Category Archives: Great Reads

Great Reads – The Lonely Planet Story

It is some time since I have written a post for Beyond Here recommending a book or blog. That is partly because I haven’t been reading as much as usual. That changed last week with a trip to the local library where I have borrowed a number of books including The Lonely Planet Story.

Are you familiar with The Lonely Planet Story? I love travelling, and had the good fortune to live in a range of different countries during the 1990’s. In my role working for an airline (in a non photography job) I used to travel extensively.

During that time I lived in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Fiji, and back in New Zealand again. Throughout my travels I was a regular reader of Lonely Planet travel guides. There were others around – I remember the Let’s Go series plus Frommer’s Guides – but Lonely Planet was always the best.

Lonely Planet

(I have a much later photography connection to Lonely Planet which I will tell you about at the end of this post).

So what is The Lonely Planet Story about?

First, it’s not a photography book. Second, it’s not a business book either.

So why is it part of the great reads series on Beyond Here? The Lonely Planet Story literally tells the story of the husband and wife team who began and lead the Lonely Planet business. The book shares their love of travel and the origins of the business. It also covers the challenges they had along the way, insight into their personal lives, and the later sale of a majority stake in the business to BBC Worldwide.

Why do I recommend it?

I love to hear stories about well known businesses with tiny origins. I particularly love to hear about the passion of the founders. And I value the insight which comes from the hard work they have put in, and the ups and downs along the way.

Lonely Planet was started by husband and wife team, Tony and Maureen Wheeler. I had always assumed they were Australians but Tony was originally from England, and Maureen from Ireland. They tell a great story of arriving in Australia in the early 1970’s with 27 cents to their name. From those beginnings they built a worldwide business. What a great story!

Why might this book be enjoyed by people running photography businesses?

Many of us running small businesses have a great passion for photography and ride the daily ups and downs of a creative business. The Lonely Planet story is inspirational in that it tells a similar story of passionate people pouring themselves into their work and building a remarkable business.

The book is partly a travel story, partly a business story, and partly a life story of the founders. I found it to be a great read and think you might too. Check out The Lonely Planet Story next time you are at the library or the bookshop.

So what’s my photography link to Lonely Planet?

Lonely Planet has built a large collection of travel images for use in their guides. They also buy stock images at times, and I’m pleased to say they have bought at least one of mine. See one of my tree kangaroo images in Lonely Planet guide to Papua New Guinea.

Thanks for reading Great Reads – The Lonely Planet Story. Check out the book.

Great Reads – Michael Jay Fotograf Berlin

When I started Beyond Here in 2014, I developed a series of posts called Great Reads. The idea was to put together a series of posts which would provide recommended reading for photographers. This initially focused on books, and particularly books about the business side of photography. In this post Great Reads – Backyard Silver I expanded the scope of Great Reads to include online resources. Backyard Silver is an excellent blog detailing the experiences of US stock photographer Steve Heap. Today’s post Great Reads – Michael Jay Fotograf Berlin looks at another excellent online resource.

BooksI should start by saying that I’ve never met Michael, and possibly never will given that we live on opposite sides of the world. That said, you can read about Michael and his background on the ‘about’ section in his blog.

He has a very interesting history – both as a photographer and as a person with a technology background. He chose to be an exclusive contributor with iStockphoto for 6 years, and also worked for iStockphoto and Getty Images promoting their business in Europe. More recently Michael has chosen to drop his exclusivity with iStockphoto and become an independent contributor.

Like Steve Heap’s blog Backyard Silver, Michael’s independent contributor status means he has a wealth of knowledge about the broader stock photography market which he can share. This is a key difference to Beyond Here. I am the primary writer for Beyond Here and as an exclusive contributor to iStockphoto I can only bring you my experience with the one agency I work with. So I encourage you to check out both Backyard Silver and Michael Jay Fotograf Berlin to read about their experiences with a wide variety of agencies.

I particularly encourage you to check out Michael’s three recent posts:

If you are already a stock photographer or are considering stock photography for your business check out Michael’s blog. Please also see the Stock Photography section on this blog. It has a wide variety of posts explaining stock photography and how it works from a contributors point of view.

Thanks for reading Great Reads – Michael Jay Fotograf Berlin.

Great Reads – Backyard Silver

I started the Great Reads section of Beyond Here two years ago, with the intention of building a library of resources about the business of photography. The early posts featured books that I read and recommended, and which were available via Amazon. A good example is this post about a book titled Taking Stock by Rob Sylvan. With today’s post I’m expanding the Great Reads section of Beyond Here to include online resources as well. Here is Great Reads – Backyard Silver.


With this post – Great Reads expands to online resources

Backyard Silver is a blog written by US based stock photographer Steve Heap. Steve and I recently discovered each others blogs, and while we live on opposite sides of the world, we had many things in common.

We are both stock photographers. We both started in microstock at about the same time, and we both stuck at it. We both have thousands of images available via microstock libraries, and both count income from microstock as a key portion of our photography businesses.

It turns out the similarities didn’t stop there. We have both written an ebook encouraging photographers to make money from their images through stock photography. Please see:

The one significant area we differ is that I chose (in 2010) to become exclusive with iStock (and still am) while Steve chose to be an independent stock photographer. By independent, I mean that he submits his images to a wide range of microstock sites. And this key difference is why I encourage Beyond Here reader’s to check out Backyard Silver.

Specifically Steve covers two areas which I am often asked about – the first is feedback about different stock sites, and the second is exactly how much money it is possible to make. Steve outlines each of the sites he contributes to, how many images he has with each site, and the monthly income he generates. Here is an example of a post which gives this detail.

As an exclusive photographer with iStock I like the simplicity of uploading, tracking, and payments which come from dealing with just one agency. I recently asked Steve how he handles the workload of submitting to multiple sites, and he kindly wrote this post outlining how he does it and which tools he uses.

If you are interested in the world of stock photography, I recommend you check out Steve’s blog. Thanks for reading Great Reads – Backyard Silver.

Great Reads – Taking Stock

Are you ready to tackle the new year? Is this year going to be the one where you turn your photography hobby into a serious venture? Is stock photography going to play a role in your business? If you are looking for a great book about stock photography I highly recommend Taking Stock by Rob Sylvan. It is the subject of this review, Great Reads – Taking Stock.

There are not a lot of books available specifically on the subject of stock photography. Rob Sylvan’s book stands out among them.

Taking stock

I highly recommend Taking Stock by Rob Sylvan if you are serious about stock photography

What is it about? Taking Stock is a book of just over 200 pages filled with insight from Rob Sylvan. The book was published in 2011 and draws on Rob’s extensive experience working at iStockphoto from the early 2000’s. Rob’s reputation is well known to people who have been long term contributors to iStockphoto (like me!) where he used to be both a contributor and an admin.

The book’s subtitle is “make money in microstock creating photos that sell” and that is exactly what it is about. If you are looking to make money in stock photography, this is a must read.

What can you expect? Taking stock covers all topics to understand and succeed in stock photography from the history of stock photography, to what equipment you will need, to the different types of licences in stock photography. There are an extensive number of examples of successful images with commentary on why they are successful.

I particularly like the examples he provides from a range of stock photographers, not just his own. In each case he provides an example of a successful image with the photographers commentary. It is a powerful way to highlight successful images and draws on the authors wide network of stock photographers.

If you are new to stock photography, you will enjoy the sample images and details about the number of times they have been downloaded, and how much money this has generated in royalties to the photographer. It will show you how financially successful a single image can be.

The book is several years old now, so don’t expect it to cover today’s trends in visual imagery. But the principles and examples Sylvan provides are still relevant and it is well worth reading.

Outcomes? If you want one single resource to help you understand the stock photography world, Taking Stock is an excellent book. Most importantly it draws on the experience of people who have been working in the stock photography industry. Learning from your own experience is the best teacher, and learning from someone else’s experience isn’t far behind.

For me, I’ve considered why some people are successful in stock photography while others are not. Within this book, Sylvan sums it up nicely – he says that successful stock photographers are ‘highly motivated, self directed learners’. That sums it up. He doesn’t say they are brilliantly creative, or have photography qualifications, or use certain equipment. He says they are highly motivated, self directed learners.

If you study the work of some of the most successful stock photographers you can see the development in their portfolios. They keep learning, and their images keep improving. So don’t think you have to be a genius to succeed.

If you are highly motivated, keep learning, and apply what you learn – you will succeed in stock photography.

Rating and Recommendation? 10 out of 10. Highly recommended.

Kick off the new year by reading a book that will set you up for success in stock photography.

Thank you for reading Great Reads – Taking Stock.

Great Reads – Visionmongers

I have been writing a series of posts for photographers who want to operate their own business called Great Reads. You can find the previous posts here

This post is called Great Reads – Visionmongers and looks at a book by David du Chemin. You may have heard of the author. He is quite well known for his photography and for his previous book called ‘Within the Frame’.

Photography booksWhat is it about? The sub heading of this book reads “Visionmongers – Making a Life and a Living in Photography”. The author doesn’t shy away from his view that it is not easy to make a living in photography. He outlines that there is no simple path, and no formula to follow. For any practicing photography this will resonate immediately as the truth, and adds to the books credibility. Du Chemin then shares stories of his own journey and that of several successful photographers. I found this a very powerful way to show how the obstacles can be overcome, and the different paths possible to business success in photography.

What can you expect? This book will challenge your thinking about making a living in photography. I particularly like his focus on knowing what you want to shoot. He makes the point that if you focus only on what the market wants you will end up ‘stuck’ shooting subjects you don’t have a passion for. Du Chemin’s logic is compelling – that vision is what drives you, and passion is what keeps you going. That’s a strong argument for shooting subjects you are passionate about.

Outcomes? This is an excellent book if you are considering setting up your business and need to define exactly what you will offer and what role you will fill in the market. It is also an excellent read if you are already in business and need to refocus or rebuild your business. I particularly liked the examples of successful photographers and the diverse and individual paths they have taken.

Rating and Recommendation? Visionmongers is a book I would recommend to all photographers who are planning to start a business or are in business already. It presents all the challenges of making a living in photography and then provides examples of people who are succeeding. I have re-read this book 4 times this year and each time I get something worthwhile from it.10 out of 10.

Thank you for reading Great Reads – Visionmongers.

Great Reads – Photographers MBA

I recently started a series on Beyond  Here called Great Reads. It gives you a brief over view of some very good photography books. The subject of this post is a book called The Photographers MBA by Sal Cincotta.

Photography booksWhat is it about? The Photographers MBA states on the front cover “Everything you need to know for your photography business” and Cincotta does an excellent job of doing just that. He finds a very nice balance between telling you his own story, while giving you insight to how to run your own photography business.

I found his own story fascinating. While he was exposed to photography at a young age, he had worked a job in corporate America until 2006. Since then his photography business has grown and now has revenues in excess of $1m per annum. Nice work.

What can you expect? A practical guide to how to run your photography business better by someone who has done just that. His passion for his images comes through very strongly. I love his approach – rather than compete on lowest price, he will raise his prices and deliver an even better client experience. Fantastic!

Outcomes? There is a wealth of practical advice in this book – from how to structure your business, to branding, social media, contracts etc. The one thing that stands out to me from The Photographers MBA is that it is one of the few photography business books I’ve read where the authors passion for his business, art, and clients comes through so strongly. There is a broad range of outstanding images in the book. They are so good, that it took me a while to realize that several of them were from the same wedding.

In terms of the specific chapters, I found the sections on branding and social media very useful with things I can immediately implement in my own business.

Rating and Recommendation? The Photographers MBA is easy to read, and full of great images. It is divided into logical chapters making it simple to revert to a specific section. This book is a winner! 10 out of 10.

Thank you for reading Great Reads – Photographers MBA.

Great Reads – Digital Photography Book

‘Great Reads’ is a section I have recently started on Beyond Here which provides you with a series of reviews of photography books. Today’s post looks at a series of books called ‘The Digital Photography Book’ by Scott Kelby. There are several books in this series – 4 that I have read. They can be bought individually or as a set.

What is it about? The Digital Photography Book series provide a series of short, sharp tips for how to make particular images or how to tackle a style of photography. Want to know which settings will suit a football game? The answer is in the book. Want to know how to overpower the sun when shooting outdoor wedding portraits? Kelby shows you how.

Photography booksThere is a wide range of content – from how to set up a studio, to landscape, wedding, travel, sports, portrait – the list goes on. I particularly liked the section on how to set up a studio, and used the advice in this series to build my studio.

What can you expect? A really fun series of books! There is no getting caught up in technical detail here. Kelby has a very good sense of humor and isn’t afraid to use it! His chapter openings are particularly light-hearted and funny. The approach he has taken is to assume you are on a shoot together, and to provide practical advice in the same way he would to a shooting buddy. No technical overload – just simple direction and instruction on how to make a certain image. If you find technical talk confusing – don’t worry, this series of books is very easy to read.

Visual content? Lots! These books have an extensive range of images with commentary to match. Because these books cover a very wide range of content there is bound to be something in it which interests every photographer. The material is presented in ‘bite sized’ chunks with a topic, an image, and instruction.

Outcomes? These books are very useful if you have ‘generalist’ photography interest. Rather than being a very detailed review of a specific area, they have a light touch on a very wide range of content. This makes them an ideal reference. I refer to them when I am looking at a different area of photography, or wanting to make a different style of image. Beyond the useful content, they are very funny, and remind me that this business is fun.

Rating and Recommendation? These books are very easy to read, and because of the way they are structured, are ideal for ‘dipping into’ when you need. They are ideal if you have a broad range of photographic interests, or are considering which area of photography you want to specialize in. The tips are simple and effective, and have saved me many hours of trial and error. They are well presented, contain some great images, and are very easy to read. 8 out of 10.

If you are interested in purchasing these books, please follow the links to Amazon on this blog.

Thank you for reading Great Reads – Digital Photography Book.

Great Reads – Wedding Photography Posing

This post in ‘Great Reads’ looks at a book which features poses for wedding photography. Its full name is ‘Design Aglow Posing Guide for Wedding Photography’ by Lena Hyde. I recently ordered this book from Amazon and have enjoyed reading it. This brief review is to help you decide whether it might be useful to you. Thanks for reading Great Reads – Wedding Photography Posing.

What is it about? As the title suggests, this book is for wedding photographers and looks at the challenge of posing your subjects. It contains 100 different poses and is set out in an easy to read format. With such a broad range of poses and images, there will be new ideas for you in this book.

BooksWhat can you expect? Great images and interesting ideas! Each idea is set out across a double page with a strong image and text to explain. It is divided into sections so you can choose whether you want to look at ideas for brides, grooms, brides and grooms, or the wedding party. This makes it easy to use and a handy reference. I particularly like that the text explains the pose, but also offers 2 or 3 alternative images you could take with the same pose, or as the subject moves on from the position shown. They are very handy tips for turning one good shot into 3 or 4 good shots. This book sticks to its title and focuses on the art of posing. It is light on technical information, but does include the camera settings for each of the featured images.

Visual content? Lots! This book has an extensive range of images. With that range comes brides, grooms and wedding parties of all different styles. Such a large range of visual content makes this book useful for the photographer to review to get fresh ideas. It is easy to read and just as easy to flick through to find an inspiring image.

Outcomes? This book is very useful for looking at different wedding photographers images and to consider how they have posed their subject. I am going to use this book to help me with fresh ideas, and also to share with my clients. I am going to ask my clients to look through the images and to highlight the style of images which they prefer. This will help me to make sure I understand the style of image my client is looking for. This will be very handy, and will compliment sharing my own images with them.

Rating and Recommendation? This is a good book and sticks to the topic of poses for wedding photography. I recommend it for new wedding photographers, or more seasoned photographers who are looking for fresh ideas. It is well presented, contains some great images, and is easy to read. 8 out of 10.

If you are starting out in wedding photography you may like to read these earlier posts:

Thanks for reading Great Reads – Wedding Photography Posing.

Great Reads – Fast Track Photographer

I like to read photography books, and particularly books about the business of photography. I’ve been considering a ‘Great Reads’ section on this blog, so that readers of Beyond Here have an easy reference to a range of great photography books. So here it is! The first post under the category of Great Reads. I’ll keep it short and sharp, and hopefully nothing like the dreary book reviews I did in high school English class!

This week I have re-read an outstanding book called Fast Track Photographer by Dane Sanders.

What is it about? Fast Track Photographer will challenge the way you think about your photography business and your role in the photography industry. It doesn’t look at photography tips, or equipment, or composition. It assumes your level of photographic capability is at least good – and highlights that the key differentiator of your photography business is not your images, products, or equipment. The key differentiator is you. It then builds on that concept by encouraging you to focus your time and effort where you can add value, and to outsource tasks where you can’t. This is radical thinking if you are in start up mode and doing everything yourself.

What can you expect? Challenge! If you are starting out in your photography business or are already under way this book will challenge how you think about your business. It provides an online tool to assess your level of capability and then outlines different types of career options. Sanders divides that into two distinct options – Signature Brand Photographers and Freelance Photographers. He describes each and helps identify which skill sets will suit each option.

Visual content? None! Yes, this is a book about the business of photography that has no images in it. It is 240 pages of text. This is a master stroke from Sanders as you do not get distracted by great images, you focus on the content and the message. Yes, its a great book about the business of photography with absolutely no images.

Outcomes? Fast Track Photographer will help you to consider what makes your photography business different, and how to maximise those differentiators. It will also challenge you to outsource all of the tasks within your business which you do not add value to. After reading this book I am clearer on the key offerings I bring to my wedding photography clients.

Rating and Recommendation? Wow. This book can radically change how you think about and operate your photography business. For me it has been a huge help for my own business. And so has Sanders follow up book The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan. I recommend this book to anyone starting up a photography business, or who is already operating but finding it hard going. 10 out of 10!

Thanks for reading the first in this series of posts Great Reads – Fast Track Photographer. I welcome your comments. Please add them to this post. Have you read Fast Track Photographer? What were your key learnings?

(If you would like to buy this book – it is available through Amazon. There is a link to Amazon in the margin of Beyond Here. Thanks again for reading Great Reads – Fast Track Photographer.)