November 02, 2011

Turn Photography Into a Business

The business of photography like any other business, takes planing, dedication, effort and many other things. With proper planing, research, marketing, dedication and effort you can make a decent living in photography. Is it difficult? The answer is: very difficult.

Not only do you have to run a business, but it largely depends on your skills as a photographer, the subject of your specialization, location, as well as other factors. Once you have decided, that your photo skills are complete, had your photos criticized by those who know, have a large inventory of photos (at least 1000), then you should consider how to market them or rather market yourself.

First of all, deciding on what photo genre will comprise the vast majority of your shots is paramount. Will you specialize in one type of subject: only weddings or only flowers. This approach has relatively a low flow of sales, but when the need arises for your specialty, then you're the one. More generalized photography guarantees a stronger sales flow, but requires a lot more effort also. However publications know that they can count on you for a variety of subjects.

Consider portrait photography, nature photography, photojournalism, and scientific photography. All have their challenges but all can be rewarding.

Portrait photography is relatively easy to enter, but requires a considerable up front expenditure. You will need reflective equipment, such as umbrellas, tripod, several backgrounds, props, a complete office, business cards, insurance, tax forms, should I go on?

Portraits subjects are however easy to find. Weddings, birthdays, baby showers, bachelor parties, reunions, births, pregnancy and glamour, boudoir, etc. You should also have several samples to display in your store front and to include in a marketing brochure, even if you have to take the photos free of charge. Nothing will sell you better than your photos. You can do without the office if you can set aside a room in your home to meet clients, do paperwork and work on the shots. As far as pricing, a simple research into your area's photographers will do the trick. Start reasonable and escalate as your reputation and demand grows.

Nature photography is quite well represented, but editors, publishers, publications are always looking for fresh material. Before you submit anything to any publication, ask in writing for a want list which is a list of the publication's most in demand subjects. Also consider creating a stock list of the subjects which you already have on file. Ask for a submissions guidelines and stick to them. Unsolicited material is often discarded, and if lucky, returned to you. Strongly consider writing an article to go with the photos, even better write an article and shoot around it. Publications are always in need of articles and ideas that align with their material.

Think small when starting. Newspapers, small local magazines, calendar companies, greeting cards companies, book publishers, poster makers, even product catalogs are purchasers of photographs. Inquire about submitting materials to them. Don't forget to label your contact information as copyright on any material which is finally submitted as well as to include captions with information about the photograph, such as location, name of the creature, flower, plant etc., scientific name, and technical information.

Submission to photographic stock houses. Many stock agencies require a minimum of photographs to even consider you, usually between 300 to 1000. But there are some that will require much less. In any event, whatever you submit must unequivocally be your best work. Very sharp, accurate exposure, top of the line, not just "slightly" out of focus, but 100% technically perfect.

You will receive the advantage of being represented to photo buyers, and the disadvantage of competition from many seeking exactly what you are. You should strive to make at least $2.00 per shot per year. So a submission of 30, 000 photos should gross you $60, 000 minus your costs the rest is profit. This requires that you shoot a large number of shots per month, at least 1000. Many agencies will also require exclusivity, especially if you begin to gain recognition for you work, so choosing which agency to represent you requires thought.

The idea is to gain recognition first before venturing into the major markets such as National Geographic, which by the way has their own staff of photographers, or Audubon Magazine.

Photojournalism. Many publications have their own staff, but regularly use the work of independent photographers. Look for ways of receiving updated news information of breaking news, look for planned events such as demonstrations, news conferences etc. Approach the editors desk of publications which you are interested in submitting your work to and register with them as a free lance photographer. Many will accept your registration and will look at your material with prior knowledge and since you don't get paid until your material is accepted it is easier for them just to register you. Do obtain a submission guidelines and acceptable formats as many prefer black & white formats. Consider joining a photojournalist association for important updates and leads.

Scientific photography. You will need very specialized material and the know how of the subjects you will be working with. keep in mind that bacterias, viruses and others can pose a health risk and many require a permit before you can get your hands on them. Approach publications the same way as you would approach any other photo publication.

As mentioned before, keep in mind your overhead costs, if your cost estimate calls for a $20, 000.00 per year in overhead, then you gross in sales should be $40, 000.00 per year.

Read plenty of photography magazines, look at current publications, posters, greeting cards, new books to get an idea of what is the trend. Good is also to enter contest whether you win or not, but get your name out there.

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November 01, 2011

How to Prepare Your Photo Equipment for a Holiday

We need to start thinking about images a long time before we go for holiday. First of all, knowing where and when we go, we need to rethink the equipment, which we intend to take. When you want to spend two weeks in Egypt on the Red Sea and you intend to spend most of this time in warm seas, probably you will need underwater housing, as well as a way of securing equipment from sand on the beach. However, if you are preparing for a week trekking through the mountains, a key element will be the comfortable bag in which you will pack your photographic equipment, while the tent, food, clothing and camping equipment will be put in the backpack.

It is worth making a list of things that you need, and then see what you already have, and what you need to buy. Think hard and do not take with you unnecessary things. On the other hand, you would be sorry if the lack of a specific gadget ruined your photo opportunity.

If you plan to stay in a developed country, you do not need a large supply of batteries. When we take into account the lack of power in some places during trip then that you need to have lots of spare batteries.

Supply of memory for storing photos is another thing to consider. Capacity of memory cards is rising, and prices are falling, but if someone just bought a brand new 10-megapixel SLR, that each photo will use lots of space. Buying a memory card with big capacity is a major expense. The alternative is to have reserve flash cards sufficient for 1-2 days of photographing and then you can archive data on your computer. You can also burn your photos on CD in internet cafes, but that way you risk losing your images - we can not verify that they were well recorded.

The last thing on your list which you should consider buying is convenient backpack or bag for camera equipment. Which of these accessories you choose depends on your preferences. But remember that the bag which is comfortable for walking in the nearby park does not necessarily proves to be good for full day of hiking. You may find that in addition to camera equipment you need to pack water, sandwiches and a warm change of clothes. It's better to choose a bag which will have a spare room for extra stuff, not necessarily only photographic accessories.

Do not wait with purchases until the last moment before departure. Do this to avoid the rush and overpaying. You should avoid taking equipment which you never tested before - even the best camera made by the most reputable company can break down in the first two or three weeks - this may be the effect of shipping damage or manufacturing defect. It happens sometimes. Avoid such surprises by buying equipment in a timely manner. If you have time try to learn how to handle new equipment, which increases the chances for successful photos.

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Create Natural Images With the Dodge and Burn Tools

Turning flat images into real or natural images by bringing light and shadow into it can be a tricky thing to do credibly. The Dodge, Burn, and Sponge tools enable you to accomplish this task in a realistic and credible way.

The Dodge, Burn, and Sponge tools are just like conventional darkroom tools. Dodge tool lightens the dark areas. The Burn tool darkens the image areas. The Sponge tool intensifies the effect. Photoshop generates the tools very accurately, although you should exercise care when using the tools, to avoid your images looking unnatural.This article will focus on the usage of the Dodge, Burn, and Sponge tools.

The Dodge Tool

This tool is use to lighten dark areas, choose Shadows, Midtones or Highlights and apply an exposure value. This means the Dodge Tool bring out the details in dim parts of an image. You should choose an appropriate size brush and paint over the areas to be lightened - do not over apply the strokes or else the brushed image area will start to wash. The default setting is 50%, try a lower value with a soft edged brush for a fine effect.

The Burn Tool

The Burn tool darkens areas of the image.This means that the burn tool bring out the details in over showing image parts or highlights.Apply short strokes rather than scrubbing, this way you can apply an undo (Ctrl+Z). Here is a trick, darken the edges and corners of an image, this makes the central part stand out and it works on digital pictures too.

The Sponge Tool

The sponge tool exactly looks like a tiny sponge, and shares space with the dodge and burn tools. You can brush over an area to intensify the colours or reduce them with the Sponge tool.This tool lets you "paint" with saturation. This means that you can easily make the color of an image more or less intense by simply moving the sponge tool over the part of an image.

It does not matter whether you are trying to make a dim day more convincingly bright or adding depth to an image, you must always consider where the light is all coming from. Do follow the basic guidelines and you will be able to create images with real depth or substance. These tools are for creating authentic shadow and light.

Start using these powerful tools to make real or natural images and be a pro!

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