Monthly Archives: July 2012

How to get paid for your time in your photography business

Photographers are always asking me how to get paid for their time.   My advice would be to get more efficient.

Clients aren’t paying for the time you are spending (essentially). What they are paying for is the resulting value of the time spent. It really isn’t their concern how long something takes, only what the end result (be it a product, feeling, experience, etc) leaves them with. So how long it takes you is not a benefit to them and therefore not a marketing point. Time spent is a self-absorbed metric, and while we need to be conscious that it is the back end of our business and not the front.

So please don’t share one of those prettied-up images on Facebook talking about how people should hire a professional because they spend time editing or whatever.  No one cares (nor should they).  If all you are is how much time you spend (waste) getting there you’re marketing inefficiency instead of value.  Market the result of your work.  Now, if process informs value you’re welcome to explain how.  But if you find yourself justifying price by talking about how much time you invest that’s a clear signal that you don’t know what value you’re providing and you’re trying to guilt the client into paying you.  That’s weak.

What do you think?


Hey – a lot has been going on over the last few weeks.  I’ve been working on the audio issues we’ve had on our podcast so expect that to come back soon.  Feel free to suggest guests and topics HERE.  We just got back from teaching a SEXY BUSINESS Workshop in DC and we’ve got 2 more coming up later this year.  We limit these to 5 studios total so grab your spot now.  The workshop is all about developing a plan to get hired by the right people, for the right price, to do the right work.  Getting hired is sexy as hell.  Come see us in Atlanta and our new workshop announcement in Phoenix –

Missing our podcast?  I appeared on the MUSEA podcast with Michael Howard.  Check out that episode here for your AMTF podcast fix.

– trr

Number 74

I don’t know who Ryan Abi is.  But I deem him (or her?) the greatest list-maker alive.  Next year I plan to rank no lower than 65.  Hear that friends – you’ve got to put your goals down on paper.

Top 100 Photography Blogs of 2012

– trr

Entry level cameras and kit lenses are awesome

Last week we posted Question – should I market gear and technique? in response to a reader’s question about how relevant our gear is to our photography business.  Check out that post and then check out this comment from Kitty:

In our market are many photographers who are using subpar equipment and they do love the fact that customers often pick them based on 600px big images on the website. I am not scared to admit that I am gear head to my couples, it is in fact part of my brand. That I am photographer from morning to night and putting velvia next to bread for kid’s breakfast in the mall’s shopping cart. Normal people think I am crazy fascinated and attached to what I do resulting in a booking and those who have photography as hobby book us because they trust we won’t show up with D90 and kit lens, because they know, that what counts are not those 50 pics on the website, but how all will look.

If you’ve been around for a while you know I don’t tend to talk photography or gear very often here.  I like to keep the conversation specifically focused because it seems like everyone else is reviewing gear and talking about how to take photos so I tend to think there is a need to fill a different void.  Having said that, strap in because I’m going to talk cameras and images for a minute.

I’m not going to judge anyone’s gear-headedness.  Believe it or not I think about cameras and photography all the time.  I’ve been guilty of thinking too much about gear from time to time.  So I totally understand the impulse to talk shit about the photographer with the D90 and the kit lens.

Just think about every amazing photo that’s ever been taken.  Think about all the iconic stuff – all the meaningful photographs.  The vast majority of them were taken with cameras and lenses that were worse than the D90 and kit lens we’re talking shit about.  The reality is that D90 is amazing.  So is the kit lens.  Sure, there is (WAY) better stuff available on the market by comparison, but compared to what most meaningful photographs were made with that D90 kit might as well be a magical artifact.
We aren’t as valuable as our gear.  We’re as valuable as our beliefs and vision.  The gear is plenty good, even the worst of it.  That’s why I don’t like talking gear – sure it is fun amongst us nerds but it doesn’t amount to a damn thing in the world of value.

I don’t like spending money on gear because it keeps the camera companies in business instead of me in profitability.  I could easily do my job with a D90.  I don’t, but probably not for functional reasons as much as for how I would feel about myself.  My client wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  Not because they are stupid, but because how and why I take a photograph matters so much more than what I took it with.

Your camera isn’t your value.  Your value is the same whether you have a D4 or Phase One or D90 in your hand. It better be anyway.

Disclaimer – don’t freak out, I’m not saying you should have sub-par gear or spray-and-pray or anything like that.  I’m just saying anything that you can throw money at isn’t real, client-focused value.

– trr

Want to learn how to build real value?  Want to learn how to get hired by the right clients, for the right amount, to do the right work?  Check out the SEXY BUSINESS Workshop.

The Truth about the Pedestal

Some people set industry related goals.  They want to win that contest, or be named to that Top 10 list.  Maybe they want to be published in that magazine or be asked to speak at that convention. I get that.  But the truth about those things is that you can just get them if you want them.  The submission lists are posted, and you can basically figure out what those competitions tend to reward.  If you want to be on the Top 10 list ask them how they nominate and get in the game.  Usually you have to be nominated by someone who is already on the list – time to make some new friends.  Hola Machiavelli.  Submission guidelines are readily available and the process for getting that speaking job is rarely more complicated than sending an email.

We tend to think that the people on the pedestal are so much higher than we the rabble.  But those who are on the pedestal weren’t lifted up from above, they climbed up there on their own accord.  They just acted like they belonged there and put themselves there – everyone else on the pedestal made room.   You don’t get plucked from obscurity, you elbow your way through the door.  They don’t ask you to speak at the major convention, you call up and ask to present.  You make a pitch.  You push your way in.  The magazine doesn’t publish you, you have to send in the submission.  The pedestal isn’t that tall, it is just one step up.  You just have to buy into the fact that you deserve to take that step up.

Several people have mentioned that it is cool that we were asked to speak at Mystic Seminars.  It is cool, but we weren’t asked, I asked.  I sent in a request. I’ve got a request in to WPPI for 2013 too (make sure you Tweet them and tell them you want …a Man to Fish… to present – @RFWPPI) and we’ll see what happens.  A few years ago when we presented at Imaging USA we figured out who was in charge and what they needed to see from a pitch, then we sent it in.  No mystery.  No one asked me to set up a blog or record podcasts, I acted like I deserved to.  I’m not a contest person, but I have no reason to complain because I don’t look into what it takes to be recognized.

My point isn’t about the worthiness of industry recognition.  My point is that the recognition doesn’t go to the best, it goes to the people that go after it.  If you want it, go get it.  Granted, I don’t think any of it is going to make or break you, or really provide you happiness.  But if you want it, don’t act like the pedestal is above you, just climb onto it.  Get over how much you care about that stuff by actually achieving it, then you can move on to bigger and more meaningful things.

– trr

P.S. – Need branding help?  Come to SEXY BUSINESS, Read the MANIFESTO.  Or see us at Mystic Seminars or the MUSEA GATHERING in 2013

Episode 16 – AMTF Photography Business Podcast: Kinky Now and Associates with KEN KIENOW

UPDATE – Some listeners folks let me know that the episode as originally posted had some audio issues.  Listener  London Wedding Photographer Rob Brooks of Mirage Wedding Photography did his audio magic on the files to make things happier in your ears.  Many thanks Rob.  Check out the newly Rob-icized version below.

Ken has been suggested by several dear listeners as a good guy to have on the show to talk customer service. Ken is a big believer in managing client expectations and controlling perception.  In addition he has implemented and evidently mastered the associate photographer program.  Happy to bring you this business-oriented gab-fest – let us know what you think in the comments.

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Check out Ken Kienow Photography and 805 Collective.

If you have a suggestion for a guest or topic for an upcoming show make sure to drop a comment.  Make sure to subscribe through iTunes, and while you’re there leave us a rating and comment – makes us all searchable-like.

– trr

P.S. – Need photography business and branding help?  Come to SEXY BUSINESS, Read the MANIFESTO.  Or see us at Mystic Seminars or the MUSEA GATHERING in 2013