Category Archives for "Photography"
You can shift some of the risk by paying someone else to assume some of it. Liability Insurance, Indemnification Insurance, Equipment Insurance, Travel Insurance … just make sure you read the fine print and talk with your insurance agent.
Sometimes insurance is not a policy you buy. It’s an immunization or a local person you trust, that can guide you through a culture you are unfamiliar with. You don’t want to say no to a client, because you couldn’t afford the risk.
Yesterday we talked about redundancy, but what about the things that are out of your control? Take for example travel: you can plan as much as you want, but if a delay causes you to miss a connecting flight, what do you do? What about if you get seriously hurt? Would you want to know that you’re medevac is covered? Delayed luggage, trip interruption, sickness, the list goes on and on.
Case in point: Travel Insurance is a wonderful thing to have, I got stranded in a blizzard in Afghanistan for 3 days and its great feeling to know that the costs of rebooking flights, extra expenses in country ect. are covered. I don’t travel internationally without buying travel insurance.
Tech Tip: don’t buy the travel insurance add-on when you book your travel. Go directly to the insurance company’s website and buy your coverage (you’ll spend about the same for much better coverage). I’ve used AIG for my travels and been thrilled with the service I’ve received from them. Here are the things I want covered in my travel insurance policy:
Read the fine print to see what you get – sometimes equipment is only covered to a certain limit, or coverage is broken down to a certain amount for a certain number of days, but it’s nice to know that someone else is covering you.
There are a lot of options to insure your equipment. Many photo organizations like ASMP, APA and PPA offer deals with insurance companies that specialize in insuring photographers. PPA stands out among them, since they include $15,000.- of equipment insurance as part of their yearly membership. (Read the fine print again, it’s not replacement value – but current market value, but het it’s $15K more insurance than some of the other trade organizations offer.) You can buy more riders to cover your equipment at replacement value and what I’ve found is that my yearly membership fee with PPA plus the insurance riders I’ve purchased with them, cost me less than the insurance I was buying through ASMP.
Get to know your insurance agent – they want to help you and make sure you have the correct coverage. They can add short-term riders for special equipment you need to rent, for events and workshops you’re producing, ect.
PPA also offers an indemnification trust that protects you when things go wrong. Just one more way to help spread risk.
Liability Insurance is a requirement to book locations and rent equipment as a professional photographer. All Insurance companies I’ve bought insurance through have offered this type of insurance rider.
Insurance spreads the risk to a company that can help you compensate financially when things go wrong. You don’t want to have to use your insurance, but it’s really nice to have when you need it.
Wouldn’t it be great, if a potential client could come along on one of your productions and have a front row seat to see how you work, get a behind the scene glimpse of your workflow and get a feel for your personality on a shoot?
Yeah, I know it’s impossible, but wouldn’t that just be an awesome marketing opportunity? Well although it’s not possible to offer that front row seat to ten thousand clients (or even 10) on set with you, here’s the next best thing you can do:
If you take a little bit of time during a shoot, your clients can join you –front and center– virtually anywhere in the world, no not in person, but online.
Here’s a few ways you can put every member of your target audience, specifically your clients and prospects, in a front row seat of your next shoot:
Instagram is visual, it’s quick to produce and you can easily broadcast the photos to your fans on Facebook and your followers on Twitter. Come up with a memorable hashtag that you use in all the photos and let your target audience experience how you run a production from the virtual front row.
Case in point: I posted only 18 images to Instagram on my recent trip to New York. Here’ how they break down: 5 travel shots, 5 behind the scenes shots, 4 food shots, 3 shots from NYC and one shot of my packed camera bag. I posted these shots over the course of 4 days and got audience engagement on all 3 social media channels, from people in the business, current and maybe some future clients.
You don’t have to flood your social media accounts with content while you’re shooting. A little bit goes a long way. You can check out all the photos on my Instagram account @photosbydepuhl, follow me and catch the next series of bts images (check out #adventuresinfilmmaking).
Remember to tag clients, people you’re interviewing or photographing to make it easy for them to like, share and retweet your visual content (just make sure you ask their permission first).
Two are better than one (at least that’s what a hebrew sage wrote 3,000 years ago) – he goes on to say 3 are even better. Looks like not much has changed in three millenniums. Don’t you copy your data to a second drive? Actually you should follow the 3-2-1 Backup rule: 3 copies, 2 different medium, 1 offsite copy. See? The jewish king was right: 3 copies. Today we talk about single point of failure and built-in redundancy. Limit risk by having a plan B and C. You don’t want to say no to a client, because you go to experience a single point of failure.
Case in point: The hard drives that go on location with me are ioSafe drives. You can drop them from 10 feet, it takes over 5,000 pounds to crush them and they are waterproof – submersible to 30 feet for 3 days. Physically there’s no drive that keeps my data safer in the field (and yes the ioSafe drives I use for my day-to-day backup in the office are fireproof on top of that.) I carry two copies of all data on multiple drives in addition to the copy on my laptop.
When I travel back from location one of those two drives does not travel with me. It either travels on another plane or it get’s FedExed back to the studio. Three copies (laptop and two hard drives), 2 media (SSD and HD) and one in an offsite location). 3-2-1 backup rule – check.
Once the ioSafe drives come back to the office to get copied onto a Synology RAID system, which in itself is redundant. Mine has five 4TB Western Digital Red drives in it, that are set up so that one drive can physically fail and no data gets lost. All I have to do is to slip in another drive and the RAID will rebuild itself.
The trick is remembering to back up. All the hardware in the world does you no good if you don’t use it. Better yet, set up a system that automatically backs up your jobs (SPOILER ALERT – I’m gonna look at how automation can help you run a more efficient business over the next few weeks – stay tuned …)
Every night at 3 am, I have a little elf that wakes up my computer and copies all files from that day onto my RAID.
Ahh, the “No-can-do” attitude. It’s your best friend, when it comes to being creative. “Nope, not gonna happen” is music to my ears. “No way! You’re crazy.” I’ll eat up that attitude all day long. “No! That’s a crazy idea.” Love it!
However here’s the rub: No-can-do is great as long as it’s not your attitude, but everybody else’s attitude about your idea. They can say No to your idea as much as they want. It’s you who mustn’t say No, when it comes to your next creative challenge, your next adventure, your next big thing.
Others will say no to what you are trying to do, without giving it a second thought. Want my advice? Ignore them. (More about that in rethink who you listen to.)
I get it. The unknown is a scary place. Getting ready to do anything for the first time makes all of us nervous. The important thing is not to let that fear immobilize you. (It’s ok for everyone else to be afraid of taking that step, actually it’s beneficial to you, when everyone else is scared of what you’re about to attempt.)
Case in point:
A couple years ago got to film a corporate documentary in Afghanistan. Looking back now, it was one of the most intense and fun adventures I’ve had in a while, but now that the film is finished and has won international awards, been screened a film festivals and was the subject of a TEDx talk, it’s easy to forget than literally everybody I talked with before I went, had said No.
No – I shouldn’t go. No – I was not sane even considering this project. No – I was not going to come back alive. No – they wouldn’t do anything that crazy. No …
You know what?
There were only 6 people, who were willing to listen, willing to give their advice, willing to not dismiss this outright and –in the case of my wife– willing to let me go. Everybody who told me no before the project, now thinks this was one of the best things I’ve done. Funny how their no turned into a yes.
You know what I’ve learned? Almost everybody can give you the wrong advice – that’s easy. Very few people will take the time to listen and think through an opportunity with you and help you ascertain if it’s a risk worth taking.
Let me thank my heroes here again: Thank you Jacomina, Judge, John, Hugo, Scott and Jerry. You guys saw the YES, where everyone else saw no.
That “No” you hear in your head or feel in your gut, is your experience going into self-preservation mode. It’s far less risky to not try something new, but it’ also far more boring and less exciting. Without risk there is no reward. Now there are times that you should listen to that little voice screaming NO! Actually every time the action you’re about to take involves serious risk, you should probably listen, however how much risk you’re comfortable taking, is up to you and in direct proportion to the potential gain.
Don’t use this feeling as an excuse though, live on the edge of your comfort zone – preferably on the outside edge. Push yourself to try something you’ve never done before. Carefully weigh the risk and the potential reward, find some heroes that can are willing to see the past all the naysayers and follow your dream.
If you’re looking for some practical advice on how to reduce risk, how to quiet that ‘No!’ in your head, check out the ultimate cheat sheet on taking risk.
[This post was written for ASMP’s Strictly Business blog.]
Awards. I’ve mentioned them as Marketing Hacks before (#4 and #5). They need a lot of preparation – press kits, BTS (behind the scenes) photos, bio’s, ect. for movie submissions and printing, mounting and shipping for print competitions. They are time-consuming and can get expensive – entry fees can range from a couple bucks to several hundred dollars per image or film. Who’s got time for awards?
Awards may actually hurt your feelings. Actually submitting awards to a contest is a pretty emotional experience – especially, if your work ends up in front of a panel of live judges. You’ve toiled and labored to create this image or that film, only to have it rejected by an anonymous group of people, after having paid money for the privilege. Who needs that?
Let’s take a look at some benefits awards can bring to your work:
If you don’t want to get any better, then please stop reading. No seriously. You’re just gonna get pissed off. Still with me, ok – here it goes: Listen to the judges. Ask them why work got rejected, many times you will not get an answer, but sometimes you can strike gold. These guys and girls are comparing dozens or hundreds of works. They are looking at the state of our industry at this point in time. If you win awards–great–more about that later, but let’s look at loosing and trust me you’ll do more of that than winning.
Check out what my friend and fellow photographer Chris Winton-Stahle (@WintonStahle) has to say about the benefits of loosing in a recent Chicago Tribune interview:
Losing can pay off in a winner takes all world. Check out this article I was interviewed for by the Chicago Tribune! http://t.co/kD5rv1eLFM
— Chris Winton-Stahle (@WintonStahle) September 11, 2015
The constructive critic a judge could give you is invaluable, if it lines up with how your clients judge your work. I try to get an explanation of why my work didn’t win every time I enter a contest and loose. Set realistic expectations. I get about 1 in 10 requests answered.
Consider the awards competition you enter: If I enter an architectural photo in a competition put on by wedding photographers, they may not be the best people to get comments from, so you may be throwing your time and money away here. If it’s a panel of architects, professional photographers and art buyers from that field, their advice on why the photo didn’t win is invaluable – if you can get it.
For some reason the phrase “award-winning photographer” holds some weight with clients. Now hear me out, you won’t get hired because you won awards, but all thing being equal, if it’s you bidding against another photographer, the win may factor into the clients decision on whom to hire.
The more prestigious the award, the more bragging rights and weight it will carry. Winning an Oscar, Grammy, Tony, Emmy is definitely more valuable than winning Bob’s dry cleaner’s photo contest. Local film festivals are easier to get screened in than national or international ones. The more well-known the awards are that you win, the more value they add to your work. On the flip side these are harder to win to.
Branding is what MarketingHacks are all about, right? You want to burn your brand into their brains as many times (and as unobtrusively as you can (if you’re not sure why that’s important, check out How to master social media: Read a Book.) Awards give you a great excuse to put your best work in front of your target audience. Who can get upset at you for letting people know you won!
The work that accompanies your awards is typically your best work too, which is why you want to put that in front of your clients anyway, right? Hey the last award I won, we put together a whole marketing campaign, based on that one award: How to fire a marketing broadside at your target audience.
Chasing awards for awards sake–in my opinion–is not worth the cost of entry. However they can help you get better, let clients know that your work merits recognition from your peers and they can offer a great opportunity to market your brand.
“Risk” according to Warren Buffet “comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” I’m not sure if I agree with that completely, but I’m sure that knowing what you’re doing helps you minimize risk. Why risk anything? Isn’t it safer to just do what you’ve always done? If that’s your attitude, I’m afraid you’re in for a rude awakening.
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
Risk is not only worth taking, in today’s world it’s necessary to stand our among a crowed field of competitors. Last year I spoke at a conference and spoke about why we need to dream big and take aggressive risks. To get back to Mr. Buffet, you shouldn’t take blind risks, but rather make sure that you minimize the risks you take to the best of your abilities.
This week we’re taking about why taking risks is important on “ASMP’s Strictly Business” blog. Check it out to get opinions of top photographers and how they view risk. However I’m gonna give you 4 practical ways that you can cheat risk.
Every Thursday, over the next few weeks, we’ll look at 4 way to minimize risk.
But first we’ll look at why it’s ok to embrace a “No can do” attitude tomorrow.
One of my best friends is a photographer. I’ve known him for almost 25 years, actually he is the first guy I ever assisted, I’ve produced for him, he’s used my house as a location, I’ve borrowed his studio, he’s hired my wife as a model, … but I want to tell how he helped me without even knowing it.
By this time I’ve been assisting in Chicago and Miami for two years and I want to move to the fashion capital of the world: New York City to work with the best. So I fly to NYC for a few days to meet some photographers, see if they’d even consider hiring me. Since my friend went to RIT, I figure I give him a call to get some introductions to his old class mates. I get a list.
Now my dream is to work with people like Peter Lindberg, Bruce Weber, Arthur Elgorth, … you know the legends in our industry, but you gotta pay your dues and so I call and meet his classmates, until I come to the last name on his list: Richard Avendon. “Tell Richard Eric said to call” my friend had joked “I just happen to have his number.” Right, but I figure a phone call can’t hurt, so I spend the quarter (remember it’s the mid 90’s) and get the 4th assistant on the phone.