The Candid Frame #161 - Jeff Sedlik

Jeff Sedlik is a photographer, director, educator, publisher, expert witness and consultant. A leading authority on image licensing, copyright and the business of image licensing, Sedlik is President of the PLUS Coalition, past President of the APA, and a Professor at  the Art Center College of Design. You can discover more about the PLUS Coalition and register for free by visiting

Jeff Sedlik recommends the work of Herman Leonard.

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Accepted Photog Truths: Never Give Your Work Away

Here’s an accepted truth that litters the internet, “You should never give your work away or work for free. If you do you’re just taking the livelihood away from hard working photographers.” (1, 2, 3)

The theory behind it is solid; if every photographer stands firm and demands payment for their work, the people who need pictures will have to pay for them. Interestingly this advice is most firmly held by established, professional photographers. The argument seems to be, if you do what I say, you protect my market, and you have the potential to be as successful as me in the future. These established photographers are usually the same people that claim that amateurs have reduced their business from $200,000 a year to $40,000. They are also the ones looking for free interns to work for them and the ones that won’t give you the time of day if you’re unlucky enough to end up in a room with them when they’re commissioned to shoot the event and you’re just trying to grab a few shots. Always question the motives of people giving you advice. Does the advice benefit you or the person giving the advice?

Let’s get one thing straight, we prosumer and enthusiast photographers are not killing the market for professionals with our amateur work. The market is changing with or without us. Yes, there’s more competition in all fields. Yes, the barrier to entry has been lowered. Yes, amateurs can now shoot like professionals. No longer does owning a professional rig guarantee you professional rates.

We can easily make comparisons with changes in the music industry. Digital has changed the music industry. Obviously Napster and the MP3 had a huge effect but the cheap tools available to enthusiast musicians meant that they didn’t have to wait to be signed to a label, to get expensive studio time, to be able to make a record. Affordable digital audio interfaces (fancy soundcards to you and me), cheap and easy to use DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software, and a plethora of information and support from their internet peers meant that anyone with a sound, an idea, a little talent and a laptop could make a record to rival releases put out by the biggest label. That bedroom, laptop jockey doesn’t have the budget of the large label to promote their work but the internet does provide a way of finding an audience for even the most niche artist. The appeal of this homemade approach reaches to a lot of established artists too which is why you hear of big artists leaving big labels to make and release their own work directly to their audience. Of course the industry is threatened. They were the gatekeepers of what got made and released and that’s no longer true. They controlled the radio stations and they no longer have as much hit-making power.

But, despite this threat and change new, innovative, entertaining music is still being created, released, listened to and, occasionally, bought. Big stars are still making big bucks. At the other end of the spectrum there are now more enthusiasts than ever making and releasing music. Those enthusiasts don’t make 100% of their income from their music; most don’t make 50% and a lot don’t make anything. A lot give their music away - they just want to be heard. A few of the artists who start out giving their music away on YouTube will make it big (Justin Bieber) but most won’t and that’s alright. Just because I give away an electronica track away for free on Soundcloud doesn’t mean that Moby is going to lose any sales of his next album and, even the likes of Moby see the value in giving some work away for free. Moby still sells records - I put my audio doodlings out there - we both get heard (admittedly by vastly differing sized audiences). The music industry has not changed because some people give their work away for free; it was changing long before that.

The photography industry won’t collapse because you allow your work to be used for free. The person who asks to use your work for free is not going to see the error of their ways because you point out how unfair it is that you don’t get paid for your work; they will just move on to the next person until they find someone who says ‘yes’. Is it shameful that for-profit publications and organizations are taking advantage of enthusiasts and are asking for work for free? Of course it is but your insistence that they treat you like Annie Leibovitz is not going to change anything. Like the music industry, the publishing industry has changed. Magazines and newspapers are folding left and right as they struggle to compete in a digital environment. Why would they commission a professional to go on assignment to illustrate something when they can search Flickr and find a dozen people with appropriate shots? One of those photographers will be flattered enough to let them use their work for free.

As a photographer you have to decide if you need financial compensation for your work to be used. But don’t think for a moment that because you give your work away some pro out there won’t eat tonight. Don’t take that on. The market has changed. If you want to let someone publish your work without payment that’s between you and your accountant or god (take your pick). You don’t want to be taken advantage of but nor should you be bullied into how you allow your work to be used.

5 Reasons Why Not to Become a Professional Photographer

A lof of people consider becoming a professional photographer. So, there are are no shortage of tips and suggestions for making such a leap. However, here is a list of 5 reasons you shouldn't use as impetus for going pro.

1. You hate your job. 
Being in a job that is not fulfilling and challenging is its own unique level of misery. If Dante had ever worked in a cubicle, he would have likely added another circle of Hell to his epic poem. But being in a state of misery and loathing it is not often the best state of mind for making a life change. Making a living from something you love involves making thoughtful and informed choices that will change the rest of your life. Making an impulsive choice based on such strong feelings might not result in the best decision-making, particularly when all that thinking is negative. Though your unhappiness can serve as the inspiration to make a change, it's your well-considered plan which will eventually lead you to successfully improve your professional situation.

2. You Think You'll Have More Time to Shoot 
If you are struggling finding time to shoot with your current 9 to 5, you're going to find it even more difficult when you are working 24/7 to build and sustain your fledgeling photo business. With your current role, you are responsible only for one job (regardless of how frustrating or onerous you feel about it), but there are other people at the business that handle the rest of it including accounting, sales, inventory, receptionist. All those hats end up piled on your head, meaning that you have less time to do more work. If you find time  with the job you currently have to go out and shoot, especially personal projects, you'll likely not only be able to continue this practice when you go pro, but it will likely make your free time that much more enjoyable and gratifying.

3. You Think You're Going to Become Rich
There are easier ways to become wealthy than becoming a professional photographer. Some of these even involve choices where you don't break any laws and don't risk sharing a jail cell with a guy named, "Meat". Though making a living from doing something you love can be vey gratifying, the work involved from procuring the job, creating the images, delivering the work and getting the client to pay you makes you feel like you earned every penny. The only way to achieve long-lasting success is to think of yourself as a business. And though it seems antithetical to a creative life, it's the kind of thinking that allows you rise above the tens of thousands of camera slingers who hang a sign outside of their home office and call themselves a "pro" but who only succeed in working twice as hard, but making half as much.

4. You Want to be Your Own Boss
There are definite advantages to this including someone not calling you on extending your 15 minute bathroom break. But the reality of being your own boss is that you are likely going to be the worst boss you have ever had. Now, you can't hide your oversights or omissions or your mistakes. You are ultimately accountable for everything that happens or doesn't happen. Though doing the laundry might make your signficiant other happy, it could simply be used as a distraction from the work that you really need to be doing to grow your business. Yes, your clothes may be clean and well ironed, but that will mean very little if you don't have any clients to get dressed for. If you need the fire underneath your butt to makes things happen, remember you are going to be responsible for gathering the kindling and lighting the match.

5. You're More in Love with the Idea of Being a Pro than Actually Being One
Sometimes, an unfulfilled fantasy is more gratifying than a fantasy made real. A dream manifested can be a wonderful thing, especially when it is the fulfillment of a lot of hard work. But it's the hard work that will take up the bulk of your waking hours and unless you can find that work satisfying and gratifying, you are going to have a hard time sustaining yourself between the time when you get to do what you love, making images. It's easy to get fooled by the glamour especially today in the era of the celebrity photographer, but photography is still a job, which will demand the best of you most days. That's both good and bad news.

Making the choice to go pro is giant leap of faith but the best things of life happen when you take a risk. The greater the risk of failure, the more satisfying the feeling when you succeed.

Just know where you are starting from. It really helps to figure out where you're going.

The Candid Frame #151 - Jasmine DeFoore

Jasmine DeFoore is a photo consultant who knows first hand what busy editorial and commercial clients are looking for when it comes to finding photographers. She infuses her consulting projects with energy, enthusiasm and fresh ideas. Her approach integrates social media marketing with traditional promotional efforts and relationship building.

Jasmine launched her consulting business in 2010 and continues to be an active member of the photo community. Whether reviewing portfolios at international photo festivals, judging contests, blogging, lecturing at universities or mentoring young photographers, Jasmine keeps her love of photography at the forefront. You can find our more about Jasmine and her work by visiting her website and her blog

Jasmine DeFoore recommends the work of Allison V. Smith

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The Candid Frame #136 - Joel Grimes

Joel Grimes describes himself as an illusionist, a photographer who has created his personal stamp on the art of photography. His unique style for creating portraits, especially of sports figures, have made him a a popular and in-demand photographer for a host of commercial and editorial clients and increasingly, as an educator. Though his work involves him being a technician of sorts, he creates photographs with the vision of an artist. You can find out more about Joel Grimes and his work by visiting his website and blog.

 Joel Grimes recommends the work of Albert Watson.

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The Candid Frame #129 - Tony Luna

photo: Doug Method
Tony Luna is founder and president of Tony Luna Creative Services, a Creative Consultancy, which he formed in 1971. As a Creative Consultant he has assisted over a thousand entrepreneurs and hundreds of businesses to start or reinvent their endeavors in photography, film, and graphic design. Mr. Luna is an Adjunct Professor and has been an instructor at the Art Center College of Design in the field of business for the creative entrepreneur since 1985. He also teaches a series of highly regarded career reinvention classes titled, Crafting a Meaningful Career- Parts One, Two, and Three to mid-career professionals who are looking to take their careers to the next level. You can discover more about him and his work by visiting his website

Tony Luna suggested the work of Ted Orland.

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The Candid Frame #81 - Richard Newman

Richard Newman for over twenty-five years, has worked as a photographer,writer, educator and printer. His work documenting the Exxon Valdez oil spill, in 1989 and 1990, is part of the White House photography archives and is part of the permanent collection at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

He has published three books on photography and been a contributor to two others. Richard's photographs, and writings, have appeared in Digital Photo Pro, View Camera, Lenswork,Outdoor Photographer, Professional Photographer Magazine, Storyteller Magazine,Rangefinder, and the Village Voice. He is currently the National Education Coordinator for Calumet Photographic. You can discover more of his work by visiting his website or following his blog.

Richard Newman recommends the work of Dennis Keeley who has been interviewed before on this show. Listen to that interview by clicking here.

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The Candid Frame #75 - Nadine Brown

Nadine Brown is the co-founder and creative director of Brand Envy, a company that helps photographers, restaurants and other businesses with marketing and branding. In today's challenging market it's not enough to own the latest in photographic equipment and being proficient with Photoshop. It's about having a solid and consistent marketing plan to get you and your work to the market. To discover more about Nadine and her work, please visit the Brand Envy website.

Nadine Brown recommends the work of August Bradley.

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