Author Archive

Resumé of Failures

Posted: May 12th, 2016

[by Barry Schwartz] Barry Schwartz Photographer, writer, educator RESUMÉ OF FAILURES (General Principles Edition, Photography) “Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible. I have noticed that this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me. As a result, they are [...]

Why Am I Here?

Posted: April 11th, 2016

In Which I Write A Blog Post About Blogging And The Symbiotic Spokes In The Wheel That Is Social Media. [by Barry Schwartz] For the longest time I could not figure out what social media could do for me. So I did nothing. Or almost nothing: I had a mousy level of participation on Facebook, which [...]

The Ties That Bind: A Good Story Is a Virtuous Circle

Posted: February 24th, 2016

[by Barry Schwartz] How Writers – And Photographers – Develop A Voice It might go like this: a photographer makes a photo for himself or herself, not on assignment, and posts it on their website simply because it pleases them or they want to get hired to do similar work. No matter; the image represents who [...]

Coherence and Productivity

Posted: November 6th, 2015

[by Barry Schwartz] I am obsessed with developing new skills, part entrepreneurial requirement and part personal obsession (though I suspect obsession is the driver…). In today’s economy, keeping your skills sharp has become a necessity. People who are not entrepreneurs (otherwise known as “employees”), also have to keep their skill sets up-to-date.  Few people work [...]

A Feature Not A Bug

Posted: October 26th, 2015

[by Barry Schwartz] It took me a lot longer than I care to admit to understand that a lack of security is a necessary component of being an entrepreneur. Counterintuitively, actively taking risks is a requirement for a stable career. Championing risk is prescribed in books, magazines, conferences, movies, all over the culture at large, [...]

Use Your Words

Posted: September 30th, 2015

[by Barry Schwartz] In every class and workshop I’ve taught on business practices, contracts are the source of more anxiety than any other topic, except perhaps SEO. And SEO doesn’t count because everyone already understands instinctively that SEO is a mystical, ever-morphing process whose secrets are hidden in a vault in an undisclosed location in [...]

Sometimes The Best Things In Life Really Are Free

Posted: July 23rd, 2015

[by Barry Schwartz] I love it when the fact that something is free overcomes the main rule about such things, that you get what you pay for. These links are resources I get in the form of email newsletters that give me solid, valuable, and interesting notes on what’s happening in my professional world about [...]

A Generalized Specialty

Posted: June 24th, 2015

[by Barry Schwartz] My first career was in construction and kitchen-and-bath design, so when I became a professional photographer many years later it was a pretty natural progression to specialize in architectural photography. The business culture was something I understood very well, I already had industry connections, and I was more than happy to hang [...]

The Vision Thing

Posted: April 15th, 2015

[by Barry Schwartz] I used to worry quite a bit about finding my “vision.”  I could not figure out where it might be located or how vision was even defined.  I believed the responsible thing to do was get a fix on my vision in advance in order to stick to it.  But how could [...]

Frog In The Water

Posted: February 12th, 2015

[by Barry Schwartz] Over the last couple of years, I had an “aha” moment that was more like an “uh-oh” moment – not even a moment, more like a slow unfolding of embarrassment. I teach a class in business practices for photographers at a local college, focused on developing a holistic view to building a [...]

An Honest Job

Posted: October 30th, 2014

[by Barry Schwartz] A major perk of a creative career is the requirement to connect art with the world. One of the most influential newspaper editors of twentieth century, Ben Bradlee, former editor of the Washington Post, died last week.   Bradlee was instrumental in turning the Post into one of the best papers in [...]

Laziness As A Remedy For Stress

Posted: June 4th, 2014

[by Barry Schwartz] I’m lazy, always looking for the easier way. Problem is, the easier way takes so much work to set up it can really stress me out. It’s an engagement with neuroses (it takes a lot of work to be neurotic!). As far as clients go, my stress is not their problem; it’s [...]

HDR Sees the Light

Posted: April 30th, 2014

[by Barry Schwartz] HDR (High Dynamic Range) is an automated process that layers different exposures of the same scene into a single image containing more information than sensors might be able to capture in a single exposure.  Layer-blending goes back to the earliest versions of Photoshop, so really except for the name, HDR is nothing [...]


Posted: April 9th, 2014

[by Barry Schwartz] Salsa, country music, rap, and rock often contain an instrument that holds a steady, unwavering beat: a kind of metronome, a through-line. In salsa, it might be the high, percussive strike made by wooden claves or a cowbell at the same point in every bar, cutting through the other instruments. In rock, [...]

Serve Somebody

Posted: March 12th, 2014

[by Barry Schwartz] There are all kinds of assumptions about the act of “giving back”, and one is that it’s done for free, but that seems too limiting. Giving back can take all kinds of forms, including getting paid, like a job working for a charity or non-profit, where the trade is usually less pay [...]

Jazz Masters

Posted: January 22nd, 2014

[by Barry Schwartz] The annual induction of Jazz Masters took place a couple of weeks ago, an award given by the National Endowment for the Arts.  The New York Times relayed some of the speech given by inductee 68-year-old saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton: “Even today, I refer to myself as a professional student of [...]

In Which Our Writer Divulges Diversions, Entertainments, And Exclamatory Wonders To Make The Holidays Memorable Beyond All Measure (Or At Least Something To Do Between Over-Indulging Beyond All Limits)

Posted: December 17th, 2013

[by Barry Schwartz] In a perfect world, I would be sleeping 18 hours a day over the holidays, but that’s not practical because when else would I have the time to catch up on Breaking Bad? Whenever I’m not cringing at Walter White and his fellow characters’ preoccupations, here’s a few of the things keeping [...]

Most Ideas Are Wrong

Posted: November 15th, 2013

[by Barry Schwartz] Creative results, like scientific results, mostly arrive out of failure.  “If at first you don’t succeed…”.   It’s not just some platitude; it’s how things really get done. You start out with a flicker and try to get it up to the level of a flame.  Anyone who has produced work from an [...]

Repeat Slowly

Posted: October 2nd, 2013

[by Barry Schwartz] Sometimes it takes awhile before I understand something is important. Not infrequently the way I achieve that state of higher consciousness is through repetition. Repetition is the basis of both our education system and advertising. After that, what else is there? So for instance. I’ve been told countless times what kinds of [...]

My Dog is So Useful For Taking Pictures of Cats

Posted: June 11th, 2013

[by Barry Schwartz] My dog is so useful for taking pictures of cats.  I usually walk him without a leash, and when we’re out where there might be something interesting to take a picture of, I bring a camera.  That would be almost anywhere. My dog, Whiskey, is rather interested in cats, and they in [...]

Insurance Is More Than Financial Protection For When Things Go Wrong

Posted: May 31st, 2013

[by Barry Schwartz] Insurance is not just protection against when things go bad.  Having insurance has other uses. When you’re trying to sell yourself to a potential client – especially one that’s not used to hiring professionals – letting them know you’re insured makes you sound like the professional you are (lots of people don’t [...]

Getting In The Door Not The Elevator

Posted: May 23rd, 2013

[by Barry Schwartz] Everyone wants to develop contacts with potential clients; to get in the door. The thing about getting in the door is it’s best to ignore the door. And forget about using your elevator speech in an elevator. One of the better strategies for getting in contact with a client is simple: be [...]

Past Performance

Posted: April 30th, 2013

[By Barry Schwartz] Boy do I hate making mistakes. I wasted time; time you don’t get back. I obviously wasn’t paying attention. I probably don’t know what I’m doing and somebody is about to find out. I clearly started out wrong, now I’m paying the price. I should have finished my degree, then I wouldn’t [...]

The Parts and the Whole Relationship

Posted: April 9th, 2013

[by Barry Schwartz] The best business advice I ever got had nothing to do with business. When I was in my early twenties, anti-intellectual, hyper-kinetic, unfocused, and curious about everything, I became friends with a neighbor, a professional intellectual.  Gregory Bateson was the stepfather of a friend and we sat in on the student seminars [...]

The Boy Scout Theory

Posted: March 22nd, 2013

[by Barry Schwartz] As a city boy, I joined the Boy Scouts to get out into the boonies to places I’d never been.  I had no idea what I was getting into; the same thing happened when I became an entrepreneur. Experiencing the Great Outdoors was all I wanted, so I did not take the [...]

According to the New York Times

Posted: February 18th, 2013

[by Barry Schwartz] According to the New York Times, getting enough rest is as important as working hard; in fact, it enables you to work harder.  For those of us who are creatives, I would suggest that getting enough rest can increase creativity. Tony Schwartz (no relation), in his article “Relax!  You’ll Be More Productive” [...]

The Big Reveal

Posted: January 29th, 2013

[by Barry Schwartz] Portfolios are about getting people to hire you. Above and beyond showing work that indicates to a potential client you’ve got the goods, shooting specifically for a portfolio means getting shots to fill in a category or blow the viewer’s mind, preferably both. On the theory that to achieve the next level [...]

In The Weeds

Posted: January 4th, 2013

[by Barry Schwartz] I used to take my dog to the best dog park ever.  Well-watered grass, shade trees, about half an acre, a short drive from the house, lots of parking, owned by a local gas company who graciously allowed anyone to use it. A sweet deal.  I went every couple of weeks. The [...]

Every Day

Posted: November 8th, 2012

[by Barry Schwartz] When I got started in this business, I wish someone had warned me about a particular experience I have every morning. Every morning, I lay in bed and think about what my day is going to be like.  And every day I’m wrong.  It’s like Groundhog Day (except each day is different). [...]

Lead Yourself On

Posted: October 24th, 2012

[by Barry Schwartz] How to find leads? One way is to let clients – and potential clients – lead you to their peers.  The bios on their website will often list places employees used to work.  Companies also may list other companies they’ve worked with, and those companies might list people and companies they’ve worked [...]

In Their Own Sweet Way

Posted: October 17th, 2012

[by Barry Schwartz] Part III of The ASMP Guide to New Markets in Photography features a series of interviews I conducted with 32 photographers.  Susan Carr, the editor, and I wanted to know how people built and sustained their careers, with a particular interest in seeing how they handled their marketing, identity, and new products [...]

Never Really Finished

Posted: August 27th, 2012

[by Barry Schwartz] No matter how much you know, how many problems you’ve solved, or how ready you are for whatever comes, there’s always more to learn.  Professionals are never really finished being students. Rather than an ongoing horror, it’s actually a beautiful thing. For entrepreneurs like ourselves, you get used to never knowing it [...]

Video Editing. How Hard Could It Be?

Posted: June 21st, 2012

[by Barry Schwartz] OK, not a good question, with more than one answer.  I’ve looked at a lot of videos in recent years done by still photographers.  Early efforts can show a couple of classic problems. Falling in love with a picture.  With still images, no one is forcing the viewer to look at it, [...]

Why Getting a Meeting is Like Internet Dating

Posted: May 2nd, 2012

[by Barry Schwartz] For a huge number of very complicated reasons, some years back I developed an expertise in internet dating. OK, it’s because I was single. Since then, I’ve counseled many of my (anxious) friends in how the thing works.  It’s pretty straightforward. You get online, do some research, and look for potential dates. [...]

A Few of My Favorite (Non-Fiction) Books

Posted: December 12th, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] James Taylor – Timothy White. As a long time fan (I saw the original Troubadour shows with Carol King in 1970), seeing how an artist can maintain the quality of their work and continue to grow as an artist for a real, real long time provides a perspective I find more than [...]

What They Want

Posted: November 16th, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] After Steve Jobs died I read over and over how he brought something extra to every product because Apple is a company of creatives as much as engineers. “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”, he told Business Week in 1997. Jobs didn’t [...]

What Goes Around Comes Around

Posted: November 3rd, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] All business is personal – especially when you work for yourself.  I’ve never forgotten something I heard Blake Discher say in one of his fantastic seminars, that when he tracked views on his website, his personal work was the only gallery where viewers typically looked at every picture. I had just recently [...]


Posted: October 20th, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] Some photographic subjects come pre-equipped with a “cool-factor”.  Hipsters in hipster clothing.  Musicians.  Designers dressed in black.  A piercing here, a tattoo there. I work in several areas, but my primary focus is architecture.  Los Angeles, where I live, was a center of cool architecture even before Europeans delivered us their fully-formed [...]


Posted: October 14th, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] “When you create something out of nothing, the first rule is to agree.” ~ Tina Fey talking about the process of improv at Google headquarters with chairman Eric Schmitdt. What else is it that photographers do, but exactly this? The first part: creating something out of nothing.  The second part: getting your [...]

On Keeping Up with Things – or – How I avoid Work Yet Feel Like I’m Doing Something Useful – or – How I Browse Without Feeling Like a Cow

Posted: August 19th, 2011

Some of my browser faves, in no particular order: British Journal of Photography – Great news, good interviews, roughly analogous to PDN.   Published in a foreign country yet in English; so convenient. Luminous Landscape – A review and essay site about equipment and aesthetics, all from a users’, practical viewpoint.  Not too gear-heady.  [...]

Lucky and Ready

Posted: August 5th, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] My color management guy likes to say you’re either well color-managed or badly color-managed.  Either way, you’re color-managed. Every contact with a potential new client (or a repeat client) is an act of good marketing or bad marketing.  Either way, it’s marketing, because marketing is simply how you’re perceived by someone else. [...]

More is (every now and then) More

Posted: July 26th, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] Speaking aesthetically, less is usually more.  But not always so in business. Your contract has a list of what you’re going to deliver; how many files, what size, that sort of thing.  Expectations on both sides of the arrangement – what your client gets, what you expect in return – are well-understood.  [...]

These are a Few of my Favorite Things

Posted: July 20th, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] In no particular order: The D-65 workshop gave me a professional workflow along with the tools to produce high-quality work – quickly – from camera setup all the way to delivery.  Was more fun than I thought it would be considering how often I thought my head would fall off.  At the [...]

Summertime, and the Marketing’s Easy

Posted: June 8th, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] Summertime.  Lounging my days away with friends, talking about nothing, waiting for the barbecue to get hot, feeling the warmth of the sun as it sets… Wait a minute. O man, there’s my fantasy life kicking in.  Self-employed people don’t take off day after day.  That’s for our clients.  The ones with [...]

All Business is Personal

Posted: May 17th, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] A great politician (they do exist), Tip O’Neill, famously once said “All politics is local”.  There are a lot of ways to interpret that idea, but it starts with the fact that politics is about people.  Business, too. Pretty much everyone in every business wants to work with people they like (and [...]

Less and Less is More All the Time

Posted: May 6th, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] Brevity in writing: the key to clarity.  Honest. Want to get through to your clients?  Potential clients? Make it easy.  Make it count.  Make it sound professional. They don’t have enough time.  Who does?  Contacts with them should be like a good song or movie – no filler.  Memorable. Messages are more [...]

SB3 or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Future.

Posted: April 22nd, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] At SB3 I learned that just about everyone is worrying about the same stuff I worry about. I learned that everybody has their own way of marketing but that only those people who actively market (or have an independent income) are going to make it. I learned that it’s not just me [...]

Don’t Embarrass Youself

Posted: February 3rd, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] Writing for business, like so many things in life, is subject to an important rule: don’t embarrass yourself. Business writing should be somewhat conversational, but not like chatting to strangers after a drink or two (see title above). Good writing means putting your thoughts into a clean and clear communication – the [...]

Procrastination: Why Wait Until The New Year

Posted: January 7th, 2011

[by Barry Schwartz] I start planning my New Year’s Resolutions early, say, around July.  I do this because one of my primary goals is to get a jump on reducing my tendencies to procrastinate in the new year.  As a procrastinator, I find it’s helpful to have some quantity of ADD, something I once heard [...]

Cold-calling Doesn’t Have to Leave You Cold

Posted: November 1st, 2010

[by Barry Schwartz] You’re starting out.  That means you probably have more time than money, and fewer clients than you’d like.  (This can happen to established pros, as well, but that’s another post…). What to do to pass the time?  Got internet? Got phone?  Got voice? Like a good photo shoot, do some prep.  Once [...]

Backing Up is (Not) Hard to Do

Posted: August 27th, 2010

[by Barry Schwartz] The same old song: it’s not a matter of if there will be a problem; it’s a matter of when. Backing up is not just for data, though. How about this: you talk to a potential client, you agree on what you’re supposed to deliver, what you’re supposed to be paid, and [...]