August 30, 2014, 02:22:35 PM

Author Topic: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!  (Read 14154 times)

Skulker

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #90 on: June 17, 2014, 06:26:58 PM »
I haven't looked at the OP ' website.  So this is not a comment on his work.

But one of the problems these days is its hard to get constructive comments. Many websites people try to get feed back from just seem to produce only meaningless mind numbingly inappropriate praise. And it seems people do that just to get similar comments back.

I'm guilty of it myself. Friends will ask me what I think of their images and I will always start with a positive comment and only give minimal constructive comment. I do this because l learnt years ago people don't want to know their images are pants.

recently an acquaintance said he couldn't make a living out of taking photos,  and he's been wildlife photographer of the year! Another friend, who has articles published in national geographic and books published by the natural history museum, told me his photography is only a support not his main income.

people do make money out of photography but it's more about business than quality photos.
If you debate with a fool onlookers can find it VERY difficult to tell the difference.

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #90 on: June 17, 2014, 06:26:58 PM »

TeT

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #91 on: June 17, 2014, 06:48:21 PM »
A good photographer wouldn't need to worry about amateurs

big difference between taking good photos and running a profitable small business...

I cant shoot my way out of a paper bag with or without lighting, but I can squeeze your pennies and make your bottom line blossom.

Scott_McPhee

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #92 on: June 17, 2014, 08:20:36 PM »
Scott,
I have taken a look on the website, which is linked under your user name. Sorry to be blunt but that's what I think: the website was made by an amateur and clearly looks like this.

The website itself looks very unprofessional and cheap. I guess that's what it really is. A decent wordpress theme for photographers costs less than $100. An alternative would be Squarespace, which is more comfortable to maintain. But it is focused on the US market and without the online shop it's hard to justify the costs. With your background in netwoek engineering it should be quite easy for you to maintain a website.

The second and even worse impression I got came from your pictures. There are a few good ones among them but the majority of them should not be shown on a professional photographer's website. Under exposed, flat lighting, bad framing... all can be found. The kid potraits are great and professional looking but the family ones aren't. Don't show them.


Hi Scott, I thought Robert was being pretty harsh with his comments so would like to give another view from someone thats more local with many friends in the same marketplace.

... thing is Robert's comments are bang on after looking over your website and photography, I now even think that Robert was being kind. Sorry.

http://www.sjlphoto.co.uk

Maybe others can give some advice, but I really don't see anything that says professional level there.
As you are complaining about other faux photographers charging less and taking your work, I would imagine that they really are doing at least as good a job or probably much better than what you are offering and taking the work quite rightly.

You must either have huge kahunas or a misguided sense of talent, or maybe just too many friends & family that give you support because no person in their right mind would start a business with these shots and website.

This doesn't mean you can't succeed, it just means you really really need very quickly get to grips with understanding
1. Photography in general, style , lighting , processing - look over 1000s of other established photographers and photography business website and really see the difference in quality and style. it's miles ahead from what you are offering.
2. Understand your market, if you wish to continue to produce work of similar quality then you will only be appealing to the lower end or those that cannot discern between someone having a go and someone that is talented  & experienced photographer. And will always be competing with newbie amatures and those doing shoots for little or free.
3. Don't put professional photography services all over your website, if you are still learning - I get the feeling this is the case. Everyday I see people on Facebook setting up joe blogs Photography services just because they are starting to take a few decent shots. Photography takes years to get decent at it and don't rush it by thinking you have to advertise Pro, because you want to say you're beginning to get better than others, ( but again this is so subjective if you can't really understand the quality of what you are producing)
Enjoy shooting more of friends weddings, kids and makeovers but don't charge money until you know before the shoot that you will be supplying great work regardless of the circumstances.

And that point brings us back to the 'other faux' photographers that you are concerned about. They are not fake they are just more realistic about their skills and experience and hungry for more experience and not bothered about the money. That way they can experiment make mistakes and learn from that without too much pressure and in a year's time they will prob be producing some pretty decent work.

I really think you should be exploring this side and get your photography up to standard first, I imagine you've done this a few time with friends and family to get told you shots are great ' you should be a pro' and then decided to 'go pro'

I did a quick search to see what other photographers are offering in the area and there are quite a few with not much better style and websites tbh! Which is mental in this day and age. Maybe look further afield for inspiration and aim you sights higher and this will get more attention. Having a shop/ studio is key to attaining a higher profile in this business and getting a good graphic designer on board to give you some great branding will help loads but this has to work with your photography to.

Think cleaner, simpler  more natural light.. actually pay attention to daylight and work with it not against it! Don't ever do 'sexy' glamour if you err towards 80s cheese especially with people past their prime. Glamour and Boudoir photography should be treated very carefully. There are some really great people doing it well and lots trying to copy really badly.
People lying on the background is always messy,  shadows mixed with footprints and creases need some good retouching to keep it natural
Don't ever do HDR, selective colour / B&W , watch your skin tones just desat a little.
Being professional is as much about taste as ability, we are the leaders of style do not copy the masses bad photoshop tricks! 
Don't ever try to retouch if you can't, there's some really bad examples there. minimise funky angles.. so 80s / 90s and only a few can get it right. Less wide angle learn to use primes 50mm and 85mm they will simplify your options and get more consistent results.
Don't over process, just some contrast, desat maybe a little vignette and warmth. Experiment with very subtle split toning. Leave the highlight and shadow sliders alone mostly.

Are you a photographer that started in the 80s? If so it's time to rethink what you deem to be cool, sexy or funky as I think this is biggest issue overall in your work.

Have fun, break your bad habits give up the website and work a day job doing test shots with friends for free and most importantly dream / think / visualise every day of the next piece your going to produce.
Study more fashion based work rather than cheesy glamour and second rate wedding stuff. World class Fashion photography covers so many genres but what sets it aside is the temperament it's made in. Edgy , documentary B&W, natural light, effortless, dreamy, high end studio etc . But what they have all got is the right style and end look for the subject, location etc.
Don't post the latests pictures straight away publicly. Wait a day, re-edit them down only post 2 or 3 by all means send them all to the model.
Remember a portfolio is the very best of your work not all of it. Less is more. One good shot is worth 100 mediocre ones.

Good luck :)

Wow - some harsh kick in the nuts there!
I do agree the website needs work - this was thrown together quickly and I agree with this 100%
As for the photographs being basically "crap" I really don't agree with that at all - "crap" is in the eye of the beholder after all and one mans "crap" is another mans canvas hanging on his wall.

I have looked at local photographers too and I really don't see how one of my studio shots perfectly exposed (metered) using a Lastolite Hilite box and four Elinchrom guns can be compared to someone who is using, basically, a sheet and a light.

I may work as a network engineer but that doesn't mean I am great at websites - any help would be greatly appreciated.

I also post a lot of my pictures on here and other forums and they are very well received and commentated on by other photographers so some of the harsh comments are very unfair - especially when all I was asking in the original post was how we all cope with amateurs stealing our work.
This has got very personal and I really dont appreciate that - we could all look at each others work and criticize it all day - HDR for example is the Marmite of photography, some love and some hate it, but I have sold many HDR prints and they are some of my most commented on.

Here is a link to my Flickr page - if anyone wants to pass comments on that:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott_mcphee


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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #93 on: June 17, 2014, 09:04:21 PM »
Anyway you are doing or thinking about yourself, I would not "buy" you für people shoots, I would ask you for shoots of technical things, which need to be shown as some one as "great".
This is your "way" to see the world, and nothing else is more for to get people know "you are the one".
m2c
achim

jdramirez

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #94 on: June 17, 2014, 10:20:16 PM »
I was doing a shoot this past weekend - full portable studio set-up with backdrop, four lights etc and the model's family were taking mobile phone shots over my shoulder as I was shooting.

Even asked me to step aside so they could shoot using my backdrop and poses!

What do we think about this one fellow photographer?
Rude or okay?

Were the lights constant... or flash?  If they were constant, they got the benefit of good lighting which levels the playing field a bit... but if it was flash and they were shooting with ambient light, I would do the following.

I would ask them to email a copy of their best photo from their phone... and then I would do minimal post production work, some saturation, some added contrast... and then I would do a full post production of my favorite shot and then I would show them theirs and mine at 16x20 or so.  I would hope that my work blew their work out of the water. 

and to answer the question... rude.
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

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SoullessPolack

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #95 on: June 17, 2014, 11:39:40 PM »
I was doing a shoot this past weekend - full portable studio set-up with backdrop, four lights etc and the model's family were taking mobile phone shots over my shoulder as I was shooting.

Even asked me to step aside so they could shoot using my backdrop and poses!

What do we think about this one fellow photographer?
Rude or okay?

Nothing wrong with using your setup while it's out there.  That's not rude.  It's in the public, so you can't prohibit it.

Asking you to step aside?  Yeah, I would consider that rude, but you'd have to handle it properly.  Hopefully you did.  As nice as it would be to tell them to fuck off, word spreads quickly, and you don't want a bad reputation as a novice.  Would be very hard to recover and make it prosperous career.

I don't question, or even worry, about people taking pictures when I do my set up.  Why?  Because even if they get an identical photograph to what I have, there's a high likelihood that they don't understand the lighting setup, and wouldn't be able to recreate it even if they had all the gear I do.  Not to mention, the post processing skills I possess are not something easily learned, and while I tend to stay on the subtle side of post processing, the difference can be amazing compared to an unprocessed one.

Having perused your site and your flickr, I think as you really begin and continue to learn the basics of lighting, your work will start to stand out.  You'll not be worried about other people "mooching" off your set up, or worried about "amateurs".  You'll have confidence in your work, which you clearly lack at the moment judging by your posts and the tone in them.  But I encourage you to keep practicing as much as you can.  I view the learning process as the most exciting time to be in photography.  I still love photography to death, but the best times I've ever had were always towards my earlier days when I was learning about lighting, or composition, etc.

If you're willing, shoot me a private message and we can talk more about your path in photography.  It's evident that you have a passion for it, so all that you need is some time and patience as well as an open mind, and in a few years you may be a well regarded photographer around these parts.

benperrin

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #96 on: June 18, 2014, 01:05:12 AM »
I was on prostituterumors.com the other week... and there were some prostitutes complaining about the same thing.  Something about "just giving it away"... so photography isn't the only industry affected by an influx of amateurs.

Best comment ever!!!

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #96 on: June 18, 2014, 01:05:12 AM »

Skulker

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #97 on: June 18, 2014, 02:57:38 AM »
especially when all I was asking in the original post was how we all cope with amateurs stealing our work.

Well, it's not "our work". Either legally or morally.

If you want to be a professional photographer you need to make it your work by making the sale. If you do that by producing masterpiece work or rubbish that sells is pretty irrelevant.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2014, 06:57:58 AM by Skulker »
If you debate with a fool onlookers can find it VERY difficult to tell the difference.

pwp

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #98 on: June 18, 2014, 04:05:00 AM »
I am trying to get my photography business running but I am encountering a problem I am sure we all have:
"Everyone's a photographer!"
Seems these days if you buy yourself a cheap DSLR and know how to press the shutter you can call your self a professional photographer.
Apparently the same scenario played out in the early 1980's when reasonably high quality film SLR cameras flooded onto the market. To paraphrase, it seemed like anyone with an SLR who knew how to press the shutter could call themselves a professional photographer...Yeah right.

If you know you're a good shooter, that's a great start. Now go and enroll in a small business management course. Think about little else for several years. Promote, promote & promote. Absolutely 100% believe in yourself. Keep every time agreement you make. If your client need the shots delivered by Thursday, deliver on Wednesday. The talented amateurs around you will continue to be amateurs. It's a different field.

I like the story told by a very well known Hollywood actor who when asked how hard it is to crack it in Hollywood, he said, "making it in Hollywood is really easy...all you need is about fifty really lucky breaks."

And importantly, be reassuringly expensive.

-pw

ramius

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #99 on: June 18, 2014, 04:16:30 AM »
Quote

I have looked at local photographers too and I really don't see how one of my studio shots perfectly exposed (metered) using a Lastolite Hilite box and four Elinchrom guns can be compared to someone who is using, basically, a sheet and a light.


Don't let gear define what's 'better' or 'worse'. Just because a portrait is shot in a studio with lighting and metered 'properly' doesn't mean it's better than a portrait shot outdoors with natural light done properly. Sometimes a single translucent reflector can do way more for a photograph than all the lights in the world. I've seen plenty of frame-worthy iPhone photos.

Since you invited people to look over your website and flickr images, I assume you're looking for comments, so here we go.

I'll list my thoughts out in the order of my 'path' through your website. These are not the only things I've noticed, but some of the more glaring issues (TO ME). 

**** I'm not going to hold back punches. I hope you'll keep your mind open and take these comments from someone who might have a different point of view. :) ****




* You complain about amateurs in your area. The first word I think of when I see your website is... you guessed it: amateur. That being said...

* Create a logo or get someone with graphics experience to create one for you. Also, inconsistent watermarking... very distracting.

* We don't care that you have a portable high-key backdrop. Less is more. *Make* the customer want to contact you because of how great your photos are, not because you have a 1DX Mark 7 with a 4-105mm L lens and eleventy-billion studio lights.

* Services Page: Please read-up on what high-key is before telling your customers you can do high-key. The picture of the cute baby in the red dress isn't high-key, unfortunately. Or just do an image search on google on 'high key photography'.

* Most of your kid portraits look the same. Same studio lit lighting, except for a few. To customers, they're just random pictures that look the same... next-next-next-next. Pick one or two favorites and leave the rest out. This is hard to do as each of your photos are like 'kids' and it's hard to decide your favorite. Force yourself to do this. There also might be some white-balance issues here.

* You've got a few lines of words on top of every page. Not really necessary. Maybe clump them into an 'about' page. Let your images do most of the talking.

* Families Page: Outdoor images are all a bit underexposed on my calibrated monitor.

* Families Page: Some lighting imbalance between background and subject on the studio shots.

* Pets Page: Oooof. Beautiful dog, but the shots here are amateur hour. I can go to the local dog park and get similar shots within 10 minutes. Unless you've got better shots, I'd just leave this out for now until you build up a portfolio of more pets.

* Commercials Page: I'm a fan of the first batch of photos. Love the aircraft and still-life landscape photos you've selected and definitely a cut above the portraits. However, things get shaky after the first Vauxhall shot. A lot of snap-shot quality photos here. The wedding shots are in underexposure city and you are the mayor.

*Makeovers Page: Heavy-handed editing/skin softening. The women look very airbrushed. The lightly textured background scream "school photo day" here in the states... and what's up with the vignetting? Very 80s/90s. Look into hiring local models for some shoots after coming up with a few conceptual ideas in your head first.

* Top Tip: Go to weddingwire.com and search for highly rated photographers near major cities (NYC, LA, etc). Most of the top photographers will have great websites that you can check out and get ideas from.



Flickr:

* Love a lot of the aircraft photos you've got there. However, you've managed to ruin a lot of them with unnecessary vignetting and HDR. What was the reasoning?

* A lot of the still life/landscape isn't bad at all, either. However, you've managed to kill most of them with HDR. Whether we like it or not, HDR is here to stay and I agree with you on that. However, there's well-done HDR, and there's bad HDR. Unfortunately, with all the *massive* blooming going on in your HDRs, the attempts you've made fall into the 'bad' category. HDR is generally meant to make a picture look better without looking fake.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/scott_mcphee/9309043801/
For instance... what's going on here? Strange vignetting + blooming HDR. If I was a customer looking through your portfolio for any kind of work, one look at this photo would be enough to cause me to move on, unfortunately. :(


I really didn't mean to ramble on for so long but I hope you'll be able to get something out of this. I don't know you, you don't know me, it's not personal. Just trying to be critical and give you feedback as a fellow photographer.

endiendo

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #100 on: June 18, 2014, 06:44:48 AM »
@Scott_McPhee
I answear to the original post / first message.

I don't want to heart you, but I think it's the wrong question.
Show your client and us that it's not you the amateur photographer pretending to be a super pro..
just saying you are very expensive is not enough...
photo amateur since 2004.
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klickflip

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #101 on: June 18, 2014, 07:13:00 AM »
Hi Scott. I wasn't being personal, but I guess any negative comment on your work will be personal to you at this stage.
I am trying to be helpful guid you towards work that should help your photography. 

You need to separate out the personal element to view your work objectively and spend time comparing it with other photographers work. And don't pick bad examples thinking you're better than the next local hack, pick some a notch or two above your work.
I do this all the time and think .. ok what I did was good but these are really great.. what makes them work so well, and how can I achieve that next time. Whether its lighting, the models, grading or just the idea. Be really objective.
We used to get really harsh crits at Uni, with people crying and running out because the lecturers were tearing chunks out of work that we'd put so much time and soul into. But you become fine with this and learn to listen to comments constructively.

As a website and web portfolio is the first impression for so many businesses to clients then it's really important to get that right. Would you eat in a bistro cafe that had a really scabby looking sign, dated interior ( but not in the retro kitsch way!)  and the food on show was looking past its best and some not looking like it had been prepared or cooked properly? No. You might at a push grab a bacon roll there but you wouldn't take your family or friends out there and recommend it to other and dine again there.

I looked at your site partly because of other comments made but also, in order to understand why you are concerned about amatures 'stealing' your clients. - Everything needs reference points to be able to make an informed understanding.

There is a lot better work on your Flickr page :) . But far too many of over processed planes, I realise Flickr is just a general gallery but still! Your night shots of Glasgow riverside are good but still the general vibe I get is amature work.

Partly this is your subject matter, over use of wide angles, and some (lets be honest) horrific near HDR processing and too much saturation.
Being a professional you have to keep up with the styles, show people that you have a impeccable taste and eye for lighting, tone , colour and composition. And know your reference points of many types of photography past and present. A knowledge of HRD is good and when to use it is good but not on anything everything just to give a bland shot more impact. Same as I know when to use B&W and heavy grain treatment on a shot to help convey a mood, or to desaturate nearly completely and add a warm hue.
Please stop looking at other Flickr users and camera club type photography - all it's doing is fooling yourself into thinking other people are doing it so it's cool , it may have impressed you once but it's time to leave it behind and start to understand what is really nice contemporary photography. 

Here's some examples of decent websites and photography in scotland.

Decent but not amazing- maybe these should be a starting reference point for you.
http://www.feelingroovyphotography.com
http://www.stevenrussell.co.uk/main.php#imagegalleries/Portfolio/Portraits/1

These are really nice with grading pushed a bit more stylish. This should be what you aim towards.
http://www.dawnmartinweddings.com/#/page/ad2e/weddings/
http://www.dukestudios.co.uk/wedding-photography-scotland/scottish-wedding-portfolio/city.html

And for total inspiration just google high -end wedding photography or portraiture, contemporary lifestyle photography etc with location keywords such as Scotland, London, LA , Paris , NY etc and immerse yourself into understanding what is really going down... and it's not HDR pictures of planes, Vauxhall insignias from behind or orange glamour ladies looking awkward! Speak to some model agencies and ask about helping them with new tests to work with potential models, don't ask or money tho. Firstly better get a good feel of what type or shots they are looking for before embarking on what you think is stylish as if you do it wrong then you may well burn a bridge there.

hope this helps. 

gn100

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #102 on: June 18, 2014, 07:18:27 AM »
My observations
- Overall website template is OK
- Better to use sans serif fonts
- The cartoonish font on the banner/header looks amateurish
- The Commercial section seems a random collection of all types of photography
- Overall you need the website to represent the focus of your business ..... needs to be more focused that just photography - either people or commercial (maybe if the commercial section was more focused you could get away with having it)
- A better business name and logo would help
- The Makeover section was weak - the poses weren't great, orange skin and some underexposure
- The pets section needs work - pick your 2 best images of the dog, and go shoot some other pets to provide variety of animals
- There were some good images, but you need to be ruthless as the weaker images are bringing down the stronger ones
- As has been mentioned in other posts - watch the words on the pages - less is more ..... try to keep the words to an "About Us" page

All the best, learn, improve and your passion will show through!

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #102 on: June 18, 2014, 07:18:27 AM »

markhadden69

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #103 on: June 18, 2014, 08:03:36 AM »
I noticed this girl's website on the interweb:  http://www.larajade.co.uk/  What a sheister!  APPARENTLY she only uses 1 light and a reflector most of the time, OR even "available" light.  God knows how she gets booked by all those fashion agencies all over the world.  Must be the cheap or non existent fees!  She's only been on the go for about 5 years as well.!

Oh hang on, she must be a good photographer.  And here was me thinking I need more equipment and a weird attitude to make me better..!

(all tongue in cheek, and dont take too seriously please) ;)

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #104 on: June 18, 2014, 11:30:05 AM »
Scott It seems you dont take the criticism too well but here goes anyway

I checked out your flicker and you have some fantastic shots....
when you dont do HDR...
seriously the halos and oversaturation just ruin them totally
it just screams instagram and doesnt look professional

i'm guessing this is what some people find "crap" myself included
but hey i went through a photomatix phase myself but now it just makes
me want to throw up. try use enfuse in lightroom instead and go for the subtle
HDR that doesnt look like "HDR"

the portraits. I think your posing and lighting is fine but again
as well as composition and again its the processing is killing
what could be a great shot.
I'd love to have a go at a couple of those raws

I think your ability to compose and shoot technically seems pretty solid
but its your processing kicking your arse...

Thats meant to be constructive so I hope you dont take offense as it was
not intended in that vein.
APS-H Fanboy

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Re: Trying to start a Photography Business but surrounded by amateurs!
« Reply #104 on: June 18, 2014, 11:30:05 AM »