Photography market specialization…only after you’re special enough to specialize.

Most professional photographers will agree that differentiation of your photo skills and subsequent specialization of your photo service offerings is key to sustainability & success. However, there are probably some varied opinions out there regarding when to specialize.

Some would probably argue that it’s never too soon to narrow your focus and dive right into that singular target market. That way, you can streamline your marketing and networking strategies, as well as begin honing your abilities in a specific genre or style.

In actuality, it’s not necessarily a bad way to go.

But if you’re just starting out with generally limited experience and trying to maintain a viable lifestyle as a working photog you could actually harm your chances for longevity via uber-specialization too early in the process. Continue reading

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It’s a phodog eat phodog world. Sharing is nice, but share wisely…

The photography business is a competitive world that seemingly becomes more and more crowded everyday. That’s why it’s difficult to get most successful photography business owners to take you under his/her wing and show you the way to the promised land.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find a mentor who has already carved-out a living in one or more photo market segments over a lengthy time frame and is willing to fill your brain with invaluable information (or maybe even set you up within their personal network of buyers, clients and connections).

But don’t be surprised when you start asking other rabid phodogs “how to make it,” they break into hysterical laughter and run in the other direction screaming, “barbarian at the gates, barbarian at the gates!” Continue reading

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A KISS is all you need to start a photography business…

No, I’m not talking about the tender form of physical affection shared between loved ones, nor am I talking about the Gene Simmons extremely wet and likely less than tender form of physical affection, I’m talking about – Keep It Simple Stupid.

Don’t take it personally, you’re not stupid, it’s simply an acronym referring to doing things in a way that causes the least stress and avoids unnecessary barriers to company formation. If your feeling sensitive today, go ahead and replace ‘stupid’ with ‘silly.’

Either way, starting your photography business quickly, easily (and legally) by establishing a sole-proprietorship is a perfect example of Keeping ISS. Continue reading

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The NPPA CDB Calculator: It’s kind of like the American Express card in the 80’s. Don’t leave home (or start your photo business) without it.

You’ve landed tons of gigs, already built a decent network of photo buyers, clients keep coming back for more, but you’re still broke and the dream of being a succesful photography business owner is quickly dying.

We’ve all been there and regardless of how much you charge per assignment or how much you earn from stock sales each month, your success won’t last until you understand the science (actually, the math) behind what it truly costs to operate a photography business. Continue reading

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You want paid like a professional photographer, first things first…[Part 1]

Open a new tab/window, type into your web search engine of choice (personally, I’m a Googler not a binger…sorry bing) “how to get paid for photography” but before you start clicking on every link come back.

Is your head spinning yet? Last time I checked there were nearly 58 million “answers.”

Although there’s a lot of great information out there from reputable well-intentioned sources, if you want to start making money with your photography, first things first… get prepared! Continue reading

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Is your gasoline free? Is your rent complimentary? No. Your photos shouldn’t be either…

Common practice in the professional photo buyer community is to often ask for “comped” photos so photo editors, publishers or ad agency creative directors can visualize whether or not your images will fit into the style/format of their publication.

Personally, I have no problem offering this courtesy to reputable individuals/entities as my own intellectual property protective measures are well-established through embedded meta-data, watermarks, de-facto copyright ownership and official copyright registration of certain images.

This courtesy is totally discretionary on your part as a professional photographer and in my experience can play a significant factor in building lasting, trustworthy relationships with professional imagery buyers.

But when it comes to giving away freebies to people intending to directly or indirectly profit from the use of your imagery, never let down your guard and give your copyrighted property away for nothing! Continue reading

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Photo SWOT…Photo WHAT?

Conducting your own SWOT analysis — Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats — in a manner that is objective and uncompromisingly honest will give you a good perspective on where you should focus your talents and resources.

Yeah, I know…you’re an artist and want to follow your heart. Sorry to say though, if you want to remove the “starving” portion of the “starving artist” cliché, using your brain in order to ultimately follow your heart is a better idea. Continue reading

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