Overcoming Photographer’s Block, Part 1: The Creative Process

(First of two parts.)

All artists, including photographers, go through dry spells. In my case, the symptoms of being creatively blocked are obvious: ideas for new images or projects stop flowing; I take pictures of things that don’t really interest me; I find myself photographing the same people, places and things, in the same “old” ways.

Six Tips for Smarter Location Scouting

If you’re not careful, you can spend a lot of time and money scouting locations for photography shoots — driving around aimlessly in your gas guzzler, seeking that inspiring spot. But if you work smart, you can find the locations you want without spinning your wheels.

Eight Ways to Help Google “See” Your Images

We’ve all heard the expression “blind as a bat” — but bats aren’t blind, they just “see” differently from us. Bats supplement their small eyes and poor visual acuity with echolocation, a radar-like quality that enables them to ping their environment, gather data and use this information to locate prey, fly in the dark, and so forth.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Evaluating Assignments

In my previous “Notes from the VisCom Classroom,” I wrote about crafting course assignments and making sure they furthered both school-wide and course-specific learning outcomes. In this column, I’ll discuss how I go about evaluating those assignments once the students turn in their work.

Understanding Your Art Director

As group design director for a large U.K.-based publishing company, I’ve found that understanding the photographers I work with is an integral part of my creative process.

What motivates a photographer to take the photographs they do? How do they like to work? What are their influences and interests? These are all questions I ask myself before commissioning a photographer for a specific project.

21 Signs You’re a Real Photographer Now

In a day and age when anyone with an iPhone or a Flickr account can call themselves a photographer, it can be a little difficult to figure out when you’ve separated yourself from the pack to become a real photographer. After all, beauty — in photographs as in all things — is in the eye of the beholder.

VIDEO: Google Analytics for Photographers: Landing Page Strategy

A “landing page” is the page where a visitor enters your Web site. In this video in my Google Analytics series, I show you my strategy for optimizing multiple landing pages on my site to attract more traffic — and more prospective customers.

How (and Where) to Develop Film in the Digital Age

The world is hard on those of us who sometimes, or primarily, still like to work with film.

“Pro” labs handle lower and lower volumes of film, which in some cases results in chemicals that are refreshed less frequently and technicians who lack training, particularly with slide film.

10 Budget Photography Accessories You Can Buy at the Supermarket

If there is one thing photographers like almost as much as buying a new camera, it’s buying little toys to go with it. Unfortunately, many of the more popular accessories — flash units, filters, tripods– can be quite expensive.

Three Rules for Earning Good Word of Mouth for Your Photography Business

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

At the heart of marketing for any small business is word of mouth. Creating an experience that gets people talking about your photography business is the single best way to attract new customers.

Don’t Be a Follower — Show Creative Leadership in Your Photography

I was in military boot camp when I first heard the expression, “Lead, follow or get out of the way.” When we think of leaders we tend to think of drill sergeants, CEOs and politicians. But to be your best as a photographer, you need to be a leader, too.

Manuel H. Rodriguéz: The Colombian Capa

Manuel H. Rodriguéz, 89, died last week after a long illness. Manuel H. was the Colombian Capa: a man who for more than half a century captured the history and “moments” of his country with his emblematic Rollei. And like Capa, his career in photojournalism was born out of chaos and violence.

Your Most Important Piece of Equipment Is Your Brain

Back when I used to golf, my friends and I were constantly in search of the next “perfect” club to add to our bags. Brands changed. New putters and drivers appeared. And with each change, there was fresh hope that — somehow, someway — this latest upgrade would make all the difference.

Can I Use a Creative Commons Photo Without a Model Release?

Black Star Rising received the following question from a reader, Nick Arnold of MinistryAllies.com:

Am I at legal risk in the U.S. if I use a photo with a Creative Commons license where a recognizable face is in the photo and the photographer did not acquire a model release? This would not be for commercial use, just the cover of a free ebook.

Study Old Paintings to Breathe New Life into Your Photography

Photography has existed since the 1820s, according to most historians, giving the medium a history of less than 200 years. Two-dimensional art, meanwhile, has been around for 20,000 years, as far as we know — with the animals painted on cave walls in Lascaux, France, being among the first-known examples.

Hey You! Stop Posting Naked Photos Online

Hi, I’m John Lawlor and I’m starting a campaign to stamp out naked photos online.

No, not that kind of naked photo. I’m talking about images that are not optimized for Google and other search engines.

Partisanship, Lies and Photoshop

“Partisanship is our great curse. We too readily assume that everything has two sides and that it is our duty to be on one or the other.”

– Historian James Harvey Robinson

Funny thing is, that quote’s about 100 years old. So when we talk about the excessive partisanship that plays itself out across the U.S. media landscape on a daily basis, we’re not talking about a new phenomenon.

The 15-Minute Business Card Makeover

With all the emphasis photographers are placing on social media and online marketing these days, it’s easy to overlook the value of the good old-fashioned business card as a means of introducing yourself to prospective clients.

Joel-Peter Witkin in Colombia

Bogota-based Black Star photographer Richard Emblin had the opportunity to interview Joel-Peter Witkin during the photography legend’s recent visit to Colombia. Here is his story.

For much of August, Joel-Peter Witkin moved through Bogotá without the custody of bodyguards and the media hype usually associated with an artist whose work has reached the celebrity stratosphere. As we meet in the Parque 93, Joel puts a condition on our meeting and the chance to talk photography: that I treat him to breakfast with “real juice.”

Eye on Image-Making: Writing a Mission Statement for Your Photography Business

I’m currently teaching a course at the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication on how to start and operate your own successful freelance business. The course is aimed at students who want to become photographers, videographers, graphic designers, Web designers, and other creative professionals.

You Don’t Need a Billboard to Prove You’re a Pro

I recently purchased billboard space for two months to promote my wedding photography business. We’re in booking season, so now’s the time for aggressive marketing — especially in today’s economy.

Fortunately, advertising rates have come down as a result of the recession, making the billboard a pretty good deal for us. We’re already getting positive feedback and I expect to get some bookings from it.

My Twitter Strategy: Business in the Front, Party in the Back

Having spent the past several months on Twitter tweeting and reading the tweets of the people I follow, I’ve gradually evolved a strategy for using this service to market my photography business without being too obvious about it.

Don’t Be That Guy — with the Tripod

I’m a concert photographer. And being a concert shooter, it helps to be aware of — and show respect for — the people around you at events. So, for example, I hand-hold my camera with fast lenses attached. I stay low so I don’t block people’s views. That kind of thing.

Six Lessons from a Glamour Shoot

As a newspaper photographer for 22 years, I covered just about every kind of news or sports event you can think of. But one thing I never got to try was glamour photography.

So I decided to step out of my comfort zone recently and attempt a shoot, with the help of my model, Lesly Garcia. Here are six lessons I learned from the experience.

Will Twitpic Succeed Where Scoopt Failed?

As most photographers on Twitter likely know, Twitpic is a service that makes it easy to post images to Twitter, and to view and comment on photos from your Twitter account. It’s also emerged as the trendy new candidate to kill old-school spot photojournalism once and for all.