KOLO CONTEST for all my photo friends, fans, followers!  
I put this out to all my Facebook, Twitter, & Google+ photo friends last week, but no one has added a review for my current book, so I wanted to blog about it as well.

The first TWO people to post a review of my book on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Guide-Nature-Photography-Professional/dp/0817400109) will receive a coupon code for a free 11×14 Kolo frame.  You can personalize by adding a photo, which Kolo will print (at roughly 8×10), mat, frame (in the 11×14 frame of your choosing) and ship to your home- about a $50 value.  This is only valid for US and Canada customers.  
I printed one myself, a photo of my wife and I (taken with my iPhone), and I love the results. Check it out below: 
So if you’ve read my new nature photography book (The Complete Guide to Nature Photography- Amphoto/Random House) write a review now and win!  Here are details and links again:
I will see your name and will message you through Amazon – then email me your information and Kolo will email you providing a coupon code.
Pick your Kolo frame and personalize it by uploading one of your photos (the Dearborn or Holden frames to personalize): http://kolo.com/mykolo/shop/products/frames/

If you are interesting in purchasing one of my how-to photo books (great for holiday gifts), The Complete Guide to Nature Photography, or, The BetterPhoto Guide to Exposure, go here: http://www.seanarbabi.com/products_books.html

Thank you!


My Facebook fan page

Hey everyone- after writing 60,000 words for my second book last year (The Complete Guide to Nature Photography – coming out this fall), as well as a few articles (Outdoor Photographer – November 2010 – on Point Reyes), and typing many many paragraphs for online critiques, I haven’t been able to blog much.

But I always add my photos, happenings, fun photo links, etc to my Facebook fan page. Check it out – “like” it – invite your photo friends!

Happy Shooting!


Building my own career

I had a professional issue a few months back that took me back some. Sure it was upsetting but didn’t shake me – I know who I am and what my intentions are as a person and as a pro photographer. I don’t live in the past, as although you remind yourself not to take things personally, how can you not- especially when you have a passion in what you do, and work tirelessly to make it happen.

I use Facebook, enjoy connecting with friends, sharing images, posting various happenings. One day last year I posted a Sierra workshop in the events section. As a big fan of Galen Rowell’s work (great outdoor shooter and mountaineer who past away with his wife in a plane crash in ’02 – a young 62), I had joined a fan site of his on Facebook and decided to let others know of the workshop through a small message and link – Galen was big on the Sierras, spent many days and nights capturing images and climbing mountains there as I have – in fact John Muir’s book “The Yosemite” was re-printed using Galen’s images back in 2001. The fan site was not run by Galen’s company, yet by a fan, so I figured like-minded Sierra-lovin’ folk might be interested in a photo class.

I discovered Galen’s work when I was 17. We lived in the same Bay Area town and although I came to know him over the years, I couldn’t call him a friend. To me he was truly a kindred spirit (as he signed to me in one of his books). He was much like a mentor without the actual mentoring. I admired his work, attending a few of his lectures, but never inquired about how to run a photo business or get started in the industry. Out of respect, I felt that was my homework to do- my dues to pay.

My Facebook post went unnoticed – no one ever contacted me about our Sierra workshop through the site, until I received an email from someone who worked at Galen’s offices (who no longer works there). This person basically accused me of using Galen’s name, riding on his coattails to benefit my own career- truly laughable since nothing could be farther from the truth. Coming to know Galen’s staff over the years, I never once asked him for advice or for industry info, nor did I ever receive Galen’s help to get published, create a workshop, sell a gallery print, or make a stock sale. I know Galen admired me for this since so many did try to use his connections to benefit themselves. The ironic thing is when he passed, I was contacted by his office for advice on how to deal with a mutual client, which I gladly assisted with.

And of course to date I’ve been published around the world, shot hundreds of assignments, taught workshops for over 10 years, made thousands of stock sales, and sold numerous gallery prints. Although I’ve been lucky to have many wonderful people (clients, workshop students, editors) help make my dream of being a photographer come true, I didn’t get to the place I’m at by using others- I built my career through tons of hard work, late nights, sacrifice and perseverance. No one dragged my butt out of my tent to capture dawn, no one wrote my letters or emails to land jobs, no one did my research and planned my shoots but me.

So to get a message like this was not only insulting, but ridiculous. Nevertheless I followed up with a reply explaining my intentions, which were never to attach myself to Galen in any way. But what can you do. It doesn’t matter how you run your life or what your true intentions are, when someone opens their mouth without any forethought or research, you simply have to disregard their comments and move forward.

Although Galen’s presence was a source of great inspiration as I built a career in the industry, I rarely thought of him as I traveled the world on assignment. But when he past, he came to mind often. I remember in ’04 while on a job in St. Croix, overlooking the Caribbean sea while photographing at sunrise, I remember thinking “Aw Galen, you should be here to see this”. I wish he was.


How to Survive the Credit Crunch

This economic year is affecting everyone, not only in the U.S. and U.K., but as well around the globe. Budgets are tighter for companies small and large, resulting in less advertising, affecting ad agencies and magazines – this trickles down to photographers through fewer assignments, smaller stock sales, and less work. As for the public market, individuals are just as concerned and have less disposable income, resulting in fewer purchases of books, fine art prints, lower workshop numbers, as well as tighter budgets for wedding and family portraits.

So what to do? How do you keep your business going during these times? Here are a few ways to keep the ball rolling – some are tangible steps, and others can’t be measured – but they’ve worked for me the past 20 years as a full-time pro.

1) Keep yourself busy, very busy – although it’s not a tangible thing you can keep track of, I believe the more energy you put out there, the more comes your way. I’ve noticed when I’m busy, I’m not all that motivated to get to extra work since my schedule is packed and free time is limited. It’s not the best way to run your business since you should always be marketing, but it’s reality. Yet when times are slow, it’s easy to get depressed and lose confidence. So instead, use that hunger to motivate you.
By keeping yourself busy and always have things to work on, whether capturing new images for your portfolio, cataloging your work, taking advantage of the time to connect with new clients, or starting new projects you’ve had on the back burner, time will pass and opportunities will arise from the positive effort.

2) Partner up with others. I also believe in synergy. I’m not big on trades since they don’t pay the bills, but if you need a designer for some promotional materials, and a designer needs a photographer for their specific need, making a trade can save both sides money – and the collaboration of creative people can often lead to new opportunities.

3) Reorganize: Take time to reorganize your business and hone your skills- we rarely have time to do this, so no better time than the slow present. Whether captioning and organizing your images, cleaning out your computer, or re-packing your photo bags- when I’m swamped I rarely have time to do any of this, so I use my slower times for these tasks. I call it investment toward future earnings. How so? I’ll give you an example. When a request comes across my desk for Yellowstone images and my client needs to review some asap, I’m able to build a lightbox immediately and throw it up on the web due to captioning them a year earlier during a slow week. That quick response, in turn, leads to more sales.

4) Cut your overhead: Whether you have to rent a smaller office space or studio, or simply not purchase that new laptop or 35mm dSLR you’ve wanted, one way most companies survive the tough times is by cutting costs. It’s hard to do, but sometimes you have to rent out your studio, sell some gear you rarely use, or cut out services you don’t need. Less overhead means less pressure to make ends meet.

5) School yourself: Brush up on all the new software you may have in your computer – whether being Photoshop CS4, Lightroom, Aperture, or even Excel and Word hone your skills to tighten your workflow. A few years ago when I had a slow month, I transferred all my presentations from Powerpoint to Keynote, learned the application well, and when the next workshop date arrived, I was ready with a solid lecture.

6) Diversify: Diversifying your business is important in general, but critical during these times. When I started my business, I landed a stock agency and a job capturing production photography three days a week in a studio. As my business grew, I added editorial assignments, then workshops, more ad and corporate work, and slowly expanded my photo business. By putting “20 eggs in the basket”, and hoping a few came through, I was able to always have a check coming from somewhere.

7) Work on personal projects. Personal projects can not only be rewarding, but often bring new assignments – all the while allowing you to shoot exactly what you are most interested in. I’m currently working on two new projects – a book I hope to publish, and another a studio project capturing a subject I’ve been interested in for years- both of which I can do from my home or office.

8) Delve into the realm of social sites and email marketing. When you market your photography through emails, costs can be drastically lower than snail mail, and you can hit thousands of clients on a tight budget. Just remember though, respect client requested to be removed from lists, and be considerate of no-email requests.

New media sources such Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Word Press, MySpace, RedRoom, as well as blogging can also expand your web coverage and bring new business. These websites are the rage with many photographers jumping in, but if you haven’t, consider these social sites as potential marketing tools. After my first book came out, I joined a site where people can connect with authors and over a period of a few months, had roughly 2000 people visit my pages. By marketing my book through these sites, I believe I was able to keep it in the top 50 photo books for the first six months of 2009, an incredibly difficult year where sales are down- my publisher was very happy with the numbers, which hopefully will lead to more distribution and sales, as well as future book projects.

Just remember, you want to be unique, a bit different from the other million photographers doing the same thing – so pick an agenda or a style and run with it. Blogging about random thoughts not related to photography probably won’t get you new work. I personally have a page on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, and YouTube, and my blog appears on all the top blog sites – which has lead to thousands of hits for my business.

Sure it takes some work to keep these up-to-date, but it pays off in both tangible and intangible ways. This year I sold two gallery prints, made a stock sale, sold a number of copies my exposure book, had a few people sign up for my workshops, did a consultation for a photographer, and landed a big corporate shoot – all through my presence on these sites.

9) Create a dream client list: One way to market yourself is to go after a certain type of client you are most interested in, and one that fits the type of work you like to capture. Whether you obtain your list through a mailing list company (Ad Base, Fresh Lists, etc), or simply locate the information online, this exercise can not only help you focus on the type of imagery you want to market, and the type of work you want to do, but could also help you land that dream client you always wanted. I always said, someone has to shoot for the National Geographic– why can’t it be me? By focusing on that top 10 list of clients, you pay more attention to them, may get to know the principals, and since it often about who you know instead of what you can do, you may just land that client.

10) Brainstorm: Often during hard times, people come up with new ways to promote or sell a product or service- this usually occurs simply through brainstorming for better ideas. I’ve been a photographer more than half my life, but it doesn’t mean I’ve thought of everything- in fact quite the opposite. So remember, you may come up with an idea that saves your business – one that’s not even on this list.

Good luck and happy shooting!