EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 146 - July 10, 2005 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 8

eBay Live 2005 - Wanted: More Photo Sessions

By Tom Shaughnessy

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During eBay Live 2005, in addition to taking photos for AuctionBytes, I had the opportunity to attend and review the two photography sessions. I have attended all four past eBay Live conventions as the "corporate husband," and I've attended the photography seminars for the past three years (my wife, Barbara, is the PowerSeller and I am the PowerBuyer.)

After several years attending the same seminars, it is easy to get jaundiced covering the same material. I was pleasantly surprised this year. The husband/wife team (or should it be wife/husband team) delivered both technically sound and entertaining presentations.

Daniel Grotta and Sally Wiener Grotta are nationally recognized photography experts and published authors. One can find their material in PC Magazine. They have also written books on photography and regularly teach digital photography and imaging workshops throughout the country. Their latest work highlighted in material supplied to the eBay Live attendees is "Guide to Digital Photography" published by Wiley. It was a treat to attend their sessions and listen to them.

"Shooting for Dollars: Simple Photo Techniques for Greater eBay Profits" was scheduled for 9:00AM to 10:30AM. eBayers get used to early hours rushing to garage and estate sales - maybe that is why the room filled quickly and early. I did not count the chairs, but attendance was in the 400+ range. Those attending were not disappointed, judging by comments after the session.

The Grottas used interactive examples in their presentation to illustrate the effects of backdrop and lighting. They discussed the effects of frontal, side, and bottom lighting. An important point - a picture should present an object in a flattering manner, but should never be better than the item (avoid negative feedback).

In the time allotted, the Grottas delivered a huge amount of material. I loved their term for eBay photography (meatball photography 101). They truly understand that the issue to good eBay sales is effective imaging and not simply great photography: Get the image...get it listed...get it sold.

"Computer Lab: Easily Mastering Photo Editing Software with Adobe Photoshop Elements" was scheduled from 11:30AM to 1:00PM (What happened to lunch?). Fifty computer workstations were available and linked to a master PC to keep everyone working on the same material. In this session, the Grottas demonstrated how easily one can import images into PhotoShop elements 3.0 and then batch process the images to improve the WOW factor (eye grabbing through better color resolution and cropping). These tasks by themselves can be performed individually, but the batch processing demonstrations illustrated how one could expedite photo processing and reduce the time required.

Throughout the material the Grottas focused on quickly and simply improving image quality. Even though they were sponsored by Adobe at the session, they won my support when they were not overly complimentary of PhotoShop Elements 2.0 (I previously bought and abandoned that software material). I did see improvements in Elements 3.0 that they highlighted, and those improvements warrant upgrading from 2.0.

In addition to the Grottas, Adobe provided two technical assistants (one is the Elements product manager) to assist the attendees. The combination of technical assistance from Adobe and carefully scripted material presented by the Grottas helped keep the session in focus. This does not mean that some people, as a friend often says, were not "lost in the weeds," but it did help maintain flow.

This was the only session designated as a computer learning lab. There were 50 workstations for the lab and, not surprisingly, the available workstations quickly filled (the early bird gets the worm). Some people coming in closer to the scheduled start time were able to get seats next to someone sitting at a workstation. Many people were left standing at the back of the room and even more left when it was apparent that space was not available.

From my vantage point at the back of the room, there were many people attending this session who were very familiar with the software and who needed tips and not training, and there were some people for whom simple tips would never be sufficient. Handout material was only available for the scheduled 50 attendees. The presenters were not elevated on any type of dais or platform, making it difficult for attendees to see the presenters.

Overall, though, as someone who shoots pictures and uses photo editing software regularly, I felt this was a worthy session to attend.

Overall Comments on the Photography Sessions
The issue should be effective imaging and not simply photography. Flatbed scanners are better for flat objects and streaming video may be a better option for high-end items.

The eBay community ranges from people with great experience and knowledge to those who are just beginning. A computer lab filled with novices and experts will always be difficult. More course offerings with targeted content can help attendees find the right information.

Imaging sessions should be scheduled throughout the conference and not simply occur on one or two days. If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then are not more then two sessions focused at photography/imaging warranted?

About the author:

Tom Shaughnessy has worked in the electronics industry since the early 1980s and received degrees in History and Political Science from the University of Montana and Electronics Engineering Technology from Casper College. He co-founded (1986) and is Vice-President of PowerCET Corporation, which provides consulting and training services in support of the power and electronics industries. Tom travels extensively throughout the U.S. as part of the consulting and training activities of PowerCET Corporation and he always takes a camera along on trips. Pictures are used extensively in reports and select pictures are used in training classes and material. Tom and his wife Barbara won a photo contest in Napa valley, and Tom has written regularly for various power related magazines and co-authored a book on power quality. As an avid online shopper Tom finds the photos submitted in support of product sales a frequent disappointment. Too often pictures are too dark, poorly focused and lacking in detail. Images imported from manufacturer Web sites are poor substitutes for quality photos of the real objects.

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