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.

How to Make Exhibition-Quality Prints on a Budget

You can spend your life savings printing photographs and many people do.

An exhibition-quality, 11×14 print from West Coast Imaging, one of the finest labs in the country, goes for well over $100, and you won’t be disappointed by the quality. But put that print behind glass, in a frame, in a dimly lit gallery and how much of that beauty really shines through? And are potential buyers even aware of what you’ve spent?

Don’t Just Talk to Your Audience — Engage It

I’m sure you are familiar with the concept of the “elevator speech.” The idea is that — if you are asked what you do for a living or what your company does — you should be able to give a complete, compelling answer in the time it takes to ride an elevator to your destination.

Eight Ways I’ve Found Photographers for Corporate Assignment Work

I’m not a photographer (a casual look through my family albums will offer proof of that), but I’ve been hiring photographers for corporate assignments for more than 15 years now. I’ve hired photographers while leading the corporate communications function for billion-dollar companies, heading up marketing for a tech startup I co-founded, and today, as owner/president of a boutique public relations firm.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Crafting Course Assignments

One of the most challenging things about teaching is crafting course assignments. A good assignment must meet several requirements. First, it must engage the students and give them something interesting to do. Second, it must build on previous assignments and lay the groundwork for future ones. Third, it must produce a result that can be evaluated. And fourth, it must further the course’s learning objectives.

Bad Weather Doesn’t Have to Ruin Your Photo Shoot

In August, I traveled to New York to take photos of the Statue of Liberty for several book projects. Going in, I knew exactly the kind of image I wanted: Lady Liberty’s green copper face against a rich, blue summer sky.

The Art of the Headshot

If you’re a professional photographer of any kind, you probably take a lot of headshots. When I worked at the Miami office of EFE News, the Spanish government’s official information agency, headshots of Latin pop stars, mostly taken at organized press events, were our bread and butter.

Six Photography Credentials to Set Yourself Apart

To win new photography clients, it’s important to be able to distinguish yourself from the competition. Obviously, you hope to achieve this with the quality of your work. But sometimes, credentials that illustrate your professionalism can be just as persuasive.

Enjoying the Unusual — and the Mundane — in Your Own Backyard

As a travel photographer, I generally spend about three days doing research for every day that I’m on the road. I tend to look for oddities — those strange, twisted places that rarely make it into the tour books.

Eight Lessons My College Photography Instructor Never Taught Me

Since I currently teach photography to college students part-time, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on my own formal education in photojournalism. I’ve realized that many of the most important lessons I’ve learned — ones I hope to impart to my own students — were never actually taught in school. Here are a few of them.

18 Tips for Being a Photography Original

The future of photography is in original, exclusive content.

That’s harder to achieve today than it used to be. When photography was still film, print and slide, no one could really copy you, as they could not see what you had shot. As digital distribution has become the standard, more and more photographers see your work online and say, “Hey, I can shoot that.”

Microstock Is a Great Deal — for Buyers

Recently, I visited the forum of a modeling Web site where a photographer boasted about his microstock image being used on the cover of Time Magazine. He was proud that Time had purchased the image — for $30.

Looking for a Great Assignment? Create One for Yourself

There was a time when publications assigned photojournalists long-term projects with the goal of thoroughly documenting an important story over time. Unfortunately, with rare exceptions, those days are gone.

Eye on Image-Making: Words Are Important, Too

When I started working as a newspaper photographer in the mid 1970s, there was a clear division of labor: I shot the pictures, and the reporters did the interviewing. Today, photographers and videographers are often called upon to record both images and words.

Five Reasons Photographers Should Sell Value, Not Price

At a time when client budgets are tight, it’s tempting to reduce your photography prices in hopes of boosting your business. But successful photographers know that it’s better to focus on the value you deliver, rather than price you charge.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Model Releases

If you’re thinking of selling, or even just displaying, the photos you take of other people, it’s a good idea to get the subject or subjects to sign a model release. Photographers and attorneys can debate when such a release is actually needed — but when I have recognizable faces in my images, I like to have a release just to be safe.

My First Camera: An Homage to Analog

A camera obscura box with sliding door from the early 1800s trumpeted as the world’s first camera was recently on display in Macau, China. Its simple method for capturing light and projecting an image continues to drive camera technology today.

Why I’ve Gone Back to Making Prints of Family Photos

I’ve recently been reading about Ritz Camera’s struggle for survival. Apparently, one of the main reasons the chain has struggled is that people no longer get their photos printed. They put them online and e-mail them to friends, satisfied with the instant gratification that digital media allows.

Are Your Photos Informative — or Just Eye Candy?

Even before my children could read, they recognized restaurants by their logos. My oldest son began to hum “The Simpsons” theme whenever he saw fluffy clouds in the sky.

Images are powerful. And this power can be used in any number of ways.