Tag Archives: experience

Part Two: The Artist – Diamond amid the sewage

abbey attrrocity-1_edited-1

Abbey Lee braves appearing in a mock up photograph which contains every possible rookie mistake, poor photography technique, awkward and cliché posing, and just downright bad taste, we could come up with, to show up the constant flow of photographs uploaded to the internet on a daily basis, which are almost identical to this in so many aspects, masquerading as ‘art’, created by legions of self proclaimed, and (almost always) ‘international award winning’ photographers, and invariably rewarded by comments of ‘awesome capture’, ‘inspired’, and even ‘you should become a professional’

After careful reading and attention to accepted definitions given in Part One of this blog: “Are You Really Creative?” it seems evident that self proclaimed ‘artists’ are coming from the wrong end of the creativity spectrum.

In this Anti-Intellectual era we are now so blessed to be living in, the time honoured tradition of ‘artists’ only being drawn from the most accomplished, technically expert, and imaginative, with something profound or at least meaningful to express, has been well and truly abandoned in favour of the naive tyro, who not only has little to no experience, but actively shuns the development of required expertise, technical ability, and problem solving skills, in order that ‘creativity’ and the ‘artist’s integrity’ and ‘passion’ should not be corrupted.

The oft heard mantra: “I will succeed because photography is my Passion!” is indeed the cry of the times, no matter how fanciful or delusional it may be.

Armed then, with apparently nothing but their passion, and faith in their own mostly delusional raw talent, most have not, and many will probably never have the talent, ability, motivation, or originality of thought to get anywhere other than demoralising oblivion…and those few who do have the imagination and something original and inspiring to offer, or say to the world, have not the tools, the training, the experience or the knowledge of how to communicate their ideas and vision effectively.

In other words, their own naive attitudes towards creativity and their undeveloped concept of art, actually conspire against them ever acquiring the requisite skills.

Including:

  • Societally induced expectations of reward without work, inability to accept responsibility for one’s own actions or lack thereof, an over-arching belief that the world ‘owes me’, and the nanny state will protect and look after me, a general lack of inquisitiveness, and the desire for instant reward and gratification

  • Lack of effective and properly structured learning opportunities, in which education is increasingly becoming a world of underfunding and poorly trained and lower quality educators, including a preponderance of mickey mouse courses, the blind leading the blind, (or as some would say in more recent vernacular, the blonde leading the blind) style of internet instruction, and the piece-meal approach to learning advanced techniques, without first mastering the required basics

  • Coupled with this are two further aspects: a) so called ‘professional’ courses are increasingly becoming more a way to get people off welfare, rather than preparing them in any useful way for a career, and b) the vast majority of photography courses, excluding a very few high end ones, are not preparing potential professionals for the rigours of a very demanding and shrinking industry, but actually through choice of method and subject matter, and lack of teaching the very important skills of running and effectively promoting a viable business, are simply affirming amateurism.

  • The reliance on long outmoded preconceived fantasy ideas of the role of the artist, which are now actually being heavily promoted by the increasing ultra conservatism

  • The narcissistic delusion of greatness beyond ability, due to the indiscriminate sycophantic adulation of anything and everything posted on social media pages.

  • The rapid demise of former ‘arbitrators of worthiness’ such as print publications, competitive exhibitions and salons, rights managed stock libraries, and their replacement with pay to play vanity publishing; rights grab competitions; accept anything, especially the lowest common denominator micro-stock agencies; and encouragement to self market and self promote, or talk up how great, creative, wonderful, and otherwise talented you are, rather than letting your work show your real abilities.

  • The preponderance of the miracle work of ‘fix it in Photoshop’, where the best of a bad lot, sometimes numbering in the hundreds of attempts, can be readily salvaged and made great by simply, and usually ineptly, applying Photoshop manipulation, or even the complete reliance on ubiquitous, tacky, over saturated and generally over-processed ‘filters’ and ‘presets’, which supposedly turn even the most unbelievably ‘average’ snap into an instant work of art.

It seems that many would be artists have a very naive, immature and uninformed view of creativity, which hasn’t developed beyond the kindergarten level when Miss Prissy set out the poster paints, and suggested that: “we will all be creative today”.

Unfortunately many don’t recognise that there is and always will be a vast difference between having the wonder of a child, and a strong belief in the fantastic: and living, or trying to make a living completely deluded in a fantasy world.

One would think that all that time cloistered in their respective garrets suffering for their art, they would have plenty of time to check out a book or two, thumb through their camera manual, brush up on a little technique, but apparently not.

Imagine what your house would look like if the carpenter or bricklayer relied on nothing but his childhood skill with Lego bricks to do his job; the accountant who relied on his Year One ‘sums’; the architect who designed buildings with two roof-line windows, a door, a tree and a dog in the yard to match his primary school artwork. And the fate of the preschool minded brain surgeon doesn’t bear thinking about!

So why is the artist obsessed with practising his creativity, but abandoning all he has learned between now and then, convinced that he is not merely an artist, but worthy of being a paid professional salary, by relying on some mystical innate ‘inspiration’, divine providence and the results of simply by buying a paintbrush and canvas, a camera, a hammer and chisel, or any of the tools required by the various arts, and believes his first play sessions with them will produce nothing but masterpieces?

The age old Hollywood quip claims it takes twenty years to become an overnight success, but does it really?

Experience and serious study of successful artists from the past would seem to suggest it takes something more akin to a lifetime, filled not with simply practising the art-form, but acquiring knowledge, inquisitiveness and appreciation of all aspects of the world, vast life and love experience, serious study as well as careful observation, as maybe even a healthy does of the perhaps more flippant ‘life is just a bowl of cherries’ aspects as well.

The starving artist slaving away in his garret, for little or no recompense, and nothing but recognition by facebook friends, has always been a total myth, part of the false romance of the artist more or less promoted by those without any artistic talent whatsoever, or who have wished to portray the arts and artists as ‘ne’r do wells’, as a waste of space, or contemporaneously, a ‘lifestyle choice’ for the unemployables, and a ‘drain on the economy’.

So why the hell are contemporary artists not only falling for this guff, but actually promoting it, especially by accepting piteous pennies for work they do, working for free, pretending sanctimony by offering their work under ‘creative commons’ type exploitation, actively undercutting prices of real artists, churning out ‘masterpieces’ and ‘awesome images’ which in reality are little more than learning exercises, or worse still, should have been binned as a total failure, or an omen of talentless incompetence?

A Picasso, a Pollack, or any number of artists from the last 100 years, may look childlike, even childish on the surface, and inspire insipid phrases such as surely little Jimmy could that, even I could do better…it seems however that every little Jimmy nowadays is giving it a go, to an avalanche of cries of ‘awesome’, ‘inspired work’, and a ‘Like’ thumbs up.

With total disregard of the fact that it takes many years of hard work to achieve such childlike simplicity, and awe of wonder.

As model photography is the go to genre of wannabe photographic artists, it is no wonder that the cliché phrase ‘anybody can take great picture of beautiful woman’ springs to mind.

But can they? A quick scan of facebook ‘internationally award winning, published, professional photographers’ will soon show the opposite to be more likely…that it is incredibly easy to make a good looking girl look downright ugly.

Who hasn’t heard the bleating of amateur photographers whenever they gather in whining herds of more than two: Don’t use her as a model; she’s no good; her tits aren’t big enough; she’s got a belly on her; she might be good looking but a she’s a real bitch. And so they refuse to photograph anybody at all, holding out for the perfect model who will never come their way due to their attitude, and their uncanny ability to make the perfect look less than attractive.

Then there is the group who go other way, and accept all and sundry as camera fodder, with promises of “stick with me honey and I’ll make you a star”: hence the parade of gross snapshots of less than average girls with broken teeth, lifeless eyes, dull, unwashed hair, hideously coloured and shaped false nails, orange suntans, wall to wall tattoos, and all the wonderful, and exclusively amateur fantasies built around total misunderstanding of terms such as ‘plus size’ and ‘alternative modelling’.

But it takes an artist with an accumulation of knowledge, technique, problem solving ability, understanding of human psychology, a real affinity with people, and experience to make an average, less than confident, or a girl of low self esteem into a stunning photograph…that is what creativity is all about.

No its not making a silk purse out of a sows ear…that is just as impossible as making an artist out of a person who has owned his camera for no more than a day or two…it is merely using all the required skills of a true photographer (artist if you wish to stick with that pretentious, overused term) to draw the best from their subject.

As far from a first attempt snapshot as you can get, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, if at all. Even more-so, for those who rely on nothing but unsubstantiated faith in themselves, and blind ‘passion’.

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVII

Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any photographs and files down-loadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.

The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.

We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

Interesting Links:

Visit my website

Visit my facebook page

Advertisements

Part one: Are you really Creative?

 

You call yourself a Creative, but are you really?

artwork 2

The internet, especially the social media sites such as facebook, and ‘photography’ pages like flickr, and 500pix are today awash with photographs, which while claiming to be ‘professional’ and ‘creative’ are really nothing more than snapshots: banal, cliché ridden, dated, bereft of any compositional aspects, aesthetically bankrupt, technically incompetent, corny, dull, hackneyed, derivative, antiquated, repetitious to the point of mere clones inspired no doubt from ‘inspo’ or ‘mood boards’, insipid, mawkish, trite, and particularly unoriginal and platitudinous.

Many otherwise adult photographers don’t seem to have developed their concept of creativity beyond Kindergarten level, when Miss Prissy set out finger-paints and gasped: “Today we are all going to be creative, kiddies!” And this naive immaturity, without any of the innate charm implicit in the ‘creations’ of the infant, shows:- oh so painfully! Obvious to everyone, except of course their legions of Facebook followers, who never hesitate to ‘Like’!

And it would seem that, in true Orwellian irony, that those who try the hardest to convince all and sundry, especially themselves, how creative they are – a social media pastime which has reached the participation level of an international sport – the more devoid of any kind of creativity is their output.

There is even what seems to be a highly vocal movement (certainly locally, but apparently internationally) who only refer to themselves, and their recognised fellow elite, as “Creatives” – their ‘work’ however, suggests quite the opposite!

So what is this “Creativity” actually all about, what does it mean to be ‘creative’, and what kind of practices does it entail.

In other words: Are you, and indeed I creative, doing any kind of creative work, or are we just kidding ourselves?

A consensus of respected dictionaries, both real world and online, would have it that:

Creativity is perhaps best described as a combination of inventiveness, imagination, inspiration, and perception.

Therefore let us have a look at the generally accepted meanings of each of those parts, as well as the word ‘Creative’ itself:

Definitions:

CREATIVE

  • relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something.

  • having the quality of something created rather than imitated

  • resulting from originality of thought, expression, etc.

  • to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.

  • to evolve from one’s own thought or imagination, as a work of art or an invention.

And the accepted definitions of each part of the whole:

INVENTIVE

  • having the ability to create or design new things or to think originally.

  • showing creativity or original thought.

  • apt at inventing, devising, or contriving.

  • apt at creating with the imagination.

  • pertaining to, involving, or showing invention.

  • a new, useful process, machine, improvement, etc., that did not exist previously and that is recognised as the product of some unique intuition or genius, as distinguished from ordinary mechanical skill or craftsmanship.

  • devising, or originating.

  • an act or instance of creating or producing by exercise of the imagination, especially in art, music, etc.

IMAGINATION

  • the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.

  • the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality

  • ability to confront and deal with a problem

  • the thinking or active mind

  • a creation of the mind;

  • the faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.

  • the action or process of forming such images or concepts.

  • the faculty of producing ideal creations consistent with reality, as in literature, as distinct from the power of creating illustrative or decorative imagery.

  • the product of imagining; a conception or mental creation, often a baseless or fanciful one.

  • ability to face and resolve difficulties; resourcefulness:

  • a job that requires imagination.

  • the power of reproducing images stored in the memory under the suggestion of associated images (reproductive imagination) or of recombining former experiences in the creation of new images directed at a specific goal or aiding in the solution of problems (creative imagination)

INSPIRATION

  • the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

  • the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions

  • the act of influencing or suggesting opinions

  • an inspiring or animating action or influence:

  • something inspired, as an idea.

  • a result of inspired activity.

  • a thing or person that inspires.

  • divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.

  • the divine quality of the writings or words of a person so influenced.

PERCEPTION:

  • the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.

  • awareness of something through the senses

  • the neuro-physiological processes, including memory, by which an organism becomes aware of and interprets external stimuli

  • the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted.

  • awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation

  • physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience

  • quick, acute, and intuitive cognition

  • a capacity for comprehension

  • the act or faculty of perceiving, or apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.

  • immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition; discernment:

  • an artist of rare perception.

  • the result or product of perceiving, as distinguished from the act of perceiving

So if you accept the definitions above, and there is really no reason to dismiss them, several criteria would need to be taken into consideration, before a work can be legitimately called ‘creative’:

  1. Imagination

  2. Originality, evolving from one’s own thought

  3. Created not imitated

  4. Newness, the result of unique intuition or genius, based on knowledge, experience, resourcefulness, skills, and craftsmanship

Apply these definitions to your own work, and decide how it measures up in the ‘creativity’ stakes.

Part Two of this BlogState of the Art, coming next, will show by example the myriad of simple, rookie mistakes and common problems witnessed in so many photographs posted on the internet on a daily basis, and claiming to be ‘awesome captures’, ‘superb shots’, and even ‘art’, which have so many seasoned and experienced photographers tearing their hair in frustration, and lamenting the current level of corruption and possible demise of ‘creativity’.

Part Three of this BlogThe Artist: Diamond amid the Sewage, coming soon”, will explore the photographer as ‘Artist’, and whether ‘Creativity’ is enough to proclaim a specific photograph, or body of photographic images as ‘Art’

 

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVII

Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any photographs and files down-loadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.

The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.

We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

Interesting Links:

Visit my website

Visit my facebook page

How Do I Start Making Money as a Photographer?

following passion
Some guys and gals jus’ sittin’ around, following their passion

It happens at least once a week.

“I have been a photographer for a whole year now, and I think it’s time I turned pro. I have over 5000 photos on my hard drive: how do I start to make money from them?”

And then, wait for it…the ego driven amateur forever declaration: “I think most of them are really awesome!”

And no sooner is it posted somewhere on the internet, than the mug advice starts to flow, the majority of which falls into one camp or another:

From the utterly useless –

“Don’t take any notice of what anybody tells you, just follow your passion!”

To the completely ridiculous –

“Just keep taking as many photos as you can, of everything you see, and then before you know it, they will start selling!”

Well what kind of advice can you actually give apart from the bleedin’ obvious? Forget ideas of becoming a professional until you learn how to take a decent photograph, and then move on to learning how to take a saleable photograph, and keep practicing until you can do it time and time again, until at least six out of every ten photographs you take are potentially saleable?

OK, although it is completely arse about, and so amateur, rather than how a professional thinks, you could meticulously go through your five thousand photos, and pick the best to lodge with micro stock agencies. Experience says that after only one year as “a photographer”, out of 5000 pics, you will be lucky to find 50 which are in anyway good enough to be saleable, let alone “awesome”.

But fess up! Did you discard all of the over saturated sunsets, the pretty flowers, the snaps of little sis with her face smeared with chocolate at her birthday party, the long exposure water enveloped rocks, and the majority of featureless landscapes?

But go ahead and submit a couple of hundred of your best pics to not one, but a whole slew of micro stock agencies, or picture libraries as the more up market versions prefer to call themselves.

And you can bet London to a brick, that the 50 or so the agencies don’t reject, will be an entirely different 50 to the ones you favour.

You may sell a few in the first few months, but don’t put a deposit on the Ferrari just yet, or even on that luxury skateboard.

Statistics which are not so difficult to find if you know how to search for them, consistently show that photographers who have at least 10,000 , preferably more pictures lodged with libraries, can safely assume that for each of those, you may possibly earn $1 per year on average.

So 10,000 pics = $10,000 per annum earnings?…eee-z-eee murneeee!!!

Reality check! Any fewer, especially only a couple of hundred pictures on file as stock and you will may be just fortunate enough to sell one or a couple, maybe even a few, per year.

Well either way, hardly enough to pay the rent? But remember your cut (your royalty or commission) will only be roughly 0.22c in the dollar at today’s rates if you are in someway charmed….feeling like a professional yet?

So now that you have had at least a little dose of reality: did you actually have a look around those sites when you lodged your photos, to get a feel for the type of photo, the subject matter, the setting, the lighting, the colour schemes that they not only prefer, but the ones which are actually selling?
If not go back not only now, but several times a week and study what is actually in front of your eyes, and which so many look at, but few ever see.

In other words stop relying on luck, your “passion”, and your own perceived artistic genius, and start studying the market!

This is one of the main differences between a raw amateur, and a successful professional. While a mug will take photographs willy-nilly, to suit themselves,or on a whim, of subjects which interest them, in styles of setting, lighting, colour and composition which they consider being an artist with a camera, and then trying to find someone who will think highly enough of your artistic vision to shell out some money for them, this is a really sure fire way of wasting time and energy, and becoming penniless very quickly.

A professional on the other hand survives and thrives on the knowledge that he consistently supplies exactly what his chosen market wants and needs….no more and no less.

He studies each of his target markets, be they picture libraries, magazines, or individual clients for what the want, what they have accepted in the past, what they are looking for in the present.

He knows for instance that magazines of all persuasions do not want art, they do not want “I can do better than that”, they do not want cutting edge, or “out there”: but what they do want is more of exactly the same as they have been publishing for at least the last 12 months, and usually longer.

He also knows that his bride and groom for next weekend’s wedding, do not want anything different to the bride’s BFF’s wedding pictures from last June, tempered of course with what the bride’s parents want: nice pictures of their daughter, and all the guests in their best frocks and suits, and make sure Aunty Dorrie’s wart doesn’t dominate the picture too much.

This is possibly why wedding pictures are still plagued with lopsided horizons which came into accepted fashion in the 1980’s and are still far too evident, een amongst those who should know better, and why after five long years, wedding parties are still required to do the Toyota Leap in unison for that “special unique (?) image”.

So at least begin to think like the professional you aspire to be: study your market till it is second nature and then emulate it in every sense, especially technical aspects such as lighting, depth of field, lens choice, subject, colour use and composition. Once you have done that, and can do it, as stated earlier , at least 6 in every 10 “captures”, you can then start anticipating the trends, and changes as they happen, and more importantly establish your own style.

Then and only then: when, editors, picture curators or selectors, and clients say confidently: “that image is exactly what I was looking for, and I can tell you exactly who took that picture as well”, can you begin to consider yourself an established professional.

 

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXV
Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any photographs and files downloadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.
The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.
We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

Interesting Links:
My Photography Webpage
The Definite Article Photography and Video on Facebook

My other Blogs.
Mostly for models: http://thedefinitearticlephotographyandvideo.blogspot.com.au/

Mostly for Freelance Writers:
http://stephenssnippets.blogspot.com.au/

LONG TERM NEED SOON TO BE FILLED

What would you rather hear from your local photographic studio owner/photography instructor?
“I got my first camera at Christmas, and I’ve been a professional photographer ever since”…
or…
“I’ve been a photographer for thirty + years and I still look forward to doing something new each day” 11745747_1442006566125141_8697778603834467661_n

A new photographic studio for hire is about to open in the Newcastle region, in the Lake Macquarie suburb of Cardiff, owned by the very experienced photographer and long time photography instructor, Les Farnham, and ably assisted by the equally experienced Barry Madden.

10629551_10206039973453530_7384880364373003770_n

Entering the studio complex via the double glass doors takes you into the roomy, and well appointed seminar/classroom, where Farnham’s brainchild the Newcastle Photography School holds its very comprehensive classes. For full details of the classes currently available, and those coming up go to: http://www.newcastlephotographyschool.com.au/

or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NewcastlePhotographySchool?fref=ts

Adjacent to the classroom is Studio One, a very large shooting area with a selection of backdrops, (black, white, deep red, and a green screen). This area is also accessible by a large roller door, allowing cars, boats, and large props to be photographed under studio conditions.

The side walls of this studio also show a gallery of studio prints, and will be available as a gallery showroom for graduate student work on completion of the various courses.

This studio also has very high ceilings, with four individually dim-able work-lights to accommodate different photographers studio comfort levels without interfering with exposures from the photo-flash lighting.

Diagonally from studio one and behind the classroom is Studio Two, a smaller area devoted more to portrait work, passport type photography and more one to one style work.

Tucked into the corner between the two studios is a surprisingly large area for changing, preparation and make-up. Unlike many contemporary studios the comfort of the model is not merely an afterthought here, and features good clean toilet facilities, a private change room, and space for sitting and regrouping between shots. There is also a large area which is set aside for storage and changing of clothing…(clothes racks are being installed probably as I write his) and the addition of a make-up table with a large illuminated make-up mirror will delight models, make-up artists, and stylists alike.

Immediately behind the seminar room is a staircase leading to the mezzanine Studio Three, which is dedicated to macro and product photography, and is complete with a quality product table ready to shoot. This area has all the necessary studio lighting as well as a large window for natural light, allowing for more intimate, natural light portraiture as well, but Les informed me quite rightly that this only really works well during the daytime.

The mezzanine level also features a wall which can be opened up its full length to allow overhead shooting into Studio One, so no doubt many a model will be shot, reclining sensuously not only on the carpeted floor, but on thick shag rugs.

Eventually however, Studio One will be equipped with a heavy duty, moveable and granny proof overhead platform for such shots, which will add further to the versatility of the complex.

This studio complex when it opens in a few weeks time…the photography classes have been running for several weeks already, and the studios should be fully operational as soon as extra lighting equipment and backdrops on order arrive from overseas…will fill a large need by the region’s photographers for a large, well equipped, professional studio owned and run by very experienced, knowledgeable and helpful photographers who are dedicated to the improvement and development of good photography in the area.

I myself plan on using this studio as often as I can as there are no similar studios offering quite the same experience at the moment, and although it is an hour or so drive for me, the friendliness and the open sharing of knowledge gained through extensive experience by both Les and Barry alone are well worth the trip.

No doubt this studio complex will see its fair share of the candy skull and zombie brigade, but it also has the facilities and knowledge base for much more serious and professional work.

Hire of the studio is envisaged as $60 for three hour shoot.

http://www.newcastlephotographyschool.com.au/

https://www.facebook.com/NewcastlePhotographySchool?fref=ts

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXIV
Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any  photographs  and files downloadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.
The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.
We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

Interesting Links:
My Photography Webpage
Facebook page for Professional Photographers and Models
The Definite Article Photography and Video on Facebook
My Pond 5 Page
The Definite Article at Publicise Me

So You ant To Be A Professional ?

splash screen jpeg10 Ways to Stay in Business

Stephen Bennett has survived the rigours of being a freelance writer/photographer, both full and part time, for almost 40 years.

In that time I haves seen literally hundreds of wannabes, cowboys, faux-pros, scammers,

and Uncle Harry’s make a flurry, and then disappear into the murky depths.

I have found that rather than compete with them, it is far better to ignore them:-

while they may have an immediate effect on the industry, usually on prices, and a general lowering of accepted standards, they will soon disappear after discovering that their “business model”, if indeed they have one, is unsustainable, and what they thought would be a great way to fuel their “passion”, is actually damn hard work.

However they will undoubtedly be replaced by eager souls intent on providing the industry with their particular brand of untutored and cheap, tortured crap…however survival as a freelance creative business person is not to be won by joining them, but more by beating them.

By maintaining professional standards of technique, quality and pricing, and providing what you have found through experience and research, what the market wants, backed up by strong, well tested business acumen and procedure…beating them is a lot easier than first imagined.

What follows are all tried and true methods of doing business…they are all common procedures in the business world, and expected by fellow business people.

Deviate from them or indeed ignore them, preferring to lurch your freelance career along by laxity of business principles and adapting to what ever you feel fits at the time, is a sure way to telegraph that you are an amateur…you are not serious about your career or your business, but are merely playing at being a creative artist, and inviting the rest of the business community and your customers in general to regard you as ripe for being taken advantage of: and also perpetuating the myth in which all creative artists have long been regarded, that artistic endeavours are merely a hobby, and artists are too lost in mysticism, to notice that they are being ripped off.

So here are ten basic business principles, I think essential to

  • credibility and professionalism,
  • to put you on an equal footing with your fellow business people,
  • to procure and keep customers and clients,
  • and to put you way ahead of the faux-pros, and their petty foolish games.
  1. Know Our AbilitiesKnow your strengths, and weaknesses, and exploit them. Don’t accept jobs that are beyond you, your equipment or your time restraints… if you don’t know how to do something, or you have never done a similar assignment before, by all means learn how to do it and improve your skills base, but muddling through it for a paying customer is not the way to learn.

And of course, asking an online forum is no way to learn how to        do something new, but surely you already knew that.

As well as avoiding projects which are too big, or beyond your present knowledge, don’t reduce your normal quality and your reputation to chasing the “nickel and dime” jobs either, simply because money is short, or work is in a lean period…is it worth a couple of ready dollars to do work for someone who would probably value and appreciate a phone pic more….let the faux pros do the “work” which suits their abilities.

2 Know Your Value

 

and charge accordingly…work out your pricing based on your time, your equipment and its replacement value, your overheads, and your real costs of doing business. Factor in an amount for your knowledge, your reputation, your real talent, your experience and your quality: and then stick to it. Why do shoots like the guy down the road, or offer faddish techniques or products because your mate does it, or someone recommended it.

Do discounts, childishly designed coupons on your Facebook page, highly expensive, and creatively fiddly packages, actually entice the clients that you want …in other words are you wasting your time, talents and efforts playing at being in business, and trying to outdo those who will never have the wherewithal to be your competition?

  1. Beware the Bullshit Artists

There seems to be more absolutely useless guff published on internet forums, Facebook, in magazines and in blogs, and discussed amongst mates centred around the creative arts, especially in my field of photography and modelling, than any other area of expertise.

There also seem to be more scam artists, and more internet experts in these fields than any where else, and it is so pervasive that even professionals and usually more astute and knowledgeable practitioners often get caught up in the jargon, or fall for at least some of the nonsense.

It pays then to at least recognise some of the these buzzwords which seem to reoccur so often that they are easily overlooked:

  • good exposure,
  • great for your folio,
  • sure to lead to future work,
  • a really prestige opportunity

Experience soon shows that any offer that contains even one of these key buzzwords is basically a waste of time and effort.

  1. Get a Deposit

At the very least, a deposit will secure the job enough for you to begin preliminary work with a little assurance that you not wasting your time.

A non refundable deposit means that preliminary work may be eventually wasted but at least you have been paid for the time expended on it

And a deposit gives a customer a feeling that he has invested already, so he may as well go through with the rest.

However if a model or a portrait customer is only going through with the shoot because they don’t want to lose their deposit, you don’t achieve great work, simply because one member of the team does not want to be there, and final payment may become like extracting teeth.

  1. Get the Cash

A fundamental to good freelancing: you can’t survive on promises so make sure you get the money in your hot little hand, and although cheques are basically a thing of the past, there are so many more modern variations of “the cheque is in the mail”

  1. Don’t Work for Future Profits

Taking various forms such as a percentage of earnings, lots of future work and the all time favourite: “you will be looked on favourably”…empty promises don’t pay the bills.

There probably wont be any anyway, and how would you know about them anyway, because people who make empty promises don’t telegraph the fact that their windfalls actually paid off.

  1. Get an Advance in Full

for out of pocket expenses…at least you will be paid for your expenses, if payment for the work never eventuates. Paying for out of pocket expenses from profits from the previous work, simply means that if this job doesn’t pay, you have not only lost the money due for it, but you have lost some of your profits from the previous job as well.

  1. Document Everything

including:

  • the definition and scope of the job,
  • payment terms and conditions,
  • usage licenses,
  • releases,
  • expectations,
  • changes,
  • requested changes,
  • proposals,
  • emails,
  • phone calls,
  • discussions…

that is what email is so handy: it is so easy to “forget” or “remember something differently” later on, especially if one party needs an advantage over the others involved

  1. Don’t Deliver Work Until Final Payment is Made

and the cash is in the bank: again a fundamental of good freelance business practice, and yet too often not followed…always ending in tears.

  1. Use a Contract

get everything in writing and keep changes up to date.

A gentlemen’s agreement: requires two things:

  • gentlemen
  • and an agreement10 Plus: Monitor Usage of Your Work

and take action if and when breaches occur.

The only way you can make sure that your work has been used for the purposes for which it has been licensed: and you might be amazed at the uses it may be put to, or where it may turn up by either forgetfulness, assumption or creative reading of licenses.

And that is not even taking into account theft, “fair use” and internet sharing, and the like.

 

 

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXIV
Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any  photographs  and files downloadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.
The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.
We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

Interesting Links:
My Photography Webpage
Facebook page for Professional Photographers and Models
The Definite Article Photography and Video on Facebook
My Pond 5 Page