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October 28, 2011


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Michele Morgan

Hi Jim...you have nothing to be sorry about as far as I'm concerned! Sometimes we all have to return to the basics, to our foundation, and then see where we are at that point.

Listen, I just signed up for a course with Lynn. The generous discount you've given ($50) has allowed me to do this.

The course is about exposure, light, etc.

So I'm with you...I'm excited...and, you know, I'm returning to the basics too!!

Madhawy alzuair

Hello Mr.Miotke

Just read you email ,and I would like you to know that , Betterphoto served , helped and facilitated many thing to photography passionates .
the websites are nice and easy to create , and easy to control as well .
the courses are helpful and the instructors are professional .
though , If you could take these courses to the next level , as video courses or put some parts of one course in video, that well be really helpful .
thank you so much
Im looking forward to see and experience the new age of betterphoto .


Hello Jim!

Thank you for your email explanation, and no apologies are necessary on my behalf. I am just completing my second course and enjoying it hugely, as well as learning a ton. It will certainly not be my last course. The idea of meeting up with other course members locally sounds like a lot of fun, and a good source of inspiration.

Larry Dickerson

Your proposals sound good, Jim. As you add more courses please try to add some with more advanced content. Some of us who have been with you for a long time find it a little difficult to find a course that really explores new territory.

Also, I hope you will consider bringing back a version of the get togethers you use to sponsor in different parts of the country. It was a good way to build loyalty and to develop friendships with other members. I suspect you dropped them because of the expense, but comparatively speaking, they were very inexpensive. Charge a little more if you have to, and keep the number of staff and instructors to a minimum. Shooting with friends such as you, in an interesting place, is the key to what made them work. Think about working with local photo clubs, or orgs like PSA.

John Grede

One of the most overlooked things, especially for a new photographer, is to have their photos evaluated. I think BP should look at providing this service. Have a standard scoring system (the 27 pointer approach)...and then provide two lines of comments about things that standout and things that need work. This service wouldn't
have to be free...but I think newer photographers would love to get feedback other than I didn't make the cut for a contest ( a lot could be learned by this service). For people who are struggling, maybe the grader would suggest a BP course. I believe people would pay for this service.

Leslie McLain

I'm just happy that BP has survived as I'm not sure what I would do without it. It is defnitely the best photo sharing site on the web. Love photography and love sharing it with friends at BP. I've made some wonderful friends in my years at BP as well as improved my photography. The terrific community of photographers and the great photo contest are two of the best parts of BP.
Looking forward to many more years with BP.

Jim Miotke

Hi John, Larry, Jolanda, Madhawy, and Michele,

Thanks for your words of support, and for your suggestions. These are much appreciated. And we are so excited to get going with the "new" BetterPhoto!

Jim Miotke

Hi Leslie,
Thanks for your support too!!

Pete Nixon

Jim, you asked for feedback in a survey and although I took the time to respond to it thoughtfully, you never (to my knowledge) shared the results with your 'community'.

I think you need to decide whether you want to be a business that leverages 'community' or a 'community' that provides you an income. To my mind, there is a very big difference.

As I noted in my survey feedback, your course prices are quite high. In this economy, you are competing for a shrinking consumer dollar with many lower-cost alternatives, including community college classes and subscription-based online courses. You need to consider making a better case for paying much higher prices, or you need to reduce the prices.

I, for one, would be much more inclined to use your (superior) offering for more than just one or two classes if you permanently lowered your prices 30% or so instead of offering promotional pricing. I think, given your high fixed costs and marginal variable costs, you would make more money and be more successful overall if you had 3 times the number of classes sold at 1/2 the price.

Pete Nixon

For what it's worth, I find it disturbing you have a side business that you promote to the same clientele as this one in which you purport to share your expertise in living successfully (for a fee).

The 'positive thinking' guru field is quite crowded and very much discredited so I think you are hurting your core photography training business with this strategy.

It also begs the question why, if you have mastered the art of successful living, you are struggling with the BP business.

Focus, focus, focus....as a former (retired) management consultant, that is my advice, for what it may be worth.

Michael Gerson

Hi Jim
I've taken many BP courses, enjoy them and would like to take more. I was, however, very disappointed in the MVBP program. The best analogy I can think of is the airlines mileage program-you accumulate the miles, but their are few, if any, opportunities to upgrade-nothing is ever available. It's the same with your courses-as a matter of fact, sometimes no courses at all were available; other times totally inappropriate courses were available. (I finally signed up for a course I really have no interest in because you were going to have my MVBP credit expire!-just like the airlines) As a result of your MVBP policy, I searched the internet for other online photo classes, found a good one, and now I split my course time between BP and a competing school I found on the internet-all because of your MVBP program!

I suggest you don't have the an MVBP program at all-then their will be no expectations on the part of the consumer. Or simply make the courses more accessible.

I'm glad that you'll stay in business, enjoy your courses and the very interesting information you provide on the BP website, and plan to continue taking more of your courses.


Greg Mencotti

I want you to know how valuable BetterPhoto has been for me. I’ve taken 12 classes these past 10 months. Those classes, your most excellent instructors and my fellow students have pushed my knowledge and image quality to the next level and beyond!
The enhancements you propose sound great!
Bottom line – I intend to continue to grow with BetterPhoto.

Dennis Connor

Hi Jim,

I have been a member for a long time. Since I have retired, my income is fixed. I am a avid nature photographer and have tried to submit some of my photos to no avail. I would like to see some classes offered at times that fit in the income level of a retired person. Their are allot of us out here that may benefit. I know you are in it to make a profit, but current classes are a little too expensive on a limited income, even with a discount.

Jim Miotke

Hi Pete, Thanks for sharing your thoughts and suggestions. We're committed to providing superior value for every dollar spent and we stand behind that. We're working on initiatives to make our courses more affordable. Stay tuned next month as we roll out a large project to bring the community together as well! Thanks again!

Jim Miotke

Hi Dennis, Greg and Mike,
Thanks for your comments and words of support!

Dennis and Mike, Also thanks for sharing your thoughts and suggestions. We'll keep them under advisement!

Rick Midthun

Dear Jim,
I appreciate your honesty. I value your site hugely. Just charge me more for my basic gallery! I'll pay.
Only thing lacking is ability to tag photos or search my own gallery for text that would help me find older entries.
Rick M.

Jim Miotke

Hi Rick,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and suggestions. We'll keep them in mind!

Ray Laurence

Jim, I am perplexed to hear that BP quietly almost went out of business. Many of us with Deluxe or higher level websites have had them for years and have much history and in many cases business attached to them. This is really an eye-opener. I have purchased or leased web hosting for years in the future. While I do not think that BP does enough "developmental" or incentive events on the site (that is community oriented), many of us have much riding on its ultimate success. How are you planning to make us more comfortable after pushing your 2 for 1 sales for much of the past year? I wish you well, but I must say that I am gravely concerned.

Linda Rostad

Looking forward to what's coming. I have taken most of your classes already - really need new advanced choices. I also felt your prices got too high for course value. I will stay tuned!

Beatriz Rocha

Hi Jim,
I'm a new comer and have been enjoying very much the sharing experience at BP, but lack of criticism and feedback on contest entries, such as reasons for not making the cut, or making it, would be highly appreciated and valuable. I definitely understand that the logistics for such service need to be worked out, but eventually predetermined standard categories, such as composition, light, background etc, would be feasible; I'm sure your team can come up with creative ways of offering such a service, which in my opinion would increase exponentially the community's interest.
In addition to more constructive feedback I also agree that courses are too much expensive; I just enrolled in one course due to the discount, but still...
At last, but not least, as I put down in the survey (which results I agree you should disclose) I would love to have the possibility to upload photos in the iPad.
I'm looking forward for the new BP, and am very interested in meeting you and others in person for 'live shooting'.
Best Regards


I have only managed to take 1 of your courses so far and I wasn't able to complete it. Other issues took my time and I wish I could have finished it because there is so much I need to learn about my camera! My current budget keeps me from taking any right now. I am looking forward to what is coming and hope to be able to participate more!

Keith S. Safford

Hi Jim,

Since taking my first BP class in March 2010, I have taken 5 others and loved them. Your instructors, Simon Stafford, Rob Sheppard, Kevin Moss have been awesome and I have learned so much about photography. I think your courses are priced fairly but the economy is tough and being that my wife has had some medical issues, I have an 8 year old that just got braces, I had to hold off on signing up for a course with a $50 discount. I hope you have that discount again in a few months as I hope to be recouperated from a number of brutal financial hits by then and can take a course with Jim Zuckerman on Photoshop: Creative Techniques. Keep up the great work.

Also, I agree about the MVP comment above, I get the credits, but there is usually nothing worth me taking.

Keith S.


Hi Jim

I have just joined BP and have taken up two courses in the first day. Its a great concept and brings international practices to your local machine. Yes, cost is an issue and would love that to be dealt with (some fellow sites offer video courses by experts at $10 a session)... anyway, having spent about 70 hours on your site (i have been exploring it upside down), i have a few suggestions

1. VERY IMPORTANT - Need to ensure that instructors offer consistent quality stuff to the students. I read reviews for some of the courses and lot of students were complaining that a particular instructor did not conduct their courses very well. I think as a customer, if i am paying same dollar for a course, i would want same level of quality coaching regardless of the instructor. That made me nervous on signing up for other courses, as i wanted to test them out first

2. it will be great to have a "practice shop" where photographers can develop their style, post pictures and get evaluated on an ongoing basis (avoid building hierarchies ... like sr photog and jr photog ... as that is a turn off for many)

3. Current courses on advanced section deal with courses on photography as a business. But we could have some specialist themes and new areas of photography (like human abstracts, lomography etc ...... more for advanced hobbyists)

4. Your local get together initiative is a great idea. I would love to put up my hand for it for Singapore

Compliments to you for coming out openly to get in touch with customers and listen to them. Great job on this. I am looking forward to all the new BP stuff, so that i can stop hopping around sites and settle on BP forever :-)



Hi Jim,

I guess I am a casual viewer at your website. I know I would be a more loyal user and customer if I did not see so many ads. I feel more like a marketing target than a interactive member of a photography website.(And maybe you never intended the site to be an interactive photographic website)

If you focus on good solid content for photographers that is free the readers and sales will come with it. At least that is my marketing dream.

Good Luck and I look forward to seeing the new "things" to come.
I like the evaluating idea and meeting locally with other members.

Dave Cearley

Jim, I'm a "new" old photographer. I used to shoot a lot of film, and got out of the habit for a decade or more, and recently got really excited by the potential of HD video using DSLRs. I've signed up for several blogs/newsletters/technique sites, including yours. I have to agree, besides the photo of the day, every email just about every day, shares no technique or information beyond trumpeting a new class or a discount for a class. There may be tons of great info on your site or blog, but I never hear about it. Heck, there's tons of technique info out there from manufacturers, the major retailers, and blogs of all types, but you aren't tapping into them. I think your local meetup group idea is great, but I believe you're going to have to figure out how to generate multiple revenue streams, not just classes for $$. Where are the manufacturer tie ins? Where's the product news? How about museum or gallery news? Where's the community? As a new subscriber, tell me how your site can be indespensible to my life as a photographer? Halloween is in days, but I don't recall seeing any tips on how to get great shots at night of scurrying kids.
I completely sympathize with your quandry. It's just time to reinvent BetterPhoto, and move it beyond a photo course advertisement email. Take a look at afterdarkedu.com. They're bringing together a dozen or more instructors for three days of classes a few times a year. With your instructer network and subscriber base, there's no reason you couldn't so something similar, or even one day one price events with a few instructors. I looked at your webinar pitch. Twelve pages of text, no schedule or price, and only one speaker. I can get a full day class with Kevin Kubota for a hundred bucks, and I see the schedule and price up front. Come on, you can do it, but change with the times. Sincere best wishes!

Joe osentino


I found better photo in April and I just signed up for lasses 9 nd 10, I want to thank you for providing what I think is the best web site on the web. I have never learned more from any other web site. All your instructors hav been Great, so good that I am headed to Iceland in May with Jim Zukerman.

My photos have improved immensely this year, I just sold my first print this week, that would ave never happened with out better photo. I am also looking forward to this new local phoo groups.

Thanks again
Joe Cosentino


Just read your email. I am so happy you are able to stay open. I love the site. One of the suggestions above that I love is more video classes. Especially self paced. Also, since I have been with your site you have never raised the gallery price. I think a small increase wouldn't be bad especially if the classes are reduced in price. I realize the addition of so many ads was necessary financially BUT when it interferes with the viewing of photos it makes a person want to move on. Having them down the sides is fine but in the middle is distracting.

Otherwise the site has been wonderful. I certainly haven't seen anything else I would prefer over betterphoto.com. Good luck with the new changes.

Jim Miotke

Hi Laura, Joe, Dave, Jeff, Sanjeev, Keith, Carolyn, Beatriz and Linda:

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts - what you like, what you don't like. Your suggestions are very much appreciated, and we will take them under consideration.

Thanks again!


I'm glad to see that BetterPhoto is going back to a different focus. The high marketing and sales techniques were a bit much and were tainting my view of what is, in my opinion, a very good course provider.

However, I am still awaiting a response to the feedback I provided on my course experience, that you said you wanted to hear and until that is resolved (it's been a year!), as much as I want to press the enrol button, I won't.

Hello Jim

I must say that I am very pleased that you have realized that BetterPhoto had become too salesy. Hardly a day went by in recent months without receiving a BetterPhoto offer of some sort. Whilst it is clear to me that BetterPhoto is a business like any other, pushing sales can also be off-putting and thus counterproductive. No one likes to be “sold” something. I in any case was beginning to just press the delete button!
I’ve been a BetterPhoto member for over seven years, have taken a couple of courses and am a Masterpiece member. I think that it is fair to say that all BetterPhoto members are looking for improvement in their photography. What I would like to see is more constructive and if necessary harsher criticism. I realize that course takers and Masterpiece members are paying customers but that is no reason not to be honest when reviewing their work. After all that is actually what we are paying for. I would much prefer to be told that an image is poor and why, than be told "great job".

Good luck for the future

Ray Laurence

Dear Jim,

I did not realize when you invited us to comment on your blog, that you would be so selective on the comment you would allow to post. That is in a way dishonest. It gives readers an unbalanced view of the concerns and views of your customers.

ilana peled

Hi Jim,
As an old timer on BP and photography in general, I cannot find any new option that will rekindle my excitement.
I know it`s a bussiness thing but I don`t like it this way, not the way it used to be at first.
Probably I`m not realistic, but it`s the way I feel now.

Jim Miotke

Hi Ray,
Sorry for the delay in responding. As you might imagine, there have been many comments to read - here and in Facebook, etc.

Ray, we deeply appreciate your concern. My team and I had a discussion on this very topic. Bottom line is you're right. We've made a commitment to you and we intend to honor that commitment. Furthermore, we're committed to serving the BetterPhoto community long into the future. We'd love to hear from you as to how we can make the sites better and continue to raise the standard of service you've come to expect from us.


Jim Miotke

Hi Heather,
Thanks for your note - much appreciated. Sorry you didn't hear back specifically on your course concerns. Would you like to share them here? Kerry Drager is our Course Advisor/Instructor Liaison - also feel free to contact him directly (kerry @ betterphoto.com). Thanks again!

Jim Miotke

Hi Hans,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. If you feel an instructor is "holding back" - or being too nice - be sure to follow-up in the critique thread. In Masterpiece, the Critique Responses is the place for constructive feedback. There, too, if you feel you would like further analysis of a photo, just ask Kerry (or others) ... that back-and-forth in the discussion threads can be so enlightening. Keep in mind that sometimes a photo may not need improvement ... pointing out the good things can help you (and others) understand better why a photo works. But again, Hans, thanks for sharing your thoughts. This is really helpful as we push forward with a "new and improved" BetterPhoto!

Jim Miotke

Hi Ilana,
Good hearing from you, and thank you for sharing your thoughts. Well, my hope is that you'll check back regularly - maybe something will catch your attention that you haven't thought of at the moment. Thanks again!

Cheryl Gould

Hi Jim,
I have been a member of the BP community for several years and it got me through some very difficult times-job loss, car accident, and surgeries. If it weren't for BP, I would not be teaching photography now. Here are my thoughts:

I learned so much from the photo classes I took, but I have moved on-it is time for new classes.

Like others, the life coaching/motivational stuff is where you lost me. Everything was ads and sales. It is/was not what I am looking for from BP.

I like the idea of the certification program, but not sure how it benefits me-it doesn't even show up on my BP website!

The idea of small groups getting together in different areas is great. I know there are groups on BP already, but I joined a couple of the "social" groups and none of them did anything-no shoots, no interaction, nothing.

I teach photography to small groups in New York City-we use Meet-Up to publicize them. Maybe something like that would be an option for BP?

Product tie-ins/sponsorship-why can't BP get ads from Nikon, Canon, Lensbaby, and other products? BP has classes for specific cameras.

Looking forward to a new & improved BP.

Carol Grady

Hi Jim,

Thanks for your e-mail explaining what has been going on at BP. No apology needed as far as I'm concerned.

Love the idea of getting together with other BP photo enthusiasts. I know it would benefit me greatly as I live in a very small town and do not the opportunity to speak with other photographers.

I am starting a class on 11-9, with Doug Steakly - Basics Masks in Photoshop. I had taken a class once before with an instructor who is no longer with BP and found the interaction extremely frustrating, so I'm back to square one on that front. In January I've signed up for a class with Jim Zuckerman - Advanced Creative Techniques. The 50% off offer enabled me to do that. Thank you!

Jim Miotke

Hi again ... Heather, thanks for sending the details. We are going to look into this. Again, I'm sorry that you ran into problems, but thanks for getting back to me. We'll be in touch soon!

Jim Miotke

Hi Cheryl,
Good to hear from you, and thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns - and some great suggestions. These are much appreciated! Also, it's good to hear that you are looking forward to a new and improved BetterPhoto!

Jim Miotke

Hi Carol,
Thanks so much for your support of BetterPhoto and for posting your thoughts. I know you will enjoy these two upcoming courses. Thanks again!


Thanks for the email and opportunity to respond.
I've been getting your Photo of the Day emails for some time, and finally took Charlotte Lowry's Canon course and was favorably impressed. My shooting improved quickly.
I've also purchased your self-paced course and it was well done. Nice to have access over a period of time to access the materials.
Have signed up for an 8-wk Jim Zuckerman course that starts this week and have a one-year Basic Pholio.
So, I'm happy to hear that you've survived and will continue. You're helping lots of folks improve their work.
On the "delta" side, it's sort of disturbing to sign up for a class early, only to have you offer $50 off to late-comers. It doesn't incentivize me to sign up early...next time I may be inclined to wait until the last minute. And, there are several other courses on my "wish list".
Would it make sense to offer some bonus/discount for early committers?

Keep up the good work. I'll be anxious to see what develops.

Jim Miotke

Hi Terry,
Glad you have enjoyed the class and the self-paced course ... I know you'll enjoy Jim Z's too!

Thanks, too, for sharing your thoughts - and for the suggestions.

Linda Lester

Hi Jim,

I will say the BP has made me a better photographer not only with the wonderful classes I have taken but just by entering the contest everyday. It makes me work harder because I want each photo I put in to be better. I'm very competitive with myself! :) Not only that I have made the best of friends from around the world through this site and it even has me traveling to wonderful places shooting.
So thank you very much for all of that.

Jim Miotke

Hi Linda,
It's wonderful to hear from you - and it's so awesome to hear how BetterPhoto has helped in your progress as a photographer.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


P.S. Great work in Kerry's and my new book!!


Dear Jim,
Appreciated your obviously heart-felt e-mail concerning BP's new direction. I attended one of your seminars in Orlando in the Spring of 2010 which really made me think about my photography in a different perspective/ as well as gave me some insight into you and your life philosophy-unfortuately a serious health issue has curtailed my mobility for the last year and a half which definitely affected my time and abilities with my photography. However, that being said, I too have not taken another course because of the expense (I did take one 4 yrs ago and found it very helpful). I also wish there was a critique format outside of the classes-even though there would need to be some type of charge, it would certainly provide a needed service for those of us who are trying to improve. The contests were totally not my thing, nor were the photo of the week (never got how that exactly happened!). On another note, I regretablly had to drop my website
Cost was a bit much for me considering that I was not really using it for marketing-mainly friend/family visits. Since you are in business to make a profit, my comments may sound like whining, however, every dollar counts and I truely appreciate your efforts to make BP a better consumer product.
best wishes in your endeavor

Jim Miotke

Hi Jackie,
Good to hear from you, but so sorry to hear about your health issues. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, your past experiences (that Florida Summit was definitely a special one!), and suggestions. We will take them under advisement. Thanks again!

Keith S. Safford

Hi Jim,

I thought of something else as I was going over my "100 Tips and Tricks for Photoshop Elements 9" by Rob Sheppard. I would like more courses to be Elements friendly. I emailed Rob once and said that I love Elements and it does so much, but it seems a lot of the "Photoshop CSx" classes said "No Elements". Rob replied that the Photoshop CSx folks are kind of snobby and that Elements is sufficient for most all photography (Kevin Moss also said he uses Elements most of the time) and I would love to see classes on how to use and utilize advanced features of Elements. Unless you are a professional photographer and utilize the obscure features of Photoshop CSx, Elements does so much and is sufficient for all of my needs.

Anyway, just throught I would add that since I was going over my Elements book and reading about the DNG format.

I had bought CS2 many years ago, but never really utilized all that it could do, but I am using Elements so much more because it doesn't take years to learn everything it does!

Jim Miotke

Hi Keith,
Thanks for your note, and we'll take your suggestion under advisement.

Just a thought, however: We actually may have more classes open to Elements than you might think :) ...

Besides Elements for Nature Photographers), the following classes accept Elements: Beginning Photoshop for Photographers; Photoshop: Creative Techniques; Photoshop: Advanced Creative Techniques; Photoshop: Thinking Outside the Box; and Basic Masks in Photoshop.

Thanks again, Keith!

Misty Moore

Please start taking Paypal. I believe this will open the opportunity for people, like myself, whoe do not have a visa card, to take classes. This is an untapped source of new minds and income for BetterPhoto

Jim Miotke

Hi Misty,
Thanks for the note. We've considered PayPal in the past, but this is something we should re-visit. Thanks for the suggestion!

Dick Jenkins

I'm going to shoot right from the hip here sharing my thoughts on what I want to see BP.com offer. I feel those of us that produce panoramas are not being considered when it comes to the limitations set for the web site. A typical panorama displayed on the BP site is so small that the viewer has no way of appreciating the quality of the work. As an example I'd like someone on staff to take the time to visit and compare these same two, identical photographs, one posted on BP.com and one on Google Earth's Free Panoramio site. Here are the links:

and the Google Earth site:

They are both the same file size to the pixel.

Lastly, I was not at all happy to read in Jim's last message to the membership entitled, "I'm Sorry" that he nearly closed his doors over financial conditions when I had paid two years in advance for my web site. I don't believe I need to say more.

Jim Miotke

Hi Dick,
Thanks for your note, and for your suggestion on panoramas. I will pass that along to our tech team.

Regarding your web site, I very much appreciate your concern. My team and I had a discussion on this, and the bottom line is you're right. We've made a commitment to BetterPholio owners, and we intend to honor that commitment. Furthermore, we're committed to serving the BetterPhoto community long into the future. We'd love to hear from you as to how we can make the sites better and continue to raise the standard of service you've come to expect from us.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, Dick!

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