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.

Eye on Image-Making: Why the First Amendment Matters, Part 3

On Sunday, June 13, 1971, the New York Times ran a front-page story by reporter Neil Sheehan titled “Vietnam Archive: Pentagon Study Traces 3 Decades of Growing U.S. Involvement.”

This story and others that followed were based on a secret government study, commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, that described the history of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia, from World War II until 1968. The Pentagon study was massive — 30 to 40 authors churned out 2.5 million words, 3,000 pages of analysis, and 4,000 pages of official documents.

With a Little Help from Video, the Picture Story is Back

When I got into this business in the 1960s, the dream of every photographer was to do a comprehensive picture story and get a 10-page or longer display in Life, Look or National Geographic.

As time passed and the space to publish stories got tighter, more and more picture editors started looking for the one great image to illustrate a text piece, because they only had space for a single image. Often the pictures were designed more to catch the reader’s attention than to give an accurate depiction of the story.

Five Tips for Better Group Photos

The group shot is no one’s favorite photo to take.

I’m sure we’ve all been at the big family event where someone hands you a point-and-shoot camera and says, “You’re a pro photographer — take everyone’s picture!”

Going Viral to Boost Your Wedding Photography Business

(The following is excerpted from the new book The Successful Wedding Photographer, by the editors of Photopreneur.)

When viral campaigns work, they can be extremely powerful — but they don’t work all the time. Even professional marketers can struggle to get a viral campaign off the ground, and they often work best when you least expect them to.

Grow Your Wedding Photography Business with Referrals — from Your Competitors

(The following is excerpted from the new book The Successful Wedding Photographer, by the editors of Photopreneur.)

Julie Kim has been voted one of the best wedding photographers working in the U.K. She earns over £2,500 for a full day’s shoot, including album and files, and covers about 30 weddings a year. And she’s only been shooting professionally since 2006.

Should Wedding Photographers Pay for Client Referrals?

(The following is excerpted from the new book The Successful Wedding Photographer, by the editors of Photopreneur.)

Whenever a former client discusses your work and passes your name onto a friend, she’s doing you a huge favor. It’s the kind of favor that puts money in the bank and provides the foundation of a successful wedding photography business.

Ask the Photo Business Coach: When Is It OK to Work for Free?

In this installment of “Ask the Photo Business Coach,” I tackle a controversy that has been raging on Black Star Rising since John Harrington’s post, “12 Excuses for Shooting Photos for Free — and Why They’re Bogus,” last week. The question is: “Should I work for free, and if so, when?”

All Stock Photo Subscriptions Are Not Created Equal

Stock image producers often have two misconceptions about subscription licensing services: They believe (1) that subscription licensing is simple, and (2) that for a very low monthly fee customers are allowed to use any image for any purpose. Neither statement is true.

Eye on Image Making: Why the First Amendment Matters, Part 2

In America today, we can say and publish just about anything we want. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and of the press — and by extension, freedom of thought and freedom of expression. But despite the fact that the First Amendment was ratified in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights, the nearly unlimited freedoms we enjoy today have actually evolved only within the last 100 years.

Don’t Let Your Photography Clients Sell You Short

In reading through the 70+ comments on last Tuesday’s post, “12 Excuses for Shooting Photos for Free — and Why They’re Bogus,” I found two complaints interesting from the “will work for free” crowd.

Photo Manipulation Isn’t a Sin — But Lying About It Is

With technology making it so easy to profoundly alter photojournalistic images — deleting or adding items, changing the source of the lighting and so on — how can we, the audience, know that what we’re seeing is “the truth”?

Ask the Photo Business Coach: How Do I Stand Out from the Crowd?

In this installment of “Ask the Photo Business Coach,” I answer one of the questions I am most frequently asked: “With so many photographers competing for the same clients that I am, how can I possibly stand out from the crowd?”

Has Demand for Microstock Photography Peaked?

In May 2009, I began following the sales of 198 of iStockphoto’s top contributors. According to iStockcharts data, these 198 ranked in the top 250 image sellers among the microstock site’s more than 100,000 total contributors.

12 Excuses for Shooting Photos for Free — and Why They’re Bogus

Ninety percent of small businesses fail within the first two years. With few exceptions, working for free is the fastest way for freelance photographers to become part of this 90 percent.

Here are a few excuses I’ve heard for working for free, along with my responses:

Why I Hired a Graphic Designer to Help Brand My Photography Business

Since most professional photographers are sole proprietors, we are used to doing everything ourselves — shooting images, processing, answering the phone, keeping the books and so forth. Just because we do all these tasks, however, that doesn’t mean we are the best suited for them. That’s definitely true of graphic design.

Project Management for Photographers: A New Series

First in a series.

“Photography” — the process of capturing a split second in time on film or in a digital file.

“Project management” — the process of managing a project from beginning to end.

My Journey to Build an Agency-Worthy Portfolio

Last August, I began contacting photographic agencies to seek representation, and among those I reached out to was Black Star. I wasn’t asked to be a Black Star photographer — but the interaction did change my photography.

Five Steps to a Successful Travel Photography Shoot

Editor’s note: Kathryn Wagner is a travel and food photographer who divides her time between Virginia and the Virgin Islands. In this, her first video for Black Star Rising, she offers five tips for shooting a travel assignment.

Photography SEO: Don’t Set It and Forget It

From time to time, the good people in the bowels of the Googleplex decide to tweak their algorithm to improve search results. It happened not long ago, and rest assured, it will happen again. If you care about marketing your business online, you had better be paying attention.

Eye on Image-Making: Why the First Amendment Matters, Part 1

In my previous column, I wrote about the Newseum in Washington, D.C., which is an interactive museum dedicated to preserving and interpreting more than 500 years of journalism. I said that one of my favorite parts of the Newseum was a permanent exhibit called the First Amendment Gallery.

Ask the Photo Business Coach: Should I Add a Client List to My Web Site?

In this installment of “Ask the Photo Business Coach,” I answer the following question submitted by Marleen De Backer of Eden Studio Photography: “Do you think a commercial photographer should have a client list on their Web site?”

Why Photographers Shouldn’t Hate Creative Commons

Most professional photographers are adamantly opposed to Creative Commons licenses, which encourage free uses of images. But in at least one important way, I think Creative Commons is a good thing for image sellers.

My Eight Simple Rules for Digital Image Alteration

In the era of film photography, the accepted rules of printing had been established by masters long since departed. A photographer was limited in what he could do to enhance his images in the darkroom; he could dodge and burn, adjust the contrast, tone the final print.

Using Flexible Pricing to Upsell Wedding Photography Clients

(The following is excerpted from the new book The Successful Wedding Photographer, by the editors of Photopreneur.)

It should be clear that when it comes to pricing, there are a range of different approaches, each with its own set of advantages and weaknesses.