Thursday, January 1, 2009

Learning: Developing your knowledge and skills as a photographer and businessperson

One of my goals is to always be reading, learning, studying and increasing my network of resources and contacts. I believe that when a person stops learning, they cannot keep up with the state of the industry, and they cannot make themselves and their business better.

I spend a lot of time online and reading, and I have a nice pile of books and saved resources to dig into when I have some time. This post will highlight some of the most effective resources I have used in 2008 and earlier to grow my skills and knowledge as a photographer and as a businessman.

Web: is a wonderful site for photographers. Their purpose is to teach and explore lighting, but the conversational nature of their podcast is the real gem. They interview many professional photographers, and you get to hear them discuss how they got into the business and what they are doing and how they do it. This is a must-listen Podcast. Throw it on a CD or on your MP3 Player.
Digital Photo Review is a good site for reviewing cameras and participating in equipment specific forums. I always go there when a new camera comes out.
Digital Wedding Forum is a great resource for new and experienced photographers. The scope goes beyond wedding photography to cover portrait photography as well. They have two levels of membership: DWF Start for beginners, with limited but very useful forum access, and DWF Pro for those who want access to everthing. This one costs about $130 per year for the pro access, but the DWF start is free if you qualify. Highly recommended.
Paperback Swap is a great website for getting books for free. You list books you own that you are willing to swap, and as people request them, you send to them, paying outgoing postage. For every book you send, you get a credit for books to send to you. I have received many great business, photography and fiction books for basically the cost of postage. I have a wish list as well.
Alibris is a good website for ordering books that you want. Most of them are used, but for reading, who really needs a new book? They source their books from many locations. is a interactive social network site for entepreneurs and those wanting to make a change. Sponsored by Dan Miller, author of "48 days to the work you love" and a podcase along the same lines, there are lots of like-minded folks there who support each other.
Dave Ramsey is the foremost expert and business owner in the area of debt free living. His podcasts from his radio shows are excellent and provide inspiration and great guidance in becoming and living debt free.

Professional Organizations
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) - this is a great resource for photographers and aspiring pros. They have an aspiring professional membership discount of 50% for the first two years to let you get your business moving without paying a lot of fees. They offer as part of membership great errors and omissions insurance and access to legal resources to protect your business. Their "Imaging USA" events are not to be missed!
Society of Sport and Event Photographers (SEP) is a peer organization to PPA. The cost is lower but they do not offer the insurance of PPA. I belong to both. SEP is oriented more toward the higher volume event or sports/action photographer. Membership includes subscription to "Action News", their feature magazine.

I read Rangefinder and Professional Photographer, both provided at no cost for being a PPA member. I do not read any other magazines at this time. These are both oriented to professionals, and highlight great photographers, business and technical skills and resources, and they are also a great source for information on new equipment and businesses to utilize.

The e-Myth Revisited by Michael E Gerber is a good primer on why small businesses fail and what you can do to set up your business for success.
Guerilla Marketing series is a set of books oriented around low-cost and effective marketing for the small business owner. Written by Jay Levinson, the newest version includes how to leverage the internet for effective marketing and promotion.
The Total Money Makeover is Dave Ramsey's current bestseller on debt reduction and debt free living. I highly recommend it.
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko is a good book studying the characteristics of millionaires in America. A bit academic, it does a good job highlighting the common traits of those with wealth, and the conclusions will both suprise and motivate you.
Photography by Barbara London is to many the definitive reference work on the body of photographic knowledge. Recommended as a reference in preparing for the Certified Photography Professional exam offered by PPA, this book is also used in college classes. I recommend searching for a used but relatively current edition on Alibris, and reading it cover to cover a couple of times.

In a later post, I'll highlight the top 10 books on my to-read list.

1 comment:

  1. I used dpreview a lot when researching my first DSLR. I also used a site called Fred Miranda Reviews.

    Excellent links, this should take me a while to go through. As it is, I was JUST looking for a decent photo mag online when I saw you'd updated the blog. Thank you!