The Four P’s of Freelance Photography

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Photography has been around since 1839, more than one hundred and fifty years ago. Ever since, people have used cameras to photograph a variety of subjects and keep the photographs as a memento or even as evidence. Technology has advanced ever since the Kodak Company introduced the first consumer camera in the late 1800s. Nowadays even the most inexperienced photographer can take an incredible photo with the use of a digital camera. However, some people and firms have the need to hire a professional photographer to capture the memorable moments of a specific event, firm, product or incident.

The services that a photographer provides include, but are not limited to photographing weddings, birthday parties, company events, company products, company facilities, incriminating evidence, model portfolios, developing news around the community and so forth. A photographer can be hired on a one-time basis or to cover a recurring event. Every photographer must consider their marketing environment, and create a good marketing plan in order to have a successful business as a freelance photographer.

Leica M4 with Summicron 50mm f/2 and gogles fo...

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Product and Services of a Freelance Photographer

Freelance photographers can offer their services as a product, but they can also offer the images themselves as an end product, which can be considered a consumer good. Photographers can sell their services for an hourly fee, meaning they can charge the customers a previously discussed amount of dollars for every hour that they provide photographic services. This can include the amount of time spent actually taking pictures at a particular event, but it can also include the amount of time spent digitally editing and enhancing the images once the event is over. Moreover, the photographer can charge a separate fee for the amount of photos – the product it self – that the customer wishes to receive, and he can charge different fees for the manner in which the customer whishes to receive the images, whether it is digitally or a printed copy of each individual image.

Photographers must constantly be aware of their competitive environment, when deciding what products to offer. They might have to consider the factor of change when conceiving and developing the list of products and services they provide. Everyday there is a brand new technology, especially when it comes to digital cameras. Photographers may have to constantly be upgrading their equipment in order to provide higher quality, and higher resolution images to their customers and keep up with the competition. They might also have to consider changing the existing products to meet consumers’ needs and keep pace with competitors. If other photographers offer higher quality images or better packages, including both digital and hard copies or makeup and wardrobe assistance, the photographer may have implement product differentiation to change or expand the products and services he offers or promote a particular feature or image to make his products and services differ enough from other competitors and to attract customers. For example, a photographer may include an extra copy of the digital images in case the customer looses their first copy, or have them displayed on the photographer’s business website before printing the hard copies so that the customer can choose which ones they wish to print.

The Pricing of Freelance Photography

After a freelance photographer decides what kind of services and products he wishes to provide for customers, he has to decide the amount of money he wants to charge customers for those products and services. As we discussed before, photographic services have been around for a long period of time, freelance photographers have to consider that they are pricing an existing service and product. When making the pricing decision, photographers will have three choices; pricing above market prices, pricing below market prices or pricing near or at existing market prices. A photographer who is new in the freelance photography business may decide to price above the market prices to cover the initial cost of equipment such as cameras, flashes and computers, marketing and so forth. An already established photographer, who already owns all the equipment necessary, and is a well know photographer with great references, may wish to price near or even below market prices to have a competitive advantage between other photographers.

Photographers can be creative when pricing their products and services. They can combine both into packages and offer extra features for free with little or no cost to the photographer. For example, a photographer may offer a CD including all the images to the customer, but he may charge a fee for the CD. A better offer could be providing the customer with temporary access to a website location on the Internet to retrieve the images for free.

Whichever price the photographer sets his services and products to, he must make sure that he will make a profit, but also that customers will be willing to pay those prices for the products and services he offers. His products must meet the clients’ requirements, needs and wants.

The compact disc

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The Placement/Distribution of Freelance Photographic Services and Products

Freelance Photographers deal with little distribution problems. Most of the services and products they provide have no intermediaries, because customers hire the photographer and their services directly. Therefore, the freelance photographic services uses mostly the first channel of distribution, direct distribution, which goes from the producer – the photographer – to the end users – the client or customer –. Photographers however, do use physical distribution to deliver the end products (or images) to their customers. If the customers wish to have digital images only, the photographer may use high-speed digital transmission, such as e-mail or website downloads. If the customers decide they wish to have hard copies of their images, the photographer can personally deliver the images or send them by mail. Distribution can also be used as a marketing strategy. Photographers can offer fast distribution via high-speed digital transmission as one of the features of their products and services, to have an advantage over the competition.

The Promotion of Freelance Photographic Services and Products

Promotion is the most important component of the marketing mix; and it is the most visible as well. This is advantageous to photographers because their products are all about visual communication; in fact, their products help other firms sell their products by providing a visual representation of them.

When making decisions regarding the best way to promote their products and services, photographers must be aware of whom they want their target audience to be. If a photographer does not possess experience with wedding photography for example, then they may not want to advertise their services to that particular audience.

Photographers must use all elements of the promotional mix to attract the biggest amount of potential customers, because a freelance photographer has to compete with bigger more established companies offering photographic services. Photographers should advertise their services and products in the media, through networking, offering sales promotions and creating publicity for themselves.

One advertising avenue that photographers should consider, due to the nature of their products, is the digital media avenue. Advertising themselves through e-mails, e-mail campaigns and newsletters, websites, newspaper ads, magazines, and direct mail. There is a growing opportunity in advertising inside social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, photographers should take advantage and post their ads in such sites.

Are You Ready?

In conclusion, whether you are an experienced photographer or you are just starting in the business of freelance photography, you must remember to clearly identify all the products and services you wish to offer to potential customers. You must then price your products and services to create an advantage over the competition, but remembering you must make a profit as well. You should decide in which ways you would distribute your products to your customers. And finally you should advertise you self, your products and your services in a way that makes you stand out and differentiate between your competitors.

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My Favorite Infographics

Keeping with the theme of infographics, here I have compiled a list of SOME of my favorite infographics that I have come across with in the past few years.  I hope you enjoy them. (Click on them to open in a new window)

Class of 2011: What if social media were a high school?

Class of 2011: What if social media were a high school?

How Would You Like Your Graphic Design?

How Would You Like Your Graphic Design?

The Apple Tree

The Apple Tree

The Evolution of the Geek

The Evolution of the Geek

Sitting Is Killing You

Sitting Is Killing You

I also found this pretty cool free online tool to create a wallpaper infographic about yourself.  Try it out here:

http://www.ionz.com.br/index.html

*Make sure to change the language to English, though, because it is in Portuguese.

For more infographics visit these cool sites:

http://www.coolinfographics.com/

http://www.infographicking.com/

Infographics

Infographics, or Information Graphics, are a visual representation of knowledge.   It is a way to represent information graphically.   You have probably already seen many infographics, but you did not know that this is what they are called.   We see them all the time in Magazines and Newspapers, like the infographic depicting Osama Bin Laden’s Compound and how he was caught.   They are those illustrations, graphics, pictures, arrows and text that accompany an article and that help you understand the information contained within that article.

English: Hideout of Osama bin Laden, the locat...

I was always fascinated by these infographics, even before I knew that’s what they are called.   In fact, one of my favorite Graphic Designers is Edward Tufte, who creates amazing infographics.   Also, Nicholas Felton, whose annual reports I find to be incredible.   Perhaps because that I am fascinated with these types of designs, I love to see them in other media and not just newspapers and magazines.

I remember seeing infographics and enjoying them in illustrated dictionaries, and encyclopedias I researched for homework as a kid.   I always stopped to look at them, even if they weren’t related to the topic of my homework.   You know which ones I am talking about, those that showed you the parts of a car, the animals that live in the water, the solar system, the human skeleton, the process of water evaporation, and so on.

Nowadays, we see infographics in other places as well.   I have seen infographics being used in movies, such as the closing credits for “The Other Guys” movies.   That animated Infographic was about Ponzi Schemes, the bailout, and corruption in general.

I also love te infographics in one of my favorite movies, “Stranger Than Fiction”.

There are motion graphics infographics created sort of like a video, with only typography, illustrations, and sometimes a narrative.   People infographics like these to make a difference, to inform others about changes they can choose to make on their own to help.   For example, this infographic designed by Chris Harmon, about the oil spill in the Gulf back in 2010.

Some infographics even tell us how to do something.   Like how to make a good cup of coffee.

Expresso Infographic

Expresso Infographic

Something I found very cool is a Graphic Designer’s Resume Infographic!

Elliot Hasse Infographic Resume

Elliot Hasse Infographic Resume

There is even an Infographic about Infographics!!!

Infographic About Infographics

Infographic About Infographics

I hope you enjoyed all of these Infographics, and now you know what they are called when you see one. I will post a collection of my favorite Infographics soon.

Kuler Colors

Nowadays we can do just about anything thanks to technology.   The new answer to all of life’s intriguing questions is: “There’s an App for that”.   For all of us in the creative fields, this is good news and bad news.   This means that we will be forever learning throughout our careers.   A new Adobe Creative Suite, a new Smartphone that needs user interfaces designed, a new app, you name it.   However, this is great for us, because these updates, upgrades and apps can also make our job easier.

One of these cool tools we can benefit from is the Adobe Kuler color tool.   It is a FREE, yes, FREE online application that lets you create, share and explore different color themes.   This is great for us designers that sometimes have “color block”, and we can’t decide on a color scheme for a project.

Adobe Kuler

Adobe Kuler

The website is very simple to use.   You first go to http://kuler.adobe.com/, and simply begin exploring color options.   You can search a color theme by keyword, you can look at the newest, most popular, highest rated, or randomly.   You can create an account and upload your color themes.   You can make changes to a theme, select one color from the theme, select a rule like analogous, monochromatic, triad, complementary, compound, shades or even custom to find other colors for the one you have selected.   You can look at the RGB, CMYK, LAB or even HEX values for a particular color.   You can even create your own new theme using your own photos as a reference.

Adobe Kuler

Adobe Kuler

You can benefit from this great tool if you are a graphic designer, illustrator, photographer, fashion designer, interior designer, makeup artist, stylist, scrapbooker, cake decorator, painter, or any other person who at some point in their life has to pick a color combination for whatever reason.

Adobe Kuler

Adobe Kuler

Ethical Issues in the Graphic Design Business

During our careers, whether as graphic designers, web designers, fashion designers or any other career, we will most likely have to learn about ethics in the workplace.  Ethics do not only play a role in our normal day-to-day activities, such as attending a wedding, tipping our waiters and receiving guests in our home, ethics also are a part of our business life.  There are several ethical issues that can arise in the workplace, no matter the type of work.  Ethical issues are subjects or events that could create questions about what is right and what is wrong.  Even though there are many ethical issues that could rise in all types of jobs, there are also ethical issues that could rise in jobs that are only related to design.

Ethical Issues in Graphic Design

A Graphic Designer, especially a Freelance Graphic Designer, encounters numerous of different people and companies that they will probably do design work for.  However, the graphic designer may or may not agree with what that particular company or individual stands for or wishes to advertise.  This raises a question of right or wrong, an ethical issue, for the designer.  Graphic designers should know from early on in their career who would they not design for and who would they design for, keeping in mind that what a graphic designer creates is a message for an audience.   For example, would you create campaign posters for a politician who approves of abortion; would you create a logo for a rock band that believes in and follows the devil’s teachings; would you create a package design for a company that sells cigarette shaped candy to children; or would you create a website for a pornographic site.  The decision will always be up to the graphic designer and will most likely depend on his or her own morals and belief system.  Ultimately, if a designer does not agree with it, then he or she should not take on the work.

There are several other ethical issues that arise in fields such as advertising.  Since most graphic design products fall under this category, graphic designers would most likely have to face those same ethical issues faced by advertisers and advertising agencies.  For example, a graphic designer could be offered to produce an ad, but then he or she could find out that the information in the ad was a product of false advertising.  False advertising means to promote a feature or characteristic in a product that is in fact not true.  In this case, the designer would also have the choice to produce the ad or simply walk away.

Another big ethical issue that a graphic designer could encounter is the issue of copyright and piracy.  Copyright is the legal right that the creator of a design (or any other work) is granted.  The creator or designer owns the rights to the design.  Just like writers have ‘writer’s block’, graphic designers sometimes also have phases in which they are not particularly creative.  This could lead to using someone else’s work and ‘revamping’ it to seem as though you created the whole thing.  This is an illegal practice called piracy.  Graphic Designers should definitely avoid doing this unless they give full credit to the copyright owner, ask for their permission, or use copyright free images.

Design & Culture

Graphic Designers are usually taught about the technical aspects of the career, the software, the design elements, the design principles, and so forth.  However, graphic design is not only about the creativity and ability to create a ‘pretty’ design.  Graphic design is also about the audience for which the design was created.  Many students, and even teachers, forget the audience.  By doing so, several cultural issues may rise.

Culture is defined as the collection of customs, social behavior, and ideas of a specific group of individuals.  Therefore, what might seem as a successful design here in the United States might seem offensive or even harmful in other countries.  For example, a design that includes a hand giving the “thumbs up” may be appropriate for an American audience, but this sign is considered a rude gesture in some Asian and Islamic countries. A recent animated footage which includes the 2012 Olympics had to be removed from the organization’s website because it was causing epileptic seizures to viewers who suffered from epilepsy.  We must always be careful not to insult offend or harm the viewers of our designs.

¡Bienvenidos!

I guess I should start this blog by introducing myself. In a few words I am 26 years old, I was born in Venezuela and I am a Graphic Designer. And just to let you know, I had written an awesome introductory post on a blogger account, but they deleted my entire blog, which reminds me to advise to you to always back up everything in two separate locations.

Anyhow, I initially decided to create a blog to put myself out there as a professional Graphic Designer and share my designs and design process with other aspiring designers out there. I also wanted to share my passion for photography and my amateur photographs. However, I later thought that no one, except the people I know, would care to read such a blog and all these kinds of things are already on my Facebook page. Therefore, I want to share more than just my artwork, but insights to opinions and ideas about things I have some knowledge of… this includes Graphic Design, Photography and all things Apple/Mac… and of course the usual geek stuff.

I claim to have some knowledge in these subjects, so I think I should give you a bit of a background, so you know where this knowledge comes from. I have an Associates of Arts Degree in Business Administration. I just received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications with a concentration in Graphic Design. I have been doing Graphic Design since 2004, I have been practicing photography since 2008 and I love Apple since their Macintosh Classic II (1991).

Welcome to my blog… I hope you stick around.

MW

Melissa Wolowicz

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