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Archive for April 2010

Thinking of Hiring an Intern? Better Pay Minimum Wage

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By Scott Bourne

Many photo studios hire summer interns. It’s usually a win-win situation. The studio gets cheap help. The intern gets real-world knowledge. But recent legal developments gave cast a cloud over the typical intern hiring tactics used by many studios.

Some states are now starting to require that interns are paid at least minimum wage. Most internships I’ve been a part of offer no or low pay in return for training. And in states like New York where enforcement of the minimum wage laws are strict, there are exceptions allowed.

The internships that are similar to the training given in a vocational school or academic institution, that the intern does not displace regular paid workers and that the employer “derives no immediate advantage” from the intern’s activities are exempt from the minimum wage law

In some states, full college credit is required when students enter into unpaid internships. This may or may not obviate the need for minimum wage protection for the internship.

The bottom line is simple. Because most states have mis-managed their finances, they are trying every trick in the book to get some new revenue. If they can force you to pay minimum wage, then they can tax you and the intern.

If you’re planning on hiring an intern this year, be sure to check your local, regional and state jurisdictions as well as federal hour/wage laws to make sure you’re in compliance. Part of going pro is accepting the responsibility that comes with running a real business. You’re always better off when you are in full compliance with all laws and regulations.


Written by scottbourne

April 30, 2010 at 7:39 am

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Getting The Job – Five Steps in Every Successful Professional Photographic Assignment

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Photo Courtesy M. Katz

By Scott Bourne

Workflow – I hear that word all the time. “What is your workflow?” Almost all the time, the question relates to photography workflow or post-processing workflow. In this article, workflow is designed to convey the five steps photographers go through every time they are hired as a professional photographer. While these five steps may not apply to every genre of professional photography, the concepts are similar enough to be useful to all. Additionally, you should know there are many more steps that might be added to this workflow, but I consider these the minium steps.

So where does it start? What do you do first? Here’s my list.

1. Smile & Dial

You may be the best photographer who ever lived, but who knows that besides you and your mother? You have to learn sales and marketing if you want to be a professional photographer and there’s no way to sugar coat this. Most successful professional photographers spend time every day contacting prospective clients. Use the phone, send out promo pieces, go to meetings, network. Get the word out. Selling is part of the workflow.

2. Show Your Portfolio

Once you get yourself in front of the right buyer, your next step is to show the pictures. You get hired as a professional photographer by showing your work. You need to show the work every chance you get. It’s like LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION in the real estate business. SHOW THE WORK, SHOW THE WORK, SHOW THE WORK. It should be the thing that drives you every day to get out of bed. You NEED to show the work to somebody that day. Hopefully a photo buyer. Pick your best stuff (and only your VERY best stuff) and show it. Show it online. Show it on an iPad. Show it in a traditional photo book. But show it.

3. Offer An Estimate/Bid

Depending on what sort of photography you do, you will at some point in time need to offer a price. In commercial and editorial assignments, this often requires you to prepare an estimate. In other types of photography you may need to offer a bid, or simply quote a firm full price. Whatever the case, this part of the workflow is as much art as anything else in photography. Price yourself too high, and you’ll get passed over as too expensive. Charge too little, and nobody will take you seriously. Quoting a price means taking into account your expenses, market conditions and the value of your work. Spend some time here. You won’t get a second chance if you screw this part up.

4. Do The Work

After all the planning, all the selling and all the negotiating, you actually get to make some photographs. This is the easy and fun part. But you still have to execute. You need to know your craft. You have to focus on meeting client expectations and doing the job you promised to do. Be professional. Be on time. Stay on budget. Do the work. Everyone wants to be a rock star, but nobody wants to learn the music. Spend time getting the job done right the first time and it will lead to more work.

5. Get paid.

After the shoot, it’s time to get paid. Make sure your invoice matches your estimate or bid. If it doesn’t, be prepared to detail why you went over. Provide copies of receipts for gear rentals, props, studio time, modeling fees, etc. Make sure to include a W-9 form (available for free download from the IRS website) so that your client doesn’t use lack of it to delay payment.

Obviously this is a very brief, very big picture view of the process. But hopefully this post will get you thinking about YOUR workflow. Make sure that at a minimum, these five steps are included if you want to get paid.

Written by scottbourne

April 29, 2010 at 7:15 am

Going Pro Hit List – A Brief History of Our New Project

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By Scott Bourne

GoingPro is one of the most exciting projects either Skip or I have ever been involved with. We know it’s a good idea because lots of people are already trying to copy it 🙂

And your response has been both overwhelming and gratifying.

We want the community to be as big a part of this project as possible. We’ve decided to be as open and transparent about it as we can. We do this knowing that we open ourselves to even more competition from the people who want to “borrow” our idea. But we’re willing to deal with that. We hope that by virtue of our decision to be transparent, the audience will reward us with their support.

While this is a for-profit venture, both Skip and I have had enough financial success in our careers that we can truly say it’s not about the money. It’s about building a community that helps photographers make the jump from amateur to professional. But we don’t want to stop there. We want to create thriving professionals. People who can shoot for a living and support their families without worrying about where the next paycheck will come from. We want to help create successful professionals, not just professionals.

We hope you will be part of the community and share our successes with us.

Here’s our current timeline. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last few months. As our sponsors start to get on board with the project, we’ll be able to do even more great things. We appreciate them and hope you will support them too.

We look forward to growing this list together. Thanks for your support.

GoingPro Hit List – Here’s a Quick History of Skip & Scott’s GoingPro Project

Updated April 25, 2010

1. December 2009 GoingPro is conceived
2. January 2010 Negotiations with book publishers begin
3. January 2010 GoingPro soft pitched to sponsors at PPA
4. February 2010 Verbal agreement from Random House to publish book
5. February 2010 GoingPro sponsor document created
5. March 2010 Book contract signed
6. March 2010 Blog launched
7. March 2010 Sponsor pitch and negotiations officially begin at WPPI
8. March 2010 Press release announcing GoingPro hits wire
9. March 2010 WHCC signs up as first official sponsor
10. March 2010 Twitter Account set up for Going Pro
11. March 2010 Alltop selects http://www.goingpro2010 as top photo blog – only two weeks after launch
12  April 2010 First chapter GoingPro book sent to publisher
13. April 2010 GoingPro podcast debuts
14. April 2010 In less than a month GoingPro on Twitter hits almost 2500 followers
15. April 2010 Marathon Press becomes a sponsor
16. April 2010 Kubota Imaging/Azuka Book becomes a sponsor
17. April 2010 SmugMug becomes a sponsor
18. April 2010 Posts from blog make Top 100
19. April 2010 GoingPro Facebook Fan Page launches
20. April 2010 First chapter of GoingPro accepted by publisher

Written by scottbourne

April 28, 2010 at 8:28 am

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Working With Clients: The Case Against Discouragement

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Copyright Tamara Lackey

Guest Post by Tamara Lackey

For all the buzz out there, there’s actually never been a better time to enter the profession of photography.

The wide berth of education available to new shooters eager to learn about photography is incredible.   I’ve never seen more of a community in the way of small-group gatherings, major conventions, online forums, social media and discussion-based blogs … all offering education, support, and access to more information.

But for every source of information, there are equal opportunities to take in misinformation.  And, for all the support out there, there’s an even measure of discouragement. Sometimes, unfortunately, even more.

I recently weighed on an active online forum discussion where an emerging photographer posted her concern about delivering a portrait session to a client “a while ago” without hearing a response yet.  She asked if others had experienced something similar.  I was pretty surprised to see that nearly all the feedback was negative… “If you haven’t heard anything back by now, you won’t.” … “They’ve probably figured out how to scan your images.”  … “They weren’t happy with the photographs, that’s why they’re not calling you back”.  When I weighed in with a more positive response, the sentiment was that my optimism was nice and all, but I should really “face reality”, that I wasn’t doing the poster much good by offering false hopes.

I started a photography studio more than seven years ago and in that time have photographed more than 1000 portrait sessions.  Many of my sessions move along in a similar rhythm:  I photograph the session, my clients view the images, we walk through them together, determining how their images will be best presented – and then they purchase their custom order.  Often, this is a simpler, linear process.  Other times, not so much.

I have had clients buy just a few pieces now, then a few later, and then that big canvas in six months.  I have had clients finesse their ordering decision to the tune of five separate meetings and a subsequent home visit. I have had clients walk in my studio with color-coded file folders containing detailed specifications for which order will go to which family grouping in exactly which delineation, all before we even viewed the images.

And then I had this one client, a family session.  Our shoot had gone quite well, and I was thrilled with the final images from our time together.  I delivered a preview of the session and followed up to confirm the studio appointment time.  They didn’t call back.  Not that day, not that next week – not any week that month.  To put it succinctly, I hadn’t been expecting that.

Nearly a full year later, just before the holidays, they put a call in to the studio.  An order was placed.  Quite a substantial order – surprisingly so.  But, still, they never offered any actual feedback about the quality of the images or any statement regarding their enjoyment of them.  They simply phoned in their order.

Interestingly enough, I actually found myself feeling even more disappointed after the phone call.  I had wanted that feedback from them.  We’d had a genuinely good time together, I felt I had captured something very honest about them as a family, and I’d worked to perfect those images before presenting them.  See, that’s why a response matters to people photographers – we fall in love with our clients and often want to know if they could tell.

So I felt disheartened by the fact that they didn’t respond… until I finally recognized that they actually had.  Just in a different way than I’d expected.  On quite a different schedule, too.

But we all express ourselves in different ways.

And we’re all moving through the pace of our scheduled-out lives with varying measures of ability to manage the associated disorientation.

The bottom line is that, regardless of what anyone else might say, it can often help to understand that our own set of expectations may discourage us more than any other (mis)information that might come our way.

Recognizing that my rigid expectations were actually holding me back really opened me up to a whole new level of optimism about my career.  It reframed that entire experience for me – and set some great groundwork for new scenarios that might develop over the years.

And, truth be told, I am finding that to be a pretty auspicious way to face reality.

Written by scottbourne

April 27, 2010 at 8:33 am

Posted in Business

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Sample DMCA Takedown Notice

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By Scott Bourne

The DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) authorizes you to contact Internet service providers which host websites run by Copyright infringers and to demand action against the infringer.

This is a sample of the form I use. I am merely providing it as information only. Feel free to use it, but do so at your own risk. It’s important to understand the limitations provided by copying my form. A form, by its very nature, is previously written, usually to address a typical situation. Unfortunately, in law there are few typical situations. The use of this form should not be viewed as a replacement for competent legal advise adapted to your particular situation. Scott Bourne, Skip Cohen and personally accept no liability if you do use this or a modified version of this DMCA notice. (Sorry, we have to make the lawyers happy.)


DMCA Takedown Notice:

TO: Name of hosting company where infringer hosts his/her site

FM: Your full contact info

RE: Copyright Claim

To the ISP Hosting Company NAME:

I am the copyright owner of the photographs being infringed at:

Place URL here

Copies of the photographs being infringed are included to assist with their removal from the infringing websites.

This letter is official notification under the provisions of Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to effect removal of the above-reported infringements. [I request that you immediately issue a cancellation message as specified in RFC 1036 (If a USENET post) for the specified postings] [I request takedown of the identified pages (if website)] and prevent the infringer, who is identified by its web address, from posting the infringing photographs to your servers in the future. Please be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to “expeditiously remove or disable access to” the infringing photographs upon receiving this notice. Noncompliance may result in a loss of immunity for liability under the DMCA.

I have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of here s not authorized by me, the copyright holder, or by law. The information provided here is accurate to the best of my knowledge. I swear under penalty of perjury that I am the copyright holder.

Please send me, at my aforementioned address, a prompt response indicating the actions you have taken to resolve this matter.


Your Name (Physicially Signed)

Mailed via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested


Hopefully you won’t be infringed. But if you are, you need to consider protecting your property. The DMCA is but one tool. Registering your Copyrights with the Library of Congress is another. I’ll cover that in a future series of posts here on

Written by scottbourne

April 26, 2010 at 7:39 am

Posted in Business

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It’s Time To Really Look At Your Website

with 15 comments

By Skip Cohen

You can’t be in business today without a website, but if your website doesn’t have the look and feel you need or, even worse, if it’s not working the way it should then what good is it?   Right now, early in the year, is the time to look at every aspect of your business, especially your website.   Your website is your calling card – it’s the one vehicle virtually everybody interested in hiring you is probably going to see first.

It’s time to update your site and really put yourself out there. Think about it – so many of your counterparts, because of the economy and their fears/concerns about business are pulling back.   That makes this the perfect opportunity for you to make your work really stand out.   You’ve got a chance to be in the spotlight almost by yourself!

So, before you blame the challenges in your business on the economy or the Uncle Harrys of the world, are you happy with your website?    Is it time for a face lift and a new look for your business?   When was the last time you updated images and the information on your site?

Does the work you show in your galleries represent your full range of skills?  Are you presenting a diverse image?  I know everyone has a specialty in their skill set, but your potential clients don’t know that.  For example, you never know when a potential bridal candidate has an interest in new product shots for another aspect of her life, her business.  Or you might have a potential commercial client, who while looking at your website, realizes he/she needs an updated headshot for the company’s annual report.   The list could go on and on, but the point is simple – show work on your site that’s diverse.

And what about response time?  Do you check your site every day to make sure it’s working the way it should?   At IPI’s summer convention last year one of the attendees told me everyone in his studio has an assignment each morning – they check a different page on the website to make sure it loads the way it should and looks right.  You look at your website under the same conditions every day.  It’s time to check it under different conditions and platforms.

Your website is critical to your success.  It won’t do any good creating the greatest images of your life if people can’t find them on your site, they take too long to load or simply lack excitement in the quality of the presentation.

Here’s a great question to ask about your website:  Are the images and the information on your site so strong that people can’t walk away from it?  Make yourself and your website habit-forming! It needs to have so much impact, people share your URL, your images and are talking about your work!   You’re the only one who can truly build you brand and your website is one of the key vehicles to keep you at the top!

Written by scottbourne

April 23, 2010 at 2:24 am

Posted in Marketing

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Proof Read Everything You Publish – Then Proof It Again

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By Skip Cohen

I’ve had a series of communication challenges with typos and mistakes the last few weeks. I was never an “A” student in English, but at this point in my life I sure do have respect for all those English teachers I drove to the edge of nervous breakdowns. And yes, this is that moment where I realize I wish I had paid attention a little more, but don’t tell Mrs. Sabo I said that.

Many of you are going to be writing copy for brochures, websites and mail blasts. It seems very timely to publish a reminder on proof-reading. I know and respect you’re all photographers and artists first, but if you’re trying to communicate via the printed word then take the time to use a few of the tools out there that will at least help you be understood a little better.

Yesterday I was on four websites and each one was a disaster. I contacted the photographers directly, and will spare them the embarrassment, but the mistakes were amazing. I’m no Hemmingway and certainly make my share of mistakes, but I’m amazed at material being published that simply can’t be understood.

So, here are some tips I’ve found really helpful.

1) Read it out loud. You’ll often catch mistakes simply by hearing them.

2) Use spell check!

3) Read it one more time and pay attention to homonyms that spell check won’t pick up – words that sound the same, but are spelled differently, e.g. to, two, too or its and it’s, seem to be the words violated the most.

4) It won’t kill you to put in a paragraph break now and then. From There are a few standard times to make a new paragraph:

* When you start in on a new topic
* When you skip to a new time
* When you skip to a new place
* When a new person begins to speak
* When you want to produce a dramatic effect

5) Cut down on the use of the word “that” – we all kill the word, but it takes practice to cut it out of a sentence now and then. However, your thoughts will flow so much smoother with a few less “thats”.

6)  Whenever possible have somebody else read what you’re about to publish before you put it out there.

7) If you’re about to publish something really important to you, hold it 24 hours and then go back and read it one last time, before publishing.  You’ll be surprised at how often things sound differently.

The last thing I’m trying to do is sound like the English teacher from Hell, but so many of you are so talented with a camera in your hand. It’s so sad when your description about the process and work you put into an image can’t be understood!

Written by scottbourne

April 22, 2010 at 10:33 am

Posted in Marketing

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