Work is good; happy work is better

I think every photographer who is really a photographer should be able to make his/her living doing photography. Is that clear? No. Wait. I have to define “photographer” to make that better…okay, a photographer is someone who is passionate about photography and, if told “you can’t be a photographer, pick something else,” would have a difficult time finding something else to fill that immense void in her/his soul.

Better. That weeds out a lot of the wannabes with great equipment and the like of photography, but not the love/passion of it that a real photographer has.

Okay. Now that’s clear.

Unfortunately, the trouble comes when people take that idea I first listed and warp it ever so slightly to “Every real photographer deserves to make his/her living doing photography.” Me, I just don’t believe that is a good way to think.

In my opinion, no one inherently “deserves” anything; we must each earn our way. Life isn’t a magical place where if you are a good person, everything will be honey and roses. Even when we love our work, it is still work and we must do the work to get to our goals. Wishful thinking is good, but you have to act on those thoughts as well.

So, work is good. And working for what you want, is even better than you might know.

There have been studies that have shown that when a person is given something, that something loses value in the person’s mind much more quickly than if that person had earned that thing. In other words, while it would be nice to have someone hand me an iPhone just for being me, working to earn the money to buy my own at some point will mean that I will appreciate the iPhone more and for longer. I will be happier and happier longer with that thing.

Same goes for achievements in professions. Maybe even more so.
Now, happiness is an important thing, in an of itself. It seems that being a happier, more optimistic person may mean that you spend more time and/or effort working towards your goals and making relationships that help you, etc. So rather than being happy because you are successful, the opposite may be, in fact, the case.

So, work is good.
Being happy in your work is good.
So if you love what you do and you work your ass off doing it, you are more likely to be successful doing what it is you love doing which is why you are doing it so well in the first place which makes you happier which is the way most people really define “success” anyway.

In other words, stop thinking about it and go out there and do what it is you love! Take the damn pictures already, instead of talking about taking them! Make the image! Get in that groove. Exploit (in the very good sense of the word–“to use to best and fullest advantage”) that passion as much as you possibly can! Then use that fabulous stuff you’ve made, and loved making, to promote your business so that you can get gigs that pay for you to do this, more and more regularly.


That’s it from me for a week. I’m on vacation for the next 7 days and will be back and raring to go a week from Monday! Happy 4th to the Americans out there!

Now I want chickens!

Don’t tell me great design can’t make someone interested in something s/he would never, ever normally be interested in. One perusal of this site and now I want to have chickens in my back yard.

Ad Spending

The New York Times has an article (registration, free, may be required) about the predicted total money to be spent on ads for this year and some predictions about next year. It has some interesting information, particularly about the decline in local buys due in part, perhaps, to the loss of local companies to large corporations like the evil Wal*Mart. It also explores the increase in new media use.

It’s the new media use that I really want to point out. Far too many photographers are throwing in or hardly charging for web use in its many forms. The web is not free, web ads most certainly aren’t free, and new media uses deserved to be considered as a valid and vital part of any usage license…and its fee.

So, today’s lesson is a two-fer: shop at local companies and to bill appropriately for new media uses.

Is that Ethyl?

You’ve probably thinking that the blog looks a tad different than it did yesterday. You’re not hallucinating–it is different. It’s been renamed Super Premium, to keep with the auto-related motif, it has a new image to go with the name, and places I like to visit and/or which inspire me are now listed on the right, under Blog Injectors.

Thanks to JCBurns, my brother & Mac/tech guru for his help in making this happen.

As for the content, no change there–it will continue to be my thoughts, ideas, and position paper-ish tirades. Hopefully, more of you will gird ’em up and start commenting with those who already have. It’s great to have some form of dialogue and I sincerely like and appreciate the thoughts and opinions of others.

(Btw, here’s what Ethyl is, for those who don’t know)

I’d rather have the lolly

Seth Godin tells us how to make a million dollars. I know a lot of photographers who need to read this, internalize it, and start acting like they really get it.
Not you, I’m sure. 😉


Newsweek, via MSNBC, has an interesting article on luxury products and services. Note how the folks with money are not only willing to pay more, they are wanting to pay more, if it means they get something special.

Photography and other creative services are perfect for this–the best clients not only have money, they have lots of it and not everyone can do what you can do.


I noticed a question on one of the photo forums, which I will answer shortly, but I thought I’d share it with you here. The person was asking if it was standard practice to base a cancellation fee on “some percentage of your dayrate” depending on how far in advance the cancellation occurs.

The answer to this is both yes and EEK! I’m sure you can guess the “EEK” part–the use of the term “dayrate.” Sigh. When are we going to get past this notion?

Now, having said that, the “yes” part is that you should indeed have a schedule for cancellation fees and they should be based on your Creative/Shoot Fee for the time canceled–but not your Usage Licensing Fee–and, of course, any Production Charges incurred to that point.

It’s the part about not using your Usage Licensing Fee as a part of the Cancellation Fee that is going to honk off some people. The argument will be something like “I had made time in my schedule now I’m not going to be making the money I was expecting/promised and I can’t book something else then.” Well, yes, that is true, but it was a mistake to count those chickens too soon.

Yes, you have lost that time for a billable client (probably), so you should be recompensed for that time lost, but as there was no usage, it is unfair to include the Usage Licensing Fee in your Cancellation Fee. There was no license generated, so it is unreasonable and unfair to your client to bill for one.

Even if you believe and agree with the argument that you should be compensated for the lost usage to some extent, the good relationship you will build with this client by NOT billing for a non-existent usage license will be greater than the money you would have gotten. And, if you do bill for the license, you are likely to generate resentment and distrust–very costly to your future relationship with this client.

So, if your client cancels 3 business days or less before the shoot, figure out your scale (50%, 75%, and 100% is a good one) and bill ’em. But keep it to the Creative/Shoot Fee and your incurred Production Charges only.

That’s just too weird

The next time you have someone say that your work is “too weird” or “too different” or “not what is being done” or the like, someone who is trying to rein you in and make your work “safer” and less, well, you, look at this guy’s work and think about just how fantastic it is. He doesn’t hold back–he follows his creative dream and we get to enjoy the results.

(hat tip to my husband for the original link)

The First Day of Summer

Just in time for summer, there’s a new Creative Lube podcast available. This one steps away from the money (directly) for a moment to take a look at what being a creative and running a creative business means. Of course, there are some more practical hints in it too. Check it out (available on itunes too) and tell your colleagues.


In a related summer-y note, I’ll be unavailable during the first week of July. I’m taking a little R&R break, so don’t expect any postings for me here or on the many forums I frequent. The Mac will be off, the cell, too, because it’s not a vacation if one brings/uses work tools!

When did you last take a break? If it’s been more than 6 months, now is a good time to schedule some time off. It will help your business (and your personal life). You’ll be more productive and happier when you get back to it.

Ah, summer…

Bad Food Network

Paul McEvoy shared this horrible craigslist posting for a photo gig in Maine. I’m surprised they don’t ask the photographer to genuflect before approaching the production crew as well. Sheesh.

I flagged it and think others should too. It’s an insult to photographers.

UPDATE: The post has been flagged for removal so let me just share the gist: shoot stills for Food Network (not for broadcast), all day (at least), get images edited and corrected on disc to producer within 7 days, sign over copyright, and get paid a whopping $150US for it.