June 2009 Archives

    Like so many other small business people, I'm bedeviled by the costs of healthcare insurance coverage.  The situation was verging on unsustainable in the past, but it feels now like it has hit a crisis point.  My family takes great pains to eat a very healthy diet and exercise faithfully.  We believe in living healthy to avoid costly medical bills.  But to be prudent we have medical insurance, though it's a very high deductible plan in a Health Savings Account program. The alternative?  $12,000 or more a year for a full coverage plan.  This is...what's the word I'm looking for?  Nuts!   

    Healthcare coverage, or rather the lack of it, continues to be shameful and an embarrassment to this country.  Unlike most other industrial nations, where all citizens have access to proper care, our system has evolved into care for only the well-to-do.

    My daughter went to the emergency room last year for a dislocated finger.  Painful but certainly not life threatening.  She waited, had an Xray to rule out a broken bone, then saw the physician on duty, who just popped the joint back in place.  Total bill for all services: $1,674.48, of which I paid the lions share, given my high deductible.  Even living a healthy lifestyle and doing everything right doesn't protect you from the accidents in life.

    I would like to suggest a  'feel your pain' experiment.  To show solidarity with the millions of citizen who are underinsured or who cannot afford any insurance, I propose that  elected representatives, from the President and U.S. Congress down through all state legislators and governors, give up all health insurance coverage they now receive as a perk of their positions. Gold-plated coverage as I understand. Rather, they will buy coverage in the open market, if they are able to, like so many of the constituents they represent.  I predict that within months we will hear no more diatribes about the dangers of socialized medicine. I would hope these same representatives of the people may then be moved to stand up to the medical establishment and insurance companies who profit from and so tenaciously hold onto the current abysmal system.

 young_doctors_270508_1211.jpg 

 To be sure so much of the chronic ailments in this country are self-inflicted, from overeating, plopping down in front of the TV and computer for hours at a time, and refusing to choose foods - the fruits, vegetables and lean meats - that would improve health and take the collective strain off our healthcare system.  

    It's time the United States joins the world community in viewing the health and financial security of its citizens as a right, and develop an affordable and accessible system open to all.

    Read an article I wrote about my back pain and steps I've taken to prevent back problems.
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     Finding the right photographer for a company  or agency project often involves a dizzying array of photo specialties, terms, styles and business expertise. Anyone with a camera and some business cards can hang out a shingle. And with digital photography now the norm, it's even easier for someone with marginal talents and business acumen to pose as a professional.

 To boost the chances of finding the best person for your brochure or promotional project, keep these seven steps in mind:

     1. Professional is the key word. Since there are no licensing standards for photographers, you'll need to look at other signs of competence and reliability. Start by asking your colleagues for recommendations.

     2. Continue your search by visiting the Websites of professional organizations like American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), the largest trade association of photographers in the country. ASMP sets standards for admittance, so you're more likely to find an experienced person there. Go to: www.asmp.org.

     3. Internet search engines like Google and Yahoo will yield a large number of potential photographers in your area, but remember that the flashiest Website doesn't necessarily mean the best photographer for your project. Be sure to hire someone whose skills fit your needs. A product photographer, for example, most likely will not be the best choice for candid people photography.

     4. Ask the right questions. When you talk to a photographer, ask about professional affiliations. What companies like yours has he or she worked for recently? Do they carry liability insurance? If you're getting stuttering answers at this point, it's time to move on to someone else.

 5. Don't fall into the trap of shopping just for price instead of value. A lowball estimate might sound like a bargain until you find yourself saddled with amateurish photos and poor business practices. An experienced photographer with professional capabilities and equipment has value that far outweighs a higher fee.

     6. Understand the fee structure. Most experienced photographers factor in usage as a critical part of their creative fee. Generally, the more extensive the media exposure and higher profile the project, the higher the fee for producing it. Any photographer calling himself a professional should be asking you a number of questions about the project, from usage to duration to onsite conditions and delivery dates. Once a photographer has all the information, expect a written estimate to be faxed or e-mailed to you. This should spell out all aspects of the job, including times and locations, usage, expenses and terms. If a photographer says, "We don't need to write anything down," find someone with professional practices. Finally, all images delivered to you should be accompanied with a delivery memo.

 7. Keep in mind that photography has been undergoing a revolutionary change toward digital these last years. You'll need to understand this new technology and increase the capability of your company to handle digital images. A graphics support person may be essential to assure photos appear in print as envisioned by the photographer. And by the way, if you've found that digital photos just don't look right, the problem may be with your monitor. In order for you to see on your monitor what the photographer sees on his or hers, you'll need to calibrate the monitor to industry standards using software like ColorEyes  or Spyder.



Welcome

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This is the first entry in a series of musings about photography, video, the business of photography, writing, the accordion...wherever I might wander.  I've been photographing for corporate and editorial clients since 1978, and I've picked up a few tips along the way.  I'd like to share some of those and get your feedback. The dismal economy is certainly affecting this industry, as it is so many others.  I'll certainly have more to say about that too. 

I look forward to sharing my thoughts and hearing yours.  Visit my website at www.cendrowski.com

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