Oct 21 2018

How Blogs Make Money

Photo by Ray Potes

Ok full disclosure. Hamburger Eyes doesn’t earn enough to pay for itself. Sometimes it does, sometimes not. I know some people think we are living the rock star life over here. Not true. So, we have to experiment and try to add more income with commissions, exhibitions, prints, zines, books, tshirts, beach towels, etc. Also phone calls, emails, social media, and… website. I was thinking if I start writing articles, maybe it will draw more attention to what we are doing with photography and maybe that will lead to a few more books sold per month.

Today I was looking up some things about SEO and then I started coming across articles about how bloggers make money. I didn’t really know. How DO they do it? I thought I was going to find some exotic ideas and formulas I never heard of. But if you are in business for yourself, you could have guessed most of these. Here’s a list of some stuff I found.

1. Advertising.

Sell off different sections of your site in hopes of someone clicking on something. If they do, you get some money. I don’t think this is the route for Hamburger Eyes site. I have tried Google ads before and they look like shit.

2. Affliate Marketing.

This one I may try. I actually applied for it before with Amazon and I didn’t qualify. Basically you post links on your posts or pages to products and if people buy those products, you get a commission. No doubt you have seen a camera review site and at the end of the article they post a link to the camera listed on Amazon or B+H, when you hit that link and purchase, the blogger will get like $8.

This one would work here I think because we could post links to stuff you are already buying like film or batteries or make gear lists of what our favorite photographers are shooting with, etc etc. If I qualify this time around, I will experiment with this. Heads up.

3. Subscriptions. Donations.

Charge people monthly for secret content. Not sure about this. Or ask them to donate. We have Paypal. But not sure if either of these I am feeling. There’s is that Patreon service that is a combo of both of these, but still not sure if that is the right fit. I was thinking when we get on a regular production schedule with the zine, then we can start offering subscriptions again. It is hard to do manually since people move a lot and its a lot of staying organized because of people paying on different dates etc., but a system like Patreon could help facilitate that.

4. Products and Services.

We already do the products. We have all kinds of products in our online shop and we’ll be doing this one forever. I like my photos in print and I like to wear tshirts and hats.

We already do some services. Freelance photo, some workshops here and there. I think a lot of bloggers make their money here. Teaching webinars, live events, meetups, conferences, coaching, training, consulting, speaking.

Anyways, I have been writing articles for maybe 1 week and already it feels like I have crossed over from a “updating the website guy” to “blogger” and I like it. So get ready for more bloggings.

The other day my gf’s friend came over and he was like, “What do you do?” and as usual I got all weird. Because usually if I say “photographer” they will ask what kind of photography and I will have to explain that I just shoot what’s around me, so basically documenting my life. And after a whole conversation they would just be like, “Huh”.

And then if I say “publisher”, it will usually go through at least 2 rounds of “Wait, what is it called?” Not sure why it’s awkward. I have answered these questions 500 times. I usually say both photographer and publisher, but never sure which to say first because each will have another series of questions. I think it will be much easier now just saying, “Blogger.” And then they will go, “How do you make money?” and then I will send them a link to this article.

Oct 20 2018

Services vs. Products

Photo by Bill Burke

I’m on a roll today. I think it’s because I talk about this stuff all day all night with other photographers so it’s easy to regurgitate these conversations. If you quit your job and are trying to earn a living doing photography then there are some things to think about.

First off, now you are an entrepreneur. You are a business owner. You are an all-the-timer. Not part-timer or full-timer. You are trying to run a good business. Some people are lucky with talent and connections and Shark Tank. But most will have to grind it out and be smart.

Secondly, in most businesses you are offering either a service or a product. But in the case of a photographer, you are offering both. The service is your actions, the product is your eyes. This is where we run into crisis. The border between service and product is very undefined and if there is one, it is razor thin. It feels funny to sell your eyes.

The truth is Eugene Richards shot Starbucks ads. Mary Ellen Mark shot weddings. So on one hand, there is no way around commissions, but on the other hand these assignments could fund your projects and then you can sell those projects in the form of prints, zines, and books. But it is hard to sell that stuff. People don’t want to hang your weird stuff on their walls. Sometimes they will want it in a book on a shelf. It is random though and unpredictable.

Yes there are some lotto winners that get to do whatever they want and have all the money to do it and be comfy and all that. But I am talking to the 99% of you. I think the solution is to swarm the world with your mad visions. Overwhelm them and hopefully the right assignments come your way. The assignments that are easy and fun. You don’t have to shoot products in a studio or weddings if you play your cards right. Unless you want to.

Oct 20 2018

No One Cares About Your Photography Part 2 : How to Win Photography

Photo by Guido Gazzilli

Ok in the first part I talked about how no one cares but you can make them care once you start caring and taking it seriously. Not to be all serious about it because if you are not having fun and enjoying every bit of it, then maybe photography is not for you. I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Step 1 : What do you want?

This is going into the personal development department but really you have to define what success is for you. Do you want a book deal? Do you want to shoot a look book for Target? Do you want front page of New York Times? A1? I still always look at every photo credit in New York Times when I get the chance. At one point that is what I wanted. But things evolve too. That can happen.

Step 2 : How do you get it?

Strategy. Think about how to get from point A to point B. You don’t really have to invent anything here. The sooner you know what you want out of photography, then the sooner you will know how to get there because someone already did it before you. Sure everyone has their own path. But if you are paying attention, someone might have already blazed a trail for you and you just need to follow the tracks. Otherwise, get the machete and get to chopping.

Step 3. RELENTLESS DOMINATION

I was just gonna write “Relentlessness” but then I remembered Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is always saying “Relentless Domination” on his Insta. He is right though. Figure out what you want and don’t stop till you get it. My vote is to shoot 100 photos everyday until you start a fire. I think opportunities will arise from the ashes.

I have been fortunate to work with a lot of awesome photographers but what always impresses me the most is how much these pros actually shoot. You would hear stories of how Garry Winogrand passed away with over 3000 unprocessed rolls of film. Ted Pushinsky went shooting with him a few times and confirmed the legend to be true: Garry Winogrand would shoot 12 rolls of film by noon everyday. Ted said after shooting, he would drop his rolls into a big garbage bag that was already filled with tons of rolls.

When I had a darkroom in SF I would get random printing gigs. I had made contact sheets for Jim Goldberg before and one day he mentioned that he will be going to Bangladesh for a few weeks and will have some work for me when he gets back. Ok he came back with 800 4×5 negatives that I had to make contacts for. That was just the black and white. He said he also shot over 500 rolls of film, both 120 and 35. And digital.

Oh my. Imagine how much these guys shot when they were young? I’m saying you’re still young. And you could be doing more. Me too. Maybe this message is more for me than for you but maybe you will get motivated and start shooting more. We need it.

Oct 20 2018

No One Cares About Your Photography

Photo by Jai Tanju

Maybe a few friends and family do, but in general no one cares about your photography. Which is why this: YOU CANNOT STOP. Do not stop until they see, feel, and understand your message. I think if you care then you can make them care. If you have not discovered your message aka purpose than you haven’t been shooting and experimenting enough. If you have been shooting a lot maybe it is time to switch it up, go outside more or travel somewhere else or try a different focal length, different format, different camera, etc.

My friend Stefan (who helped start Hamburger Eyes) is a painting contractor and I have been painting houses on and off with him for years. One time his Dad, also a painting contractor, was in town and he said to him, “Hey Dad, Ray has been painting with me, he’s getting good,” or something like that. Then Ratko goes,”Yeah right, see me in 20 years and we’ll see if your painting is good.” I think it’s the same with photography. Until you have gone over every type of problem with every type of paint in every type of weather on every type of surface 100 times, you really don’t know shit.

Most of these articles I am writing are the subjects of emails I get. There are a lot of young photographers wondering what is next for them and I’m like, “You haven’t even shot anything yet.” I think there is a Henri Cartier Bresson quote that goes, “Your first 10,000 photos are garbage.” The harsh truth is most photographers don’t live past age 30. I’m talking about your photography went from “passion” to “hobby” to “minor interest”. I get it, it’s not easy to make a living. But I’m saying you didn’t shoot enough to properly find out.

You work hard and good things start to happen. You hear it all the time. It sounds like a pipe dream but it’s true. Think of every successful photographer you know. They shot and still shoot 100 times more than anyone you know. I think you can get there sooner if you shoot 100 photos per day starting today. The idea is that you will see more, edit more, learn more, etc more.

I struggle with this too. Maybe this post is for self motivation. For the past 10 years I have been identifying myself as a “publisher” first, “photographer” second. But now I am realizing that is wrong, I am a photographer first. And the world needs my weird photos and your weird photos. And we all need to shoot 100 photos per day. Otherwise everything will look like an Iphone commercial. And we don’t want that world.

Continued in PART 2.

Oct 19 2018

Reptiles In General

https://youtu.be/XnHhjQMgLQM

I was just thinking maybe it’s getting too serious around here. Maybe we need to bring back some music. And this morning come these vids from long time contributor Alex Martinez. When we got our photo studio darkroom facility in SF around 2008, Alex was the first one to “intern” or volunteer there. He worked 2 days a week, every week, for like 5 years or more. He helped shape Hamburger Eyes during those years. He brought on Oskie and he too worked there forever. Alex is an awesome idea man, awesome music man, awesome aesthetic man. The simple design of this site is direct influence from him. Check out him out.

http://amart.tumblr.com/

http://www.stopinternetromance.com/