Wednesday, May 17, 2017

5 Questions Photographers Should Consider Before Dropping Their Rate



Let’s face it.  At one point or another, every single photographer has been asked to slash their rates.  Whether it was a client who just didn’t respect our craft, or a tighter budget than normal, we’ve all had to make the decision to accept or reject a gig that was much lower than normal.  When should you or should you not?  Here are five questions to get you started:

1.       What kind of project is it?

Is this a hard project for you?  Is it a project you typically shoot, or is this a one off?  If this is a very simple and easy project, then this should be a yes.

2.       How time intensive is the project?  What’s required in pre and post?

What I mean here is how long is it going to take to complete the project, from beginning to end?  Sure, the actual shooting portion may only take fifteen minutes, but we all know that’s not the only aspect to our jobs, so its important to consider the entire scope of the project.

3.       Will the one-time slash in rate hurt your business in the long run?

You never want to be known as the “cheap” guy.  Being the “cheap” guy will get you a whole bunch of “cheap” work.  There’s nothing wrong with a one-time drop in price, when its well placed.

4.       Will you work with these folks again?

Prime example.  I recently dropped my rate on a project.  It was a two hour event, they wanted just basic photographs(think grip and grins) they live in the Northeast, and are only here for a weekend.  Odds are, I won’t be hearing from these folks again.  Simple project, quickly done in post, and I was comfortable with the price drop…plus I was completely open on the day of the event…so…why not?!

5.       Is it worth it?

We all want to make sure our work, even on more ordinary or mundane projects, reflects our brand, right?  While you can make adjustments and sacrifices on the bottom line, you should never sacrifice your standards or brand as a professional. 

Simple enough, right?  😊

There’s obviously much more to consider, however, starting off considering these questions will get you going in the right direction at least.  What other considerations do you think should be made when considering a one-time price drop?


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Donald Trump and the Arts

***Although I am EXTREMELY opinionated politically, this post is not meant to be a political "beatdown" or lashing in any way.***

Donald Trump has released his budget.  In the budget, as expected, there are drastic cuts to entitlement programs and departments which many lower and middle class Americans depend on, not that this is much of a surprise to anyone.  I think we all kind of expected that, no?

We also shouldn't be surprised that he's proposing to completely eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for Humanities.  Again...we should have seen this coming.

Just because we knew it was coming doesn't mean it isn't worrisome.

If we look at the Arts, all through human civilization, funding from the government has almost always been a constant.  Virtually all of Michelangelo's works were made possible by financial support from the Church and the government.  Same thing for Shakespeare, and the Queen.  In fact, if you were to go through history, you would find that the majority of influential artist, at one point or another, benefited from governmental support.

The NEA total budget for the entire year amounts to $158 million.  While major museums or galleries may not see a major effect on their day to day, this change would mean that the majority of other galleries, museums, theaters, school funding programs, opera houses, dance centers, film festivals, art shows and festivals, will struggle to continue to find existence.

Any kind of school arts or humanities programs would be very close to depleted...unless your children are in private, well funded schools.  Our children would be receiving two different types of education.

This is all over $158 million dollars.  Sounds like a lot, right?  Sure, it does...here's the thing.  It represents 0.003% of our national budget.  Not 3%.  0.003%.  If you've got $100 in your pocket, pull out 30 cents.  That's what we are talking about here.

Want to see what kind of projects, individual and community projects, and events the NEA funds, in your own area?  Click here.

At the same time, Trump is proposing spending unprecedented amounts on a wall and increased military spending.

Odds are, when you finish reading my rant, and you hop in your car to get to work or lunch, or, quite frankly wherever you're going, you're going to pass at least 1 place that will no longer exist if the NEA is abolished.

I've written a great deal on this blog about how the arts are under siege by outside forces, but, never before in the history of our country have the arts, or we as artist, faced this kind of a threat.

It is so important that we let our elected officials know how important it is that we as a community of artist and art lovers continue to demand funding for the arts.  The future of our industries, AND our society, are at stake!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

5 MUST DO'S for every Photography Business

After almost 20 years in the business, plenty of busy times, slow times, crazy and quiet times, I've learned a couple things.  While there's tons of MUST DO'S for every photographer, here are a few:



1.  Network, network, network.  You don't get away from this one.  As a matter of fact, for us artist, we must network even more.  We've got to be in front of people, constantly reminding them of our services.  Not just at networking meetings, but also with robust marketing campaigns, advertisements, social media, etc.  Remember, on average, you need to make 5+ impressions before a person remembers you, in today's overly graphic world.

2.  Put the camera down!  Sounds weird, I know...but...ask a successful attorney or businessperson how much time they actually spend in a courtroom, versus the time they spend working with paperwork, consultations, prep, and building their businesses.  It is so incredibly imperative that you spend a significant amount of time actually tending to ALL portions of your business...not just the camera in hand part.  Which leads me to...

3.  Then pick the camera up!  This is what makes it challenging to be a photographer.  We must be businesspeople, and artist.  All the time a shop owner, salesperson, doctor or attorney devote to building and maintaining their business, we must do as well; but it is important to remember to make some camera time for yourself.  You've got to keep the creative part of your brain moving.

4.  Don't be a slave!  Look, our industry has been taken over by manufacturers who have tried so hard to convince us that we need to have the latest, greatest, biggest, fattest camera and lenses, and the newest tech.  We try to convince ourselves that we need to have all these other things...we don't.  Get equipment that works for you, that satisfies your customers needs...by all means don't turn into a dinosaur, but don't get caught up in the consumerism.

5.  Invest.  Invest your money correctly(back to #4.)  Invest your time wisely.  Invest in educating yourself.  Take some business/finance courses.  Open a retirement account.  

There's no handbook, or instruction manual, but these basic points should keep you pretty much clear.  Do any of you have any other good suggestions?  I'd love to hear some!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Favorite Photographers

I am often asked if I have a favorite photographer.  The answer is a very clear yes.  Me.  J

The reality is that I absolutely do.  There are quite a few photographers actually who’s work I thoroughly enjoy.   Here’s a few, in no particular order:

Javier Medina
Javi is actually a long time friend of mine; we went to college together.  He currently lives in New Zealand, and captures the most incredibly stunning landscape images of the beautiful countryside.

Steve McCurry
Because who can talk about photography without mentioning this man’s contribution?  You name it…he’s shot it.  Probably twice.  He’s about as big a legend as a legend can be.

Greg Gorman
Another legend.  I saw Greg speak years ago, and I was struck by how down to Earth he was.  After he spoke, I went and had a conversation with him about his difficulties starting out, as my career was still in its infancy.  What he said to me was striking.  In a good, supportive way.  Maybe I’ll post it one day J

Clark Little
Stationed out of Hawaii, Clark has made some of the most amazing and iconic images in his particular niche.  Whether its of the surf or marine life, his work is truly inspiring.

Henry Dekuyper
Well known for his stunning work in the automotive photography realm, Dekuyper has a long standing reputation for quality work.  As an automotive photographer and fanatic of the entire scene, I couldn’t possibly make a list of my favorites and not add him on here.

Don’t fret…I have plenty more…these are just a few who’s work I truly love.  If you need some inspiration, and need to see some quality work…go look any one of these guys up…I promise…you won’t regret it.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Reminiscing

I remember my first paid Photography "job."  I was working as a photographer for the college newspaper, and loved what I did.  I got sent out on all types of journalism assignments, shot photographs of major and minor events, students, teachers, etc.

I was sitting at my desk, editing some images(we shot film back then, so the whole process of editing was significantly different than it is now) when I got a call.  It was an art director for a major magazine out of New York.

Phone rings
Hello, this is Ramon
Hi Ramon, are you the head photographer?
I am.  Who am I speaking with?
Ramon my name is xxx, I'm the Art Director for xxx Magazine.  I need your help.
Oh ok.  Great.  What can I do for you?


The AD went on to explain how his magazine set people up for blind dates, did before and after interviews, and needed a photographer to tail the couple throughout their time together.  It was to take place two hours from then, and he needed a last minute photographer to step in.

That was my first paid photography job.

I knew nothing of pricing, invoices, etc.  As a matter of fact, my invoice was handwritten on a sheet of paper on the counter of the post office when I sent off my rolls of film.

Since then, I've worked on projects both large and small.  National, International, and Local.  All over the Southeastern United States and Caribbean.

Yet I never forget that first job.  That excitement, nervousness, that pride.

If I could go back and do it all over again...would I?

Absolutely!

What advice would I give myself?

For that first job, charge more.  :)  For my career...gain a thorough understanding of business matters much earlier, and build your network.

I'll keep reminiscing, and keep pushing forward, but I take great pride in every job I shoot...that pride I felt my first job, I feel every job.  And I love it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Why I stay away from photography "News sites"

I love photography.  I've been a professional photographer since taking my first assignment in the year 2000.  It was a small magazine assignment that basically had me follow a couple around photographing their first date.  I was so proud of my three photographs that appeared in this national magazine(which no longer exist), I put one of the tearsheets up as a trophy in my apartment.  Although the majority of my work has been for private clients, since then, you name it...I pretty much shot it.  Or some variation of, at least.  I'm fairly proud of the list of clients I'm able to say I have worked with.

Through my career development, something has always kind of irked me, however, and I noticed it again today, just like I did 20 years ago when I was dreaming of being a professional photographer.  Go to your local bookstore(or google) and look up any of the major photography magazines.  I did this little experiment just now.  The first 8-10 articles are all products we need to buy.  All new lenses, new software, new bodies, lights, this, that, or the other.  Pepper in an article on a technique, then back to products.

This is the problem.

And its our fault.

We've allowed the manufacturers of the products we use to convince a good portion of the public that quality cameras replace quality artist, to the point that even our periodicals and news sources have become nothing more than long advertisements.

Look, I get it...we work in an industry where our instruments are important, and as such, should be given a degree of priority in our professional discussions.  However, the technical aspects do not outweigh the business aspects.  In today's day and age, our industry is so much more about relationships than it is about a damn lens or piece of lighting equipment.  Yet none of that is given thought.

I'm curious to know how you all feel about this.  What would you like to see more of in our industry?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My most important job ever


Of all the awesome things I've ever done, and I'll ever do, being a family man is the best.  I have an amazing wife, son, and a little boy coming up any second now and it is just bliss.



Isaiah makes everything worth working for...striving for...



He has a funny little personality, even with these quick snaps that took me five minutes...


Fatherhood is an amazing thing.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Photographers Rights

This is, of course, a huge, multifaceted issue.  With so many things happening in our communities today, we've seen a spike in journalist, photojournalist, and civilians with cameras being put in situations against law enforcement or government officials.  Never a very good place to be.

If you are ever caught in this position, as I've been, numerous times in the past, here's a few points to remember:

1.  Be nice.  Be polite, when you can, and make sure your answers, if you have to give any to begin with, are clear, concise, to the point, and...polite polite polite.

2.  Clear view=clear shot.  This is the basic rule to working in the press.  If you are on public property, and what you are photographing is in plain view, you are good.  Nobody can tell you otherwise.  They can request you not shoot...and by all means, there are times where you extending a little bit of professional courtesy is the right thing to do, but it is not against the law to shoot.

3.  Private property=game changer.  This is where the rules change.  If you are on private property, and the property owner request you not photograph while on private property, then you must not do so.

4.  You must still obey laws.  Shooting photographs...not against the law.  Trespassing on private property...against the law.  Kicking in a window to get into a building and photograph...definitely against the law...and so on and so forth.  Obey the laws.

5.  Nobody can delete or confiscate.  Law enforcement wants a look at your images...there are instances where they can do so...LOOK at your images.  Not confiscate.  Not delete.  Look.  And these are in extreme circumstances, where a major issue was occurring.  This is a rare exception.  For cell phones, a warrant is necessary to search, and this is direct from the Supreme Court.

6.  Its not us vs them.  Remember...law enforcement is on our side.  Police officers and order are to be respected, honored, and adhered to, as much as possible.  They are some of the most valuable assets in our world, as civilians, and as artist, and we should remember that...but we must also remember that we have our rights as well.

Obviously there's many more aspects to this subject, but, keeping these points in mind will help you out quite a bit in the long run.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Arts and Business Part I

Let's face it.  Us artist have a reputation for not being the best with financial matters.  Many of us tend to focus more on the creative aspects than on the money making aspects.  We don't enjoy paperwork, and such things like cold calling and hard networking aren't things that normally fall into our favorites category.


Still, these, among several others, happen to be things that fall within the "necessary evil" category.  Here's a few tips to help your day stay balanced and productive:

1.  Make your calls early.  Who cares if every single call ends up in utter rejection, humiliation, etc?  Well, actually, you should care, and that's something we will cover on another post, but, get these calls made early.  Decision makers are usually most prone to having phone conversations early in the day, before the demands of daily business consume them.  Get them early, while they are fresh, and a bit more at ease.

2.  Plan plan plan!  My wife chuckles at me.  I have a yearly goal list.  And a quarterly.  And a monthly.  And a weekly.  And a daily.  And oftentimes, an hourly.  Don't beat yourself up if you don't stick to it 100%, because as we all know, those last minute meetings, shoots, opportunities, are often coveted...but for the rest of the time.  Get yourself on track, and do your best to stay on it.  

3.  Finances.  This is such a broad, intense subject, I could literally spend the rest of the year writing exclusively about finances for artist, and not even cover a small minority of this theme.  Again, this is another post for another day, but bottom line is this: the pressures of being a successful working artist in today's society are already difficult enough.  The last thing you need to worry about is an accounting error, bills being paid, invoices in or out.  Stay on top of this as much as you possibly can.  
4.  Schedule.  Back to the plan plan plan part.  Set some time aside, every single day, to sit down with someone new.  A new potential client.  Art director.  Portfolio reviews.  Even if you don't book a job that same day, those small investments can amount to larger long term gains.

5.  Invest.  I just said it in #4.  Invest your time.  Invest in further educating yourself...more training...more dedication to your craft.  Obviously, financial investments are a necessity, as there's not many of us that have pensions waiting at the end of the rainbow.

There's so many things I could put on here, but this should get you started.  

What have you tried that has worked?  What has helped you come along in your career, that you can pass on to others?