Archive for September, 2007

Interviewees needed

Friday, September 28th, 2007

I’m working on an article and am looking for photographers to interview on the subject of meetings with potential clients. Local clients, not local–doesn’t matter. If you book in-person meetings (like to show your book), then you’re perfect for this and I’d really like to talk with you.

There’s only one requirement: you have to be an ASMP member.

Email me if you are interested in participating.  And thanks. Your participation will help others.

Here comes the judge

Friday, September 28th, 2007

I’m currently in the middle of judging the student category for the APA National Photo Competition. Starting off with something like 236 entries (or was it 263…I forget) I have to pick 3. Ouch. This is not easy.

I think the student category is particularly difficult (not that any category is easy) because it’s not exactly apples-to-apples. Some students submitted still life work, some portraits, some architectural, some photo-illustrations, some photo-J, etc., so I have to try to be objective to judge the work regardless of its type. It’s challenging, but I love looking at images so, except for a few technical hiccups, I’m enjoying the process.

I do have to say, however, that what has concerned me the most about some of the entries has been a lack of originality. A few of the images were essentially copies of more famous photographers’ visions. Some of them are technically perfect, but one look at the images makes me immediately think of the other, better known photographer whose vision is being copied. While I understand that, especially as students, it can be helpful to copy someone you admire to learn techniques, submitting those images for competition doesn’t make any sense to me. We judges want to see your vision–not how well you can knock-off someone else.

Clients will feel the same way when you get out into the “real” world. In today’s fragmented markets, you need to be yourself visually. Your future business will only thrive if you make your work and make it great (and target your marketing, of course).

For those of you who submitted really original work, your own vision, please know that if you aren’t selected, that doesn’t mean you suck. Maybe your work came in fourth or maybe I liked it but the other judge didn’t (or vice versa) and we needed to come to a consensus. Don’t beat yourself up and keep trying!

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One other hint: Photoshop is a tool, and like all creative tools just because you can do X with it doesn’t mean you should do X. As Steve Webster has been known to say: one concept to a customer. In other words, don’t try to say “technology” “global” “diversity” “strength” “happy workers” and “new” all in one image, especially if that means using Photoshop to combine the disparate parts in something resembling a Yes album cover reject.

The best Photoshopped images make the viewer think that they could be reality, either by the very subtle use of the tool (more traditional retouching, for example) or by such technically clean work that our monkey brains say “Nah…that can’t be real, right? He can’t really be sitting on a giant mouse…”

I’ve seen both (bad and good) in the student work, and I see both every day in my other work. If you are leaning too hard on your tools, maybe you are masking your own talent and vision. It has been known to happen that a creative will use bells and whistles to distract the viewer–to reduce the pain if someone says “I don’t like it” by telling him/herself (or the critic) “I spent 20 hours compiling that image and if you can’t see all the work that went into it then you are an idiot.”

Just a thought.

Devaluation of creativity

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Remember the Modern Postcard debacle? Well, another company is at it–devaluing the creativity of one of their core constituencies. This time, it’s HP and designers. HP has a site where companies can make their own stationery based on templates designed by Paula Scher…for free. Yup, that’s letterhead, cards, etc., and at no cost.Way to go HP–it’s not like designers ever buy HP printers and other products. And Paula, thanks for thinking only of yourself and not of your professional community. How much money did they pay you to sell out your colleagues and reduce the value of design like this? What is the price for a designer’s soul these days?And it’s not like this is a new idea for HP or that HP is a photographer’s friend either. They promote iStockphoto right on another page of free templates. So why are we buying HP products?! They don’t care about us as customers, apparently, except to capitalize on the coolness of being a creative–for their own marketing.Enough venting…I want to call on everyone, photographers included, to contact HP and tell them this is a terrible marketing choice. Let them know that you will be telling all your colleagues and clients about this and asking them not to use HP products until these programs are pulled. Let them know programs like these won’t help their business, they will hurt it.We made a huge difference with Modern Postcard–we can do it with HP too. Let us creatives all stand together against the devaluation of any creative service.

Creative Lube 14

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Newest Creative Lube podcast is now available…on iTunes or get the feed here.

Good competition

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

I get a daily digest of advertising news in my email every day and at the end of the articles there is a quote. Today’s quote really struck me as a perfect example of the right kind of competition we should have in business:

I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.
–Mikhail Baryshnikov

iPhoned by proxy

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and I gave him an iPhone. I don’t have one yet myself, but getting him one made a lot of sense. He is, after all, my guinea pig for ADD-friendly organizational techniques and tools (I wonder if that means I can write it off…).

Christopher recently started working as an independent professional and switched to a Mac; it was this second change that made getting him an iPhone a really good idea. We have a friend who is still using a PC and integrating/syncing the iPhone is not perfectly seamless with one of those machines. But with a Mac, it’s amazingly simple and, if you have ADD, you want to avoid distracting things like weird software hiccups.

More importantly, the essentially perfect integration between the two main tools in a modern businessperson’s life makes keeping on track and organized much easier. ADDers need to implement structures to be more successful but often they have an almost “natural” distaste for organization. Using one tool that works across platforms makes being organized less of a pain.

The elimination of distracting “hiccups” combined with simplicity of use makes an iPhone a great tool for ADDers. Fewer excuses arise to dump your organizational attempts and it feels less like building structures than using some other tools. Does this mean you must go buy one? No–if your system is working, there is no reason to fix it. But if you are still all over the place organizationally-speaking, perhaps this could be a good tool for you.

Over time I’ll see how using this new tool helps Christopher achieve his goals and let you all know what I learn.

Upcoming events

Friday, September 21st, 2007

There are going to be some opportunities to see me in person (and pick my brain) which I wanted to share.

On October 11th, I’ll be joining Selina Maitreya at her event I Know This Much is True in Los Angeles. APA-LA is bringing Selina in for this event, and I am her guest for the second part of the evening event–just like here in San Diego (see previous post). Come see us–and bring all your marketing questions!

On November 7th, I’ll be speaking at ASMP-Phoenix. I’ll be presenting a variation on my Beyond PMS talk, coving things like what tools work, how to make good tools work better, and how to get marketing things done. We’ll also spend some time on pricing and, as always, there will be a lengthy Q and A session at the end.

While I’m in Phoenix on the 7th, I’ll be offering personal consultations all day before the event. You need to reserve time in advance (50 or 100 minute sessions) as I have worksheets you’ll need to complete ahead of our meeting, so that I can prepare ahead of time. That means we can spend all our time together working, rather than going over the basic info, etc. Contact me directly to book a consultation. 10% of the fees will go to ASMP-Phoenix and the rates are discounted for the event.

Also, don’t forget about the ASMP Strictly Business 2 events in early 2008! In each city I’ll be offering private consultations (same options–50 or 110 minutes–and discounted rates) the day after each of these weekend events. The 30-minute mini-consultations offered via ASMP (as an add-on to SB2) are already booking quickly, so don’t wait until the last minute to book time if you are interested in working together or you might miss out on a private face-to-face meeting completely.

Great event

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Last night I was honored to be Selina Maitreya’s special guest at her presentation to the San Diego APA and ASMP chapters. It was a fantastic evening.

First off, I want to commend the two groups for working together to bring Selina in. In too many locations APA and ASMP chapters hardly talk to each other, much less put on combined programs. This is, I think, a sad example to set–not working together, that is. I am extremely proud of our local folks for stepping outside their insulated comfort zones and reaching out for the betterment of all. Way to go guys!

Selina’s presentation offered important information for photographers, albeit in a format that made them scratch their heads a bit at first. This isn’t a “how to” presentation like we’ve seen in the past, but rather a call to action and thought. Its impact, however, is important, I think. It also happens to mesh well with many of my ideas and observations on how the industry was, is, how best to navigate it for future success. I encourage all of you to see Selina if she comes your way, and to buy her new book.

For those of you in Los Angeles, she will be presenting there next month on October 11 (Thurs), and offering private consultations while in LA (these are already booking up so contact her now if you are interested!). Though only sponsored by APA, all you ASMPers (and the unaffiliated) should come as well. I will again be her special guest for the Q and A session at the end. Bring all your questions–this is your chance to pick 2 consultants’ brains for the price of admission!

New products available!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Looking for the perfect item to remind yourself and/or your clients of your value, creativity, or just my favorite mantra of “I don’t suck”? Look no further than the BAP spreadshirt shop.

There’s a link on the Parts Department page of the BAP site too, in case you lose this post.

Um…nevermind

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Yesterday I learned about another source for a marketing product many of my clients could use. I contacted the company to say that I might be able to recommend their product to my clients, but I’d have to see samples first.

Their response was that they’d be happy to send samples–as long as I paid for the shipping. When I pointed out to them that this was not a great way to market their products, they replied that when they sent samples out, they rarely got them returned so they make potential customers (and reviewers like me) pay for the shipping to make up for it.

Sigh.

If you are going to offer a service that makes products (like printing, web design, etc.) you had better be prepared to give samples to potential customers without expecting them returned. Obviously for web design this is easy–show sites, but for print products, you’re going to have to make physical samples. Nice if they are returned, but don’t expect it and don’t penalize everyone ahead of time by making them pay. Making and sending samples is part of the cost of your own marketing!

Needless to say, I told that company they could keep their products until they changed that policy, then we could talk.