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Change It Up Before It Changes Around You... Because Change is Here
In Dane Sander’s well written and provocative piece “The Elephant In The Room” there are many take-aways for the professional and semi-pro photographers.
“On the one hand, what I’m asserting here is obvious: All creative professions have changed for good and if you doggedly stick with doing your work the same old way, the ground you’re standing on will erode.
I don’t know how you can argue otherwise.
I’m also suggesting though that for the creative not feeling the need to do “pro photography” the way its been done in the past, a better and higher opportunity is right under your nose."
I too have been thinking along these lines for the last few years. I am not a doom and gloomer when it comes to commercial photography, but I do think it is changing.
While not as volatile as the wedding/consumer business where there really are major challenges from every corner of the neighborhood, the commercial world has plenty of its own challenges. Consumer photographers will most definitely have a crash time in the coming future, and I have been very vocal in trying to prepare people for the coming inevitability of a major disruption.
In the commercial world we are seeing a plethora of amazingly talented people entering the business, and overwhelmingly there are more photographers than gigs out there.
Not sure that is not the same in most any other profession - the unemployment numbers are pretty dire for many highly paid and highly skilled professions. Attorneys, accountants, professionals of all kinds are facing a challenging future as the workforce becomes more lean and less ‘fat’.
I just heard this week that Microsoft will be laying off 18,000 employees in the next few months. That means at least several hundred “photographers” entering the market. Watch out Seattle… here they come. Heh.
And the truth is that to make a very good, well exposed, nicely composed, brilliantly Photoshopped image is simply not that hard anymore. The bar for entry has dropped substantially. LR and CR can fix exposure problems. Processing tricks can repair hot or dark areas. Compositing - once the dominion of specialists - is as easy as one two three with today’s tools.
Am I saying it is too damned easy to be a photographer?
Yes. I guess I am to a certain extent. It is too damned easy to ‘just make photographs’. Barely teenage girls shooting for Vogue, recently passed pubescent boys shooting for major ad agencies and magazines.
“Likes” take the place for talent at many of the most prestigious markets for photography… they know it is all a numbers game.
And those old-timers - ones who entered the business way back in 2007 or (gasp) before are still trying to do things the same way they learned when starting.
As Greg Heisler said… “I had a great career, but you won’t have my career, and I didn’t have the same career as photographers from the 60’s/70’s.”
He’s right… it is all different. The same as an engineer working for NASA in the 60’s had a much different way of working than one who works there today. The current engineers will not have the same career as those who preceded them.
What to do?
I have a few ideas that are similar to Dane’s… and some a bit different.
Learn to design… whether for print or the web, LEARN to design. There are many many places that teach design online. And designers are having the same fits as we are… it is becoming easier to design than ever before… the mechanics that is.
Combining those two talents makes you a double threat… you can find business that needs both photography and design for brochures/websites and more. Be sure that learning how to design is not a quick path, but alliances can be made as well. Partnering with a designer is one such way to become more powerful.
Learn to Write… become a double threat for magazines who need stories created and produced. Writing 1000 words is not that hard, and again there are myriad places that teach online. Writing an article and illustrating it with your own words means you have more to offer. Does it work for every magazine? Nope. Not yet anyway. But there are a lot of magazines that may be willing to talk to you if you have a good proposal.
Learn to Adapt… recent trends may mean a totally new genre of photography will open right in front of your eyes. Social Media Packages - and including good design for FB headers, Twitter headers, YouTube Channel headers, headshots, blog shots and headers… so many possibilities to repackage and re-purpose the same techniques as we are familiar with already.
Learn to be creative first, a photographer second.
Some of the most incredible content on the web is content that is visually exciting… and that visual excitement is YOUR territory. Images, video, production, dramatic interpretation… all of it can be what you do.
“Just photography” will be more and more difficult for many of us as the world changes around us, asking for more of a new content and being filled to the brim with old content.
Why do teen agers get to shoot for Vogue? Because they are NOT doing the same ol same ol… they are changing it up in everything they do.
What if you gave your personal photography away in order to gain traction for assignments? Would that work? Would it implode?
Click here | Click here | Click here - be surprised at the sites that come up!
What if you simply tripled your rate and refused to do any work that wasn’t a challenge for your excellence?
What if you began shooting for markets that were not necessarily commercial?
Joel Grimes | Joni Sternbach
What if - what if.
I am spending a lot of time in what-if land lately. There are changes all around us and it is imperative that we begin to see those changes as positively as they are inevitable. Yes, I know so many photographers hate Instagram… but it ain’t going anywhere. And now we have photographers with a million or two followers.
Do you have a million or more people waiting to see YOUR photographs?
Does it matter? You bet it matters. IT MATTERS.
Take some time to look around the web at some of the more esoteric uses for photography, visual content, graphics and the ways we can tell stories with images… there are a million ways to do it. Perhaps we have been focusing on only a select few ways (the ways we are most comfortable with) when we should be looking at ways we could be doing it differently.
Photographer Creates Value For His Work By Making it Worth Stealing
"In the process I had an insight — art, in itself, has no real value. What I mean by this, is that it is difficult to put a price tag on art. What then determines an artworks value? Well, the buyer’s perception of its value. So I decided to make my art worth stealing.
With “Steal My Photograph!” (SMP), my outdoor exhibitions, I invite people who pass them to steal my work. In return, I ask my Art Thieves to hang their stolen art anywhere they like and to send me a picture of it. I then share the photos I receive with my followers on social media platforms."
This seems like it is way over the top with gimmickry, but then I just re-read my article above and will reserve judgment in order to see how it plays out. I am not feeling warm and fuzzy because the ploy seems to be more about him than the work... and if it is indeed the work he is promoting, this may not be the right focus.
F-Stoppers has the rest of the article.
Strange forest growth along Highway 101 near Coos Bay, Oregon. There were some flying insects there that stung my daughter. They made her pretty sick for an hour or so... fever and a bad stomach. By the time we reached a doctor that was open, she was much better. The forest here does look primeval in a way. Perhaps it was.
We found a way to lower the price on the Humboldt County Workshop... WOOHOO.
Thanks to some sleuthing on Google.
Join us in September for a 5-day workshop in Humboldt County, California. More information here.
JOIN US IN OCTOBER /NOVEMBER FOR TWO VERY SPECIAL ROADTRIP/WORKSHOPS THROUGH THE CANYONS OF NORTHERN ARIZONA AND SOUTHERN UTAH. FIVE DAYS OF PHOTOGRAPHY.
Information here. If you want to put your name in early, send me an email and i will hold your spot. Very limited enrollment... we all have to fit in a van.
ONE ON ONE CONSULTING / MENTORING
I am a consultant/coach as well as a photographer. If you would like to discuss a full engagement including website, identity, marketing and portfolio building program, feel free to contact me at any time.
I am currently working with photographers all over the country on portfolio building and marketing strategy/implementation. We customize the programs just for you, and we do comprehensive three month engagements for those who want a more business/marketing approach.
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information