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Top Secret Photography with Vance Jacobs

Listen and take good notes of Episode 203 With Vance Jacobs

Vance Jacobs is a San Francisco based corporate photographer who works with a variety of clients including various foundations, non-profit sectors and the government special forces.

Vance began his career as a photojournalist working for news magazines and eventually, word of mouth and Facebook brought him to where he is today. He explains that he uses his personal Facebook page as a marketing tool. Keeping his posts fun and friendly with a work focus, he always posts different projects he is working on. One day, an art director saw his work and contacted him, connecting him with the powers-that-be in the special forces.

Working For The Elite Government Special Forces

Most of Vance’s work with the government special forces are top secret and only those with the proper clearances will ever see his images. He photographs the grueling training these men have to go through as well as the special training operations of these elite teams. He hopes to one day join them on a mission.

The ‘Bringer of Bad News’

Vance also speaks at colleges to students who are interesting in pursuing a career in photography. He calls himself the “bringer of bad news,” giving these students the dose of reality of what it’s really like to be a photographer. He stresses that photography isn’t just about how you shoot, but how you approach everything you do. He also talks to them about how much photographers actually get paid for certain jobs.

How Much Money Does a Photographer Earn?

Vance talks about how much the industry standard is for photographers for various jobs. The examples he gives:

  • Local Newspaper: around $75

  • NY Times: $200 an assignment (incl. edit and caption)

  • News Magazines: $500 a day

  • “Top-Shelf” Magazine: $1200-$1500 a day

  • Corporate: $1500-$4000 a day

  • Ads: $7000-skies the limit

He notes that, with larger agencies, photographers can make their money on expenses; they can charge for post production, equipment rentals, usage fees, creative fees, licensing, etc. He advises that you negotiate the usage and/or buyout rules — how the images are going to be used and how long.

Twenty Marketing Phone Calls A Week

When it comes to marketing, things have really changed over the years, according to Vance. A website is a must and Facebook is important, but only if you can “strike the right tone.” For his personal marketing, Vance sends an eBlast every 6-8 weeks to agencies. He sets parameters for who they want to reach and include images or a video with links to his website. Vance also makes 20 phone calls a week to former and potential clients to touch base. He keeps the calls casual and on a personal level so that he is on their mind. His agent would like him to call more agencies per week, but he admittedly hates doing it, calling it “painful,” but he knows that it is beneficial for his business and something that needs to be done.

Vance draws on his college experience as a telemarketer where he learned the important lesson of asking to speak with the right person, the decision maker. He knows that he has only ten-seconds to get the attention of a potential client with whom he has no prior relationship. Vance will introduce himself and name some of his high profile clients which gives him legitimacy. His objective is getting a potential client to take the time to look at his work and so he tailors each phone call toward that goal.

What You Will Learn In This Podcast:

  • What it’s like to work for the special forces

  • The various types of corporate photography jobs and how much you can earn

  • The importance of making phone calls

Subscribe on iTunes

Subscribe to Full Time Photographer podcast on iTunes for more interviews and insider information into photographers and their clients.

Check out Vance’s work on his website: and follow his work on Instagram.

If you want to know more on the business of photography click here

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