We are excited to be testing a new format that will allow Photo Daydream to be more of a community where people can share their photos and interact. Feel free to register and watch the site as we get closer to launch. In the meantime we are leaving the site up so people can access the blog content.
Chase Jarvis has always been an inspiration to us and many other photographers. I had the opportunity to do a meetup with him a few years back and he shared his knowledge freely for everyone who attended. This is a great article for your photo daydreaming pleasure.
“I think it’s more of the ten-year-overnight success syndrome. There hasn’t really been any one break by my counting, just a lot of small successes combined. Two steps forward, one step back—head down to the trenches, make stuff and put it out there in the world to get cheered or jeered. I can’t speak for other artists, but I think the “making it work” part just takes a hell of a lot longer than most people expect or want to give.”
Taste of Ink takes the standard business card and turns it into an art form. As a photographer you want your business to stand out and these cards offer the creativity and business image ideas to make people want to keep your cards in their wallets.
They use various materials including plastic, cotton, silk and whatever one can dream up. They also offer multiple styles including modern, professional, retro, rustic and many more.
Here are just a few of the creative ideas they have come up with.
The New York Times Magazine asked the photographer Walter Iooss Jr. and the comedian Andy Samberg to take a look back at several iconic men’s tennis champions.
Walter Iooss Jr. has created so many of the iconic images of sports stars through the years working for Sports Illustrated.
This is a good behind the scenes look at shooting with Kid Rock.
Anyone that has worked with models knows the importance of getting a release. I have worked with well over 200 and have paper releases scattered throughout my “Filing System” scanned on computers and who knows where else?
This app looks like a great electronic solution that I cannot wait to try out. Also, you have to read Dan Heller’s extensive write up on why you need a model release.
Here are a few of the features:
Easy Release by ApplicationGap replaces inconvenient paper release forms with a slick, streamlined application designed by professional photographers for professional photographers. Fully supports iPad, iPhone and iPod-Touch.
- Lets you collect all the data and signatures you need right on your iPhone, then mails a PDF and JPEG of the release right to you. For convenience and ease of use: Lets you retrieve model and witness information from your contacts. Get location data from a list of previously used.
- Comes pre-bundled with industry standard model and property releases in 13 languages that are currently in use by leading photo agencies like Getty Images, Alamy and others.
- Shoot and embed an ID photo right into the release PDF.
- Customizable “branding header” for logo image, company name, and contact info can be turned on/off per release or release type.
- Release legal text is now fully customizable. Add your own TFCD, TFP, or any other kind of releases!
- Add as many custom model and property versions as you want.
- Custom releases may contain “field-placeholders” for inserting data into the body of your legal text. Simply prepare your custom releases in an email to yourself then copy/paste into Easy Release!
- Select legal text version to use on a per-release basis.
- For each release, you may specify an optional “Addendum” to legal text which prints below your text.
- User Interface Languages: Swedish, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese
- Release languages included: English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Russian, Polish, Chinese (simplified and Taiwan), Portuguese (Brazilian and European) and Japanese.
- Approved for use by Getty Images and Alamy contributors
Buy it via iTunes at this link.
The ISPWP (International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers) Surveyed 50 wedding photographers and came up with a chart of where their time is really spent. Of those that were surveyed, only 12.2% of their time was spent actually shooting. I always tell people that you’ll spend three times the amount of shooting time, editing your images. This is not far off at 28.4%.
See more of the results here.
A number of months ago I had the opportunity to interview Author and Photographer Dan Heller from his bay area home.
Dan has been instrumental in championing copyright laws and education the public on how to run a profitable photography business. His books have been instrumental in helping those who may be accomplished amateurs to improve their travel photography though his book, “Digital Travel Photography”.
Here is an excerpt from our conversation:
“For someone that is just starting out, who really wants to be a pro and focus on doing what you do as far as making money representing themselves. Would the best approach be going all web or sending out Zed or comp cards to agents? Whats the best approach for someone that wants to get started? “
“What happened to me was just a hobby and I just did it for fun and I just participated in the internet, writing and I started taking more pictures. I understood the web and just three or four years of doing that, is the germination period at which point I started getting enough traffic and purchases that I could say “hey, this really is an income”.
So I don’t think anybody can just say “OK, I want to be a Photographer” and you just start with some expectation that in six months or a year that you will be making a living. It just doesn’t work that way. I think photography in today’s cultural environment and what I mean by cultural, is not the photographer culture. Just the culture of the internet and where content is acquired and prices and so forth, how you get seen, what makes visibility. You, to make money in photography, you have to go for local traffic. That is, you are a local service photographer. You shoot weddings, portraits, stuff in your local community or you do an international thing. And that’s the web, where you build a website that sells your product. Whatever your focus, whatever your bent, whatever your orientation, you have to approach the web very very seriously.
I think in each of those cases wherever you are starting from, depending on how much photography skills and knowledge you have and other kinds of skills and interests that you have … marketing, business, pricing, economics. Depending on where you are starting from, you are going to take two to four or five years before you are making any serious money at it. ……….”
The audio portion of this is available in two parts:
Part one is over 30 minutes, but has some great info and is worth listening to.
So you want to be a photographer? With all the glitz and glamour, equipment purchases of $5-10K and likely a few years of schooling, you’ll still be ahead working at McDonalds while you try to build your business on the side.
At least you get discounted meals while smelling like a french fry all day.
Despite the dismal wages, the real benefit of being a photographer is that you are not stuck in an office or restaurant all day, can be creative and build your reputation and stock images to eventually make much more than a McDonalds employee.
It seems that everyone wants to be a photographer and the competition is fierce and the amount of pay is so low that one can make more money at McDonalds, than starting out as a photographer.
So what are some ways to hit the jackpot and put some green in your pocket ?
If you really want to make money as a photographer, you need to put yourself into a niche. Trying to be all things to all people makes you look like millions of other people that are trying to make money in photography as a side income. You really have to become the absolute best you can in whatever niche you choose. Elevate yourself above everyone else is one of the secrets to making money in photography.
A friend of mine made some pretty good money taking photos of a construction site. A big condo project was going in close to his place, so before they broke ground, he setup a tripod and a small point and shoot. Everyday he took a photo of the site for a year and when the project was finished, he showed the progression to the company and was able to sell it for thousands of dollars for use in their marketing.
Some ideas for specializing
Dave Tejeda specializes in annual report photography and has built a pretty good name for himself based on what I see on his blog and the amount of work he is doing. He is also able to teach seminars for added revenue stream based on his experience.
Specialize in sports. This is a really tough nut to crack and everyone wants to stand on the sidelines and capture the action of a football game and feel the glory of a perfectly executed shot. The reality is, you’ll have to start in a poorly lit, high school football stadium or gymnasium, to cut your teeth in sports. You’ll also have to compete with all the parents and their shiny new SLR’s that will shoot for free while you try to figure out how to make money.
I would shoot my daughters lacrosse games and I was the only parent at the time who was shooting at the games and ended up doing the team pictures as well. This experience led to other opportunities like shooting the Molson Indy Series of races in Vancouver Canada and the women’s all-star soccer game in Seattle for a stock agency that needed coverage. At the end of this article, I’ll show you some ways to market your child’s sports team photos and make money using Zenfolio. Check out Sportsshooter.com for sports photography.
Specialize in a technique. Specializing in a particular technique can be a great way to become an expert and develop an income. When I think of HDR photography, I think of only Trey Ratcliff, who has built a great website Stuck in Customs. Or how about the young Joey Lawrence who developed a technique similar to the Draganizer style of post processing and at 17 started shooting for major advertising campaigns.
A few other ideas:
Use a Gigapan system to create ultra large images for websites and murals for building interiors.
360 degree photos using a product like the Giroptic sytem. Great for real estate or travel websites.
Kite aerial photography. This would be perfect for real estate or event promotions where there are large crowds.
Specialize in taking photos for people using dating sites like Match.com and True.com. You could easily charge $75 for a series of images that help people market themselves on these sites.
The ideas are endless, you just need to look for an unmet need in your area. Work your tail off to refine it and become the best in your field. This way you’re not competing with millions of others and using price as the sole consideration for customers using your services. Also, make sure your website screams professional.
This is probably the one area where I have made the most amount of money with the least amount of shooting time. Through shooting my daughters lacrosse games, parents would see my work and then ask me to shoot their senior portraits as well. I was always shooting candid portraits at the games, which helped parents see my style in portraiture as well.
A great way to market senior portraits is to start working with some of the more athletic kids, since their social circle tends to be larger. Word of mouth will take off and as long as you do quality work, siblings and other friends that may graduate in later years will seek you out. My only caution is, make sure you use a professional printer for prints. Nothing is worse than an ink jet print for a once in a lifetime photo that will fade after a few years.
Create unique canvas prints
If you have the ability to paint as well as take photos, then why not combine the two? Using a printer like Canvas on Demand, have your photos printed on canvas and then add your artistic personal touch. By using oils to create a painting you can create your own style with photography, ala Thomas Kincaid.
I’ve never seen anyone talk about this idea before but it was something I thought about a few years ago when I was doing a lot of travel photography. If you have a unique style that people are drawn to, why not ask them to sponsor your work?
How does this idea work? Starting at the beginning of the year you will ask your benefactors to make a commitment to your work for twelve months. Using Paypal, you can setup a recurring charge to charge people, say $25 a month on a subscription basis. At the end of the year, they will have invested $300 as supporters of your photography. At the end of the year, take your best 10-15 photos you shot that year and let the subscribers pick one image they can have framed and mounted as a benefit of the subscription. Keep these images to a very limited amount or make them unavailable to the general public.
Buy your frames wholesale to keep your costs down and you should be able to net close to $250 a year, per subscriber.
Everyone is trying to make money on Ebay and as a photographer there is one way you can, Artistic nudes with a twist. First Ebay is saturated with all types of these photos, but what I did was a bit different.
First I hired a model between the ages of 18-22 to work with me for 4-5 hours. I made sure I had a model release as well as a scan of her drivers license and social security card to verify her age. You can find artistic models on Modelmayhem.com and Onemodelplace.com. I had them bring all types of different clothing and had some myself so we could do lots of changes and looks.
During the session I shot some digital, but mostly black and white film and Polaroids. The film was then developed into contact sheets so I was able to see the results of my shooting. I then chose what strips of 6 frames I did not want to keep and sold these negatives to collectors of artistic nudes. I made sure I scanned each roll before selling them, as I retain all rights to the images and the collector only gets the negatives for personal use. The scanned images were also used to market the photos on Ebay.
The costs were minimal, about $12 per 36 exposure roll to shoot and have a contact sheet created. Collectors were paying as much as $35 per 6 frame strip for these negatives. I even had one complete roll go for over $200.
Two important things I found when selling these, the models who have the girl next door look sold much better, as did images that were shot on high ISO film. I guess because the high ISO gave a more artistic feel to the shots.
The Polaroids were also a big hit, but went for less than the film strips.
Create Custom Ceramic Tile Murals
Using a company like Sierra Custom Design, you can have your images or artwork made into custom tiles. You could market these to restaurants or companies that remodel bathrooms and kitchens.
You can also try to make money in the over saturated stock photo market. I personally would stay away from istockphoto.com and the other micro-stock sites, if you are trying to market your images. Not that they are a bad company, because I occasionally buy from them for this blog to keep the content rich when I don’t have an appropriate image. Because I think my work is worth more than .20 cents or so for each web download. Time Magazine did source and image for a cover, so if you are interested more in the glory than being paid, it might be a good solution.
So a few sources to market stock images are Photographersdirect.com which has been good for some sales of my images that allows you to make 400 times more on a sale than a micro-stock site. Alamy.com has been able to weather the failures of their competitors. Keep in mind, both of these take a commission, so if you want to market images yourself and do the heavy lifting, Zenfolio.com has a great solution.
Zenfolio has two great benefits. First, you can upload your full resolution images with unlimited disk space. This allows you to sell your images whether they are prints (provided directly from your uploads to a third party printing facility) or downloads. The downloads can be setup with multiple sizes and licensing options that you control and after the order has been processed, the client gets their files. This gives you the flexibility to price your images based on size and use.
The second advantage is you can password protect you galleries for your clients and they can order prints and files from you without further work of the photographer after the order is placed. Images either get downloaded automatically or are printed and mailed directly to the client.
Check out Zenfolio.com and use code 5V5-2VC-XYR to save on your subscription. If you want to see how the check out process works, go to http://divyak.zenfolio.com/p299717714 and you can download a websized image from my shoot with Rane Stone.
One way to create a nice annuity for your future is to travel and create iconic photos of various locations. The key here is to have images that will be timeless in their look, so they can be sold years down the road. My image of the ruins in Tulum is still a great seller, years after it was taken. You can use the various stock sites listed above to market these images.
Weddings are a fantastic way to make money, but you better know what you are doing. I have shot a number of weddings for friends and even then there is lots of pressure and you only get one shot at creating these images. Make sure you always backup your files, you don’t want this type of mess on your hands.
The absolute best source of info I have found for wedding shooters is at http://digitalweddingforum.com/
Lastly you can create a blog to share your knowledge and make you an expert. David Hobby of Strobist, who claims to be making an income in the six figures, should be your model for a great blog. He specializes in a particular area, low cost lighting.
In todays business environment, it is extremly tough to make money as a photographer, but if you find your little niche in the world, it can be done. I know I have missed a ton of other ideas from greeting cards to creating a book and who knows what else. If you have ideas you want to share, leave a comment here so others can see opportunities that may have helped you.
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