A Great Photo Shoot Starts with Your Network

Sometimes with our focus on gear and technique, we forget that the most important resource we have is people. They help us to produce our work, they are the subject of our work, and ultimately they determine the value of our work.

Black Star: A Piece of Europe in New York

(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. Here, Neubauer describes Black Star’s role in bringing European talent to the U.S. media.)

A Business Insurance Primer for Photographers, Part 2

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

I cannot imagine operating a business and going out on location without insurance. For many businesses — and certainly the government — you won’t be allowed to shoot within their property or purview without proof that you do have insurance and include them in the coverage.

A Business Insurance Primer for Photographers, Part 1

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

I can’t conceive that it would be acceptable to operate a business without some level of business insurance, yet friends and colleagues do it all the time. I just think that’s plain crazy. In fact, you won’t be able to complete assignments that take place in many locations without insurance.  You’ll have problems obtaining loans, and the risk of you losing your entire business because of a lawsuit or a catastrophic loss of equipment, other assets, or data is just too great.

Sometimes, the Light at the End of the Tunnel Is an Oncoming Train

I vaguely recall getting a press release about the Web site Spot.Us a while back. After a Twitter conversation, I found myself poking around the page once again.

I was impressed by what I saw: A well-designed, organized and professional site asking visitors to donate money to fund news stories proposed by freelance journalists. As an added bonus, Spot.Us would pitch the stories to more traditional media.

Some F-Stops Are More Equal Than Others

Let’s say that your 50mm lens has seven f-stops. You might think that, depth of field issues aside, your lens should be capable of making equally sharp, equally well-defined images at any of them.

And maybe that’s true — if you never print anything larger than 6×8 inches.

Eye on Image-Making: East Meets West

If you are seeking inspiration for your image-making, there is perhaps no better place to visit than the Monterey Peninsula on the central California coast, which includes the towns of Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel.

26 Handy Excuses for Missing the Shot

Every photographer has their favorite excuses for not coming back with the goods on a shoot. Here are a few I may (or may not) have uttered at least once.   Perhaps you recognize a couple of these yourself?

Want to Achieve Your Photography Goals for 2010? Start By Writing Them Down

So here we are at the end of 2009. How did you do? I know some photographers who did very well — and others who spent most of the year living on ramen noodles.

Obviously, the recession took its toll on all of us. But from my experience, the photographers who enjoyed the best 2009 had one thing in common: they had a plan.

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).