EMERGE

Follow Along on Instagram

By Allen McEachern.

I have made a commitment this year to exploring the potential of Instagram. My plan is to use the platform to share assignment work during 2017. I am welcome to any suggestions or feedback you can offer as to how to get the most (fun) out of using it. All comments welcome. Please follow by clicking the link below.

https://www.instagram.com/allenmceachern/

3 Characteristics Art Directors Look for When Booking Photographers

By Allen McEachern

There are many ways in which commercial contracts arrive for photographers. Some include the obvious; word of mouth referral, powerful SEO on our portfolio sites, publication credits, being in the right place (local SEO)...the list goes on. All this goes to say that you already have the caliber of work needed to be on the radar. But I want to go deeper and get into three specific traits that Art Directors look for when booking, and re-booking commercial photographer. Like I said, we are working with the assumption that your body of work is competitive...

1. Are you an asshole? Sorry for the language, but it really is the best word here. As creatives, we need to have a strong ego, it helps us get through slow times, and also defines much of who we are and how well we preform. But we need to keep it in check. Be humble, listen, think before you speak. Be easy to work with. Add something creative and positive, that's why you are there. No one wants to work with someone that is difficult, over aggressive, inattentive, or rude. Put on the charm, be graceful, smile. You would be surprised how far this will all go to your benefit.

2. Are you available? So many times I have "got the job" because I responded in a timely manner, I was precise in my responses, and I was flexible with my scheduling. We all have busy lives... wives, husbands, kids, clients, travel, etc. etc.. Chances are if an art director is contacting you it is because they already have an interest in working with you. Make it easy for them and all the other people involved in the production. Be flexible, be available, be reasonable, and expect the same in return. 

3. Do you deliver? Commercial photography (advertising / corporate / editorial) can be high stakes. Tight timelines, limited availabilities, always a budget to consider and so on. Are you able to deliver the expected result on time, on budget? Even better, deliver before the deadline, save the client money if you can, but do what you say you can. Actions always speak louder than any words, promises, or excuses. Customer service is super important to remember. It is what helps define our brands, creating positive experiences, keeping us memorable and remembered for the next time.

 

Pro Camera Equipment - Own vs. Rent

By Allen McEachern.

Owning and maintaining a professional camera kit is expensive. Camera technology in my opinion makes a big step forward every two to three years. I plan my upgrades around this schedule. Considering the price of the professional Canon and Nikon Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) these days, costs can add up very quickly. Add to this increased memory - CF cards as well as hard drives, and upgrades become an anticipated and planned for cost of doing business. Lets say for argument sake, $5000-$14 000 every two - three years, just for cameras and memory. What part of the budget is left for lenses? Again, in my opinion, lens technology moves slower than camera tech. Lenses should need to be updated much less often. 

All this to answer a question I am asked a lot...update camera or lenses or both? My response, get on a schedule of camera updates every 2-3 years. Sell your old cameras to off-set the upgrade costs. Buy used if you can. Decide if you need the top of the line cameras. Next, look at what you shoot. What lenses do you use the most? What subject matter do you shoot the most? Portraits? Landscapes? Sports? Or a mix of subjects. The idea with lenses is to build a base kit that covers your needs. Personally I have the following...85mm f1.2, 100mm Marco f2.8, 16-35mm f2.8, 24-70mm f2.8, 70-200mm f2.8, 1.4 Extender, 2x Extender. I have a useful mix of specialty lenses (85mm & 100 Macro) plus a standard selection of zooms and extenders. This kit allows me to shoot almost everything that I regularly cover. Now, what about the add on's that we occasionally need? One word, RENT! Renting is a great way to stay asset light and expand your kit as you need it. I would argue that it helps to keep costs down. A rental costs money, but this should be part of your billing if you are operating properly. Imagine a 200mm f2 (awesome lens that I regularly rent). The cost of this lens is about $7500 +/-. How often will I need this lens? How else could I use $7500? How much more insurance will I need to cover this one piece if I owned it?

My point is, save your money. Buy what you need, when you can afford it and pay with cash you have. Rent the equipment that you require to fill in the holes in your kit, when you need them. I see photographers going out of business, drowning in debt, trying to keep up. Appearances are important, looking professional is important, being business savvy is a skill. Buy used, build a base kit of lenses, rent what you need when you need it. What are your thoughts on this?

Leave A Branded Item Behind

By Allen McEachern.

Photography is a very competitive business with many great photographers all going after the same clients. Often, the contracts go to the photographers whom not only know how to shoot, but who also know how to stand out and get noticed. A simple way to be remembered is to leave the client with something that contains your branding. One item that I currently use is a branded pen / USB combination. My supplier is USB Memory Direct. I like the pen / USB combo because it is a useful item that won't just be trashed at the end of the day. I use these to deliver back up images, small sample portfolios, bio info, etc..... Getting noticed is the start, being remembered is the road to being hired when the right job comes along. Leave something behind. 

Canadian Photographers - Annual Income Statistics

By Allen McEachern.

Are you thinking about a career as a photographer in Canada? You might want to look at this Statistics Canada page...

http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/qc/job_futures/statistics/5221.shtml


Donating Photography - Working With Charities

By Allen McEachern.

 Relais Pour La Vie - Mont-Tremblant. Canadian Cancer Society.

Relais Pour La Vie - Mont-Tremblant. Canadian Cancer Society.

Non-profit organizations sometimes approach me asking for a donation of my commercial photography services. I often say yes, but I do have a structured approach. Here are the main points to consider...

1. Charities operate with very limited budgets. Volunteers and donations are what help these organizations maximize the use of the funds for the people they help. Adding commercial photography greatly increases the organizations brand, market presence, and advertising. Additionally, it helps in their internal communications and community relations. I try to align myself with projects that match my personal values. Sometimes it is ok to say no. Try to refer someone else if you are not available.

2. ROI - Return on investment. In this case, time. Through the organizations I work with I have meet numerous people I would not regularly have access to. Business leaders, other professionals, politicians, celebrities, and so forth. The amount of business generated from these contacts is often substantial. Additionally, increased visibility for my brand comes from on site branding at events, publication of my logo in printed communications, local and national media coverage, photo credits, publication in the annual report, etc, etc, etc. You get the point. The returns are often much larger than the donation.

3. It feels good. Taking a positive, active role in your community is hugely rewarding. Giving of your time and of your expertise can greatly enhance the lives of others. Working alongside like minded individuals creates a silent bond that follows you all year as you interact with your community. I highly recommend getting involved.

Personally, I try to be involved at least once per quarter with a non profit organization. I work with charities that help underprivileged children (something close to my heart), with the Canadian Cancer Society, and with foundations that ease the transit from life to death. What ever you choose, getting involved can have a huge impact on both the organization, and yourself.

 

3 Ways for Photographers to Use Pinterest

By Allen McEachern.

Pinterest offers the commercial photographer a unique, and powerful tool. Here are three ways that I use Pinterest in my business mix.

1. Create Inspiration / Mood Boards...I use Pinterest to create private mood boards to share images with clients and other team members. These private boards allow me to share images that I like, and that match what the client is describing. The client also shares what they like, what they want to create, sets that match their ideas, etc.. This is a powerful tool for getting everyone on the same page before any shooting starts.

2. Drive Website Traffic / Increase On-Line Sales...Pinterest offers free on-line permission based marketing of my images to a target audience. Carefully use of key wording and strong hashtags allow my images to be found by people who are looking specifically for what I am offering. I use Pinterest to get my fine art prints in front of buyers with back links to my on-line store. My images show up on Pinterest searches for Wall Art, Home Decoration Ideas, Custom Fine Art Prints, etc..Again, a very powerful tool.

3. Research...Pinterest is a great place to start when I am researching a location that I have never been before. A simple search of a place can result in hundreds of images that provide visual cues. I can see how other photographers have captured a place. What light can look like at certain times of day. I find inspiration from looking at the images of others. How did they create that image? What would I do different? What lenses will I bring? Again, often these images will link back to blog posts, and other sources of information useful in my research.

https://www.pinterest.com/allenmceachern/


A Powerful Marketing Tool for Photographers

By Allen McEachern.

I have been working as a commercial photographer since July 2004. I have been using Photoshelter as one of my business tools since 2005. Originally, Photoshelter launched as a searchable on-line storage / archive coupled with an image stock agency. Today, Photoshelter offers on-line storage for serious photographers. Their site is searchable by keyword, so buyers can find your images. Here are some of the other things that I love about using their platform in my business mix...

1. Client Proofing Galleries...proofing galleries that I can share with multiple people. Each person has a login and their choices are unique. I can then review all the selected images - seeing which choices are mutual.

2. Image Delivery...I use Photoshelter to share images with clients through galleries. All the images can be downloaded in a batch or individually. There are multiple file sizes available, each automatically generated from my master file. This saves a lot of time when multiple people need access to the images.

3. Unlimited Searchable On-line Storage...all pro accounts come with unlimited storage. I can upload my entire archive and remotely access it anywhere in the world. RAW, TIFF, JPEG, PSD, etc. etc.

4. Customizable Website Templates... Photoshelter offers a lot of template options for websites. I can have a custom domain name, or a hosted domain with Photoshelter. Personally, I use this option as a add on to my portfolio site, a keyword searchable archive with a e-commerce back-end. http://archive.allenmceachern.ca 

5. On-line Store...I use Photoshelter to sell images, prints, and digital downloads of rights managed stock. Clients can order prints and check out. Clients can license images and check out. There are so many options for print vendors and products. My store is always open, and it is global.

These are only a few of the many powerful features available to professional photographers via Photoshelter. If you would like to find out more please click this affiliate link to learn more.

http://www.photoshelter.com/referral/AL6MC9BK5Y

Allen McEachern Collections

By Allen McEachern

July 2015 marked my 11th anniversary working as a commercial photographer. I am proud of this achievement. Photography is a tough business, but one with many benefits. One of the biggest benefits for me is the accumulation of images, an archive, or image bank. I use my archive all the time for print sales, image licensing, marketing, blogging, and for learning. A power on-line searchable storage and deliver platform is crucial for my archive management and image delivery. Since 2005 I have used Photoshelter to store my media on-line. If you would like to find out more about what Photoshelter can do for you just follow this link. https://mbsy.co/clZVQ If what they are offering to you makes sense and you sign up, you will also be helping me out - affiliate link. Below is an image I shot on a Canon EOS 1D Mark II back in 2006. Click on the image to view how I am using Photoshelter.

Original Artwork Certificate of Authenticity

By Allen McEachern.

 

 

A certificate of authenticity is an important document that accompanies every fine art image that I sell. The certificate lists the name of the piece, the date it was created, and the date it was printed. It also includes the number of the print if it is a limited edition series and bears my signature and date. This document informs my clients that I stand behind my work and that my limited editions are tracked and documented. Certificates of authenticity also serve as a warrantee. Click on the certificate image above to view the limited edition fine art print series I am currently offering.

5 Things I learned From Failing on Kickstarter

By Allen McEachern

My Kickstarter campaign ABSTRACT NATURE ended last night at midnight. I did not reach my funding goal of $2500. A polite, but brief email from Kickstarter informed me this morning. I was not surprised, I was watching my campaign daily for the last 30 days. I started my campaign on Kickstarter to try to off-set the costs of printing and exhibiting 11 large format images. In truth, I had the images printed before I started with Kickstarter. I wanted to see what was possible, how Kickstarter worked. Here is what I have learned from failing...

1. Many companies exist to help promote your project. Within minutes of launching my project my inbox started to fill up with offers to help me reach my goals. PR, press releases, custom websites, Twitter campaigns, social media everything...Prices ranged from $5- $500 for the services. I was not expecting such a flurry of solicitation.

2. Crowdfunding is a great way to re-connect. After I launched my project I started to reach out to everyone I know to tell them about what I was doing. (also read ask for help) I wrote to old friends, colleagues, family, and so on. Many dropped conversations started again.

3. Free Marketing / Advertising. Kickstarter exposed me, and my work to a lot of people I would not normally have access to. People contacted me directly after seeing my project on the Kickstarter website. My website traffic increased. New friend requests on Facebook, follows on Twitter, and other social media engagement. Print sales on my website grew 700% during the time of my campaign. 

4. Say and do are not the same. People want to help, but not everyone comes through on their word. I understand, people are busy, life goes on. False promise creates false hope. Let it go and remember to smile.

5. You need to reach people outside of your network. Thirty days is a long time to keep showing the same people various versions of the same message. People tune out, i do. Getting your project in front of new people on a regular basis is the true challenge of crowd funding. I believe that without it you will not succeed. *Refer to number 1.

Here are a few links to companies that can help you achieve your goals:

https://www.crowdprguru.com

http://crowdfundbuzz.com

http://www.fundingsuccessful.com

 

What's In My Camera Bag - FIS Snowboard World Cup

By Allen McEachern.

The FIS Snowboard World Cup makes a stop this week in Quebec and Stoneham for the freestyle events: Big Air and Slopestyle. The Half-Pipe event was cancelled due to lack of snow! The following is a break down of what I am bring in terms of camera, lenses, and other gear.

IMG_2396.JPG

Canon 1D Mark 4 x 2 - Allows two lens at the same time, back up camera in case one goes down.

Canon 300mm F2.8 - Allows handheld shooting, good reach, fast.

Canon 70-200mm F2.8 - Standard zoom, goes everywhere i go.

Canon 24-70mm F2.8 - Standard Zoom, great for medium close.

Canon 16-35mm F2.8 - Standard Zoom, wide and fast.

Canon 85mm F1.2 - I carry this for athlete portraits.

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT  - Great all weather flash.

Canon Speedlite 580EX II - Always have a back up flash. 

100+ GB Compact Flash Cards

LowePro Top Loader 75 - Allows me to keep one camera close, and dry if the weather turns.

Newswear Foul Weather Chest Vest - Great organizer for everything I need. 

MacBook Pro - Fast, on-site image processing and client upload.

500GB LaVie Rugged Hard Drive - Easy to carry, nothing to plug in, takes power from laptop.

Battery chargers, AA Ansmann batteries, lens kit, CF card reader, sunscreen, sunglasses, notebook, Hoya 77mm Polarizing Filter, Swiss Army Knife, Advil.

11 Inspiring Sites for Photographers

By Allen McEachern

Everyone needs a little inspiration now and again. The following 11 photography sites might help.  A good mix of photojournalism, fashion, life, fine art, and technique. I hope you enjoy. Happy Monday!

1. The Big Picture - Some of the best photojournalism from around the globe, curated by a group of photo editors at the Boston Globe.

2. Many - "Many is a collective project exhibiting fine photography selected by fine photographers."

3. 50mm - A curated collection of images by Tokyo based creative director - Curtis.

4. Strobist - A blog dedicated to mastering camera flash. Excellent resource for learning.

5. FOTO8 - A great site for contemporary photojournalism from around the world.

6. Photography Served - A collection of the best photographer portfolios found on Behance.

7. Particulr - In their words..."Particulr is one designer and one photographer working to make the web a better place for photographers."

8. Lens Culture - A great resource for many many things related to contemporary photography. 

9. Great Photojournalism - A curated collection, by invite only, of great photojournalism.

10. A Photo A Day - Like the title says - every day, a new photo. 

11. Fashion Photography Blog - A powerful resource for anyone looking for insights into the world of high fashion photography.

Two Great Resources for Emerging Photographers

By Allen McEachern

Photography is a tough business that seems to be almost continually evolving; like anything dynamic i guess. Last week I was contacted by an aspiring photographer, and asked for advice, and insights on how to start in this business. I was happy to meet up and have a chat about different resources, and tactics for getting noticed. Here are two of the tips I gave out:

1. The American Society of Media Photographers ( https://asmp.org ) I used this organization a lot when I was starting out. The two main resources for me were the on-line forums  ( https://asmp.org/links/22#.VIB5776Qu9U ) and their book " Professional Business Practices in Photography." 

Their on-line forums are a great place to pose questions regarding almost any aspect of commercial photography. The best part is accessing the collective experience of the members who frequent these forums. I learned so much just by reading past topics, and by posting my own questions. 

" Professional Business Practices in Photography" is an excellent tool for advancing your business knowledge regarding commercial photography. A lot of what you need to know is in this book. I highly recommend it.

2. National Press Photographers Association ( https://nppa.org) Primarily aimed at press photographers in the USA, but very relevant to any editorial photographer in North America. The best tool on the NPPA website for me is the "Cost of Doing Business Calculator."  https://nppa.org/calculator Great for figuring out exactly how much you need to be making to stay in business - very useful info when it comes to setting your prices / fees. It adds up all the exit points for money leaving your business and then asks you how many days you expect to shoot in the year. The resulting math is what you need to make just to cover your costs. Without knowing your cost of operating you are just guessing which is never good in any business.

 

 

 

Insight Into Editorial Photography Rates

Are you curious about editorial photography? Have you ever tried to figure out what the going rates are for different international publications? You might want to have a look at http://whopaysphotogs.tumblr.com.  Whopaysphotogs relays information on editorial photography rates from around the globe. The information comes from individual photographer experiences. Interesting information. What do you think?

5 Tips for Starting Photographers

By Allen McEachern

1. Follow Your Passion, Not The Money

I made the mistake of starting my photography career in debt, fresh from a return to university. I then moved to a part of Canada that I had never been to, where they spoke a different language. I know, not the brightest, but it happened. As a result of this I had to chase the money a bit more than I would have liked. I shot a variety of subjects for a wide base of clients. I never turned down a photo job for the first few years. The positive was that I experienced a variety of revenue streams within the giant realm of photography. The negative side was I was not following my passion, and it showed in my work. I should have followed my passion. I lost two years that could have been better used developing my niches. Specialist = deep niche. Generalist = wide market spread. Both work, one is more profitable.

2. Assist An Established Photographer Who Shoots What You Want To Shoot

I read that approximately 9000 people graduate every year from photo related studies in Canada. I don't know if this is true, but it seems possible. Lets assume it is true. How many of those graduates would do a paid masters degree if they could? To me, this is what it is to assist an established professional photographer. I suggest two years if you can handle it. Assisting will teach you more about what you already know. You will also learn about operating a studio, and how to treat clients. Your knowledge of customer service, value creation, networking, pricing, licensing, and negotiating will increase. For me, the time was hard, because I didn't want to mop floors, but I learned a lot that I might not have gained otherwise. 

3. Invest In Learning About Business, Marketing, and Sales

Lets go back to those 9000 graduates. They all learned about lighting, cameras, lenses, post-production, shooting styles, etc. How many learned best business practices? Did they study contract negotiation? What about licensing their work, marketing, sales, small business financials, investing...the list goes on. The reality is as a photographer you need to be a business person, even if you take a staff job somewhere (if these even exist anymore). The more you can learn about business the better off you will be. Do you have a marketing plan, a business plan, a financial plan? The public library is a great place to start. I would recommend ASMP's "Professional Business Practices in Photography" as a good entry read. ( http://www.asmp.org)

4. Buy The Equipment You Need, As You Need It

I see photographers all the time who have gone to the camera shop, loaded up the credit card and filled their bags with everything cool. New lenses, the best flash, the big cameras, and so forth. We all love the gear, but start to act like a business. Buy what you need, as you need it.  I always look through the local classifieds first. Sites like Craiglist, Kijiji, and others are a great starting place for good gear. I stay local because I want to be able to meet the seller in person and see the gear first hand. Think back to those 9000 grads...how many went on to start photography businesses or careers? How many of them went broke? How many of them are selling their equipment to pay off their debts? My last word on gear is this...save for the equipment you need. I know I will need to replace my computer every three years, my cameras every two years. I plan for this. I bank 10% of every contract right of the top and invest it in a small term deposit account that pays about 3% interest. This account is there for equipment and other business emergencies.

5. Insurance

Protect yourself, your clients, your equipment, your studio, your health. Commercial insurance is a must. I know it sucks to pay, I have paid about $1000 / year since 2005. But I sleep better, and work better, knowing I am completely covered regardless of what happens. There are many options available to photographers. I recommend policies that cover the replacement of your equipment along with commercial liability. I have a worldwide coverage for 365 days a year. No matter where I am in the world, I'm covered. Shop around for the policy that meets your needs. Speak to other photographers. Contact photographer associations such as EP, CAPIC, ASMP, NPPA, and so on...

Do you have something to add? Resources to share? Please feel free to leave a comment.

Good Luck!

10 Things I Love About Being a Commercial Photographer

By Allen McEachern

July 4, 2014, marked the ten year anniversary of when I registered Allen McEachern Photography as a business in Quebec. Looking back on those ten years I realized what it is that I love about commercial photography, or, what has kept me going. Here they are:

1. A Love of People. As a commercial photographer, I get to meet, collaborate, direct, and react to some very interesting and talented people. From heads of states, to celebrities, to every day folks, photography has put me in front of many people I would normally never had met.

2. Problem Solving. Common sense, and experience are powerful together. Every photography contract, assignment, call it whatever, comes with unique challenges that require individual solutions. I love the daily challenge of solving these problems both through planning, as well as on the fly as they arise. 

3. International Events. Shooting international sporting competitions is one of the biggest joys I take from working as a photographer. International media to speak with, compare notes, the fans, and access to world class athletes all combine to create something dynamic. Not to mention the precision, beauty, and excellence of professional athletes in motion.

4. Visual Communication. Capturing a moment is one thing. Telling the story that surrounds that moment is another. Being able to visually communicate with a viewer I think is the reason we are there. 

5. Creative Collaboration. When I work, I may appear to be working alone, but I am often not. Take for example runway fashion. I love to shoot runway because I am looking at the finished product in all senses. The design of the clothing, the craftsmanship of the garment, the hair and make-up on the model, the lighting, the decor, the sound, and so on. All of these elements combine to add a bit more to the final product. I love shooting fashion for this collaboration.

6. Physical Work. Never let anyone tell you photography is not physical. Often we work building sets, painting, setting up rigging, lighting, remote power generators, walking into remote locations with many kilos of gear on our backs. Look at photography and try to figure out how the shot was made. Think rock climbing. I love the physical challenge.

7. Travel. Who doesn't like to travel? I have to admit, this was one of the things I thought I would do more of, but the market has changed a bit. I still get to travel a few times a year for assignments, contracts, but nothing compared to the stories I heard from guys in the 70's and 80's. The beauty of travel is being able to take great shots, meeting new people, and the visual stimulation that comes from experiencing new surroundings.

8. Lifestyle. I have a family, wife, and three kids. We live in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. The largest ski resort in Eastern North America is five minutes from my house. Often, on non shooting days in the winter, my wife and I take an hour or two to get about 5-7 runs in after we get the kids out to school. Not many people I know working traditional 9-5 can not do this. Photography has given me a very flexible schedule and the time to do the things that make us happy for which I am grateful!

9. Technology. I am not a geek! But I love new glass, updated camera systems, new software, gadgets, apps, and so forth. I don't go too crazy, but you need to keep up to what is happening.

10. Client Satisfaction. Photography is a great gift when done well. Delivering a completed job to a client can often be very rewarding, especially if prints or similar products are involved. We sometimes loose this with electronic delivery, but even then the same sentiment is alive. As photographers we are often working individually within a team. When the photo looks good, we all look good. The pressure can be great at times, the release is hearing the sincerity of a client's approval.