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

Posts tagged “organize

Portraits of the 99% Project

Many of you I’m sure are aware of the Occupy Wall Street protests, whether your with them or against them makes no difference to me. I saw the protest as an opportunity to photograph a variety of passionate people from all walks of life so I recently set up a mini photo studio on the block near the OccupySF protests and took over 60 portraits of the individual protestors. Feeling very satisfied with the results of the shoot, I thought it was done right there.

In less than 24 hours after I posted the images they had 4,100 views. My servers crashed. The images started popping up in various places, facebook and social media, news sources and more. People contacted me and told me they were inspired. This project suddenly became much bigger. I have setup a fund to raise money to fly to various other cities around California and do the same thing there. The images will be donated to the Occupy Wallstreet effort, in an attempt to raise awareness of the individuals involved. The money donated will go towards getting flights, train tickets, hostels and fuel to make this project happen. Donors will receive limited edition prints, posters, cards, books and more.

If you don’t want to contribute, that’s fine. But please, unless you are deadset against this movement, spread the word. Forward this to a friend. Post the link on Facebook. Go and “like” the indie-go-go page. This project means a lot to me, and I want to see it through.

Thank you for your time.


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.

Eliminating day rates

I received a few emails from some potential clients this weekend, each of which were both involved the same industry; custom high end tailoring and clothing.
Each client asked me what my day and half day rates were. I explained to them (in as few sentences as possible) that I don’t work by day rates. The services I can offer them are of more value that can be measured on a clock.
My services include (but are not limited to): Photography, (of course!) access and use of Makeup artists, hair stylists, wardrobe specialists and location scouts, a full retouching studio for light or heavy retouching and print services.
I said it would not be fair to throw a price at them if I simply did not know what it was that they needed, and with internet marketing clients’ needs are so specific that it’s only fair that you are compensated for catering to those specific needs.
I also feel that it’s easy to be taken advantage of by using a day rate or half day rate. If something takes far more or far less time than anticipated, you’re stuck either sitting around doing nothing or rushing around trying to finish within the day. Something will always happen that is out of you or your client’s control, and you may not be compensated well enough to handle those situations.

On the other side of the coin, I can totally see why clients like the consistency of day rates. It may help them plan their budget better. Because of this, you must become very skilled at putting together accurate, all encompassing estimates and bids. I can see how a day rate works for studio photographers, or senior portrait photographers. It’s a different type of clientele. But speaking as someone from the advertising and editorial world, I have chosen to eliminate day rates from my vocabulary.

Check out Shakodo for pricing tips and advice, it’s free to join and frankly it’s a really amazing resource.

Selling yourself short

Something that every photographer struggles with is how to price themselves. Most of the time, they under-price themselves because they are scared that someone will say no. The problem with this is that it hurts the entire industry. If you set a new low for portraits (I’m looking at you, Craigslist photographers) you will be setting a new low for expectations of photographers and the services that we provide.
And our services are valuable.
Photography is everywhere, this is a very visual time whether it’s photo or video, and people that can provide this service well get paid well.
Start with some research. See what other photographers in your area are charging, because it’s different from city to city. You can’t charge a New York rate in a Mississippi town. Have yourself a minimum rate that you will go and shoot for, and you can figure out that minimum rate using the ASMP’s cost of doing business calculator.
Keep in mind that you will NOT be shooting 365 days a year, so it’s important that the work you take can pay your expenses on days that you’re not shooting. Which brings me to my next point:
Don’t charge by the hour. You will ALWAYS be selling yourself short, unless it’s some sort of event photography in which case you should have a minimum time for. Take for example, you charge 75.00 an hour and you’re heading out to shoot a portrait of a business man. His people have given you one hour with him but it takes you 10 minutes to do the portrait. His people will then decide to pay you for only 1/10 of your time. It happens.
If you can do a shoot in 10 minutes that was thought to take an hour to complete, this means that you are very skilled and should be paid more, am I right?
You should also remove the term “Day Rate” from your business vocabulary as well. It comes down to a time issue – if a client has you for 8 hours and you’re done shooting in 3 they have you for another 5 hours – which is time you could be spending managing your business.
And that’s what photographers are, businessmen. You have to know your numbers and be able to set your rates competitively. Don’t fly into the market and undercut your competition – that’s just tacky. Research, and price fairly. Are you better than a mall photographer with one of those “studios” in the middle of the floor? Then charge more. People will eventually come around and see that they get what they pay for.

The Importance of Branding

Those of you who have visited my website in the last 2 weeks have probably noticed something a bit different. My name now appears in between two brackets and the brackets are a prominent feature throughout my website, outlining both my bio info, contact details and descriptions of projects or bodies of work. This is the fruition of years of searching not only for a graphic that best represents me, but also searching for a visual style in my photography.

This arrangement of text and characters represents my obvious taste for things that are dramatic yet subtle, while being overall clean and thought out.
Branding is important for any business today, with everyone having a website and crying out for attention. A brand is your identity, and it’s what people will use to remember you, whether you have a graphic logo or a simple arrangement of text like me. I have explored graphic logos in the past and just didn’t feel comfortable with how they represented me, so I chose a specific font – two of them in fact, and went forward from there. The font is the voice that your clients will “hear” upon reading your name and information, so it’s important to pick one that best represents your work.
I then used the subtle graphics – the brackets – for certain things on the site. I didn’t want to use them for everything, like framing every photo in every portfolio with them, that would be too much. But using them in descriptions works well, and it’s a subtle reminder of who’s work you are looking at.
Branding takes a long time. Make some designs or come up with some ideas of your own. Show them to friends, family, peers, anyone who will look at them. If necessary, go to a graphic designer – this is what they are paid to do.
Over time, people will come to remember this logo or brand, so make sure it’s everywhere your business is. Business cards, promos, etc. It will make your work more recognizable and your clients take you more seriously.

Pressed for time

So this week, I’ve had 3 studio shoots, 1 event shoot, post-production on all 4 shoots, 2 articles to write, (one for Saddle Stitch, one for the ol’ blog) all while trying to have some semblance of a life.
Working for yourself, as most photographers do, can take up a lot more time than some people think. They imagine that you spend a few hours on a set with glamorous models during the day and spend the evening with cocktails, but they are leaving out the book keeping, post-processing and client contact that goes along with that morning shoot.
Many times I will work on a shoot or several for 7 days a week – no time off. I eat, sleep and breathe photography. And I love it.

If this is you, you're in the right field.

If this is you, you're in the right field.

Sure, you have to make time for your friends or family or significant other. But there are times when you are on a roll, weather it’s your flow of steady work or a firestorm of creativity – those are the times when you have to – need to – work as a photographer. You will push out your best work, because you’re feelin’ it and it feels good.
Photography is all about love, you have to love it for when you have those busy weeks. And like most jobs, the more you love it the better you will be at it. If you love it enough, you may never have to work a day in your career.

How to start a Photoblog

So you have a few photoblogs that you regularly visit (Hopefully Some Photographer is one of them) for a variety of reasons. Maybe one has a great “Photo of the week” post or maybe another one is a great news source. You say to yourself “I take pictures! I write! I can do this too!” Running a photoblog can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a lot of work. If you start to gather a following, there’s more pressure to write and you’d be surprised how easy it is to get writer’s block. So before you jump in and starting snapping pics and writing tutorials here are a few things to consider.


What kind of audience do you want to appeal to? Beginners? Enthusiasts? Pros? It’s important to carve out your niche but to do so carefully – you don’t want to get in over your head. Most of the people that write blogs are pros, enthusiasts or beginners themselves and you can tell by what they write. This can also be reflected in the title of your blog. Take A Photo Editor for example – the titles says it all. Lou Lesko is allowed to use his own name as a title, because he’s well known enough in the industry. One day maybe you can name your blog after yourself too!


What sort of photoblog will you be doing? Whats the theme? The idea? Are you going to do daily posts like a 365 photos project? Are you going to post other people’s work as a way of showing the world great artists? Are you going to focus on industry news? Write tutorials? Or will it be all about you? Find out what would suite you best and stick with it. A combination of these themes can make your blog versatile and appeal to a wider audience, but it’s more difficult to keep up.


There are a myriad of blog hosting services and websites you can use to set up your blog. You can buy your own domain name and have it that much more professional – or you can start out with a free service and see where it all goes. Most blog services have a free program that allows you to do all of the basics post-dating your posts, themes and looks for your blog, etc. Then they usually offer a premium service as well that allows more customization or storage space.

Picture 1

There’s a lot of things to consider when joing a blog service. Besides everything I mentioned above, you want a good community of bloggers, and bloggers who stick with it. WordPress is definitely the most popular blogging service, and you will find thousands of bloggers blogging about everything you can imagine. It might make your site a bit difficult to find, but if you tag and categorize properly you shouldn’t have a problem.

Picture 2

While I don’t believe that Blogger’s community is as dedicated as WordPress’, It is quite user-friendly and there are lots of ways to customize, even without a premium service. It’s affiliated with google, so you go straight to a search directory without any steps or registrations.
Make sure that whatever service you use has a lot of storage space for photos. Most places have at least 1 gig of storage, but you’d be surprised at how fast you can fill that up. You can always host your images through a different service like Flickr or Photobucket.

Flickr is easily the largest photo-sharing community and is aimed at photographers.

Flickr is easily the largest photo-sharing community and is aimed at photographers.

Photobucket is designed for mass photo-storage and sharing

Photobucket is designed for mass photo-storage and sharing


So you have the theme, the host and the pictures – how often should you update? The answer is as much as you want – within reason. If your new at this and not sure what you want out of it yet, Once a week is a good place to start. Unless you’re doing a photo-a-day type blog, you won’t need to post every day – this gets tiresome for some readers. I would say even 3 times a week is a bit excessive. Twice a week is nice and comfortable, if you have a lot to write about. Spread out your posts don’t update two days in a row, get a schedule going so your readers know when to come back. And be consistent, don’t post 3 times in one week and then one time again a month later. No one will take you seriously.


You’re probably doing this for one of the following reasons: (1) You have an opinion to share. (2) You have a lot of photos to share. (3) You have the inside scoop of the industry. (4) You like photo gear.
All of these reasons are fine – if you’re passionate about it, you will write well about it. A lot of up and coming professionals (like myself) get a blog to show potential clients that they can do more besides photography, and that they are diverse. Understand why you are writing and have a goal. When you reach that goal, make another one.


Proper spelling and grammar is important. Readers will not take u srsly if u pst lik ths. Have a minimum/maximum wordcount. No one like s a rambler, but you should not have 50 word posts. I have a minimum of 250 words and a max of 1000. Use social networking like Facebook and Twitter or LinkedIn and Friendfeed to tie into your blog or advertise it. Don’t be excessive – nobody likes spam. Services like BlogExplosion work ok to get traffic initially – but if you want quality traffic you should stick with forums and websites for photographers to promote it on.  Engage your readers – have polls and ask questions to encourage participation – it will stick in their minds and they will come back. Have links, lots of links. Links to other blogs, websites, etc.
So there you have it, the foundations to starting a photoblog. Have fun and experiment. Take risks – I am dangerously close to my word limit – and be consistent. Good luck and happy photoblogging!