Sunday Wedding

It’s not very often that there is a Sunday wedding, but this past weekend there was one. Working for Image Artz Photography I had the pleasure of photographing a wedding at the Double Tree Inn in Bay City, MI. This was an outdoor wedding and the weather was perfect.

Wedding in Bay City

The Double Tree is right next to a beautiful park in Downtown Bay City and we were able to get some great pictures of the bride and groom.

2009 Dow River Roar

The wife and I spent the weekend in Bay City working at the Dow River Roar.  On Saturday my wife had the Michigan Galaxy Queens down at the river helping kids in the Kroger Kids Zone.  I spent the weekend running around and snapping pictures.

2009 Bay City River Roar

Some picutres from the weekend can be seen at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/thetoad01/sets/72157620638584881/
I’ll keep posting more as the time to edit permits.  Images will also be posted on the River Roar website.

2009 Bay City River Roar
Champ F2 boat sponsored by Rico’s of Saginaw beats out local driver of Prime Brothers boat for the checkered flag!

Last Minute Photo Shoot

I got a phone call and had to throw together a photo shoot really fast.  The model got the clothing and makeup done in Saginaw and they drove to Bay City for the shoot.

It was about 4pm in the afternoon and there was not a cloud in the sky.  No assistant and all my equipment was in Saginaw.  I simply had a model, camera with 3 lenses, a great location and full blasting sun!

Sarah wearing BB Dakota Summer 2009 Dress

Sarah wearing BB Dakota Summer 2009 Dress

The pictures turned out great.  Now we need to decide which one the client is going to use for their magazine ad.

Need a photo for you advertisement, website or portfolio?  Contact me.
www.defoephotography.com

Car Repair

I was doing some work on the Labadie Buick GMC Cadillac website.  Today my concentration was on the body shop.  The manager of the body shop asked me to get some new pictures.  Of course I wanted action shots . . . cool stuff with sparks flying and such.  The before and after pictures are great but they are a little borning.

Every once and a while there is an image that everything just seems to come together.  This shot from the body shop today was one of those images.
Auto Body Shop Worker
I had the Olympus E500 camera set to auto (I didn’t want to look through the lens at the welding flair) with ISO and 100 using the Olympus FL-36R also set to auto.  There was a minimal amount of tweeking in Lightroom.

Car Pictures

If you’ve read this blog enough you have probably figured out that I take car pictures for the Labadie Dealerships in Bay City, MI.  These pictures end up on a lot of websites like AutoTrader, Cars.com and others.

This type of vehicle photograph can be a little boring because it’s the same shots day after day.  The element of challenge comes with the light.  A car a like a big mirror and shooting outside in full sun makes things tough.

2003 Olds Silhouette

2003 Olds Silhouette

This used Silhouette was shot in full daylight on a snowy day.

2007 Saturn Auro

2007 Saturn Auro

This 2007 Saturn Aura picture was taken after a cloud rolled in.  It’s much easier to get a good picture with some cloud cover.

2008 Chevrolet Impala

2008 Chevrolet Impala

Sometimes white cars can cause an auto white balance to freak out but on a sunny day with snow and the garage in the backround the auto WB worked with this used Chevy Impala.

SEO Challenge

In recent posts I’ve mentioned working on new websites for Labadie Auto Company.  The new sites are up and running (www.great-gm-deals.com, www.labadietoyota.com, www.labadiescion.com, www.baycitycars.com) we need to optimize for search engines.  I’ve been doing a lot of study over the past few years and some of the basics still work.  However, because we are using a site template from an industry specific company this causes some issues.

ALT TAGS
I do not have the ability to modify all the “alt” tags on the site.  This is a little area that I’m not sure exactly how much weight that Google gives to but I know that it increases keyword relevance.  The biggest issue here (in my humble opinion) is the vehicle images.  Even though the entire inventory page says what the car is I would also like the “alt” tag to show the vehicle year make and model.

PAGE TITLE
The page titles I do have control over.  Here’s the question about page title:  How many words/characters are to many?  I have read that you should have no more than 7 words, in another place I read no more than 66 characters and yet another say up to 70 characters is OK.  So perhaps I should just assume that 66-70 characters is OK.  When I looked at that the website template company created it was almost 240 characters!  OUCH!  So I have been trying to whittle down the number of characters and it is hard to limit to 70.  The new technique that many sites are employing seems to be using the | instead of frivolous or “stop words”.  Stop words are words that make a complete sentance but have no searchability such as in and the. 

My first draft title on one page was, “Labadie Toyota mid-Michigans #1 Toyota Dealer | Bay City Toyota | Saginaw Toyota | Midland Toyota.”  Using www.websitegrader.comthis title is 97 characters that makes it to long for optimization.  In doing some more study it probably is not a good thing to repeat the keyword of Toyota because this could be a black mark on Google making it look like we’re trying to load the keyword.  So I decided to go with “Labadie Toyota mid-Michigans #1 Toyota Dealer | Bay City | Saginaw | Midland.”  Still 6 characters to long!  Well at this point I’m keeping it and we’ll see what happens.

META DESCRIPTION
This one I think is important for more than one reason.  This is the text that is displayed for the description of the webpage on the search engines.  I want this to read well because it will make people decide whether they want to click on my link.  It’s one this to get to the top of Google but I also want clicks.  My first version of the description was, “Labadie Toyota is a BAY CITY Toyota dealer with Toyota sales and online cars. A BAY CITY MI Toyota dealership, Labadie Toyota is your BAY CITY new car dealer and BAY CITY used car dealer. We also offer auto leasing, car financing, Toyota auto repair service, and Toyota auto parts accessories.”  This was actually the description that the website template provider software came up with.  It looked OK but not great to me.  Again I ran it through www.websitegrader.com and I get a warning that the description is to long.  The recommendation is that the description be no longer than 150 characters.  So I changed the home page meta description to be, “Labadie Toyota is mid-Michigan’s #1 Toyota Dealer.  We are a full service dealership serving Bay City, Saginaw, Midland and the surrounding communities.”  This is 152 characters.  Again is this to long?  Is it going to effect my search engine optimization because we have 2 extra characters?  I don’t know so for now I’m leaving it as-is.

KEYWORDS
Here is a big one.  In the past (and I’m talking about years ago so in Internet time it’s the WAY past) web-designers simply loaded up the meta keywords and called it good.  This is again what the template company did with our new sites.  There were 79 keywords loaded into the meta tag by the template.  Www.websitegrader.comrecommends only 10!  Only 10?  WOW what is a website owner to do?  So far I have been only talking about the home pageof the website.  So here is my idea.  In the homepage put the most popular but under used keywords to drive traffic.  Use more specific keywords on the internal pages.  This is a lot of work but each of these elements need to be changed for each internal page anyway – so be prepared to spend a lot of time.  Perhaps this is why good SEO is expensive!  Here I used the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to find out what keywords ge the most amount of volume.  Because we sell regionally I was looking for things specific for mid-Michigan – like city names.  The manufacturer names are to generic and they are going to appear many times on the website anyway.  Another pointer here; you company name is also going to appear somewhere on almost every page of your website also so don’t waste valuable keywords on your company name.  People that search your company name will find it.  We are trying to get the people that don’t know the company name and want our products or services.

Keeping with the company name issue I also decided that the only page that should use the very valuable title tag characters with the company name is the home page.  Because the title is one of the most important tags for search engine relevance I decided that this was where I was going to spend a lot of my initial energy.

These sites are to new to see what difference these changes are going to make.  However, when I compare these sites to our competitors (again using www.websitegrader.com) we are already ranking better than our competition.  And our competition is paying a lot of money for a “so called” SEO expert.

Very Cold

It’s very cold out but the pictures still must be taken.  I am so glad that my Olympus E500 is water resistant and works consistantly in the winter.  Today was overcast with a light snow.  Not a comfortable day for working outside but the cars keep coming and going!

2009 Toyota Corolla S

2009 Toyota Corolla S

Picture taken in Bay City at Labadie Toyota for their website inventory.

Another Re-do for Labadie

I am working on another re-do of an old entry site for Labadie Auto Company. This time I was working on LabadieToyota.com

The site was a little old and stale. It was a one page site that linked into their main site (toyota.labadieauto.com). I once again decided to use WordPress to design the site. I used the Chrome template from Revolution Two. The Revolution tempates are great and coded so that they are easy to modify.

Website Authoring

I was working on a new website today at work. I love WordPress for authoring websites even though it is a blog format. Searching for a great site template I came across Revolution Two Theme website! The templates are incredible and install easy. Because these programers have it together the support is top notch!

The site that I was able to throw together in 2 hours using the template is for Labadie Auto Company in Bay City, MI for the Chevrolet Pontiac store that they just purchased and are in the process of taking over:
http://www.labadiechevypontiac.com

Crazy Week

It’s been another crazy week. There has been just one issue after another and there seems to be no catching up with anything. I must have a dozen unfinished projects that need immediate attention. I’ve only taken pictures of cars this week. I did have the opportunity to line up a few weddings but they are all for June and July of 2009. I wanted to setup a Halloween photoshoot in Old Town Saginaw but didn’t have the time to organize it.

GMC's all in a row
This is a picture taken at Labadie Buick Cadillac GMC in Bay City, MI to update their website. It was a very overcast day and I like the way this one turned out.