You’ve got to know what it cost to run your photo business.

You’ve got to know what it cost to run your photo business if you want to be around more than a year or two. The economic reality of running any small business must be faced. You have to have a pricing structure based on what all of your business costs are– or sooner or later, you will be the one who puts yourself out of business. Not your “cheap clients.”

Photographers often are told their bids for a shoot are too high and they lose a bid to someone “cheaper.” You didn’t lose the bid because of your estimate. Your real failure was a failure of eduction. It’s likely that you failed to educate both yourself–and subsequently your clients– about what it really costs a pro photographer to keep the doors open. Yes, it hurts to be underbid. But that doesn’t have to happen as often. When you have built a relationship with your client and they have some sense of why you’re charging what you’re charging they’re not as likely to automatically go with the lowest bid.  In this case, ignorance is never bliss.

I read a great article today on PetaPixel. It’s one that I recommend to all emerging photographers (and some old pros as well!).  It was penned by photographer, Tom Meyer, who lives in Decatur, GA. It was originally published on his own blog. It’s worth reading.

Here’s an excerpt.

 There are hundreds of students graduating every day as “photographers” who can under bid me for a year… maybe two. But eventually these realities also become unavoidable to them, at which time they become real estate agents or go back to being baristas… or they start billing at that “job killer” rate of $100 per hour.

My Presidential decree: The Valentine’s Day big discount offer is valid through today!

I was out of town on Valentine’s Day refilling my own creative well, so I’m making my annual 50% off  “I love my work!” discount offer a few days late. (BTW: It’s the only time this year I’ll be offering a half- off deal). 

You can get a 1 or 2 hr. portfolio review/web site analysis consulting session for half price– but only if you contact me by the end of today, Presidents Day, since I am a president–albeit the president of a small creative services corporation.

This year I’m making this offer available exclusively to followers of my Facebook Page.

Last year, it was my newsletter subscribers who got the offer. Maybe next year, I’ll offer it exclusively to my Google+ circles.

To be eligible for the discount just “Like” me on my Facebook page :

I love my work and I totally love working with the talented proactive photographers who love their work. I’d love to meet you.

Photography Marketing creative tip: Homework counts. Fearless, generous creators get an A+

When all of your other marketing efforts start to pay off and you’re in a bid situation for a photo assignment, there’s one more thing that will help you land the job:

Do some research about what you’re being asked to photograph.

If you take the time to read up on the product, company, or event you’re being asked to shoot (you know you can Google ANYTHING) you appear to be someone who will be a partner in problem-solving. Demonstrating that you’ve actually taken your own time to learn about the client’s product can be a powerful way to show that you’re truly interested in their needs–everyone finds that attractive and very compelling.

Your willingness to do some research may provide a creative insight which can add value to the assignment and set you apart from your competitors. If you really are a creative problem-solver and don’t just call yourself one, then demonstrate that trait at this point of the project and share that side of yourself with your prospective client.

While some fear that “giving away the solution before getting the job” is professional suicide, others know that there are far more clients seeking to hire a creative team member for their project than there are clients who only are looking to steal someone’s ideas without compensation. If you’ve really got some awesome creative chops, you’ll always have them. If you continue to support your “muse” (spend some time with your muse so she doesn’t die from malnourishment), you can use that creative well-spring to nurture a prospective client relationship––not just on the shoot, but well before you’re hired.

Fearless, generous creators are pretty impressive individuals.

Are you one of them?

UPDATE on “Rebooting Your Business Brain” 2/9/10 in San Francisco

Since this month the 3-day early bird discount falls on a weekend, I’m extending the discount offer through Monday 2/8/10. If you’re interested finding out if you may be unintentionally shooting yourself  with your portfolio or web presentation, please contact me directly. More info is available here

In addition to generous sponsors LiveBooks and Agency Access, I’d like to welcome my 3rd and latest event sponsor, PhotoShelter. PhotoShelter enables you to create a professional online presence using a set of tools which include high-res file delivery, secure image archiving, and website creation tools.

Avoiding your clients’ spam bucket

This week, on three separate occasions, emails from photographers that I know and love, ended up in my spam bucket. Each person was already in my address book; we’d had many successful email exchanges-there had been no previous spam quarantines. Want to know what happened?

In each of those cases the photographer had failed to notice that their business email addresses had more than one email account User name or Reply-to name. If all your User names are consistent, the email you send from your desktop, laptop or iPhone will all safely go through; any inconsistency in your Sender address increases the risk of your message being quarantined. Read more

Whose bank account pays for productions now?

Yesterday’s article in AdAge “Agencies Duck Liability for Clients’ Production Costs” reported on a growing trend that is placing more of the financial risk of production on the side of photographers and production companies.

Many art buying departments are issuing “heads up” emails to photographers letting them know that the policy of issuing advances on big productions in many cases will cease. Simply put, if the ad agency hires you,  but the client they’re working for stiffs them, you have to go after their client to recover your money. Unfortunately, the PO you get from the agency won’t be giving you contact info of the person on the client side to call if you don’t get paid.

While I understand that the ad agency doesn’t want to get left holding the bag if their client (e.g., General Motors or AIG) doesn’t pay them for 120 days–or more– but can you imagine the photographer  having to call the GM switchboard asking to speak to the person in A/P at GM who can issue a check for an outstanding $85, 000 unpaid invoice originally submitted to the ad agency who issued them the PO for the assignment?

I think that if photographers are to accept that enormous financial risk, the quid pro quo for accepting those pay terms should be to at the very least have the contact information of the ad agency’s client clearly stated in the Purchase Order.

See “ReBooting Your Business Brain” in Detroit area on 3/19/09

The Michigan chapter of the ASMP will be hosting my photo marketing talk: “ReBooting Your Business Brain…” In this talk I focus on how the business of photography –particularly as it applies to marketing– has changed for those who grew up in an all-film photo business.

The event will be on Thursday evening 3/19/09 at Foto/Life Studios, 9709 Joseph Campau, Loft #3 (Between Edwin and Evaline, enter via alley) ?Hamtramck, MI
View Larger Map

Register here
I’ll be discussing how these changes have particularly affected photographers who’ve been shooting for over 15 years. These  photographers are the ones most deeply concerned that in this economy, they can’t afford to “not know what they don’t know.” They suspect that things are different when it comes to promoting their work in the digital age, but are not sure which things they should implement and which things they can ignore.

Nothing changes faster than online promotion. What worked great last year is not what works the best this year. At this event I’ll provide some tips, guidelines and resources, on how to stay current.

Read more

“Rebooting…” will be in Union, NJ Thurs. evening 2/12/09 on Lincoln’s & Darwin’s birthdays.

I’ll be presenting my “ReBooting Your Business Brain…”  talk which focuses on the  changes and evolution of the photography business–particularly as it applies to marketing— to ASMP NJ on Thursday evening 2/12/09 at Kean University in Union, NJ.

I’ll be discussing how those changes have particularly affected photographers who’ve been shooting for over 15 years on the birthday of two of the biggest names in history connected with change and evolution: Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. What a nice bit of synchronicity…..

The event will be held at 7:30pm to 10:00 pm at the Little Theater of University Center – Kean University 1000 Morris Avenue Union, NJ 07083 map Registration info is here.

In uncertain times, what a comfort a good compass is. And you can build one.

When seeking help in your career direction, you must first
CLEARLY know where you want to go.

I had a great email exchange with one of the young and
talented photographers I met last Saturday when I was
participating as a reviewer at an APA LA portfolio review day.

We both shared our enthusiasm about the fact that we had
created a “Mission Statement” that guides our career
choices. It’s been such a comfort in this confusing
economy. Read more

My Bi-coastal Event schedule

My next event is this Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009 in Los Angeles.

I’ve been invited to participate in the APA LA’s portfolio development program. If you’re in the LA area, sign up for a free portfolio review. If you’re a subscriber to my newsletter it’d be great to meet you in person.

More info is available on the APA LA website.

Building a Successful Book: Portfolio & Website Consultations

Saturday January 31, 2009
Registration begins at 8:00am
Reviews begin at 9:00am
Helms DayLight Studio, 3221 Hutchison Ave., Los Angeles 90034

*Parking is Located on the North Side of Venice Ave and Helms Ave.


On Thursday, Feb. 12th, I’ll be presenting the latest version of my talk:

“ReBooting Your Business Brain: 21st-Century Marketing Tips for Photographers Who Weren’t Born Yesterday”

to the New Jersey chapter of the ASMP.

The event will be held at 7:30pm to 10:00 pm at the Little Theater of University Center – Kean University 1000 Morris Avenue Union, NJ 07083  map   Registration info is here.

The event sponsors are providing some GREAT door prizes: Agency Access is providing a Tri-State membership to their list service with a retail value of $595 and it is for a full year. LiveBooks is providing an $800 credit towards one of their web site packages. BlinkBid is providing a copy of their estimating software.

I will be doing a limited number of private 1-hour review sessions on the days surrounding the evening event. Invest in your career and find out if your current presentation is helping or hurting you in today’s radically changed assignment market.

Call me directly for details and to take advantage of

a 20% early-bird discount that is available until Feb. 10th.