Ask the Photo Business Coach: What Makes a Winning Proposal?

In this month’s “Ask the Photo Business Coach,” I answer the following question submitted by a Black Star Rising reader: “What should I include in my photography business proposal?” Your proposal should have five elements: the “what,” the “where,” the “when,” the “who” and the “how much.”

Writing Your Photography Marketing Plan: Marketing Mix – Place

Eighth in a series.

In Monday’s post, we overviewed the four Ps of photography marketing and discussed the importance of defining your product. Today, we look at “place” — also known as distribution.

Writing Your Photography Marketing Plan: Marketing Mix – Product

Seventh in a series.

We have been exploring the process of creating a photography marketing plan. In the final four posts of this series, we take on the “four Ps” of marketing — product, place, promotion and price — as it pertains to photographers.

My Adbase Marketing Campaign: Early Results

In January, I wrote about my decision to try e-mail marketing with Adbase, which bills itself as “North America’s largest and most advanced database of creative buyers.” In this post, I thought I would share how my first e-mails performed.

Charles Moore, 1931-2010

Charles Moore, the celebrated Black Star photographer whose searing images of violence and injustice during the Civil Rights Era helped mobilize U.S. public opinion toward change, died last week at the age of 79. The Black Star family joins the world in mourning him.

Clients Will Choose Trust Over Talent Every Time

Many photographers, as well as other creative professionals, operate under the assumption that talent alone will carry them through their careers. While this may be true for a lucky few, I wouldn’t suggest you count on it.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Can Creativity Be Taught?

Where does creativity come from? How do entrepreneurs use creativity? Why is innovation often a collaborative effort?

These three intriguing questions are posed by Julia Hanna in her article “Getting Down to the Business of Creativity,” published by the Harvard Business School. Hanna, who is associate editor of Harvard’s Alumni Bulletin, draws on the work of three Harvard Business School professors — Teresa Amabile, Mary Tripsas, and Mukti Khaire — to examine how the workplace environment affects creativity.

Put Color Theory to Work in Your Photos

Learning color theory is traveling a road that, if you go too far too fast, will make you feel a bit like Alice — who, after eating a strange piece of cake and growing so enormously tall that she could no longer see her own feet, uttered the famous words, “Curiouser and curiouser.”

Writing Your Photography Marketing Plan: Determining Target Margets

Sixth in a series.

Many photography businesses fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone. You are so hungry for business that you will work for anyone and attempt anything. That’s certainly understandable, particularly in this economy. But it’s not a good marketing formula for long-term success.

In a Tough Economy, Survive By Diversifying Your Photography Business

It’s tough all over — the economy, that is. And so I thought I would share with you how my friend Linda Al-Khoury, a photographer in Amman, Jordan, is making a go of it despite her country’s weak market for freelance photography. Her answer, put simply, has been to diversify.

Writing Your Photography Marketing Plan: The SWOT Analysis

Fifth in a series.

In this series, we are discussing the importance of creating a photography marketing plan and the steps in that process. In this installment, we cover the SWOT analysis — an exercise in which you assess your business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, and Opportunities, as well as the Threats you face in the marketplace.

Should You Pay to Have Your Portfolio Reviewed by an Agent?

I sent a tweet out the other day asking, “What do people think about portfolio reviews that cost £250?”

I couldn’t fit it all within Twitter’s 140 character limit, but I was specifically referring to an event where photographers could have their books reviewed in 20 minute meetings with three different photography agents.

Writing Your Photography Marketing Plan: Setting Goals

Fourth in a series.

In this series, we are exploring the creation of a marketing plan for photographers. We have already covered the executive summary and mission statement. In this installment, we discuss the importance of setting goals, and how they relate to marketing.

Get Trippy with Black-Light Photography

It’s been a long time since I was a teenager, and I don’t know how teenagers decorate their bedrooms these days. But back in the 1960s, we had a pretty universal style: cover the walls with as many black-light posters as you could afford and beg your parents to buy you a black light for your birthday.

Eye on Image-Making: Sales Is Not a Four-Letter Word

Many people want to erect a firewall between art and commerce, between creative acts and financial transactions. The implication is that people who create art are somehow debased by being forced to sell their art in order to survive (and make more art). If you are a creative professional, I’m willing to bet that selling is the least favorite part of your business.

Writing Your Photography Marketing Plan: The Mission Statement

Third in a series.

Now that you have completed an initial draft of your executive summary, your next step in developing your photography marketing plan is to craft a mission statement. The mission statement is the single most important piece of information about your company. It answers a deceptively simple question: What do you promise to be as a business?

Forget Software Skills — It’s Vision That’s Important for Photographers

David Weintraub’s most recent Black Star Rising column, “Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Teaching Software,” laid out a list of 18 different software products currently taught to visual communications students at his university, ranging from Photoshop to GarageBand.

Writing Your Photography Marketing Plan: The Executive Summary

Second in a series.

Although the executive summary is the first section of your photography marketing plan, you could make an argument that it’s the last part you should write. The executive summary answers the basic questions about your photography business; if you haven’t given these a lot of thought, staring at a blank piece of paper (or a mercilessly blinking cursor) can be a little overwhelming.

Buy It Once: When More Expensive Is Cheaper

The working professional and the weekend hobbyist are both affected by the recession. Most of the photographers I know are spending more time evaluating their needs and comparison shopping than ever before. It’s important to ensure your money is wisely spent.

Ask the Photo Business Coach: How Do I Find My First Five Clients?

In this month’s “Ask the Photo Business Coach,” I answer the following question submitted by a Black Star Rising reader: “If you were starting from scratch, how would you find your first five photography clients?”

Get Started Shooting Video with Your HD DSLR

In June 2009, Canon unveiled the first legitimate HD DSLR for video when they released the manual control firmware update for the Canon 5D Mark II. This manual exposure, manual control video camera had a sensor that was larger than 35mm film, recorded at a 35+ mb/s bit rate, and used some of the best lenses ever made. It promised to open a new world for professional video capture.

Why I Finally Decided to Shoot Only in RAW Format

Other than the 50-year Canon vs. Nikon holy war, nothing incenses opposing factions in photography circles like the debate over RAW vs. JPEG recording formats.

Why does this topic provide such great fodder for argument? As with most barstool discussions, it’s because there’s no right answer. Neither format is inherently superior to the other; it’s all a matter of how you work and how involved you want to be with image editing.

It May Be Time to Give Up Photography If…

Every year, it seems to get harder and harder to make a living as a photographer. And yet every year, more and more people purchase DSLRs with the intention of doing just that.

So I figured it might be helpful to provide a reality check for those who are wondering when the big money is going to start rolling in.

Writing Your Photography Marketing Plan

First in a series.

There is no shortage of marketing guidance for photographers on the Web today. “How to Use Social Media.” “How to Use SEO.” “How to Use Trade Shows.” “How to Use Business Cards.” “How to Write ‘How to’ Posts.” The list is endless.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Teaching Software

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about software — specifically, about how much software we are currently teaching our students.

At the end of last semester, I sent around an e-mail asking about software in our curriculum to the other faculty members in the Visual Communications sequence here at the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications. And just last week, the issue of teaching software came up at a meeting of the entire journalism and mass communications faculty, which had been called to discuss revamping our curriculum.