The Great Photography Debate: Gain experience without giving yourself away for free

photography-experience

Every aspiring photographer who is just starting out will sooner or later run into a quirky conundrum:  How do I get paying work without prior experience?  I’ve been there, many of you have been there…it’s a sticky situation.  And, unfortunately, many of us, at one time or another, have opted to work for free in order to build that experience.

Ted Forbes is a firm believer in the Never-Free Doctrine, a term I just made up to define the belief system of never working for a client for free.  In the photography world, your sellability as an artist is primarily based on the images in your portfolio, and there are many ways to build that portfolio without having to undervalue yourself to the business world.

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Can I Just Get The Digital Files?

disk

Dear potential client,

I have no crystal ball, yet, I know you will be calling me this week for information about what I do. You might have seen one of my displays or my website or, hopefully, was referred by a friend. And you will have liked what you saw-otherwise, you wouldn’t be calling me. And for that, I am truly happy.

And we will speak together on the phone: me asking questions to better understand what it is you are needing, but more importantly, what you are “wanting.” The wants are always more important than the needs when it comes to Art. And we will speak of the love you have for your family and ideas for your session and I will share your excitement, for this truly is an exciting time.

And then, dear potential client, you will ask that question that is asked every day in phone calls to photography studios everywhere: “Can I get just the digital files?”

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Tough message if you wanna Make it in the Industry

Photo by: Michelle Fennel

Photo by: Michelle Fennel

When you are just starting out as a creative it can be pretty stressful and one of the main causes for that stress can be the shortage of money. Retoucher Pratik Naik of Solstice Retouch had a tough but very true message for ones looking to make it as full time creatives.

Being a full time creative is a mixing between passion and occupation. And mixing the two may not be easy when you start. Especially in the monetary sense. And Pratik gives the only real true definition of making it: “…success in this industry is being able to support yourself by creating. Everything after that is up for discussion

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‘Bad Reviews’ Extortion Scams Targeting Photographers and How To Deal With Them

bad-reviews-title

There is a new “bad reviews” blackmail scam that has been targeting many of my colleagues including myself. The scam is not just targeting newborn photographers, but any photographers (wedding, portrait, maternity, etc) from North America and Australia (so far…) and photography prop vendors who are visible in the internet searches. This is my case and how I suggest dealing with such scams.

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Wedding Photography Prices: ON or OFF Your Website?

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It’s the age-old question, should a wedding photographer put his/her prices on the website, or leave them off? I’ve asked myself this, and seen many photographers ask the same thing. Lots of opinions, some of them very strong opinions, but no one seems to back it up with actual data.

An argument I’ve heard for putting prices online is that the potential client wants to know if you’re within her price range. If you make it too difficult to find that information, she won’t bother to contact you because there are plenty of other photographers to look at. Would you go look at a new car if they wouldn’t tell you the price until you got to the dealership?

The counter-argument is that wedding photography can be expensive, clients don’t always have an understanding of how much they should expect to spend, and placing too much emphasis on price means that the client misses out on less-tangible benefits that the photographer has to offer. If you make the client ask for pricing, you can then strike up a dialog with the client and build a relationship before getting icky with numbers.

Both arguments seem reasonable. And those photographers who can’t make up their minds usually wimp out and put a “starting at $xxxxx” on their site! (That’s what I do currently. :) )

But I’ve got some Actual Data!

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Hiring An Assistant Without Jeopardizing Your Business

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Sooner or later, most of us photographers find ourselves in need of an extra set of hands or feet for a particular project, whether it’s a second shooter (no JFK jokes, please) at a wedding, managing gear and lighting on a commercial shoot, or stabilizing the flower balanced on top of a rocking horse sitting inside an adorable bathtub for that oh-so-cute newborn shoot. Most new photographers and sole proprietors, myself included on numerous occasions in the past, think nothing of pulling in a friend or relative to help out in their time of need. And while that may be fine for personal projects, having that modus operandi in your business can get you into some hot water. I’m not talking about how nice it is to have someone to share the work or how cool it is to refer to someone as “my assistant” (which, admittedly, is pretty awesome…until they break something); I’m talking about, when you DO pull someone else in to help out, making sure that all legal ramifications are met and you do not sign your business’ death warrant.

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How to Find Your Photographic Niche

photographic-niche-diyphotography

I’m told I give good advice. In my previous life as a lawyer, people were even known to pay a considerable amount of money for my advice. When presented with a question or predicament, I’m pretty good at cutting through the extraneous BS, narrowing my focus,  and arriving at a thoughtful, well-reasoned plan or solution. This assumes, of course, that the person seeking advice or guidance is anyone in the world other than myself. When it comes to addressing some of my own issues head on, I often have trouble finding that place where I can be objective. Instead, I tend to get bogged down in my own tunnel vision. I come out the other side eventually, but the path taken is often much more of a winding road than I would like.

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How To Invoice Photography Clients For Your Time

Last week, we took a look at how much should photographers charge per hour.  The next step is to explore how to actually invoice photography clients.

In this article, I will explain three billing methods commonly used in the photography industry: Time Plus Cost, Lump Sum and Upset Limit – and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.

It might not seem important at first, but how you invoice photography clients can have a big impact on the success of a job, and your profit margin.

Retro Mad Men Business Man Business Woman In Office JP Danko Toronto Commercial Photographer blurMEDIA photography   [Read more…]

Tips to Get Paid From Photography Use Requests

When David Hobby lets loose on a rant, it’s worth listening.  I mean, he’s usually a pretty reserved guy, but in a recent post on Strobist, he really lets the National Association of REALTORS® have it for asking permission to reproduce his work in exchange for credit (otherwise known as free).

If you’re a photographer with your photography online, you have probably experienced a request or two to use your own work for free.

In this article, I will discuss three tips that you can use to get paid for your photography.

Girls with Shotguns JP Danko Toronto Commercial Photographer

Y’all gonna pay for that photo right?

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