Study: Bargain Stock Photos Don’t Help Websites Sell

Businesses, ad agencies, Web design firms and online publications have increasingly turned to low-cost microstock images to fill up real estate on their websites.

These images are cheap — but do they really offer the best value for photography clients?

Some Photos Are Just Too Hard to Take

Last month, my mother was admitted to the hospital for cancer surgery. I decided to document the hospitalization, from admission to returning home.

One of my inspirations was Days With My Father, Phillip Toledano’s brave visual account of his father’s last days. I wasn’t just interested in coming up with a series of melodramatic photos; I wanted an accurate record of the event for my family.

To Create Inspired Photography, Take a Class — Any Class

(The following is excerpted from Inspired Photography: 189 Sources of Inspiration For Better Photos, a new book from the editors of Photopreneur.)

It’s where so many photography ideas begin — and where so many end, too. Aspiring photographers think nothing of hitting the classroom to learn how to use their camera, get the most out of their equipment and pick up the basic techniques. But having done that, they often stop taking classes, believing that the rest of their photography exploration is up to them.

Ask the Photo Business Coach: What Should Photographers Be Thankful for?

In my last couple of installments of “Ask the Photo Business Coach,” we’ve discussed issues such as photographers who complain all the time, and how to stay positive in a negative environment. On Thanksgiving, I thought it might be nice to take a step back and focus on the things we can all be grateful for.

When Friends Ask You to Take Their Picture, Ask Them to Pay It Forward

Sometimes it doesn’t take long for friends and colleagues to make the connection. They realize that “Hot Shoe Digital Photography” is me.

And when that happens, a question often comes next: “Will you take my picture?”

For Photographers, the Future Is Storytelling

Most still photographers say their best pictures tell stories. To a limited degree, this is true. But photographers need to start thinking about more complete and complex stories, not just the best story they can tell in a single frame. This is where the opportunities lie.

To Get Noticed, Let Your Character Come Out in Your Photography

Recently I came across a YouTube video on the photographer Bruce Gilden, demonstrating his technique for taking photographs.

It’s interesting to watch. Using a Leica with a wide-angle lens and a small flash, he approaches within a few feet of people as they are walking along the street and snaps a photograph or two of them from low angles. It’s a very in-your-face way of taking a photograph of someone, resulting in people yelling at him, telling him to piss off, or just pretending not to notice him.

Eye on Image-Making: Seven Storytelling Basics

If you are involved in video or multimedia, chances are you are involved in storytelling. As Jim Pickerell wrote in a recent Black Star Rising post, “the picture story is making a comeback.” The need for telling stories in a multimedia format will only increase, he said.

To Create Inspired Photography, Find a Good Story to Tell

(The following is excerpted from Inspired Photography: 189 Sources of Inspiration For Better Photos, a new book from the editors of Photopreneur.)

One way to create inspired photography is to be inspired by a story — whether it’s drawn from your own memory, friends, the movies, or somewhere else.

Three Inexpensive Ways to Book More Wedding Photography Clients

In my last video, I offered advice on how to target high-potential prospects for your wedding photography business. In this post, we discuss three simple ways to book more business.

Stanley’s Photo Tutorial: Using Colored Gels for Backgrounds

In my previous videos, I offered tips on using auxiliary lighting and natural light for outdoor portraits. In today’s post, we discuss the use of colored gels to create striking backgrounds for your photos.

Neon Signs Are an Endangered Species; Photograph Them While They Last

Neon tubes have been a fixture of outdoor advertising and signage in the United States since the early 1920s. Neon naturally produces a red color, but through the use of argon, mercury and phosphor, more than 150 colors are possible in gas-filled signs.

To Find the Best Wedding Photography Clients, Learn More About Them

In my last video, I offered advice on how wedding photographers can build referral-generating relationships. In this post, we look at how to find our target customers — the “ideal” brides for your wedding photography business.

Can Photographs Create Their Own Demand?

Last week in a post on Black Star Rising, Paul Melcher asked, “Are You Carving a Photography Niche – or Digging Your Career in a Hole?” He argued that instead of trying to find an undiscovered niche, photographers should “shoot what they love” and make their niche “talent” — something “no one can copy.”

Photographers, Here’s What to Do with Your Online Leads

At Cayton Photography, we are fortunate to receive 150 to 200 inquiries from wedding couples each year through our website. Some of these leads turn into paid work and some don’t — but we always strive to leave a positive impression with those who contact us. In this video, I describe how we manage our online inquiries.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: The Knight Case Studies Initiative and Photojournalism

Last January, I wrote about the Knight Case Studies Initiative, a method for teaching journalism developed at the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

When and How to Convert Color Images to Black and White

Part of presenting your work is deciding how to process it. While color is the default choice for most photographs, sometimes the simplicity of a black and white image is compelling. Because we see and interpret our world in color, creating black and white photographs is really an art in itself.

Predicting the iPad’s Impact on the Photography Business

When the Wired app for iPad launched in June, it sold 105,000 copies — 25,000 more than the print issue of the magazine that month. The total circulation on which the advertising rate was calculated was more than double that of the print magazine.

Are You Carving a Photography Niche — or Digging Your Career in a Hole?

From stock photography old-timers to newly minted microstock experts, all the gurus will tell you the same thing: the key to succeeding in today’s market is to carve out a niche for yourself.

Shoot stuff no one else shoots. Bark at others upon approach. Defend your turf so no one else can take pictures of your subject.

Applying the 10,000-Hour Rule to Photographers

Malcolm Gladwell famously asserted in his best-selling book Outliers that for a person to truly excel at something, he or she must have approximately 10,000 hours of practice at it. It’s become known as the “10,000-hour rule.”

Sometimes, Photographers Are Their Own Worst Enemies

An email requesting photographic work recently landed in the inboxes of eight Taiwan-based photographers. Seven of them accepted the gig. One did not.

The one who said “no” was me.

I’ll tell you the offer — and you can tell me who’s crazy.

To Become a Better Photographer, Learn from Your Failures

We all have good days and bad days in our photography — successes and failures.

By failures, I don’t mean commercial failures. In fact, when I was shooting a lot of assignment photography, I never lost a client because I delivered photos I didn’t like. Typically, what I thought was crap, the client loved.

To Increase Referrals, Post Wedding Photos on Facebook — Right After the Ceremony

In this video, I discuss one way I use Facebook to drive referrals — posting client wedding photos a day or two after the ceremony. It’s a great way to beat amateurs to the punch and ensure that your photos are the ones used in the Facebook profiles and albums of participants and guests.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Are Journalism Teachers Failing?

How Journalism Teachers are Failing, and How to Stop It” is the title of a provocative column by Wayne MacPhail on the PBS website MediaShift. MacPhail has worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist, and currently runs w8nc inc., a Canadian marketing and communications company specializing in emerging technology. He also teaches online journalism at the University of Western Ontario and Ryerson University.

Ask the Photo Business Coach: How Do I Stay Positive in a Negative Environment?

In my last installment of “Ask the Photo Business Coach,” I offered some tough love for photographers who are always complaining about the business — basically advising them to adapt or get out. This month, I answer a question for those who want to stick with their photography careers, but need some positive reinforcement: “How do I stay positive in a negative environment?”