book review – duChemin

book review – duChemin

Within the Frame – David duChemin

I’m a fan

I am a big fan of books. Well, not all books, but good ones. The book I wish to share with you is definitely better than good. I’ve been following David duChemin for quite some time. I enjoy his writing style and sense of humor. He has a way of sharing some big ideas in an understandable way without being ‘preachy.’

As you may have already guessed, I am particularly a fan of David and his writing. His latest book is Within the Frame – The Journey of Photographic Vision. It is a 10th anniversary edition and I’m glad he brought it back. This is a book that can be a help in getting your creative butt in gear whether you are a newbie photographer or a seasoned veteran such as myself. (I suppose you can read that as old, but I digress)

book cover duChmenin

Within the Frame – The Journey of Photographic Vision David duChemin

Creativity and Vision

David talks about vision and creativity in most of his writing. I enjoy his introspection and dedication to the photography world and the creative vibe therein. He shares ideas on how to accomplish some inner thinking in bite sized pieces that can be practiced and digested in as small or large a helping as one would like.

An Example

Here’s one paragraph from the book that appears on page 79 in the chapter titled The Artist and the Geek.

“The first thing to realize is that the creative process is not so simple that it can be reduced to a formula-go here, wait for muse, shoot brilliant image. It is not a reactive process dependent on a magic fairy appearing and beating you with an inspiration stick. Creativity is something you can actively work at, and the more closely you know your own process, the more reliably the muse appears. Having said that, I think we all know that some days just do not got he way we want, and we often chalk that up to being uninspired, or bored, or lazy. Probably the latter two.” – David duChemin


The paragraph above has so much about which to think, you can imagine how much you will get from the rest of the book! duChemin’s book is a winner on so many levels. I think it is the kind of book that will earn a long stay in your regular reading table. And, will also have a place of honor in your permanent photography book collection for review on a regular basis.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

PS – Get the book. you’ll be glad you did. Within the Frame – The Journey of Photographic Vision


portrait pricing guidelines with steve bedell – part four

portrait pricing guidelines with steve bedell – part four

Portrait Pricing Guidelines with Steve Bedell – Part Four
Marketing Monday Guest Post

Here is Steve’s continuation from part 1 and part 2 and part 3 portrait pricing

Six: Wall portrait bonus

We all know the money is in the wall portraits and wall groupings. So from our initial contact right through the sales session that’s what we should be striving for. To drive that point home, I offer a discounted price of about 30% off on gift prints when they purchase a portrait 20 inches or larger. (Note: The discounted price is the price I feel I should sell that product for. If they don’t have a wall portrait I am just more profitable on the smaller prints)

pricing for profit graphic part 4

SEVEN: Albums

I know many photographers like albums. I am not a huge fan. You either have to take the time to do the layout or pay someone to do it (my choice). I know you can get big numbers from them but make sure you cover all your bases, including time, when deciding the pricing.

I prefer Album boxes. Make a few 5×7’s for peanuts, slide into 8×10 mats and put into the box. Pretty simple plus if you make an error in any image you just change out one print.

EIGHT: ALWAYS list most expensive product first

I’m firm on this one; this is pretty much an unbreakable rule. People read from the top down, left to right. Start out with that 40×60 for half a million bucks (you wish) and by the time they get down to that 16×20 for $800 it’s going to look pretty inexpensive. The mind works this way, at first they think ‘Oh my God, I can’t afford this’ to ‘Well, that’s more in my budget’. Start small to large and it’s an uphill battle.

It works the same way with your good/better/best pricing, always list the most expensive product first or right to left.

NINE: Session fees

OK, there’s a lot of wiggle room in this one. I know some VERY successful (Bradford) photographers who have no session fees. I know others who have very high session fees. Which is better for you?

Well, Bradford has a brilliant system where he has one background and I’d guess not much changing in the lighting. In my semi-retirement, I am doing everything from the consultation to the shoot to print delivery on location. That’s a significant chunk of time to be doing everything for free so I have a session fee of $300. That works for me, you may be different.

But there is another good reason to have that session fee. You don’t want to discount your products but the session fee can be used as a bargaining chip. You can do 50% off session fee promotions, free sessions for returning/good clients, etc. and not be hurting your sales average.

TEN: Payments

When we tally up the order we ask ‘How would you like to pay for that’. Most people either give you a check or a credit card and that’s the end of it. If they ask if they have to pay it all up front, we tell them they can pay 50% now, the balance when they pick up. 90% pay in full right off. I don’t offer payment plans, that’s what credit cards are for.

ELEVEN: Minimum orders

I’ve never had minimum orders. Why? I feel like they act as a barrier. Job one is to get people in front of your camera. People may not like the idea of having to spend a certain amount of money before even seeing the end result.
Have I ever been burned on this? Of course, but not that often. We are very comfortable with our photography and sales skills so we’ll put that risk on us.

TWELVE: Wall Groupings

You sell wall groupings by showing wall groupings. That is one of the big benefits of Proselect, Swift Galleries and others. Most can even let you show them on their own walls. If you go to the house during or before the shoot, you can take pics of the walls ahead of time. You can also ask them to do, some will, some won’t.

I price my wall groupings at a slight discount to buying the images individually. Why? I’d rather sell 3-5 images than just one. Most of the wall groupings I sell are Gallery Wraps.

Big tip: Use the templates from your lab. ACI has over 25 different templates and when you order them as a grouping the price is about 15% less than if you ordered them individually. Design your wall groupings ahead of time using these templates and you’ll be even more profitable.

THIRTEEN: Don’t use dollar signs or odd number pricing.

If you’re a low end studio, go ahead and price your work using dollar signs and odd number pricing. Example: 8×10 for $34.95. If you are trying to convey that you are a luxury product, use 20×24 for 1100. An Hermes bag is not priced at $4997, it is priced at 5000.

Steve Bedell has been a professional photographer for over 35 years. He has done weddings, portrait andsteve bedell head shot commercial work but now restricts his business to portraits only.

 Steve holds the Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman degrees from the Professional Photographers of America and is a PPA Approved Print Juror.

He has been named the New Hampshire Photographer of the Year a record 8 times and in 2011 was awarded the New England Photographer of the Year title. His specialty is natural light portraiture.

He has written hundreds of articles for photo publications, taught classes and workshops nationwide and produced several lighting DVDs. His private newsletter, EPhoto, reaches over 2000 photographers. Steve was a regular contributor to Shutterbug magazine.

portrait pricing guidelines with steve bedell – part three

portrait pricing guidelines with steve bedell – part three

Portrait Pricing Guidelines with Steve Bedell – Part Three

Steve Bedell shares his thoughts on Portrait Pricing.

“As I reviewed my part 1 and part 2 of this pricing topic here on Successful-Photographer I was astounded that having so much knowledge I wasn’t worth about 27 million dollars! In any case, there was great response to the article about pricing in general and how to determine where you should be in it so now we continue with specifics.

Please note that much of this is my opinion but a great deal of it is what I’ve learned by PSTM (people smarter than me) so I stray from these guidelines at your own risk. With that in mind, let’s get going. Again, my mind kinda wanders all over the place so things may not be in proper order, but put up with me, the info is the same.

portrait pricing part 3 graphicONE: Should I have a printed price list?

OK, I’m not kidding here. I see in online groups people asking for all kinds of feedback on their price list. NOT the pricing, but how the price list looks. They’ll discuss fonts, layout, etc. They’ll look nice and pretty but does it really matter? We’ll come back to that but question two is related so let’s get to that right now.

TWO: Should I post prices online?

This one is MUCH easier to answer: NO!

Why? Because if someone goes online looking for a photographer and does a Google search and they see your 8×10 (the standard that they all know) is $195 and Joe’ is $29, which one will they choose? They’ll most likely choose Joe because they are just looking at prices and when you compare pricing in a vacuum you are looking at a commodity. If they visit your site and instead see your special booklet that tells them ‘5 Tips for a Great Family Portrait’ and lots of testimonials you have already set yourself apart from the bottom feeders.

OK, so now that we have a little background, should you have a printed price list?

I say yes, so it doesn’t look like you’re just pulling prices out of the air. But do you need to print up hundreds and send/email them to everyone who contacts you?


You only really need one, and that’s for you to use in the sales room. Don’t believe me? Bradford Rowley uses a SLIDE of the price list during the sales session and only leaves it there for as short as possible. You want people focused on picking the best pose and the proper size portrait, you do NOT want them sitting there with their nose in a price list.

A little caveat here. I am talking about a PRICE LIST, not a Product Guide. A product guide will show sample of the products and a starting price or price range. One of the best I’ve seen is by Megan Dipiero. We featured Megan a little while ago, you can see her guide HYPERLINK “” \t “_blank” here.

THREE: When should I show the price list?

There are different schools of thought on this.
Some say don’t ever show it, just let them come to the order appointment, write up what they want, then tell them the price.
Others tell them pricing during the consultation when the session is booked.
I’ve used both methods, they both work. I prefer the up front method, it makes me and them more comfortable at the sales session, less like I’m holding the images hostage. Do what you’re comfortable with and what works for you. Previous to a consultation, always use a price range instead of exact pricing, like ‘Our gift prints start at $95 and wall collections begin at $1800’ or something along those lines. They’ll have a better idea of why you charge what you do during the consultation.

FOUR: Good/Better/Best pricing

This model has been around since the dinosaurs. Why? Because it works! I have my ‘paper prints at level 1, canvas prints at 2, and Gallery Wraps and metals at level 3. Decide size first, then finish. This gives you an opportunity to make more income on the same sized print. As an example, my 16×20’s are $600/$750/$925. This may seem very low to some and high to others. Also, don’t just call them finish one, two, three. Use names like The Masters, The Venetian, etc and include a descriptive paragraph  like ‘enhanced by our artist and bonded to natural fiber canvas’.

FIVE: Should I have a contract?

I read many posts where photographers sound like wannabe lawyers. I like to concentrate on the experience so introducing a contract into the mix just doesn’t work for me. You should have policies for payment but in 40 years of doing this I’ve had no need for a contract. Weddings, yes, portraits, no. It’s up to you.”

More to come as Steve brings the rest of this home in Part 4 on Successful-Photographer.

Steve Bedell has been a professional photographer for over 35 years. He has done weddings, portrait andsteve bedell head shot commercial work but now restricts his business to portraits only.

 Steve holds the Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman degrees from the Professional Photographers of America and is a PPA Approved Print Juror.

He has been named the New Hampshire Photographer of the Year a record 8 times and in 2011 was awarded the New England Photographer of the Year title. His specialty is natural light portraiture.

He has written hundreds of articles for photo publications, taught classes and workshops nationwide and produced several lighting DVDs. His private newsletter, EPhoto, reaches over 2000 photographers. Steve was a regular contributor to Shutterbug magazine.

good photos from the zoo

good photos from the zoo

Creating Good Animal Photos from a Captive Environment

I practice my wildlife photography by spending time at the zoo. There are a few reasons for this, and I’ll share them here to hopefully help you in your image creation and get feedback from you on my thoughts. You can always reach me through my email [email protected]

baboon portrait at phoenix zooA baboon named One at the Phoenix Zoo. I spent a bit over an hour waiting to get this portrait with eye contact in decent light. Black and white allow for concentration on his expression.

One benefit of photographing in a structured environment is that you can find animals. I know that it sounds simple at its most basic but you need the practice to become a good wildlife photographer. Exercise may be had at the zoo. Part of the training is to learn to focus quickly and in the right place. You may think this can be easy, but until you have tried it, I think you’ll be surprised how difficult it can be to acquire arresting and exciting photos.

mandrill at phoenix zoo photoThis Mandrill was sleeping for quite a while, but I hung around until he started foraging around in his enclosure. Expression and eye contact are paramount in making this a success. (the color of his features don’t hurt either!)

Just because the animals are captive does not mean that they will pose for you. Things such as eye contact and behavior can make or break an image. One of the items on which you are practicing is to see how an animal moves. How to stop that movement (or accentuate it for something more artistic).

orangutan at the phoeni zoo imageThis Orangutan was walking away, and I mentally willed her to look at me over her shoulder. I will often ask mentally for my wildlife to change position and it’s pretty cool how often it works.

If I can suggest one thing that you will learn that you can take with you into nature is patience. Even though you are in a target rich area, you still need to spend time, and lots of it, to get images with eye contact. If you run from enclosure to enclosure thinking you will get more varied photos you will be correct. But I suggest that the pictures will be less than stellar than if you spend more time with fewer animals.

More from the Phoenix Zoo in the next couple of days. Including the gear I use for making my images.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

giving back marketing monday

giving back marketing monday

Giving Back – Maketing Monday
by Skip Cohen

Giving Back

It’s probably ten years ago I wrote my first post about giving back to the community. It’s such an important part of building your brand that it deserves to be at the very top of your priority list.   As business picks up in the fourth quarter, you need to make sure you don’t lose sight of how much it can help you build your reputation.

helping hand graphic by bob coatesHelping Hand Graphic – Bob Coates Photography

Years ago I had the opportunity to hear Jay Conrad Levinson speak. Known best as the originator of the expression “Guerilla Marketing”, he talked about the top 100 things Guerilla Marketers need to do.  At the very top of the list was “be involved in your community and charities”.   Why?  Because, people like to buy products from companies they perceive as giving back.

It’s cause-related marketing at its best and it helps build your brand beyond just being a photographer.  Let’s face it, you’re looking for the community to be good to you.  So, what are you doing to be good to your community?

Finding a charitable cause in your community couldn’t be easier, but you have to take the time.  Just read the local paper.  What’s going on in your community?  If the school tax bill didn’t pass, then the arts are going to suffer, starting with the yearbook, photo club, newsletter etc.  All, perfect matches for you to lend a hand as a professional photographer.

Is there an event coming up that might need your skills as a photojournalist?  Everything from a walkathon to organizations like Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions and Exchange Club all have a major charity drive each year.

Check with your local hospital, police force, fire-fighters – they always need help and they always have an event they’re sponsoring.  Then there are great organizations like Big Brother and Big Sister.

Within the photographic community, there’s  NILMDTS (Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep), Thirst Relief, and the Josephine Herrick Project. These are just a handful of non-profits as examples.  They all involve photographers and are dedicated to helping make the world a better place.

Although no longer serving let’s not forget PPA Charities, founded over fifteen years ago by Bert Behnke.  I’m proud to have been one of the original members of the team along with Helen Yancy, Steve Troup, Dennis and Lori Craft, just to name a few.

skip cohen headshotSkip Cohen has been involved in the photographic industry his entire career and previously served as President of Rangefinder/WPPI and earlier, Hasselblad USA. He founded in 2013. Skip is a co-host for “Mind Your Own Business” and “Beyond Technique,” webcasts through, writes for several publications including Shutter Magazine and is actively involved in several advisory boards for non-profit organizations.