Out shooting some high tech gear but I wanted to remind the Austinites....

Taking advantage of the D7's fast frame rate.

That I'll be signing my books over at Precision Camera (3810 N. Lamar Blvd) from noon til 2pm on Saturday.  I'd love to see people.  I'd love to see you if you have time to drop by.  I won't care if you buy a book or not.

On another note, it looks like the economy is showing signs of life.  The phone is ringing again and people are talking about the nuts and bolts of new projects instead of immediately defaulting to the lowest possible budget.  I'm booked on a technical shoot tomorrow.  When I wrap up for the day I get to head over to my pool to shoot the mighty Rollingwood Waves on their last home meet of the season.  My new hobby is to get "dive sequences" of the kids.  The Canon 7D's fast shutter advance (8 fps?) makes it pretty easy.  All I have to worry about is exposure and focus timing and framing.

Next week I'll be in Ft. Worth and Dallas shooting projects and when I return I start on ads for two medical practices.  With the assorted headshot thrown in and a few projects for Zach Scott wedged in around the edges it's starting to feel more like 2000 than 2009.

I've been writing bids and contracts most of the week, and sitting in planning meetings.  I was reminded of Ronald Reagan's saying, "Trust but verify".  He was thinking of the Russian military's atomic stockpile but I was thinking about the army of lawyers brought to bear by most big corporations.  I kinda feel that they're hoping we're the kind of photographers who do work on a handshake or a quick e-mail.

I don't think so.  Even the long term clients really need to get a contract that outlines everyone's expectations and remedies.  That way everyone involved is using the same measuring stick.  The only push back I got this week was a request to pay in 15 days instead of on delivery.  I checked their credit.

We don't talk too much about the nuts and bolts of business on this blog and perhaps we should.  Most artists just want to be artists but I want to be an artist who gets paid.  On time.  So I write binding agreements and contracts and I make sure my clients understand my proposals and bids.  But the one magic bullet I want to share with you is the need to accept credit cards.  If a fee of 2% of your total invoice is too big a chunk I think your margins are too low.  I think all commercial photographers should not only accept credit cards but they should be the preferred way of accepting payment.  The transfer of money can happen in just a few days.  You get an instant approval.  The client gets to delay payment so they are more likely to be optimistic about their future profits and are more likely to either approve or even escalate the project with the rationale that, when the bill comes due the cash will be there to cover it.  It's the easiest tool with which to get a quick deposit. In short, credit cards are wonderful for merchants.  And in the selling situation we need to change from our art hat to our merchant hat.  Art brain might make the content but merchant brain provides a framework to make money from the artful content.  Not to be underestimated.

It's late, it's hot, we had a long dinner with many friends and many bottles of wine downtown and it's an early call time.  Hope you had a great weekend and you have great (photographic?) plans for the weekend.

Don't forget the booksigning.  I won't.......

Photographic Lighting Equipment: A Comprehensive Guide for Digital Photographers Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Location Photography Commercial Photography Handbook: Business Techniques for Professional Digital Photographers Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Studio Photography Ada; or, Ardor: a family chronicle [by] Vladimir NabokovNabokov's Ada: The Place of Consciousness   Nabokov: Novels, 1969-1974 (Library of America)  Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita


Wolfgang Lonien said...

That's a wonderful tip Kirk - should I ever consider to sell anything, then thanks for that in retrospect. Do you carry one of those small credit card readers, like taxi drivers also have them (at least around here)? Or do your clients have to visit some website, and pay online via some kind of 3rd party provider?

Thanks again,

Dave Elfering Photography said...

There are a lot of apps such as Quicksale and InnerFence for the iPhone now that allow even us part time wannabes to accept credit cards. I'm making plans to set up shop at an art fair with local area prints so this is something I will have to do.

2% is probably lower than what Paypal charges me for my Ebay auctions (I think it is closer to 5%). I know from folks in the restaurant business that over 60% of their sales are credit/debit cards. Like you said, if a credit card gets you paid now versus potentially painful 10-45 days waiting for someone to send a physical check then its a no brainer.

Cliff said...

Kirk, you might want to change the caption on your photos... it says D7 instead of 7D (must have been good wine?)

Ezequiel Mesquita said...

Art brain + merchant brain. Great synthesis. Yesterday I had a start working out both sides, when the courrier delivered your Commercial Photography Handbook and The War of Art. I´m having a wonderful time with both. Thanks for your ever useful and interesting recommendations. Wish you a great weekend!

kirk tuck said...

Cliff, I think I'll leave it to remind me to write a column about how dumb camera names are... :-)

kirk tuck said...


Thanks very much. You are going to love, absolutely love, Steven Pressfield's book. It's amazing. I keep ordering it because I keep giving copies away to my friends.

Daniel Fealko said...

"... remind me to write a column about how dumb camera names are..."

Please, do.

Who on earth comes up with these nondescript names? I can just picture some exec saying, "Let's call it the 7D to get the buyers excited!"

Kurt Shoens said...

Since you've got those Nabokov books up there, I'm wondering your reaction to the publication of The Original of Laura.

When Vladimir Nabokov passed away, he instructed that the notes for the incomplete book be destroyed. His wife couldn't bear to destroy it and when she passed away in 1991, the decision fell to his son Dmitri, who finally decided to publish them in 2008. No doubt he responded to the pressure from Nabokov lovers and scholars.

Nabokov was a craftsman and wanted people to see only the finished art. I thought his wishes to destroy the unfinished work should have been carried out. I can understand people wanting more, but look at it this way: didn't he give them enough already?

I admit the connection of this issue to photography is tenuous.

kirk tuck said...

Kurt, My wife got me the "Original of Laura" this Spring and while it was interesting, even captivating to look at his handwritten manuscript it didn't have the glue that comes from the in between writing. The writing beyond the descriptions and passages written on notecards. I too think they should have honored his wishes.

While the Nabokov books have very little to do with photography, per se, I find them so rich and so descriptive that they are a constant creative inspiration for me. I find Ada to be the best of all. Van and Ada are interwoven in my thoughts about photographing people. And I first read the book the year I first picked up a camera.

But you know, of course, that my blog is very, very non-linear.

Thanks for bringing that up. I'm happy to know his fans are wide spread. Another resonance.

James Frederick Bland photography said...

Kirk, Good points.

For people with a low number of transactions, credit card merchant services might not be the best solution with $30-40/month base, reader charges, plus other charges in addition to the per transaction fees, it adds up.

Pay Pay will take customers cards and offers a number of services, including invoicing [that can be done through a PC Quickbooks plugin] charges a declining scale fee starting at 2.5% of the transaction. They also offer shopping cart or dedication purchase "buttons" for a website.

Have fun. Swim fast.

kirk tuck said...

Yes, but corporate clients and ad agencies won't/don't do Paypal. My monthly Merchant fee is $5.