Archive for Marketing

Hidden Gems of 2010

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Inspirations, Stock Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2010 by Darwin

For me, 2010 was an interesting year. Stock sales continued to decline and the recession hit many photographers hard. Fortunately for me, this past year was the best year I have ever had financially because I diversified my income. I make my income from three main sources; stock photo sales (direct and through agencies), teaching (workshops, seminars and tours), and assignment (writing and photography commission work). Each contributes about 30-35% to the overall income.

The major investment I made this year to the business side of photography cost me a lot in personal creative growth. I simply had very little time to make photos. I only got out to shoot about 25% of the time and with so little time to devote to the art of photography, the creativity hit a bit of a road block.

So for 2011, I plan to achieve a better balance of business and creativity. When I look back at the 1300 ‘keepers’ I created in 2010 I was not overly impressed with what I saw. But I did make a few images I liked which I shared in my Weekly Photos and in my Daily Snaps.

Below are 10 images which are a little more subtle but that continue to please me even after looking at them for a long time.


©Darwin Wiggett - Canon G11

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon 1ds Mark III, Sigma 120-400

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon 1ds Mark III Sigma 120-400mm

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon 1ds Mark III, Sigma 120-400mm

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon 1ds Mark III, Sigma 120-400mm

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon G11

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon Rebel T2i, Sigma 17-50mm

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon Rebel T2i, Sigma 17-50mm

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon Rebel T2i, Sigma 120-400mm

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon G11


Harvest Moon Photo Workshop

Posted in Good News, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2010 by Darwin

The most common comment I get from photographers is that they want to participate in a workshop that has a winning combination of class time and field time.  Well, we aim to please!

Although technically the harvest moon is in September, we are offering a weekend photo workshop in October (Oct 21-24, 2010) when the moon is in its full glory, and well… we liked the name Harvest Moon (you know, it reminds of us of Neil Young, great music, and iconic landscapes).  I think a tour like this, when it is well done, is the best way to improve your photographic skills in one, concentrated weekend.  There aren’t many of these kinds of workshops in Alberta with a landscape focus, and especially not many with 3 pro photographers at your beck and call.

So apart from its uniqueness, what else is so special about this workshop? Check out these three reasons below:

  1. Three awesome instructors! No, this is not hype — I have seen both John Marriott and Samantha Chrysanthou in action teaching and they are really fine instructors. As far as yours truly… well at least I’m good company in the bar after the photo shoots ;-).
  2. We want you to master the craft of photography, plain and simple. To do this, we give you in-depth classroom instruction (5 hours) and then you get three pros on hand to help you one-on-one in the field (for nearly 20 hours of shooting time) and  in some of the most stunning scenery in western Canada (Banff National Park in Alberta).
  3. We cover topics such as How the Pros Approach a Scene, Mastering  Composition and Design, Light Painting and Night Photography, The Artful Critique, professional critiques of your images and lots of help in the field. And of course we can address any questions you have in the field from filter use to picking the right aperture to how to use live view. Got a problem area with technique? Let us help you find the solution!
  4. You get to stay in one of the nicest lodges in the Canadian Rockies (Baker Creek Chalets) and the price includes all meals and accommodations. Plus we have negotiated a killer low spouse rate (in case your non-shooting partner wants to come and hang out in the lodge — easier to convince them to let you go if they get to have a vacation at the same time!). See, we thought of everything!

So, if you want to take your photography to the next level and be inspired by great scenery and good company in a fine lodge atmosphere, then this workshop might be for you. For more information and instructions on how to register, check out our detailed PDF But don’t delay!  We are only taking registrations until September 15, 2010 and of course the number of registrants is limited. And note there are some nice prizes for early registrations!

And finally for a wee taste of some of the stuff we plan to cover in the workshop  see this article by Sam and me on  Simple Light Painting Techniques.

©Darwin Wiggett

The Daily Snap – April 17

Posted in The Daily Snap with tags , , , , , , on April 17, 2010 by Darwin

©Samantha Chrysanthou - Guest Snapper - Canon G11

Do you think this Keebler Elf can teach photography? Maybe or maybe not, but he sure likes his beer… mmmm.

The Daily Snap – April 16

Posted in The Daily Snap, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2010 by Darwin

©Darwin Wiggett

Speaking of seminars, if you want to improve your photography and spend some time in the mountains with Sam (she is just so cute… and smart) then make sure you sign up for the SNAP! Photography Seminar; Mastering Digital Nature Photography from Capture to Commerce in Canmore Alberta, April 24 and 25th. This is not hype or hyperbole, this thing is almost sold out… we have less than 10 spots left as of this morning–so act now–well you know the rest….

Photographer of the Month – Dave Brosha

Posted in Photographer of the Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2010 by Darwin

I first met Dave Brosha when I went up to do a workshop in Yellowknife that was organized by Lee Sacrey. The first thing that struck me about Dave was how humble and approachable he was. Here is a guy with great talent that is not full of himself and that really loves photography and is willing to share and help out anyone interested in the craft. More and more the photographers that I see that are the most creative and successful are those who are not afraid to share. The givers always seem to receive in kind. Dave has been a full-time pro for just one year and he has really established himself not only in Yellowknife but across Canada as well. He has become the master of the environmental portrait – see the images below! 

It just goes to show that good energy, goodwill and hard work pay off. Thanks Dave for the inspiration! 

©Dave Brosha


©Dave Brosha


©Dave Brosha


©Dave Brosha


©Dave Brosha

So you Wanna be a Professional Outdoor, Nature, or Travel Photographer

Posted in Articles about Photography, Books about Photography, Marketing, Stock Photography, Techniques with tags , , , , , , on March 5, 2010 by Darwin

Almost everyday I get an email from someone who totally loves to take pictures but who totally hates their current job–sound familiar? They all want to know how they can make the jump from enthusiast to pro. They want to live the dream of being a nature, outdoor, or travel photographer and they email me for advice on how to do it. The problem is there is no easy answer, nor is there a ‘correct’ path. I can’t answer their question in a short email; I would need to write a book about how to become an outdoor, nature or travel photographer. And actually I am probably not very qualified to answer–I kinda just fumble my way along and so far things have worked out. 

Fortunately, I know someone who is a passionate photographer, a great business man, and a wonderful teacher. David Duchemin has written a book which has become the bible for those longing to turn their passion into a profession. If you have ever considered making the leap to full-time pro, or if you’re a pro but your business is suffering you owe it to yourself to read, digest, and put into practice all the great advice, philosophy and tips that David has packed into Visionmongers: Making a Life and Living in Photography. There is no other book like it and of all the “How to Make a Million Dollars in Photography” books out there, this is the one that really gets to the heart of the matter and really forces you to ask yourself, “Is this the path I want to take?”. This industry is tough, and the dream can be fulfilled, but realize what you think its like being a photographer is really different the reality of it. David makes you acutely aware of the differences. Highly recommended.  

Visionmongers by David Duchemin

Another resource that is full of great business ideas is from the No BS Photo Success team. These guys (Rob and James) have amazing ideas on how to make a portrait, wedding, and commercial photo studio succeed. Wait a minute, you think, I am a nature photographer, why the hell listen to these guys??? Not only are these guys fun and engaging, their ideas are applicable to any type of photography, it is all about marketing and marketing is what gets you business and buys you pizza and beer (yum, yum!). Smart photographers get ideas from others outside their speciality to make their businesses unique. So, if you live near Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon,  or Toronto go see these guys during their No BS Photo Success Cross-Canada Road Show April 2010. Highly Recommended! 


A brand new resource that is jam-packed with good information is Pro Nature Photographer – check it out, I am sure you’ll get some good tips here on how to run your business. Looking forward to continued informative stuff from this website. 


Here are a few more resources you might want to check out: 

Jim Pickerell’s Photo Licensing Options site

Dan Heller’s Business of Photography Blog

How to Go Pro – Ken Rockwell 

Taking the Plunge: Making the Transition to Pro Photographer – Samantha Chrysanthou 

The Stock Agent: Should You Seek One? – Charlie Borland (Part One, Part Two, Part Three

If anyone has other resources that have been helpful please email me and I will add them to this list. 

Good luck with your dreams! 

©Darwin Wiggett

Warning! Things You Need to Know About Photo Tours

Posted in Controversy, Ethics, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , on February 5, 2010 by Darwin

This post is  for those photographers who plan on leading their own photo tours.

(And for those planning to participate in a tour.)

Making money in nature photography is a difficult proposition. The competition is fierce and the prices paid for photos is low. There is a glut of great images out there yet there are very few photo buyers. One way that many hungry photographers (myself included) supplement their income is to organize and lead photo tours. Not only are tours fun, but they get you out shooting with like-minded people. It seems everyone has jumped on the Photo Tour bandwagon, from high-profile shooters who never used to lead tours, to the local guy who just picked up a camera a year ago.  It makes sense:  what could be easier than taking a bunch of people out to your favorite locations and showing them how you do things… and get paid to do it?

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Liability Issues

I’m no lawyer, and my comments here do not count of course as legal advice. But I would like to highlight some things to consider before you lead or take a photo tour.  First, once you take other people out in the capacity of a paid business venture, the issue of liability comes up. Do you have liability insurance for when you accidentally smack someone in the face with your tripod? What if someone falls off a cliff or slips on ice and breaks a leg? Nature is dangerous; do you have insurance to cover the eventuality of an injury? And do you have basic first aid training and a first aid kit with you at all times?

Another issue to think about are waivers.  Do you have a liability waiver form made up by a qualified lawyer? Do you get people to sign this form before your event? A document that you crafted at home may not cover you. You may need to pay a qualified person to help you craft a proper document.

Speaking of liability, if you carry paid participants in your vehicle and get in an accident, your insurance company will likely not cover you because personal insurance does not cover commercial activity. So if you want to taxi around participants, you’ll need commercial insurance on your vehicle. Things are starting to sound expensive eh? Still wanna do tours?


Most photographers lead tours to publicly owned land in the form of National, State, or Provincial Parks. These parks often require that you have a permit for any commercial enterprise. You can’t just take a group of people into a national park, have them pay you for the service without the need of a permit and payment to the parks administration of a fee of some sort. So do your homework and get the proper permits. Most parks will not give you a permit unless you can prove you have liability insurance.


If you want to shoot on private property you’ll need written permission or a consent form from the property owner. Do not take participants onto private property without landowner permission or your liability insurance will be voided. If you are taking participants to photograph old barns, or a funky old church and you want to be able to sell the photos from the shoot, then you will also need a property release form signed by the legal owner of the building. And if you photograph people on a photo tour, you better get permission first and even better get a model release for everyone you photograph. It is better to hire models specifically for your photo tour so you can get releases for payment. Also does your liability insurance cover paid talent?

Work Visas

If you are planning a photo tour to an exotic local, do you have all the proper documentation in place to do commercial activities in that country? Do you need a work visa? Do you have all permits and insurance to cover you? Foreign tours are especially tricky — you do not want to be booted out of the country in the middle of a tour simply because you neglected to properly set things up. I know of numerous foreign photographers who lead tours in the Canadian Rockies that do not have permits, work visas or insurance. They are a disaster waiting to happen.


You have to deliver something to participants beyond what they would get if they came on their own to a location. For instance, I get people to places they would not find on their own and I get people to the right places in the right light and offer help with instruction in the field as necessary. Other instructors offer formalized instruction. What are you offering? If this is just a way to get paid to shoot, then look for other avenues of revenue.

For those looking at joining a photo tour, ask important questions. Do you really want to go with someone who has shady business practices or is simply ignorant of the requirements needed for successful tours? If photo tour leaders cannot provide you with information about insurance, permits, permissions, releases and waivers, then steer clear!

©Darwin Wiggett - Rockies Spring Photo Tour

No BS – crazy and fun!

Posted in Good News, Inspirations, Marketing, Photography Gear, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2009 by Darwin

At the Windsor International Photo Seminar, I had the pleasure to hang out with James Hodgins and Rob Provencher. These guys are  warped–plain and simple! Not only do they have successful portrait/wedding/commercial studios, they LOVE photography and simply have a blast making pictures. They are anything but SERIOUS and they have an entertaining and effective teaching style with zany videos but incredibly inspiring work.  Check out their recent post from their first day in Windsor! and way they always carry a point-n-shoot (Canon G11).

They also have a website called No BS Photo Success. These guys know marketing! They know how to build a photo business. Even if you don’t shoot weddings, or portraits, or commercial work, they lessons they teach really hit home for any kind of photographer. I am super excited to try out some new things I learned from Rob and James in my own business.

Best of all the boys totally reinforced why we do photography–for fun! Often photographers are way too serious. It is refreshing to see talent, inspiration, education and humour go hand-in-hand. These guys are my kind of people!


Rob's 'Exposed' book

It looks like they also thought I was a decent bloke as well. Thanks guys for the great time!

Outdoor Photography Canada

Posted in Magazines, Marketing with tags , , , , , on March 31, 2009 by Darwin

I thought I would put a plug in for Outdoor Photography Magazine (OPC). This young magazine (9 issues old) just keeps getting better with each passing issue! The latest edition is no exception with lots of meaty informational articles and lovely imagery. I am also happy to have a feature called “Expose Right“. This article lets photographers know how to get the best possible exposures with digital cameras in a simple two-step process. I find that the majority of photographers do not understand how to get optimal exposure from their digital cameras. I hear far too many complaints about noisy files from the latest batch of digital cameras. If you have noise in your files, then you have exposure problems and the camera is not to blame! Expose right and you will not need to use noise reduction software and you’ll get the best possible files from your camera.

OPC is also a magazine that showcases the work of photographers across Canada. If you are Canadian and shoot outdoor and nature imagery, then submit to OPC and have your work showcased. The magazine pays the highest rates I have seen for photo rags and really showcases photographer’s work nicely. While you checking things out, enter the Spring 2009 photo contest (April 30th deadline) for prize goodies and maybe even subscribe to the magazine. This is a magazine worth supporting. I do have a slight bias though!

Outdoor Photography Canada - Spring -issue 09

Photographer of the Month – March 2009

Posted in Marketing, Photographer of the Month with tags , , , , , , on March 6, 2009 by Darwin

I get a lot of emails asking me how to make a living at stock photography. Mostly these notes are from nature photographers hoping to make a living from selling landscape and wildlife photos. Nature photography is the most popular photography to do but the least popular to sell! Advertisers want photos of people doing everyday things (lifestyle photography) or photos to illustrate concepts(messages, moods, and feelings simply illustrated). Few advertisers want photos of sunsets and mountains! So, if you want to make money in stock, forget nature; lifestyles and concepts are the photos that bring in the cash. 

I am not a good example of a stock photographer. I shoot what I want, not what the market demands – no wonder I still eat Kraft Dinner! If you want to see what a real stock photographer does and one that does it well, then check out Bill Frymire’s work! Bill is based in Kamloops BC and shoots for the powerhouse agencies of Getty and Masterfile.

Photo by Bill Frymire

Photo by Bill Frymire

Not only is Bill incredibly creative, he is a master at illustrating concepts. I am constantly blown away by Bill’s photos but more so by his fantastic ideas! Bill must love the challenge of creating a great concept photo because his work shows heart and soul besides illustrating a great story. Bill thanks for the inspiration!