Friday, February 17, 2012

Common Photo-Biz Mistakes

***** Special Note: This will most likely be one of my last "how-to" posts on the photo biz topic. For awhile I felt myself moving in the guru direction which I do not feel that I am a good fit for. I hope you find this article helpful, it has helped me along my journey. ******

The artist’s job is to create, grow, earn and keep their audience (a.k.a. the client.) This is why so many photography businesses fail within their first 2 – 5 years of being open. No audience.

Common nonsense mistakes that photographers make:

1. SEO is marketing.
2. Websites and blogs are enough.
3. Traditional media (mass or targeted) work in a digital world.

SEO, websites and blogs are the minimum tools that you need to manage your digital-find-ability. SEO, websites and blogs are mandatory and important, but they are not marketing.

Five years ago when the transition from brick and mortar studios to online studios was happening SEO, websites and blogs were the best transitional tools a person could possibly use.

Today SEO, websites and blogs are only as effective as a listing in the yellow pages, a marquee storefront sign and the unlocking of your front door for business.

It’s mandatory, it's important, but it is not is only letting Google know that you are open for business.

What works in digital commerce/culture?
1. Photography communicates better than anything else…share it.
2. You are either transparent or obscure in today’s photography market.
3. You must sculpt a photo-biz to suit your own personal intentions and life. (This is what "authentic" is)
4. Attention-grabbing media works. Go out and earn your audience, daily.
5. If you believe in your photographs then get them in the hands (or screens) of your audience.

I ended a blog post last week with a quote by Douglas Rushkoff. It feels like a perfect ending to this post.

“As many small business owners soon learned, going online often costs them their last real competitive advantage against conglomerates; the human relationship and connections they enjoyed in the real world.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Makeup & hairy styling by Justine Lyn, owner of Beauty Justified
Flower creations by April Mason, owner of Mocha Rose

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Photo of the Week

Happy valentine's day!

This photograph is licensed under a creative commons licensing: Please feel free to use and distribute the photograph in accordance with the licensing
Fashion Style

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekend After The Super Bowl Photography Workshop

This past Saturday was either my 4th or 5th year of holding my “Weekend After The Super Bowl Photography Workshop”. I have not been good at keeping track.

I never planed out my marketing approach to holding this workshop; I have always picked the weekend after the Super Bowl because, hey, no football on TV. What else is there to do in Pittsburgh on the weekends?

It appears to be the perfect weekend for holding this workshop so starting next year it will become the…

“Inaugural 6yrs Running 1st Annual Weekend After The Super Bowl Photography Workshop”.

Catchy isn’t it...

One of the strangest things that I do in this workshop is take the class outside to practice taking photos. Taking people outside to take photos, not that strange. But taking them out in February, now that's maddeningly insane. Now, for you non-northern people reading this, February in Pittsburgh is cold, crazy Arctic, feel your nose hair, cold. For some stroke of dumb-luck every previous year the workshop has fallen on an unseasonably mild February day.

This year I made the assumption that my luck would continue. On account of winter in Pittsburgh this year being non-existent, all I can think of is all the good things that come before the apocalypse of global warming. Do assumptions ever work out for anybody?

I awoke to 3 inches of snow blanketing the roads outside my home. This is not going to be good, I think to myself. To my happiness my good luck continued. C’mon this is Pittsburgh. The class is filled with Pittsburghers. Snow is not a problem for these people. The class was filled and at 10:15am sharp and we started.

This class was the best ever. Seriously, the best ever. We have all been in classes or meetings and there is always, and I do mean always, that one person who asks so many dumb questions that is slows the class for everyone else. Well, this class did not have that person, thank God. This class was filled with passionate, motivated, extremely good looking (wink, wink) people interested in discovering the joys of creating a photo.

A recap of the class: we took the journey of a human-centered approach to creating photos (no microwaves, no vending metaphors are magical). Then we read our Gospel, which gave us a deeper understanding of the Trinity; it all accumulates with the immaculate reincarnation of a photograph…

In all honesty I can say the class was transfigured by a blinding radiant light from the appearance of the photographs on the back of their cameras…quite blissful if I do say so myself.

Photograph the light
Compose the subject

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Current Read: The Empty Mirror by Janwillem van de Wetering
Current Music: Which Side are You on? By Ani Difranco
Sound: Dryer
Smell: Toast
Temperature: 37 degrees
Thoughts: Nice goes far, be nice....

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Photo of the Week

Lit by moonlight...

This photograph is licensed under a creative commons licensing: Please feel free to use and distribute the photograph in accordance with the licensing

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fighting the Anger Inside

Recently I have been having conversations with people asking for permission to “do the work”.

Permission is an odd thing. We give ourselves permission to take it easy but we have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do the work.

Permission to sleep in, permission to skip a workout, permission to eat an extra slice of pie, permission to take a day off, permission to not follow up, all easy…..but permission to try something new, permission to take a leap...well that’s where we pause. All of us.

These conversations happen 1st quarter of every year. I get invited to have coffee and people ask me questions about photo-biz-life and random stuff. I love every opportunity that I get to have these conversations. Each one is a teachable moment and life lesson for me. I learn so much, I love it, please keep asking.

Last week we lost a job due to a backhanded nature of a competitive vendor (not a photographer) and we are asking the question: should we take legal action? In our gut with think we would win, easily. But at what cost to us, financially and emotionally? Do we want the fight? Do we want to be bothered? Do we want the revenge!? Do we want to fight the anger inside?

This is where we find ourselves fighting the fear inside. It happens to all of us. Taking the leap. Fighting your own inner voice.

Doing the work and fighting the anger inside; these two concepts go hand in hand in business, art and in life.

“Doing the work” for some people is simply their nature. They simply do. Doing the work for others is not natural at all. It’s not that we’re lazy or lacking motivation, it’s that we do not know where/how to start. We are fighting the anger inside of ourselves about taking action. The idea of taking action and failing is what causes the anger in the first place. It’s the “why bother” attitude, and that is the answer. If we have a “why bother” attitude then we are not excited nor passionate about the outcome.

Ask yourself “What is the anger inside?” Is it the drudgery of giving yourself permission to fail or is it that the achievement will not be fulfilling?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Current Reading: Here and Now! The Autobiography of Pat Martino
Current Music: Sessions For Robert J. By Eric Clapton
Sounds: Complete silence
Smells: Fresh air
Temperature: 53 degrees
Thoughts: Is corporate culture the only culture left?