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Sharing experience, advice, and photos to all with the shutterbug.

Posts tagged “Business

GLIDE Springlicious BTS and updates

Wow, it’s been wayyy too long since I updated last, hopefully there won’t be anymore of that for a while I’ve been terribly busy this past month.
To kick off this blog post, here’s a commercial shoot I did for the San Francisco local non-profit GLIDE promoting their annual fund raiser Springlicious:


This is my 2nd year in a row working with GLIDE and it’s always a lot of fun. The models are all drag queens/kings and the shoots are always a blast. An extra bonus is I always get a couple VIP tickets to the fundraiser which includes free food and drinks as well as a drag show. Waaaaayyyyy too much fun for a Saturday night.

Here’s a little BTS video that they used to promote the event:

In other news, the “Portraits of the 99%” project is still going strong and recently received a 500.00 grant to help out with the mounting of images. I’ve got a dozen or so ready to show and I’m in talks with a few galleries and collectors about doing a show soon including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in the financial district. Also, this guy won me an Outsanding Documentary photography award. Very exciting!

And speaking of which, you all should know that IndieGoGo has been integral in getting this project funded and they recently asked me if I would be an ambassador for them! Of course I humbly accepted so if you go to an IndieGoGo meetup in San Francisco expect to see me there as a speaker. And as an added bonus, they want to furnish their office with a few of my Occupy Portraits.

I’m working on a number of things over the next few months so stay tuned, I promise to update more often.

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Set your standards

Last week I was talking on the phone with my mother and she mentioned that the most recent photo she had of me is over 6 years old. As photographers we never think much about going in front of the camera. It’s not that I don’t like getting my picture taken or have some kind of phobia about it… I’ve helped out a lot of friends with shoots and have been a model in some cases. So I asked a few close friends if they would be willing to set aside a small amount of time to take a portrait of me. I offered a trade of services, a portrait for a portrait but I understood that they were working professionals and may not be able to make the time. So to keep my options open, I decided to place an ad on Craigslist to see what the local area had to offer. I knew I would have to pay for quality and I said that I would pay “Market rates.”

What happened next sincerely horrified me.

I promptly received 30+ emails from people claiming to be “Professional Photographers” and offering me their services for as low as $55.00 for a 2 hour session with 5 poses and all images on a CD. NO career can be sustained on one off 55.00 jobs and that doesn’t even begin to cover your operating expenses let alone pay you a living wage. Not only that, the people that are offering such rock-bottom rates are hurting the local market by lowering people’s expectations and standards of photography.

Not all of the photographers were bad or anything, some of them were pretty good but were charging far too little. Turning the tables like that has opened my eyes on what it’s like to be one of my own clients. Not all but most of the websites were terrible, a flickr page or completely unusable. The emails were extremely unprofessional and poorly written. Some of them didn’t even contain links to portfolios, they just had attached photos. Photography is a service industry – first impressions, even via email are EXTREMELY important.

If you are unsure what to charge for your photography services PLEASE go here and figure out your operating expenses and then ask around about what other photographers charge in your area. You are doing no favors to anyone by being “The cheapest” and you certainly don’t want that to be your reputation. You get what you pay for and this venn diagram sums it up nicely:


Now pick two.


My 12 favorite blogs for pictures, industry news and a good laugh

My google reader has blown up in the last year. I personally hate getting my inbox loaded up with emails from blogs and RSS feeds, so when I discovered that Google Reader lets you put everything in one place along with providing apps for your iGoogle, android phone and tablet, I was all over it. So today I want to share my Google Reader list with you guys, the blogs I read cover a broad range of things from industry news to awesome photographers to hearty laughs. I won’t be sharing my ENTIRE reader list of course, because not everyone wants to spend the entire morning reading blogs as I get 40-50 entries a day. So, without further ado;

Pictures

500 Photographers‘ Pieter Wisse digs through archives and various forms of media around the world and finds the most unique photographers that I have ever seen in one place. The collection is eclectic ranging from fine art to documentary to commercial photography and is worth a look for anyone looking for some inspiration. As of 1/17 the list is at 427.

Feature shoot showcases a small body of work from various user submitted photographers. They also have a great section called “Photo du jour” which features a single strong image from user submissions. Alison Zavos, who runs Feature Shoot also works in the photo industry as a photo editor, photographer and consultant.

Industry News

A Photo Editor is hands down the BEST industry blog I have ever read. Rob Haggart is a former director of photography and he shares his stories, opinions and advice for all to take in and absorb. He shares interviews, magazine spreads, real-world photo job estimates and quotes from industry leaders. You’d be doing yourself a disservice to not read and subscribe to his blog.

Stella Kramer is in the same boat as Rob Haggart, she’s a seasoned veteran of the photo industry and she offers her views and advice on a broad range of topics. A large portion of her blog is dedicated to the politics of the industry, especially in relation to historical context.

Strictly Business is the ASMP’s industry business blog and is run by several established professionals. Obviously the blog covers business related topics but believe me, it’s not some boring business 101 class, it’s some of the most useful blogging I’ve read because the professionals who write for it are working NOW, rolling with the punches and adapting to change.

Technical education
David Hobby runs Strobist and he’s all about using small lights to shoot big assignments. Mostly the blog features tutorials on how to shoot certain subjects with speedlights but there’s also great advice on how to tackle the organization of a shoot and how to use your software to the best of it’s ability.

Weather you’re on a budget or looking to to test out your crafting skills, DIY photography shows you how to build any light modifier or tool you can think of, on the cheap and with things you can find around your own home.

Humour

Photoshop Disasters features so many hilarious “How did they get away with that?” moments that most of your time spent on this blog will be spent boosting your own photoshop confidence.

We’ve all had difficult clients and Clients from Hell lets you vent about them and read about some of the most ridiculous requests, fits and naivety that you can’t even imagine unless you’ve been there.

Miscellaneous

If you’re looking for inspiration for your next promo look no further than No Plastic Sleeves. The feature some of the most original and creative promo pieces I have ever seen ranging from a simple series of post cards to box sets with branded disposable cameras in them.

Everyone loves gear so Nikon Rumors is my go to place for upcoming Nikon equipment. The author finds, through various tips and speculation, new Nikon Products and news and presents his findings. It’s really interesting to see how often speculation becomes truth. For those of you non-Nikon users there’s also a Canon Rumors.

This is another really important blog especially for those just getting into the industry. Photo Attorney has articles about copyright, contracts and laws and situations that we will all find ourselves involved with in some way or another.

Thanks for taking the time to check out these great sites. They have been a huge help to me and my own work in Photography. What are some of your favorite blogs?


Crowdsourced funding – Putting your audience in the spotlight

Those of you who were there at the beginning of my “Portraits of the 99%” project probably saw my IndieGoGo page, which I was using to raise money to continue the project. The fund raiser was successful, I raised almost 2500.00 between donations at the site and private donations from funders in San Francisco. This allowed me to travel and work on the project more or less full time and get it published in numerous print and online publications. It’s a pretty interesting resource that’s become available thanks to the internet. It’s especially useful for Photojournalists who rarely get their travel expenses covered by magazines and newspapers anymore.
Crowdsourcing is great because you can show something to the public that you’re excited about and if they’re excited about it as well – you can raise the money to make your vision happen. But there’s a few things you need to consider before you start spamming your friends with a link to your kickstarter;

Know your audience

Since your audience is your source of funding you can’t just start a project about anything. You need to think about your project and who your audience is. Who else would like to see this project happen? What age group does this project appeal to? Are you photographing the rise of the hipster trend in foreign countries or are you covering elderly men adjusting to retired life at home or in a home? These obviously have different audiences. Do some research – find out who’s already involved in the things you want to explore and get funded.

Make it awesome

You can’t post up a few scans of some sketches and drawings of the photos you want to take – you need to already have the project going. This shows initiative on your part, that you’re actively working on the project and will make potential supporters more likely to help you out. It has to have some semblance of completion and it has to look good, it has to look AWESOME. Below is my video pitch which featured me shooting and interacting with people, as well as photos and interviews with protestors. Make sure you keep it short and sweet.


Have rewards

Your audience needs some encouragement to get involved aside from the satisfaction of helping you fund your awesome project and a tax write-off. The best way to do this is reward them with different things depending on the amount they donate or pledge. For a donation of say, 10.00 supporters can get a nice hand written thank you card or a “thank you” credit in your project. Other amounts can get them access to behind the scenes stuff, prints, posters, books… the possibilities are endless.

Follow up, be involved and deliver

This is the most important thing. Be actively involved with your audience. Send them updates and pictures of work in progress. And ALWAYS deliver on your promises. Don’t just say you’re having an exhibition of the completed project at the MOMA if you actually don’t. You’ll upset your audience and it’s just plain dishonest. Always be upfront and transparent with what you’re doing, what you’re capable of doing and how you’re doing everything.

Resources

IndieGoGo: Takes 4% if you reach your goal, 8% if you don’t. Disperses within 7 business days after fundraiser has ended.
Kickstarter: Takes 5% and disperses ONLY if you reach your goal. Seems to be more focused on products and inventors.
Emphas.IS: Tales 15% and disperses ONLY if you reach your goal. You must get your project approved before you can begin funding. It seems to be THE place for serious photojournalists so it carries a lot of prestige.

Great video on crowdsourcing:


New promo… promo

After several months of researching, designing, proofing and prototyping, my new 3D folding promo is coming out! It was a pretty large project to undertake, as we went through many concepts for the layout and design but finally came up with a design that would work. The initial inspiration was from the Cirque du Soleil Kooza soundtrack.


After some modification we made several smaller prototypes and tested them out before ordering them.
As for actually ordering the pieces I ran into some problems. The final dimensions of the promo when laid out on a flat sheet of paper were 21×13. To get a custom dye cut in that size would be very expensive so I decided to order everything on a 10 point coated poster stock and throw a party and assemble them by hand.


It was 4th of July weekend after all, so I threw on a pot roast, got some beer and invited a bunch of friends. It took us all day, but ultimately was worth it. I’m very grateful to have friends that will help me out with big projects like this – creative people do have lives outside of their profession(sometimes).

The front

The back

The inside

No 3-D glasses required!

The QR code isn’t active yet, so don’t even try. Eventually it will link to a hidden page on my website that will host a video that is essentially a commercial for me. Check out the promo in action below:


Before that big shoot…

When you’re getting ready for a shoot it’s very important to stay very organized. You probably have a lot of equipment that needs to be looked after and kept in one place, and it can be difficult to keep track of everything.
Before any shoot I make up a check-list in word or office that itemizes every piece of equipment that I will be bringing along on the shoot. It lists everything from cameras and lenses to clamps and gaffers tape. Then I have at least 4 other columns where I go through the check list and each point it travels. A check for loading up before the shoot, a check for arriving on location, a check for the end of the day and a check for unloading back at my studio. This will save your little pieces of equipment and save you some money in replacing those little pieces in case you leave them at your shoot location.
The following example is a check list for a video I’m shooting this month for a local healthcare organization:

This is just the first page, as the second page lists all of my cables that are required as well as flags and other misc grip gear. Your check list will probably go through a few drafts, so don’t make it the night before the shoot. Carry around a little notebook with you not only to write down ideas but to remind yourself of items that need to be added to your list. It will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.


Always shoot video on your set!

Last weekend I shot a small campaign for Glide, a local non-profit that provides healthcare and other services for the homeless and needy. The campaign was for the Pride Team for an event that will be raising funds for the organization. The event was a Drag show, so the assignment was to take studio portraits of the performers. We took individual portraits, pairs of portraits and a group portrait. The group portrait has become sort of the center of attention for the campaign, but the individual portraits will be used during the event itself.
Anyway I had a blast working in the studio with the client, an art director and a crew of stylists and one thing I decided to do independently was shoot some behind the scenes footage with my trusty SONY NEX3, nothing too crazy but I wanted to document the shoot. I put together a 2 1/2 minute behind the scenes video and posted it to my vimeo, and within hours I got a flurry of emails from the client, the art director and a number of other people at Glide. They wanted to license the video for the event and for their website, and I was more than happy to comply with this.
Even if you don’t have a lot of fancy gear or don’t necessarily have a lot of experience shooting video, do it anyway. It’s a great way to learn, and you might make some money in the process. It’s simple at first, grab a friend and have them film some stuff around the set and then put a few clips together and you just might get a nice source of extra revenue.

My assistant Alanna and the art director with the performers

One of the pairs shots

A busy, satisfying shoot.