Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Double-Header: Presenting in Atlanta Monday

So, Monday 9/17 I'm off to Atlanta, speaking to the ASMP Atlanta/Southeast Chapter, and, because of serendipity, Photoshelter has asked me to be a part of their Town Hall in Atlanta, which is happening earlier in the day. For details on the Photoshelter program, which includes rountable discussions, and so forth, click here, For details on where and exactly when the ASMP program is (that evening), click here.

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From the ASMP program description:
How do you operate a successful freelance photography business (even if you’re a staffer)? How do you determine your rates, handle supposedly “no-change” contracts, late-paying clients, and debates over rate increases. Simply put, the business of photography is just plain time-consuming and oftentimes daunting. How can you negotiate better? How do the needs of editorial and commercial clients diverge and intersect? During this presentation, John will address these topics and more as you learn to handle your business better and more efficiently. We will discuss considerations when developing rates and resources, designing a business model that accounts for everything from taxes to business expenses, plus several techniques for negotiating with clients.
Yep, that about covers it. So, come on by, and check out the Photoshelter program (or, perhaps you can make it to another city, so check it out there!), and then trek on with us to the ASMP chapter meeting, for an indepth discussion about contracts, and so forth.

I'm excited about the roundtable discussions at the Town Hall, because we will be engaging in a dialog with photo buyers in the region, and not only will we listen to what they have to say, but they will also have an opportunity to hear our perspective. My perspective (and reading material prior to the discussion) is summed up by the book that just arrived from Amazon with my Nip/Tuck - The Complete Fourth Season DVD, a book that will no doubt reinforce how I am working with my clients now, and hopefully help me to better understand them - You Can't Win a Fight with Your Client: & 49 Other Rules for Providing Great Service

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.

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I Wish I had Written This

There is an exceptional article on Spec, titled "I Wish I Had Written This", and I highly encourage you to Read The Article.

"Spec" work, as outlined on Wikipedia. And check this out about spec as well.

ASMP, APA, EP, PPA, and the Stock Artists Alliance published a Joint Statement (available here) that was widely distributed at PhotoPlus Expo a few years back, as it regarded one organization that built it's entire business model around spec-assignments, which they termed Custom Stock™ (and trademarked the phrase, I might add).

In case you're not so inclined, here are some excerpts:

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To those who are looking for someone to do work for free…please wake up and join the real world...More people are finding themselves in need of some form of illustrative service...But what they’re NOT doing, unfortunately, is realizing how rare someone with these particular talents can be...In this country, there are almost twice as many neurosurgeons as there are professional illustrators. There are eleven times as many certified mechanics. There are SEVENTY times as many people in the IT field. So, given that they are less rare, and therefore less in demand, would it make sense to ask your mechanic to work on your car for free? Would you look him in the eye, with a straight face, and tell him that his compensation would be the ability to have his work shown to others as you drive down the street?...would you think it is okay to live out the same, delusional, ridiculous fantasy when seeking someone whose abilities are even less in supply than these folks?...It is not a “great opportunity” for an artist to have his work seen on your {whatever}, It IS a “great opportunity” for YOU to have their work there....It is not clever to seek a “student” or “beginner” in an attempt to get work for free. It’s ignorant and insulting. They may be “students”, but that does not mean they don’t deserve to be paid for their hard work....The chance to have their name on something that is going to be seen by other people, whether it’s one or one million, is NOT a valid enticement. Neither is the right to add that work to their “portfolio”. They get to do those things ANYWAY, after being paid as they should. It’s not compensation. It’s their right, and it’s a given....Stop thinking that you’re giving them some great chance to work. Once they skip over your silly ad, as they should, the next ad is usually for someone who lives in the real world, and as such, will pay them....Students DO need “experience”. But they do NOT need to get it by giving their work away...Some will ask you to “submit work for consideration”. They may even be posing as some sort of “contest”. These are almost always scams. They will take the work submitted by many artists seeking to win the “contest”, or be “chosen” for the gig...The only people who win, here, are the underhanded folks who run these ads. This is speculative, or “spec”, work. It’s risky at best, and a complete scam at worst. I urge you to avoid it, completely...So to artists/designers/illustrators looking for work, do everyone a favor, ESPECIALLY yourselves, and avoid people who do not intend to pay you.
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.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007


If it's to be believed, there are rumors swirling around the internet that Google (GOOG) is going to launch their own stock photo service in the immediate future, and not one that includes the aquisition of GYI, but will instead become a competitor (albeit on the low end) to them.

I posed the following questions to Google's press office:

1) Is Google launching a service whereby individuals or companies can obtain permission (either for a fee, or for free) to use/license images?

2) Will these images appear among the search results with an icon on or next to them indicating the images are available for licensing?
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3) Does Google have a platform to deliver and handle these licenses, or is there an acquisition plan for one already in existence?

4) What is the pricing structure or pricing model that Google will utilize to assign a value to these images? Will the pricing model be "pay per pixel", or some variation thereof?

5) Will Google checkout be the preferred/only method of payment for these images, or will you be able to barter images you earn revenue/points from, to acquire other images from other people using your barter points instead of having to actually expend dollars?
Google' response? A Google Spokesperson simply said "we don't comment on market rumor or speculation."

Yet, the rumors persist. A Google version of "Flickr Pro"? Flickr caught flack when they it was rumored they might try to monetize their image pool. So, perhaps it gets done out of the gate this time by Google?
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.

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Getty's Self-Immolation

Many in the photo industry are (rightly) up in arms over Getty's self-destructive behavior, plummeting what from what amounts to a $900 image license of their RM imagery (when you add up all the commercial uses and 10 year term) down to $49, or what amounts to a 95% discount fire sale price on all their images, 500kb or less.

Why did they do this? What could possibly cause them to seemingly slash their own throat?

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When Getty acquired iStockphoto, JDK famously said "If someone’s going to cannibalize your business, better it be one of your other businesses,”. Now, JDK has taken things one step further, authorizing a 95% firesale, which is tantamount to eating one's own, or self-destruction. You pick one, either way, it's going to get fugly.

However, the question remains - why? Why take such drastic measures? When GYI aquired iStockphoto, some assumed that they would move the best images, and also the best selling images, from RF to RM, as well as introducing the RF producers into a whole new world of revenue from their images, vis-a-vis higher dollars. Yet, that idea, which would have been a wise move, never materialized.

While industry leaders are circling the wagons and calling on Getty to revisit their pricing structure, (and with the genie out of the bottle, it's unlikely it'll be undone), Getty is keeping their reasons close to the vest.

Their publically stated reason is that designers have been budgeting $50 a photo for web use, and there may be some cases where this is the case, to be sure. Yet, there are rumors out there that this price-slashing is a preemptive move to reposition themselves prior to a major announcement of a new competitor to Getty. One that will make iStockphoto's licensing fees look expensive by comparison, let alone the RM collections of Getty Images. Certainly, Getty's nearest competitors, Corbis, and Jupiter Media are operating in a business-as-usual mode, however, something is amiss. We have made inquiries to determine the validity of the rumors. When we have either official confirmation, or unofficial yet substantiated confirmation from our sources, we'll have more to report at that time.

Let's look, however, at what the rumor isn't. It's almost certainly not a positioning for aquisition. Were that the case, a wholesale drop in pricing of the content would drastically diminish the valuation of the company, just prior to any potential acquisition. Heck, it does that to net revenues regardless of the reason.

For now, we'll remain watching and waiting.
Full Disclosure: I do not hold, and have not in the past held, GYI stock, nor those of any of it's competitors, nor do I have any plans to engage in any investment activity as it regards GYI, or it's competitors. While I've been critical of them in the past, I've not disclosed these facts, and I feel it's important to make that point clear.
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.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

How Much Value Do You Bring To The Assignment?

So, you're looking to end up "behind the scenes" at a political campaign? No more shooting with long lenses, being told where you can - and can't - shoot from? You're looking forward to being a 17m-50mm lens user, with an all access pass. Maybe you are one of the true believers in the campaign? Whatever the reason, you're looking to become a campaign photographer, or, perhaps, you just want to make pictures of someone famous - or the soon to be infamous - and are looking to determine what you're worth? (or, what the results of your work will be worth?

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An e-mail landed in my inbox the other day, from the Hillary Clinton for President campaign. Mrs. Clinton is holding an event in DC on October 17th, and was looking for attendees to aid in the fundraising for her run to evolve from FLOTUS to POTUS. Fair enough.

The e-mail listed
Ticket Prices:

$2,300 VIP
Includes full-day Summit, premium Summit seating, and a photograph with Senator Hillary Clinton

$1,000 Guest
Includes full-day Summit
The e-mail invite makes it clear you will get your photo taken with Mrs. Clinton, and an actual photograph if you pay an additional $1,300. About those "premium seats?" Since the photo will, most likely, take place just prior to her taking the stage, they will hold the front row seats for those who are backstage getting their photos taken, so that you can be front and center, rather than getting the back-of-house seats because you're entering the room moments before she begins her remarks. Ok, again, no problem with the seating.

What I find most remarkable, is the value that is placed upon the 8x10 glossy you'll get. Assume a fair figure of 100 posed photos, which will take about 15 minutes - tops - to accomplish, and you're at a $130,000.00 in additional gross revenue just from those photographs. Perhaps, you'll get an added bonus of having it signed by her as well, with something akin to "Thanks for your Support", and then signed by an autopen machine (to learn more, check out this Ebay article which uses as an example, Mrs. Clinton's signature made from an autopen machine during her time at the White House.) I make no bones about political candidates' generating revenue from these types of events. Instead, I am providing this to demonstrate the potential value of an 8x10 where your subjects are depicted with a high profile political candidate.

What then, is the added-value of an 8x10 with an actual President (either a D, or an R)? They do political fundraisers all the time, and the stakes are even higher, no doubt.

The next time someone tries to place a value on the print of themselves with a VIP - whether political, or celebrity, realize that it's worth much more to them than the cost of the print plus a nominal markup. It could be worth hundreds (or a thousand) of dollars to them, for the wall of fame in their office. And, by the time they call you because you just happened to be in the right place at the right time to capture it, they've probably already got the space picked out on their wall for it.
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.

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Strictly Business 2 - The ASMP Legend Returns

After over a decade's hiatus, the Strictly Business seminar program has made it's return, titled Strictly Business 2. I can look back 10+ years, to when the original series visited my area, when I didn't really have the $200 or so it cost to attend back then. I also didn't have the $150 for an hour with legendary consultant Elyse Weissberg, but I spent it, because I knew, I just knew, it would make a difference. Yet I see that experience - and it was an experience, all weekend long - as one of the cornerstone's of my success that I enjoy now. It was the foundation for the rest of my career, and it got my off on the right path, without a doubt.

As such, I consider it a privledge to have been asked to be one of the presenters, along with Blake Discher, and Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua. Discher and I, along with current ASMP President Judy Hermann, and immediate past Presidents Clem Spaulding and Susan Carr, all chart a degree of our success to the original program, and others have testimonials worth reading.

It's got a lot of meat for the seasoned pro, however, the beginner will benefit greatly as well. In a way, it's like the Simpsons is funny - youngsters laugh at one level of humor, while adults laugh rauciously at the deeper jokes in the program. So too will the seasoned pro take away a great deal of strictly business insights into the weekend.

So, where are we heading to, and where should you be making your travel plans to, if it's not in one of your hometowns?

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  • CHICAGO: APRIL 11–13
So, make those travel plans now. Space is limited, and last time it definately sold out fast.

Here's details from the website:
Take control of your career. Attend the American Society of Media Photographers' weekend conference series Strictly Business 2. Learn to negotiate your prices and contracts. Get answers to your marketing questions. Prepare yourself to build a successful and sustainable business. Don't miss this rare opportunity to gain first-hand experience from the experts.

ASMP’s Strictly Business 2 is a weekend conference that will teach you real-world business skills and help you thrive in our highly competitive industry. SB2 brings you consultations, lectures, video presentations, a keynote address, workshops, hands-on negotiating training, and social gatherings to share and learn from your peers. This weekend will change the way you look at your business — join us.

Who should attend? Are you struggling to put the business pieces together? Are you overwhelmed with the pace of change in the industry? Is your career meeting your creative and financial goals? Attend SB2 and get a road map of answers. Strictly Business 2 is for those starting out in the business and those needing a boost. Have you been working in retail photography and dabbling in commercial? SB2 is for you, too. Are you a student or emerging professional? Treat yourself to an intensive weekend packed with the information you need to build a career as a photographer.

The original Strictly Business series was a transforming event in the careers of many of ASMP's most prominent members. Read their testimonials. Today, Strictly Business 2 can transform your career too.

Traveling to SB2? The extra benefit of SB2 is the community it creates. By staying at the conference hotel, you receive even more opportunities to interact with fellow photographers, the educators and our sponsors. The locations offer ease of travel for those flying or driving. Use the conference hotel and take advantage of incredible ASMP secured rates. And don't forget that two meals a day and two social hours are included in your conference fee!
Click here to register.

Oh, and one last point worth noting: It was Susan Carr who generously agreed to spearhead this entire project, so please send Susan an e-mail thanking her for all her efforts. She's been at this awhile, and a note or two of appreciation will begin to give her the thanks she deserves for her yeoman's effort.

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.

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