It’s dead easy to be a photographer. Go out, take some images and you’re done. Doing Stuff. Right! What stuff exactly if you want to make a living at it?
Just going out and hoping that your images are good enough to sell and make a living from is just, well impractical. I have been doing this for 40 years now and I feel that I am just starting to produce work that is acceptable. You have to get your name out there and that means sitting behind a desk doing stuff that is not related to actual photography. Instagram, Face book, Website all need attention. Not that any of them work very well.
No that’s wrong. They work well if you are popular if you are just starting out they are a pain in the behind. Instagram, in particular, makes you more popular if you are already popular and works like this. I need to be popular to showcase my work but in order to be popular, I need to be popular. So the algotithm works on those that are already popular and highligts those posts at the top of feeds so they get seen. The rest demoted and rarely seen so the photgrapher or creator has to work harder to get seen to become popular. This is in the name of advertisers that pay for Instagram to continue to operate and make facebook money. So the big question is how does this work? Answers on a postcard, please.
I do the following. Regular posting at a consistent time. Comment and like on posts daily. Respond to comments on my posts. Just being active. I check out the analytics of the posts. I have even promoted images. All of this should, in theory, improve my visibility but, I languish, I do not have to be a starving artist.
Not sure if it is me or how I feel about my work but I feel like there is a long way to travel to get the images I want. I stress the images I want. Rather than the lifeless work that is produced with no passion no enthusiasm just the picture for the sake of the picture. Don’t get me wrong about this. The pictures are perfectly exposed, well composed and it is clear some thought went into them but they are lifeless. They don’t convey a story.
Then there is the flip side of horrible images. Poorly exposed, poorly composed, (The later like some of mine). Not only this but post-processing is done. Let’s just say that it is overdone. Saturation is pushed a little too far. Colours become garish and solarisation takes place. The 13-year-old just flipping through his insta feed sees this as being colourful and likes and follows maybe leaves a comment. Suddenly that person is great and the photographer who hiked up a mountain to be at the best position at the best time is demoted.
Let’s think about this
Outside of exposure and Composition, I have just been talking about the admin side of the “business” not the photographic side. Sat behind a computer or at a desk. Doing stuff to get my name out there. Not actually taking images. You see good images are not the problem here. As I have said good images are only a very small and minor role in a successful business. Howls of derision come screaming across cyberspace.
But let’s look at this. I can take the best image in the world. It is fantastic. The composition is superb, it tells a great story. The exposure is spot on and the post-processing is to die for. BUT, if no one sees it because you are not visible to the buying public, and I mean picture editors, art directors, gallery owners. Then it will never make any money. And, as I have heard countless times over the past couple of years. A mediocre photographer can become successful because he can market his work better than the best photographer in the world.
One I have mentioned before. Everyone has a camera now and images are flooded over the internet just ready to be picked off. How many of you disable the right click on your website. I had it shown to me by a customer. His comment why should I buy this when I can do this. Right clicked on an image and said. “Don’t need to pay to do I?” Good point well made. But others don’t care about what they put on the net and don’t care of it is stolen. After all who wants a pic of Aunty Mavis. Right up until she wins the lottery. Suddenly her image is needed and then guess what Face book is raided and the image is taken. No credit, no money.
This could seem like sour grapes and I am complaining about an industry I love. I love taking images, making images. Being out there in all weathers trying to get the best images I can. Trying to do this full time and sleep in a tent next to the river for a week just to concentrate on my photography. I accept that all of the above is part and parcel of the industry and that all I can do is keep trying, pushing. Keep learning, developing.
I truly don’t care about any of the above. I will keep doing stuff to improve, I will get to the point where I can camp next to the river and see it at dawn every morning for a week. I will continue to strive for my goals in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. I don’t mind not having an easy ride infact I relish the challenge. Why? Self development, “being forged in the fires of battle” makes me push that much harder to be the best I can be. To practice and hone my work until it becomes something better.
If your interested in my work I can be found on Instagram HERE
My Website is HERE