The Phoenix: Rising Again to Capture the Beauty of the Build
Name: Connie Anderson
Name of Company: Connie Anderson Photography
Location: Houston, TX
Bragworthy Factoid: Having one of her images featured on the homepage of HGTV.com for several days
Market: Interior & Architectural
Smugger since: 2008
- Being named Hawaiian Style magazine’s architectural photographer of record for the islands
- Realizing she was shooting multimillion-dollar properties on a daily basis
- Bringing revenues nearly back to where they were before the housing crash of 2008
Movin’ on up
Anderson never intended to become an interiors photographer. Living in exotic Hawaii, she had always loved photography and simply fell into shooting editorial for a local magazine with an international audience. The magazine did not survive the recession, but her contacts did; before long, realtors were asking her to photograph high-end properties. “I discovered that I really loved doing editorial work because it told a story,” Anderson says. “Shooting interiors and architecture can also tell a story. You have these gorgeous properties to shoot. I was excited to get back and pull images off my card and work with them. I decided to make it my specific goal in my work.” Before long, she’d schooled herself in the necessities of her specialty, including optimizing interior lighting. In addition to commercial work, her images have been published in Hawaiian Style, Luxury Pools and other national publications.
SmugMug in the house
Anderson’s passion for SmugMug can be summed up in two words: esthetics and marketing. “Before moving over to SmugMug, I was being hosted by another site, where my images lacked life and luster,” she says. “On more than a few occasions, people have said how clear and crisp my images look, and this is because of Smugmug.” Her work to customize her site also paid off. “When I first joined, I knew I wanted plenty of customization,” she says. “I perused [forum] threads for a solid week looking for tweaks. The heroes were always helpful and I got my answers quickly.” Reaching out to her client base of home builders, architects, landscape architects, interior designers, pool folks, restaurants and pretty much anyone in hospitality or with a business they want to market professionally also requires a strong command of Google SEO. “Smugmug helped get my site [indexed] faster on Google and gave me the tools to expand on what they’d done by easily allowing keywords on images.” Anderson recommends naming the images you post instead of using generic file numbers to help boost your search results. When she relocated from Hawaii to Houston recently, she changed all her images’ tags in her SmugMug galleries, a move Google Analytics has shown was successful. In fact, optimizing her tagging using SmugMug features like captioning and keywords has helped Anderson appear in the top three or four Google results when potential clients search for such phrases as “Houston Interior Photographer” and “Houston Architectural Photographer.”
Animating the inanimate
Like photographers who shoot live subjects, Anderson enjoys creating images that prompt an emotional response in viewers, pointing out that all photographers love creating beautiful images, regardless of specialty. “I love the inanimate part of photography,” she says. “Lines, color, décor…I find them all appealing. It’s creating beauty—creating something that one wants to walk through.” She credits SmugMug with making her shots look equally striking on her site, monitor and in print. “It’s a consistency that I appreciate—SmugMug is so focused on the look, the best quality, the best sharpness you can get.” Citing image display as one of her most-used features, Anderson points out that you save time using galleries for proofing. “The ability to view them in the larger size is extremely helpful.”
When the bubble burst
The recession hit the real estate industry hard. Anderson was caught in the resulting tidal wave. “After almost nine years in Hawaii, I made a move back to Houston and started over. SmugMug was right behind me. I was fortunate to have a good portfolio; it just took some marketing effort on my part.” Anderson hasn’t changed her focus so much as her tactics. “I’m doing mostly interiors and architecture and I really enjoy that. I was working with a lot of realtors in Hawaii. When I got back to Texas, I realized that was a mistake. I quickly switched gears to focus on builders. They have the budget and were building consistently.” After landing some steady clients, Anderson’s business has thrived, mostly via word-of-mouth and Google. She emphasizes that social media is one of the best ways to get your work seen by potential clients, and uses SmugMug’s quick-share tool often. “When I’ve uploaded new images, it’s great to be able to share the link on my favorite social media sites in one click,” she says.
Building a future
When it comes to futures planning, Anderson believes technology’s where it’s at. “SmugMug has given me a mobile presence. I was reading about that last year, that ‘if you don’t have one by end of year, you’re missing out on ‘X’ percent of business,” she says. “Once again, SmugMug had my back. I depend on that. I wear a lot of hats; I appreciate that they are on top of this.” Excited about future site customization she has planned, Anderson looks forward to continuing the partnership. “Images will always be needed. We just need to figure out how they will be used,” she says. “My images are used mostly online, and I need to stay on top of what’s coming in technology.”
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