Storm-chasing: Part 2 with Evan Ludes

Last week, Jain Lemos talked with storm chaser Martin Lisius in Part One of her two-part article on weather photographers. Here’s her interview with Evan Ludes.

Getting up to speed quickly on safety rules is Evan Ludes, a 22-year-old photographer from Omaha, Nebraska. Already, he’s amassing a solid collection of weather-related content, images that are intense and dynamic. His great love of the outdoors led him to establish Framed By Nature. His website chronicles past storm chases and scenes from his travels.

Ludes also caught storm fever as a toddler growing up in Wichitia, Kansas. “I don’t remember much about the storm itself, but I do remember sleeping in the basement for almost a week straight with the rest of my family,” he shares. “There had been a sustained outbreak of tornadic storms, and instead of waking up in the middle of the night to get our things together to go to the basement, we decided it was easier to simply sleep down there. An odd thing for sure, but that’s living in Tornado Alley for you!”

Though he hasn’t shot every type of weather yet, Ludes has a good selection of weather phenomena. “Thunderstorms, tornadoes, blizzards, dust storms, hail storms… you name it, I’ve probably been out in it,” he says. One of the most common types of storms in his gallery is known as a supercell, which is a persistent rotating thunderstorm. “This rotation is what sculpts the cloud’s spectacular “mothership” shape,” he explains.

High gas prices have kept him from traveling to the coast for hurricane coverage, but he’s hoping image sales and assignments will help fund his future adventures. Still, he gets around quite well and has traversed the plains and high plains to shoot storms. “My first chase was in Oklahoma,” Ludes says. By the end of 2010 (his first year of chasing) he had added Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa to his list. “Since then, I’ve also chased in Missouri, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming and Minnesota,” he adds.

One thing he is longing to shoot in a particular way is what he calls a “photogenic” tornado. The coverage he has of a few tornadoes were taken from too far a distance. “Ideally, I’d like to be within a mile of a significant tornado with good lighting conditions. That’s a shot that has yet to be crossed off my bucket list,” he says.

Shooting primarily stills early on, Ludes is now developing much more video into his workflow. He’s especially intrigued by time-lapse studies. “I can shoot 1080 HD video as well as time-lapses with a single camera body using my current workhorse, the Canon 60D. There are some things that stills just can’t translate, like the excitement of driving away from a thunderstorm, which is where video comes in,” he explains. He processes video clips through Adobe Premiere, which allows for cutting and color correcting quickly and efficiently.


Ludes is learning that one of the hardest things to convey to viewers is simply the sheer scale of the storm. He knows the frustration of not being able to translate the magnitude accurately to a computer screen. “An ultra-wide angle lens is a must for any storm photographer,” he advises. “Having a wide angle lens will allow you to capture the scene in the same approximate field of view at which you witness it. If I’m still not wide enough to frame the whole storm, I resort to taking panoramic images and stitching them together,” he says.

This is one reason time-lapse photography works so well for storms. “When you freeze a storm in a single frame, you lose a lot of the motion involved with the clouds. If you shoot a time-lapse video, you can see how that storm evolves over time, transcending what the human eye sees,” he adds. Ludes is capturing his time-lapse video using a Canon XSi with a Vello intervalometer for delay-release remoting switching.

In late July 2010, Ludes was chasing with a partner in Vivian, South Dakota. They were expecting a big hail storm. Not wanting to get caught in the precipitation they moved south of the main Interstate and wound up driving on dirt roads. Suddenly, the storm accelerated faster than they anticipated. “The hail core caught up with us, and before we knew it, there were softball-sized chunks of ice bouncing over our car as we blasted on dirt roads. Miraculously, we escaped with all of our glass intact,” he recalls. “Turns out, it was a world record setting hail storm, with stones measuring 8 inches in diameter, about the size of a bowling ball,” he exclaims.

Weather Spotting: A Visual Guide to Midwestern Weather,” is Ludes’ 62-page self-published photo book on severe weather and cloud identification. His chapters include examples of nearly every cloud type, a narrative on hail formation, why supercells are rare and lightning safety tips, plus he finds a clever way to use diagrams over his images for explaining how storms generate and flow.

Ludes has been licensing to TV outlets, finding that with today’s 24-hour news cycle, networks are constantly searching for the latest, greatest and most exciting video clips to fill air time. He is represented by Live Storms Media, a major distributor that pushes content to ABC, NBC, CNN, The Weather Channel, Weather Nation and other top cable channels.

Lisius and Ludes are always willing to share their storm chasing knowledge and welcome calls from visual buyers and researchers. Their passion for elemental and phenomenal photography involves observing, reading, tinkering and experimenting, but most of all they love sharing what they discover through their images. There is one other thing we can count on: they’ll never complain about the weather.

(c)Evan Ludes Paxton, Nebraska Lightning Storm

(c)Evan Ludes Paxton, Nebraska Lightning Storm


JainLemos-600x600Jain Lemos is the Director of Content and Collections for Come Alive Images. She has been deeply involved in photography publishing and licensing for more than twenty years and shares her informed perspective about our visual industry on multiple platforms including her website,

Weather-Chasing Champions: StormStock and Framed By Nature – Part One

The dog days are upon us, as is Storm Season. We have long been fascinated by Storm Chasing image makers and VC Blog is delighted to have Jain Lemos talk to two of the best. We start this week with veteran cinematographer and chaser Martin Lisius. Next week, look for Jain’s chat with time-lapse specialist, the fearless up-and-coming, Evan Ludes.

Storm spotting is a special art and obsession that leads intrepid souls into the elements to conquer and capture what most of us duck and run from. For veteran cinematographer Martin Lisius and time-lapse specialist Evan Ludes, weather photography is so deeply embedded in their veins they’ve devoted their lives to capturing the art of the storm.

Known as “The Storm Whisperer” Lisius has perhaps some of the deepest knowledge of capturing severe weather in the country. His clients include nearly all of the network and cable news channels as well as major corporations such as Disney, NatGeo, Nike, Chevrolet, Microsoft and McDonalds. Lisius runs his production company from Arlington, Texas where he founded Prairie Pictures and StormStock, a premier storm footage library he started in 1993—making it one of the oldest stock footage brands in the world.

Extreme weather caught his attention when he was 3 or 4 years old growing up in Northern Texas, where storms are frequent. “I remember them coming at night with lots of lightning and crashing thunder,” he recalls. His first image came nearly a decade later. “I took my first storm shot from the big window in our kitchen when I was about 12,” he says. “It was a hand held still photo of a lightning strike that I took with my fully manual Kodak 35mm camera.”

Today, Lisius is equipped with an impressive technology kit, including the 6K Red Dragon that allows captures for over 9x more pixels than HD. “I shoot with an Arri for film, a Red and Sony for high res digital video, and an iPhone 5s for stills,” he explains.

His library includes footage of a vast variety of tornadoes up to the highest EF5 category, hurricanes up to category 5, blizzards, giant hail and floods. “I travel across the Great Plains, from Texas to the Dakotas to shoot tornadoes and thunderstorms, to the Gulf for hurricanes and out to the Rockies for blizzards,” Lisius says. However, he doesn’t have to go far to find diversity. “I can shoot tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards right here in Texas. It’s the only state in the US that experiences all three of types of storms.”

Even with decades of experience, Lisius hasn’t bagged everything he’s set out to find yet. “I’ve been unable to capture a clear eye inside a hurricane. Every time I’ve been in one, conditions were overcast and usually there is considerable drizzle. A clear eye would be nice to see,” he admits.

With so many other sensory elements going on during a storm, Lisius says it can be challenging to convey the essence of what he is seeing in real time, especially when it comes to sound. “I try to capture everything I feel with certain focal lengths and angles. Using a special microphone system to cut down on some of the wind noise, I can record elements, such as rain and thunder, much clearer,” he says.

“When winds are running 50-90 mph, I get nothing but a roar, though. But that sound is pretty close to what I am hearing with my own ears, so it does extend the visuals in terms of capturing the true experience of being in the storm. During Hurricane Katrina, there was a stand of pine trees nearby, and all I heard for about two hours was the sound of a jet plane sitting on the tarmac. It literally sounded like that,” Lisius exclaims.

Fortunately, Lisius has had very few close calls in the field considering his years of storm chasing. He is very careful in how he tracks and intercepts storms. He has, however, run into situations that weigh on his conscious. “I have shot during killer storms—Katrina and Ike—as well as the deadliest tornado in South Dakota history. I know that, sadly, people are dying around me that I cannot see or help.”

Realizing that storms are very survivable if certain safety rules are followed, he published “The Ultimate Severe Weather Safety Guide” last year, an in-depth guide on how to protect yourself under the most extreme conditions. “I figured out long ago that tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards and other storms are very survivable if these rules are followed. I wanted desperately to help other people, so I wrote this book with my guidelines. But, the book by itself cannot save lives. People who read it actually have to adhere to the rules,” Lisius says.

Tune in next week for Part Two of Jain’s article and get to know Evan Ludes.

JainLemos-600x600Jain Lemos is the Director of Content and Collections for Come Alive Images. She has been deeply involved in photography publishing and licensing for more than twenty years and shares her informed perspective about our visual industry on multiple platforms including her website,


Where® ? Haines Wilkerson Shows Us

Michael Masterson sat down recently with Haines Wilkerson, CCO of Where® to find out more about their creative process for the VC blog.

Chief Creative Officer Haines Wilkerson.

Chief Creative Officer Haines Wilkerson.

Where® is a global network of local guides, magazines and digital media focused on travel. Haines leads a worldwide network of editors, art directors and designers, overseeing content, style and brand identity. He directs the Where® Creative Studio in Los Angeles, whose projects include brand design continuity as well as award-winning custom lifestyle and travel publications, advertising campaigns, website, apps, social media and video. In the retail sector, he is currently developing Where Traveler Books+More airport stores at JFK, SFO and beyond.

1. What’s your creative process for a typical book or magazine cover?

The great thing about Where® is our unique approach to travel guide content. Unlike most guidebook publishers who send a writer to a destination for a few months and then comes out with a comprehensive capture of the place, Where® editors live in the destination. They live it and love it, 24/7. We don’t limit our focus to tourism, we hit on what makes the market special, as only someone who lives there can. Each editor focuses on the eclectic and the classic aspects of his or her town, enabling our readers to “travel like a local.”

The face of Where Creative team is known for thinking outside the book. Photo by Isaac Arjonilla.

The face of Where Creative team is known for thinking outside the book. Photo by Isaac Arjonilla.

To that end, the local editor compiles an annual editorial calendar based on 12 monthly WhereCreative_001issues and one hardbound annual GuestBook. Our design director, Jane Frey; photo editor, Isaac Arjonilla; and senior editorial director, Margaret Martin, review the content plans and suggest ways to support the stories with the strongest visuals. Some we’ll shoot, some will come supplied by galleries, museums, restaurants, attractions, etc. The balance will be stock. We, of course, utilize micro stock because we publish every month in some 40 markets worldwide, so that’s a lot of photos.

2. How has that evolved over the years?

Where® is a global network formed by the acquisition of many guidebook publishers under the umbrella of Augusta, Georgia-based Morris Media Network. The assignment for us at the Where Creative Studio in Los Angeles was to literally turn the products of former competitors into unified, complementary pieces. We went with the Where® brand name because it’s short, modern and kind of fun, like when we use the name in a title such as “Where is Taiwan.” At first one might think, “Wait, is that a question?” No, it’s a statement. “WHERE is Taiwan.” Once we unified the global brand and consolidated our voice and visuals (with the help of extensive but flexible layout formats used by each market), we were then able to get back to our ongoing quest for interesting images of city details and icons. In picturing the iconic, we always look for a twist in the lighting/cropping or a strong juxtaposition with another element. Postcard cliché images we absolutely avoid.

3. What determines whether you use stock or assignment for a particular cover?

Budget and timing primarily influence stock vs. assignment. We love the tailored, visually consistent and on-point benefits of assignment shoots. For our annual GuestBooks, we work six months out in the planning to allow the art directors time to research appropriate photographers and to coordinate the shoots. Our photo editor signs off on the designated photographers and verifies the budget. The local editor makes sure the subject matter is fully addressed. When time or budgets are tight, we turn to stock or supplied images.

4. When you use stock, what percentage is rights-managed versus royalty-free or micro stock?

According to our photo editor, Isaac Arjonilla, it varies according to the product. Typically, a Covers_FINAL_002higher-end product requires RM images that have more artistic quality than do the more generic RF stock images you would find at Shutterstock or iStock. For us, it’s a near split down the middle: 45% RM stock and 55% RF/microstock. RM is utilized for covers and main features, whereas RF images are used in the more utilitarian “sights and attractions” layouts that include more photos at smaller sizes.

5. Have you ever had a cover that had unexpected consequences?

Unlike most niche-audience magazines, Where® is seen by an impossibly wide-ranging demographic, same as the traveling populace itself. Imagine trying to reach every passenger you pass in a busy airport. Young, old, liberal, conservative. We choose cover images that quickly project the theme or subject as if there were no headline to support the message. We focus on art and music, fashion and retail, recreation and sights and a SEAWM_130900_000c1_sm3[1]lot of dining. (Travelers gotta eat and we help them find where.) But in answer to the question of unexpected consequences, we learned the hard way that if you put Elvis on the cover of an annual Memphis book, you will not have any books left in the hotel rooms beyond the first month. Not all our covers feature celebrities, but recently we featured John Varvatos on the covers of our nationwide September fashion issue when he happened to be traveling all over the world for his fashion line. Apparently, in every city he went to that month he saw himself on the cover of the local Where magazine. He was so excited he wrote personal notes to each of us at Where Creative in LA.

6. Knowing you’ve done hundreds, if not thousands of these by now, what are some of your all-time favorites?

Covers_FINAL_003We do a four-island set of books each year for Hawaii based on a unique theme, so as travelers island-hop, they see each related piece of the theme unfold. Those are fun and quite challenging. Naturally the best ones are shot on assignment. For those, we give the photographers up to a year to capture the theme while touching on the individuality (and beauty) of each island. We commissioned a signmaker in Nashville to construct a vintage style “N” out of galvanized metal and marquee lights for our annual GuestBook there. It was such a popular cover, we started seeing the book appear prominently in room shots on boutique Nashville hotel websites. We are very proud when our books become part of the interior design of hotel rooms while helping define the city and enhance one’s stay. Where London did a split run of all four of Warhol’s “Queen Elizabeth II” in celebration of Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. They were seen all over London amid the extensive international media coverage. That was memorable, times four.

1555546_10202430273490900_1403800212_n Michael Masterson has a broad range of experience in marketing, business development, strategic planning, contact negotiations and recruiting in the photography, graphic design and publishing industries. In addition to his long experience at the Workbook and Workbookstock, Masterson owned and was creative director of his own graphic design firm for several years. Masterson has been a speaker or panelist at industry events such as Seybold, PhotoPlus Expo, Visual Connections and the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA) national conference. He is past national president of the American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP). He currently heads Masterson Consulting, working on projects ranging from business development for creative companies and sourcing talent for them to promoting and marketing industry events as well as providing resume and professional profile services for job-seekers. He can be reached at

An Agency for All Seasons

by Sheridan Stancliff

© / Jalag / Pospieszynska, Agatha

© / Jalag / Pospieszynska, Agatha

In May, CulinArts Holding Group launched, adding another niche market to their impressive collections including StockFood and Living4Media. While at first glance, one might think this collection is similar to other model-centric themes, a closer look reveals a high caliber of European fashion and beauty talent that has previously been attainable only through custom shoots. This is not a bargain collection by any means, and it’s not meant to be. The ultra high-quality images represented in this collection will give media buyers access to models, fashion, and sets that might not be attainable to them otherwise.

This made me a bit curious about launching such a specialty agency and how it fits into the stock photo space. Shannon Mahoney, General Manager for, let me bend her ear a few moments to learn a bit more about this new collection.

Can you give me a little overview of
The image agency presents an exclusive portfolio of European photo productions, syndications of the renowned publishing group JAHRESZEITEN VERLAG in Hamburg, Germany.  The collections include elaborately-produced content about beauty, cover photography, food, home and travel. In addition to select photographers, we showcase pioneering lifestyle productions from leading European publishers, available for licensing only through our company.

What is the goal of offering such a collection and what sets it apart from other image collections?
There are millions of lifestyle images already available on the global picture market. Many models look interchangeable and cover images are often digitally enhanced. In the case of, all the models are distinctive professionals with strong character and boast an authentic, recognizable personality.

Do you consider to be more like a traditional stock site or another type of distribution model? is a premium boutique stock agency focusing on the specific niche market of beauty and cover shots.

© / Jalag / Behrendt, Berry

© / Jalag / Behrendt, Berry

How does Seasons fit in with the other CulinArts brands?
We are already strong in the niche markets of “food” with and “home and living” with To now also have a premium brand in the specific market of “beauty and cover shots” is a perfect addition to our CulinArts group.

You note on your website “We grant you a license for the image rights, but not usually the rights of the pictured persons. You should request the model release separately, before using the photo. Of course, we would be happy to assist you in obtaining this release.” How have your customers responded to this? Do you find it has deterred any potential licensing because of the extra steps needed to acquire the releases on their end?
International clients who frequently license model images for wide-distribution cover use are familiar with this workflow in high-end beauty photography. For the most part, new clients understand that this is a tribute to the quality of the models used in these productions.
With regard to model releases, most agencies require those releases to be provided by the photographer when images are submitted for distribution – why the different route from
What may seem to be a disadvantage is an advantage to us: our images depict high-caliber, professional models.  The models from these productions would not typically work under a standard model release.  That we don’t have many images with a general model release within this collection speaks to the high class, boutique quality of these images.
Will remain European focused for contributing photographers or eventually branch out into other regions of the world?
For the moment we are focused on European photography to launch the new agency and

© / Jalag / Smith, Dan

© / Jalag / Smith, Dan

let it grow. Future steps will be discussed later, as we further develop.
Some of your collections cross over into the realm of other Culinart brands, are there any plans to expand exposure for those types of images with those other brands or will they remain exclusively with
Our main focus is to stay strong with a specific theme for each agency. There is some cross-over, but we hope offering a few additional images from the other brands will help to round off the collection.
What is your target market for the collection?
Our target groups are editorial and commercial clients looking for premium beauty images.

In marketing, what have you found to be the best way to get your collection in front of the eyes of your potential clients?
A state-of-the-art, user-friendly website with specific filter options, smart functions and helpful tools – in a clear modern design; a worldwide network of professional partner agencies representing in their markets and being a local contact for clients; competent sales and service teams and a great newsletter series which will start soon.

How do you see the collection evolving in the next five or ten years?
Our aim is to become one of the core agencies in the field of beauty photography.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention about this exciting new venture?
Come and visit our site ( and tell us what you think!

© / Jalag / Elkins, Barry

© / Jalag / Elkins, Barry

(c)Chip Latshaw

(c)Chip Latshaw

Sheridan Stancliff has spent more than 15 years in marketing and marketing communications, working in all aspects of the industry, from public relations photography and event management to advertising, direct mail and sales. She opened SheridanINK, a boutique marketing company specializing in helping fiction authors, in 2011 and Novel Expression in 2014.


This post was originally written on July 1st and is reprinted with the kind permission of Joel Klettke, who can be found here:

Two years ago today, I stocked up on canned chili, dusted off the desk in my home office and officially left my job.

If you want the whole story from the early days, I wrote this post 150 days in on how I turned down a guaranteed 6-figure payday to go into a field that (depending on who you asked) guaranteed I’d make hardly anything for a good, long time.

For now, though, here’s an excerpt:

“I printed off the job offer and pinned it to my bulletin board with a circle around the dollar figure I’d just walked away from. This would be my reminder.

Every morning, I’d look at it and remember exactly what I gave up to chase this idiotic dream of bashing a keyboard for profit.”

I had an unspoken goal: I wanted to match it and prove that I could be just as successful (financially) on my own.

In my first year, I came up just shy.

In my second year, I obliterated that number by +28%.

Since I launched in 2013 full-time, Business Casual Copywriting has generated over $230,000 in profit and more than that in revenue.

That in a supposedly “saturated” industry that “pays peanuts”. But please don’t read me wrong:

I’m not sharing that for your applause or because it makes me feel good to wave around vague income numbers and pretend I’m king banana.

Yes, I hope the dollar figure will earn your interest – but I want the lessons I’ve learned to be the part that earns your respect.

Here are the 9 most important lessons I’ve learned in the past two years:

1. If you want to be a successful freelancer, you can’t just be a strong writer (or artist, or developer, or…)

Some of the best writers I know barely eke out a living off their craft. That is NOT because writing isn’t valuable, demand is low or the market is too saturated.

It’s because freelancing is a business, and they don’t know how to operate like one.

If you want to win as a freelancer, you need to learn how to…

– Market yourself (the most important skill you can learn)
– Handle your books
– Manage your time
– Negotiate a deal
– Meet a deadline
– Network your butt off
Businesses like working with businesspeople – they do NOT like working with clueless creative divas – although they do find how cheaply they can get work out of them attractive for a time.

If you want to win as a freelancer, brush up on your business skills. Hell, I’d say it’s even worth it to go in-house for awhile, just to see how businesses really run.

2. Confidence changes everything.

Nobody ever hit a home run by bunting. And as a freelancer, nobody is going to go to bat for you except yourself.

If you’re afraid to raise your rates, push back on a client or stand up for yourself, you will keep on spinning your tires and continue earning less than you could be.

Here are some facts you need to accept:

– If you have the talent, your years of experience DO NOT MATTER. Clients pay for your results, not your résumé.
– If you operate like a business, hit deadlines, deliver strong copy and are easy to work with, you’re already in the minority of freelancers (just ask anyone who’s hired them before). That’s worth a premium.
-You are going to hear “No”, have clients disappear and quote people who cannot afford you. Deal with it. Being exclusive to an audience who can afford you is actually a good thing.
-Your clients are making money off the content you provide – usually an out-sized return on what they paid. Don’t be afraid to make some money yourself.
Confidence in the way you charge, communicate and handle your business is attractive to the right audience – and if you don’t push the envelope, you’ll never know what you’re really worth.

Good freelancers change the conversation from “Here’s what we need and what we’ll pay you” to “Here’s the level I’m on – if you want to be on it, here’s what it costs.”

3. Find a focus.

When I started out, I cast a wide net out of fear that if I didn’t, there wouldn’t be enough work.

I don’t regret doing that for one second – it taught me what I was good at writing and showed me where the better margins were. It also helped me survive year one.

But as soon as you figure out where the money is and what you’re really good at/passionate about, you need to cut down your offering and JUST do those things.

If you’re the go-to gal for “___________”, you can command more for that type of work because you have a reputation and more power in the relationship.

I nervously cut blogging from my offering in favor of conversion-focused copy (websites, landing pages, email marketing campaigns). I worried my income would go down. Blogging work is easy to come by and pays reasonably well.

When I eliminated blogging and let the world know my new focus, my income went up instead. My fear was unfounded. Focusing works.

4. Never underestimate the power of a single connection.

I am constantly amazed at how relationships I’ve forged have turned into projects, opportunities and even a TEDx talk!

Brand new freelancers I’ve supported have turned around and sent ME awesome projects.

Whether it’s a client, acquaintance, new friend or fellow freelancer – try to treat everyone with respect and leave them better than you found them.

Not that you should go in expecting anything – but you never know where that relationship might lead.

5. Freelancing is a job.

Yes, you can work in your underwear, wake up at 11:00pm and drink beer all day if you want to.

But you shouldn’t.

Freelancing is NOT the beach vacation or easy, unbridled freedom you imagine it to be. Yes, it can be very flexible.

But it’s up to you to set your schedule, nurture your body and mind, deliver for your clients and build your own future.

That doesn’t happen if you’re goofing off on Facebook every day or coasting along, waiting for work to find you.

Equally important, though: Don’t let the lines of your work and the rest of your life blur to the point that you’re staring into your phone at the dinner table with your friends or answering emails at 8:00pm on a Sunday.

This is only a job, not your life. Separate the two.

6. Scaling is harder than you think it will be.

I tried to start a little writing team – and for awhile, it worked. I had 10 subcontractors (not all busy at once) and was passing off work like nobody’s business.

But it fell apart.

I quickly learned that the time I was spending trying to train them, fix their mistakes and compensate for their missed deadlines was easily offsetting the extra income I was making.

I paid them too much, too fast out of wanting to try and prove freelancing could be lucrative.

So I killed the team.

Then, I thought I’d write a book or sell a course. Passive income, right? Both those things sound easy. Neither one is.

Perhaps hardest is giving yourself the time and space to build another asset – ignoring immediate income for the sake of building something bigger.

It’s totally possible, but it’s not as simple as you’re imagining – I promise.

7. Trust your gut (every. single. time.)

When you’re sitting there, staring at that email and feeling uneasy about the client – don’t take them on, no matter how much is on the table.

When you’ve written that quote out but you’re debating lowering the price because you *think* the client might not be able to afford it, stop and go back to your first number.

When you’re scheduling your time and think to yourself, “That’s going to be an ugly weekend.” – don’t book it.

Every single time I’ve gambled against my gut instinct on a decision, I’ve lost – and you will, too.

8. Some days will be total write-offs. That’s OK.

Any writer can relate: There are days you wake up knowing nothing is going to get done that day.

Your best work eludes you. You can’t get traction. You’re burned out, tired and uninspired.

When those days come, flex your freelance muscles and get away from the desk. Exercise. Be with people you care about. Play a video game.

Whatever constitutes a good day for you.

And then, don’t feel guilty about it. Wake up early, get back to work, and plod on.

Stop fighting off days and instead, form habits that keep them from ever showing up.

9. Money matters – but only so much.

I started this post out with some financial figures because I knew it’d get your attention.

People love talking about what other people make, and the “six-figure dream” is more or less universal among freelancers.

I’m not going to sit here on my throne of privilege and pretend cash isn’t important or worth striving for – because it was for me.

But realize that no matter how much you make, someone else is making more.

Paul Jarvis built a course that’s made him my entire years’ revenue in a few months (and growing).

Joanna from Copyhackers charges twice my hourly rate and works on projects with minimums twice as big as mine.

And my friend Ross Simmonds, who went out around the same time I did, turned my entire two-year profit in ONE year this year.

Even after crushing my first goal, I was kind of bummed out for awhile because I felt like I was behind.

But two years ago, I’d have thought that was insane. Because it IS.

I’m on someone else’s rung, and so are you.

There’s always a bigger fish, and if you choose to compare, you’ll never be satisfied or proud of the life you’re building.

There’s so much more to this than money.

Whether it was the chance to be your own boss, do what you’re good at, have the flexibility to travel – remind your self of what freelancing it means to you and what drove you to make the move in the first place.

At the risk of sounding like a cheesy motivational poster on Pinterest, don’t freelance because you want to make a living – freelance because you want to make a life.

Thank you so much to my friends, family, clients and peers who have made this journey so worthwhile.

I’ve still got so much to learn, but I’m looking forward to the trip.

If you’re a freelancer or business reading this and you want to chat about freelancing / ask questions / hire Joel to help you plan and write content that makes you money:
Business Casual Copywriting

Have a Heart

If you’ve recently wandered through Penn Station, or the Atlantic Terminal, Malls, or the Borough President’s Offices in New York, chances are you will have seen rows of large-scale portraits of kids. These are the Heart Galleries: an initiative from well-respected non-profit Heart Gallery project: an important, high profile project to raise awareness of the plight of foster children in desperate need of permanent families. The Heart Gallery NYC works with a roster of both established and up-and-coming photographers, and includes work by artists such as Martin Schoeller, Howard Schatz, Antoine Verglas and others.

With over 100 chapters nationwide, Heart Gallery has garnered extensive positive media attention and has been featured on ABCNEWS 20/20, The View, CNN, Today Show, in publications such as People Magazine, Parade Magazine, NY Times and many others. This media outreach has helped accomplish their mission, and thousands of children have been adopted as a direct result of Heart Gallery exhibitions.

However, there is still much work to be done. Heart Gallery knows that each year “hundreds of youth ‘age out’ of the foster care system with very few resources to help them transition into economically independent adulthood.”

Sadly, many of these youth end up homeless. Not surprisingly, 26% of the shelter population in NYC are graduates of foster care. So,

this year, Heart Gallery NYC will expand their mission and utilize the high profile visibility of the Heart Gallery to launch the important initiative, Through the Eyes of the Homeless. A generous network of celebrity, notable and emerging photographers will donate their time and talents to mentor up to 40 individuals, who have found themselves in the unfortunate circumstance of becoming homeless.

The participants will be encouraged to photograph New York City as they see it…living on the streets.

Their goals will be to:

  • dignify and empower homeless individuals through photography
  • raise awareness of the vast numbers of homeless and send a powerful message about street outreach needs and the lack of truly affordable housing here in NYC
  • raise awareness that not every homeless person is mentally challenged and/or to be feared, but that many individuals may have become homeless simply due to unfortunate circumstances, a situation that could potentially happen to any of us.

As of April 2015, there are nearly 580,000 homeless people in the United States! An alarming study found that record numbers of single adults in shelters will grow by a whopping 59% in five years in New York City alone, if additional support for this vulnerable, often forgotten population is not forthcoming.

High profile Heart Gallery NYC exhibits are seen by millions, raising awareness of our causes and acknowledging the generous support of our sponsors and supporters.

If you want to make a difference in the lives of these forgotten and often misunderstood individuals (the project is currently looking for a camera sponsor), you can start by checking out the project website at:


The final date for the exhibit will be during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week – November 14- 22, 2015.


A Little Summertime Reading

Taking a gander around the interwebs to see what there may be going on in the photography world during long hot days. A few items of interest:

Everyone is talking about the Sundance darling film shot ALL on an iPhone: The reviews agree that is is well worth the time. Shot on a 5s with an 8 dollar app.

For more serious consideration –
The article sparking summer conversations everywhere –
Social Media Usage

We have all been wondering and Paul Melcher weighs in on the Adobe acquisition of Fotolia.
David Hockney has a new show – “David Hockney: Painting and Photography ” in Venice, California. He states: ‘If you really think about it, I know the single photograph cannot be seen as the ultimate realist picture. Well not now. Digital photography can free us from a chemically imposed perspective that has lasted for 180 years.” (David Hockney,’ If you can’t get to  LA Louver by September 18th, take a look at this review.


Will wrap this up with a look at Danny Clinch’s new book, Still Moving.
Opens with an essay by the Boss himself. As Willie Nelson says, “Still is still moving to me.”

What do all these pictures mean, anyway? And whose are they?

1.3 billion images a day. Rosette Nebula [PUBLIC DOMAIN] 15 APR 2015 DYLAN O'DONNELL  CATEGORY : ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY

1.3 billion images a day.
Rosette Nebula

In a world where we now upload 1.8 Billion photos a day, maybe it’s time to take stock of all things ”photographic” and what those little image suckers – both professional, amateur and press – might actually mean in the scheme of things; as our high art, media and pop culture changes; both aesthetically and also within what early twentieth century politicians and creatives called – almost quaintly now – “the means of production.”

One thing is for sure, amidst all the sides being taken: the issue of authorship, and control, may be different in 2015, from 1915, but it remains as vital and contentious as ever. Let’s look at a few current examples:


The Washington City Post has decided that it will not photograph “Foo Fighters” because of what it sees as (and make your own mind up on this) injurious and unreasonable conditions demanded by the band. They indicate that if they signed the contract to have a staff photographer shoot Dave Grohl and his cohorts on their latest gig, that:

“…the band approving the photos which run in the City Paper; only running the photos once and with only one article; and all copyrights would transfer to the band. Then, here’s the fun part, the band would have “the right to exploit all or a part of the Photos in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations” without any approval or payment or consideration for the photographer.”

This seems a little weird, given the band’s stance on protecting its own intellectual property, to say the least…


Other artists seem to have a different approach to IP issues. Something a little more mellow (or is it provocative? Nobody seems to know the difference, any more…), a little less hysterical… Photographer Dylan O’Donnell proclaims a clear stance on how he perceives how certain elements of his portfolio are intended to exist within the public domain, by way of the following statement:

“I can’t think of anything more anally retentive than amateur photographers uploading mobile photos of their morning coffee and then claiming copyright – just in case some evil corporation uses their award winning image to (heaven forbid) sell something. Instead, the photo will sit unused forever, tainted with the smell of legal copyright. “

Basically, Dylan shoots the moon… and gives it away:


Meanwhile, artist Maya Hayuk has her own IP beef with Starbucks. Her series of colorful, geometric designs – The Universe, The Universe II, and Hands Across the Universe – evoke splintered prisms of neon light forms. Starbucks approached Hayuk to use her designs as ‘backdrops’ on its new Mini Frappuccino campaign; but the artist demurred.

Starbucks seemingly used a variation therein, and Hayuk feels like they co-opted her work. However, once one gets into the IP of geometric forms, what does actually constitute an original work? This blog seems to come down pretty firmly on the side of the artist; but looks forward to a vibrant comments section…



Cartel Photos – University Runs its Own Photo Agency

by Julian Jackson

Cartel Photos is an exclusive photo-library – it only consists of Falmouth University photography students. It is based in a picturesque seaside town in Cornwall, southwest UK. Its objective is to give existing and graduated students a taste of the business end of the industry by finding them assignments and photo sales. Started in 2011 by former professional photographer turned lecturer Mal Stone, “Cartel Photos has been very successful,” he says, “but we are not running it as a business. It is an educational tool. For us it is putting students in an environment where they get the feel of what it is like to work for a real agency.”

Porthleven during the storm in the early hours of the 5th of February 2014.

Porthleven during the storm in the early hours of the 5th of February 2014. (c) Annabel May Oakley-Watson/Cartel Photos

It licenses individual pictures – last year’s storm images from Cornwall found their way around the world and onto the front page of the Telegraph newspaper, which earned the student about $230 after Cartel had taken its 20% cut; it sends out feature stories, and it gains assignments for those students who are able and confident enough. Students with lower experience are sent out as assistants to others to gain knowledge of the sharp end of the photography business.

The attraction for Falmouth University is that Cartel Photos is an incentive for people to sign up for the degree course. The students get real world experience, working for local newspapers, doing event photography for the college, and commercial work.

The most successful individual picture to date was one of UKIP politician Nigel Farage, in a typical pose with Barbour coat and beer, by Tom Pullen, which has been syndicated nationally and even turned up on the Graham Norton TV show.

(c)Tom Pullen/Cartel Photos

Nigel Garage (c)Tom Pullen/Cartel Photos


Another of the working graduate photographers is Sam Barnes, who wanted to remain in the Cornwall area. The college helped him obtain start-up business funding. Specialising in sport, he has had pictures published in the local paper.

Day-to-day running of the photo-library is in the hands of Celine Smith, former student and now picture manager. She says that for her the importance of Cartel Photos is, “The personal development side of things – students gain confidence in their ability to manage the business side and deliver good work to the client as well as practical experience of editing photos from a shoot, ftp and keywording.” It has now amassed nearly 40,000 images in its collection.

Local photographers were initially worried that Cartel would undercut them, but the hint is in the name. The agency charges commercial rates for assignments and image licensing, although non-commercial fees for charities and non-profit projects can be negotiated. Mal says, “We look at each job in the context of how long it is going to take and how much work is involved for the student.”

Amy Romer, a second year student, who enjoys photographing performers, has had four assignments from Cartel. She took an “environmental portrait” of a pianist who had come to play at the Performance Centre. Her most recent job was to take pictures of 30 acting graduates which will go into Spotlight – the actors directory. Mal continues, “We are going to be doing more performance and portrait work in the future, in partnership with the Centre, but this pilot project was very successful.”


Amy found there was a steep learning curve between the leisurely pace of course assignments, which might take months, and having ten minutes to shoot a portrait in a studio. “It puts you right into the reality of freelance work – you have to get it right and deliver at speed, so it makes you aware of the constraints of professional work, which is valuable.”

The course has strong ties with Rex Features, the news agency which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year. Second year students have to do a work placement, and many opt for six weeks paid work for Rex, which throws them into the centre of a fast-paced and turbulent industry, dealing with newspapers and TV, with a spectrum of news, celebrity and lifestyle subjects. Some students have gone on to work for Rex after graduation. One lucky individual did so well he was posted to Rex’s Los Angeles office, an extremely good break for a young photographer.

Cartel have also newly linked up with famed French agency SIPA, and are offering them features. Documentarist Marco Kesseler covered Albanian Blood Feuds, which have re-emerged since the fall of communism. His work was short-listed for the Taylor Wessing prize and he won $8000 from Ideas Tap and an intern-ship with Magnum. NOOR Agency in Amsterdam and VII are some of the other agencies which are linked with Cartel.

One of the stars of the course, Mal described him as “A very pro-active young photographer. I got some funding for him to do four months at NOOR. For me, the understanding of working in that environment gave him the tools to go out and tell interesting and sensitive stories, like his final piece on the Albanian blood feuds.”

Cartel Photos is an interesting development for an academic course, residing as it does in the divide between educational development, and commercial practice. It will be interesting to see if other academic institutions follow its example.


Jo Moore (c)Annemarie Bala/Cartel Photos

juliancoffeshopcuJulian Jackson is a writer with extensive experience of picture research, whose main interests include photography and the environment. His portfolio is here: He also runs a Picture Research by Distance Learning Course Linked-in profile.


Talking About My Generation

Peter Tosh. Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones during the Don't Look Back video shoot - Strawberry Hill Jamaica 1978.

Peter Tosh. Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones during the Don’t Look Back video shoot – Strawberry Hill Jamaica 1978.

We age, but photographs don’t; they capture in aspic, those moments when we were at the height of our vibrancy– and how often does that happen when we are pogo’ing in a mosh pit (try doing that in your fifties and see what happens…); or forgetting three out of four days we spent at a rock festival when the outside world faded away; or when we swayed and sang the words to our favorite rock anthem in a stadium?

The UrbanImage Photo Agency collects a whole swathe of archival materials that recall any number of music, travel and lifestyle images. It’s a rare and diverse mix of subjects that slams together genres ranging from Rock, Punk, Reggae, World Music, Dancehall, Travel, Tourism, Art, Culture and People.

The Clash at Rehearsal Rehearsals Camden London 1977

The Clash at Rehearsal Rehearsals Camden London 1977

Established over 15 years ago by Adrian and Felix Boot together with the IT and business skills of Richard Horsey, the collection continues to accrete new images (even though it already has too much material to scan!). The collection is currently building a third generation site, to even more effectively offer bigger, better, faster, easier, higher resolution images, vivid presentation and mobile friendly materials.

Images are available to license for a wide variety of uses. Online archive images are all available as high resolution scans, and on request they can, sometimes, custom rescan at an even higher resolutions.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Left to Right: Ron Blair, Mike Campbell, Beamont Tench, Stan Lynch, Tom Petty It was taken behind the studio that they were using in San Francisco in  1979

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Left to Right: Ron Blair, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Stan Lynch, Tom Petty
It was taken behind the studio that they were using in San Francisco in

Adrian Boot responded to some questions that we asked him:

How does one go from having a philosophy to present a certain lifestyle/attitude; to actually compiling such an amazing amount of diverse material? Did you have any idea what you were taking on when you started the project?

No real philosophy… [I’m] not trying to pre-visualize a “cause”… Instead, looking for life, people, and inspiration, in the moment. My best work is opportunistic… not planned or styled. It’s not a project, it’s a life. It all pre-existed the Internet. The challenge was always reacting instantly while fighting with (inferior) film cameras in fast-moving low-light situations.

Jukebox at First and Last Bar Port Antonio 1972

Jukebox at First and Last Bar Port Antonio 1972

These days the technical mountain has been eroded… most people can take technically better pics on an iPhone than most pros could with a manual-film SLR 30 years ago. Photography is ubiquitous… 

How do you add new material to your project? Are you always on the look-out for new photographers? Do you have long-term relationships with photographers who are clearly documenting this subject matter for the rest of their lives?

Most new content is added to the online archives based on demand. If everyone wants pictures of “The Clash” then we will scan more and expand the collection. What this does mean is that many, many, photo sessions don’t see the light of day; most of our best photos remain deeply filed in [the] archive. Photos that sell are of important artist and events, so these get used and made famous. Urbanimage probably represents less than 20% of the content in our physical archives.

Blondie Debbie Harry Live London 1977 - Multi image contact sheet large format

Blondie Debbie Harry Live London 1977 – Multi image contact sheet large format

We do scan in other stuff [such as] but this is more a vanity project.

We are not looking for new photographers, except if it fills a gap in one of our more important collections. These days it’s better and easier for a photographer to create his or hers own online sales platform via something like .

After fifteen years of this, how do you keep the material vibrant to current youth audiences? Is age and/or nostalgia a potential pitfall of identifying what is currently  “fresh”?

The above answers this: I would need another lifetime to ever finish scanning or adding material… and without ever having to take another photograph.

Grace Jones – New York Roof Photosessions – 1981(c)Adrian Boot/UrbanImage

Grace Jones – New York Roof Photosessions – 1981


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All images (c)Adrian Boot/UrbanImageUI_LOGO_LARGE