Article for Petapixel: Pricing Work by Understanding Value

Article for Petapixel: Pricing Work by Understanding Value

“The fact that you own a lot of gear that cost a lot of money, have purchased a vehicle to transport that gear, and spent long hours mastering its use is a given. Of course you have. Otherwise you would not be a professional photographer. Period.

I do not care how much it costs to make a movie, I just want it to be good, entertain me for a while, and hopefully not have Alec Baldwin in it. The budget is of no interest. The movie is either good or it isn’t.

Big budget movies have totally bombed, while some made on a shoestring budget have been amazingly popular.

So it is with photographers. You either can produce an image that satisfies the needs and desires of your client, or you cannot. Whether you shoot a Canon or a Nikon is of surprisingly little interest to them.”

I hope you take a few minutes to read it. Pricing creative work is one of the more difficult challenges we face. Here are a few ideas to think about.


Site Redesign: Pro Digital Image

Site Redesign: Pro Digital Image

PRO-DIGITAL-IMAGEMy bud Steve Burger is the driving force of Pro Digital Image. He is a Photoshop genius who loves to make photographs, awesome prints, and teach. He has been THE guy to go to for Photoshop in Phoenix and Arizona for more than a decade.

I have built all of his websites, and the newest one does a bit of rebranding for him as well. Steve has been teaching classes of 10 – 12 weekly for 15 years. He has recently seen the numbers for those classes go down, while the calls for him to do one-on-one have risen exponentially.

We addressed that with this website. I waited till the last scheduled group class had been started, then went after the rebrand with all that I needed.


Steve had sent the images we were going to use for backgrounds, and I had created a wireframe for how the site would fit together. I then re-wrote some of the copy he had on the previous site and added some new words for his changed business model.

Having all the content ahead of time sure made it easier to build the site. Having the site plan/wireframe ready also helped me build quickly.

To give the site a modern look and change it dramatically from the previous site, I chose a Parallax style one page approach. There are behind the scenes pages (payment/ordering and such) but for the most part it is a single page utilizing a long scroll, point navigation, and large, colorful background imagery.

It is always fun to work with friends to keep their marketing moving forward, and this work for Steve was no exception. I have been working on a new logo, and should have that in place by the first of the year.

In the meantime – if you are in Phoenix or Arizona and want to see dramatic improvement in your Photoshop skills, give Steve a call. He also works with visitors to the valley as well.



A Fresh Face for J Morgan Images

A Fresh Face for J Morgan Images

We made a few simple tweaks to J Morgan Images, a consumer photography website by photographer Jessica Edler.

You can see what we did and keep these few ideas in mind. Get your clients and visitors STRAIGHT to the imagery. Do not use ‘cover pages’ or ‘entry pages’ as they are akin to protecting the viewer. A simple change of the template provides a much more modern and fresh approach for her website.


A very powerful EMail Campaign by Photographer John McAllister

A very powerful EMail Campaign by Photographer John McAllister

John McAllister is a photographer in High Wycombe, UK. I worked with him on this email campaign for restaurants. John designed it himself and I collaborated on the copy. In this campaign we focus on the benefits to the customer, not the assets of the photographer. It is an important distinction.

The piece will be carefully controlled in its dissemination, and John will make sure that the restaurants all receive a follow up call to confirm receipt.

John’s strategy is to create a few different niche emails, all based on this clean design, and then get them out the door with a consistent plan.


To discuss how I can help you with your marketing, please contact me.

Initial Collateral Design for Professional Speaker

Initial Collateral Design for Professional Speaker

My partner Robin and I have just completed a gig for Health Care Specialist Kelli Shepard.

Robin is a Branding Expert ( and she put together a brilliant brand strategy for Kelli.

I am doing the photography and graphic design. Web design may be being produced by a previous vendor, but we will see how that plays out.

Not shown is the sitemap and wireframes we designed as well as the header photography. Kelli will have a different header for each page of her website as well as several filler images.

More to come on this project.

On the Power of Imagery

Fashion Photographer Nick Knight on the power of the photograph, and its global reach;

“Having a phone and an Instagram account means that I can create images on my own. When I first started using it a couple of years ago, it reminded me of the 70s, when I first started out in photography. It felt very direct – it was about me taking the image. It felt really authentic. I don’t have a Twitter account because it’s essentially about writing and my focus has always been visual. Instagram felt like the most appropriate way for me to communicate. I also really enjoy the instantaneous nature of it – you can publish images straight away – and get feedback from people across the globe. And I’m really interested in figures who have huge followings – such as Kim Kardashian, Cara Delevingne and Lily Allen. People have so much power to put out a message direct to their fans. It’s almost like when magazines were in their heyday – a printed publication would be where you could get celebrity images. Now it’s been reversed and the next generation is one that is used to getting information from digital mediums. The Diesel campaign acknowledges that and feels completely relevant. This is an exciting time – things are changing and I always think change is good.”

Read more here.

Six Reasons Why You Should Hire a PROFESSIONAL Photographer

Six Reasons Why You Should Hire a PROFESSIONAL Photographer

Most people will go through life without ever having to hire a professional photographer. Unless we are talking about wedding photographers, or portrait photographers who photograph our kids for school, most folks just never have a need for a commercial photographer.

Commercial photographers usually deal with other businesses, a B2B approach that makes Graphic Designers, Ad Agencies, Magazines and Corporate Communications their main points of contact for work. Those entities are usually working on behalf of another company that is needing photography to promote their business, product, service or craft.

However, increasingly people are starting businesses from their homes and offices and are in need of a photographer. Perhaps they are starting a website to sell something, or have opened a service business and need images for a brochure and website. Maybe they have begun to make furniture or musical instruments or iPhone cases and need photographs of their products for marketing and distribution.

If you are one of these folks, and are thinking that you maybe need a professional photographer, here are some things to think about as you make your decision.

  1. You are not hiring an “Artist”, you are hiring a “visual solution provider”
    Yes, I know that sounds kind of strange, but that is what commercial photographers do. Every product has challenges to making it look great. Every service has challenges in bringing that service to a photograph. Professional commercial photographers are uniquely prepared to meet those challenges and provide solutions that make images that work for you. Most commercial photographers consider themselves problem solvers first… and that is good for you.
  2. Don’t look for “your photograph” in their portfolios
    Photographers always have portfolios of images they have taken for someone else. Those images solved that client’s problems, and provided the unique visual solution that had been worked out with that with them. Your needs and challenges will most likely be different than theirs, and the photographer will work with you to find the best solutions to your unique visual challenges.
  3. All Photographers are not the same
    That wonderful photographer that photographed your daughters wedding may not be a commercial photographer, nor have the skills needed to provide that work. (In fairness, they may also be commercial shooters… ask for a client list.) The dentist across the street with all the big lenses may take incredible landscape photographs when he is on vacation, but may have no idea at all how to shoot your shiny product so it looks great in print and on Amazon’s website.If you need a people shot, you should look for someone who does that well. If you have a product, make sure the photographer can shoot products. Remember that their portfolio, while not having the exact shot you are looking for, will definitely let you know if they are capable of shooting products, people, locations and studio work.
  4. Discuss your budget honestly
    Most professional photographers are decent, honest people and want to work with you. They can take your budget and find the best way to get what you need done. If your budget will not be enough for a studio rental, they will find a way to shoot it on location. If you only have a specific amount of money to spend on the photography, most photographers will find a way to make sure you get the absolute best work possible. And for sure, different photographers have different ways of getting things done. It is certainly OK to look at different photographers and compare their quality and bids.
  5. Hire a photographer that understands your needs
    How can you tell if they understand your needs? They ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. They will want to see what you consider your competition, they may want to scout your location, or meet with you for a pre-production discussion. They may ask to do test shots before the actual shoot to make sure they can solve the challenges in the best way possible. They will want to know exactly what you want to do with the images so they can prepare them for the best presentation possible.
  6. Great photography is not a cost item, it’s a profit center!
    Good photography sells more product. It makes your service look better. It takes your business and shows it in the best light (no pun… seriously). Look at the premium brands for the truth. They spend tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars on their imagery. Why? Because they KNOW it works. In side by side comparisons, consumers and purchasers choose brands with great photography over products with bad, boring or mediocre imagery.In short… better photography sells more stuff to the clients you want to serve.

A warning… you may have heard of some very inexpensive images, even free, to be found on the internet. We call them “stock” photography. And there are indeed some places in your marketing where good stock photography can be used, but remember that those same images can be used by every and anyone. Even your competitors. Now THAT would be embarrassing.

Hiring a professional photographer should not be difficult or cause angst or pain. It is an important business decision, and should be considered with deliberate thoughtfulness. Choosing the wrong photographer, or making visual decisions that are not in keeping with your brand and the goals of your business can have long reaching consequences. Choosing the right photographer can bring more to the bottom line of your business than you even imagined.

Choose… wisely.


NOTE: this post was inspired by this excellent post by Mike Montiero of Mule Design. He was discussing hiring a designer and I, being a designer as well, realized that many of those thoughts transfer to hiring a professional photographer. Great post, Mike.

Are “Brands” the Next Big Trend in Photography?

Are “Brands” the Next Big Trend in Photography?

They are indeed, according to Paul Melchor.

The influence of social media and brand identification are quite a powerful force. And where once editorial ruled the sensibilities of the advertisers, it is now “brand” photography that is engaging the ad world. Images developed around and for the brands are leading the advertisers approaches.

This photography is still driven by an editorial ethic, but it also lays claim to the amateur aesthetic as well. Instagram, Hipstomatic, Flickr, Vine and others are capturing viewers, and that is the exact thing that advertisers wish to do.

In a very interesting piece, Melcher lays out a scenario where amateurs, brand aficionados and pro photographers feed from the same pipe of fan response / fan engagement.

This means that photography is beginning to be recognized for the power it has again. This will be a very exciting time for brands who can pick up on this new shift and push it to the fore.

“It will not be surprising, it is happening already, to see editorial photography influenced by brand photography. In an effort to keep pace with current trends, online and print publications are more and more looking into what works for brands and applying it to their spreads. After all, if that type of photography can sell products, it can also attract large amount of viewers. In fact, publications are  behaving more and more like brands themselves, and, as such, are seeking the same results from photos. From photojournalism to fashion spread, the keywords are becoming engagements and shares. Publications are using photography to extend their readership outside of their owned url’s, an exercise very familiar to brands. They are also very closely tracking numbers.

For now, we still live in a world slightly dominated by editorial photography, only because of cultural habits. But deeper, the evolution has already happened and is progressing with patient obstination. As generations shift, the millenniums, who consume ( and produce) more social media pictures than editorial ones, will expect no less than brands using the same visual language they do. And brands will turn to pros and non- pros photographers to execute. And because they will never run out of money, brands will get to define what photography is, how it is consumed and who gets to make a living from it. In fact, they are already.”

Read more here:


The Marketing Roller Coaster… Get Off of It

The Marketing Roller Coaster… Get Off of It

Many of us struggle with the roller coaster of marketing then getting busy – when you are busy you don’t market, so then you get not busy and start marketing – cycle up again.

The key is to create a working plan, commit it to a calendar and then MAKE those commitments as important as anything else you do.

Blog posts can be readied when you are not busy, and quickly inserted when things are hectic. Keeping the blog / journal / news section going is important. If you stop, you look like you are not busy instead of the other way around. (I use Editorial Calendar to automate that process.)

Direct mail can be handled by a mail house pretty inexpensively. Have the cards all ready to go, and they will drop them on dates you have pre-determined.

Email newsletters can also be set to go out at a pre-determined time. You can be on location in Saskatchewan and know that your newsletter went out on the date you wanted it to although you are eyeballs deep in snow.

If you are an ardent twitterererer…(?) you can use tweetdeck or hootsuite to automate that process and have them go out on predetermined times/dates as well. Keeping that flow is important if twitter is part of your arsenal.

Linkedin is becoming more and more viable as a place for photographers and there too you can time release content.

Behance should be an as you go situation – adding content as often is it is deemed ready and should be part of your process:
Edit / Cull / Re-edit / Choose / Process / Website portfolio / blog / Behance. I use a folder on my desk for all I like as I am pre-processing. I edit that group later for what I want to show.

The roller coaster of marketing / working is one we can manage more on the marketing than on the working, so design a good system and then… and this is important so listen up… then USE the darn thing.