Thursday, December 27, 2007

Write This Down and Post It Up Somewhere

Write this down, and post it near your phone, or print it as a label and put it on your cell phone where you can see it before you answer any incoming call:



THIS WILL NOT BE
MY LAST ASSIGNMENT.


When your taking a call, you absolutely must not think as if the call you are taking is the only one for tomorrow. this week, or even this month. You must believe truly that it's just one incoming request, or you will beat yourself down on price, rights demands, and, self-valuation.
(Continued after the Jump)

True power comes from the presence of alternatives.

If you have no alternatives, then you will be at a distinct disadvantage when being called for any assignment. To paraphrase a past president - the trouble with our creative colleagues is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so.

I hear so many people talk about things like "...if I mail a copy to myself, I am protected if someone steals my work...", or "...if I don't register my work, after 90 days it falls into the public domain...", or "...the photo editor tells me that I am the first person they've talked to who has a problem with work-for-hire...", and the list goes on and on.

There are so many falsehoods out there about the business of photography. That's why I wrote a book, proofed by some of the best in the industry, and endorsed by the heads of major trade organizations, titled "Best Business Practices for Photographers". I'm glad it's doing so well, not for any reason other than the messages and practices in it are getting into the hands of photographers, many for the first time.

I was watching a 60 Minutes interview with Joel Osteen and he was talking about why he doesn't appeal to his TV audience for money, saying "...we didn't want anything to distract people from watching, to turn off the message, cause we know how people are skeptical of TV ministers - "hey, there's a guy that just wants my money" - I didn't want any of that....", and what he said was a similar mindset I had, and which was why my belief was that the best thing to do was to donate the advance for the book to the ASMP, APA, and NPPA. Because I didn't want, at any time that I encouraged people to buy the book either here on the blog, or in my presentations to think "oh, he's just trying to sell books..." and be skeptical of the content of the book because that thought process is distracting from the important point about the message I was, and am, trying to deliver. Yes, if you click through on the right to buy a book, Amazon gives me a dollar or so, but it doesn't cost you any more, and thus, that dollar comes from Amazon, who is indirectly supporting this blog's mission.

Because the falsehood continue, so too, this blog. We turn one year old next week, and I have countless ideas for the future, and, we've reached nearly a million page-views in that time, and over 148,000 "absolute unique visitors" as well. I honestly had no idea that that would be the case. We will be launching a third blog then, which I think you'll be excited about, because it's interactive in much more of a manner than this one.

Unlike Osteen, who does concede (fairly so) about the fact that he does accept money from attendees and those that send money, saying "well, we need people to support us, or we can't stay on. But we don't get on there and ask for it. And it's amazing how people can see, when you're genuine, they send money.", my bills are paid by the assignments I do, and rights I license, from editorial to corporate, and so on. Osteen has some solid, life-affirming messages, and is changing peoples lives, and if you're not familiar with him, one of his mantras is "why don't you get your hopes up, why don't you start believing that, no matter what you have, or haven't done, that your best days are still out in front of you." Amen pastor.

When what you're reading here, and asking about, is helpful, that's great. That's the purpose. And, many many of you have written, with inquiries, suggestions for topics, and otherwise expressions of appreciation. Thank you for letting me know I am being of some assistance.

Keep those cards and letters coming.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

11 comments:

Dave said...

John,

Thanks for the thoughtful post. What you say really rings true -- it's basically a mindset -- self-esteem, if you will, about one's own professional skills.

Do a good job, and the people who are attracted to the work and recognize the amount of effort and resources put into the job are the ones who will pay fairly -- kinda like "Field of Dreams" or something...

Happy New Year!

dez said...

Great advice once again, John.
Because of the information I've taken from this site, and from your book, I feel that I'm wiser on the business end of photography. I read your book over and over and recommend it to everyone.

Happy early blog anniversary!

nika said...

I am a new entrant into the food photo world (http://nikaboyce.com) having crossed over from a scientific career. That professional experience and my age may predispose me to being open to the message (never give it away for "free"). I just want you to know that not all of us "newbies" are undervaluing our work. I do pay for it... I demand the going rate and find a successful return like 1 out of 6 or 8 inquiries made of me... Big companies, multinational ad agency art buyers lose interest quick when I quote back a photographer-reasonable price. They move on to other pastures. I am left with intangible that the art buyer had to tell his group that I could not be had for $49.99.

Its a tough row to hoe. I am not the religious type but I do see a definite photo kharma thing in that if you put out your own vision then those who come to you pre-sold on your vision are the best clients you could ever hope for.

Nika
----
http://nikaboyce.com

Ryan K Morris said...

As a freelance photographer, the second worst feeling is realizing other people, including misinformed "pro" photographers, don't value the effort and resources that go into my work. The absolute worst feeling is accepting a low-paying job and realizing I've undervalued myself more than the publication. Thankfully, I've learned to say "thank you for the opportunity, but no" and I use my valuable time to work with people that respect the job I do and the professional services I offer.

-Ryan

www.ryankmorris.com

Kenny said...

Hi John:

I have been shooting sports in Denver now for about 8 years. I'm at a point in this buiness where I've feel I've read every thread twice, heard all the "you nobodies are wrecking the business" remarks, watched the photopro gangs single out another shooter because he didn't articulate his situation properly and pound away on him, read the "This post is so stupid you shouldn't be in photography" tags to young students along with the "those people on that site are all idiots" remarks.

I've had customers flat out lie to get free images, heard all the "we don't have any money in our budget but could you help our foundation" plea's when everyone else is being paid.

Watched as promenant sports program directors deceive or mislead some young conciencious newbie for free images and I'm really disgusted at this point at the total lack of integrity and dignity that even the individual sport >read...team itself claims to represent.

In my 52 years on this earth I don't think I have ever had as much exposure to what appears to be such absolute trash in a professional wrapper.

Why is this business so filled with so much negativity.

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KO said...

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