Monthly Archives: July 2015

Dig More Streams

Dig more streams is a saying I got from David Du Chemin’s excellent book, Visionmongers. (If you haven’t read Visionmongers please see here for a short review.) Dig more streams refers to creating more income streams for your photography business.

Tricks of the Trade

Is it time to write that book or e-book you’ve been meaning to get around to?

The principle here is to critically evaluate your photography business and examine whether you can generate a greater financial return by offering different products or packages.


What are some examples?

If you are a wedding photographer – can you create more products for your clients to purchase? If you normally do electronic images and prints, can you do albums as well? If you are shooting family portraits, can you expand your product range to offer canvas prints as well? or other print products? Or can you restructure your package offerings to provide more value for your client and more margin for your business? If you are an experienced industry professional, can you write and sell a book or an e-book? Can you expand your current business by selling prints to a worldwide market via online portals? Can you use your spare time to build a stock photo portfolio? Can you teach a beginners course on how to use a digital camera?

These are just a few of many, many examples. What are the opportunities for you and your business?

What are the advantages of being able to dig more streams?

By adopting the ‘dig more streams’ approach you will be able to:

  • generate additional income from your existing activities (e.g. by adding albums and prints to your wedding photography service)
  • create new income streams (e.g. selling prints online)
  • generate repeat business (e.g. selling a first anniversary package to your wedding clients)
  • add more value to your existing clients (e.g. if you specialize in new born images, keep a note of the babies birth dates and follow up with a 1 year old special offer, then a 2 year old special offer, then … you get the idea!)
  • capitalize on the growing number of professional and semi professional photographers by meeting their education needs (e.g. writing an e-book about how to shoot weddings)
tiger

Selling wildlife canvas prints locally and online has helped me dig more streams

One example from my own photography business is that I often am asked about my experience as a stock photographer. That leads to photographers asking me what they can do to build a stock photography portfolio themselves. The repetition of those questions lead me to write an e-book called Build A Five Figure Income in Your Spare Time which covers my own experience plus advice to people starting out in stock photography. If you would like to check it out, please see here. If you’ve got a digital camera, a computer, determination to keep improving, and some perseverance – then financial success as a stock photographer is possible for you.

Thanks for reading Dig More Streams. Has it prompted you to think about more streams which are possible for you and your business?

iStockers, Why the Shift to Subs is Good

I have been an iStock contributor since 2008, and an exclusive contributor since May 2010. I have written a series of posts for Beyond Here about stock photography and the changes going on at iStock. Today I tackle the growth in subscription sales and, for iStockers, why the shift to subs is good.

In September 2014 iStock announced changes to the subscription program. I covered those changes in this post. Since then my subscription sales have been growing strongly. I summarized that progress in this post. Another month has passed. I have had another strong month for subscription sales, and many iStockers are reporting their strongest subscription sales month. So what does that mean?

Shopping

iStock is a viable option for big buyers shopping for an image subscription program

Well, it means that iStockers are seeing more downloads of their images at a lower average price per download. My experience is that my ‘normal iStock’ downloads initially declined and have now remained steady. For those of us who have been iStockers for several years, it is a big change not to see your balance changing frequently. Instead of being reported in real time, the downloads through the subscription program are only reported once per month.

More downloads, lower average income per download. Why would this be good?

I see four key reasons for iStockers, why the shift to subs is good.

(1) The subscription program drives repeat business. One benefit of a subscription program is that it builds repeat business for iStock. Buyers use the service each day or week or month for many, many months. This can only be good for contributors in the long run. We want buyers shopping at iStock and continuing to shop at iStock.

(2) Greater consistency of income. Lots of downloads at a low average income per download produces consistent income from month to month as you are not reliant on a single large sale. While you may not see your balance moving every day, when the sub downloads are reported you can see the subscription program is being used daily by buyers. I expect we will see much less variability in income from month to month as the subscription program continues to grow.

(3) In time, buyers will move from competitors. It has long been felt that the quality and variety in the iStock library is superior to other microstock sites. (Keep in mind, I am biased as I am an iStock contributor! The reality is that I haven’t checked competitors sites for some time). Now that the subscription program appears to be gaining traction with buyers, we can expect that clients will move to iStock over time – continuing the growth in iStock subs downloads.

(4) Big buyers will be attracted by the subscription program. The real benefit of the subscription program is for large volume buyers who need large numbers of images per month. Think ad agencies, newspapers, and magazines. Big buyers coming to iStock will be positive for iStock contributors.

Bird

The iStock sub program is making a noise

On the flip-side, because of the growth in sub downloads and the lack of growth in ‘normal iStock’ downloads it has become very hard to achieve redeemed credit targets. My personal experience is that this year I am unlikely to achieve the redeemed credit target required to maintain my current royalty level. I expect this is the experience of many contributors, and see iStock being under pressure to change the redeemed credit targets. I hope I’m right as I don’t fancy a reduced royalty rate.

Thanks for reading iStockers, why the shift to subs is good.

From Start to Finish

One of the unexpected benefits I have gained from Beyond Here has been the diverse range of creative people I have met or have swapped messages with. It has been inspiring to see the range of projects people are tackling all around the world. I recently met Rebecca McIntosh. Rebecca is a model based in Melbourne, Australia where we were able to meet face to face. She kindly contributed this post for Beyond Here – A Model’s Tips for a Successful TFP Photo Shoot – and she is a contestant in Miss World Australia. In this post, Rebecca shares an exciting project she is working on and outlines how you can be involved. It is called “From Start to Finish”. Let’s hear more from Rebecca.

Rebecca McIntosh

Photo credit. Model Rebecca McIntosh. Photography Vispenn Photography

Rebecca, tell us about your experience participating in Miss World Australia.

Hi Craig! For those who don’t know, Miss World is the longest-running international beauty pageant, which focuses not only on external beauty, but more importantly, on character. Dedication, motivation, and generosity are all assessed in the ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ program whereby contestants are encouraged to raise funds for the allocated charity.

This is my first time competing in the Miss World Australia pageant, so to be honest, it can be a bit daunting! Every contestant has her advantages; some have been competing in pageants for years, some are professional models, and some have professional experience with marketing. However, I love the challenge because I know it will make me develop into an even better person. Miss World Australia has been a journey that has pushed my boundaries and made me reach out to do things that I have never tried before, especially with regards to raising money for charity.

Which charity are you raising money for?

Miss World Australia is a registered fundraising organisation raising funds for Variety – the Children’s Charity. Variety Australia is a not-for-profit non-government organisation that thrives on the generosity of the community to provide equipment and experiences to Australian children who suffer from disability, serious illness, or disadvantage. Variety basically does anything it can to enrich the lives of children, be it through providing medical apparatus, organizing outings, or granting scholarships.

What is the major fund raising activity you are planning?

Rebecca McIntosh

Photo credits. Model, Rebecca McIntosh. Photography, Tacitic Photography

To raise funds for Variety, I have organised a photography workshop entitled ‘From Start to Finish’, to take place on Friday 7th August at the venue ‘Quat Quatta’ in Ripponlea (Melbourne, Australia). This day events comprises three parts: an informative photography seminar, a photo shoot, and a retouching seminar. It’s essentially an all-encompassing workshop demonstrating what you can improve on as a photographer from the start to the finish of the shoot. I’ve been lucky enough to make an arrangement with Social Value – Mark Scott Photography to sponsor the workshop, and I’ve brought together a teams of models, make up artists, hairstylist / hair extensions provider, and designer who are all sponsoring the event. I’m particularly excited for the photo shoot – our designer Vicoola Fashionista has the most gorgeous gowns!

What do photographers need to do to participate?

Interested photographers can email me at missworldvictoria@gmail.com for the comprehensive information booklet, and to make a booking. The event, which goes from 11am to 4pm, costs $80, and requires full payment to secure the place.

To make the workshop more intimate, I have limited bookings to thirty places, so I’d recommend all interested photographers to contact me as soon as possible!

Beyond Here has readers all around the world. How can Beyond Here readers who can’t come to the event, contribute to your fund raising efforts?

Anyone can donate directly to Variety – the Children’s Charity, through my EverydayHero page https://missworldaustralia2015.everydayhero.com/au/rebecca-mcintosh

If this event goes well enough, I’m hoping to organize another one on a weekend!

Beyond Here readers will be interested in how to organize an event like this. What are your top three pieces of advice to people wanting to organize similar events?

Rebecca McIntosh

Photo credits. Model, Rebecca McIntosh. Photography, Tacitic Photography

1) Find a great venue, not just any venue. If you’re organizing a fundraiser photo shoot, you need to find a place that is happy either to give you a discount or to sponsor you the area. Keep your charity and your plan in focus. While I could have written up a generic email to send to all the venues I know, I instead specifically targeted Quat Quatta; they were the first and only venue I contacted. I knew that Quat Quatta would be the ideal workspace for such an event, because it has multiple places to shoot, is located in a prestigious area, and allows for a seminar setup in the dining room. I told the Quat Quatta staff all of this, so they knew that I was considering them specifically to help me with Variety – the Children’s Charity. Don’t settle for anything; and aim high and precisely.

2) Use your network. Everyone who has a common interest is useful. While I was compiling images from Mark Scott’s latest shoots for the information pack, I saw a photo of a model with amazingly luscious hair. I contacted the hairstylist with a proposal to join the group, and was delightfully surprised that she wanted to help! She even offered to bring hair extensions to style with! People are quite generous when it comes to working towards a fundraising event, especially as it helps get their name out in a positive light. I trust the people on my team because I know that they want to be part of the event, and they trust me because they know me through their network (and I, too, obviously want to be part of the event).

3) Be organised but flexible. Be prepared to spend many hours composing, formatting, and updating documents. I have everything documented: from each model’s hair length, to the last person who commented on my ‘From Start to Finish’ Facebook post. At the same time, remember that everyone has their own lives, and that volunteering is not going to be everyone’s top priority. Nobody is going to be constantly available for your plans. Some people may take weeks to confirm a detail, some people may pull out abruptly. All you can do is try your best to accommodate the changes and be patient with the whole process. Enjoy it! You’re doing a great thing for the world.

Rebecca, thank you very much for sharing about the ‘From Start to Finish’ event. Best wishes for the event and for your participation in Miss World Australia. Readers who would like to see more of Rebecca’s work, please see Rebecca McIntosh’s Facebook Page

A Model’s Tips for a Successful TFP Photo Shoot

This post comes from Rebecca McIntosh – a Melbourne, Australia based model. Rebecca is currently a contestant in Miss World Australia. In this post on Beyond Here we discussed TFP (time for portfolio) shoots being an excellent way for a photographer to build their portfolio. Rebecca outlines a model’s tips for a successful TFP photo shoot.

You have a great photo shoot idea. A model is happy to collaborate with you. You speak to a make up artist, a hair stylist, and have a stylist on the team who all want to work on your photo shoot. They are so keen to work on your photo shoot that they are happy to do it without monetary compensation – as long as they receive photos for their time. This is called a TFP arrangement (time-for-portfolio). These unpaid collaborations can be extremely useful for enriching your folio, building your reputation, and challenging your skill set as a photographer – organisational skills, social skills, technical skills etc.

Rebecca McIntosh

Photo credits. Model Rebecca McIntosh, photography Alchemy Designs, clothing Casey Marie Demko

However, when photos are the only compensation it can be difficult to please the team, especially the model, who is probably a harsher critic than you are when it comes to her image*. (*I refer to the model as female, simply because I am speaking from a female model’s perspective. The same advice applies for male models too.)

Here are seven tips from my experience to holding a successful TFP photo shoot. From my point of view, a successful TFP shoot will never only result in good photos, but also in establishing positive relationships, and pleasant experiences.

Rebecca McIntosh

Photo credits. Model Rebecca McIntosh, photography Mariana Navarro, hair, styling and makeup Victoria Marie

1. Check out the model’s folio. It’s not creepy to look at her work, as long as you are looking at her StarNow / Model Mayhem / Facebook page that she has provided specifically for her modelling work. See her good angles, and generate a realistic idea of how you can cooperate. If she has shown interest in your casting call, it is most likely that she wants to add that concept to her folio regardless of her experience with that theme. Nevertheless, it is beneficial for you to see what poses, angles, and facial expressions she chooses to put in her portfolio. If the photos that make it to her folio often include a catwalk sultry pout, she may not be the bubbly, surprised pin-up model you’re looking for. That does not mean you should rule her out straight away; consider asking her what she thinks of your casting call in relation to her style. Perhaps she has misinterpreted your casting call and is not really interested, or perhaps she has interpreted it correctly and simply wants to branch out into that field. It is a portfolio building experience for her as well. Knowing your model’s capabilities and motivations makes it much easier to coordinate a shoot to please both parties.

2. Create a concept board. Pinterest boards are a convenient (and free!) way of putting together inspirational images that constitute the atmosphere you are trying to achieve in your photo shoot, to share with your model. Alternatively, consider making a document with inspirational photos to give to your model at least a week before the shoot. When you and your team members have the same images it is easier to achieve the desired result. At the same time, be honest with the model about your experience and expectations and provide her a link to your portfolio.

3. Agree on the compensation before the shoot, in writing, in detail. Frustration arises from TFP shoots where compensation is ill defined. Try to address all points:

  • How many edited, high resolution photos will the model receive? Will she only receive edited photos? What do you consider to be high resolution?
  • Who will select the photos for editing? Will the model have choice in which photos are edited?
  • Will there be proofs for the model to look at? To save? How soon until these will be available? Can she upload these anywhere as teasers?
  • Will the model have any say in how the images are edited? If she is unhappy with how you have edited the photo, will you have the time and motivation to alter it for her?
  • How long will it take you to return usable photos after the shoot? Will you be watermarking the images?
  • What can the model use the images for?
  • How will you transfer the images to the model? Dropbox, CD, USB, Facebook, email? Keep in mind how the web can compress images.
  • Write up or find a relevant model release form to provide models at the shoot to legalize your specific agreement.

Try to remember that your model, make up artist, hair stylist etc are only involved in this shoot because they believe it can help their folio. If you want total creative freedom and exclusive rights to the images, pay the people you are working with.

In my experience, one method which pleases everyone is that the photographer uploads all of the low resolution, unedited proofs for the team to see, and then they choose which images they want edited. Of that choice pool, the photographer edits which ones he likes best, as well as any additional images he feels will be useful for his portfolio. Whatever method you decide on, make the whole selection process and compensation details as clear and comprehensive as possible to the model before the shoot.

Rebecca McIntosh

Photo credit. Model Rebecca McIntosh

4. Respect each other at the shoot. Never touch a model unless you have her permission. If you think she should do one pose instead of another, try to explain why. For example, I recently had one photographer suggest that I raise my chin while posing, which went totally against what another photographer was saying the previous week at another shoot. However, this photographer patiently explained how raising my chin elongates my neck, and took comparison photos on the spot to show me the difference, so I respected his opinion and him as a photographer, even though it differed to the popular opinion.

5. Let your model move! It can look unnatural if you try to stage one particular pose. Encourage your model to fluidly move into the pose, even if means repeating the movement multiple times.

6. Communicate and credit as arranged. Follow up the agreement. If something has happened which prevents you from returning the photos in the arranged time, tell your team. Even if they say nothing, they are most likely wondering what you are doing with the photos and when they will receive them. In a TFP agreement, withholding photos is like withholding money.

7. Don’t expect the shoot to be perfect. This is the worst injustice you can do to anyone, including yourself. A TFP shoot will never look exactly like the concept image on page or in your head. If you are disappointed in the photos, ask yourself what exactly you could do to make it better. Satisfaction has more to do with attitude than outcome.

Rebecca McIntosh

Photo credits. Model Rebecca McIntosh, photography Alchemy Designs

As you can tell from these tips, a successful TFP shoot does not just have to do with producing good photos, but assessing your team, assessing your team’s needs, and assessing what you can realistically offer and expect of yourself. TFP arrangements can require a lot of effort, patience, and personality to satisfy your team as there is no instant monetary guarantee. Nevertheless, it is worth taking these measures to build a strong network, upscale your reputation, improve your folio, and challenge yourself as a photographer.

Thank you for your post Rebecca – a model’s tips for a successful TFP photo shoot. If you would like to follow more of Rebecca’s work, follow this link to Rebecca McIntosh’s Facebook page.

Seven Traits of People Running Successful Photography Businesses

This week I took part in an interesting discussion between photographers in a Facebook group. The discussion started with one photographer asking if others thought it was a good idea to do her own personal and business tax returns. (For readers not based in Australia, the tax year here ends in June and people begin submitting tax returns as early as July).

It is very hard to answer her question without knowing her circumstances. She may be a qualified tax accountant and it might be worthwhile doing her own taxes. That scenario is unlikely and my advice was that it is best to have a specialist do your taxes. That’s what I do for both my personal and business tax returns. I find it is worth the peace of mind knowing that my tax returns have been done properly. It also means that I get all of the deductions available to me as a small business owner. But most importantly, using an expert to do my tax returns leaves me more time to look after my clients.

Tax time

Taxes are one example of business tasks better left to a specialist.

The photographer in the Facebook group had just completed her first year in business as a photographer. Her comments reminded me that it is very common when we are starting out to try and do everything ourselves. We may not have the business cash flow to be able to pay for a range of services, or we just figure that because we have the time, we will do things ourselves to save money. Some might think that is a valid approach, but all of the people I know who are running successful photography businesses take a different approach. That lead me to consider the traits I see in people running successful small photography businesses. Here they are, seven traits of people running successful photography businesses.

The photographers I know who are running successful photography businesses have these things in common. They:

(1) Get help with business activities they are not expert in – that includes but isn’t limited to doing taxes, editing images, printing, preparing contracts, framing prints, delivering products to their clients. The list goes on. Where they are not expert, or where they can’t add value, they get an expert to help.

(2) Understand the value of their time. This is where being a good business person really shows. They may be able to do their own taxes, but they know it will take them 3 weeks where an expert can do it in one week. Why would they want 3 weeks of their year tied up doing taxes? They know it is not a good use of their time to be tied up doing this type of task.

(3) Build relationships with clients. This is the one element of their businesses that they won’t leave to someone else. They know that the connection they make with their client is critical to the ongoing success of their business. All other things get set aside to make time for their current clients, and for finding new clients.

(4) Build their own skills. The people I know who are running successful photography businesses keep adding to their core skill set. They invest in learning new post processing techniques, or learning how to better market their business, or learning how to shoot expertly with a new piece of equipment. They don’t get distracted with trying to do their own taxes. They build their skills so that they can better serve their clients.

(5) Network with other successful photographers. People running successful photography businesses take time to build relationships with others doing the same. They discuss the business as well as the art. They share ideas and learn from each other.

(6) Take time off. Yes, people running successful photography businesses know that they need to take time off. They need to get away and relax. They put the dates in the diary at the beginning of the year. They are deliberate about taking a break and recharging the batteries. Is that what you do? Or do you have a break when you don’t have any clients?

(7) Don’t give up. Small businesses, like people, go through good times and bad times. The people I know who are running successful photography businesses understand this. In the good times, they don’t get carried away with their own success. They view it as an outcome of the work they have put in. And equally with bad times, they know that tough times will pass. They keep focused on their clients and the quality of their work, knowing that short term down times will not effect their long term success.

Holiday

Successful small businesses owners understand the importance of time off to recharge their batteries

If you are starting out or looking to refocus your photography business, challenge yourself on each of the points above. Are you doing tasks which would be better done by an expert? Have your skills grown in the last year?  Are you putting enough time into finding or looking after clients? Are you getting distracted by trying to do everything yourself? How well are you doing on the seven traits of people running successful photography businesses?

Thanks for reading the seven traits of people running successful photography businesses. Have you seen other traits that set people apart? Please leave a comment and share your experience.