THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS | A PRO PHOTO & VIDEO BLOG

Talent’s Not Enough: 5 Must-Read Business Books for the Professional Photographer

Posted in Photography by davidpaullarson on August 17, 2011

I read many business books before I ever picked up a book on art making. Many photographers have the reverse approach. They focus way too much on the technical and art side. Your business skills are your foundation. You could make great art but if you dont have any business skills you will fail. So without further ado, here are the essential list of books to give you a solid legal and fiscal foundation for your business, with the final entry about the art-making process itself.

1.  Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition by John Harrington

If I could give every photographer in the world only one business book, it would be this one. John walks you through everything from pricing, negotiation, your paperwork trail and even advice on how to make the switch from a staff photographer to freelance. If you are looking for one book to prime you for the more specialized books out, there this is the one.

John Harrington is a photographer based in Washington, D.C. When he is not photographing subjects all over the world he is educating photographers about the business side of photography.

2.  Photographer’s Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age by Ed Greenberg and Jack Reznicki

There is a lot of information on the Internet about Copyright, model releases, property releases and proper terms and conditions. The bad aspect of all this information is that most of it is false. The only people on the Internet that should be talking about those issues are lawyers. Yet photographers seem to take most of their legal advice from other photographers or strangers on the Internet.

This is the best book I have read about taking the mystery out of copyright, model releases and contracts. There is a step-by-step walk through of how to register your images with The Library of Congress online. In addition there are several different model releases and a template (with explanations of each clause) of terms and conditions.

This book was written by top New York Copyright attorney Ed Greenberg and internationally renowned photographer Jack Reznicki.

3.  The Photographer’s Guide to Negotiating by Richard Weisgrau

How many times have you walked away from a meeting, phone call or email and thought you could have done something differently? Maybe it was simple as asking for a discount on a rental studio or something more challenging like asking your client to increase the budget. We all negotiate every day whether we want to or not. If you can arm yourself with the best negotiation skills and strategies you will be better prepared. This book touches on good negotiation traits, strategies, interviews with experienced negotiators and most importantly deal breakers.

Richard Weisgrau, a pro photographer, was the executive director of the American Society of Media Photographers for 15 years.

4.  Licensing Photography by Richard Weisgrau

What’s the difference between a financially successful photographer and everyone else? The financially successful photographer is licencing and copyrighting their work and everyone else is missing out. I meet photographers all the time that are making a living off their archives. They re-license photographs they shot over the years to clients all over the world. This book walks you through real life examples, sample agreements and everything you ever wanted to know about building a solid image license agreement.

After reading this book you will be able to create successful and profitable image licence agreements.

5.  Art and Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Art Making by David Bayles and Ted Orland

I was recommended this book from one of my clients and several photographers. Art and Fear lays out how and why art gets made, why so many artists give up, insights from working artists and understanding the motivations behind why you create. The book was written by artists for artists. If you feel you have mastered your business skills and are searching for meaning or insight to your next personal project this is your book.

The original copy of this book sold over 80,000 copies.

What books would you add to the list? Leave your essentials in the comments!

——

David Paul Larson is a New York City based fashion photographer that creates photographs for leading magazines and advertising. 


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  1. […] this blog, Through The Looking Glass, David Paul Larson picks the five best business books for any savvy professional photographer; and we cover the week’s photography and filmmaking […]

  2. […] I read many business books before I ever picked up a book on art making. Many photographers have the reverse approach. They focus way too much on the technical and art side. Your business skills are your foundation. You could make great art but if you dont have any business skills you will fail. So without further ado, here are the essential list of books to give you a solid legal and fiscal foundation for your business, with the final entry abou … Read More […]


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