What’s Keeping Me Busy
The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone in different ways. For me, its presented an unusual twist to my activities. I’ve felt the isolation of staying at home, not seeing my kids as often as I like and of course cancelling three planned photo expeditions this year. But, the pandemic has given me the opportunity to do a few things that I’ve been postponing. The months of August and September have been the most challenging and rewarding as I went back to tech school so I could update my website and prepare for live-streaming artist talks during Atlanta Celebrates Photography (ACP).
Atlanta Celebrates Photography – A Virtual Festival
Once it became obvious that COVID-19 was not going away any time certain and that the art show industry was at a dead stop, I started looking into other ways to expose my artwork to prospects and art appreciators. ACP emerged as a unique opportunity to take advantage of new technologies and new trends in consumer shopping. When I lived in Atlanta, participating in ACP was a no brainer. For the month of October, everything in Atlanta became focused on the art of photography. Events were planned in every gallery, contests were initiated, and a global population of photography aficionados converged on the city to celebrate photography. When COVID-19 put the brakes on this annual celebration, the organizers decided to fight back with a virtual festival. The new virtual festival allowed me to participate from Miami without the need for a physical presence and that’s when my tech skills had to be upgraded.
Designing and Developing the Online Catalog Announcement
ACP partnered with exposure.co to provide a rich visual catalog of ACP participants. As a participant, I had to learn this new design tool if I wanted my events to be included in the catalog. I was faced with the challenge of curating a collection and producing digital images for the catalog and organizing a slideshow on the exposure.co website that would be merged into the ACP catalog. As with any new tools, there is a learning curve which did not stop me from completing the task by the deadline. Check out my page in the ACP catalog. ACP shall be updating the list of artist talks shortly. Check often as new events are posted. You can also check my YouTube Channel for upcoming events.
Learning to Livestream on YouTube
The next I had to learn how to do a live broadcast which included sharing my computer screen so I could schedule, broadcast, and record artist talks. This may be a natural for the millennial crowd who go live on Facebook or share dance videos on TikToc, but its not so easy to do with a quality feed. I researched many platforms before landing on YouTube. YouTube has a great platform and lots of users but it is difficult to get started. YouTube limits the kind of content I can broadcast and they block me from including website links in my videos until I get at least 10,000 subscribers to my channel. The good news is that they have a very stable platform and their it integrates seamlessly with some high powered live-streaming studio software. I chose Streamlabs OBS because it works, is open source software, and is free to use.
Setting up for Professional Results
I also learned how to use my cellphone camera for broadcast using an inexpensive app called iVCam. Interestingly enough, the camera in most new phones is far superior to the webcams that people buy for their computer and iVCam makes it easy to set up and connect via USB cable to the OBS studio. Once I had OBS set up and a working camera connection I tried a couple test broadcasts. I was very happy with everything except for the audio. There was much too much echo and background noise for a professional video so I began looking into studio microphones and settled on the Yeti Blue microphone. The Yeti microphone is a studio microphone with a directional setting that captures my voice and cancels out the background noise. Its a huge improvement over the mic in my phone. So now I’m ready for my artist talks during ACP. I hope you will tune in to see several of my photo collections and learn what inspired me to create the images. Many of the works will not have been previously published or seen in public. I hope you will tune in and participate in the online events. While there, PLEASE SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel to help elevate my status to the point I can include links to my online portfolios and special deals for viewers.
Greatly Improved Website
One final note… I’ll be posting the recorded artist talks on my website for viewing after the broadcasts. The website has recently undergone a major update to make it mobile friendly. The framework I used to develop the website was about 10 years old. Since then the aging framework became a bloated dinosaur that was practically impossible to navigate on mobile devices. I selected a new mobile friendly framework to give the website a responsive design that works on mobile phones, tablets, and desktop computers. The new framework is lightweight and performs well. The speed is amazing. Navigation is quick and the shopping cart follows the visitor around the site if something is in the cart. The entire site was upgraded to use secure encryption and all payments are processed through Paypal. Please give it a test drive and send me your comments – good and bad.
Hope to see you soon at my online artist talks via YouTube.