Connect with us


How to Become a Professional Photographer



When interesting things happen around you, don’t you wish you had a camera on your hand and documented those moments? Well, maybe you thought that only professional photographers could really get pictures that speak a thousand words. Here’s the thing, let’s go around and answer how to become a professional photographer. You may be surprised by what it takes.

What You Need

Photography is capturing light according to encyclopedic resources. Now, to capture light, you will need a camera! Today, smartphones have amazing cameras and pristine display resolution. However, going pro would require you to have a camera that has control parameters that can be easily tweaked on the fly! This means that, although high-end camera phones can capture great pictures, you need some sort of camera.

So, here’s what you, basically, need to start on the path of professional photography.

1.    A camera that does not double as your mobile phone (preferably some form of DSLR, or hybrid).

2.    SD cards and hard drives.

3.    Computer.

4.    A lot of time to study and practice.

The Difficult Way

A few professional photographers had discovered their love for capturing still arts when they were young, probably in the womb, and have aligned their college degrees with the art. There are a few select colleges and universities offering BA in photography where you can branch out and major in different genres.

Other universities have a BA in Fine Arts where you can major in photography. Depending on the college or university you choose, it may take two years (associate degree), up to a full bachelor’s degree.

Of course, you need your camera with you while studying photography. Should you decide to go for a college program, you have to consider that you will be paying tuition fees. You might also need a dorm or an apartment near the institution, or you have to spend some for the commute.

And lastly, there will be projects and other requirements that you have to meet in order to get a certification at the end of the program.

By the end of the program you engage with, you would become skillful and adept at using your camera that people will recognize that you are a professional photographer! However, remember that it takes a few years to finish and bring home that degree!

The Not So Difficult Way

Now, aside from the tedious process of getting an associate or a college degree, you can join photography crash courses hosted by professional photographers that have extensive experience in the field. Crash courses last a lot shorter than college, and university degrees, and are more affordable.

Classroom theory and practical experience are very different matters, and we may agree, to some point, that learning practical application cuts a few corners.

The Simple Way

Photography is an art, and many professionals in the field have learned and become adept at using cameras without getting prestigious (and expensive), degrees. I am not devaluing the merits of going through a legitimate college program to learn photography and become a professional. The point is, professional cameras have become more affordable, and photography skill isn’t that rare anymore.

So, here’s a few things you can do to become a professional photographer:

1.    Study.

There are tons of literature about photography that you can access even when not enrolled in a university. If you set aside time to study, there will be no stopping you! You would be surprised to know that some of the professional photographers who inspire you have Youtube channels. These are free professional lessons from acclaimed photographers. Learn from them, its free!

2.    Practice.

Whatever you learn from the books you read and videos you watch, practice it.  Because you won’t be wasting films, you can take thousands of pictures with your SD card! Don’t hesitate to capture photos! Practice framing your subject, practice taking pictures in daylight, try night photography, try low-light photography, take pictures of people and scenery, take pictures of whatever you want! When your SD card is full, transfer your files to your hard drive.

Keep in mind and take a note of your framing and lighting. You may get a lot of advanced lessons from your Youtube mentors, but don’t forget to master the basics.

3.    Evaluate.

Don’t forget to review the photos you take. Go through it and take a look at where you failed and where you succeeded. Take note of your mistakes and try not to do them next time. You may capture crappy photos in the beginning. But don’t worry about it. That’s what practice is all about! Gain some experience and learn the basics.

4.    Find a Mentor.

If you want to make a career out of becoming a professional photographer, then you should find yourself a mentor. A mentor is someone who is ahead of you in the field. Remember, you may not be able to learn a lot from your peers. So, find yourself a mentor who will guide you in your adventure.

Apprentice photographers may not get paid as much as professional photographers, but it’s decent. And besides, getting paid while learning your trade is not bad, won’t you agree?

Go Forth and Take Photos!

There is a career in professional photography that is waiting for you. Get yourself a camera that would pass as a professional camera. A DSLR or a hybrid would be a nice choice. If you have the time, you can attend a college or university to get a degree. Crash courses would do well too.

If you don’t have the time to get into a university or take a crash course, you can always study in your free time and practice whenever you want. Just remember, professional photography requires skill and talent. To become good at it, you need to spend time improving your talent and honing your skills.


What Role Can SMEs Play in Supporting Sustainability?




With growing research and awareness surrounding sustainability, more and more consumers are looking to support businesses that focus on sustainability.

The new generation of consumers are more socially conscious and ecologically minded and they are looking for businesses that share their values. Small businesses play a significant role in creating a sustainable future, and adopting a more ethical approach that focuses on people and the planet rather than profit and power is beneficial to everyone involved.

There are small but substantial changes you can make that contribute to your business being a more sustainable and ethical operation as a whole, and your customers will respond well to these actions. You will sleep well at night knowing that your business is helping to make the world a better place, and your customers will feel good too, knowing that they were able to spend their money at a business with an appreciation for sustainability.

Use sustainable products and materials

Your sustainability efforts start at the source. If you get your materials or goods from a supplier or manufacturer, think about their business practices. Do they pay their employees livable wages? Do they hire children? Do they make their products in a responsible manner, without wasting water or harming animals? Do they use biodegradable, recyclable, or otherwise eco-friendly materials? 

Eco-friendly materials can be as simple as bamboo lanyards rather than polyester, or cardboard straws instead of plastic. Ditching your supplier and finding a more ethical source can be slightly pricier, but being able to tell your customers that you use completely eco-friendly and ethical products means that you can increase both your prices and your good reputation.

Use sustainable packaging

If you need to package your goods, whether to keep them fresh or to ship them in the mail, look at the kind of packaging you’re using. Avoid single-use plastic and two types of plastic combined together, as this can render it unfit for recycling. You can biodegradable packaging or, if you need a more hardy and indestructible package, try to make it fun and functional. Sometimes packaging can be just as cute as the product itself! Your customers might find a second use for a cute box or bag.

When it comes to shipping your product in the mail, there are extra steps you can take to make it more sustainable. Try biodegradable mailing bags and boxes, and avoid bubble wrap and styrofoam padding. Don’t use a box much larger than the item- this means more cost and more waste, plus a chance of your product breaking. Encourage bulk orders to reduce the number of trips and packaging used.

Involve your employees in your mission of sustainability

Your employees will respect you for it! Not only will it benefit them- because everyone loves being able to work from home to save the pollution from commuting to work- but they can also offer suggestions. You may even decide to incentivise them by rewarding “green” behaviour.

Encourage your employees to not use the lights when there is natural light outside, bring their own coffee mugs from home, and communicate with them via email rather than by sending physical letters.

Involve the community

Your customers, too, will respect your efforts. Offering a discount or charitable action, such as planting a tree for every ten sales, will benefit everyone. Get out in the community, using your business to advocate and promote sustainability, whether that means donating a percentage of your profits or starting a fundraiser. Your business could become the local face of sustainability and a hub for those in the community who are equally as socially conscious and green.

In addition to boosting your reputation with customers and clients, your actions will attract staff, investors, and business partners who value sustainability. It may even attract grants.

As a small business owner, prioritising the planet can seem inconsequential. After all, you’re just one person. But millions of others are thinking the same. While sustainable business practices may not reverse the damage done, they can create a whole lot of positive changes and influence others to do the same. Customers have proven that they’re willing to pay more when they know their hard-earned money is contributing to something good.

Continue Reading


6 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Shaping Elearning




Elearning is transforming the way knowledge is shared and accumulated. It has created a platform for gaining knowledge and insights about their fields. However, Elearning platforms lack personalization. Hence, integrating Artificial intelligence with Elearning is crucial for creating a personalized experience. The relevance of Artificial intelligence in today’s world can’t be understated. Training in the corporate sector has undergone a transformational shift, with Artificial Intelligence playing a pivotal role in reshaping how organizations transfer knowledge to their employees. Artificial intelligence has reached a new era of personalized training.

The Power of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is shaping every aspect of our lives. It is emerging as a game-changer in industry training, unlocking new possibilities and potential.

  • AI can Help Provide a personalized experience.

Traditional hands-on training setups often need help to cater to the diverse learning needs of the participants. However, the use of AI in Elearning has changed the narrative by offering tailored experiences specifically for individuals with different learning abilities. 

With the help of machine learning algorithms, organizations can analyze vast amounts of data, including the individual’s learning style and areas of strength and weakness. With the help of this information, AI can help create personalized learning programs for each participant, ensuring they receive the most relevant content at the right time. 

  • AI Implements Adaptive Learning Algorithm

The adaptive learning system, where AI-generated algorithms are used to create topic structures and modules, can help create personalized learning. In many instances, AI provides participants with quizzes and questionnaires to gauge their knowledge level and generates a learning plan based on the results. AI can also help track the progress of individuals and fast-track them to more advanced materials, preventing boredom and maximizing engagement.

  • AI Helps in Enhancing Engagement and Retention

Engagement and retention are vital for effective learning. AI in Elearning introduces elements such as chatbots, interactive simulations, and gamification designed to make learning more engaging. 

For instance, take the example of chatbots. In this feature, AI generates immediate responses to questions and queries, eliminating frustration and promoting a sense of guidance. When the learner gets a quick response, they are encouraged to ask more questions, which enhances their engagement in the topic. 

Moreover, a gamification element is added to any learning module, making learning new things fun and competitive. When individuals compete with their peers to stay on top of the game, they generate a sense of healthy competition, which helps them retain interest in the topic and learn more.

  • AI Helps Experience a Global Learning Environment

AI-powered learning platforms also bridge geographical boundaries. These platforms make quality education accessible to individuals all around the globe. The language barrier is also minimized with the help of real-time translation. 

  • AI Provides data-driven Insights into progress.

AI can analyze vast amounts of data-driven insights. The tool can implement effective strategies by crunching numbers and analyzing each individual’s performance and engagement. Organizations can also be used by organizations to track the progress of each individual and provide interventions and skill development training.

  • Virtual and Augmented Reality

AI-powered VR and AR are used for immersive learning experiences. These advancements are having a positive impact on workspaces. Employees can practice real work scenarios in a safe virtual environment, making training for complex and hazardous tasks more effective and risk-free.

For instance, in the aviation industry, VR and AR can help engineers and designers visualize and test the prototypes of virtual environments. This accelerates the process, facilitates collaboration, and reduces the need for a physical prototype. This also reduces the upfront cost of physical prototypes. 

Microlearning and Gamification: Revolutionary Elements in AI Elearning

Microlearning and gamification are transforming every aspect of Elearning. These elements are specifically designed keeping in mind the short attention span of the participants.  They help in transforming Elearning in the following ways:

  • Game-based Learning with AI

AI-driven learning platforms often integrate gaming elements into their content. The games have engaging and interactive elements, making the learning process enjoyable. Moreover, many platforms have features such as adaptive gameplay and instant feedback. Adaptive learning can help adjust the difficulty level of a game based on the participant’s skills, and instant feedback allows them to correct their mistakes and improve their skills in real-time. Gamification makes tracking progress easier. It helps you to monitor your performance over time. 

For example, Gamification can be helpful in the hotel management industry, where the participant can be given quizzes on guest interaction. The feeling of real-time engagement with puzzles or challenges in the game will help them imagine relevant scenarios in their professional life. 

Immersive Microlearning with AI

Many AI platforms analyze the learning history and preferences of the participants to deliver microlearning modules. These modules are designed to make specific contents and topics easy to understand and retain. 

Additionally, mobile accessibility is often a crucial aspect of microlearning. Whether during a commute, lunch break, or spare moment, you can access the module from your smartphone and engage with the content that is relevant and informative.

AI-driven learning emphasizes continuous skill development. Instead of the one-time traditional training, participants engage in an ongoing learning journey. This approach can help identify opportunities for skill enhancement and recommend resources to stay current in this rapidly changing industry. 

What Does the Future Hold?

The future of integration of AI in Elearning looks promising. AI can help develop personalized learning experiences and help formulate modules specifically designed for individual needs.  AI helps generate highly immersive content with the help of features such as AR and VR and microlearning modules, which allows the learners to fully engage themselves in the learning process as if they were physically present. 

This approach can be used in various fields, from training simulations to medical, hotel management, or aviation professionals. AI in Elearning is valued for enhancing retention and understanding and making personalized learning more accessible worldwide. AI is here to stay and for all good reasons. Hence, it is wise to leverage the benefits of AI to be at the same pace as the world around us. 

Continue Reading


The Future is Fast: Why Fiber Internet is a Must for Your Business




=In the hyper-connected world that we live in, reliable and high-speed internet is essential for every business to thrive. An estimated 46 percent of organizations frustrated by wide area network (WAN) connectivity issues observed a drop in their productivity, reveals a recent article by Engage Employee.

Loss of employee productivity isn’t the only downside of a slow internet connection. Sluggish internet will affect customer service and your business’ security and data integrity. 

How do you protect your business from the effects of slow internet? By upgrading to fiber-optic internet. The global fiber optics market, valued at $4.48 billion in 2019, is expected to reach $9.73 billion by 2027. Therefore, now is the perfect time to invest in fiber-optic internet. 

That said, here are a few reasons why fiber is a must-have for every business: 

#1 High Speed 

Slow internet connection negatively affects small and medium-sized businesses and brings productivity to a screeching halt. 

In a survey conducted by WhistleOut, over 35 percent of respondents, who were remote workers, revealed that sluggish internet has prevented them from doing their work at some point. Around 65 percent of people had to drop out of video calls due to poor internet connection.

Have you ever thought about what would happen to your business if your employees faced the same situation? The bottom line of your business will be affected, and you can lose thousands of dollars a year. 

But the emergence of fiber-optic internet has been a game-changer for businesses. With fiber, data travels incredibly fast, so your connection won’t slow down even when there is an increased demand. 

Fiber internet will also boost your employees’ productivity, as they will be able to work without any interruptions. Ultimately, this will improve your company’s bottom line. 

Downloading large files or sending them over email is also easy with fiber, as it offers symmetrical speeds. That means you can upload videos and other large files at the same speed as you download them. 

#2 Quick Access to Cloud Data

Cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have made it easy for businesses to store and manage data via a network of remote servers. As cloud data can be accessed from anywhere, it increases business efficiency. By moving key operational functions to cloud applications, you can reduce capital costs, writes WOW! 

However, you won’t be able to access cloud data if your internet is too slow. For businesses relying on cloud computing, fiber internet for business is essential due to its speed, which reaches up to 940 Mbps (megabits) per second.

Therefore, if you’re planning to move your data to cloud services, you should invest in fiber internet. Rest assured, you will be able to access large volumes of data quickly and uninterruptedly. 

#3 More Reliable Than Copper Cables

Unlike copper cables, fiber-optic internet isn’t prone to poor weather conditions. 

In cold weather, copper cabling often needs to be replaced because they freeze and become unusable. Likewise, moisture gets into the cables during the rainy season, which interferes with signals and reduces bandwidth. 

Thankfully, fiber-optic internet isn’t susceptible to inclement weather conditions because fiber is stronger than copper. Not only weather conditions, but fiber is also resistant to electromagnetic interference. As a result, it is less prone to outages or signal loss. 

Poor internet connections can bring your business operations to a complete halt due to inclement weather conditions, which could lead to hefty losses. You can avoid that by investing in fiber. Fiber-optic internet is a must-have if your business has clients overseas so that you can communicate with them without interruptions. 

#4 Stronger Cybersecurity

Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report disclosed that very small businesses are vulnerable to social attacks, brute force attacks, ransomware, and malware. On average, data breach costs $2.98 million to businesses, reveals Business News Daily

With global cybercrime predicted to increase exponentially in the coming years, fiber-optic internet has become a necessity for all businesses. We say so because gaining access to cable modems and WiFi routers isn’t impossible for hackers. But tapping into fiber to steal internet service is near-impossible. 

The only way hackers can tap into fiber internet is to cut it physically. Doing so will make the signals disappear, which will safeguard your data from breaches. 

Fiber-optic internet has been dominating the digital landscape because it is hack-proof, fast, and resistant to inclement weather conditions and other interferences. While the upfront cost to lay fiber is high, monthly fees are low. That way, you will save a few bucks monthly on internet subscriptions. 

Before you purchase fiber-optic internet for your business, make sure to take quotes from multiple internet service providers. Thereafter, search for reviews online and seal the deal with whoever fits the bill. 

Continue Reading


How Small Agencies Can Enhance Insurance Workflow Efficiency




Insurance is a relatively recession-proof industry because most people realize the significance of coverage for contingencies. According to statistics, insurance premiums written in the US touched a staggering $1.36 trillion in 2021. 

Not surprisingly, a growing number of small agencies are joining the industry to capitalize on the opportunity. There are around 5,929 insurance companies in the US market as of this writing. The number translates into stiff competition for small players. Record inflation and an economic downturn compound the stress.

If you run a small agency, overcoming these challenges should be a top priority. Optimizing your workflows gives you a great start as it can help streamline processes, reduce errors, and improve customer experience.

Here are a few measures small insurance agencies can implement to enhance their workflow efficiency:

Adopt Automation of Workflows

According to a recent Gartner Survey, 2023 will witness a massive shift for insurers as they will focus on operational efficiency and customer experience instead of growing revenues. Workflow automation can be a game-changer in this context. According to VRC Insurance Systems, small agencies can rely on custom software solutions to digitize their workflows.

Automation tools can take over repetitive tasks such as document generation, data entry, and email responses. With the automation of these processes, your agency can minimize errors, reduce manual labor, and speed up policy processing. 

The best piece of advice is to learn more about these solutions and understand how they can enhance your operations and customer experience. You will feel more comfortable and confident about switching from legacy systems to modern tools with the right mindset.

Prioritize Digital Document Management

While documents and data are the lifeblood of insurance companies, they are often the biggest struggle. Imagine dealing with piles of paperwork that keep growing with your business. Data privacy is another factor that may stress you out while handling paper documents.

Consider switching to digital document management systems to eliminate the hassles of managing and securing paper records. The step can significantly enhance your workflow and reduce the workload of your employees.

It helps you store, access, and organize policy documents and client records in a few clicks. You can save time and effort in searching for physical files and minimize the risk of losing documents. Going paperless makes your agency eco-friendly, establishing your reputation as a green business.

Provide Self-Service Options

Self-service can be a winning point for insurance agencies when it comes to customer experience. Your customers will be happy if they can complete tasks such as getting a quote, buying a policy, or logging a claim through an online portal. It also eliminates the need for agents to engage in repetitive tasks, freeing them to take care of critical processes such as client follow-ups and support.

Invest in a user-friendly and intuitive online portal or mobile app to help clients address their insurance needs independently. It will automatically enhance the workflow of your agency and give you a winning edge with customer experience. 

Customize Workflows Based on Data

Statistics show that 91.9% of organizations got value from investments in data and analytics in 2023. Insurance agencies are not an exception. Leveraging data to customize workflows is far better than working on a static model. While traditional workflows may offer some efficiency, using data enables you to process more accurately.

You can optimize and streamline them in real time to consistently improve the workflow. With this dynamic system, you need not replace the existing workflows. Instead, you can take an incremental approach to ease the journey.

Invest in Training and Education

Enhancing insurance workflow efficiency is not only about automating processes with software tools and solutions. It is also about employee training and education to ensure that your team knows about the latest software tools, industry trends, and best practices.

Well-informed employees buy into technology easily and work more efficiently with automation. They are also quick to adapt to client expectations and provide better customer service. Another good thing about offering ongoing professional development opportunities is that it fosters loyalty and creates a positive work environment.

Wrapping Up

Small insurance agencies can score big on efficiency, productivity, and performance with better workflows. Automation sets the pace for insurance workflow efficiency. Insurance agencies should consider it a worthy investment, even if it costs a bit.

Besides driving workflow efficiencies, automation can make agencies future–ready and give them a winning edge in a competitive industry. That’s all you need to carve a niche for your small agency in a market dominated by big players.

Continue Reading


HR Software Pricing Models: An In-Depth Guide




Human Resources (HR) software has become an indispensable tool for businesses of all sizes. Whether you’re a small startup or a multinational corporation, managing your workforce is crucial for success. But, choosing the right HR software can be a daunting task, and one of the key considerations is the pricing model. In this in-depth guide, we’ll explore HR software pricing models, their nuances, and factors to consider when making your decision.

Understanding HR Software Pricing Models

HR software pricing models determine how you’ll pay for the software and the associated services. These models vary, and each has its advantages and drawbacks. To make an informed choice, let’s delve into the most common HR software pricing models:

1. Subscription-Based Pricing

Subscription-based pricing is one of the most prevalent models in the HR software industry. In this model, users pay a recurring fee, on a monthly or annual basis, to access the software and its features. This pricing model offers several benefits:

  • Predictable Costs: Businesses can budget more since they know the monthly or annual cost in advance..
  • Regular Updates and Support: Subscription fees often include software updates and customer support, ensuring you’re always using the latest version with access to help when needed.
  • Scalability: Most subscription-based HR software allows you to scale up or down to accommodate changes in your workforce.

But, some considerations with this model include:

  • Long-Term Costs: Over time, subscription fees can add up, costing more than a one-time buy
  • Contract Commitments: Some vendors must lengthy contracts, which may not be suitable for all businesses.

2. Per-User Pricing

Per-user pricing charges businesses based on the number of users who access the HR software. This model is scalable and transparent. Here are the key points to consider:

  • Cost Transparency: You pay for what you use, making it easy to calculate expenses as your team grows or shrinks.
  • Fairness: Per-user pricing ensures that you only pay for the employees who actually use the software.
  • Flexibility: This model accommodates businesses with fluctuating employee numbers.

But, be aware of the potential downsides:

  • Added Costs with Growth: As your workforce expands, your HR software expenses can increase significantly.
  • Complex Billing: Managing per-user billing for a large organization can be challenging.

3. Tiered Pricing

Tiered pricing involves different pricing levels or packages with varying features and capabilities. This model is designed to cater to businesses with different needs and budgets. Here’s what to consider:

  • Customization: You can choose a tier that aligns with your specific requirements and budget.
  • Feature Access: Higher-tier packages often include advanced features that may be essential for larger organizations.
  • Cost Control: You have the flexibility to upgrade or downgrade your plan as your needs change.

Yet, there are potential drawbacks:

  • Feature Limitations: Lower-tier packages may lack critical features, potentially hindering your HR operations.
  • Cost Overruns: If you need features from a higher tier, you may end up paying more than expected.

4. Pay-Per-Feature Pricing

Some HR software providers offer a pay-per-feature pricing model, where you pay for individual features or modules separately. This model offers a high degree of customization, allowing you to tailor the software to your specific needs. Consider the following:

  • Cost Efficiency: You only pay for the features you use, saving money if you have unique requirements.
  • Flexibility: You can add or remove features as needed, adapting the software to changes in your HR processes.

But, keep these factors in mind:

  • Complex Billing: Managing many feature-based payments can be cumbersome and must careful tracking.
  • Cost Uncertainty: Depending on your needs, the final cost may be uncertain until you’ve selected all the necessary features.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an HR Software Pricing Model

Selecting the right HR software pricing model requires careful consideration of your business’s unique needs and circumstances. Here are some essential factors to keep in mind:

1. Business Size and Growth

Consider the current size of your organization and your growth projections. If you expect significant growth, a pricing model that scales, such as per-user pricing or subscription-based pricing, may be more suitable.

2. Budget Constraints

Test your budget carefully. While subscription-based pricing provides predictable costs, it may not be the most cost-effective option for businesses with limited budgets. Tiered pricing or pay-per-feature pricing can offer more flexibility in such cases.

3. Feature Requirements

Examine your HR software requirements in detail. Do you need access to advanced features and modules, or will a basic package suffice? Tiered pricing and pay-per-feature models allow you to align your feature needs with your budget.

4. Long-Term Commitment

Consider how comfortable you are with long-term commitments. Some subscription-based models may must multi-year contracts, which could be helpful if you want price stability but restrictive if your circumstances change.

5. Ease of Administration

Think about the administrative overhead involved in managing the pricing model. Complex billing and user tracking can be time-consuming, so choose a model that aligns with your administrative capabilities.

6. Vendor Reputation and Support

Research the reputation of HR software vendors and their customer support. A reputable vendor with excellent customer service can make a large difference in your experience.

Selecting the right HR software pricing model is a critical decision that can impact your organization’s efficiency and bottom line. By understanding the various pricing models available, considering your specific needs, and evaluating the factors mentioned above, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your business goals. Remember that the perfect pricing model is one that not only fits your budget but also supports your HR processes effectively, ensuring your workforce management is as efficient as possible.

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2023 Times Square Chronicles