Category Archives: Marketing

Are you missing out on great opportunities? Camera Work 64

John Ricard discusses what makes a great opportunity for your business.  More tips on building a following in Instagram.  Also, 5 tips for working in the music business.


Should you join a photography instructional site? Camera Work 62

John Ricard discusses the value of joining an educational site.  Also, more on navigating the new Instagram.


Tips for Meeting With a New Client - Camera Wor 53

John Ricard discusses a photography workshop at Unique Photo in NJ on September 16.  Also, 3 tips for meeting with a new client.


Camera Work 47

Camera Work Podcast 47



Marshetta worked with me very briefly on Black Girls Rock last year.  When she saw an opportunity to work with me for this year’s BGR shoot, she quickly volunteered to assist me.  I had asked BET to provide an assist of the shoot.  As Marshettahetta describes it, the assignment was for me to photograph attendees in high energy expressions.  We were also photographing curvy women at the event.  We were set up in the area where the performances and awards were being held.  We were positioned near the entrance to grab women as soon as they entered the venue.  We wanted them while they were fresh and blamed up.    The challenge was to photograph the women quickly -maybe 20 or 30 seconds.

For me one good thing about this shoot is that we had BET staffers bring in the women and take care of the model release.  I was able to focus 100% on capturing the right moments.  It is mentally draining to talk to so many people in this high entry manner.  I’m not really even aware of what I’m saying. I’m in a zone and I’m saying anything that will generate the reaction that I am looking for.  

I put myself “in state”.  In my mind, the women are all going to pose like rockstars.  I don’t even entertain the idea that they might be nervous or uncomfortable.  My “reality” is that they will shine in fromt of my camera, and I allow MY reality to overpower their own.  


Granted, the women have chosen to do this session, so  it is like that they will cooperate and I am also catching them at at  time when they are dressed to the 9’s and that also makes them want to be photographed.  I pointed out that Marshettahetta was a good assistant because it is easy for anyone on set to make one comment that makes the person uncomfortable and Marshettahettahetta seemed to instinctively understand that and she never said anything inappropriate.

Instagram:  Personally, I don’t use it view content.  I create content there.  After Marshetta took a photo of me at BGR, i looked for her IG to tag her.  I discovered her profile is private.  Marchetti said she was willing listen to why her IG should be public, but she has had conversations with people in the past about it, and she has her own reasons as to why she likes the account private.  

I explained to Marshetta, the following: Imagine I am an art director for Complex magazine, and you get on my radar.  I might want to check out your work regularly, without you knowing that I am doing so. I don’t want you contacting me with, “Oh, I see you are following me.  Can I shoot something for you?”  

Also, a male art director, or any given male may not be able to follow a “private” female without it causing problems in his personal relationships.  He may not be able to explain to his significant other, why he wants to follow this female.  Instagram is a public platform, there is no reason to make it private.

Marshetta asks if a person should have a personal and a business account.  For me, IG is so much work.  You need to post every day, at the same time every day and the content needs to be good in both imagery and captions.  It is so much work, that it is virtually impossible to maintain 2 accounts.  Also, a good IG account can showcase both the personal and the professional work.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other.  Marshetta follows my IG and as a result she knows some of my professional work like my street photography, and she also is aware of my relationship with my daughter.  Also, if the vision is consistent between the personal and the private, then its a beautiful thing to have both in the same account.  Jeremy Cowart is a photographer who does an excellent job of combining both the  personal and the professional on his IG account.  Furthermore, he takes great photographs consistently, even when it is just a picture of his daughter.

I asked what Marshetta  photographs.  Recently she photographed some yoga poses.  Marshetta is still learning the technical photography aspects.  She isn’t comfortable yet with what she is doing.  She often second guesses herself. She might ask herself, “What would John do?”  It isn’t seamless to her, yet.

For me, the second guessing never stops.  Even on the BGR gig last week, I used my Leica.  There are many disadvantages to using this camera, but I chose to do it anyway.  I love the camera and I chose to use it.  However, I did second guess myself about whether that was a wise decision or not.  Also recently, I photographed Miss Mulatto.  I chose to use my Nikon for the full length images and my Leica on the beauty shots.  At home processing the files was a nightmare because the 2 cameras record colors so differently.  I was thinking, “Shouldn’t you have this figured out already?  After 10 years, how do you not know that it isn’t a good idea to mix the 2 cameras like this.”  The point being, the second guessing never stops.  At least for me it doesn’t.

I asked what is the most important thing for Marshetta to learn in order to be a good photographer.  She answered, “What speaks to me, personally.”   Marshetta is trying to find her niche.  

Marshetta answer was insanely great.  Ultimately, what you need to photograph how you see the world.  It took me a long time to understand that.  For much of my career, my work was assigned.  I only took pictures when someone paid me and I only took images that I thought might be published. I  wasn’t really photographing things that were of interest to me.  Once you have the vision, you can transfer it to other areas.  If you can shoot yoga sexy, for example,  you may be able to shoot perfume bottles sexy as well.

I point out that you also have to understand the business part of photography.  You need to look at your career the same way a person who owns a Dunkin Donuts does.  It’s not about the passion. It’s about the business sometimes.

If I were starting off today -particularly as a female, I would become a boudoir photographer.  Women have a built in marketing method for this type of shooting.  They market that you will be comfortable being sexy in the pre scene of another female and there won’t be any sleazy aspects to the shoot.  Unlike say, wedding photography, shooting budiior is “easy”.  You don’t have to deal with dozens of people and different venues each week.  Some boudoir shooters use only natural light and they work in the homes of their clients.  It doesn’t take a lot of gear.  And, you can sell books or prints to your clients for $1,000 or more.  The key however, is to pursue it as a business.

I asked Marshetta if she has a morning routine.  She avoids her phone in the morning.  I’ve been trying to develop a morning routine.  I find it difficult to not just check email and visit the web.  A lot of successful people have morning routines.  I’ve tried to make it so that I do something creative first thing in the morning, but often I can’t bring myself to do it, and instead I’m just looking World Star Hip Hop or Facebook.

Marshetta is currently reading, “Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs” by Henry Carroll. I recommended she try books by David Duchem.  His books are only $5 most of the time. Some of the books are technical and give concrete information about how to take better photographs.  Other books, particularly the ones with “vision” in the title are more mental and are well worth reading.


Camera Work 46

Camera Work 46: Photographer Kawanna Curry joins John Ricard.

I love attending photography workshops and I love watching photography instructional online, but at times, the slow pace drives me crazy.  Sometimes you will see an instructor give a great presentation one day, but then you see them on another day, maybe when they are doing a sponsored presentation, and instead of being  good presentation, its just a big commercial for a camera related product.

Is it ever frustrating to watch what other photographers are doing?  Kawanna says sometimes it is indeed "very frustrating" if she is not out shooting when someone else is.  It can make her depressed.  Today, the term "hating" has become popular in urban slang.  The term is used almost anytime someone criticizes an album, tv show, book or statement that a person has made.  "Why are hating on her?" becomes the question anytime you level a criticism of someone.  For me, if I don't enjoy looking at the Instagram feed of someone who is doing the work I'd like to be doing, that doesn't mean I am "hating" on them.  It just means that my desire for those to achieve is so strong, that I don't necessarily enjoy watching someone else live my dream.  Kawanna says, sometimes you are asking yourself, "What is stopping ME? Why am I not out there?"

On the day we recorded this episode, I had just presented a "Solutions" workshop at my studio.  One of the activities we did was to look through someone's Instagram feed and try to determine, "Who is this person?"  Then, you read the person's description and see if that matches the images they are posting. Sometimes you see an IG feed that only communicates, "I know how to take a selfie", but you read the description and it says they are a scholar.  

Kawanna asks if it is best to have a separate personal and professional page for your IG account.  She acknowledges wanting to show the person side of her life, but she also wants people to see her work.  When she posts a selfie people will like it and comment and like it, but then when she posts a professional image that took her 90 minutes to retouch, it doesn't get the same reaction.  For me, if I want to get "likes", I post an image of my daughter.

There is a good side to this however, imagine the account of a guy who posts photographs of sexy women.  Let's imagine he has a large following.  If he posts a photo of himself taking his son to school, it is probably not going to get a larger reaction than his other work.  Nobody really cares about him. They just want to see the naked women.  So, when people are responding to your personal images, it shows  that they care about YOU.  And bottom line, people hire people.  The don’t hire work.  They must have a connection with you.  Kawanna says if people are going to spend an hour or two with you in the studio, they have to connect with you in some way.

In my view you should have only one IG page.  It’s so time consuming, who wants to manage 2 separate accounts.  The personal images, don’t have to be just selfies. It could be you at Yoga or you  eating lunch. The personal images could show you at a museum, or they can show that you travel or that you hang out with cool people. The personal images can still serve to build you professionally.

Kawanna mentions that Jeremy Coward is a master of balancing his personal and professional work.  The interesting thing about his account is that his personal imagery of his kids and such, is a strong as his professional images of his clients.  For me, while I might love the image of my daughter that I post on IG, I understand that it isn’t a great photograph.  In the case of Cowart it is indeed a good photograph.

Kawanna wonders if the personal images generate actual work.  I mention that it is just one small part of  your marketing.  When I send out an email newsletter, I don’t expect it to directly generate work.  But I understand that in conjunction with other ways I am marketing, the email newsletter can pay off.  If you are marketing successfully doing videos on You Tube, email newsletters, direct mailings, phone calls, etc, you might not even know exactly which aspect of your marketing is resulting in work.

Kawanna points out that all of your marketing efforts serve to get your vision out there.

Personally, I refuse to add Snapchat to  my social media.  Between Facebook and Instagram, I’m busy enough with my social media.  Kawanna isn’t interested in Snap Chat either.  

My wife’s blog is a more authentic blog than my own,  Because she is free from outcome and she isn’t trying to gain followers and she isn’t trying to get clients.  She does the blog because she enjoys doing it.  She is authentic.  If I were to go on Snapchat, II would not be authentic there and the content would reflect that. Periscope, which allows me to broadcast live from my photoshoots, is a platform that I love.  Kawanna says she will give it a try.

A photographer needs a niche but at the same time she needs to be diverse.  The key is to have a clear vision throughout your diversity.  You can see examples in this when you examine how a rapper establishes an aesthetic in their music videos and then they go on to endorse a product like alcohol or perfume, and the aesthetic is similar to the one in their music.  The vision is consistent.

Kawanna asks if you should take every job when you first start out.  I feel you can shoot pretty much anything to make a quick buck, but you don’t have to post it.   You can pick what you show on social media so that your audience understands exactly what it is that you do.  And if you are at the point where you still suck at photography, be glad.  You can learn to take better pictures.  It’s actually worse when your photographs are good and you still aren’t getting hired.

Kawanna says when you start off and you’re working for yourself it is stress free.  But when you are shooting for money you are thinking, “I have to figure this out.  I have to come up with a great picture.”

For any photographer though, it is crucial to live an interesting life and document that life.  Who are your friends? What are you doing in your downtime?  Do you travel?  I have had periods in my life where I was living an interesting life, but it never occurred to me to photograph the world around me. I didn’t realize it was interesting life that I was living.  Sometimes I worry that my life is sort of boring now.  I come home and watch tv with my wife many days…

Kawanna points out we should put Social Media on the back burner sometimes.  We should just enjoy life.  Just experience life and then come back and write about it.  Writers would often take a break from writing.  Monitoring the “likes” on Instagram can a big waste of time and it can become a compulsion.

We are quick to give credit to people who have mastered social media and get a lot of likes, but sometimes I think we should give props to people who don’t have a larger following on social media but still get out there all the time and post strong content and write strong captions.  Kawanna  enjoys following people who have good content, even if they don’t have a lot of followers.

I don’t “like” anything on Instagram.  I feel people should “like” my content however.  My images are never my lunch, it’s never a quick phone picture.  Even if the images are “bad”, they always take a lot of work to create.  It’s hours of shooting and or post processing.  I’m providing quality content and I do feel people should take the time to “like” my images.  But if I’m following someone who shoots a lot of selfies, I don’t feel the need to “like” their images.

Kawanna asks the new technology is every a concern in terms of it hurting photographers professionally.  I look at is as the world keeps changing for the better, even if it hurts some people individually.  When we changed from VHS tape rentals to downloading movies, things were better for everyone…except the few people who owned VHS rental stores.  So the changes that make it easier for regular people to create strong images may hurt me occasionally when I’m trying to sell my services, but overall the change is a beautiful thing.  And as a professional, if you have a truly unique vision, you can indeed survive today.

Recently I was bidding on a job that required 6 models.   I told the client we should cast one of the models on social media to bring attention to the project.  Since the model fee is high, we will get a lot of attention for the model search and that will be beneficial in building awareness for the brand we are shooting for.  This is an example of me embracing the new technology rather than fearing it.


Camera Work 39

"Branding Like a Boss" podcast host, Aaron Pierson and filmmaker Aiden Fishbein join John Ricard to discuss Branding and Marketing.