Wednesday, March 7, 2007

That's So (Un)Professional!

Yesterday I was called by a long time client of mine, looking for a portrait. "The one we took with our office digital camera just doesn't look good. Our client saw it in print, and didn't like the way she looked." I said, "You took a picture of a client with an office point and shoot and submitted it to a publication?" Somewhat sheepishly, she said "Yes." Now, this person, who has moved from firm to firm, is someone I like, and respect. Yet, someone convinced someone that doing this was acceptable. And the end result? An unhappy client that could only be satisfied once a professional was brought in.

Enter me. To the right you'll see the standard setup (with my assistant Lauren standing in). Main light, kicker light, reflector, and backdrop illumination. This is such a workhorse setup, and one we do consistently around town that this kit is dedicated to doing so. These lights you'll see in detail and in use on my Flickr pool here, and to get to them directly, visit Rololight. It took about 30 minutes to set lights (leisurely), and in came our subject. Session 1 included her in one jacket/blouse combination, Session 2 with a different one.

The finished lighting setup (again, with my assistant standing in) is to the right. Total time with camera active, about 15 minutes. Another 20 minutes on the laptop making selections, and the client's client, when I asked "Are you happy with these?" Responded -- "Yeah, that's so...professional! I don't look like I am bug-eyed, like in that other one you {pointing to my longtime client/friend} took that ended up in that newspaper!" I responded "I'm glad we could make these work for you. Thanks!"

Often, there is significant value in allowing clients (and clients' clients) to recognize the value we professionals bring to the table. It's not necessary to sell ourselves, rather, it's best to let the quality of the finished product stand on it's own.

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.

[More: Full Post and Comments]

Monday, March 5, 2007

Storage, Storage, Storage

How much does 1 Terabyte of drive space cost? Do you care? You should! Let's do some math here:

A D2x NEF is about 10MB, a 1Ds Mark II CR2 is about 19MB. 1TB will store about 10,000 NEF files, and just over 5,000 CR2's. For the D200's and 30D's, it returns to about 10,000 files. Now, go look at your camera. They all increment their filenames, rolling over at 9999 to 0000 again. Meaning, you should go and look to see how many images you've made to date. For me, I've rolled past 9999 multiple times. Oh, you're not shooting raw? Don't be silly. Read this from The Luminous Landscape, or this on the Adobe site. Shooting RAW is what professionals do. Professionals who absolutely positively must have JPEG's immediately after the shutter closes should be shooting RAW+JPEG, and just accessing the JPEG's, and archiving it all after the fact. Keeping the RAW files gives you the fullest and most complete access to the image your camera captured.

Now, how much do you spend on portable hard drives? Let's use one of the cheaper examples out there. The Costco Maxtor 1TB is $600, and how about the new Costco Western Digital 1TB that is $400. Not bad, eh? Well, actually, there are a few concerns. One -- these drives aren't just a single drive, inside those boxes, are multiple drives, and there's been many problems that have rendered these multi-drive-in-one-box systems useless. Single drive enclosures for about 350GB usable space run about $200. Another problem? You're keeping them all in one place. Either your home, or your sister's place down the road. No big deal? Check this MSNBC article about how Katrina killed data storage, or perhaps it's lightning, as in this CNN piece, or perhaps this Business Week article about black outs and other Summertime risks to data will convince you.

There are two types of people in this world. Those that have had a hard drive fail, and those that will. If you're smart, you'll take action when you are the latter, or else you will get religion when you become the former. I promise. Back in May of 2006, the SBA issued this press release which cites "A University of Texas study reports that 43 percent of companies experiencing a catastrophic data loss never recover, and half of them go out of business within two years." Do you want to be in business after a data loss? Would you gamble 50/50 odds that you would be out of business if you had a drive fail?

Where am I going with all this? Well, realize that to be protected, you must be redundant, meaning DOUBLE whatever capacity you need, and double the cost.

Now, let's talk about all the "free online storage" services that are out there. Global Drive wants $6,800 for 100GB of space for a year. X Drive wants $120/year for 50GB. And,'s storage solution S3 for other web providers who need space charges $0.15 per GB per month. That becomes $1,800 per year for 1TB, without any of the ease-of-use front end. And, ok, many of you might suggest the spaces that talk "free unlimited", but they have bandwidth caps, so it's near impossible to really put all that you want. How's that? Even if you have 750KB/sec as an upspeed, they purposefully limit their downspeed to under 200kb/sec, so you'll be forever uploading. FOREVER! ExtremeTech did a great job of reviewing six online storage services last week. Their conclusion? "If your files are very confidential, you should probably stay away...also...something to avoid if you're a serious digital photographer who has a large collection of multi-megabyte RAW files or if you store and want quick access...".

Enter a secure and safe Photo Shelter. Today, they announced you could access 1TB of redundant storage for an annual fee of $1k. It would cost you more than that to just buy the drives, let alone have always-on-anywhere access to the files, stored on two coasts in redundant storage facilities! Don't need that much? For $600 a year, you can have 1/2 TB of redundant space. Sweet! Could it get any better? Yup.

Their press release tells it all - "Photographers with slow connections to the Internet, or those wishing to avoid the online uploading process entirely, can take advantage of PhotoShelter’s drive upload service. Ship a hard drive filled with images to PhotoShelter and the images will be deposited directly into their archive." DAMN, AIN'T THAT SWEET! Check this link for more details.

Correction/Update: Commenter DJ notes my math is off by a factor of 10, and that's 100,000 files, not 10,000. Thanks DJ! On another comment about the use of web-hosting companies at $400/yr. That's a good idea, the challenge is in the upload to them, redundancies, and you'd be surprised at how fast you can burn through 2.5TB of data transfer. Search engine spiders load your entire site frequently looking for changes, and that all counts against your transfer cap, and they don't have the ease-of-use front end that PS (or Digital Railroad, for that matter) has. -- John
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.

[More: Full Post and Comments]

Thanks for the New Model!

Wired News is reporting the good news regarding public figures for what it will cost internet sites to broadcast one song to one listener. This sets a standard that we should all review and embrace as a floor for our rates and apply it to photography.

Here are their figures to stream one song to one listener:

2006: $0.0008
2007: $.0011
2008: $.0014
2009: $.0018
2010: $.0019

Yes, this means the death of many internet-only "radio stations". What these places don't reveal is that they are generating revenue from ads on their site, and ads inserted between songs and are doing so without properly compensating the music owners for the use of the content that attracts the listener in the first place.

If you're an advertiser on the cost-per-click model on Yahoo or Google Adwords, you know that you pay per click. Banner ads, and other ads pay cost-per-view. It's extremely easy to track how many times people see the ads, because the servers that hold the photo track anytime a request comes in to deliver the image.

Stan Rowin, over at Pro Photo Business Blog has an interesting take on this as well, take a gander.

Typically, the fees are "cost per thousand" (a.k.a. CPM), and, for 2006, that equates to $0.80 (eighty cents) per thousand views. This year, it's $1.10 per thousand views. Considering this, commoditizes photography, some might say, but I say it sets a floor, and for the premium images, a greater CPM should apply. Further, just as there was a 1/4 page minimum fee for usage, even when it was a thumbnail photo, so too could we establish a minimum fee tied to a minimum CPM. So, say you wanted a minimum of $25 to make an image available to a website. That would equate to about 30,000 views.

Rock on!

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.

[More: Full Post and Comments]

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Primer & Refresher: Terms & Conditions: TERM 2

Term #2: "2. FEES, CHARGES AND ADVANCES: Client and Client’s representatives are jointly and severally responsible for full payment of all fees, charges and advances. The rights licensed, fees, charges and advances set forth in this Agreement apply only to the original specification of the Services. Additional fees and charges shall be paid by Client for any subsequent changes, additions or variations requested by Client. All advance payments are due prior to production."

"FEES" - Fees are typically your photographic fees, your pre- and post-production fees, travel fees, and so on.

"CHARGES" - Just another way of specifying what your client is paying for, but could include monies owed for services rendered in production of props, shopping, and so on.

"ADVANCES" - You want money up front, you say? Damn straight! There are countless times where a client you're working for must advance you monies, and you should do so. Large travel expenses, charges to secure expensive props or services, and so on. There are countless different types of expenses that the client should be paying for, up front. You ARE NOT their lender or bank, and should not be floating major expenses on their behalf.

"Client and Client’s representatives" - This means that if your client is an ad agency, PR firm, or is otherwise a representative or agent of their end client, that not only is the firm/agency responsible, but so too is their end client.

"jointly and severally responsible" - This is a legal phrase, which specifies that a multiple parties have the responsibility to share the liability and obligation together, and that no party may put off the obligations or responsibilities on any other.

" for full payment of all fees, charges and advances." - This means that after paying you just a portion, they have not absolved themselves of responsibility for the other amounts due. Further, that one party (where there are two) may not pay just 50% and say "I paid you my half, so I don't owe you anymore and I can use your photos..." or any other similar claim. The emphasis is on the word "full", and that it applies to "all" of the different monies owed.

"The rights licensed, fees, charges and advances set forth in this Agreement apply only to the original specification of the Services." - This means that when the client specifies that they want three setups instead of two, or a portion of the work done the next day, that these items thus fall outside of the "original specification" that is "set forth in this Agreement" (note the capitalization of "Agreement", that's important, as it refers to this document in total, and not some seperate or partial or other agreement that is unnamed or unspecified.

"Additional fees and charges shall be paid by Client for any subsequent changes, additions or variations requested by Client." - This specifies that you'll have to pay more for "changes, additions or variations" which can be as major as "we're shooting in Cancun instead of the local beach", or as simple as "we're not photographing two people in a group, it's now a group of four." When these changes take place, you should have on hand a "change order" to accomidate the "variations requested by Client."

"All advance payments are due prior to production." - In other words, advance payments must be made before you're to start any work -- which of course seems obvious, but, it could be said that an advance is due before final delivery, before travel commences but after pre-production, and so on. If there's a way to parse a term in an Agreement to the client's favor, you can be assured that they will exercise that opportunity. As such, it's important to set forth as many things as possible.

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.

[More: Full Post and Comments]
Newer Posts Older Posts