Labor Day 2017

We all spend our Labor Day differently, most reflecting on our work and lives, as we enjoy the last holiday of the summer. My girlfriend/best friend/ long time partner is enjoying her spin class for the energy, and then changing out her summer clothes for her fall clothes. I'm sitting at one of my favorite dog parks with my Duke, a black Labrador mix. Duke has been enjoying his day by being chased or being the chaser.

Since today is a day of reflection, I think about my choice of moving into retirement from a secure law enforcement job, with the Federal Government. It's a great photography job, fantastic assignments, work with equipment that I would never think about using as a civilian or even being able to afford. It does have one down side, with the very nature of the position, you can't go into details about what you do.

You can't go and tell a new client about that great travel assignment, where you photograph some technique that was amazing. Matter of fact, you can't even tell people where your going on your assignment. Since your only as good as your last assignment, it's hard to tell someone your work history. It's also specially hard when you can not show any of the work from those assignments.

That's the problem that I have, from working for the Federal Government. Trying to prove that, yes, I've worked in a photography career and can do the work. I could never go and tell a prospect client any of the details to my federal employment, just to try and get them as a client. Giving details about photographing the command staff at one of our field offices, or even showing the final portraits is not permitted.

So what do you do to show that you have been working in the photography industry? One way is to take on jobs, that can fit in between your federal employer's assignments. One aspect of my job, requires that I be on call almost twenty four seven, it has changed over the years and so have my private photography projects. There have been times, where I'm traveling week after week, and then their was times, I could photograph weddings because I knew I wouldn't be chosen for a travel assignment. This has put a condition on what types of work that I can do, outside of my government employment, while I'm still employed.

Learning about Pricing

Since I've been working for the federal government for the last thirty three years, pricing hasn't been on my radar. Yes, when I wasn't on duty for the federal government, I've photographed weddings and other kinds of photographic assignments. For weddings; it was more as a second shooter, or as one of the contract photographers for a studio, where I was paid a hourly wage. Pricing prints and albums just wasn't required.

To develop my business knowledge, I've been listening to an audio podcast from the "Sprouting Photographer's website," its about the "business side of photography."

You can find it at this web address, http://sproutingphotographer.com/. The two main speakers Bryan Caporicci and Robert Nowell, also wrote a nice small book called "Pricing for Profit."

It's an easy read and goes over the basics for determining how to develop a pricing model for your studio. They work out the figures; for a theoretical home base studio, and, a retail base studio.

The book will cover the difference between; fix cost and cost of sales, methods for pricing, calculating business volume gross profit and how to develop your business financial plan and determine gross revenue. What would be nice, would be to include an Excel Spreadsheet that the user can change the figures around to see the effects it has on the bottom line of your business model. Maybe that's a project, I should be taking on myself.

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To Logo or not to Logo - Branding the business

Yes, I know, the business is in the planning stage, but thinking about branding at this stage is just as important as developing your contracts. A business, needs a coherent image, and your clients expect a level of professionalism for the money that they will be paying.

My business partner and I decided to develop our logo. The logo will be the central design across our business cards, website, invoices, any communications between our clients and the business itself. The new logo will be the anchor. My partner is all business, and I'm not too bad with design, but graphic design is not my strong suite.

We decided to use a company on the internet that I heard about called, 99Designs, and their web address is http://www.99designs.com. The website acts as a go between with the graphic designers and yourself.

You hold a contest based on what your design needs are. We just wanted a kick ass logo, but you can go all in and develop a whole branding package or even a website. They have different levels of involvement and the number of graphic designers. We picked the basic level for just a logo design and started the design contest.

We wanted options and a good selection of designs from the graphic designers. We had seventy seven submissions from thirty four graphic designers. The graphic designers appear to have come from around the world, based on their companies' names.

99Designs, wanted us to download the application called Slacker and use it to communicate with the design teams. When the submissions came in, we had many different approaches to our logo.

They where all based on the information that I told the designers: what base colors to use, what general designs that we like, and I even wrote a little note that we where looking for a forward thinking logo design for a company that worked in architectural, real estate, portraiture and wedding photography.

I was asked to narrow down the selection and texted several of them on what changes I would make to their designs. The designs that where completely off the track, I ended up telling them and they where removed from the selection.

The contest lasted four days, and after I narrow down the selections, and my business partner gave her opinion, we came to an agreement on a design.

Here are some of the some of the final selections:

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And here is the final selection for the new Vorlago Photography Logo Design: 

 

 

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We are very proud of the design and thinks it fits our new company. 

Branding - Never to early to think about Branding

I have the name for my company and waiting for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to work on my application. Which is one of the first step in setting up my business, the name. Now, I'm working on the general look for my correspondence, business cards, website, etc, and that's branding.

With running your own business, you have to know your limits and know when to go outside for help. I understand design, specially photographic design, but graphic design, isn't my forte, not one of my strengths. I'm ok, but I rather hire an expert.

I've decided to work with the website 99designs, and have a competition from a group of graphic designers work on my branding. You select a color range and decided how much work that you want done. Say you just want a logo design, or business cards, website, etc and of course the price goes up. What's great about it, you retain all the rights to those designs.

Sure, I could develop my own logo, business card, but why not use a professional with experience.

What's in a name?

So why did I pick the name Vorlago and not use my own name. First off, my name is very common in the English language and used by many people. That's the problem with having three common names, Jeffrey, Thomas and Bell. You can't get any more common then that. I've seen lawyers, producers, photographers, bartenders, with my name. It's hard to stand out with a name that's so common.

Vorlago is not really a made up name, it's derived from a German word used in the ski jumping industry and means your presentation. I was watching the Winter Olympics, the sportscasters used that word to explain the presentation of the jump. It was all about their body position in relation to their arms and legs as they fly through the air.

Well, photography is a form of presentation and I'm part German, so, I looked it up and changed a letter and went with it.