Is your photography vulnerable to being replaced by CGI?

First it was the auto manufacturers that took away some of the car shooters business by using CGI (computer generated imagery).

Then it was furniture makers (IKEA reports by next year 25% of its photo content will be replaced by CGI).

Now, some fashion accounts are starting to use CGI. (Those poor super models…..)

What next?

This recent article in Smart Money discuss 5 areas of photography that are vulnerable. Are you in one?

What niche of advertising photography do you think is totally immune from being replaced by CGI?

Getting out of the agent’s slush pile.

Portfolio review season will soon be upon us. Autumn is the big season in with several opportunities for photographers to meet with and show their books to people who can get them work.

(A partial list will be posted here later).

In my many years as an artist rep, I would receive weekly unsolicited inquires from photographers and illustrators seeing to be represented by my agency.

It was not a happy task to dump the sometimes-handwritten inquires into the circular file with only a form letter in reply. As a creative person myself, I understood how much emotional energy and hope was invested in even sending me the inquiry. And I hated to have to say no.

I wish I could explain to every artist who sought the services of an agent, just what’s involved in selecting an artist to represent.

I wish I had then, what I came across today: this well written and informative article by Michael Bourne: “A Right Fit:  “Navigating the World of Literary Agents.”   I would have included a copy of the article along with every rejection note.

His advice that “it truly is who you know” is spot on. You must get out there and meet people. Almost every artist I ended up repping came via a personal referral.

Your Bio page is an essential part of your photography marketing plan

Saw this post on PetaPixel today discussing the Do’s and Don’ts of how a photographer should write a good bio page for their web site.

Most of my photography marketing consulting clients come to me with Bio page copy that they wrote themselves. And almost all fail to write bio copy that is helpful to a prospective client. Most contain copy that talks about their first magical connection to photography. That data point means a lot to the photographer and their personal life narrative, but it usually means nothing to a prospective client.

I mean really… how many prospective clients base their decision on hiring a photographer based on the answer this question: “How old were you when you first fell in love with photography? 10 years old? 15?  25?” Read more

APA Midwest assembles art buyers and others for their annual Digital Portfolio Review event

Today, June 12, 2012 from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm several art buyers from top Chicago ad agencies, along with yours truly, will be editing photographers portfolios at APA Midwest’s Digital Portfolio Review .

I’m looking forward to meeting some new Chicago-area commercial photographers and seeing some great images. It’s always a treat to be blown away by someone’s work who I’ve never met or heard of. Happens every time. Wonder who it will be tonight?

It’s being held at Digital Bootcamp/Portfolio Annex, 25 W. Hubbard, Chicago IL 60654.

More info about tonight’s event is on the APA Midwest’s website.

Sometimes “we teach what we need to learn.” My marketing mistake…

I did it. I made a marketing blunder. I got so busy working with my clients that I let a major piece of my marketing strategy fall apart.

Early on in my consulting practice I had a lot more time to write articles for my newsletter, and then later, this blog. But as I got more and more busy with my clients’ projects, spending time on my own “portfolio”of articles fell by the wayside.

Sound familiar?? Read more

I’m back……

After months of being invisible, I’m back to blogging. I have now aggregated the content that was on my old circa-2004 website with my original circa-2007 WordPress blog’s content. It’s all here in this newly updated WordPress site.

I sure learned the hard way how one little tech glitch can really wreck an aspect of my business. My WP blog “broke” when I hit the “auto update.” Turns out my former web site host and WP weren’t on the same PHP update schedule. I got locked out of my backend.

The main thing I learned is there’s a limit to how much time and attention I have to devote to under-the-hood tech issues. I always tell my consulting clients that it’s a far better use of their time to find a trusted provider for their web design and just focus on image-making. Otherwise, you can waste hours/days/months of not focusing on your core content.

It’s “walk the talk” time for me. 🙂

During my ‘radio silence’ period, I was actually writing a bunch of posts. they will soon be leaving my drafts folder and posted on here soon.

Can you spin the social media plate?

What social media marketing has in common with plate spinning.

If you’re a photographer who’s wondering if you should add social media to your marketing mix, there’s a simple test. How many plates are you successfully spinning right now?

Think of each of your marketing initiatives as a plate…. a plate you have to keep spinning–like the old vaudeville plate-spinning jugglers.

Keeping your website updated with fresh content is one plate. Keeping in touch with your existing clients by phone is another. Sending out email blasts and/or printed promos another.

You have to be able to spin what you’ve already got– without crashing any plates– before adding another.

Can you balance it all? If you can honestly report that in the last 12 months you have updated your web site at least 3 times and sent out at least 6 email blasts and/or printed promos, then it’s a sign you have the bandwidth to add a social media plate to your routine (or you have the resources to outsource that plate to an able assistant or a service provider).

Consistency is the single most important factor in marketing. If you try to do too many things at once, the risk of crashing goes up. Build your skills.

If the bulk of your clients are hanging out on FaceBook, then do that channel consistently. Then add a another plate. To really see the power of marketing, get at least one or two marketing habits solidly into your workflow before adding another channel. No matter how bright and shiny another channel seems.

Photography career planning: the long and winding road

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. ~Lewis Carroll

Yes, it’s good to have a focused and well-thought-out career plan. It’s far better than not knowing where you want to go. However, a career plan to “become rich and famous” isn’t quite specific enough 😉

But even if you know exactly what you want (e.g. become a commercial and editorial food photographer), it’s a mistake to think that knowing where you want to go is the only road to success. Thinking that success is completely under your control (“I just have to do x, y, & z and success will happen”) can lead to major disappointment when things don’t go as planned. The map is not the territory.

It’s also an illusion that none of it is under your control (i.e.”It’s just luck; you have to be in the right place at the right time. I’ll just go with the flow.”).

In fact, it’s both…and it’s always been both.

Ask any top photographer who’s both self-reflective and honest,and you’ll hear that his or her success was made of both luck and hard work.

Good luck happens when preparedness meets opportunity. ~Author unknown

Continuing education.For the preparedness piece, no matter what point you are in your career (just entering the market; mid-career professional; or seasoned pro who just hit a fork in the road), engaging in continuing education is essential–both to improve your imaging skills and to keep current with industry changes. Apprenticing will expose you to different–and possibly better–work flow systems. Learning sales and marketing skills will definitely help support your career success.

Two big marketing trends that are getting almost incessant online buzz, are video and mobile. Both require continuing education– especially when it comes to understanding how the integration of video into a mobile can support your sales and marketing strategy.

[I could write reams on both of those subjects; in the future will point you to some educational resources I think are worth your time. Here’s one resource for those who’ve built their careers in print but see a fork in the career planning road and are now contemplating adding video to their image services mix.http://bit.ly/photogvideoguide ]

Bigger picture planning: Until the day comes when your preparation meets up with a great opportunity, there’s another important element of successful career planning to consider. Life planning.

I’ve noticed that those who’ve enjoyed long and successful careers, place a lot of importance on work/life balance. A photographer often learns too late that by going full-tilt in only one direction (i.e., focusing only on career) they are at risk of ending up burned-out and alone.

To find a balance that works for you, consider planning your photography career by working backwards. Pretend for a moment that on your last day alive, you have both the time plus the mental and emotional clarity, to reflect back on your entire life.

What events in your photo career made you feel the most proud and most fulfilled? Was it fame? Fortune? The respect of your peers? Self-respect? The income to support a family? Did you have a career path that supported your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being and allowed you time to connect with friends, family, and community?
If the latter is part of your vision, then, as Steven Covey says in his perennial best-seller “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” you need to make sure that “you put the big rocks in first.”  That means that in every daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly calendar–in addition to scheduling activities that directly relate to your work–you also put into your schedule those non-work activities that support your whole life.

Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. ~John Lennon

Photography Marketing creative tip: Homework counts. Fearless, generous creators get an A+

When all of your other marketing efforts start to pay off and you’re in a bid situation for a photo assignment, there’s one more thing that will help you land the job:

Do some research about what you’re being asked to photograph.

If you take the time to read up on the product, company, or event you’re being asked to shoot (you know you can Google ANYTHING) you appear to be someone who will be a partner in problem-solving. Demonstrating that you’ve actually taken your own time to learn about the client’s product can be a powerful way to show that you’re truly interested in their needs–everyone finds that attractive and very compelling.

Your willingness to do some research may provide a creative insight which can add value to the assignment and set you apart from your competitors. If you really are a creative problem-solver and don’t just call yourself one, then demonstrate that trait at this point of the project and share that side of yourself with your prospective client.

While some fear that “giving away the solution before getting the job” is professional suicide, others know that there are far more clients seeking to hire a creative team member for their project than there are clients who only are looking to steal someone’s ideas without compensation. If you’ve really got some awesome creative chops, you’ll always have them. If you continue to support your “muse” (spend some time with your muse so she doesn’t die from malnourishment), you can use that creative well-spring to nurture a prospective client relationship––not just on the shoot, but well before you’re hired.

Fearless, generous creators are pretty impressive individuals.

Are you one of them?

A photography marketing mindset for summer-let it snow!

Start your engines! It’s Memorial Day Weekend! Let the summer games begin! Yeah! I hope that we all get to kick back, take a break from the work stress/recession-anxiety for a moment, and enjoy the 3-day weekend. But after you’ve had some time to relax and refuel, don’t let your marketing head get too chilled out.

It feels counter-intuitive, but summer is actually a great time for a photographers to market their winter-themed imagery. While many clients are engaged in up-to-the-minute current-season marketing, other companies  produce big holiday catalogs that have really long production lead times. Many companies are planning and scheduling shoots of their winter-season products in the warm summer months.

If you’ve some ideas and examples on how to shoot “Christmas in July” now’s the time to get the word out. If you have the knowledge and experience to capture a cozy, winter, hearth- huddling mood when it’s 90º outside you’d do well to target some prospective clients and show them what you can do for their winter promotions.

Let it snow!