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August 3rd, 2015

W.M. Hunt on Making “Art” and Artists’ Statements

Veteran collector, curator and photography consultant W.M. Hunt has a reputation for his straight-talking career advice. In this exclusive PDN video, he talks about a strategic mistake made by many aspiring fine-art photographers, and how to avoid it. He also demystifies the process of writing a good artist’s statement, and makes a case against spending a lot of time or energy sweating over it.

PDN Video: W.M. Hunt on How to Build Career Bridges (Not Burn Them)
PDN Video: Mary Virginia Swanson on How to Get the Most Out of a Portfolio Review
13 Tips for Building Your Fine-Art Network (PDN subscribers can log in to
read this article)

Is the Art World Biased Against Commercial Photographers?
Career Advice: Photographer Kitra Cahana on Elevating Your Work
PDN Video: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists

July 29th, 2015

PDN Video: W.M. Hunt on How to Build Career Bridges (Not Burn Them)

Photography careers are built on talent and hard work. But they also depend upon relationships–with mentors, editors, art directors, curators and others who can provide the critical support required for any career to grow and thrive. Veteran collector, curator and photography consultant W.M. Hunt explains in this exclusive PDN video how to build those important relationships, with tips on how to find a mentor, how to make an impression on the people who can help propel your career, and how to get industry professionals to look at your portfolio–including tips on what NOT to do.

PDN Video: Mary Virginia Swanson on How to Get the Most Out of a Portfolio Review
13 Tips for Building Your Fine-Art Network (PDN subscribers can log in to
read this article)
Is the Art World Biased Against Commercial Photographers?
Career Advice: Photographer Kitra Cahana on Elevating Your Work
PDN Video: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists

June 17th, 2015

A Photo Editor for Medium Makes the Case for Self-Publishing Platforms

Self-publishing opportunities abound, as we report in a feature story that’s now available at, called “Are Visual Storytelling Platforms a Good Thing for Photographers?” We interviewed photographers about how they’ve benefitted (or not) from using a variety of platforms, including, Maptia, VSCO Journal, and Medium.

In an effort to promote their work, photographers are filling those sites with what amounts to free content–much of it high-quality content. So the question is, are photographers benefiting from the exposure provided by those platforms, as much as the platform owners are benefitting from the free content they’re vacuuming up?

As the story was going to press, we got a thoughtful response to the question from Keith Axline, the former editor of Wired magazine’s Raw File blog, and now editor of Vantage. An offshoot of Medium, Vantage is new online magazine established to highlight the best photo projects that photographers post on Medium.

Axline’s response came too late to be included in our story. But here’s the question as we posed it, and his response:

PDN: What’s in it for photographers? With a few exceptions, those I’m talking to are reporting that their stories pretty much get buried on these self-publishing platforms, and they don’t really attract clients and assignments. Which suggests they’re of marginal self-promotional value so far. So my question is, how would you try to convince skeptical photographers that these aren’t just more sites vacuuming up free content (photo stories) shot by hungry professionals, for the benefit of the site owners looking to generate ad revenue for themselves?

Keith Axline: It’s a really tough question. Some projects that Vantage profiles, I really love, but they don’t get much traction with readers. It was the same when I was at Raw File at Wired. But others find their audience on Medium when they wouldn’t have found it anywhere else. There’s no one-size-fits-all for every photo project or photographer. Any of these sites, including Medium, is just a tool for photographers and it’s up to them to make the most out of it.

I totally understand the perspective that photo blogs are exploiting photographers by running their stuff without payment. That’s one way to look at it. I see that. Though I disagree with it. At Vantage we only want to make that ask of photographers who are excited to be featured by us and for whom the attention is an asset that outweighs the granted one-time use. It’s not for everyone. Our posts are promotional in nature because we’re excited to talk about photographers’ work. So in that sense whatever the perceived cost of the granted use can be viewed as a marketing expense. We also encourage photographers to contribute to us directly so that there’s no middleman between them and potential fans. They get to see all the traffic to their story, where it came from, and reply directly to comments that readers make.

I also think that it’s not clear to photographers, or most people for that matter, how to turn traffic and viewers into a plus for their business. Hopefully in the future Vantage and Medium can get closer to facilitating that, and I’m happy to have a “best practices” discussion with contributors (I’ve been meaning to even write a few posts about it).

I think anyone who runs a photo publication is passionate about photography to some degree and they’re probably not exactly raking it in from ad revenue. Participating doesn’t make sense for everyone, but there is a large swath of people who would love to be featured. I’ve never heard of anyone regretting being profiled by us, but maybe they’re just being nice.

Are Visual Storytelling Platforms a Good Thing for Photographers?

June 8th, 2015

Photojournalist Charles Mostoller on the Advantage of Shooting Photo Projects Close to Home

Seventeen-year-old Shahir Drayton rears back on a horse in a vacant Philadelphia lot. ©Charles Mostoller

Seventeen-year-old Shahir Drayton rears back on a horse in a vacant Philadelphia lot. ©Charles Mostoller

Philadelphia-based photographer Charles Mostoller was on assignment in the city one day when a group of African-American teenage boys rode by on horseback. It was an incongruous scene, which Mostoller turned into a personal project that was eventually published by The Wall Street Journal. The project is the subject of “Picture Story: Urban Cowboys,” which is now available on PDNOnline.

When we interviewed Mostoller, he made a persuasive case for shooting personal projects close to home. He picks it up from here:

“As a freelancer who is not making tons of money, doing personal projects that are in my backyard makes sense financially. But also, I truly believe in general [that] running to the exotic, or running away and looking to do a story somewhere else because you think that’s where people want to see you, or that’s where the story is, I think that’s a backwards way of going about it. I think the best way to make quality work is to do it in a place that you’re familiar with, where you can actually understand the situation and can really say something about what’s  going on.

“Also, if you’re trying to show [potential clients] you can hack it, it’s much more difficult to make very good stories that are kind of pedestrian, or where nobody would expect them. Nobody would expect this story [about teenage urban cowboys] out of Philly, but everyone is expecting young photographers to want to go to Haiti. So I could show Haiti pictures, and no one’s going to care, but this one story has people everywhere coming up to me, saying, ‘Oh my god, I saw this!’ It made the rounds because it was so surprising. I’m not always looking for something exotic in Philadelphia. this one just happened to be that. but I think it’s important to focus on where you’re at as a young photographer doing personal work, rather than saying, OK, I need to go somewhere else to do my work.”

Related Articles:
Documenting Philadelphia’s Teenage Urban Cowboys
PDN Video Pick: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists
How to Find Projects in Your Own Backyard

May 21st, 2015

Science Says: People Like Filtered Photos

Love them or hate them, photo filters are a staple of photo sharing. While some may view them as a shortcut to creativity, new research suggests they’re also a powerful lure for eyeballs on the web’s most popular photo platforms.

New research from Saeideh Bakhshi, David Shamma and Lyndon Kennedy of Yahoo Labs and Eric Gilbert at Georgia Tech aims to understand how filtering and “visual post-processing” impacts photo sharing.

What they found, simply put, is that filtering photos drives more engagement: photos with filters were 21 percent more likely to be viewed on Flickr and Instagram than those without. What’s more, filtered photos were 45 percent more likely to be commented on.

There is an art to filtering, though.

“Filters that increase contrast and correct exposure can help a photo’s engagement, and filters that create a warmer color temperature are more engaging than those with cooler color effects,” the authors write. “Photographically speaking, filters which auto-enhance a photo (e.g. correct for contrast and exposure) drive more engagement. We find the less-engaging filters exhibit transformation effects which are exaggerated and often cause photographic artifacts and/or loss of highlight details. The exception being filters which make a photo look antique.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.24.50 AM

The study gleaned insights from interviews with Flickr users, plus a quantitative analysis of over 7.6 million images from both Flickr and Instagram.

Incidentally, filters aren’t the only means of increasing engagement with images. The researchers also found that the more tags a Flickr image had, the more likely it was to surface in a search. The age of a Flickr account also had a “positive but small role” in the number of eyeballs an image attracted.

The full report, which provides a detailed breakdown on the methodology used in the study, is available here.

May 19th, 2015

A Website As a Calling Card: Robert Gallagher Dishes on His Online Tools

Sponsored by Clickbooq

Robert Gallagher’s photography career is dynamic: One day he’s shooting a travel feature in Bora Bora for The Guardian; another day it’s the cofounder and CEO of the dating app, Tinder, for the cover of Forbes. When we connect over the phone, he’s brimming with excitement over a shoot in Los Angeles with singer, songwriter and musician John Lydon, who is best known by his former stage name as the Sex Pistols’ front man, Johnny Rotten. The shoot was a treat for the photographer, who having grown up in England in the 1970s, notes that it was “Margaret Thatcher vs. the Sex Pistols” in the spectrum of cultural iconography. He had the opportunity to get to know the family-man side of the infamous English punk rock singer when he gave him a ride home from the shoot. “That’s why I love my job,” he says. “You never know who you’re going to meet from one day to the next—I love those little vignettes of life.” But what really struck him about Lydon was that he showed up to the set with only a simple plastic bag full of his belongings. “He still a little bit anti-establishment,” Gallagher laughs.

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John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, on / Photo by Robert Gallagher

Gallagher has a no-nonsense approach both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. In marketing his work, he believes his images should do the talking. That means he wants a website design “without all the unnecessary bells and whistles.” His site, he explains, is his “calling card” and a “marketing piece in itself,” so a clean design and a gallery that displays his images edge-to-edge is what gives the photographer’s work the most impact. “I have to get out of my own way and let the images do the selling for me,” he explains.


Billy Idol, photographed for Der Spiegel / Photo by Robert Gallagher

And sell his images do. Gallagher’s celebrity portraiture, travel editorial and personal surfing images have landed him jobs with top clients: from Vogue, Forbes and TIME to MTV, Apple and Nike. When the photographer isn’t on the road, he’s running the day-to-day aspects of his business. He doesn’t have a web designer, but having started his photography business before the digital era, he’s no stranger to adaptation. “I’ve had to learn how to think like a computer but I don’t want to spend all of my time learning a new program,” he explains.

Bora Bora with Andrew O'Hagan. Travel feature for The Guardian W

Bora Bora with Andrew O’Hagan. Travel feature for The Guardian / Photo by Robert Gallagher


Tinder cofounders Jonathan Badeen, Sean Rad and Justin Mateen. / Photo by Robert Gallagher

This is why he turned to Clickbooq when he wanted to build a website: The templates are user-friendly and intuitive so he doesn’t have to spend his time learning new technologies, and the new HTML5 sites are search engine optimized and fully responsive so he knows he’s on the cutting-edge of web design. Further, the highly-customizable Moderna template displays his portfolio in a grid-style that gives an overview of his work, but can also be expanded edge-to-edge, allowing portraits of icons like Lydon to shine. “I personally think [the grid] is what people look at—they want to see the general [portfolio] overview. I love how it repopulates based on the browser size,” he says. “It kicks butt.” He also notes his delight over the full-screen images that “show off” his web page. “I know it will have an impact.”

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“Tearsheets” thumbnail view on

Gallagher is also enthusiastic about the possibilities of integrating his more recent motion work into his website; he recently added a video page in just a few minutes, describing the “user-friendly” process of embedding “video playboxes” as “genius.” Over the phone he asks me to refresh my screen to see if I prefer his videos in a larger format. “I just made that change while we’ve been talking,” he laughs. But on a more serious note, he says, “Clickbooq is genuine about wanting to make their websites better for photographers.” And for a photographer who is as forthright as Gallagher, that makes all the difference.

Ready to launch a new website? Sign up for a free 14-day trial and take 15% off any new plan with promotion code, PDNNATIVE.

January 16th, 2015

Martyna Galla Makes Her Mark with a Online Portfolio

Sponsored by Format


At just 22 years old, fashion photographer Martyna Galla is a force to be reckoned with. She’s amassed a list of clients that includes Avon, Universal Music and Elle; success she credits to her insatiable enthusiasm for creating imagery. Raised in a small town near Warsaw, the burgeoning teen’s discovery of the medium began when she was given her first camera at 14. Galla began photographing her sister and “the prettiest girls at school,” and within just two years, landed her first paid job shooting model tests at Warsaw modeling agency D’vision Models.

The professional opportunity solidified Galla’s aspirations to build a career as a photographer and propelled her to enroll film school in Łódź, Poland, where she was further trained in photography.  Now out of school, constantly shooting tests, regularly investing in gear and studio space, and expanding her contacts to include a wider range of models, make-up artists and stylists have all contributed to her growth.

© Martyna Galla

Just as crucial to her development as a professional photographer, however, has been the ability to market her online portfolio. “People must see your work,” Galla says. “Potential clients, friends, agents, models—you never know who will like it and recommend your work.” But not all websites are created equal, as Galla has learned. Out of all the options available, Galla rates, a portfolio website platform for creative professionals, above the rest. “Format was not the first platform I used to share my photography, but it is the most professional. My work is available in high quality and is viewable on any browser or mobile device,” she says. “My portfolio is the one I continue to share with clients. Its professional design lets my work shine.”

© Martyna Galla

Format’s online portfolio website offer photographers all the advantages they desire when showcasing their work online. Its elegant, professionally-designed themes enable photographers to create a stunning presentation of their work in an instant—all without any knowledge of coding. Format’s websites are also fully customizable, including a custom domain: photographers can choose from a wide variety of specially-designed page templates or build their own from scratch using Format’s advanced code editor. In addition, Format’s websites are mobile- and tablet-ready, and include built-in, powerful, image-based blogging, seamless linking to social networks, unlimited bandwidth, automatic and fast image resizing, continual fast speed image loading, password-protected pages, search engine optimization, video capability, and 24/7 around-the-clock reliable service and support no matter the time zone.

Work as strong and as unique as Marytna Galla’s demands a presentation that only has been able to deliver—and quite effortlessly so. Interestingly, when asked to describe her photographic style, some of the words Galla uses are “easy,” “sensible,” and “calm,” adjectives that could also be used to describe the experience. “I like to keep things simple,” she continued. “When I find the person in front of my camera to be charismatic and interesting, I let them have the advantage while shooting. It always brings something new and unexpected.”

Visit and create your very own online portfolio.

See a short video on Galla and her work below.


December 1st, 2014

4 Tips for Making a Lasting Impression with Photo Clients

Sponsored by Zenfolio


Whether it’s on your website or in a directory listing, how you present your photography business online is crucial when it comes to booking a new client. Minnesota-based photographer Shelley Paulson has been shooting professionally for eleven years, and she showcases her warm, Midwestern-influenced style of wedding and portrait photography on Photographer Central to help grow her business. Follow her four tips to make sure you’re wowing your prospective clients and making a memorable connection.

1. Boost Your SEO
Clients won’t remember you if they can’t even find you. Optimize every online channel you have for SEO so that you’re showing up in search results. Most web-hosting providers have this feature built into their product so you never actually have to worry about getting your pages indexed yourself. There are also directories like Photographer Central that do all of the SEO work for you. After completing the easy set-up process, the Photographer Central team works on driving traffic to the site and getting more exposure for your photography business.

2. Showcase Multiple Shoots
When sharing your portfolio online, demonstrate your wide range of skills and artistic abilities by sharing images from more than one shoot. If prospective clients only view images of the same subject against the same background all with similar lighting, your breadth of experience will hardly come through. A wide range of variety lets a client know that their photo shoot isn’t going to be an exact replica of someone else’s and will assure them that the results of their shoot will be unique, personalized, and special. Sharing shots from multiple jobs also conveys that you’ve had more than one client. Show your experience to clients so they’re sure their pictures will come out just as amazing.


3. Limit Your Genres
You might be adept at shooting in seven different categories, but someone looking through incredibly different portfolios in one place might become overwhelmed. If you specialize in fine-art photography and commercial work, don’t combine the two because it lessens the impact of your portfolio as a whole by confusing the overall aesthetic. Consider separating each genre out into separate sections or pages so that clients can choose to only look at the ones they’re most interested in. On Photographer Central, you have the ability to publish up to five separate listings in a single account. Use each one to display a unique portfolio.

4. Don’t Skimp on Styles
Whether you shoot in photojournalistic, black and white, with natural light, or more, clients benefit from seeing examples of your entire range. For clients who aren’t aware of the differences, doing this can actually help them realize their style preferences, and better communicate that when it’s time for a consultation. Photographer Central listings allow you to select which styles you shoot so clients easily sort according to their own preferences, allowing you to connect with clients who are looking for your exact set of skills.

As a professional photographer, marketing and advertising your business can turn into its own fulltime gig. Make sure you have the time and energy to focus on your art by taking advantage of the resources out there that can alleviate some of your burden. Photographer Central is the directory that lets you utilize all of these tips and make a great impression on your next client.

Sign up for a listing and save 20% with code GETSTARTED20.

*Promotional code expires on December 31, 2014.

November 7th, 2014

Reimagine the Client Gift: Custom Self-promo Magazines

Sponsored by Blurb

While small self-promo pieces for clients are a popular option for photographers during the holiday season, a multi-page printed promo can have much more impact.

Fashion photographer Benjamin Kaufmann recently created his first print run of a custom self-promotional magazine that mimics the high-end glossy magazines that he regularly shoots for.

For design and production of the issue, Kaufmann turned to self-publishing platform Blurb. He found that the site’s design capabilities, high-quality paper options, and flexibility in production was the perfect vehicle to create a magazine tailored for his clients. And with on-demand printing, he could quickly follow up with new clients to solidify the relationship.

“The more one communicates on a personal level with clients and the more effort one puts into self-marketing, the greater the feedback will be,” Kaufmann says.

For the full article on PDNonline, click here.

Photos © Benjamin Kaufmann

October 27th, 2014

PDN Video: Marcus Smith on How to Develop Your Brand Identity

Marcus Smith, Part 2: How to Develop Your Brand Identity from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

In a previous PDN Video, advertising photographer Marcus Smith explained how he used personal work to land his dream clients. After winning his first few commercial assignments, though, Smith decided he needed a stronger brand identity to maintain momentum. In this video, he explains how he figured out the right brand message for his business, communicated it to a designer, and got a professional-looking brand identity on a tight budget.

Smith will speak at Photo Plus Expo on a panel called “PDN’s 30: Strategies for Young Working Photographers” on Saturday, November 1 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. Others speaking on the panel include Dina Litovsky, Greer Muldowney, Keren Sachs, and Tony Gale. For complete details about Photo Plus Expo seminars and events, see the Photo Plus Expo website.

PDN Video: Marcus Smith on How to Attract the Clients You Want