Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Strobist Meetup

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

It's a ton of fun! If you're interested and need more info, comment on this or email me at

Hope to see you there!

Read more!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Business Plan Dread

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:

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!

Read more!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

If You Want To Stand Out

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: 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 !

Read more!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Whose work do you LOVE ??

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,, 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 !@!

Read more!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Orange County Strobist Meetup

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:
Orange County Strobist Flicker thread:

Read more!

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

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 as well as the trusty Chamber of Commerce. For upcoming meetings:

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.

Read more!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Strobist Meetup

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: 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.

Read more!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Another Seminar ?

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:

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.

Help others.

Some of the speakers were Jack Canfield, author of 'Chicken Soup For The Soul' and 'The Success Principles,' Lisa Nichols ( such a warm, touching woman, and Bill Harris (creator of 'The Secret' website mentioned earlier).

Read more!

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?

Read more!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NOW Who's The Big Fish?

From Maria:
"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."

From me:

Here's some more valuable copyright info courtesy of APA. Check the section entitled 'Protecting Your Copyright':

Looking for one good reason to join PPA. Here's 12: ""

Read more!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Photo Competitions !

A message from Maria:

'Okay kids - get busy going through your images for submission to the PDN Annual Photo Competition:

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!'

From me:
Also check out this comp:
$10 000 award and tons of non-professional categories to enter. You can also see past winners on the site, cool stuff.

If for some crazy reason, you missed the AMAZING photo exhibition of the Red Bull Sports Photo Contest displayed ON the beach in Huntington last summer, check out the images. They were blown up to life-size slides and shown in giant light boxes at night, crazy huh. Sport photography at its best folks:
Nice, short URL!

By the way, if you know of any other photo competitions we could enter, please post them in the comments section.

Read more!

Monday, October 15, 2007

David McCullough Seminar

I went to the David McCullough Seminar last night and loved it. David is articulate, knowledgable and a great photographer, not a bad combination for a lecturer. I learned some great techniques and exercises to come up with innovative ideas for photography assignments. We even talked for 45min after the seminar. I could listen to him for hours on end.

One of the things I learned from David is how to approach an assignment you have no idea how to do. One is always say 'yes' to the client. Then do a ton of research, and do a test shoot to figure out the major issues if you have time. Also, find an assistant that is quite experienced with these types of assignments. Offer him some money to give you all the info needed to land the job: buzz words, types of lighting, props, what to say to client, what to look out for... Tell the assistant you will hire him if you land the job. Plus if he makes sures all goes well during the shoot, then gets a bonus. This tactic has apparently worked well for David for those occasional times when he came across a job without any prior experience.
I would love it if David could come and do a lecture/presentation in our Marketing class. He has so much valuable information to share.
To see some of his work, go here:

Read more!

Friday, October 12, 2007

An Amazing Lecture !

Thanks to APA-LA for setting up this great event starring Selina Maitreya and Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua!!! They are both photo reps and actual competitors. They demonstrated for us how we can all work together despite vying for the same clients. What a great example!

I had not heard of Leslie Dell'Acqua, but I was really impressed. It was interesting seeing her next to Selina. Leslie is the very sophisticated, but chill business/city type. Selina is more earthy. They were both frank and generous in their sharing. We got some really valuable information. You can find a lot of the info in Selina's book, 'How To Succeed In Commercial Photography.' Leslie has a very cool blog where she really lays it out for you and doesn't hold back:

The main thing Selina drilled into us last night is how important setting up the foundation to your business is. The foundation is based on your values and principles. Defining those clearly for your business is crucial as well as setting down personal, financial and career goals. Our values are expressed in the fees we charge, the quality of our work, and the service we provide. Taking the time out to figure out what direction to take, what to aim for, is crucial in any business undertaking. Selina has a worksheet you can download from her website that will guide you through this process. I am in the process of doing it and it's very thorough and useful. Here it is:

Read more!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Get Advice From The Pros !

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: A great resource for all photo, equipment, lighting questions... frequented by the top photographers around. 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. Another spinoff of APA, this one is about digital photography. 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.

Read more!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Photography On The Radio ??

Yes, and it's damn good too I might add. Hosted by two photo guys, Howard Lippin and Michael Garcia, its in-depth interviews of photographers will definitely entertain and inform you. Check it out here:

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. Internet has not been working at my house, so I'm hanging out at the library. No time for research right this minute though, Maria :-)

Don't forget about the Selina Maitreya talk tomorrow night in LA. It's a must-see! For more info and entry costs, go here:

Read more!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Upcoming Events, Seminars & Exhibitions

Edward Weston: Enduring Vision
July 31-Nov.25th 2007 @ Getty Center

Gil Garcetti: Women, Water and Wells
Photographs of West Africa

Sept. 9-Nov. 25, 2007 @ UCLA Fowler Museum

Rankin: Eye Candy
Sept. 6TH-Oct. 20, 2007 @ Fahey Klein Gallery

Ace Gallery Exbitions

Digital Travel Photography Seminar
Oct. 20, 2007 1- 4 PM
more info here:

A Practical Approach to Being More Creative
Presented byDavid McCullough. Cost $20
This guy is a great photographer, very knowledgeable and generous. He has helped me out considerably.

Selina Maitreya: I Know This Much Is True
APA/LA Special Event (
Thur. Oct. 11, 2007, 6:30pm @ Anthony Nex Studio
3221 Hutchinson Ave, LA
Selina presented in San Diego a few weeks ago. I talked to several photographers who attended the event and said it was phenomenal. I recently bought her book, 'How To Succeed in Commercial Photography,' and I highly recommend it.
Her site:

Photo Swap Meet benefiting OCC
Sat. Oct. 6, 2007 @ Pro Photo Connection 9am-1pm
17752 Fitch, Irvine, CA.

If you guys know of any other stuff happening, please post it.

By the way, I will be attending both the McCullough and the Selina seminars. If anyone would like to carpool, let me know.

Kathryn, I love your site! I'm so glad you shared that info about I have been thinking about buying one of their site templates for the last couple of weeks. It's the best template site I've found. I'm glad you are happy with their service and did research on them. For everyone else, one of the perks to their sites is the proofing option where you can upload proofs for your clients to view on your site. You give them a password and they can log in to check out their photos, instead of just emailing them. A slick, professional tool.

Read more!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Blogging Phenomenon

Among the thousands of blogs out there, one of them stands out prominently for photographers. It has started a mini revolution: finding cheap alternatives to the equipment frenzy most of us have been subject to :-) It's all about DIY. For example, how to substitute a stofen omnibounce (cost $20) with a piece of tupperware (cost $2).

This blog can be found here:

It's also helped photographers the world over (1 million suscribers and counting) look at lighting in a completely different way. Location and studio photography will never be the same again. The motto: put aside the heavy power packs, the cumbersome softboxes... and use those little speedlight flashes OFF of your camera.

Have complete control over your lighting in all scenarios! Case in point, I backpacked around Europe for 6 weeks with my lighting gear this summer. No, I'm not crazy. I was carrying two Nikon Speedlights, one lightstand and various others things. I used them all the time, and it was such a treat!

Check out strobist if you haven't already. It started out a year ago and has grown to such an extend that it's writer, David, quit his photojournalist job at the Baltimore Sun to dedicate himself to it. He also does lighting workshops throughout the US and Europe. He has contributed SOOOO much to us photographers.

Make sure you scroll down to the Sept.28th entry on there. There is a link to a video presentation by Chase Jarvis, commercial photographer extraordinaire. He shares what it takes to become a highly successful photographer in this era. It's 55min long, and worth every second.

Melinda, thanks for you input on the press releases. That site is a great find! Do you know where the PR gets distributed? Can you keep us up to date on the responses you get from it?

Read more!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Our Photography

Hey guys! Thanks for all the comments! Check this blog periodically, and comment as much as possible. This is the Web 2.0 as they say. It's about interaction and communication.

So in that light, let's follow Melinda's example and share our photography with each other. After all, that's why we're here. That's what drives us. Melinda's site is really cool. She has combined photography with her love for nature and the environment. Here it is: Yes, it is getting redone, but it's a great start.

So post a link to your website, webpage, portfolio, whatever. Just show us your stuff! We want to see it. Remember we are all in the process of working on our portfolios, our websites... Just show us the photos anyway :-) Here's mine:

By the way, if you haven't checked out Maria Piscopo's site, here it is: It's full of great articles, tips and links, a must-read. I would like to see some of your photography too, Maria :-)

Read more!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A new photo community

I am taking Maria Piscopo's Orange Coast College class, 'The Business of Photography,' because I need it to regain my sanity. All the information she is handing out is solid gold to me. The reason is, I tried making it as a professional photographer without the business know-how. It was extremely frustrating and I got nowhere. See, they didn't teach me anything about business in art school.

So to all of you who have not yet tried your hand at running a photography business, and don't necessarily realize the importance of this class: trust me, paying careful attention and applying what you learn in this class is even more important than being a good photographer. You can be a great photographer and poor, if you don't know how to sell yourself. On the contrary, you can have a thriving photography business with poor to average photos, if you're a great businessman. We see it all the time, don't we.

This blog is about creating community amongst us photographers. We usually are our own bosses and work independently of any other photographers. It's everyone for themselves. It doesn't have to be that way. Together we can make our businesses and industry much stronger. That is the future.

What are you struggling with in your photography? In your business? What have you learned that we could benefit from? Let's help each other out! I am passionate, ambitious and dedicated to becoming a successful professional photographer. If you feel the same way, then I'm all ears. If this sounds like I'm trying to rally the troops, it's cause I am. I have no idea where this blog thing is headed or if anyone is even reading this, but whatever. I like the concept and I feel we could all benefit from it. Ok enough blabber from me. If you guys have comments, suggestions, throw them out. This is an open forum. We are allies in this adventure. Remember that yo!

Read more!