Your Own Destiny - The way we see the world -
DEFINING YOUR VISUAL INTEGRITY
and MAKING A COMMITMENT
2001 Selina Oppenheim
Final Part of the three part series.
* The dividing line between success and failure - CREATING SUCCESS
* Success is not earned, It’s created - EXAMINING YOUR WORK ETHIC
* The way we see the world - DEFINING YOUR VISUAL INTEGRITY and MAKING
Every photography business has two common elements. Assignments and clients.
As photographers, you are in a position to directly effect the type of
assignments you are given. As business owners, you have the opportunity
to create the type of relationships with your clients that will please
you. Successful photographers accept the responsibility of defining their
"visual integrity" while they develop healthy, positive relationships
with their clients.
"Visual integrity," is the way you see the world, the defining
separates you from other photographers. It is your style. It is the
one element that makes a photo yours.
It is also the key to obtaining the type of assignments you want. Clients
need to be taken by the hand and shown exactly what it is you do and most
importantly, how you do it. The way to take a client by the hand, is to
make sure your "visual integrity" is evident in every creative
piece your potential client views.
Your portfolio is your most important selling tool, making it the first
place to do a "visual integrity" check. Examine your book. Is
every shot in it an example of how you see? Is it the best photo that
you can produce? Is it the way you want to photograph?
If you have answered no to any of these questions, pull out the shots
that aren't examples of your "visual integrity" at work. Ask
yourself why they are there. Don't be fooled into the outdated idea that
you to have filler shots. Filler shots are images you have chosen to put
in your book because you think clients want to see them. Your portfolio
should include only shots that are clear examples of the way you see.
If you feel you need to have a computer shot in your book, make sure it
is your way of shooting computer. If you feel you need to have a formal
bridal shot in our book, and you don't like doing classic formal shots,
challenge yourself. Create a new version of a classic bridal shot. Your
Once you have pulled out the photos you feel represent your style, start
to examine them. What elements do they have in common? What tools do you
use most often? Try to articulate why the photos work? Is it light, mood,
composition, or a combination of techniques. At the same time, examine
the work of other photographers whose work you enjoy. What is it about
the images they create that pleases you? What tools have they used?
The process you are going through is the beginning of defining your "visual
integrity." Most photographers unconsciously develop their way of
seeing to define the way that they create. It is not an easy process,
nor is it a quick one. But it is possibly one of the most important responsibilities
If you are unsure about committing to this process, keep in mind we are
told every day that we work in a highly competitive market. The reality
is that photography is ONLY competitive in numbers. Certainly, there are
more photographers than assignments. However, when you crunch the numbers,
about 15% of working photographers understand and utilize the concept
of "visual integrity."
It is your vision, the way you choose to photograph that motivates a client
to call you. In essence, if you showcase your visual integrity in your
portfolio, you will be immediately cutting out a good portion of the competition.
If you need more enticement, please remember that successful shooters
define, showcase, and refine their "visual integrity" on a regular
In addition to showcasing "visual integrity," successful photographers
healthy, positive, and productive relationships with their clients.
Classically, when talent starts out, any paying client will do. The goal
is to bring in assignments that pay the bills. After all, we are running
a business. Usually about 3-5 years down the line, talent will question
their visual direction and review the quality of their relationships with
In order to define your ideal client relationship, sit down in a comfortable
chair and start to dream. Focus on the perfect client. What would they
be like? How much creative involvement would they ask of you? What does
their payment history look like? Are they someone you want to be friendly
with or are you interested in only their professional respect.
If the idea of creating relationships is new for you, keep in mind that
one of the terrific benefits of owning your own business is you have the
opportunity to work with the kind of people you choose. Are you doing
that now? Examine your client roster. How many clients are repeaters?
Have you enjoyed working with them? How much creative input have you had
on each assignment? How much do you want? Do you want to develop long
term relationships with clients, or are you looking for fast turnover
of accounts? There is no one answer for everybody, but there is an answer
Using the information you glean is not difficult at all. Create a list
for yourself of qualities you feel are important in each client. Then
create a list of qualities that would be evident in dream clients. Look
at each list and get a sense of what is important to you. Refer to your
list after portfolio visits. See how and where your contacts fit in. People
that fit into your dream category might get more attention from you, if
their projects are appropriately matched.
Look at your system for attracting clients. Do the systems you now utilize
speak to the type of relationship you are looking for? For instance, if
you want clients to look to you as a creative collaborator, your portfolio
should be full of work that shrieks visual integrity. After all, why would
a client ask you to collaborate on a project if they saw little indication
of creativity in your book? Do you take time during the portfolio review
to examine work that has been done before for your client, asking them
questions that would give you valuable information about their tastes
and needs? If you are interested in developing long term relationships
you would. Simple steps, but ones that allow you to "walk your talk."
Look at current relationships. Are there ones you would like to develop
more? Start today to define the changes you would like to see. If there
are relationships you would like to replace, make note of that and start
to actively seek other clients that might fit into your vision.
I am not advocating you end relationships. What I am suggesting
is you accept the fact you deserve the type of relationships you
want. No one will give them to you. You must define and create
them for yourself.
The possibilities facing my clients have always excited me. What a gift
to be able to create the kind of relationships and develop the type of
work you want. What an honor to create with someone you like and respect.
What a joy to end the day knowing you worked your creativity to the max,
and it was appreciated.
What an opportunity you have, make the most of it! CREATE SUCCESS !
© 2001 Selina Oppenheim
MAKING A COMMITMENT
the first installment of Creating Success, I shared with you traits and
actions taken by successful creatives. In this, the final chapter, we
will examine the most significant part of the success equation, commitment.
Commitment. The big "C" word is the last action key taken
by all successful creatives. After all, you can set your goals, develop
your visual integrity, and work on creating healthy, enjoyable relationships
with your clients. However, if you are not committed to success, you will
not be able to consistently put forth the effort needed to complete your
tasks, and you will not stay focused.
The mechanism of commitment involves two separate actions.
The ability to take risks and the willingness to embrace success.
Risk, looks different to everyone. To some, the idea of showing a portfolio
to a client is a big risk. What if the viewer does not have an overly
positive reaction? Throw in the equation of showing only images that are
examples of your visual integrity, and we are talking big risk factor
for many creatives. To others, it is simply the idea of defining goals
and creating a marketing plan around them that causes palpitations. The
risk factor here is that you know what you want, how will you feel if
you don't succeed?
In order to minimize the risk factor, determine what risk means to you.
List the areas that you have determined set off the alert button. Become
conscious of them and check on those areas periodically. If you start
to second guess yourself, stop and take a moment to do an inventory check.
Is the doubt a credible one? Or are you creating blocks because the risk
feels too great? Remember, it's okay to be afraid. It's not okay to act
on your fear.
It may be helpful to equate how we feel about risk, to the way children
sometimes react to a dark room. Small children are often afraid of the
dark. When the lights are out, they may see strange creatures in the corner.
However, when the light is turned on, the creatures disappear and the
children see only a pile of clothes. Listing the areas of risk that you
are sensitive to may turn the light on, allowing you to challenge yourself
to take the leap.
The willingness to embrace success sounds easy. After all, don't most
of us wish to fulfill our dreams and aspirations? The answer may be yes,
but the real question is, are the goals we have truly ours? Or do they
belong to someone else? Review your list and be certain you want everything
there. Make sure your goals don't belong to a competitor, your mother,
your spouse or significant other. They need to be yours. You are going
to be working long and hard to achieve them, make sure they are genuine.
After you have determined the goals listed are true, ask yourself how
hard you are willing to work? For how long? To what end?
Becoming conscious of your goals, making them your own, determining a
time line for completion and knowing what you are willing to risk is all
the preparation you need. Once you have completed these actions you will
be ready to embrace success.
Now that you know how to handle risks and embrace success, let's examine
the word commitment. When I punch up the thesaurus in my computer, the
words that can be substituted for commitment are: promise, assurance,
and guarantee. So, it's safe to say that when you are committing to success,
you are promising, assuring, and guaranteeing results! In addition, the
act of commitment creates magical events. What follows is one of my favorite
statements. The author is unknown, however the truth within has been proven
time and time again.
Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always
ineffectiveness.Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there
is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas
and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then
Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would
never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the
decision, raising in ones favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and
meetings and material assistance,which no one could have dreamt would
have come their way.
Whatever you can do,
or dream you can,
Boldness has genius,
power and magic in it.
Selina Oppenheim Biography
Having begun her professional career as a representative for some
of Boston's leading photographers, Selina has spent the last 20 years
as a consultant to creative professionals, as a nationally acclaimed lecturer
and as the developer of several professional workshops, the most popular
being "CREATING YOUR OWN DESTINY." She has served on
the Board of Directors of the Boston Graphic Artists' Guild and is a former
correspondent for Photo District News. She has been profiled by Boston
Magazine, ADWEEK, The Boston Globe Magazine, Photo District News, ADCOM,
and Capital District Business Review.
Port Authority, Inc.
25A Stow Road, Boxborough MA 01719
Phone: 978.263.6822 Fax: 978.263.6439
Read the beginning of the 3 part series in WIPI previous Quareterly’s
* Part 1 Success is not earned, It’s created - EXAMINING YOUR WORK ETHIC
#8, October - December 2001
* Part 2 The way we see the world - DEFINING YOUR VISUAL INTEGRITY and
MAKING A COMMITMENT
#9, January - March, 2002
Spring into learning and build your Professional world of success with
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A must have collection for your library
Press publisher and founder Tad Crawford is an author, attorney,
and artists' rights advocate.
Born in New York City, Crawford grew up in the artists colony of Woodstock,
New York. Interested in writing both fiction and nonfiction, he majored
in economics at Tufts College and graduated from Columbia Law School in
February 1971. ("That explains the unusual amalgam of my activities,"
Crawford says. "A lot of legal skills are crucial for helping the
artist and for running a publishing company. Of course, writing is an
excellent background for publishing. So it's come together very well.")
Crawford clerked for a judge of the New York Court of Appeals, the state's
highest court, then went to work for a small general law firm in New York
City while writing and teaching writing and literature at the School of
Visual Arts. Until he took the teaching assignment at the School of Visual
Arts and learned of the need for materials to help artists understand
their rights, he had not envisioned being an advocate of artists' rights.
"I found nothing in print to help artists deal with such legal matters
as copyrights, contracts, income taxes, the 'hobby loss'problem, estate
planning, or even how to get grants," recalls Crawford. And so, responding
to what he saw as "an extreme need," he wrote a book dealing
with those and other relevant issues, titling it Legal Guide for the
Visual Artist and using it as a text for the "Law and the Visual
Artist" course that he taught at the School of Visual Arts. Published
in 1977, Legal Guide for the Visual Artist is now in its fourth
edition and has nearly one hundred thousand copies in print.
He followed this with The Writer's Legal Guide in 1978 (recently
updated and reissued with Tony Lyons, the publisher of The Lyons Press,
as co-author). With Arie Kopelman he wrote Selling Your Photography
in 1980 and Selling Your Graphic Design and Illustration in 1981.
At the same time Crawford served as Chairman of the Board for the Foundation
for the Community of Artists, legislative counsel for the Copyright Justice
Coalition (which had many arts groups as members), and general counsel
for the Graphic Artists Guild. In 1982 Crawford was asked to help publish
books for some of the organizations that he had represented as an attorney.
In response, he became publisher of Madison Square Press, which issued
annuals for such artists'organizations as the Society of Illustrators,
the Society of Publication Designers, the Art Directors Club of New York,
and the Art Directors Club of Los Angeles.
In 1988 he decided to strike out in a new direction, "to create a
press that would offer the kind of information that was more like what
I had taught, written about, and lobbied for." Crawford saw the need
for a publishing company that would provide practical information to creative
professionals, such as artists, photographers, designers, and authors.
He knew first hand the issues faced every day by such creative people
and could envision a spectrum of books to help them survive and prosper
In the Fall of 1989, Crawford published Allworth Press's first book, a
revised edition of his classic Legal Guide for the Visual Artist. Ten
more titles followed in 1990, offering information about marketing, promotion,
pricing, copyright, contracts, health and safety, and much more. "The
information in these books,"Crawford says, "can make all the
difference in terms of success and prosperity."
Crawford's last involvement as an active lobbyist was in 1986, and he's
given up active practice of the law to devote his energies to his publishing
and his writing. He continues to write books and articles, and he is the
Legal Affairs Editor for Communication Arts magazine. publishing
36 titles annually with a full-time staff of ten.
and check out ...What's New at
Business and Legal Forms for Photographers
by Tad Crawford
Forming New Strategies for Photographers’ Success
Attorney-Author Crawford Updates Industry Classic for Apprehensive
Both the manner and business of photography have changed in
recent years. Technology has opened the door to new equipment and opportunities,
as legal and economic changes have altered the way photographers find
and perform jobs. Today’s uncertain financial climate has emphasized the
age-old need for photographers to negotiate and meet deadlines and budgets,
while legal tools for protecting their work have assumed a new urgency.
Help is now on the way. Attorney Tad Crawford has fully revised and expanded
the industry classic Business and Legal Forms for Photographers, third
edition, to help photographers organize and promote their businesses as
well as minimize legal vulnerability.
For all of the most important transactions any photographer is likely
to undertake, this volume contains thirty-one business and legal forms,
step-by-step instructions, advice on standard contractual provisions,
thorough discussion of contractual issues relevant to the industry, and
unique negotiation checklists to help photographers operate with the highest
standards of professionalism. “Attaining the knowledge of good business
practices and implementing their use is an important step toward success
for any professional,” Crawford observes.
The third edition of this esteemed guide has been updated to cover electronic
rights’ issues and includes five new forms for trademark application,
employment application, employment agreement, restrictive covenant for
employment, and project employee contract. All of the forms are included
on a CD-ROM to aid in customizing for use in the practice of the profession.
The thirty-one forms also include:
* license of rights
* application for copyright
* sale contracts
* nondisclosure agreements
* stock agency agreements boo
Business and Legal Forms for Photographers, third edition, also contains
information on photographers’ organizations, how to contact volunteer
lawyers for the arts, and much more. In a time of rapid change, this book
is an essential resource for photographers—well-established or beginning—seeking
the path to success.
Business and Legal Forms for Photographers can be found
in better book stores, or it can be ordered directly from the publisher
by calling: 1-800-491-2808, or order online from our catalog page
where you will also find a full description, a table of contents, and
$29.95, 8 1/2x11, 192 pages
Paperback, ISBN 1-58115-206-X
Publication Date: January 2002
Professional Business Practices in Photography
Society of Media Photographers
This classic guide is the ultimate source on key business practices
and industry standards from the foremost authority in professional photography.
From standard practices in stock and assignment photography to special
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over two dozen industry experts offer practical guidance on such topics
as estimating prices, formalizing agreements, using electronic technology,
and much more. This completely updated Sixth Edition also features dozens
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Complete Guide to Assignment and Stock Prices
by Michal Heron and David MacTavish
This classic trade reference tool provides photographers with
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include practical information on the economics of photography, cutting-edge
negotiation techniques, and the specifics of pricing electronic media. Over
fifty pages of at-a-glance pricing charts help photographers tailor their
pricing to suit any sales situation. Plus, readers will also find a complete
“buyer’s guide” for art directors and editors, a comprehensive glossary,
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A must-have addition to every photographer’s bookshelf.
11 x 8 1/2, 160 pages; Paperback, ISBN 1-58115-207-8;
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Publication Date: January 2002
The Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion
by Maria Piscopo
A veteran photographer’s rep reveals how to find more clients and make more
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6 3/4 x 10, 192 pages; Paperback, 40 b&w photographs,
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Publication Date: July 2001
SEE WIPI WORKSHOP Section for a list of Maria’s
scheduled seminars or visit her website at http://www.mpiscopo.com/
Photojournalist's Guide to Making Money
Market savvy, expert research, and first-rate resources combine to make
this book the tutor that can take experienced photojournalists to new heights
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Publication Date: December 2000
For Your Art
A Guide for Artists, Collectors, Galleries and Art Institutions
By Jill Snyder
Colors That Don’t Age, Wraps That Don’t Scratch
Jill Snyder Shares the Latest Techniques and Tips that Bring
Eternal Life to Any Artwork
Art history is full of stories about artworks that have been
destroyed due to accidents or neglect—yet we rarely talk about those millions
of artworks which, thanks to proper care and handling, have survived throughout
centuries. In Caring For Your Art, Jill Snyder explains the secrets
of displaying, transporting, storing, and insuring art objects that help
extend the life of paintings, prints, photography, and sculpture against
all possible odds. New to this edition are interviews with key figures from
the art insurance, art risk management, and conservation industries that
have been conducted by Ann Albano, registrar of the Cleveland Center for
Concerns about preserving an artwork ideally start before a work
is created or put on display: What degree of humidity can a studio or show
room have? How will the exciting new plastic material behave once the color
has dried out? With Caring For Your Art, those involved with the
creation and distribution of art will be able to choose locations, creative
material, supports, framing equipment and wrapping material without running
into unpleasant surprises.
Whether an artwork remains in one place or is constantly shipped from one
exhibit to another, numerous hazards need to be taken into account. Caring
For Your Art helps caretakers of art objects to create a seamless chain
of protective measures that ensures optimum care of the artwork under any
Written by a curator and art aficionado who has been an expert on art preservation
for many years, Caring For Your Art takes into account the latest
advances in creative materials and techniques, preservation technology,
and insurance requirements. The book will prove an invaluable companion
to every artist, curator, gallery owner, or collector concerned about the
protection of his art objects, and includes
* cutting-edge ways to limit environmental hazards
* the latest techniques for creating, packing,
transporting, and storing art
* recommendations for the use of acid-free
* using manual and computer systems for record
* checklists that help identify gaps in the
* easy-to-grasp illustrations of complex technical
Caring For Your Art can be found in better book stores, or
it can be ordered directly from the publisher by calling: 1-800-491-2808,
or order online from the Allworth catalog page where you will also find
a full description, a table of contents, and reviews.
Publication Date: September 2001
Historic Photographic Processes is a comprehensive user's guide
to the historical processes that have become popular alternatives to modern
and digital technology. Though many of the techniques, applications, and
equipment were first developed in the nineteenth century, these same methods
can be used today to create hand-crafted images that are more attractive
and permanent than conventional prints or digital outputs. Fine-art photographer
Richard Farber incorporates extensive research with clearly-written directions
and resource lists to provide in-depth information on eight of the most
enduring processes in photographic history, including salted paper, albumen,
cyanotype, kallitype, platinum/palladium, carbon/carbro, gum bichromate,
and bromoil. He guides the reader through each step, from selecting the
appropriate paper and sensitizing it to exposing, developing, and toning
the final print. Each method is accompanied by a short explanation of how
it was originally used and its significance in the evolution of photography.
Historic Photographic Processes contains more than fifty color
and ten black-and-white images that beautifully illustrate each of the processes
described. Chapters include an introduction to photographic techniques and
applications, such as useful safelights, sizing paper, measuring solutions,
exposure controls, ultraviolet light sources, and making enlarged negatives,
as well as an extensive section on safety in- and outside of the darkroom.
The appendix provides important information on the chemicals discussed,
as well as health-and-safety references, supply sources in the United States,
Canada, and Europe, and a complete catalog of Internet resources.