What is the state of photography today? The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts have good news and bad news for photographers in general.
The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook projects that the employment of photographers will decline by six percent over the next ten years. However, that number masks some major variations in prospects that depend on the type of photography. Demand for portrait and wedding photographers is projected to remain strong, but staff photographer positions, especially in the publishing world, will continue to decline. The Bureau projects that photographers employed by newspapers will drop by a stunning 34% over a decade. On the other hand, projections show the ranks of free-lance and self-employed photographers increasing by 12%.
Fun facts about Instagram: as of January 2016, there were 400 million Instagrammers uploading over 80 million photos every day. The hugely popular social media platform may be best known as a favorite of fan-hungry celebrities and with those who want to quickly share a snap of their latest meal, but it is much more than that. Instagram has become a showcase for outstanding photography of all genres, including nature, wildlife and landscape. Continue reading →
About five years ago, I was taken aback when a female professional wildlife photographer somewhat condescendingly told me she didn’t think it was possible to be a professional nature/wildlife photographer and be a mother of young kids. I’d never met a woman who discouraged other women from following their dreams and trying to make it work, no matter what the obstacles. I was somewhat taken aback. While I can understand and admit that it’s sometimes challenging to get out in the field to photograph, I do not consider having kids a liability to anything I’ve wanted to do. When I met this lady I was near the beginning of my path, seriously following my heart to become a good photographer, and I’m glad I didn’t give up on the idea of being a photographer.
So in honor of the first day of the school year and having the house to myself, I thought I’d share a few ideas on how I’ve been able to mesh the two pursuits and make it work. Continue reading →
I was born and raised in Sitka, Alaska, and fell in love with nature at a young age. My interest in photography began at thirteen and quickly developed into an avid passion that has awarded me many unique opportunities and winnings in local, state, and international contests, including the North Pacific Research Board (state) and Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year (international) photo contests. Continue reading →
Learning a craft used to happen under a master and apprentice relationship. The masters, experts in their fields, would accept apprentices to work under them and learn the trade or craft. The arrangement required the apprentice to live with or close to the master.
Through the years learning trades and crafts moved to schools. Books and teachers replaced the master and students were sent on our way to figure things out on our own. I love school and learning from books and teachers, and I taught myself photography from books and practice. But I also got to a point where I needed additional feedback from living people who cared about my photography and my goals and who could push me beyond my comfort zone, which is what mentorships are designed to do. And unlike centuries (or even decades) ago, mentors and protégés (or masters and apprentices) don’t necessarily need to be in the same place at the same time to have a meaningful relationship. Continue reading →
This flower image earned Kathy an honorable mention in Nature’s Best in the mid-1990s.
Many photographers view photo contests as a way to achieve recognition for their work. Landing a big prize can be a great way to get your photography in front of the public and potential buyers. Yet, not every photo contest is a winner. There are photo contests and there are photo scams. Smart photographers learn the difference.
Legitimate photo contests are fairly easy to spot. They are sponsored by a reputable magazine, organization, public park or government agency. The winning entries are guaranteed a prize and prestige. The prize can be money, merchandise or something as simple as a ribbon. The prestige can be publication of the image in a special issue of the magazine, an exhibition of winning prints in a public place, a traveling exhibit of the prints, and maybe an all-expenses-paid trip to the awards ceremony.
National magazines like Nature’s Best, National Wildlife, and Audubon run annual photo contests that attract the best images from photographers of all skill levels. One of my images won an honorable mention in a Nature’s Best contest in the mid-1990s, and I still brag about it to this day.
I am often asked if it’s possible to make a living as a nature photographer. No matter whether you attempt to do it as a full-time professional or a part-timer to supplement income from an existing job, there are many things to consider. Nature photography is a tough way to make a living. However if you do it right, you can make it work.
Both full-time and part-time photographers need to remember and understand these concepts:
You need to get really (and I mean really) good as a photographer. This takes many years of working hard. As the late, great Henri Cartier-Bresson famously observed, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
Be prepared to spend as much or more time in your office as in the field.
You must deal with rejection.
Full-time photographers can add these to the list:
If no one buys your work or attends your workshops, you don’t eat.
You have to know your market and change when necessary.
Develop business savvy.
Be able to justify expenditures such as travel, equipment and extensive marketing (website, social etc.).
Part-time Photographer Continue reading →
This image is one of my favorites created towards the end of my journey to Level 20. The Little Susitna River is at the height of fall color. I wanted to blur the water to capture the essence of it flowing over the boulders. I used the fog and trees to frame the image and processed it to bring the colors out in the trees and water.
I had the most wonderful opportunity this past year to grow as a photographer. In April, Karen Hutton, a mentor at The Arcanum—a new online learning platform based on the master and apprentice method of learning—selected me to be in her cohort. I applied to The Arcanum because my photography had stalled. I wanted to get better, but most workshops and learning opportunities were beyond my reach, because they are either far from home or expensive. The Arcanum fit me perfectly. I would receive personal attention from a mentor and work with a small group of photographers who would get to know me and my goals. Continue reading →
A montage of the books that Friesens has published
Compared to challenges nature photographers often face and embrace in their work, creating and publishing a quality book has never been easier. You have the images, likely enough to publish a hundred coffee table books, so what’s next?
This article summarizes what you should know when considering, designing and publishing a photography book.
Before we get to that, let’s review a common book printing question today. Should I print my book digitally or through a traditional offset press? Which is best for me?
“Best” is relative to many technical, artistic and personal variables. Years ago, for professional image quality, digital cameras fell short, yet today they deliver outstanding results. Similarly, the print world has seen impressive advancements in digital press technology. Which is best? Depends. With higher quantity book runs, traditional offset printing remains an “ultimate quality, more options, and lower cost per book” home run. At the same time, print craftspeople using the newest digital presses can print lower book quantities with outstanding quality. Do your homework. If you aspire to deliver trade publishers’ coffee table book quality, does your intended printer print these books? If not, have you reviewed samples of their work? Be careful and inquisitive. There are printers printing books on digital devices much like an office copier, charging as much or more than some book printers printing books on million dollar digital offset presses. There is a quality difference. If you’re unsure of final book quantity (and most book publishers are), ask your book printer to quote multiple book quantities (e.g. 100/250/500/750/1000+) comparing traditional offset and digital prices, and provide samples of both. Depending on your book quantity range and the printer’s press options, you will quickly learn where digitally printed or traditionally offset printed book quantities are attractively or unattractively priced. You must also consider quality bookbinding, but we’ll reserve that for a follow-up article.
Labyrinth Sublime: The Inside Passage, by photographers Pat and Rosemarie Keough. This book opens to almost three feet!*
Have a book concept. Tell a compelling story – don’t just show photographs.
Showcase unique images – avoid repetition.
Are you a photographer or a graphic designer? If you’re a photographer, hire a professional graphic designer.
Hire a professional editor.
If you choose to personally design your book:
Review and compare published books similar to your concept.
Consider and compare font sizes and page layouts before beginning design. Design only when you have fine-tuned your intended layout(s) to your (and more importantly your intended audience’s) satisfaction.
Calibrate your monitor. Printers can provide kits that help measure a monitor’s accuracy at which point you may need to calibrate your monitor using a colorimeter (prices start around $100).
Ask your printer for a cover design template (based on your book specs).
You can work in RGB (Red/Green/Blue) up until you select your printer at which point you should convert RGB files into CMYK (Cyan/Magenta/Yellow/Black). Printer profiles for printing on coated paper are available for this (example: GRACoL2006 Coated1v2). Note: When color images are printed on paper the effect of the paper causes the images to look slightly darker because a computer screen emits light rather than paper which reflects light. Converting images to the GRACoL profile on its own does not simulate this effect. You can use the Proof Colors option in Photoshop to simulate this effect when printing on coated paper.
Review and understand book manufacturing formats, options and material specifications. Once you have an idea of book size and format, page count, paper, cover, and quantity range, request a quote. Don’t worry about future quote revisions based on changing specs and/or trying to hit a price point. This is part of the business.
If you are personally scanning slides, make sure your scans are of the highest quality. Send test scans to your printer for review and proofing to avoid discovering at press that your images are not at their best.
Send hard copy proofs as a guide to your printer especially if you will not be present at the press when the job is run (called a Press Check). You should also request proofs to see and compare to what is expected at press.
Sewn binding provides higher book quality and longevity.
Proofread, proofread, proofread (and not just by you). Errors are easy to miss – even for big publishing houses – but, once printed, impossible to erase.
Consider crowd funding to help pay for your book.
Design in RGB (can cause issues at press which prints CMYK)
Personally scan images unless you have a high quality scanner (by printing industry standards), you know what you’re doing, and you’ve tested your scans through your intended printer.
Good luck with your book! I hope this article is helpful. If you have any book production or publishing questions, please contact me anytime by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fred will be one of the featured Breakout session speakers at the 2015 NANPA Summittaking place in San Diego, California from February 19th – 22nd. To learn more about the Summit and to register for this exciting and inspirational event, please visit www.naturephotographysummit.com.
Fred Perrin began his career as a Kodak Technical Sales Representative for Professional Photographers. Fred has received honors from The Professional Photographers of Canada as Craftsman of Photographic Arts (Scenic/Nature Photography) and his lithographs have been presented to sixty world leaders by the Government of the United States.Fred is now VP of Marketing & Business Development for Friesens, North America’s premier book manufacturer. Friesens customers include many of North America’s most prominent museums, art galleries, publishers and photographers. Company Website: books.friesens.com