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Friday, 28 June 2024


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Gosh, you have been lucky. But, I think you know that.

David E. Davis for those who didn't read car magazines back in the day, or may not have been born yet...

Known for his own straightforward writing style and his colorful personality – at six-foot-three inches tall, bearded, portly and always immaculately dressed – Davis had once been featured in The New York Times On the Street fashion section. Automotive writer Todd Lassa called him "a raconteur, an impresario, a bon vivant in a tweed, three-piece suit." As an editor he maintained an "atmosphere of creative turbulence." The New York Times described him as "a combative swashbuckler who encouraged criticism of the cars it tested, even at the risk of losing advertising."


Much more at the link.

"Back in the day" I read Car and Driver, Road and Track and occasionally Sports Car Graphic. Now I read Dan Neil in the WSJ.

By the way, I came across that magazine in the mid 90's or earlier and loved it. I was really into the darkroom and looking for ways to improve my technique. I even saved articles and put them in a 3 ring binder for future reference, in my opinion it was the best photographic magazine on the market and I was sorry to see it go. Thanks for your guidance in that publication.

I was a Darkroom & Creative Camera Techniques subscriber, and have been lurking here for many years after finding you online.
I am boggled to find out that it was all on you to produce that exceptional magazine.

I always find it interesting when people discuss their "day rate" because I find it to be such an incomplete number. It's sort of like someone saying they need a file at 300dpi. 300dpi means nothing if we don't also know the dimensions of the image.

I often hear people discussing this "day rate" but they don't follow with how many days they actually get booked at that rate per year. If you tell me that your day rate is $10,000 per day, but you are only booked 10 days per year, I'm not necessarily impressed. (I'm impressed with the efficiency if your goal is $100k and you can do it in 10 days each year and continue to get that work even though you work so little! Completely unrealistic.)

To achieve that security you mentioned, you need to have your income spread across many clients, because you WILL lose some. I have seen many photographers that don't seem to really want to work "full time." They want to cherry-pick those "great" assignments where they are being paid really well to shoot something they find rewarding. Those assignments do exist. And they aren't necessarily rare. But if you get intoxicated by them and decide you can bypass the jobs that are "work", you will most likely fail as a professional photographer.

You need to be out there working. It makes you a better photographer. It makes you better at the business. Being on assignments gives you credibility to other potential clients seeing you work. Being busy allows you to have a true market value that is based on supply and demand - instead of you making up an arbitrary number. If you claim to be worth $10,000 per day but the market doesn't seem to be hiring you at that rate, you're just blowing smoke. If you are on assignment every day at $1,000 per day, the market is telling you to charge more.

I'm not interested in hearing "day rate" unless it's followed by "annual revenue" and "net profit." Then we have the DPI along with the length and width.

Wow! Kirk's comment of $5000 for a portrait of a CEO sounds amazing, if I got that much for a portrait photo assignment it would be like winning the lottery. Where I live in Kelowna, B.C., it's a smaller size city with an estimated population is 222,748 (in 2020) in the metropolitan area. Probably not many high-paying photography jobs to be had. I'm not sure how photographers survive financially here as the rent on a one-bed apartment is around $2000 a month. Still, after I left the newspaper business I would have thought that I had some name recognition after working in the city for 34 years. However, not many people read newspapers anymore. While still working for the paper I recall one day covering a golf tournament for up-and-coming players in the PGA tour. I was being whisked around by a volunteer in a golf cart, as we drove around the golf course we had some time to chat, my driver asked who I was shooting for I told him the name of my paper and he said, "Never heard of it" I thought to myself he must be a volunteer from out of town, then he told me he had been living in Kelowna for the past five years. I guess that could be one of the reasons why I don't have any name recognition. I'm sure photographers are making more than $300 a day here, probably doing weddings and family portraits. I'm sure glad I'm not starting out today, it's tough making a living as a photographer. I feel incredibly lucky and thankful to have made a living as a newspaper photographer as long as I did.

Another comment on this post as it relates to the actual title of "Word of mouth and free-floating goodwill." I've now been in business for 27 years. I have never done any marketing, advertising or sales. I still do not have a proper website/portfolio and never have.

I can only think of one client that came from me proactively targeting a particular organization and walking in cold to sell my services. That was a private school 1/2 mile from home and they have been a good client for about 15 years.

Other than that everything has come from word of mouth. I often joke that my entire business strategy is that people leave their jobs. I am brought in to do photography at a particular place via word of mouth/prior relationship. Over the course of a couple years I develop solid working relationships with several people in that organization. When my original contact leaves, he/she goes to another organization and in most cases calls and brings me in to do work there. I typically, but not always, will retain the previous client as well. And so it goes.

I came to this profession by way of a Sport Management degree in college and three years working marketing on the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. My photography career is backwards relative to most. I came into photography as a business first, then learned to love the art within it.

I think one of the downfalls for many trying to be a professional photographer, is that the photographer has difficulty breaking away from "being an artist." In many cases, the client is paying you to produce what they like, not what you like. You are providing a service. Be an artist on your own time!

I have found Instagram to be such a great creative outlet for the last several years because it allows me an outlet to show not only personal work, but assignment work from MY perspective.

I think there is certainly a place in assignment photography to shoot the way you want as an artist, but first and foremost you need to deliver what the client wants. They are paying for the work.

Mike-This is so timely. I haven’t checked in here for months, sorry to admit, but just Friday as I was driving I began to dredge up old memories of professional photography.
I left it for good in about 1988, simply because I did not like the business end of it. Too much dickering about usage, day rates, what they will pay for and what they won’t.
Skipping to the chase, and I seriously have not given this any thought in 40+ years, there was the day rate, but there was often so much that went into doing the job that had to do with the cost of the production itself, that was difficult to get clients to pay for, and should not have come out of the fee for the project.
I worked in Philadelphia. There was a job for a car company (before the days of digital imaging) where they wanted it to look like their car was driving through an active rain storm.
We ran into to so many technical issues trying to get that to look good in one shot, vs doing several and having a retoucher assemble all of it in a dye transfer. We worked 36 hours over a 48 hour period, and although the final shot came out very well and satisfied the client, they would not pay for any more than the original estimate.
Yes, there could be an argument made that we didn’t estimate it well. I’m not going to litigate that one so far in the past, but the point is that it was always a dynamic where I felt like unless you were Michael O’Neill, you just were not going to have any footing in that negotiation.
Very happy to have left it when I did.

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