The American Society of Media Photographers provides this forum to encourage the development of critical skills and to foster new ideas. Our goal is an informed and savvy professional photography community.

Saying “NO” is never easy…

[by Chris Winton-Stahle]

You don’t have to take every job! We ALL know this. We’ve all experienced the “low ball” clients, the “triple bids” and “bad contracts”. It’s a reality of our business and it’s up to us to educate ourselves. Only we can know individually what’s good for us and what’s not.

But what happens when a dream job comes along with a healthy 5 figure budget but between the expenses and the liabilities involved, you realize that you’re going to have to walk away?

This happened to me recently. I had been nurturing a relationship with a prospective client who could send a lot of work my way. Finally, a project came up that would be perfect for us and they invited my team to be one of three companies that would bid on a terrific project shooting on location in a tropical paradise for 5 days.

Sounds like a dream, right? Not really…

First, the numbers didn’t work. No matter how hard I tried to meet their budget requirements, I just couldn’t compete with photographers who were local to that area.

Not only did my travel costs eat into the budget, but the client wanted “unlimited exclusive” rights to everything produced and wanted my company to handle hiring professional talent through an agency. This is where things really fell apart. The talent agencies’ premium for unlimited exclusive rights blew the client’s budget. I tried everything I could think of but no matter which way I turned, I hit a brick wall. The agencies were unwilling to budge on their premium, the client was unwilling to budge on the license parameters or their requirement that we cast through an agency.

I wanted this project but after crunching the numbers every way I could, I realized that by the time I covered the expenses, there was so little budget left, my ability to produce the caliber of work I’m known for would be compromised. It was a heartbreaking experience to go through but I knew that preserving my business reputation and my integrity by taking the safer path would be more valuable in the long run than lowering the my company’s standards to the place that would get us the job.

It’s hard to say “no,” but I firmly believe that it’s crucial to always look at the long-term investment of what you’re doing and to weigh the pros and cons as objectively as possible. In this case, I felt the liability of accepting this project under the client’s terms was too great and I was not willing to risk negatively affecting my reputation and my business.

In the end, I decided to submit a bid that included all the costs and expenses it would take for me to produce the job to my standards – the standards the client was expecting based on the work I’ve sent them over the years. I knew this would take me out of the game but it was the only decision that would let me sleep soundly at night.

A week after I submitted our estimate the client on the project emailed to let us know that we were not awarded the job, that he appreciated my time and was sorry it didn’t work out. Though I’m sad this particular project didn’t work out, I know it doesn’t mean that future projects won’t. It’s very important to me to build strong relationships with clients and to not inadvertently burn bridges when situations like this arise.

Remember that it’s never personal. It’s just business and the people you will want to work with will always respect you more for making the wiser, more mature business decisions.

Chris Winton-Stahle is an award-winning photographer and accomplished photo illustration artist who sees the camera as only half of his process in creating great imagery. Chris often pulls components from multiple images and CGI when creating his work for clients in advertising, magazines and entertainment.

By Chris Winton-Stahle | Posted: February 23rd, 2015 | 1 comment

Saying No

Sometimes what the client wants, what they’re willing to pay and what’s best for you and your business don’t line up.  At what point do you decide to walk away?  How do you say no to a bad fit and still leave the door open for future collaborations? This week, our contributors share their insights on how to handle it when you can’t strike a deal.

By webmaster | Posted: February 23rd, 2015 | No comments
Get Connected

Social Media = Smart Marketing

[by Chris Winton-Stahle]

Social Media is still my best marketing tool. Even with recent changes, I am able to effectively use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram together to drive traffic to my website and blog and keep people informed to what I’ve been doing. With these tools, you are able to find people who get what you’re doing and create a community. What you build should be a safe, creative space, as well as a productive environment for conversation. Here are a few things that have worked well for me with social media:

  • Write short, informative, to-the-point blurbs. You don’t want readers to scroll past your content because it’s too time consuming to read.
  • Learn to appropriately use hashtags. Twitter and Instagram make it easy to participate in global conversations via hashtags.
  • Create watermarked images for the content you release. If people see your work, you want them to know where it came from- but make sure it’s done in a tasteful way that doesn’t distract. Here’s how I do it:

  • BE SURE to include metadata in all of your images! I use an automated metadata template found in Adobe Bridge that will automatically batch process my files with my information. Here’s a tutorial video on how to do this if you’re interested.
  • Personal work is best, but if the work you’re sharing is commissioned, make sure you have permission from the client. Give credit to everyone involved- this is a great way to build trust in your brand.
  • Help to promote others! Social media is not all about you, you, you. Part of building loyalty in your community is helping others accomplish their goals.
  • Consider your audience. Is what you’re posting something that you would find interesting?
  • Engage with your followers. Don’t wait for them to comment or like your content; reach out to interact with them first.
  • Always keep it positive! If you come across as having a negative attitude, it will leave a negative impression of you and your brand. Every one has struggles, but be selective about how you share them. Don’t forget to set restrictions in your page setting so that you can preview what others are sharing or tagging you in.

Overall, I know it’s easy to get caught up in the amount of likes, follows or shares. While those may be good for our ego, the ultimate goal should be to build relationships and trust. Be intentional with your use of social media and it truly can become a driving force behind your business.

Chris Winton-Stahle is an award-winning photographer and accomplished photo illustration artist who sees the camera as only half of his process in creating great imagery. Chris often pulls components from multiple images and CGI when creating his work for clients in advertising, magazines and entertainment.

By Chris Winton-Stahle | Posted: February 20th, 2015 | No comments

Keep Calm and Post On! When Social Media Turns Against You

[by Ingrid Spangler]

If you find a negative review, blog or Facebook posting, don’t panic. After all, you can’t please all of the people all of time, right? Take a moment and ask yourself, “How bad is it?” Is it one comment or tweet by someone who’s not a client, who maybe saw some shots you posted they didn’t like? Replying with, “I appreciate your thoughts, thank you!” is enough. But if it’s a Facebook or blog post from a client who has an issue with your work or something contractual, read on.

Step back

  • Don’t reply in the heat of the moment. Speak to a friend or colleague and get their take.
  • Stay calm and professional. Don’t get personal, even if you know the client had just had a root canal or happened to be on a cleanse that day. Even if they’re calling you names, don’t go there.

Step up

  • Respond within an hour of seeing the post, and do so on the site the original post appeared. You want other readers to see that you’re addressing the issue.
  • Reply with empathy (for example: “I know it’s upsetting to feel as though you didn’t get what you paid for…”), and tell your side of the story. If you’re truly at fault, it’s best to say so and make it right.
  • Don’t argue. If they post again in response to you with more negativity, don’t take the bait; you’ll end up looking unprofessional. Instead, post that you’re sending an email to them within a certain time frame to discuss further.
  • If you need to confer with a lawyer, get your legal ducks in a row before emailing.

Preventative steps

  • Put your best work online. If there is a negative post about your work, there will also be plenty of examples to let it speak for itself.
  • Ask for recommendations on LinkedIn (a recommendation, NOT one of the next-tomeaningless “endorsements”).
  • Have a page on your website with testimonials from clients, and reviews on your Facebook page and on Google and Yelp, if applicable.
  • Use a written contract, even for clients who are friends and friends who are clients.

While it’s true that you can’t please all the people all the time, you can take a step in the right direction with these tips.

Ingrid Spangler is a social media consultant based in Brooklyn, NY. She’s been involved in social media since before it was called social media. Find her by googling “Ingrid Spangler.”

Editor’s Note: Ingrid is offering ASMP Members a $50 discount on an initial social media consultation. Click here to learn more!

By Editor | Posted: February 19th, 2015 | 1 comment

« Older Entries    Newer Entries »