I've been re-listening to several instructional photography courses that I've purchased over the past several years. In the process, two quotes really stood out to me, especially as they relate to one another. They both told me that being a successful professional photographer is about more than just good exposure.


As I followed Corey Rich's Creative Live Class he said the following, this isn't word for word, but the gist was: "Great exposures and good technical settings won't set you apart. What sets you apart as a photographer is how you layout your frame."


A couple of days after hearing that, I heard this from Jim Richardson in his class on National Geographic story research: "Photo editors don't buy images they like, they buy images they need."

I think a simple takeaway here is that we need to learn to tell a compelling story within a frame. The technical ability to expose and edit are a small part of the business of being a photographer. Create images that are needed and you'll set yourself apart.



As I posted a couple of weeks ago, I recently updated my website galleries and design. Scott Willson, Managing Director of Sandbox Studio, and former new Media Director at The North Face, took a look and said this: "Great website. Did you update it? I remember you had a good one, but this seems more structured and cohesive." That's exactly the response I was hoping for from a leader in my chosen adventure industry. So how did I get there?

It's always a big undertaking for me to overhaul my website as it seems to be something that collects small amounts of odds and ends over time; here an image, there an image, until there's no cohesion or flow. Sitting down to revamp things, I did a lot of research and then spent a lot of time looking at other websites and images. Only then did I establish a direction and start putting things together. However, this post isn't about the process I went through in forming my new galleries (snooze), but rather a total dump of the resources I found helpful when evaluating my own work. Most of these are videos, so I hope it helps.


Portfolio critiques, reviews, and changes I found to be most helpful. Wonderful Machine posts videos of this process by their Photo Editors to their YouTube Channel. I watched them all, but this one was from a photographer in the outdoor industry.

As far as portfolio reviewers go, I would put Allegra Wilde near the top of the list. This is a long watch, but a great resource for understanding what art buyers and editors are looking for and what your images are saying.

Zack Arias recently posted his process for creating his new portfolio and I found a lot of what he said to be helpful. Head over there and have a read.


A couple of things I discovered along the way:

  1. If you're stressed out about limiting content within your galleries, remember you can always create blog posts and use social media for sharing the images that nearly made the cut.
  2. Don't try to be all things to all people. Find your niche, and your style, and serve them both. If an image doesn't fit well within a gallery, push it aside. Make sure people know exactly what they're going to get if they hire you.
  3. Use a blog. This will help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and allow you to share more work without feeling like you're cramming it into the corners of your website.
  4. If you need it, get some outside help. Hiring an editor can be pricey (as much as a new camera). I used Eyeist (see Allegra Wilde video above) and for $150 had my website reviewed by a professional editor. I selected Amy Silverman the Photo Editor for Outside Magazine because she's in the industry I'm interested in. Before she started she asked me lots of questions about my goals and direction and then recorded my review. This was an added benefit. Hearing an editors voice walk through her process helped me a lot in trying to understand her thoughts and perspective.
  5. Lastly, take time out between review sessions. Don't expect to sit down and hammer all of this out in one sitting. You won't be happy with the results and you'll likely be making emotional choices instead of artistic ones.

Hope that helped. If you have any other thoughts I'd love to hear from you.


After typing up my post regarding the apps I'm using for my business, I thought I would outline everything I have done to get my business ready to grow. Before getting too far down the road of making money and needing to backtrack, I took a few steps to ensure my business was setup and ready.


This might seem like an easy step, but there are a few places you want to check before going down the road of getting registered. I would check with your state's business registry to see if your desired business name is available. I would then purchase a domain name and register social media accounts before paying to register that business name. My recommendation would be to put your name in your business name so you can establish a recognizable brand. If you're creating a second studio or business (i.e. Neil Krauss Weddings and Neil Krauss Adventure) I would then consider using a unique business name for the second business.


This is an easy step in the process because it can be done entirely online (in Utah at least). I used my state website to register my business name and then applied for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) through the US Government. If you have questions or need help during this process I would highly recommend getting in touch with an attorney or an accountant. Often they will set up your business for a flat rate (roughly $400) and this will ensure everything is entered correctly and all of the necessary paperwork is completed. They will also help you decide if you should be member managed or manager managed and if you should be giving equity away to help reduce tax responsibility.


Your web domain name will be an essential part of your business. I can't tell you how often I have searched for a photographer's name and not found his or her website. Try and get your own name and your business name both. For example, I own and I don't currently use the second domain, but at least I own it so a competitor can't purchase it and put up a website. I know there are cheaper sites out there for registering a domain name, but I use GoDaddy to buy, track, and auto-renew all of my domain names. One login and one account makes it easy. One side benefit is that you can purchase a single email address to go with your domain name to up the professionalism. I would use your own name or something generic like hello@ for your email address. I also forward all of my business accounts (I have several) to my main Gmail inbox. I then set up a colored tag and different signatures based on each address. This helps me keep all of my email in a single location.

Using multiple tags and address forwarding helps me keep my inbox straight.

Using multiple tags and address forwarding helps me keep my inbox straight.


You don't want to publish your home address on a website that advertises the fact that you own $10,000 worth of photography gear that you keep in your attic. Spend $56 and get a PO Box for the year. This will come in handy when you create business cards, print checks, and put up your website. You can always forward your mail to your home address for convenience, but at least you'll have home and work separate out in the digital world.


Get a second number for your business. I know I talked about this in my last post, but a second phone number is cheap ($15/month through Line2) and easy to manage. Not to mention the fact that it will make you appear more professional. Nothing turns off a potential client like "Whaaaaaaaat's uuuuuuup? Beep" on your voicemail. In fact, it might be nice to spend 5 bucks on and get someone to record your voicemail greeting for you. If you're a man, a woman's voice might be a nice touch and give the appearance of a studio manager.


Social accounts are an easy sign-up. While you're at your computer, sit down and do it. Maybe even put up a first post to get things under way. I would at least register your business name and then focus on one platform at a time. As a photographer, Instagram definitely makes sense as a good starting place.


Did you know you can't cash/deposit a check made out to Neil Krauss Productions the business as Neil Krauss the person. I must have a separate business account to do this. In order to open a business account, you will need an EIN number from the federal government.


Now that you've registered everything, you can start printing checks, designing a logo, creating a website, and printing business cards. Most of these are easy items to change and update at any point down the road so pick a direction and run with it.

The last thing I would do is set up all of my business apps using my new business information. This would include templates for incvoices and estimates, email signatures, and the like.

I hope these helped in some way.