Raising the Bar

Recently I wrote a post posing the inquiry of whether or not photography should be a licensed profession. The intent behind the question was two-fold.

1) To protect the consumer from fraudulent or unprofessional service providers by having a high standard of ethical practices for acceptance.

2) To raise the bar on the industry itself by increasing the expectations of the consumer and what is to be provided.

The question I posed was to encourage discussion and now that we’ve chatted about it both here and on TheProExposure podcast I can say that although I am not in favor of licensing the profession – I am in favor of protecting the consumer and raising the bar on the industry itself.

The latter of the two being something I can personally take part in and address. The idea is that if all good service providers continue to better their offerings and raise the expectations of the consumer – that the bad service providers will be forced to change their practices to keep up or simply will be weeded out of business.

As such I’ve had numerous commitments to my clients that I would like to reiterate as well as add in some new ones as well.

WE WILL respond to all necessary e-mails and phone calls promptly (most within 24 hours)
WE WILL have a quick turn around on your proofs (most within 24 hours)
WE WILL have a quick turn around on your selected edits (most within 2 weeks)
WE WILL focus on your goals and needs for the photo shoot
WE WILL provide both online and print versions of the edits for your usage
WE WILL strive to establish a fun, comfortable and professional on-set experience
WE WILL be available for questions before, during and after the shoot
WE WILL continually research magazine submissions procedures (we’ve had more than 40 covers this year alone)
WE WILL maintain a strong understanding of the most marketable images
WE WILL be committed to your overall satisfaction of the project
WE WILL develop beyond the image

And there is more… we will continue to do these blogs, as well as TheProExposure podcast as well as additional e-books such as Fit Model Guide to inform and educate our clients on the industry. We will continue to seek out new offerings to our clients such as media kit designs, e-book designs, business card designs, video demo reels and more.

This is our commitment to you as our client. We will be better and we will continue to raise the bar for what you should expect from photographers in this industry.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

The Beginner’s Mind

Assisting a young photographer at a high school photo workshop
Assisting a student photographer at a high school photo workshop.

A little over a week ago I participated as a mentor in a high school workshop for aspiring photographers. Somewhere around a hundred students from various schools in Southern Arizona came out to work alongside a small group of commercial and editorial photographers.

During the day they were able to learn about some of the intricacies related to fashion photography, portrait photography, food photography, photojournalism, studio photography and more.

This was probably my fourth year being involved in this annual workshop and each year I am amazed at once simple but overlooked thing.

The lack of inhibition.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki

Over the course of the day I was able to see these young photographers approach their photos in new and unconventional ways. The logic in me came up with protests such as “that is not great lighting, that angle won’t work, that pose isn’t flattering.” But all I said was “may I see the back of your camera?” to take a glance at what they had created.

What I saw was wide open creativity. There was no conventional wisdom telling these young photographers what would and would not work – so they tried it all. Whereas someone who has worked a long time in the field may never consider taking risks – these students saw nothing to lose in trying something. There was no fear in breaking convention and as a result – there were some truly inspiring images created.

In your work – how can you re-approach it with the mind of the beginner? Imagine what could be achieved without years of experience holding you back and preventing you from trying something new, something different, something that just might work if you give it a shot.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Resenting Success

I see it quite a bit within our industry. A model is selected for a magazine cover, feature or even a commercial project. They proudly share it with their audience and receive a bevy of support in the form of likes and comments. What they are not privy to is the comments which occur behind their backs or away from their ears.

“Why would they get the cover?”

“What do they have that makes them special enough to be featured?”

“I don’t understand why a client would pick them to do this job.”

It is the resentment of success. As many entrepreneurs or solopreneurs can attest to – no one seems to pay much attention to you (good or bad) until you start to mass some level of success. Then once you do, that is when the resentment arrives.

I had it when I started growing my photography business.

Why would you hire James for that project?

Are you sure you want James and his work to represent you and what you do?

It was always a bit crushing to hear things like what when it did get back to me. But at the same time it also added a bit of fire to my engine.

I am unsure when the resentment of success became to prevalent in our business. I remember as a kid we used to admire success. Even growing up as a young adult there was an admiration of those who achieved something more for themselves. But over the last ten years or so that has faded.

Perhaps it is partially a result of us oversharing our success – or oversharing what really is not success but we want people to believe it is through our social media channels. Maybe we now just tune out others’ success.

Regardless – the resentment of success is a deteriorating facet of what we do and it is something we should give attention to reversing before it progresses into something even worse.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Is Anyone Listening?

Frankly, I am a little surprised. The James Patrick Photography blog has been live with at least one article (often two) going out each week for the past four years. The Pro Exposure podcast launched over two years ago and has more than 60 free episodes about how talents can advance their careers. It was over the summer that I launched the Fit Model Guide e-book on what fitness models need to know to get published.

However I am still getting the same questions almost daily. How can I get published? How can I pitch myself? How can I get commercial work? How can I submit to agencies.

We’ve created hundreds of hours of information for you to digest – it is there for you to use now. Dig through the blog, listen to the podcast, read the e-book. Take me up on these resources and show me that you’re listening.

But there is more…

The team is also expanding The Pro Exposure network to include new podcasts, articles and video features for our audience. Lastly, we are working on a live event which would include the information you as a modeling talent are seeking in respects to growing your career.

This is being done for you.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Where is the Accountability?

Here is an interesting question to ponder… should photographers be required to be licensed to do their work professionally?

Let us examine the reasoning behind this question and some of the facets that can be discussed.

I understand that one of the first objections would be that photography is a part of our protected Constitutional rights and this discussion is not a contest to that – but to being able to do it professionally, in exchange for money.

Depending on what state you live in, there are a lot of highly-skilled professions which require licensure – architects, engineers, teachers, medical staff, lawyers, surveyors, talent agents, CPAs, contractors and more.

In many cases, licensing is used as a way to vet out and exclude the unqualified. The result is a collective of professionals that advocates would claim protect the consumer. Part of being licensed includes confirming to a certain degree of professional standards. Having such qualifiers would restrict access from those who prove unable to meet those standards.

This could lead to higher expectations in results for the profession and would eliminate those who are unqualified or are unable to provide the services required.

Therein rests the impetus behind this discussion. I am seeing an atrocious decay in the professional fabric of the industry I am a part of. Self-proclaimed professional photographers taking money and not delivering results or unethically damaging the industry for their own personal gain.

Any photographer who does what I do for a living knows how hard it is to start, build and grow a successful photography business. When there is this infestation of thieves, cheaters and manipulators – it impacts us all.

When you receive bad medical care, there is a board you can turn to for results. If a licensed contractor messes up a job, there is an organization that can right the wrong. The consumer is protected.

But what are clients to do with the bad service of photographers? You don’t receive the images you paid for and the photographer is ignoring your e-mails and phone calls – who do you tell? The photographer made you feel extremely uncomfortable on set – who can you report it to? Perhaps the photographer is blatantly lying about their experiences and what they do – who holds them accountable? What ends up happening are most clients say and do nothing for fear they will blacklist themselves for speaking up. This is particularly true with modeling talents who believe the photographer holds sway over their future career.

The result is that nothing happens. The bad service provider continues to provide bad services as there is no accountability to their actions. This is an unacceptable situation for my profession.

To those who would say that I am acting as a pariah and not supporting my fellow partners in this industry; my response is that I completely support those who have worked to build a great business. I am proud to stand next to other photographers who strive to maintain both professional and ethical standards in their work. We are all in this together and can learn from each other and grow together.

For those who do not – I believe you have two options. The first would be to revitalize your approach to your work and set higher standards for yourself and what you do. The second is that you continue with what you are doing and the industry will most likely weed you out in due time – especially once others ban together to support the protection of the consumer.

So is licensing the solution? As a consumer would you trust working with a licensed photographer as opposed to someone who did not meet the professional or ethical standards to be accepted? There are photographer certification courses – but would you as a consumer check that prior to hiring someone to work with?

Although I personally have split decisions on this topic – what I do feel is important is that consumers need to start standing up for their rights. They should be open about their experiences and help protect others from bad service providers.

We can help make this industry better. That said – if any clients of mine have feedback on how I or my team can provide better services, I am listening and would love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

The Hidden Tax of Projects

Every project you take on has a hidden tax. It could be the client who allows their stress to roll down onto the people they hire. Perhaps it is the client who habitually allows projects to go over schedule. Maybe it is the client who tries to get far more services than they paid for and will continue to push until you choose to stand up for yourself.

In any of these cases – the hidden tax will enact a toll on you. The cost could be the additional hours you had to be in, the effort invested but not compensated for – but worse of all it is the stress that comes along with it and the potential resentment towards the client and the project.

I am no stranger to the hidden tax of projects. I’ve had clients attempt to double a project scope while I am on set without wanting to pay for it, clients who are negative or disrespectful to the team and more.

To confront the hidden tax I’ve found the best solution is to be over communicative. Making sure every specific detail of the project is in writing and agreed upon. I also work to make sure the client is in full agreement and collaboration as the project moves forward so there are not any critiques after the shoot is done.

Lastly, we have the right to say “no” to a client. We do not have to accept every job that comes our way. The reason being is that the hidden tax is far too high for us to justify doing the work. Professionally and respectfully there are clients we decline to work with. That is something you  as a talent have the right to chose to do.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Dedication to being Nothing

I found a photographer on Instagram with more than 20,000 followers. However – the average number of likes on any one of their posts was somewhere between only 3-and-5 likes. That indicated to me that probably around 99.99% of their followers were fake or illegitimate.

That is what i consider to be an extreme dedication to being nothing.

We see it constantly. Talents who scramble over bad projects, people focused more on their following rather than their work, and the pervasive level of settling that occurs.

I cannot answer as to why so many chose to race to the bottom.

But I can ask you this… with so many people choosing to run down hill, the journey to the top is far less crowded, which direction are you headed?

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Things You Never Want to Hear A Photographer Say

Here is a list of things you never want to hear escape the mouth of a photographer on set.

– Whoops

– Well… that didn’t work.

– Don’t do whatever you just did again.

– You didn’t want these photos did you?

– I’ve been out all last night so can we get through this quickly?

– I forgot my camera, so I’ll be drawing this one.

– I’ll just fix that in Photoshop.

– You can edit these right?

– I can get you published if you just take that off.

– Wow you are in so much better shape now!

– You really should not have shot with that other photographer.

– Okay, I suppose we can shoot some lifestyle stuff later, but first let’s shoot something really sexy.

– I normally charge 10 times more, but for this one day you can get me at a discount.

– I only needed to take a couple shoots, you did that well.

– This camera could make anyone look good.

– I can fix anything in Photoshop.

– Every model I work with is awful.

– Must be nice just having hair and makeup done every day for work.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

New Team Members

Amber BlomI am so thrilled to announce the news that we have two new people who have joined the James Patrick Photography team.

Amber Blom has taken on the role as our new Production Manager and will be assisting on many of our commercial and editorial projects.

She has a background in working as an executive assistant as well as in logistical and agency management for a marketing company.

Heather Vines-BrightAlso, Heather Vines-Bright has stepped in as the new Editor in Chief of TheProExposure and our launch of that network. She can be contacted at editor at theproexposure dot come.

Heather will oversee all of the content for the new site, coordinating contributors for articles, videos and podcasts.

Please join me in welcoming both of these talented individuals to the team!

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Operation Prevail

OPERATION PREVAIL: Celebrating Strength, Beauty & Survival

In recognition and support of Breast Cancer Awareness month, James Patrick Photography, with support from Scott’s Training Systems, is launching OPERATION PREVAIL: Celebrating Strength, Beauty and Survival.

We are seeking the stories and nominations of those who are affected by breast cancer or those who have recently overcome it. One will be selected to receive a free photo shoot from James Patrick Photography with hair and makeup provided. In addition, Scott Keppel of Scott’s Training Systems, who is certified in post breast cancer recovery, will provide four weeks of personal training leading up to the photo shoot.

Please submit your own stories or nominate someone who you feel is deserving of this project to celebrate strength, beauty and survival of this disease. Entries can be sent to james at jamespatrick dot com.

The selected individual must be in Arizona or be able to be in the state for the photo shoot.

Thank you so much!

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto