Thursday, March 6, 2008

Making the Most Of Your Situation

Yesterday, while on a fairly straightforward assignment for a corporate client covering their day's conference, the day was scheduled to include a brief meet-and-greet with the legend Cal Ripkin. I'd originally intended to do this with on-camera strobe, but the client wanted me to bring a background. So, I selected my favorite - Thunder Grey. It wasn't until we were pulling the seamless from the car, that I got a thought:

"I am about to photograph a legendary baseball player infront of a seamless. What can I do to make this better?

(Continued after the Jump)

So I pulled out my Chimera 57 and set it up as a 7' softbox. We had it in the car from the day before, doing a magazine cover shoot, and hadn't offloaded the equipment because of the late wrap-time the night before, and a 6am call time for this shoot.

We moved through the group photos fairly quickly (at left is an example), and working with Cal was an illustration of the height of professionalism. I'd worked with him several times before, doing official portraits (lights and all) for other endeavors he's involved in, but never with a seamless, which I'd wanted to do for some time. People were immediately put at ease by him, and even though people knew they were coming to have their image made with him, and he knew he was there for that reason (before giving a presentation) he still asked each of them "would you take a picture with me?" which put each of those being photographed with him at ease, and facilitated the process in a very efficient manner. Further, I had just the light I wanted to have Cal in for him against the seamless.

In the end, I had an expedited shoot thanks to Cal's making it smooth as people entered and exited the portrait area, a very happy client, and, for me, a portrait that I'd wanted to make for some time.

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]

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Taxes & Artists: Taking a Time & Services Deduction

Awhile back, we wrote about how you CAN'T donate your time and services and claim fair market value for such as a deduction (An Original Picasso for $50? That's what they say..., 2/10/07), and one potential solution that could get you a bit more credit for your donations, when you do (The Non-Profit Challenge, 11/19/07), but once again, there is a bill winding it's way through Congress that would allow:

"...artists to take a fair-market value deduction for works given to and retained by nonprofit institutions. The U.S. tax system accords unequal treatment to creators and collectors who donate tangible works (e.g., paintings or manuscripts) to museums, libraries, educational or other collecting institutions. A collector may take a tax deduction for the fair-market value of the work, but creators may deduct only their "basis" value—essentially the cost of materials such as paint and canvas."
If you can enter your name and address, and click the "send" button, in less than two minutes you can actually send an e-mail to your elected official that represents you, through this very cool system. Americans for the Arts has their Advocate for the Arts website and all you do is enter your address, and they will automatically route your sentiments to your Senator or Member! If you'd like to her Senator/Photographer Pat Leahy (and the bill's sponsor) in an NPR interview on the subject, click here.
(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

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]

PhotoShelter & Flickr: Intertwined (For Your Benefit)

A brief note that now you can export from Flickr directly into PhotoShelter, and also export from PhotoShelter directly into Flickr with watermarks and all sorts of other protections, ensuring that you're not one of the many people who have had their work stolen from Flickr. This Wired story - PhotoShelter Protects Your Images From Would-Be Flickr Thieves (3/4/08), which reads, in part:

PhotoShelter takes a different approach to image sharing than Flickr, one that’s more suited to the professional photographer. Rather than simple image sharing, PhotoShelter offers the ability to overlay a personal watermark on all your photos, and web galleries can be password protected to limit access to clients...PhotoShelter is not a Flickr alternative, but is geared at the pro photographer looking to catalog, store and sell their images online. That said, some Flickr users who are getting more serious about their images and are considering a possible career shift might want to have a look at PhotoShelter.

And thanks to the new Flickr Importer, using both sites at the same time is a snap.
Thus, the innovations by PhotoShelter continue, with outside-the-box thinking. I wonder what will be next? Automated copyright registration solutions to further protect your images?

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

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]

SEO - Wild Wild West or Reason & Logic?

Today (actually, yesterday, as you are reading this) I was traveling with my post-production person and my intern and we were crossing a state-line or two en-route back to DC after an assignment. About half-way back to the office, my post-production person asked "so, explain to me what SEO is." And the conversation started. And continued. And continued. You see, one of the things I am learning as I present at ASMP's Strictly Business 2, is that (at least it seems) more people want to learn how to get their websites to rank first on the search engines, than they want to get their contracts and business paperwork in order, if consultations and workshop attendance are any indicators, and my friend and colleague, Blake Discher has started a business aimed squarely at photographers, called GO-SEO, and he's doing (and has been) sold-out consults at SB2 and his Sunday presentations (Workshop D -- Is Your Website Doing All It Can to Get You Work?) there have been major hits.

We continued our conversation until we were almost back to the office, and we had barely scratched the surface of what SEO is. Don't know what it is yet? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and as you can see from this link , there are far far to many "know-it-alls" out there who don't know anything about SEO. Test #1 - if your proposed SEO person tells you that Flash websites can't rank, hang up on them. Really. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to Loserville (and while you're there, say hi to JDK for me.) It really is the wild wild west, and people like Blake, and also the newly announced upgrades to liveBooks, bring reason and logic to the SEO world as it pertains to photographers.

From liveBooks' ability to read and auto-enter your metadata, to page-by-page statitics of Google Analytics, enhanced improvements to the auto-generated html pages, and so on, this upgrade is a significant enhancement to their already stellar offerings.

(Continued after the Jump)

For those of you who might think that I'm posting this because they're an advertiser, think again. No other solution gives you this much control over the back-end of your website and how it's seen by the search engines. I previously wrote It's Google's World, You're Just a Small Part of It, and after that, there were some interesting statistics I cited when liveBooks came on as an advertiser (Effective SEO - Please Welcome liveBooks, 2/20/08), that you might have missed.

So, let me direct you to an amazing report on how people look at web pages. This study, (F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content), and the well-respected Jupiter Research reports that the majority of searchers - 62 percent of search engine users - click on results on the first page of search listings. Further, and this is where it gets critical - 90 percent of users never go beyond the first three pages. Where do you fall?

I want to reiterate something that may have gotten lost when I posted it in the comments - we all evolve over time as it pertains to websites and investments in them. I've looked at the underlying code of my friend Mark Finkenstaedt's website. Mark is an amazingly talented photographer - dare I say - more talented than me, and he's got great content there. I gave him a bit of help early on, encouraging him not only to have, but also, since people naturally have a hard time with his last name, to get He did that, and he's done the requisite keywords and descriptions metadata, but you can't find him in the first 100 pages of Google for any of his search terms. How do I know what his search terms are? I asked him. (and I asked him if I could put him up as the poster-child for poor SEO, and he said I could.) Further, despite his purchase of a gallery site for several hundred dollars, there's nearly zero coding that is search-engine friendly. What this translates into, is in fact, lost revenue. This is, because, on several searches I performed, the only one where he gets to Google's first page is when I search for his name. While that's good when people are searching for him, the real benefit of being findable on the search engines that the search (and finding of you) will result in revenue because he is findable. To make matters worse, Mark headed into the wasteland of the wild west and spent $500 a month for six months with a "placement agency" without a single assignment to show for it. "money wasted" he said, and canceled his efforts with them.

So many people will set a limit of $500 or $1k for their site, not realizing how much it costs them in lost assignments because they're not being found! I suspect that Mark will (or at least should be!) looking into the new liveBooks offering.

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 3, 2008

Chase Giveth, And Giveth Some More!

Chase Jarvis has done something extraordinary - out of the blue, Chase is giving away a FREE trip and conference registration to SB2, airfare included! Check out WIN a FREE Trip To ASMP Strictly Business 2 - Chicago for the details.

If you're reading this blog, you should be there! (and you also will know that this is a repeat of my call for Atlanta!) The third of what will be a total of four stops (Chicago is the last stop, the destination for Chase) takes place starting this Friday, March 7, in Philadelphia. If you missed LA, I did a video report on it (here) and it has been widely reviewed as a success, with people traveling to LA from as far away as Alaska and Florida. So, this isn't something that you should be saying "oh, it's not near me, I'm not going." Planes, trains, or automobiles - it doesn't matter how you get there, because this is worth traveling for! It is going to be a remarkable weekend that will either get you started right, or bolster your existing business skills.

At this program you won't learn lighting, or video, or any other skill-set except how to run your business better and more efficiently. Beginners have come away with massive amounts of information and exceptional resources, while long-time photographers have taken away new tools and refined their current business practices to be better and more efficient in how they run their existing businesses.

Need to know about marketing? ASMP has brought in Leslie Burns Dell'Acqua to give you real tools to use to begin to market yourself, or to evolve how you marketing into the new era that is e-mail and the latest in marketing trends, helping you to reach your intended audience.

Blake Discher is also on hand to discuss the great unknown that is client negotiations and gets you thinking in the right direction about how to price your work so you stay in business.

Don't know how to store, archive, and deliver your work safely? ASMP's President, Judy Herrmann will set you straight about how to protect yourself from the inevitable hard drive crash, and deliver clients images when they want, and how they want them. Judy knows a great deal on the subject, and listening to her is like pouring pure octane into your gas tank - you're getting so much fast-burn information, every tidbit is valuable.

Further, and what is the starting point, Richard Kelly and Susan Carr start off with the basics, and make sure we're all on the same page, establishing baselines and foundations so we all are on the same bus together.

(Continued after the Jump)

Oh, and I'm also there talking about the critical tools for your photography business. It's like this blog, come to life, with a bit more restraint and carefully chosen words than you might find here, except the information I'll be presenting is, as it's titled, critical to your business, including copyright registration, dealing with contracts (both yours and the clients), and so forth. As I said before, if you're reading this blog, you should be there.

But it doesn't stop there, because that was just DAY ONE!

Ready for day 2? We spend the morning training you to negotiate better. We show you how we do it in several situations, role-playing, and then we break up into small groups, and guide these groups of 15 or so through the process, pausing and refining, and everyone else gets to chime in - it's all very interactive.

After lunch (included, on both days!), there are smaller workshops, delivering more details and specifics on Marketing to Move Your Business Forward; Business Workflow to Bring You Profits; Taking Control of Your Career; and Is Your Website Doing All It Can to Get You Work?. Don't worry though, they are repeated, so you can take two of the four.

Not enough? You're crazy then, but, well, ok - how about we have Joyce Tenneson give the keynote on Saturday night, before the free Digital Railroad reception that's included?

Register now, figure out how you'll get there next!

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