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.

NGOs Do Good — But Make Sure They Do Right By You, Too

With the number of media outlets financing and publishing international photojournalism on the decline, many documentary photographers are looking to NGOs, or non-governmental organizations, as an alternative route to shooting in faraway lands and creating work that has a positive impact.

The Art of Visual Storytelling

What does it take to tell a story?  A talented writer might tell you that all it requires is a pen and a piece of paper, but storytelling doesn’t come the same way to all of us.  

For me, as for many photographers, I like to have all of the elements of a story in front of me — visible, in front of my eyes.  Then I can assemble them to make the story I’m telling come to life.

In Photography, It’s the Archer, Not the Arrow

I’m a big fan of technology, and it’s easy to get swept up in the shiny new toys that the big camera companies roll out every year. I love the fact that I can now record video as well as stills from the same camera bodies, for example, and that the low light sensitivity of those bodies can produce amazing results without the digital noise we once had to work around.

Want an Accurate Portrait of Africa? Hire Local Photographers

In a Black Star Rising post last month, Paul Melcher beseeched photojournalists to not settle for trite images of “dying Africans” and to instead seek to cover the continent in a richer, more well-rounded way. I couldn’t agree more.

Five Ways to Make Money in a Popular Photography Niche

I’ve read articles by a number of photography business gurus arguing that if you want to make decent money from stock photos or prints, you need to find a niche that isn’t already saturated with images. They advise photographers to shoot model-released lifestyle photos or still lifes, for example, and to stay away from travel and nature — because everyone shoots travel and nature.

Ask the Photo Business Coach: Beate Chelette

Editor’s note: Black Star Rising is pleased to introduce a new series of video blog posts, “Ask the Photo Business Coach,” featuring Beate Chelette. The high-energy entrepreneur and former Corbis executive has been profiled twice on this blog, once while with Corbis and again after leaving the company. Today, she is a successful consultant and author.

A Photo Credit Doesn’t Pay the Rent

In the belt-tightening world of editorial photography, many media outlets now offer a photo credit, rather than monetary compensation, for the use of your photo. “It will be great advertising for your work,” they tell you, “and getting published by us will help you professionally.”

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Text and Context

If you teach, you’ve probably found yourself in this situation at one time or another: many of your students are taking your course because it is required, not because they have a burning interest in the subject matter or, for that matter, the instructor.

How to Make Winning Wildlife Portraits

(The following is excerpted from Winning Digital Photo Contests, a new book by Black Star Rising contributor Jeff Wignall.)

Getting your first close-up photograph of a wild animal is kind of like getting your first kiss; you’re often so flustered (not to mention grateful) at the opportunity and so satisfied by the conquest that you lose all critical perspective.

Direct Mail from Photographers Is Making a Comeback — at Least on My Desk

Not long ago, e-mail marketing in the form of e-bulletins and HTML-based solicitations appeared to be a better choice for photographers than printed direct mail. After all, they were comparatively inexpensive to send, and they arrived right where your prospects would be sure to see them: on their computer screens.

Tread Carefully When Photographing Religious Events

(The following is excerpted from Winning Digital Photo Contests, a new book by Black Star Rising contributor Jeff Wignall.)

When visiting a country where religion is a visible part of daily life, you’ll find that pictures of religious activities reveal cultural insights better than photographs of landmarks and landscapes. Rituals, festivals, and people dressed in religious garb personalize faiths otherwise unfamiliar to us.

No Matter the Brand, Your Camera Is a Door into People’s Lives

Photographers often ask me which camera or lens I think is best. “Would past masters have used Photoshop and digital cameras?” they wonder. “Should ‘real’ photographers choose Leica, Canon or Nikon?”

I’ve learned in my career that those aren’t the right questions to ask. It’s not about the brand of camera, or the method of making a print. It’s about the journey — the many doors into people’s lives that photography can open for you.

The Trouble with Online Photography Portfolios

I’ve spent some time over the past couple of weeks looking at photographers’ portfolios in search of new talent for upcoming projects. I started my search online; then, once I had a short list of photographers whose work I liked, I arranged individual meetings to discuss their work in more detail and review their print portfolios.

Four Steps to Determine Your Rate as a Contract Photographer

As media organizations continue to trim staff positions, they are hiring contractors to do more of their photography work. For laid-off staff photographers, this presents an opportunity — if you know how much to charge for your services.

Seven Strategies to Ensure Your Blog Is Worth the Effort

When people started blogging a few years ago, it was mostly because they loved doing it. Now, in many cases, it’s a box to check off on your online marketing plan. Even many photographers who enjoy blogging wonder if the effort is worth it with all the other demands on our time.

Seven Tips for Taking Photos in Public Places

No one should expect privacy if they are out and about in a public place. That means that everyone is fair game to be photographed on a public street and in open areas like a public park.

But defining “public” can sometimes be tricky. And even if you technically have the right to take someone’s photo, this doesn’t necessarily protect you from, say, a punch in the nose.

Please, No More Pictures of Dying Africans

I do not want to see another photo essay, multimedia presentation, or visual of any kind on the subject of dying Africans. Never, ever again. Enough.

I understand that these images can be compelling. I understand that the photographers seem to care. But at this point, the harm done by such photos outweighs the good.

Eye on Image-Making: Creating a Marketing Strategy and Resume

In my previous “Eye on Image-Making Column,” I began a series about business planning by writing about the importance of having a mission statement for your business. A mission statement is typically the first part of any business plan — it tells the reader what products or services you offer, who your target clients are, and who is doing similar work, i.e., your competition.

Understanding Five Types of Photo Contests

The following is excerpted from Winning Digital Photo Contests, a new book by Black Star Rising contributor Jeff Wignall.

A contest is a contest is a contest, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, they are all about judging photographs based on creativity, technical merit, and relevance to the contest themes. But different types of contests have different technical standards and different submission methods. It’s important that you match your images to the type of contest you’re entering.

In the New Media World, Photographers Who Embrace Change Will Succeed

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

– Thomas Edison

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that the media industry is having a difficult time at present, even without the global recession. The digital revolution, while opening up exciting new channels of communication, is also rendering some of our pre-existing business models obsolete and forcing the redefinition of others.

Internet Models and Me: One Photographer’s Misadventures

A few weeks ago, I got a phone call from Playboy. It was Friday at 4:30 p.m. — and they wanted to see four nude images by Monday.

I don’t normally shoot nudes. I had been a photojournalist for more than 20 years and most of my subjects preferred to keep their clothes on. But I figured, “Why not?” So I began searching for a model.