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Worst photoshoot casting ever !!!

November 5th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in article, photography

A few weeks ago, I got some changes in my life, and I decided to travel a little bit more than usual. I deciced to move for a few weeks in Australia, because I have a good friend there, she’s a successful Wedding Photographer in Sydney, and I m more active in Photoshoot and photography work.

I was so interested to make a few photoshoots with models of different countries, various reasons for that.. I have the time, it makes me work in english ( directing, giving instructions ), the weather and place to make outdoor photo session are amazing, with symbolic building ( sky tower in Auckland, Opera House in Sydney ) and lovely beaches.

How to find models when you are not from the country ? It was especially frustrating for me as I m managing a Facebook group of Photographers, Models and Make Up Artist in Toulouse, with more than 600 members now. so I have already my own network.

So .. how to find a models when you are photographer coming in a new country or new city ? I knew ModelMayhem to be an international directory, so for a few weeks, I tried to browse and request proposal to Models in Sydney. With a quite low read confirmation level ( when you post a message to a ModelMayhem member, you can check if he/she reads it. Fair enough, I didnt have myself the most professional portfolio even if my recent session were quite good. I finally succeeded to make 2 photoshoots ( one as a Paid Assignement , and another as TFP ) in Sydney.

What is a TFP ? 

TFP is a new vocabulary in english than I didn’t know. it means Trade For Print. You exchange your time as a photograph with the time of the model, and in exchange, you are providing the pictures of the session ( edited, sorted etc.. ). Actually it doesn’t mean you have really to print the pictures, only provide them to the model. so the both parties can add new pictures in their book and portfolio. Of course TFP ( free photoshoot session ) doesn’t attract the best models who has already some work paid, and will not need extra pictures… UNLESS.. you can provide some style and pictures they don’t already have. So if you are good, ( or famous ) , you could get some interest even for better models. In my personal case, I like more the portraits, and close up also named headshot. It’s something models rarely have, as more photographer prefers artistic, nude ( of course ) , or fashion shoots. the kind of shoots which doesn’t reveal the true “face” of the model. Anyway, it’s another article.
In Short, TFP is free job for both parties, and sure you can expect less replies and less motivation.. we will confirm this later but not only.

ModelMayhem vs StarNow !

I didn’t know ModelMayhem very well but I had an account in 2009, I find the directory and web site very ugly, but at least, the directory and database is big. My concern is the email notification, I had the feeling people weren’t receiving my messages. The quality of the directory is uneven some very good profil and some very lame .. but it is like that for any directory. For my short trip in New Zealand, I was using for the first time the travel notice, and I got an answer in 30 minutes, I was just amazed… at the end, this person didn’t show up, we were txting and whatever at the end the result is the same.
Now, about Starnow.com the website looks more modern, with a better looking model profil page, and a good casting management. Actually once I launched my first casting (with some strategic mistake as any first time ). I did it for New Zealand ( Auckland ) and for Australia ( Sydney ) , I got in a few hours 40 applications, ( I reached in total 65 applications ) , what a difference. I was really happy and started to select models and communicate. I got some unbelievable request for my casting about http://www.the-smiling-project.org ) , for exemple from Miss New Zealand 2012 !

In a casting in Starnow, you can define different roles, due to the number of requests I received, I quickly add a new role as TFP ( my first guess was to make paid assignement , that’s what I put in my project description )
Whatever the models receive the notification I got some request in the TFP category too. so I decided to focus on the free collaboration for sure. I got some exchanges with some people, but my first conclusion is : People don’t read !

As it looks like a casting and contest, people just apply. some of them add a description which shows they read about your project. but they just don’t follow up, or too slowly ( more than 2 days for a casting planned for a few days later , it’s just toooooo slow ! ). I don’t know how it works for girls and teenagers in NZ ! but they don’t seem to be concerned to have their email and notification on their phone.. while I got a micro sim at the airport for a decent price.. I still don’t understand.
At the end, I tried to organize 2 photoshoots session, one sunday ( for people which have their week end ) and another monday just before my departure.
I received a total of 23 applications for the NZ ( around 500 views ) , I selected half of the participants, and try to focus on a few of them. I didn’t have a crush on a single one, or at least it wasn’t a person interested in TFP. I selected some beginners, just to be kind, and because I was sure to be able to help them in their portfolio ( my exchange spirit.. )

Whatever Starnow is a wonderful platform for the contacts ( at the opposite of ModelMayhem, you have really a good visibility and volume of models ), the result is the same.. even with phone number and txting to be sure they will have the message, I got 2 times 2 models .. and at the end.. nobody came. Some of them just gave some lame excuses before ( a couple of hours and because i was doing a follow up before the session ), some just didn’t reply.

Models stood me up

In french we have an expression “poser un lapin”, when someone is not coming, it could be badly translated as ” put a rabbit ” that’s why I added a rabbit picture in the article.
I m mad, I never seen such a result, on 4 models who confirmed to come. none came.. and even one was promised to be paid. it was only 2 hours photoshoots, in the easiest part of the city to access ( close to the downtown with all the train stations and bus stations )  in Albert Park. The weather was better than expected in the 2 days with wonderful light. It was planned for the end of the afternoon and even people working could have come after their work or the school for the students.
So I was like an idiot waiting for a while, then I left.. I paid the parking, came from 30 km away for nothing… 2 times in a raw ! I m cursed ? well. At least I got the 100% success rate in Sydney, models were on time, professionnal, sweet, no issues on this ( only some problem with the follow up to choose the pictures and validate the best one to go public )

Why they didn’t come ?

Some reasons ( and I won’t have the truth )  :

– Too young
– Too Lazy
– Cursed and unlucky
– no Free job
– Intimidated
– Idiots

all the reasons would need to be developped, it could be a little of several factors. at least, one of the models was paid, and she didn’t came either, so… the money wasn’t the limitation.

And what about a model agencies ?

Well the funny part, before starting to use Starnow, I was looking by google if such my facebook group equivalent was existing, or any other models group )
I ended up with a model agency, so I placed an enquiry.
Well, I got a reply but it wasn’t very fast and it was like if my english wasn’t good. with a minimum of 3 hours at  85$ NZD ( around 50€ per hour ) it wasn’t so bad. but I was thinking it would have been fine to use Starnow with 20ish requests received  in a few hours. The guy wasn’t responsive enough to make it happens. 2 or 3 models he sent me , would have been good for my project. The web site was : www.nzmodelling.com

Definitely in a next trip I would try this option again just to be sure to have at least a model from the agency.

TO BE CONTINUED.. with the Sydney casting, trying to learn from the mistakes, but what mistakes I did :) that’s the question.

Conclusion  : well, too soon, i will continue to investigate.




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How a new idea is born : THE-smiling-project.org

September 30th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in article, emarketing, photography

I m doing a lot of things, business, entrepreneur, neuromarketing, network and event  organizer, but I m also a photographer, and single since a few weeks… what’s the point to mention this ? .. you will understand. it’s rare to find some storytelling about how the idea came and what people are thinking at the time they just got the idea. so I m writing down all the details I have think about, during a walk trip around Manly Beach around Sydney.

Fact 1 : I like portraits. the thing I prefer is taking portraits. not because of the technical challenge of the photo, but just to be able to please people, and especially the ones who never had a real professionnal photoshoot before. Actually I have dozens of friends or contacts which are using my shoots for their profile pictures, and I like this, I like to have this new relationship with someone to receive his confidence, and allow me to have the intimacy to be the first.. the first photographer I mean :)

Fact 2 : Photo Battle software available .
Part of my business is software, software for end users, photo tagging for mobile, and recently with new projects, I m involved in decision making platform, using neuromarketing but also with simple solution. One of these software is a photo battle platform, ( such hotornot, or facematch a long time ago ), it’s easier and so “mobile” to show 2 pictures side by side and to choose the one you prefer, and so, I have this plateform available, but I needed a test project of my own to make some test with more people. ( contribution, validation, upload of new pictures ). I have the technical backoffice ready for this idea, that’s why the project is possible in a short time.

Fact 3 : how to make people discuss in the real world ?

That’s the problem and the solution, I m single and photographer, I want to meet new faces, but I m also shy. how to find a way to discuss with someone you don’t know ( for exemple this morning a group of 3 teenagers which were the perfect subjects for the project ). I don’t mean this project could be the solution to find a date but a way to be at ease to discuss with new people. just a way to exchange, obtain a little “yes”, because the request is rather easy. and so the confidence will come with the time and experience.

Fact 4 : a good idea, is a simple idea,
a simple idea doesn’t need a lot of explanation, it’s easy to expose. Part of my thoughts today was to find the best pitch to expose the project, the key sentence to explain it ( the tagline ) and how to justify each part ( that’s what I m building in the same time in this article )

Fact 5 : Ignore the competition, maybe this idea exists ( because it’s a simple idea ), but I did some research with the first name I had in mind, and only 2 web sites are using it. so it will be easy to be referenced in google search engine in front of the 2 others references I found. Also, this time, the exact domain name I wanted is available. ( let’s hope it’s a correct english one )

Fact 6 : there are always some persons who are inspiring you

Actually, I need to dedicate the project to 2 persons, one than I don’t know in real yet, and another one I meet only a few weeks ago, but than I appreciate for her support. Sometimes it’s when you have new friends which doesn’t know you since a long time than they can bring you a new point of view about yourself.

Fact 7 : some people like contest.

Because once you have collected plenty of pictures, you still need to show them off ! and because of the portrait orientation of the shoots, I think the best way to entertain people to watch pictures, is the photo battle view ( so 2 pictures by screen , one click to select the “best” smile and it will load another 2 pictures side by side. this way , it can also turn the platform into a contest for both models and photographers, an option would be implemented to see the best results of the last months ( new entries ) and ALL time ( to keep the best pictures forever accessible )

< screenshot to add soon here >

What is the project then !!!!! ??? 


Instead of explaining the project with sentences, I m detailing it with a real sample and dialog ! ( with scenario of what could happen and what to do )

me ( a photographer ) : Hello, my name is Fabrice, I m part of  THE-Smiling-project, could you smile for me ?

Case 1 : reply : no sorry, I don’t smile, I m not a nice person, I will call the police, go away
in this case, that’s fine, she is not a person you want to discuss with anyway, that’s not your fault.

Case 2 : sorry, can you tell me more ? what is this project ?

the-smiling-project is a web site when we publish a lot of photos of people smiling. just because we think it is important to share happiness moment, I asked you because I saw you are a smiling persons, so I thought you would agree to participate. We take picture all over the world just to show we are finally all the same when we are happy!

( a lot of arguments can be used, depending on the persons, but once you have the dialog opened, even if you don’t have the shoot, you have discussed with someone new ! ) and it’s better approach to just claim to be a photographer and you like the smile / face of this person.

Case 3 :

the person replies :  Yes sure, ( person smiling ) …shoot … done !

if she doesn’t ask question back, that’s not a problem, you can always give a business card, and suggest to contact you to share the picture, or ask her contact.
and after the shoot  ?

you will need to upload the picture, and it will be added in the general contest , the contest is a front page with some links to explain the project, but mainly it’s the battle view with the sentence : which smile do you prefer ?

Requirement : 

You could benefit to use a good digital camera, to look really like a photographer, but it could work with an iPhone too.. if you have the legitimity of a “THE-Smiling-project.org” business card ! ( that’s why we consider to do that , as soon as possible )

Projet summary :

web site :  http://www.the-smiling-project.org

a photo web site which connect people with a smile.
Volunteers all over the world collect happiness photos

TakeAways : 

– project to meet new persons
– platform for photographers to show their work
– social experience using crowdrating to understand people preference
– personal ( real user case of PhotoBattle  platform )

Problems still to be resolved :

How to get the contact / email / name of the persons ? if they don’t follow the project from the information of the business card.
How to not scare them if they understand they could be published online.
How to deal with moderation and allow people to tag themselves.
What business model  ? :)

More reading :




ARTICLE IS UNFINISHED YET… public just to let some helpers to review it and helps to correct or give first feedback. more content to be updated ( logo, tagline etc.. )


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Pretotyping vs Lean startup vs BootStrapping vs Scrum method ?

A long time, I didn’t write in english ( which is definitely not my native language and I apologize in advance for all the mistakes ) but as I will speak about a video in english, let’s be international.

pretotyping or prototyping

Quick testing to fail at no cost

A few days ago, Dan Epelman, Director of Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business suggested me to look at  http://www.pretotyping.org/pretotype-it—the-book , after I mentioned than one of my last project which is a eco-friendly printer software was built ( idea to product including the mid term communication strategy ) using some of the methods I discovered when I was in Stanford ( class of  Strategic Marketing Management , Class of 2010 )

I liked a lot this video of Pretotyping, but my purpose isn’t to explain what it is , because the video and the book are there , but the question is why I liked it ? and  why I would like to share it ? and what is the link with my current activities or practice.

In short, from how I understand, the pretotyping approach is to validate a concept with a very small test before launching the prototype. Most of ideas fails, and the only way to ask to somebody if they agree and like the idea isn’t enough. and it’s sooooooo true ! ask if they would like a service and they will probably say yes, if they don’t need to pay, or even just use it regularly.

Once I watched the video ( I didnt read the book yet ) , I was thinking about all the other methods arounds to compare, what is the difference with bootstrapping ( = make a project with no or few ressources ), the lean startup, or scrum methods ? that’s all the same and all different methods, depending what is your background , what is your current project status, and your past experience about it.

What I like about the Pretotyping manifesto is the fact is make sense, but it feels so much what and how I works already, so I will be part of the people who like it because it gives fundamentals, basement, canvas, theory to what I think I m doing already.

The definition of Pretotyping by the authors :

[pree-tuh-tahy-ping], verb: 

Testing the initial appeal and actual usage of a potential new product by simulating its core experience withthe smallest possible investment of time and money.

But I prefer much more the tagline :

Make Sure you are building the right “it” before your build it right

And that’s true, most of the ideas aren’t so good, or people will not put the energy ( or money ) to use the service or the product, that’s why things like http://www.startupweekend.org is a great way to validate an idea in a very short period of time ( 2 days )

In my own experience, I never hesitated to use “fake door” method, which is for exemple to put a button in your app, and even if this button makes nothing you track how many people are using it.

if people doesn’t use it, it could be because :

1 – it’s not visible
2 – not well explained ( wording in the button, or explanations )
3 – People doesn’t have any interest in it.

it requires some experience to know what to do in each case, and when to give up. Your idea is great, your product is great, but you just don’t know how to access people who could use it.. it’s the most common problem I could see.

Another notice, I am member and investor in the local business angels association of my area, so I have seen dozens of pitchs and presentation, so I know how much it is valuable to not only have the idea but to also to know how to validate them, then convince investors, then .. make it profitable ! As said in the video, no point to spend 1.2 Millions in communication to make 1M in profit, unless you have really a good branding strategy.

One last thing…

Finally, the video has been recorded in January 2012 and it is funny to see what they said about instagram now we know the acquisition details http://mashable.com/2012/04/10/instagram-timeline/

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How to use Popup domination, aweber or mailchimp for mailing

February 25th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in article, ecommerce, emarketing

BIG UPDATE : April 2012 , My own company acquires a competitor of Popup Domination, we are welcome to check it : http://www.wpsubscribers.com , it’s a good alternative to consider to build your mailing list with wordpress

What all these names ? it’s email marketing tools. to create mailing list and campaigns and send your crap to your visitor. I m not very fond of these tools but I don’t want to spam them, I want to notify them, and it is all the difference.
from some friends and contact, I have been recommanded 2 tools to power the mailing list :

Aweber logo

http://www.aweber.com or http://www.mailchimp.com

I selected mailchimp, because the monkey was fun :) , it is not only the reason, there is a free plan, and I have heard of a bug with aweber concerning the post and validation message to be in english only, which will not be suitable with my users database. Also because they have a free app for iPhone and the trend of popularity of their service seem to be pretty good

If you check at the popularity of the 2 services with Alexa

In order to get new subscribers or notify existing customers, I choosed this plugin for wordpress :

Popup Domination plugin which is supposed to work well with wordpress and compatible with either aweber or chimpmail as a backend.

stay tuned, you should see the popup to try it in a few seconds if you didn’t see it already

And now, the new reference is really WPSubscribers, because it is more complete and contains more methods, and because I can make sure development includes new requirement and suggestions for bloggers and users

logo of WPSubscribers


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what is UX – User eXperience – definition and practice

February 15th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in article, marketing

What is UX ( User exPerience ) ? what is the gain, how it works ? what it is covering ?
User eXperience is the term to define how the user of a product or service will feel about the experience to discover, understand, choose, buy and use the product or service of a company.
Everyone is concerned, and feel it as customers, a visitor, a buyer.
the purpose is to “fix” or improve each parts of the whole process to make the experience of the user as positive as possible. but it is subjective, as it may depends on each persons. nevertheless, the art of the User eXperience is to maximize the quality of the user, by both collecting feedback from the users, and offering the best practice.
Imagine a customer in a shop, he find a product filling his need, expectation and just look about how to pay it, but the registers are hidden in the corner of the shop. Do you think he will be happy, will it give up the process, buy or not ?
if he succeed to buy, will it affect his opinion about the shop ?
Buying process is only one sample and one step of a process, but do you know only 20% of the willing purchase process are completed online ?
Why ? it may be because of the buy button isn’t visible, because the purchaser is hesitating, and doesn’t have the confidence in your web site ( we consider he has really decided to buy this exact product ).
With the same product, 2 different web sites may offer a different User eXperience, it can be because of the price, the payment method ( imagine you don’t accept the american express ), the easyness to register a new account, the easyness of the way to remember your account information ( recurrent purchase ), the incentive and special offers you may add and which can confuse the user if they need to make another choice.

there are so many little steps which can make a difference. each step , each details can play on 3% of the decision to continue or not. it is not critical, but if you multiply this small lost on each sales, you will quickly understand about how a UX expert ( the guy which will help you to build a better UX offer ) will make great return over investment on it.

How it works ? that’s the nice part, you have absolutely nothing to prepare on your side, the less information you give, the best return and benefit you will get. Simply give the web site, or address of your real shop, and the UX expert will do both a testing and a review of the process.
The UX testing part is here to check how it works , what part are easy to use, and which one require additional information, or update to be suitable to the current standards.
Once he will do the full experience of the product usage, or product purchase, he will provide a list of things to improve. At this step you can continue alone to fix the problems, and submit a new validation with the same expert or another. Or.. you can work with the UX consultant to improve each part. It’s where ergonomics and design could be consider as tools used by the Usability eXperience experts.

– Could be a new position of information – new layout

– Using different words ( call to action optimization ), it can be as well for the purchase process, as well the product name, or how the user could consider your company from the words and values you promote.

– Create and define the brand. That’s the long term strategy any company should define, but I consider this part more specialized, even if the user experience needs to fit your company values ( … so it means you need to have define company values ). If you promote easyness with a complicated shopping cart.. it won’t let you have the best conversion ratio ( the amount of sales completed over the number of visits )

I can help you to discover all the other aspects of the user experience, just let a comment or contact me, don’t tell me about your problems or what you will like to improve, it is my job to find that, send me your web site link, and an email, and I will return you a link to a video with my live experience of your service, and where I m hesitating, where I m lost, or where I will be convinced to not purchase your service.

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Limited offer : Free Neuromarketing webinar

February 15th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in article, emarketing, Neuromarketing

About 6 months ago, I was lucky enough to be accepted in a Stanford Graduate School of Business entitled “Strategic Marketing Management” ( aka SMM ). One of the key subject was Neuromarketing, something I was sensitive already, as I was interested into NLP ( Neuro Linguistic programming ), but NeuroMarketing was getting straight to the point or very simple rules, which is changing your mind, and make you communicate, market, sell, or even create products and service a better way. I would like so much to share my mind with all the samples and all the actions and experience I ran since the last 6 months, and I need to thank again Baba Shiv and all the others faculties I have met ( and the participants )

Funny facts are my consulting company is named “brainfight”.. and the new company name is ObviousIdea, but in a contest where I received 1226 logos, the final winner was a logo with .. a brain.

You can watch a screencast I did  about how people behave to a choice of 8 selected logos, and how to select a logo ( in french sorry )

Today I received an email from a neuromarketing specialist, in exchange of a 5 minutes survey about your Twitter habits, you can watch a 1-hour webinar about Neuromarketing, and the basics rules which could turn your marketing skills and results to the next level. The webinar you will be able to watch is awesome, it is really a nice summary of the Neuromarketing secrets, and even with extensive class about it, I enjoyed the video at lot. If you understand it, you would be able to say too, it can definitly influence your mindset about how to communicate and market your products.

Fill the survey and watch the free webinar

Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts about the topic

UPDATE : I found a copy of this excellent video of the webinar on Youtube , watch it , it could change your life and the way you are doing business.

this Webinar is animated by Patrick Renvoise from SalesBrain, french founders based in silicon valleyr, and my favorite neuromarketing agency

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