About wizwow

I am in love with light.

Also known as Don Giannatti, photography has been the focus of my life for most of my adult years. I have written three books for Amherst Media (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble: keyword 'don giannatti'. Lighting Essentials is my flagship blog and ezine with a slightly different slant than most photography related blogs. If you are interested in becoming a better photographer, check out www.project52.org. Thanks for visiting.

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Here are my most recent posts

It’s a Numbers Game, Part One

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How to Play “The Numbers” Game Part One

We have all heard the words, “It’s a numbers game” before. And most of us know what it means. In order to get to a certain level, more attempts than successes must be used.

Selling door to door is a numbers game. The more people a sales person talks to, the more they sell. It may take 10 “No’s” to get to one yes. So the goal is to get through those ten as fast as you can to get to the one yes. Knocking on ten doors a day nets one sale. Knocking on 50 doors nets 10 sales.

A ‘numbers game’.

Not much difference in photography, you know.

The more art directors you show your work to, the more chances you have of closing an assignment. The more times you interact with a specific art director, the higher the probability that a gig is forthcoming. The more gigs you complete with excellence, the more excellent gigs you get.

And yet…

I chat with photographers who do none of the above.

They don’t show their work. They don’t ever go back to someone who didn’t immediately hire them. They don’t get enough gigs to make delivering excellence count.

It is… a numbers game.

Of course there are a few givens.

Your work must be top notch. This is a given. All the door knocking and emailing in the world will not work as fast as good work will.

(Now this is where it gets crazy a bit. I think a mediocre photographer who has mad skills at marketing will do better than an ultra-talented photographer who sits in the studio waiting for the phone to ring.)

Why?

It. Is. A. Numbers. Game.

If your work is good, it all falls on you to do the work to get it in front of people who would buy it.

A lot.

Of people, that is.

We have discussed the ways we can find clients before, and how to think about marketing, but in this dispatch, I want to play with numbers.

I recently read where fewer than 80% of photographers spend more than an hour per week marketing. And only a few percent spend more than 15 hours a week marketing.

If we apply the 80-20 rule (20% of the businesses in a niche make 80% of the money) we can see that there may be, just may be a connection between not marketing and losing out on the bulk of the revenue.

We know this stuff works, and yet few of us can ‘find the time’ or ‘get ready’ or ‘bite the bullet’ or fight off whatever last minute resistance pops into our heads that prevents us from moving on this magnificent factoid: it’s a numbers game.

Let’s stop procrastinating and get to it.

The book is as good as it is gonna be for next week. The site is done, and the images up there are up there. Changes can be made tomorrow, but it is what it is and we move forward. If this is too fast for you, set a date. April 1? June 15th?

It doesn’t matter… set a date and keep that date.

We are going to begin by making three contacts per day, and sending out three emails per day. Three days a week.

We can pass on Mondays and Fridays as these are not traditionally good days for marketing. People are either planning for the weekend or recovering from it. Let’s give them some air.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

Three contacts and three emails.

Six contacts per day x 3 days equals 18 contacts per week, 72 contacts per month, over 950 contacts per year. To see how that may affect your current status, figure out how many potential clients you contacted last year. Chances are it is less than 950… substantially less.

And yet we can do that with minimum effort. Three emails per day and three contacts per day is cake! It will take less than an hour – a lot less.

So what happens if we double that?

Six Contacts per day, and six emails. Just imagine.

Six contacts and six emails is 36 contacts per week, is 144 contacts per month. Nearly 1500 contacts per year.

What would that do to your business? What impact would that have on your income?

And how long would it take? Less than an hour a day for three days.

Go ahead, tell me how that won’t work for you. Go ahead and tell me that you are so busy not being busy that it is simply not possible to spend an hour a day MAKING YOUR BUSINESS successful.

I am not listening, but go ahead and try. You are only trying to convince yourself.

And really, you are the only one you must convince in order to get this change implemented.

At this point, I will sound a bit rude to some, and I really do not mean it to be rude. However, only you have the control over whether you play the numbers game or do not. Change from non-engagement to being engaged – or not. And in the end, it only affects you.

There are still lots of gigs to be commissioned. Lots of look-books to be shot. Thousands of pages of editorial and thousands of ads both local and national.

And here is another numbers game for you.

While the chances for getting a gig may be lower than they used to be due to the sheer numbers of competition, the fact is that there is a 100% probability that you will not get hired if they do not know you exist.

So here are a couple of questions for you.

Will you commit to 18 contacts per week?
Will you commit to creating an environment that will help possible clients find you?

Or will you simply let resistance take you off the grid?

I hope you never let resistance win. I really do.

Just remember…

It’s a numbers game.

DO THE MATH.

AWESOME Opportunity to be Exploited! Wow!

AWESOME Opportunity to be Exploited! Wow!

Crowdsourcing… that is the new name for spec work, but worse than spec work this involves an outlay by the ones being expected to be used for nothing.

FORMER ADVOCATE OF PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS, Photo District News and Rangefinder have decided it is a great idea to have people send them money.

I mean, hell yeah… I like that. I would love to have people send me money.

Oh, you have to send some of your work in too… at $20 a pop. Seriously?

You are going to pay them for the opportunity to be turned down – and of course they keep the cash.

I wonder if they would consider it a good idea to crowdsource the editors?
I wonder if they would consider it a good idea to crowdsource the art directors?
I wonder if they would consider it a good idea to crowdsource the writers?
I wonder if they would consider it a good idea to crowdsource the advertisers?
I wonder if they would consider it a good idea to crowdsource the printing?
I wonder if they would consider it a good idea to crowdsource the distribution?

Yeah, I guess those would be bad ideas for – you know – a photography magazine.

But hotdamn boyhowdy it is a SUPER IDEA to crowdsource the photography – and get PAID to do so – which is the whole fkn point of the magazine to begin with.

What does this tell us about the people at these magazines that they feel they should be paid to look at the product they promote? Shouldn’t discovering new talent BE the reason for the magazine?

Or is it simply too much work to seek it out on their own. (Hey, there’s this thing called the internet, and you can find all… oh, never mind.)

Or perhaps it is those thousands of twenty dollar bills flooding in with the images. And we KNOW the images will get looked at, right? Right?

I am saddened and angry about this. it is wrong on so many levels I can’t even believe it.

Betrayed is the word that comes to mind.

And no, I won’t link it… you wanna enter, there’s this place called google and… oh never mind.

APPENDED BELOW:

The above is snarky… yeah, I can be snarky.

But instead of criticizing without constructive ideas, let me add this.

A Photo Editor (Rob Haggard) does this every week. His wonderful “Art Producers Speak” series presents new and exciting photographers suggested by art buyers in agencies.

FLAK does it too. They take submissions for their online site here.

So does Jorge Colberg at his Conscientious site.

Many online EZines also feature work of upcoming photographers. Sites like C-Heads and LadyGunn have plenty of emerging talent on display.

Some of these magazines have submission fees as well, but nowhere near the steep ‘pay-to-play’ fees of this proposed publication.

In these days of photographers being taken for granted, downisized fees, challenging market conditions and rising costs, it is very disheartening to see one of our own go this way. PDN and Rangefinder are publications that know what it is like for photographers out there. We should be able to turn to them for support, and call on them to be an ally.

“Crowdsourcing” is simply another word for “Spec” work. Something both magazines have taken a stance against. Something which most photographers consider working for free. Or worse when expected to pay for the opportunity to even get considered.

What would happen if ad agencies asked for a submission fee? Or magazines… want to see an AD with your book? Pull out your Mastercard.

Is that what we want this business to turn into? A feeding frenzy of self annihilation?

I sure hope not… but time will tell.

 

Off Topic Sunday…

Off Topic Sunday…

Been reading a really interesting book this past couple of weeks… lots to digest. “The Power of Visual Storytelling” by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio is about how visuals are beginning to dominate not only our news and information channels, but the ways people interact with each other on many other social platforms.

If you are a photographer/designer, this is very good reading for you.

Pick it up for Kindle or in paperback.

Another book I am really enjoying is “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators” by Chris Brogan. If you are an entrepreneur in life or in spirit, this book is for you. I am most definitely all those things… and still working on the ‘world domination’ thing…

Also for Kindle and hardcover. I think you will really enjoy it.


 

Joe Sample passed this week. He was a pianist with a lot of charm, and I have many of his recordings. Funny how you can go back and listen to music made by people no longer with us. The power of technology that continues to surprise me.


 

Hey, did you know that Photoshop has a “Background Eraser”? Heh… this is pretty cool.

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This from Graphic Design Blender:

Freelancing is a legitimate business model, which means you need to treat it like a business. Here’s a brief look at the various roles you need to fulfil in your day-to-day operations:

  • The CEO – the person who does the strategic thinking and calls all of the shots.
  • The Designer – the person who actually puts in the work and ships client projects.
  • The CFO – the person who manages all of the finances for the business.
  • The HR Manager – the person who manages all of the people you bring in to help grow your business.
  • The Administration Assistant – the person who takes care of all of the emails, bookings, file management to ensure things are in order.
  • The Marketing Manager – the person who actively markets your business to ensure you always have new leads coming in.

There are 6 main roles in total, and in case you haven’t picked up on it already, you are all of these roles. I don’t want to freak you out, but this is the reality.

How we handle all these different rolls of our business persona is all important for the freelancer.

Read this important article here.

 

10 Instagram Photographers You Should Be Following But Aren’t

I love Instagram. I should use it more, but I get so caught up with writing and other things that it sometimes skips my mind.

However, I love following good image makers there and I am surprised that some of the fun photographers I follow are not being followed by many other photographers… what is up with that?

I think you should take a look at these folks and see their wonderful photos.

mmoorephotos on Instagram

Mike Moore @mmoorephotos

mirrormirrorxx on Instagram

Paola Thomas @mirrormirrorxx

tomastoj on Instagram

Tomas Jansson @tomastoj

coheaphotography on Instagram

William Cohea @coheaphotography

hiramchee on Instagram

Hiram Chee @hiramchee

katherinegooding on Instagram

Katherine Gooding @katherinegooding

simonwodwyer on Instagram

Simon Wodwyer @simonwodwyer

ireneliebler on Instagram

Irene Liebler @ireneliebler

tammybogestrand on Instagram

Tammy Bogestrand @tammybogestrand

rarerthan on Instagram

Shane Ernest @rarerthan

What About Critics?

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Should We Listen To Critics or Show Them The Door?

Ahhh… the world of the artist. A place where we can nurture our ideas and share our bountiful creativity to others who will accept it into their lives with open arms, and smiles of gratitude.

Or… not.

There seems to always be someone who doesn’t get what we are doing. Someone who finds it so desperately wanting as to cause them to sit at a keyboard and tell us that we are wrong… our work is wrong… our art is wrong.

“It’s just wrong, dagnabbit!”

And all this time, we were laboring under the impression that we were creating something that others would find appealing, not wrong. What does that mean anyway?

How can a piece of art, a photograph, a frame from our experience be “wrong”?

I will answer this in a few, so hang tight.

Critics. They produce nothing. They rarely know much about the art we create. They are usually not prepared for much of anything in the way of actually having much to say, rather it is the saying of that nothing that is their reason for being.

Now, I am not talking about critics who actually know a bit about the work, who delve into the motivations and the artistic goals of the artist, who can compare and contrast and understand the value of the work as it stands before them. There are a few of those out there, and while we may not agree with them all the time, we do know their knowledge runs deep, and that counts for something.

No, I am discussing the critics that are unsolicited noise brought to a higher volume with the social media frenzy of armchair experts. Followers of movements, online gurus, and phocelebs who create a frenzy with every “off camera flash” image they create. Being a devotee of someone else seems to be all that is needed to have permission to spew unrelated criticism of others work, or make judgements as to its value.

How we deal with this noise is important. Many budding artists have been sidelined by the nagging doubt as to their spot in the art world brought on by a casual remark on Facebook, or an unflattering note made by ‘someone on twitter’… and that, that is wrong!

A couple of interesting phenomena here.

Artists seem to give more weight to the negative remarks than the good ones.

Why? Why do we do that?

100 people see our image: 90 people like it, 8 people are non-committal, and two of them do not like it. One of those detractors adds a personal note like “This work is getting boring to me. I think you need to kick it up a notch or you will never be any good.”

Who does the artist seem to remember the most? Those ninety people who love it? Nope. The ones that didn’t? Nope… the one who decided to add a bit of criticism to the mix. The artist will focus on that one negative and bring themselves to a panic wondering if they really do need to ‘kick it up a notch’ even though no one on the planet has any idea what that really means…

How do we stop that from happening?

We stop it. Ourselves.

Having detractors is part of the way we know we are doing something right. No artist can please everyone. Avedon did not get every job he wanted. Spielberg has had to ‘sell’ himself as a director, and even the greatest actors around still have to audition.

The creation of art focused on the smallest common denominator usually produces art that is of no value anyway. If you want to make photographs that fly off the shelf at Walmart, you will be sad to find out that there are still those who will not buy them.

Detractors are not important. We simply stop giving them power. Know they exist, forget about any usefulness for them other than to remind you that you are not creating work for everyone.

And you shouldn’t.

The end of the ‘expert’ phenomena has not been of much help, that is for sure. People have gone through a lifetime of believing that every opinion matters, everyone’s ideas should be heard.

While that may play well in the skules, it is pure bullshit in the real world. An opinion that 4+4=9 is of no value, nor should we give accolades for being close. If I want to know why my refrigerator is acting up, I need not bother with my 10 year old daughter, nor the guy who sells slurpies at the QuikMart. I need someone who knows refrigerators. An expert.

Today, too many people think they are experts in photography. They are well versed in the lingo, have themselves an “off camera flash” and can ‘beat the sun’ for a cool looking picture. So naturally they have all that is needed to tell you what you are doing wrong. And they want to do it from the anonymity of the interwebs… safe from all retribution or inquiry.

STFU, dude.

If I want to get portfolio help, I will go to someone who I respect, who has similar sensibilities, who I can believe in for realistic ideas and motivations. I would not seek out someone who simply did not meet that criteria.

Nor would any of you…

So why do we even listen when the criticism is offered without our solicitation? Is a remark on Facebook telling us to ‘work on our processing’ really worthy of much attention?

If it comes from Rob Haggard or Selina Maitreya, then perhaps it is worth exploring. If it comes from someone who lacks the credentials and experience of those two, perhaps it is simply an opinion… and opinions are like… well, you know that line.

Opinions are not criticism. Opinions tell us more about the one who has it than of what they have an opinion. An ‘opinion’ that Avedon was a terrible photographer tells me more about the one with the opinion than it does about Avedon.

Stop confusing opinions with genuine critique.

A critique is something that you request. It must have parameters around it that indicate what the artist wanted to create what the goals of the work were and how well they think they accomplished that mission. Only then can a critique be given… with care and acknowledgement of those stated goals.

Critiques have value, opinions are are personal polls. And polls don’t mean much to artists, especially when they are a poll of one.

At least, they shouldn’t.

Lastly, those who love your work and what you do should be rewarded by your faith in them, your attention and goodwill toward them. Haters are hating on them by proxy. It is the detractors gift to themselves to turn someone who is a fan of yours into a non-fan. Giving the detractor fuel by ignoring those who care is not productive. Forget the detractor, pay more attention to your fans.

Let’s wrap it up with a small list, shall we.

1. When you receive an unsolicited critique, first remind yourself that it is not a critique, but an opinion. Ask what that opinion means to you or your work. Weigh it against what you know to be true, and dismiss it.

2. When you get an unsolicited opinion, investigate your detractor a bit. Click and see… do they have the chops to really give this opinion? Are they really worthy of the power they are trying to wield, or are they simply sharing their complete lack of tact and knowledge with you?

3. Understand that having detractors is a good thing. Nothing of value can please everyone. A photographer must create work that they love themselves, and not try to create a ‘one-size-fits-all’ image that will offend no one. Those images are used for picture frame sales and cheap calendars. And even then… heh

4. Know the value of your own opinion of your own work. If you believe in it, do not let someone who does not detract you from your work. Instead, let it be a force for creating more images that you love.

5. Turn your attention toward those who support you. The 90% of your followers, fans, customers who love your work. Don’t insult them by giving more weight to the detractors than you do to those who are on your side. Reinforce their commitment to you by ignoring those who are denigrating them by criticizing you.

6. And lastly… don’t let them win. Don’t let a week, small, petty person with nothing to do but try to make those who are actually out there doing stuff feel bad. Never give someone like that any power… not over you, or your work, or your fans and tribe… ignore them. And that is what destroys them the most. Not angry responses or tears of shame… ignoring them brings them the self awareness that they really have nothing to contribute, and they have even less power than they think they do.

Stay committed to your work, and be true to those who support you.

Have a great week, everyone. And tell the unsolicited critics not to let the door hit them on the way out.