I read a post today provided via link from Pro Nature Photographer, a blog ran by Charlie Borland and a very good one at that, I would encourage you to check it out regularly. The post I read was on John Lund’s The Stock Photo Guy. I have visited John’s blog on occasion but not heading down the stock road at full speed yet most articles are not catered towards my current endeavors. This new post was also talking mainly in the realm of the stock photo business but a few things really caught my attention and applies to all photographers who are serious about positive financial aspects of their craft. I would encourage everyone to add Pro Nature Photographer to their bookmarks and if stock is your thing The Stock Photo Guy as well.
John brought up the point that he is always trying to figure out what dramatic things he can do to catapult his career to a higher level. In other words, trying to find that magic bullet while at the same time knowing full well there are no magic bullets. The magic comes with hard work, a consistent approach to your photography, and from my point of view as semi-professional photographer trying harder than the other guy and learning from mistakes. Which I’m sure holds true for most everyone.
Ok, what does that meen “trying harder than the other guy?’ A difficult question to answer since it is relative to each person. John does make note of self discipline and a willingness to do the things you know you should do even when you don’t want to. A very insightful comment. Most fellow photographers that I know partake in this craft because they love it. They love nature they love being out in nature and they love taking pictures of nature to the best of their abilities. I fall in to that category myself. Some may do it for comradery, but photography really isn’t a craft that falls into the category of social events. My opinion is that it is a highly personal endeavor. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t absolutely love it. Loving something and being good at it can lead to a wonderful life of personal enjoyment. And if all you want from your photography is personal enjoyment that’s absolutely great. But what if you want more than “just” enjoyment, what if you want to grow your love of this craft into a revenue stream. Again I will quote John, “Success in photography, at least financial success, isn’t about pretty pictures, but making pictures that are needed”. Pictures that are needed. I find that a very powerful statement. Do you know who needs your photography? If you don’t you have a problem if your expecting any measure of financial success.
The beginning of this year I asked myself that question. And I have answered it. That alone has changed the way I approach my photography. It has added to the subject matters I shoot, it has given me direction where I had no direction before. It has simply put me on a path and allowed me to set goals that I knew I needed but didn’t know what they should be. I could say this has been the closes thing to a magic bullet I have found.
Now starts the work part. That of being better than the other guy, the working 10% harder than the hardest working person I know. The doing things because I know I should even if I don’t want to. And always paying close attention to who “needs” my photography.
Many people say when you turn your passion and your love of a craft into a business the fun is gone, now it’s a business. I can only believe that if a business is not what you want. If you want the enjoyment and love of the craft only then don’t try to make it a business, and that’s perfectly fine for some if not most. If you want financial success from your craft then accept the consequences and go for it full steam. I believe most people who consider themselves photographers fall somewhere in the middle. I hear them say they want the financial success but aren’t willing to do the things they don’t want to do to make it a success.
There was a post some time back on a photography forum entitled “Rich Man”. The photographer eloquently described the personal joys they have obtained over the years from their photography. I read it and couldn’t have agreed more. Some of us are content to be in that place. Some have a desire to obtain more. This desire is not something you just wake up with one day and say, I think I will now have a desire to be financially successful with my photography. It was either there from the beginning or it wasn’t. Chose the success and the magic bullet you want, only then will you see the road that leads you there. Then the work will begin and the magic bullet will once again be hidden in hard work, long days, less sleep and yes mistakes. But always the desire to be successful.