MAYER BROTHERS CIDER FOR M&T BANK

Garett Mayer climbing ladder in an apple orchard. Garett is the 5th generation owner of Mayer Brothers Cider Mill in the Western NY town of West Seneca. Garett, The 165 year old cider press, and surrounding orchards were photographed as part of a success stories campaign for M&T Bank, with which Mayer Brothers has been doing business for 90+ years.

I made a frantic dash to the store to buy a new pair of rain boots the night before this shoot.

We knew it was going to be a wet morning long before my team and I headed out to Gasport NY for a shoot at New Royal Orchards. The motion crew for this project had been there a few days before to shoot the broadcast component of this campaign, and it rained the whole day on their shoot. In fact, it had been raining heavily for the better part of a week (or maybe it was weeks? Hello, Western New York in the autumn!) before our pre-dawn arrival at the orchard to photograph Garett Mayer in what we thought was going to be a torrential downpour. We were suited up in new boots, rain jackets, and equipped with enough umbrellas, covers, and sandbags to keep the gear dry and in one place (because who wants to chase runaway umbrellas on a windy day?) We were ready for anything from a flood to windstorm…

…But what we got was a light drizzle and a gorgeous sunrise; however, the boots still helped with our early morning trek through the mud as we carted gear out to those perfect rows of apple trees that we had scouted at New Royal. If you can’t tell, I come from a long line of “I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it” types — here’s to being passionately in to over-preparation!

Garett Mayer standing amongst apples and trees at Royal Orchards. Garett is the 5th generation owner of Mayer Brothers Cider Mill in the Western NY town of West Seneca. Garett, The 165 year old cider press, and surrounding orchards were photographed as part of a success stories campaign for M&T Bank, with which Mayer Brothers has been doing business for 90+ years.

In the last few months of 2018 we spent several weeks working with the kick-ass team at Crowley Webb on a series of print ads for M&T Bank to accompany the commercials that were being shot by the aforementioned (and also kick-ass) film crew — you can see their spot here. We created portraits in Buffalo NY, Harrisburg PA, and Baltimore MD, that focused on successful businesses and community organizations that had strong relationships with the bank — and worked at locations that ranged from rain-soaked orchards, to funky ice cream parlors, to an NFL playing field. Some were chosen for their growth & success, some for the quirky appeal of their business, and others for their legacy & longevity in their communities.

Garett Mayer is the 5th generation owner of a cider mill and growing beverage business that’s over 165 years old. In fact, it’s one of the oldest family-owned businesses in all of New York State, and their relationship with M&T has lasted for over 90 years.

How’s that for longevity?

Garett Mayer sitting on an apple crate at New Royal Orchards in Gasport NY at sunrise. Garett is the 5th generation owner of Mayer Brothers Cider Mill in the Western NY town of West Seneca. Garett, The 165 year old cider press, and surrounding orchards were photographed as part of a success stories campaign for M&T Bank, with which Mayer Brothers has been doing business for 90+ years.

A trip to the Mayer Brothers store for fresh hot cider and donuts is a REQUIRED fall activity in Buffalo, and I’m pretty sure that autumn would actually get put on hold and Halloween delayed if the mill and store failed to open — you have to go at least once (the apple is our state fruit for a reason).

And as important tradition a visit to Mayer Brothers is for many, it’s easy to lose sight of the enormous amount of work that goes into products like cider — from planting, cultivation, and harvest to pressing & bottling. That’s why it’s so endearing to experience Garett’s connection with and deep reverence for the farmers that grow apples for Mayer Brothers in person. As we spoke with him during the shoot and in between setups he told the crew and I what qualities he’s looking for in the apples they press into cider, the relationship that he has with the orchards, how he plans to grow the business, and about his family history in the area — going back to the beginning when his great-great-grandfather bought the cider mill to serve as a place that farmers and families could bring their apple harvests to be pressed.

Garett Mayer holding an apple amongst the trees at New Royal Orchards in Gasport NY. Garett is the 5th generation owner of Mayer Brothers Cider Mill in the Western NY town of West Seneca. Garett, The 165 year old cider press, and surrounding orchards were photographed as part of a success stories campaign for M&T Bank, with which Mayer Brothers has been doing business for 90+ years.

The final ads are below, and I’ll be sharing even more stories of incredible businesses from this campaign in the coming months. This was one of the most fulfilling and fun projects for me to work on last year because the subject matter is so close to what I am interested in as a photographer (and it doesn’t hurt that the team from the agency and the client have been incredible to work with!). I’ve spent so much time documenting the journeys, struggles, and successes of unique entrepreneurs, makers, and doers in Buffalo — and now I’ve been given the opportunity to help tell those stories on a much bigger stage and in other cities across America through this project. I can’t wait to share more with you.


ON ASSIGNMENT: FORBES MAGAZINE

Craig Maxwell of Parker Hannifin

I’m thrilled to share some selections with you from my latest assignment for the always fantastic to work with Forbes Magazine. This time they sent me to Cleveland Ohio to create portraits for a story on Parker Hannifin – a nearly 100-year-old worldwide firm specializing in motion control and mechanical engineering that is in the process of disrupting their own research and development process in a really exciting way.

Craig Maxwell of Parker Hannifin

My first subject was Craig Maxwell – the company’s VP of technology and innovation, and the man responsible for creating the new R&D practices at Parker that allow singularly focused engineers and scientists to pursue research on their own wild projects in a program that’s part hacker space, part startup incubator, and part Shark Tank like pitch contest – a  program that’s keeping the company focused on agility, adaptability, and innovation at a time when slow-moving and overly conservative companies are falling to disruptive young upstarts. The symbiosis between the company and it’s passionate and competitive engineers benefits everyone – especially those engineers to whom Parker provides significant benefit and support, as Maxwell’s ultimate aim is for them to have an ownership stake in their profoundly important creations.

Ryan Farris of Parker Hannifin with his exoskeleton project for Forbes Magazine

My second subject for this assignment is a perfect example of Maxwell’s ideal. Ryan Farris is one of the singularly focused engineers I mentioned above – and the mind behind one of Parker’s most exciting new developments, a revolutionary wearable exoskeleton system aimed at helping people with severe spinal injuries to walk again. Aside from the healthcare application the firm is hopeful that there might be further industrial applications that they can develop as the technology evolves. Farris began work on the project while still a student at Vanderbilt University and it there that the exoskeleton caught Craig Maxwell’s attention, prompting him to bring the project in-house at Parker. Farris has been catching the attention of more than just the internal startup scene at Parker, as he was named one of Forbes 30 under 30 Young Innovators – an honor he greatly deserves as his invention should be brining real positive change to people’s lives in the next couple of years.

Ryan Farris of Parker Hannifin in Cleveland OH for Forbes Magazine

ON ASSIGNMENT: LIVEBETTY

Image from LiveBetty Training campaign

I’ve been working with Buffalo, NY based startup LiveBetty, an empowering tech company that allows people to create and manage their own home messaging businesses, to create images for a variety of training and branding uses. The first project I tackled with them was creating aspirational portraits of company spokesmodel Lulu Robinson. We had to find the perfect location for this shoot that looked just like the dream workspace of a successful LiveBetty member, and we found it at redFISH Art Studios in East Aurora, NY. Turns out that the space has the most beautiful apartment upstairs – white wooden floors, beautiful but simple furniture, art EVERYWHERE. I’m not going to lie, if I had my way this is pretty much what my office would look like too – except I’m sure it would probably still be cluttered with knee-high stacks of photo books and LP’s for me and my dogs to weave around just like it is now. LiveBetty head John Wolf has a very cool vision for the growing company and I’m excited to keep working with him on developing the look of the brand.

THE SPORTS FANS – OXFORD PENNANT COMPANY

Oxford Pennant Company Let's Go Buffalo Pennant

I’ve got a really cool pennant that says “Hustle” in bold golden letters hanging in my studio. It’s part conversation starter/part reminder to get off my ass and get working on whatever project I’m trying to launch at the time. If you look at little closer you’ll find a tag on it that proudly exclaims “It’s an Oxford!” which has become the rallying cry for a young business that’s taking a prototypical piece of sports memorabilia and breathing a new sense of style into it. CEO David Horesh and Brand Manager/Designer Brett Mikoll are turning the simple and classic felt pennant into something that’s equal parts Cal Ripken and Kanye West.

Oxford Pennant got its start on the road – specifically the long stretch between Buffalo and Boston where David and Brett were traveling regularly for business while working for another Buffalo entrepreneurial powerhouse, City Dining Cards (and as I’ve said before – their Buffalo Drink Deck is a thirsty and frugal photographer’s very best friend). The pair found themselves inspired by the preppy aesthetic and eye for visual merchandising of the stores they were dealing with that rolled together sports, local pride, and a keen intuition for pop culture. While bouncing ideas off of each other over drinks one night they began looking for a vehicle through which they distill all of their varied interests into one medium – and they knew they didn’t want to make t-shirts. Brett elaborated “We decided we want to do one thing and do it really well, that we wanted to be Oxford Pennant, not the Oxford brand.”

Oxford Pennant Company "Let's Go Buffalo" Pennant

Somehow during the course of their trip the idea of creating pennants took hold, and Dave realized that there was a void in the marketplace for a modern and well-made pennant that focused more on the culture, aesthetics, and nostalgia of athleticism and civic pride than it did on a specific team. “We made a Buffalo pennant, a Boston pennant, and a Pittsburgh pennant to start because we had friends in those cities, and produced about one hundred of them. We figured that we could at least sell them or give them away as Christmas presents and that would be fine. So we quickly launched an Instagram and a Shopify store. I remember laying in bed on Christmas night 2013 registering the domain name and our timeline to launch from there was just about a month,” David told me during one of our many discussions about Oxford.

A month from inception to launch may sound crazy in this era of multi-volume business plans, cap tables, and overwrought marketing campaigns, but it’s indicative of the earnest and intuitive business that Oxford is building – one that embraces the scrappy, fight-to-make-it, mean-something-to-your-fans ethos of the sports legends that Oxford borrows so much from. Regarding their rapid genesis, Dave told me “We decided not to think about it too much, because if we thought about it too much we just wouldn’t do it. I remember sharing this idea with my brother-in-law who had just gone through a crazy period in his life of opening a business, getting married, having a child and moving to Rochester. When I asked him how he got through all this so quickly without going crazy he told me ‘go, ready, set” and go, ready, set is something that I think about all the time now. Sometimes you just have to do it and figure it out along the way, and in this case that worked in our favor.”

Brett from Oxford Pennant Company in Buffalo NY

The duo quickly pulled in project manager Pat Simons, another City Dining Cards alum, to complete Oxford Pennant’s core team. In the past year they’ve grown to a roster of approximately thirty strikingly designed and 100% made-in-America wool and cotton felt pennants that feature phrases like “Started From the Bottom Now We Here” and “Liberty or Death”, and pay homage to locales like Nantucket, Cleveland, and Seattle. One thing that you will immediately notice about all of Oxford’s designs is how minimal they are. “The people that are producing pennants use this rigid, hard, plastic feeling material that doesn’t move. We wanted something that was floppy, so we sourced American made wool and cotton for our felt, and created something that would actually blow in the wind like flag, because that to me is the iconic aesthetic of the pennant. I think that this is another one of those products where less is more, when you have a simple crimson or navy or forest green pennant with a one color print on it that says what you want it to say, it goes so much further than a complicated four color process. If you buy a football pennant now it’s going to have a helmet, and the quarterback throwing a pass, and a fan in the background eating a sandwich. I think that there’s too much in that. You really can’t look at it and appreciate the graphic quality of it.”

And there is something unique about their product, something that evokes that childhood feeling of going to your first game. Even if you were too young to follow the stats and lore of the sport, you knew that this was something formative. I think that there’s something in all of us that wants an artifact of that, something of the ephemera of the game that we could keep with us. For me growing up in Canada it was a puck at a hockey game, and if you grew up in a baseball, soccer, or football town, it was probably a pennant. Before we became consumed with facts and figures, anger about salary caps and trades, and resentment over bad calls and poor league decisions, there was something about the simplicity of the game and cheering for your team that had a much more innocent appeal to it. Oxford has taken that signifier and turned it into a design savvy medium for a certain type of consumer – themselves. ““I think that the reason the product is successful is because our customers are a lot like us. We’re some combination of hip hop, sports, hometown pride, and hard work and I think that speaks to a lot of people. Sure, it’s just a twenty dollar pennant, but we’re lucky to have customers who see what we see in the product.”

Pat Simons of Oxford Pennant Company

And some important people have seen just what David, Brett, and Pat have seen in their pennants, because partnering with other brands to create  items for their audiences is a fast growing part of the Oxford business. Since their launch Oxford has been creating custom products for entities like Burton Snowboards, Mitchell Bat Company, Ninth Inning Tx, Phish, and about sixty other companies and numerous bands. They’ve even collaborated with TSPTR on a Charles Schultz Peanuts Pennant. 

Like a lot of the conversations I’ve had with young entrepreneurs in Buffalo, the team from Oxford had some strong opinions regarding the changes that the city is seeing. Dave equates a lot of their success to being based in Buffalo, but is also wary of the “We exist because of Buffalo. It’s the reason we’re able to do this. I’m originally from Rochester, but Buffalo has become my home. A little company like Oxford can shout loud enough to be heard in Buffalo and that’s definitely helped our brand thrive. As a city, we’re so preoccupied with trying to figure out when we’ve finally made it back to our former glory. I think we’re in a sweet spot right where we are.” Brett added “Buffalo DOES have the prettiest logos in sports though. The Sabres classic logo and the Bills current logo are some of the best looking logos today, beautiful logos.”

Oxford Pennant Company CEO David Horesh

ON ASSIGNMENT: 84 LUMBER FOR FORBES

Maggie Magerko of 84 Lumber for Forbes Magazine. 84 Lumber is the largest privately held building materials supplier in America.

Orchestrating one of the biggest business comebacks of the decade can be a lot to deal with, but imagine adding some major family drama, billions of dollars, and thousands of at-risk jobs into the mix and you have the recipe for Maggie Magerko’s life.

One of my most recent out-of-town assignments took me to Pittsburgh, PA for Forbes Magazine – more specifically to Eighty Four, the town from which the largest privately held building materials supplier in the country, 84 Lumber, takes its name. The job was to create a series of portraits for a stranger-than-fiction story of Maggie Magerko – the current president and owner of 84, and her father, Joe Hardy – the company’s founder. The once thriving no-frills lumber yard and building supplies chain had gone through a rough period, having had to close a large number of stores and lay off thousands of employees in order to stay afloat through a brutal housing recession that had a devastating effect on the business. An untimely investment in a resort property that soon grew to over $600 million in costs by the traditionally frugal Joe just added fuel to the fire and increased the growing tensions between father and daughter.

Despite all of this, Maggie, once at risk of bankruptcy both personally and professionally, has put it all on the line to rebuild the business, and it’s working.

This was one hell of a story to work on, and I can’t even begin to do justice to the engrossing saga the actual article is – I suggest you pick up the latest issue of Forbes (Feb 9 – 2015 edition) and check it out for yourself.

On a side note ~ I’m no stranger to shooting in cold weather, being the strapping and tough snow loving Canadian that I am, but this one was a little chilly even by my standards. I’m super thankful that I had the foresight to invest  in some quality winter gear just before shooting outdoors in a lumber yard in the middle of a Pittsburgh winter.

A BRAND SPANKING NEW ONLINE PORTFOLIO

I’ve made some significant changes to my online portfolios since the new year and today I’m ready to launch this all new mix of work for 2015. Some of these additions are from projects that I’ve been waiting forever to be able to share, while others are classics that I’m reintroducing to better illustrate the direction my work is taking. Click on any of the samples below to check out the full galleries on my main site.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing a lot more about my new marketing efforts for 2015, including a new print book, new promos, and some fun videos I’m working on right now.

Creative

Portraits of artists, musicians, and creative entrepreneurs – this is where you’ll find some of my edgier and more conceptual portraits in addition to a lot of my editorial work.

Creative Portraits Portfolio

Business

Everything from small business owners to corporate giants.

Luke Copping's Business Portfolio

Everyday

The day-to-day portraits of unique characters, some from assignments, others I’m drawn to photographing for myself.

Everyday Portraits Portfolio

Animals

Rescue dogs, commercial assignments, and private commissions featuring everyone’s favorite furry/feathered/scaly friends.

A look at my animals portrait portfolio

THE HABERDASHERS: BUREAU

Joe Stocker of Bureau

My earliest memories of buying a suit were probably as disappointing as yours.

Dragged under the headache inducing fluorescent lights of a department store by well-meaning parents so that I could be a fitted for the junior suit needed for some occasion – be it a wedding, funeral, first communion, juvenile court appearance… etc. I don’t remember where we were going, but I do remember hating the way the ill-fitting jacket clung to me when I moved, the shoulders were too tight, the stiff dress shoes hurt, the waistband dug in, and the shirt – despite being massively oversized for my torso was so tight on my neck that the top button couldn’t be done up. Looking back I think that an old maxim from carpentry “If it doesn’t fit, force it” had been wrongly applied to children’s formal wear. This continued to be the driving philosophy behind most of the suits I wore through the 80’s and 90’s (And there were so many tragic examples from those decades, and by that I mean that we will under no circumstances, ever, discuss what I wore to any high school formals). Continue reading “THE HABERDASHERS: BUREAU”

THE PIE MAKER: DAMIAN PARKER

Damien Parker, owner and lead creative of Pie Mad and the English Pork Pie Company.

The first thing I learned from Damian Parker is that pies are sexy.

He’s not the only one who thinks so either: Disney, Google, and the US Military are just some of his customers.  The Telegraph named The English Pork Pie Company the Best British Shop in the World three years in a row. Even Gordon Ramsay is a fan of Damian’s products.

Not too bad for an English expat making meat pies in South Buffalo. Continue reading “THE PIE MAKER: DAMIAN PARKER”

LEO CHAN

Business editorial portrait on finance exec Leo Chan

It’s not every day that you find that the subject you are creating a business portrait of is also a model, but that was certainly the case when photographing Morgan Stanley compliance and anti-money laundering specialist Leo Chan.

In creating these portraits Leo and I  wanted to create something simple, classic, and a little iconic that took advantage of all the style and confidence Leo brought to the equation. The addition of a well-tailored suit, a quirky splash of color, and the fact that Leo is also an experienced model made this portrait a lot of fun to work on.

I am always excited to shoot a project like this. As much as I have enjoyed shooting fashion and beauty stories over the years I have found myself drifting away from that lately and gravitating towards what really excites me these days, which is photographing real people with interesting lives and their own sense of style and identity – Cool people who do and make cool things. A lot of my recent personal work is around the idea of making images that tell these kinds of stories while still being very stylish and clean – very me.  One of the reasons that this project with Leo is so appealing to me is that it is something of a bridge between these two very different types of projects I work on and very much a hybrid between where I am coming from and where I want to go with my work.

ED PETTINELLA FOR MFE MAGAZINE

MFE magazine tear sheets

MFE magazine called me up last month about a project, and I was pretty excited when I found out I would be heading to Rochester, NY to photograph Ed Pettinella – the CEO of Home Properties Inc. for the cover of their April issue. I went to college in Rochester and lived in the city for years, so any assignment that takes me there always presents me with a great chance to see some old friends and visit some of my favorite old haunts, and this trip gave me the opportunity to photograph a very interesting and very funny subject.

As the leader of the Home Properties team since 2004, Ed has focused on rehabilitating and repurposing older, run down buildings into higher income rental properties – a strategy that has allowed the company to consistently outperform its peers. Ed was an enthusiastic and affable subject who kept me and the crew laughing throughout the day-long shoot at the Home Properties headquarters, both trading jokes with us and sharing his thoughts on his company and business philosophy while we photographed him in his offices and on the building’s rooftop terrace overlooking Rochester (a seriously amazing view). This was a great day on assignment – the shoot went wonderfully, we had a great subject, an awesome location, and we even capped the day off with a fun crew dinner at one of my favorite places in Rochester – Dinosaur BBQ (I can’t wait until the new Buffalo location opens right around the corner from my studio).

The images above are tears from both the cover and the interior feature, while the one below is one of my personal favorite outtakes from the portraits we made on the building’s terrace.

Ed Petinella - CEO of Home Properties Inc.

Read the full MFE feature on Ed here.

 

Black Enterprise Magazine – July

Black Enterprise Magazine July Tear Sheet

Black Enterprise Magazine July Tear Sheet

Lots of projects getting wrapped up, and lots of new ones starting. I have some new work in this month’s issue of Black Enterprise Magazine covering SLR Contracting and its President, Sundra Ryce, as a follow up to the company’s presence in the Black Enterprise 100 issue last month.

In addition to the images that ran in the feature, here are a few added portraits from that day’s shoot.

Outtake from the set

Alternate portraits from shoot

Alternate portraits from shoot

Required Reading

• A beautiful flickr gallery of Tokyo cabs at night. All sleek metal, glass, plastic, and light, zipping through the neon drenched night.

• Evidence that a cool trailer can sell anything. Solitaire has never looked so fun or relevant as it does here.

• Gala Darling shares 10 of the most important ideas you will ever here on the topic of being happy as an artist. Simple, concise, to the point, and most importantly, true.

• A little bit of time that will definitely not be wasted. 14 powerful TED talks by photographers.

• the 99% echoes my longstanding belief in using analog rituals and methods to increase focus and become more productive.

• Having a tough time sticking with your blog? feel demoralized? go read this great guest article over on problogger.

• Chase Jarvis’ new short film, Benevolent Mischief, is just plain awesome. Watch it and then go make something of your own.

• Great interview with photographer and blogger Andrew Hetherington

• logodesignlove.com’s post on how to find success as a self-employed designer has some great tips that can be translated into the experiences of photographers as well.

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!

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: Round Two

I’m on my third cup of coffee and have pulled a few links from by bookmarks bar for your ante meridiem perusing pleasure.

Zack Arias

Zack Arias started out his blog as an Atlanta based music photographer and ended up becoming a guru somewhere along the way. Sure, the blog of course contains occasional helpful technique posts and great displays of his new work, more importantly it contains posts like THIS and THIS .

I read Zack’s blog because its a constant call to action and because I can relate to his story. He went to photography school, tried freelancing for a while without finding much success, ended up working at a Kinkos, and then one day had a chance to come back to photography without looking back. The sign shop I worked at wasn’t a Kinkos, but the trajectory is not wholly unfamiliar to me.

Coilhouse

A magazine and accompanying blog that are important for two reasons. First, they clearly shows what can be done by a small magazine with a willingness to experiment very early into its existence. Coilhouse boasts excellent articles, fantastic photography, and stunning design and layout. They have taken the idea of an alternative arts and fashion magazine and raised it up above the bad stereotypes of the genre, through they may not be large, for pure quality I would rank Coilhouse as equal among several other more mainstream boutique magazines.

Secondly, the Coilhouse blog regularly posts extremely interesting and engaging articles about the arts and culture. Though they do have a somewhat alternative flavor to them on the surface, their value indeed runs deeper than that. Especially interesting is the focus paid to Eastern European artists and film, I have definitely been introduced to compelling and numerous bits of art, style, and design that I may have otherwise missed if it were not for the Coilhouse blog.

Photo Business News Forum

Whether you like John Harrington’s blunt style or not is irrelevant. This is one of the single most informative blogs about the business of photography that I have ever come across. Everyone, regardless of experience, age, or skill can find resources in this blog that will prove useful. And, on occasion, some of the rants can set off a rather entertaining string of arguments in the comments.