Read // The Photographer’s Survival Guide

The Photographer’s Survival Guide: How to Build and Grow a Successful Businessby: Suzanne Sease and Amanda Sosa Stone

Suzanne Sease and Amanda Sosa Stone have backgrounds as art buyers and creative and business consultants. The Photographer’s Survival Guide is a result of seminars they’ve conducted across North America. The book provides insight to the many aspects of running a commercial photography business including chapters on Marketing, Bidding the Job, Doing the Job, and more.

While at the Art Institute I took a course on the business of photography. My professor suggested this book for further reading. The business course covered most of the material in the book; however, I found this to be a good refresher and a great reference guide. The authors offer practical advice for common situations you’ll experience along the way like portfolio reviews.

For example, you’re still establishing your style, have scored a portfolio review with an art buyer’s assistant, and are asked, “Who was this shot for?” The author suggests an honest answer such as the following:

I have found that most clients did not hire me for the work that I love to shoot, so I decided to shoot a body of work that reflects a wider range of my talents.

The book includes a CD of 21 business forms. I reviewed a few of the documents and found them very simplistic; however, they do provide a starting place for someone unfamiliar with forms like property releases, estimates, and invoices. (For the estimates and invoices I would point you to the software BlinkBid rather than the included forms.) Throughout the book the authors have included resources for further research on most topics including a fair amount of self-promotion. While I find that slightly annoying, it’s not necessarily bad for a book that touts marketing and self-promotion.

{TL;DR} I highly recommend this book for some starting out in the commercial photography industry. For seasoned pros, you’ll most likely know the content of the book inside and out, but it can still provide a great reference guide.

Rating: 5/5

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