Well I just bought a website template off of Bludomain. I waited till the last day of their sale. This habit of waiting till the last minute is a hard one to break. There is still work to do, but there has been definite progress.
I will use my Livebooks site for my architecture photography and the Bludomain one for the fashion, portraiture, lifestyle, and landscape/travel portfolios. I have to separate the architecture because it is so vastly different than most everything else. When I market to architects and interior designers, they don't need to see my fashion work. They have told me that themselves. It's a distraction and they tend to prefer to hire specialists.
In a little more than a couple of hours, 2008 will be upon us. What kind of year do you want to have?
2008 will be the year I explode out into the world of professional photography. I will market the hell out of myself, shoot a maximum to develop my skills and portfolio and make enough money to cover all my expenses as well as have a decent salary left over. 2008 will be the year I drop my part time job to begin working in photography full time.
I will stay determined, focused and open.
I shot this in Barcelona, Spain. It's taken on the roof of the Casa Pedrera designed by Gaudi, an architect way ahead of his time. It was finished in 1907, believe it or not.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Well I just bought a website template off of Bludomain. I waited till the last day of their sale. This habit of waiting till the last minute is a hard one to break. There is still work to do, but there has been definite progress.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Yesterday at 8am, I got woken up by my photographer friend, Ken. He said he was assisting an architectural photographer that day. He asked if I wanted to sub in for the second assistant because the guy had bruised ribs and might not last out the day. I jumped on the opportunity.
Ken had told me about this particular architectural photographer. He mentioned the guy was really good, had over 10 years experience, but he was too finicky with his shots. 15-20 hour shoots were not uncommon for this guy.
The location was a fancy apartment in Newport Beach. The client was the interior designer.
I jumped right in and began helping out any way I could. One thing I've learned about assisting is: keep asking the photographer what you can do to help. Don't always wait for him to ask for your help. Oftentimes he is too busy thinking about something else.
I watched intently, making mental notes. This photographer was a master at lighting. Every shot was a work of art. He kept adding accents, tweaking this or that. The shot taken in the afternoon was done with strobes. The other two in the evening were shot with tungsten lights. It was awesome seeing both methods. His lighting was very directional, hardly ever broad, except for occasional fill. He used grid spots, snoots, barn doors... It was truly painting with light.
All in all, the photographer shot 3 images in 12 hours with 3 assistants. The client would get impatient, but he was adamant about being satisfied with the shot before moving on to the next one. As great as the images are, that is not a way to run a profitable business.
So what I want to do is incorporate some of his lighting techniques for my own architectural photography, and take twice as many shots in one day. I want to be shooting 6 to 8 images in one day. Anything less would not be satisfactory for the majority of clients.
One way to speed up the process this photographer employed is to shoot in digital format. He used a studio 4x5 view camera which is the traditional way to shoot architecture. It's much slower than using digital cameras because you have to shoot Polaroid to preview the image. View cameras are also much heavier, large and cumbersome. Image quality is superior, and you can correct perspective, but it's way more costly because of Polaroid (he went through over 2 boxes), film, processing, and scanning.
Apparently this guy does not work full time as a photographer. This does not surprise me in the least because he is not efficient. He is too meticulous. His approach is closer to fine art photography. Another problem is his marketing is not ongoing.
In the end, the injured assistant ended up working the whole day, using painkillers. I made the mistake of not establishing beforehand if I was going to be paid even if I was not subbing the other guy. When I broached the subject at the end of the day, it was too late. The photographer said there was only budget for 2 assistants, therefore I would not be paid. He said that was clear from the beginning. It was, but I figured he would pay me anyway since I had contributed for a full ten hours on his shoot.
Well I managed to scrounge $45, lunch and dinner out of him. The mistake was mine. I was hesitant about broaching the topic of money with him at the beginning of the day because I was not so confident in my assisting skills. I learned my lesson: always establish my salary beforehand. This is purely business.
It was a great day! I learned sooo much it's amazing. Assisting is the best way to figure out what to do and also what not to do! If you do it right, you can get paid to learn from the best lol. Not a bad deal.
I shot this image of Il Duomo in Florence, Italy. It is a giant dome built atop the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore by Brunelleschi in 1436. It spans 40 yards, took 16 years to build with a design that was deemed to be 'unfeasible.' It was the first octogonal dome built in history and still stands as the largest masonry dome in the world today. I laid down on the floor to capture it (trying not to get trampled by the massive crowd of tourists) and used my digital point and shoot.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
What is integrity and how does it apply to business? When I use the word integrity, I'm not talking about morality. No, I'm talking about your 'word', honoring your word. When you make a promise or say you will do something, do you follow through?
I'm not talking about sincerity either. Being sincere is a cop-out. If I say I will have an assignment done by a certain date, and I tell the client 'sorry, sir, I really tried to get it done on time.' Will the client care that I really wanted to be on time, or that my computer broke down, or that I had too many other commitments? Probably not.
Having integrity is delivering on your word, what you say you will do. You see, I have been late my whole life, late to class, work, appointments, late handing in assignments, homework, always late.
Can people count on me? Am I reliable? No. When I say I will be there at 9pm, my friends know it will be more like 9:15pm. How does this affect my business? Well how can a client trust me to deliver the goods on time? If I tell an architect that I will provide him with extraordinary photos of his design, will I follow through? We all say that, right? Following through is what keeps the client coming back. It's what has you stand out. It's what reputations are built on.
It's not just about time. It's about following through on ALL my commitments. A while back I told myself I would eat salad at least once a week. That commitment lasted one week. I have no integrity. I'm not alone. Look at New Years resolutions. How many people actually follow through with them?
Without integrity, I have no foundation to make my life work, including business. I want to be someone that people can rely on. I want to be solid, consistent, dependable. I want to choose my words and commitments carefully. I want to know that deep down, when I make a decision, a commitment, I don't just 'mean it,' I'm not just going to 'try.' NO. I want to trust myself enough that when I say I will do something, it's going to get done, no matter what.
Yes, there are extenuating circumstances. Yes, there are times when it is just not possible. But how often do we use excuses, or 'reasons' as we like to call them, to cop out? I have just never placed much importance on integrity because I didn't think it mattered. Now I can see how much power I could hold by having integrity. My life would be completely transformed. It would be amazing!
So in the last week, I have been late three times. That might sound like a lot to some people but it's a massive improvement for me lol. Still I want 'being on time' to be sorted out and become a background issue so I can focus on more important things.
So for those of you who think I'm being hard on myself, I'm not. I'm always looking for ways to step it up a notch. What is slowing me down, what is preventing me from making it to the next level? Those are questions I ask myself because the blind spots are what gets you. Find and replace that one part in the engine that isn't working and all of a sudden, YOU'RE OFF!
I didn't come up with these ideas myself of course lol. I have been taking seminars on self-empowerment and transformation the past few months. They're absolutely AMAZING! You can find out more about them here or ask me questions. I'd be glad to answer them.
So for this coming year, I invite you to think hard about any resolutions you take on. I invite you to look at how much integrity you have and how it affects your life. Check out the website I mentioned earlier, it might be worth your time (pun intended). It certainly was for me, to say the least.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Financial literacy is a term I first came upon when reading the best-selling book, 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad.' It simply means knowing how to manage money. In Robert Kiyosaki's words, it's about having money work for you, rather than working for money.
Yes, I had an idea that it was what rich people did. What surprised me in the book though was that the author talked of how he came to learn this skill through years of studying and trial and error. He went on to explain how none of it is taught by the education system, parents, our peers...
I am an entrepreneur who provides a service, namely photography. In the past three months, I have come to learn some about business and marketing as it pertains to photography. It's a start.
Now I realize my complete lack of knowledge and expertise around money. I spend it liberally. I don't invest. I don't save. I know little or nothing about 'assets and liabilities.' I have the mentality of a poor person when it comes to money. I have NO control over it. It controls ME completely.
How can I possibly expect to have a profitable business without financial literacy? I can't, so I'm going to do something about it.
Kiyosaki created a board game named Cashflow. It is designed to teach its participants the principles of managing money. How you fare in it will reflect your attitude and expertise regarding money. Groups of people get together all around the nation to play it and learn from each other.
I found a group that meets in my neighborhood, Huntington Beach. You can find a Cashflow group in your area through www.meetup.com
Among other things, I also want to take a financial planning course at Orange Coast College next semester.
I actually love finding areas I know nothing about that can propel me forward. If I didn't know my weaknesses, how could I become stronger?
By the way, MERRY CHRISTMAS wherever you are :-)
Saturday, December 22, 2007
That is a question I often ask myself as I come upon new types assignments I have never done. The other day, it was with an artist who needed replication slides and prints of a few of her paintings. I called up a couple photographers to get an idea what kind of fees established pros were charging and I adjusted mine with theirs.
It's a common complaint of pro photographers that newbie photographers don't charge enough and end up ruining the market by lowballing. Just yesterday an architectural photographer in Oregon was complaining to me about that.
He said: 'How can I compete with a photographer who comes onto the market charging 3 or 4 hundred dollars when I'm charging $1500 for the same services? Sure, the quality of the shots is reflected in the fees, but still I am losing more and more clients to these guys."
Are YOU charging too little? Here are some signs to look for.
Here is a very interesting solution to this issue, offered by Leslie Burns on her blog. Let me know what you think.
Note from Maria Piscopo:
"Just finished an article for Shutterbug Magazine on 'Photographers That Make A Difference' and though you will have to wait until the April issue to read this piece, I wanted to share the websites of the photographers and the non-profits they support:
Colin Finlay, PROOF: Media For Social Justice (www.proofmsj.org)
Phil Borges: Bridges (www.bridgesweb.org)
So happy holidays-happy new year- now go make a difference!"
Thursday, December 20, 2007
When trying to market ones self is it alright to offer one’s service/creative fee at a discounted rate if the client will agree to allow one to rent higher end equipment like a tethered lighting system (such as a Profoto D4) or a Medium format digital camera (Hasselblad H3D)? This way when trying to sell a job to a client in the future one can list that they have knowledge of these "more advance" systems and show the client the advantages in quality and efficiency that they may offer].
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Here are some links to various interesting sites recommended by our readers:
-www.paperchase.net specializes in direct mail printing (brought to you by M. Piscopo). Any testimonials on these guys would be greatly appreciated.
The following are from Ben Craig:
A tip from Olin is to download Apple's free software iTunes, if you haven't already. Go to the iTunes store. Search for 'photography,' and you will find tons of free photo videos and podcasts to download.
Email with any info you think might be valuable. It's greatly appreciated !
I took the photo for Susan Cianciollo during her LA Fashion Week fashion show. Yeahhhh, she doesn't follow the rules. She likes to get a little creative with her shows, and she expected the same of me for her photos.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
'Photographers Direct (http://WWW.photographersdirect.Com/) is a stock house that offers some incredible opportunities to photographers. They call it "Fair Trade Stock Photography." The photographer receives 80% of the sale price of their image!!!
What is also remarkable is Photographers Direct puts the photographer in contact with the buyer to negotiate usage fees!!! It's phenomenal to be able to establish a direct business relationship with the buyer. A win-win situation.'
Kathryn has not used them yet and I haven't heard of anyone who has. So if you do, please let us know. A remarkable thing about this stock agency is they seem to be on the photographer's side. What a concept!
They will not represent any photographers who sell their work to microstock agencies like istock, shutterstock and dreamstime to name a few. The reason they say is because they are the antithesis of microstock agencies who rip off naive photographers day in and day out.
So guess what? If you place your images with photographersdirect, you get to keep the copyright and you set the sale price. Is it too good to be true?
By the way, I welcome contributions to this blog. If you have some valuable information, please email with it. Thanks!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
We're getting together today Saturday Dec.15th in Long Beach for our 6th OC Strobist Meetup. Let's get there around 2pm. We're on L102 lesson 2.2, Specular Highlight Control. Check it out on strobist beforehand if you can.
Take the 710 freeway to the end and follow the signs to the
Aquarium. Go past the Aquarium and Pine Avenue and turn right onto
Shoreline Village Drive. You can also go down Westminster and that
turns into 2nd street and then turn left onto Ocean Blvd and left
onto shoreline drive. Meet in front of Parker's Lighthouse Rest. You can't miss it. It looks like... a lighthouse.
See you there.
Friday, December 14, 2007
If you're reading this, I invite you to join our Photo Allies community. Unless of course you did a search for 'lazy rabbits who hop on one leg' and somehow came up with this blog lol. So I got a few questions for you guys.
I'd like to know who all of you are, what part of the world you live in, what you're doing in photography right now and finally where you want to be in five years (ie. major goal you have in photography). Don't forget to put your website link up so we can check out your photography.
My name is Greg Clarke. I live in Huntington Beach (silicone capital of the world), California. I have a degree in photography and art history from the Savannah College of Art & Design (Savannah, Georgia). I just recently went back to school to learn about business and marketing. I'm starting a photography business specializing in architecture (interiors and exteriors). Five years from now, I want to be shooting modern architecture all over the world for the top architects and interior designers. My website should be up in a week to 10 days. I'll keep you posted.
Ok your turn.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Photo allies. What does that mean to me? I picked that name because I feel like we're all in this together. It's about solidarity.
I didn't come up with that idea. My inspiration came from amazing people like David Hobby, creator of the now world famous blog www.strobist.com He has contributed so much to the photography community!
He started a blog almost two years ago about off-camera lighting. He simply posted information he thought would be useful to others. Well it literally created a revolution. Now millions of photographers read his blog regularly. Check it out here if you haven't already!
Another great guy in the blogosphere, as they call, is Chase Jarvis. That guy makes mad money as a commercial photographer and he has no secrets for anyone. He reveals it all in his little videos. His talks are awesome. He's such a positive, inspirational influence.
Then we have John Harrington, the business guru. He has a photography business blog where he just breaks it down for all to understand. His book, 'Best Business Practices for Photographers' is a must-read as well. He lectures about business at ASMP seminars. The guy just knows how to run a successful photography business and he's not afraid to let everyone know how he does it.
Yes this is the Web 2.0 folks. Come be a part of it !!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
This blog was created with two objectives.
The first was borne out of the need for this kind of information due to the chronic lack of comprehensive business and marketing courses in art schools.
The second objective is to create a platform for college students and professional photographers to share and help each other become successful in this competitive industry.
The old adage of 'every photographer for himself' is dying out and being replaced by a new paradigm based on community: 'Together we can improve faster, make more money and have fun in the process.'
How does that play out? Well if anyone has information, resources, links... that could be useful to other photographers, email me and I will post them. That simple.
The other cool thing is that we have Maria Piscopo as our marketing advisor. She was my 'Business Practices for Photographers' professor at Orange Coast College. She is a widely recognized author, workshop speaker, and photography rep. If you haven't read her book, 'The Photographer's Guide to Marketing and Self Promotion,' do it. It's as valuable as ASMP's 'Business Practices' book.
She will answer any questions we have about marketing. So when you come up with some, email them directly to me. If you put them in the comments section, they might get lost.
I will set up a flicker group soon so people can chat back and forth, post questions for other photographers and post work up so we can check it out.
Of course, let me know if you have any suggestions. I'm totally open.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Well I want to thank the folks over at Shutterbug Magazine for linking themselves to this blog. We'll get a lot more traffic coming through and many more will benefit from all the information posted up here. My goal is to create a support network for photographers. This is a competitive industry and making it is not a given. Together though, it's way easier.
There are some wonderful resources on the Shutterbug site. You'll find Maria Piscopo's Business Trends column of course. There is a host of articles on all kind of cool topics like lighting, retouching, portraiture, pro techniques and much more... One amazing thing is you can contact their writers and contributors (aka experts) directly with questions and comments on the Forum page. There are also many articles by THE late, great master portrait photographer, Monte Zucker. He inspired and taught Clay Blackmore whose workshop Kathryn and I recently attended. Here is the basic lighting setup, well explained, which Monte was famous for.
I shot this image of Danny at the Hollywood zoo if you can believe that. It's abandonned and I had no idea it even existed. The other model I was shooting that day took us there. We actually had to crawl to get inside of it. Yeah, good thing this wasn't a Dior shoot.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Chase Jarvis has asked readers of his blog to post links to their own favorite blogs. Being as he has thousands of people check out his site everyday, he got quite the list. He has compiled 150 of his favorite one right here. So if you need some inspiration, some creative juice, or you want to explore what this amazing communication tool, called the internet, offers, then hit up a few links. I like the idea of having a central hub for all the information you need. Chase has done that with 'cool, interesting blogs.' It's what I want to create here for the emerging professional photographer.
I'm going to start writing small captions for my photos with some background info.
I took this shot while hitchhiking throughout Tunisia, in North Africa. I was there in 1997 during the Ramadan, the Muslim religious month of fasting. I happened to be the only tourist in this little village called El Haouiria. The great thing was being able to communicate with everyone because they speak french there. [Tunisia was a french colony for a while.] People were so amazing welcoming! I will always treasure those memories.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Once you've done the exercises from yesterday's post, check out this worksheet. It's a wonderful complement. It will help you define your financial and career goals and refine your positioning statement. Here it is. It's actually available for free on her website.
I think many people overlook this kind of work when they are setting up a business. Yet how can we have any direction if we have no clear goals? How can we create good working relationships if we don't have a set of principles to abide by? Having structure and direction is necessary for me, especially since I don't have someone telling me what to do, like a boss. This kind of work provides a frame within which I can operate.
Well it's not looking good for our Strobist meetup tomorrow. Seems to rain only on Fridays... One day, we'll have a great, big studio available to us so we can meet anyway.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
I just got done helping a photographer friend with her marketing plan. I had put together some homework for her to do prior to our meeting. This preliminary work I feel is crucial to laying a solid foundation for any business. Here is what I asked her to do:
Define what success means to you. What does it look like? Is is about the money your earn? The relationships you create? Being challenged by work? Is it about being published by vogue? Is it about following through on your commitments everyday? What does success really look like to you?
Create a dream bio. Spend a good hour of uninterrupted time doing this in a calm and relaxing place. Sit down and imagine that you are living five years in the future. What does your professional life look like? What are you shooting? Who are your clients? Do you have a team or are you a solo operation? What does your space look like? Do you have a studio or are you working out of an office in your home? How much money are you making? How many days a week do you shoot on average? What has been your best experience?
When you create this bio, you are not in your head. you are in your heart. Don't think the answers, sense them. Write them down as soon as they appear without editing or judging.
Your job is to build a business around the values that are truly yours, knowing that in doing so you will attract the clients you seek. The next step is to determine what type of relationships you would like to build with your clients. How will you serve those that hire you? Consider creating service goals and making sure that everyone who works with you, from daily assistants to your monthly bookkeeper, is aware of and agrees to your ideals when it comes to serving clients.
Create a positioning statement. Look at 10 images you would have loved to create from magazines you like. Write down words that describe each photo on small pieces of paper or post its (one for each photo). Don't think or edit them, just write them all down. When you have done the work with at least ten photos you would have liked to shoot, lay down all the post-its next to each other and look for similarities in your descriptions. The descriptive words you use repeatedly become the beginning of the how of what your are drawn to.
Now do the same thing with your portfolio.
Do the descriptive words from your portfolio match the ones from your favorite magazine photos? Check to make sure that the messages you are currently sending out are the ones you are looking to deliver. If you find that the messages are indeed different, don't worry, you have lots of company.
When you feel that you are ready to move on and craft your statement, begin by describing what you do and for whom. Then add the how by looking the similarities among the descriptive words on your post it notes. These words begin to define your visual approach, ie. what you want to convey in your photography.
Most of this was taken from Selina Maitreya's book 'How to succeed in commercial photography.' Highly recommended reading!
If you need me to clarify any of it, let me know. Also if you do it, I would love to read some of the interesting stuff you came up with.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Here is a 1hr presentation by Chase Jarvis where he takes you into his world and shows you how he has become such a successful lifestyle shooter. I cannot recommend watching this video enough. This guy is so selfless and generous with his sharing it astounds me. He really gives you the goods. Chase Jarvis is the antithesis of the lonely, isolated photographer in his studio who won't talk to any other shooters for fear of divulging his trade secrets to the enemy.
So grab some popcorn and enjoy.
Friday, November 30, 2007
I just signed up for the ASMP Strictly Business 2 weekend seminar. See here. It seems AMAZING! Here's an excerpt from their brochure: "ASMP’s Strictly Business 2 is a weekend conference that will teach you real-world business skills and help you thrive in our highly competitive industry. SB2 brings you consultations, lectures, video presentations, a keynote address, workshops, hands-on negotiating training, and social gatherings to share and learn from your peers. This weekend will change the way you look at your business."
My business guru, John Harrington, is even going to be there. How cool is that? Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua, who I have met before. I went to her LA marketing lecture a couple of months ago. She's awesome. Then to top it off, there is a whole afternoon workshop on pricing and negotiating. I need some serious help in that department :-)
And guess what? That's just Saturday! There's also a host of workshops and lectures on Sunday. Can you tell I'm excited about this thing? ... two months to wait.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Ok we all know we need to create a marketing plan in order to be successful. It's been drilled into us. Maria's book is the perfect step by step approach to do it. If you want to get a bit more in-depth, there are some sites you should check out.
This one has some great info. It's well written. There is one particular part I like entitled 'Positioning – Fighting and Winning the Battle for Your Customer’s Mind.' It's basically about how to stand out from your competition.
I've written different types of plans in the past. I was well-intentioned when I initially put them together, but invariably they ended collecting dust, kind of like new years resolutions. It won't happen this time. I realize that marketing and business plans are crucial to making a business not just survive, but thrive.
Marketing has a beginning and middle, but no end. I will need to constantly revise my marketing plan, tweak and adjust it. It's a never-ending process. Yesterday I was talking to a successful automotive body shop owner. He told me the best advice he could give me was that a business must be measured in order to be managed, and managed in order to be improved. He measures every single aspect of his business. Every phone call, every dollar spent, every change made, every action is documented. That way he knows precisely what he is doing with his business. From that stance, he can tell what is working and what isn't. Say he put an ad in the Yellow Pages and only 20% of his clients come from there. He can go back to his marketing plan and allocate the Yellow Pages budget to a more lucrative type of advertising. It's all in the details. Measure, Manage, Improve ! Marketing plans are one of the tools that allow me to do that.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
We are meeting up this Friday Nov. 30th for another Strobist Meetup in Long Beach at 6:30pm. Come learn some great lighting techniques and create some crazy cool photos !
Take the 710 freeway to the end and follow the signs to the
Aquarium. Go past the Aquarium and Pine Avenue and turn right onto
Shoreline Village Drive. (you can also go down Westminster and that
turns into 2nd street and then turn left onto Ocean Blvd and left
onto shoreline drive. Meet in front of Parker's Lighthouse Rest. You can't miss it. It looks like... a lighthouse.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
1. Could you post David Blatt's site ?
2. I'm not clear about how advertising agency work. Does the ad agency hire the photographer? If so, should we still be marketing to the actual company we would like to shoot for even though they work through an ad agency?
3. Say I want to shoot for REI. Do I market myself to REI, or do I market to their ad agency?
4. Direct mail includes email blasts? Direct mail in paper form is usually sent out in what kind of quantities? the hundreds? Should it be sent to the whole database of clients we are targeting?
5. How do I space out direct mail in paper form and email blasts so I am not annoying my clients? I market to architects who only occasionally hire photographers.
6. What do you think of this post?
Thanks for your input. Read more!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I work with architects shooting their buildings, houses... For the most part, they hire photographers once a year if that. They don't know about copyright, usage and the like. Recently, Leslie, who reads the blog and lives in the Midwest (yeah i had no idea anyone other than my photographer friends read this blog) sent me a great link.
ASMP has teamed up with AIA (American Institute of Architects) to put together a brochure on how to select an architectural photographer, what to look for in an estimate, what usage is... These articles were designed to educate architects on the whole photographer hiring process. How perfect! Here it is.
John Harrington, on his site, educates his clients with all kinds of information on pricing, usage, hidden costs... So I will put a link to this ASMP/AIA info page on my architecture photography website to educate my clients. I will of course have to learn to do that very effectively in person and on the phone, but this will be a great help.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
A couple of weeks ago, I had an offer to shoot for the cover of a San Diego magazine. 'Great,' I thought. Until they told me there was no pay. 'It'll be great publicity for you,' they said. 'No way,' I told them. 'I only do free work for charities. You're a business.' So they got some other naive photographer to do it.
Check out this video! I'm going to get Harlan Ellison to do my contract negotiations from now on.
Writers have woken up since this video. Right now, they are fighting for their rights. Everywhere I hear people complaining about the writer's strike. Hardly anyone is on their side. WELL I AM !
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Levy's, when shopping around for a photographer to shoot their baggy jeans campaign, will most likely not hire someone who shoots trendy/ultra hip photos. No, they will look for someone in touch with hip hop culture, someone who knows the ins and outs of it, someone with a portfolio that reflects that. They'll hire the ultra hip/trendy photographer to shoot their bootcut jeans campaign.
Why am I bringing this up? Well I was hanging out with a fashion photographer friend sunday night. She looked over my work and just ripped me apart. That sounds harsh, but it was actually good. No, i'm not masochistic. I need to hear constructive criticism. Telling me my images are wonderful is good for my ego, but bad for my career.
I now see how my 'fashion/glamour' portfolio has no rhyme or reason. It's all over the place. There is nothing binding it together, whether it's subject matter, content, style... It's just made up of random cool images of women. It would not get me work anywhere. From it, I could build 4 or 5 different portfolios.
You see, when I shoot fashion, I don't plan anything. I just find suitable subject matter, most often a hot girl. I look for a cool location and just shoot the model in a bunch of outfits. There is no planning, no content, no story, no thought put into it. I don't use make-up artists, wardrobe or hair stylists.
I could go on shooting this way for fun (which it is), but if I want to make money in this field, I will have to change my approach. I could look at what magazines I would love to work for and see what kind of photography they need. I could plan out my shoots and think of a concept, a story to illustrate before hand, something that resembles fashion editorial. What it comes down to is I need to put more thought into planning my shoots.
I witnessed a very interesting interaction saturday night. I was hanging out with an LA photographer friend. He was discussing a project with a client, a singer who needed photos for an upcoming cd. She would explain the concept behind a song and they would try to come up with ways to illustrate it photographically. She had done a lot of preliminary work researching photography styles she liked that could be applied to her songs. They bounced ideas back and forth for over two hours. It was fascinating to watch this creative process.
In the past, I have struggled a lot with taking a concept and translating it into a photo. I ended up just concluding that it was just not something I was capable of. Maybe it's time I gave it another shot.
SIDENOTE FROM LIVEBOOKS:
Thank you so much for having Jericho and I present for your class, I hope we were informative and helpful for everyone. Feel free to give out my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to any of the students with any further questions!
I had an amazing weekend up in LA. Everytime I go up there, it's a big adventure. Hung out with a bunch of photographers, went to lectures, exhibits... I'll just post about the first night right now. More to come...
So I met with Austin and we hit up the Joe McNally lecture at the Pacific Design Center (an incredible looking building by the way) in Hollywood. Joe is a photo-journalist who has worked for the likes of Time Magazine and National Geographic. He showed us some of his awesome work that has spanned the last 35 years. Great anecdotes about all the celebrities he's photographed, many of whom have become friends. He has led a truly unique photographic life, but he did pay a price, having missed out a lot on his children's life.
A few things that stick out about what he shared:
-He doesn't work for National Geographic anymore because to him it is like "selling one's soul." They have so little respect for the needs of photographers.
-He started out in his career shooting mainly editorial, but now does more commercial work because of the low editorial fees, and the need to cover his overhead (his studio, family...)
-Joe McNally is a strobist. He much prefers to shoot on location with small, lightweight speedlight flashes as opposed to heavy, cumbersome power packs and soft boxes. He recently did a 5 day shoot in Hong Kong for FedEx which he lit with only 3 nikon sb800 flashes.
-He has retained the copyright for all his images in the last 35 years.
-He will take on any commercial work practically if it pays well. He shoots what he truly loves on his own time.
I was thoroughly impressed with Joe McNally's work and his willingness to answer all of the many questions posed to him that night. In closing, I will add what I found to be Joe's most sound advice and something he really adheres to: "Learn to speak with light."
Thursday, November 15, 2007
PhotoShelter, found here, seems to be a satisfactory alternative to selling your soul to the mega
stock agencies. It doesn't cost anything and you get to keep the rights to your images. They also only keep 30% of the sale price, not bad.
Here's a review you might find interesting: look here.
Another stock agency you might want to check out is PhotographersDirect.
I only what I read on their site. If you have any info or feedback on them, I'd love to hear it.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Chase Jarvis, www.chasejarvis.com, in his blog asked readers to mention their favorite blogs. He does have a couple more readers than this blog, so he got a few answers lol. Check them out when you have a bit of free time. There are some great ones under the comments section of his last post found here: http://www.chasejarvis.com/blog/
This Friday, we won't be having a Strobist gathering. We're heading up to the Joe McNally photography lecture at the Pacific Design Center. Hope to see you there!
Monday, November 12, 2007
Don't have time to take a Photoshop class? Well you could get private one-on-one lessons for $20/mo with www.lynda.com It's a website that has hundreds of tutorials on all the lastest art/graphics and business software, and anything from ebay selling to search engine optimization, even one entitled 'blogger essential training.' Maybe I should check out that one.
The only drawback when you compare it to classroom teaching is you can't ask questions. The tutorials include video and audio however and they are highly professional, understandable and thorough. I just spent the last couple of hours learning about Lightroom and how helpful it can be to manage your digital workflow. Lightroom is going to make my life soooo much easier. Awesome, thanks Lynda !!
... So, are my sales skills improving?
By the way, I just got back from San Diego. I was down there on self-assignment. Had to shoot some architecture for my portfolio. I also did a model shoot in a condo on the beach a mile up the coast from Mexico. Didn't see any mexicans making a run for it though, darn it.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Why track traffic to your website? By the way, we're not talking about having a cheesy view counter display on your homepage. No, this is about business.
So here's why you should do it:
-You can evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. The perfect example is Kathryn who posted a press release on the net and was able to track how much traffic it brought to her site. By the way, she uses this company and really likes it:
-You need to know where your traffic is coming from and why. Is your internet marketing working or not? Which methods are more effective? Tracking will give you that info.
-You need to know what users like and don't like about your website.
For more highly valuable info on this topic, go here:
SIDENOTE FROM MARIA: Her computer is down, so she cannot access her email or internet at the moment.
Well I am headed to San Diego right now to shoot some architecture and models. Be back Sunday or Monday depending.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
It was perfect timing. Tuesday after our Marketing class on portfolio presentations, I had an appointment to show my portfolio to a chiropractor in Newport Beach. He needed some shots of his office facilities and his machines, or 'toys' as he likes to call them. I didn't plan it that way, serendipity I guess.
Well it didn't help in getting me the job, but it did help me see what I did wrong. So let me give you a quick rundown:
My presentation was flat.
Little emotion, or passion. I had to say the interior design of the office did not inspire me in the least. Clutter everywhere.
I didn't share with him how valuable my services could be for his business.
I had a general portfolio with me, not an architectural one.
It was not a show portfolio by any means. It resembled a drop-off portfolio.
My estimate was given orally, rather than in a printed fashion.
The positive: I was dressed well and on time. I actually had to wait 30min to see him, typical doctor appointment.
So in the end, the chiropractor was not impressed and my estimate was more than he expected. I did not justify to him the value of such an expense. A good lesson for me.
If I am to make money, I have to learn how to sell my services. So not one to waste any time, I picked up the 'Pricing Photography' book. There are two whole chapters (Ch.3&4) devoted to that. A great read, check it out.
In there, the authors talk about 'controlling the negotiation, establishing rapport, gathering information, dealing with the client's expectations, educating the client, quoting the price, closing the deal and finally, the follow-up.'
Well to master that whole process will take some practice. One thing they suggest is to role play a presentation with a client. One person plays the client and has an idea of what price he is willing to pay and the person playing the photographer has his own fees he wishes to charge.
It makes perfect sense. Why practice with real clients and risk losing deals, when you can do it with fellow photographers. Practice makes perfect. Bloody brilliant I tell ya !! So if you're interested, let me know. I'll be your nightmare client, haha!
By the way, tomorrow Friday Nov. 9th, we have our Strobist meetup. It's at my apartment studio in Huntington Beach at 6pm. So if you're interested in coming, email me at email@example.com and I will send you the address.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Wow, I love the internet. I just found another goldmine! None other than John Harrington, my business guru, has a blog. Damn this guy rocks! Here he gives us the goods again. You thought his book was good, well check this out: http://photobusinessforum.blogspot.com/2007/01/welcome-to-photo-business-forum.html
I'm off to see a modern dance show at UCLA. Not sure if I'm into that, but hey it's a french friend who's performing, so...
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Kathryn and I went to a sensational seminar today put on by Clay Blackmore and Jane Conner-Sizer. They started off by saying that to succeed in portrait photography, where everyone has a digital camera, our images have to stand out. 'Yeah we all know that, but what are you going to bring to the table?' was my thought. How innovative can you be in commercial studio portraiture and wedding photography? Well, was I wrong!
These guys absolutely blew my mind! Watching Clay grab random people in the audience, pose and shoot them was pure magic. The camera was hooked up to a large screen, so it was as if you were looking through the viewfinder at the subject. The audience actually clapped after some of the shots it was so amazing. I actually got to pose a bit. It's been a theme this week. Hey maybe I am meant to be a supermodel.
Then Jane took the controls and showed off her stuff on Photoshop. She showed us a seemingly incredible portrait and just took it to another level. Her skills at retouching are insane! Her 18 years of experience with digital retouching might have something to do with it. Then she showed us how she uses Paint Shop Pro. She took images that had no value because of bad exposure or composition and turned them into masterpieces by painting over them digitally. It was as if they came alive, unreal! Have I used enough exclamations marks yet ?
So in summary, yes they have found truly unique ways to shoot portraiture !! Can't wait to put to practice what I learned...
Check them out at http://clayandjane.com/home.htm
Clay Blackmore was taught by the legendary photographer, Monte Zucker. He passed away this year and the seminar series is dedicated to him. You can read some of his articles on this site: http://www.montezucker.com/
Knowing what you need to charge per day of shooting in order to cover your expenses is critical. To know how much to charge(ie. your base rate), you must know how much it is costing you. If you're not at least covering your expenses, you're losing money. We're in this to make money! Otherwise it would not be a business, it would be a hobby. So then you must add your salary to your expenses to get your base rate per day of shooting.
Thanks to NPPA, there is an easy way to calculate all this. They do it for you with the CDB (Cost of Doing Business calculator). It's an amazing tool: http://nppa.org/professional_development/business_practices/cdb/cdbcalc.cfm
All you have to do with the CDB calculator is enter the information in the appropriate boxes and it will make all the calculations for you. In addition, each expenses box has a detailed explanation by it.
To give you an idea:
My total expenses for the next year: $60,450 (includes my desired salary)
My weekly cost of doing business is: $1,162.50
My overhead cost for a day of shooting is: $755.63 (Based on projected number of shooting days per year. I put 80 days down)
Keep in mind that most likely it will cost you more than you think to run your business. So estimate on the high side to be safe.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Ben, Kathryn, Austin, Melinda and I got together in San Juan Capistrano for another awesome strobist meetup! I even got to watch the other photographers get picked on by an unhappy train conductor. I was playing model at the time and quite happy to be the 'innocent' one for once.
I created a flicker group for us called Orange County Strobists. On it you can upload all your strobist photos (ie. taken with off-camera speedlights). Make sure you post all lighting info in the tag section of each photo so that we can all learn how you did it. There is also a forum that you can post on, and people can reply on your threads. It's awesome, you'll love it Mary :-)
Here it is: http://www.flickr.com/groups/ocstrobists
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Want to improve your lighting skills? Come play with us Friday Nov. 2nd. We'll be in San Juan Capistrano by the Mission at 6:15pm. We'll be on lesson two of L102, a lighting course designed by www.strobist.com
It's a ton of fun! If you're interested and need more info, comment on this or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope to see you there!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Who really enjoys writing business plans other than MBAs? Seriously, I have been putting it off for a long time. Yet everywhere I look, it says that to have a successful business, you have to write a business plan. After all, how will I know what direction to take, what to look out for, what strategies to employ, how much money to spend in each sector? Yes, I know it's invaluable, but it's such a drag.
Unless you check this out: http://www.paloalto.com/ps/bp/demo/sba/index.html#
It's a simple, well-explained video on how to go about creating a business plan. It's easy to understand and interesting enough that I now I feel empowered and motivated to go through my plan... of writing my business plan. Yes, it's true ladies and gents! You can hold me to it. Actually Kathryn mentioned she was going to devote one night a week to it, and that sounds like a great idea to me. So that is what I am committing to.
Hopefully this great video will spur you into action too!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Learn how to run a business. No one knows that more so than Maria Piscopo. She has designed a college course for us photographers who want to not only stay in business, but profit from it. It seems the majority of photographers are just bad at business. To stand out, to excel in photography, I must learn sound business principles.
John Harrington. Have you heard of him? He is an extremely successful photographer. In this case, I define success by the amount of money he makes. I think his photography is very average at best. Just check out his website: www.johnharrington.com The difference is he is a very shrewd and competent businessman. He knows how to market himself, how to price his work, how to negotiate with clients...
In fact, he teaches all that in his amazing book, 'Best Business Practices for Photographers.' I highly recommend it to anyone starting out, or even already working as a pro photographer. He covers areas that the ASMP book or Maria's book don't go into. He is also very generous in the personal business info he shares (you can even check his rates on his website). In his book, you will find actual exchanges via email with all sorts of clients and the contracts that were subsequently drawn up.
So it comes down to this: if we can become great at running our businesses and excel as photographers, the sky's the limit !
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I have been researching the field of architecture photography for a few weeks to find out about rates and marketing mostly. What I've found is there are many very successful photographers willing to answer all your questions.
So ASK! Whatever field you are into, find the photographers that really inspire you. If their work blows you away, send them an email and tell them. Then say you would love to talk to them briefly over the phone to ask them a few questions. It works guys !
I've emailed back and forth with a few photographers and gotten some amazing info. Priceless stuff. After all, we're all in this together. A couple days ago, I found an architectural photographer out of NY whose work is AMAZING. He wishes to remain anonymous.
He told me call him between 10am-1pm, so I did. We talked for ONE hour. He was so helpful, he answered all my questions. At first, I was just going to ask about rates and marketing, but then I saw Chase Jarvis, www.chasejarvis.com, answer a bunch of different, interesting questions posed by a fan, on the 'video' section of his website. So I expanded on that.
I'll point out what struck me about our conversation. By the way, he still retains the copyright to what he said, and he did sign a verbal agreement of unlimited all-inclusive-non-disclosure of all pertinent info, except in cases of hearsay. Make sense? Great, I'll move on.
'My photography and my business really took off when I chose to specialize in architectural photography. Before that, I was doing a lot of different types of photography and I was not as effective.
I found that simply calling and dropping off portfolios did not work. I get the most response by sending letters. Architects like very formal looking documents. I get the most results from contacting the marketing directors. I don't bother partners. I send visual email blasts quarterly.
I break up my clients into three tiers:
-The skeptics. They are not convinced they need a photographer for whatever reason. I charge them about $1000/day.
-Middle which makes up most of my clientele. $1600/day.
-High end clients, large firms. They get charged more because they expect to pay more. If you give them low estimates, they won't hire you.
Never quote a price on the phone right there. Call back later after you have researched the company, figured out what they might pay, what kind of architecture they do... Give clients freebees, it builds relationships.
I don't charge a usage fee. Most architecture photographers don't. The usage is included in the base rate. If they are a multimillion dollar company, then it's a different matter. However, most architecture firms will only use your photos for brochures, websites, portfolio...'
As far as technique goes:
'I rarely use 4x5 anymore. It's just too cumbersome. I shoot strictly digital, and always in raw. A lot of times, I won't even use additional lighting. If I find I do need some lights, I use Tota lights. They're cheap, only $150, with light stand and umbrella and they're tungsten balanced. Definitely my favorite.
Do I live comfortably? I would say yes, when I am sharing an apartment with my girlfriend. I don't own my apartment. Only the guys shooting advertising can afford that in NYC.'
So that was a condensed version. I think I captured the jist of it though. Just an example to show you how you can find out what and how the top guys in your industry are doing. Why reinvent the wheel? Do what they do, learn from their mistakes, their experience, and then take it one step further, if not two !@!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
For those strobists fans out there, meet up at Newport Beach this friday Oct. 26th. 6-8pm. We got a few people coming out. Last week was a blast !
Don't know what strobist is about? Off-camera flash, crazy cool lighting that is cheap and ultra-portable. Leave those heavy cumbersome power packs in the closet. This is the future. Come join us and find out more about it!
Flicker is a photo sharing community. A great place to post pictures, get comments from other photographers from around the world, and also to ask questions. Yesterday I had a problem with my Nikon flash. So I posted a question on the Strobist Flicker discussion group and I got my answer in 4min. Beat that!
Strobist Flicker group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/strobist/
Orange County Strobist Flicker thread: http://www.flickr.com/groups/strobist/discuss/72157602626474430/#comment72157602679931412
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Another great marketing tool is networking. You make connections, build relationships with other professional people and refer business to each other. It's taking control of 'word of mouth' marketing and making it work for you.
There are several ways to go about it. The most proactive is to join a networking group like BNI (Business Networking International). There are thousands of different chapters all over the world, 75 just in Orange County. You can find them at www.socalbni.com
I joined BNI a few months ago. It's great for building up your business through referrals and also learning from other professionals there. They teach you how to present yourself effectively. It's quite useful. I have gotten a few portrait jobs, but that is not really my focus. A friend of mine made over $30 000 in portrait photography jobs in his first year in BNI alone. Not bad for 90 min. a week in meeting time. I think, as far as referrals go, it works mainly for portrait or wedding photographers (ie. consumer photography). Nevertheless, I have gotten a lot out of it.
Also check out http://www.letip.com as well as the trusty Chamber of Commerce. For upcoming meetings: http://www.hbchamber.org/
The Chamber is not as effective because attendance is haphazard. In the networking groups, attendance is mandatory. This creates reliability, consistency and trust within the members of each group. That's how you build relationships and then feel comfortable referring business to others.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Last Friday, Ben and I got together for the first OC strobist meetup. The portrait to the right was done with two flashes, and shot in Newport Beach just after sunset.
Not sure what strobist is: www.strobist.com Strobist is about learning off-camera flash technique in ways that will rival any soft-box and power-pack set-up. It is absolutely amazing what you can do with a few small flashes when you know what you're doing.
So the strobist meetup is for photographers wanting to learn some incredibly powerful lighting techniques. We experiment together and come up with amazing photos. It's a blast! We are meeting again next Friday, Oct.26 at 6pm. Location not decided yet.
Post it if you are interested or have any questions.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Yes, I think I am the seminar guy these days. I went to a weekend-long seminar entitled: The Truth Behind The Secret. By mid-day sunday, my head was about to implode with all the information I was ingesting. There is only so much data that can be crammed in there in one weekend apparently.
If you are one of the few who haven't seen 'The Secret' and are wondering what this might have to do with photography, it's about making your dreams reality. I know I can use help with that. You can watch the first twenty minutes of 'The Secret' on youtube here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=_b1GKGWJbE8&mode=related&search=
This site is also worth a look:
So here's a few nuggets I picked up from these intensive two days. Nothing new for you guys I'm sure, but good reminders.
My mind is like fertile soil. Whatever I plant in it, it will grow.
Find a mentor, every successful person has one.
Give up blaming, complaining, justifying, defending and excuse-making.
Take responsibility for your life in its entirety.
My beliefs become reality.
Don't focus on what you don't want in your life. Focus on what you do want.
My 'stories' about my past are like software programs running in the background constantly, using up my energy needlessly.
Make each day your masterpiece.
Drink deeply from good books.
Some of the speakers were Jack Canfield, author of 'Chicken Soup For The Soul' and 'The Success Principles,' Lisa Nichols (http://www.lisa-nichols.com/) such a warm, touching woman, and Bill Harris (creator of 'The Secret' website mentioned earlier).
Friday, October 19, 2007
I am looking into expanding my architecture portfolio shooting restaurants, clubs, buildings... I'll need to get permission from the owners and get a property release. I am thinking of giving them non-exclusive limited rights to my images for a period of one year. Is that a fair trade? Are they likely to go for it? Am I giving myself away? Any input would be appreciated.
Also if anyone knows any amazing looking architecture within a 6hr drive, please let me know!!
I am wondering about the Photobiz and Photoquote software. Is it worth buying? The Photobiz software claims to quicken and organize the photographer's workflow. Does Photoquote help out photographers that don't shoot stock?
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
"Jury Awards Shoe Photographer $1.3 Million October 02, 2007 By Daryl Lang A jury in Seattle awarded a photographer $1,315,800 in a copyright infringement lawsuit Thursday."
Here's some more valuable copyright info courtesy of APA. Check the section entitled 'Protecting Your Copyright': http://www.apanational.com/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3503
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
A message from Maria:
'Okay kids - get busy going through your images for submission to the PDN Annual Photo Competition: http://www.pdnphotoannual.com/
They have a Student Work category and PDN is probably one of the best to enter from a publicity point of view - one of our recent classes was public relations so this is your chance to show your stuff!'
Also check out this comp: http://photoawards.com/
$10 000 award and tons of non-professional categories to enter. You can also see past winners on the site, cool stuff.
Nice, short URL!
By the way, if you know of any other photo competitions we could enter, please post them in the comments section.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
You'll find that so many experienced professional photographers are willing to dispense advice and share their wisdom with you. Take advantage of it! There are so many really cool photo-related forums out there. My personal favorites are:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/ A great resource for all photo, equipment, lighting questions... frequented by the top photographers around.
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/APAnet/ This one is all about the business end of photography. Again, even the top consultants and reps frequent this one and give out free advice.
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/APAdigital/ Another spinoff of APA, this one is about digital photography.
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/ASMPproAdvice/ This forum is for ASMP members and concentrates on business practices. Another great resource.
If you have any other good ones, please post them.
I have some questions for you guys. I just got an email from a company about shooting an ad. They found my card at Samy's. It's quite the technical shoot and a bit intimidating. They need a glass cube with etchings on front and back photographed. I have more experience shooting Planet Mars than glass cubes! Yet I know I will come across many more shoots in the future where I will not have a clue how to go about them. So I should learn how to deal with this now. I do have have some theoretical knowledge, but no actual experience. So yes, I am posting on those forums for advice :-)
I just don't know if I have the balls to reply to the email inquiry with 'yes, i can do the shoot...', risk failure and wasting these people's time. Of course, shooting the job would entail putting up some kind of smokescreen and convincing this company I can shoot this assignment brilliantly.