THE PROJECTIONIST: KEITH HARRINGTON

Video artist Keith Harrington

Keith Harrington makes his art big – really big.

Red Rocks big, Silo City big.

Big.

It’s also fleetingly temporary. As a video & installation artist-DJ-VJ-audiovisual mixologist masher-upper guerrilla projectionist all-around culturally informed kind of guy  (how many hyphens do you need before you can simply be listed as awesomely multi-talented? Or as Keith described it during our interview – Artistic Batman), Keith’s focused interests have resulted in a prolific and varied but ephemeral body of work Continue reading “THE PROJECTIONIST: KEITH HARRINGTON”

Quick Questions With Smart People – Jennifer Link: Photographer Turned Independent Magazine Publisher

Jennifer Link is a photographer turned independent publisher and magazine editor. She runs a alternative style, art, and music magazine out of her hometown of Buffalo New York. Auxiliary Magazine has gained a following all over North America, and to a lesser degree, globally in the magazine’s specific demographic.

How was the transition moving from photographer to publisher? Was there a whole new set of business and professional skills you had to learn?
It wasn’t easy, but it wan’t really hard, and I’d say I’m still transitioning, I’m still learning.  I don’t think there is an exact set of skills you need for either photography or publishing since both industries have been changing so much.  I think it’s easier now and more common for creatives to have multiple skill sets and work in many different fields.  As I started to develop my photography and realize what I wanted to do, I discovered I really wanted to do professional and editorial fashion photography for alternative fashion.  Then I realized there wasn’t much of a system for that and there weren’t many great outlets for it.  So I started learning how to act as producer and fashion stylist for my shoots in order to get the results I was looking for.  I was also working at photo agency in NYC and learning how the photo and fashion industry worked there.  So when I decided to start Auxiliary I pulled off all of that.

For photographers who want to move to a magazine style promotional piece, what advice can you offer them in conceptualizing what they want their publication to be?
Do you mean photographers creating a mini magazine to use to promote themselves? I don’t really understand that.  Putting together a professional looking magazine is really hard work and takes tons and tons of time.  So I would advise it’s probably better to look for magazines doing what you’d want to do and try to work with them than starting your own.  And I know I just said lots of creatives are now playing multiple roles but at same time I’d say, if you really want to be a photographer focus on being a photographer.  I realized I wanted to do more than just photography, I wanted a larger project, and now my photography is kinda on the back burner.  I’m not actively seeking clients or developing my portfolio, I’m focusing on making the magazine successful.  It does seem fun to try different kinds of ways of promoting your photography and making different styles of promo materials.  But as someone who now is on the other side and selecting photographers for the magazine, I would be more impressed and interested in a photographer who has shot for magazines and has tearsheets in their portfolio than a photographer who has a flashy mini magazine promo piece.  You have to think too, since tons of creatives play multiple roles in their careers, there is a good chance the editor or art director looking at the promo piece will see through it.  I’m always more drawn to clean simple websites and portfolio presentation and letting work speak for itself.  And I would rather see actual tears and ads in a portfolio, because they are real practical uses of photo work, rather than mock ups.

But back to conceptualizing a publication.  Pick a topic you love because I think it will show through and it’s easy to see when a magazine is fluff.  For example I’ve been really into Bust lately because it’s clearly a magazine run by passionate people.  You can tell the editors are trying to make a magazine they want to read.  American Vogue has been boring me lately.  And I think it’s cause they are slowly sinking, because print magazines can’t be supported the way they used to, there is a change going on in media, and they are trying to stay alive.  So they are widening their horizons and trying to bring in a wider audience of readers and it’s alienating people who are looking for a fashion magazine.  I don’t want to read about celebrities in Vogue, and I don’t want to see car ads or Covergirl ads!  Mass market magazines have that problem, you can tell it’s a product to be consumed.  So pick a topic you love and make a magazine you’d love.  At the same time remember you’ll have to cover things you don’t love because there is only one you and you need more readers than one.  In those cases try to make the feature something you’d read anyways, because it’s still interesting and in tune with you, and you’ll give it a shot cause maybe it will expand what you like

You managed to start your publication with a DIY ethic and without accruing major debt, and yet your magazine experiences steady growth issue to issue. What sort of methods have you employed to promote your product?
I mixed in some non-traditional aspects.  Starting a magazine by hiring a full staff and doing a huge print run seemed crazy to me.  That formula doesn’t work so well anymore and could only work if you had backing from a huge media giant.  So we picked the combo of free issues online and print-on-demand print issues.  Both require little money.  I figured free online would spread the word fast because people are used to free with blogs and will go check out a website without much thought but it would take more to get them to buy a print copy.  Now that we’ve spread the word and have a large reader base, we are going after advertisers to be our main source of income.  I’d like to keep the magazine free online and bring in income in other ways.

Also, I decided I had to work with other people who would love the magazine and working on it.  Other people who were willing to work with super low budgets and do it because it was their passion.  And people who would realize the magazine could be a jumping off point to get paid work and that they could use their work with it to get clients.  Really magazines are not going to pay you much as a photographer, at least in the fashion industry, you go after the magazines to get editorial work so you can show that to potential advertising clients, and then those clients pay you.

What sort of lessons have you learned from running a magazine that you feel you could take back to your photography career?
It’s hard to tell where I learned what and what I can take back to which, haha.  When I decide to push my photography career again, I think I will have a much clearer idea of how to brand and market myself and I think I will know how to get published in other magazines.  Though I think running the magazine will make me less able to compromise in my photography.  I realized I didn’t want photography to be my business because I didn’t have interest in shooting what I didn’t want to in order to make money, and I would have to in order to be successful, at least a little bit.  And maybe more so, I just didn’t want to try to sell myself as a photographer anymore.  Photography is more my art, and the magazine is now my business.  I can compromise more with the magazine because it’s removed from me a bit, it’s more about the reader and making something for someone else where as photography for me has been more about making something for me.  I don’t know if that makes sense.  So I guess in the end the magazine will have taught or allowed me to be okay with sticking hard to my aesthetic and style and just working with the clients and doing the projects I want.

Has working with and editing photographers all over the world given you any insights that photographers need to be expanding the scope of their marketing?
I would say yes and no and I don’t know if it’s a new thing.  I think a photographer needs to have a distinct style but needs to be able to adapt that style to different projects.  You don’t want to see a photographer take the same photo over and over.  A photographer needs to be able to adapt to different projects and make their style work in different contexts.  But when I see a good photographer, I think what I’m really seeing that I like is a distinct eye or distinct style that is their own.  For example, in my mind a good photographer has a way of seeing that is their signature, and this is a mixture of their way of shooting and their way of lighting but also their view of the world and their interests coming out in their photography, but then they can take that and bend it to the project laid before them or that they take on. A good photographer needs to have a distinct eye and stay true to it, you can’t learn that, I think it’s a talent, some minds just work that way.  Then they need to develop that eye through learning skills and learning a creative process.  Then they need to keep it fresh with different approaches, subject matter, and projects.  So back to my answer, I guess yes.  I look for photographers that have a good scope, a good range of work but that I can see their hand or eye in everything they shoot.

Quick Questions with Smart People – John Keatley: Photographer

John Keatley is an advertising and editorial photographer from Seattle. His images of celebrities like Annie Leibovitz and John Waters are iconic and instantly resonate with the viewer. John was kind enough to answer some questions and to share some clips from his recent talk on photography. John’s blog can be found here

LC: What are some tips you might give to a young photographer trying to get their work seen and market themselves in their early career that you wish you had known when you were starting out?

JK: It is very important to have a plan.  Set goals for yourself.  Commit to your goals by writing them down, and then decide on a plan that will help you achieve your goals.  It will take time, hard work, consistency persistence, and good work.  Stick to your plan and if you are passionate about what you are doing people will start to notice.  A lot of young photographers don’t realize how much time and hard work goes into a successful marketing campaign, and they want results right away.  I just watched an interview with Adam Sandler, and he was talking about auditioning for parts early in his career.  He believed so much in himself, when he didn’t get a part, he thought, “What is wrong with these people! How could they not want me?”  That kind of belief in your abilities is an important key to success, and it has to be followed up with persistence.  If you don’t press on after a bad meeting, or after losing a bid, you won’t get anywhere.

LC: In terms of changes in media technology, how versed do new photographers need to be in terms of working with video as well as still images? Is video something you have greatly embraced in your own work?

Photography Talk Chapter One from John Keatley on Vimeo.

JK: I actually made videos long before I ever picked up a still camera.  It was a big hobby of mine in high school.  Since becoming a photographer, video was something I have not had a ton of time for however.  Recently I have started working again with video and I am really enjoying it.

I think right now it is one of those things where you don’t have to be well versed in it, but it sure doesn’t hurt.  It can only help you if you can offer video to your clients.  There are lots of fun and exciting possibilities if you can work with stills and motion, so I say go for it.

LC: In your own early experiences was there any one moment or opportunity that was a game changer for your career?

JK: I don’t think I can say there was one moment that made all of the difference, but there have certainly been many significant opportunities and events in my life which have helped shape my career and as well as opened new doors for me.  I am always trying to push myself and sometimes taking on something that scares you is the best way to learn and grow.  You will surprise yourself with what you can accomplish if you just commit and be positive.

LC: What are 3 do’s and don’ts about the photography business you wish you had known at the beginning of your career that you do now?

JK: I don’t have 3 do’s and don’ts, but I can offer this advice from personal experience.  Ask lots of questions, and communicate clearly.  Ask for help when you need it.  Value your work and yourself, don’t give it away and sell yourself short.  Shoot what you love.  This is said so much it can sound like white noise, but it is so important.  Don’t worry about what other people are shooting or making money at if it’s not something you enjoy.  Become great at what you love, and the work will follow.  Take initiative and make things happen.

LC: This question is specifically geared for those budding portrait photographers out there. You are known for working with noted personalities whose backgrounds encompass a wide spectrum,  what can younger photographers who get thrust into a situation of photographing a large personality do to get beyond that initial nervousness and relate to their subject?

Photography Talk Chapter Two from John Keatley on Vimeo.

JK: It can’t be about you.  You have to be or be humble when working with celebrities.  It’s important to understand you are not there to become best friends.  Celebrities have a million people pulling at them from all directions and everyone wants something from them.  If you lose sight of the fact you are there to do a job then you are at a disadvantage.  Just be yourself and don’t go in trying to impress everyone.  Be respectful, take a deep breath, and trust in yourself.

LC: Your portrait style is iconic and impactful, conversely so many photographers seem to jump on the bandwagon of whatever the trendy look or color treatment is that month. How much of a balance does one need to strike between what the industry wants and seeing through your own personal vision to completion.

JK: It is good to be aware of what is going on in the industry, and to draw inspiration from work you enjoy.  However, personally, I think it is important to be true to yourself and create whatever you feel compelled to create.  Don’t start over sharpening your work because that is what you see in print that month.  I think it is better to create something you can be proud of rather than what is in style if it doesn’t match up with your interests.  If you put your passion into it, there is a much better chance your work will be relevant for years to come.  If photography is just a job to you, then I suppose it would be very important to keep up with trends and adapt in that way, but if you want to become great and create something lasting, I feel that can only be achieved by listening to you inner voice.

Quick Questions with Smart People – Call for Questions

There are a lot of great people lined up for future quick questions interviews. If any readers have any specific questions they would like me pose to any guests over the next few weeks, please e-mail them to me or post them in the comments. Upcoming subjects include photographers, business managers, marketing experts, agents, and art buyers, so please tailor your questions for people working in those areas.

Quick Questions with Smart People – James Cavanaugh: Architectural Photographer and ASMP National Board Member

Jim Cavanaugh is an architectural and aerial photographer with 35 years of professional experience based in Buffalo, NY.  Jim is a member of ASMP and currently serves on the ASMP National Board of Directors as 1st Vice President. Jim is Chairman of ASMP’s Copyright Committee and has lectured throughout the United States on Copyright issues.

LC: So many young photographers out there have a great deal of talent and vision to share. The main thing standing in their way is a lack of experience in the realm of business. What are some good resources for those photographers looking to improve their business acumen?

JC: The hardest part is knowing what you don’t know, knowing what questions to ask. Information is abundant. I recommend ASMP’s Professional Business Practices book as a good start. Also ASMP’s web site, www.asmp.org has a tremendous amount of information including links to the dpBestflow digital standards web site. ASMP also has a number of forums including ASMP ProAdvice for photographers just starting out in the business.

But the best way is to get a foothold in the business is to become a freelance assistant working for a variety of photographers. This will give you a broad overview of the industry from various perspectives. It will also let you identify the photographers who will be good mentors and help guide your career.

Finally, you need membership in a professional trade association like ASMP or PPSNYS (Part of PPA) that has local meetings.  This will give you the opportunity to meet with your peers and learn much more.

LC: The actions involved in registering and protecting ones copyright can be so intimidating to those interested in registering for the first time that several end up not going through with it at all. What advice or programs are available to help educate emerging photographers on the process or even to walk them through it?

JC: While creators receive copyright and certain protection at the moment of creation, registration is the key to obtaining full legal protection under the law. However, the registration process can appear daunting at first, especially in dealing with the different procedures for published and unpublished works. (And determining what actually constitutes publication.)

ASMP has an excellent tutorial on Copyright registration.  It includes a podcast of ASMP’s very popular registration workshops that have been appearing around the country. (I am one of the three presenters.)

The Copyright Office’s new electronic copyright registration site, eCO makes the registration of unpublished work much easier. By the end of 2010, the Copyright Office will also allow groups of published images to be registered electronically using the eCO site.

The big stumbling block comes from established photographers who have a significant amount of images that have never been registered. ASMP’s and my advice is start registering all the new work you create going forward and then, as time and funds permit, begin to register your important published legacy images. Older unpublished film/print images are in little danger of being infringed.

Currently, with limited exceptions, groups of published images must be registered using the old paper (Form VA) method. It may take a year or longer to get those registration certificates back. However, the registration is effective the day the Copyright Office receives your submission, not when you receive the certificate.

LC: With years of experience under your belt you have seen several changes and epochs come and go in the industry. With all the excitement and dread in the industry in the last few years over changes in the economy, media delivery, and changing ideals amongst buyers, do you see these as the end of photography as we know it as a profession, or simply another stage of evolution in the ongoing cycle of changes that make up any industry? What advice can you give to emerging photographers to see past the turbulence of the industry right now, and especially a very vocal group of negative photographers who are bemoaning the end of the industry?

JC: Well the industry sure looks different than when I started my business in 1975. In fact it is almost unrecognizable to how it looked in 2000! The first 20 years of my career, the business model was stable and was built on decades of “practices of the trade”. In the early 1990’s digital imaging began to take root and the industry began to change with these new tools.

Photographers often perceive that digital cameras, scanners and Photoshop changed the landscape. They certainly did to some degree. But, it was the digital tools available to our clients and content consumers that really changed the game. How our clients use images and the plethora of new delivery options for their content have spearheaded the revolution that is changing our business models. And the rate of change is only accelerating. The iPad and the devices that follow are offering whole new ways for clients to prepare and distribute their content whether editorial, advertising, educational or entertainment.

So is photography dead as we knew it? Not dead but constantly evolving. I think these changes open countless new doors of opportunity if we can see ourselves as visual communicators and not just photographers.  We can learn an important lesson from the railroads in the 1930’s. They saw themselves in the railroad business and not in the transportation business. The emerging airlines decimated them by the late 1940’s!

So we must recognize that the business models and licensing models that served us well for decades do not fit with the new business models in a digital/technology driven environment. This will mean developing new ways of doing business and new ways of licensing the work we produce. It will also mean learning new skills and developing partnerships with other creative’s to produce the content that clients are demanding.

LC: Looking back on your early career what are some of the more important or harder general lessons you had to learn quickly to begin building a business? Are these still relevant issues to today’s photographers? What advice can you give them in dealing with them?

JC: The most difficult and the most important issue is that you are running a business. Every key requirement to run a successful large corporation is required to run a small photography business. It’s no different today than when I started 35 years ago! If you can not profitably manage your business, you will be out of business.

Making photographs is only a small part of the process. Marketing, pricing, sales and finance are all critical areas that cannot be ignored. Also, photographers must stay on top of employment, insurance, legal and tax issues.

Having a plan is essential. A solid business plan that defines what you do, who you do it for and how you do it is critical. It’s your road map.  It will help you develop your “brand” and guide your marketing efforts. It will establish a financial plan that you can monitor to see if your marketing/pricing/market models are working. It is also a flexible document that needs to be changed if your plan is not working. Establish a team of professionals to help you with specific business needs. Start with a good accountant or CPA, insurance agent, payroll company, business attorney, banker and marketing consultant. Established photographers can offer good suggestions.

LC: So many photographers are traditionally closed off and unwilling to share information and thoughts with others. You, on the other hand have been involved in educating and informing other photographers on the national level and at all levels of experience. As a vocal proponent of photographers’ rights and the need for registering copyright, do you feel photographers should be actively trying to create a more unified community like other creative groups in order to improve communication both within our own community and in terms of improving how we communicate with our buyers and support industries?

JC: It has been said that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”  I believe there are no secrets in our industry. Unfortunately many photographers behave as if there is “special” information to be protected and hidden from view. It’s a foolhardy approach.

We all learn based on the experience of others. Keeping knowledge from your competitors only serves to “dumb down” the entire industry. I don’t advocate sharing client lists and some specific proprietary information. But sharing ideas on business models, pricing, legal issues and technology issues with people entering the business only elevates the profession. This is especially important in an unregulated and unlicensed business like photography.

LC: In the simplest terms what are some basic do’s and don’t for those looking into entering photography as a career.

JC: Don’t go it alone. Running any business is a complex endeavor. Take advantage of the tools and resources discussed above. Join a trade association. Seek out mentors. Read everything you can and attend seminars, especially on the changing market. It may seem daunting, but thousands have gone before you!

Quick Questions With Smart People – Sean Armenta: Photographer

Sean Armenta is a beauty and fashion photographer from the Los Angeles area. His formidable client list includes Paul Mitchell, Wet Seal, Arden B, and Paul Frank to name a few. He has also been featured in numerous publications including Flaunt, InStyle, Vibra, Elle Germany, Sphere, and Want. Sean has a wonderful reputation on the web amongst fellow photographers, especially for his willingness to help other shooters, share advice, and answer technical questions. In addition to his active shooting schedule,  Sean regularly teaches his Prep to Post beauty photography workshops all over the country.

LC: Sean, in terms of marketing ones work,  especially within the beauty and fashion markets, what have been some of the more effective marketing techniques for you in communicating your work and point of view to your clients? What is a good starting point for those emerging photographers who are taking their first steps in getting their work in front of potential clients?

SA: I think above all your work should speak for itself and about yourself. Your work should be relevant to the industry you are trying to work in, and current to our time without being gimmicky and overly trendy. You need to keep an eye on what’s going on out there by seeing who is shooting what and why. Who is shooting a lot of covers?  Who is shooting the top campaigns?  It is more often than not a small group of 5 or so photographers who are producing the bulk of the work. You have to be able to understand why they are the flavor of the week, month, or year. This will help you determine what the industry is looking for stylistically.

In producing your portfolio, quality over quantity is the best rule to go by.  You must be able to edit your work without any personal or emotional connection to it. Needless to say much thought needs to go into your final portfolio that you will be showing potential clients, everything from layout to packaging must be considered. You must also do research on the clientele you are targeting. Is the work you are presenting relevant to their product and something their Art Buyers are looking to use?  If I am meeting with a new client, I will specifically create a customized portfolio just for them. Why would I show 20 fashion images to a cosmetics company?

When it comes to your online presence, simple really is best. You want YOUR work to stand out, not the design of your website.  It must be easy to navigate, clean and straightforward. People don’t want to spend half an hour trying to figure out how to get to your images. It does help to categorize your images into, say, Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle, Still Life, etc.  It does not help you however, to be a jack of all trades. Having one website that encompasses everything from Weddings to Fashion to Automotive to Table Top photography only shows your client that you do not know what it is you really want to shoot. Clients want to know you are great at what they specifically need, not decent at all types of photography.

Blogs are a great way to show clients your personality and to keep them updated about your growth as an artist. Keep it professional but allow your personality to shine through. Post something about all your shoots, meetings, etc. People like to know what you are doing to advance your career.

I’m no marketing genius by any means – in fact most of my clients were acquired through word of mouth; clients referring me to other clients. The most important thing I have learned is this: Someone else talking about you is always better than you talking about yourself because it gives you validity.

LC: So many emerging photographers fall into the trap of letting their clients undervalue their work, or even worse, undervaluing their own work. How important is it for them to present their work as worthwhile and valuable to their clients? How can they not fall into the trap of letting their fears of success or failure stop them from even trying?

SA: I
just had a meeting last week with a global cosmetics company. After doing my presentation they asked what my rate would be for the campaign, so I handed them a written estimate. The long awkward silence that followed told me that my quote was above what they were prepared to pay. The VP of marketing said something I have never heard a client say, and is usually what we say to clients. She said, “This quote is outside of what our budget is, but seeing your work I understand why it is this rate. You get what you pay for, and we must be doing something wrong because we have been dissatisfied with our marketing materials.”

Never ever sell yourself short. Lowballing only shows desperation and undervalues your work. Show clients a quality of work that will elevate their brand.  Present yourself in a confident and professional manner. Show passion for what it is you do. Do research on the clients you are trying to reach out to, find out what their marketing needs are, and see what you can do to meet their needs. Photographs are the most important aspect of marketing.  It is what consumers see first and what they relate to. Photographs make people buy products.

LC: You are known for working with a reliable core support team, how important is it for photographers just  starting out to build the kind of relationships with stylists, producers, and assistants that will surround them with a team that cares as much about the final outcome of the production as a whole? What are good places from these photographers to start finding talented team members to work with.

SA: Building a core team of artists (Hair, Makeup, Styling, etc) is all important in our industry, especially during your developmental stage as a photographer. I believe that fashion and beauty photography is very much a collaborative environment. You are only as good as the people you work with. One of the most important things I learned early on was to seek out artists that were at a level above my own, and through working with those people I learned so much about the industry, and their experience elevated my work. I think we should always be in a constant state of learning, as this is the only way to grow as an artist. Team building is a huge part of what I teach at my workshops because casting the right crew is what makes or breaks the success of a shoot. I think we need to return to a sense of community with each other, and this is really the best way to seek out people to work with. Ask your peers for referrals of who they like to work with. Strive to produce the kind of work that will make other artists want to work with you.

LC: Looking back on your own career, do you remember any mistakes or lessons that you had to learn early on? If you had to guide another photographer though them in the simplest terms; what would be your top three do’s and dont’s you have learned throughout your career?

SA: I think it’s so important to be genuinely nice to everyone. No one wants to work with an asshole no matter how great their work may be. Be the person people want to work with and be around and treat people the way you would like to be treated.

DO
Take a business and marketing class
Save your money and do not rack up debt
Keep your overhead as low as possible


DON’T
Don’t sell yourself short
Don’t be afraid to take risks with your work
Don’t get comfortable with your current situation

LC: How important is it to strike a balance between ones own vision and taste and between creating a consistent and marketable visual style? should photographers be letting editors and buyers dictate their style to a great degree, or should they actively be going after the clients who they think are right for them and their preexisting look?

SA: While it is very important to be able to show your own vision while staying marketable, during the beginning of your career it is not as important as showing you are able to deliver what the client wants. I think too much emphasis is put on developing one’s own “signature style” too early in their career and they become a one-trick pony. Your work will eventually be identifiable to you because of your approach to your subject, not because of a specific “look” created by a certain lighting setup or post production effect. That, to me, is gimmicky and trendy. Don’t fall into the trap of forcing yourself to create your style which will only limit your growth as an artist and show clients your lack of versatility and flexibility.

I don’t think we should be letting editors or buyers dictate our style per se, but what you have to understand is that talent and skill only gets our foot in the door. At the end of the day we still need to deliver the needs of the client. With that said, of course we ought to seek those clients whose image matches the style of work we produce and whom we are most passionate about working with.

Quick Questions With Smart People – Clark Dever: Photographer and Social Media Marketing Expert

Social media expert, photographer, and speaker Clark Dever

Clark Dever is an Event Photographer and Web Strategist in Buffalo, NY. In addition to his background in photography and web development; Clark is also long time proponent, consultant, and educator in the area of social media marketing. An ASMP recommended speaker, Clark is currently developing a new speaking program that will educate photographers unfamiliar with the use of social media as a viable channel for marketing their work. Clark is also one of the co-creators of 12 Hours in a City a travel documentary which used social media extensively to support, organize, and market the event.

LC: What are the best social media channels for photographers to leverage?

CD: The best social media channels for photographers to leverage are the one’s that contain their niche audience. Social Media marketing is about finding the .001% (if you’re lucky) of internet users that absolutely adore what you do.  I can guarantee you that they are out there, I can also guarantee that they are on facebook and twitter. However, if your niche is an active sub-culture or a myopic specialization in the main stream; chances are that it has it’s own forums, social networking sites, and region of the blogosphere. Search for them and you will find them. If you don’t find them a )Search Smarter or b) Create the community site and they will find you.

LC: Outside of Facebook and Twitter are their any social media outlets specifically created for creative professionals which provide a more appropriate access point for them to reach industry buyers and editors?

CD: This is more your specialty Luke, so I’d love to hear your reply.  I tend to work with non industry people and hyper-targeted niches.  I’ve heard good things about sites like Behance Network and I still believe in the use of traditional tools like Direct Mail (Agency Access), representation through stock sites, and traditional agents.  The market is undergoing a paradigm shift but that shift is benefiting the smaller non-traditional players most of all.  The old school players are still utilizing the traditional channels, if you can play head to head with established professionals, there’s nothing wrong with playing in those channels as well as the Social Media world. I view uncertainty and change as an opportunity, so that is why I dove straight in to that most turbulent section of the photography market.

LC: I would recommend, much like you that photographers seek out their specific niches. Some general sites I can recommend that photographers look into include Behance, Lexsposure, linkedin, and altpick, Many of the sourcebook sites will also allow you to create networking profiles on their sites. For more specific networking, pay attention to the communities your clients are leveraging, eg, graphic design forums and blogs for commercial shooters, fashion blogs, magazine sites, and sites about publishing for fashion and portrait photographers. etc. Research your market carefully and, like Clark says, either penetrate or create a place for them to come together.

LC: Should photographers focus more on building general fan bases with a lot of viewers? or should they strive for a more focused approach in which they specifically strive to build social connections with their purchasing base and potential clients?

CD: I think photographers should focus on creating the best images they can and publishing them as frequently as possible, through as many channels as is feasible, with as much meta data as they are capable of embedding.  The beauty of the internet is the power of search, if you are a content producer and take the time to give people a clear path back to your outposts (facebook/twitter/blog/etc) they will find you. I personally target the general populace of my geographic area (Buffalo, NY) and then I target the fans and followers of the individuals I shoot.  I try and cross promote my photography with my subjects and their organizations/businesses whenever possible.  The more commonalities you can appear to have with your audience, the more they will relate to you.  As a photographer, you are sharing your vision.  Letting people see the world vicariously through your eyes. The “closer” they feel to you, the more they will appreciate your work and feel socially obligated to promote your success.

LC: How can photographers better target their social media activities to build their fan base in appropriate markets?

CD: Keyword and Market Research, find out where your potential fans live and how they talk/search.  The exploit the common vernacular in the places they meet.

LC: What are your top 3 do’s and Top 3 Don’ts for photographers who are beginning to leverage social networking?

Do:
•Participate
•Love your Fans
•Publish as much of your work as you can that represents your level of quality

Don’t:
•Respond publicly to negative feedback
•Be a douche
•Worry too much about images being stolen, if you published them on-line; they’re already gone. We live in a remix culture, it’s not going to change.  Learn to thrive on it and appreciate other people’s creativity.  Anything you publish on the web is pretty much; CC (http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses/) BY (if you’re lucky) SA (By default) NC (if you catch them, they are in your country, and you registered your copyright) – Whether you agree to it or not.

LC: Do you see social media ever usurping traditional direct marketing efforts as a sole point of contact for buyers and artists, or should creative professionals be building a well rounded range of marketing channels encompassing traditional methods with newer social media techniques?

CD: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  It’s always smart to cast the widest net possible.  Do whatever you have the time and desire to do. I think it’s possible to participate in traditional commercial models, hyper-targeted to individual clients, through social media, through stock, and through micro-stock; all simultaneously if you’re workflow is honed well enough and your interest is there.  They are all different revenue streams that you can pretty easily take full advantage of. It’s just a matter of differentiating what-work-you-publish-where and perhaps utilizing different identities so you don’t dilute your brand on the top end of the market.

Read past quick questions with smart people interviews:
David Buck  – President of Crowly  Webb & Associates

Quick Questions with Smart People – David Buck

This is the first in a series of interviews and profiles I will be conducting with a number of professionals in fields related to photography; agency buyers, reps, designers,  producers, technology professionals, and more. This series is specifically aimed at the emerging photographer and those taking their first steps into the the realm of of being a professional freelancer, hopefully to answer some of the questions they may have and to help quell some of the fear and anxiety of being in such a complex and ever changing industry. These interviews may also shed some light on the rapid ways in which our industry is changing from day to day due to new technology, ideas in business, and ever improving forms of media delivery.

Today I speak with David Buck about how photographers can better market themselves to agencies and how agencies are starting to view promotions received through certain media channels. David is the president and creative director at Crowly Webb and Associates, a Buffalo, NY based advertising agency handling clients such as: Independent Health, The Buffalo Bills, Kodak, and M&T Bank.

LC: There has been a lot of discussion regarding a decline in the effectiveness of  e-promos through services like Agency Access and Adbase. Are these still an effective marketing tool or has the sheer number of users become so overwhelming that its getting harder to stand out from the pack?

DB: I delete emails from photographers to the tune of about 5 a day. so i would say that it is becoming less effective. I do click through on people i know or admire, or occasionally on an image that catches my eye.

LC: Would an emerging photographer be better off putting their budget into printed promotional pieces than electronic marketing pieces? Do simple postcards and mailers still suffice or are agencies looking for more unique and one of a kind promotional pieces to grab their attention?

DB: Generally, I would say that a mix is best.

LC: Have you seen any truly creative or memorable marketing pieces in the recent past? anything that really stands out as a truly effective marketing piece from a photographer?

DB: The first thing that comes to mind is a blog that Forest McMullin of Rochester is doing, from a long term location assignment, different and interesting and in keeping with what he does.

LC: What should young photographers keep in mind when putting a website together that provides an effective user experience for agencies and other buyers?

DB: Well, it is all about the images, no surprise. The site needs to load fast and be easy to navigate. Don’t you hate when the next button jumps around the page, like when a horizontal follows a vertical? Me too.

LC: In terms of website and printed portfolios, how much variation between site and portfolio are agencies expecting? Should the website serve as a sample of a larger work contained in the book. Or should they be direct reflections of each other?

DB: Ideally, the shooter will do a little homework and tailor the presentation to the clients of that agency. the website would remain a general intro.

LC:  How important are in person meetings and portfolio reviews in developing a relationship with an agency? What is the best way for an emerging photographer to get their work in front of a buyer in person?

DB: Good question. In this era, it is much more challenging to create face to face relationships. The approach has to mirror the personality and the business plan of the shooter. For instance, if a guy wants to do exotic location stuff, he needs to concentrate on those buyers who need that, and set about systematically developing relationships that will help him reach that goal.

LC: With the current changes and advances in how advertisers, brands, and publishers are delivering media, should emerging photographers be prepared to at least be competent in capturing motion or purposing still images for rich media? likewise, are rich media tear sheets and portfolio pieces becoming more valuable to photographers in the changing market?

DB: it is an ever-growing part of the mix, so yes.

LC:  Do you have any tips or suggestions for emerging photographers trying to leverage social media channels for their marketing? Has social media become a viable channel for making one’s work visible to new buyers, or is it more effective as a way to keep current and preexisting clients updated?

DB: Social media could be appropriate for trolling or keeping in touch.Although something more direct or customized like a visit or an e-mail seems better for the keeping in touch part. Social media may be good for people to share what they are doing, Luke is in India! Luke has switched to tea! just getting more people interested in who you are.