Sunday, April 27, 2008

Photography Organizations: Why Join One?

At the moment, I am member of APA (Advertising Photographers of America), as well as ASMP, (American Society of Media Photographers). Why did I join them? There are a number of good reasons. Both of these organizations put on seminars and presentations that are highly educational, and inspiring to professional photographers. They range in topics from 'how to market yourself,' to slide show presentations of well known photographers, to 'search engine optimization' (the topic at Blake Disher's talk last week).

Another great advantage is the camaraderie of other professionals. Who better than other professional photographers can understand us, joke about the industry, give us advice... ? Who else will want to listen and share your excitement about that 70-200mm VR f2.8 lens you just acquired?

Joining ASMP and APA also allows you to get photography business insurance at a reduced rate. Discounts are available as well with vendors such as Adobe, Apple, PDN, and others.

There are online forums as well that are worth checking out and participating in. On there, you'll find the top pros in the industry sharing their knowledge and experience. You can post any relevant question and get an assortment of answers from its members. Some of the better ones are Yahoo groups. Their names are APAnet, APAdigital, ASMPproAdvice, ASMPArch.

Something else I am working on with ASMP is creating a mentoring group. The idea is emerging photographers who are members of ASMP, could look up a list of available mentors, contact them and set up some kind of mentoring relationship according to their photography/business needs and schedules. That is still in the works. I'll keep you updated of the progress.

There are many more perks to joining these and other photography organizations, but I will let you discover them on your own. These are a few of the important ones in my mind.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Negotiating Fees

I was talking to a photographer friend about fees. Actually we talk a lot about it because I like his approach and I want to learn more. He manages to earn a lot of money. He's been in business 10 years now, so he does have an established clientele. Yet he still uses this approach with new clients.

When he gets a call about a job, he tries to find out the budget. Oftentimes, he won't be given the info, so he'll charge what he thinks is fair. Now what I think is fair is different. He charges way more than me. What happens is he gets less clients than he could, but the ones he shoots for, he earns a lot. So he's working less, and earning more.

My friend has this mentality of 'why limit yourself in your thinking? Just because everyone else is charging this amount doesn't mean you can't charge more!' I love it, it's the opposite of low-balling. You have to have balls to charge that kind of money, but he gets what he wants some of the time. One of the reasons is he can handle objections when they come up. He knows what to say to clients in response to their doubts or concerns. He's good at selling himself. That takes studying, thinking and practice.

It's also how you are with the client. He doesn't come off as needing the business. It's like when a guy approaches a girl in a bar and seems needy and insecure. The girl is turned off and rejects him. Yet when a guy is confident and doesn't care if the girl likes him or not, the girl becomes attracted. Same concept. If the client turns him down, he's not worried about it. It's more like a game to him.

Photographers starting out have a tendency to charge too little. The problem is sometimes, we're not aware of market prices, or we're not confident in our skills, or we're desperate for money or the opportunity. When we charge too little, we end up hurting the market and it becomes harder for everyone, not just us, to make a living.

It's our responsibility to learn from other photographers. The other day, I got a call about doing food shots (which I have hardly any experience in) for a restaurant. I told them, "sure I can do it," as I was trained to do. I can always bring an assistant experienced in that type of photography to the shoot. However I had no idea how much to charge, so I called up a photographer who did, and asked him. That easy. Photographers will share that kind of info because it's in their best interest to do so, for the reasons listed above.

Why stop at that though? Why not charge enough to live well, rather than to just get by? That's what I'm pondering. Believe me, I'm not charging as much as my friend, but I will be. I want that kind of lifestyle, where you can work hard, for less hours per week, and still have time to play and relax.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

ASMP is offering a seminar on April 23rd. on web marketing. It's being put on by Blake Disher, one of the presenters at the Strictly Business 2 ASMP conference. This guy is intelligent, knowledgeable and very entertaining. If you have a website and would like to know how to increase your business with it, click here.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Networking Tips

As many of you know, the best investment of your time as far as marketing goes is building relationships. Referrals have the highest rate of closes. Cold calls the least. Take your pick.

There are some proven methods of networking. The first is to join a trade or industry organization that most of your prospects belong to. In my case, it would be AIA, the American Institute of Architects. They have regular outings, meetings and events. Making connections there is the single best way to market myself.

Join networking organizations. There are a ton out there. I have been going to BNI, Business Networking International, for the past year. It was not worth the time and money I spent there. I would however recommend it to portrait/wedding photographers. There is great potential in that arena. I have a portrait photographer friend who made 33k his first year there as a member. It's just not the right place to find architectural photography prospects.

There are many more organizations. Research and let me know what you think. Go to Chamber of Commerce meetings. They are much cheaper and very well attended. Going regularly is recommended. If you just attend a couple of times, people won't have a chance to really get to know you and vice-versa.

Don't come off as a salesman. Vibe with people, be friendly, open and attentive. Become a resource to everyone there. Let people know that when it comes to photography, they can come to you with any question. Give them tips, ideas, and info free of charge. Always be imparting information when you are speaking with someone. Be the expert, but listen for what people need. This will help build trust and credibility.

When you do a job for someone, ask them if you can use them as a reference. Ask them to sign a letter of testimony. If they don't have time, write it and give it to them to sign. When you meet a potential prospect who you can sense is doubting you, bring out the reference letters and say: 'Please don't take my word for it, here are testimony letters from past clients that will testify to the quality of my service.'

Introduce yourself to people you don't know. Oftentimes at networking meetings, members will congregate with others they already know and it becomes more of a social gathering. Remember why you're there: to generate leads for your business. Go to the shy person and help them feel included.

When someone asks me what I do, I share the what and the why, not so much the how. People are not interested in the technical aspects of photography, they want to know what's so great about my service and why would anyone want to hire me. I share the benefits of hiring a professional photographer like myself. For an architect, that might be to develop an outstanding, powerful portfolio of their completed projects to attract new clients to their firm.

Another important aspect is your personal image. I know of a local photographer who shows up at networking meetings in sandals and t-shirts. That may work for some, but it does put off a lot of business people. Looking professional doesn't necessarily mean suit and tie, but decent slacks and a button down shirt.

Let me know if you have any more suggestions we could add to this list.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Free Promo WInners

Rob Haggart, former photo editor of Outside Magazine and Men's Journal, put out a call a few weeks back for photos from anyone out there. He picked 297 and put them on his site which gets viewed by art buyers and other photo editors amongst others.

Here are the winners !

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

APA Seminars Coming Up

Here are some great opportunities to fine tune your assisting skills. What a great idea for a workshop!

APA/LA Assistant Boot Camp

Saturday May 3, 2008

With so many photographers seeking work, how can a photography student gain an edge? Until you can build a stellar portfolio and use it to market your photos, learn the business behind the business. Whether your goals include gaining more commercial experience or learning about being an assistant, this moderated panel of leading photography apprentices will provide the knowledge and confidence to send you in the right direction. We'll cover career opportunities and the ins and outs of getting hired in the industry. A good resource for film assistants, prop work and film crews.

APA/LA Photo Assistant Training 101

Saturday May 4, 2008

Attendance is limited to 20.
Register Now!

(Prerequisite: attendance at APA/LA Assistant Boot Camp (2007 or 2008)

APA/LA is proud to present our new full day Photo Assistant Training course in conjunction with out Assistant Boot Camp. In this course held on Sunday May 4th attendees will be able to participate in HANDS ON instruction and demonstration in a more intimate atmosphere allowing participants to have the opportunity of handling the gear under direction and supervision. Basic lighting set-ups will be discussed in length and you will have the opportunity to take notes and draw diagrams. TIME PERMITTING, participants MAY be able to shoot a few frames for your records and note taking.

For more info, go to

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Maria Piscopo Workshop Coming Up

How to Make Money with Your Art and Photography - two workshops by rep and author, Maria Piscopo

Santa Monica College Continuing Community Education presents photo rep and author Maria Piscopo’s two workshops on marketing and self promotion: The Business of Photography on Saturday, April 26 and Portfolio Development on Saturday, May 3.

Click to see PDF Version of this Press Release

Maria Piscopo, Marketing Workshops for Photographers


PRLog (Press Release)Apr 11, 2008 – Do you want to make money with your creativity? Art Rep and Creative Services Consultant, Maria Piscopo, will teach marketing and portfolio development for artists, graphic designers and photographers at Santa Monica College Continuing Community Education on April 26, 2008 and May 3, 2008.

Learn how to start and successfully run a creative services or photography business with the first workshop, "The Business of Photography" (course number 110008) on Saturday, April 26. Topics include finding clients, selling techniques, copyright issues, pricing your services, cost-effective self-promotion and planning your marketing.

The second workshop "Portfolio Development" (course number 110009) is on Saturday, May 3 and covers development of your portfolio for finding clients and creative assignments and jobs. Topics include indentifying your direction, image selection for portfolio, portfolio formats and a personal portfolio review.

For information, call SMC Community Services at 310-434-4000 or visit their web site and check by course number.

Maria Piscopo developed her workshops from her years of art/photo rep's experience and her two most current books, Photographer’s Guide to Marketing & Self-Promotion, 3rd edition and Graphic Designer's and Illustrator's Guide to Marketing & Promotion, both published by Allworth Press,

She is also a contributing writer for industry magazines such as Communication Arts, Dynamic Graphics Magazine and she writes the Business Trends column for Shutterbug magazine. For more information, visit her web site,

# # #

Maria Piscopo is an art/photo rep and author/consultant based in Southern California. She teaches business and marketing at Orange Coast College and Laguna College of Art & Design. Maria is the author of 3rd edition Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and the new Graphic Designer's & Illustrator's Guide to Marketing and Promotion-both published by Allworth Press. She is a frequent contributor to Communication Arts Magazine and Shutterbug Magazine.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Photo Assisting

So today I found out about this great resource for photography assistants. Most photographers have assisted at some point in their career. Today actually, I made a bunch of calls to photographers checking in to see if they needed any help.

Assisting is, in my mind, the fastest way to learn how to handle professional jobs. It's great for picking up on lighting and photography techniques, even business and sales methods. Most of it cannot be found in textbooks either.

So without further ado, visit
On it, you'll find great advice on finding work as an assistant. You can post questions on all kinds of topics in some very active forums. You can even watch cool video tutorials on things like loading 4x5 film. You can also post your resume on there and get some work from it.

Yesterday, I went to Tijuana, Mexico to give a photo class to some kids who are active participants in their community. This was organized by Corazon, a non-profit that has been around for 30 years. It was an amazing experience. We all had a great time. I was teaching adolescents. A psychologist friend of mine I brought along gave the little kids an art class. Good times! This was one the photos I took as part of the class.

I taught the kids some basic photography, then we gave them disposable black and white cameras to take home. I am going to pick one or two photos from each camera and they are going to be framed. Corazon is having its 30 year anniversary party next month. The photos will be hung on the walls at the party for everyone to see, and perhaps bid on at an auction fundraiser.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Photo Competitions !

A few photo competitions coming up worth entering:

As a sidenote, always read the official rules to find out if entrants keep the copyright to their images. Never enter contests that reserve the right to use your images any way they please.

  • Here are the winners to an underwater photo contest, and another on Youtube.
  • Winners of the Center for Global Initiative contest.
  • This one I found on page 87 of my google search. Dude, this thing should be on page 1!!

Ok how many times have you gone past page 5 when doing a google search, really? From now on, I'm always going to check page 87 when googling.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Julius Shulman

I confess I just discovered the legendary architectural photographer Julius Shulman today. His career has spanned only 7 decades as he is reaching the tender age of 98. His work is astounding, I'm an instant fan. This is probably his most famous photo. Shulman has worked for most of the architectural icons of the 20th century like Frank Loyd Wright, Mies Van de Rohe and Richard Neutra. He was even voted an honorary fellow by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and was awarded their gold medal for architectural photography. Here is more of his work.

Listen to an NPR interview of Julius Shulman.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

On A Mission

I am on a mission. I am going to be the most effective, organized and professional person I know. I want to be the guy that all my friends go to for advice on becoming organized. I want to be that guy that people know they can rely on no matter what, a man of integrity.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am currently putting together an organizational system that works for me. My life is going to be a concertedd, focused surge of energy towards success. I am fully recharged!

Why all the enthusiasm? Well so far this year has not gone the way I wanted. I have been steadily losing hope and running on fumes. Not anymore. I realize how much my effectiveness and my success relies on my planning. It's like how can you get where you want to go if you don't have the directions and you don't even you're lost. Not anymore.

So what do I have on my side? Some people close to me who are experts at organization are helping me out. I've also been reading the bible of time management, 'Time Power,' by none other than Brian Tracy, the foremost expert on the subject. I don't need any other books. That one covers all the bases. Here is a more detailed review.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Getting Organized

Is it possible to be effective in business without strong time management skills? Not from my experience. Becoming organized and productive has been a strong focus of mine in this past year. I have made huge strides considering where I started.

Now is a new phase though. I had been feeling completely overwhelmed these last couple of months with the amount of projects and tasks on my plate. I just did not know where to start, or what to focus on. I had no idea how I was going to possibly get it all done. It was like this massive overpowering feeling of helplessness. Not pleasant.

So I have had to regroup. This past week has been spent going back to the basics. I completely reorganized my bedroom/office. I got rid of every useless item I did not have some strong attachment to. I installed new shelves, cabinets, and a large desk. Everything now has its proper place. How neat my workspace is directly affects my mental state. If it's busy, and in disarray, so is my head. Clutter is the enemy. And no, I am not OCD :-) Quite the contrary.

Another thing I've done is write down all my projects. Every project has been broken down into all the individual tasks that will lead me to their completion. The more precise the tasks, the better. Each task is scheduled into my calendar in a reasonable way. You see, I have a tendency to schedule too much in each day. Then when I don't get it all done, I get upset with myself. So I am working on being more conservative or realistic in my planning.

Planning is the key. Plan the work, then work the plan as they say. By the way, in case you're wondering, I am using the Franklin Covey system to do all that. It's all integrated and highly effective. You can learn more about how it works here. They give you the option to go either the paper or the electronic route. I have been using a day planner for a year now. I just started with the electronic one this week though. It's called PlanPlus. They have a free 30 day trial, so I'm checking it out. I'll give you a review once I've got a good feel for it.

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Friday, April 4, 2008

A Local Charity To Contribute To

Here is a wonderful way for photographers to help out a non-profit. Check out this organization. Picture Me Happy provides cameras to hospitalized children and bring creativity and joy into their lives. Volunteering for non-profits is a way to give back and feel good about making a difference in other people's lives. It's also a means to network and meet influential people in a variety of capacities.

Next weekend, I am headed to Tijuana to give a photo class to kids in an impoverished community. We are going to give them cameras, then develop their photos. We'll frame the best ones and put together an exhibition and fund raiser. This is being organized by Corazon, an amazing non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of poor Mexicans by giving them the means to become educated, learn career skills, and acquire decent housing. I am going to definitely contact Picture Me Happy to find out how they run their program. I should get some useful tips.

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