Archive for June, 2010

Know your targets

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

I love this piece about the danger of inappropriate footwear and potential client meetings. I’ve said for years that wearing great shoes to meet with clients/targets is a good idea, but that post deals with an oddly connected issue: don’t wear the wrong brand to your meeting.

Overall, the important underlying point of the post is that if you don’t do your research, you can blow a great opportunity. You’ll look lazy and unprofessional if you wear Adidas to W+K (btw, I discourage wearing sneaks of any kind to meetings–wear grown-up shoes, please–you’ll look more upscale, too). You need to know what brands an agency represents, at a minimum! Or if the corporate target you are meeting with is part of a larger multi-national.

The other side of that, of course, is that if you do do your research, you can add to your perceived value to a target. Imagine going into a meeting with a potential corporate client and telling them that, for example, you love how they added solar panels to their parking structures. You don’t need to know that info to work for them, it has nothing to do with what you would do for them, but the fact that you do means you care enough to do more than the minimum for that client. You invested time and effort–this client means something to you. It is not just another name on your list.

Remember that when you are making your target lists, you want to work with companies you admire and with whom you share something–an aesthetic, at least, but maybe more, like a commitment to the environment. Those companies want the same–to work with people they admire and with whom they share something. By doing your research, you can find the best matches for your business.

And when you get a meeting, don’t forget to wear (the right) great shoes.

Try it

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

I know that many of you will read this article about how to avoid being a workaholic and laugh at its suggestions. You’ll say you can’t do these things and/or that if you did your business would suffer.

I beg you, beg you, not to give in to your current lifestyle and associated thinking, but instead to give this the attention it deserves.

I know it doesn’t feel logical that to tune out and work less is to do the best thing for your business, but it is. You need to do these things. You need to take time off and turn things off and get out and connect with loved ones, etc., etc.

You are burned out. Even if you don’t think so, you almost assuredly are.

And even if you might not be, even if you are fresh as the proverbial daisy, being on-call 24/7 makes you look too available.

I recently heard that Irving “Swifty” Lazar, the agent of agents, once said that if he called a counterpart on a potential deal, after hours (like on a Saturday or in the evening), and the counterpart took the call, he knew he had ’em. It meant, to “Swifty” that the counterpart was desperate and he could use that to his advantage.

I love that. I think he was totally right. It is one thing to be available and to work with your clients (especially if you have a project and are in production); it is another thing to act like the guy holding his wife’s purse while she shops.

You’re better than that. Because you are, you owe it to yourself and to your business to try some (all!) of the suggestions in that article. Best of all, by disconnecting and giving yourself your life back, you will find that you are more creative. And in today’s photo/creative business world, it is your creativity that will make you successful.

June Creative Lube

Monday, June 28th, 2010

The newest Creative Lube podcast is now available. In this month’s edition I talk about things that piss off buyers and make some suggestions for avoiding those actions. The information comes from some preliminary results of the photo buyer survey I am currently conducting, so there is some good, current, accurate stuff there.

You can get a free taste of the podcast here, or purchase the entire podcast here.

The Fallacy of Free

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

ASMP has a post on its SB2 blog that says, essentially, that Creative Commons licenses may be a good model for photography licensing going forward. I cannot tell you how appalled I am by that. But I can understand that attitude because if there is one thing the CC folks are good at, it is selling their snake oil. They can spin reality to make it seem like one is doing something fantastically morally decent and important when really the CC massive corporate backers are just using and capitalizing on every item given to the “commons” to expand their own businesses.

The clearest analytical error that is being made is blurring the B2C appeal of Creative Commons licensing (and “free”-based business models in general) and the B2B world. CC has been incredibly effective at selling “free” to the masses, because, well, who doesn’t like getting something for free? So, they spin the idea that if you give away something, you will build a following and that will result in more business for you. Well, yes, that may work with consumers (and even then I’m not convinced, see Malcolm Gladwell’s excoriation of C. Anderson’s book Free) but it does not work with businesses as your targets.

Think about it, you do not see any business releasing its fundamental IP-based product via CC or any “free” system. No, Google doesn’t give away its fundamental product when it gives free software licenses, because that IP is not its money-making fundamental product–advertising is. Anything else it gives away is simply marketing. It’s like getting the free t-shirt when you sign up for the credit card.

It just feels bigger and more like they are giving away something important because they are giving away something useful and cool. Also, it’s easy to sell IP-creators on giving away their IP if you (like Goggle) are giving away IP. But we have to remember, the IP Google (etc.) give(s) away is not of significant value to them! It is not their lifeblood, their product. No, what they give away is fluff in their business model. It’s a marketing cost on their balance sheet.

Your IP, your images, are not fluff to your business model. Your IP is your core product, and you cannot give it away.

The correct analogy for photographers who wish to use a “free” model thus is not “give away some photo (licenses) to get more photo work” but rather would be “give away t-shirts (or music or a book or a toaster or internet advertising space, even) to get more photo work.”

Pricing v Price

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Although this article talks about pricing of a physical product, I think the concepts discussed apply very well to creative industries, especially photography. As the author indicates, pricing based on value and raising your prices for higher value items is not only reasonable, it’s arguably the most rational thing you can do in today’s business environment.

Most importantly, note the list of reasons why people don’t implement such a system successfully. How many of those reasons have we all heard, over and over, in our industry? Especially the old saw about customers setting the prices…

As I was saying yesterday over drinks with some photo friends, we are at an incredible cusp in the history of creative-based businesses. The power that used to be in the hands of publishers and other middlemen is up for grabs. That’s why there are bullying clients more–because they are scared as they lose the control they used to have. Now is the time when creatives could grab that power, once and for all, but it means rejecting rights-grabbing contracts and/or giving work away (via CC licenses or otherwise). One way to take this power and to wield it fairly is to use a variable pricing system–usage pricing in our case–as this article suggests.

DPP spread CC misinformation

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Ah, the irony in the name of the piece…

Do you have a subscription to DPP or Outdoor Photographer (same publisher)? I encourage you to cancel it or, at least, to write and complain about this piece

Not Your Competition

Monday, June 14th, 2010

I friend sent me this email this morning (his tongue in his cheek, of course):

See, not only do you not need ‘fancy’ photography, you don’t even need competent photography for a good corporate website.

Oh, and it’s okay to have your kids draw your logo, too.

I’m sharing it with you because I think it’s hilarious. Also, I’m sharing it as a lesson because some of you will have a natural tendency to get pissed and complain that this is what you are competing with.

That’s wrong thinking and wasted effort. Businesses like this who shoot for themselves or get the cheapest “camera with a heartbeat” out there are NOT your competition. They are not worth your time, effort, or thought. Forget about them except to laugh about how bad their websites are. Let them go. Don’t chase the bottom.

Instead, find the right targets for your work. Keep a file of ads, editorial, whatever you see that feels like a fit for your vision–and go after those targets. Aspire to work with clients who have the same aesthetic as you do rather than trying to get someone who thinks Thomas Kinkade is high art to appreciate your creativity. You don’t have the time to change them and why bother when they are still not likely to value (financially) your work?

Don’t waste the energy on trying to make the proverbial silk purse from a sow’s ear.



Two things…

1. I got an anonymous comment (and you know I don’t approve anonymous comments) that was actually from an “imaging company” (I checked the IP address). The author asked what I thought was wrong with the images and called them “not stellar” but “competent.” So, I’ll tell what I think is wrong with them: the lighting, the exposure, the contrast, the color temperature, the styling, the framing, the wardrobe… pretty much everything. I’m hard-pressed to find “right” in many of the pictures. If this is competent, I’d hate to see what incompetent is.

Grizzly clearly has enough business to warrant much better! If they are this successful with horrible design and laughable images, imaging how successful they might be with the good stuff!

2. Otto Hyde is an old friend who was pulling my leg.

Busy Writing

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Sorry for the lack of posts. I’ve been hard at work on the second edition of my Business Basics for the Successful Commercial Photographer (or How to Use your Left Brain Too). Lots of material to update. It’s made me be a bad blogger lately, and I’m sorry for that.

Speaking of the book, I’m adding a whole chapter on social media and I’d like your help. If you have issues, questions, ideas relating to that subject, please let me know. You can post them in the comments here or email me or FB me.

Also, if you have other questions you’d like to have covered in this book, you can always share those as well.

Thanks for your patience!

Lessig + Pirate Party + (maybe) Kagan?

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010


For photographers who don’t want to get too bogged in the details here’s the short form:

Lessig backs Kagan.

Lessig backs the Pirate Party (Sweden) and shares many of the same stated policy goals.

Kagan was significantly involved in Lessig getting hired by Harvard.

Harvard’s Berkman Center is (essentially) the home of Creative Commons now (btw, note how they call CC a “public charity”!!!

Harvard’s Berkman Center DEFENDED Joel Tenenbaum in his infringement case (where he brazenly stole huge volumes of music).

Can we conclude that Kagan backs many of these same policy goals?