The past few years have witnessed many challenges to those who want to earn money with their photography for both full-timers and those who use their talents to earn extra income. One area that has remained strong, indeed grown, is the family portrait business. Photographers have seen the need to adapt to changes in their clients’ expectations and tastes and, as importantly, the changing pace of technology. In addition, there are important marketing considerations that contribute to success as well. In this article I talk with Kim Campbell, Orit Harpaz, Vonda Hussey, and Michelle Tricca to gain their insight on the family portrait business. Please use the “Web Resources” listed at the end of this article to help you visit their websites so you can see more of their dynamic and exciting work.
The book publishing business is experiencing huge upheavals and transformations of late. “Physical” bookstores are closing, and for many photographers eBooks are an exciting option. While eBooks may become a preferred delivery system for creative content, with them come questions about creation, preferred content, and, perhaps most importantly, how to market your work. In this article we’ll look at how three photographers are working through this change and how it has altered the way they show their work to the world. Thanks go to Jeff Colburn, Bret Edge, and Guy Tal for their expertise and wisdom in this regard. Please check our links and contact information at the end of this article to see their work, and more.
There’s a long tradition of photographers doing pro bono work for charities. Now, with social media and the Internet in general, the marriage of photography and doing good for others has grown even more. NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) have been around since the mid-1940s, but in the last few years some amazing photography has further helped communicate their mission.
Does using social media as a marketing tool work for photographers? That’s what we aimed to find out by interviewing five photographers who have successfully used this particular marketing technique in very specific ways. Unlike advertising and direct mail, where you send out your material and wait for a response, and sales calls, which are more time-consuming, social media is a unique technique that can breed success, but only when properly and fully utilized. Many thanks to our photographers for taking the time and attention to share their thoughts and experiences (websites at end of column): Liz Cowie, Clark Dever, David Alan Kogut, Brad Mangin, and Chuck St. John.
“Imagine that you shoot something ‘fine art’ or ‘personal’ that you yourself think no one will ever want to use commercially.
You don’t bother to get a release…”
There are legal issues that concern all photographers—copyrights, contracts, and the law concerning privacy rights (model releases). In this article we’ll go over these matters with a panel of experts in the field, but of course not every issue can be covered completely, so I’ve included a host of web resources for further exploration and education.
I have always been a big supporter of joining and participating in professional groups. The growth of my career as a photo rep, teacher, and author all came from joining and participating in groups that brought together like-minded individuals. For photographers looking to enhance or initiate their careers there are numerous professional associations worthy of attention.
Gallery exhibit openings, fine art collectors calling, fine art book sales—all of these are every photographer’s dream for their personal work. Some even dream of fine art photography as a career. While creating art photography is one topic, selling the work is quite another. For as many high-tech changes as there have been in the art field (selling prints online!) there are still traditional marketing techniques such as research and print presentation that can make a difference. For this year’s focus on fine art we talk with an expert in the field, Mary Virginia Swanson.
The world of portrait photography is defined by its differences—all potential clients, whether they are individuals, families, or professionals, are different people with different imaging needs. There is a difference in style and approach in making commercial, professional, and social (family) portraits. Commercial clients have something to sell or someone to influence; consumer clients have something or someone to remember. And, at any point in time, a photographer’s style may be so strong or special that it transcends these categories and enters the “fine art” field.
Since my first explorations of the stock photography industry, there have been many changes and upheavals in the business. In this column, I hope to sort out some of the most important changes that have occurred. One is the relationship of the photographer and the stock agency and the changing nature of the agency business itself. Indeed, many stock agencies are now called stock distributors since they no longer work as agents to “represent” photographers. For photographers, there is an even higher degree of specialized subject knowledge and/or access to a subject required for a reasonable sales return on the work.
In my workshops and classes the most common concern is about marketing and getting business. It’s a sign of the times, and folks are asking: “Everything seems different these days in the photography business, what should I do?” My first and foremost answer is to have a business plan and then work that plan. It is simply not enough to put up a website, send out a few mailers, and see what happens. The best advice I can offer is to study up on creating and implementing a marketing plan and make the effort as important as learning and improving your craft.
Technology and availability of “good enough” images has seriously cut into the income potential of professional travel photographers. Even though the lure of travel photography is still ever present in the minds of many photographers, the question needs to be asked—can you still make money shooting travel in today’s marketplace? The answer is “yes…and” due to the qualifiers today’s market has placed on this field of photography. Yes…and you may need to seriously look at stock sales. Yes…and you may want to add value and sales by becoming a writer as well as a photographer. Yes…and you may need to consider adding professional services like video capture to your business plan.
One of my favorite topics is helping you find ways to make money with your photography. Greeting card and calendar clients seem “hidden” only because most photography marketing articles usually focus on the bigger and broader markets like advertising, editorial, or even weddings and portraiture. But the “paper products” companies are still publishing, even moving into e-cards, and they still need images. I will confess, surrounded as I am by photography and photographers, I am still a Gold-Crown-card-carrying Hallmark club member!
“Doing Well by Doing Good” is how you might describe the subject of this column. It’s one of my favorite topics—photographers working for nonprofit organizations and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and finding a way to both make a living and make a change in their community. Whether it is local or global, photography has always been used to advocate for social change. There are many local and international communities and organizations you can serve.
Yes, there are staff jobs for photographers! Not as talked about as those who earn their living working freelance, this career path proves to be still viable today. The seven photographers interviewed for this column have a variety of job titles and work for a broad range of companies, including newspapers, big corporations, educational institutions, and hotels/resorts. Though they work in very different environments, it was interesting to me how much they have in common. As I learned, you will find that just being a technically competent photographer is not enough for a staff photography job. Also, make note of their employers’ use of freelancers. You’ll find that freelancing (working as a stringer) is one path to a staff job.
Advertising photography could be thought of as simply making images designed to sell a product or service. Traditionally, this meant a company hired an advertising agency to create ads to sell their products and services, so the ad agency hired a photographer to do the shoot or sought stock or other image sources to fulfill their image needs.