Sunday, November 10, 2013

Why Doesn't Anybody Want to Learn From This Teacher?

Since I have been crushed under the weight of Medicare Enrollment, my time is short and very precious. I had a similar post written in a rough draft, but I came across an excellent article that got the same point across on petapixel:

No sense in me writing a "me too" post and as my regular readers know, I do not rip off other people's work and represent it as mine. In any case, this was very well written and it is well worth your time to read and learn...especially if you are doing Photography for Income!

Hope to be back soon!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Making a Sales Presentation? Don't Make These Mistakes!

Lord have mercy, where did the summer go! The leaves are turning color, falling off the trees, and messing up my 2.5 acres...which I now have to clean up! Fall often means quoting church directories, school directories, school and/or sports photography for next year (yep, it is normally done this far in advance), and other photography events...All prime candidates for Photography for Income.

As photographers, we don't normally have to have real sharp presentation skills, but when you are doing Photography for Income, the time may come where you have to put them into play.Years ago, I was doing a presentation for a church. We were pitching a church directory.

There was a photographer from a local studio, and a representative from a national church directory chain. The local guy stumbled and bumbled...he was CLEARLY out of his comfort zone. The guy from the chain outfit was slick and polished. He went through his presentation smoothly. 

Amazingly, BOTH presentations were very close in content! 

1. Who is "Our Studio?"Company and what is our history?
2. Overview of Our Studio Products and Services.
3. What Your Church's needs are.
4. The solution and how Our Studio can help Your Church.
5. Display of portrait samples.
6. How Our Studio will deliver results.
7. The support Your Church will receive
8. How we will manage your account
9. How Our Studio Innovates! (the future of Our Studio & Your Church)
10. Benefits of working with Our Studio.
11. How we will launch Your Church Directory:
  • Program and launch planning.
  • Recruiting congregants as appointment setters.
  • Scheduling portrait sessions, photography, and sales
  • Target Delivery Date.
  • How Our Studio will deliver portraits to Your Church.
12. Your Church's feedback and results
13. Our Studio will now open this to Your Church for Q&A
What a snorefest! The board making the decision was bored just 10 minutes into the thing (no pun intended, by the way). Here's why: they didn't give a rat's ass about the first NINE topics of discussion! What they WERE interested in were items 10 through 13...and I am being kind by including #12.
Here is what needed to be done: they needed to focus on the prospect’s issues and concerns (and their studio history sure as hell isn't one of them!). So why didn't these people speak directly to the prospect’s concerns? Well I am only guessing, but I would guess that they felt the still had to sell the church on their company, and by talking about their company they would sell the church on their business and eliminate any nagging concerns the church board had..
I have yet to encounter an executive team or decision making board who was interested in a person’s company--decision-makers don’t care! All they want to know is:
1. That you understand their problem/concern (or want/need/desire), and
2. How you can help them resolve that issue.
I walked in and said, "Wow! You asked for a drink of water and you got Niagara Falls! (chuckles and guffaws). Look, you know who I am, you know what I do, and you know I am the best at doing it. I am going to get your church directory appointments set in one week using volunteers from the church. I will photograph all 600 families in one week. That's right, one week, not three like the people before me stated. The photography will be finished before October 15th, the viewing and sales done before Halloween, and the finished portraits delivered before Thanksgiving. 
"Your finished directories will be delivered before Valentine's Day, barring any unforeseen events such as mechanical breakdown or labor disputes...I have no control over those, so I'd be lying to you if I said I could guarantee it 100%. Now does anyone here have any questions, or do you just want to authorize my studio to get this going? (again chuckles and guffaws)
"Why are you laughing? You want to stretch this thing out until Memorial Day with these people, or do you want things done right, done right the first time, and done right now? Does anyone have any questions?"
I answered 4 questions. After that, it took 7 minutes for the board to make a decision.
Afterwards, the guy from the big chain outfit offered me a fairly decent amount of money to come work for the place he worked for. "Thanks, but no 44 weeks out of the year doesn't appeal to me."
The other studio owner didn't talk to me--he was pissed. It didn't matter...his studio didn't make it to prom time the following spring.
Look, the next time you have a sales presentation - or even a sales call - invest some time finding out what your prospect wants and focus your efforts on those things. Skip the yadda, yadda, yadda about your company and tell them exactly how you will help the prospect achieve their objectives.
This approach saves time and really sets you apart from you competition. Not only that, but you will never hear someone complain that you took two hours to explain what could have been done in fifteen minutes. And if you are doing Photography for Income, that is a big plus.
Until next time!

Monday, September 23, 2013

RAW vs JPG: Round #2

Several years ago, at the request of moderator Sue Chastain,  I published an article on ABOUT.COM that spoke about using RAW vs JPG. The article elicited a lot of discussion when it was published. As expected, many of the comments were simply stupid, to wit:

From Guest Seth: "Part of photography was always darkroom work or lab processing. Now RAW files are replacing physical negatives and darkrooms. Shooting in JPG is like Ansel Adams letting the teenage boy in the One Hour Photo process his images. Are you a photographer or not?"
It is NOTHING like Ansel Adams letting 1 Hour Photo process his're an idiot, Seth.

From Guest Kate: What's seen on the camera's LCD is a camera-generated JPEG "thumbnail" of approx. how your image will look when it's opened, and even that depends on factors such as color spaces, settings, compression level which--contrary to some opinions here--does matter because when JPEGs are compressed, data is tossed. Data=pixels and the camera decides which pixels to toss, not you (if you shoot JPEG). Lost pixels=lost resolution. While it's true that med. vs. high Q JPEGs printed at the same size are almost indistinguishable, what IS lost in higher-compressed JPEGs are all those precious pixels you'll wish you still had if you heavily crop an image. Why have a 12mp camera if you're only going to use 6? Regardless of mode, capture all the data you can, using best exposure practices.
Kate, you are wrong. Lost pixels do NOT equal lost resolution. The JPG image comes off the same sensor as the RAW file, and if you use medium compression, you are actually OVERSAMPLING the image...not throwing data away as you state. The statement underlined above is ludicrous! You do not cut resolution in half by using JPG compression! And dear: images photographed at medium quality and printed are not "almost indistinguishable"...they ARE indistinguishable!

But my favorite was from Guest Gordon: This concerns anyone holding a camera and says that shooting RAW is a waste of time and storage. First of all, storage is cheap. Second, you have no clue about pixels and how to get the very best out of them. Clearly you are not a professional photographer and need to be saving your money on a P&S. Enroll is some type photography class and learn the technical side of photography because you sure as hell don't know it now.
Gordo--you are a total douche. I have forgotten more about photography than you will ever know. I hold both degrees from the Professional Photographers of America, and hold several Court of Honor Awards for my photographs. And I beg to differ, but I have ALL the clues on pixels and how to get the very best out of them. So maybe you might want to pick up that photography class...

It is one thing to disagree with a working professional is another thing entirely to insult him, especially when you probably wouldn't know the difference between a RAW file and a JPG file if one of them bit you on the a$$! The whole RAW vs JPG thing has kind of become an elitist battle cry, and I really don't play that game.

I reprinted the article here on Photography for Income last year, and all of the comments were positive. Most of them went similar to this: "Thanks for clearing that up for me...I was working my butt off trying to post-process these RAW files and it was taking me forever. I read your article and it makes sense...THANKS!"

So I am not trying to change any one's mind. If you like shooting RAW files, and have all kinds of time, by all means, stick with it. But don't lie to me and tell me you get better images when you shoot RAW, because you don't. And don't give me this line of crap where you tell me, "It doesn't take me that long to process my RAW images." Really? Take a look at this letter sent to Shutterbug Ads in December of 2012 by John Frederick:

    "I have been shooting RAW format for many years, but I have an issue. I have yet to find a quick, easy, reliable way to process the images. I spend an average of an hour or more of post-processing time per image before I have something worth printing. That's just not acceptable and it has gone a long way toward frustrating (disgusting) me with digital photography.
    What I really would like is as piece of software that will take my RAW image and show me a quick "best guess" as to how the image should appear, then allow me to either accept it or tweak it slightly. I fully agree with the advantages of shooting RAW for serious work, but I cannot spend my life post-processing the images. Any recommendations and suggestions will be very much appreciated, probably by a huge number of "Shutterbug" readers."

Now, either John here is an incompetent idiot (which I totally do NOT believe), or these people who say they can process a RAW image to perfection in 3 minutes are outright liars...which I definitely DO tend to believe! If you take 25 images for a senior portrait, that is 3 full workdays just to make ready images to show the customer...ONE customer! And the last wedding I did was 300 images!! At one hour per image that is SEVEN AND ONE HALF WORK WEEKS to simply process the images. Gut Gott in Lieben!

Editor David B. Brooks' answer was for John to check out a service called Organic Imaging. You do not purchase software, you pay per image. As this is written, the price is approximately 15 cents per image. David wrote a short blog about Organic Imaging that you might want to check out.

I never cared for the time it took for post-processing even in JPG. I think I'd kill myself if I had to post- process 300 RAW files from a wedding, but hey, whatever turns your crank. In any case, do what works for you, but remember: the image is no sharper off the sensor, and all of that post-processing time puts no $$ in your pockets, and that's important when you are doing Photography for Income!  Till next time, may all your highlights read 245 and all your shadows read 10!

Monday, September 16, 2013

#10 -Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer...


"My minister (accountant, plumber, landscaper, dog groomer, doctor, window washer, etc.) does some photography and he says you should have done [this or that] differently."

Okay, this is the one that hastened my retirement from photography full time. I had done senior portraits for a young lady, and the girl's mother came in and told me all the things I did "wrong". When I asked her how she figured I did them "wrong", that's when she said, "Well, my minister does a lot of photography and he said these things could have been done better."

I had to stand there and count to ten...then 15...then 20 before I answered.

"You know, I own a Bible but that doesn't make me qualified to lead the sermon at your church this
Sunday." I walked her over to the wall that had my Master of Photography Degree and my Craftsman of Photography Degree on it and said, "Please take a look at these two degrees awarded to me by the Professional Photographers of you know what they signify?"

She replied she did not. I answered, "This means I know what I am doing. Less than 1000 photographers worldwide have both of these degrees. This means I have FORGOTTEN more about photography than your minister will ever know. I'll tell you what: you tell your minister when he has both degrees, he can critique my work. Until then he needs to keep his comments to himself."

I then asked, "Why did you select ME to do your daughter's senior portraits?" She replied that I had an excellent reputation and her daughter liked her friends' portraits that I had taken. I then said, "Exactly. So why are you taking advice from your minister? Why didn't you have HIM take your daughter's senior portraits?"

The daughter was visibly embarrassed. I said to the mother, "I think it would be best if I just return your money and you can have your minister take your daughter's senior portraits, because right now I cannot tell you how much you have insulted me."

The daughter went ballistic! She told her mother, "You had better apologize to Mr. Bohne right now! I LOVE those pictures and I want them for my senior portraits. If you have pissed him off so much that he won't make my senior portraits I will NEVER speak to you again!"

The mother apologized and asked if I would please take her order.

Dear readers, please understand that if you are involved in ANY creative endeavor, you will face criticism...most of it from people who don't know the first damn thing about it! Again, I caution you, do NOT get into a pissing contest with a customer, because you lose - regardless of the outcome. Remain calm and discuss things in a professional manner, but don't take any crap. If someone is not happy, tell them one of two things:

1) "I am very sorry you were not pleased with the portrait studies I did for you. I will be happy to do some additional poses at no additional cost to you. You may order from both sessions, but please understand that if you decide to order from poses from the first session, an addition session fee will be added to your order." By adding this last sentence, you will KILL 80% of the requests for additional poses. By the way, NEVER say you will do a "retake" - in my opinion, it says you have done something wrong.

2) "I am very sorry that you have lost confidence in my skills and expertise as a photographer. Please allow me to give you a full refund, and you may select another photographer." I normally would use this response when the customer had been a royal pain in the ass, and I didn't care if they ordered from me or not. Again, many times this causes the customer to backpedal. If they say, "Fine, I'll take the refund," then give it to them with a smile on your face and wish them the best of luck with their next photographer.

I would actually send a thank you card to these people. I thanked them for giving me the opportunity to be their photographer, and I regretted that I did not measure up to their high standards. I hoped that I might be of service to them in the future. And about 4 out of 10 called me back a month later and asked if I still had their session available for them to order from. It seems they weren't happy at the other studio, either. Hmmm, imagine that! Yes, I would make the order, but they would forfeit any specials or discounts they would have received. No exceptions.

Now, in a few instances I had a third response. There were cases where customers made a scene (with other customers in the studio), used foul language, or made disrespectful comments about me or the studio. I didn't give them any choice. I gave them a refund. Most of the time this was NOT what they wanted. They were thinking if they complained, I would give them a discount or free photographs. Oh, dear...they picked the wrong studio for that gambit, I fear!

I had one lady who made the mistake of pulling this stunt 2 weeks before Christmas. This was during the film days. I had photographed her and her siblings and their children for a gift for Mom & Dad. She was just a total flying bitch, complaining about the poses, the background, not enough of this, too much of that, etc. My sales consultant came back to my office and asked what she should do. I told her to give her a full refund.

She handed her the check and said, "Mr. Bohne apologizes that you were not happy. Here is a full refund, and he hopes you have a Merry Christmas." THEN THE REAL FIREWORKS STARTED! "These were going to be Christmas presents for my parents!" she sputtered. "What am I supposed to do now?" she yelled.

My sales consultant simply replied, "I don't know. Have a nice day!"

Of course, about 40 minutes later one of the other siblings came into the studio hat-in-hand to apologize. "Steve, the rest of the family is mortified. PLEASE let us order these for Mom and Dad. They have wanted this photograph for such a long time. Please don't disappoint them. My sister thinks if she makes a fuss, she will get a discount...she swears it works most of the time."

I told the woman that I would take the order. However, the first woman was not to place the order, she was not to pick up the order, and they would NOT receive the special that they came in under. I said, "Once I refund money, any additional business is at full price--no discounts, specials or coupons apply." She replied she understood completely, thanked me very much, and gave me the order. Her sister's shenanigans cost her and her siblings an extra $125.

Understand that some people are so unreasonable and insulting, we don't want them as customers. I did a young man's senior portraits many years ago. His mother picked the photographs up, and was delighted with the results, and placed a very nice order. She told my sales consultant, "His father and I are divorced--I am just back in town to make sure my son had proper clothing for his senior portrait. Can I keep the originals out another few days so that he might order? He is responsible for purchasing the yearbook photograph." She told her she could, and asked her to tell her ex-husband to please call for an appointment to place his order.

Well, "Wild Bill" comes in a few days later - without an appointment- and with a reception room full of people, he proceeds to go on a rampage...

"These are the WORST photographs I have EVER seen! They are LOUSY! Doesn't your photographer know the first _ _ _ _ _ _ _ thing about his job? These poses suck, his expressions are terrible, and the clothes the photographer selected for the kid to wear are stupid [gee, I didn't know I selected his clothes!]. Where is the owner? I need to speak to this dumbass right now!"

I walked out to the reception area and asked if I could be of assistance. He was about to repeat himself when I said, "Please, Mr. Customer, I've heard your concerns. In fact, I think the people at the Subway across the street heard them as well."

"Well I wanna know what the _ _ _ _ you are gonna DO about it?"

I had a refund check all made out. I took the originals from him and said, here is the refund for the session fee, which your ex-wife explained was paid by you. Please feel free to take your son anywhere else and have the portraits taken by someone else."

He nearly had a cow! "But...but...the yearbook deadline is two weeks away! How am I going to get his picture in the yearbook?"

I replied, "I really don't know...and I really don't care. Besides, after your earlier statements, I'm surprised you would even consider putting one of these lousy photographs in the yearbook. Goodbye and have a nice day." And with that, I turned on my heel and walked away.

He started to launch another tirade, but my sales receptionist stopped him cold. "Sir, your business here is completed. I will ask you once to leave. If you refuse to do so, we have 911 on speed dial, and the City Police will be here in just a few minutes to escort you out." The man left, and you could hear him a block away as he called us everything BUT Christian!

Now before you think I am a total ass, I sent a photograph to the school for his yearbook since his mother had such a nice order. But make no mistake about it: if the mother had not placed an order, there would have been no yearbook photograph sent! I always told my employees to let a customer vent, then express regret, and then see if we can help them be happy. But under NO CIRCUMSTANCES were they to deal with ANY customer who became profane, threatening, or abusive.

Never forget: this is Photography for Income. Enjoy the summer while you's slipping by fast. See you next time!

Monday, September 9, 2013

#9 - Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer...

Number Nine:

"I need a photograph for a magazine article (or book cover/press release/President's Wall/ etc). I know you had some extras of my last session. Can you just send one over to the newspaper. You already have it made...why do I have to pay?

 It is AMAZING how many people think I'm in business to make friends. In fact a lady told me that just a few years ago.

I had taken her portrait for the local hospital. She was elected president of the Ladies Auxiliary, and the hospital paid for her session. I made images in black and white and color, which we of course tried to sell to her. She declined.

A few months later, she needed a photograph for another use, and called and said the above just about verbatim. When I told her there was a charge she was incredulous! I told her, "You know, Lydia, this is how I make my living."

Her heated reply? "Well it certainly isn't to make friends! There are some very important people waiting for that picture, so you had better send it out today. Send it by Express Mail so it gets there overnight!"

Whoa! This takes MAJOR cahones: you not only insist I give you the picture for free, you also expect me to send it via Express Mail at my expense. Unbelievable!!

I informed her that I would be glad to do so once I had the price of the portrait PLUS the cost of mailing via Express Mail in my hand. She haughtily refused and said that she would complain to the hospital and I would NEVER do business there again.

This attitude is not held just by your regular customers. I have businesses and PR firms ask me for the same thing. The answer is always the same: no dough, no photo.

Look, you don't owe anyone free photographs, ESPECIALLY if you are doing Photography for Income! Stand your ground and get paid what you are due. See you next time!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

#8 - Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer...


"Hey, mom! Look at that picture of looks just like the one you downloaded and put in the family room!"

I used to have a booth at the county fair, and I actually heard this comment while I was manning my booth. The customer who did the illegal download told me her daughter's portraits were "terrible." This is the reason she gave for not placing a very big order.

I had a friend who was talking to me at the time, and I told the copyright infringer, "This person is a witness that you have committed copyright infringement. This is punishable by a $10,000 criminal penalty plus damages. Would you like to settle this out of court, or go to court?"

As it turns out her husband WAS an attorney, and she told me, "_ _ _ _ you, my husband IS an attorney and you can just go _ _ _ _ yourself!" Wow! And to think she kisses her kids with that mouth!

It seems that she went home and told her husband...who called me and started to tell me that they were "innocent infringers." I stopped him and said, "Mr. are an ATTORNEY! No court is going to swallow that story, and you and I both know it.

He wondered if we could come to an "agreement." You see, as an officer of the court, committing copyright infringement is not looked on kindly by the court. It's the kind thing that can get a lawyer reprimanded, censured, or even disbarred in extreme cases.

This is why you need to register your copyright. If your image is not registered, you can't get spit for someone illegally copying your work. You can do it yourself, or you can use LegalZoom. You gotta get paid! After all, you ARE doing Photography for Income, aren't you? Til next time!

Monday, August 26, 2013

#6 & #7: Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer...

NUMBER SIX: "You charge HOW MUCH? Just to push a button?"


Don't you just love being a professional photographer? It's great isn't it? Now I have to admit with number six, it is getting to be harder to defend. When I was a film photographer - using RZ-67 and Hasselblad cameras - there was a lot more than just pushing a button. I had to focus, determine exposure, etc.

Today, the general populace uses the same equipment we do in many cases, and in their eyes it IS just pushing a button. The camera does pretty much take care of the rest. Having said that, there is still the matter of composition and posing, not to mention the post production work.

When a customer says this to me, I always reply, "I wish that was all there was to it. But there is a lot of work that takes place AFTER I have made the initial image. And I do have a substantial investment in education, equipment, etc. So I do try to make a profit as a matter of customer service. You see, if I cannot stay in business, I won't be here the next time you need or want a great photograph taken. That's important, wouldn't you agree?"

That pretty much takes care of the matter.

Number seven is very easy to answer. Whenever someone says that to me, I take the 8x10 and place it on the table so only the white back of the photograph is showing. I then say, "That is a $50 piece of paper." I then flip it over to show the image of their family, baby, senior, bride, etc. and say, "It's the image on THIS side that makes it worth $50. I think your family (baby, senior, bride) is worth at LEAST fifty dollars... [PAUSE] don't you?" I then I don't say another word.

I once had a guy come in and tell me, "$50 for an 8x10 is outrageous. I do some photography, and I know what an 8x10 costs!"

I didn't issue any rebuttal at that moment. I said, "I understand how you feel. What do you do?"

He said, "I have a trenching business. We do trenching so you can lay pipe, cable, etc."

I asked, "I need a 10' trench at my house. I want to run power from my home electrical box to my new garage. How much will that cost me?" He replied that it would be about $125. My reply was, "You charge $125 to dig a hole!? It doesn't even cost you anything! Talk about outrageous."

He was hot right now. "You don't know my expenses. I have equipment, wages, insurance, overhead!"

My simple reply was, "And I don't?" And that was all I said. His wife said, "I'll take it from here."

I continued to be his family's photographer for many years...but he was still always a cheap so-and-so, even though he lived in a huge home and always drove a Hummer or Escalade. Ain't it always the way?

Again, never argue with a customer. Just lay out your case, be quiet, and smile. It's the best way if you are doing Photography for Income. Til Next Time!

Monday, August 19, 2013

#5 - Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer...

"Hey, could you do this photograph for our event/fundraiser/brochure/etc. for free? It would be excellent advertising for you...word of mouth advertising is the best, you know!"

If you are brand new (or fairly new) to doing Photography for Income, be on the look out for this one. Many people and/or companies actively look for new photographers for jobs. They then play to the newbee's lack of experience: "Hey, you need to get the word out...this will be great for your business!"

And the new photographer thinks, "Yeah, maybe he's right!" and does the job free. Big mistake. There are three basic problems with this move:

Number one, often you will not get the photo credit--too late to do anything about it.

Number two, very few people pay attention to who provided what in the program. They don't take them home and use them as a resource guide.

Number Three, think about this: most JayCee events are sausage fests. By that I mean it's all men. Who is the number one buyer of portraits and wedding photography? It sure as hell isn't a member of the JayCees. His wife is a different matter. So if the request is by the Opera Society, and you want to do a little networking with that crowd, it might be worth it.

You cannot eat photo credits. It is OK to do a job for a cause you believe in. But if the greater Slobsville JayCees come to you and pitch you on the fact they will list you in their program and give you a photo credit, I'd tell them "Thanks but no thanks" UNLESS you really feel this job would give you valuable experience that you do not already have.

If someone asks you to donate a portrait for a fundraiser, do so ONLY if the following is agreed to by the group:

1) You are the ONLY photographer in the auction;
2) A member of the group reads a short bio that you have written, then tells the crowd what the item is that is being auctioned and the value, and then introduces you; and
3) YOU do the auctioning of the portrait.

You want VISIBILTY! You want people to know who YOU are. You do not have to be a great auctioneer. This isn't a farm auction, it is a charity auction. Two other things:

1) Don't auction an 8x10, you cheap bastard! I see this all the time and it makes my teeth grind. Give a 20x24 on canvas. They'll buy the gift sizes--be smart about it for Bozo's sake!

2) Dress up! For the love of Mike, don't go in t-shirt and jeans. Wear a suit. If the affair is black tie, rent a tux. Women: this event is perfect for that little black dress that's hanging in the closet that you always complain you never get to wear.

Sometimes you see women wearing a man's tux to an event. Here's a tip: don't! 8 out of 10 women end up looking like a dyke, and I've heard men AND women in the audience make comments to same.  Sorry, it's the truth. Understand, I'm not slamming homosexuals in any way, shape or form. If this is for a fundraiser for gay and lesbian rights, go for it. Otherwise forget it, unless you look like - and are built like - Carmen Electra, Megan Fox or Halle Berry.

I think three fourths of the population thinks photographers and artists are "funny" to begin with, and there's no reason to add to their perception. I would never suggest that a person hide their true self. If you can't be true to yourself, how can you be true to your customers or your craft?

If you are gay, then you have to pay special attention to your appearance. It may not be fair, but it is a fact of doing business in mainstream America today. This means no wallets in the back pocket of bib overalls for women and men, feather boas. Keep the swishy look for your Friday nights at The Manhole, okay?

Bottom line: you can dress anyway you want to in your long as you are willing to accept the consequences.

To recap: Make it a rule to make donations ONLY if it lets you increase your visibility in a physical way (such as being in attendance at the event). After all, this is Photography for Income. Til next time!

Monday, August 12, 2013

#4 of Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer...


"Is this all you do? You don't have a real job?"

This will ordinarily been said to you by either:
A) a relative, or
B) some schlub that makes half the money you make

I had a guy tending bar at a wedding ask me what I did during the week. I told him the truth: "I take pictures."

"No sh*t! Really? Well you probably don't make much money playing around with a camera."

Okay, I took it for as long as I could, and figured this douchebag was not going to be a customer of mine. I asked him, "Hey, what are you driving?" He was driving a 10 year old beater.

"Well. I drive a Cadillac Seville. A new one. Not leased. How much do you make a year?"

He replied, "I have my regular job, then I tend bar at parties like this nights and weekends. I make thirty grand a year buddy!"

I told him, "Wow, that's pretty good. I made that much, too...IN AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER! So to answer your question, yeah, I make that much money playing around with a camera...dumb ass!"

When the dude told me, "You're full of horsesh*t," the guy helping him tend bar - who was actually a customer of mine - told him, "Hey, this guy is the best in town. He has three studios. He makes more money by mistake than you make on purpose, so I'd shut my mouth if I were you."

The guy kept shooting off his mouth, making comments that I was "stealing my pay," and the like. Remember Steve's number one rule of life: "There are far more horses' asses than there are horses!"

Now if you are not making a ton of money as a photographer, that's okay. There are different levels of everything. I made good money for me, but I didn't get close to what guys like Gary Jentoft or the late Monte Zucker made. So it's all relative.

That being said, don't ever apologize for earning money from your photography. You have a skill, you should get paid for it. After all, it is Photography for Income! Til next time!

Monday, August 5, 2013

#3 of Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer...

Wow, it's August already...didn't the kids just get out of school last week? Well, it seems like it anyway. Here's hoping all of you high school senior shooters have had a great season -- and with the economy coming back, great orders as well. After all, it's all about Photography for Income!


"Wow, your work has really've gotten a LOT better since the last time I saw your photographs!"

Now ordinarily, this is not an affront if it is said IN PRIVATE by one pro to another, or one amateur to another, or from a pro to an amateur or semi-pro. However...

This was said to me by an AMATEUR photographer as he stood in the reception room of my department store studio...AND THERE WERE CUSTOMERS THERE! This sawed off little snit shall remain nameless (but his initials are R*my R*squill*).

What did I say? I croaked out a, "Gee, thank you very much!" while my wife held me by the arms to keep from choking him to death on the spot. Hey, it gets better...

While he was there he overheard me talking to a part time photographer who had stopped doing weddings and was selling a Hasselblad camera. This fine Filipino "friend" promptly left my studio and called the photographer, offering him $100 more than the price we had settled on.

I'm long over it now, but for a period of several days, I plotted his grisly murder. Just kidding [kind of].

This is not limited to photographers. I had a woman who wanted my retouching business. She came into the same studio, stood in the same reception room (no, not on the same day) and criticised the retouching on one of my portrait samples...IN FRONT OF CUSTOMERS! This work was done by an artist who was in high demand and had won many awards for her competition entries. To make matters worse, this retoucher was distantly related to me! At least she did apologize and I gave her some work for a few years.

A word to all of you clueless wannabees out there: if you are not a professional photographer, you really have no place critiquing one ESPECIALLY IN PUBLIC! If you DO feel the urge, have the person standing next to you reach over and squeeze your ballsack as hard as they can as a reminder to keep your comments to yourself.

In most cases it is like a Kindergarten teacher critiquing a university professor.

I know it's hot but keep your cool, dear shooters. Remember, it's Photography for Income! See ya real soon! Why? BECAUSE WE LIKE YA! Check back in a week or so for #4.

Monday, July 29, 2013

# 2 of Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer...

Well, we're back with another installment of Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer.

"Hey, what's your best price on a 20x24...I know you can't be serious asking $400!"

If you do Photography for Income for any period of time, you will hear this regularly. My normal reply to this was, "I'm sorry, you're in the wrong place...the garage sale is the next street over!" Then I would look at the person and smile broadly. Most would get a little chagrined, then laugh it off.

On a very RARE occasion, you would get the dipstick that would say, "Come on, really, what can I buy this for? I mean, nobody pays that price, it's outrageous--it's not worth that!"

My reply was respectful: "Sir, the price is not only fair, it is very reasonable. It must be, because I have people who enter my studio every single day and pay that price willingly. They pay that because it is a photograph of their family, which to them, at least, is priceless. So I am going to respectfully disagree. I feel your family is worth every nickle of that and more. I'm pretty sure you feel the same way, too [PAUSE]...right?"

Then I didn't say a thing. If the guy was there with his wife, she normally turned to him and said, "Yes, DO think our family is worth that, DON'T YOU?" This was usually accompanied by a look that could freeze Hell in an instant. The guy would normally mumble something and say, "Why yes, of course I do." Then a check was written.

Please take note, especially you new comers to Photography for Income: I never argue with the customer. Nothing is to be gained by arguing. "A mind changed against its will is a mind that remains unchanged still" I think the quote goes. Simply state your case and be quiet.

I want to take a moment and give a plug for a Kindle book available now. I used to do craft shows and thought maybe in my retirement in 50 or 60 years I would like to do that again.I recently read "How to Turn Your Crafts Into Cash - Fire Your Boss and do What You Love. Written by Peter Draggon, it was loaded with great information! It was fun to read, too.

You do not need to own a Kindle to read a Kindle Book: Amazon has a free PC Reader you can download.  Pick it up here for the giveaway price of $2.99:

That's it for this time on Photography for Income. Check back soon!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer...

Look, if you are doing Photography for Income, you must realize that at one point, you will discover there are far more horses' asses than there are horses. People will criticize your work: some intentionally and some without realizing they are tearing you down.

For the next few weeks, I'll post 10 things that I have heard from people. Here is some crap you will hear from people who are essentially...well, stupid:

"Wow, I have seen some of your must have a really good camera!"

This comment was made by a writer for the local newspaper (it was a Booth Newspaper, so I should have expected such tripe). I was at a party and he asked me what I did. He made the above comment after I told him I owned three photography studios. I knew he worked for the paper, but I asked him what he did. He puffed out his chest and said "I am a writer!"

I replied, "Well ordinarily I wouldn't consider someone who works for a newspaper a writer any more than I would consider someone who works at McDonalds a chef, but I have read several of your pieces and they were very, very must have a really good typewriter!"

He recoiled in disbelief and said, "The typewriter doesn't have a damn thing to do with it!"

My simple reply? "You don't say?"

His wife turned to him and said, "You are a total douche." Priceless! This was before cellphones with video (who am I kidding, it was before cellphones!) but I wish I had one to record the look on his stupid face.

Even though it is tough, you have to be polite, because one of these high flying hosebags may end up to be an actual paying customer some day.

Until next time, may all your highlights read 245 and all your shadows read 7...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Portage, Michigan Salon Learns Power of Social Media

I've been away, did you miss me? I had to have quadruple bypass open heart surgery. Totally unexpected! But I'm back now, ready to give you some information you can use to do Photography for Income.

M-Spa Salon & Day Spa got a harsh lesson in how quickly social media can cripple a business in May. It seems that on May 25th, the spa's owner, Michelle Mott, confronted a customer and her son (Ashley Bays) and her 2 1/2 year old son who is autistic. Seems that the boy was crying and agitated while getting a haircut.

The very next day, a customer who had witnessed the witless owner's dressing down of the customer, detailed the entire sordid affair on Facebook, calling Mott's behavior "horrific and distasteful." By the time Ms. Mott returned to her salon after the holiday weekend, the post had been shared on Facebook...

...tens of thousands of times!

To make matters worse, someone started a Boycott M-Spa page on Facebook as well. And it became INTERNATIONAL NEWS in less than 48 hours. People in Australia were commenting! And the comments were not very nice. By the end of the week, Mott and her mouthpiece George Perrett were circling the wagons, frantically trying to contain the damage to Mott's reputation, crying unfair.

Mr. Perrett said it was cyberbullying and very well might cause the closure of a local business that had been a terrific business partner in the community for 15 years. Mott herself issued a statement through her lawyer on the first day she was open for business after the incident. But by that time, a full blown negative PR campaign was in motion.

On the following Thursday, Mott issued yet another statement through her attorney in which she apologized to Ms. Bays and her family. She added, "Social media has been used to create an impression of me and this event in ways which do not fairly reflect who I am and which seek to silence differing viewpoints about what occurred."

Hmmmm, differing viewpoints? If you were rude and abusive to a customer, what different viewpoint can there be? Look, to be fair, I have never met Ms.Mott. She might be a perfectly delightful woman who had a bad day, who opened her mouth without putting her brain in gear. Then again, she might be a nasty bitch, I don't know. She obviously has a successful business that has been operating for a long time, so they must be doing something right. But it appears that she may have just handled the situation less than tactfully.

Some of you may be thinking, "Hey, I'm a photographer; I don't own a beauty salon, what the hell does this have to do with me, Steve?

Quite a bit actually.

Number one, you need to recognize how fast a negative shit storm can form because you made a customer angry, or you insulted a customer, or just because there was a plain old misunderstanding.

Number two, you need to respond with lightening speed to any form of social media criticism.

Number three, you need to constantly build your brand on social media by constantly asking people to LIKE your business.

Number four, you must realize that you are CONSTANTLY on display when you own a business. Anything you do is under a microscope. So you might get all warm and fuzzy by going to a Tea Party Rally and calling President Obama a big monkey. Just remember that if the guy in charge of the zoning commission was in charge of the local Obama campaign, you may run into some delays. I'm just sayin'...

Number five, it is imperative that you become recognized for good deeds in your community. Work on fundraising events, benefit walks and/or runs, or give one day's gross receipts to a member of the community who is battling a serious illness. Join a service club such as Lions or Kiwanis. Be visible, but don't be a media whore: don't send press releases that you worked on Special Olympics--it's a little unseemly.

And finally, number six, be aware that social media can be used as a threat against you by a customer who wants to get what they want without paying. It will not happen often, but it can happen. And don't forget it can be used as a weapon against you by an unscrupulous competitor.

This is not your father's Photography for Income. If you want more INCOME than OUTGO, you need to be vigilant regarding your reputation. You can sign up for Google Alerts and they let you know when ever your name or your business name is mentioned on the web.

Til next time!