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.

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.