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Providing Structure for You and Your Clients

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 12:02am

[by Jim Cavanaugh]

Many small businesses consider policies the province of big business. They also often feel that policies restrict the flexibility and innovation necessary in entrepreneurial businesses.

Poor policies can have a detrimental effect, but having a reasonable number of clear, well-crafted policies adds structure to your business, helps resolve client disputes and automates your decision making process.

Policies should define activities your business encounters on a day-to-day basis. They should be reasonably broad and not so restrictive as to micro manage every aspect of your operations or interaction with clients.

Clear policies can be shown to clients to explain why you do or don’t do certain things. And policies tend to carry more weight in client negotiations. Many can be addressed in a single sentence. “Our policy is to require a retainer of 50% for all new clients.”

Some examples of standing policies you should have:

  • Requirement for a signed contract
  • Requirements for advance / retainer on assignments
  • Refund policy
  • Cancellation / postponement fees
  • Job change forms
  • Mark up on expenses
  • Overtime fees
  • Turn-around time / delivery schedules
  • Rush fees
  • Payment terms
  • Acceptance of credit cards
  • Late payment fees
  • Copyright ownership
  • Third party use of images
  • Requirement of a credit line
  • Social media use of images
  • Model releases
  • Indemnification clauses

Having these policies written down, and in some cases, included on your estimate / contract will be an effective tool when negotiating with your clients.

Jim Cavanaugh is an architectural & aerial photographer based in Buffalo, NY. He served as a Director of ASMP for 12 years and as the Society’s President.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Magic Word

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 12:01am

My 8-year old would tell you that The Magic Word is “Please,” but after 26 years in business, I’ve learned a different “P” word that can get you event better results: Policies.  Establishing (and communicating) clear policies can help you avoid a world of pain. And, even when it’s just you, there’s something about citing Policies that depersonalizes those rules in a way that makes it easier for you to enforce and your client to accept – it’s not you, it’s your policy.  This week, our contributors share their insights, advice and experiences with setting policies for their businesses.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Pricing & Negotiating: Motion For Small Business Service Company

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 10:14am

by Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Testimonials, man-on-the-street interviews and b-roll video of an annual corporate conference

Licensing: Web Collateral use of one 2:00 minute edited video

Location: Hotel conference center

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Portrait, Lifestyle and Motion Specialist

Agency: N/A – Client Direct

Client: A Small Business Services Company

A few months ago, one of our California-based photographers asked me to help her pull together an estimate for a motion shoot. Although the photographer had a long-standing relationship with this particular client, they’d never asked her to provide motion coverage. The client asked her to shoot four testimonial interviews of the executive team, man-on-the-street interviews of the other attendees and b-roll footage of the event in general. Ultimately, the client wanted to put together a 2:00 introduction/about video for their corporate website to loop on a flat screen at trade shows (within the context of the website). The client would be providing the shooting space, interviewers and scheduling the executives. The client also reserved a room for the testimonials so that the photographer could work in a mostly controlled environment with plenty of available light.

Since we were working directly with the client and providing the editing services, this presented a great opportunity to limit the licensing to their very specific needs (it is not uncommon in the motion world to work under a work for hire agreement or grant unrestricted usage). We seized the opportunity and put together an estimate including limited usage of the final piece.

Based on the needs of the client, we decided to price this out as a two-camera shoot including the photographer/director who would run camera 1, and a DP to manage the minimal lighting and run camera 2. In this case, the DP would be working under the instruction of the photographer/director and sign a work for hire agreement (much like a second photographer on a still shoot), to streamline the licensing process for the client (and photographer).

To arrive at the licensing fee, I took into account the intended audience (trade), limited use (collateral only), shelf-life (this event takes place every year, and the finished piece would likely include footage of current clients, who may not be clients next year) and level production (the team really only needed to show up and shoot). I also considered how much a comparable day of still shooting would yield and what a comparable licensing fee would be for those stills. After weighing all of the factors, we landed at $5,500 for the photographer/director’s creative and licensing fee. Since the client understood relative licensing values on the still side, they were comfortable negotiating limited licensing terms on the motion side as well. Not all clients are as flexible with regard to motion, but it’s always worth the attempt.

Here’s the approved estimate:

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 2.50.28 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 2.50.59 PM

Grip: A grip is the motion world equivalent of a first assistant, though they are typically more specialized. They set up all the grip equipment and manage basic lighting under the direction of the director or the DP. Complex lighting or electrical work may require a gaffer. In this case, the photographer planned to shoot mostly available light and would only need a couple of florescent light banks for the testimonials, so a single grip would suffice.

Director of Photography: As I mentioned above, the DP would be running camera 2 and helping to manage the lighting. A DP is generally more experienced and has the expertise and wherewithal to operate independently of the director. Their rates vary based on the nature of the project and level of involvement required. In this case, we got a quote from a colleague experienced in corporate motion work.

Audio Engineer: Like location scouts, audio engineers have pretty standard rates, regardless of where they’re based or the details of the shoot. $800 covers their day rate and basic recording equipment.

Equipment: $2200 covered costs for two DSLR camera systems, lenses, mounting and grip equipment and two florescent light banks. The photographer and DP owned all of the equipment and would be renting to the production at the market rate.

Editing and Color Grading: We got an editing quote from an editor who the photographer had worked with in the past. $1000/minute is a good rule of thumb for editing costs, but that can fluctuate with the content available, number of revisions, quality of footage and graphic elements required.

File Transfer: This covered the FTP and hard drive costs to share the content with the client for review throughout editing and delivery.

Groomer: We included a groomer to make sure the testimonial subjects (executives), who were supposed to arrive camera ready, looked their best. The groomer would handle basic hair and make up styling and wardrobe finessing.

Miles, Parking, Shipping, etc: This covered out of pocket expenses the photographer and crew would accrue between mileage, parking, crew meals, shipping costs and any other miscellaneous expenses that may be incurred.

Housekeeping (see the project description): I noted all of the production elements the client would be providing. In this case, we were relying on the client to provide the locations, subject scheduling and necessary releases. The client also planned to guide the subjects through their interviews, which under normal circumstances could fall under the responsibility of the director.

The client reviewed our first estimate and asked for a revision excluding the man-on-the street component. Although the team would be generating less content overall, the time on site wouldn’t change significantly (it would still be about a full day) and the deliverable, a 2:00 finished piece, wouldn’t be impacted, which meant the value of the licensing wouldn’t really be impacted either. If it were entirely up to me, I wouldn’t have adjusted the fees at all, however the photographer felt a small decrease was reasonable. We presented an option with a $1000 lower bottom line, all of which came out of the creative/licensing fee. Seeing that the decrease was marginal, the client opted for the original approach.

Results, Hindsight and Feedback: The photographer/director shot the project and the client has since come back asking to set up another shoot to capture similar content at their corporate headquarters.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns.

Categories: Business

Start the New Year Right!

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 12:01am

This month, ASMP is offering several fantastic online discussions that will help you get the most out of your business and your membership.  Join us!


Building Your Motion Team
with Rhea Anna
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
10:00 – 11:00 am pacific / 1:00 – 2:00 pm eastern

We all know motion is a collaborative sport but how do you take all those moving parts and turn them into a well-oiled machine? Celebrated lifestyle photographer/director Rhea Anna uses her own work as a springboard to illustrate how to build your team, assign and manage roles and responsibilities and inspire your collaborators to give you their very best. Along the way, she’ll share tips on sussing out your clients unspoken needs and providing an outstanding experience they’ll want to repeat. Don’t miss this candid, information-packed program!

• • •

Meet Tom Kennedy

© Stanley C. Leary

© Stanley C. Leary

ASMP’s new Executive Director invites you join him for a candid online conversation about the future of ASMP.  All three events are open to current members and anyone thinking about joining (or rejoining) the ASMP — pick the time and date that’s best for you:

  • Wednesday, January 28
    2:00 – 3:00 pm eastern
    register now


Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Work from Photo NOLA, Part 2

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 01/09/2015 - 10:21am

My daughter got a staph infection late last year. Right on her butt cheek. It was awful.

At first we thought it was a spider bite, but with two doctors in the family, we were quickly corrected. It rose majestically from her tush, like the Sangre de Cristo mountains jut out of the New Mexico high desert.

Not good.

I knew nothing of the malady, before it settled comfortably into our home. The treatment is gruesome, and entails painfully squeezing out the toxic, contagious puss, day after day. She was a good sport about it, my little girl. Before and after the treatment, twice a day, she acted as if nothing was wrong.

But during? O.M.F.G. She screamed louder than a coked-up bond trader trying to get out of a bad deal. “Help. Help. Please stop, Daddy. Stop. No, Daddy, no. Ayuda me. Ayuda me.” (That last bit was fueled by lots of Dora the Explorer, to keep her semi-occupied.)

It took weeks to make the whole thing better. Unfortunately, during the infection’s run, my wife Jessie and I were meant to get away for a couple of days in Albuquerque. It was the best we could manage, to celebrate our 10th Anniversary, which had come and gone at the end of May. (It was to be our first parenting break since before Jessie got pregnant.)

Little girl was just old enough to leave with my folks for a couple of days. We’d been looking forward to the trip, meager as it was, for month and months. And then, with the staph infection in full swing, we had to cancel.

No fair.

We dropped the kids off at my folks for just a few hours instead, and must have looked as down-hearted and miserable as Barack Obama on Election Day 2014. We were crestfallen. Disappointed. Borderline suicidal.

So my Mom suggested that we book Jessie a ticket to go along with me to New Orleans. At first it seemed impossible. Surely, the tickets would be too expensive. And they wouldn’t really let us get away for 5 days, when even 2 had seemed so impossible?

It couldn’t work, could it?

I’ll cut to the chase, and bring some brevity into an otherwise rambling narrative. It did work. The tickets were reasonable, and the plan came together tighter than a spendthrift’s wallet.

I swear, I never, ever would have imagined we could pull it off. But we did. Out of the depths of our sadness, deep in the pit of despair, came a genuinely amazing few days together in a magical city.

Leave it to preachy-yours-truly to make a lesson out of an article about the portfolios I viewed at the Photo NOLA festival last year. Isn’t that just like me?

But it’s a valuable lesson, from where I’m sitting. We really don’t know what tomorrow will bring, and sometimes, the nastiest problems lead to the best solutions. Even when things look bleak, they can turn around quickly.

It happened while I was at Photo NOLA too. A micro-version of the same type of scenario.

Jessie and I were waiting outside the International House hotel, along with a throng of other festival goers. There was a school bus due to take us to the New Orleans Museum of Art, where Emmet Gowin was about to lecture at the big NOLA Gala. The crowd grew and grew, as the bus was clearly late.

I was in the midst of a good conversation with Dewi Lewis, the English photo book publisher, so I didn’t mind the delay. Eventually, I was roused by the shuffling of feet, the groans of unhappiness, and the piercing yell of Jennifer Shaw, Photo NOLA’s Executive Director. (Whom we interviewed here in early 2013.)

Apparently, the bus was stuck in unprecedented traffic on I-10. It was so late that it was not coming back to get us. People were left to fend for themselves, as the traffic had snarled up the entire city center, in addition to the Interstate.

The lecture started imminently. There was no clear plan of attack. Take a cab? Why? The roads were impassible, we were told.

Miss the lecture? Unwise, as Mr. Gowin is famous for his inspirational talks, as I said in the last article. But Jessie and I were dressed up, and there were so many nice restaurants within a few blocks. I contemplated blowing the whole thing off, but it left a sour taste in my mouth, like a turned tangerine.

Eventually, we decided to make no grand decision, but simply walk with the herd. Follow the crowd, which was headed towards Canal Street, with Jennifer in the lead.

I’m not much of a follower, but in this case, it seemed the wisest course of action. We tromped and tromped. All the while, watching the cars not move at all.

The bus and the streetcar were both shot down as options by people who knew more than I did. So we just kept walking, each moment taking us closer to missing the main event. Jennifer was keeping a cool face, but I knew she was seething inside. How could she miss her own Gala?

After 15 minutes, we came to a break in the traffic, and the street crowd thinned. “This is as good a place as any,” Jennifer said. So I launched into hero mode, and stepped confidently into the street with my right arm raised.

Sure enough, three minutes later, I spied a mini-van cab, and hailed away. He was free, and headed our way. By then, our group numbered 12 people.

The cabbie said he could take 5, and no more. Miraculously, another min-van pulled up in front of the first, and 5 people piled in. Immediately.

That left us with 7. The cabbie agreed to stretch it to 6, but no more. So we filled up, and left Jennifer Shaw standing on the street, looking so sad it almost broke my heart. How she kept from crying, I really don’t know.

“We can’t leave her here,” my wife said. “It’s not possible. Of all the people, she needs to be there the most.”

“It’s true,” I said. “We can’t leave her. Can you please fit one more,” I asked the driver? “Otherwise, we’ll get out.”

“Sure,” he said. “But only this once.”

I offered to sit on the floor, sans seat belt, and the day was saved. We stayed off the highway, and were there in 10 minutes. (With just enough time to chug two glasses of cava, so we’d have a nice little buzz for Emmet’s lecture.)

I’ll spare you too much gushing about how that man fired up the crowd. He spoke to the deepest motivations of why we make art. And he insisted, time and again, that if you’re not willing to trust your instincts, and accept that there are always forces at work, far greater than you… you’re in the wrong line of work.

I listened intently, absorbing the wisdom, and finally had to type some quotes into my phone, as they were just too good not to share with you.

“Hold constant to the stars that seem to be organizing your life.”

“Do you have room inside yourself for what religious people call the Holy Spirit?”

“Speak out of your feelings.”

“Don’t put anything off.”

“The sun doesn’t care what we’ve done to the Earth.”

“You have to make all the mistakes yourself.”

I’ll end there, as Emmet did. I’ve already gone on long enough that some of you will have skipped down to the photographs. C’est la vie. And as they say in NOLA, L’aissez les bon temps rouler.

On to the photographers.

Susan Berger showed me some of my favorite work I saw. It’s a strange project, in that it seems like someone would have thought of it already. She photographed Martin Luther King Boulevard. In 40 cities around the United States.

Look closely, and you notice that in almost every case, the street was dedicated in an African-American neighborhood. But not always. She uses the street sign often, but not always. Sometimes, there’s a statue, or a hair salon named after him, or a low-income housing project.

Evocative stuff. I loved that she shot it medium format, black and white, and presented gelatin silver prints. All that work, it makes a difference.












Francis Crisafio had another project that I loved. He teaches photography in an after school program in Pittsburgh, and has been doing it for years. His efforts are genuinely creative and collaborative.

He showed me several interlocking projects he does with the children. In one case, he shoots portraits of them, and makes prints. From there, the students make self-portrait drawings. Then, they hold them up to their face, and he shoots new portraits, with the drawings standing in for their faces.

I really loved those photographs, many shot in front of the classroom blackboard. There were other incarnations too, including some self-portrait collages the students make. All in all, a very impressive showing.











Jen Ervin also showed me a collaborative project, though it was evident only in her words. The pictures didn’t really indicate the process. She shoots her children, at a family cabin in the woods, but she claims the entire family is responsible for the work.

Jen uses an old school Polaroid Land camera, and the small, unique black and white prints had some of that famed Southern Lyricism. They were very lovely. (And reminiscent of Sally Mann, who’s casts a long shadow down South.)

We discussed the fact that she’d been encouraged to make larger edition prints, by scanning and re-printing the originals. The copies were just that, far less effective than the one-of-a-kinds. Not sure you’ll agree, but I encouraged her to slap a big price tag on the Polaroids, and show and sell them exclusively. I saw no reason to water down the project by showing an inferior version. Do you agree?












Ben Marcin is a photographer from Baltimore, and he first showed me some pictures that were straight out of “The Wire.” He did a typological project in which he shot individual B-more row houses, detached from anything but the context. I’d seen them before, as they were published on so many blogs around the Web.

His follow-up project, which I’m showing here, was also made amidst the poverty of his home city, and would likely make good old David Simon proud. Ben, who’s a confident sort, and loves to hike, trekked around the homeless camps that he said pop up almost anywhere there are some trees and grass.

He photographed these humble shacks and dwellings, which resonate with tragedy and resilience. He told me that he went back to each of these locations, and in every single case, the structure had been destroyed, razed, or burned to the ground.

01 Baltimore Ben Marcin

02 Baltimore Ben Marcin

03 Baltimore Ben Marcin

04 Baltimore Ben Marcin

08 Baltimore Ben Marcin

09 Baltimore Ben Marcin

10 Baltimore Ben Marcin

11 Baltimore Ben Marcin

12 Baltimore Ben Marcin

13 Baltimore Ben Marcin

14 Baltimore Ben Marcin

20 Baltimore Ben Marcin

21 Baltimore Ben Marcin

Rebecca Drolen showed me work in fortuitous circumstances. Apparently, one of the people I was meant to see was a no-show, so Rebecca won a quick lottery for the slot. I knew nothing of how it came to pass, but was thrilled, as I thought her work was some of the strongest I saw.

She studied at Indiana University, with Osamu James Nakagawa, whose excellent book we featured earlier in 2014. So I knew her training was solid.

Rebecca pulled out some black and white self-portraits that she told me were all about the relationship women have with hair. Ever the blunt reviewer, I told her that didn’t seem so significant to me, as her pictures were charmingly surreal. Yes, I thought of Magritte, but that’s a great reference for any artist.

They were just so weird, but also well-done. I loved them, and think you will to. We’ll feature the rest of the photographers next week, and then bring back the book reviews.













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Have a look (here).

Categories: Business

Constructive Reflection and the Year Ahead

ASMP's Strictly Business - Fri, 01/09/2015 - 12:01am

[by Francis Zera]

The end of a year is a great time for reflection, and at times, for kicking oneself in the pants for past indiscretions.

It’s also a great time for optimism for the coming clean slate of a year – a blank calendar for the year ahead feels, to me, anyway, like an icon of opportunity and promise.

Before looking ahead, though, it’s a great idea to look back at the year that’s ending and make a list of the things that went well before focusing on what didn’t. You’ll often find that the first list is far lengthier than the second, and that list of positives becomes fodder for updating your marketing plan to take advantage of those ideas in hopes of generating future successes.

I’ll even go first; here’s my list:

The economy. Companies are again seeing the value in commissioning quality photography, and are spending money on commissioned marketing collateral, albeit a bit more carefully than in the past. The times, they are finally improving.

Creative options. Photographers and videographers continue to see ever-expanding options for the tools of their trades, and the strong economy makes this a good time to consider trying something new or exploring a new specialty.

Educational opportunities. Social media continues to magnify the educational opportunities available to creative professionals, both with formal courses of study and a plethora of free informal tutorials. Learnin’ is good for you. Do it.

Unexpected successes. We’ve all had them. Appreciate them, learn from them, and be grateful that things didn’t go the other way.

Gratitude is important (not that I wasn’t thankful, mind you). Focus on what’s going well rather than only on the negative. If nothing else, you’ll save money by having to buy fewer antacids.

What were you grateful for in 2014? Even if you don’t choose to leave a comment below, take a moment to reflect on all the positive things that have come your way in the past 12 months. I’ll bet you’ve more to be thankful for than you first think.

Francis Zera is a Seattle-based architectural and commercial photographer. He teaches the business curriculum in the photography department at the Art Institute of Seattle, and recently completed an M.A. Ed. in adult education and training. You can check out his work at zeraphoto.com and follow him on twitter and Instagram.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Art of the Personal Project: Neil DaCosta

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 01/08/2015 - 10:44am

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Neil DaCosta





















How long have you been shooting?
12 Years, the first half was strictly snowboard images.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I have a degree from RIT, but that only teaches you the basics. I learned the most from self-teaching after entering “the real world”.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
The other collaborators and I had talked for a while about doing a Mormon project. We were not happy with their meddling in California’s Proposition 8 and their views/actions on homosexuality in general.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
The shoot only took one day. We released it the next week, I think. We wanted it to be released while Romney was still running for President.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Not long. If I am not feeling it, I scrap it and move on to the next one. That doesn’t mean I don’t get a few images out of it that I might be happy with, but I know whether it is worth pursuing longer-term or not.

The toughest part for me is not sharing a project prematurely. I am working on one now focused on guns. I really want to start showing of the photos I have, but know it will be better if I wait until I feel like it is a complete body of work.

As for the Mormon project, by the first frame, we knew we had something good.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
To keep my sanity intact, I combine the two. I see my portfolio as an extension of my character, but I also understand that it has to be geared towards getting work. When I see a hole in the portfolio, I then come up with a personal project to fill it. As an example, talking over my portfolio with my rep, it was decided that I needed some images that had younger faces, multiple people, a motion piece, and production value. I then started to brainstorm on how I could have fun within those parameters. My series Teenage Angst was the result. Although I will never enjoy dry walling, every other aspect of that project was a blast and I am proud of showing those photos/video in my portfolio.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Constantly. It is a free way to get your work out there. I haven’t personally dabbled in Reddit too much, but other people have posted my work on there and it gets a lot of hits. Mormon Missionary Positions got as big as it did because of Reddit.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
As prefaced above, the first day the Mormon project got released, a well known Redditor (is that even a word?) posted it on there and it went crazy. It crashed our server and we had to upgrade it in the middle of the night. The first day it had over a quarter million views. And in the past two years it has entered the ebb and flow of the Internet. A blogger in Turkey will post it and all of a sudden there are 3,000 hits in a day from there.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes. With this project I made a promo piece that I sent to a few targeted people that I have worked with previously or really want to work with. With inspiration from the cut out bibles that you can hide a flask/gun/contraband in, I bought about 50 Books Of Mormon from the local Mormon bookstore. I then cut holes in them and glued the pages together. In the holes, I dropped a stack of photos from the project. Attached the project’s artist statement and sent them out.

It is weird though, I still haven’t been hired to shoot any paying Mormon jobs!

Artist Statement:

Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, are sinful and undermine the divinely created institution of the family. The Church accordingly affirms defining marriage as the legal and lawful union between a man and a woman.

LDS Handbook 2
A visual discourse into the relationship of state and church.

Neil DaCosta is represented by Held & Associates http://www.cynthiaheld.com

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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

Staying Out of Coast Mode

ASMP's Strictly Business - Thu, 01/08/2015 - 12:01am

[by Jim Cavanaugh]

I put an aggressive marketing program into action at the beginning of 2011. Like many other photographers, I suffered through a dramatic decrease in business from the economic downturn that began in 2008. I developed a new portfolio, a new web site, increased social media presence, a new e-mail campaign and most important, I made lots of telephone calls and personal visits to show my book.

The results were predictable, 2011 and 1012 sales were very strong and I obtained many new clients. 2013 started off well and then I made a critical mistake. Being busy, I started ignoring the marketing efforts that had provided the recent increase in business. I had rationalized that business was good again and would continue strong. And that “pesky marketing stuff” is such a drain on time and resources.

Again, the results were predictable. Business began to fall off. Slow at first, then a remarkable nosedive. 2013 was a poor year just barely paying the bills with some left over for me. 2014 also started off flat.

While it would have been easy to blame the situation on external conditions, micro economic issues, market changes or other nonsense, it was undeniable that there was just one cause. It was me resting on my laurels from two strong years. I was coasting on past success. It’s a sure recipe for failure.

I began ramping up my marketing efforts in July and August this year and business began to swing in the right direction almost immediately. Funny how that works!

As I look forward and plan for 2015, marketing will once again take center stage in my business. The focus will be a new portfolio, updated web site, and an aggressive effort to get out and see current and perspective clients face to face. And I know the results will be predictable.

Jim Cavanaugh is an architectural & aerial photographer based in Buffalo, NY. He served as a Director of ASMP for 12 years and as the Society’s President.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Channel Your Inner Madonna!

ASMP's Strictly Business - Wed, 01/07/2015 - 12:01am

[by Kimberly Blom-Roemer]

We’ve all seen it, the metamorphosis that entertainers have to periodically go through to remain relevant in the industry. Like her or hate her… a great example of this is Madonna. Over the last thirty years, she has reinvented herself more ways than I can count.

The same thing needs to happen in your business. Gone are the days when you could pick one way to run your business, and if you just continued doing that same thing well, you’d always be successful. To stay at the top today, you need to constantly evolve. That means taking a long hard look at your business.

I am certainly not operating the same business as I was three years ago when I relocated to Louisiana. My clients have shifted, what I spend my time on each day/week is different.  In fact, what I want to achieve with my business has changed. What worked three years ago would not work for me now.

Here’s the criteria that I apply to my evaluations:

  • How do I feel 80% of the time dealing with a person, working on a particular business service, working on back office tasks, volunteering for a particular organization? Good? Bad? Frustrated? Satisfied? Optimistic? Dismayed?
  • Where do I spend much of my time each week? Marketing? Post production? Accounting? On location? Volunteering?
  • Is that time proportional to the benefit I receive? Here, I’m looking for energy empowering activities, as well as energy leeches.
  • What activities do I constantly push to the back burner? Sometimes all it takes is a glance at my desk to spot a pile of receipts that need to be scanned or trade magazines to be read.
  • Is my time better spent doing something else (that only I alone can do) and can I outsource this activity? Clearly I can’t send someone out to photograph projects, but I can outsource maintenance on my client database.
  • For people or services that are not a positive influence, are they absolutely necessary to have in my business and my life? Can their role be reassigned to another person or vendor, thus limiting my interaction with them?

Here’s a key indicator to help you evaluate whether something is still working in your business. Let’s say with a person or organization. First thing in the morning you open your email, and there’s a message from him/her/them/it. What is your gut reaction? Do you rush to click on it or do you feel your blood pressure skyrocket?

With so many exciting things ahead in 2015, energy leeches need to be peeled off and only those things that are positive and supporting where you want to be a year from now should remain.

Kimberly Blom-Roemer is an aerial and architectural photographer based along the Gulf Coast.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Edit – Vanity Fair: Sam Jones

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 10:20am


Vanity Fair

Design Director: Chris Dixon
Photo Director: Susan White
Photo Editor: Ron Beinner
Photographer: Sam Jones
Set Design: Matt Davidson
Producer: Carol Cohen

I have to ask the obvious, is that a set?
Yes. We built that set for the shoot. We carefully measured the elephant’s width and height, then created the set just four inches bigger keeping in mind the proportions of the magazine spread, where the gutter fell; it was all calculated out ahead of time.

How was the elephant, was she easy to work with?
Tai was a 46 year old and very intelligent. She arrived with her wrangler and our adjustments were very subtle, like parallel parking a car, moving 3 inches here and there, she was responsive and so easy.  A situation like this can be fraught with peril as you can imagine, thankfully it was a great day on set.

How did the talent react when you talked about shooting him with the elephant?
I knew from working with Bradley on the Hangover posters that he loved animals, that put me at ease. Once we brought her in, they spent time connecting and getting comfortable around each other. Of course the wrangler was always there to watch over, that said Bradley was comfortable and trusted her enough let her wrap her trunk around him and lift him over her head.


View the BTS about the shoot here

How did you explain the shoot to talent and the magazine?
I didn’t. This clearly goes against conventional wisdom not to tell talent you plan on shooting them with a six ton elephant but I thought telling someone about the picture ran the risk of this idea getting shut down.

We all see images in our mind when something is described, that’s uncontrollable.

Once a visual is stuck in someones mind whatever it may be, it’s difficult to have them see what you see or alter it. Our own visual catalogue comes into play, and everyone has a different reel.

Past experience has taught me to show people rather then try to explain. We went ahead and had the entire set built, rented the animal and then when talent walked in they saw exactly what was going on. If for some reason Bradley shut down the idea, the worst that could happen was VF rented an elephant for the day.  As I said earlier, I knew Bradley liked and connected with animals, I simply focused on that.

I’ve developed a strong relationship with the magazine.  Here I had this great opportunity to create a unique image, it’s not often those projects roll around, so when the resources and creative freedom present themselves, you make the most of it. The magazine trusts me, which is a great position to be in, what really underscored our relationship was me suggesting to them this is a black and white photo and they agreed.

When I shot Martin Short with the cats I remember how highly trained animals can be. For that shot the wrangler could signal the cat to pretend he was peeing. Knowing that, I asked the wrangler to direct her to curl her trunk and open her mouth as if she was going to trumpet, that detail takes the photo to another level with Bradley sitting there looking rather annoyed.

How much time did you have for this shoot?
We had a day of set building and a prelight day, the actual shoot day was about six hours in total; Bradley had a hard out at noon.  Originally we were going to shoot this in NYC,  we had a full day with talent shooting in Central Park, then the shoot switched to LA. That change of plan gave me time to come up with this new idea. I had a week to get the set built, fully comp up the idea and get creative approved with the magazine.

My team arrived on set at 4:00 am, Bradley came at 6:00 am, and we wrapped on time.  I was pleased to have such commitment on his end to come that early and dedicate himself to the shoot. It’s not often things align like this, it’s great when the opportunity arises.  It’s all about knowing when everything is there for you to make the best picture possible and there’s no excuses of why it didn’t turn out the way you wanted.

Categories: Business

Taking Stock

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 12:01am

[By Michael Clark]

At the end of each year, usually between Christmas and New Year’s, I take stock of the past year and plan for the next. In 2014, one of the biggest revelations for me was that work shot for my portfolio, i.e. work that I have gone out and created myself, ends up being licensed to a variety of clients within a year or two. While this isn’t necessarily a new revelation, this past year some of the images shot for my portfolio ended up being a significant percentage of my income.

It has become quite apparent that I need to shoot more personal work and distribute that work to potential clients directly. While the main portion of my income is from assignment work, producing portfolio images on my own dime and my own time affords me not only a creative outlet but also a way to create new and enticing images for specific clients. Whenever I set up portfolio shoots I always consider what types of images might be of interest to clients that I have worked with in the past – and to new clients that I might be able to license the image(s) to after the shoot.

I have been able to license my images as direct stock because I have a relatively large pool of clients I have worked with who are always looking for top-notch images, which makes it easy to submit new work to targeted prospects. Also, because my website comes up on the first page in Google searches for “adventure sports photography,” I am able to license images directly off my website. Often a potential client, whom I have never worked with or contacted, will send me a screen shot of an image on my website and ask for pricing. I have had several of these instances turn into four and five figure licensing deals over the last few years. Every time I license an image in this manner, I think to myself, “ I need to get out and shoot more for my portfolio.”


© Michael Clark

As an example of an image licensed to a client directly, the image shown above, a shot of Kohl Christensen surfing at Pipeline on the north shore of Oahu, was licensed by Apple and was used to promote their new Retina iMacs. The image was originally created while shooting surfing on my annual trip to Hawaii. As competition for assignments heats up, I can see direct stock becoming a larger part of my business strategy. The key to being able to license these portfolio images effectively is to make sure I come away with stellar images no matter what the subject matter, which may entail a fair bit of pre-production.

Michael Clark is an internationally published adventure photographer and author. If you are dying for more info check out his Newsletter, which is a quarterly magazine that goes out to over 6,000 photographers and clients. See more of Michael’s work at www.michaelclarkphoto.com.  

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Future of ASMP

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 12:01am

[by Tom Kennedy]

Our role as visual storytellers is critical today, regardless of the genre of photography we are pursuing as members of ASMP. We stand for creating visual images in all forms. Images that work effectively to carry forward messages about the world and enable our clients to make important connections. Our work informs, inspires, illuminates, educates and entertains. Through our images, we can literally change how audiences see and understand the world beyond the borders of their own life experience. That power contributes to the possibility of creating a better world, because we can communicate essential truths about the forces driving the world today.

Looking back on the start of my own journey through this industry, I remember getting inspiration from the photographers who were part of ASMP. To me, they represented the pinnacle of professional achievement. They set the bar for creative expression, and defined what success looked like in a photography career. After joining myself, I was fortunate enough to find mentors within the organization who helped me to grow, identify my own professional skills and find my own career path.

That mentorship helped realize my true calling as an editor of images, helping others use their photography skills to create powerful stories. While at National Geographic as director of photography and subsequently at The Washington Post as the managing editor building a multimedia team, my goal always was to enable those around me to do great work, to unleash the full potential of their creativity and passion. Repeatedly, I saw how creative people working together in a supportive environment could produce results that impacted audiences profoundly.

Now, I want to bring that same vision to bear on behalf of ASMP members.

While the current pace of innovation generates turbulent waves of change that continually roil our business landscape, I am convinced those waves are also unleashing a kind of energy that is immensely valuable. Harnessing the energy and channeling it productively are part of generating the continuous creative growth that sustains careers over time.

Collaboration with peers and sharing knowledge is also crucial. We need to fully communicate about the conditions necessary for our individual success, while at the same time fully understanding the expectations and needs of those who would use our talents to the fullest. To do so requires continual questioning and the effort to hear “the question behind the question,” as acts of deep listening.

Looking forward to 2015, I know what passion and energy can do as creative forces to produce great work, particularly when done with the support of a vibrant, energized community. I can already see that ASMP has no shortage of passion and energy in our members, our chapter and specialty group leaders, our national board and our staff. I know that together, we can grow ASMP into an even stronger and more vital force and that we can use ASMP as our platform to inspire, inform, educate, collaborate with, advocate for and support each other.

I believe that together, through ASMP, we can shape an environment in which photographers are respected, valued, and paid appropriately for their contributions to society. This excites me as a mission and fulfilling this vision is one my major goals for ASMP, our members and our industry.

I will be listening to you and asking lots of questions as I start my journey as ASMP Executive Director and I invite you to join me for a candid online conversation about the future of ASMP. These conversations are open to all ASMP members and those considering joining (or rejoining) the Society. Pick the date and time that works best in your schedule:

  • Monday, January 26, 2015 from 3:00 – 4:00 pm eastern: click here to register
  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm eastern: click here to register
  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm eastern: click here to register

I look forward to working with you to make ASMP the world’s most valuable, relevant and strongest organization for professional still and motion photographers.

Before becoming ASMP’s Executive Director, Tom Kennedy worked as an independent consultant, helping individual photographers and media organizations enhance creativity, master multi-media story creation and production, and develop publication and distribution strategies for digital platforms.  In his role as Director of Photography for National Geographic and subsequently Managing Editor, Multimedia at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, he created, directed and edited visual journalism projects that have earned Pulitzer Prizes and well as EMMY, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow awards.  Tom held the Alexia Chair at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications and teaches regularly at Universities and multimedia conferences.  He can be reached at Kennedy@ASMP.org.

Learn more about Tom Kennedy, ASMP’s new Executive Director, through interviews available at: www.asmp.org/kennedy.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry