Survival Strategies for Photographers: Using Facebook

In this post in my video series on survival strategies for photographers, I offer a few tips for using Facebook as a low-cost marketing tool for your photography business.

Do One-Dollar Stock Photos Really Exist?

I am tired of seeing rights-managed sellers refer to microstock as $1 images. That is not what most people are paying, particularly those personal users who buy very few pictures.

Actual prices are substantially higher, even for the smallest, Web-use only file sizes.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Reflections on the Semester

It’s the end of the semester. As usual, when I reflect on the past 14 weeks, I’m left with more questions than answers. In this column, I will cover some of the issues that I have been thinking about as an instructor in the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Photographers, Don’t Fall for These Client Pick-Up Lines

One of the toughest things for a photographer to do is to say “no” to new business, even if it’s a bad deal. Especially in today’s environment, your prospective clients have an arsenal of pick-up lines — ranging from sweet talk to coy bluffs — to make bad deals sound like good ones.

Survival Strategies for Photographers: Spend Time — Not Money — on Marketing

In this post in my video series on survival strategies for photographers, I look at some low-cost and no-cost ways to attract new business in a down economy.

Creativity Starts with a Blank Canvas

A few weeks ago, a gallery owner asked me where I got my inspiration. I’m sure he expected me to rattle off names like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Andre Kertesz or Robert Frank — so my answer surprised him.

Make Prints to Improve Your Photography

One of the best ways I’ve found to improve my photography is to make enlargements of my favorite pictures. I got a reminder of this recently when I had a showing of my work at a local coffeehouse.

Notes from the Viscom Classroom: How’s Your Elevator Speech?

Do you have a killer elevator speech? In other words, can you tell a fellow passenger the essence of your business before the elevator stops at the ground floor?

If you are at a networking event meeting potential clients, your elevator speech is a great way to introduce yourself and sum up your business in a nutshell. But there are other advantages, too.

Survival Strategies for Photographers: Touch Base with Your Customers

Editor’s note: Black Star Rising is pleased to introduce a new series of video blog posts, “Survival Strategies for Photographers,” featuring Sean Cayton. Sean is a successful Colorado Springs wedding photographer and frequent contributor to this blog. In his first video post, he shares some ways he keeps in contact with his customers to drive repeat business and referrals.

Break the Ice to Get Better Pictures of Your Subject

I’ve spoken with many photographers who tell me it’s difficult for them to make small talk while photographing people. Whether they are shooting portraits, corporate headshots or professional models, they have a reluctance to engage their subject on a personal level.

Ask the Photo Business Coach: How Should I Follow Up on My Proposal?

In this month’s “Ask the Photo Business Coach,” I answer the following question submitted by a Black Star Rising reader: “What’s the best way to follow up on a photography proposal or estimate — without seeming too annoying?” I walk you through the process I recommend, step by step.

Should Photographers Buy Promoted Tweets?

Photographers now have another option for spending their hard-earned advertising dollars. Last week Twitter announced Promoted Tweets, a service that finally moves them into the paid advertising space. Is this service one that photographers should seriously consider? And how does it compare to current advertising options such as Google AdWords and Facebook?

My Life as an Expat Photographer: Joys and Challenges

After spending a substantial part of my 20s making repeated self-financed trips to Asia from my native Australia, I made the decision to relocate for a year or two. I figured I would save money that way, while minimizing the usual travel frustrations. I chose Taiwan — for no other reason than I had a friend who lived here.

Let’s Create a Two-Tier Pricing System for Stock Photography

If stock photography as a profession is going to survive, we’re going to have to find a way to develop a two-tier pricing system. One tier would be for commercial use of images and the other for personal and small use.

Market Your Photography with Your iPhone

(The following is adapted from 99 Ways to Make Money from Your Photos, by the editors of Photopreneur.)

With the iPhone, you can promote your photography anytime, anywhere. Meet someone at a party and tell them you’re a photographer, and when they ask you what you shoot, you’ll be able to whip out your phone and show them, explaining at the same time how you achieved the shot and why the images are important.

The Photography Industry Needs Fewer Lawyers — and More Trust

It creeps slowly under your door when you are not paying attention. It looks friendly, but it’s not. It uses smiles and persuasion to convince you of things you do not need. It builds walls around everyone and breaks any form of human connection. It’s the ultimate relationship killer.

Why Some Customers Will Pay More for Stock Photography

One of the key things to understand about stock photography is why some customers are willing to pay more than others to use an image.

Most photographers want to believe customers will pay more when the image is of “better quality” or more technically perfect. They believe that when they increase production values, build better sets, use better looking models, use people who look more “real” and when they generally spend more to produce an image, customers will pay more to use it.

How to Make Money from Photography Workshops

(The following is excerpted from 99 Ways to Make Money from Your Photos, by the editors of Photopreneur.)

Photography can be an unstable business. You often never know where your next job is coming from. That’s why many photographers turn to teaching at least part of the time; it’s a way to turn knowledge into cash and create a secondary income stream.

Black Star and Life: End of an Era

(In honor of Black Star’s 75th anniversary, Black Star Rising is publishing occasional excerpts from Hendrik Neubauer’s 1996 profile of the agency, Black Star: 60 Years of Photojournalism.)

Let’s Not Abandon Photography to the “Experts”

I recently attended a portfolio review where I had my work critiqued by 20 curators, gallery owners and publishers. In addition to receiving their feedback on my work, I learned two interesting things about the people who did the reviewing:

All Children Are Artists; Here’s How to Stay One

“All children are artists,” Pablo Picasso famously said. “The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” This is a problem that nearly all of us tackle as photographers. How do we stay passionate and creative in what we do?

Not Fade Away: The Ballad of Jim Marshall

My office in San Francisco was on Union Street, and my mail carrier was a sweet-tempered guy named Randy. One day, Randy poked his head into my office doorway and handed me a package of 35 mm color slides, returned from a client. I thanked Randy and told him that, in the future, if I wasn’t around, he could just leave a package by my office door.

When Fear Rules the Photography World, We All Lose

One morning you wake up, and it’s facing you. Everything you took for granted and that made your life comfortable is suddenly gone. Probably forever. Welcome to the economy of fear.

Your formerly cozy job, which once brought you a new batch of creative challenges every day, now brings you a daily dose of doubt and uncertainty. From photo editors who are not sure how long they will keep their jobs, to staff newspaper photojournalists who could be shooting their last images, everyone is living in fear.

Creating Montages in Photoshop

Back in the film days, we used to make photo montages using a slide duplicator to copy multiple images onto one frame of film. It worked pretty well; even color masters like Pete Turner were creating images this way.

Google Analytics for Photographers: Answering Your Questions

In this part of our video series on Google Analytics, I answer some of the questions I have received from Black Star Rising readers. (You can find the previous posts in this series here.)