Tips for Being a Photography Original – My Response

GreenDoors, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The other day, Nevada Wier tweeted this link about “being a photography original.” Since I’m a big fan of her work, I decided to follow the tweet-link and read the article. Nevada did say that she did not agree with all of it, and specifically pointed to some items she did not agree with, but I thought it was interesting enough to post a response.

The article says to “shoot commission work not stock” and I guess that’s good advice if you want to make more money. It’s getting harder and harder to shoot stock and make a living these days, and I’m probably not the best person to comment on the status of all things stock as I never was a big player in that market anyway.

Number two is “don’t sell yourself short” and this is a sentiment I can totally agree with. I’ve seen too many up and coming photographers try to make a quick buck by selling stuff to microstock (pennies on the dollar) that they could have made more money on, if only they had waited. So, IMHO, that’s good advice there.

“Show emotion and don’t offend,” yes, these are good things to do too so, again, I would tend to agree.

“Think scarcity not volume,” again, here, this is very true. One of the downsides of the new “social media” explosion is that there’s now a lot of pressure for photographers to constantly “put out” work. We aren’t factories and we’re not robots, so please don’t expect us to act like ones.

“Don’t copy the work of others.” Oh, this is a big one. The author says that you should search and see “if it’s been done before” and, if it has, don’t do it. Move on. That’s big advice that a lot of people don’t follow there.

“Don’t go to workshops for ideas,” Here’s where we tend to disagree. The author says to “be a loner” and that’s good advice, but some workshops can be quite good for photographic development. I don’t think they are all bad, nor do I believe they sort of “force” photographers into turning out formulaic work, though they can attract photographers who do resort to the old cliches. It just depends upon the workshop, the experience, and what you put into it, I guess.

“Don’t share or post your techniques” and “Don’t ask for the opinions of other photographers.” Here is another one I tend to disagree with. Sure, you can show your cards a bit too much (and sometimes, I will admit, I do) but the opinion of a valued photographer can be golden. Notice I said valued. Yes, it’s true. Getting a bunch of “cool shot, dude!” comments on Flickr is not valued. Getting feedback from another working photographer, one who knows my work, understands the directions I’m going, and the markets I’m trying to reach, and doesn’t copy me, is like cash in the bank. I do have these people in my network, and I value their opinions, sometimes even more than my own. But, you have to work to build these types of relationships up-most of the photographers who give me this kind of feedback I’ve known for years and I’ve worked closely with time and time again. I would also give them the same type of feedback.

I really like what the author says about getting a smart phone to check your email. I do think there are a lot of photographers today (myself included!) who are spending too much time on the Internet and not enough time on the images. It’s a slippery slope-especially since I love the Internet for looking at images-I love getting to see and share tons of work, most of it I would never otherwise get to see, but it can be a bit of a time drain and drag me away from making my own work. It’s a fine line and I think that, nowadays especially, we have to learn how to walk it if we want to be successful. The Internet is here to stay, it’s the new marketing tool, for better or worse, and so, like any other tool, those who learn to work it to their advantage will enjoy a competitive spot in the marketplace.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the read.

Until next time…

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