Photo Business

Photography is just like…

…music. You hear a pop song in commercial, but that company doesn’t own the song.

…software. You buy software, but that doesn’t mean you own the code.

…blueprints. You may own the building when it’s built, but the architect owns the design.

…sculpture. You can buy art, but you can’t copy and sell it as your own.

The intellectual property is an intangible asset, that is, it is intangible as well as it cannot be defined or specified by its physical parameters. It is created by human intellectual or inspirational activity. Therefore, the intellectual property must be defined in some discernible method to be protected by the laws.

via Intellectual property valuation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

What’s your simile for photography licensing?

Pricing Photography for Image Libraries

“…in a world where photographers traditionally price their product based on usage, what is “unlimited” use worth? There have always been photographers who intentionally or unknowingly ignore the subject of licensing, or otherwise simply give away unlimited use of their pictures without charging a premium for it. Those tend to be young photographers who don’t know any better, or established photographers who have found that it’s the only way they can compete, or they couldn’t be bothered with the extra work involved in understanding how image licensing works and explaining it to their clients.

However, in most of these cases, pricing photography “by the day” is a dysfunctional system, and not in the interests of the photographer or the client. There’s an inherent conflict when a photographer is compensated in inverse proportion to her productivity. The more photographs she produces, the less she is paid for each of them. Any photographer’s natural motivation will be to produce enough work to satisfy the expectations of the client, and no more. That is no way to run a business.”

by Jess Dudley

via A Photo Editor – Real World Estimates – Pricing Photography for Image Libraries.

Starting Out as a Photographer

Around this time of year, I get a lot of emails from photo students about to graduate. I think part of their curriculum is to go out and ask photographers they like how they got their start.

So, when Andrew Torres emailed me a few weeks ago, I decided to make a blog post out of it. Hopefully this answers his questions about how to start out as a photographer. At least it tells my story and I can reference it again the next time a photo student emails me.

AT: How did you get started in photography and what education/training did you receive?

LB: I learned the basics of photography in high school and did it as a hobby for a number of years. In 2001, I quit my web design job and started working as a studio manager/1st assistant for an architectural photographer by the name of Philip Beaurline. I knew some Photoshop from my design days, but I know nothing about professional photography. Everything I know today I learned by working for him.

It was a very lucky time to make the shift into photography. He was still shooting film and he was shooting with a view camera primarily. I learned to load film, label shot rolls, and how to set up a view camera. After the shoot, the film workflow became my responsibility. I took it to the lab, made selects on a light table, drum scanned the selects, cleaned it up in Photoshop, made prints and CDs, and then delivered the job to the client. So not only did I learn all the nuances of film and the look of film, but I also learned all the digital post production side of things, how to interact with clients, and to know how to properly deliver a photo shoot. It was really an amazing experience and I don’t think I would have learned as much had I just freelanced as a photo assistant.

AT: Would you recommend internships or assisting before starting your own business?

LB: Absolutely. I think internships are good place to start. It gets your foot in the door and there’s not a big commitment on either part. Once you move into assisting, make sure you assist a photographer who you admire or for someone who shoots the subject you’re interested in. If you like architecture photography, assist an architectural photographer. If you like food photography, assist a food photographer. If you like travel photography, assist a travel photographer. If you like all three, you can assist me.

AT: Are you a member of any professional organizations and would you recommend joining?

LB: Definitely start by joining ASMP. The main things you get from it are tons of business materials ranging from estimates, to copyrights, to legal documents; a national network of photographers that you can reach out to for help or advice; and amazing discounts on everything from computers to business Insurance. After that, if you want to shoot editorial, I definitely recommend joining Editorial Photographers (EP). The member forum has helped me so much throughout my career as a photographer. If you want to go more commercial, APA is a good place to be as well. They have a great find an assistant listing program as well as invaluable information and discounts.

AT: What piece of equipment could you not live without for your type of photography?

LB: Besides a computer, Lightroom and Photoshop, I could not live without the Canon 24mm TS-E II and the Canon 17mm TS-E. The TS means Tilt-Shift and these lenses allow me to shoot architecture almost as well as if I had shot it with a view camera. Architecture photography is all about perspective control. These lenses allow me to keep my camera level, yet rise and shift the lens to compose the without getting keystone distortion. Not only that, but these lenses are incredibly sharp and show very little (if any) chromatic aberration.  I just hope Canon release new editions of the 45mm TS-E and the 90mm TS-E. Nice lenses, but not sharp enough with for a 20MP digital SLR.

For digital, I’d say your lenses are more important than you camera. For film, they’re both important.

AT: What are the advantages/disadvantages of working out of a larger area like Portland?

LB: Portland (and Oregon) is fortunate to have all the support you need to pull off a really big production. Everything from an international airport to professional camera and lighting rental can be found here. Plus there are some amazing rental studios and great locations all over town. There are some great stylists living here as well. There’s a strong creative vibe here and I feel lucky to be a part of it. The downside of working here is the cost of living is pretty low and there are A LOT of photographers and assistants moving here all the time. With this much competition, you really have to work hard to make yourself stand out. I would not want to start my career here. Start someplace smaller and build up your portfolio. Then move to a medium sized market like Portland.

AT: What have you found to be the most effective ways to market yourself?

LB: You just can’t do one thing and expect it to be effective. You have to market everywhere and it has to be consistent of what you shoot (your brand). You must have an easy to use and fast loading website, a carefully edited portfolio, email marketing campaign, direct mail marketing campaign, social marketing network, all of it. It’s not cheap and it takes up a lot of your time. So you have to build it into your cost of doing business. Also, word of mouth is so important, so make sure you do a good job, deliver on time, and work well with others.

AT: Any other words of wisdom you would offer a photography student nearing graduation?

Being a working professional photographer is a job. It’s not romantic, it’s not glamorous, and you’re probably not going to make a living at it for about 5 years. But it’s a fun job and it can be very rewarding personally and emotionally. So, if you don’t have any business skills, start getting some. You’re going to need it.

Also, do your cost of doing business every year. I can’t stress enough how important it is to know the real costs of running a photography business.


Friday Photo Links

It’s been a busy week here at Lincoln Barbour Photo. A great shoot yesterday, two shoots next week to get ready for, estimates and portfolios going out the door, my bookkeeping is way behind, I even have some web projects needed to get done yesterday. Not complaining, mind you, it’s a very nice change from last year. I’ve got some other posts in draft mode, but I don’t think they’re going to get done today.

But I wanted to post something. So, I’ve decided to make Fridays a links day. Every week, I pick up a lot of great photo business information on various blogs, social sites, etc. Instead of hoarding all this great knowledge, I thought I’d share what I’ve learn and then we can discuss them in the comments below.

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Pardon The Dust

If you’re seeing this post on www.lincolnbarbour.com, then you might notice things look differently around here. If you’re reading this through an RSS reader, you should check out the new look and feel of my website. I’m so stoked about it.

It’s still a work in progress, but the features you’ll see right away are:

  • A slick new wide layout that works/looks the same on your browser as it does on your iPhone/iPad.
  • A revamped blog that breaks it down into five main categories: News, Work / Tearsheets, Ides of May, and Best Practices. More on what all those mean later.
  • Speaking of Ides of May, it is still live at www.ides-of-may.com, but all future personal photo blog posts will come here. I will eventually port over all the old content to here, but that’ll be when I have some more time (i.e. hopefully sooner rather later)
  • Four new portfolios showcasing my best work ever.

What’s in the works includes:

  • Photoshelter powered Image Archive that will allow you to license photos, buy prints, and so much more.
  • A re-energized blog that will be updated daily with fresh content ranging from personal work to opinions to tearsheets.
  • Something I’m calling “Pro Tips” that will cover photo business topics, camera gear, photo software, and techniques.
  • Who knows what else? But I’m really excited to see what’s next.

I look forward to your comments and hear what you think of the site, what you’d like to see more of, and what can I do for you!

Thanks!

-lincoln

Thanks for Your Support

ASMP SB2Recently on my photoblog and a personal email sent to my friends, family, and colleagues, I asked that they nominate me to be given a scholarship from Chase Jarvis to fly to Chicago and attend the ASMP Strictly Business 2 Conference. The SB2 conference is something I wanted to attend to sharpen my business skills. I am basically self taught and just about everything that I know about business, I’ve learned from my father Jeff Barbour, Philip Beaurline, John Spiro, ASMP and EP. I’ve made many mistakes and learned a lot over the last six years, experiences that I pass on to my close-knit group of young photographers and self-employed entrepreneurs. By going to SB2, I knew I would learn more skills and share that knowledge in return.

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