Finding Commercial Photography Clients: Part Three; Getting Personal

(NOTE)
If you are just coming into this series, I highly suggest you start at Part One, and then do Part Two before starting Part Three. Links for all of them are inside the protected area, and you can access them easily.

So far we have been working on our portfolios, making them reflect both our vision, and the needs of clients that would hire us. And we have begun building out our channels lists so we know where to go looking for those clients we want to work with.

Channels are the big picture look, and now we have to look at the more granular ‘gatekeepers’ and ‘middle entities’ that give us access to the assignment photography we want to do.

In this presentation we will examine the channels list and break it down into the specific clients and companies that we need to access. In this video I will show you how the different entities work, and what you should know as you begin to pursue commercial photography assignments.

Subscribers to “In The Frame” have gotten this information already. Please subscribe to get access to this video, and the next two. They are full of information you can use right now to help build a strong client list. “In The Frame” comes out each Sunday, and we never spam you. We focus on the business and art of commercial photography. And please et me know if this series is helpful to you.

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Finding Commercial Photography Clients: Part Two

2015-05-24_1322

“How do I find clients?”

One of the most asked questions I get when chatting with photographers is where can they find clients.

It is one of the questions I ask when reviewing a portfolio; “OK, these are nice shots. Who do you know who will pay you for this kind of work?”

Too often I get a sort of lost expression and some mumbling. Occasionally someone will answer with a couple of ideas – but usually what I call the “Low Hanging Fruit” of possible clients; magazines.

Well, there is much more to commercial photography than working for “magazines” and we need to identify those areas who will purchase our work so we can move toward getting them to do just that.

In this video, I discuss the discovery of “Channels” – vertical markets that help you identify the types of businesses that would be able to use the kind of work that you do.

“Discovering Channels” is part two of our “Finding and Keeping Commercial Photography Clients” program. Part One is on the blog and open to all. The entire series is free and open for subscribers to “In The Frame”.

This step by step program will help you build a solid client list, and help you keep them while you build your business. Many of my Project 52 members have been successful working this program.

Subscribers to “In The Frame” have gotten this information already. Please subscribe to get access to this video, and the next three. They are full of information you can use right now to help build a strong client list. “In The Frame” comes out each Sunday, and we never spam you. We focus on the business and art of commercial photography. And please et me know if this series is helpful to you.

Subscribe To "In The Frame"

Every Sunday a new relevent newsletter on the art and business of commercial photography.

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This video is over 45 minutes long and includes a case study to help you build a strong channel list.

 

Finding Commercial Photography Clients: Pt. One – Portfolio


 

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Build a Solid Client List

Finding and Keeping Commercial Photography Clients

NOTE: This is a course for emerging commercial photographers. The methods we discuss may be of interest to consumer photographers as well, but are highly focused on the commercial part of our industry. Thank you.

This is part one of a five part free course on finding and keeping commercial photography clients. It is an introduction to a far more robust course that will be offered July 1. There is no ‘selling’ in this video – or the next three, but in the last one I will show you how to sign up for the more detailed and comprehensive program. These videos are high in value and even if you do not sign up for the full course, you will find them extremely helpful.

To get the remaining 4 videos, please signup for “In the Frame”, my weekly dispatch. The classes will come to you one per week. You will find the sign up on the right hand column. Thank you for being interested, now let’s talk about your portfolio.

“The Sprinklers” (A Mother’s Day Essay)

sprinkler

(My daughter, Alissa, wrote this Friday for one of her final assignments. It fits in nicely for mother’s day.)

Sprinklers

My mom used to tell my sisters and me that if we ran through the sprinklers we would feel like different people. We could do anything, be anything, without worrying about the future. When we ran through the sprinklers we were transported to whole different worlds. Some with endless possibilities. All with childlike joy and imagination. “The sprinklers will always be there for you. You just have to look for them.”

My older sister and I used to run through the sprinklers every afternoon in the park near our school. We skipped to the park and stopped by the edge of the grass. We put our backpacks down and took off our shoes, then lined our toes up to where the sidewalk meets the grass – just barely touching the wetness. I would close my eyes and hear my mother’s voice echoing in my mind, telling me I could be whatever I wanted to be in those sprinklers. I looked at my sister and we held hands as we were transported to a different world. Running through sprinklers. Running through sparkling, diamond drops of water. Possibilities. Joy.

I am now a senior in high school. My baby steps are over, and it’s time to become an adult. Being an adult comes with responsibilities and worries. I walk home from school on a sunny day and I think about the future. What will I study in college? Will I graduate? Will I ever move out of my parents house? How will I pay for all the adult stuff like insurance and utilities? Will I ever get a job to help me pay for all of these things? Will I find a career that I love?

My mind was ripped away from that worrisome reality when I felt water hitting my toes. I looked up to see the sprinklers in the park near the school. I glanced around. Was anyone going to see me? Who cares?! I put my backpack down and took my sandals off, and lined my toes up to where the sidewalk meets the grass. My toes barely touched the wetness. I looked around again, and then I went for it. As I ran through the sprinklers carefree and in my own world, I could hear my mom’s voice, “You can be anything, do anything.” I was laughing as all my troubles went away. I was in a different place where I felt safe and free. There were endless possibilities. Whatever happens in life that makes me stressed and upset, I can and will always count on those sprinklers to be there for me. I believe in running through sprinklers and connecting with my inner child. I’ll never let go of her, especially when she is needed most. The sprinklers will always be there – I just have to look for them.

— Alissa Giannatti, May 2015

24 Frames In May (2015 Edition)

TWENTY FOUR FRAMES IN MAY

Jorge Rodríguez Santos Photography

Jorge Rodríguez Santos Photography

Last year the Project 52 folks were invited to a special project: shoot 24 frames of film in the month of May. The idea was to treat a single frame of film with the same deliberate attention we would give it if it were a sheet of 8×10. Carefully decide what you want in the frame, make an accurate exposure calculation and shoot the image. Not mad bursts or ‘shoot it till you get it” – the idea is to think enough about the image in your camera that you do indeed ‘get it’ with that single frame.

Not many rules, but a few guidelines:

  1. This is for film cameras only.
  2. Black and White or Color is fine, and there are no restrictions on the type of film you shoot.
  3. Polaroid is OK.
  4. 4×5 or sheet film cameras are OK.
  5. Tintype / alternate process is OK.
  6. Images must be on a contact sheet as well as individually presented (Use Photoshop’s excellent “Contact Sheet” tool if you have had your film scanned.)
  7. Only one roll of 35mm film (or the first 24 frames of a roll of 36)
  8. Two rolls + for 6×7 120/220.
  9. No more than three exposures taken on any single day, no more than two of any single subject.
  10. Images must be presented in order of exposure.

Uploading instructions will be posted on May 31. Upload from June 1 to June 15.

If you are planning on being involved, let us all know in the comments.

Submissions will include:

  • Contact sheet
  • Camera format / brand
  • Lenses used
  • Film type and name
  • Lab used (with link please)
  • 24 individual frames ready for web at 1000 pixels on the long side.

Here is a link to last year’s submissions. I am hoping for triple the involvement this year.

Considering an option for a contest… thinking more about it and will announce before May if you can choose to be in the optional contest.

Need a film camera? Here is a list of my favorite film cameras. Let me know if you think I missed any amazing cameras. (Yeah, I gotta ad the Olympus OM-1 soon…)

Ten Things About ‘Creativity’

Canyon Floor, Zion National Park, UT. Winter is my favorite time for exploring the southwest.

Canyon Floor, Zion National Park, UT. Winter is my favorite time for exploring the southwest.

Occasionally we find ourselves in an argument of whether or not ‘creativity’ can be taught, or does it have to be born within us? We read all about creativity and how important it is. We award little statuettes to really “creative” people. Creativity is blessed, cursed, chased, obsessed over, ignored, beaten down and vindicated.

It is a word so over used that we mention Stravinsky and Lady GaGa in the same breathless discussion of creativity. Schools want to nurture it (which of coursd is pure bullshit). Companies seek it (also bull-bullshit). Poets have it in spades (bull… oh never mind).

But have you ever tried to simply define it? Being ‘creative’ can also be cruel, savage, inhumane and anarchistic. Creativity can mean simply doing something different… so what? If I take the garbage out with my left hand instead of my right hand, as I do every day, is that “creative”? A photographer takes pix of dog-doo on bright backgrounds – is that ‘creative’ just because no one else has done it?

I rarely think about creativity, as I long ago realized something about creativity that made me wary. Creativity claims to be your buddy, your pal… your roommate along the path to making cool shit. But creativity rarely keeps up his end of the bargain. He leaves the place a mess, hits on your girlfriend, steals your money and drinks your beer.

And then one day, ol ‘creativity’ waltzes out the door destined to befriend that kid down the street, or the woman downstairs. He hasn’t even paid for his half of the electricity. You are left with an empty feeling, a loss of ‘mojo’ that develops into a long, long despair.

Bastard.

So here are a few things I know about creativity. And believe me, after being in the ‘creative’ business for nearly my entire working life, I know this guy. Here’s the skinny…

Ten things I Know About Creativity:

1. Creativity is not something you bestow on yourself, but something that others bestow upon you. Creativity to the creative person is simply the way they work. Calling yourself ‘creative’ may not make it is so, and in fact, I find it runs pretty much the opposite. Every time I see the title “creative photographer” I want to mutter under my breath, “says who”?

2. Creativity is not a method or a system or a learned behavior. It is inherent in all of us, but few of us let it be what it is. Whether out of fear or laziness, self pity or arrogance, ignorance or infinite exploration, we eschew creativity and choose the safer, well worn paths. Ignorance of creativity is a very smart way to get along in some circles. Congress for instance.

3. Creativity cannot be taught. It doesn’t have to be. It only needs to be unleashed. Getting out of its way is the most difficult of challenges. We are not conditioned to allow creativity to go unchecked. From our earliest age we must walk in a straight line, color inside the lines, sit at our desks, study what some older person deems is important to us. Creativity and school is like a fish with a bicycle.

4. Why do we automatically consider creativity good? Over the years many madmen have done a pretty good job at creating some of the most heinous acts ever perpetrated on other humans. Murderous monsters are creative in the ways they trap their prey… while eluding capture. Creativity can be horrific when applied to horrific things. Creativity has no soul other than the one wielding it. Creativity is not good or bad, it is simply its own person, and he does what he wants. We allow him to run free or channel his wanderings and misadventures. Our call, not his.

5. Creativity can be within specific genres and may not necessarily spill across the entire spectrum of a persons life. One may be incredibly talented in music, but not very good at drawing. A sculptor may be able to see and reveal an incredible masterpiece, while a concert level pianist may not be able to see anything but a piece of rock. This is not good or bad creativity… it just is creativity in different spaces of humanity.

6. Creativity is shown simply and honestly… and not in a good or bad notion. One may be very very creative and turn out pure shit in the eyes of the world. A 3 year old with a canvas and 56 paints could have the time of their lives… being creative and exploding color across the field in ways NO ONE has ever seen.

So what?

Creativity does not necessarily create masterpieces. Sometimes creativity creates shit. And then he stands there smugly demanding that we LOVE what he did… it was so, you know, creative.

7. Work that is derivative can be creative, if the act of derivation ends with something that we think is worthy. It can also end on a bad note if we think it is not as good as the original. We see creativity usually on the backside, not the front. We see the results not the action, and we rarely see the prelude. Sure “Batman” was pretty creative back when Marvel was cranking them out and we were spending a quarter to keep up with the story. But these days, they are simply worn out ‘toons with two hundred million dollar budgets. Boring, predictable and lame.

8. Creativity is a tool. Creativity is an honorarium. Creativity is a joke. Creativity is divine. If Lady Gaga is creative, then what would we call Eliot Carter? Stravinsky? Coltrane? If P-Diddy is creative, what do we call the hordes of rappers that came before and after that sound the same… identical even, to his work? If Copland was creative, how do we explain it to someone who has never heard his music? How about explaining music to someone who has never heard music before… ever?

Now that would be creative.

9. Creativity is over rated. We have turned anything a bit different into “creativity at its finest”. If building the space shuttle and twitter are both creative, is there any difference given to the importance of the creation? Can “Cats” be considered as creative as “Othello?” Is a child like presentation of a Chopin Etude be considered as creative as a performance by a prodigy – or indeed the creator himself? If we consider creativity to be some mark on a ledger or tick on a measuring stick, then we have to be able to quantify it.

Go ahead… give it a go. Quantify creativity.

Good luck with that.

10. Creativity is not definable. Not in any way I can comprehend. And yet I know creativity when I see it, hear it, taste it. We all can agree that we know creative people, and yet we may be somewhat dismayed when we discover who each of us believe to be creative.

I rarely think of creativity as something I want to achieve. It is never how I discuss my own work. If my work is creative, others will note and if it is not, then it will be noted as well. To seek it wastes time, as it cannot be found. It only reveals itself when it is ready, and when the moment is right.

Our job is to make more opportunities for creativity to be revealed. We do that though practice, and study, and work, and effort, and critiques (good and bad) and friends who are not afraid to call you on the work, and enemies that make you defend, or retreat, or rethink. Creativity is a pain in the ass. It has no guarantee of being revealed. There is no magical criteria (10,000 hours my ass), no ‘aha’ moment, no grace to be bestowed. It can leave you waiting at the alter after promising you a thousand times that it loved you. It is heartless and loving, cruel and kind, manic and patient.

And often it is disguised as something else. Something more familiar than trendy, more ethereal than processed. Sometimes it is disguised as hard work.

Creativity means something to each of us, but it is rarely something that I think we should be chasing. Rather we should be chasing the near perfection that comes from working whatever we do to the heart of it. From shooting every day. From being relentless critics to stalwart defenders of our work. Creativity needs nothing from us, but we give our all to achieve it.

Sometimes we are awake to see creativity arrive, but we rarely know its name nor recognize its power. Most of the time we are working on our work so hard we never see it arrive, we couldn’t care less what we call it and we never remember to acknowledge it. We just keep working.

So creativity sits on our shoulders for a while.

Resting in his comfortable by-the-month apartment, putting his feet on the furniture and parking his car on our lawn

But you can be sure about one thing… creativity can be a mercurial and disloyal pal while he camps on your shoulders. He will come over for BBQ and Corona’s, flirt with your girl and hang around long enough to borrow your lawnmower and never return it when he leaves.

You see, creativity rarely moves in, buys a house and puts in a pool.

(BTW, creativity comes in all genders… mine happens to be an aging hippy who still loves film.)