The IPPA Blog | The Blog of The Irish Professional Photographers Association

On foot of the upcoming nominations and elections for the IPPA council I thought a word on leadership might be suitable.

Once in a while you meet a leader who stands out–even in a room filled with skilled, experienced, successful people. They are just remarkably charismatic. They are just remarkably likeable.

You can tell, in an instant, they simply think and act and lead differently than most people.

But those rare individuals don’t become outstanding leaders overnight. While some are born with an aptitude for leadership, truly outstanding leaders are made. Through training, experience, and a healthy dose of introspection they learn how to make quick decisions. They learn to work with different personalities. They learn to nurture, motivate, and inspire.

They learn to truly lead.

And in time those skills become automatic and reflexive. While great leaders do a tremendous amount of thinking, that thinking happens behind the scenes. In the moment, in the trenches, when people look to them and need them most, they act: swiftly, decisively, and confidently.

Want to become a truly outstanding leader? Work hard to do these eight things naturally, automatically, and instinctively:

1. Praise. It’s easy to tell when member recognition is simply one entry on a very long to-do list. We’ve all been around people who occasionally–and awkwardly–shake a few hands and pat a few backs. No matter how hard they try to fake it, their insincerity is evident.

No one gets enough praise, so truly outstanding leaders see expressing thanks, giving praise, and providing recognition as one gift that can never be given often enough.

Praise is almost like breathing to a truly outstanding leader: natural, automatic, frequent, and most of all, genuine and sincere.

2. Decide. Ideas are great but implementation is everything. Outstanding leaders quickly weigh, assess, decide, and then immediately act–because decisiveness and action build confidence and momentum.

That’s why making a poor decision is often better than making no decision at all. Mistakes can almost always be corrected. Even though you should always try, rarely must you be right the first time. Adapting and learning and revising so you get it right in the end matters a lot more.

Especially when you…

3. Take responsibility. We all make bad decisions. What matters is what we do after we make those mistakes.

Outstanding leaders are the first to say, “I was wrong.” Outstanding leaders are the first to say, “I made the wrong choice. We need to change course.”

Outstanding leaders instinctively admit their mistakes early and often because they’re quick to take responsibility and because they desperately want to build a culture where mistakes are simply challenges to overcome, not opportunities to point fingers and assign blame.

4. Communicate. Business is filled with what: What to execute, what to implement, what to say, and sometimes even what to feel.

What’s often missing is the why.

That’s why so many projects, processes, and tasks fail. Tell me what to do and I’ll try to do it; tell me why, help me understand why, help me believe and make that why my mission too…and I’ll run through proverbial brick walls to do the impossible.

Managers stipulate. Outstanding leaders explain. And then they listen–because the most effective communication involves way more listening than talking.

5. Set the example. Say you’re walking through somewhere with a colleague and you see a piece of rubbish on the floor. There are two types of people when that happens:

One spots it, stops, struts over, snatches it up, crumples it like a beer can, and strides 20 feet to a bin to slam it home. He’s picked up the rubbish, but he’s also making a statement.

The other veers over without breaking stride, picks it up, crumples it up, keeps talking, and doesn’t throw it away until he comes across a convenient bin. He’s not thinking about making a statement. He just saw a little trash and picked it up without thinking.

Simple example? Sure. But extremely telling–especially to those around you.

Why? People notice what you do. When you’re in charge, everyone watches what you do. The difference lies in how you do what you do… and what that says about you.

Outstanding leaders do what they do simply because it’s important to them. It’s part of who they are. They care about go, not show–and, in time, so do they people they work with.

6. Give feedback. We all want to improve: to be more skilled, more polished, more successful. That’s why we all need constructive feedback.

Because they care about their members, outstanding leaders instinctively go to the person struggling and say, “I know you can do this. And I’m going to help you.”

Think about a time when a person told you what you least wanted to hear and yet most needed to hear. They changed your life. Outstanding leaders naturally try to change people’s lives. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Because they care.

7. Seek help. At some point, most people in leadership positions begin to avoid displaying signs of vulnerability. After all, you’re in charge of everything, so you’re supposed to know everything. Of course that’s impossible. You can’t know everything about your job. Your employees can’t know everything about their jobs, either.

Outstanding leaders don’t pretend to know everything. (In fact, they purposely hire people who know more than they do.) So they naturally ask questions. They automatically ask for help.

And in the process they show vulnerability, respect for the knowledge and skills of others, and a willingness to listen–all of which are qualities of outstanding leaders.

8. Challenge. Most leaders implement their ideas by enforcing processes and procedures that support those ideas.

Outstanding leaders create broad standards and guidelines and then challenge their employees by giving them the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best. They allow employees to turn “yours” into “ours,” transforming work into an outward expression of each person’s unique skills, talents, and experiences.

So before you vote think about who you want to lead you and whether they exhibit the 8 examples outlined above.

 

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The 2014 IPPA Photographer of the Year is Peter Gordon. 

To see the winning images click here

Best Architectural Portfolio: Donal Murphy

Best Single Architectural Image: Enda Cavanagh

Best Commercial Advertising Single Image: Suzy McCanny

Best Fashion Portfolio: Dermot Byrne

Best Human Form Portfolio: Michael Hayes

Best Single Image Human Form: Michael Hayes

Best Landscape Portfolio: Peter Gordon

Best Single Landscape: Peter Gordon

Open Art & Creativity Portfolio: Mark Russell Hill

Open Art & Creativity  Single Image:  Mark Russell Hill

Best Classical Portraiture Portfolio: Claire Durkin

Best Single Image Classical Portraiture: Claire Durkin

Best Contemporary Portrait Portfolio (including pets): Michael Hayes

Best Contemporary Portrait Image: Cormac Byrne

Best Children’s Portrait Portfolio: Nicole Le Saout

Best Children’s Portrait Image: Nicola Webster

Best Press and Editorial Portfolio: Michael McLoughlin

Best Press and Editorial image: John Kavanagh

Best Pictorial Travel & Fine Art Portfolio: Michael McLoughlin

Best Pictorial Travel & Fine Art Image: Kelvin Gilmor

Best Classical Wedding Portfolio: Claire Durkin

Best Classical Wedding Image: Claire Durkin

Best Contemporary Wedding Portfolio: Michael McLoughlin

Best Contemporary Wedding Image: Nicola Webster

Best Wildlife Portfolio: Philip Pound

Best Wildlife Image: Phillip Pound

Best Reportage Wedding Portfolio: Dermot Culhane

Best Wedding Reportage Image: Peter Gordon

Chairman’s Award: Gosia Tuznik

IPPA Wedding Photographer of the Year is Claire Durkin

IPPA Portrait Photographer of the Year is Claire Durkin

Winning images will be amended to this post when they are provided to me by council and reproduced with the kind permission of all the winners. Many thanks to Mike Conn and and all the staff at Conns Cameras for the sponsorship once again of the ‘Photographer of the Year” prize of a Canon 6D camera.

It would be remiss of me, on behalf of all members, not to thank Mick Quinn and all the judges who gave their time and effort throughout the year. They are the lifeblood of the awards process and to Robert Allen for his organisation of trophies and prints etc.

Well done to all the winners but it is equally important to mention all those who entered and participated in the process. Lets hope there is as many participants next year.

Cormac O’Kelly

 

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Canon’s various logo guise through the ages but regardless of the subtle logo changes, it’s brand has always stood for quality and rugged cameras.

Many photographers need to proactively build and manage their brands.

Unfortunately, most do not understand what a brand is.

A brand is not a logo. It is not a web site or a colour or a font. A brand is not a business card and it is not an ad you run in a magazine. In fact, a brand is not most of the things you might think it is.

And don’t think paying a designer lots of money will get you a brand. It won’t. All you will get is a design, which is not a brand. And beware, most designers don’t understand how to build a brand. You may not even need any design or advertising to have a strong brand.

Unfortunately, in this crazy, competitive and noisy world, you do need a brand more than ever. A strong brand, managed well, will help to correctly position you in people’s minds. It will also help differentiate you from other photographers. Above all, it will help give people a reason to buy you or whatever you are selling.

You need a brand, just as much as BMW, Hasselblad or Apple need a brand.

So what is a brand? A brand is a promise. Thats it. It’s a promise.

When you are thinking of buying anything, a car, a camera, an egg; a whole lot of things will process in your mind. Some of this stuff will be logical, tangible and functional thoughts. Some of it will be irrational, intangible and emotional etc. All the things which people will think about, and feel and believe in, these will be the building blocks of your brand. Your job in building your brand is to try and manage these thoughts and beliefs.

People who know of you will have beliefs and opinions of you whether you like it or not. Your job is to manage and influence those beliefs and thoughts before they take firm hold. To get ahead of those perceptions and to put your vision and values into peoples minds first.

Think about a brand which you value and to which you are loyal. That value and loyalty is based around your belief in what that brand will promise to deliver to you. And heaven for bid any brand which breaks its promise.

Anyway this is just food for thought.

 

**As a follow on, here is something I found by Guy Kawasaki. You could benchmark your brand against this maybe:

“The Art of Branding”

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Feb/14

19

Slaves of the Internet, Unite!

Recently I came across this wonderful article by Tim Kreider, a brilliant writer and cartoonist from New York. The article, originally published in the New York Times and on Tim’s blog back in October highlights a ‘plague on all our houses” For those of you who are expected to work for free ( you know who you are ) it is an interesting piece in the New York Times. Not that you haven’t heard it all before.

 

“They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it.”

NOT long ago, I received, in a single week, three (3) invitations to write an original piece for publication or give a prepared speech in exchange for no ($0.00) money. As with stinkbugs, it’s not any one instance of this request but their sheer number and relentlessness that make them so tiresome. It also makes composing a polite response a heroic exercise in restraint.People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn’t be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it. “Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to offer compensation to our contributors…” is how the pertinent line usually starts. But just as often, they simply omit any mention of payment.

A familiar figure in one’s 20s is the club owner or event promoter who explains to your band that they won’t be paying you in money, man, because you’re getting paid in the far more valuable currency of exposure. This same figure reappears over the years, like the devil, in different guises — with shorter hair, a better suit — as the editor of a Web site or magazine, dismissing the issue of payment as an irrelevant quibble and impressing upon you how many hits they get per day, how many eyeballs, what great exposure it’ll offer.

“Artist Dies of Exposure” goes the rueful joke.”

This is partly a side effect of our information economy, in which “paying for things” is a quaint, discredited old 20th-century custom, like calling people after having sex with them. The first time I ever heard the word “content” used in its current context, I understood that all my artist friends and I — henceforth, “content providers” — were essentially extinct. This contemptuous coinage is predicated on the assumption that it’s the delivery system that matters, relegating what used to be called “art” — writing, music, film, photography, illustration — to the status of filler, stuff to stick between banner ads.In fairness, most of the people who ask me to write things for free, with the exception of Arianna Huffington, aren’t the Man; they’re editors of struggling magazines or sites, or school administrators who are probably telling me the truth about their budgets. The economy is still largely in ruins, thanks to the people who “drive the economy” by doing imaginary things on Wall Street, and there just isn’t much money left to spare for people who do actual things anymore.

Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge. I now contribute to some of the most prestigious online publications in the English-speaking world, for which I am paid the same amount as, if not less than, I was paid by my local alternative weekly when I sold my first piece of writing for print in 1989. More recently, I had the essay equivalent of a hit single — endlessly linked to, forwarded and reposted. A friend of mine joked, wistfully, “If you had a dime for every time someone posted that …” Calculating the theoretical sum of those dimes, it didn’t seem all that funny.

I’ve been trying to understand the mentality that leads people who wouldn’t ask a stranger to give them a keychain or a Twizzler to ask me to write them a thousand words for nothing. I have to admit my empathetic imagination is failing me here. I suppose people who aren’t artists assume that being one must be fun since, after all, we do choose to do it despite the fact that no one pays us. They figure we must be flattered to have someone ask us to do our little thing we already do.

I will freely admit that writing beats baling hay or going door-to-door for a living, but it’s still shockingly unenjoyable work. I spent 20 years and wrote thousands of pages learning the trivial craft of putting sentences together. My parents blew tens of thousands of 1980s dollars on tuition at a prestigious institution to train me for this job. They also put my sister the pulmonologist through medical school, and as far as I know nobody ever asks her to perform a quick lobectomy — doesn’t have to be anything fancy, maybe just in her spare time, whatever she can do would be great — because it’ll help get her name out there.

Maybe they’re asking in the collaborative, D.I.Y. spirit that allegedly characterizes the artistic community. I have read Lewis Hyde’s “The Gift,” and participated in a gift economy for 20 years, swapping zines and minicomics with friends and colleagues, contributing to little literary magazines, doing illustrations for bands and events and causes, posting a decade’s worth of cartoons and essays on my Web site free of charge. Not getting paid for things in your 20s is glumly expected, even sort of cool; not getting paid in your 40s, when your back is starting to hurt and you are still sleeping on a futon, considerably less so. Let’s call the first 20 years of my career a gift. Now I am 46, and would like a bed.

Practicalities aside, money is also how our culture defines value, and being told that what you do is of no ($0.00) value to the society you live in is, frankly, demoralizing. Even sort of insulting. And of course when you live in a culture that treats your work as frivolous you can’t help but internalize some of that devaluation and think of yourself as something less than a bona fide grown-up.

I know I sound like some middle-aged sourpuss who’s forgotten why he ever wanted to do this in the first place. But I’m secretly not as mercenary as I’m trying to pretend. One of the three people who asked me to do something for nothing that dispiriting week was a graduate student in a social work program asking me if I’d speak to her class. I first sent her my boilerplate demurral, but soon found myself mulling over the topic she’d suggested, involuntarily thinking up things to say. I had gotten interested. Oh, dammit, I thought. I knew then I was going to do the talk. And after all, they were student social workers, who were never going to make much money either because they’d chosen to go into the business, which our society also deems worthless, of trying to help people. Also, she was very pretty.

“Let us not kid ourselves,” Professor Vladimir Nabokov reminds us. “Let us remember that literature is of no practical value whatsoever. … ” But practical value isn’t the only kind of value. Ours is a mixed economy, with the gift economy of the arts existing (if not exactly flourishing) within the inhospitable conditions of a market economy, like the fragile black market in human decency that keeps civilization going despite the pitiless dictates of self-interest.

My field of expertise is complaining, not answers. I know there’s no point in demanding that businesspeople pay artists for their work, any more than there is in politely asking stink bugs or rhinoviruses to quit it already. It’s their job to be rapacious and shameless. But they can get away with paying nothing only for the same reason so many sleazy guys keep trying to pick up women by insulting them: because it keeps working on someone. There is a bottomless supply of ambitious young artists in all media who believe the line about exposure, or who are simply so thrilled at the prospect of publication that they’re happy to do it free of charge.

I STILL remember how this felt: the first piece I ever got nationally published was in a scholarly journal that paid in contributors’ copies, but I’ve never had a happier moment in my career. And it’s not strictly true that you never benefit from exposure — being published in The New York Times helped get me an agent, who got me a book deal, which got me some dates. But let it be noted that The Times also pays in the form of money, albeit in very modest amounts.

So I’m writing this not only in the hope that everyone will cross me off the list of writers to hit up for free content but, more important, to make a plea to my younger colleagues. As an older, more accomplished, equally unsuccessful artist, I beseech you, don’t give it away. As a matter of principle. Do it for your colleagues, your fellow artists, because if we all consistently say no they might, eventually, take the hint. It shouldn’t be professionally or socially acceptable — it isn’t right — for people to tell us, over and over, that our vocation is worthless.

Here, for public use, is my very own template for a response to people who offer to let me write something for them for nothing:

Thanks very much for your compliments on my [writing/illustration/whatever thing you do]. I’m flattered by your invitation to [do whatever it is they want you to do for nothing]. But [thing you do] is work, it takes time, it’s how I make my living, and in this economy I can’t afford to do it for free. I’m sorry to decline, but thanks again, sincerely, for your kind words about my work.

Feel free to amend as necessary. This I’m willing to give away.

 

Tim Kreider is the author of “We Learn Nothing,” a collection of essays and cartoons.

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By now you should probably carved out your 2014 marketing budget and developed your plans for the year. As business owners, we have a lot of things to consider when planning our efforts for the year. As you put the finishing touches on your 2014 plans let’s review 5 common marketing mistakes for you to avoid to save you time, money and a lot of frustration.

Overlooking Mobile

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen photographers make is overlooking mobile. Currently there are over 5.5 billion mobile device subscriptions across the globe. As a consumer, I definitely access as many websites from mobile devices as I do from a desktop or laptop. And it turns out, I’m not alone. By 2015, it is predicted that we’ll see more than 788 million mobile­ only Internet users with mobile browsing (for the web) surpassing desktop browsing. A mobile ­optimized website is no longer a “nice­to­have,” it’s a must. Your customers expect you to have a mobile­friendly site. Mobile should be a critical component of your digital marketing strategy this year.

Focusing More on Acquisition than Retention

We have to develop a strategy that focuses on both acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones. Far too often I see photographers shift that focus to be too acquisition centric. Acquisition is important don’t get me wrong, but there needs to be a balance. The cost of retaining a customer is significantly less than that of acquiring one (as much as 20% less!). Another hard truth is that repeat customers spend more than new ones. Marketing is equally about retention as it is about acquisition so don’t forget to consider how you’ll deepen relationships with existing customers (particularly high value ones) in 2014.

Marketing Your Aspirations

Every photographer aspires to be something greater. We all have (and should have) that big hairy audacious goal. But we’re not marketing what we aspire to be, we’re marketing who we are today—in the present. Marketing your aspirations can create major problems if you can’t live up to them. Keep your aspirations in mind when planning and executing, but don’t market them to your customers.

Letting Research Dictate Plans

As a self­proclaimed data junkie, I believe strongly that data can lead to better decision making. You should review data and research to keep you informed, but you shouldn’t let it entirely dictate your plans. Research is a valuable tool for photographers, but research can be misleading at times. There are just some things that research simply can’t predict. And consumers don’t always know how they are feeling or what they want. And they don’t always know how they will feel in the future. It’s hard to predict how consumers will react to things in the future. Research should guide, not lead.

Playing Exactly by the Book

Plans are important. We need plans to keep us focused and on track, but at the end of the day plans are just words on paper. We should always count on plans changing course. Think of your marketing plans as a compass and not a map. Leave some room for adventure and spontaneity and use the plans as your guide.

Can you think of other common marketing mistakes to avoid? Share them in the comments!

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