Friday, October 15, 2010

Secrets To Building A Successful Photography Career: e-book from Jim Pickerell

Concept stock photo of a man seated before a diner plate with a tiny portion of meat and potatoes.
Jim Pickerell has a new e-book out...his frank assessment of the photography world facing those seeking to succeed as professional photographers.

Jim Pickerell, the leading pundit of the stock photo industry (Jim Pickerell Interview), has put together an e-book that I believe is a must read for anyone attempting, or thinking about becoming, a professional photographer. Jim has a reputation as someone who has, shall we say, ”negative” leanings? But perhaps that is an asset when it comes to putting together a book to help would-be pros take a good hard look at the profession that is calling to them.

Jim does a very thorough job of laying out the current scene in professional photography, particularly the stock photo industry. If you are going to make it in this career you have to be aware of the realities…and have the determination to overcome all of the challenges. I think it is far better to be aware of the potential pit falls and to be prepared, than to underestimate the difficulties that lay ahead. Few people are as qualified to prepare a photographer for the worst as Jim!

Jim’s book, Secrets To Building A Successful Photography Career,  is a compilation of articles he has written for his stock photo news letter Selling Stock. If you subscribe to his newsletter you probably don’t need to buy the book…but nonetheless I enjoyed being able to read it again in book form. We seasoned pros may not agree with all of Jim’s conclusions but his research is extensive, organized and great food for thought.

At the end of the book is a section that pulls from comments left on his site by photographers who share a brief bit each about their experiences of life as a freelance photographer. All in all, the book is a fun and informative read. You can get the book for a 20% discount (full price is $25.00) if you order by December 1st and use the discount code “S98TO43CK” when you submit your order.

A disclaimer here…I make nothing off the book.

For more information about the book go to

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Scarcity and Abundance in Stock Photography

Funny Chihuahua DJ performing at a night club full of disco dancing!
Coming from a point of scarcity I would never have spent the time on this funny Chihuahua DJ photo...but coming from a place of abundance creates a more satisfying, and I believe, self-fulfilling experience.

Scarcity or Abundance?
I think a very appropriate question for us to ask ourselves in our current stock photo environment is whether we are thinking along the lines of scarcity or abundance…are we moving towards opportunity or shrinking from adversity?

Important Steps For Our Photography Businesses
Cutting back on overhead, shrinking waste and minimizing our expenses are all important steps to be taking in our photography businesses. But those steps will only take you so far…they are limited. Earning more money, while perhaps a difficult challenge, is really not limited. The sky is the limit! OK, maybe your time and imagination are the limits…but the opportunity is light years ahead of what you can achieve by cutting back.

Learning, Analyzing, Expanding
Are you learning new things that will help you be more productive or to create images that your competitors cannot? Are you analyzing what the market wants so that you can better fulfill real needs? Are you expanding your imagination and creativity to create images that have a “WOW!” factor that will command attention, get you work, and stand out from the crowd?

A Studio and a Creative Boost
I have a small studio that I work out of. It costs me around $2,500.00 a month to maintain. I have occasionally thought about working from home and saving that $30,000.00 a year. That is a sizeable chunk of change. But when I think about the creative boost that I get from having the space, the ease with which I can leave ideas in progress up as I work on them, and the increased likely hood that I will actually do a shot rather than put it off because I don’t have a suitable place to undertake it, I realize that I am better off keeping the studio.

Funny Chihuahuas, Silly Dog Images and Belief in Abundance
The funny Chihuahua “DJ” image above is a good example of thinking of abundance in the case of an individual image. I spent over a day just on the Photoshop work…that is an awfully long time to spend on a stock photo…particularly on a silly animal image. From a place of scarcity I might be telling myself to move on. After all, if we focus too much on declining RPIs we might come to the conclusion that quantity, pumping more images out, is the prime necessity. When that thought came to mind I reminded myself that I believe in abundance. I do believe that whether we see the future as one of abundance, or one of scarcity…we are right! And to actually create a stock photo future that is abundant for me I need to create the best images that I am able to…not to pump out more mediocrity, but to strive in every image to create something unique and excellent.

Create The Future You Want
If you spend the majority of your time cutting expenses and worrying about the demise of our profession, then you won’t be taking the steps necessary to create the future you do want. It is natural to worry when we stock shooters are faced with the daunting circumstances of an oversupply of imagery, of microstock pricing, and of competing with every amateur in the world. But it is vital that we pull ourselves out of that vicious circle and focus on creating imagery that uplifts our entire profession, that fills us with a sense of pride and accomplishment, that we create images that will rise above the vast sea of ordinary photography that surround us and stand out enough to be seen and licensed!

A big thanks to Shalom Ormsby for lending me his extremely talented Chihuahua Bodhi!