Overcoming PLH — Photographer Learned Helplessness

(The following is excerpted from Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition, by Black Star photographer John Harrington.)

There’s a concept called Consumer Learned Helplessness. The Consumerist Web site notes about this “affliction”: “After getting shocked from every angle for so long, with credit cards’ shrinking due dates, flagrant violations of our privacy, rebate scams as acceptable business models, and ‘it’s company policy’ as the magic wand to excuse it any time a company screws us, we just lie down and accept it.”

Let Them Eat Cake — with Your Photos on Top

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

New inks made of food dye and special paper made of rice flour mean that it’s now possible to print photos that are edible. You might not want to serve one up as a meal — but they can be placed on the top of cakes as a special form of decoration.

“Good Enough” Isn’t Good Enough for True Pros

Recently I had a conversation with a client about some of his past projects shot by other photographers. Referencing one piece in particular, the client described the images as “good enough.”

I thought to myself, “Why would the client settle if he wasn’t getting what he really wanted?”

Five Steps to “Programming” Your Twitter Stream with Targeted Content

In my last post, I offered several ways to leverage Twitter to grow your photography business. One of my recommendations was to “tweet with your followers in mind” — meaning to carefully target your content to the people you’re trying to reach. But what’s the best way to go about this?

Why “No” Is One of Your Most Powerful Negotiating Tools

(The following is excerpted from Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition, by Black Star photographer John Harrington.)

It’s true: If there weren’t any no’s in a negotiation, then you’d have an agreement. Your position is different from prospective clients’, and your objective is to overcome as many of their no’s as possible while minimizing the no’s that you concede.

Put Your Images in Hotels with Farmboy Fine Arts

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

Stock companies serve newspapers and magazines, ad companies and Web sites. But they aren’t the only people who need images. The hospitality industry uses photography to decorate its walls, and interior designers can sometimes use photography, too.

Eye on Image-Making: Financial Planning, Part 2

In a previous column, I wrote about financial planning and described one of four common financial-planning tools, the break-even analysis. The break-even analysis is part of any good business plan, and it is especially useful for new, or start-up, businesses.

Eight Tips for Getting Great Images at Rock Concerts

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to follow Seal on his SOUL tour through Europe — to photograph each of the artist’s 24 concerts in 23 cities in 10 countries in six weeks. Since my return, quite a few photographers have asked me for tips on shooting concerts.

Take the High Road with Backstabbing Colleagues

(The following is excerpted from Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition, by Black Star photographer John Harrington.)

Early in my career, when I was approached by my photo agency, Black Star, to be represented by them, I was overwhelmed with excitement.

Five Tips for Better Holiday Photos

If you’re like me, you get a lot of questions from friends and family during the holiday season about photography. This is not only the busiest time of year for shopping, after all; it’s also the busiest for family picture-taking.

How to Host Your Own Exhibition

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

Photographers who want people to see their images — and buy them, too — often find themselves caught in a Catch 22. They can’t get exhibitions until they have a track record of sales, but they can’t develop a track record of sales until they get the exhibitions.

Ask the Photo Business Coach: To Cold Call or Not to Cold Call?

In this month’s post, I answer the following question submitted by a Black Star Rising reader: “As a freelance photographer, should I be cold-calling prospective clients in this economy — and if so, how should I go about it?”

Why to Market Yourself as a Specialist — Even If You’re a Generalist

With so many photographers fighting to keep a toehold in the marketplace, it’s easy to understand why you would want to work as a generalist in today’s economy. After all, no photographer I know wants to turn down a well-paying job — and if you market yourself as a specialist, you’re limiting your base of potential clients, right?

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Ansel Adams for Extra Credit

I have had an on-again, off-again relationship with the photography of Ansel Adams.

The relationship started in 1970s, when I moved from New York to Oregon and began my career as a professional photographer and photojournalist. Once on the West Coast, I became passionately involved with the outdoors, in the form of backpacking, mountaineering, and cross-county skiing in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington. My cameras came along for the ride and helped tell the stories of my wilderness adventures.

Zen and the Photography Client Experience

(The following is excerpted from Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition, by Black Star photographer John Harrington.)

A lot goes into that first call. Not the call you make, but the call you earn. Before your phone rang, lots of things had to happen: The client had to decide they needed a photographer, and where there’s an ad agency, PR firm, or design firm involved, they had to convince their client they needed photography. Then, they had to decide on candidates for the assignment. And that’s where you come in.

Please, Don’t Call It a “Port”

Your best work should be in your portfolio. According to Merriam-Webster, “portfolio” comes from the Italian portafoglio, from portare (“to carry” in Latin) plus folium (“leaf” or “sheet” in Latin).

You Are a Brand — Start Acting Like One!

As a freelance photographer, you might not think you have much in common with global brands like Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, Apple or Nike. But no matter how small or large your business is, branding can be just as important to you as it is to these corporate titans.

Six Ways to Focus Your Twitter Strategy and Grow Your Photography Business

Many photographers who leaped into Twitter because of all the hype are now wondering whether it is worth their time. Twitter has been heralded as a new communications platform that enables virtually instant mass marketing — for free. So why have so many photographers been frustrated by their experiences?

On Street Photographers, Spies, Perverts and Pedophiles

“Beware of illegal photo taking. Report crime for benefit of all.”

These were the words on a sign at Causeway Bay, a bustling tourist area in Hong Kong. Such a warning isn’t unusual here; wherever you go, you can find signs reading, “No Photos, No Videos, No Smoking and No Dogs.”

Nine Inconvenient Business Facts for Aspiring Photographers

(The following is excerpted from Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition, by Black Star photographer John Harrington.)

Ignoring facts cannot change them. Far too many photographers and aspiring photographers simply ignore the facts before them, believing that the laws of physics and economics just don’t apply to them.

Studying the Aftermath of a Lost Photography Assignment

(The following is excerpted from Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition, by Black Star photographer John Harrington.)

On one occasion, six or seven years ago, I got a call from the premier association of physicians in the U.S. for press-conference coverage on Capitol Hill. They’d regularly used a photographer who was not available, and the work bounced from him to two friends and then finally to me.

Online Photography Portfolios: Answering Your Questions

In my recent post “The Trouble with Online Photography Portfolios,” I argued that too many photographers’ Web sites focus on gee-whiz design tricks at the expense of coherent organization and easy navigation. This can make it difficult for an art director to hire a photographer based on a search of online portfolios.

Photography’s Old Boys Club Is Gone Forever — Now Success Is Up to You

Once upon a time, cameras, processing, access and distribution were the privilege of the few in photography. The business was an Old Boys Club with high barriers to entry. But now, anyone can join. And because the revenue pie seems to be limited, the photo industry is experiencing a Malthusian moment.

Eye on Image-Making: Financial Planning, Part 1

I’ve been writing in previous columns about business plans, and now it’s time to consider four financial-planning tools that are part of any business plan. We will look at one of these — the Break-Even Analysis — in this column, and save the remaining three — Profit/Loss Forecast, Start-Up Cost Estimate, and Cash Flow Projection — for future columns.

Six Good Reasons for Photographers to Lug Around Lights

Ever wonder why some photographers carry around so much gear?

I’m not just referring to the shooters you see at sporting events — the ones with multiple camera bodies hanging around their necks. I’m talking about the ones who bring along assistants with dollies, all manner of light modifiers and even their own gasoline-powered generators.