with that issue?
5) Do NOT make a twitter user disclose any personal information. This last point is fairly obvious, but it bears repeating: all personal details should be dealt away from Twitter (an email exhchange is ideal, though a communication via direct message is suitable as well).
I’ve outlined five ways of how NOT to run a contest on Twitter. Tune in to my next post (in about a week) to gain some insight into what I think would make for holding an awesome contest via Twitter.
Yesterday on Erudite Expressions, I posted an image of New Yankee Stadium. I captured the photo earlier in the summer, but I think it was very fitting to post it last night to commemorate the New York Yankees, as they won their 27th World Series. New York Yankees: 2009 World Series Champions. Great headline, right?
Today, I spent some time searching the web to find great images of New Yankee Stadium. I searched for photos on Google images, Yahoo! images, Bing images, Flickr, and some other places on the web. Unfortunately, I had to come to the conclusion that most of the photos of New Yankee Stadium weren’t that great – either in composition, technical merit, etc. Of course, I was judging against my picture (it is a high dynamic range image), which is shown below:
I think that all of you fans of the New York Yankees should head on over to that photoblog post and order a print of that image (there’s even a discount code you can use). But if you’re still not convinced, and you want to receive a free print of the image above, I have a challenge for you.
Search the web for the best image of New Yankee Stadium that you can find and add the link as a comment below this post. My only two stipulations: 1) The composition of the image has to be similar (i.e., it must be a picture taken from a vantage point such that you can see the entire field) and 2) The image must be iconic or memorable for some reason (for example, I think the picture above is iconic because the American flag is displayed on the HD screen). With regard to stipulation number two, you should describe or explain your thoughts/feelings in the comment.
If I agree* with your selection of an incredible image of New Yankee Stadium, I’ll send you a free 4″x6″ print of my image of New Yankee Stadium (the one pictured above). As a bonus, if more than ten people leave a comment on this post, then I’ll upgrade the offer to a free 8″x12″ print. This contest will close in one week, so make sure to submit your comment by midnight on November 13, 2009.
So, leave a comment with what you think is an incredible image of New Yankee Stadium. And spread the word (on twitter, facebook, or wherever else you want) if you want to receive the larger 8″x12″ print.
UPDATE: The contest is now closed, but if you’re so inclined, feel free to submit a comment pointing to a beautiful picture of New Yankee Stadium.
*If there is enough participation in this contest, I may choose to invite a community (example: twitter poll) to decide which picture of New Yankee Stadium is the most iconic one.
I’m not gonna waste your time; I’m gonna tell it just like it is.
These are prints, not works of art. They come unframed. If that’s what you’re looking for, that’s what I got.
A bouncer in Birmingham told me that he wouldn’t frame my prints even if I gave them away for free. And my best friend told me that he didn’t even know that I sold prints.
So if you don’t buy a print from me, it ain’t gonna hurt my feelings.
In case you are confused, the above text is based on this awesome commercial of an honest man selling mobile homes in Alabama:
For many months now, I wanted to implement a system on my photoblog, Erudite Expressions, whereby customers could order prints and frames to go along with them. One company which would allow me to sell prints along with frames was Imagekind. I decided to give them a try by ordering two prints. The following is my experience with the prints and Imagekind’s customer service. The reason I am posting this review so late is that it took over a month and a half for Imagekind to resolve a print return issue.
For “The Blue Door” I chose the 16.0″x10.7″ print size with the Somerset Velvet Fine Art finish, and for “Capri Unfolding” I chose a 24″x16″ print with an Enhanced Matte finish.
Package Arrival and the Case for Flat Shipping
The package with the prints arrived around April 20, 2009 (the package was shipped domestic ground), so it took about ten days total for the package to arrive. When I received the package, I was immediately frustrated and disappointed. Why? Because the prints arrived in a tube, certainly something I am not used to when ordering prints from other places.
This was the first offense for Imagekind. It may be a personal choice whether you want to receive prints in a tube, but to me, there is no question about it: prints should be shipped flat. What’s really amazing is that the largest print size in the order was 24″x16″, and this print size is well within reason of being shipped flat. I made an informal inquiry as to why Imagekind shipped the prints in a tube, and their reply was:
Have to ship in a tube for the large sizes. We can ship flat for the smaller prints, but too much risk for large; they bend
Um, they bend? Not if the packaging in which flat prints arrive is secure. I have ordered prints as large as 30″x20″ from Mpix, and Mpix doesn’t have a problem shipping prints flat. In fact, every single order which I have placed from Mpix arrived in a secure, sturdy flat package, and I have yet to receive a print order from Mpix in which my prints arrived bent or otherwise damaged.
Look (and I am not sure if Imagekind gets it): if prints were meant to be shipped in a tube, then the expectation is that they prints are to be “consumed” rolled up. The fact of the matter is that it is impossible (or extremely difficult) to get the prints to lie flat after being rolled up. Is the intention of the rolled print to be dumped, or to be framed? If the intention is to be framed, then for me, the absolute requirement for print delivery is that the print is shipped the way it is printed: flat.
The images below show the two prints, as I received them:
Notice something about the print above? After being unrolled, I placed the print under a number of heavy books, hoping that the print will spring back into a flat shape. Such wasn’t the case, as you can see. How about the other print?
Again, I had great difficulty flattening the other print, “Capri Unfolding.” Another angle of view of the print is shown below:
Again, notice that the print does not lie flat. I captured this image well over a month after receiving it. During that time period, I placed the print under a heavy load of books and other stuff. As you can see, even an extended period of time under a heavy load did not help the print regain its original splendor.
The next item to consider is the quality of the prints. First, note that the initial impression of the prints was already damaged because the prints were not flat, and non-flat prints necessarily means their quality is less than perfect.
As I mentioned, I ordered the prints on two different finishes/papers. The “Old Blue Door” had the Somerset Velvet Fine Art finish, described on Imagekind’s website as:
Somerset Velvet is a delicately textured fine art paper engineered to give you the highest resolution and color saturation possible. It has always been the first paper choice among serious artists and printmakers dating back to the 1700’s and the days of handmade paper. Somerset Velvet is 100% cotton, acid-free paper with luxurious weight, texture and finish that truly delivers museum quality appearance.
The print of “Capri Unfolding” was printed on Enhanced Matte paper, described by Imagekind’s website as:
For artists and photographers seeking a flat matte surface, Epson Enhanced Matte Paper is the ideal choice. This bright, white paper is perfect for images that do not require gloss. It yields highly saturated images, while maintaining excellent highlight and shadow detail. Professional photographers, digital artists and amateurs alike will find Epson Enhanced Matte Paper a remarkable choice for any project.
I thought that the print quality of the Enhanced Matter paper was excellent. The colours of the “Capri Unfolding” print were vibrant and saturated, just as with the image I uploaded to Imagekind’s server. Additionally, as Imagekind’s statement about the paper claimed, the shadows and highlights were well maintained. For the 24″x16″ print of “Capri Unfolding” with the enhanced matter paper finish, I paid a total of $12.99. Definitely a solid price.
However, my opinion of the “Old Blue Door” print (the one with the Somerset Velvet Fine Art finish) is different. I thought the print looked muddy, the saturated colours of the blues were washed out, and the overall print texture wasn’t appealing. The print size was 16″x10.7″ (which is roughly equal to the 1.5 aspect ratio of the original image I uploaded). The biggest deal killer regarding this print is that it is quite expensive: $19.49. So, combining the following facts: that the print came in irregular size (why not just do 15″x10″?), that the print quality wasn’t amazing (I actually prefered the Enhanced Matte finish more than the Somerset Velvet Fine Art finish), and that the cost of the print most certainly didn’t justify its quality, I decided to return the print back to Imagekind.
Returning the Print
Imagekind has a great policy regarding prints with which you are unsatisfied. If you are unhappy with your print order – for whatever reason – you can return the print within thirty days for a full refund. Per Imagekind’s website:
We are confident in the quality of our products and your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed. If for any reason you are not satisfied with your purchase, you may return it within 30 days of receipt for a full refund on the price of the item. To return it to us, please pack it in the original packaging and include the completed Return Form. Shipping charges will not be refunded.
I decided that I liked the 24″x16″ print of “Capri Unfolding,” but the 16″x10.7″ print of “Old Blue Door” didn’t warrant keeping. So as requested, I filled out a form in which I detailed my dissatisfaction with the “Old Blue Door” print, rolled the print back up and placed it in the original packaging.
I shipped the package back to Imagekind a few days after receiving a package from them. Since the tube is somewhat heavy, I shipped the package back by domestic ground (the cost was around $5). As Imagekind states, the company does not refund shipping charges.
Imagekind’s Customer Service
After shipping back the package with one of the prints, I expected that Imagekind would make an adjustment to my credit card within seven to ten days. Unfortunately, my experience was far from that case.
My assumption was that the print arrived back to Imagekind headquarters (at the latest) by May 1, 2009. I thus expected a refund of $19.49 visible on my credit card statement by around May 7 (that’s giving Imagekind a week to process the return and crediting back the amount). After checking my credit card statement for April 10 to May 15, I noticed that there was no adjustment made from Imagekind.
Frustrated, I contacted Imagekind customer service by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) on May 17, 2009, asking them why my refund has not been issued. After making this initial inquiry I received a generic response from Imagekind letting me know that “We have received your inquiry and are assigning it to a representative. You can expect to receive a response from us within two business days.” The next day (May 18), I received a response from Tracy (one of the representatives at Imagekind) that they have “found a record of your returned item and issued a refund. You should see a credit on your account statement for $19.49 in 2-3 business days.”
So I waited three more days. I checked my credit card statement. Still no refund from Imagekind. I waited a few more days, thinking that it might take another day or two for the refund to go through. On May 31, I checked my credit card statement, and there was still no refund. This time, extremely frustrated, I send Imagekind another email asking why the refund hasn’t been issued…The response I received is both baffling and inexcusable:
“I’m sorry for the delay. Your refund was marked as complete in one area but we didn’t actually put the refund through.”
What? How does that even work? Complete in one area? Which area? A refund shouldn’t be considered complete unless the refund actually goes through and I see it on my credit card statement. Anything less on Imagekind’s part, and the words “refund” and “complete” should never be used together in the same sentence.
I sent Imagekind another email letting them know how unhappy I was with this customer service. Think about this for a second: when you send an item for a refund and the company receives said item, you expect the refund process to go smoothly and see it posted on your credit card statement in a reasonable amount of time. In my case, I had to send not one but two inquiries to the care team at Imagekind asking them what is taking them so long to process a refund. To me, that kind of customer service is most definitely sub-standard. My suspicion is that if I didn’t contact Imagekind (twice!), my refund would have never been issued.
However, this customer service story isn’t all bad. I finally received my refund on June 3, 2009 (after a month and a half of waiting). I also received a personal phone call from Tracy, who messed up processing the return the first time. She offered her sincere apology, and I received a $20 gift certificate for future purchases at Imagekind.
Before ordering prints from Imagekind, I was almost certain I was going to use their services to offer customers the ability to buy prints and frames. However, after the two strikes (first, shipping the prints in a tube rather than in a flat envelope; and second, the major delay for issuing a refund for a returned print), I am hesitant in considering Imagekind for further print orders, and most certainly, for using their service to sell my prints with various options for prints and frames.
I must state that my review of Imagekind prints and their customer service is certainly not comprehensive: I only ordered two prints and possibly had an aberration with regard to receiving a print refund. Still, my review isn’t the only negative review of Imagekind you will find on the internet. I am sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, of customers quite happy with their experience (both in print order fulfillment and customer service) with Imagekind. Unfortunately, based on my experience, I will hold off offering the ability to purchase my prints via Imagekind, and I will continue looking into other alternatives.
If you’ve had experience buying from Imagekind and/or offering customers the ability to buy prints/frames with Imagekind, feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comments.
I recently received an 8″x10″ canvas print from ZaZa Gallery, a small company owned by Hugh Parker and his wife. The husband and wife team started out as an art company, but have since focused on creating canvas prints for customers. I received a complimentary 8″x10″ print of one of my images, Overlook in Mijas, which may be found on my photoblog here. In return, I’ve agreed to write a review of the canvas print which follows below.