Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Digital Solutions...Digital Dilemmas

"For every problem there is a solution...and for every solution, a new problem is created!" If you don't know exactly what I mean, give it some time.

Back in the day, I remember working for many successful Ad Shooters, all of them with their large production staffs and doting assistants, fancy name brand camera gear and super fast Workstation Computers, complete with screaming fast 120 megahertz processors. Some of these guys even had their computers maxed out with 64 or even 96 megabytes of RAM. ZOWEEE BATMAN! At the time , I couldn't imagine ever being able to compete on a level playing field with most of these guys, they had all the right stuff and a staff of artisans to massage and manipulate every pixel of there drum scanned celluloid masterpieces. No image ever left their studio without the magic touch of Photoshop Manipulation by a highly paid Digital Retoucher. Nowadays those same computers wouldn't even have the processing power to check my e-mail, let alone run Photoshop. And the highly paid digital retoucher is Me, minus the highly paid part!

With all the advances in computing and the major leaps in Digital Camera Technology, the playing field has been leveled somewhat, especially for those Photographers working without the huge budgets and the large staff. With an inexpensive $1000.00 and under Personal Computer, Cell Phone, Digital Camera and High Speed Internet, a resourceful Photographer can compete with the fanciest Big City Studios. No one really has to know that you are the Answering Service, Secretary, Digital Guru, Web Designer, Color Separator, Printer, Pre - Press man and Photographer! And, if you learn to use one of the many softwares available for running your Photography Business, you can add Accountant, Business Consultant and Tax Preparer to the list. All of this however, comes with a price. The steep learning curve with any new software, printer, camera system etc... and the long hours spent sitting in front of a computer, can easily drain the life out of you and the mistakes you make along the way can quickly empty your bank account. Hopefully, some of the Digital Workflow 101 posts available in the right sidebar of this blog will help you avoid many of the costly, time consuming mistakes and let you jump ahead of your competition. Just don't jump too far ahead of me!

Here are a few of the things I do to keep my actual work hours to a minimum.

  1. I am prepared to give a 'ballpark' estimate on any job, immediately, during my first conversation with a client. If I let them get off the phone without sealing the deal on the spot, they will get sucked in by some lowballer and I won't get the opportunity to shoot for that client. This only works for Client Direct and Editorial Jobs, don't try it with your next International Nike Ad Campaign!

  2. My estimates are done on the computer, converted to Adobe PDF and sent out the door via e-mail within minutes. I don't print them, and I don't mail them. The reality is that nobody really cares how fancy your letterhead and envelopes are, they just want to get a handful of quotes to their Client or Boss as fast as possible and if they need a paper copy, they can print out my PDF, lickedy - split! There's no reason for me to waste a stamp or printers ink or my time sending something thru the mail when the decision to hire a photographer will be decided by my PDF estimate and a few trips to my website.

  3. I don't concern the client with the Old 'Film or Digital' question. No one asks anymore anyway.

  4. My images are downloaded or proofed online as High Res Jpeg's

  5. My final High Res Images are delivered online the same way. No Disks get sent to the client unless the final images number into the multiple dozens ( Which is rare! ) or if they expressly ask for one, they just lose the disk anyway after a few months and call you for copies of images that they should have stored in a file somewhere. With my system, I just send them the link ( again ) to the job files which live forever in secret place on the Internet. I could tell you where it is, but I'd have to kill you afterwards :)

  6. Drink lots of Coffee!
And finally!

Sleep late, eat great and remember all those 'Nine - to - Five people' sitting in a office cubicle somewhere just wishing they could be big time fancy Digital Photographers!

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