CHALLENGES HARD TO FIND SUPPORT HARD TO FIND TRAINING FEWER MENTORS
CHALLENGES MANY PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE NOT HELPFUL AND CAN BE LESS THAN ENTHUSIASTIC WHEN HELPING YOUNGER STARTUPS
SOLUTIONS IGNORE THOSE THAT ARE NOT HELPFUL AND FOCUS ON THOSE THAT ARE. RESEARCH WILL REVEAL THOSE WHO ARE AND THOSE WHO AREN’T
CHALLENGE “ Many photographers turn to older and/or more experienced photographers for help in understanding the business of photography. Many face insults, closed doors or guidance on everything except business.”
SOLUTION Ask politely for a small bit of information. Demanding too much from one person can quite rude.
SOLUTIONS Seek out the best knowledge you can find… then ask for clarification Look for mentors and those willing to help in specific ways… groups, associations, old age homes…
SOLUTIONS Join trade associations that are SPECIFICALLY created to help the industry… ASMP - American Society of Media Photographers APA - Advertising Photographers of America PPA – Professional Photographers Association
SOLUTIONS Unfortunately, talking about this stuff isn’t sexy… it isn’t glamorous. It is hard work that takes a lot of self evaluation and personal decisions. Attendance is low for those meetings that discuss the business side, so fewer meetings are held.
CHALLENGE “ A great business person with average work will always do better than a poor business person with stellar work. And who makes the decision that the work is good enough to be a business? Other photographers?”
SOLUTIONS The market will decide. If the photographer is competent to create work that others are willing to pay for, then they will succeed. It is not up to other photographers to create success for you, nor is it in their ability to destroy your business.
SOLUTIONS Do not seek validation from Flickr,or Zooomr, or Picassa or some forum on the interwebs. The validation you seek should come from within and from your clients. Anne Geddes was told she had no chance to be a photographer - by other photographers. I think she does just fine.
CHALLENGE “ The truth is there is a certain point where every photographer (who wants to be more than a hobbyist) feels they are of the level to move their passion towards passion and profession.”
SOLUTIONS Feeling and knowing are two separate things. “Feeling” is subjective – “Knowing” is objective. And it takes a lot of work and self exploration to become educated. It takes asking questions that have uncomfortable answers. It is facing the fact that there is more to do, and then doing it, that makes the difference – and becomes the challenge.
SOLUTIONS Way too many people make decisions based on what they ‘feel’ and that can be a terrible mistake. “ Feelings” are based on emotion, not facts. “Knowing” is based on the research, measurability and assessments needed to determine viability. Sounds way too technical, but it isn’t.
CHALLENGE “ We can argue that some photographers aren’t “good enough” to be making money or to be successful, but the truth is business is about business. And if this business was one where only the most talented with the best images were the most successful, the need for the personal brand might be a completely mute one.”
SOLUTIONS There is no doubt that the role of marketing can play a huge role in the success of a photographer. Personal Brand, I feel, is one of the most powerful tools a photographer can have in their arsenal… but alas, it is not deemed important enough by many photographers. It is a business where the best images to climb to the top – if pushed along by great marketing.
SOLUTIONS Bottom Line: there are a tremendous amount of great photographers out there. Great work alone cannot make the difference… in fact, it is expected. The difference is understanding the business and getting the training that is necessary to understand something that is part art, part marketing, part brand, part technical and totally without any pre-sets or rules.
SOLUTIONS And let’s not forget how important sales are in this grand scheme. All important. Where can one learn that skill? Workshops, breakfast marketing groups, schools, audio tapes, videos, CD’s, Books on Tape - and by observing. Observe great salespeople everywhere
SOLUTIONS Working with a photographer used to be the way one learned the “ropes”… those days are gone, and assisting is much harder to find. But information is not. There is a wealth of information on the internet and libraries on sales… be tenacious. And keep looking for shooters to assist with.
CHALLENGE “ So a business degree helps, but isn’t the total answer. Even traditional education in other areas help, but isn’t the total answer.”
SOLUTIONS I am ambivalent about degrees of any kind. Personal bias I suppose. But a business degree won’t necessarily help. A couple of sales training classes at a JC, or sales training camps may help for sure. Photography is a business, but it has enough quirkiness to put it in a rare class
SOLUTIONS I am there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for photographers. Genres, geography, demographics, goals, personal relationships, social comfort and more can make it difficult to find a “Way” of doing something. But there are plenty of personal things one can do to gain market share in one’s area or region. Be creative – create buzz!!!
SOLUTIONS The great wisdom that is available from clients, photographers, mentors and coaches cannot be overlooked. THEY HAVE BEEN THERE. Selina Maitreya is one coach I know of who has been helpful to so many successful photographers. Her information is real, and her success rate is measurable. There are others as well. Be judicious when you hire.
CHALLENGE “ So how do photographers learn the business, which for the most part involves the four components of: sales, marketing, communication and management? From what I have observed and experienced it involves various cycles of learning, trial, error, failure, reinvention, success, complacency, stagnation, failure, learning, trial, error, reinvention, success.”
SOLUTIONS There must be a plan. And the plan has to make sense for the photographer. And that is tricky too. But there are paths that have been carved into the marketing landscape. There are methods that work. There are ways to create buzz that are defined – at least with a soft edge of definition. It takes the individual to add the clarity. Others have had similar challenges and met them with success. So it can be done.
SOLUTIONS Find the success in your world. Model them… find out what They did, and do the same things… but with your twist. There are no secrets… Just planning and hard work.
THANK YOU This slide show was presented in conjunction with a presentation on finding ways to learn the business at Lighting Essentials – a Place for Photographers. www.lighting-essentials.com