An Open Letter to the Artist Support System

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Support is a funny thing.

As an artist, 96% of our career is spent dealing with rejection. Rejection from friends, family, other artists and even the art world itself. Making a living from art can be a very long and lonely, misunderstood journey, especially in the beginning, and having a decent support system can help make that early journey a little more bearable.

But just as we’re often learning the ropes of how to be an artist, we also know that you’re learning the ropes of how to best support us. We need you, and here are the best ways you can help us out.

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Family Offers A One-In-A-Lifetime Free Portfolio Building To Any Photographer Willing To Work For Them

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Working for free has always been a touchy subject and while opinions may sway one way or another I think that working family events for free is not something you would do to ‘build a portfolio’.

Apparently one family from sun prairie, Wisconsin thinks differently. There are many ads asking for free photography service but this one made reddit for being especially presumptuous. (I agree) The family posted a work offer on craigslist, they offer the photographer to “use the photo’s to build portfolio“. What photos you ask? Those: “We have several occasions coming up this spring/summer and would like a photographer who would work with us“.

Here is the untouched craigslist ad (really, we did not touch it):

Hello, We are looking for someone who is building their portfolio or just starting out their business.
We have several occasions coming up this spring/summer and would like a photographer who would work with us. In exchange you may use the photo’s to build portfolio. A student would be fine with us. Please send some information about yourself and any examples of your work that you have. Experience working with kids and newborns would be excellent! This can take some patience to get the right shot!

And there is a little “compensation: no pay” at the bottom, just to keep things clear.

[Family photographer needed (sun prairie) via reddit]

How ‘Do What You Love’ Can Be A Realistic Career Option

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To quote a recent article I read titled “Do What You Love” Is Horrible Advice:It’s easy to confuse a hobby or interest for a profound passion that will result in career and business fulfillment. The reality is, that type of preexisting passion is rarely valuable.”

Um…no.

If you haven’t read that article go ahead and take a trip over there when you get a chance…or not, if you’d rather not be fuming the rest of the day. The author is a great writer, with many other fantastic articles, but this one was just so…wildly inaccurate. I tried to just label it as one of those unfortunate things orbiting the internet, but it was just gnawing at me. How many potential artists are out there now, squashing their dreams because they’re reading fear-mongering articles like this on the internet?

Well hopefully not a lot, but still, the thought of some teenage kid selling his guitar because too many people told him music was a “hobby” and not a career choice just kills me. He’s a teenager. Anything is a career choice.

Of course people are all entitled to their own opinions, right?

Exactly, which is why I’m going to spout mine off right now.

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5 Photographers Chat ‘Working For Free’

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‘Working for free’ is a charged topic for creatives and for photographers specifically. One side of the discussion claims that getting your name out there, getting exposure and creating contacts and networking is worth working for free, while the other side says that no work should be unpaid and that ‘working for free’ is essentially the industry’s way of ripping photographers of their well deserved compensation, while devaluing the entire market for everyone.

It is interesting to see the take on this questions from some of the world’s high-profiles and now-successful photographers. Of course, they were not always high-profile and  successful so they can share a view going from their early trying-to-get-out-there days all the way to their current state.

InMyBag magazine asked 5 photographers what they thought about working for free: Jasmine StarTim WallaceDon GiannattiDavid Talley and Simon Bolz:

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Julian Richards Explains Why He Closed A Successful Photo Rep Agency: ‘Photographers are undergoing self-inflicted castration’

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There are many times we write about how the photography market is changing. How photographers are perceived to bringing less value to projects and how they are perceived to be worth their gear and nothing more. Heck, we posted an open letter about this today.

But while we have been mainly highlight the small business photographer, a recent interview by PDN reporter Amy Wolff with photographers’ rep Julian Richards sheds some light a similar process is happening at the very high end market as well.

Mr. Richards had a successful photo rep agency for over 20 years and at times his roster included photographers such as David Barry, Chris Buck, Michael McLaughlin, Dana Gallagher, Sian Kennedy, Greg Miller, James Smolka and Henrik Knudsen. A pretty impressive team. Yet, after 20 years he decided to quite. The interview is filled with painful insight from Mr. Richards.

The most striking thoughts comes when Mr. is asked about how the industry changed. (Bolding is mine)

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Some Sweet Advice On Dealing With (Online) Criticism

Have you ever come back from the most incredible shoot of your life only to get a person go down on you? Have you ever had the most amazing idea for your business and when going live a fried totally dissed you?

Being a creative means that you put yourself out there almost daily and that means that criticism will come. The question is how to deal with it in a way that both let you take in the value from what you are told but not let this impact on your self esteem. And us creatives sometimes have very fragile egos.

Marie Forleo has some of the best advice I’ve heard about how to deal with criticism on or off line. While her advice may take some practice, it is extremely beneficial if you can follow.

[Do You Let Criticism Stop You? How To Insult-Proof Your Ego | Marie Forleo]

The Business of Photography: Why It’s Important to Know What We’re Talking About

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In photography, as in life in general, it’s important to know what you’re talking about. You and I could get together for beers and spend hours talking about exposure, lighting, composition, and any number of other photography-related topics (I’d enjoy that, by the way). But what if I started asking you questions about your business model? Would you be able to tell me what your cost of doing business is? How many photo shoots do you need this month in order to keep the electricity on and your family fed? What about a question or two regarding the fine print in your contract? When it comes to the numbers aspect of what we do, many photographers have a bit of trouble explaining themselves. This is by no means an insult, blanket statement, or judgment call. It’s simply a concern that’s been popping up on my radar quite a bit lately– one which we could all avoid if we had a better handle on knowing what we’re talking about when clients start asking us business-related questions.

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