10 Photographer Commandments

  1. Understand and accept that you will make mistakes. You are going to forget a battery or mess up a setting or forget to double-dog confirm that one stylist or something. None of this is terminal. You’re a creative problem-solver–you’ll find a way through it. 
  2. You are not your images. If you show your book to someone and they don’t like it, don’t take it personally. Art is subjective. Just because your work isn’t right for them doesn’t mean you suck. 
  3. No matter how much you know, someone else will always know more. Always be learning and be willing to learn. Take classes. Listen to clients. Be open to other ideas. 
  4. Don’t get stuck on the final. You may know exactly what image you want to make, but if you stop there or hyper-focus on making only that image, you may miss out on an even better image. Play. 
  5. Treat people who know less than you with respect, deference, and patience. Bob Smith, corporate “suit” client, may offer up the lamest idea in the universe on a shoot. Be kind to him–he is trying. Be kind to your assistants and other crew too while you are at it. You are not a god (read #1 again) but another human being like those around you (you just have talent in an area they don’t). Don’t be an egotistical jerk. 
  6. The only constant in the world is change. “While we’re here, can we just shoot…” and (on-set) “I just found out we need the model to be blonde” and the like are opportunities, not difficulties–if you choose to look at them that way. Same for market changes and technology changes. Be open to change. 
  7. The only true authority stems from knowledge, not from position. You can’t force a client to respect you, but you can earn that respect by demonstrating your professionalism compassionately and openly at every opportunity. 
  8. Advocate for what you believe, but gracefully accept defeat. They client may say they want your look, but sometimes the boss of the client’s boss’ boss wants is how s/he wants it and that is just that. Pitch your ideas, advocate for them passionately, then let go when it won’t change a thing and cash the check in peace. 
  9. Reach out. You can’t expect people to know about you and your work just because you have a website and even if you send promos. You need to get out there and meet people. The more you put yourself out there to the world, the greater the chance you’ll connect with someone. 
  10. It’s art–not a tumor. If your work is serious work, like drudgery, then you might want to think about another career. You need to love what it is you are doing–making images needs to be a joy, a release, a passion–it needs to be the fun part. If you don’t absolutely love it, you need to try to re-find that fun/passion/joy. Otherwise, you might as well do something that has a regular paycheck and health insurance. 

(respectfully inspired by this Coding Horror post)

Network overload

MSNBC has an interesting article on social networking and its overload potential. While the article is speaking more to regular employed-type folks rather than small businesspeople like most of you, there are parts that are relevant. I think it’s worth the read. 

The most important take-away for us, I think, is that you can’t do it all and you really shouldn’t anyway. Pick which tools will help and devote some effort to them, and let the others fall. Sure, you may hear about PhotoBob who got a gig because he used Twitter and you aren’t, but that’s fine–that’s his thing and not yours. 

Remember that no matter what you do, you won’t ever reach every potential target and/or get every opportunity that might be a potential project for you. There is just no way to cover all the bases–even with a team of geeks working every system out there. Choose what you will do, put in good effort there, and stop regretting what you choose not to do.


Thursday I spent my evening not in my law school class, but in the ER where I ended up having some unexpected minor surgery. I’m healing up, though, and expect to be fully recovered soon (fingers crossed, of course). My stitches may even come out tomorrow (Monday). 

Why am I sharing this? Because things happen unexpectedly. Do you have good insurance including disability insurance? You need it, especially if you are the primary breadwinner in the family and/or have kids. You never know when something will break: your camera, your computer, some part of your body. Make sure they are all covered.

New websites video!

I have (finally) completed the newest BAP product: a video presentation called Websites: Your Most Important Tool. It’s so new it’s not even up on my site yet, but you can purchase it here using this button below:

 Buy Now

It’s almost 30 minutes of up-to-date information on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your website, and it costs only $45 which is about what you’d probably pay to see me give this presentation and this way you have it on your hard drive (or iPod) for future reference. There are real examples of sites that work (none of bad ones since I rather not be sued, thankyouverymuch) as well as information on SEO issues, metadata, and what buyers really want.

Here are a few stills from the show:

I hope you enjoy it and tell your photographer buddies to buy a copy too (can’t blame a girl for selling now, can you?).

Campaign Manager

How many of you complain that it is the execution of the marketing plan that bogs you down? That is, it’s the actual doing that gets in your way–you get busy and don’t get around to sending your stuff. If that’s your problem, there’s a solution via Agency Access–their new Campaign Manager program. Check it out (there’s a discount offer right now, too).

I agree

I got this quote today at the end of an advertising news compilation email I get every day (the Brief from pileandcompany.com). I think it’s perfect for all of us in this crazy industry:

I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate.
-George Burns

A clip

Here is, hopefully…if I got everything to work right, a short clip from the first BAP Presentation (on targeting) so you can get an idea of what you’ll be getting…


It’s an M4P file, and in scale it is smaller than what the main file is, but it should give you a taste.

BAP Presentations!

I’ve just posted the first of several presentations, available for purchase. These are keynote presentations, much like what I show when I speak to groups around the country, narrated by, of course, me. 🙂

The first one is on a very important topic for photographers–targeting. You can find out more here, including a link to purchase via Google Checkout. 

I hope to have more of these available very, very soon, so keep checking back!

More bad Flickr news

This is a very long post, but it covers some absolutely vital issues for any photographer with images on Flickr. Please read the whole thing, and do something (like write, share the info, etc.). And thanks Jim (Goldstein) for sending me the link.