Please visit my new column on RESOLVE, liveBooks new blog, about the business of photography called “Seeing Money” where I hope to provide some fundamental business information for those just starting out or trying to re-boot their careers.RESOLVE — the liveBooks photo blog » Doug Menuez
THE OLD MODEL IS THE NEW MODEL
I’ve been having lots of discussions around the country lately about what viable new model might be developing for advertising and editorial photographers to survive in this new economic era and beyond. Guess what: there isn’t one. Yet. And probably at this point there won’t be one. Photographers are too fragmented and pulling at cross purposes for too many years. We’ve been giving away internet rights for so long that’s become entrenched as pretty much free.
Right now I have to believe the old rules still apply. Photographers who develop their eye and can present their own special way of seeing the world and can then build a reputation around that work will thrive. And copyright, feeding photographers and their families for so many years, has no substitute. Of course, supply and demand will always play a role in terms of the leverage photographers have. The more you build your name, the more leverage you’ll have. Right now supply is at an all time high. Demand is at an all time low. Now is the time to hone your skills like crazy, and at the same time you must as always market yourself using all the new marketing tools available, including social networking first and foremost.
The one thing photographers can do right now is improve their business skills so we are all pulling in the same direction. The better photographers get at running their businesses the better we’ll all be. If photographers follow similar best business practices that will make us all more effective in leveraging what we have built up. We will never get back to the golden age of past pricing and trade practices that made advertising so lucrative. But the more existing and new photographers embrace and understand the power of unifying their business practices and protecting their rights the sooner things will improve.
There are lots of expert consultants out there who can take you to another level. The main thrust of the work I see that is valuable is around marketing and honing your creative vision. Five who come to mind who I know, trust and recommend are Mary Virginia Swanson, Debra Weiss, Allegra Wilde, Ian Summers and Susan Baraz.
I have either consulted with or worked together with them on panels and I know how powerful their experience can be for a photographer trying to push forward creatively and marketing-wise. But before even taking that step it’s important to do your homework on a basic structural level.
BACK TO BASICS
What I will be sharing is a report from the front lines from a working photographer perspective. At first I’ll discuss the basic stuff and then later some of the mistakes I’ve made, what worked for me, things I learned the hard way. Bankers can’t help you until you know how they think. Most accountants don’t understand the photography business. Most photographers I know have no idea what a P&L is or how to manage cash flow or get an SBA loan. Very few are effective at collections without alienating clients and almost none have learned basic bookkeeping. Yeah, the boring, yet essential DNA building block items of a growing business.
Please take a look at the new column and let me know what you think and what you want to know more about: