We have been concentrating on copyright issues in this column of late because of its importance to photographers. (See July, 2011, available at www.shutterbug.com, search Business Trends.) One topic we felt needed coverage was access to and use of images available on the Internet, including some background on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and some updated Internet educational resources that you might want to explore. We also wanted to touch on issues of public domain and image theft, and protection. Though many copyright infringements are non-malicious or unintentional, it remains an issue to be studied in order to defend and protect your images on the web.
For the New Year, I talked with a handful of working photographers willing to share their tips and techniques on building a photography business. We discussed portfolios, new media marketing tools, how often they market to their clients, and their recommendations for starting (or restarting!) your photography business in today’s marketplace. As you read their responses, please note that though they are in different fields of photography—consumer and commercial—there are remarkable similarities in their business building techniques. Also, check out the online references section at the end of this column. Online marketing is already big and will be even bigger in 2012! In the interest of form and continuity, all online marketing references for each photographer are listed in this reference section.
Editorial photography has always been a glamorous and sought-after career with many dreaming of National Geographic-type assignments. The reality of selling editorial work today is the focus of this month’s column, and as you’ll see it’s not all glamour and glitz. Finding and keeping editorial clients is hard work, requiring marketing expertise as well as good people skills.
How do you define photographic success—by making money or by creating works of art? If both appeal to you then there is a way to reconcile what might seem by some as polar opposites: doing both by selling your work as fine art images.
Everywhere you turn—from assignments, self-assignments and from personal work—you can create opportunities for fine art images. Creating fine art photography can add a revenue stream to your commercial photography business. While the goal of selling images as fine art might be seen as unreachable, in fact the marketing and self-promotion methods and techniques for commercial work and fine art are very similar.
“Day rate is not an accurate measure of photography cost, as it does not include expenses. Day rate does not transfer usage or licensing rights, the real sale in commercial photography.”
“What do you charge?” There is something about that much anticipated, yet dreaded question that causes many photographers distress. There are probably a dozen psychological reasons for this feeling. Rather than take on those feelings, which is beyond my ken and that of this magazine, I’d like to look at specific actions and steps you can take to improve your behavior when it comes to pricing and asking for money.
While the destiny of the commercial photographer is still in the hands of the current corporate and advertising economy, the pro-active consumer portrait photographer seems to be doing well, even considering the times. Yet challenges remain from the shopping mall photo studio (26 photos for just $7.99!) to the DIY market, where everyone with a D-SLR gets in on the act.
Among legal issues critical to photographers, copyright and privacy rights are worthy of your attention as they affect both what you can shoot and how you can protect your images. In this month’s column, we talk with three attorneys to develop a better understanding of these complex issues: David MacTavish, Law Office of David MacTavish (www.mactavish-law.com); Mickey H. Osterreicher, General Counsel, National Press Photographers Association or NPPA (www.nppa.org); and Carolyn E. Wright, Law Office of Carolyn E. Wright, LLC (www.photoattorney.com).
There’s no question that travel photography has long been a top pick when photographers look at career paths. The promise of seeing the world, making images, and getting paid for it all is a very attractive proposition. But does reality meet fantasy here? To find out we interviewed four photographers from the travel field to get their feedback on sales, marketing, and how they feel about the changes in the travel photography business. It is not an easy road. Photographers have had to adapt to new technology, to changes wrought by eCommerce, and to the shift from assignment work to stock sales. Each of these photographers have made many changes to compete successfully in this business.
While commercial advertising photographers (and other specialties) might be touched negatively by the economy and changing technology, event photographers continue to expand their work and markets. Yes, the economy has changed with every parent bringing a high-end digital camera to their kid’s school events. Yes, event photographers today must invest in equipment to print and sell photos online. But there is work here, for both the consumer and corporate event photographer.
Many photographers wonder about the state of stock photography now and in the future. There are many questions and a good deal of controversy about the answers. Some of the big questions include: how are traditional stock and microstock competing? Is there still money to be made in stock image licensing? How tough is it to sign up with a stock photo agency? Nature and travel images were once the...