Sunday, August 26, 2012

Make Sure the Work on Your Website is Your Own!

Seriously, people . . . what is the industry coming to?

All of us want a pretty website filled with awesome images, because we know that will ultimately attract clients. So what happens when you're just getting started and you don't have that much to show, or you feel that the work you do have doesn't measure up to the others out there?

Most of us get off our butts, learn how to create better images, spend some time practicing and then put the results on our Facebook pages and websites. It's the only way, right?

Over the past few weeks, Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets have been buzzing with stories of so-called professional photographers who have populated their websites with stunning images. Unfortunately, these images were lifted from the sites of other photographers and were NOT the creations of the individual who owned the site on which they were being displayed.

Check out the case of this individual, documented fully on the Tumblr site "Photo Stealers":

As if that wasn't lame enough, the individual in question chose to defend their actions with multiple stories and "reasons" why the stolen images appeared on the website as a representation of the faux-tographer's own work. (Note: all of this individuals websites / FB Pages are now inactive.)

I wish I could say this is an isolated incident, but it's not. Australian Portrait Photographer of the Year Sue Bryce has had her work displayed numerous times on other wannabee-photographers' sites, claiming it as their own.

Part of becoming and being a professional is the process of learning to create and then actually producing quality images.
  1. Using photographs that were not created by you without the permission of the photographer is STEALING. 
  2. Using images which are not yours to represent work you have done is misleading the client and is called FRAUD.
Really? Is this how you want to begin a relationship with a client?

Now, I do realize that the bulk of the individuals in this profession are honest, caring, upstanding people and would never even consider doing something like this. They work hard to learn the techniques necessary to produce quality images and build their businesses honestly.

There are no shortcuts. Building a business on false pretenses is just the beginning of a free-fall down an extremely slippery slope.

If you are going to call yourself a professional, then make sure everything you do reflects true professionalism.

- David

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stop Worrying About What Others "In Your Area" are Doing!

We were having a discussion in a Facebook group and I thought I'd share this part of it for readers here.

It seems any time we talk about pricing, someone will say "well, that will never fly in my area" or "in my area, people would never pay those prices", or "in my area, everyone just wants a CD."

"In my area . . . " <sigh>

In my area, there are over 650 registered photographers (with the MN Dept of Revenue).

In my area, there are probably an equal number of students, MWACs and wannabees who own DLSRs, print business cards, have a FB business page and a website and call themselves professional. However, they pay no taxes and do it all "under the table."

In my area, these "professionals" charge anywhere from $100 / up and give a disk . . . and while it frustrates me that I have to constantly explain myself to clients, the bottom line is basic:

"I'm sorry, Ma'am . . . I am in business to make a living. This is how I feed my family, pay my bills, put my kids through college. I'm happy to sell you images on a disk; the first one is $500. The next two are $250 each. You may choose 10 for $1500. (That makes them just $150 each.)"

I'm in business to create awesome images and sell you finished photographs. It is not my mission to be cheap so that I can save someone a buck or two while they print my work at Costco.

I still need to pay my bills and cover my expenses, not to mention put something away for the future.

After spending 28 years with a business partner who almost ran us out of business because he wanted to charge based on what everyone else "in our area" charged, I knew I needed a change. Eight years ago I finally broke free of that and - scared to death - went into my own thing knowing I was going to sink or swim and the only thing standing between the two was me.

I believe that the "area" people are talking about is the space between their ears.

I've stopped caring about what others "in my area" charge. I've started looking after me. I deserve it.

You do too.

- David

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Try an LED video light to give your images some extra "wow"!

Recently, I was at a workshop where the presenter was demonstrating the use of a low-powered LED video light for use in situations where you don't want to light with electronic flash. It was intriguing to see the results of the light when used as a main, a fill, through a modifier such as a shoot-thru umbrella, or simply with a diffuser. I was curious enough to want to try one for myself.

Of course, he was selling one for $200. His was lower power, smaller and the battery was $50 extra. Rather than do my usual impulse buy, I copied the specs and did some research.

What I found was pretty amazing. There are a number of these types of lights available in places like eBay and Amazon. Taking a minute to compare made me realize I wanted one that took a higher-capacity battery than what 6 AAs provided. I also wanted something dimmable to give the unit some versatility. Most are lightweight and have a hot shoe attachment as well as a standard tripod or light stand thread.

Best of all, I found them for - get this - under $50 each, including the battery and charger.

(And . . I'm sharing the link so people don't pay $200 for one.) ;-)

CLICK HERE to find this great deal on Amazon, or look in the "Recommended by David" box.

Have fun!

- David

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Quick Thought for the Day to Apply to Your Business . . .

"All the water in the entire ocean cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside."

It's an old business maxim that applies in so many ways. Perhaps it could be stated another way as well:

"All the negativity in the world can't hurt you unless you allow it to get inside your head."

If you stopped having negative thoughts, or even interrupted the process now and then, where would you be with your business?

Would you step out of your comfort zone and photograph differently?

Would you recreate your pricing? Sell your work differently?

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

It's time to stand out in the crowd, but not because of negative thinking.

It's time to stop worrying about other photographers in your area. It's time to pull up your big-boy or big-girl pants and realize that you make the difference.

Go for it. You won't be sorry.

- David

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Are You Disillusioned About What You Thought Would Be Your "Dream Job"?

Boys and girls . . . SERIOUSLY . . . I know raising prices is scary. I know it makes you sweat. I know you think you're already too high because your so-called "good clients" are telling you so.


Let's look at this in a different way.

What if I offered you a job where you were free to create to your heart's content?

What if I told you that in addition, you'd have final say over all of the product lines? How about the purchasing decisions? You're free to buy the gear you need to do the job. And the hours . . you can set your own!

Sounds pretty sweet, right?

Now what if I told you you'd also be the receptionist, so you'd have to answer the phones, set appointments and deal with the public?

How about the customer service? You also get to work with people who aren't going to be happy. Some are just going to be offensive and mean.

Oh, by the way . . . you're the bookkeeper as well. You get to make sure that all of the monthly bills are paid and that the checkbook gets balanced. And you're responsible for keeping the receipts and such in an orderly fashion.

And production. You're responsible for unpacking the product, assembling the final product and making sure it's perfect and correct.

Shipping department? Yup, you get that job as well.

Don't forget to vacuum and empty the wastebaskets; you're the janitor too. (And the toilet . . . keep it clean!)

Now . . . what if I told you for all of this, you'd be paid the whopping sum of . . . are you ready?


You'd tell me I was crazy. You'd tell me to go jump. Some of you may tell me to do something that isn't even humanly possible.


A whole bunch of you have already taken this job. Your pricing is so horrendously low, you're working for less than minimum wage.

That great job you thought would make you enough money so you could stay home with the kids or quit your full-time job that you hate isn't paying you a penny. Some of you may even be paying for the privilege of working as a photographer.

YOU NEED TO RAISE YOUR PRICES. Sit down and figure it out. After you pay taxes and take out your expenses (yes, all of them), are you really able to keep anything for yourself?

You wouldn't let a boss do this to you. Why are you ok with doing it to yourself?

- David Grupa

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Yup . . . Even Olympic Photographers Have Bad Days.

Even though we're smack in the middle of senior portrait / wedding season, I can't help but think of the long hours being put in by the photographers covering the Olympic Games in London.

The poor guy in this video looks like he's running on caffeine as he attempts to figure out why he's not getting any images of the Japanese gymnast who just finished his routine. "Camera is on . . . battery shows full charge . . . oh yeah, here's the problem . . . "