Saturday, March 26, 2011

The BUSINESS of photography sucks

The Day I decided that being a photographer was what I wanted to do to make a living, I didn't give much thought to the business side of my new career. I knew I loved taking pictures and making images and I felt pretty confident I could make a living doing it. I knew there were certain things I had to do to get jobs, promote myself, Advertise, show my book to some people. I could do all that, after all, I have a degree in Advertising, how hard can this be? DAMN was I off in my thinking!

Being a photographer is sooo much more than just showing your book and taking some pictures. To make any money and even be a little successful, you better know how to market yourself. Like I said before, I have a degree in advertising, I never went to school for photography or had any classes in how to run a photography business. I've been shooting since I was 11 years old and getting paid by people to take pictures since I was 16. My father owned his own business, so I had some idea of what it would take, but he sold his services and merchandise to the public, not Art Directors, Creative Directors and Photo directors etc.. Marketing to the public, I think, is a little easier. Put an ad in a magazine, newspaper, hand out flyers, use billboards, etc... Those things aren't going to work with the people I'm marketing to. And you definitely can't run a 20% off sale, because if you do, and by some miracle it works, you will never get prices back up to normal, not with that client anyway.

So what do you have to do? Make lots of phone calls (which I always feel like I'm annoying whoever I call, so I'm not very good at this), you send email promos (you and every other photographer), you send promos through the mail ( you and half of all the other photographers out there) and you try to get meetings (which are getting harder and harder to get).
All of these things combined are what you absolutely have to be doing if you want to get any work. And these days you should also incorporate some type of social media into your marketing plan. Twitter and/or facebook are your two standard ones to use, and even this, a blog. Anything you can do to get your name and your work out there, you need to be doing.

Computers and the internet have made it easier to market yourself to the people who hire photographers, but it has also made it easy for everyone, which makes it harder to stand out in the crowd. See my previous post on It's not what you know... to see what I think it takes to get to get the jobs. It also makes the actual act of taking pictures and creating images a small part of running a photography Business.

I got into this business to do what I love, take pictures, and ended up spending well over half my time marketing myself and doing things I'm not nearly as good at, or like half as much as taking pictures. But, if that's part of the deal, if that's what I have to do, to be able to continue doing what I love to do, I'll take it! (until I can find someone to do it for me!)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Flashes of Hope

The end of last year I had the opportunity and privilege to shoot for Flashes Of Hope, a "National non-profit organization that changes the way children with cancer see themselves through the gift of photography and raises money for pediatric cancer research." It was my first time working with the organization but it was a very memorable day and an experience that I hope I am able to repeat sometime this year. I spent the day in the pediatric cancer wing of the Levine Children's hospital taking pictures of some amazing and inspiring children. Each one with cancer but each one an inspiration. None of the children had a bad attitude, in fact, each one was happy and smiling. I'm sure they aren't always that way, but in the short time I had with them, they were full of life, happiness and personality. These children have unbelievable courage and I was grateful to be in their presence. If you're a photographer and Flashes of Hope is in your city, I encourage you volunteer your time and takes some pictures of these amazing kids. They seemed to enjoy having their makeup and hair done and having their picture taken. The parents loved the fact that they would be getting current, professional portraits of their child. It was really a great day where I felt like photography, can and does make a difference in the lives of people.
So photographers, if you get a chance, shoot with Flashes of Hope and if your not a photographer but want to help children with pediatric cancer, you can go their website and donate.

Here are a few images from that day: