Inspiration and Advice from PhotoPlus Speakers

October 24, 2017

Once again this year, the conference at PhotoPlus Expo will feature experienced photographers and filmmakers sharing their advice on a variety of topics, from creative lighting techniques to marketing to filmmaking and more. Whether you’re an emerging photographer building your network or an established shooter looking for some wisdom or inspiration, there’s no shortage of seminars that can satisfy your curiosity. The roster of speakers at PhotoPlus features many of the experts PDN has interviewed and learned from in recent years. The excerpts below touch upon some of the most popular conference topics, and revisit the interviews we’ve done with PhotoPlus speakers. Photographers who want a chance to learn from the speakers in-person can sign up for PhotoPlus Expo at

Making Videos Clients Will Love With Budgets You Don’t

More and more clients are looking for talent who can deliver both still photos and video. Several speakers at PhotoPlus Expo this year are ready to offer advice on how to improve your video storytelling. PDN spoke to photographers who are delivering both stills and video assets to commercial clients to find out: How can they price a job to ensure they’ll deliver quality work without ending in the red? “I tell them, If you want A-level production, here’s what you’re going to need. I hold the integrity of pricing,” says photographer Jim Hughes. Once he gets a sense of the shoot, he tries to narrow down the biggest expense: the crew. Working on a tight budget means he often has to wear multiple hats, but if he thinks the budget is entirely insufficient, he’ll walk away—a better solution that tarnishing his reputation if the project fails, he says.

Other photographers PDN interviewed, including Jesse Scolaro and Stephanie Rausser, say that when a shoot involves motion, there are a few key people they’ll insist the client include. Whether that crew member is a digital tech or a DP depends on how they work. Subscribers can learn the strategies these director/photographers use to deliver quality work on tight budgets by reading the full article on here.

The Cinematic Photography of The California Sunday Magazine

Another panelist on the “What Photo Editors Want Now” panel at PhotoPlus Expo is Jacqueline Bates, director of photography at The California Sunday Magazine. PDN interviewed Bates to find out what type of imagery the magazine looks for, and how she finds photographers to do the job. When it comes to hiring, Bates says she looks for photographers—both emerging and established—by paying attention to gallery shows, photo blogs and arts journals as well as Instagram. The magazine also features stories on Latin America and Asia, so her need for photographers can stretch internationally. She also relies on word of mouth from friends and photographers. She notes, “I’ve been seeing a new wave of photographers who are less competitive with each other and eager to share their friends’ talents with me. The sense of community is really wonderful to see.’” Subscribers can learn more about the stories and imagery that The California Sunday Magazine publishes in the full article here.

© Andrew Hetherington

For a recent assignment for The Atlantic, Andrew Hetherington photographed Alec Baldwin. © Andrew Hetherington

How Celebrity Portrait Photographers Beat the Clock

This year, editorial photographer Andrew Hetherington, a PDN’s 30 in 2003, will be at PhotoPlus Expo leading a panel discussion called “Strategic Staying Power—Maintaining a Photographic Career in an Ever-Changing Marketplace.” An experienced portrait photographer, Hetherington spoke to PDN recently about how he handles the pressure of photographing celebrities under a tight time limit. “If they say you’re going to get ten minutes, it’s most likely going to be five minutes. And if they tell you five minutes, it’s most likely going to be two and a half,” he says. To make the most of the limited time (and limited budget) Hetherington suggests preparing as much as possible. That means Googling the subject, coming up with two or three ideas to have in the hopper and nailing down the lighting, location and props setup ahead of time (when possible). Subscribers can learn more about dealing with publicists, building rapport and taking control during a celebrity shoot by reading the full article here.

Mary Virginia Swanson’s Tips on Funding Your Photo Project

Author and educator Mary Virginia Swanson returns to PhotoPlus Expo to teach a seminar called “Who Buys Prints: Understanding the Fine-Art Print Market Today” (Friday, October 27). PDN covered a 2015 PPE talk by Swanson called “How to Fund Your Long-Term Project,” in which she shared a variety of ideas for researching and securing support from government, corporate and philanthropic entities. Swanson recommended thinking about what value your project can offer to the supporter. “Would putting their logo on an exhibition or book be of value?,” she asked. Consider the visibility the funder might want: “Do your funders the courtesy of thanking them,” on the wall of the exhibition, on invitations and on your website, she suggested. Swanson also offered specific advice for working with nonprofit or philanthropic funders, from researching family foundations to trying a crowd-funding source like Kickstarter. Subscribers can explore more of Swanson’s advice in the full article here.

Ilise Benun on Creating a Marketing Plan That Works For You

Author and business coach Ilise Benun will be moderating a workshop called “Get Better Clients” on Wednesday, October 25, at PhotoPlus Expo with panelists including Debbie Millman, Paula Rizzo and Terri Trespicio. Earlier this year, PDN asked Benun to share some of the marketing wisdom she imparts to photographers, designers and other creatives. Her advice? Don’t rely on word of mouth. “‘Word of mouth’ is nothing more than a euphemism for ‘taking whatever comes along,’” she says. “If that’s the foundation of your business, you are at the mercy of whatever—and whoever—comes along, and that forces you to take everything, whether it’s right for you or not, even the clients waving bright red flags in your face.” Instead, Benun suggests taking the power into your own hands. “Decide who you want to work with and pursue them.” Subscribers can find out how Benun suggests doing this, and glean more of her marketing advice by reading the full article here.

How to Land Work with Refinery29

Refinery29’s Toby Kaufmann is one of six photo editors on a panel called “What Photo Editors Want Now,” taking place Friday, October 27, at PhotoPlus Expo. PDN recently spoke with Kaufmann to learn how she finds and hires photographers in today’s market, as well as what specific genres and styles she needs for the website. “When I talk to photographers about what Refinery is, I say it’s the new editorial. When we do a story, we want to hear what the photographer has to say, and [we want them to] bring ideas,” she says. Kaufmann also strives to hire female photographers. “There are so many cool women photographers out there who I think are under-utilized,” she says. On average, the magazine shoots 35 stories a month, some of which go into a stock archive, and it varies whether Kaufmann uses a staff photographer or freelance. “I crave to be always working with new people,” she says. To discover where Kaufmann finds photographers and the skills she is seeking, subscribers can read the full interview here.

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