After dreaming about it for years, I decided a few years ago to turn my photography passion into a profession. I soon learned the difference between sweet dreams and cold reality. Not that I’d do it any differently, but I’ve discovered many of the myths about what it’s like being a pro. Maybe you’ve discovered some of your own.
Selling print rights: it’s a quandary over which many professional photographers agonize. Should you offer them? Should you not? How much should you charge? Is it worth it?
It’s difficult for many photographers to sign over what they regard as their livelihood. Print sales are often how photographers make the bulk of their profits, so each professional must decide for himself or herself whether handing over a disc of edited images with full carte blanche is a wise business decision, but there are a few points to consider before shooting and burning.
On March 14, 2012, Temple University photojournalism student Ian Van Kuyk was sitting on the steps outside his home in Philadelphia when police pulled over a vehicle just a few feet away. Spurred to action by the unexpected event, Van Kuyk began to photograph the scene unfolding in front of him in order to complete a course assignment for nighttime photography. The college junior was not using flash and promptly complied with a police officer’s command to stand back.
Do you want to grow your professional client base and social media following this year? Are you looking to polish your photography skills and techniques? Maybe you’re simply looking for something fresh to inspire you?
While on-site search engine optimization is important — and it’s essential to use your keywords correctly (see “Basics Of Photography SEO, Part 2: Where To Use Your Keywords“) — those factors account for only 25 percent of the search engine ranking calculations.
As a technology geek, I can understand how easy it is to get caught up in the numbers and specs of your favorite gadgets and devices. We always want the newest and the fastest, standing on the flimsy rationale of making our lives “better” in any number of ways. For photographers, this rationale is a distraction at best, a monolith of an obstacle at worst.
When Photoshop was first introduced (I started using it in the early 1990s, not sure exactly when it was first introduced) seemingly everyone became a surrealist. You could hardly open a photo magazine without encountering an elephant swimming in a wine glass or a flock of geese morphing into flying dogs. It was a lot of fun. I don’t see as much of it as I used to see and I kind of miss it. Recently I’ve been doodling in Photoshop for fun and exploration as opposed to just enhancing my photos for publication. It’s a blast.
There are loads of SEO techniques that will bump your photography website up in the rankings. Many photographers don’t believe SEO is important because, after all, “we’re photographers.” That couldn’t be more off-base. If you don’t care who sees your photographs or how people find you, then nothing really matters, does it? However, if you care and want your photographs to be found by potential clients or even other photographers, then SEO can play one of the biggest roles in this endeavor.
Here’s the deal: Photography is all about sharing and social media is all about sharing. In fact, social media is specifically about sharing photography. So why is it that the extreme majority of those who take pictures for a living cannot make a living with social media? After all, if ever there was a tool invented for photographers, it’s social media. It is to image distribution what Photoshop is to image editing.
All my life, architecture has been a source of fascination for me. As a child, growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950s and ’60s, I was exposed to an enormous number of architectural styles and architectural detail. I began to photograph and draw the houses, apartment buildings, bridges and other structures with which I came into contact. These photographs and drawings were often interpretive. With my Brownie, I would shoot a building at an angle to make it appear larger or smaller; I was expressing my impressions of architecture and my surroundings at an early age.
The stench was making my eyes water and I desperately tried not to scratch the fleabites that covered my perspiring body. I was trying to get comfortable so I could get some sleep on the wooden floor of a hut that was nestling on the side of a garbage dump.
In this edition of Ask the Photo Business Coach, we talk about the difference between “great” and “good enough” in photography and how that difference helps explain the need for professional photographers. Only a professional photographer can deliver a consistently great product, time and again.
Pricing. Ugh. That’s what I hear a lot in the photography world when it comes go having to figure out what to charge. I’ve done the same thing. I do love business planning, but I often find pricing the most challenging. Not because I don’t think I’m worth it, but I get worried no one will pay what I charge! I get worried that if I tell someone it will cost XXXX to shoot their wedding, they’ll run away screaming and yelling.
In this edition of Ask the Photo Business Coach, I address the question: “Is creativity dead?” No way! After a relatively dark period for creativity – brought on largely by business efforts to hold down costs – we’re on the verge of a resurgence that will benefit photo businesses.
When he was young, Frenchman Jacques Henri Lartigue was given a camera as a gift. At the age of eight he began to record the life of his family with his new toy. Lartigue produced approximately 120 photo albums, probably one of the most interesting collections of pictures ever made of a family.
If you’re in the photography business to make money, then you want your website to be easily found by those looking for your services, which means paying attention to search engine optimization (SEO).
I have always had a special attachment to this photograph. It was taken on the boardwalk (actually concrete-walk) in Hollywood Beach, Fla., a place I have been photographing for many years. During this time, I have walked past this bike rental shack many times, always peeking through the window to the ocean, hoping something of interest would fill my frame within a frame, and it finally happened.
Part 2 in a series
Before you can really get started writing a business plan for your photo business, you have to give some thought to your personal goals. This is not Harvard Business School stuff, but especially in a field like photography, your life and business quickly become entangled.
The holidays are a great time of the year for photographers. Not only do people dress up in a variety of colorful outfits, but they’re also looking to capture special moments forever. With that said, I thought it would be fun to share some ideas that photographers can implement for the holidays. Doing so can increase holiday business and, in turn, your overall business.
One of the many things I hear almost every day is, “Google hates me!” More and more professional photographers everywhere are feeling this way, and they especially want the answer to the question, “why is it that clients can’t find my photography website when they search in Google?”
In this edition of Ask the Photo Business Coach, I offer some advice on communication. Do you find talk about budget getting in the way of a free-flowing creative process between you and your photographer? It can be a critical moment in the success or failure of your project. Better to talk first about vision and leave the money talk for later.
I love fall. Not only because the leaves are changing, and we generally have a super busy wedding season, but because towards the end of fall, as our wedding season winds down, we get to take some time, and think about next year and work out a business plan.
The next major disruption in the photo world will be individual licensing – the ability for any individual to license images directly. There are a few forces pointing in that direction.
First, and most visible, is the sheer volume of photos taken. Among those, probabilities tell us, are images of high licensing value. Currently, they are being shared merrily. Soon enough, their author will be looking to earn some revenue from them.
It’s bound to come up. You need some photos or a video and someone says, “Why don’t we just shoot it here?” That someone might even be you, but regardless of who suggests it, the seed is planted. Shooting at the office is a good idea because it can save money. In addition, co-workers who are participating will be close at hand and have less of a disruption to their day.
While much has changed in the legal and business landscape since the last effort to produce a workable Orphan Works Bill, much remains the same. As a result, the U.S. Copyright Office is submitting a request via the Federal Register for comments on the current state of play for orphan works. Specifically, they want to hear from all parties regarding what has changed in the legal and business environment since their 2006 report. It is critical that photographers understand that the future of photography as a viable revenue stream depends upon you making your voice heard on this matter.