ASMP has lost a great leader: Susan Carr April 5, 1963-September 3, 2012

Not knowing she was battling cancer, I was stunned to learn of the passing of ASMP’s past president and educational director, Susan Carr. I first connected with her at the Passion and Profession photo retreat weekend in Lake Geneva, IL, many years ago. Her beautiful fine art photography of interiors that she presented that weekend, struck me as project infused with much love and care.

That she passed away on Labor Day seems eerily fitting. She was a tireless worker to improve the business lives of professional photographers. There is much irony. She was a champion for copyright education and awareness as a way to protect and maintain standards of professional photography. She seemed to work with the same zeal as those who advocated for better social and economic conditions for American laborers in the 19th century.

Her amazing and impressive contributions to the Strictly Business 2 symposium back in 2008 is why I rejoined ASMP. Her contributions were clear and sophisticated. Her commitment to the importance and necessity photo business education in the digital age was tireless. During her tenure as educational director, I acquired a whole new and positive perspective about an organization that I’d dropped out of for many years.

Susan’s encouragement and personal  invitation to me to both do a keynote presentation to the ASMP National members meeting and to become a regular contributor to the ASMP Business Blog, were pivotal in my entering into the ASMP educational tent. And for that I am personally grateful.

During the period when we had lots of speaking event planning details to discuss, I seemed have had a knack for always reaching her at the end of the day while she was out walking her beloved dog. As a currently pet-less dog-lover, it always gives me a warm feeling when people are able to include their 4-legged friends in their work life. That mental image of Susan easily talking photo business while her dog frolicked at the dog beach, is the memory that I will hold onto as I take in the news of her passing with deep sadness.

To anyone who is involved in the business of photography education, she is– and will be for many, many years to come–the high standard to which we should always aspire. She did it all superbly well. It didn’t matter if she was writing, teaching, presenting, organizing, networking, or advocating, she always did it with superb professionalism and always with grace and good humor.

She will be greatly missed.

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?

Are you faking it? You’re in good company.

If you want to read an honest account of what torments many creative people, read this great post I saw on PixelatedImage yesterday. The author talks about the common fear shared by many creative people, that “one day everyone will all wake up to the collective revelation that I’m just faking it.”

In my long career as a photo rep, I had the privilege of seeing the whole creative kit and kaboodle of many of advertising photography’s “star photographers.”  I can tell you for a stone cold, hard fact, the “big name photographers” were also secretly worried they were “faking it” as they knew they were as capable as anyone else of producing a boatload of crappy and off-target shots.

But the other thing they had–-which not every photographer has–- is a persistence and a willingness to take creative risks, over and over and over again, until their muse blessed them again. And when the muse did return, they produced wonderful images. Those were the images went into their portfolios. I got to trumpet them as creative geniuses because I knew it was true;  they had what it takes to keep going through the valley of their doubts.

Because I repped so many photographers, I was fortunate to have a broader perspective on the creative process than a single photographer usually has. I saw all of my artists go through it. I knew that the photographic dross was just part of the process to get to “the good stuff.” When you’re all on your own, it’s harder; you sometimes think it’s just you that’s faking. It’s not!

Talking a ‘star’ photographer “off the ledge” when they hit a long creative dry spell, came with the territory. 🙂

So keep going. And going. Humbly. And with gratitude and hope. IMHO:It’s the only way.

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

The value of taking a break: you’ll get the creative bolts that fuel your best photography

With Independence Day falling on a Wednesday this year, it creates a dilemma for those of us who don’t have someone else telling us what days we get to take off from work. Should I only take off  Wednesday the 4th of July? Tuesday and Wednesday? Wednesday and Thursday? Or just take the whole week as few clients will likely be making project decisions this week due to the confusion.

That leaves many creative people debating on how much time they should “goof off” surrounding such a holiday–especially when their photo marketing consultant has been urging them to create some new work for their portfolio or do some meta-tagging of their images. 😉

They start to feel ambivalent and guilty because, as freelancers, they feel that if they’d just managed their time better, they could have already completed those important but non-urgent business tasks on other days and be free to play. But, alas, they didn’t get those non-urgent tasks done. Yet again. (I totally empathize!!)

So they now face a holiday with twinges of guilt. “Should I just bagged it all and go on that long bike ride, to that baseball game, picnic, concert, parade, etc. or should I stay in and work on that stuff?”

I don’t know about you but I loved reading this article in the NY Times about the value of down time.

“The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. “


Happy Independence Day holidays! I’m going to go for some bolts of inspiration. I’m outta here!


Summer reading suggestions- books for photographers that aren’t about photography

As the first day of Summer and the longest day of the year approaches, it’s a good time to think about relaxing with a great book. This summer, instead settling into your beach chair with a best-selling mystery or romance novel, pack one of these paperbacks into your beach bag and you’ll have more than a tan when you’re done.

You’ll end up with some perspectives that can put things into a different focus for you regarding where photography is headed– and how you fit in. I think it’s essential for any small business owner to get a macro-economic business perspective. Reading outside your industry niche gives you the business equivalent of a liberal arts education vs. trade school education. Both kinds of education are very valuable. But added together, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
In the same way, maintaining a well-rounded and broad business perspective can generate new insights about marketing your photography. In between reading the CS6 manuals, take a look at these.

The first few books will give you a wonderful dose of confidence about being in a creative industry

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by marketing guru, Seth Godin

These best-sellers by Malcolm Gladwell really make you think.The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference  and  Outliers: The Story of Success

Here are two of my favorite big-picture guides–one for a perspective on the global economy: The World Is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas Friedman

 and one to help you manage day-to-day priorities: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey

And finally, for a different perspective on what might be really holding you back,have some fun examining your foundational beliefs with this help of this book: Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie & Stephen Mitchell

Have fun in the summer sun!


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

Photo Marketing Rehab event in Minneapolis 11/16/11

I’ve been invited to be one of the panelists at the Photo Marketing Rehab event being held on Nov.16, 2011 at Shelter Studios in Minneapolis. A local art producer decided to create the event to help local photographers better understand how to reach the clients who can hire them.

There’ll be a panel that includes me and 6 others  (both art buyers and consultants) who’ll be sharing viewpoints on what works in today’s marketplace. We’ll help clear the fog if you’re still wondering how to get a photography assignment from an ad agency.

More information will be on their web site soon.

As usual, I will be available for individual portfolio review sessions and/or photo marketing strategy consultations on the day of (Wed. 11/16) and the day after the event (Thurs. 11/17).

Early bird pricing discounts between 10 and 20% are available based on how far in advance a session is booked.

Call if you’d like a session.