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Best Business Practices for Photographers

Book Description

A truly successful photographic career means not only financial success, but also personal satisfaction and fulfillment. The goal of Best Business Practices for Photographers is to help you achieve success in each of these areas. This book is not a guide to taking better pictures or selling your photography. Instead, it explains how photographers can meet important business objectives. It covers the focal points of best practices - best practices in interacting with clients, best practices in negotiating contracts and licenses, and best practices in business operations. It provides a roadmap for successfully navigating these - and many other - issues facing photographers today.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
    1. Dedication
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. About the Author
  4. Introduction
  5. I. Nuts and Bolts of Your Business
    1. 1. You Are a Business—Now Let’s Get to Work!
      1. Whether or Not You Think You’re a Business, You Are
      2. Making Decisions: Strategic versus Tactical
      3. Reviewing Your Current Business Model and Revamping What You’re Doing
        1. Know What You Don’t Know
        2. Creating a Business Plan for an Existing Business
    2. 2. Professional Equipment for Professional Photographers
      1. We Are Professional-Grade: Why We Must Use That Equipment
      2. Pro-Line versus Prosumer-Line Lighting: Why Spend the Money?
      3. Cameras and Optics: Why You Want the Best
      4. Computers: Desktops, Laptops, and What’s Wrong with That Three-Year-Old Computer
      5. Specialized Equipment: From Gyros to Blimps to Generators
      6. Renting to Yourself and Others
    3. 3. Planning and Logistics: Why a Thirty-Minute Shoot Can Take Three Days to Plan
      1. Be Ready for the Unexpected
      2. It All Comes Down to Now! You’d Better Be Ready
      3. Conveying Your Plan to a Prospective Client Can Win You the Assignment
      4. When a Seven-Minute Shoot Becomes Three, What Do You Do?
      5. When to Call in a Specialist: From Lighting to Location Management, Catering, and Security
  6. II. Financial and Personnel Considerations
    1. 4. Working with Assistants, Employees, and Contractors: The Pitfalls and Benefits
      1. The Hurdle of Growing from Just You to Having People Working for You
      2. Who Must Be an Employee?
      3. The Benefits of Someone Regular versus Various People
      4. Paying Those Who Make Your Life Easier
      5. One Solution for Concerned Employers
    2. 5. Pricing Your Work to Stay in Business
      1. School of Thought #1: All Creative/Usage Fees Are Listed as a Single Line Item
      2. School of Thought #2: There Should Be Separate Line Items for Creative and Usage Fees
      3. Raising Your Rates: Achieving the Seemingly Impossible
      4. Surveying Your Competition: How to Gather Information without Risking a Price-Fixing Charge
      5. Never Be the Cheapest
      6. If You’re the Cheapest, Find out What Is Wrong
      7. What Do You Charge for Whenever You’re Working for a Client?
      8. Tools and Resources for Understanding the Body Politic of Photographic Pricing
      9. Words to Avoid
      10. Pro Bono: When to and When Not To
      11. Licensing: A Primer
      12. Why Work-Made-for-Hire Is Bad for Almost All Non-Employee Photographers
      13. Recommended Reading
        1. General Books on Negotiating
        2. Books on Negotiating Developed by and for Photographers
    3. 6. Overhead: Why What You Charge a Client Must Be More Than You Paid for It
      1. What Is Your Overhead?
      2. Back in the Day: The Forty-Dollar Roll of Kodachrome
      3. Markup: What’s Yours? How Do You Establish It Fairly?
    4. 7. Who’s Paying Your Salary and 401K?
      1. If Everyone Hiring You Has a Retirement Plan, Shouldn’t You Have One Too?
      2. If Everyone Hiring You Is Paid a Salary, Shouldn’t You Be Too?
        1. Establishing a Fair Salary
        2. Targeting That Salary in the Short Term and Long Term
      3. Transitioning from a Salaried Staff Position to Freelance
    5. 8. Insurance: Why It’s Not Just Health-Related, and How You Should Protect Yourself
      1. Health Insurance: Your Client Has It, So You Should Too
      2. Life Insurance: Get It While You’re Young, and Protect Your Family Too
      3. Disability Insurance: Think Again if You Believe You’ll Never Get Hurt
      4. Business Insurance: When Things Go Wrong, You Need to Be Covered
        1. Camera Insurance
        2. Office Insurance
        3. Liability Insurance
          1. Certificates of Insurance
      5. A Few Insurance Endnotes
    6. 9. Accounting: How We Do It Ourselves and What We Turn Over to an Accountant
      1. Software Solutions: The Key to Your Accounting Sanity
      2. Retain Those Receipts and Don’t Give Them to Clients
      3. Reimbursing Yourself: Say What?
      4. Separate Bank Accounts: Maintaining Your Sanity and Separation
      5. Separate Credit Card: Deducting Interest Expense and Other Benefits
      6. When to Call an Accountant (Sooner Rather Than Later)
      7. What Is a CPA? How Is a CPA Different from a Bookkeeper?
  7. III. Legal Issues
    1. 10. Contracts for Editorial Clients
      1. “We’ll Send Along Some Paperwork”: Why You Should Be the First to Send the Contract
      2. What an Editorial Contract Must Have
      3. Using a Word Processor for Contracts versus Dedicated Software or Your Own Database
      4. How to Work through a Contract Negotiation for Editorial Clients
      5. Case Study: Portrait for University Magazine
      6. Case Study: In-Flight Airline Magazine
      7. Case Study: Major Financial Newspaper
      8. Case Study: Consumer Magazine
    2. 11. Contracts for Corporate and Commercial Clients
      1. What’s the Difference between Corporate and Commercial?
      2. What a Corporate or Commercial Contract Must Have
      3. How to Work through a Contract Negotiation for Corporate/Commercial Clients
      4. Multi-Party Licensing Agreements
      5. Case Study: Law Firm Portraits
      6. Case Study: National Corporate Client
      7. Case Study: Regional Corporate Client
      8. Updated Contracts
    3. 12. Contracts for Weddings and Rites of Passage
      1. From Time to Time, Even the Non-Wedding Photographer Will Cover a Wedding or Rite of Passage
      2. What a Wedding or Rite-of-Passage Contract Should Look Like
      3. Negotiation with the Bride, Groom, and (Often) Paying Parents
      4. Protecting Yourself from Liability
      5. Multi-Photographer Events: Calling the Shots and Taking Control
      6. Recommended Reading
    4. 13. Negotiations: Signing Up or Saying No
      1. Negotiating from a Position of Strength
      2. Creative Solutions in the Negotiation Process
      3. Defining Your Policies
      4. Deal Breakers: What Are Yours?
      5. Why “No” Is One of Your Most Powerful Tools
      6. Studying the Aftermath of a Lost Assignment
      7. Case Study: Science Competition
      8. Recommended Reading
    5. 14. Protecting Your Work: How and Why
      1. It’s the Principle of the Thing for Me
      2. Don’t Steal My Work, Period
      3. Copyright: What Is It, When Is It in Effect, and Whose Is It?
      4. Pre-Registration: How to Protect Your Work
      5. Registration: How to Register Your Work Systematically
        1. Title of the Work
        2. Nature of This Work
        3. Year in Which Creation of This Work Was Completed
        4. Date and Nation of First Publication of This Particular Work
        5. Sign and Date
      6. Archival
      7. Definitions: Published versus Unpublished—the Debate
      8. Recommended Reading
    6. 15. The Realities of an Infringement: Copyrights and Federal Court
      1. What to Do When You’re Infringed
      2. Timeline of an Infringement Suit
      3. Types of Infringers
        1. The Preexisting Client
        2. The Third Party Who Legitimately Obtained Your Image but Is Using It Outside of the Scope of the License
          1. Case Study: A Quickly Resolved Infringement
        3. A Licensor Who Stated One (or a Limited, Smaller) Use and Who Is Using the Image in a Much More Expansive Way
        4. A Potential Client Who Reviewed/Considered Your Work and Stated They Were Not Using It, but Then Did
        5. The Outright Thief
      4. When to Engage an Attorney
      5. Settlement Agreements
    7. 16. Handling a Breach of Contract: Small Claims and Civil Court
      1. Why You Might Be Better Off in Small Claims or Civil Court
      2. What to Expect and How Long It Will Take
      3. Case Study: A Textiles Company
    8. 17. Resolving Slow- and Non-Paying Clients
      1. How to Engage the Client and the Accounting Department
      2. You Delivered on Time, and Now They’re Paying Late
      3. Statistics of Aging Receivables, and the Likelihood of Collecting at All
      4. Late Fees: A Good Idea?
      5. My Solution to Late Fees for Some Clients
      6. Collections Services: An Effective Last Resort
    9. 18. Letters, Letters, Letters: Writing Like a Professional Can Solve Many Problems
      1. E-Mail: The Current Default Communications Tool
      2. Signatures—and Not with a Pen!
      3. Summary Letters: What We Discussed
      4. CCs and BCCs: How and When
      5. Thank-You Notes: How Much They Do and How Right They Are
      6. Recommended Reading
    10. 19. Attorneys: When You Need Them, They’re Your Best Friend (or at Least Your Advocate)
      1. What Attorneys Can Do for You
        1. Contract Review and Negotiations
        2. Writing and Revising Your Current Contracts
        3. Advising You on Legal Matters
        4. Taking a Case
      2. What You Can Expect to Be Billed
        1. Retainer Fee
        2. Phone Calls
        3. Copy/Fax and Other Miscellaneous Charges
      3. Ask Your Attorney Whether It’s Economically Sound to File Suit
      4. Why Attorneys Are Reluctant to Take Cases on Contingency (and When They Will)
      5. When You Pay for Advice, Heed It
  8. IV. Storage and Archiving
    1. 20. Office and On-Location Systems: Redundancy and Security Beget Peace of Mind
      1. Redundancy: What Is It?
      2. Communications Networks
      3. Firewalls and System Security
      4. Port Forwarding: Port What?
      5. Back Up, Back Up, Back Up!
        1. Backing Up Your Desktop
        2. Backing Up Your Laptop
        3. Backing Up Your Work in Progress
      6. Dual Backups of Image Archives, On Site and Off
      7. Dual Cameras on Assignment
      8. Excess Lighting Equipment: Don’t Take Three Heads on a Shoot That Requires Three Heads
      9. It Only Takes One Flight: Carry On Your Cameras
      10. Software Validators and Backup Solutions
      11. The Aftermath: How Do You (Attempt to) Recover from a Disaster?
    2. 21. Digital and Analog Asset Management: Leveraging Your Images to Their Maximum Potential
      1. Recommended Reading: The DAM Book
      2. Solutions beyond The DAM Book: Adapting the Principles to a Variety of Workflows
      3. Evaluating the Cost of Analog Archive Conversions to Digital: Is It Worth It?
      4. Immediate Access to Images Means Sure Sales in a Pinch
    3. 22. Stock Solutions: Charting Your Own Course without the Need for a “Big Fish” Agency
      1. What’s the Deal with Photo Agents These Days?
      2. Personal Archives Online
        1. Digital Railroad
        2. PhotoShelter
        3. IPNStock
      3. Others
  9. V. The Human Aspect
    1. 23. Care and Feeding of Clients (Hint: It’s Not about Starbucks and a Fast-Food Burger)
      1. They’re Your Clients: Treat Them Like Gold
      2. How to Improve the Odds That Your Clients Will Come Back Again
      3. Do Something Unexpected, Something Value-Added
      4. Feeding Clients: Fast Food and Takeout Coffee Won’t Cut it! Cater and Bill for It!
      5. Deliver When You Say You Will or Sooner
      6. Return E-Mails and Send Estimates ASAP
      7. Recommended Reading
    2. 24. Education, an Ongoing and Critical Practice: Don’t Rest on Your Laurels
      1. Continue the Learning Process: You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!
      2. Know What You Don’t Know (Revisited)
      3. Seminars, Seminars, Seminars: Go, Learn, and Be Smarter
      4. Subscriptions and Research: How to Grow from the Couch
      5. The Dumbest Person in Any Given Room Thinks He or She Is the Smartest
    3. 25. Striking a Balance between Photography and Family: How What You Love to Do Can Coexist with Your Spouse, Children, Parents, and Siblings if You Just Think a Little about It
      1. When What You Love to Do Must Not Overwhelm Those You Love
      2. Solutions for a Happier Spouse/Partner and Children
      3. Dealing with the Jealousy of a Spouse or Partner
      4. Listening to Cues: What Those You Love Are Saying When They’re Not Saying Anything
      5. Vacations: Really Not the Time to Shoot Stock
    4. 26. Charity, Community, and Your Colleagues: Giving Back Is Good Karma
      1. Charity: A Good Society Depends on It
      2. Pro Bono Work: You Decide What to Do, Not in Response to a Phone Call Soliciting Cheap (or Free) Work
      3. Engaging the Photo Community: Participating in Professional Associations and Community Dialogue on Matters of Importance to Photographers
      4. Your Colleagues: They May Be Your Competition, but They’re Not the Enemy
      5. Reaching Out: Speaking, Interns and Apprentices, and Giving Back
      6. Pay It Forward