Ready to hit the road to Chicago, Atlantic City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas? Ok, here’s the deal. Our friends over at WPPI Online/Rangefinder Online are going On the Road with 2-day photography workshops featuring small group sessions and hands-on reviews of your online Zenfolio portfolio by industry experts. The workshops will be in:
Chicago, May 20-21
Atlantic City, June 3-4
Los Angeles, July 15-15
Las Vegas, August 5-6
If you’re located in (or willing to travel to) any of these cities and want to attend we have 20 free passes available. Here’s what you need to do for your chance to win a free pass. In the comments section below, name an author or musician who includes “On the Road” in their music or writing. Title, lyrics, you name it. The first 20 to answer correctly will get a free pass.
PS-The Chicago event is this coming Monday, May 20 so act fast if you’d like to attend for free.
With digital media being the industry norm these days, many photographers choose to offer video services in addition to photography. Working with both videos and photos, photographers can offer a complete service to their clients. Videos are a great way to enhance your website and showcase your portfolio work in place of a traditional slideshow.
Luckily, it is easy to upload and present videos within your Zenfolio account, just like you can with photo files. Check out the video tutorial below on how to upload videos to display within your site pages.
When delivering video files to your clients there is no need to ship a DVD or use a USB device. Your clients can conveniently download videos directly from a Zenfolio gallery. Take a look at the tutorial below to see how easy it is to set this up.
Want to take video delivery a step further? Why not sell videos files directly from your Zenfolio account? Similar to selling a digital image file, the Zenfolio system allows you to set this up easily with a seamless workflow. Watch the tutorial below for step-by-step instructions.
Similar to a well-designed slideshow, videos can add a dynamic and unique touch to your Home page. Using a video as the centerpiece for the Home page in place of a slideshow can set you apart from the competition and show your work off in a creative way.
With so many ways to use video files with your Zenfolio website, we hope you will dive in and take these features for a spin. To inspire you we recommend checking out the Home page for MindWorks Photography as well as InFocus Imagery. We love the creative approach they have taken using videos. See if using video can complement your website as well.
When you think about tools of the trade for a photographer you think of cameras, lenses, and lights. But does anyone think about insurance? While not as glamorous as a bag full of shiny new cameras and lenses, it is an important and, in many cases, a necessary part of doing business as a photographer.
How many of you have your camera equipment covered by renters or homeowners insurance? This may not be nearly enough coverage for what you need. A typical homeowner's policy or renter’s policy will not cover professional use of your gear or have liability insurance for your business.
Photographers who belong to professional organizations like ASMP, PPA, APA, or The Socities/SWPP in the UK have access to underwriters who specialize in photographic insurance. There are also a number of insurance companies that specialize in insurance for photographers, including Imaging Insurance in the UK and Hiscox, which serves the United States, the UK, and a number of other countries.
What type of coverage do you need?
This depends a lot on what type of photography you do. Do you have assistants or second shooters working for you? Do you have a studio, shoot on location, or use rental equipment often? These and many other factors will determine the type of coverage you need.
I’m going to break down a few different parts of an insurance package that can make up a photographer’s insurance policy. It isn’t meant to be an exhaustive review of every contingency you should cover but rather a general guide to what is available. The exact type of policy you can get will vary depending on the insurance company, type of photography, and state or country you are in.
Naturally, this is the first type you should consider. Before you get started, put together a list of all your equipment, serial numbers, and value or replacement value as your insurance company or broker will most likely require this information. In general, it’s a good idea to keep this information up to date and remember to add or remove equipment from the list as you buy or sell gear.
An Excel® spreadsheet is an easy way to keep track of all this info. In addition to the fields I mentioned above, I also include an extra column for the country of origin for all my gear. This way I can use it for reference for a Carnet (merchandise passport) or equipment list when I travel abroad. Speaking of travel, it’s also important to check that your equipment is insured when you are out of studio, home, or country. One place to start looking for quotes is TCP & Co. Insurance. They offer a number of coverage options that can be custom tailored to your specific needs.
This is essential to protect yourself and your business against third party claims for damage to property, injury, and medical costs. For example, if someone trips over a camera bag at a wedding or a power cord for a light in your studio and injures themselves, or you break something valuable moving furniture or artwork around, you want to be covered. One to two million dollars of liability is a normal starting amount for this coverage. Keep in mind that some clients require that you have this coverage. Also, if you are a wedding or event photographer, some locations may require liability insurance as well.
You also need this liability insurance to get a location permit if you are shooting somewhere that requires one. Usually the location or film office will require a Certificate of Insurance (COI) naming them as additionally insured to show that you are covered for liability. Often there is a small charge by your broker or insurance company to issue each certificate that you need. Both TCP & Co. Insurance (mentioned above), and Taylor & Taylor Associates offer this type of coverage.
These days it’s possible to have a lot of valuable computer equipment that can be a large percentage of the equipment you need for your business. Fortunately, many insurance policies cover your computer equipment as well. Laptops will often have an additional premium, as these are the easiest to damage or have stolen.
My policy covers me for computers and electronics that stay on the premises, and I have a separate list for items like laptops, iPads, etc. that covers me for use on location. The “on premises” and “off premises” lists have different maximum values of what can be covered. The “off premises” coverage is a lot lower, but ample enough for a couple of laptops and iPads. Again, TCP & Co. Insurance is a good option for this type of insurance.
Errors & omissions liability ( AKA professional liability insurance )
Errors and omissions (E&O) is the insurance that covers you if a client holds you responsible for a shoot that did not come out as expected. In other words, this covers you for errors (or omissions) that you have made or that the client perceives you have made.
Here’s a description of what this type of insurance is for from Tom C. Pickard & Co. Insurance. Their E&O coverage is available for an additional $250 a year:
“Protects you against losses from copyright infringement, trademark, trade name, title, slogan, false advertising, idea misappropriation, invasion of privacy or publicity right, or defamation arising out of any photographic or digital visual imagery services.”
Other insurance policy extras cover auto insurance and building insurance, which may be useful for some photographers. You can find these types of coverage from Taylor & Taylor Associates.
If you use assistants or second shooters you might need workers’ compensation even if you think these are independent contractors. The IRS has some rules to determine if the person you hire is a contractor or employee. Keep in mind that workers' compensation requirements may vary depending upon what state you live in.
Are you covered for renting equipment? Do you just put the full cost of the rented equipment as a hold on your credit card? If you don’t have insurance for this and you rent a lot of equipment, paying the extra insurance each time can add up.
If you do have rented camera equipment insurance, does it cover the replacement cost of what you are renting? While you think that you are going to be careful with gear that isn’t your own, unexpected accidents can happen, and they have happened to me.
A few years ago I went to Tokyo to photograph some sumo wrestlers. I also planned to shoot a few other portraits while I was there. Renting equipment in Japan was quite difficult at the time. You couldn’t just rent a lens or lights without a guarantor or a letter of introduction. Plus, they didn’t take credit cards and you needed an active account with the rental agency.
The easiest thing for me to do was to rent the lights I needed in the US and take them with me to Japan. No problem, apart from the cost for the extra bag on the plane. Fast forward a few days and I’m in Yoyogi Park near Harajuku shooting some Japanese rockabillies. It was a nice day. A little cloudy and humid but good enough to shoot outdoors with a background and a battery powered strobe. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that it was the end of typhoon season, and a storm came out of nowhere. Within a couple of minutes I was soaked to the skin, and my lights, camera, and laptop were all wet.
My afternoon shoot was literally a washout. I got back to my hotel and dried off all the equipment. My camera and laptop seemed ok, but I thought it would be smart to let the strobes dry off for another day or so since I didn’t need them quite yet.
When I did switch the pack on and pop a few test flashes I was not expecting a large bang. Total disaster. After a call to Sweden and a trip to Profoto’s Japanese subsidiary’s repair facility, I found out I had destroyed the rental pack and it was beyond repair. My immediate concern was how to get more lights to shoot the sumo wrestlers later in the week – which is a whole other story.
The point is that I had coverage for rented equipment. I could concentrate on the shoot at hand, and worry about my deductible when I got home. Since I had insurance coverage for rental equipment I didn’t have to stress out about how I was going to come up with full replacement value ($5,000 - $6,000) to replace the Profoto 7B I had just destroyed.
An ounce of prevention equals a pound of protection
So, as you can see, professional insurance for your photography business is something that you should seriously consider if you don’t have it already. Although we are all really careful with our gear, accidents do happen. Over the years I’ve spent as an assistant and photographer I’ve certainly seen and heard about broken cameras and lenses, damaged props, and wrecked rental cars.
To be sure you have the proper amount of coverage, review your current policy and make an updated list of all your gear. If you don’t currently have insurance visit one of the companies listed above to get an estimate of the cost for the coverage you need. Thankfully, professional insurance is a business expense so it should be tax deductible. Also, consider adding a small amount to your fees or products to offset the cost of having the insurance you really need. By having the proper insurance you can prevent a ruined shoot or piece of equipment from ruining you financially.
Jon Hope is an accomplished aerial and portrait photographer with an extensive portfolio of impressive images. Specializing in shooting from above, Jon's colorful and creative photos show what a unique perspective he brings to his work. From high end portraits to aerial cityscapes, his images always deliver. Check out John's online portfolio here: http://store.jonhope.com/
Being a company that specializes in providing solutions, tools, and information for photographers we focus mainly on what happens behind the lens. This article, the second in an ongoing series, aims to broaden this horizon. Each article will have a unique, and somewhat whimsical, insight into an area of photography that you may have not considered before. We hope you enjoy them and welcome your comments. You can read the first article here.
I come from a long line of famous photographers. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I come from photography royalty. Throughout the 20th century my family has worked with some of the most famous photographers in the world, capturing events that literally defined history. You might even say that were it not for us these photographers never would’ve gotten the photos that went on to become so well known globally. That might sound like boastful talk to you, but as they say in Texas: “That ain’t brag; that’s a fact.”
My family line can be traced back to Germany in the early 1920s. My great-great grandfather actually was involved with photography as early as 1914, but it wasn’t until 1925 that he really took the world by storm. It was then that he produced the very first 35mm images. Prior to that, photographers would use big, clunky exposures that required cumbersome equipment that took a lot of time to set up. My great-great grandfather solved this by shrinking the image to the compact 35mm, which could be enlarged later from a negative. This in turn meant a more compact system that made it easier for photographers to transport and shoot on the go.
From here on out when I’m referring to a member of my family I’ll just say “we”. That way I won’t confuse you with all my aunts and uncles, etc. For clarification purposes I will provide a family tree at the end if you’d like to see who worked where, and when.
Now, having solved this issue of portability we began teaming up with forward-thinking photographers around the world. Unencumbered by the new, lighter equipment, they began going out into the streets and chronicling the world around them in real time. In this manner we revolutionized the way photographs were taken. This led to what can arguably be called modern photojournalism, as one of our earliest partnerships was with Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Taking to the streets of Paris, Henri Cartier-Bresson would merely look at what he wanted to photograph and we captured the image for him. We were, in effect, an extension of his eye. This also was a break from how photographers had worked before because for the first time we provided them a frame for what they would be photographing.
As Cartier-Bresson’s fame rose, so did ours from our partnership with him. His close association with Robert Capa prompted him to start working with us as well. In 1937, we traveled with him to Spain to capture the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. It was during this trip that we helped him capture the image of the “Falling Soldier” which showcased the horror of that war. Unfortunately, our work during the Spanish Civil War was just the opening salvo. We spent the majority of the next decade traveling the globe, as the whole world convulsed with warfare, capturing images.
Happily, the war ended in 1945, and again we were on hand to document history. This time, as jubilant crowds roared through Times Square in New York City we were working with Alfred Eisenstaedt, of Life magazine. Suddenly, right in the middle of the street, a sailor grabbed a nurse and we captured it. The Kiss, as it is now known, has gone on to become one of the most iconic images of the 20th century. Are you starting to believe me when I say that we’re photography royalty?
In 1947, our longtime partners Capa and Cartier-Bresson joined with David “Chim” Seymour and George Rodger to form Magnum Photos. This was a watershed moment for us all because it enabled us to continue making fantastic photographs while documenting the world around us. Throughout the years, many now-famous photographers have joined Magnum and covered nearly every major milestone that has happened in the world since then. Our family’s collaboration with Magnum continues to this day.
Though World War II was over, there still was plenty around the world to keep us busy. When China began to unravel in civil war we traveled with Cartier-Bresson there to capture that event. Another family member went with Margaret Bourke-White to India to document Gandhi as he led the struggle against colonial rule. Our close relationship with him enabled us to take this photo of Gandhi spinning thread, just hours before his assassination.
On a more positive note, back in Paris we were also working with famed street photographer Robert Doisneau. Much like Cartier-Bresson, we roamed the streets of Paris, capturing the lives and loves of the city. It was during one of these jaunts that we captured the image of “Le Baiser de l’Hotel de Ville”(Kiss by the town hall). This is one of my favorite images of all time, and I’m so proud that a family member took it.
The ‘60s were a time of great upheaval, with revolutions, movements, and change everywhere you turned. Fortunately, we always seemed to be in the right place at the right time to capture the moment forever on film. For instance, we were with Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez, better known as Alberto Korda, in 1960 when he captured the iconic image of Che Guevara. Titled “Guerrillero Heroico,” this photo has gone on to become both a symbol of youth in revolt and a pop art icon.
Despite our gallivanting around the world, we were also very busy in the United States. Roaming the streets of New York City with Garry Winogrand, we captured the frenetic street life in motion via thousands of photographs, much like our forefathers did in Paris with Cartier-Bresson.
Another family member was always with Bill Eppridge as he kept a visual chronicle of Robert Kennedy during the 1968 presidential campaign. Back then, candidates weren’t surrounded by the media and handlers like they are today, so we had exclusive access to Kennedy immediately after his speech in the Ambassador Hotel. Following along behind him as he walked through the kitchen we were witness to his terrible assassination.
Fortunately, our work wasn’t always so grim. One of our favorite partnerships was with Jim Marshall, whom we began working with in 1959. Together we photographed the Beatles, Janis Joplin, Miles Davis, The Who and more musical greats of that time. Our photo of Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar at the Monterey Pops festival in 1967 and Johnny Cash flipping the bird in San Quentin prison perfectly embody the rebellious nature of music and culture at that time.
The Family Tree
As I mentioned earlier, it isn’t wrong to say that I come from photography royalty. If you want proof, here’s the family tree I promised to show you earlier. In addition to all the photographers mentioned above we’ve also worked with Annie Leibovitz, Ernest Hemingway, and Ilse Bing (known as Queen of the Leica, how’s that for royalty?), and many other famous photographers. Just as important, people around the world know that when you choose to work with us you’ll get the best photographs you can.
Now that you and I are better acquainted, why don’t we go outside and take some photos together?
Peter Urbick has more than a decade of experience as a professional writer and manages all aspects of content for Zenfolio. In addition to being an amateur photographer he enjoys history and was inspired to write this story after looking through an old box of photos his grandfather had. Originally from Seattle, he wears his Evergreen State pride on his sleeve, much to the amusement of the rest of the office.
I admit it: I'm part of the horde. I, like every other photographer I've ever heard of, love getting new photo gear. New lenses, bags, even the little things like blissfully pristine screen covers are really exciting! However, having tried out a slew of new photo editing programs since college, I have to admit that new software usually feels a bit more like a test (the 'Can I Figure it Out Without My Brain Exploding?' test) than something straightforward enough to be fun. There's an amazing amount of things you can do to images digitally these days, and I've experienced my fair share of copycat editing environments and unintuitive controls. So, when the day came that I opened up DxO Optics Pro 8 (my new editing software), I will admit I had my very best skeptical face on. But, I was pleasantly surprised!
To give a little backstory; my favorite ultra-wide lens can capture an incredibly large area (it's a 10-20 mm) so I love to use it to photograph big buildings and epic-looking scenery, skies, etc. But, I can't say I looked forward to correcting the inevitable distortion issues that crop up when using such a wide lens. A few lucky photographers might have access to a multistory building across the way, a handy-dandy 15' ladder, or a tilt-shift lens to correct perspective in-camera, but most often when I find myself in these situations unplanned, I have to instead tilt my lens upward.
Now, while tilting the lens away from center may not be a big deal for 50 mm or telephoto lenses, the more my ultra-wide tilts, the more distorted the image perspective gets. This means straight lines keystone (tilt inward or outward), the visual distance between me and the subject starts looking VERY far away, and for some lenses, straight lines actually bend into curves along the outer edge of the frame. Plus, wide-angle lenses in general have a tendency to add extra vignetting on corners, which can darken the whole look of the image. Fortunately, with DxO, I discovered two things: 1) new software CAN be intuitive, and 2) these edits can be quick and painless! DxO corrected all of the issues with the images in this post, just by moving a couple of sliders.
Full disclosure here: I'll be the first to admit that sometimes really messing with perspective and pushing the images to the extremes of distortion can yield some fun, artistic results! But, the average viewer usually prefers a more realistic-looking image that better matches what the eye sees. Same goes for preferring evenly bright images with lots of detail in both shadows and highlights.
Optics Pro 8 is great because it helps bring images back to their original gloriousness in a couple of clicks and definitely doesn't take a gigantic, scary-looking user manual to figure out. The total editing process takes place in three tabs:
1. Organize - select the folder of images on your computer that you want to edit (no importing necessary)
2. Customize - where the editing magic happens!
3. Process - select a file format etc. and save the finished edit
After selecting my folder, the software checked for which lenses I used on the images, and auto-provided downloadable modules with correction presets for those specific lens profiles. Very handy for quick editing!
Since I wanted to adjust the images manually, though, I clicked over to the Customize tab. The options here include some really powerful general editing adjustments, like white balance, a very cool feature called “Smart lighting,” and contrast.
In my first image, a lot of things were going wrong, and not all were the fault of my lens. Despite being an 80 degree, beautiful summer day, the image looks cold, dark, and like it's entirely possible I was in the middle of falling backward when I snapped it. So my first step was to use the Smart Lighting feature, which simultaneously brightens shadows AND brings detail back into highlights. Then I correct the color balance to match how the warm afternoon rays had made the scene look in reality, and used the awesome “micro-contrast” slider to get back some details. Next up: fixing those tilted lines.
When it comes to wide angle lens correction, the most important tools I need are keystoning correction, distortion control, and vignetting adjustment. I did have trouble locating where the keystoning controls were initially, but a quick visit to their Getting Started help guide showed me how to switch out of the basic workspace called First Steps and into the advanced workspace. You can switch between the two at any time, or customize each workspace to include more (or fewer) options.
In another image of some pretty epic clouds completely dwarfing the Golden Gate Bridge, I straightened the crooked horizon line, added some correction for pin-cushioning, and used the keystoning tool to fix the seriously skewed lines of the bridge. This automatically cropped out the outer portions of the image that extended out of frame as a result, while retaining the original aspect ratio. That last bit is a GREAT time saver, as programs like Photoshop require users to crop images manually after making similar lens corrections.
One feature that's hard to miss when using this software is their before-and-after correction preview. Instead of having to hunt for a previous point in a history panel, or click on an eye check box to reveal the original image, you can check this just by clicking on the image itself in the central window. While you're still holding the button down, this shows the image “As shot.” As soon as you release, the customized image displays again. I really loved this and found myself previewing constantly, which helped prevent accidentally going overboard on any one adjustment.
Plus, when you're using the keystoning tool, you have the option to use a side-by-side view of the image (pre-correction & post-correction), which updates in real time as you move the sliders.
After that, a quick adjustment using the vignetting slider takes care of the darkened corners, and I was ready to move on to my next photo. Once all of the images were edited, I just clicked-and-dragged them into the Process panel, where DxO applied my preferred save settings, and saved the finished edits.
In the end, correcting the images took all of about 2 minutes, and I'd have to say my skeptical face was replaced with what was probably a pretty satisfied-looking smirk. I passed the test! And in turn, DxO passed mine.
Not only is Rebecca one of the awesome ZenMasters who helps Zenfolio users with their accounts on a daily basis, she is also a very talented photographer. Having grown up in West Africa and Montana, Rebecca is no stranger to breathtaking scenery. Her images, whether they are landscapes, interiors or portraits, showcase the subject in the best way possible. Take a look at her stunning images here: http://rebeccaherem.zenfolio.com/
An Interview with Mary Beth Koeth
How did you get started as a photo assistant?
When I started the photography program at Miami Ad School, I remember telling myself, “You need to start assisting as soon as possible.” But how do you assist without knowing the equipment? I was eager to learn but intimidated by the whole process. Everything was so new to me. I would ask the second year students if I could go to their shoots to sit in and observe. I’m pretty sure this is how I learned to use a reflector.
Eventually, I started interning for a local photographer. I’d help him with his website, blogging, and social media, and even wax the floors in the studio on occasion. A few months in, he began hiring me on as a second assistant. Two years later, I still feel like an amateur.
Why do you enjoy being an assistant?
I enjoy assisting on jobs that don’t require octabank assembly and/or disassembly. One day I’ll hire someone to give me private lessons. Until then, I’ll leave it to the strong, man-handed folk.
In all seriousness, even if you’re working with a photographer who shoots something completely different than what you shoot, there’s always something valuable to take away from the experience. The key is to be observant: watch, listen, and learn. See how the photographer interacts with the clients and how he or she communicates with the subjects. Pay attention to the light setup, the equipment being used, etc. If you’re open and observant, you’ll come out learning way more than any school or course can teach you.
Is there an upside to working as an assistant or is it all drudgery?
There’s an upside to everything. If you go into something thinking it’s going to suck, it’s going to suck. I love that I’m able to be on set with photographers that I admire, observe how they do what they do, and apply all of those lessons learned to my own work, in whatever capacity that might be.
Do you have any horror stories you can share with us as cautionary tales?
For some reason, I’m highly susceptible to accidents. I think it’s a tall girl thing. Put a cord in front of me, I’m going to trip over it. A near accident occurred a few months back that was totally unrelated to my tallness. I was lowering a light on a boom and it almost fell on a major film studio exec’s head. All eyes went straight to me. I don’t even know what happened after that -- I’ve been trying hard to forget that moment. Fortunately, I was in a room full of men and passed off any future lifting/lowering to them. That was a low point in my interning career.
Have you worked with any noteworthy photographers who really impressed you?
Ginny Dixon, my photo teacher at the Ad School, would always bring up names of different photographers during class. I’d jot them down in my notebook, go home straight away and look at their work. Joe Pugliese was one of the names that she threw out there. When I looked at his website, the first thing I thought was, wow, I need to learn from this man. I was fortunate to get to spend three months interning for him in LA. I think it’s important to work with people who are producing the quality of work that you aspire to. It’s both humbling and inspiring at the same time.
Can you share any dirt with us on working with celebrity clients?
It is very interesting being in the same room, observing everything that’s taking place. Every celebrity has his or her own groomer, hair & makeup artist, publicist, agent, BlackBerry-it’s a strange world. My Nokia and I just got a little glimpse of it from the sidelines. It's also pretty amazing how fast these photographers have to work. A lot of time is spent pre-lighting the set, but when the talent actually arrives, they might have a half an hour to shoot, if that.
If you have one piece of advice you can give photographers on how to best work with their assistants, what would it be?
Everyone has a different way of communicating. I’ve always worked well with photographers, and people in general, who are relatively calm and easygoing. When a photographer displays high standards as far as work ethic goes, the people who work alongside them will most likely be inspired to live up to that.
Is there anything specific you have learned by assisting that you otherwise would not have?
One of the things they don’t teach you in art school is the business side of photography. The majority of creatives I know are not business minded. We just want to create and not have to deal with self-promotion, invoicing, marketing, bidding, etc. At one point or another, this is something that you have to face if you want to pay the rent and eat. The people that I’ve worked with would always tell me, “It’s something you just pick up. You learn it because you have to learn it.” Between interning, assisting, and reading the ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography, you really do just figure things out as you go along.
Have you ever saved the day?
Back in high school, I went on a few jobs with an editorial photographer in Dallas. I knew absolutely nothing about strobes/equipment, but I’d meet him at his studio and help him pack up and get ready for whatever he was shooting on a given day. He’d point to things and tell me whether to pack it or leave it. On one occasion, he told me to leave something, but I packed it anyway thinking, he’s going to want this. Sure enough, we got to the location, started setting up and he panicked and was thinking we left the soft box, or whatever it was. It was nice to be able to say, “No worries, we got it.” Never question your instincts. They’re usually right.
Do you have any advice for people who want to start assisting?
Well, first off, start lifting weights. Seriously. Second, always be aware of everything that’s going on around you. A lot of times, I’ll watch the photographer and try to think ahead of them. Pay attention to what he/she is doing and try to anticipate what they're going to need. Then when they make eye contact, you’ll already have whatever is needed in your hands ready to go. Thirdly, drink a lot of coffee and always be on.
What resources are available to new assistants?
There isn’t really any formal process to follow to become a photo assistant but there are a few resources out there to get you pointed in the right direction. The ASMP/American Society for Media Photographers has a Photo Assistant roster that they maintain for ASMP members. You can also check out A Photo Assistant, which is an informational blog on how to find assistant work and become registered with organizations in your area. No matter which course you take, good luck!
Mary Beth Koeth is a portrait photographer and video artist living and working in Miami, Florida. As a top photo assistant she has interned for some of the best shooters in the industry. Her dedication and hard work make her stand out in the industry as a person you can count on. Check out her impressive online portfolio and video works on her website.
Announcing the first ever really big exclusive print sale. From midnight 22 April -- 11:59 pm 25 April (all times PST) save 50% or more on prints when ordering via your Zenfolio account. When was the last time you were able to buy a pro quality 8x10 print for only $1?
This sale is available worldwide exclusively through Zenfolio and includes rock-bottom prices from professional labs around the world including Mpix, Nulab, and One Vision Imaging. Prices vary by location (see details below) and include large prints in the following sizes: 8x10, 11x14, 16x20, and 20x30.
Current Zenfolio customers, no coupon code is necessary for this sale, just login to your account and place your orders.
If you do not have a Zenfolio account you can still order by starting a free trial with Zenfolio and then:
1. Upload your photos (no software download required)
2. Select the print sizes you want
3. Place your order
We’re not sure when we will do another sale this big, so place your orders now. The sale ends at 11:59 pm on Thursday, April 25 (Pacific time). Also, please note that the base lab prices are the ones that are discounted. If you would like to offer this sale to your clients you can either create a percentage discount coupon for them to use and set the expiration date for when the sale ends, or you can manually change your prices in your price list.
The following sizes and prices are available for orders placed in the United States via Mpix:
Customers in Canada will enjoy these great prices from Mpix:
Customers in the UK can order One Vision Imaging products in the following prices and sizes.
For Europe, One Vision Imaging products will be priced in Euros, as follows:
Australian and New Zealand customers can order through Nulab:
The sale begins 22 April at midnight PST and ends 25 April at 11:59pm PST. Sale prices are for prints only (no canvas wraps, frames, or other special items) with the finishes indicated above. Sale prices apply to prints sized 8x10, 11x14, 16x20 and 20x30 only. Discount prices will be reflected once you place them in your cart for purchase. Offer only available to Zenfolio account holders and cannot be combined with any other offers.
We’re happy to announce that the ZOOM tour is back! This year’s tour includes events in 11 cities across the United States and one in London, England. Each stop on the tour will include informative seminars tailored to photographers looking to maximize the power of the Internet to grow their photography business, plus presentations by industry experts on how to sell, brand, and market your work online.
The first ZOOM tour hit the road in 2011 and was immensely popular. One attendee raved “I loved your presentations, they were really helpful in giving me ideas on how to get more out of my Zenfolio subscription”. This year’s tour will capitalize on the successes of our prior ZOOM tour, combined with new presentations and information.
Each stop of the tour will be a one-day event that consists of two sessions. The morning sessions will be for new and potential members and the afternoon sessions for existing members. Both will feature Zenmasters demonstrating all the features Zenfolio offers and answering questions about the service. There will also be industry professionals presenting on site design, order fulfillment, marketing, and more.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to partake in breakout sessions that cover key areas of the photography business. Following the formal presentation portion of the event will be a question and answer session for you to ask any questions you may have from the presentations. Industry experts and special guest speakers at each event will also be there to provide you with the most comprehensive tools and information to help vault your online photography business ahead.
“I had a great time at the ZOOM event. I learned a lot. Initially I wasn’t sure what to expect, but came out with a task list that will make my website much more effective”-ZOOM attendee
Reserve your place for the ZOOM event near you by registering soon. Registration costs $10 for the events in the US, which you will receive back to you as a $10 Mpix credit when you attend the event. Your registration also nets you a goodie bag with hundreds of dollars worth of gifts and discounts from sponsors. There will also be valuable prize giveaways at each event.
We look forward to meeting you in person at an upcoming ZOOM event!
Thanks to everyone who partook in our 2012 User Survey. Our design team has done a great job putting together the results of the survey into a cool info graphic.
Want to know where the majority of Zennies live? Curious what types of photography the majority of our users do? The answers to these questions and a whole lot more is in the graphic. Please click on the attached image to get a larger view.
Marketing Strategies for Your Photo Business
Whether you are an established professional photographer or are just getting started in the industry, creating and maintaining comprehensive marketing efforts is a very important part of keeping your business vital. Marketing yourself as a photographer can seem like a daunting task with so many things to consider. Here we break down the most important elements to keep in mind when developing marketing strategies for your business.
As a working photographer, it is paramount to have a professional, well put together website. However, it is just as important that people are able to find your website when searching for a photographer. Luckily, there is a lot you can do to make sure that your site is optimized for search engines.
Zenfolio has many built in features that will automatically optimize your website to be visible by search engines. In addition to this, there are quite a few manual things you can do to ensure search engine success.
The first thing to consider is whether you have relevant and clear text on your site. It cannot be stated enough how important text is to search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines require that your website contain useful, well formulated, and organized text in order to be indexed. You can create an amazing website filled with photos, slideshows, and useful interactivity, but without informative text, web crawlers may determine that your site is not worth indexing.
With this in mind, it is vital to label your images as much as possible with titles and keywords. It is also a good idea to create an informative About page. The Zenfolio help center is a great resource for info on how to use keywords for your galleries and photos. Additionally, within the Zenfolio interface, there are search engine tools available that allow you to keep a close eye on this area of your business.
Within these tools it is important to create a website description that will display on search engine results pages and let potential clients know what type of photography you do as well as where you are located or based out of. Also within these tools you can enable website tracking that will allow you to view page visits and let you know where your traffic is coming from. This can help you analyze the success of your marketing initiatives once they are underway. Check out this section of the Zenfolio Help Guide for more information on search engine tools you can utilize within your Zenfolio account and step-by-step instructions.
“Since moving my website to Zenfolio I’ve had more local enquiries and business through my website than ever before. Having a beautiful website is great, but it’s not a lot of good if potential customers can’t find you! By making use of the SEO and social media tools Zenfolio provides I have been able to attract more traffic to my website generally, but specifically more local customers searching for images of their county. By simply giving my collections, galleries and pages relevant titles, captions and search-engine friendly URLs, as well as appropriate ALT tags for my images, I have been able to reach a wider audience both locally and further afield.” – Adam Edwards, http://www.adamedwardsphotography.com/
Grow Your Following
Another way that you can drive traffic to your site is by taking advantage of social media networks. Sharing your latest news and images on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc, can be a great way to get word of mouth traction. As your followers share your content, you are able to get more and more eyes on your updates.
Zenfolio makes this easy with integrated sharing options built in. Every image and gallery you upload can be quickly shared or exported as needed to your favorite social media outlet. Social networking websites are so popular these days that it would be a mistake not to consider them as a way to get the word out.
Don’t discount allowing your visitors to market for you. Enabling the option for your clients to Pin, Tweet, +1, and Like directly from your site into their friends’ newsfeeds can be done in a few swift clicks. As a result, your clients’ favorite images are virally spreading throughout their social networks.
“One of my favorite marketing features on Zenfolio is the ability to share images on Facebook and Pinterest with just a click of the mouse. This helps my marketing efforts immensely!” - Erica Peerenboom, www.ericapeerenboom.com
These days no website is complete without a well put together blog. It has become an industry standard to have a blog as part of your website. The blog acts as a news page with updates on the latest projects and images you are working on. Also, your clients and followers can subscribe to your posts via an RSS feed to stay up to date on you and your business.
Zenfolio makes blogging very easy with professionally designed layouts and many options for customization. Your blog can be a great place to display an embedded slideshow, a promotional video, or photos. The sky is the limit! See step-by-step guide for more info on how to create a blog within your Zenfolio website.
“I use the built in Zenfolio blog to display my latest work, stay connected with old clients as well as introduce myself to new ones. It's a great way to keep my content engaging and prevent me from becoming stagnant.” – Sonny Cao, http://www.sonnycao.com/
Building Your Client Base
One way that you can ensure that you are actively growing your client base is to keep track of who is visiting your galleries and add the information to your contact list for future use. For example, you can enable the Zenfolio Visitor Sign In feature so that every potential client who visits your galleries is required to register with their contact info. This way when you are analyzing sales for a gallery you can review who has visited it and who has purchased from it. You can then use this information to contact those who have not yet made a purchase and offer them a special promotion or incentive to place an order. This approach has been successful for many photographers using Zenfolio, especially for events and weddings.
Another approach for a wedding or event is to create a gallery for your client ahead of time and assign a friendly URL so that the web address is easy for the guests to remember. You can then pass out the URL to the guests at the actual event. Within the gallery, turn on the Visitor SIgn In feature and ask for the visitor's contact info to let them know once the photos are ready to view and order. This way before your images are even posted online you'll already have a list of potential customers to market to. By considering every person who visits your galleries as a potential client you can grow your list of contacts and have a wider reach with your sales promotions.
"I especially appreciate the ability to create Friendly URLs and Client Access Codes with my Zenfolio account. I can setup a page for my clients with a link and access code they can easily remember. I have them create a User ID and password for themselves and apply it to the page I created for them if they want it private. Most of my family and model clients prefer that.
For weddings we leave it available to the public and they can share the address/access code with their family and friends and they are taken directly to their page. It's a simple and effective way for my clients to find and share their pictures, and keeping it simple to find translates to better sales...both selling my clients on my services, and selling prints and products after the final images are done.
I can also use the contact list created to send out emails to any or all clients of my choosing to notify them of special pricing or promotions that I will be running. It's really a win/win situation!" - Kevin Thompson, http://www.thompsondigitalimage.com/
Once you have a contact list ready you can send email blasts out to announce specials, travel dates, new products, etc. One feature you can utilize within Zenfolio to make email blasts easier is the gallery invitation. This beautiful invitation features images from your gallery with the cover image front and center. The easy to use system follows the look and feel of your site pages and looks very professional and clean.
Using this in combination with the contact list allows you to filter client lists by event as needed, so that you only reach the relevant contacts. Many photographers also use this feature to let clients know when their gallery of images is ready to be viewed.
“One of my favorite features of Zenfolio is the gallery invite. I love that I can send a beautifully formatted email to clients with their images featured right in the email. This is way better than a text based email with just a link to click. The stunning invitation email gives my clients that wow-factor that I want them to have when viewing their images for the first time.” – Laura Tillinghast, http://lauratillinghast.com/
We all know that sales are what matter the most to keep your business successful. There are a few ways that you can drive your sales efforts and encourage clients to get their orders in on time.
When your clients first see your images, this is when they are the most excited about them. If you can get your client to place an order before the excitement wanes, this can help your sales totals a lot. One way to give clients a sense of urgency is to make the gallery of images available for a specific time period only. Within Zenfolio you can set a gallery to “expire” after a certain period of time. Some photographers even choose to charge a fee if a client wants to order after this time period has passed.
Another great way to drive sales is to offer limited time promotions. For example, if you are hoping to get all your holiday orders in on time for delivery on Christmas morning, you can create a coupon within your Zenfolio account that expires before the lab cut-off dates. Many photographers choose to bring back their "expired galleries" for a short time to run pre-holiday promotions and encourage clients to order with some added time pressure with a well timed discount.
"I've had a lot of success running sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I'll email everyone who's logged into my Zenfolio site (because I collect emails of people who login) on Monday before Thanksgiving and let them know I'm running a 30% off sale on Black Friday. Throughout the week I'll use my Facebook Business page as well as my personal page to remind clients of the sale. I create a 30% off code and name it something like "turkey" and wait for the orders to come in. This has been great for us!" JP Elario, http://elariophotography.com/
When sales start to come in, it is important to get the most out of each client while they have their wallet in hand. One way you can do this is to create a perception that your clients will get more for their money by buying in combination. You can do this by selling prints and products in packages. Packages allow you to sell items together as a group, giving the perception of a quantity discount. One example of a package would be an 8x10, two 5x7’s, and eight wallet-sized prints. Whether there is a discount for this is up to you but many photographers find that even a small reduction in price for buying more items as a package works very well to up-sell each order.
Another way to maximize your sales is to pre-sell as much as you can before an order is actually placed. If you sell your services bundled together, for example a sitting fee with $100 print credit, then you can really use this to your advantage.
Many photographers find that when using a pre-sold print credit clients are more likely to spend higher amounts as the credit they have was paid for back when they booked the session. So if they have print credit up to $100 and they really want $175 in products, it is easier for them to spend the extra money as they feel like they are spending just $75. Within Zenfolio you can use the built-in gift certificates feature to allow your clients to cash in their pre-sold credit. Gift certificates act very much like a gift card, allowing clients to use them over and over until the balance is used up. The system keeps track of usage automatically and you can always track your gift certificates as needed.
You can also use the gift certificates feature as a way to drive sales by making them a product in themselves. By allowing sales of gift certificates you can encourage your existing clients to refer their friends to you, thus growing your business with each referral.
"I love that I have the ability to sell gift certificates through my site via the self-fulfilled option. It's really useful when using in combination with the visitor sign-in feature. I can search for who signed in to a particular gallery and then send a mass email letting my clients’ friends/family members know that I offer gift certificates for sale, and how these would make a great gift." – Sune Palladay, http://www.resplendentphotography.com/
The fundamental principle behind marketing is that, like most things in life, you get what you put into it. If you work hard at creating a strategy and follow it through, you will see results. We hope that the ideas we have gone over in this article inspire you to work hard at your marketing efforts and reap the rewards of a successful photography business.
Mpix is offering Free USPS shipping on all orders $10 and above April 8-10. To qualify for this offer the order base price must be valued at $10 and above and placed via 1st Class and Priority Mail. Why not take advantage of this special offer to order something special for Mother's Day such as an accordion mini book, a framed print, or a photo calendar?
As is customary, there is no code needed when ordering through your Zenfolio account. This offer is valid Monday, April 8 until 11:59 pm (Central Time) Wednesday, April 10. Offer does not apply to framed orders with glass or orders over $500.00 in value.
Now through the end of April we are going to double your referral credit. That means you’ll get up to a $50 credit for every person that uses your referral code when opening a paid account!
Don’t miss this opportunity to maximize your referral credits. The last time we did a promotion like this some users boasted upwards of 50 referrals. Plus, taking part in the referral program is easy and benefits both you and your friends. You’ll get a 20% credit for everyone that opens a paid account and your friends get a 10% discount off their account.
So get the word out and post away on Facebook, Twitter, G+, and your blog. You can also send out referral emails to your friends using the form provided under “Your Referrals”. Zenfolio will format and send these emails on your behalf, and you can preview and edit the message before sending. You can also add referral buttons in email signatures or on your website to get even more referrals. One area you shouldn’t share your code is on public forums as they frequently do not allow this practice and might ban you.
If you’re unfamiliar with the referral program, for every new user you refer you receive a credit to your account that can be used toward renewing or upgrading your account, purchasing prints or photo products, and even gift subscriptions. You can find your referral code, and the number of people you have referred, in the Toolbox of your account’s Edit View after you login.
Start spreading the word today to get as many double credits as you can by April 30th. And don't forget to mention to your friends that they must use your referral code when upgrading from a Trial to a paid account to get the discount.
Being a company that specializes in providing solutions, tools, and information for photographers we focus mainly on what happens behind the lens. This article, the first in an ongoing series, aims to broaden this horizon. Each article will have a unique, and somewhat whimsical, insight into an area of photography that you may have not considered before. We hope you enjoy them and welcome your comments.
Don’t call me paparazzi. Not only would it be extremely unfair, but it would be incorrect as well. Strictly speaking, paparazzi run around taking pictures of celebrities, whereas for me they always (well, almost always) sit or stand patiently and allow me to take their shots. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
When I’m taking my shots, my goal is to capture the subject in their most basic, pure state. To accomplish this I have a set of rules that are absolutely ironclad. They are:
1. I choose the time and place when the shot is taken. This means you have no prep time to look good or get gussied up for the camera. What you see is what you get.
2. I only take one shot, facing forward and looking directly at the camera. There is no hiding from my lens. My sole purpose is capturing your image in a pure form. Depending on the circumstance I may take a profile as well, but again, I decide if I want the profile or not.
3. No posing. I’m not taking yearbook photos, holiday card photos, or portraits.
4. Only one subject at a time. When I’m taking a shot I don’t want anyone or anything to distract from the focus on you.
5. This one surprises most of my subjects, but you can smile if you want. However, I have found that when I enforce my previous rules few of my subjects choose to do so.
One of the first shots I took that became really well known was a black and white of Frank Sinatra. Though only 23 years old at the time, he already sported the dark suit and light shirt that he would always be found in throughout his heyday in Vegas. He also has the slightest bit of smirk that almost seems to say, “I can get away with anything.” Even though I’d taken countless shots before, it was this one that really set me on my way.
From here I worked across the country, taking more shots than I care to remember. As often is the case, the majority of these were mundane in nature and not really worth public review. Then came the ‘60s and suddenly I became the it place to get your shot taken. Something about the turbulent nature of that time drove everyone from rock stars to celebrities to seek out my lens. In ’61 I captured a young Al Pacino on his way to an acting gig. In the shot his shirt collar is sticking straight up, marking perhaps the first time someone popped their collar in a photo.
Despite the rules that I outlined above, I also allowed a couple of gestures in my shots that I never would permit today. One was a peace sign and the other a closed, clenched fist in a symbol of rebellion. The subjects were Steve McQueen and Jane Fonda, and it might surprise you to know McQueen was the one throwing the peace sign.
Other rebels of that time that I captured include Dennis Hopper, Mick Jagger, and Jim Morrison. The shots that I took of Jagger and Morrison have since gone on to become popular posters found on dorm room walls around the country. Lest you think my best days are behind me, my work with musicians has continued to this day and includes shots of 50 Cent, Eminem, George Clinton, Willie Nelson, Flavor Flav, Vanilla Ice, Snoop Dogg, P. Diddy, Marilyn Manson, James Brown, Amy Winehouse and the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.
My work hasn’t been exclusively limited to musicians. In fact, my shots of actors have become news in and of themselves. My work with Robert Downey Jr. captured his struggle with substance abuse, and the ones of Heather Locklear and Charlie Sheen created an interesting timeline of their personal strife. And no one will ever forget my shots of O.J. Simpson, which perhaps mark the last time public images of him still elicited feelings of sympathy.
As I stated above, since I choose the time and place of your shot, when I come you won’t always be ready. In my opinion, no images better convey this than the shots I took of Nick Nolte and Hugh Grant. With his ridiculous hair, the shot of Nolte spread like wildfire and became a favorite of late night talk show hosts in their monologues. The same goes for the shot of Grant – you can so clearly see his discomfort in the image, it’s almost like he’s trying to get away. But, unfortunately for you, by the time you’re in front of my lens it’s too late to get away.
Scheduling a time to have your photo taken by me is both difficult and easy at the same time. There’s no website to visit, agency to contact, or number to call (well, maybe 911). Simply break the law and get arrested. Before you know it, the local police department will have you lined up in front of my lens and you’ll be the one getting a mug shot. Who knows, in time maybe even it will become famous.
Peter Urbick has over a dozen years experience as a professional writer and manages all aspects of content for Zenfolio. He enjoys travel photography and still marvels that he has gone from working in a dark room developing high school sports photos to working at Zenfolio. A native of Washington state, his die-hard enthusiasm for all Seattle sports teams amuses the rest of the office.
After spending years trying to figure out what I loved to shoot the most, I’ve been able to narrow it down to two basic genres: Landscapes and Portraits. Naturally, I’m going to pack my equipment based on what I’m shooting, but every once in a while I’m caught under-prepared. Of all the things I generally carry to a shoot, there are very few items that I can say have single-handedly saved the day…the ioShutter™ shutter release cable did just that.
I had a last minute portrait session come up with an old friend. Admittedly I was caught a bit off-guard but I definitely was not going to pass on it. But now I was forced to improvise quickly; no time to get lights, no stylist, no time to find a hair/makeup artist, and no time to wrangle an assistant. Just the basics: Camera, hot-shoe flash, reflector, tripod, a few gels, my phone (which I never leave without), and the ioShutter™. Off I went with no time to prep anything else.
Fortunately, one of my favorite parts of a shoot is creative problem solving. This requires working with what you have on hand in order to get the shot you need. It’s not always easy, and things can definitely go awry. On the flip side, there is a slightly greater sense of satisfaction when it works out. However, inspiration is a hard thing to force.
I arrived at the location and promptly started going through the available outfits for her. Red dress? Done, that will work great, now on to the composition. Enter the ioShutter™, which is a multi-function shutter release cable that you can control directly from your iPhone.
I started off by taking a number of test shots, made much easier by the awesome sound activated feature the ioShutter™ offers. I was able to simply say the word “Go” and it would release the shutter, allowing me to use both hands to maneuver the camera into position on the tripod. Having the ability to get the test shots in was key because I was working around the clutter left behind by my friend’s two young daughters’ arts-and-crafts sessions. As I took more test shots an idea began to formulate in my mind. I was finally finding the inspiration that I needed despite the chaos of my surroundings.
First off, the overhead light wasn’t going to work, so I tried to get that ironed out with my single flash. I quickly realized the Bulb setting offered by the ioShutter™ that I usually use for landscapes wouldn’t really work in this case, since any movement by the model would result in ghosting. So I used the Time Lapse feature, making it possible for me to essentially be in five places at once. This enabled me to get the cross-light effect that I love by turning on the time lapse (which my camera is without) and running from position to position, popping the flash off.
Next, I always like to have some sort of illustrative quality to a portrait rather than a straightforward headshot. Having been freed up to use my multiple light sources, I could really focus the light where I needed it to be to enhance the composition of my portrait. A mostly finished glass of wine is a great prop, and when combined with other little touches, like being barefoot next to the shoes and the stack of bills in the upper corner, it can really help create a story. Getting the wine to the mostly finished stage is a delicious way to break the ice as well!
I had the shutter set to around 1s, giving me four seconds between each shutter click to move about. I really wanted to warm up the outside light sources, so I doubled up an orange gel and held that in front of the flash. After a bit of trial and error I realized that I needed to pop the flash a few times on those or else I would need to adjust the settings once I got inside. Since speed was of the essence, that was not really an option. On the inside lights I figured I would need two or three to get the shadows opened up and in a place where I was comfortable.
The light was also a bit harsh, so I opted to soften it with some vellum. Having both hands occupied I never would have been able to point the flash in the right spot, pop it off, hold the gels/vellum in front, and try to fire off a shutter using any other remote. I’m not that talented. We did a few slightly different positions, and thanks to the ioShutter™ we were able to wrap the shoot in her narrow time-slot and I was able to get all the pieces I needed for the final image.
The diagram above shows the final setup, and where I was running in between each of the time-lapse shots. The intent with this shoot was to take the best parts of each image and create a composite, giving me both the look and lighting that I needed. Since each shot was individual, ghosting was avoided and I could make the adjustments as needed if there was slight movement from shot to shot. I ended up combining five different images, blending each layer so the intended highlights show.
In the end, I was quite pleased with how the final image turned out, and my friend couldn’t have been happier. I got my cross light, she got her shot, and everyone’s a winner.
Between the time-saving sound release and the shoot-saving time lapse, there’s no way I could have pulled off an image like this without the ioShutter™, and I barely touched the surface of what it can do! Since I always have my phone on me, and because this little gem can not only make shooting easier but also completely save it, it would be ridiculous not to have it with me for every shoot.
|You may know Brian as one of the awesome and helpful ZenMasters at Zenfolio. Additionally, he’s a very gifted photographer. Shooting primarily aerial landscapes and illustrative portraits, Brian does whatever it takes to get the best shot possible. Often that means he is composing his work from a helicopter, but he is comfortable on the ground as well. Check out Brian's impressive online portfolio.|
|Photo by: Rich Hockett, http://joyful-moments.com/|
To coincide with the start of the WPPI Expo Mpix is offering a site-wide 15% off all photo prints and gifts sale. The sale runs from now until 11:59 PM (Central) on Wednesday, March 13. So if you're had your eye on a photo book, calendar, home decor, or more be sure to place your before this sale ends.
Discount does not apply to shipping charge. When placing an order via your Zenfolio site no code is needed. Sale begins March 11 and ends at 11:59 PM (CDT) on Wednesday, March 13.
The following article provides a very personal, but broadly applicable, overview of why and how to protect yourself and your work. Following the steps outlined in this post will provide you and your work with “insurance.” And as the old adage goes, “You don’t know you need insurance until it’s too late.” The article also provides a good summation of the many issues photographers have about their intellectual property rights. Oftentimes this ends up a question of business issues versus creative issues, and the business points are often ranked second when they should be considered first.
Contracts and Copyright Law - How to Best Protect Yourself by Sid Hoeltzell
Photographers often do not realize or remember that we actually own the copyright the moment we create an image. Many photographers believe that this copyright protects our images, when unfortunately it does not. The reality is that copyright is all about the usage agreed to and how we are compensated. If you are a cautious photographer and register all of your copyrighted images with the Library of Congress, this may eventually reward you with a lot of money, save you money, or arbitrate a dispute in your favor. But the key point is to always register and define your usages and transfers of usage rights.
During the 30 years I have spent in the photography industry, I have been involved in several usage rights cases. In my experience I have found that if you are very clear with your licensing agreements in your invoices and your job description, you will not run into problems. Most of the time clients are willing to work with you, but there are reckless ones out there and that’s why it is important to take the necessary precautions.
Covering Your Bases
Creating a clear and distinct set of job descriptions and usages for all your assignment photographs is the most important thing any photographer can do. Regarding all your other work... register it with the Library of Congress. Statistically, it is said that about 90% of all photographers do not register their images with the Library of Congress. Fortunately, it's not a scary process. Registration is simple and there’s even online help available.
The benefit of registration is that it will potentially help you somewhere down the line, perhaps during an infringement proceeding. This has been instrumental for me a few times over the years. The last time I needed to verify my copyright was in Federal Copyright Court against a French software company. I had registered images with the copyright office and after three years I won a very large federal copyright infringement case against that software company. The result was satisfying. They lost big and paid me a large sum of money. It took three years of my time but I was protected and in the end, that is what mattered.
Negotiating Usage Rights
As I mentioned above, the most important thing that photographers can do is create very specific job descriptions. Be sure to list different angles, or potential angles, and different options for photographing the work. In short, list as much as you can to cover any potential usages that may occur.
In the next part of your invoice list the client’s usage rights. This means listing all of the specifics of how the images can be utilized. You need to be extremely clear here, as you are specifying the rights granted to your client and protecting yourself at the same time.
My standard process is to do a photo fee and then include a one-year usage as described. Then I do a separate section where I include additional usages to give the client options for a greater value. Instead of granting unlimited usage, I recommend that you offer your clients breakdowns according to the media they will actually be using.
For example, website usage may be for an additional two years with a 50 percent fee increase, whereas a national print ad would be for an additional two years at a 100 percent fee. The specifics are up to you but the point is to get the client to think about what they need and make sure they are actually paying for it.
Make sure that you negotiate and release the values that they're requesting for a specific time. It is important to realize that 100% unlimited usage in all media areas is way too expensive. Also, when they start changing the job in the middle of the session, stop right away and pull out the signed estimate from your files. Advise them that if they "bought a flight from NYC to Miami" and they need the flight to stop in Atlanta and West Virginia you have no problem, but they must agree to the extra fares.
The most important part of the process is getting the client to agree and sign off on the estimate. Get everything in writing as calmly as possible. My little trick is to explain that I’m very happy to do the extra work, but it’s not free.
Establishing Your Rights
In the event that you find your work used in an unauthorized manner, the first step is to check if the images are among the ones you have registered. If not, register the images as accurately and as quickly as possible. Make sure to be very accurate about the dates of creation and first publication.
This also brings up another great reason to make sure you have embedded accurate metadata into all of your files. Relevant data includes copyright notices, websites, addresses and copyright warnings. All this is important if the user stripped this information from the files.
The next step is to contact a reputable attorney. If you belong to an association like ASMP or PPA they can often refer you to attorneys who specialize in copyright infringement and understand the photography industry. Let the attorney give you an opinion on where you stand. After that, stay your course and if you firmly have a case, follow through on it. In the conclusion of a federal case, if all the variables line up, those who used your images illegally will have to pay all attorney fees plus the jury award.
In the end it’s about the money, not the principle. But for you to get satisfaction, you should honor the principle.
Sid Hoeltzell is an award winning commercial photographer who has been an industry professional for over 30 years. Focusing primarily on food and still life photography, Sid works with clients like Burger King, Carnival Cruz, Bacardi, Dewars, Corona and more. With his extensive experience and innovative lighting techniques, Sid makes every job he gets a masterpiece.
Would you like more for less? Right now you can get it, with the new Mpix promo. From March 4-March 6 get 50% off 8x10 e-surface prints. This limited time offer is only for this size and type of print. The discount does not apply to finishing services, standouts, frames, or speciality items.
As usual, there is no need for a code when using your Zenfolio account, the discount is automatically applied to your base prices at checkout.
When it comes to online blogs, the Internet is overrun with them. From cooking and traveling to fashion and politics, there is something to pique everyone’s interest. So which blogs are the best for photography lovers? To help answer that question we have put together a list of the photography blogs we visit the most in the hopes that you will enjoy them as well.
It is always a good idea to keep up with photo news and what is happening in and around the industry. For tech-savvy shooters, PetaPixel offers great articles on everything from new advances in photo technology to camera challenges and software practices. In addition to the informative articles, you will find an impressive archive of tutorials, product reviews and pro tips on a variety of topics.
Guess the Lighting
One of our favorite photography related blogs is Guess the Lighting. For all the commercial photographers out there, have you ever gazed at a new ad campaign and wondered how a specific image was lit and captured? If you have, then you’re a lot like us. Ted Sabarese takes this a step further and guesses how the lighting was done for a variety of images on his popular blog. The addition of crude diagrams and comedic musings on how the shot was captured makes this blog highly entertaining.
If you are a fan of video and like watching tutorials, you should definitely check out Digital Rev TV's YouTube channel. The zany and unpredictable hosts are very entertaining and surprisingly informative on all things photography. One feature on the blog not to miss is the Pro Tog Cheap Camera Challenge where the team gives a toy camera to a distinguished professional and challenges them to deliver great images.
One of the better-known photo blogs is Mila’s Daydreams. It appeals to children’s photographers, parents, and anyone who likes cute photos. What started as a fun way to pass the time has turned into an Internet sensation. When photographer Adele Enerson became a new mother she began taking photos while her baby was napping. By setting up fanciful scenes around the slumbering infant, she created charming and whimsical photos that people really responded to. Adele now has a book of these photos as well as a calendar and other related products. Not bad for a project that began as a humble blog.
For child and family portraiture, another blog not to miss is Reverie. A number of leading children’s photographers as well as talented newcomers are featured on this charming blog, making it a great place to get inspiration and new ideas.
The Cooking Photographer
Combining the shared passions of photography and cooking is what The Cooking Photographer is all about, and it succeeds in a big way. Laura Flowers, a newspaper and editorial shooter, loves to cook−and better yet, loves to photograph her culinary adventures. Her popular blog showcases her great skills with a camera as well as great recipes you can try yourself. Beautiful and yummy at the same time, what a combo!
Another favorite of ours is Colossal, a blog dedicated to art, design, and photography. The author of Colossal, Christopher Jobson, really has his finger on the pulse of the art world. Heavy on photos, this blog offers a lot of creative inspiration on the days when you need it most.
ShootSmarter.com is the blog to follow to learn the latest trends in the industry. With a variety of authors, this blog offers posing tips, to marketing practices, business advice, equipment/software reviews and more. You'll always learn something new with fresh content and articles written by leaders in the industry added all the time.
We would be remiss if we did not mention Strobist.com. If you are interested in working with flash and strobe equipment then you will love the articles that blog author David Hobby adds on a regular basis. Even photographers who have worked with strobes forever will find something to take away from this informative and comprehensive blog.
We hope that these fun and creative blogs entertain and inspire you. We would also love to hear what your favorite blogs are. Feel free to share them with us in the comments section below.
Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part Product Spotlight featuring Lensbaby. You can read part one here.
Lensbaby Edge 80 Optic and Macro Converters by Laura Tillinghast
Continuing where I left off with the first part of my Lensbaby Product Spotlight, I took some time to try out the Edge 80 Optic and the Macro Converters that I did not have a chance to use in my first shoot. I wanted to keep the fashion theme I started with and try these products out with a spring fashion and accessory story I had planned. I was lucky to have Elizabeth Chang on hand again to create beautiful and soft spring hair and makeup looks. I also reached out to one of my favorite models to work with, Jana Molder, as I felt that she was a perfect fit for this story. Noel Allan was on hand to help out and let us shoot a few locations in his lush backyard. Thank you to a great team!
With the Edge 80 Optic, I wanted to work in natural light when it would be easiest to see the sweet spot and blurred areas. This worked perfectly with the wardrobe and jewelry for this shoot. Using natural backgrounds and carefully creating a sweet spot I was able to selectively blur parts of the images, creating a dreamy and ethereal look. It was exactly what I was going for!
For the first look of the day I experimented a lot with different amounts of blurring. I wanted to have some options when I edited and have the freedom to decide later how much I wanted the background and elements near the edges of the frame to be soft.
One feature of the Edge 80 Optic that I really love is the ability to shoot a completely focused shot as well as tilt to get the blurring effect. When shooting products especially, it is a really good idea to have at least a few frames in tack sharp focus in case you need them later. After a few looks I got more comfortable with moving the sweet spot as the model moved and changed poses. As the shoot progressed I became more daring and went for a few shots with a small focused area on the model’s face and a lot of blur. I am glad that I shot a variety of effects, but in the end I really like the artistic approach that the selective focus gives you as a photographer. For this story we used a lot of jewelry where we could, but I wanted to give the standout pieces additional inset images. For this I needed great hero shots and thought the Macro Converters would give the images an edge over regular product shots.
I experimented with both the 8mm and 16mm converters and shot with f-stops between 5.6 and 8. I found that the 8mm converter worked well for the necklaces and earrings while the 16mm allowed me to get closer for pieces that needed a tight close up, like the turquoise pendant. For these shots I did not need to stack the converters, but I plan to try that in the future when I need to get as close as possible.Overall I was very pleased with the results I got using this kit and had a lot of fun experimenting with selective focus. Going forward, the Lensbaby lenses will have a permanent place in my camera bag for the times when I need to add a little something extra special.
In the photography industry the term “branding” is tossed around quite a bit. What is branding? And why is it important to us as photographers? A good place to start finding the answers to these questions is with the origin of the word “brand” itself.
The word "brand" is derived from the Old Norse “brandr” meaning "to burn." Many of us are familiar with branding as a way for cattle ranchers to differentiate between their own cattle and that of others by burning a brand into the hide of each animal. Of course the idea of branding has evolved and taken on new meaning in recent years. These days, your “brand” is something that can help you stand out from your competitors and communicate to your market who you are as a professional.
When creating a public image for your business you have to consider where people will encounter your brand. This includes on your website, social media pages, blog, logos (on business cards or other collateral), and other places. As you craft your personal brand there are a few important things to keep in mind. With photography being a visual media, it is all the more important to carefully and thoughtfully choose each element that will come together to make your brand as a photographer.
The first thing to consider is color. The colors you choose will speak volumes about your personality, your point of view, and your overall approach to your work as a photographer. Choosing the right palette to compliment your images without distracting from them can be tricky. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
With photography, the traditional and classic approach is to go with a palette of dark grey or black. The other major trend is to go in the opposite direction and use pure white with minor accent colors added. This is a tried and true approach and has been done successfully by a number of working photographers. To eliminate the guesswork, and be sure that you’re using colors that are complimentary, you can also use a theme designer. If you have a Zenfolio account the included theme designer is perfect for this. Alternatively, try Adobe’s theme designer called Kuler. The following examples show good uses of the Zenfolio theme designer.
If you choose to go the traditional route, consider adding a texture to the black, white, or grey elements of your brand. This added detail goes a long way to make your branding work using a modern approach to a classic look. The traditional approach works for many but there is no reason to be shy with color. If you carefully choose a color palette that makes your work pop, this can be the first way that you distinguish yourself and your brand. For example, if you photograph children and your work is fun, energetic, and playful this should be reflected in your branding as well.
Take photographer Debbie Virgin Shook of Squeak Dog Pet Photography as an example. Her work is charming and approachable and her personality and carefree attitude are reflected in the design of her website, logo, and overall brand. Using a dynamic and playful logo, paired with bright colors and smart design, Debbie has created an individual brand that is unique and compelling.
Logos and Design Elements
Designing a brand that reflects your work and who you are as a photographer does not have to be daunting. You might even want to consider seeking help from a professional designer—such as Shari Warren or Melissa Love— as creating logos and design elements can be challenging for those without a graphic design background. It is important to remember that your logo is one of the first elements that people see so it is paramount that it does not look amateurish or unrefined. A well-designed logo goes a long way.
When creating your logo, all areas of your business need to be considered. It is a good idea to create a series of logos that go together but can be used separately. The logo you place on your invoices may not work for the Home page of your website or your email marketing campaigns, etc. Try to cover all the bases while keeping the message the same.
If you decide to design your own logo and not use a graphic designer, we recommend that you reach out to people you trust for feedback. Once you have designed a number of options to choose from, ask for constructive criticism from other photographers and professionals that you trust. Getting additional opinions can be very helpful in steering your design efforts in the right direction.
In addition to your logos there are several other ways that you can communicate your unique brand. Many photographers use a symbol or element that they love or that represents their personality as part of their brand. Take the site of Tiree Dawson as an example. Using a feather as a design element, Tiree ties all her website pages together with this whimsical approach. The light and airy design reflects Tiree’s creative aesthetic and compliments her photos perfectly.
Once you have decided on your color palette, logo approach, and elements you want to utilize, make sure that you keep this consistent through your website and business practices. While your professional website speaks volumes on your brand and who you are as a photographer, this needs to be carried though on the other areas of your business as well. Invoices, emails, packaging, and all client deliverables need to reflect your brand. Making sure that your design choices carry through to all areas of your business communicates a professional and well-put together brand.
Although the process of creating a brand can seem like a lot of work, this can be a fun and fulfilling process. Creating your brand allows you to dig deep and think about who you are and what is important to you. These are the things you want your brand to communicate but you should never feel locked in. As time passes and your business evolves, consider updating your brand in kind.
Keep in mind that over time it is never a bad idea to consider a redesign. The major themes and design choices of your brand do not need to change but consider updating how you illustrate them to keep your website and your marketing materials fresh and up to date. Most photographers change the look and feel of their website, blog, and marketing materials every two to three years.
While we do not advocate copying the hard work of others, we do recommend that you keep your eye out for good design examples. Photographers are deeply creative and keeping up with the current trends in the industry is a good way to stay ahead of the curve. A great place to see current designs is the Zenfolio Examples page.
Also keep in mind that as you are designing or redesigning your brand to try and have fun with the process. Your brand reflects whom you are and gives you the opportunity to really think about what that means and how you want the world to view your work.
We would like to thank the following for allowing us to use examples from their websites and images in the making of this article: