Roadmap To Success

Posted on 11/17/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

One of the most useful seminars at PhotoPlus Expo this year was the “Your Roadmap To Success” presentation by Judy Hermann. Judy is a past president of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), served as an Olympus Visionary for 10 years and was awarded the United Nations International Photographic Council’s Leadership Award for her work as an educator and industry advocate.

In 2012, she became ASMP’s Director of Content Strategy and produces and host ASMP’s Business as unUsual webinar series. She is also editor of ASMP’s Strictly Business blog – a multi-author blog featuring around 30 regular contributors and frequent guest experts.

In her seminar she encouraged anyone interested in photography as a business to develop a business plan. Sit down and write out “where you are right now” and “where you want to be in 5 of 10 years.” Then develop a step-by-step plan for what you need to do to get from here to there. Of course, you will need to review and modify that plan on a regular basis.

Too often photographers start their careers by taking pictures of things they like, stumble onto someone who likes their work or will pay them to take certain pictures, and they move on from there in a more or less haphazard way.

Judy stresses the importance of having a plan. Fortunately, if you missed the seminar, you can still find an abundance of resources on her website Under Exercises there are several detailed steps in the process including: Values Analysis, Dream Job Analysis, Satisfaction analysis, Pros/Cons Analysis and Decision Matrix.

Judy also does individual consultations with photographers. In some cases, the photographer  may just be launching a career. Other photographers may be at a point in their career where they need to talk through plans and consider options. She says, “nailing that money-satisfaction balance is key so if you’re all about the money, I’m probably not for you.”

Her approach is all about giving photographers the tools needed to move forward successfully – tools they can use again and again as they face new challenges, new changes, new decisions and pursue new dreams. 

During her seminar one of the things she encouraged photographers to do is read Blue Ocean Strategy a book by W.Chan Kim, Renee Mauborgne that describes how businesses in crowded markets can thrive by identifying unmet needs. At the very least download and read this four page summary of a conversation with Kim and Mauborgne.

I would like to paraphrase one section of the summary in stock photography terms, although the ides apply to many businesses.
    Prospects in most established market spaces are shrinking steadily (think stock photography). Technological advances have substantially improved industrial productivity (image creation), permitting suppliers to produce an unprecedented array of products.

    Trade barriers between nations and regions have fallen. Product information and prices are instantly and globally available. Niche markets and monopoly havens are continuing to disappear.

    Supply has overtaken demand leading to comoditization and price wars. Profit margins shrink. Products become more alike. Customers increasingly base purchase choices on price and are no longer loyal to particular suppliers.

    One result of these changes is a rising exodus of jobs to low cost countries. The long-term solution to creating jobs is in suppliers creating compelling products and services that take them out of the vicious cycle of commodity competition.

    In photography this may mean finding customers who need something specific that is simply not available as stock. It may mean moving more to assignments and away from stock. If may also mean finding ways to provide an extra level of service to specific customers that stock providers are unable to supply.
And finally, it may mean moving to a career path that is less focused on taking pictures and maybe using photography to support some other primary endeavor.

Copyright © 2015 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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