Tag Archives: photography business

The Art of Pricing

Paul S. Bartholomew (https://www.paulsbartholomew.com) gives a wonderful interview for my chapter on “Taking Charge of What You Charge” in my 5th Edition of The Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and Self-promotion. Also, check out his new blog at http://bartholomewjournal.com/

“I’ll sometimes send a rough (not formal) estimate based on a fictitious project.  This way they can’t go crazy with expectations and the shot list.  It’s important to still at least try to get as much info as possible from the client such as potential usage and subject matter.  I’ll even give different variations of options because I find that people like to be given options to think about.  If it’s within their comfort zone, then we work out a shot list for a formal estimate.” For more of Paul’s interview,  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1621535479

Interview with Paul Nurnberg

Are you interested in a better business for 2017? Getting paid what you want for your assignments? Check out Chapter 13 in my 5th Edition of The Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion https://www.amazon.com/dp/1621535479 #marketingphotography and check out the “Taking Charge of What You Charge” interview with Paul Nurnberg https://www.facebook.com/Nurnberg.Photography?ref=sgm

Better E-mail Marketing

Start your engines! Get your copy of 5th Edition The Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion https://www.amazon.com/dp/1621535479, and check out the case study from Randy Wells “Images of America” e-mail campaign www.randywells.com and @cars.randywells

Photographer’s Guide to Marketing & Self-Promotion

It’s almost here! Long time labor of love…check out my new 5th Edition of Photographer’s Guide to Marketing & Self-Promotion and available for pre-order! I am very excited about the up-to-date coverage of social media and marketing techniques and the thirty-seven interviews and new case studies with both consumer (wedding/portrait) and commercial photographers and photo reps. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1621535479

Shutterbug’s The Portrait Business

Visit this month’s online Business Trends column for an educational and inspirational interview with six successful portrait photographers. Their subjects include toddlers, high school seniors, corporate executives, goatherds (not kidding!) http://www.shutterbug.com/content/turning-portraits-profits-how-run-portrait-photography-business#bepifKCrYU8tdg6D.97. Special thanks to our contributing photographers: Rick Dahms, Omayra Espino-Vázquez, Robert Houser, David Neff, Sara Press, and Michael Schmitt
 

Project Description

Back from Summer Break and I have a new product announcement! Luke Copping was one of my featured photographers last year for my Business Trends column (he made the April issue cover!) and now he, Shauna Haider (of We Are Branch and The Nubby Twiglet Blog  and Paul Jarvis (former writer for Lifehacker, Forbes, and Fast Company) have just launched a new workflow tool for emerging commercial photographers called Project Prescription. 

From Luke, “Developed by a team of photographers and designers with a combined 40 years of experience in the business, this set of digital documents, checklists and processes enables photographers to streamline their workflow with a ‘tried-and-true’ blueprint for landing, handling, and pleasing clients from start to finish. Offering a comprehensive workflow system and customizable documents for photographers, Project Prescription eliminates much of the guesswork that comes with incorporating sound business practices for photographers. The package will be especially useful to young and emerging photographers, those transitioning from journalism staff positions to the freelance world, and to those moving from consumer to commercial-based markets.”

The Business of Portrait Photography

Yes – We are still on Summer Break and I am working on my next book so for now DO get to nearest newsstand and get your copy of September issue of @shutterbugmag and check out my Business Trends article on “Turning Portraits into Profits”. Special thanks to our contributing photographers: Rick Dahms, Omayra Espino-Vázquez, Robert Houser, David Neff, Sara Press, and Michael Schmitt – you are all my heroes! Don’t miss the portrait photo assignment “war stories”  they have to tell – love it!

R. J. Kern On How to Be Creative & Competitive as a Wedding Photographer @Shutterbugmag

Visit this month’s online column for an educational and inspirational interview with R.J. Kern, a successful and creative Minneapolis-based wedding photographer! http://www.shutterbug.com/content/wedding-photography-fun-and-profit-r-j-kern-how-be-creative-and-competitive-wedding#cH84fdWQheqIrAle.97

Working as a Photo Assistant in 2016

Beyond learning how to handle cameras and photo equipment, working as a photo assistant will provide you with valuable lessons that can go a long way towards helping you build a successful career as a commercial photographer. Learning about: project management, studio protocols, location procedures, pre-production and post-production are all essential business skills. As important are the realities of today’s photo economy – as shared by our guest this month, James Sullivan of 1ProPhoto.com.

Maria Piscopo: What are the best ways to research and find assisting work? 

James Sullivan: The most efficient first step towards getting work is making a list of those photographers whose images you admire, and putting them into some type of database for easy access (1ProPhoto.com created their own stand alone APP. ‘1ProPhoto.com -Photo Production DB’ based on FilemakerPro) and then making initial contact via social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others, as well as using traditional email to send a short (1-2 paragraphs) introduction with your resume as an attachment or a link to a down-loadable PDF, or if the resume is short you can embed it into the email.

Another great option is to create your own email newsletter (Mail Chimp offers a nice free option) to keep those potential clients in your database up to date on the jobs that you have been working on and your new skills and experiences. And lastly pick up the phone and call the photographers or their studios directly. This not only shows your level of ambition and commitment but it will also demonstrate your ability to communicate with the people you are trying to get work with. These days it is more word of mouth and recommendations than ever before; so you must be socially adept and great at networking and have exceptional communication skills!

MP: Realistically, what are the challenges and changes you have seen for photo assistants in the last 5-10 years?

JS: Specifically, for those with 4 to 6 years experience, the role of Photo Assistant has evolved and changed into the role of “Lighting Director” or “Lighting Tech”.  These individuals have acquired a skill set that on the lean side, consists of knowing every piece of lighting and grip equipment manufactured in the last 20+ years as well as being able to accurately reproduce the lighting of ANY published images simply by looking at it and reverse engineering it. This job is not just about equipment knowledge on set lighting skills but also about working with a photographer or producer during the pre-production process, making equipment, studio, location and lighting recommendations that can best serve the shoot and the photographers vision. This inclusion in the production process can also go a long way towards keeping production budgets low; which in turn allows these highly skilled individuals to command a day rates between $1200 and $1600 a day or more depending on the job’s requirements.

And while the position of Photo Assistant can offer a great career path as well as offering exceptional learning opportunities; the day rates have not kept pace with the U.S. economy or current levels of neither inflation nor living expenses in most cities around the world. Unfortunately, there are still: Clients, Magazines and Photographers/Producers whom are trying to hire assistants for $150 a day, and trying convince them that this is a standard day rate. This is complete nonsense when you consider that the day rate for a 1st assistant in 1976 was $175! The base day rate for a Photo Assistant in the U.S. (as of Jan. 2016) is $300-$600. And that is an ‘Editorial Rate’ again based on your experience and ability to ask for what you know you are worth.

I am also of the opinion that the job estimates (provided by wonderfulmachine.com) and the low ball rates they have published on sites like APhotoEditor.com are not only misleading as to the true value of the products and services provided by photographers and their production team; but this incessant devaluation of photographers professional services as well as the production process and creation of image/video; is part of what is killing the long term viability of the commercial photo industry.

Unfortunately, the respect once afforded photo assistants for their skills and years of experience in years past which was not only appreciated but highly sought after by our peers, as well as the photo industry as a whole, has disintegrated right along with the level of ‘Craftsmanship’ that we all brought to each and every photo shoot. That respect has gone out the window except for a few old school reps, producers, and photographers that recognize that value of have someone skilled and experienced on their productions. This lack of respect also extends to the slow and sometimes non-payment for services rendered by the photo assistant. And these are two of the biggest reasons so many photo assistants have never been able to transition from assistant to photographer.

Now I’m sorry if this makes me sound like a ‘Debbie Downer’ (SNL reference) but my view point is hardly unique. In speaking with people around New York, Miami, and Los Angeles; many people who have worked in the photo industry for years are leaving and looking for work in other fields because very often it is no longer a viable career path unless you are already rich and/or have a lot of powerful connections!

MP:  How do you think working as an assistant helps make the transition to full time photographer?

JS: Presently that only reason to venture into a career as a commercial photographer is because you are compelled to do so to the extent that mentally and physically you cannot find fulfillment pursuing anything else. Or you just don’t know how to do anything else. If you can survive the realities of today’s photo economy that I just spoke of, if you don’t mind having to wake up every day in order to work find your next job, are super resilient and don’t have a problem living from pay check to pay check; then the time spent working as an assistant will allow you to learn the real world skills that you will not learn in school or might otherwise not acquire should you choose to only work for one photographer for an extended period of time. Working for a diverse group of photographers on a multitude of shoots allows the assistant to learn from everyone else’s mistakes without that added expense of time and money that tends to kill many new photographer’s careers. This applies even more so when it comes to: producing shoots, dealing with clients, models, stylists, hair and makeup, booking studios, model agencies, renting equipment, location scouting, creating and managing a shoot budget. It is imperative that today’s crop of photo assistants recognize as well as realize that: “This is a business, this is your business, and you need to treat it as such”.

Web Resources: www.1ProPhoto.Com, www.1ProCrew.Com,

[The opinions expressed here are those of James Sullivan and are based upon his first hand experiences as well as information garnered from his recent conversations with photographers, photographer’s reps, and Photo Producers, and may not reflect the opinions of the publisher of the article.]

Another Perspective – Self-Publishing Your Book – Interview with Bret Edge

After hundreds of years with a single business model, the book publishing business is experiencing huge upheavals and transformations. Publishers are facing a possible future where the only people that matter are the authors and their readers! Traditional publishing does have the expertise and resources for book production, distribution and marketing no individual can hope to match. But with a great graphic designer and maybe a freelance editor, you can break into the publishing field. Let’s talk with Bret Edge, http://www.bretedge.com, http://www.efotoguide.com

Piscopo: How did you get started self-publishing books?
Bret Edge: I co-developed a series of iPhone apps and when sales of the apps plummeted, I decided to re-purpose the content into an eBook. I thought that the eBook would be more successful since it wasn’t device dependent.

Piscopo: What are the biggest changes you have seen in the photography book market in the last few years?
Bret Edge: The most noticeable change I’ve observed is a transition from books that cover a topic in very general terms to eBooks with a much narrower focus. Just a few years ago there were dozens of books that covered the fundamentals of nature/landscape photography, but now there are many excellent eBooks covering topics like using a tilt/shift lens and implementing flash for outdoor adventure photography. These are very specific niches that simply weren’t covered not long ago.

Piscopo: What have been the biggest problems or obstacles you have run into when shopping for your eBook or print book production services?
Bret Edge: Cost. It is not an inexpensive venture to create a well-designed eBook. There’s no shortage of companies and individual designers capable of producing very high quality eBooks but the associated cost is huge. I would start by finding a talented designer but it is tough. There are a handful of large companies who specialize in eBook design and they’re generally a good place to start, although their prices are often higher. I prefer to give work to people I know and trust. Ask friends and fellow photographers who they use for design/production and then contact them. Take a look at their portfolio and compare rates. I like to do this because friends aren’t going to recommend someone with whom they’ve had a negative experience so I think you’re more likely to find a good match.

Piscopo: What seems to work best to sell the books given the different marketing tools available?
Bret Edge: I’ve found limited success with social media marketing, specifically Facebook and Twitter. What seems to work the best is getting the eBook in the hands of other bloggers and influencers for review. Also, there’s very real value in honest to goodness, objective user reviews.

Piscopo: What recommendations can you add to help our readers be successful in this particular market?
Bret Edge: Focus your energy on really good content and design with a logical, easy to use layout. Make it very simple for people to download and use your eBook. Develop a marketing plan BEFORE you invest in design and production. Start by doing some research to determine if there is a big enough market for the topic you want to cover.