From FotoWeek DC 2010, highlights from a John Harrington lecture on how to stay profitable in today’s economy.
Wired presented not just one of the biggest newsstand gains but one of the most interesting because it benefited heavily from the virtual newsstand of the iPad App Store. Its average single-copy sales of 105,614 in the second half included about 27,000 iPad editions.
I’ve been asked a few times about online storage solutions and a recent post by Greg Ceo got me thinking that I should ask everyone here what they use. There are several controlling factors in looking at online/cloud storage solution. Cost, speed to upload, chance of catastrophic failure, chance the company will go bankrupt. The last two are hard to determine but you have to consider that in most cases you’re dealing with heavily in debt VC funded companies and if you remember the Digital Railroad failure of 2008 there’s a chance they will suddenly turn off the lights and lock the doors if they don’t reach a certain level of profitability. My two cents on catastrophic failure are that you get what you pay for. The companies aimed at mom and dad backing up their pc for super cheap probably aren’t running as robust a solution as a company that provides storage for Fortune 500 companies. That theory is untested.
Here are a few I’ve looked at, please add more info in the comments.
Storage cost 1 TB: $143/month
Can you send in a drive: yes
Storage cost 1 TB: $113/month
Can you send in a drive: ?
Storage cost 1 TB: $70/month
Can you send in a drive: yes
Storage cost 1 TB: $5/month
Can you send in a drive: no. 2 – 4 GB per day.
Storage cost 1 TB: $5/month
Can you send in a drive: no
Note: 1 terabyte = 1024 gigabytes
UPDATE: Check out this post, Your Free Photo Storage Is Worth What You Paid For It
In our group, the survivors were the ones who had the least amount of overhead, the largest amount saved for a rainy day and hands down, the ones who created the most amount of new work. They kept advertising because we reminded them over and over that if they advertised during a time when their competitors weren’t advertising then their voices would be louder. A lot louder. It worked and they are all still in business.
Now, times are such that photographers can no longer depend on their agents to do all the marketing and sales. It is required that photographers have their own voice and sell themselves and their work. The days of choosing a source book or two and sending out an occasional mailer are over. Frequency, consistency and variety are crucial in any marketing plan. We tell our photographers all of the time that they need to mirror what we are doing for them and have a marketing presence all of their own if they want to survive. When they participate, the power of their marketing is exponential.
A reader sent me the following question:
I work with a local magazine to get into the best concerts in exchange for them using my images on their blog for free. My goal was to build my portfolio and market the pictures to the artists publicists in hopes of getting paid. I recently found out that one of the artist took some of my images off the mag’s site and placed it on their website and Facebook. Credit was given but no money. They have since taken the images down from their sites.
I recently photographed a well known artist and used the fact that I was working with the mag to get a photo pass. The publicist is now wanting the link to the pictures on the mag’s site. I have final edit of what I send into the mag and was thinking of keeping the best images for myself and my marketing to publicists and record companies. My question is: Do you think that would rub the publicist the wrong way? (Sending two links 1) the mag link with decent images 2) a protected link with the best images that are watermarked and are only accessible with payment) I am new to concert photography and don’t know how this works. Is it a common practice for publicists to use the photographers images for free?
I appreciate any help you can give. I want to be smart about protecting my work and keeping my music contacts- because I do not have that many.
There are a lot of issues in here. But to answer the first question directly, I would assume if the publicist wants to see images that they potentially need them for something, usually an image request from another publication. Just because they want to see them doesn’t mean you have any obligation to provide anything for free. As long as you shot for the website and followed through by sending them, you have fulfilled your obligations. The idea of ‘holding back’ the best images may be a mistake, you should always represent yourself publicly with your best work. If you are sending the publication mediocre images, that might hurt your relationship with them. But if you have alternates or do any interesting work backstage or behind the scenes, I think it is fine to hold on to those if it is not needed for the assignment.
Publicists will frequently ask for free images, they work for the bands and labels and their only concern is exposure for their clients, the priority is not making sure the photographer gets paid. The photographer can frequently be put in a tough spot where the publicist needs an image to send to a publication, the publication expects it for free, and then the photographer is pressured to give away the photo to keep everyone happy. This isn’t a great business model for the photographer. The best thing to do in general is to reach out and show the work to the publicist and labels and artists but be clear that if they need use of the images for publicity then there will be a licensing fee involved. Publicists, while good contacts and gatekeepers to the artists, don’t have independent budgets to pay photographers, it’s not their call.
As a general note, I’m not sure who pays for concert photography anymore. There are very few paid assignments for shooting concerts, and the market for current music stock is so saturated that a photographer is lucky to get something picked up for a fee here and there. Getting the photo pass is easy, getting paid anything afterward is hard.
News Corp.’s much-anticipated, save-the-newspaper app debuted after several delays. You’ve got to love the serendipity of the February 2 been-here-before release: the newspaper for TV, the newspaper for computers, the newspaper for the web, the newspaper for the mobile phone, now the newspaper for the iPad. Each time we get the old newspaper metaphor on a new device.
Here’s a little serendipity for your hump day. This landed in my email box yesterday (thanks Michael Mahoney) just after I’d argued that the value of an image is difficult to determine. Gap appears to have found what I’m sure they consider an unremarkable image of a Jaguar on Flickr (here) and converted it to a graphic for kids onesie’s here and here. And, if you follow Shepard Fairey’s fair use argument where he claims to have transformed something unremarkable into something remarkable (and very commercial to boot) then Gap could argue along those very same lines. Since the AP decided to settle with Fairey we’ll never know what the courts think.
If you were a space alien visiting earth and your first introduction to humanity was the current Moments of Being show at Wallspace, you wouldn’t think our planet is very happy. Out of 38 portraits in the show, not one person is smiling. Instead most of us humans look rather bored.
via B: The Space Test. Thx Ross.
If you haven’t seen the Oscar nominated documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop it’s well worth checking out and available to stream on Netflix. The film tells the story of Thierry Guetta AKA Mr. Brainwash a French appropriation artist who many believe is simply a made up character/actor created by British graffiti artist Banksy. The film also stars Shepard Fairey and goes into good detail on the history and rise of street art. What’s fascinating, if you read up on the hoax theory before watching the film, is that Banksy might have pulled off an elaborate modern “Emperor’s New Clothes” tale and certainly Guetta and to some degree the popularity of street art reads that way in the film.
Last week The Hollywood Reporter uncovered an ongoing lawsuit between photographer Glen E. Friedman and Guetta for his use of an iconic Run DMC image and THR draws parallels between the now settled AP vs. Fairey lawsuit. In an article for Boingboing (here) Sean Bonner explains why this use would not be considered “Fair Use” but the Fairey use would. It all hinges on the Friedman image being iconic where the Mannie Garcia image is thought of as “a random press image.” My problem with this perfectly logical argument is that you’re creating a new gray area for a type of use (fair) that is full of gray areas. At what point does an image become iconic or a clearer way of looking at it, at what point does it have value. Fairey admitted that he looked a thousands of images before settling on the perfect one (Garcia’s) so that indicates value. Any image an artist decides to use immediately has value, so in my opinion if an artist want’s fair use they need to transform it into something else or only use a small piece. Deciding if it has value is impossible and certainly not something we want the courts to decide. Visit the MOMA to see a blank canvas, ripped canvas and canned shit if you think otherwise.
Three deeply regressed whiteys, Joe Bradley, Dan Colen and Rob Pruitt, collected, fawned over by much of the art press and, worst of all, continually exhibited by lazy blue chip dealers, have created a salon of nauseating, tasteless excess.
In a way, you can’t blame them: Damien Hirst gave them permission to unload the contents of a battered psyche into the homes of the stupid wealthy. Bradley, Colen and Pruitt are just doing it on a budget (relative to Hirst, of course). Their indiscriminate aborting of everything that is intelligent in art has the effect of shutting down Marcel Duchamp’s famous dictum that the viewer completes the work. The BCP express shuts down and annihilates the viewer on a high speed rail of stupidity.
via artnet Magazine.
Business owners do not normally work for money either. They work for the enjoyment of their competitive skill, in the context of a life where competing skillfully makes sense. The money they earn supports this way of life. The same is true of their businesses. One might think that they view their businesses as nothing more than machines to produce profits, since they do closely monitor their accounts to keep tabs on those profits.
But this way of thinking replaces the point of the machine’s activity with a diagnostic test of how well it is performing. Normally, one senses whether one is performing skillfully. A basketball player does not need to count baskets to know whether the team as a whole is in flow. Saying that the point of business is to produce profit is like saying that the whole point of playing basketball is to make as many baskets as possible. One could make many more baskets by having no opponent.
The game and styles of playing the game are what matter because they produce identities people care about. Likewise, a business develops an identity by providing a product or a service to people. To do that it needs capital, and it needs to make a profit, but no more than it needs to have competent employees or customers or any other thing that enables production to take place. None of this is the goal of the activity.
Former Art Buyers and current photography consultants Amanda Sosa Stone and Suzanne Sease have agreed to take anonymous questions from photographers and not only give their expert advice but put it out to a wide range of photographers, reps and art buyers to gather a variety of opinions. The goal with this column is to solicit honest questions and answers through anonymity
Can you write an article about the true reality of the photo industry across the board in LA, NYC, Dallas, and Chicago, or wherever? It seems most ad agencies don’t view books in person, only online. Art Buyers are looking for work, photography jobs are being over run by secretaries, moms, dads, facebook friends, interns, and college kids out of school who just decide one day to pick up a camera. Software, cameras, HD video, Canon, Nikon, and Pentax have made it so easy for consumers to just take up the profession and to steal that minimum day rate away from a professional.
I grew up with my dad being a professional commercial photographer from the 60’s and grad from Art Center College of Design on 3rd st, which I also graduated from in 2002 in Pasadena. Back then, it was a true profession, going to the lab, pushing and pulling chrome, sweating overnight to make sure it turns out, and hand delivering it to the client and then going to eat lunch and to meet more creatives. Everything is so computerized with FTP, Facebook, Twitter, and web galleries. There is nothing personal these days. I’ve talked with a handful of reps, photographers, and art buyers, and they are all scrambling to find the next gig. What is the true reality with our photo industry? Is it dying and being taken over by overnight photographers? I remember the days (2008) when I would shoot for Coca-Cola with a large production, multiple talent, digital techs, producers, assistants, all working as a team and feeling great about an end product.
Would be great if you could interview some photographers, art buyers,reps, producers…..To just get an inside feel of the true interpretation of the future of 2011. Just a thought…. I love reading your articles. I know your audience would like to know a true grit forecast for the year.
Overall I’m seeing a need for images that look more organic and effortless -shot well, but less produced. I constantly find myself in the microsite/flickr battle and do my best to romance clients with the idea of taking the things from those avenues that are great but applying them to custom photography that looks good (for them and their specific project) and is shot well, while also taking all the things that my clients will want addressed into consideration. I’ll caveat this by saying that I think there is some wonderful work on flickr, if you’ve got time to sift through it. I also think that in this day and age of immediate media gratification, clients see images here and think yes, that could work. Let’s just use that. Showing the client that they can have that wonderfully, effortless looking photo shot specifically for them, is where I’ve been coming in lately.
Clearly everyone is looking to save money where they can, which can sometimes mean shooting more per day. For me this can be done, depending on the shot list, but also means mostly likely a more mobile and smaller crew. Being realistic in these situations, of what can be done with the allowed time and budget is key. I think things can be accomplished under most budgets, but managing expectations properly makes this work.
I’m not really sure what all this really means for the photography industry as a whole. I know that photography as content will always be needed, regardless of the the constantly changing medium to which it is applied. I’m doing my best as an art buyer to make sure that my creatives (and clients) get an amazing end product with photography that was shot with their project in mind. But each project has it’s own bends and folds and I think being flexible while not giving away work for free, and being upfront and honest about what is realistic is the best way to help everyone in today’s market.
I am just starting my twenty-fifth year as an agent. Twenty five years in business for myself. A wonderful journey with a few bumps along the way. A few recent tempestuous years with end of the world talk and how only Bruce Willis can save us from calamity is finally coming to an end. I’m actually feeling more optimistic right now. Yes there have been major changes and the axis of the planet has tilted in a different direction, but new possibilities are also opening up to those who have the courage and stamina to continue.
Everyone has already written countless articles about how assignments have been chipped away. The recession, stock imagery, reductions in magazine advertising, digital photography where every person has a camera in their pants and sees themselves and the great hype hope. And of course there is the reduction of licensing images for a limited time and the expansion of image libraries for use in perpetuity. Some assignments have looked like those all-you-can-eat Vegas buffets for $2.99. And then there are the shooters who just give it all away in exchange for the fame to see their name in print or images published. We can freeze up, get pissed about all this or we can jump in and look towards the wonderful new possibilities.
Socializing is back big time. The obvious is connecting through networks like Facebook and writing personal blogs to be out there. Our markets and potential connections have actually expanded, but it is still necessary to keep those personal connections intact. Pressing the flesh. No matter how upset or discouraged you may get about the present and future of our industry, it is so important to be respected and trusted. This is how I have always tried to run my business. Treat everyone with honesty and respect and they will come back again and again. Take interest! Be personal!
I am so proud of the artists I represent and I know that it is difficult for them when assignments don’t come through, but we will continue to persevere and move forward. They will continue to shoot work for themselves and I will do my best to showcase their talent and keep my personal connections alive. I will continue to get them their auditions whenever possible.
I think Arthur Miller said it wonderfully through his character Willie Loman in Death of A Salesman, “The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates a personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want.”
The photography business has significantly changed in the last two years.
And I don’t think it is because anyone can get their hand on a camera. I think it is that industry is in a young flux, one that looks to technology for fast information. I see it every day, those with huge twitter followings have a great career. They understand how to brand and market themselves in the social networking sphere. But, I think the biggest change has yet to happen, motion. It’s imminent, ads will not be still shots but a mini commercials. As paper is used less and we all walk around with smart phones, iPads and the such, still will be an art.
However, no matter how much people complain, I have a lot of busy clients, they are just really good photographers. Yes, hustling a little more due to the economy, but still working and doing great work.
Only being full time in the business since 2007, I only know the current market. I feel like I have gone about things a little differently. I have found that rather than working through an agency, I have been working directly with a client and bypassing the particular agency. Sometimes this happened after I started working through an agency then the client started hiring me directly. The result has been some wonderful long term working relationships.
The most recent large project still in the making, came through a creative consulting company that introduced me to the client and now the client is presenting me to their marketing team. This may be a little backwards but I feel a lot more confident in this approach than relying on an agency to keep me in the good graces of a client.
The industry has obviously changed and evolved drastically over the past couple of years–otherwise there wouldn’t be some much press on diminished budgets, over saturated markets, etc.. I’ve personally chosen to embrace these changes and focus on what is rather than what once was. To be honest I only see opportunity. The reality is that there is work and art buyers/creatives are gladly meeting with photographers–I’m living proof. Over the past 6 months I have traveled all over the US sharing my new portfolio with over 25 agencies/companies. The key to getting appointments is simple–do your homework and be consistent in your marketing. Don’t expect someone to give you a meeting because you want one and if they turn you down don’t take it personally. Be relevant and give creatives an opportunity to preview your work first. For my meetings I first researched who was doing the type of work I’m interested in and then based portfolio reviews in regions in the US that had many of these relevant clients. That increased my odds of filling my schedule making each trip more worthwhile. Personally these meetings have been a huge success. My business has grown tremendously over the past year and 2011 is off to a great start. I think the future looks extremely bright for those willing to embrace change. And for what it is worth the world is only as impersonal as you allow it to be.
I agree the industry is in for a major change, all for the better. 2009 and 2010 were the 2 biggest years of my 30 year career. Despite the economy, if you are able to provide your clients with consistently good images, have good production skills, and keep your work relevant you will be successful. The economy is definitely getting a lot stronger, and many of my clients have already started telling me they expect to shoot a lot more this year.
Yes, the basic bread and butter jobs are being done in house, but expansion of technology is providing more venues for imagery, and creating a bigger demand. Besides the economic expansion new technology, specifically motion, will increase demand in the near future. It is critical that we, as creatives, continue to expand our vision and reinvent ourselves on a regular basis to remain relevant. Doing so will provide both personal and professional rewards.
“new possibilities are also opening up to those who have the courage and stamina to continue”
“ …focus on what is rather than what once was”
Call To Action:
Decide how you want to be moving forward in 2011. Our vote would be to move towards optimism – it’s the most becoming look on you (and looks great with your camera too). And on top of that – get out there, get away from behind the computer and shoot and socialize!
Wow, this is impressive. Former Baltimore Sun newspaper photographer David Hobby and Joe McNally of LIFE and National Geographic fame have turned their burgeoning blog/workshop business of teaching hobbyists and semi-pro photographers how to light with small strobes into a 29 city 13,000 mile fully sponsored bus tour (here). First off, it’s amazing how effective blogs are at getting the word out. I honesty don’t think they will have to do a stitch of advertising to sell out all those cities (unless they’re rocking an arena tour). I’m also marveling at these two photographers who’ve looked at what was happening in the business and embraced teaching all these people clamoring to learn more about shooting. Obviously, both are great teachers and this not something you just decide to do overnight unless you have the proper skill set and have spent a good portion of the last 3-5 years developing an audience for it. And the photography manufacturers who’ve gotten on board, what an incredible method to get the word out about your product, a frickin’ bus tour of all things. It’s amazing isn’t it, that in the internet age it comes down to a couple of dudes on a bus. Of course, teaching amateurs how to light their badly conceived images may horrify many of you, but that cat ain’t going back in the bag.
“A business is a repeatable process that makes money. Everything else is a hobby.” — Paul Freet, serial entrepreneur and commercialization expert
Prime Collective is a brand new photographic cooperative that I stumbled upon recently. I like the idea of photographers banding together and Luceo Images has proven that it can work well for marketing and potentially for business as well. They’ve got a nice professional group site set up and I know photo editors will like the one stop shopping of it all. With all the social networking that needs to happen and the potential to use twitter, facebook and blogging to market yourself it makes a lot of sense to me to share those tasks among a group of photographers. Good luck to Prime.
Prime is a photographic cooperative founded in 2011. Our six founding members – Dominic Bracco II, Melanie Burford, Brendan Hoffman, Charlie Mahoney, Lance Rosenfield, and Max Whittaker – are united by our firm belief in the power of the image, the importance of pursuing self-directed projects and stories we believe in, and our commitment to journalistic integrity. By working in cooperation, we hope to further several goals: to reinforce the importance of, and market for, photography; to use economies of scale to increase the financial viability of our own careers; and to share information and motivation between ourselves to constantly improve our photographic abilities.
We are devoted to the idea that while truth is not absolute, experience never total, and perception invariably colors reality, the world can be most universally understood and related through images. By applying our own studied judgment, we believe that we can produce narratives that shine a light on the human condition. We may further human understanding, though it is just as likely that the stories we produce will serve only to highlight the complexities of mankind. Either way, we hope our work enriches the lives of our viewers, our subjects, and ourselves.