John Harrington – How To Stay Profitable In Today’s Economy

From FotoWeek DC 2010, highlights from a John Harrington lecture on how to stay profitable in today’s economy.

There Are 35 Comments On This Article.

  1. hooray for john harrington. he contributes so much great information to the field – without any of the ego. congrats john.

    ce

  2. absolutely right on! In this day and age of every other client grasping for more and more, you just can’t have this re- iterated enough. Photographers need to be strong in the face of contractual intimidation, and not be afraid to say “ok, you can have those rights, but it’s going to cost ‘x’ amount!”

  3. I think John makes two great points, and thank you John for making them!

    It think it is paramount these days that clients need to be educated in terms of copyright and licensing, for that matter the cost of doing business. Consumers of images understand their business model and we understand it but I think few understand the photographers business model. Clients need to be educated and if photographers don’t do it then, many will suffer. Second “you can’t give in”.

    Rob, I consider the resource you have created for all in the industry to use and learn form and I have to thank you.

  4. To follow up on this presentation everyone should read Doug Menuez January 16th blog. He spells out what’s happening in the photography industry and writes about the value of not giving the copyright away. The industry will not provide a living to anyone if everyone does not unite to just say “NO” to those demanding all rights.

  5. He is right indeed. But who is he talking to? Does he know what is happening in magazines these days? Of course it is important to get paid and keep the rights but to charge for retouching? Come on, come back to planet earth please. Not everyone is James Marshall.

    • @Sally,

      Yes, charge for re-touching. Please don’t make it sound like it is preposterous, it IS normal, it IS standard practice and if you are not charging for it, you should start.

    • @Sally, Not charging for retouching, really? Not sure where you are coming from. Standard rates $350/hr (negotiatble and use dependent but still). You’re giving that away?

    • @Sally, I hired a retoucher full time. The retoucher is a really important part of my business. My studio bills his time on advertising and editorial jobs by the hour and it is well worth it.

      I just posted a bunch of recent jobs on my website and it is clear that there are a lot of retouching jobs available out there. Catalog Companies are taking the retouching in house.

    • @Sally, I work in what I consider a backwater of commercial photography but I bill for retouching.

      If you talk usage and rights, clients here look at you like you are from Mars, but if you include retouching in the estimate, nobody fusses. I would never hand someone an unfinished file.

      I certainly don’t get $350/hr though!

    • @Sally, Everyone responding here is in agreement; you must bill for retouching, why are you in business if you’re not ?
      It would be great to see more transparency across the many online venues also, regarding under-bidding on jobs. My agent mentioned an extreme case in Jan. of a $30K job going to someone who bid $10K. That guy did himself out of possibly $15K+.. either that, or the client just didn’t care, which I find hard to understand in this competitive world.

    • @Sally,
      I’m sorry to tell you … YOU are the one from out of this World I work in Brazil, a third country economy, BUT even down here it is normal to charge for retouching !!!
      How come you think you should not ?!?
      Sorry, but ; shame on you.

  6. Wow! Great post! I quite literally just got his book in the mail right before this post went up! Guess i’m right where i need to be!

    A.P.E. you rock! thx

  7. All really good points that we need to keep telling our self repeatedly. I always make it clear to magazine that its a one time usage with no rights to on sell my images after the printing of the mags edition .. In the cases that I have found that a 2nd usage was use without my permission an invoice was sent out the moment it cam to my notice.

  8. The voice of reason! In this economic climate, prospective clients seem to talk about delivering for less but will those people be there for us long term? We must look out for ourselves and the ability to manage our own images and careers. I have not given my images away for short term gains and have held the line on rates and encourage others to do the same. Thank you for sharing the clip Rob.

    • @Andrew Ptak,

      Funny, I sent Rob that link in an email last night.

      Cudos to Rob for another good post. Again, education is a constant as there are always new members of the community coming out of school or into the field.

      Media are looking at rights as a revenue stream to offset costs and losses in print sales.

      Sell them on the retouch charge because it limits the amount of work a staffer has to do, hence saving them operating costs especially if the photographers they work with all do that for them. Do they need two or three staffers doing color and retouch if the photographer provides the service for less than the cost of salary plus benefits. We already have to pay for our own benefits as small business men/women.

      Our rights are our pension. When we are old and grey we may have income to help offset living costs if retirement investments don’t meet the needs.

  9. education education education

    This is the sort of information that all photographers need, but today everyone is a photographer, and there are so many things that they really need to understand *on the business side* before going out to ‘sell’ their work or themselves.

    But they don’t.

  10. I had known John for many years since my early photo days in DC in the late 80’s.

    He is a wonderful man, a teacher and a mentor to many folks. SO listen up and follow his steps. Is ONLY a win/win deal for all photographers.

    KNOWLEDGE is POWER.

    From my end I can tell you what I had been preaching for many years as well:

    A PHOTO USED IS A PHOTO PAY FOR!! The more they want it the more $$ to your pockets.

    So stop giving away freebies to clients. Are they paying you more?

    Learn well how to run your biz and how to say NOOO to bad deals. Nobody out there is paying your mortgage, your camera gears or your health insurance.
    In the late 80’s and early 90’s we were getting editorial jobs for $350 or so a day plus xpenses. Today many magazines are paying almost the same.

    But back then it was ONLY one time print usage for the North American. market.
    Now you have got the print pages, the internet, the apps, those dvds and too many other ways to mention and they want to have those rights until the end of time and beyond and in all forms now known or waiting to be discovered in another galaxy. All for one special deal reminding you of a daily special, all you can eat, buffet of $4.99 Sucks, huh?

    Is also laughable and pitiful to read someone in here saying that retouching should be free too. Folks there is lots of $$$ to make with post productions and like John mentioned charge for your gears, strobes, power packs, mobile phones etc

    Tell your clients that you also want to eat at fancy places, drive a nice bimmer, Prius or a Mercedes and one day be able to send your kids to Harvard or Stanford. YOu gotta have a cool lifestyle instead of a step above a guy flipping burgers and driving a Pinto.

    And ALWAYS keep your ©

    For me is the ONLY reason that today I get to licensed my images and get a few $300 here and a few $1,200 there. A couple yrs ago I was able to license 2 of my images for 20K

    Don’t be a DUMBASS and let the “nice client” take you for a ride.

    Nuff said…

    Pag

    http://www.ManuelloPaganelli.com

    Los Angeles CA

    • @Manuello Paganelli, I like this: “You gotta have a cool lifestyle instead of a step above a guy flipping burgers and driving a Pinto.”

      Why else would we do this type of work? I have freedoms afforded me by my self employment although I’m not living a ‘cool’ life yet!

      Great work Manuello!

  11. Saw John speak at an ASMP sponsored event at Community College of Philadelphia a few years back, great stuff, and in plain English too! Buy his book!!!

  12. Perhaps if photographers charged/billed/acted more like plumbers, we’d be better off. Also about whether to bill for “retouching”, even if you do it yourself, you should bill at least the same amount + , as if you had to hire/pay someone to do it for you.
    There should be an add-on to bids for overhead and profit.
    And the overhead list goes on…

  13. Perhaps his real message is that to make money as a photographer, you need a large enough body of work that allows you to publish a book… and sell it to aspiring photographers.

    Be that as it may, his advice echos in spirit the advice given to my wife by a professional quilter – you’re worth the money, so stop giving it away.