Anatomy Of A Project

A new 8 part miniseries where Ottawa Photographer Tony Fouhse takes us through his new project, from the first photo to the book launch. Tony is an internationally exhibited and collected photographer who was formerly a full time editorial/commercial photographer. These posts originally appeared in his newsletter HYPO which you can subscribe to here to see more of his work visit his website here.

To pre-order Tony’s book go here.

Anatomy Of A Project
Episode Nº 8: The End

This mini-series, The Anatomy of a Project, began nine weeks ago with a post about the genesis of my current project, “The Garden”. The subsequent posts were (with one exception) about the wiggly path the project took, from creating the photographs to the struggle to edit and sequence the images into a cohesive whole, from laying out the book to the method of its launch.

Now I’ve reached the end. “The Garden” was officially launched this past Sunday at a Mini Popup Foto Festival.

I’d planned on concluding this mini-series by writing about that event. But upon reflection realize there’s no real point to that. The end should be the end.

Ending any mini-series is tricky. Do you wrap everything up in a nice package that explains everything that’s come before? Do you end on an enigmatic note, leave it up to the audience to make their own conclusions? For me, in this case, the end calls for rumination rather than description.

What is “the end” anyway?

Does everything just stop? How much do you want (or need) to reflect on the path that brought you to the end? Where do you go from here?

Let me answer those questions . . .

No, everything doesn’t just stop (obviously).

Reflection is good, it illuminates the path forward (unless you dwell, fixate, on the past).

The last question, where do you go from here?, is the trickiest. Do you repeat yourself because what you did was popular? Do you repeat yourself because that’s all you know? Do you repeat yourself because you’re afraid of failure? Do you do something different, informed by what you’ve just done? Do you do something different because it’s a big, multidimensional world? Do you do something different because you’re curious? Or what?

I can only speak for myself. Me, I use the camera as a tool of discovery. I don’t want to impose my “systems” on what I’m photographing. Sure, I have a history and certain ways of looking, thinking, and framing things. But I work hard to ensure the “subject” I’m photographing has some say. I want to meet the world halfway, want to approach the object of my attention (and interest), in a way that allows room for those people, places or things to come to me too. Therein lies discovery.

And I’ve always thought (believed) that discovery, moving forward, embracing risk and failure, was the whole point of being a conscious, alive person.

Now I’m going to step away from my camera until I’m ready to pick it up again. That might be a few weeks, might be a year. Who knows? (Who cares?) I’ll continue to garden, walk my dogs, shop for food and cook it, read, look, think.

When I do resume I’m pretty sure I’ll be looking for something different, looking at the world from a modified perspective. What, and how, that may be is to be determined. But I’m not worried.

I know that sooner or later something will grab me. And that will be a beginning.

My garden
Walking my dogs, Tim and Ellie
Making West African squash and groundnut stew

The Art of the Personal Project: Gregor Hofbauer

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist:  Gregor Hofbauer

I’m a member of the LGBTQI+ community and attending pride marches and protests to achieve visibility for the community is a must for me. In my first few years of attending these events I expected mainly younger people being active in that matter. But, since I’m eager to look beyond the obvious, I realized that at least here in my hometown, Vienna, the group of supporters showing up at our biggest event – the „Regenbogenparade“ – is quite diverse in age. With my personal work I always like to ask the question, „Did anybody notice this?“.

So with “The Other Vienna Pride Visitors“ I dedicate my time and focus to all the “grown-ups”, who, after quite some time in their life, still find the energy to go out and respect and enjoy what the pride parade stands for.

To see more of this project, click here  (scroll down to The Other Viennese Pride Visitors)



APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

Planning A Popup

The launch of my book, “The Garden,” is four days away.

As I mentioned in a previous episode of this mini-series (here), a good way to create a buzz is to include other photographers. That is: to plan a mini popup foto festival. Each photographer invites their people, more people attend, more contact is made.

Below, you’ll find some of the nuts and bolts aspects of how I plan a mini popup foto festival. But before I get to that I have to mention that a festival should be more than a merely commercial (Let’s Sell Books!) concern.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that a festival for the sake of hype, and hype only, will limit its reach and importance.

If your festival is entwined with some other, deeper need, beyond just showing your work or selling your book, you’ll create something that will mean more to you, something that will have a point other than simple commerce. Let’s call it: a mission.

So what, you might ask, is the mission of the festival I’m organizing?

Briefly: I’m at odds with the prevailing ethos of the local (serious) photo-scene. The work that is held up, noticed, and promoted here is, like the city itself, mostly cautious, conventional and conservative.

The Mini Popup Foto Festival is about supporting, and bringing forward, photographers whose work embraces risk, discovery and complexity. Photographers who venture out into the world to bring back images that reflect their relationship to (or with) what they find there. Photographers who then weave that raw material into long-form photo- sequences where the narrative arc adds up to more than the sum of the parts.

Complex, difficult work may not be fashionable in some local photo-scenes, but is important and deserves to be seen.


There, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to the (my) nuts and bolts of putting together a mini popup foto festival.

First, the festival should be high-speed/low-drag, hyper-local, street-level, and completely independent. That’s my jam.

I figured on including myself and three other photographers. I know two who make work I can get behind, and who had recently produced books. I spent, on and off, a week looking around until I found a fourth photographer who met the criteria. (Ava Margueritte, Phil Rose, Souki Belghiti, me).

Next step, find venues to exhibit the work. I wanted places where the photographs would face out toward the street. That way passers-by can (and will) just happen across them, and the work is visible 24/7.

I’m lucky that my neighbourhood, approached the right way, is kind of like a village. I know my neighbours and local shopkeepers. It took me less than a day to find three spots that suited the purpose.

The locations are all on one block of Somerset Street, right around the corner from where I live. We’ve got the big window of a shuttered restaurant (which will show the work of two photographers), the barbershop window, and the railing around a coffee shop.

(The previous mini festival I organized used two big windows of vacant stores. It took five or six minutes to walk from one to the other, and that’s too far. I learned that for something like this to “work”, keeping it compact is key.)

We’re going to mount the photographs on nicely finished boards that will be hung in the windows (Except for the coffee shop, where the photos will be displayed outside).

Here are the boards we’ll use in the restaurant window, and the swell plywood that’ll fit nicely in the barbershop.

For publicity, we’ve created a Facebook event page and have planned other social media campaigns. We’ve also printed posters, and an 8 page booklet. The booklet will be free to the first 60 people who come to the opening.

If this all sounds straightforward, simple, well . . . that’s because it is. Anyone can do it. There’s no need to gussy things up, to be precious, to shroud the process in mystery. Just make sure you bring a high level of professionalism to the endeavour. And make sure the photos are well presented.

The Mini Popup Foto Festival opens Sunday June 4th.

In order to make it an actual festival (as opposed to just hanging our photos) we’ve arranged a couple of events.

The Sunday after the opening we’ll be hosting, on site, artist talks. The following Sunday we’ll close out the festival with a Zoom meeting with Souki Belghiti, who lives in Morocco. That Zoom meeting will be available to anyone, anywhere, who cares to log in.

Let me tell you, there’s no action like direct action.

The Daily Edit – Charlotte Drury: A Place to Land – ICP Documentary and Visual Journalism


A Place to Land

Photographer: Charlotte Drury

I had the pleasure of joining a portfolio review session for International Center of Photography’s  (ICP) Portfolio Day last week and met with a handful of students.  That day about 60 graduating students shared work with a variety of industry professionals, it’s a wonderful moment for the photo community to come together and see the future of photography, that’s how I met Charlotte. Her ICP project, “A Place to Land” skillfully documented her connection to both the gravity and nuances of sport. The work included vulnerable portraits, intimate moments and the full spectrum of those who are performative. We’re used to seeing the monumental moments, not the in-between of what it means to be involved in sport, striving for excellence.

Heidi: How did your career as former Olympic athlete in the sport of Trampoline (2020) inform this body of work?
Charlotte: This project wouldn’t exist without my past career in sport. I felt particularly drawn to tell this story because of the complex relationship I have with my career and experience in gymnastics. When I first started going to the Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation I didn’t know what kind of photos I was going to create or what kind of story this would be.

At the beginning of shooting, I was almost desperate to find proof that the gym could be a good place for kids to grow up. I knew that at one point, when I was very young, I loved the sport with all my heart but through my years on the National Team I lost sight of that. When I tried to remember what it felt like to have fun with gymnastics, it felt so far away. As if some other little girl had experienced that joy. It showed in my photos too. In the beginning, I only wanted to focus on the moments of celebration or playfulness, desperate to see the “good”. As time went on and I reflected on what I was observing, I realized the magic of sports are the in-between moments. The subtler expressions of hope, friendship, focus and even disappointment and frustration started to draw me in more than before. I watched, and photographed, as the gym invited all of these experiences in and the athletes not only got to explore the full physical landscape of being a kid but the emotional one too. It was important for me to see that.

What sparked your interest in photography? What was the photo that became the turning point for you?
I must’ve been 11 when my parents got a Canon Rebel for the family. It quickly became “Charlotte’s Camera” and whenever it went “missing” my parents and siblings knew where to find it (on my bedside table). My bedroom was on the second floor and looked out over the bird feeder. I loved pulling the screen off and dangling my legs out the window, waiting for the birds to come by and snapping their photos. I’d wake up early and go shoot the morning light in the park by my house or I’d bring it to the gym and shoot my teammates during practice. When I got older, I brought it with me on my unreasonably long solo road trips and the camera became my buddy during weeks alone on the road. Ever since I was a kid the camera had a natural magnetism that I didn’t think twice about. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized not everyone felt that way and that perhaps I had found my new calling.

Why did you choose The Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation Harlem, NYC for this project?
I went to a few gyms before finding the Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation but they just weren’t it. They weren’t bad gyms but I could sense unspoken tension between the athletes and coaches and the values of the program weren’t what I was searching for (even if I didn’t know exactly what that was yet). I think at the end of the day, there’s an ease to this program. Wendy has done an amazing job of lowering all barriers to entry to gymnastics. She offers tons of scholarships, organizes outreach and has the kids doing so much more than Trampoline and Tumbling (including community performances and fundraisers). The emphasis here is on doing gymnastics, not grinding out champions at all costs. It was refreshing and exactly what I was hoping for.

Was part of this project self reflection or “self portrait” discovery?
I would say this project is heavily self reflective. When I retired after the Tokyo Games in 2021, I had a lot to process and work through. My career wasn’t easy on me and it didn’t end well. By the time I retired, I lost my faith in sports as a whole and my new goal was to put as much distance between me and gymnastics as possible (hence the cross-country move from California to New York City). But part of what encouraged me to start exploring gyms in the city was that a piece of me was desperate to challenge that narrative. I didn’t want to live the rest of my life hating something I had dedicated over two decades to. As I watched the kids here play, challenge themselves and banter with each other, I started to remember the happy days I had growing up, memories I didn’t even know were stored away. I also remembered how much fun it is to just bounce on a trampoline which is a pretty big deal for me.

How did it feel to be behind the camera and not on the floor, but still striving for excellence?
Mixed. There are days when I’m so glad to be the one photographing because I genuinely just love to make pictures. Then there are days that I get filled with this deep ache and I dearly miss being the one out on the competition floor. For all the hard moments I had in my career there were some spectacular ones too and I miss those. It helps me to remember that there is a season for everything, and my season of competing in Trampoline is behind me. Photographing gives me the chance to make my subjects feel just as special as I did when I had my picture taken. It’s also an amazing way for me to invite my past into this new future I’m building. It’s nice that even though I’m retired those skills I honed over the years as an athlete are still serving me.

What would you share with any pro athlete that is turning to the arts post a successful career in sport?
Remember what you do is not who you are. The obstacles in your way, become your way. And have fun, you’re allowed.

The Art of the Personal Project: Jennifer MacNeill

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.


Today’s featured artist:   Jennifer MacNeill


No farm is complete without a barn cat.

Expert mouser. Sunbeam seeker. Driveway greeter. Lap warmer. Horse spooker. Fence sitter. Feed room sentinel. Cobwebbed whiskers.

The cat is an often overlooked resident at a stable yet they perform such valuable tasks.

When I visit a farm I always ask how many cats do they have and where do they like to nap. It’s often in a little pool of light somewhere in the hayloft.

Cats seem to know what light will work best for a beautiful photograph. They are little living works of art.

To see more of this project, click here


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

A Different Project

by Tony Fouhse

There will be a short gap in these posts about the process behind “The Garden”. This week’s article was supposed to be about the book launch, which was scheduled to happen the third week of May. But circumstances changed (as they tend to do), and the launch won’t be happening until June 3rd.
So this week I’m going to briefly write about another project I recently finished: “77 rue du Prince Moulay Abdellah.” A project that had a very different genesis, and followed a different process than “The Garden.”

After all, there’s more than one way to do a photo project.
Of course we all have our aesthetic proclivities, areas of interest and ways of working. Nothing wrong with that. But there’s always wiggle room, always (if you stop to think about it) ways to allow the subject, and your relationship to it, to seep into the process. If your subject is a round peg but all you’ve got is a square hole, and you just jam that peg into that hole, it’ll never feel or fit right.

So what are the differences between the making of the “The Garden” and “77 rue du Prince Moulay Abdellah”?

In a nutshell . . .

With “The Garden” I had an idea and set about to photograph it.

My approach was quite considered (in a fluid way). I knew (loosely) what and how I’d need to photograph to make the project “work”. Over a period of several months I shot almost a thousand photos. The subject matter was quite diverse.

Then I spent several more months editing it all down to 51 images, which were woven into a complex sequence akin to a fairy tale. Months after that “The Garden” will finally appear on my website and as a book.

On the other hand, “77 rue du Prince Moulay Abdellah” was a reaction to specific circumstances.

March of this year I found myself in an apartment in Casablanca, Morocco. For reasons I won’t go into here, that situation caused me a certain amount of existential angst; I felt alien and removed. It was that combination of place and feeling that led to the project.

“77 rue du Prince Moulay Abdellah” was conceived, shot, post-produced and sequenced very quickly. I photographed (on and off) for 3 days, mostly from one specific vantage point. The post production and sequencing took another week. I published the complete project (in my newsletter) the day after it was finished. Ten days in total, start to finish. Done.

(If you want further details, Andrew Molitor (one of the most interesting (and iconoclastic) photo critics writing these days) published a very insightful critique/analysis of the project. You can read it here. As well, I want to thank Rob for publishing the complete project here. I asked him if we should just show a few of the images and provide a link to the project. He responded, “We’re running all the photos. It’s always worth experimenting.”)

I don’t travel to seek out the sights. I travel to just be wherever I am.
I’ll walk to the edge of the place, to neighbourhoods and industrial areas. I’ll sit and look and feel. I might think.

Photography doesn’t have much of a role in this endeavour. In fact, it often impedes, distracts, restricts. It often insists on a pro forma reaction.

But in Casablanca I found myself in a situation where a project fell into my lap or, more accurately, my brain. It seemed right. It has hardly anything to do with Morocco.

I became obsessed with the apartment where I was staying. 77 rue du Prince Moulay Abdellah, the 7th floor.

A terrace runs its length, it has views to the south and the west that completely occupied me. I only left the building to get food.

Time passed, life went on.

The Art of the Personal Project: Saroyan Humphrey

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.


Today’s featured artist:  Saroyan Humphrey

On Nightlight

In the dark, light can take on new meaning and offer a fresh look at what may, in daylight, seem ordinary. In night’s shadow, the world looks different. In this ongoing series I look for a special quality that makes the usual seem extraordinary in some way. In this realm, I try to offer a scene that draws the viewer in to evoke an emotional response, however subtle. Like a bright moon rising over the horizon, a light in the dark can bring intrigue, and wonder.

Offering security and comfort, a light at night can keep the unknown from creeping in.

I focus primarily on local settings, including nearby suburbs which remind me of my childhood backdrops, growing up on the East Coast. With influence from a variety of artists, including Jan Staller, Robert Adams, Gregory Crewdson, Todd Hido, and Robert Bechtle, photographing with long exposures at night offers a moment when things slow down and become almost surreal in stillness. In its own way, I like to think of it as a mediation on the essence of photography.

To see more of this project, click here


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

Anatomy Of A Project

A new 8 part miniseries where Ottawa Photographer Tony Fouhse takes us through his new project, from the first photo to the book launch. Tony is an internationally exhibited and collected photographer who was formerly a full time editorial/commercial photographer. These posts originally appeared in his newsletter HYPO which you can subscribe to here to see more of his work visit his website here.

To pre-order Tony’s book go here.

Anatomy Of A Project
Episode Nº 7: Photobook Design

Okay, photobook design? What do I know?

Not a lot, really. I’m a photographer, not a designer. But I have spent some time thinking about placing photographs on the pages of books, and how the decisions you make can (will) either help or hinder the work.

So, necessarily, what follows is broad strokes and a few examples from personal experience, followed by some general thoughts . . .


All through the sequence and dummy process of The Garden I’d been using my go-to approach. That’d be: all photos the same size, one photo per page, all the photos in the same position, some blank pages, minimal text.

Here’s a pic of the first dummy (top) and the final dummy of The Garden.

There’s a danger to using a standard, template-style layout when you’re in the initial stages of placing the images in the dummy. Change becomes more difficult when you’re used to looking at something in a specific way. (Also applies to life.) But what if there’s a better way to get your idea, the idea of the photographs, across in the book? (What if there’s a better way to live your life?)

I’ve seen this happen quite a few times when I’ve been involved (directly or peripherally) in the making of other photographers’ photobooks. Fortunately, in all of those cases some kind of intervention happened, things got shook up and the book became better.

Case in point: when we walked on thin air, by Souki Belghiti. (I’ve been mentoring Souki, who lives in Casablanca, Morocco, for two years.)

We’d been working on her sequence of photos for a while and were using, for ease and convenience (two things which may well be counterproductive to getting the most out of art and life) a straightforward approach to their layout.

And then, well . . . I’ll let Souki tell you . . .

Hakim Benchekroun helped me choose the book size. He designed the cover, and the poem inside (which I then moved a little) and he suggested, at the time, my classical layout wasn’t the best option. He tried tweaking the pictures’ position a little – some above the middle line, some below, all the same size – which didn’t work – and our collaboration then stopped. (But he had inseminated the idea a better layout was possible)

During a workshop, Zoopark Publishing Collective offered a layout very close to the one I ended up using, with 3 sizes for the pictures, creating a rhythm, and a different sequence. (They explained how layout and sequence play on one another.) Their sequence was more thematically straightforward (around the pandemic). They also showed us how to use InDesign, giving me the freedom to tweak their design and sequence, to what I wanted. :) – which I did, after the workshop was over.

Then for the “poster”. I was having a beer with my friend Melanie Yvon and complaining how hard it was to find a designer in tune with what I was trying to express. She drew it, right then and there. (Did I tweak it afterwards, too? Of course.)

Alexis Logie then designed the flap to put the poster in, suggested the book be sewn rather than glued etc.

Took a village. All the mistakes are mine.

This layout, for me, suits the look, feel and intention of Souki’s work. There’s meant to be a sense of dislocation in the sequence of images, and the jarring design heightens this feeling.

On the other hand, my book (The Garden) is meant to be episodic, cinematic, and kind of straightforward. A trip through a city in some strange twilight. The work wants a straightforward flow, where each photo has the same weight as the others.

Here’s the opening sequence to The Garden, the introduction to that trip . . .

I might be using backward logic to justify my choices. I don’t know. But I do know that I put a lot of thought into how I wanted these photos to appear in the book. In the end, if you’ve thought about it and it feels right, well . . . there you go. The trick is to consider the components and the idea, and to explore possibilities before you come to a conclusion.

Finally, some random thoughts and opinions. (Bear in mind: I’m a photographer, not a designer.)

In certain cases the flair that’s put into the physical object enhances the feeling and reading of the work. But throwing money at super-cool binding, different paper stocks, making the book complicated to open and look at should only be used if it serves a purpose (other than seducing photobook fetishists). All those extra bells and whistles add a lot to production costs. So if you want your book to make money you’ll have to charge a lot for it which, paradoxically, reduces the pool of potential buyers.

Me, I like my books to be affordable and to make money. So they’re typically simple in their design and manufacture (but not, if I may be immodest, simple in their content). I want them to be more utilitarian than luxurious, an approach that suits my ethos. (I’ve published 5 books and a bunch of zines, all have turned a profit, all but one is sold out.)

Where I live (Canada) the cost of shipping doubles if the package weighs more than 500 grams. Since most of my sales are to the USA and Europe, and because shipping is expensive, I take this into account when I’m designing my books. I make sure they weigh, packaged, less than 500 grams. You might want to do a bit of research into shipping costs, and design your book with that in mind.

I do short runs on digital presses, I know I can sell 200 books without spending a year of my life being a photobook salesperson (or having boxes of unsold books in my basement), so that’s (usually) the number of books I print.


Last week’s episode of Anatomy of a Project was about hype. That would have been the perfect context to hype my book. Typically, I forgot to do that.

(During the process of producing and selling your book you’ll forget stuff, your big plan will get messed up. Don’t worry, just roll with it, keep going. That’s the way stuff gets done.)

So allow me to hype my book by showing you a couple of ways I’m hyping my book . . .


This was a note I included at the end of a recent newsletter . . .

The Garden is available for pre-sale. It’ll ship end of May.

All pre-orders come with a swell, small work print, complete with pin holes (I stuck these on my editing board) and, if you’re lucky, weird markings and annotations I used to remind myself how I wanted to post-produce the final files.

Get your copy here. Support my practice and this newsletter. You know you want to.


I’d take photos when I was showing the dummy of The Garden to people whose opinions I respect. I’d note their reactions, what they said. The aim was to use these photos and words on social media. Here’s one of those encounters.

The Daily Edit – Blind River: Alex Turner




Photographer: Alex Turner

Alex and I connected a few weeks ago after many of our circles began to overlap. We shared friends in the art, commercial and conservation spaces and I reviewed some of his images from a recent Patagonia journal project. Our conversation left me with so many questions about his interdisciplinary research and artwork. Along with making this impressive body of work, Alex’s love of the outdoors and intriguing perspective of how we see and surveil the world leaves me curious and excited for what’s next. Here’s what he had to say about his project, Blind River.

Heidi: How long have you been in the conservation field and has photography always been a part of this work for you?
Alex: I’ve always been interested in the environmental sciences and conservation, but only recently worked in a professional capacity within either of the fields. I’m currently working at an environmental nonprofit focused on forest restoration in Los Angeles, and was recently a citizen scientist with wildlife biologists at the University of Arizona. In both cases, I used these relationships to inspire my artistic practice. The collaborative work I did with wildlife biologists resulted in my most recent photographic project called Blind River, and my current role in forest restoration is informing my current body of work.

How did this idea for Blind River come about, was this the first installation of this work at Marshall Gallery?
While I was a graduate student at the University of Arizona, I was amazed to learn that jaguars occasionally migrated across the US/Mexico border. I reached out to the research team that was tracking their movements, and began to envision a photographic project related to that research. The team uses motion-triggered infrared cameras to monitor them, and then runs that footage through a customized A.I.-based facial recognition software to identify different species of animals. It became apparent to me very quickly that, based on the locations of these cameras, the team inevitably records and identifies a lot of activity outside the parameters of their research. Considering that the US government uses these same technologies in the same environments, I realized that this was a unique way to examine the surveillance tactics deployed along the border through the lens of an organization with completely different motives. I had a show of my work at the University of Arizona Museum of Art as part of my thesis, as well as a solo show in New York and various other group shows, including one recently at Marshall, and another show there this summer. LACMA recently acquired one of the pieces for their permanent collection, and it will be on display in the 2024 Pacific Standard Time exhibition. On July 15th I’ll be in a 3 person show at the Marshall Gallery, the working title is called Rendered Realities.

How long has A.I. been on your mind and what concerns do you have?
A.I. has been on my mind for a long time, and the current iterations of it are already so much more advanced and sophisticated than anything that I was working with even 3-4 years ago. But the concerns that I hoped to address with Blind River are not dissimilar from the concerns of A.I. today, namely: what happens when A.I. is wrong? And how do we operate in a world where we are more and more detached from each other, or any lived experiences for that matter?

How long are the remote sensing and recognition applications deployed?
I was monitoring dozens of cameras in several mountain ranges on the US/Mexico Border in Arizona for the better part of 3 years. Each one required me to go out and change batteries and SD cards every couple weeks, especially if they were in ‘active’ areas. Some cameras would go weeks without capturing any activity, and some were constantly capturing deer, bears, foxes, humans, mountain lions and everything in between. Many of these cameras were in very remote areas with no trails, requiring hours of bushwhacking through difficult desert mountain terrain. Often, the same environmental features that attracted wildlife also attracted human movement, including the paths of least resistance and access to water. Because each SD card could have thousands of photos, the research team collaborated with engineers to develop an A.I. software that could help identify species in each picture, potentially saving the researchers countless hours of cataloguing data. While I’m no longer a citizen scientist with the team, their research is ongoing and will continue for many years.

What data sets are you combining in order to raise questions and what surprised you about the cross overs?
All of the data I collected was in collaboration with the wildlife biology team. The infrared footage I use in my artwork is part of their research and data, as well as the A.I. recognition results. When a picture of a human is categorized as a ‘human’ by the software, it is categorized in their database as such. While the footage and data is most likely very similar to the footage and data collected by Border Patrol, we are in no way working in partnership with them, nor are we sharing data or information. I have footage of the cartel moving across the border, and Border Patrol likely has footage of jaguars moving across the border. We simply have different motivations and intentions. For me, that difference is key to the project: it allows you as the viewer to see the different ways these technologies can be used, and weigh the positive and negative outcomes and draw your own conclusions.

The fused imagery illustrates several paradoxes: human/dehumanized/intimate/loose/natural landscape and the observation of. How did this idea emerge and why was it important to you to push photographic boundaries?
One of the more jarring moments in the making of Blind River was looking at the infrared photos on a computer screen for the first time. Having just visited these places, I was surprised at how foreign and alien they felt in the photos. Part of it was the way space and subject is depicted with infrared technology, but also how little information is actually available in the photos. The sensors are very small, so the resulting images are very pixelated and blurry. The gulf between the technology and real life experience I had was stark, and I wanted to highlight that disparity. I made very high resolution panoramas of the landscapes from the same perspective as the motion sensor camera, then overlaid the subjects from the infrared cameras into these immersive landscapes. The figures are vague and not well defined in contrast to their detailed surroundings. I’m interested in showing both the possibilities and limitations of these photographic technologies. Undoubtedly these technologies will only get better, but they will never substitute reality…there will always be a level of detachment between us and the subject being depicted or captured. Photography’s tenuous relationship with truth and reality has always been interesting to me, but today it feels particularly prescient in the face of surveillance and A.I.

Did the questions iterate over time?
I wasn’t entirely sure what questions this project would pose when I first began working on it, but I found myself wondering ‘what is my role in all of this?’ quite often. As the surveillant, I have the ability to curate data and footage for the viewer, regardless of my understanding of this space or my authority or expertise. There is a lot of public rhetoric surrounding the border today, but how much can we truly claim to know about this space by looking at it through our screens, or reading about it, or studying and surveilling it from afar? I think it’s a pressing question for all of us, but particularly for those who wield considerable influence over the region.

Now that you are based in Los Angeles, what photography projects are you working on, and what do you hope to do?
Working with a forestry restoration organization in California, my current focus is on trees. But my new project is about trees the same way that Blind River was about jaguars, meaning there’s a lot more happening in the work. My tree project incorporates thermal technology, which has many different real world applications, much like infrared. I’m fascinated by the variety of imaging technologies available today, and I love repurposing those technologies for artistic projects. Troubleshooting is a huge part of the process, as I’m often trying to use these tools for something very different than their intended applications. That being said, I’m excited to put work out into the world, hopefully soon.

Artist Management Association (AMA) – ImageRights: Get paid for your work

The Artist Management Association (AMA) is a trade organization acting on behalf of companies representing creative talent working in the commercial photography and fine art industries. The AMA provides educational programming, supportive resources, community action, and legislative advocacy for our industry and the artists we represent. The programming aspect includes a webinar series, where leaders in our industry are invited to speak on topics of interest to the membership.

On April 4th, the Artist Management Association (AMA) hosted a webinar with ImageRights founders Joe Naylor and Ted VanCleave, who shared the value their services are having on their photography and agency clients.

Joe Naylor is the President and CEO of ImageRights and has a career spanning over 30 years in design development, operations, sales, and marketing of communication and internet-based businesses. Ted VanCleave is a business development specialist and photographer. He teamed up with Joe to launch ImageRights in 2009, which has become the largest and longest established service of its kind, representing more than 25 million client images and recovering over $30 million in lost licensing fees on behalf of clients.

  • ImageRights was launched in 2009 before Google Image Search had even launched, and since then, they have been able to register over one and a quarter million images with the US Copyright Office.

  • Their three-pronged approach to copyright infringement includes: discovery, recovery, and copyright registration. The three legs of the stool work together to help their clients effectively.

  • ImageRights has deployed an infrastructure with over 1800 servers crawling nonstop, processing more than 3 billion images online per year, analyzing them and the sites they are on, to identify potential uses or infringements.

  • Every single day, they are finding almost 300,000 uses of copyrighted images.

How the platform works:

  • Artists can upload their images, and ImageRights will take care of the rest.

  • Artists review their sightings and submit claims. ImageRights then either attempts to resolve the claim directly or upon your approval passes it to one of its legal partners for resolution.

  • If the case goes to court, ImageRights will front any upfront costs and retains a percentage of the settlement amount. This way, artists do not have to worry about any costs associated with pursuing a claim.

ImageRights is committed to protecting artists’ intellectual property rights. They have made it their priority to approach alleged infringers professionally and to check for licenses before pursuing any claims. By using their platform, artists can protect their images and receive compensation for their work.

We are thankful to Joe and Ted for leading the discussion and shedding light on such a critical topic in our industry.

Visit ImageRights website to learn more about this work and to get paid for your work.

Each month the AMA puts on webinars, town halls, roundtables and in-person events. While everyone runs their companies differently, there are common issues faced by artist managers across the industry. . The AMAis a platform to collaborate, and share insights and advice to better our community as a whole.

Check here for updated information on events.

Please visit the AMA website to learn more. To stay up-to-date on essential industry resources, discussions, and legislation, please subscribe to the AMA newsletter.

Become an AMA Member
Become an AMA Partner

The Art of the Personal Project: Eric W. Pohl

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.


Today’s featured artist:  Eric W.Pohl

The art of glassblowing has fascinated me since the first time I saw a demonstration at a renaissance festival more than 10 years ago. The journey and transformation from a lump of molten glass in a sweltering workshop into a delicate, colorful fine art piece is truly magical — and a visual treasure trove for a photographer like me.

I love working with artisans and makers and wanted to create some storytelling imagery to use as portfolio/promo material. So, I approached artisan Tim de Jong of Wimberley Glassworks about setting up a shoot. Tim and his team were gracious enough to dedicate a half day to setting up and photographing their process.

After some trial and error, we were able to find a good balance with the lighting. I wanted the workshop dark enough to easily capture the glow of the molten glass, but also wanted to cast a directional, window-light feel on the subjects.

The first thing you notice when you get up close and personal with glassblowing is the heat. Not only are there multiple furnaces raging at over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, but there’s heat radiating off the molten glass itself as the artist works it.

In the beginning stages, the glass looks like nothing more than a glowing mass on the end of a stick. Watching glass artisans work, you really get an appreciation for the vision they have to imagine the finished product.

There’s never a dull moment while the glass is taking form. Working quickly, Tim and his team roll, blow and swing the glass like a pendulum to shape it while in its molten state. Along the way, they carefully add colors and texture by dipping and rolling the hot glass into other colored glasses. Finally, they use a variety of tools — some unexpected — such as scissors, hammers, pliers, wooden boards and even rolls of wet newspaper to work the glass to its final shape and size.

It’s truly an awe-inspiring experience to watch glass come to life. Thank you to Tim de Jong and Wimberley Glassworks for the opportunity.

To see more of this project, click here


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

Anatomy Of A Project

A new 8 part miniseries where Ottawa Photographer Tony Fouhse takes us through his new project, from the first photo to the book launch. Tony is an internationally exhibited and collected photographer who was formerly a full time editorial/commercial photographer. These posts originally appeared in his newsletter HYPO which you can subscribe to here to see more of his work visit his website here.

To pre-order Tony’s book go here.

Anatomy Of A Project
Episode Nº 6: Hype

In the past I’ve always written (and posted) about my projects as they were in progress. I’d post lots of photos, write about my ambitions for the work, my approach and process, and (mostly) about how confused I was.

That seems to make people feel closer, more engaged with the work when it finally appears.(Not that that’s the reason I do it. The reason I do it is so I better understand what I’m doing, what I’m working towards,)

But I’ve kept this new project (The Garden) pretty much to myself, only written about it tangentially, only posted the occasional picture.

Now, though, it’s pretty much done. The edit and sequence finalized, the dummy made, the final post production of the files complete. All that remains is the hype and the launch. But the thing is essentially ready to release.

And when I release it, I’ll want to “move product”. By that I mean I’ll want people to see and be engaged with the work, and buy the book.

So I’ve been wondering: How do you move product?

Of course there’s not any one way that’s best, there are many paths. There’s the seduce-the-powers-that-be option (not my style). There’s the pay-to-play option (I refuse to participate). And the spend-the-next-year-or-two-promoting-the-work option (I’d rather work on something new).

So perhaps a better way to phrase the question is: What’s the best way for me to move product?

I asked my newsletter readers some questions about this matter. Here are the questions, along with their answers . . .

1/ Would you feel more involved with a project (and more likely to buy the resulting book) if images and other details were shared as the project evolved?

One person said they would not feel more involved but might buy a book anyway. The rest were very interested in the process, said that that engagement made them feel attached to the project and more likely to buy the book.

2/ Does it make any sense to post the complete project on my website and/or send it around for some free hype a few months before offering the book for sale?

One person thought posting the complete project made sense. All the other respondents thought it would be better to show an extract of the book. But there was a variety of opinion as to how much to show. Some thought a couple of pictures and short text would be enough. Others wanted to see “more than a teaser” so they could figure out whether it tickled their fancy (or not).

3/ Is there an optimum month to release a book?

Almost everyone said it didn’t matter. A few respondents were quite sure September was best, but May was also good.

I would have asked “What’s a good way to launch a book, especially if, like me, you want to operate as much as possible outside the Academy and Gallery System”? But I already know the answer to that question . . .

My most recent book (Endless Plain) was launched a year and a half ago. I knew some local photographers (whose work I respect) who were also launching books around that time. We banded together, arranged to exhibit our work in two exterior locations, had an opening/book launch and a few other events. Turned the thing into a Mini Popup Foto Festival.

Involving more photographers in a launch makes sense. Each brings their own group of people – and a greater buzz is created.

Because Victoria, Ian, Ava and I were working outside official channels (the academy/ white cube system) we were able to pull the whole thing together in just over a month. Lots of people attended the opening, we sold a bunch of books and, bonus – during the two weeks the photos were on display many passers-by stopped to look at, think about and discuss the pictures, I’d call the whole thing a success.

Photographers, How Much Do You Make?

My clients are all over the US; local to larger national (and sometimes global) brands. We partner directly with brands and creative agencies on projects big and small. From local cannabis producers, to iconic brands like Nike and Adidas (those last two are also local to our area, so that’s pretty helpful for Portland creative industries). In just the last 6 months we’ve done work for E&J Gallo, PetSmart, Tony’s Chocolonely, and Dr. Bronner’s.

No employees. Just me and my partner (it’s a family business). We share the production work; I handle all the photography, and he handles the set design and shoot-day producer role.

We have a small production studio and a workshop space that we rent. Add the utilities and insurance and it runs us about $5k/month.

Profit margin: 2020 – 19.5%, 2021 – 22.5%, 2022 – 26%, tracking at 26% so far this year

We technically are in the studio/office at least 3-4 days a week but the days a year I am actually shooting… 2022 I had about 30 shoot days (not including the production or prep/wrap days).

Once I changed my business model from that of a freelance photographer to one of a production company/studio my income and profit margin really started to see a positive and much needed change. Mind you I’ve been in the business for a long time now and have managed and produced my own photoshoots since I was in my early 20s. I decided it was time to start charging for all the production work I had be previously doing for free.

Those choices, along with bringing on my spouse as a support and collaborator, has made a drastic difference in both our income and how we navigate the future in this industry. I say all of this knowing that my ability to grow all came from some amount of dumb luck, a lot of rejection and hard work, and a certain place of privilege.

Our workshop/set designer also takes on other projects outside of the photo work our studio produces, so this accounts for another very helpful income stream (about 15-20% additional billing).

Here’s an example of a typical shoot we just wrapped:

2-day stills shoot for a locally-based (but nationally sold) non-alcohol beverage company that has been in business for over 10 years.

For our in-house product shoots we typically only hire a prop stylist and a photo assistant. My partner takes on the role of producer on the shoot days to help manage our client and the crew, keeping us all happy and on schedule. A shoot like this will have us in the studio for a prep + prelight day before the first day of shooting (and our stylist will usually have an extra day or two for shopping/crafting). We had about 15 shots to create over the 2 days: 6 custom scenes, and a “super close-up” setup.

The client received 21 images in total. Licensing terms are 2 YEARS: web, social, PR, print, and BTL use.

Estimate total: $15k. Take home after expenses: $11k

When we won this job we also knew there would be a “phase two” a month later, which we’re shot (same deal, 6 additional skus) in March.

We just wrapped a personal best last month for an iconic national wine brand. This was a one-day studio shoot here in Portland, Oregon. Both the clients and agency creative team traveled from across the country to shoot with us. The main focus of this project was to create six color-blocked “backyard” scenes, in-studio and to capture 3 lifestyle images and 3 product-focused images on these sets. The client received a total of 6 final retouched images for their POS campaign, with 6-months requested usage, BTL print and digital (we consider strictly-POS as BTL in this case).

The agency also requested a second “digital asset” product/tabletop set to capture 10-12 social media assets for the client, during our one-day photoshoot. We did a thing we love doing, which is hiring one of our talented photographer contemporaries to join us for the day on her separate tabletop set. The client walks away with a hard drive of all the captures from this set at the end of the day to do with as they please (including any retouching). The selects from this digital shoot come with unlimited, perpetual use, strictly digital, no print.

Here’s an estimate breakdown:

Photographer day rate: $6500
Licensing fees: $5k
Photographer Prelight: $2k

Studio Services: $1k/day for 3 days (prep, shoot, wrap) covers studio use, in-house lighting + grip, and production fees.
In-house Photo Producer: $750/day for 5 days (casting, production, on-set producer)
Production Coordinator: $650/day for 3 days (prep and shoot days)
In-house Custom Fabrication: $600/day for 3 days (custom wall flats, set build)

Second Photographer: $4k (fees + digital use)
Art Department Lead: $1k/day for 5 days
Wardrobe Stylist: $1k/day for 3.5 days
H/MUA: $1200/day for 1 day
First Photo Assistant: $600/day for 4 days
Second Photo Assistant: $500/day for 4 days
Art Dept Assistant: $500/day for 3 days
Wardrobe Assistant: $500/day for 1 day

Talent Fees: $8k ($2k/each (including usage) x4)
Agency Fees: $1600

Set Design Budget: $5k
Wardrobe Budget: $3k
Prop Budget: $2400
Craft Service: $1500
Misc: $1k (kit fees, expendables, mileage)
EQ Rentals: $600

Post Production: $2700 (6 images)

TAKE HOME: $22.5k

Now I’m sure we could’ve charged more for usage or what have you, but the reality is we always try to get a rough budget out of our clients so we have a number to work towards (or back from). I also like to live in the reality that I am getting paid A LOT OF MONEY to make images for a living. Images that typically have a commercial shelf-life of much less than one year (if we’re being honest about how capitalism constantly forces new products to market). At the end of the day, if I feel what we’re charging is fair and reasonable to us and fair and reasonable to our clients then we should be satisfied.

Our worst recent shot was in the summer of 2020 (at the height of all the uncertainly surrounding the pandemic) a skincare brand reached out and offered me $2k a month to create up to 16 images for them (per month). It was hell, and as you can expect nothing was ever good enough from them. They we’re fired after three shoots.

We can shoot video (simple tabletop stuff), but choose to focus our motion work on stop motion animations and “motion-burst” photography (high-speed strobes with a human-motion component that can be edited into a short video).

My years of photo assisting and working as an art department assistant really gave me the confidence and knowledge to know what I was getting myself into when I decided to go the freelance route. Too many people end up in this industry these days without taking the time to learn how it functions and what people’s roles are, especially when you get to the bigger clients and higher levels of production. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My clients are Regional 50%, National 50%. I have a number of large repeat clients who I enjoy working with. Well known international brands who sort of have me on retainer as they use me constantly without putting out the job for bid from other photographers.

I have one freelance assistant who is with me for 70% of my shoots and I hire other freelancers when needed.

My expenses for last year were $70k, with $35k going to freelancers. The rest was a good split between new gear, marketing and travel.

I work around 4 days a week averaged over the year. I can have 2 weeks with no work and then 6 shoots in 7 days. But it averages out to 4 days a week.

My income has raised steadily since my start in the business. The last few years has seen a slight increase.

I have no other sources of income.

Best shoot from recent past was May of last year. I shot 3 days for a national sports organization. I hired 2 assistants and a MUA. The total invoice for the shoot was $28k, 200 images were licensed with light editing for 3 years of usage. After paying for gear, assistants, MUA, my take home was $21K.

I don’t shoot video.

My income is 40% product, 30% food & drink, 30% lifestyle. I get hired for my creativity and my attention to detail. I am pretty open to shooting anything as long as I feel confident I will do a good job. I don’t let the idea of a “niche” limit me, if they want me to bid I will bid!

I spent 1 year in house as a “content creator” 2023 marked my 7th year freelancing.

I have clients all over the spectrum, small biz all the way to fortune 500. I have been working with lots of startups, which has been fun because I play a large part in the creative identity of these new companies.

My studio is about 15k a year because it is shared, I outsource 90% of my retouching which adds up, and because I do not have a rep I take on all production costs associated with my jobs. Expenses are over or close to 100k a year.

I would say I am on set maybe 4-10 days a month. Some months I am on set for a day…Consistency month to month is hard to come by, but yearly it is pretty good.

I have a lot of direct-to-client work, start-ups with decent budgets, and small businesses that understand why we invest in photography. I love working direct with clients, I love having a vision and executing I also enjoy building relationships with clients. I like agency work too, but I find it discouraging to triple bid and play the game constantly. For a few years, I knew I was the “low number” because of my experience and it made it hard to enjoy the process.

From my first year on, income has steadily increased. From year to year, my rates go up, project sizes go up, and of course, so do expenses. 2022 was the first year I was down in my years of freelancing, I brought in about 20k less than 2021. I expect that to be a little bump in the road with 2023 going right back up to meet 2021 or exceed it, or at least I hope!

Photography is my full-time gig! When I left my agency job I just went for it. It was a learning curve for sure, only a few resources out there gave me some insight into how to run a photography business. I didn’t have any industry friends to lean on. I was charging like $800/day in my first year and just tossing RAWs out like candy. Some days I am still trying to figure out if my rates are fair because no one talks about it. That is why I am so thankful for this new resource!!

On average I am working a 1-2 day shoot, with about 20 deliverables for social and web. Smaller teams, props, food and talent. My day rate averages $2,500-$3,500, and retouching is around $200-500/image depending on complexity, I include organic web and social in that fee. Paid ads or print ads range anywhere from an additional 5-10k on the job. After hard costs, I bring in about 50-70% of the project.

My best-paying job was 14 days, 9-5, on set for one client – 100 simple assets for $100k I took home at least $50k. Images were used for an e-book. I loved the routine! I blasted music and had a good time.

I am pretty good at saying no to jobs that don’t suit me, which I know is a privilege. Honestly, the worst paying jobs are editorial, which I do mainly for the experience and challenge anywhere from $300-$1000 for a half day and I am lucky if I get an assistant rate on top of that.

I am starting to direct but I never hold the camera on motion jobs. A lot of my jobs lately have been asking for motion and I have a few video teams I call on to shoot in tandem with me. I have a good relationship with a motion production company that I call on for the bigger gigs. Maybe 10% of my income right now but I hope to get that up to 30% this year.

It can be lonely out there, so prioritize finding a community. Be it your classmates from school (if you went) or other photographers at the same level as you. Friendliness and warmth trump competition. Reach out and go for a coffee, stay in touch, and refer jobs to one another.

I worked ten years as in-house marketing photographer for a small, private university in a large city. The first three years I did photos, video, social media, some website updates and a touch of graphic design. The team grew and I eventually got to focus solely on photography.

I made $43k, with zero overhead. Gear was supplied, when I could make a strong enough case for it. Salary for my position was low compared to folks in my role at other universities, and about $15k lower than the guy they hired to do video and to be my supervisor. Budgets were always tight and raises were unheard of.

I supplemented my income with weddings and some varied freelance work. At my best I had a couple years of earning 20-25k outside of the ‘real’ job.

I always tried to advance my work, staying on trend and upping the production value. The graphic designers loved it, but nobody else really saw the increased quality; often times quantity is all that was needed. I even taught myself headshot retouching along the way. Again, not a selling point to those in charge of my employment.

When Covid hit, I was very rapidly jettisoned. The videographer/anyone with a phone would take my place. From the looks of it, the image library I created is still very much in use. After ten years, it was a hard way to go, but it was something I didn’t know I needed. We had a six month old at home, and I immediately became a stay at home dad, gaining an irreplaceable bond with my daughter while saving on daycare costs. Had I stayed, we would have spent almost all of my paycheck on daycare. Leaving gave me the chance to reflect on what I wanted to do in the future.

I walked away with an incredibly diverse portfolio and a wealth of experience. I now know where my specialties lie and what types of jobs I’d be happy to do without. When time allows, I still pick up freelance gigs, and in the next few years, foresee myself jumping headfirst back into the market, freelancing full-time, doing what I love.

Last years income is after my agent has taken 25% of creative fees. After agency fees, I consider that my gross, from which about 30% goes to expenses, leaving me with my net.

I would say the bulk of my work is Lifestyle with a still life component. When I was only shooting still life (food), I found that there was a cap to the scale of productions, at least for me. I also direct motion, going on 3 years, and at this point it’s about 60% stills only, 35% stills + (directing) motion, 5% motion only (directing).

I’ve been with my current rep for 2 years.

No employees, though I do have to run payroll on smaller shoots that are not handled by a production company.

Aside from what I consider regular business expenses (equipment, insurances, payroll, software, sub contractors, travel, etc), I don’t have any overhead. Overall, 30% of my gross is expenses (last year that was 90k of expenses).

I’m counting this as shoot days on set only. Obviously a lot of work happens on non set days in pre-production and post:
In 2021 – 64 shoot days
In 2022 – 58 shoot days but earned more overall
I know people sometimes balk at photog rates but there are a lot of days we work that we don’t get paid for, especially in the bidding/treatment process, which can take 1-2 weeks and only has a 30% award rate, as well as 2-3 weeks of pre-pro time.

Once I was able to start charging appropriate usage, with the help of an agent, my income increased substantially. This also coincided with larger scale production budgets based on my career’s momentum. For the first few years, I was living off just day rights.

All my shoots are so different, so I’ll talk about my most recent shoot, which had a decent budget but by no means extravagant. It was primarily a motion job, so I was directing, with a minor stills shot list that I captured as well. I haven’t kept track of hours worked, but it was about 4 days of work for the treatment. Once awarded, we had 2.5 weeks of pre-production which required me to be at my computer or in meetings a few hours a day. This one didn’t overlap with an existing shoot, as it’s much harder to do all this stuff on top of a 10-12hr shoot day. The shoot was 2 days and was a travel job. Total, I received 2500 @ 6 days for travel, pre-pro, scout, etc, and 8,500 @ 2 shoot days. Total take away of my fees after 25% agency cut was 24k. Overall shoot budget was 215k. Licensing was all assets captured, unlimited digital for 1 year.

Best paying shoot – 3 day shoot, 12 hour days, doing stills on a broadcast commercial with a full buyout of all imagery captured, I made 80k, agent took 30%. Expenses handled by producer.

Worst paying shoot was a 1 day 8 hr. shoot, maybe 2 hours of pre-pro, licensing was web, marketing, printed cards for in store, I made $750, agent took 25% 😂. I thought it’d be a fun passion project but I ended up having a miserable time.

I truly think that if you stick with it, put in the work, and build a solid business, you can find success. Don’t feel entitled to anything off the bat. While I find this career to be super fun, it is NOT easy. BTS shots on insta look like work is a blast, and parts of it are, but there’s a lot of hard and stressful work surrounded by those highlights. It’s a slow road, requires a lot of time (and money) invested, and it’s a challenging and ever evolving industry. Continue to put in the hard work day after day, year after year. There will without a doubt be extra hard times where no work is coming, you feel taken advantage of, etc. Also, sharing is caring!! Fuck gatekeeping – it only leads to undercutting (both intentional and unintentional) and it really affects the industry as a whole.

The Art of the Personal Project: Carlos Javier

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist:  Carlos Javier

The literature and images of migrant workers have become part of our rich American history. From John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Dorothea Lange’s iconic image of the “Migrant Mother” and César Estrada Chávez’s legacy as a farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist, my childhood memory is just one small piece of a long struggle.

Immigration and the need for labor are inextricably connected. By the early 20th century, American cities were growing dramatically, and more agriculture was needed to meet expanded needs for food. Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1917. This law established a legal basis for the importation of some 73,000 Mexican workers. During the Great Depression, foreign demand for agricultural exports plummeted and prices dropped. In an effort to open up jobs to native-born citizens, the Immigration and Naturalization Service cooperated with local authorities to deport more than 400,000 ″Repatriados” back to Mexico in the 1930s. At least half were U.S. citizens, mostly the children of immigrants. Generations later, the situation remains very similar.

More than eight million undocumented workers, who comprise five percent of the work force, are embedded in the American labor market. Many risk their lives to cross the border; many die on their way, while others are caught by the US Border Patrol and deported. Undocumented workers face extraordinary economic hardship in their home countries, encouraging them to endure these dangers. In 2011, the U.S. expelled nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants (ICE, 2011).

It is not surprising that migrants often work in the most undesirable occupations: meat-packing plants, landscaping, and harvesting crops; all are low-wage jobs in physically demanding and difficult conditions. Most middle-class Americans would never dream of accepting such toil with low wages and without legal accountability or safety standards. Yet these tasks remain essential, underpinning the basic fabric of the American economy and quality of life.

All the while, undocumented immigrants live under the radar with meager wages and poor access to education, social services, and health care. Nonetheless, I have seen how they remain resilient and strive to be part of the American Dream.

Migrant workers and other community members take part in the annual Farm workers Festival to celebrate workers and their families. Newton Grove, North Carolina has a large migrant worker population in the summers. The workers are welcomed warmly because of their contribution to the town.
Surprise, Arizona.  Birds fly through crops in Surprise Arizona.
A worker picks hot peppers in hundred degree temperatures. Migrant workers mostly from Rio Grande, Texas. Come to Illinois. To work the fields. Most of the workers are Mexicans who live in the United States and migrate from Texas. Many of these workers work under extreme situations. Some get sick from pesticides, others end up injured while working under extreme hot weather conditions and some end up dying on the job.
A migrant camp in Rantoul Illinois. Mexican migrant workers mostly from Rio Grande, Texas, travel to Illinois to work the cornfields. The extreme heat, illness from pesticides, work related injuries and deaths as well as inhumane living conditions are some of the issues addressed in Oxfam/Farm Laborer Organization (FLOC) 2011report on abuse in the industry.
Young girls dressed as angels hold candles at a vigil against the SB 1070 legislation in Phoenix Arizona.
An estimated 400,000 protesters took to the streets of Chicago Monday May 1, 2006 to show their support for the 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters took part in marches across the country, part of the nationwide boycott, “Day Without an Immigrant.” Chicago’s march was a mostly peaceful and united message to the U.S. Congress which is debating the status of illegal immigrants.

Believers of the Virgin Mary crowd around an apparition of the Virgin Mary located on a wall of an underpass on Fullerton Ave. on April 18, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois. Hundreds of people were drawn throughout the day to the site under I90 near downtown Chicago as rumors spread, people arrived with flowers, candles, crosses, photographs of loved ones and sick children to witness the water stain on a wall that resembled the Virgin Mary.


To see more of this project, click here


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

Anatomy Of A Project

A new 8 part miniseries where Ottawa Photographer Tony Fouhse takes us through his new project, from the first photo to the book launch. Tony is an internationally exhibited and collected photographer who was formerly a full time editorial/commercial photographer. These posts originally appeared in his newsletter HYPO which you can subscribe to here to see more of his work visit his website here.

To pre-order Tony’s book go here.

Anatomy Of A Project
Episode Nº 5: The Garden

Except for designing the book and launching it, my latest project is finished. Even though it’s now February (ed note: when this was written) I’m not planning on launching the book until May.

Even so, time has a way of passing and before you know it, well . . . the time has come (and gone). So I thought I’d peck away at some of the tasks that need to be seen to before the event.

First thing, I need to give it a title. I don’t like the titles I assign to my work to be too explanatory or prescriptive, I want them to only point in a general direction. Getting that right can be tricky.
I’d been thinking about what to call this project for a few weeks (maybe more). I made a list of title ideas, but they all seemed wrong. Then, out of the blue a title that feels really right just popped into my head. I’m pretty sure that that’s because the front-of-the-brain thinking I’d been doing set up a chain of back-of-the-brain events. My subconscious was chewing away on the problem all by itself. And that often leads to better, less mediated, and maybe even more pure, results.

Of course, it (the title) had to pass the front-of-the-brain test to make sure it actually works. And it does.

The Garden.

Now I had the title it was time to design the cover.

I enlisted good friend, mentor to many, and ace designer Michael Tardioli to do the designing. (I’d been showing him the project as I was working on it so he had a good sense of its tone.) He dropped by the other day, we drank some coffee, chewed the fat, and then he got down to the task at hand.

It’s so much fun to take a back seat to someone who knows and respects my work. I watched Michael, seemingly effortlessly, whipping the cover into shape. No drama. He asked a few questions, tried a few permutations, finessed some finishing touches and there you have it. Plain and simple, just the way I like it.

Finally, I needed to write a Project Statement.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I dislike Artist Statements that use art-speak and attach all kinds of meaning to the work. In my opinion that kind of Statement is most often wishful thinking and/or an attempt to direct (fool) the viewer. If the work is any good I figure folks will arrive at their own conclusion just by looking at it.

So I have to put my money where my mouth is, don’t I?

When I was nearing the end of sequencing The Garden I made a list of words and phrases that (for me) defined the work. I thought that would be useful to fine-tune the sequence. (And it was.)

I pulled that list up on the screen, referenced it, and the statement pretty much wrote itself.

The Garden is the third in my series of projects that are speculative (fiction), rather than fact-based (documentary).

Episodic, impressionistic, mysterious, The Garden is drawn from the streets. A fairy tale or maybe just a trip. The protagonist makes their way through a city in some strange twilight. There is destruction, decay, loneliness and, in the end, an encounter. Is this the garden? Where is the comfort?

Photographers NEW to the business How Much Do You Make?

My income is mainly from commissions, although recently, I’ve been uploading my archive to an agency.

Editorial shoots 1-4hr / Commercial 10hr / Motion 12hr.

My best-paying recent shoot was 3 days for a major international brand and 2 travel days. Creative was client-direct, so there were no big agency budgets, and unfortunately, a buyout (Due to their ancient legal team). I’m able to use the images for my promotion, though. 4.5k day fee+usage and 1.5k travel. I charge on personal equipment and normally try and make some off the expenses if there are costs I can cut.

My worst-paying recent shoot was 2.5k for a national brand’s new “editorial” magazine. 2 shoot days, paid assistant out of my fee, and didn’t make any expenses. Took it solely for the value of the creative & access to talent. I made images I’m very proud of, and so it made the fee worth it, but it seems to be a trend with companies making these “editorial” magazines to create imagery they’re also able to use commercially (this one, thankfully, I was able to push back on with usage).

Recently transitioned into directing as well. Only shot 1 paid project and have financed 2-3 others to build my reel.

I spent 4 years as an assistant in LA, which I look back on very fondly. The ability to travel & work for some of the best photographers today was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. I quit as an assistant when I felt like I had stopped learning, and it felt more like a job. I needed to fully dive into my photography and invest time in marketing and shooting personal work. The first 2 years out of assisting were the most stressful of my life. I was barely making money and living off savings. Every dollar I made was invested in portfolio showings or personal projects. I still feel like I’m trying to make it, but this was the first year I didn’t lose money, and my work has been very well received in agency meetings, so I’m hopeful for the future.

This year I also learned that the industry causes me immense stress and depression when things are slow. Working on inspiring personal projects for the love of it or donating my time to non-profits immediately inspires me to keep going.

Adventure – 90%, Portraiture – 10%

My clients are all over the US. I am still acquiring and upgrading my gear so that eats up quite a bit of my profits.

I also work a full-time job, so I work 7 days a week most of the year.

Photography specifically – on location 60 days; marketing, social media, emails, and bookkeeping – the other days.

I try to align myself with clients who have the same values that I do. So they are sustainable, earth-conscious, and lovely humans and companies. I have been able to find my niche and my people, and that has made my income almost triple in a single year.

I have a difficult time not knowing where my next job is coming from, so the stable paycheck from my full-time job gives me peace of mind. It’s a lot to manage both, especially this past year, but I love what I do.

I feel like there are no typical days in my photography career. One thing that is constant is the long hours, 8-14 hours, and quick turnaround times. A lot of jobs are for social media or advertising purposes.

Just barely dipping my toe into video, not doing it for work yet.

My advice to other photographers just starting out is: you got this! Put your head down and do the work, network, and you’ll find your way.

80% commercial, 10% food & bev, 10% event/other. My clients are local to NC or SC and the Southeast. Most are local agencies, a few out-of-town agencies each year, local brands & commercial projects in tandem with film productions.

My only overhead is gear upkeep & upgrades, software & insurance .

I’ve re-invested significant portions of my first years of income back into my equipment, so it’s a little hard to say what my profit margin is.

2021: 134 days (incl. edit days) / 42 projects / 21 clients. 2022: 118 (incl. editing days) / 58 projects / 31 clients.

Generally speaking, I’ve been working less & earning more as I find my footing in photography.

My other income source is digitech/assisting support roles, occasional video support positions and I co-own a vid production company.

To local/regional clients, I frame my rate as $850-$1750 dependent upon project scale (typically stating the lower end is for small business, nonprofits). A vast majority of my shoots are without assistance, and so my quote is my take-home-pay. My average pay for on-set days in ’22 was about $875, but this is averaging in my photographing days with my digitech/assisting days.

My best recent shoot was for a regional brand: single-day shoot (<10hr), budget $5975, take-home pay $4575 (1750 rate, 300 equipment, 2525 licensing in perpetuity).

My worst recent shoots are $200 PA days and $300/day unit stills w/ no box rentals for an ULB feature, etc.

I do not shoot video.

I’m “newly” repped (but not officially on the roster yet) since early 2022 but have not worked on a job yet with my reps. All the jobs I’ve gotten have been on my own and my reps are now working to bring new bids to me etc. Because I’m not officially on their roster I’m able to choose which jobs I bring to them currently. If I don’t need their help for a job I often won’t bring it to them to keep that 25% of my earnings. I won’t have that freedom once I’m officially on their roster, but I won’t officially go on their roster unless the work they bring me and assist me in marketing myself to get, pays well enough to justify the 25% they take.

I shoot 50% food, 50% product/still life mostly with national/ international/fortune 500 and some more localized mid size businesses sprinkled in there.

My clients are generally great. They’re either coming to me brand direct or through an ad agency. Most are mid-large national/international companies so they’re well versed in being on set and the costs that come associated with that. Not to say they’re not starving to reduce their costs all the time, because they are. Most of my shoots are timed pretty well without being TOO stressful, but there has definitely been an upward trend of inquiries and clients asking for really crazy shot counts for 1 or 2 day shoots and we just have to go with it.

My overhead is generally low, and was low for most of 2022. My largest incurred expenses were new equipment purchases on bigger ticket items like a macbook, iphone, aputure, lights, and modifiers. Equipment costs vary every year for me. Sometimes I’m buying lots of new stuff for a specific purpose and sometimes I’m not buying any new equipment. I try to only buy equipment when I really need it, and not because it’s new and exciting because that can get out of hand quickly. Travel was the second most expensive expense as I traveled back and forth between NY and LA frequently throughout the year for shoots. I work as a local in both cities so travel at my own expense. Otherwise I had the cost of insurance which was around $1000 a year, and all the little expenses that add up like test shoots, marketing, portfolio reviews, etc. Biggest overhead costs in 2023 are studio and equipment/liability insurance right now. I’m part of a studio share with 3 other people and pay $1000 a month for at least 5 full days of studio use, if not more. Insurance costs me $1330 a year right now.

I started working commercially full time In 2021 so my earnings took a steep increase in 2022 when I worked commercially full time the whole year.

An average shoot for me is going to be a 1 or 2 day in studio shoot. All my shoots are 10 hour days. Most of my jobs are in the production budget range of 14k-120k. 14k would be a pretty pared down one day shoot in studio with a prop stylist, prop stylist assistant, photo assistant, and digi tech. We’d likely shoot anywhere from 10-20 images/stop motions in tabletop or small built out sets. If the styling or creative is particularly complex that shot count will reduce to something like 5-10 images/stop motions. Take home pay on jobs like these is usually something like $4-9k with a $2000-4000 day rate, $1500-3500 licensing costs for website, organic and paid social, email marketing, (and maybe 3rd party press) and $1000-3000 in post production costs which I do myself. I usually take home something like $500-1000 for my equipment as well. 120k would be a 2-3 day full production that’s more lifestyle esc and has more involved sets and propping and usually a crew that includes these positions: 1st and 2nd photo assist, digi tech, prop stylist, 1-2 prop assistants, food stylist, 1-2 food styling assistant, producer, production coordinator, PA. If the set includes any talent then add on costs and crew for that: manicurist, hair/makeup, wardrobe, etc. Take home pay on a job like this would be in the $10-25k range with a $3-5k day rate, $3000-20,000 in licensing costs for website, organic and paid social, email marketing, some print, some other paid advertising use and $1500-5000 in post production take home. I probably take home something like $1000-2000 for my equipment as well.

My best paying shoot in 2022 was for huge fortune 500 food brand and my take home pay was $23,000 which includes my day rate + licensing only. I did not do post production on this project. We had a 2 day shoot in a studio in LA with one day going 1 hour overtime (with 1.5x hourly rate pay for myself and the whole crew which is accounted for in my take home pay) and the second day capping at 10 hours. We had to cut 2 variations to the stop motions we were shooting, but were otherwise able to get everything else we planned for. They received an exclusive license in perpetuity for 12 stop motion assets for organic social media, paid social media advertising, client website use, PR use and award use. All Videos were owned outright. I don’t normally like to give licensing in perpetuity, but had no choice and wanted this job and the pay.

My net has fluctuated + or – 5k the last few years and I’m just starting to land some proper advertising work.

My income is 70% Ecom, 30% editorial. Ecom rate is $1100/day. Editorial can range from $450 flat for a NYT assignment to $1500+ in pocket after day rate and charging for gear rental for a client such a Hearst publication.

I don’t currently have a rep, but have had two in the past. Worked with a freelance agent to help negotiate the most recent ad job.

My client are all over the US, some international.

Overhead includes gear upgrades every few years which usually cost 7-15k. I recently built out a cinema camera to start exploring personal projects that are video based. Crew depending on the project. Which ranges from $400-750/ person per day. Also food, travel, research etc.

Actual shoot days for Ecom are around 65 a year, Editorial about 24, the recent ad job was 1 scout, 1 fitting/prepro and 4 shoot and about 5 days worth or prepro, treatment creation and zoom calls. But I’m continually putting many hours and days into my craft. Whether its working on personal projects, promo emails, research and education. For example, became a drone pilot a few years ago and currently taking an online doc film making class.

My Ecom client is a high end athletics brand, landing them several years ago I was able to fully move from assisting to shooting which helped give me more freedom for personal work and editorial assignments. It’s also my bread and butter, I’m freelance but the client is very flexible. I can often get a day covered if an assignment comes up.

My editorial assignments are usually a lot of fun, I of course love being creative but also the personal experiences I often get from them are super important to me. I’ve often shot multiple 12 hr days in a row, for very little money, but it can be really rewarding.

End of 2021 and then the beginning of this year I shot two projects for the same client and creative agency. A tech company with a very large creative agency. First time fees were around 35k after an agent fee, this time around it was close to 100k. I really enjoyed shooting both those projects both on a creative level and in terms of career building, getting better at making treatments, conversing a lot on zooms and working with a crew of 25+ to get the shoot done. Its very different than my solo adventures in editorial story telling but I love the different challenges this kind of work brings.

My income over the last few years has been pretty steady. I was really lucky during the pandemic that Ecom work didn’t really slow down but for a few months. I also took advantage of two PPP loans that were forgiven. This year I will see a significant change from the large ad project I shot. I have a great accountant that I trust and helped me incorporate this year, that should also help me save some money.

I am starting to work more on venturing into film making. This is suggested by every agent, career consultant, etc. But I am honestly coming at it from a creative outlet standpoint. I’ve enjoyed telling stories through stills for several years now and I want to challenge myself and expand my story telling capability through motion.

I took a pretty standard path of assisting, to eventually landing editorial work based on my personal projects and then with some luck and personal relationships I made during my assisting years landed a steady Ecom client. Now the editorial body of work is landing me ad jobs. I’m grateful for this path, its been a slow but steady climb but all the experiences have made me very confident in what I do both logistically and creatively.

I think the most important thing is be passionate, don’t just shoot a test or get into video because its what you are being told that’s what you should do. Do it because you really want to. I think your potential clients, followers, editors, art buyers etc, can feel the passion behind a body of work. I’m currently reading The Anatomy of Story by John Truby and he talks about “write(ing) something that may change your life.” That this kind of story will resonate most deeply with an audience and has the highest likelihood of success. Maybe that’s a bit heavy, but you get the idea. Be passionate.

Photographers In The Business For A Long Time, How Much Do You Make?

I would say that 60% of my annual income comes from my commercial clients. Both larger ad campaigns and bigger brands to my small business clients. 25% is editorial, and 15% are my fine art sales.

I have never had another job, and sometimes am in amazement that I have made it work as a freelancer for this long. The hustle is real!

I am located on the east coast, but also have worked with clients around the US and globally over the years.

I am not represented and never have been. However, I do now use a temp rep on some of my larger jobs to help me bid them out!

No employees, just an incredible team of general contractors when I need them!

My monthly expenses are approximately $2200. I don’t own my own studio and rent when I need one for product etc. Most of my work is on location. I do not overspend on gear. I don’t have to have the newest of everything when it hits the market; I USE my gear. I also charge my clients for my equipment when it is used; I think that is a mistake so many of us make.

I would say I average about 12-15 days a month shooting, and the rest of the work week is spent editing and marketing. For the past two years, however, I made a commitment to myself to try and keep my weekends open, for the most part, for personal time. It has been the best decision I have ever made, and wish I had done it sooner!

I have great clients because I work a lot with small businesses. They are excited to be able to build their brand identity, and it ends up always being such a collaborative, creative endeavor. My bigger brand clients are how we all experience, great, but a lot of moving parts. The navigation of that can get challenging at times, and we often feel like the “button pusher,” but those jobs are what make it financially possible to pursue less lucrative opportunities.

My income after covid went up about 15% for some reason and has stayed that way for the last three years.

An average shoot for me is 8-10 hours. I charge my creative fee that either incorporates the license for smaller businesses or is broken out for larger brands plus all expenses.

My best-paying shoot was for a large national brand for two days, and I received 54k. I licensed 40 assets for one-year national use. After expenses, I walked away with about 40k.

We all know that editorial does not pay well, but it has always been such a great catalyst for me to meet independent business owners who then become my clients.

Commercially I would say my WORST paying gig was for health care through an agency. I worked five HALF days (yes, I know, no such thing) with a license for 20 final assets in perpetuity, plus 3 days of pre-pro, rental, assistants, gear for 8k.

I do not shoot video.

I think it is important to note that understanding the market and industry standard is so important. We have all taken gigs for pay that makes our stomach turn. However, we live in a season where clients and agencies take advantage of us because, well, they can. I think it is our responsibility as photographers to educate each other (per this platform Rob) so that we have more of a fighting chance…a rising tide…

The income reflects the changing nature of the client roster over the years.

I am a commercial photographer whose career has mirrored the local market place which is dominated but the home fashions furniture industry. I have had several clients for 10 yrs plus, including power motor yachts and multiple furniture manufacturers and mattress companies. Most are small businesses with gross revenues between $300 million to $2 million.

I briefly had an agent in the early 2000’s.

Never had an employee but had the great fortune of a dependable roster of freelancers. I just recently downsized to a detached garage/office (newly built) at my home from a 6000 sq ft studio. Annual costs for this studio ran about $30,000 a year. That was my largest overhead expense. Everything else is the usual; insurance, vehicles, phones, computers, equipment, etc.

My profit varies greatly from year to year. The key is keeping profit consistent on a job-to-job basis. More jobs you have, the better the total profit.

My number of days worked varies by year and the number of clients. Some years are super busy, and others, you are scrambling. In a typical year, about 35-50 shooting days and 100 -150 pre and post-production days.

My income changed dramatically in the last couple of years. The pandemic was difficult, and the nature of media is constantly changing clients’ needs.

Some shoots are structured heavily, and others much smaller and more personal. In general, my clients are personable, smart, and very much like to control things.

A typical shoot is a large (that is a relative term, I’m sure) production on location, where projects are usually a week (5 shooting days). Overall budget would run from $40k to $80k, and profit would be $15-25k. But also many smaller projects involving one or two days of shooting with an equal amount of prep and post.

Licensing isn’t really relevant for furniture as the product has a shorter life span. It’s more about the overall work you get from a client on a yearly basis.

My best shoot in the last few years was a 9-day project on location with a profit of around $35 to 40k.

I don’t really have a worst-paying shoot, as I keep all pricing consistent.

I do not shoot video.

Cash flow is the key to any long-term success. Stay out of debt. Build relationships. Find a client that needs repeat business, as this will set you on a successful path.

Income by style of photography 2019 (since this varies year to year): 65% commercial / 33% corporate / 2% editorial. My clients are all shapes and sizes (small biz to Fortune 500), but most are in healthcare and finance industries.

I had 2 employees for several years, down to 1 through Covid, and now I have none.

I have a lot of overhead. 2019 numbers: Insurance, gear, studio space, utilities, marketing/promo, wages/payroll, taxes – $275k; yes that is approx what my 2019 overhead looked like; it’s high.

Pre covid I would shoot at least 50 days a year; now it is more like 15.

Covid was awful for my business; my in-house producer and I got PPP which was amazing, but jobs are still way down compared to 2019.

I have some rental property income and have started trying to get more revenue out of relicensing/stock.

An average shoot is all over the place – commercial is usually 10+ hr days, corporate/Editorial might be half days, and pre and post-production takes up the rest of my time.

It varies year to year, but at least 1/3 of my projects include motion.

If you are making great work, spending on advertising really does produce results. Never underestimate how much time and money should be spent on marketing/promotion.

Lifestyle makes up 90% of my income. My clients are Fortune 500 (through advertising agencies) and local small businesses.

My overhead is less than $2k a month for a small space.

I shoot maybe 4-5 days a month on average.

Last year I paid myself about $140k; the year before about $110k.

On average, I charge about $4500 a day for a limited number of images, I will always try to limit Usage to 2 years, but sometimes I give them unlimited if they push for it. Of course, that changes depending on the client and the situation; sometimes I get $3k and sometimes $7k. There is no consistency from client to client.

This past year I shot for a Fortune 500 company for 3 days.

4,500.00 /day for 3 days: $13,500
Unlimited Usage: $6,000
Photography Prep/Scout: $1,500
Image cull: $3,000
Archive images: $1,800
Camera package: $6,000
Lighting/ Grip package: $6,000

All my own gear, all take home. $37,800.00 There was one scout day and probably four 1 hour long Zoom meetings. No motion.

I will usually take projects for small local businesses for $1,000-$1,500 a day to help them out. Sometimes it’s all day and then another day retouching files.

A lot of time, there is a video component, but I don’t make money on it because I hire a DP with a camera.

Always try to limit the number of final images delivered with a cost listed for additional images.

Since I live in my own studio, a lot of my “home” expenses (mortgage, car & car insurance, for example) are business expenses, and that was my saving grace last year.

I shoot a bit of everything all the time because no area alone has been sustainable. Pre-pandemic music (video + photo) & advertising were the bulk of my work. But I had to go back to a variety of projects now to stay afloat.

My clients are all over the world & US. Notable clients in 2021: Tecate Beer/Heineken, Don Julio Tequila. But also lots of local small companies, businesses, and musical instrument manufacturers (I shoot endorsement ads for musicians)

I am guessing, since my invoices tend to be mainly one-day shoots, that last year I shot about 45~50 days but in the past about 75 days a year.

I used to have constant growth, about 5% per year but 2022 I had a drop of about 40% in income.

To make ends meet, I’ve gone back to some photo assisting and digi tech.

Average shoot is 10~14hr days. Photo/Video. Licensing depends on the job; some clients have full ownership (especially if they are small, I usually don’t fight them). Bigger clients like Tecate/Don Julio or some bigger Music labels will pay usage etc. The usage I have experienced recently has mostly been online advertising usage. No print as of recent.

Take-home pay is at the lowest $500/shoot (small clients, 3~5hr shoot sometimes 14hr day), medium (mainly music clients) $1500~$3000, advertising $10k ($5K rate + $5K usage) for Tecate & Don Julio (Digital social media usage – 1 year).

Right now, shoots are 60% video.

Be patient & keep at it. If you don’t love your craft, you will not survive.