Lately I’ve been affected by, or near to, an unfortunate run of luck–my own little medical hiccup (much better now, thanks), my mother-in-law taking a terrible fall where she broke her arm and hip (upper femur), and now my husband seems to have food poisoning or something. Oh yeah, and the earth moved, though that was quite minor. There was no way to predict any of these events, but we did plan on the possibility of them happening by getting insurance to cover potential losses. It’s a good idea. While we can’t predict, we can make reasonable assumptions of what risks are most likely, and take steps to protect against those losses.

On one of the photographers’ forums, there is a discussion of a photo assistant who got hit while riding his motorcycle last weekend. The photographer who posted wisely brought up the need for disability insurance as well as health insurance. If you work for yourself, you need disability insurance…especially (but not exclusively!) if you do things like ride motorcycles. Just because you are a good rider makes no difference–the assistant in question did nothing wrong, but now he’s in the hospital and out of work for who knows how long. Just go get the insurance already, okay?

Yesterday my husband told me about a friend of his, another architect who works for himself, who just had his office robbed. The thieves took his brand new Mac. Worse, they took his backup hard drive. He lost everything–all his current projects and several past ones. The same thing can easily happen to photographers. Make sure to follow, at a minimum, the 3-2-1 rule: 3 backups on 2 different media with 1 copy kept off-site. Also, get E/O insurance (you may have this as part of a biz policy, but check on it). E/O stands for Errors and Omissions, but what it covers are things like paying a client because that project you’ve been working on was lost because your studio/office got robbed or if a client thinks you haven’t fulfilled your contract completely. 

What I am not saying, let’s be clear, is to be afraid of all the bad things that can happen. There are all sorts of things that might, maybe, possibly happen and you just could not possibly plan for them all. And if you start thinking that way–that there are so many risks, that is–I highly encourage you to get some therapy because that’s a quick road to never setting foot outside the door! No, don’t be afraid of the world and the crap that happens. Do, however, think about reasonable precautions, like insurance, for things that are more likely to happen.

Earth move bad

We just had a “moderate” earthquake here in Southern California. 5.8 they are saying, and much closer to LA than here, but my office walls sure moved!

Not having grown up here, I will fully admit to being a total wimp when the earth moves. It’s like the most primitive part of my brain yells “earth…move…bad” when it happens. And my adrenaline spikes enough to get a metallic taste in my mouth. 

My husband, a native, thinks they’re fun. Go fig.

This is just another case of how the unexpected can and will happen. Make sure you protect your business financially (can you say “insurance”?) for the risks in your area.

Moving up the value chain

The title of this post is part of a quote from this BusinessWeek article about the Pro v Amateur creative websites, especially photo ones. The quote is spot-on for all creatives–you need to be moving up the value chain or you will, sooner or later, be out of business. 

Generalists, I’m talking to you. I’m talking to any of you who are too afraid to drop all the crap images from your marketing. If you don’t have the cojones to believe in your own creativity and go out there and sell it, you might as well start looking for your next career.

This is an opportunity! Now you have the chance to make the kind of work you love and to get it out there. You just need to do it. 

Last night, my husband (the creative architect who is just starting his biz) was telling me about his frustrations because he has all these ideas, but doesn’t know what to do with them. I suggested using his blog to just put them out there. Don’t edit them, don’t over think them–just share with the world the “crazy” ideas. I suggested making it a self-assignment–post at least one idea every day. Potential clients will, over time, see how he thinks and he will get projects because of that–because the good clients will want someone who thinks like he does…not just some guy who knows how to use CADD.

Same goes for you photographers. Put your vision out there, target the right people, and the work will come.

Creative Lube #24

It’s now available on iTunes or here, free of course. This one talks about the importance of targeting, again. There seems to be lots of resistance to putting targeting first on the to-do list for some reason–hopefully this will help explain why it’s vital to your marketing.

Sean Kernan

Besides being an incredibly talented photographer, Sean is an amazingly kind and fascinating person. I was lucky enough to work with him at the ASMP Strictly Business 2 events where he was the keynote speaker (at 2 of the events) and he was inspiring. 

He still does inspire, regularly, by teaching and by his writings, including his blog. If you’re not reading it, you might want to add it to your list. Make sure to read this article he wrote for Communication Arts as well. And if you can take one of his workshops sometime (there’s a list in the Teaching section of his site) do it. Everyone I know who has has been so happy they did.  

What I find the most compelling and fascinating about Sean is how he is focused on the moment, but he also seeks detachment from the moment–that is, he wants to  let the moment happen and to be aware of it, but not to over-focus on it. In his article mentioned above, the part about being in the church really makes that point well. He continually seeks tools that will help him find and maintain that delicate balance-point, in his case often turning to theatre for those tools. The connection makes sense and definitely works for him. Maybe it will for you as well.

The other side of this is that Sean also doesn’t forget that this often is and should be fun. It can be work, sure, but it is joyful work and sometimes stuff that may feel totally silly or goofy can help you just as much as all the serious study. I could just imagine him saying something like “crab walk across the room…how do you see the room now, Crab-guy?” (to be clear, I have never heard him say this! This is my impression only).  While you are in the process, you think “This is the silliest…I can’t imagine what this has to do with making a great photograph…(grumble)” but then if you just open yourself a bit more, something in you sees differently. A-ha! Somewhere/when later you’ll find yourself on a shoot and you’ll remember that crab-walking-induced feeling, and it will inform how you make your image.

PDN Consultation

Some of you may have noticed in your July PDN that there were a couple of mentions of an online video with a real consultant working with a real photographer. Yes, that consultant would be me and the photographer was Jamie Kripke.

Those videos (there are actually 3–an hour on the phone is too long for one online video) are now live. You can find them here. In them we go over his website and his book, with an eye to attracting more advertising clients. Of course the videos are edited, but a lot of the meat is still there. Jeanine Fijol did a really good job with the project. I hope you enjoy!

Stock Photography

Rob’s got another very helpful post on–this time he was part of a panel discussion on stock photography. Note that film is not dead and there are lots of needs, especially non-white folk images it seems. 

One technical point: when Rob talks about, he means portfolio (singular) which is the website for Condé Nast’s Portfolio business magazine. He most certainly does not mean, which is a lousy place to spend your marketing money.