Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Talking with Photographers about what works today
I have an photo assistant who needs some advice. She hasn't asked for any but she's a third year college student so I figure she could use some. Of course when offering advice it's helpful to sound intelligent and have an idea what you're talking about.
Over the past four months I've talked with photographers to find out how things are going, what's working, and what doesn't work any longer. I've posted some of these in this blog.
Now I'm going to connect the dots and come up with a plan photographers, like my assistant, can use as a roadmap to finding some success.
I think it's important to decide what genre of work you're going to produce before you do anything else. If you're going to do everything, it's not going to go so well. You have to show people what you hope to do. What you've done in the past should follow along in the same direction. And never show anyone except family members a picture of your pet. Seriously, unless it's on fire, I don't care what your cat did.
You have to have something to sell. Something tangible, not just your services as a great photographer, and it helps if items are at different price points. If they can't afford your $1200 traditional print, maybe they can afford the smaller print at $150, or the $100 book, $50 poster or even a T-shirt.
Once you have an area of photography to work in, and something to sell, you can start to market. It's all about "Brand Recognition" said Louie Palu.
If you think of the great brands of the world, they're often promoting just the brand, which specific burger you buy when you walk into McDonalds isn't as important as getting you to walk in.
You've become a brand. Know in the industry as Brand You, and its time to start marketing. Start with people you know and try to keep your name alive with all the chatter out there. One thing for sure, you're going to need more Friends to make it. Dave Sandford used Facebook and Twitter to find new clinics when he expanded into wake board photography and you can learn what works in Have You Seen Sandford's Work on Facebook?
It's also important to know of some pitfalls regarding Facebook and you can read about the one-way street of information in Social Media at College.
Louie Palu promotes constantly but doesn't believe in giving the work away through a service such as Instagram. He's using traditional venues like galleries, museums and collectors to start conversations about war photography. His work gets published and he wins major awards. You can take his advice in Unique, Best Describes Louie Palu.
Director of Photography at Canadian Press, Graeme Roy has a strong Instagram following and does it for fun. You can find his point of view in Talking With Graeme Roy About Social Media.
Of course with all the marketing you might forget the photography. Bob Sacha has switched from being a still photographer with National Geographic to creating video and multimedia, but it's always about telling stories no matter which image you make. Find out why Sacha switched to video in Telling Stories With Bob Sacha.
So the first thing is to find a genre, don't worry yet about your style that will come naturally after 10-15 years. Then you have to create something to sell, it could be a print or a book. Once you have that, let people know about you. This is when you find out you need more friends, but you can get them through social media.
When adding friends remember, People who are really interested in what you're doing are great but even those with a slight interest are helpful. They might spread the word of your project to their circle of friends as well, and you might find one of these people becomes really interested. So the more friends you have the better.
Bill Schwab was able to use his list of friends to expand his reach and raise money for a new photo workshop in his Kickstarter campaign. Schwab is the whole package, selling large prints, selling small prints, books, workshops, and tours and he does it all from Northern Michigan. Find out how in Fine Art Photographer Bill Schwab Raises $42,502 In 30 Days.
Schwab it doing a great job an an individual photographer but no group does it better than MediaStorm. They're large, they have staff, I'm sure the expenses would bury most of us in a month, but their business model was the best one I've seen for photography and I think We Can All Learn From What MediaStorm Is Doing.
Although I've worked as a photographer all my life, I'm currently back at school trying to finish my Masters of Fine Arts Degree at the Maine Media Workshops and College.
Jan Rosenbaum is one of my mentors and the project I'm working on is social media and future revenue streams for photographers.