As part of our plan to make 2016 a growth year, I’m sharing some information on how to learn about selling your work commercially. Sooner or later, every pet photographer gets asked for publication (or licensing) rights for their images, and the industry has changed so much so fast that it’s hard to know how much to charge. Most of the time a photographer’s fee is based on what the client intends to do with that image and whether or not it will be exclusive for whatever their licensing period may be. If it’s exclusive you can’t legally use it for anything else. Online publication seems to pays the least while licensing for print and packaging (think labels on pet food) generally pays the most. And don’t forget greeting cards.
Beginning photographers will sometimes fall for the “trade for advertising space” type of agreement and, although it rarely benefits the photographer, sometimes it seems worth doing. The issue is often whether THEIR audience is your target market. Better Homes and Gardens magazine may need an image for a story on pets but will that make your phone ring? Probably not. Although it looks great on a resume.
Getty Images and other stock photography sites have “calculators”, like this one that may provide some insight, but I ran across this article recently written BY PHOTOGRAPHERS (anonymously) discussing what they have sold (or licensed) their images for to various magazines. I think most were referring to editorial projects, not commercial ones (which usually pay a little more) but I think it makes some excellent points.
I’m always surprised at how few people actually consult The Photographer’s Market — a book that used to be considered the BIBLE for selling photography. It may be a little old school, but I buy one every year and it’s filled with lots of actual names and contact information for people and agencies you can contact that actually buy photography. It always gives me the inspiration to think about my work in a different way. I hope it inspires you, too.
One last warning: Be sure your work will meet their spec requirements. They want high res, properly lit, sharp images with a minimal amount of photoshop trickery. And they want a surprising amount of studio shots. In other words, shoot it right and don’t try to cover your mistakes by faking a blurry background, etc. Want to learn studio shooting? Attend our Studio Shooters Unleashed -July 8-10, 2016 in Dallas. We only take 10 people per class, so contact us and reserve your spot. 972-250-2415 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Is it time to grow your skills? We all know that in order to be successful we can’t just copy our competitors. We have to set ourselves apart from the crowd. What makes your photography different from everyone else in your market area? Is it your lighting? Your use of locations or backgrounds? Is it the types of pets that you photograph? Your products?
I can guarantee that since we’ve been teaching pet photography (2009) we have seen lots of trends fall by the wayside. And every market area is different. There are also a lot more photographers specializing in pets. In short, if your skills don’t set you apart you won’t last. So how are your skills?
We all know that our clients buy what they see — so show them the type of photography you want to shoot. Do it well and stand your ground. Use those techniques creatively and consistently and YOU will be the trendsetter the others are copying. But before you become the trendsetter, you have really know the game. You need to master manual shooting, and know what your equipment can do. Our belief is that you can’t call yourself a professional if you only know one trick! So if this is your slow time of year, use this time to create a new slant on something and perfect what you do. Take a workshop, shoot in an unexpected place, visit some museums, shoot with a friend — in other words, invest in yourself.
Why not develop a LOOK BOOK like fashion photographers use to illustrate a brand? Even if all the shots in your look book are the same dog, why not get down to it and really explore your style. Create a book or an album of all the variations (and depth) of your style and show it to a prospective client. If you ONLY want to shoot on seamless paper in a studio setting then really explore what you can create.
This little pep talk is only the beginning. We’re going to be sharing more this year, both with online video and via our facebook page — and through workshops. We’ll post details here, first. Online learning is great, but workshops build community and give us both friendship and a safe way to learn and grow. Learn with us and we’ll all get better, together.
The dates are final, Robin at Good Dog Fetch is lining up some awesome models, the hotel is a go — all we need is you! We’ll have a full day of business and marketing, a full day of outdoor and natural light shooting and a full day of studio shooting with two instructors. The agenda is posted on this site, as well as information about the hotel. Email us via the contact page of this site and we’ll send you a registration packet. We are limited to 15 participants, so don’t delay!
That’s right! We’re planning Unleashed for January 2014 in Dallas. If you’re on the east coast and you can wait until June, we’ll still be teaching in Virginia. But for those of you that don’t mind escaping the snow for a few days in Big D, how about late January? Average temps are in the 40s and 50s with plenty of sunshine and beautiful opportunities for some crisp outdoor photography. Three full days with two instructors –business, marketing and shooting (both indoors and out), with live models. We’ll have more information as soon as the hotel and schedules are confirmed.
We’re down to the wire and have three spaces left for our pet photography workshop scheduled for September 29 – October 1, 2012. If you’ve requested the registration link (via the contact page of this website) we cannot guarantee that we will have a space for you UNLESS you have sent your payment. The next three payments we receive will be guaranteed a space, after that, we will put you on the waiting list in case there are cancellations.
So don’t delay! Airfare discounts are the best when you book 4 weeks out –and the hotel will be holding our deeply discounted rooms only until September 1st. Contact us today!
When Unleashed began in 2009 there weren’t many options for learning fine art pet photography. What was obvious was the lack of professionalism and the real need for in-depth training for pet photographers. We continue to have the most thorough, in-depth business training of any pet photography workshop available –and we have two instructors with very different styles and approaches. So some of you may lean in one direction or the other, but beware… keeping an open mind and learning a different approach may just be what sets you apart from your competition!
Bev Hollis is known all over the country for her gorgeous outdoor dog portraits and dreamy, dramatic lighting. She was recently featured in Country Woman magazine and her dog portraits have been published in the Workman calendars, Nova Dog magazine and are on display in many private collections. Her studio in the Washington DC area consistently racks up big sales for high profile clients.
If you’re already a professional, there are LOTS of reasons to start shooting pets. For one, you’re probably doing some anyway because we all get those occaisional requests –but are you doing it well, or just faking it?
Don’t discount the value of adding pets to your portfolio! People often assume that pet owners won’t spend like the average family portrait customer, but my data tells a different story. We see almost the same sales totals from pet sessions vs non-pet sessions. And unlike adding a complete new genre (like adding portraits if you’re a wedding photographer or vice versa) you can use the same price lists and product lines — and even use a lot of the same props and shooting locations.
But take the time to learn it right. Handling pets and managing the session is very different and if you’re not paying attention to the differences, you can quickly become frustrated. Your pet clients love it when you roll out the red carpet for their pets and just like their pets, they will be loyal if they’re well treated. Here’s a quick checklist of things to consider before you decide to add pet photography to your existing business:
1. Do you re-brand, or have a separate logo and website for pets?
2. How long should a pet session last? Answers are all over the map on this one, do you know why?
3. Studio or location only? Is it worth renting studio space just to shoot pets?
4. Do I run specials to get started? Where do pet clients come from?
5. What type of average sales can I expect and where do I advertise?
Join us for Unleashed 2012 in Dallas, June 2-4th as we go in to all of these questions and more. Oh, and did I mention the sexy live models?