Archive for November, 2008

It is scary, but you have to do it

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Doug Menuez has written a very strong piece (thanks Sergio for letting me know!) about his personal journey to success as a photographer. He has some very powerful ideas and advice in this article. I applaud his openness in sharing and hope that all of you take a lot of this to heart.

Among all the great info, make sure you recognize this:

  • It is scary, you might fail. 
  • But if you don’t try, you WILL fail. 

As I so often tell creatives: if you wanted security, you should have chosen dental school or accountancy. You chose to be a creative so you might as well be as fully creative as you can. Be the BEST creative you can be. Free your creativity and forget those who tell you things like “that’s too weird” or “I don’t get it” or (worst of all) “It would be safer to shoot [X]…” Just friggin’ go for it creatively. 🙂


Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

I got a lovely email from a photographer today wishing me a happy Thanksgiving. I’m 99% sure it was a mass emailing, but the writing was sincere, short, and offered a lovely thought so I’m not 100% convinced it was. Either way, it cut through the clutter of my inbox and made me feel good. I hope he sent it to his clients as well, because I think it would have the same results.

Sending it to targets he has never met, however, would probably not be as effective. Heartfelt emails connect better with people you know. Targets aren’t likely to be impressed unless you have something really amazingly creative, or expensive. Unless, however, it helps others. 

So that brings us to the holiday gifting question in general and what to do there. IMHO, the best thing you can do this year is to re-purpose your holiday promo money and give to the needy instead. Let your clients and targets know, via email or a simple card of some sort that you are doing this. One year I got (from an agency in Cleveland) a shiny (empty) soup can with a label on it that said that they had donated to the local food bank. I loved that. Smart and good hearted.

Not to toot my own horn, but I have done this for years myself–every year I buy a whole bunch of games and donate them to Toys for Tots. It feels better than, well, kissing up to potential and past clients with shiny, expensive things. I think the people I work with would rather help others than get for themselves, so the connection is real.

Most of your clients and targets are of a similar mind. We’re all pretty lucky, in comparison to many people out there, and even this year when so many of us are feeling the economic pains, we’re still better off than most. Most people in advertising or any creative field love helping others, so gifting in this way works on so many levels.

Most importantly this year is that the need is greater than ever. 

So, I encourage you to open your heart and give to the truly needy this year. If you are going to use it for marketing purposes, be careful of any religious groups, however, since you could accidentally tick some people off. Stick to reputable and good charities, that are not religiously affiliated if at all possible. Food banks are particularly in need this year.

If you don’t have money to spare, but still want to do something, why not offer your time and/or your art to these groups? Volunteer one day a month for the next year in a homeless shelter, in the name of your clients, for example. Teach kids how to make pictures in an after-school program. Something to help.

Whatever you choose to do, do it with an open heart. That includes if you choose to give gifts to your clients instead. 🙂 Just do it because you want to, not for what you might get out of it.

And for everyone in the US, happy Thanksgiving (tomorrow).

Take a nap

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Need a creative boost? Take a nap. (It’ll help your memory too)

Hypocrisy frustrates me

Friday, November 21st, 2008

There are some bloggers who get a lot of attention in the photo community. Unfortunately, some are more reliable than others and there is one who, well, much of what he writes is at best spurious, but damn it sounds believable. I’m tired of seeing good photographers sucked into trusting someone like this, and so I published this post (below) on one of the forums. I’m sharing it with all of you because I think it is important that you investigate, on your own, the big issues that you are facing.

What I write and what others write are only opinions and should not be held up as The Truth, no matter how plausible it sounds.


It is easy to take a position that is popular and/or looks good on the surface. It is much harder to do the right thing when it is less obviously “good” for the community. ASMP had integrity and spoke truth on the OW situation, even though it knew that photographers would not be happy hearing that truth. ASMP did not want OW legislation, but they did their research and made the best choice possible in a very bad situation. 

This same attitude can be said for the OZMO information ASMP provided. ASMP is not saying “you must sign up for this–it’s great” but rather they are letting the community know that this service is out there. There are many, many photographers who are selling their images for much less and with less control. This is just an alternative. 

Unfortunately, some photographers have decried ASMP’s honesty and integrity, and even made allusions that there were nefarious forces at work behind the scenes. This is sad, and even more so when some of the very people who are attacking ASMP are perfectly happy to take advantage of their relations with ASMP–including get money from the group. These attacks are, fundamentally, not serving the community but rather good only for increasing the rate they can charge for the ads on their sites. 

Think about it–each time someone writes “there’s a post saying ASMP isn’t supporting photographers” and links to such a post, the site where the post is made gets another “targeted” click. When one has ads on a site, that site owner gets paid by the number of clicks to that site. More clicks = more money and nothing generates interest like a controversy. Who cares if it’s real or made up of half-truths and innuendo and lots of imagination?! Click click click, $$$. Like Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, playing to the easy emotions and portraying oneself as leading the “Cause” for the masses is usually nothing more than a self-aggrandizing ego trip that increases one’s ratings and, thus the income derived by advertising.

Do your own research, independent of any self-proclaimed expert, especially one supported by advertising.

Sometimes the truth isn’t easy or comfortable, but if you dig, you will find that ASMP is first and always thinking of their constituents, photographers like you.

Biz Cards

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

I generally don’t like business cards. Most don’t do much of anything and, since the rolodex as an object on a desk that one would spin is dead, they don’t function the way they used to. However, I love great business cards. The ones that you know people put up in their cubicles or take snaps of to show their friends and colleagues–those are promotional tools in the best sense. Here are some examples of some great ones.

That is thinking!

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

I got an email from Aaron Ansarov the other day, thanking me for the latest Manual and sharing his recent idea for a promo. I was so blown away with it I asked him if I could share it here, and he kindly said that would be fine with him. In fact, he’s posted about it on his own blog, which saves me the effort of retelling his story. Better to get it from him directly.

It’s a brilliant idea…for him and his work. This wouldn’t work for anyone else but him. 

What would work for you?


Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Call me a curmudgeon, but if you are going to post a link in the comments here, you need to give more than “great post” or “check out my blog” and the link. I know that getting your site/blog linked to by others is a good way to increase its ranking, but it is smarmy to put it out there without fully participating in the conversation wherever you are posting it. 

So, I welcome comments and I am happy to have you put links to your site/blog in your comments, but you really need to comment. Talk about the issue at hand. Participate. Otherwise I will delete it.


Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Some people claim that everything has already been done. If that’s so, then why didn’t I know about this years ago?

My point? Maybe you think whatever you are thinking of doing isn’t worth doing because it’s obvious, but in reality, it hasn’t been done before. Give it a shot.

Swag rules

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

I’ve written about promo products as an effective tool in my new book. Seems swag is even better than I knew at the time! We all love to get stuff and it (apparently) works. 

Of course, if you are going to do swag-ish stuff, you are probably going to have to restrict your list some. I think that is an added benefit to sending promo items. When you have to cull your list, it forces you to do more research as to what targets are really best for you. A tighter, better edited list will improve your results.

Put a fork in it

Monday, November 10th, 2008

I’m originally from Columbus, Ohio. One of the names everyone in advertising there knows is Artie Isaac. Artie is an odd mix of AE and creative, with a twisted mind and a firm called Young Isaac. If you saw an ad with a bad/good pun or wacky visual, more than likely it came from Young Isaac. My only complaint about Y/I was that they were occasionally, um, budgetally-challenged, shall we say, when it came to photography at least. But still, lots of good creative has come from the minds at Y/I.

Artie also apparently has a blog and a new book. One of this blog’s readers, Jason Meyer, sent me Artie’s post for today. It’s definitely worth sharing.