PDN PhotoPlus Conference Can Help Photojournalists Adapt to Changing Markets

In a recent issue of the New York Times, reporter David Jolly created some buzz with his story headlined: Lament for a Dying Field: Photojournalism. He pointed to the sharp cutbacks in newspaper and magazine photography budgets, the financial woes of international photo agencies, and the fact that pictures and video shot by amateurs are often posted to websites minutes after a newsworthy event occurs.

Although it has become tougher for many photographers to make a decent living shooting images for mass-media publication, Jolly presents reasons for optimism. He quotes the CEO of Getty Images who notes the Web provides billions of pages on which photographers can show their work.  And, he quotes a former Time magazine photographer who reminds us that visual storytelling has been around since the Stone Age and may actually be enhanced by some of the changes that are occurring.

The annual PDN PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in NY attracts thousands of professionals in the photographic and imaging industry.
The annual PDN PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in NY attracts thousands of professionals in the photographic and imaging industry.

If you look at the Conference program for 2009 PDN PhotoPlus International Expo and Conference, Oct. 22-24 in New York, it’s clear that Conference organizers understand these market shifts and want to help photographers capitalize on some of these changes.

If the business models that supported a golden age of photojournalism are no longer viable, professional photographers must remain aware of other options.

More than 100 seminars are planned at PhotoPlus. Many sessions are focused on opportunities in four key areas: (1) fine art photography; (2) wedding photography and portraiture; (3) microstock photography (including direct online sales and licensing); and (4) multimedia and video. Here’s a quick overview of some of the sessions planned in these four areas, along with some of the highlights of other sessions that can help photographers in all fields update their business and marketing operations.

Fine Art. Photographers interested in fine-art photography can attend sessions on printmaking, high-quality framing, and marketing. For example, in the session Finding Your Place in the Art World, a panel of gallery directors and curators will provide insights into exhibiting and marketing your work. In a session called Presenting Your Work to the Fine Art Community, Mary Virginia Swanson will talk about strategies for submitting work to national and international juried exhibitions and portfolio review events such as FotoFest, Photolucida and European festivals. She will also discuss art fairs such as AIPAD and Photo LA in terms of assessing market trends and helping photo artists determine which dealers are most appropriate for their work.

In the session on The Fine Digital Print, John Paul Caponigro will distill “everything you need to know about inkjet printing in one short, intense session.” He will point out that “You can make inkjet prints that look like any traditional or alternative-process print, or you can make inkjet prints that look like no other media.” Sean Perry will talk about The Fine Art of Black & White and Stephen Johnson will discuss Down to Earth Color Management.

Mac Holbert and Henry Wilhelm will once again join a panel of experts offering advice on how to best mount, mat and frame digital prints. The panel will discuss all aspects of the process, including current gallery and museum practices, different types of frames, face-mounting to acrylic sheets, the potential display permanence benefits of UV framing glass, and protective coatings for canvas prints that won’t be framed behind glass.

 Weddings and Portraiture. Earlier this year, PDN announced that Skip Cohen, president of Marketing Essentials International, has joined the organization as editor of its annual Wedding, Portrait and Event guide (WPE). For the past seven years, Cohen served as President of Rangefinder Publishing, which included Rangefinder, AfterCapture magazines, and the WPPI association for wedding and portrait photographers.

The PhotoPlus Conference Program lists nine sessions in its wedding and portrait track, including sessions on wedding photography by Bambi Cantrell, Doug Gordon, and Joe Buissink. Cohen will present one of the sessions on business and marketing, discussing ideas for diversification, cost-effective self-promotion, generating publicity, networking, cross-promotion, packaging, direct mail, and website development.

Microstock.  One of the most eye-opening sessions on the topic of stock photography is likely to be the workshop on Tools for Selling Stock Direct. Panelists from Photo Shelter, ImageSpan, LookStat, and Creative Commons will discuss some the new tools that enable photographers to license their existing images directly to clients. Other sessions include Microstock: What We Learned in 2009 and Shooting Stock: Creating Exceptional Work and Marking Your Ideas Profitable.

Multimedia and Video. Sessions on this topic include titles such as Multimedia & Video: New Opportunities for the Still Photographer; Cinematography with a DSLR; Motion Pictures: Creating Successful Stock Footage; and The Documentary Hybrid: Photography and Filmmaking.

Business, Online Marketing and Social Networking. The PhotoPlus Expo program includes workshops on strategic estimating, negotiating with clients, determining how much to charge, and building your brand.

A session on the Twitter Revolution will explain how photographers can use Twitter to connect and engage with clients and customers and how to turn followers, friends, and fans into customers and brand evangelists for your services.

Speaker Jeff Cutro will discuss how to use Podcasting & Social Media to build an audience of people who are anxious to hear and see your next project.

In the seminar entitled Is Your Website Making You Money?, Blake Discher will discuss some of the techniques you can use to achieve greater visibility for your website in the major search engines. He will talk about proper keyword phrases and links and search-engine friendly site design and copywriting. He will also discuss how to effectively implement a link-building campaign to increase page rank.

In a three-hour session entitled Photographer Makeover, Jack Hollingsworth will talk about how all types of photographers can use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Friendfeed and other social and digital-media marketing tools to help reinvent their photo businesses. He will also talk about blogs, videos, podcasting, vlogging, and other tools will forever change the way you think about your business and your relationship with today’s customers.

Other Sessions. PhotoPlus will also feature many sessions on Photoshop and Lightroom, lighting, photo book publishing, sports photography, commercial photography, fashion photography, and editorial and glamour portraiture. And for the many photographers who continue to have a passion for photojournalism, PhotoPlus will present sessions entitled Careers on the Frontline of Social Issues in Unusual Times; Redefining the News Agenda in the 21st Century; and How to Fund and Produce Reportage in the New Economic Environment.