Author Archive

My New Reality is Virtual and Somewhat Augmented

Posted: January 18th, 2016

[by Richard Kelly] My initial impressions of the Virtual Reality image concept was that VR seemed like a bell or a whistle but wouldn’t make much of a day-to-day difference to my image viewing experience. In fact, that was the impression I’d had since the mid-1990’s when photographers started playing with VR imaging. Last spring [...]

Be More Social in 2016

Posted: January 6th, 2016

[by Richard Kelly] We have much more to learn about social media and the role it plays in our culture and communications. In 2015,I started the year by learning more deeply how these social channels that dominate the media (not just social) landscape. First, I downloaded to my Kindle, The Art of Social Media by [...]

Shoot Your Way Through It.

Posted: December 11th, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] I’m a photographer. I frame my world. But sometimes I can’t see anything. Sometimes it is something outside my world that blocks my view; most often it is inside my head. Whatever the cause the prescription is the same; I have got to shoot my way through it. I credit photographer Jim [...]

Why I Heart Instagram

Posted: November 12th, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] For most of my freelance life – from the mid-1980’s till the early 2k’s I kept a call log next to my office phone. That sentence sounds a bit funny to me today; I don’t even have a phone in my studio anymore, and haven’t since 2002. Anyway, that call log was [...]

Photography is the Disruptor

Posted: October 13th, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] At many cocktail parties, conversations usually start with “Hey, I bet digital cameras have changed your business.” I usually explain that the digital camera is only a small component of the bigger disruption affecting my business and add that photography itself, is always a disruptor. When Mr. Niépce, fixed the first photographic [...]

This is a Test of the Team RK System and Only a Test.

Posted: September 25th, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] Even at this stage of my career I want to “test” new ideas or try new approaches to old ideas or just flat out want to work on a personal shot for my portfolio. Depending on the scope of the project that I give myself I will assemble the same team that [...]

Preparing For a Final Edit

Posted: September 16th, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] Like many of my peers, I started snapping pictures with film in a camera. All of us who started this way have stories of falling in love with photography as we watched the image develop in a tray of developer under the glow of a red safe-light. We have a romantic connection [...]

I Wish I Could Have a Do-Over For All Of My Portfolio Reviews

Posted: August 18th, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] I could write a book on how to not do a portfolio review. I have made all the mistakes and despite that I have somehow crafted a long and satisfying career. Here are 10 important tips I’ve learned along the way: 1) Know who you are going to see before you step [...]

Five Lessons I Learned from my Dad About Photography

Posted: August 4th, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] My dad knows nothing about photography, but he is a mechanic who loves his tools. I learned a lot working with my dad on automobiles and home remodeling projects. I now pass these lessons on to my assistants, and I hope they pass them on to their assistants. 1) Always use the [...]

Hold Still, a Book I Recommend for Summer Reading

Posted: July 24th, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] I like to read for inspiration during the summer. On my bedside table this week, is Hold Still, A Memoir with Photographs, by Sally Mann. I have been a fan of her photography since I saw her first book, At Twelve,  in the late 1980’s. I enjoy reading biographies and memoirs. Finding [...]

A Five Step Program for Producers

Posted: July 13th, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] A good producer listens, stays organized and communicates well. A great producer does those things and predicts the future, moves a ton of atoms with ease and shifts time on demand. I was a producer for many years often pairing up my skills as a first assistant and later as a photographer. [...]

Always be Reinventing

Posted: June 25th, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] Plotting my career in the early 80’s I never imagined my career today.  Photography industry insider Stephen Mayes describes my current lifestyle as having a “portfolio career” essentially one that includes multiple income streams from a variety of services over a range of industry sectors. What my mother calls having a lot [...]

When in Rome, Dress Like a Chameleon.

Posted: June 11th, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] When I am working on an environmental portrait assignment, I like to start off knowing as much about a subject as I possibly can.  I begin with a simple web search to learn something about them, where they work, what they like to do. I usually try to meet with the subject [...]

For the Class of 2015 and Beyond

Posted: May 21st, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] Six recommendations for living a Creative Life: 1. Have something to say and develop that into a lifelong vision. If you don’t know what you want to say yet, then follow your curiosity – dabble in everything. 2. Be open-minded about your career and income stream. Look for unmet needs and follow [...]

What I learned in Directing Actors Class

Posted: March 11th, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] My practice requires me to work with professional actors and models as well as working with non professionals, sometimes on the same project or in the same scene. I learned a long time ago that each person may require different types of direction. The trick is to have a few directing tools [...]

Where Copyright Law Fails Photographers

Posted: March 3rd, 2015

[by Richard Kelly] When I speak to photographers about copyright, I often use a variation of William Patry’s metaphor from his book Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars: Picture a copyright battlefield. On the right-side are the traditional Copyright aggregators – publishers, record companies, and the licensing monoliths – including the artists that they represent. [...]

A Delicate Balance: The Mashup of the Art and Business of Photography

Posted: December 15th, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] I discovered photography, when I was around ten years old. I was in the process of reading my way around the Ellwood City Public Library when I stumbled upon the Time-Life series, you know that collection of books – silver and black. From that day forward, books have guided me and my [...]

I Got a Phone in My Pocket

Posted: November 11th, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] In September of 2009 I took out my iPhone and using the camera app made a photograph. I made a few adjustments to color and contrast and uploaded it to Facebook. By the time I walked about 100 yards, I had “likes” on my Facebook page and I was seeing comments from [...]

The Only Way is Forward.

Posted: October 31st, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] I have had numerous conversations with creative’s of all types contemplating when “things” (meaning business) are going to get back to normal.  I have been a part of these conversations for quite a while, and even started a few myself.  I’ve come to realize that the only way to the new normal [...]

Photographers It’s Time to Pivot, or #iwantpaid

Posted: October 3rd, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] For many years, professional photography was commissioned and paid for based on time or pages with no residual income going to the artist. The 1976 copyright act promised a new business model that shifted the ownership of commissioned work to the artist/creator. Licensing photography based on usage, when successfully executed was beneficial [...]

Collecting People

Posted: September 9th, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] I’m a people person. Always have been. My grandmother told me when I was “twenty-something” that she always knew I would be a portrait photographer because as a child, I always asked people what they did and why. Apparently, I even had an imaginary friend named Bob. Like many “Bob’s” in pop [...]

The Ears-to-Mouth Ratio for Pricing

Posted: August 14th, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] During ASMP’s Strictly Business 3 conference, my colleague Blake Discher reminded everyone that they have 2 ears and 1 mouth that should be used in the same proportion.  I know he wasn’t the first to say it, but it is great advice. Critical listening is key to building a successful and meaningful [...]

Revisiting ‘Vision is Key to Your Success’

Posted: August 1st, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] “As we move into the challenges of our Internet dominant economy, your unique vision is critical to building a sustainable career in this profession. It is the one completely unique offering you bring to the table. Vision is key to your success.” ~ Susan Carr in her Strictly Business blogpost dated November [...]

I am a Maker of Lists

Posted: July 8th, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] No matter the size of the production, I make a list. Actually, multiple lists. For assignments involving travel, there’s my clothes to pack list and the stuff I need for a car or plane or train. There is an equipment list from the basics to the exotic and, of course, the list [...]

In My Book Queue This Summer

Posted: June 26th, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] These days I bounce between reading printed books to reading on my iPad. I like both for different types of books and different types of reading. I have always been a reader with a number of books in progress, not to mention my magazines, blogs and newspaper adventures. This summer I am [...]

Fail Better

Posted: May 29th, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] I’ve read a lot about how today’s younger generation has been given too many “participation” trophies and that we aren’t preparing our children for the “real” competitive world. Our society does not accept failure. We don’t want to accept responsibility for things going wrong. Partly, I suspect, it’s because we fear litigation. [...]

Learning to Light is like Learning to Ride a Bike

Posted: April 28th, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] Photography without light is well, darkness. Our love affair with light starts by photographing what nature offers us. For some photographers, that’s enough; they follow the light and create beautiful imagery. For others, like me, the curious pull of controlling light in a darkened room is their passion. I remember the awe [...]

Is That a Micro Supercomputer in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Posted: March 31st, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] These days I rarely use what was formerly a phone as a phone much anymore. Now I am the first to admit that a micro supercomputer may not be the “best tool” or the only tool that I use. However, I have noticed that more and more I need my desktop/laptop less [...]

Advice on Building a Collaborative Production Team.

Posted: February 17th, 2014

[by Richard Dale Kelly] I have key people that I regularly count on for my production team.  The team itself scales up or down according to the specific job at hand. Early in the proposal process, I call each team member to get their perspective on the project. Once we get approval for the project. [...]

Estimates Are People Too

Posted: January 31st, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] Okay estimates are not people but it’s people who request estimates. In my practice, we get requests for proposals, requests for bids and informal requests to estimate a project. Many companies and organizations have policies that require multiple vendors to bid on a project. Assuming the scope and information are the same [...]

The F Word

Posted: January 24th, 2014

[by Richard Kelly] I have been talking a lot about failure lately. Since I was a young reader at the Ellwood City Public Library, I was curious about why people create. I read about Edison, Westinghouse and Ford – the American inventors of the industrial age. The one lesson that resonates with me today was [...]

A Great ROI at Photo Plus Expo.

Posted: November 1st, 2013

[by Richard Kelly] What makes Photo Plus Expo the world class, must-attend, photo industry meet up is that everyone is there. For a professional photographer there is a no other place or time where a convergence of knowledge, equipment and networking all come together. I have been attending PPE since the mid 80’s. My very [...]

Managing Cash Flow and What I Never Learned In School.

Posted: September 13th, 2013

[by Richard Kelly] Early in my career my assignments as a photographer were pretty small productions – maybe an assistant, a stylist and a model – pretty easy to manage. My business operations where also small – a personal checking account, a personal credit card, and an early Macintosh computer on a small drafting table [...]

Marketing Professionalism

Posted: August 6th, 2013

[by Richard Kelly] A few years ago ASMP commissioned a member driven marketing campaign geared to the modern photo buyer, someone who may not have been familiar with what ASMP/professional photographers offered other than just creative images and “correct” exposures. These “I am a professional” characteristics have been written about, here at Strictly Business and [...]

Just These Three Things

Posted: June 19th, 2013

[by Richard Kelly] My aha moment happened just before the CEPIC  Photocentric Day  but it crystallized for me during the panel on compensation and attribution that Judy Herrmann moderated.  In many ways I have spent a good part of the past 6 years thinking about the disruption of the publishing / advertising / imaging industries that I [...]

6 Books to Read this Summer

Posted: June 7th, 2013

[by Richard Kelly] I always have two or three books going. I like to have a little inspiration, a little intelligence and a little intrigue in my books at all times which is why I seem to have an open book, a dogeared magazine or a bookmarked blog on every surface in my studio.  Currently, [...]

My Insurance Agent: A Key Member of My Advisory Team.

Posted: May 28th, 2013

[by Richard Kelly] During SB2 and SB3 I spoke about building your personal team of advisers. My Insurance agent, Carl Caputo, is more than just a guy who can talk policies and deductibles. He is also a small business owner who understands the trials and tribulations of running a B2B business. Every year we have [...]

Adding Value and Living a Creative Life

Posted: April 26th, 2013

[By Richard Kelly] In my little world of photography there are two types of assignments. The first Is the one call assignment. You know the type, you get a phone call, estimate for the parameters of the assignment, you grab your gear, you make the picture, send off the selects, send an invoice and then [...]

It’s All About the Content, Stupid!

Posted: April 19th, 2013

[By Richard Kelly] The tagline for the 2013 NAB show in Las Vegas was, “Where content comes to life.” For an organization that has its roots in Radio and broadcast Television, this industry show, which draws 100,000 attendees annually, is more than microwave transmitters, Satellite Trucks and HDTV cameras. Oh believe me, it still is [...]

What if Copyright No Longer Existed?

Posted: March 7th, 2013

[by Richard Kelly] The purpose of copyright is, “to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” This is how we as commercial photographers profit from our photographs. However, if we read these words from a broader [...]

Prospecting Gangnam Style

Posted: February 8th, 2013

[by Richard Kelly] I know you are probably looking for a different type of blog post after reading that title, but I think the beat of Psy’s song is appropriate when thinking about prospecting for new clients.  After almost 25 years in this business I have tried everything. When I look back though my successes [...]

A New Year, A New Ledger

Posted: January 15th, 2013

[by Richard Kelly] Happy New Year! I am one of those people who loves to open a new yearly calendar (I am using a moleskine weekly calendar this year) and start mapping out my photo adventures, my class and lecture schedules and my to do lists. The first few weeks of a new year I [...]

Permission to Fail

Posted: November 30th, 2012

[by Richard Kelly] I don’t gamble. I figure just living the life of a creative entrepreneur is enough risk. Most nights I go to sleep unemployed and wake up believing that someone will hire me, that’s risky! Having an independent creative lifestyle is a choice. When I lecture emerging photographers and visual artists about the [...]

My Team of Advisors

Posted: November 16th, 2012

[by Richard Kelly] I can’t say enough about the importance of a strong team of professionals to my photography practice. My accountant not only assists me with the day to day questions regarding payroll, taxes and other financial planning, but is also a micro business and an excellent counsel on many of the other business [...]

Creating Value for Your Business

Posted: October 19th, 2012

[by Richard Kelly] I remember in the eleventh grade Miss Selby, my English composition teacher, telling me that I should write what I know. As I planned to practice professional photography, I read everything I could about photography and the business of photography. That was in the early 80’s,  just a few years after the [...]

Curating the Conversation

Posted: September 18th, 2012

For the remainder of this week, we’ll continue to focus on topics relating to the September 27th launch of ASMP’s upcoming Symposium and book, The ASMP Guide to New Markets in Photography.  Register here to attend the live event. Registration is not required for the live stream presentation.  A key force behind the development of [...]

Lighting on Location

Posted: August 22nd, 2012

[by Richard Kelly] As a location based photographer, my equipment needs to be easily transportable, easy to set up and easy to use. Years ago I adopted wireless remotes and switched from packs to mono lights to streamline the wires on my location setups. My current favorite piece of lighting gear is the new Vagabond [...]

Time-Saving Apps

Posted: August 17th, 2012

[by Richard Kelly] I am always in search of apps for my iPhone that will save me time and keep me organized. As interesting as many apps are, a lot of the ones I’ve tried may help with organization, but add extra steps instead of efficiency. I need streamlining not complexity. The five apps that [...]

I Instagram, I Tumble, Therefore I am a Professional Photographer

Posted: July 26th, 2012

[by Richard Kelly] I make pictures. I see the world with a sense of curiosity, I discover, I taste, I sample, I see. I can share these discoveries, tastes, samples and sights with friends and followers who have “agreed” to share these common experiences. This social engagement through visual images and motion has never happened [...]

Releases for Professionals

Posted: July 11th, 2012

[by Richard Kelly] The ASMP model release has been an industry standard for decades. I remember photocopying the ASMP model release out of the ASMP Business Bible as an assistant member in the mid-1980’s.  In the early days of the world wide web, the ASMP posted model releases that photographers could use online at along [...]

Seeking Licensing Solutions

Posted: February 28th, 2012

[by Richard Kelly] For imaging professionals the issues of copyright, licensing and compensation are forever intertwined. For the past three decades this model – licensing a specific use for a specific amount of money – has served us well.   In the print days we could limit use based on audited periodical circulation, a fixed number [...]

How Experimentation & Creativity Feed Profitability

Posted: December 1st, 2011

[by Richard Kelly] My personal work has always directed my commercial work. A portrait project here led to a magazine assignment there. A personal documentary led to a non-profit capital campaign. An experimental video led to a music video. Personal projects feed both my creativity and professional bottom line. When I’m face-to-face with a client [...]

No Small Decisions

Posted: October 12th, 2011

[by Richard Kelly] “There are no small decisions in moviemaking.”  – Sidney Lument , Director (pg 112 MAKING MOVIES by SIDNEY LUMENT Vintage Books) If you change “moviemaking” to photography, well you get the picture. This to me summarizes all my decisions from art, to craft to commerce. Every action has a consequence, or a [...]

Would You Sign This?

Posted: September 10th, 2010

[by Richard Kelly] Getting the appropriate model releases from our subjects that appear in photographs for commercial use is what a “professional” does as part of the overall practice of business. The standard  adult release says, “…They have the irrevocable, perpetual and unrestricted right and permission to take, use, re-use, publish, and republish photographic portraits [...]

What I Learned on my Way to the Commons

Posted: June 24th, 2010

[by Richard Kelly] It is my perspective that the role of copyright is to promote publication. Copyright is the engine that allows professionals to grant permission and collect money for the use of their work, that permission is a license. I see no reason for this to change. The fundamental change is how our images [...]

Copyright Registration – Protecting Your Investment

Posted: May 12th, 2010

[by Richard Kelly] With The Copyright Act of 1976 and later revisions including the Berne Convention, artists were no longer required to register for copyright nor to provide copyright notice. In my opinion, these two facts have led to two decades of visual artists thinking that they were protecting their visual investments. For a commercial [...]

Post Symposium Thoughts

Posted: April 23rd, 2010

[by Richard Kelly] If content is king, distribution is its queen. What does distribution and publication really mean today and in the foreseeable future? How can independent artists exercise their rights and gain fair compensation for the use of their work? I believe visual artists must adapt. We need to do business more efficiently by [...]

The Four “R”s of Pricing Photography

Posted: March 12th, 2010

[by Richard Kelly] The Four “R”s of Pricing Photography are Relationships, Rates, Rights and Reputation. One of the most valued benefits to my ASMP membership is the relationship I have with my fellow photographers. Not just the chapter meetings or the membership list serves, but real one on one relationships with my peers. I mostly [...]

So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades

Posted: January 8th, 2010

[by Richard Kelly] No one predicting the future ever seems to get it right. So, I shouldn’t try either. Instead I am going to share what I am starting to see happen.    Traditional “old media” Publishers are still trying to figure out how to survive the shift from print to pixels. One way would [...]

I want my ASMP Video….

Posted: October 20th, 2009

For as long as I have been on the ASMP board, first as Education chair and now as President, I have heard from members and chapter presidents that we need to know more about video / motion, that we should use video for our education programming and that video should be utilized on our ASMP website. [...]

Charlie Rose is Free!

Posted: August 27th, 2009

For those of you who know me, you probably know that Charlie Rose is my favorite show on TV. As a curious person, I find the guests on the Charlie Rose show peak my interest even if I know nothing about the subject or topic. The number of books I have read based on the [...]

Summer Book : TRIBES by Seth Godin

Posted: July 23rd, 2009

It is summer 2009 and while some of us are packing the car for vacations to the sea shore or the mountains, many of us are choosing to “staycation”, or rather staying close to home or taking day trips to area attractions. Today’s economy is forcing us to re-evaluate, not just the family summer vacation [...]

Our First Week of Business Quick Tips

Posted: May 18th, 2009

ACCOUNTING TIP – pre-filled W-9 Form When working with a new client, after the job is complete and delivered the next step will be to send an invoice to get paid. David Oster, my accountant recommends having an IRS Form W-9 filled out and ready to send to new clients with your invoices. The W-9 [...]

A Social Media Strategy

Posted: May 15th, 2009

“There are no small decisions in moviemaking.” Change moviemaking to photography and that Sidney Lumet quote can teach us a lot about our photography and the business of. Jack Hollingsworth, an Austin based Photographer and Content Creation Partner, and a student of social media and marketing, spoke recently at the Picture Archive Council of America [...]

“Marketing Management is now Tribal Leadership” Seth Godin

Posted: April 29th, 2009

If you haven’t yet read TRIBES  - We need you to lead us by Seth Godin, today is the day to do just that, at 160 pages it is easily a weekend read. The basic tribe concept is that groups of people form  tribes around a person or an idea or a product to create [...]

The Only Way Out is to Shoot Our Way Out

Posted: April 24th, 2009

“It’s the economy stupid” was from the Clinton campaign (Bill’s not Hillary’s) and it is as true today as it was back then. On Monday, I attended the ASMP Chicago/Midwest Soup Kitchen & Town Hall Meeting “On Surviving This Economy (because failure is not an option!)” when Chicago based advertising photographer, Jim Krantz, offered the [...]

My Online Watercooler

Posted: April 3rd, 2009

As an editorial photographer living in Pittsburgh I am not really in the center of the magazine publishing world, but by subscribing and reading Meg Weaver’s weekly newsletter, Wooden Horse Publishing, I feel connected to the who, what, when and where of the publishing world. Like any resource, especially online, I only consider it one [...]


Posted: March 25th, 2009

It is that tax time again. I just met my accountant for our semi annual cup of coffee to drop off my paperwork and financial records for him to use in preparing my taxes. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to know that I have someone on my team. Being [...]