Friday, November 30, 2007

Strictly Business 2 ASMP Seminar

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.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Marketing Plans

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.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Strobist Meetup

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.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Article On The Web

I wrote an article for the web a while back. I think it's a good read. Check it out here. I got paid $50 for it. I thought it would generate some interest in my site or photography, but I didn't get any responses from it.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Questions For Maria or Anyone Else

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?

I appreciate your concern, but my understanding of property rights is very simple… they do not exist. Property does not have any rights. The owner has rights, but his/her rights extend only as far as privacy and trademark goes. As for the trademark issue, that only applies if the ‘misuse’ of the trademark causes confusion in the marketplace. Ie., trademarks are designed more for the buying public than anything else.
I spoke with Carolyn Wright ( over the idea of property releases a few months back and, without putting words in her mouth and not standing in her stead as legal counsel, the whole notion of property rights has no basis in law nor does it have a legal precedent, not one, in the courts. Ie., there are no statutes which require them and there are no court cases where the issue has ever come up. There are plenty of copyright laws which actually work contrary to the idea of property releases, not the least of which is the fair use exemption for photographs taken of architecture from a public space.
I believe that the issue of ‘property rights’ and the securing of ‘property releases’ is 100% CYA that has been drummed up by stock photo agencies who fear that some FUTURE law may cut into their action so they are asking for them up front. BTW, just for kicks, visit Getty or Corbis and find images of restaurants and/or office buildings. 90% of them have no releases yet they are offered as commercial stock.
My work has primarily been for architectural firms and I have shot buildings designed for Coca-Cola, IBM, Yamaha, Suzuki, and the list goes on. Not once has one of these huge design firms brought the idea up. I think they would probably be the most concerned over the issue since it is they who are using the images. Still, thousands of buildings photographed and the topic only comes up in the listserves and online forums… not the real world. Not once has an architectural firm asked me to get a property release for anything I have every photographed.

It seems to discredit the whole idea of property releases.

Thanks for your input.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Educating Your Clients

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.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Free Work... Only For Charity

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 !

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Know What Your Clients Are Looking For

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.


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 ( to any of the students with any further questions!

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The Joe McNally Presentation

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."

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

PhotoShelter, The Sane Choice.

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.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Looking For Inspiration?

Chase Jarvis,, 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:

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!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Online Software Tutorials

Don't have time to take a Photoshop class? Well you could get private one-on-one lessons for $20/mo with 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.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tracking Traffic To Your Website

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.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

My Portfolio Presentation

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 and I will send you the address.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Photography Business Blog

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:

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...

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Magical Portraiture

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
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:

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Calculating Your Base Rate

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:

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.

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Another Great Meetup

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:

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