West Orange High School, NJ
The arrival in my mailbox of the January 2009 issue of PDN was yet another confirmation of what lies ahead in the next year. Coming in at 82 pages, it's the thinnest copy I've seen in all my years of subscribing (a quick scan of some previous issues I have around shows page counts of 138 for an 06 issue and 250 for the 07 Photo Annual), though to give them credit, it is aptly themed "The Money Issue" . The question as a photographer is, with the obvious bad year we have ahead, what do you do now? I've been thinking this over during these weeks leading up to the new year and have mapped out some ideas for 2009 that I hope will help me continue to develop as a photographer and see me through the year in good standing. **Customer Service**
Returning clients are the best clients and maintaining these working relationships means being good at the big things (making great photos) and the small things (promptly replying to e-mails and voicemails, delivering images and invoices on time). I've always strove to deliver the former, but it's in the past few months that I've renewed my attention to getting the details right, and I think it's in these details that are nearly as responsible for any success I've had as making good photos.
**New Ideas for Selling Photos**
Despite this supposed death of the stock industry, it became a decent source of income for me in 2008, both through the short-lived PSC and other outlets. While stock sales didn't do much more than help fund my Roth IRA this year, it just takes a few good sales to make the hours of keywording images pay off and I continue to get model releases on shoots when appropriate and upload new images every few months. I'm working now on developing my Photoshelter Archive, and have even made a few print sales.
**Sticking to My Promotion Plan**
With the help of Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua, I developed a marketing plan in early 2008 and have kept to it through the year, with frequent postcard and email newsletters to a select list of clients. This was also my first year I hand-wrote Christmas cards. I've also begun expanding my advertising to some non-photography-related sites online in an effort to increase my site's visibility and hopefully reach some new clients. Lastly, I'll be rolling out a new edit in the new year, showing some of my favorite work from the last six months.
**Seeking New Stories**
Any downtime is the perfect time to work on that personal project you've always wanted to pursue. For me, it's been a return to the state where I grew up (see photo above), armed with a tripod and wooden 4x5 camera as I explore the suburbs (and Superfunds) of New Jersey.
**Keep Learning, Keeping Being Inspired**
I've been excited about learning my way around video and refining some lighting techniques. I've also stayed inspired by seeing great work this year, including Chris Usher's One of Us, Joshua Lutz's The Meadowlands and pretty much everything by Mr. Norfolk.
I was fortunate to have a pretty good last few months to finish out the year, and I'm hoping for some photography job inertia to lead me into 2009. With this, I'll be taking a bit of breather until early January when the new edit will go live. Happy new year.