43 Totally Random Pro Tips

This is actually an old post from a different blog I dabbled in. It was called Pro Photo Tips and it kind of fizzled out. Still, there are some good posts on there that I want to bring over here. Like this one.

  1. Get it in camera whenever you can. Photoshop time is expensive and can cause a drain on your resources.
  2. Digital is way more forgiving in color balance than film. It can also screw you up if you don’t have a grey card shot to judge from.
  3. Use a sturdy tripod with a head capable of supporting twice you camera’s weight.
  4. Join ASMP
  5. When working with art directors and/or a strict layout, ask for hand drawn comps or storyboards of what they envision the shot to be. It will save you hours of frustration in camera and on set.
  6. Draw diagrams of your shooting style. It’s great to learn where you succeeded and failed.
  7. Watch out for flair from back lit sources.
  8. Convert to DNG, work in 16bit PSD, save finals as flattened 8bit Tiff with no output sharpening applied.
  9. Add basic metadata to everything. Include at least name, website, ©year, and client name or subject name.
  10. Use a standard file naming scheme for your Digital Asset Management (DAM). Mine is INNITIALS_YYMMDD_4#SEQUENCE (i.e. LRB_070515_1234.tif)
  11. Delete everything unusable.
  12. Buy gear only when you need it for the assignment.
  13. Learn basic CSS and HTML.
  14. Mirror lock anything slower than 1/15th of a second.
  15. Watch movies for lighting inspiration. Watch commercials for stock ideas.
  16. Don’t promise anything you can’t come through on.
  17. Spend one day a week marketing.
  18. Don’t let work overtake your personal life. Make time for loved ones, friends, and exercise everyday.
  19. Put 25% of every payment you receive into a savings account to pay for taxes. At the end of the year, whatever is left over after paying taxes, put into retirement or back into the business.
  20. Pay yourself a salary every week. Give yourself a bonus for beating sales goals.
  21. Set sales and marketing goals.
  22. Calculate your CODB every year.
  23. Hiring an assistant will allow you to work faster, be more creative, and less tired at the end of the day.
  24. Be yourself, unless you’re a jerk. In that case, learn to keep your mouth shut.
  25. Commercial photography is not about you. It’s a collaborative process and you are one part of a creative machine built to get results in a timely and profitable way. Don’t throw a wrench (ego, doubt, fear, miscommunication, etc.) into the gears and you’ll do well.
  26. Always meet your client’s expectations, but strive to go above and beyond that.
  27. Never settle for good enough.
  28. Always be open and upfront with your clients about costs.
  29. Estimating is an art and is something you’ll spend your life perfecting.
  30. Shoot personally and keep it personal. Free your mind of the confines of commerce once in a while.
  31. Be excited about your work and show enthusiasm for what you do. Be confident.
  32. Show interest in your client’s project and get invested with them. Stay away from the “us versus them” mentality.
  33. Build relationships with your clients, but keep a professional distance.
  34. Photography business is cyclical. Protect yourself from slow times by building a 3 month operating cushion.
  35. Keep up with your bookkeeping and make sure to use accounting software.
  36. If you do it for work, you can write it off. But you can’t write off your own labor (so when someone asks you to shoot for free as a write off, know that you won’t be able to write it off).
  37. Your friends and family will have a big influence on you directly and indirectly. Make sure you listen carefully to the advice they give you. It may be very helpful or it may lead you off track. Weigh any opinions carefully.
  38. Negative thoughts, emotions, and actions will spread through your success like a virus. Be mindful of the company you keep and what you say to yourself.
  39. Do what you love and the money will follow.
  40. Live below your means.
  41. Don’t buy anything for your business on credit that you can’t afford to pay off within six months.
  42. Know yourself and be yourself.
  43. Enjoy and celebrate food. Especially if you’re on the road, seek out a good place to eat rather than settle for chain restaurants and fast food.

3 Responses to “43 Totally Random Pro Tips”

  1. erika says:

    Very very fantastic advice..! As a client of yours, i can say you definitely follow these tips well! Thanks for taking the time to share this. #43 for sure!

  2. Leah D says:

    Lincoln! Thanks so much for this list! I have been following your work for the last year or so and as a newbie to the commercial industry, appreciate the wisdom. So much of it is about patience. Patience and hard work.

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