Photographers – Grow or Die

I’ve been a professional photographer for over 35 years.  While some may look at that sentence and think I must surely be “over the hill” – others may look at that and say “wow, she must have been doing something right, to stay in business that long”. I suppose, it all depends on the outlook of the person.

Personally, I truly believe that the secret to longevity in any career field is to be open-minded as to how they define themselves.  One thing I have never done is define myself by the tools I use. Just because one has expensive camera gear, it doesn’t make them a “professional photographer”.  If that was the case, then who are you if you have a camera that happens to shoot both still images and video?

I’m really amazed when photographers define themselves by the tools of their trade.  I think with the way things are going in terms of how technology continues to affect our industry, if a photographer defines him/herself in such narrow terms – it’s the kiss of death.

When technology enabled me to explore video production without having to make a prohibitively investment in expensive “tools”, the creative part of me wanted to take full advantage of those new opportunities that were coming my way.  After all, I’m a storyteller and I shouldn’t have to limit myself to one medium, but rather choose the

Category:Wikipedia requested photographs of ph...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

right  tool (camera)  to use that best tells the story that I need to tell.  Sometimes that means delivering the message in video and sometimes the story is better told with still images.

Because I was an early adaptor of video (at least from a still photographer’s point of view), many of my peers equate me with just shooting video.  Many assume I’ve abandoned still photography, which couldn’t be further from the truth.  The real truth is, my clients see me as an imaging professional, who is able to deliver their message with the medium(s) that is best suited for the job.  These days with print publication giving way to electronic delivery, clients are delighted that I am able to fulfill their needs because I am proficient in both video and stills and most times they need both.

My curiosity for exploring a variety of mediums and tools has not only kept me in business – it’s kept me from getting jaded and stale. I am a photographer.  I am a director of photography.  I am an imaging professional and am thrilled to still be in business at a time when we have so many tools and options in how we are able to deliver a visual message.

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I’m Not Cut Out For That

Systems thinking about the society
Systems thinking about the society (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyone who has been reading my blog knows that I’m not the sort of person who would think or say “I’m not cut out for that”.  Most times, I tell myself that anything is possible and set out to face my fears.  But, there have been times when I’ve had to question taking on an assignment or assuming a role and ask myself, if in fact, I’m cut out for it.

There are generally two types of scenarios that mandate a decision to be made:

  • When I am listening to my inner voice that is prompting me to do something.
  • When I am listening to family, friends or colleagues who are encouraging me to do something

I’ve learned the best thing for me to do in either scenario, in order to make the right decision is to think of it in terms of what is the right fit for me. Is it in harmony with who I am?

Right now, I am working on a marketing plan so I am not only looking at what markets to target in terms of where there is a demand but also in terms of which markets I am suited for.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m thinking of what’s in my comfort zone, it means that I am thinking about which markets I can provide the most value to. If I do it right, everybody wins.

 

10 Ways Photographers are Their Own Worst Enemies

  1. They talk themselves out of things.  – Telling themselves that it wouldn’t matter if they learned new skills or shot new images or whatever they didn’t want to make the effort to do.
  2. They try to “educate” their clients (sometimes a bit too much) instead of collaborating and possibly learning from them.  A lot of “older” photographers are like this when they are working with younger art buyers or directors. I think the energy needs to work both ways.House surrounded by construction site, Atlantic City, NJ
  3. They give themselves an A for effort for starting something but too many times their starts lead to nowhere if they don’t have an end goal in mind.
  4. They don’t open themselves up to networking with others by attending industry meetings or events.
  5. They treat their clients like their enemies where one needs to win instead working toward a positive outcome for both.
  6. They make the mistake of creating for an audience, instead of creating for them selves.  (Thanks to Seth Godin for that thought)
  7. They take workshops or pay for a service and then don’t utilize them. I’ve been guilty of this too many times.
  8. They don’t shoot for the pleasure of it.
  9. They rely too much on commissioned work instead of taking advantage of new opportunities and ways in which to market and sell their own projects.
  10. They don’t stay true to themselves.