8.08.2011

A self serving book review that I hope will inspire even non-commercial photographers to rush to Amazon or Precision Camera to secure a copy.


I am in the middle of writing my sixth book. This one is about the convergence of digital photography and video.  I think I'll call it Minimalist Video for Photographers.    All of the books I've written are about photography.  Two are about lighting technique (Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Location Photography and 
Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Studio Photography) and they have been very popular books when it comes to sales.  Another book I wrote is all about lighting equipment.  It's mostly about what's available out there and why you might want to use it.  It's entitled, aptly enough:  Photographic Lighting Equipment.   And sales of that book are also good.  In fact, anything I write that relates to equipment either sells well or, in the case of this blog, is a big reader magnet.  I guess that says something about the interests of my audience.  The fifth book is a comprehensive look at LED lighting and it should come out this Winter, from Amherst Media.

But the best book I've written to date is the one that seems to always be languishing on the shelves and getting chummy with the remnants on the Amazon shelves.  And it's sad for me because I think that in addition to being well crafted it is by far the most important book I've written for the greatest number of photographers.  It's called:  Commercial Photography Handbook.  Let me explain.


The web is full of inaccurate mythologies about the business of photography.  From breathless stories of thin fashion photographers making millions from every dispassionate push of the shutter to the idea that giving away work to mega-industries for free doesn't harm the industry for everyone.  There are great, encyclopedic books by writers like John Harrington that get in to the nuts and bolts of pricing but none have really tackled the history behind the way our industry works and the nuts and bolts of deciding what to do and how to price your work.  My book attempts to do that and, according to feedback from dozens of people in the industry who've read it and applied what I wrote to their businesses, it really does work.

An architectural photographer whose business was languishing told me recently that he applied my marketing suggestions verbatim and went from despair to having one of his best years ever.  Another working photographer in a different state wrote to tell me he read the book, took a leap of faith and bid a job with the information he read in the book and walked away with the job and a budget that was five times larger than what he would have previously asked.

Okay.  So the book is great for people who are already in the business or entering the business but maybe (probably) you're an ardent, well heeled hobbyist and you're already making a fortune in the non-related business of your choice.  Aren't you curious about how this business works?  Do you ever have friends and family come to you and ask for your help in finding a photo resource or do you ever get pulled into doing a small job and wish you understood the pricing models a bit better.  Maybe you're just an industrial history buff.  I think the book is a good read.  And I really would like to see what I consider some of my best work in wider distribution.  With a recent price drop at Amazon it's hardly more (and in some cases less) than a beautiful glossy magazine from Europe.  

I'd love to see Amazon sell 1,000 of these books this month.  That means that if just one in ten of the daily average number of my blog readers pull push the "buy now" button on Amazon I'll make that goal.  I know this sounds mercenary but I rarely get pushy and commercial like this.  It just irks me to feel that all we've come to care about are the toys but not the actual business.  And I would hope that you find my writing and my point of view worth a couple of tens....

If you hate buying books from Amazon you could buy a copy from Precision Camera for about the same price.  You'll need to ask for the manager, Gregg, and he'll fix you up with an autographed copy.  They have about 25 copies in stock and I expect them to go faster.  The store number is 512-467-7676.

I'd love to hear what you have to say about the book.  And I'd love suggestions about getting this book out to a wider market.  Will "social marketing" work?  It sure would make my day.

Thanks.  Now go buy a copy.  Buy two and give one to a young photography start-up you know.  I'll be grateful.

Kirk



23 comments:

Frank Grygier said...

I miss the smiling face. I am going to Precision today and I'll ask for the book.

kirk tuck said...

Thanks Frank. Ask for Gregg. He'll give you a good price. I'll buy you coffee to go along with the free book signing..

Frank Grygier said...

Deal!

Dave Jenkins said...

I agree it's your best book. The slow sales just prove, I think, that most of your blog readers are more interested in the tools and toys of photography than in making a career of it.

I've been a full-time commercial photographer for more than 30 years and have been buying and reading books on the business and practice of commercial photography the whole time (and before). Your book is the most helpful, with the most specific, detailed, workable advice of any I've ever read. I would say to anyone who is thinking of buying it: please don't. I don't need any more competition.

But to those who do buy Kirk's book and follow his advice, I would say that you will be a worthy competitor, not the low-balling kind who undercuts me to get the job and then calls me up and asks me how to do it. (This really happens!)

Anonymous said...

I am one of Kirk's competitors. I was always a bit jealous of his success because I assumed he was just better connected. When his biz book came out I resisted it out of spite. One of my friends gave it to me as a gift. I put it aside. I picked it up one night when I couldn't sleep. I didn't want to like it. It read like a fiction book. I couldn't put it down. Then I started doing a few things he suggested and I got more work. I changed the way I charged and my jobs got more profitable.

I am still jealous but I guess I should get over it. Most of the stuff he writes about he learned in the ad business, or so I am led to believe. I would never admit to his face that I refer to his book. His ego is big enough. But the stuff really works and it really does read well. So credit where credit.....

Anonymous said...

I'd been putting off buying this book (I bought both your lighting books and love them) because I have no intention of trying to make this a go full time.

I have gotten requests to do some small jobs so I'll be going out and ordering this one today.

Don said...

Simply one of the best around on this subject - period. There are dozens and dozens of books on how to 'beat the sun with a speedlight' or 'composition secrets' and all of that is fine.

But this is the kind of book that actually MAKES a difference. It DELIVERS the kind of real world stuff that simply cannot be found in most corners of the web.

I have heard that reading business books is dull, and that it is more fun to read about 'lighting chicks in stripper heels' - but in the grand scheme of things, it is NOT dull. It is enlightening, empowering and important.

Glad to see you doing this, Kirk. I will add it to my sm stuff today as well.

Nate Wellem said...

Bought it when it came out and agree it's a fantastic read. I think it didn't sell as well because most people are not serious about going full time.

John said...

If it makes you feel better, this is the only book of yours I own. Of course that might not make you feel better ;)

kathyjan said...

When Don G recommends something, that means it has value. Saw his tweet and today and came here to check it out. Just downloaded the Kindle version. I'm an aspiring commercial food photog and need all the help I can get. I'll come back after I read it and share my impressions.

Steven M said...

I have this book of yours, Kirk. It's full of great information and your sense of humor is sprinkled generously throughout. I'm glad I chose this one as my first purchase from your collection.

John Burridge said...

Kirk, so far this is the only book of yours I've read... does that get me brownie points? It's also an excellent book full of sound advice. So what's the next book you'd like to see do better? :)

Bold Photography said...

If you don't have this book - buy it. Get over whatever obstacle you have in your head -- you NEED this book...

Gene Trent said...

Okay. You convinced me, I bought it. If it works you will make my wife happy who says I buy too much equipment and don't charge enough for services. I will let you know if this helps me retire from my 9-5 earlier (I hope it does!).

neopavlik said...

Ordered from Amazon which says there is now only 5 left. Also picked up Harrington's business book.

Dave Elfering Photography said...

This book was a pivotal point in my commercial photography. I wish it were selling a lot more because I'd love to see a second edition. The key thing is that this book made me consider something no other photography related book ever did -- my business model. More than that, what my niche is, what my worth is and to take care of seemingly small details like contracts.

The most important part is that unlike my macro economic text book in college these aren't theories, they are the result of practical experience. They say teaching someone to fish feeds them for life. What if you taught them how to fish, store them, take them to market and maximize their value?

Why does it not sell well? Because like any business there are more pretenders than contenders. Some folks just like the endorphin rush of buying $2,000 lenses that curve their spine when carried on a bandolier style camera strap.

Will this book make me a successful commercial photographer? I don't know, but it will make me more thorough and well organized. In short, it just make sense.

kirk tuck said...

David, Thank you. That's a wonderful statement. Made my day.

Frank Grygier said...

This book is a must read for anyone starting out in any business.

Craig Yuill said...

I just ordered the book. There have been a few times when I could have used the information your book seems to contain. I will look forward to reading it.

Gregg Mack said...

"...but maybe (probably) you're an ardent, well heeled hobbyist and you're already making a fortune in the non-related business of your choice. Aren't you curious about how this business works?"

That's me, Kirk. My fantasy/dream is that after I retire from my full-time engineering career that I turn my passion for photography into my "job". It would be nice if my hobby would at least pay for all the photography equipment, computers, software, etc. It would be great if I could actually make enough to pay for "business trips" to Photoshop World and/or WPPI. It would be nirvana if I could actually earn enough to feel like I actually took on a 2nd career!

It's just to darn hot to drive over to Precision Camera today, so I just ordered my copy on Amazon.com.

Jessica said...

If it makes you feel better this is the only book of yours I bought. Don't know if that will make you feel better, but it's true. It's a great book. I guard my copy closely.

Greg said...

I really appreciate your blog and just purchased the both the print and kindle versions - thanks for having both available and for taking the time to blog.
Greg in Boston.

Paulo Rodrigues said...

Am I being a bit thick? I can't find a Kindle edition on amazon.com or amazon.co.uk

17 5 star reviews on amazon.com and not a single review on amazon.co.uk I need to remedy that