Simplify Your Pricing to Build Your Photography Business

Most wedding photographers are guilty of producing complex price lists that are hard to understand. Pricing that is indecipherable to the first-time photography buyer is a stumbling block to making a sale. Your goal should be to make your price list as easy to read and digest as the menu at a fast-food restaurant.

Photographers on Twitter, Part 2: My Favorite Tweets

Since my last post on Twitter photographers, I have blessedly extended my network on Twitter. Most of my new followers/friends on Twitter are photographers, and every day there are more surfacing.

Silhouette Photography Made Simple

I’m always preaching that the fastest way to better photos is to keep things simple. Filling the frame with a single, obvious subject, getting as close as you can and using plain backgrounds are all good paths to simplicity. Another really fun way to make things simple — especially with opaque (non-transparent) subjects that have easily recognizable shapes — is to silhouette them against a bright background.

Eye on Image-Making: A Dream Revealed

If you happen to be in Washington, D.C., between now and March 9, don’t miss the opportunity to see the photography exhibition “Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956–1968,” on display at the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center. Organized by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and co-sponsored by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, this exhibition represents a milestone in museum exhibitions of Civil Rights photography.

Can Photographers Succeed Without Gatekeepers?

Can photography exist outside its current boundaries? Is it possible for photographers to create and sustain a market that they create and manage directly?

Let’s step back a bit. Editorial photography has always been accessed through gatekeepers, otherwise known as magazines. It has evolved to other forms of publication, but the model is the same, whether it is a Web site or a magazine. Audiences have always been served photography through photo editors who determined which images were seen. A little bit like radio stations and DJs for music and musicians.

Telling Stories with a Telephoto Lens

“What I need is a telephoto lens.”

We’ve all said this. It doesn’t take long to discover we sometimes can’t get close enough to our subjects with a “normal” lens. If you have kids in sports or the performing arts, the rules keep our subjects too far away to make interesting photos without a long lens. Professional photographers reach for their telephoto lenses for the same reason — to fill the frame with the subject.

Four Strategies for Recession-Proofing Your Photography Business

If you’re worried about your bookings and are seeking ways to recession-proof your business during these tough economic times, I’d suggest you start by removing one thing from the equation: your pictures. 

Photographers, Car Thieves and Copyright

John Harrington came upon an obvious case of copyright infringement by the Gizmodo blog last week. The gadget site, owned by Gawker Media, had created a photo illustration that incorporated one of photographer Jill Greenberg’s famous crying baby images without her permission. But more interesting than the infringement — which, frankly, is the rule rather than the exception on blogs today — were the reactions John received in comments.

Who Should Sign the Model Release?

A photographer recently sent me following question:

I took photos of people who were minors at the time of the shoot.  They are now adults. I want to use the photos for stock. Who do I now ask to sign the model release – the parents or the models?

The Wow Factor: 10 Tips for Dynamic Image Design

One of the things that separates a superior photograph from a snapshot is the effort that the photographer puts into designing the image. How many times have you looked at a great photograph of a very ordinary subject and marveled at the inventiveness that the photographer used in composing the image?

If Your Pictures Aren’t Good Enough, You’re Not Close Enough

Robert Capa once said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Capa wasn’t advocating the use of longer lenses; he was telling us to physically get closer — to become more involved and intimate with our subjects. In fact, a wide-angle lens is often a better choice than a telephoto lens when you want to “zoom in” on your subject.

Telling a Story in a Single Frame

If there’s one thing a photograph can do well, it’s to tell a story in a single picture. Think of all the great images in history: Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photo of a sailor kissing a woman in Times Square on VJ day, Edie Adams’ horrific image of a man being assassinated in the streets of Saigon–these are images that have burned themselves into our collective consciousness and recorded important moments in history in a single frame.

Do You Know Your Customers’ Unspoken Needs?

Photographers making the transition from newspaper staff positions to full-time freelance work face a number of challenges. Perhaps the biggest of these is learning what sells — and who it sells to. As a freelancer, you must get to know many different prospective customers, and what motivates each of them.

No Safe Havens for the Photo Industry in 2009

The world economy, as we can all see, is not doing well. Between massive layoffs and the beginning of a deflationary trend in the United States, all signs point toward catastrophic changes ahead. What does it mean for the photo industry? Let’s take a look and make some predictions.

Five Ways to Move Your Business Forward in 2009

We’ve all heard the doom and gloom about how bad the economy will be this year — but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful 2009. The bottom line is, you have to keep moving forward to survive and grow, no matter the economic climate or other factors outside your control. Here are five ways to keep your business moving ahead in the new year.

What Kind of Photographer Are You?

Photographers are often classified by what they shoot: you might be a wedding photographer, or a sports photographer — or perhaps you just take snapshots of your family. But there are other ways to categorize photographers as well.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Goals and Outcomes

At the start of each semester, I ask my photography students at the University of South Carolina to submit a short written statement describing their goals for the course. For their final project at the end of the semester, I ask my students to write down the most important photography concept they learned during our time together—and then illustrate that concept with a series of photographs.

Defining Passion in Photography

Passion: an intense desire or enthusiasm for something. Synonyms: enthusiasm, eagerness, love, zeal, spiritedness, fascination, obsession, fixation, addiction, preoccupation.

When it comes to photography, I have all those things. But I’ve found that pursuing passion is not that easy. You’d think there would be nothing easier in life than doing what you have enthusiasm for, right? After all, photography is what I love! But I’ve come upon two difficult questions I’ve had to answer to truly follow my passion.

Eye on Image-Making: Visual Clichés

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) defines a cliché as “a trite phrase or expression” or “a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation.” Although the definition is geared toward writing, it can just as easily be applied to image-making. Two recent events prompted me to think about visual clichés. First, I spent several hours searching through a stock agency database of photographs on the Web. Second, I helped judge a newspaper-photography contest.

Making Good Photos of Bad Weather

Having lived most of my life in New England, I can tell you that the old weather cliché “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes, it’s bound to change” is a lot more true than most photographers would like. It often seems that the moment I hop out of the car to set up the tripod and photograph a sunny scene, I start to feel raindrops on my back.

Is It OK to Copy Contracts from the Web?

Here’s a question I get from time to time:

I need some contracts to use in my photography business. May I copy the language of agreements I find on the Internet or from friends?

Under Section 102 of the Copyright Act, copyright protection “subsists . . in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression . . . [including] literary works . . . .” Therefore, writings generally are protected by copyright law, just as are photographs.

Photojournalists Must Not Give in to Desperation

I thought I would be a photojournalist forever — traveling the country, maybe the world, documenting little and big moments for all to see. And everything was going according to plan, until the layoffs at my newspaper and others went into high gear a few years ago. I began to wonder if the future I had hoped for was still possible.

Everyone’s Job Is a Visual Story

Every day we’re surrounded by people at work: men putting a new roof on the house next door, people selling produce at the farmers’ market–even just the crossing guard who gets your kids across Main Street safely. But how often do you stop and capture these bits of daily life with your camera?

Free Photography Will Save the World — and Nine Other Myths

In our changing world of photography, the myths and misconceptions abound. Here are 10 that come to mind:

1. Photojournalism is being killed by celebrity photographers. In fact, photographers who cover the celebrity scene, whether red carpet or street photographer, have the same ratio of good to bad photographers as in news. It takes some of the same skills to cover news and celebrity. Regardless, Time or Newsweek have not increased their celebrity photography coverage. They just have just lessened their news coverage.

Building Your Network Through Volunteering

Too many individuals allow themselves to become isolated in their jobs. Outside of their work, they are unknown. In today’s volatile economic times, this can be a costly mistake, with staff positions being cut and freelance photography clients trimming budgets or, even worse, going out of business.