Archive for August, 2008

Be a Hedgehog

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

David Parrish is one of the blog injectors (see column on the right). He has a recent post on his blog that linked back to this older post of his. I love it. It’s all about how you should choose the one thing you are best at and do that.


Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

David Byrne and Brian Eno have a new collaboration. Besides my interest in the music, and my interest in how they are monetizing the album (free streaming, buyable downloads, shipped CDs), I was struck by the credit they give to Sagmeister, Inc., for the design of the deluxe set.

A credit line like this is worth a lot of money in future projects.


Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

I mentioned earlier that the first thing you learn in law school is that the law is not “black letter” really–that is, it’s a history of interpretations and rulings in specific contexts. The second thing thing you learn is that persistence is a virtue and creativity is rewarded.

That probably sounds odd–who thinks of lawyers as creatives, really– but what they mean is that lawyers have a duty to do everything they can to help their clients and that takes both persistence and creativity. If a client comes to you for help, and you take the case, you have to do your absolute best to help them, and that can be a very difficult and long road at times. The creativity part comes in when your original legal theory doesn’t work–you need to find another way to get to where you need to go. If the first law doesn’t apply, find some old common law that’ll work, for example. 

Photographers, good ones, do the same thing. If a client comes to you for help, you need to do your very best to help them. If something goes wrong, you have to find a way to still get the image(s) promised. Dead strobe? Fix it or find a way around it, for example. 

In the long term, this applies to your careers. You need to get to your professional goal and that takes persistence and, quite often, creative career management. For example, maybe this economic downturn has hit you particularly hard. You still want to be a photographer, but you have no jobs coming in. If you don’t have the savings, you’ll have to find another way to make money–to get you over this financial hump. Get a second job, for example. 

Thinking about alternatives is creative problem solving. You are a creative problem solver. Just because you might not be able to follow your original road map doesn’t mean you can’t get there. Find another way. You can do it.

Me, I’ve got piles of homework to do…no creative way around that, I’m afraid. 😉

Social networking

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

The topic for the brand new Creative Lube podcast is Social Networking. You can get it on iTunes or here (both free, but why not make an offering…yes, that is a shameless plug for donations).

It’s not whether you win

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

In law school, one of the very first things they teach you is that the law is not even close to black and white–it’s an interpretation of meanings and previous decisions. Thus, when someone asks “is this legal” lawyers have to do their best to figure out at what the courts will probably think, in this particular set of circumstances. Stating “This is THE law” is the equivalent of nailing jell-o to a board–it’s probably only going to hold true for an instant. 

This sort of explains why you photographers so often hear things like “It’s better to get a release” rather than “Here are the exact rules for needing one.” It’s an attempt to give you the best chance at avoiding a law suit–not winning or losing one, just avoiding one altogether. Because law suits are expensive and sometimes, even when you are think you are safe, the case will go to trial (that is, the courts won’t dismiss it right off). 

Like this one. This woman posted a video on YouTube of her kid dancing to a Prince recording. The record company is suing her for copyright infringement. Most people would have thought that had to be some kind of fair use, and the courts may interpreted it as such, but in the meantime, she and the record company are spending a lot of money to litigate the issue. 

Moral? Use best practices and get your legal advice from a lawyer when it comes to your contracts, releases, etc. Don’t rely on advice from other photographers on forums for this stuff.

Personal projects

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Tonight the San Diego APA chapter is having a meeting to discuss personal vision and getting work. The event is being hosted by and features Tim Mantoani. I just love his personal project of shooting photographers with their famous images. Check it out.

He has more about the project on his blog (link on his site). Worth reading, though the sad news is that he shoots very large polaroids…and we all know what that means…

Starting school

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

As I’ve mentioned several times on this blog and in the emails I’ve sent to my list members, I’m starting law school…this week, in fact. Yesterday I had registration activities and picked up my books, Thursday is orientation, and Friday I start the Intro to Legal Skills class that goes through next Wednesday. The substantive courses start that Thursday. 

I mention this because my email and phone have been quite active lately with photographers looking for one-on-one help. It’s just killing me, but I am not able to work with any new clients…probably for the first academic year. The estimated time required for courses and studying, per week, is 50-60 hours. Add in commuting time and a few other necessities, and there simply is not enough time for me to give to a client. So, no client-based income for me for the next 8 months. Ouch.

This is very hard for me to do. I want to help. There is a reason I chose to be a consultant. I hope my legal degree will permit me to serve you all better in the future. It is all about helping the community for me…and making a living, of course.

This is why I’ve been finishing my book (it’s at the editor’s now and the designer is working on the cover) and created the video presentations I am selling on the Parts Department page of my site. It is also why I intend to continue blogging about the photo industry here, producing the Creative Lube podcasts (on iTunes–new one very soon!), and writing the Manuals. I am not abandoning the community–far from it–but I do have to say “no” to the actual one-on-one consulting for now. 

I hope you all understand.

In a related point, my income will be entirely based on the passive income generated by the books, presentations, t-shirts, and any donations you’d care to make (go to the main page of the Super Premium blog for how to do that). So please, buy stuff, or I’m going to have to start selling advertising on all these outlets. Ew! 🙂


Seriously, though, I share this reality about my income because I hope that you all will understand that the lost income is part of the investment I am making in myself, and thus, in my business. Just like buying a new computer or a better website costs money, so does not working so that you can take classes to improve yourself (both cost of the classes and lost time to work). My business will be the better for the investment. So the next time you think about how much you’d spend to go to, say Santa Fe or Maine for a workshop, and you think about the lost work time, think instead about how much more you will bring to the projects AFTER the classes. Invest in yourself more than you invest in your equipment.

Slow season

Monday, August 18th, 2008

According to Seth Godin, the next two weeks are the slowest*, traditionally. I think that’s probably true in our industry too. Rather than complaining about the phone not ringing, why not take this time to rev up your marketing? What marketing tasks could you accomplish? How about…

  • start a new blog
  • shoot something every day for the next 14 days for your blog (a connected min-project)
  • change up your website images
  • clean up/update your list(s)
  • segment your lists better
  • develop lists of great promo ideas for each segment of your list
  • plan a trip to another city (or a couple) to show your book (take the trip some other time, though)
  • plan a new promo campaign and get it to the printers
  • brainstorm personal projects
  • evaluate where you are on your goals for the year and re-tool as needed to get there

Those are just a few ideas. I bet you can come up with a bunch more.

* not for me–I have registration and get my books today and it’s my birthday. 🙂


Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Seth Godin nails it again. Photographers everywhere need to read this post and pay particular attention to what he says about price near the end.

Shooting for yourself

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

I just love it when I hear stories like this one from Scott Shepard. He shot for himself, and the results got him a new client.

Things like this happen more than a lot of photographers realize, but in the past they often did not get talked about very much. People saw them as random luck, almost. Truth is, when you shoot for yourself, you make your best work and that will sell your vision better than anything contrived for someone else.

Blogs are helping to get that truth out more and more. Woo hoo!


Btw, most of you know I make it a policy not to work weekends. However, as I start school next week (registration on Monday), I’m more likely to be posting now on off days or odd hours. Just FYI.