Wanda Merritt Anthony

Wanda Merritt Anthony

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Stop Selling Yourself Short.....

I wrote this for The Beazler but think It may fit here as well.  

.....and stop expecting something for nothing.  I see both these trends on Craigslist and it's got to change.  There are so many of us out ther competing for the same dollar that pricing has gotten to be ridiculous.  As independent contractors we've got to stop selling ourselves short.  We need to stick together and educate the public about the worth of our craft.

Go to the Services/Creative section on Craigslist and you'll see what I'm railing against. 
With the digital age of photography and the convenience of having my own studio, I'm offering headshots for only $25. Included is one free 8x10 and high resolution digitally edited copies of the shoot on a CD/DVD at no additional cost. No gimmicks, no crazy sales, nada. Just great pictures at a reasonable price. (Mon - Fri only, sorry.)

For an confusion about this, I'll break it down like this. For $25, you set up an appointment for a 30 minute headshot session at my studio. Bring an outfit change or two if you like because we can take A LOT of photos in just 30 minutes. Once done, we review the photos. You pick five that you like, I edit them immediately, and print one 8x10 while I burn a DVD of the photos. You walk out with an 8x10 print, a DVD of all images of the shoot including the chosen (edited) and unchosen images. All photos are in high resolution large enough for a billboard.

Now lets break this down to see how or if this photographer is making any money.  She will spend more than thirty minutes with this client, especially if the client brings two changes of clothes.  Pouring over the photos to choose five will take another five to ten minutes.  Editing five images will take another half hour or so depending on what needs to be done.  Printing the 8 by 10 and burning the CD will take a few minutes too.  Now comes payment and more pleasantries when the client leaves.  This photographer has invested at least ninety minutes in the photoshoot.

Because she decided to print photographs herself she has the added expense of a quality printer and the right inks.  High quality 8 by 10s take a lot of ink.  (I don't print my own photos because of the high cost to get good looking prints at home.  When I did try home printing in years gone by, the ink took a few minutes to dry.)  The cost of photo paper and CD has to be considered.

She had examples of her work on the Craigslist ad and it is quite good.  This lady is selling herself short in price and getting no residual effects.  She is giving away full resolution images so her client can print them at Heaven know where, put them on Facebook and share them with all his friends, and all the photographer got was $25.  

True, pictures of you aren't like stock images and lots of people will want them, but the client wanted them.  Maybe close loved ones of the client will want some.  But she just gave any potential future business from this client away.  I think she should have put the five edited images on an online gallery so he and/or loved ones could order them from her.  You may think the client will look up this photographer when he needs more pictures taken.  He might, but he won't find her.  She'll be out of business by then.

Another trend is to shoot and give the client all the pictures straight out of the camera.  I don't like to do that because some ordinary images can look amazing with a bit of tweaking.  Do you really want your clients to see your test shots, your bracketed shots, the one with Aunt Millie sneezing, or the one where the sun is glaring off Grandpa's glasses?  Everybody and their brother shows pictures straight out of the camera.  Why would a photographer want to show the same kind of thing.  My new camera over exposes by a full stop.  I've adjusted the settings but I wouldn't want clients to see those images in their unedited state.   

Freelancers of all kinds; lets price our work fairly so we all can make a decent living.

There are also posters on Craigslist that want us to work for free.  They place ads for inturns or for TFP work.  These posters like to say they're starting out and want you to work for free or trade.  They say you can use their gig to build your portfolio.  Yeah right.  I build my portfolia on objects and Andrea.  I shop one wedding for my portfolio  but the bride payed me something.  I've got my portfolia, thank you very much.  If there are no clients there is always stock.

I call posts like this ads with audacity.  Look under Gigs/Creative.

We are a label on the southside of Atlanta looking to build a team of up and coming camera operators, directors, producers and photo and video editors. We are a rising label with clients both major and indie who are looking to work with new talent. THIS IS A NON-PAYING INTERNSHIP however, there are ways to make an honest dollar and gain exposure for your works. You will be assigned to projects and partnered with clients that need our services. If you are serious and interested, then please leave your name, contact number and links to your work. Photoshoppers are welcome and so are students. We are looking for the best of the best so be competitive! **Full studio will be provided for your works**

A new web series is launching in Atlanta.
It will take everyday people and transform the way they live, dress and act in relationships.

We are looking for videographers and cinematographers for this project.
If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please send us an email and include your equipment (camera type(s), mic(s), lighting, etc.) and years of experience.

This project is unpaid, but your work will gain exposure and will be a great addition to your portfolio.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Update To Smugmug

Crass commercialism I know.  How else are you going to know what I've done?  If you don't know, you won't buy.  If you do know, you may buy.

I have changed my Smugmug account status.  Now you can buy prints, digital downloads, photo merchandise, and video clips straight from my Smugmug account.  Choose prints in a variety of finishes and sizes.  Familiar print sizes such as 4x6, 5x7, 8x10, and 11x14 will always be offered.  you can branch out into long skinny sizes such as 8x24, 10x30, or 12x48.  I've seen some nice square frames out there so I'm offering a few square print sizes.  I even offer metalic prints.  I must admit, I've got to order one of the metallic prints to see how it looks.

Prices for standard sizes are quite reasonable.  Some of the long and skinny ones can get pricy.  Remember not everyone is going to have a 10x40 print on their wall; you'll be unique.

I hope you will find something you can use.  I will be constantly adding to the site.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

First Wedding

On August 31, 2013 I shot my first wedding as a professional photographer.  It was a fun and exciting time for me as well as for the bride and groom.  When I first got the booking I was stressing over the technical aspects of shooting this wedding. 

The couple told me the wedding had been moved from their back yard to a Victorian house.  The time had also been moved, from afternoon to evening.  I worried about the light, or lack thereof.  How light or dark will it be at six in the evening; at ten at night?  The groom said the house has lots of windows and chandeliers and was well lit.  I hadn't seen the venue and wouldn't see it until the wedding. 

I Google the venue and it looked dark.  I needed more light, and cheap.  Amazon let me down this time.  They had cheap light I could put on a tripod but I couldn't get the one I wanted in time for the wedding. I briefly considered using my on camera flash but knew I'd hate the results.  This shoot was for me as well as the bridal couple.  These pictures were also to be for me to use as my portfolio to get bookings for more weddings. 

I'd been kicking around the idea of getting a camera with live view.  That would make it easier for me to compose shots.  Now, I have my excuse/reason to get one.  I didn't use live view as much as I thought I would; it eats battery power like crazy.  I'd use it to check up on my settings now and then.  Good thing I did.  During the reception I left the camera at the table while I called my daughter.  I guess my table mates must have looked at it because the pictures I took right after I got back were all dark.  I checked the settings and they had been moved.  I corrected the settings and everything was okay again. 

My new camera will go up to ISO 6400.  Like someone said on YouTube, "Just because it says it'll go, doesn't mean it should."  I usually shoot at ISO 200 and occasionally 400.  I did go up to 6400 before the night was over.  To me those shots had too much high ISO noise.  I used noise reduction software on them and it works really well.  The biggest drawback is the noise reduction software compresses the files to about a third of a regular JPEG.  I gave the newlyweds all three versions of their pictures so they can decide for themselves which they like best.  They got all the originals just as they came out of the camera.  They got the retouched files, with and without noise reduction.

It's all over now.  they have, and said they liked their pictures.  I'm putting out the words that I can shoot your wedding. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

My Last Camera, or Maybe Not

I look through the viewfinder and what do I see,
Something that's there, or may not be.
I click the shutter and the picture comes up,
Do I say nope or smile cause it's yep?

This hit and miss exercise had gone on long enough.  thank goodness I'm not shooting film.  At least I can delete the sub-par images and be none the less for wear.  The Viewfinder on my Canon Digital Rebel XTi is fine for outdoor shooting.  I found myself having to shoot wide and crop indoors, leading to more computer time.  My video camera has no viewfinder.  It just has a live view screen.  I have trouble shooting outside because I can't see the screen very well in bright sunlight. 

Technology is still helping me keep up my hobby/business.  I decided I needed a DSLR with video and live view.  I didn't have much research to do.  The new camera had to be a Canon.  I have a lot of money invested in Canon lenses.  It couldn't be a full frame because again I already have all these lenses.  So my choices were narrowed to the Canon Rebel T3, T3i, and T5i.  The T3 was out because it's not much of an upgrade from my XTi.  The other two are similar but I choose the T5i comes with a lense that focuses quietly.  No strange noise when shooting video. 

Now I have spare cameras and not at a disadvantage where ever I am.  Andrea is going to be my apprentice so all cameras will be put to use.  I'll use my new camera as a crutch when I need it and my old tried and trues when I don't. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

More on Taking Better Images


I stumbled upon the guy yesterday.  I think he has great ideas on many types of photography.  I like how he shows examples and he had a sense of humor.  

He has a video about event photography that is awesome.  It made me start thinking about branching out from just shooting stock and adding events and portraits to my business.  The events video and many of his others may or may not be too technical for you.  If you want to see more of his videos go to YouTube and search for Jeff Cable.

I've been looking for an effective and reasonably priced way to convert my slides to files.  Right now I'm only interested in converting the slides I had at The Stock Solution.  I want to put them on Pond5 for sale.  A basic flatbed scanner won't yield the resolution I need.  I need at least 2000 dpi scans, but preferably 3000-4000 dpi.  A used dedicated film scanner that will do the job is around a thousand bucks.  Ouch.  I've seen gadgets on Amazon.com that claim to do the job.  When I read the reviews it's clear they just want to digitize family slides for personal use.  I have found companies online that will turn slides into files.  Most are cost prohibitive unless you only have a handful of slides to do.  I did find one company I'm willing to try.  I'll send them a hundred slides to see how it works.  Review to come.  If I like them I'll give out their name and web address.

Keep Shooting; get rid of the crap.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Arrogant Or Practical

Some stock photography agencies sell subscriptions to buyers.  With a subscription a buyer pays a fee which allows them  to download a set number of photographs or clips in a certain period of time.  For example,  Shutterstock has a 25 per day plan.  Of course a video subscription is more expensive than a photo subscription.  Agencies tout subscriptions as good for buyers and photographers alike.  Buyers can afford to get more images and presumable more sales are spread over more photographers.  The payout on work sold via subscription is miniscule, twenty-five to thirty cents per photo and between a dollar fifty and two dollars per video.  I opted out of selling videos on subscription.  Too much time and effort goes into making a video to sell for such ridiculous prices.  Microstock photos sell for cheap anyway, starting at a dollar or so for a small image suitable for the web which is split at various percentages between agency and photographer. But subscriptions are the bottom of the barrel. 

I started out at microstock agencies.  I was glad when I made a sale and even happier when the sale was a regular sale instead of a subscription.  Fotolia sells its large photos for seven dollars on a regular sale which would be split with the photographer.  All subscription sales are large and the photographer gets all of twenty-seven cents for the sale.  Fotolia doesn't allow photographers to opt out of subscriptions for photos. 

I was willing to put up with these terms until I was diagnosed with Glaucoma and discovered Pond5.  I can tell my vision is changing and one day I may be unable to photograph.  I want to have a great number of photos and videos online before I'm forced to stop.  I'll need the royalties to supplement my income in my old age.  Pond5 is based on a different model.  The photographer sets his or her own prices and there are no subscriptions.  I struggled with pricing because I had so many pictures up on other agencies selling for low, low, prices.  Will buyers pay my prices when they can get the same photo at subscription prices? 

On Pond5 I priced my photos according to how difficult they were to make.  Then I priced all sizes the same price.  I did this because I think most photos will be used online and buyers will default to the large because psychologically it's a better buy for them.  With all sizes the same price I'm splitting a higher amount with Pond5.  When a photograph sells five times I raise the price.  I priced my standard definition footage at $25 no matter the duration and HD footage at $50.   I priced a few at lower prices to see if it made a difference.  Pricing is a hot topic in the forums on Pond5.  Some say price low to make lots of sales.  Others say price high or you're not going to make any money.  I like the ones who say produce high quality work and buyers who need what you have will buy it no matter the price. 

Some of my work has sold at one place or another while some other has sold across both formats.  When I don't know what to do I usually do nothing.  That came to a head for me today.  I got three emails from Fotolia telling me I had sold a photograph.  All three were subscriptions so I got a total of eighty-one cents for those three photographs.  I'm glad for the sale but I keep thinking if I had sold the same three pictures on Pond5 I would have gotten seven dollars and fifty cents. I consider the photos that sold at Fotolia today as specialty photos.  The subject was LDS related so it isn't something everyone would have around to photograph. 

I decided not to submit any more specialty or difficult to produce photography to agencies that sell subscriptions.  Anything new having to do with my religion, blindness, or anything I spent hours on the computer making will not be offered on subscription based sites.  I'll decide later if I will take these subjects off subscription based.  As for generic shots, I don't know yet.

I want to be practical about this.  I need to bring in as much as I can and it seems counterproductive to sell specialty photos at subscription prices when other viable options are out there.  

I'm also thinking of doing the same thing with pictures with Models.  I pay my model when a photo she is in sells.  Has arrogance and/or greed taken over?  Am I simply being practical?  the more money she makes the more willing she is to model. 

Monday, February 25, 2013


I'm looking for ideas; ideas for footage to shoot and photographs to take.  Lately life has given me lots of subjects to photograph.  Christmas is always a good time for photos; then my youngest turned sixteen.  I got shots of her cake, her wearing a tiara, her in the van my mom gave her, and the damage my daughter caused to said van.  Nobody has a boyfriend so Valentine's Day was quiet.

When my limited life has been recorded for those willing to look can see I turn to my list.  When I think of a subject I add it to my assignment list.  I check stock agency websites for ideas as well.  I get inspiration from their newest uploads, and from other artists' portfolios.  I look at some of their work and say to myself, "How did they think of that?" or, "I wish I would have thought of that."  If it's something I can put my own spin on, I add the concept to my list.  If it's something I could never shoot I move on.  People shhot all kinds of things: people, food, buildings, mining, medical, military, everyday objects, you name it.

With so many subjects to choose from, you may be wondering why I need your help with ideas.  Well, we all have our own prospective and I'm sure there are subjects out there I could work on but haven't thought of.  I need to get as many ideas as I can as soon as possible.  I need to get them photographed or videoed, edited, and uploaded while my eyesight holds out.

My left eye is failing fast.  It is almost useless but I can still see a little bit with it but not read or write.  My right eye is doing mucy better but it seems to be getting slowly worse.  I want to have about four times as many files online as I do know before I'm forced to stop.  I have just over 600 files on Pond5 at the time of this writing.  I'm hoping to have at least 2400 to 3000 online before I'm done.

You can leave your suggestions in the comments section below.  Visit https://www.facebook.com/blindaseyelook, like and leave comments.  Last but not least you can email me at blindaseyelook@live.com.  Visit https://www.pond5.com/video-sound-effects-music-after-effects-photos-illustrations/1/artist:kalani.html regularly to see my take on your ideas.