Being “open” in your photography business can mean a great many things. Being open to new ideas, practices and techniques. Being open to new markets and product lines. Making your business an open book.
The open I want to talk about today is open source. Be it a philosophy or methodology, the definition of open source is literally, opening the source code, sharing it publically and allowing the community to contribute to its development. Examples of open source programming language are WordPress, CSS and HTML5.
Why is this good for you? Take a community like WordPress with 32.5 million users and tens of thousands of developers all creating plugins which you are free to use edit and share. This is like having tens of thousands of experts developing and sharing information for the benefit of your website or a online brand. The same is true with CSS and HTML.
One of Apple’s main reasons to abandon Flash is because of Adobe’s closed system. In Steve Jobs now famous “Thoughts on Flash” he states, “Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.” You can see his entire letter here.
We have seen the repercussions of this in the inability to see Flash sites on iPads and iPhones as well as other mobile devices. We have seen Google also ignore this closed technology by creating Instant Preview or Google Instant. Rollover the magnifying glass on a Google search and you can immediately get a glimpse of the site you are looking for.
Unless that site is created in Flash, and then no instant preview ☹ For potential customers quickly browsing their Google search, the fact that they might pass you over is very bad news indeed. You can find out more information on Google Instant Preview here. All that hard earned money and time spent on increasing your SEO, and creating your online brand might be thrown out the window if your customers and potential clients cannot see you.
Open in the Photography Community
Many vendors in the photography community have chosen to be open in their practices. Companies like Pictage, ShootQ and Album Exposure have chosen to make certain aspects of their service available for outside uses. Some of them even provide a fully documented API, or their Application Programming Interface. This makes a portion of their programming open to developers like us, so we can create products that speak to each other. Using this method, we were able to build a plugin that connects those services and others to any WordPress site, making any WordPress site more than just a website and turning it into a true hub for your online presence. Like WordPress itself, the “Photographer Connections” plugin is open source and freely available from the WordPress repository.
Think of how much easier your life would be if every product and vendor you chose spoke to every other product or vendor. Ask for it, demand it, support the companies that are willing to share and be open to each other. This is your community, and many of us are “open” to your suggestions.
Written by Ellen Petty
Ellen Petty is the Head Brandslinger at Identity Kitchen, a marketing and design studio specializing in photographers. She and her business partner Marty Thornley just launched a new line of affordable all-in-one WordPress portfolio sites designed specifically for professional photographers at PhotographyBlogSites.com.