- Katelin Kinney
Most Informative Resources for Commercial Photographers
It's a vague and confusing world out there for a photographer with no connections who is trying to figure out the commercial world. I know from personal experience. You can only do so many Google searches before your lack of knowledge of terms and vernacular starts to limit your search results. So, as of January 2022 here are some of the most valuable learning resources I've discovered for photographers getting their feet wet in the commercial world.
1. Image Crafters
Image Crafters is a brand that's been created by Jamie Piper, a commercial photographer working in the pet product industry. While the world of commercial photographers typically goes tight-lipped and vague when you ask them for guidance on pricing, Jamie has openly and transparently given a ton of education and guidance on this matter. On the Image Crafter's website you can find many blog posts that give overall big picture direction for people new to the industry. You can also purchase her education bundles which is where you get all the juicy and valuable details such as seeing her actual bids priced out line by line, contracts she uses, releases, etc. Lastly she also has a closed Facebook group called The Business of Commercial Photography where commercial photographers ask questions and help each other with everything from pricing to client discussions to self marketing.
2. Weekend Creative
The Weekend Creative is a full service agency operated by a west coast based duo team, Elle and Arabela. Not only is their work beautiful and just a great source of inspiration for photographers to follow, but they also are very open about educating upcoming photographers on anything from technical skills to business know-how. Their blog covers a slew of topics. They're very active on Instagram with showing you behind the scenes of their work. They have online courses available for purchase, and they've created their own online community called the Weekend Club that you can subscribe to for all sorts of valuable industry knowledge as well as interacting with fellow commercial photographers.
3. Photographer Directories
Photographer directories are established organizations that have good working relationships with potential clients (publications, brands, agencies) who help to promote you and your work along with a roster of other commercial photographers. They aren't photo reps, but they're a curated list of approved photographers that get pushed to the front of the line when reaching out to potential clients you want to work with. Many of them also have educational resources like blogs, one on one coaching and consulting, and lists of crew members you can reach out to if you need for instance a producer, digital tech, wardrobe stylist, etc. As the photographer if you are accepted on to their roster you pay a monthly or annual fee to be included and have access to their resources as well as being marketed by them. If you can afford to be on one or all of them then do so. The more your work gets put out there and the more locations it can be seen, the higher the chance of being hired by some really great clients. Below are some of the most trusted in the industry: Wonderful Machine Found Artists AtEdge Boulevard Artists Workbook
4. Portfolio Reviews
Portfolio reviews are a great place to meet potential new clients as well as get some valuable feedback on ways to improve your own brand/portfolio. As a photographer you pay a fee to have a certain amount of sit down one on one meetings with industry professionals- art buyers, art directors, established photographers, etc. These meetings are scheduled over 1-3 days at a conference-like setting. Some of the aforementioned photographer directories will host their own portfolio reviews as well. NYCFotoWorks (they have other locations besides NYC)
Palm Spring Photo Festival Portfolio Review
5. Ask Stern Rep
Ask Stern Rep is founded by Andrea Stern, a commercial advertising agent based in Los Angeles. Her Instagram page is very active and laid out in a Q&A format. You can submit any of your photography business questions to her and she posts daily answers and videos that shed light on some of the more nuanced areas of our industry such as negotiations, bidding, self marketing, what elicits good client responses, etc.
Still needing a more straight forward answer on "HOW do I price this???" FotoQuote is a software program that was created by gathering thousands of awarded bids on commercial photography projects around the world in various industry genres, culling that data, and producing industry standard price ranges for whatever usage terms you select. It costs a one time fee of $150 and is well worth it. That will pay for itself within your first awarded job.
This industry is so fulfilling to work in, however this industry has also started to see a major decline in pricing from photographers. This is what happens when established photographers feel like they need to keep their pricing structures industry secrets to beat out competition- they end up tripping over their own mistakes by not educating new photographers on industry standards. Now they have to deal with a mass of eager young photographers pricing dirt cheap packages who don't know any better. Though I'm quite sure they tried. Keeping pricing a taboo topic will do nothing but hurt the industry we love so much. So open up, teach the new comers, educate your clients so they don't take advantage of the unknowing new comers, and let's make it a race to the top and not a race to the bottom.