Archive for April, 2008

Really, stop spooking ’em

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

APE has another post about the perils of following up your email promo with a call that includes anything like “I saw you went to my site…” How many different ways do you need to hear that it’s a bad idea before you stop freaking out your most desired targets? 😉


Standardized prices

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Okay, call me crazy but I think one of the best things we could do as an industry is standardize USAGE prices. You’ve heard me say this before and yes, I’m saying it again. To be clear, I’m not talking about Creative Fees, but the Usage Licensing Fee alone. It would make life so much easier for everyone involved in the photography business–photograhers AND buyers–and I think it would actually increase the income for many photographers.

Imagine how much less stress there would be in doing an estimate for a client if you knew that, (totally hypothetically) the one year US exclusive print advertising in national consumer magazine ads up to one page was $25,000–and if your client knew that too. Your Creative Fee would be based on your creative value to the project (a function perhaps of time and effort and experience, and how important your particular creative style is to the project) so that would vary from photographer to photographer, but the variation in total project price between any three photographers would be much less than we see now in estimates(bids).

This would enable buyers to more easily work with the best photographer (creatively) for any given project because they would not have to get past the huge price differences they get now. For example, in the project usage mentioned above, it is completely possible that the Creative and Usage fees (total) would be $35K for one photographer, $25K for another, and $7500 for a third. Try getting that $35K photographer the gig when the cost consultants and the end-client are completely wrapped up in the numbers! Buyers have to fight hard (sometimes) to get the right photographer for the project in these situations!

Of course, this is not how things have historically been done–with standardized numbers. But guess what–today isn’t yesterday and tomorrow demands a new way of working. I think we really have a shot at creating some sort of fair and equitable system now, and we should be putting our heads together to see how we can make this happen…WITH our buying colleagues. Let’s work together to find a realistic solution to these difficult issues of usage pricing so that we can focus our attention on creating great work.

I’ve mentioned before the idea of tying usage prices to media buys–that is still an option I think, but it is only one idea. I am certainly open to others and want to encourage a dialogue on this topic. However, I mean a dialogue on possibilities–not “that’s not the way it worked in the past” or “that’s stupid” or “I should get to charge whatever I want” kinds of comments, please. I’m asking you to open up your minds and brainstorm on forward-thinking ideas. Lots of them won’t work, but if we don’t try to find some solutions now, we’ll (potentially) lose the opportunity to make a significant change for the betterment of everyone in the business. 

Oh, and btw, the photo organizations cannot be involved in this sort of talk because of all sorts of potential anti-trust law issues. Don’t get mad at them…it’s not their fault. 🙂

I love it…no I don’t

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Miley Cyrus isn’t happy (now) with an image of her shot by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair. Sounds to me like she was pressured to change her tune on her attitude about the image. If so, I think it’s a sad cultural marker, but one which doesn’t surprise me. 

I was just speaking with a photographer this morning who shoots kids and who also shoots women. The kid work is bright and very happy; the women are darker and more sexy. I told the photographer he really needed to separate the two into two sites and have two separate marketing plans if he wanted to do both, because, especially, if a kid-related client saw the women the moodiness and sexiness would make the viewer think that his work was inappropriate for kid stuff (it would be a challenge the other way too). Mixed messages are bad and this is one of the worst places for it because we as a society freak out about anything that might “threaten” the children.

Personally, that drives me nuts, but it is reality. 

So, I think what happened with Ms. Cyrus is that she and her family/minders loved the images. What 15 year old girl wouldn’t want to look beautiful which she does in that image and if it has a hint of sexy, all the better (in the 15 year old’s head). However, the Disney people don’t want their “properties” to be tainted with even the vaguest hint of any sexiness (except, apparently, for Johnny Depp who is allowed to be as smokin’ as he wants) and so they probably strongly suggested to her to change her tune.

Of course, the taint is all over the photographer. I’m not a particular fan of Ms. L. (I’ve heard too many horror stories of her attitude to really like her…her work is another story, though), but she certainly didn’t come even close to anything inappropriate with this image. Still, I’m sure this won’t hurt her career in the least and, if anything, will be good. It’s just sad that this image is even an issue at all.

Wanna know what they’re thinking?

Friday, April 25th, 2008

I think one of the best ways we can create strong relationships with our clients is to try to understand our clients better. What are their biggest problems? What are their motivating forces? Try to put yourselves in their shoes, and suddenly that “unreasonable” request starts to be more, well, reasonable (or at least understandable).

Creativity online has a great piece right now–a creative round-table discussion on the advertising (deign, interactive, etc.) industry(ies). It’s quite eye-opening for those of us on the periphery. Please note the issues of intellectual property and monetization and keeping great creatives at the firms (about half-way down). 

Read this piece and you’ll have a better idea of the issues your clients are facing in their business. Now, how can you help be a part of the solutions?


No Good Deed

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

The dark saying of no good deed goes unpunished is reigning over at APE. He posted his loathing of being virtually stalked and the crowd went wild. People took his head off for his helpful opinion (and one I mostly agree with–I say track who goes to your site, but don’t freak out your targets by telling them you know they’ve been on your site, etc.). He offered what he thought was helpful info, and some people bit his head off for it.

Heather Morton gets some sometimes too. In fact, everyone I know who offers help gets kicked in the teeth fairly regularly for it, and it sucks. 

Now, I could understand going after me–this is how I make my living and challenging what I have to offer could be seen as acceptable under the concept of “prove you know what you’re talking about, Lady, or I’m not buying what you’re offering!” but even then it should be done respectfully. 

Unfortunately, too many photographers out there are getting downright nasty about disagreeing. I’ll tell you flat out, it hurts to offer opinions and help, with all the best of intentions, only to get bitch-slapped for it. 

But let’s say you just don’t give a shit about hurting the other person–you’ve got an opinion and damn it, you’ve got every right to express it! Okay, fine, yes, you certainly do have that right. Using that right, well, that’s your choice and I’m telling you that sometimes it’s a bad one. Forget about hurting other people, you are hurting yourselves with some of these posts.

You think only photographers read these blogs? Hell no. Your clients/targets do. And every time you sound like an aggressive jerk, you are hurting your reputation with your clients/targets. It’s hard enough to build a decent reputation–to get people to recognize your name enough to want to look at your work and call you for the next great project–why screw that up just to vent a bit on some blog?

And this stuff lives forever on the ‘net. People aren’t getting jobs or getting into grad school, etc., because employers/administrators are googling applicants and when they find negative stuff–boom, no gig (fwiw, pictures from Spring Break are particularly damaging for regularly employed folks).

So please, learn to write more gracefully, compassionately, and diplomatically or just shut up when you disagree with someone on their blog. Better yet, take a step back and think “Why is s/he writing this? Maybe there is some truth in there I need to learn.”


Told you so

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Okay, not to toot my own horn too much, but I think Heather Morton’s post today is not only incredibly helpful to photographers, it also goes to show that I’m not just making up the stuff I’m telling you folks. 

To summarize, when doing your marketing to art buyers, keep the following in mind: send regularly; keep it simple; it’s all about the images; don’t be a jerk; most promos end up in the bin but you have to send ’em; don’t ever expect to hear anything back; most emails get deleted but you have to send ’em; have I mentioned, it’s all about the images; consistency is important; so is patience; don’t stalk; don’t whine; meetings are rare but important; calls work if done right; offer instead of ask; and, oh yeah, it’s all about the images.

Brain is back

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

…but the voice is still shot. You all will be able to hear it in all its froggy goodness if you listen to the newest Creative Lube podcast I just posted.

This episode is on building your team. Why team? Because photographers are a solitary lot for the majority but those who build good teams tend also to be more successful and happier. Good for your head and vital for your business. Go team. 🙂


More resources to explore

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Okay…I’m still a sickie so instead of a contemplative post, how about a list of a few other resources you should be checking out?

Why these? Why not more photo-oriented stuff? Because these are the people who (often) hire you. The better you understand them, the better you can connect with them. The better you understand their context, their struggles, their needs, etc., the better you can frame your solutions. 

New stuff

Monday, April 21st, 2008

There is a new Manual available (if you didn’t get it in your email already, by being on my list). There are also a few other minor changes and additions to the BAP site. If you haven’t been in a while, now is a good time to check it out.


Monday, April 21st, 2008

That would be me. I got back from my travels and lost my voice. At first I thought it was just strain from all the SB2 lecturing, but it seems it was just the start of a bad cold or something. Ick. So, anyway, I’m not on my A-game and thus know better than to write anything too significant. 🙂 Instead, how about some links to some interesting stories…

For all of you who say they have to shoot digital, that they could never have a career if they shot film, I say shoot film if you want. This guy is making his career out of shooting tintypes.

This guy competes in freehand circle drawing. No kidding.

And are you in need of a hug? This shirt can do it for you.
(hat tip to Amul Kumar whom I met at SB2 Chicago)

I’m off to drink tea, juice, and take lots of Vitamin C to get over this nasty bug.