After the Newspaper Layoff: The First Six Things You Should Do

First of two parts.

Regaining your career footing after being laid off from a newspaper job as a writer, editor or photographer is a particularly daunting challenge today, for two reasons.

First, in most cases, there is only one major newspaper in a geographic market, meaning that if you want to find a staff position at a different employer, you will probably have to relocate. Second, of course, is the overall decline in jobs in the newspaper industry, which has seen editorial staffing fall to its lowest levels since the 1950s.

Stanley’s Photo Tutorial: Using a Secondary Light Source

Editors’s note: We are pleased to introduce a new series of photography tutorials from veteran Black Star photographer Stanley Leary.  In this video, Stanley offers advice on using auxiliary light sources outdoors, including a flash, a reflector and a constant light source (e.g., an LED).

Build a Diverse Client Base to Increase Your Bargaining Power

Write this down and post it near your phone, or print it as a label and put it on your cell phone where you can see it before you answer any incoming call:


Project Management for Photographers: Documenting Inspiration

Third in a series.

Every project has a starting point, which can come from a variety of sources: a fully developed brief detailing what a client wants; a scrap of paper with a couple of words on it; a verbal conversation with someone; or, quite often for photographers, an observation of some visual element in our environment.

Eye on Image-Making: Photographers and the Law, Part 1

Imagine two very different personality types. One likes authority and control and believes in order and security. The other is independent, inquisitive, and perhaps a bit pushy. Both are convinced they are working for the public good. Now, put a badge and a gun on the first type, and hand the second type a camera. Do you see a potential for conflict?

Why Full-Time Stock Photographers Are an Endangered Species

Increasingly, rights-managed and traditional royalty-free stock companies are having trouble finding photographers willing to shoot for them. Many of the star photographers from five or 10 years ago have given up shooting stock — or at the very least, dramatically cut the number of images they produce and the amount they are willing to spend on production.

Need a Cure for Photo Shoot Grumpiness? Try Catering

Napoleon famously said, “An army marches on its stomach.” The same is true for photographers, clients and everyone else on a photo set.

When you’re called to shoot something, even if it doesn’t span a mealtime, food can make the difference between a good experience and a bad one.

Advice from an Art Director: What I Look for When Hiring a Photographer

I had the opportunity to interview Tony Messano, an Atlanta-based art director, for a presentation I gave at the NPPA Convergence ’10 educational event in July. In this video, Tony shares the qualities he looks for when hiring a photographer.

Advice from an Art Director: Transitioning from Photojournalism to Advertising

I had the opportunity to interview Tony Messano, an Atlanta-based art director, for a presentation I gave at the NPPA Convergence ’10 educational event in July. In this video, Tony offers some practical advice to photojournalists who wish to make the transition to advertising photography.

Photographing Hope on India’s Lifeline Express

Are photojournalists unduly focused on the dark side of life — dead bodies, conflict, misery and the like?

Many people seem to believe this. They think we would climb over loving couples, cooing babies and content grandparents just to shoot the only negative scene at an event.

Ask the Photo Business Coach: When Is My Portfolio Good Enough?

In this installment of “Ask the Photo Business Coach, I answer a question submitted by Black Star Rising contributor Aaron Lindberg: “When is my portfolio in a new specialty good enough to promote on my Web site?”

Don’t Buy In to the Model Release Myth

The myth I’m writing about today has undoubtedly caused thousands of excellent, award-winning photos never to be taken. It’s the myth of the model release for editorial use.

Photography columnists, unaware of their First Amendment rights, have been fanning the fires of this issue for years. A wall of mythology has built up around the subject, and I’ll make the first move to break it down for you:

What’s It Like to Go Freelance? Answers from 27 Photographers

On LinkedIn’s Photography Industry Professionals discussion group, Brooke Fagel recently asked: “What’s it like to be a freelance photographer?” These select responses provide a comprehensive picture of what a photographer faces.

Job Postings Reveal That for Pro Photographers, the Squeeze Is On

I recently came across two job postings that say a lot about the state of the photography market today. And while the news is not altogether surprising, it still might stick in your craw a little bit.

To Succeed as a Pro Photographer, Stay Focused and Learn to Say “No”

It’s hard to turn down help in building your photography business, especially from friends and relatives. But a few years ago, I realized that the assistance I was receiving actually had become counterproductive. To grow my business, I had to learn to say “no.”

The Magic of Twilight Photography

Heavenly shades of night are falling
It’s twilight time
Out of the mist your voice is calling
It’s twilight time
When purple colored curtains
Mark the end of the day
I hear you my dear at twilight time

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Should Laptops Be Banned?

One of the current discussions among university faculty nationwide is whether to ban laptops from the classroom. The logic behind this? Students are using their laptops to access the Internet and social media instead of taking notes in class.

Documenting the Amish: Lessons in Noninvasive Photography

Amish culture is fascinating to me. But as a photographer, documenting the Amish is a challenge, because posing for a photograph is discouraged by their religion. It is seen by many (though not all) Amish people as an act of vanity.

How to Take Your Best Shot at the National Geographic Photo Contest

There probably isn’t a photographer in the world who hasn’t dreamed of getting published in National Geographic magazine — and each year, we get our chance. The 2010 National Geographic Photography Contest, one of the most prestigious contests in the world, begins accepting submissions Sept. 1.

Southern Lights: The Old Preacher Man on Highway 61

His hearing was poor and he shuffled about with the aid of a walker, but 93-year-old H.D. Dennis could still preach to anyone who happened by the one-time grocery store that became a church.

It was a most unusual church of no particular denomination, faded and worn, with 400 feet of hand-painted scripture of plywood signs and cement block towers –- with a weatherworn school-bus-turned-sanctuary that had been parked in the garden for years. That particular day I was this preacher’s flock.

Six Reasons That Great Photos Alone Won’t Make You a Success

When you are a self-employed photographer, reaching the level of earning enough to support yourself and your family is difficult. There are thousands of struggling and aspiring pro photographers out there, all searching for that elusive key to success.

Project Management for Photographers: Your Project Toolbox

Second in a series.

The first step to successful project management is to develop what I call a “project toolbox.” This is the foundation that enables us to take consistent approaches to the wildly different situations we come across in the projects we embark upon as photographers.

Why Selling “All Rights” Is Wrong for Your Photography Business

I recently had a distinctly unpleasant conversation with a client who called me after his subordinate had contracted me for an assignment. The contract included a standard rights package.

The client began the call by referencing the agreement and asked, “We do own all rights to these photos, right?”

The Era of Diminished Expectations in Photography

Today’s photography market is flooded with functional images that wash over us without impact. They may do the “trick” for cash-crunched art directors and editors — but they have no magic.

They are “good enough” images at a time when being “good enough” seems to be all that matters.

Making Good Photos Isn’t About Following the Rules

I still remember the first time a photograph really affected me. I was 9 years old and reading a Life Magazine book on the history of World War II. It contained hundreds of pictures by Life photographers — but the one that grabbed me was Robert Capa’s blurred image of soldiers landing on the beach at Normandy.