BEST OF ASMP 2015

Emilio

I’m so honored and excited to announce that my ongoing Shelter Dog portrait series was a winning finalist in the American Society of Media Photographers Best of 2015 Awards. For the past few years I’ve been working with local animal shelters and rescue programs in Buffalo, NY to provide adoption portraits of long term canine residents who are in dire needs of finding permanent and loving homes. These intimate portraits really give people an opportunity to connect with the animals and give them something that makes it easy to share these dog’s images and stories over social media – helping them to go viral in the local community and often allowing pups that have been at the shelter for months to find new families in a matter of days.

You can read my interview with AMSP here.

You can see the rest of the 2015 winners’ amazing work here. 

Bram Birch - PitbullPetunia - An adoptable rescue pit bull from Buffalo, NY. Apx 4.5 years old female. Stache

CHANGES FOR 2013

Welcome to 2013… let’s get started.

I just returned from a brief holiday trip to NYC where I spent a week with my girlfriend and family enjoying the city, eating, and listening to them grumble as I dragged them to art galleries and museums (you should all go see MoMA’s exhibits on both the Quay Brothers and Tokyo 1955-1970). Despite ending the trip with a six-hour flight delay and a bad flu that I am still fighting off, I am mentally recharged and revived and ready to kick some butt heading into the new year.

I spent a lot of time over the holidays thinking about this blog and where I want to go with it in 2013. I know that over the last few months of 2012 my posting schedule had become a little erratic due to the heavy travel and shooting schedule that I was working with (I’m not complaining – it was great to be so busy and work on so many cool projects as the year wrapped up) but it used to be that I was able to post 2-3 times a week, including some of the regular features like Personal Record and Required Reading that readers really seemed to enjoy. I fell into a bit of blog quicksand and with each post that I felt I missed or posted late, it just got worse and worse –  but there is no time like the new year for a fresh start! After reassessing the direction I want to take this blog in and how I want it to serve my readers, I have decided that I would rather take the route of quality over quantity. In the coming months I will be posting on a more stable schedule of at least once a week (with the occasional extra post as warrented), and regular features will be posted on a monthly schedule that will allow for denser and better curated posts. You can look forward to me sharing new work a few times a month, a new and more expansive monthly link roundup, the regular appearance of a new self-portrait project, news, updates about marketing, behind the scenes and mobile images, and more. You can also look for me to be more active on twitter and more responsive to questions asked on the blog and via email

I also have a big announcement that I want to share with all of you.

The American Society of Media Photographers reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked me to become a regular contributor to their daily Strictly Business Blog, so a lot of my business and industry-based writing will be moving over there. In fact, my first post launched early this morning. I will be writing new content for them every few weeks going forward. I am really thrilled to be a part of this blog which features writers and photographers who have been mentors to me the last few years as I restarted my career in photography.

ASMP Best of 2011

ASMP best of 2011 splash image

ASMP best of 2011 splash image

I cannot even begin to say how surprised and honored I was to find out recently that my project from earlier this year – Pigment – had been selected to be one of twenty projects featured in the American Society Of Media Photographers Best of 2011 Collection. ASMP conducted a pretty in-depth interview with me about the project, my work, and what it’s like to be part of a growing community of talented photographers and creatives working in the border city of Buffalo, NY. I am so proud to be featured among many other incredible projects like Jenna Close & John Held’s revolutionary remote control aerial photography, B. Proud’s fantastic series on long-term same-sex couples, and Barbara Kinney’s coverage of women affected by Alzheimer’s.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of the pigment series, and everyone else I have been lucky enough to collaborate with over the years.

Read the full interview with me here.

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 – 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

Required Reading

500 Photographers – featuring 5 shooters a week for one hundred weeks. Already, favorites of mine such as Alex Prager and Denis Darzacq have been featured consecutively. Nominations are open to suggest future photographers, so if anyone would like to throw a nomination my way, it would be greatly appreciated.

• Brilliant views on tokyo street fashion from the always on point The Sartorialist blog. Scroll down to see all the entries.

• Via the Launch Coach – Fears, Worries, and Oh!, I Just Quit my Day Job

• The value of volunteering – Via the ASMP Strictly Business Blog

• The typographic story of some of your favorite albums – Via rockthatfont.com

Required Reading

• Check out the new blog and site over at Hero Design and see some of the best hand screen printed music posters around. Created by  the team of Mark and Beth Brickey.

Nubby Twiglet recounts her first year of freelancing, applicable to anyone working in a freelance creative field. Some interesting anecdotes and important lessons.

• Post symposium thoughts from ASMP president Richard Kelly regarding the Copyright Symposium that took place in NYC this past week featuring Chase Jarvis, Jeff Sedlik, Lawrence Lessig, and others

• A collection of vintage photographs of New York from the 1940’s

• An archive of brilliant magazine cover photography and design stretching back decades and covering thousands of images at the NMCA: Magazine Cover Archive