Monthly Archives October 2018

Blue Demon Luchador for HBO Habla and photographer Monte Isom

Unlike many guest posts you have read here I am not here to pimp my own images or career. Rather, I am here to push how much money you make on your images, and most importantly the money you can make on photography as a career. Warning: this my contain the least amount of photo information of any guest blog post… but hang in there if you like to be paid for photography. Doesn’t matter if you are in a small city or Los Angeles.

Photos are like baseball cards, they are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. Some may value a Jodie Davis rookie card and some may not – a little trivia there for anyone outside of Chicago alive post 1984. How to put a price on your images is a tricky business that many assume only photo reps and art buyers understand. I have news for you, the value of your imagery is between you and what the client is willing to invest to go to market with the message your images are included in.

Now how do you drive at that magical # that a client will pay and you as a photographer will accept? That is the million dollar question… or sometimes the $2,500 question. Getting to the answer starts with you as the photographer asking informed questions of your potential client.

The first questions to ask follow this format: who, what, where and how long.

Who is the client? Getting a sense of the budget based on who that client is starts with understanding the scope of their business and how much marketing they have done in the past. Are they a regional client with 12 stores across 3 states? Are they a local jeweler trying to make their first marketing materials? Are they a multi-national corporation selling carbonated beverages on 6 of the 7 continents? We all know that the latter may have more budget than the jeweler. Start your creative fee on what you think the client will and can pay per day.

How is the work going to used? Is it Out Of Home/Outdoor (OOH), Point Of Purchase (POP), print, digital only, internal, broadcast, Business to Business (B2B) or any combination thereof? If a client is at the stage of pricing photographers, then most of the time they also have a media plan of how they are intending to use the ads.

More and more clients are asking for unlimited use in all media in perpetuity. This tells you one of three things:

  1. They are planning on using the ads for a huge integrated media buy across many mediums.
  2. They do not know what their media needs are, so they just want to be covered from the beginning.
  3. Or their company’s lawyers said that is what they were supposed to ask for.

It is your job to find out which of the three it is. Often times you can get to that answer by suggesting in the initial reach out that you can quote for unlimited use in all media in perpetuity (often known as a buyout, complete buyout or all rights), but that usually is too expensive for a client’s budget. As a solution you can quote for more limited usage rights that include a time period and more specific media so the bottom line will be more approachable. This is when the client’s request goes from being vague to giving you a better grasp of their intentions. If you are not familiar with the usage terms I started this section with, it would be to your advantage to become versed in them stat so you know what you are talking about. 

Where are the images going to appear? This refers to locality. In Chicago only, in the state of Maryland, USA, North America, Asia Pacific, worldwide? The territory also indicates how big of a campaign you are working with and how much these images are worth. Now Maryland does not mean 1/50th of the price that USA would garner. Think of it like buying socks. You cannot buy 50 pair at the same the price per pair of 1 pair. Anyone in the world would pay more for 1 pair vs bulk rate on 5 pair or even 10 pair, let alone 25 pair.

For instance, the images below were licensed for 7 countries specifically. Wieden + Kennedy, the advertising agency, and EA Sports, the client, knew that the imagery would appear in only 7 countries and would tailor the colors and text to each country the ads would appear. This is a case of an agency and client knowing specifics regarding their media buy. Hats off to their strategy department prior to calling a photographer. But these are the things you are sniffing out before giving a quote. This saved them money by not asking for worldwide usage and got specific.

Brazilian soccer fan splashed with paint. Photo by Monte Isom for EA Sports World Cup 2010
Brazilian soccer fan splashed with France’s colors. Photo by Monte Isom for EA Sports World Cup 2010

How Long?
It is exactly what the title of this section suggests… How long does said media plan to be in circulation? 3 of 5 times the client will expand the length of usage or territory if the campaign is successful. If you have given unlimited use in all media in perpetuity, a complete full buyout of all rights, then you have given up any possibility to make more money based on the success of an ad.

Entertainment photography for a movie poster will always be a complete buyout as that image will always be associated with that movie or project. For instance, my work for HBO’s Hard Knocks falls under this situation. The client knows that it will appear in billboards, in print, digital and on HBO GO, which may keep that program available forever. We price the image on the front end understanding that I will never receive any renewal license for the work.

Photo of Hard Knocks one sheet for HBO 2018 Cleveland Browns. Photo by Monte Isom.
Hard Knocks artwork appearing on HBO GO navigation. Photo by Monte Isom
Billboard of Hard Knocks one sheet for HBO 2018 Cleveland Browns. Photo by Monte Isom

With these four questions, you will have enough working information to then assemble the usage and licensing to put in a bid. It is also helpful to gauge your usage fees in relationship to your creative fee/day rate to shoot. It is difficult for a client to understand you charging $25,000 usage if your day rate is only $750.

You my think you are not “big time” enough to license your work and simply include usage in your day rate. I only say you are selling yourself short.

You as a photographer are only worth as much as you are willing to convince your client to pay you. If you feel your days work is worth $85 then that is what you worth. It is your confidence based on information that will dictate your fee and usage $$$ regardless of the market you are in.

For example ask Gregg Shipman, photographer from Tulsa, OK. He purchased my tutorial Making Real Money: The Business of Commercial Photography, and after watching the tutorial, he increased his a bid for a local client by $26,000 from where he was going to bid prior to heeding advice from the tutorial. If you think you are operating in too small of a market for this information to help you, then you have never been to Tulsa.

Monte Isom is a sports and entertainment photographer based in NYC who loves to share information about the business of photography. He offers a 14-hour video tutorial covering in-depth and with real life examples of estimating, invoicing, marketing your work, and even taxes. Isom interviews people who actually hire photographers and gets extremely valuable information working photographers need. This tutorial can be purchased here.

Monte’s photography can be viewed at, and you can keep up with him on Instagram and Twitter.

But there’s more to it than just that!

So, it’s #TravelTuesday, and round these parts that means one thing. I’m back! I’m Dave Williams, and today I’m writing for you from France where I’ve just visited Mont St Michel. Look, proof: –



So, the rationale behind this post is that I tried to shoot this place a few weeks ago and failed. I hate to fail! What happened was that I wanted to go shoot sunrise at the only part of France that wasn’t occupied by the Germans during WWII (there you go, random factoid) but it was so cold riding through the night that I had to keep stopping to warm up and I didn’t make it. It sucked, and this place is somewhere I visited years ago when I didn’t really know what I was doing, and at in circumstances whereby I was only able to visit during the harsh light of day. Basically, I was staying in St Malo and go the bus, which wasn’t going to get me there before sunrise or bring me back after sunset. Importantly, at the time, I had ticked it off my enormous wish list of places to visit, but it became important for me to shoot it properly in the right light, hence the reason for the 9 hour ride having woken up at home and risen from my warm, toasty bed at 04:30 to get here for sunset today (Monday). Here’s one of the shots I got: –



What happened here is perseverance. Perseverance isn ‘t going to make you succeed, but without it you’re far less likely! It’s something that can be taken across into other walks of life, as well as applying to photography. For me in this example, it’s just photography.

When we set out to achieve anything, we must persevere. We will face setbacks and we will find things that will suck the motivation out of us. It’s just a fact of life. Perhaps we might get stuck on a path that isn’t really taking us anywhere and need to get off it in order to step things up a gear. Whatever it may be, if we persevere in our aspirations we will reach that higher goal, and in doing so those setbacks and motivation sappers will become easier to deal with and as such our goals will become bigger, breeding a new cycle of goals bigger than the last which we will persevere even harder to achieve. Thing is, you kind of need both because without a goal you won’t persevere, and without perseverance you won’t reach your goal.

Having the right mindset and having clear, conscious thought is key. It’s often described as ‘thinking right’ and it’s absolutely true that having the correct way of thinking, perhaps the positive mental attitude, will help realise those goals and make the challenges faced along the way much easier to deal with. I like quotes, which you will know if you follow my Instagram, and whenever I see a good one I screenshot it. There’s one which sits just right here that I saw a few days ago, and it’s this: –

Currently not letting anyone f&$k with my flow

Am I right? Or am I right? Getting perspective, having achievable goals, and having that mindset, all go together to give the strength required for perseverance, and perseverance is what will help you to realise your dreams and achieve your goals. I persevere a lot in getting the shots I want for my portfolio, and I’m talking about my professional and personal portfolios. Having the right mindset will help you to do the right things, and surrounding yourself with positivity will bring out the positive within you. Please, persevere to achieve your goals, but remember all the other ingredients that work alongside it to make it happen.

Much love


If you follow KelbyOne on Facebook or Twitter, you’re probably already family with “Photo Tip Friday” where every Friday our instructors share some of their favorite tips for photography, Photoshop, and Lightroom in short 60-second video clips.

I know it’s not Friday, but I want to make sure you’re getting to see these, so here are a few of recent tips to give you a feel for what they’re all about (you can get these every Friday by following us on Facebook or Twitter). Check ’em out:

That gives you an idea of what our PhotoTipFriday is all about. Lots more to come, don’t forget to follow us social and your Friday’s will get a bit more tipsy (well, you know what I mean).

Have a great week, everybody!







How To Grow Your YouTube Channel with Serge Ramelli
Learn how to create, nurture and grow your own YouTube channel with Serge Ramelli! Serge has the largest YouTube channel for Lightroom on the Internet, and he’s built it from the ground up. In this class Serge shares his 10 best tips for being successful on YouTube. You’ll learn the importance of publishing regularly and frequently, the gear you’ll need to publish, the most important elements of getting noticed and going viral, how to actually post your content, and so much more. Every artist has a voice, and YouTube is a fantastic way to grow your business and be successful!

In Case You Missed It
Learn how to get started as a concert photographer with Adam Elmakias! Adam is a music photographer based in San Diego who got started in the business at a young age and has learned the ropes from spending time in the trenches with bands on the road, and in all kinds of venues. In this class Adam will teach you all the tools you need to be a successful artist today, from how to get a photo pass to the importance of networking, and from how to build your brand to how to find balance with social media. The photo industry is constantly changing, and one of the most important things you can do is position yourself to be an influencer within your photographic community. Adam addresses all of these points and so much more!

How I Became a Pro
Never in a million years did I think I would become a professional photographer and shoot for brands like Sony Electronics, 1800 Tequila, Pei Wei and Toyota. Being a first-generation immigrant from China, I was always told to play piano or violin, or I would be beaten mercilessly with bamboo reeds. In 1985, my parents left a country where they didn’t have much and moved here with nothing but a dream. Even though they had no formal education, they were entrepreneurs and always believed they would succeed in America. These principals have always stood with me and guided me when I most needed it.

My foray into photography is a story that will make most photographers cringe. When our daughter was born, we wanted professional pictures taken. At the time, I didn’t realize how much photographers charged and thought they were wildly overpriced. So the next day I decided I’d just do it myself, and went out and purchased my first DSLR. The irony of this is, of course, that I entered photography as the epitome of everything a photographer despises – someone who undervalues the art and thinks they can do an equally good job on their own.

Thankfully, my ability and appreciation of photography steadily grew from that point. At first I used it as a stress reliever from the everyday trials of the corporate world until I realized I had a true passion for it. I would head out on my lunch break and after work and just shoot whatever I could find. I worked on my compositions and shot everything from landscapes and cityscapes to portraits and street photography. I just loved learning about photography and would spend countless hours on the internet watching YouTube tutorials and reading forums for tips and tricks.

Education has become an important element in my life. I went on to earn a Bachelor in MIS and Master in Business Administration. I was never a great student, but always remained driven to complete my degrees. I went on to work for a few Fortune 500 companies in different areas: sales, education, and healthcare. Each position taught me extremely valuable lessons in how I apply myself to my everyday life and business.

As my passion for photography and content creation grew, so did my urge to leave my 9-5. Conventionally, I had a “great job.” I was the Director of Marketing and Operations at a multi-million-dollar company with benefits and flexible hours, but it just wasn’t fulfilling. I was doing some freelance work as a creator, but I still felt like I was a slave to someone else’s dream. So I started my exit plan and waited for the perfect opportunity to present itself.

With a wife and two young children to think about, there was a lot on the line. But about two years ago, I decided to take the leap to become a full-time creative. Thankfully, I was able to take a lot of the lessons I learned from the corporate world and apply them to my new life as a full-time creative.

Here are some things that have helped me through my transition:

Five Ps – Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance
Have a plan of action. It’s a lot harder to jump into things and try to make it work, so I plan before I jump. Ask yourself, how will you quit your full-time job? Do you have enough money saved? What is your plan to scale your business? Do you even know what type of photographer you want to become?

Understand that your talent alone will not make you successful. The business side of things is a lot harder than you think. Remember you have to do your own marketing, accounting, and creative work.

Building relationships and networking is probably the single most important aspect of your business. Get out to networking events and talk to people. Everyone needs a photographer for something. Understand your niche and where your business will come from. Bring business cards or create a vCard.

Be Social
Many people use social media in different ways. Take advantage of it and create a brand that represents you. Having a great portfolio will go a long way. Also, keep in mind that the images people respond to on social media don’t necessarily translate into commercial work. Editing and shooting for social media and what agencies look for are two different things.

Know Your Value
At first, you may feel you need to undervalue yourself to get business. Stay firm in your self-worth. But at the same time, remember this is an incredibly saturated field. In short, be honest with yourself, and you’ll arrive at an honest price that properly values your work and time while still staying competitive in the market.

You can see more of Quay’s work at, and keep up with him on Facebook and Instagram.


Hello, and a warm and glorious #TravelTuesday to you all! I’m Dave Williams, I’m here every Tuesday, and today I have some notices for you to begin:

My new class is out on KelbyOne! If you want to create a cinematic look for your drone photography, go check it out right here!

I’m delivering a Photoshop Masterclass on November 14th in Hatfield, UK. Bag your ticket right here.

And, I’m hosting a webinar all about travel photography with the Facebook group, Photography and Photoshop this Saturday. Full details are here.

Finally, being unable to run a Photowalk this year for Scott’s WWPW, I’m teaming up with my brother from another mother, Peter Treadway, to run a walk in London on November 18th. There are prizes on offer from KelbyOne, Platypod, and BlackRapid. Full details are here.

Now, on with the show! The title here is “Photo Police” because, recently, I had an experience with Peter whereby we were chased down. I still get a little emotional, to be honest, so bear with me while I recall this traumatic experience.

We were in Gatwick Airport in the UK and Peter was making a video. He had his DSLR attached with a Joby Gorillapod to the top handle of his roller case and was basically just shooting our journey through the airport, which he would then speed up in post and use as B-roll footage to a wider, much more epic video. Whilst we were walking through the duty-free shop, we heard a very nervous “excuse me” coming from behind us, but proceeded on our route and thought nothing of it. The “excuse me” became louder and louder, and nobody else was stopping to react, so perhaps it was intended for us. I say us; I mean Peter.

We both turned and saw that, indeed, the “excuse me” had been intended for us and it was coming from a whole medley of staff wearing different uniforms, one of whom was a manager and another was security. We were told that we weren’t allowed to film in this area, so being the polite and understanding chaps that we are, we agreed to stop immediately without question. But, what happened next was strange—we were asked to delete the footage. We both took a brief glance at each other and in sync, we shook our heads and said, “No.” I explained that, albeit we were on private property, an airport here in the UK is treated as a public place owing to its right of access, and there were no signs visible as a condition of entry, stating that we were not allowed to take photographs or make video. After all, there are hundreds of people taking selfies and making videos in the airport all day, every day, and we weren’t making the video for anything other than personal use.

Wanting to avoid confrontation, we started to walk away but were told, again, to delete the footage. Once again we refused, but this time we were told that they were going to get the police involved. Both of us clearly thinking, “yeah, sure” we walked away again, but this time committed. You’ll never guess what happened next…

So, we were in Starbucks, where I was fuelling up and getting my caffeine fix, when out of nowhere two officers approached us, asked us about our video, and to whom we gave a detailed and frank explanation. The two of them had no problem whatsoever with the explanation we gave, were quite understanding, and tried to spin the reason for stopping us from a public safety point of view. I mean, I understand that there are, of course, safety implications, but realistically they wouldn’t come from the two of us quite overtly filming with a big rig whilst each hauling what was clearly camera bags.

The point is this: the “Photo Police” is a thing, and we see it all too often with tripods, so where do we draw the line? At what point does a sign expressing that no drones are to be used, for example, become enforceable? At what point does it need to be obeyed, and at what point does it need to be merely considered. Recently, in Halstatt, Austria, there were “no drone” signs all over the place, but upon checking the airspace in the area, it was clear that these signs were effectively meaningless and they had just been put up by the locals. Similarly, the manager in that duty-free store simply didn’t like the fact that we were filming—it wasn’t anything other than that. He didn’t have a firm understanding on what his position was, nor on what our rights were, not only as photographers but as “members of society” when he insisted we delete the footage, and subsequently got the police involved in his incorrect actions.

I guess it’s all something we need to accept as photographers, and to that end, it’s important that if other people don’t understand the rules then we need to make sure we do. We need to know the laws, rules, and regulations for where we live and wherever we’re visiting so that we can properly and effectively deal with these kinds of situations.

And, in that endeavour, I wish you luck!

Much love