This is the best Investment to turn Pro in photography

Godox V860IIN 2.4G TTL Lion Battery Camera Flash Speedlite for Nikon + Godox X1NT Flash Trigger

One of the biggest mistakes new photographers make that are trying to do photography as a profession is not investing soon enough in a light kit that lets them take photos with the light source off of their camera.

The super simple kit I have above is so inexpensive to take off-camera flash photos.

Here is what I recommend for just about everyone and they make this kit for Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Fuji. There are many other solutions like this, but just invest in an off camera light source.

$225.00 – Godox VING V860II TTL Li-Ion Flash with X1T TTL Trigger Kit
$57.15 – Manfrotto 5001B Nano Black Light Stand – 6.2′
$17.90 – Godox S-Type Speedlite Bracket for Bowens
$20.50 – Westcott Optical White Satin Diffusion Umbrella (45″)
$320.55 Total

This alone will make your photos stand out. This photo below is without a flash.

[Nikon D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/100]
Now just look at everything the same but an off-camera flash can do at 45º from the camera.

[Nikon D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/125 – Godox V860IIN
2.4G TTL L + Godox X1NT Flash Trigger]
The only difference between the photos for the most part is the off-camera flash.

Which one of the photos will people pay you to take more often than the other? The one with the flash, because they can get the other photo with their camera on their phone.

Staff to Freelance Tips

photo by: Hannah Strayer

If you have a staff job in the communications field the odds of being let go are higher than ever for very good reasons.

One of the largest costs for an employer is healthcare. Freelancers come without that cost to the employer. When it comes to cost savings many companies are seeing this a good reason to outsource their communications to freelancers and agencies.

When a company hires a creative person they are stuck with that person’s creativity. As the company grows and needs to change it is much more difficult to do that with creatives who cannot produce different kind of work beyond their own style.

“Say goodbye to full-time jobs with benefits”

“In the Future, Employees Won’t Exist” was the headline of Tech Crunch story.

Microsoft has nearly two-thirds as many contractors as full-time employees. Even the simplest business structures, sole proprietorships, have increased their use of contract workers nearly two-fold since 2003.

“40% of America’s workforce will be freelancers by 2020” said Quartz.

“Stanley if you put in as much work as you have been doing at Georgia Tech into your freelance you will be successful,” said a friend in 2002 when I started freelancing full-time.

That was the most profound statement at the time and made me think of treating my freelancing just like a full-time job.

Ken Touchton and me

One of the best mentors I have ever had in my life is Ken Touchton. When I started out freelancing full-time Ken called every week to check on me.

Ken told me how when he started out he would get up, get dressed with a shirt and tie and then go to the next room and start his day, even if he had no assignments to go anywhere.

If you find yourself laid off and having to look at freelancing let me give you just a few tips that are very general but worked for me.

Here is one blog post for those who have yet to take the plunge – 9 things you need to do before going freelance full-time.

Some of these tips will link you to past blog posts to help you explore each tip more in depth if you choose.

  1. Solve a problem, and then start the business – Your business is to solve a problem for another business. Ask yourself the question what business problems am I solving for my clients.
  2. Photographer are you Liked or Loved – Your need table food and soul food. The best way to get both is the personal project that shows your business solution through a photo project for example that shows how you solved this problem for someone.
  3. How much you can make as a photographer? – You need a good understanding of the cost of doing business. One key element knows your personal family budget as well. If you don’t know what your personal bills are and how much you bring in and the difference you are probably going to fail in business.
  4. When it comes to marketing: Act like a freshman and not a senior – No one knows you or what you do so you will have to tell them and also communicate how your services will benefit their bottom line.
  5. Create a calendar with actions for you to do. Here are some things that should be on your list:
    1. People to contact by phone [weekly] – These are your clients and prospects.
    2. Targeted marketing campaign – this is where you write a letter for example that targets people in your database that are in a particular industry.
      1. Education Market
      2. Editorial Market
      3. Sports
      4. Medical
    3. Blog – this is where you share something that continues to build your reputation as an expert. I recommend three times a week.
    4.  e-Newsletter – I send one out monthly to my clients. This is just a way to reconnect with your audience. Remember to think of why they want to get this not that you want them to hire you.
    5. Snail mail – you can send hand written thank you cards to all your clients that hire you recently. Do this after each job. Maybe create a postcard or some other mailing. Remember they have to physically touch this before it goes in the mail, whereas emails will get automatically deleted and never seen.
  6. Networking events – You need to be out and meeting new people. I call this fishing with a big net.
  7. Workshops – You need to continue to grow in knowledge so plan to attend meetings through the year to help you expand your skills.

How to say No with a Yes

Still Too Busy [Nikon D5, Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/500]
Still Too Busy

I think this photo illustrates my inner frustrations when I am asked to do just one more thing or someone wants to add something to my load. The cops are not seeing the big sign saying “Still Too Busy” but are right their to arrest me for not complying.

Usually there are two answers for a request–1) Yes and 2) No. Sometimes you even can supply more information to the person asking to see if they will withdraw their request.

There are some really legitimate responses that most people would take back their request. Say today is your wedding anniversary and you have plans you should tell them. Maybe you have nonrefundable tickets to an event you have had planned for a long time.

I will never forget a moment when I was shocked when the person I was saying no to wanted complete access to my calendar to then call everyone to have them rescheduled so that I would do their project.

That particular time I was reporting to 5 different directors. I needed a hand big time to pull me out of this quandary.

[Nikon D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/9, 1/125]
I wish I had known then what I know now. What helped me was to see this from the requester’s perspective.  When I was saying no I wasn’t really helping the client at all. If they still needed it done then they would find someone who could make it happen and often then I would no longer be used for future projects.

When I was in a staff job I often said no because I didn’t have time with all the other things on my plate. As a freelancer I was saying no because they were asking for more without offering more pay.

Had I learned this tip earlier in my career I would have become a more valuable team member. When someone would ask me to do something I would now be saying how I really want to help them. I would be saying YES–IF.

Yes I can make that happen for you if you can tell me which of these other projects I can delay or not do to be able to take on this extra work.

As a freelancer I am saying YES–IF you decide what on the list we were shooting comes off because I don’t have time to do all you have or I might be saying yes if you agree to the extra XYZ cost.

My new goal since learning this technique is to say yes as much as I can and to be sure the client is the one saying no and not me.

As the freelancer the client asks me to do something and my response is I would love to help you. The additional cost to make this happen is XYZ. Just sign right here to the changes on the contract and I will make it happen.

The client will then respond by great or no we cannot afford to do that. If they really have to have this done then you are not the reason it gets done, they don’t have the resources to make it happen or maybe the request then no longer important.

As a staff person I am not asking for more money. I am basically taking the burden of what is on my plate and the difficulties to make it happen back onto their plate.

My boss asks me to take photos of their event and in the past I would have said no I am already booked. I now say I am already covering another event at the same time. I am more than willing to have this event covered. Which event do you want me to cover and would you like me to get another photographer to cover the event I cannot cover?

Saying No makes you a problem!
Saying Yes Makes you a problem solver!!!

Every time you say no the person requesting your help will now have to find someone else. Had you said yes their problem is solved.

Today when I get a request for something and I am already booked, I always offer to find someone for them. One of the best ways to keep those clients coming back is to handle the booking of the photographer and have the photographer work as a subcontractor for you. This way they show up shoot the project and you handle the billing. This way they continue to come back to you.

What you do isn’t as important as who you are to be successful in business

Family Vacation to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida

Dorie, my wife, knew when making plans for our children when they were young that there was a time limit. It was about 2 hours and then it was as if we hit a wall.

We like being at a fair: there are rides, games, entertaining acts, and tons of food. It’s exciting at first, then it becomes overwhelming, and finally it makes you sick (and you hate it!).

When you’re sick of something it shows in your attitude and performance most of the time. Just like our kids would be at places like Disney World.

Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Often we hit the wall in our careers just as we did when we were young. It isn’t fun for us any more. If you are a freelancer you can feel that you are just not in step with your client as you once were.

I have discovered this happens with every client that I hit a wall at some point. It is the same feeling that happened with our kids on an outing.

Nikon D5 Video Gear

I think what happens is we have become too focused on what we do in our jobs and less on the people that we work with in doing those jobs. This can happen to you if you are extroverted or introverted.

Too much focus can be a problem: It drains your brain of energy, makes you care less about people, and prevents you from seeing what is happening around you. When you become more focused on say a product that you are producing in a job rather than realizing you are working with other people and they need to enjoy the process and not just the end result.

I came to this conclusion when over the years I find that I must rekindle a working relationship. In the past I would work on my portfolio or some new skill to talk to my client. I was thinking the client needed to see my skills are valuable.

While working on some materials this latest round of rekindling relationships I realized that no matter what I did it was going to look like I was going to do some “Explaining” to the people in the meetings I was setting up.

This approach can be very condescending to others. It actually undermines the relationship that you are trying to nurture.

Thinking about his it really hit me – I had not worked enough on the relationship with my clients.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 2800, ƒ/4, 1/100

In your work have you been measuring using your skills in our work as well as developing relationships?

Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

We spend a lot of time at work; there is nothing worse than someone who cannot get along with others. It’s so important and involves being helpful, understanding the unwritten rules, being respectful, reliable and competent.

Here is a simple way to start this conversation, “We’ve been doing business together for almost a year. I’d like to take you to lunch to get to know you a little better.”

The single most important thing you can do at a business meal is to listen. You want to hear what the other person cares about, what their interests are, what makes him or her tick. They need to know you care about them as people and not just the money they give you to pay your bills.

One time we were at Disney and we ran into my daughter’s friend from home. While normally our daughter would be ready for a break from the theme park this “Relationship” gave a burst of energy to go through not just our daughter but the entire family.

Theme parks can be like your product in business. At a certain point this really isn’t going to keep your client enthused. Remember friendships do keep your help energize business relationships as well.

 

You feel depressed? You are not alone.

SOBERING statistics published earlier this month show that the annual rate of suicide in the US has risen by almost 28 per cent between 1999 and 2016.

I believe this is affecting businesses as well as individuals.

Both celebrities Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade committed suicide this month and has helped to open the can of worms which many people today are experiencing. That topic is depression.

For this topic I believe many of us are experts. Almost everyone will go through events in their lives that cause upheaval and crisis.

Depression causes one to look for relief. Many who are dealing with addiction started with some sort of depression.

I believe in today’s economy I am seeing signs that companies are showing signs of depression.

Today many are trying to be the one man band and do it all. Just look at some of the advertising campaigns which are not so much cohesive as just everywhere.

When you are depressed you are prone to reach for things that give you pleasure, but are not always the best for you. Ask any addict.

 
So many of us are looking for Likes or comparing our life to other people’s Facebook feeds.

We have now gone for just liking a post to loving, laughing, wow, sad and even mad.

We are losing our compasses on how to navigate life. We are now looking to measure what is good or bad based on skewed analytics.

Opioids are primarily used for pain relief, including anesthesia. Many in business reach out for things like an opioid to make them feel better. That person has more followers than us lets hire them. They can make it better. Remember opioid not only can relieve pain it can anesthetize you. I think many in business today are operating in a fog.

Communications departments have moved away from what is a solid story to choosing to use work based on the content providers social media feed of likes and number of followers.

Teaching in college and in workshops I experience more students who feel like they are already good photographers based on their social media likes from friends.

Brandon Stanton, creator of Humans of New York said, “Photography felt like a treasure hunt, and even though I sucked at it, I’d occasionally stumble upon a diamond. And that was enough to keep me wanting more.”

Stanton’s success is based in one simple truth–Everyone Has A Story!

People were drawn to his storytelling and yes this ultimately led to him having a huge following, but he didn’t go out and find someone doing something and copy it. He just went with his interest in the people on the streets of NYC. At first he focused on those who were visually exotic, but slowly he discovered that everyone had a story.

Instead of you trying to find the next “Cool Trend” why not go with storytelling.

Stories allow the listener to learn vicariously and discover lessons seemingly on their own.

Stories make us feel a part of the situation.

Storytelling is tapping into people’s emotions that will help you to influence or persuade them.

Stories build connections between people. Those who tell stories are the ones building strong connections with their audience.

Storytelling is powerful because it engages the entire brain. A story, if broken down into the simplest form, is a connection of cause and effect.

Let me work with you and make your stories visual so that they more engaging.

Give me a call and let’s capture the stories of how your business continues to transform people’s lives. It will lead to more business.

What I am learning from being Audited

This year I got a notice in the mail from the IRS requesting documents. This is an Audit.

Every year when I file my taxes I have been using TurboTax.

For the past 10+ years I pay a little amount for their accounting service that helps you in the case of an audit. While working with them to get all my documents in order for the IRS I learned a few things that I think you need to know.

Three Documents for Expenses

I learned through this process that there are three things you are needing to document and have ready like a book keeper.

Invoice – Need to show what you were billed for from the provider
Payment – Need to show that it was paid
You Paid It – Besides showing it was paid, you must show that you paid it and not someone on your behalf.

I am using Quicken for Mac to track all my expenses. Here are a few of the ways I pay bills:

Check – Checking Account
Visa Debit Card – Checking Account
MasterCard
American Express Card
PayPal

I am paid two ways

Checks
PayPal

In the software Quicken you can attach to every entry documents. Before I can attach those receipts, invoices and statements I must have a digital file like a PDF or a picture. I bought a Neat Desk Scanner years ago and have been using their software, which is now an online system.

The Neat Desk scanner lets me scan a stack of receipts making things go much faster than a flat bed scanner would do.

After scanning documents I save them in a separate folder for the year they were created. Then I attach them in Quicken to the transaction.

In Quicken they have categories already for you to use and customize. The best part for working with your Taxes is they have all the Schedules included so that you can assign a category to a tax schedule like I have in this example with the Camera Repairs in Schedule C: Repairs and maintenance.

The Headache

While I have all my documents I quickly realized the problem was getting exactly what the IRS needed in a format that met their requirements was the biggest problem.

I had to go through my AMEX & Bank statements and circle every item related to a particular category showing that this was paid with my money.

You can also do this with a scanned receipt of each and every transaction.

It was easier for me to contact all the Doctors, Hospitals and medical providers and ask for a 2016 statement for all charges than providing scanned invoices. I was missing a few of the statements because I had thought I just needed to show I paid the bill not show the invoice as well.

Using Quicken I was able to create a spreadsheet of each category and payee for a particular topic that I was being asked to provide evidence to the IRS. I was mainly dealing with medical expenses due to a very expensive year for our family with medical issues.

I was misinformed

I had always been told you just need to put all your receipts in a box and if ever audited just show up and they can go through them if they want. WRONG!!!

My accountant informed me that the IRS on numerous accounts with her have said they are not their clients book keeper. You must have this in order. Also the box could only work when you are actually called in. You don’t want this to happen. You have opportunities to provide all this electronically to the IRS and handle without going for the face-to-face audit.

Tips

Spreadsheet – Be able to provide spreadsheet for any category which Quicken helps with this
Invoices & Statements – Scan all these or have them ready to scan if audited
Receipts – Scan all these or have them ready to scan if audited
Bank & Credit Card Statements – Keep all of them and have them ready if you need to scan them for the IRS during an Audit
Scanner – I recommend a scanner that is a sheet feed scanner capable of scanning multiple documents and software to help organize you documents.
Accountant – Work with an accountant to do at least your initial setup of how you need to gather documents for Taxes and for possible audit.

Tips on Invoicing

I wrote a blog early called “7 Tips for the financially struggling photographer“. In the post I talk about using the software FotoBiz for invoicing and pricing jobs. Check out that post if you need help with pricing and invoicing.

How to remain competitive as a freelancer

Photographing Island Breeze Dancer Victoria Taimane Kaopua, Stanley is teaching location off-camera flash lighting to Youth With A Mission Photo School 1 [Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 500, ƒ/4, 1/100 photo by: Dorie Griggs]

“The gig economy…is now estimated to be about 34% of the workforce and expected to be 43% by the year 2020,” says Intuit (INTU) CEO Brad Smith. “We think self-employed [work] has a lot of opportunity for growth as we look ahead.”

To get jobs and get repeat business there are a few tips for you:

Marketing – You need to get your name in front of as many people as possible in your target group. Your target audience will be those people most likely to need your style of work.

Be Prepared – While you are not an employee you still need to be up on the organization as much as an employee. Do your research so that you are aware of as much as possible to know how to best serve the client on a job.

Show Up! – “80 percent of success is showing up,” says Woody Allen.

Wait on the client – You want to always be early and if anyone is waiting on the other be sure it is you waiting on the client and not the other way around.
Be Reachable – Respond promptly to all communication.
Say Yes! – Use the rule of Improv of saying YES. The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun,” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger. You’re pointing your finger at me,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say, “Freeze, I have a gun!” and you say, “The gun I gave you for Christmas! You bastard!” then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun. Do your best to say yes to requests. If they cross the line of your ethics then say no.
Deliver – Be sure you are meeting the expectations of the client. Never under deliver.

Stanley shows the students what he is capturing while teaching location off-camera flash lighting to Youth With A Mission Photo School 1 [Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/420 photo by: Dorie Griggs]
Focus on Relationships – While doing excellent work is vitally important even more important is how you get that work done with others. How you treat people trumps all things.

Back to Marketing – If you do an excellent job on average you will only have less than 10% of those you talk to who will be interested in working with you. Learn to treat those who don’t hire you for a job that they know best. Sometimes they love you and they had already someone booked or they cannot easily switch freelancers due to hiring policies. If you remain professional in how you are rejected this often helps open closed doors later on for you.

Spring Cleaning Time

While I think I have done an excellent job in editing of my photos when I submit them to stock agencies they sometimes catch things I miss.

Island Breeze dancer with Poi balls – for Maori dances

When I first submitted this photo I had missed in the top right hand corner some dust that had gotten onto the sensor.

This is 100% enlargement of the right top corner of the photo. Are you getting frustrated with seeing small dark spots in your images that seem to show up in every image? If you see them consistently in the same location (the size and darkness of the spots can vary depending on aperture), you are most likely dealing with dust particles on your camera’s sensor.

I have noticed they show up more at smaller apertures like ƒ/22 or ƒ/16 and there is a light area of the photo where the dust is located.

Berrie Smith – Camera Guru

The first thing I do when I notice dust on the sensor is to pick up the phone and call Berrie Smith who lives near me and for many years worked for Nikon as a camera technician.

Berrie Smith, professional camera repairman, is one of the guys Nikon sends out to large sporting events to provide live repair and sensor cleaning service to the NPS pros covering the event.

Without proper camera cleaning and digital camera sensor cleaning most photographers have experienced their photographs ruined by unsightly dust spots in their images – these dust spots are characteristically gray/black areas and are usually visible when photographing continuous tone scenes. Cleaning your camera equipment is not only a great way to ensure it continues working properly but is also a necessity in today’s digital world. Digital sensors are electrically charged devices, which attract dust particles because of their static electric charge. The digital camera sensor, if not cleaned properly, will result in images with black spots scattered throughout your photographs.

You can buy off the shelf sensor cleaning kits and attempt to clean your image sensor but if you are not careful you can do a lot of expensive damage, very quickly. The cost to replace a scratched low pass filter / image sensor assembly ranges from $600 to $1,600 (parts and labor) depending on the camera.

Berrie does repairs for photographers all over the world.

When I travel I don’t have the luxury of calling Berrie and sending him my cameras to clean. No one wants to touch up every single photo on a shoot in the same spots over and over.

Carson SensorMag 4.5x30mm Camera Sensor Magnifier Cleaning Loupe

What is crucial in the kit is the loupe to examine the sensor up close.

LED Lighted with 6 Bright White LED Lights | Loupe can be adjusted 45 degrees to allow users easier access to clean your sensor

Often all you need to do is point the sensor down and just using the Air Blower to force air onto the sensor which often dislodges the dust.

I recommend at least owning a Air Blower to just safely remove dust. If that doesn’t work then give it to the expert Berrie.

This is Berrie at my kitchen table cleaning my cameras. So how do you reach Berrie? Here you go:

Berrie Smith | bbmw@bellsouth.net | (770) 312-0719

Are You Serving Yourself or Serving Your Client?

The Citadel vs North Georgia College in Rugby [Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8, TC-2001, ISO 900, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000]

Editor’s note: I am sorry that this is so long. I was struggling on how to make this shorter. Hopefully when you read this it will spark you to have some great ideas for your clients. That was my goal.

My clients are hitting the same wall I was hitting back when digital photography finally became affordable for everyone.

I had cut my teeth in professional photography shooting sports for newspapers, magazines, for colleges and for professional sports teams.

Tennessee’s tight end (82) Ethan Wolf is pursued by Georgia Tech’s line backer (51) Brant Mitchell, which he drops the pass, during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8, TC-2001, ISO 18000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
The cameras had gotten so good that it was feasible to go to a camera store and buy your gear and show up on Friday Night or Saturday to a football game and get reasonably good photos. The exposures would be OK and the focus would be OK. If it were not just right you could look at the LCD and make changes to the camera settings on the spot. In the past you wouldn’t know if you were exposing correctly or in focus until you looked at the film.

Working at Georgia Tech I saw this happening faster than other places because the alumni of the school were more prone to enjoy the technology of photography. Soon we had the sidelines filled with photographers shooting for free just to have access to the games.

While I still get called to shoot sports and paid the field is so over saturated that few people are able to make a living shooting sports as compared to prior to the digital revolution that too place in 2002 to 2007.

Brenau University Dance [Nikon D3s, 28-300mm, ISO 200, ƒ/16, 1/160]
One of the ways I stayed competitive was through my skills with lighting.

However the year that was the most pivotal in our society impacting my profession the most was 2007.

Three things happened that year that would impact photography like nothing had for many years before that moment.

Nikon introduced the D3 camera. This camera almost retired my lighting kit all together. This was the most revolutionary camera that Nikon had made in my career as compared to those before it.

Steve Jobs announces the iPhone. While it wasn’t the first smartphone, it leapfrogged far beyond the competition and launched the mobile revolution. Few industries or societies have been left unchanged. The iPhone transformed photography from a hobby to a part of everyday life.

Mark Zuckerberg opened up Facebook to everyone and not just college students the end of 2006. By 2007 with the iPhone it was exploding. I joined in 2007.

Hamilton Railroad Pocket Watch

Facebook Changed the Way We Consume Content

While Facebook isn’t the only place we consume content it is 3rd only to Google and Youtube. Roughly 71% of 18- to 24-year-olds credit the Internet as their main news source.

Traditional media was loosing their audience while the internet and things like Facebook News Feed, a never-ending stream of content from the people and companies that you’ve connected with on the platform. News Feed never ends; in theory, users could scroll on forever, a feature that was unheard of when News Feed debuted in 2006.

Now that anyone can create content and reach the world using the internet and most likely do this all from their iPhone the audience is now oversaturated.

Some forms of media have seen a resurgence. I have enjoyed my daughter’s theater performances. Just a couple of years ago Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical broke new ground. It was different. When the musical came out they were thinking of retiring Hamilton off the ten dollar bill, but that musical gave life to Hamilton.

Togo, West Africa [Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/2500]
Today it is so difficult to get someone’s attention for more than a brief second. Many covering stories around the world for NGOs are having to rely on one photo and just a small caption to “entertain” the audience with an “experience” rather than having their attention enough to truly inform.

This is why FAKE NEWS has taken place. If the audience wants something for an “experience” because spending more time they do not have, then it is easier for those who want to create propaganda to succeed today.

How do communications offices, public relations, and marketing get their audiences attention?

Chrysler at the Old Car City in White, Georgia. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm Ï/4, ISO 360, ƒ/4, 1/200]

BREAKTHROUGH

Today I am seeing a lot of mediocre communications. The reason it is working has more to do with it being “different” than better.

A few years ago one of the most powerful things I heard that changed my approach to working was professional photographer Dave Black saying that to be successful your photos don’t always have to be better–they have to be DIFFERENT.

Just look how we do this with text. We can bold, italicize or even change the color of the type to highlight something. This draws attention because it is different from the rest of the text.

Professional communicators are not sure what works a great deal of time today. They go to Instagram and look for those people with the greatest number of followers and assume that hiring them will translate into more followers for them.

Little do they know that many of those people with a lot of followers bought them through a service and even when they post only a small percentage actually see a post.

Wake up

Your client is struggling to sleep these days as much as you are struggling. The difference is in understanding who you are serving.

When your bills are mounting up and you find yourself in a panic as I often find myself, you need to take deep breaths and calm yourself down. [I am not good at this either, so just know I might not be the best person offering this advice, but I think I need to hear it myself]

What you will soon discover is that when you concentrate on meeting your needs is that you will go without work. It is when you concentrate of how to meet the needs of others that your bills get paid. You are helping someone who needs your help and will compensate you for it.

Pam Goldsmith, world renowned violist played for us when we were visiting her. She is my sister in-law. [Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 5600, ƒ/4.5, 1/125]
My sister in-law Pam Goldsmith for most of her career has played as part of the orchestra for many movies, cartoons and major records. That group is so good that most all the music for movies has only been played one time when it is recorded. They don’t practice. The music was never played before they did so the first time, but they are that good of studio musicians.

I mention this because we should be perfecting our craft so that when we are aware of a way to help our clients with their problems using our skills that our skills are so good that it lifts up the content we produce for the client.

Be transparent

If you are really thinking of ways to help your client then you need to really understand your client’s problems they are facing.

I have a client that their audience is saying stop sending me more stuff already. Just stop it with all your communications. Send us just those things that are going to help them do a better job running their business.

Too often I have proposed interesting feature ideas to my clients. While they may be interested in maybe 1 of every 1000 ideas I pitch to them. They are more likely to be interested in 1 of every 100 or even 10 ideas I have that will help their audience run their business better tomorrow.

Now take a moment and think about your client. If they are Amazon, Apple, or Google do they need to be more successful? Sometimes the companies we are trying to help are having capacity issues. They are so successful that their new problems are not how to make more money, but how to handle the work they have and still enjoy doing it every day.

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Our job is to help our customers to see a brighter future. We are to be serving their best interests. If you look at some of the big companies, they may look like they have it all together, but you talk to them internally, and you see that they don’t.

If you are a photographer, videographer, writer or a producer don’t think of what you do as producing content only. You need to be the one coming up with good content ideas that your clients need to reach their audience.

Where is the “B” [Business] button on my camera?

Many who first buy a camera put their camera on the Green “P” button or like on this camera the Green Camera. That is the mode where the camera does all the thinking for you.

Soon you realize to get the results that you were looking for you have to tell the camera what to do. This is when you start to learn what M, A, S and the other settings on that dial do other than the green camera or even the P mode.

When photographers start trying to make a living at this they look for the green “B” mode for their camera. They want a simple business mode that thinks for them and tell them what they need to do to be successful.

If they are not careful on some camera models the B mode is actually standing for “bulb” and that is another discussion for another day.


What prompted this blog post was a Facebook post.

Facebook post question: What is it that editors, photo buyers and parents are sick of the most as far as buying photos?

My first response: Photographer over explaining their prices. Just tell us the price. Give me a low, medium and high price option and let me pick.

Facebook response: Are you talking about editors parents or both?

My response: Everyone

Facebook Response: I just got fotobiz X. Is there a way to package that for people?

My long response:

Yes there is. The software is really designed for editorial, freelancers who do B2B verses B2C. However you can create your own price items. It doesn’t create a price list that you hand to people. It is used to create estimates and invoices.

I notice you and many others post a lot of detailed questions that really cannot be adequately answered on a Facebook or even blog post. Those questions about business are often show some lack of understanding of business practices.

This is quite common in photography. People take up photography and most realize at some point that putting their camera on “P” doesn’t mean professional photos.

The learning curve then becomes quite steep as they go from pointing and shooting to making the camera see the way they want it to see. Most will spend some money on classes or workshops.

Once you then decide to charge for your services and try to make money doing photography you quickly realize the “B” setting on trying to run your business doesn’t work. Well it is even more difficult than photography because there is no “B” setting.

You really need to take a class in business practices for the profession. You can pay a photographer with more than 3 years of experience that is successful to help you get started. I recommend talking to photographers who are members of ASMP.org or PPA.com. Both of these organizations have business practices at the core of the reason they were formed.

Because where you live can also impact how you run your business due to tax laws you also then need to talk to an accountant and an attorney. Each of the organizations have a list of those who work with photographers. Nothing can be worst than making money and then finding out that you owe more taxes because you didn’t do something right.

In most communities there is the US Small Business Administration that offers many classes for free. They want you to be successful. here is where you can find out more about their “FREE” help https://www.sba.gov/.

Going back to your original question that started this thread. You basically have asked about two types of businesses, one is business to business model and the other is business to customer.

Talking to a customer who is part of the industry [i.e. editor at publication] is totally different than talking to someone not a part of the industry [i.e. a mother wanting photos of the family]. One person hires photographers regularly and will talk a lot differently about hiring you.

While you can create a basic price list for services, in this industry you will find yourself having to create custom estimates pretty often. It is much easier to do when you understand the how you create a price for a service.

You have to know how much you have to bring home to cover your base. You know your phone, rent, gear, software, marketing materials and more are always ongoing expenses to run your business. You must know this number and if you don’t you cannot create a price for anything. You don’t even know what you must charge to break even.

99% of every photographer I have ever helped that came to me about business practices was losing money on every job. They were actually paying most people to shoot for them, but because they didn’t know what their bottom line was to run their business they were charging most of the time 50% or more lower than the price that they needed to break even.

Here is a blog post I wrote talking about just getting to know your expenses.

Here is a blog post on tips on price estimating.