5 Lessons I Learned In My First Year of Business as a Photographer

5 Lessons I Learned In My First Year of Business as a Photographer

My name is David Wahlman, and I’m a photographer and videographer for outdoor and active lifestyle industries based in Orange County, California. In this post, I’ll share 5 of the lessons I learned after my first year of business.

1. Being Your Own Boss Is Harder Than You Think (and so much better…)

There are a lot of things I’m not good at and a lot of shortcomings I have; laziness is not one of them. I don’t ever remember a time in my life that anyone has accused me of not giving my current task all my energy and focus. Then I became my own boss and realized how hard it is to be self-disciplined when the only person you’re working for is you.

Even now people who know me would probably say I’m hardworking at my business, but between you and me, I’ve never felt so lazy in my life. There are the occasional days where I hit snooze for an extra 15-30 minutes. Or times when my lunch break involves finishing just one more episode on Netflix. Things like these may seem like small matters, but to me, I see the wasted time in them.

I see opportunities missed; the emails that could have been sent, the self-project I could have been working on, the blog I could have been writing. The truth of the matter is that starting your own business is hard and takes a lot of hard work (typically more than normal because you have to get your feet under you initially). I knew this going into 2017, but I never thought that a lack of discipline would be a problem for me; it had never been in the past.

Therefore, just know that even if you’re a hardworking, focused, responsible personality, it’s still easy to get bit by the evil bug sometimes when working for yourself. You have to push through and want it more than the other guys, and that takes time and a lot of energy. This is a struggle I need to grow in, but it hasn’t all been bad.

When the holidays came around and I had finished all my projects, I asked my boss for a little extra time with family… and he said yes (imagine that). Over the course of the year, there have been times when a close friend needed help with something and I was able to drop what I was doing and be there for them.

One of the main reasons I wanted my own business was so I could focus on things that were more important to me. My goal in life is not to be the richest or the most well known, but to have rich relationships and memories and pour into the people around me that matter most, people like my family and friends. That, to me, far outweighs any monetary success and having my own business has already started to allow me to do that.

2. Always Have A Detailed Contract

Whew! I had to learn this the hard way and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, so listen close. Having a contract for every project, client, and model is foundational. I knew that! But making sure it is extremely detailed as to the expectations, limitations, deadlines, revisions, etc is where I made the mistake very early on in 2017. This caused a mass of headaches for me and I learned right off-the-bat never to make that mistake again.

One of the biggest shortfalls of this particular incident was not mentioning how many revisions this video project would have (a large video project!). Let’s just say that the client liked to do small tweaks and not all at once and sometimes would even change their mind on changes I’d already made. I knew my mistake near immediately, but because it was my own fault, I ate it and finished the project with all the gumption I had. But never again. Now every contract I do has an addendum page that very clearly lays out all our expectations.

My history teacher in high school used to always say that history was important because we can learn from the mistakes and successes of the past. Well, consider my experience history and learn from it so you don’t make the same mistake too. And make sure that your contracts are professional and legal, not just self-written on a Saturday morning. Both TheLawTog and ShakeLaw have some great resources on legal contracts for photography and video production, respectively.

3. The Most Important Part Of My Business Is Marketing

I once heard a story about a boy prodigy, smarter than Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Edison combined. His brain worked in ways that we didn’t know was humanly possible and his inventions and ideas could change the most major problems of the world. But he lived his life a hermit in the woods with no friends or contact with the world and died there, taking his ideas to the grave with him. The End.

Actually, I didn’t hear that story; I made it up. But it’s to prove a point. It doesn’t matter how good you are at something if no one knows you exist! This is why I’ve learned that one of the most important things I can do with my business is marketing. If people don’t know that I exist and the kind of work I do, then I’m not going to get new clients. Bonus tip: it’s hard to run a business if you have no clients…

Many people automatically assume that perfecting your trade is the most important, but I disagree to an extent. I don’t want to downplay the quality of your product, though, since it is very important. You need to have a quality product or service to give to your clients! If what you’re offering is of noticeably poor quality, then I’d argue, mostly from a moral standpoint, that you’re not ready to start a business since it really does a disservice to your client and other professionals.

So when I say that marketing is more important, I’m taking an approach that already assumes you have something of value to offer. Sure we’re constantly growing in our craft and won’t ever be perfect, but we need to have a starting point or foundation that provides value. Therefore, with that assumption, as a new business, it is my belief now that marketing is the most beneficial action I can do for my company.

4. New Gear Without New Clients = Debt

Oh the proverbial chicken or the egg question, except for us creative types, the question is gear or clients first. Of nearly all opinions and articles I’ve heard over the years, the majority of professionals and authorities on the subject agree that skill is more important than gear. Not all, but most.

Personally, I’ve found that it’s a tough balance of both. You don’t need all the best gear to produce great content, but having the right gear can enhance your craft and open doors for more creativity. At the beginning of this last year, I leaned a little more towards the gear side. I knew it wasn’t necessary, but I wanted to be able to provide clients with something a notch above. So I spent a lot of money on upgrading my gear… and it looks dang good on that shelf! Joking, but not joking.

I feel great being able to use it for clients, but in hindsight (refer to point #3), I wish I had spent that money on marketing instead. If I had been able to double the number of clients I had in this past year, I would have all my gear paid off and probably excess to keep expanding.

5. Comparison Is A Killer

Now don’t completely mishear me here; I think comparison done right is beneficial. But typically we don’t do it right. If you’re sitting at home scrolling through all the beautifully managed Instagram profiles of the people you follow who have 22k+ followers and are thinking to yourself, “Wow, I guess I suck!”, then you’re doing it wrong. Been there, done that. But that’s not going to move us forward, that’s only going to pull us down.

To do comparison right, we have to do a few things. First, we need to be realistic and compare apples to apples. If you’ve been in business a year, been honing the craft for 8 years, and have 2,000 followers (using myself as an example), but you’re comparing yourself to someone who has been in business 7+ years, honing the craft for who knows how long, and has 13k followers (using the wonderful Ian Coble as an example), then that’s an unfair comparison.

By the time I’ve been in business 7 years, who knows how far I will have come. Comparing my present-self to an experienced veteran isn’t being fair to me. If you’re going to compare in this way, then compare to the local competition and your contemporaries so you know who you’re competing with.

Second, when looking at experienced people and role-models, we have to take on a different attitude; an attitude of learning from them and striving to be more like them (not copiers, but learning from their successes). We need to use it as motivation, a visualization of where we could be down the road.

And lastly, we need to have an attitude of comparison that realizes they are not the enemy. Don’t be mad at them for their success. Don’t be jealous (*too jealous) of their accomplishments. Don’t hate on them or bad mouth them. They are also people who are or have been where you are; trying to make a living and enjoy the creative process. They too might have families they’re trying to provide for. They too have their struggles they’ve had to overcome. We’re all in this together, in a weird, disjointed sort of way. Rejoice for them and then put your best foot forward. You can’t be responsible for other people’s lives, but you are 100% responsible for your own.

I hope that my mistakes, successes, and lessons from this year will help someone else along their journey.

About the author: David Wahlman is a photographer based in Orange County, California. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

Source: PetaPixel

5 Lessons I Learned In My First Year of Business as a Photographer

This Guy Built an Ultimate Lightroom Battlestation for $6,000

This Guy Built an Ultimate Lightroom Battlestation for ,000

Hobbyist photographer and Twitter product designer Paul Stamatiou recently decided that his 2-year-old iMac was no longer up to the task of handling his high-res RAW photos in Lightroom. Instead of shelling out $13,199 or $7,128 for a fully loaded iMac Pro or Mac Pro, Stamatiou decided to switch to Windows and build himself a custom Lightroom photo-editing monster.

Stamatiou says he decided to ditch his iMac after returning from a trip to New Zealand and spending a year editing 848GB worth of data in the form of 11,000+ 42-megapixel RAW photos and 4K videos.

Gamers commonly build their own battlestations and optimize the hardware and software configurations for achieving the best performance in computer games. Stamatiou optimized his entire build for the purpose of Lightroom photo editing, and even more specifically, Develop module actions.

“Actions in the Develop module are less efficient with multiple cores compared to actions like generating previews, converting to DNG and exporting images,” Stamatiou tells PetaPixel. “The Develop module is also the only one with GPU acceleration.

“As such, I opted for fewer cores but with a very high clock speed instead of more cores with a traditionally lower clock speed (for example the 18 core Intel i9 7980XE, which would have been great for a Premiere Pro machine that can more effectively use all cores) and I got a good graphics card for it.”

Stamatiou spent $399 on a 6-core Intel Core i7 8700K processor running at 3.7GHz (4.7GHz with Turbo Boost) — the best-performing CPU for Lightroom he could find at the time of this build. Stamatiou also paid to have the CPU delidded (to lower temperatures and increase overclocking) and overclocked it to 5.2GHz on all cores.

The overclocked CPU is water-cooled with a Corsair liquid CPU cooler.

Stamatiou also went big on the graphics card, spending $779 (almost double the price of his CPU) on a Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti. Interestingly enough, in the months since Stamatiou purchased his card, its price has skyrocketed due to overwhelming demand from people who want to mine bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies — just last week the card was selling for a whopping $1,600.

Other components and specs of Stamatiou’s computer are 32GB DDR4-3200 CL14 RAM (running at 3333 CL14), and two 1TB Samsung SSD. Here’s what the internals of his machine looked after assembling all the components:

Once the computer was built, Stamatiou set everything up at a desk with a Dell 27-inch 4K display attached to an adjustable monitor arm.

In all, Stamatiou spent pretty much exactly $6,000 on the entire project, from the computer components to the keyboard, mouse, and display.

Even after optimizing the hardware and software for Lightroom performance, Stamatiou still found that Lightroom wasn’t extremely fast in managing and editing his high-resolution photos.

“I mean to be honest, even with such a supremely capable machine Lightroom is still not terribly fast,” Stamatiou tells PetaPixel. “Overall Lightroom responsiveness in the Library and Develop module has markedly improved from what I’m used to but nothing shocking… still takes about 15 seconds on average to merge a 3-shot 42-megapixel HDR. I don’t know what I was thinking but I had hoped that would go down to under 10 seconds.

“But the most shocking thing was that in comparison benchmarks to Lightroom on my older Macs, that 1:1 preview creation, DNG creation and exporting were faster than I was expecting.

“I may begin to start to adapt my workflow to cull outside of Lightroom with something like the Photo Mechanic app.

“The machine is definitely an improvement but not a night-and-day kind of difference. For that to happen, the software just needs to become much more efficient with resources.”

Stamatiou has published a comprehensive 32,000 report on how he picked his components, built his computer, and tested the performance. After publishing the piece, Adobe’s Tom Hogarty reached out and offered to let Stamatiou try out some Lightroom improvements that are still “in the works”:


We also reached out to Adobe regarding recent user complaints of sluggish Lightroom performance (even after new updates that were meant to improve speed) and were told that more Lightroom performance fixes are on the way.

“Lightroom performance is our current top priority,” an Adobe spokesperson tells PetaPixel. “The team is aware of the community’s concerns and feedback, and customers can expect to see additional Lightroom performance improvements soon.”

Source: PetaPixel

This Guy Built an Ultimate Lightroom Battlestation for ,000

This Photographer Combines His Loves for Science and Art

This Photographer Combines His Loves for Science and Art

Photographer Johnathan Chen recently gave this 13-minute TEDx Talk about how art and science came together to inspire him to create mesmerizing images through experimentation.

Chen says he maintains a “beginner’s mindset” and is always looking to explore new ideas and try out different viewpoints in his images. Trained as an engineer but possessing the eyes of an artist, Chen works to capture scientific concepts on camera.

“A scientist and a photographer approach stories in much the same way,” says Chen. “I think as an artist I bridge both of those worlds.”

For example, Chen took a Prince Rupert’s Drop and captured it in slow motion. He ended up with an image of the drop shattering and finally used that to create a mask and a striking composite of Earth-shattering into the universe. He likes the way this photo reminds him about climate change and how delicate our planet is.

“The picture is what everyone sees and celebrates,” says Chen. “But people don’t understand the difficulty and the struggle that comes with making images like this.

“Things are not beautiful without difficulty. When I create images like this I think a lot about that, and that difficulty for me is genetic. I’m color blind.”

It’s incredibly inspiring to think that Chen can create amazing imagery without a proper ability to see and appreciate the color across his images. But even with that setback, Chen reminds himself that to create that beauty there must be a difficulty to overcome.

“Studying science and making photos, I figured I could learn how to see,” says Chen. “Science is my way of seeing what I can’t see.”

(via TEDx Talks via Fstoppers)

Source: PetaPixel

This Photographer Combines His Loves for Science and Art

A Short History of American Photography

A Short History of American Photography

Ralph Hattersley once said that we make photographs “to understand what our lives mean to us.”

We study history for much the same reason.

In this short survey of the history of American photography, Analog Process’s Marc Falzon takes us through some of the images, and image makers, who played a decisive role in shaping the early history of American photography.

Via: ISO 1200

Update on a Photo Scam: Photographer Lucky to Get Money Back After Fake Fader Assignment

Update on a Photo Scam: Photographer Lucky to Get Money Back After Fake Fader Assignment

A photographer reached out to PDN last week with details of a fake assignment scam that nearly cost him $4100. A person pretending to be an editor for The Fader, Patrick McDermott, contacted the photographer in late December with an offer of an assignment to shoot a fashion editorial for the magazine. He accepted and was sent a check to cover his fee and expenses for models and crew. He was instructed to use models from an agency that turned out to be fake. The agency demanded fees in advance, and the photographer deposited $4100 into the bank account of the fake modeling agency. Then he found out the check from the client had been recalled.

Photographers have reported versions of this same scam previously, including in September 2017 when a person calling himself “Alan Hurt” contacted photographers posing as a fashion blogger for High Snobiety. (See: Scam Alert: Phishing Scheme Targets Freelance Photographers)

This time, however, the scam had a positive ending. The photographer immediately contacted Wells Fargo, the bank that was holding the account for the fake modeling agency. “I got lucky and they managed to freeze the account and get my money back several days later,” he told PDN via email. “I’m afraid others may not have been so fortunate.”

The photographer who was nearly duped by the fake Fader assignment—and who asked to remain anonymous to protect himself—agreed to share the emails, contracts and other documentation with PDN so that others may avoid the mistakes he made. Here’s his story:

The initial email from the poser offered a shoot with a budget of $6300. The errors in the text of the email might have tipped the photographer off, but we’ve all received hastily written emails with a few errors, right?


Once the photographer replied that he was interested in the assignment, he received this follow-up. Again, numerous grammatical errors and some nonsensical statements (“Your works are quite aesthetic”) that could have been a red flag for the photographer. But the offer of payment for part of the photographer’s fee and the expenses for the talent convinced the photographer this was legit.


Next, the poser sent a contract. The photographer signed the fake contract, and was then sent a check for $4,800; $700 for part of the photographer’s fee, and $4100 to pay the modeling agency, fineline-talents.com. He was instructed to contact “Neil Barton,” a supposed modeling agent. A quick look at the website of the modeling agency makes it appear legitimate, but none of the links or menus function. The photographer reached out to the modeling agency and received this reply, as well as an invoice.

The photographer deposited the $4800 check. A couple of days later, he withdrew $4100. The modeling agency “required a cash deposit because the shoot was ‘short notice,’” the photographer explains. “This was by far the dumbest thing I did. Should have heard alarm bells loud and clear by now but my brain shut down for dollar signs.”

He says that two hours after he made the deposit to the modeling agency’s account, he received a call from his bank saying the check from “The Fader” had been withdrawn. “I was responsible for the $4100,” he says. Realizing what had happened, he went back to Wells Fargo and was eventually able to recover his money.

Related: Scam Alert: Phishing Scheme Targets Freelance Photographers

The post Update on a Photo Scam: Photographer Lucky to Get Money Back After Fake Fader Assignment appeared first on PDNPulse.

Source: PDN Pulse

Update on a Photo Scam: Photographer Lucky to Get Money Back After Fake Fader Assignment

Google Photos’ AI Panorama Failed in the Best Way

Google Photos’ AI Panorama Failed in the Best Way

Alex Harker was skiing with friends at the Lake Louise ski resort in Banff, Alberta, a week ago when the group stopped to take some photos on Harker’s Android smartphone. After shooting a few shots, Harker found that the AI-powered panorama stitching feature inside his Google Photos app had created the photo above as the suggested panorama for his scene.

For some reason, Google Photos saw fit to insert Harker’s friend Matt as a colossal bust in the snowy mountain landscape, making the guy look like a colossus peering over the hill at Harker.

“Google Photos offers you animations if several photos are taken in quick succession, sometimes puts filters on your photos, and offers panoramas if it notices your photos are side by side,” Harker writes.

“I literally took like 3 pictures, one with them in, and two without them,” he says. “And for some bizarre reason Google Assistant offered me a really strange panorama of the 3 photos spliced together.”

Here are the three photos Google Photos saw before it decided to create its masterpiece:

Last Thursday, Harker shared the photo on Reddit with the caption: “I took a few shots at Lake Louise today and Google offered me this panorama.” The post has racked up over 187,000 upvotes and has become one of the top Reddit posts of all time.

Good job, Google Photos. You’re so intelligent that even your fails turn into big wins.

Image credits: Photographs by Alex Harker and used with permission

Source: PetaPixel

Google Photos’ AI Panorama Failed in the Best Way

This Epic Action Sports Video Shows a Skier Freeriding Across the World

This Epic Action Sports Video Shows a Skier Freeriding Across the World

French professional skier Candide Thovex teamed up with Audi and created this jaw-dropping action sports short film that shows Thovex freeriding down gorgeous locations around the world in different seasons and different landscapes. It’s been one of the most viral videos on the Web over the past day, and for good reason.

Thovex is widely considered to be one of the greatest freeskiers who has ever lived, and the 35-year-old athlete scoured the planet for the perfect locations to show off what he can do without any snow. Thovex and a crew visited places across Europe, America, and Asia in their journey, hitting the slopes of everything from volcanoes to the Great Wall of China.

In the end, they managed to capture gorgeous shots of Thovex in sand, jungle, volcanic ash, stone, soil, and even water.

The project is titled, “Ski the World.” You can read more about it over on the Audi website, and you can also find more of Thovex’s amazing videos on his YouTube channel.

(via Candide Thovex via Fstoppers)

Image credits: Video and photographs by Audi

Source: PetaPixel

This Epic Action Sports Video Shows a Skier Freeriding Across the World

Lightroom Tricks for Organizing Photos and Optimizing Workflow

Lightroom Tricks for Organizing Photos and Optimizing Workflow

Need to improve your photo management in Lightroom? Here’s a 19-minute video from Nigel Danson that looks at how you can improve your Lightroom workflow by properly organizing photos and adopting a whole host of useful tips.

When organizing his photos on his hard drive, Danson has a hierarchical system that sorts his images by date. First off, he has main folders that indicate the year images were taken. After that, he has Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4 folders. Within those folders he has separated things by location.

The video is full of tips for Lightroom workflows that Danson has come across through trial and error. For example, by building 1:1 previews when importing your photos into Lightroom for the first time, you will find that processing them and zooming in to check details is much quicker.

Danson also adds appropriate keywords to all of the images on import, allowing him to add only a few keywords later on that are specific to a particular photo.

By right-clicking the background in Lightroom, you can change the color that frames your photos in the edit window. This is a particularly useful tool if you’re editing shots with high contrast. When editing snow images, for example, Danson ensures he has a white background so that he has a true white reference point.

When cropping images, you can actually hit the “O” key on your keyboard to adopt different overlays for compositional aids. Once you’ve cropped your images to perfection, try using a flagging and rating system, like Danson does, so that you can find your best images from a shoot quickly and easily.

Check out the full video above for an insight into a proper Lightroom workflow and see how you can adapt your own habits for the better.

(via Nigel Danson via Fstoppers)

Source: PetaPixel

Lightroom Tricks for Organizing Photos and Optimizing Workflow

This is What Digital Cameras Were Like in 1995

This is What Digital Cameras Were Like in 1995

There are plenty of new digital camera unboxing videos these days, but they’re generally not like this one. Lazy Game Reviews got its hands on an Epson PhotoPC and created this 11-minute video showing what it was like to unbox and use a digital camera back in 1995.

The PhotoPC was the first digital camera sold under the Epson brand — it was developed by Sanyo and licensed to other companies — and the first color digital camera priced under $500.

It could shoot 0.3-megapixel (640×480 pixel) photos and store 16 of them on the 1MB internal storage. Other specs and features include the ability to store photos for a year without power, autofocusing from 2 feet to infinity, a built-in flash, a self-timer, and a “light” weight of just 1 pound (~0.45kg).

The camera didn’t have any kind of screen for reviewing photos, so you’ll need to connect your camera to a computer using the serial port and cable to transfer and view your images.

Thankfully, especially for professional photographers, digital cameras have come a very, very long way since the Epson PhotoPC.

(via LGR via Reddit)

Source: PetaPixel

This is What Digital Cameras Were Like in 1995