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- You’ll need the right camera gear…
Is it possible to capture beautiful images with ultra-affordable, pocket-size point-and-shoot digital cameras? Of course…the almighty internet is flooded with them. Chances are, most 6 year olds can do it without any supervision from mom or dad.
But if you want to capture beautiful, ultra-marketable imagery, be taken seriously by the global photo buyer network and prove to potential clients that you are serious about your trade — as a professional — then it’s time to invest a pretty penny in top-notch camera equipment.
If you don’t or you can’t, then don’t tell everyone you’re a ‘pro,’ because no matter how talented you are, your gear will define not only tangible capabilities but intangible reputability amongst peers, pros and potential clients.
I’m the first guy to tell you image isn’t everything, but if you show up at a gig with shit-gear, your finished product will likely wind up looking like shit and your client with think you’re full of shit. Should I emphasize my point any further with more usages of ‘shit?’ OK, let’s move on.
- …a trained, creative eye…
Possessing aesthetic artistic attributes definitely contributes to being a successful photographer, but it’ll take more than creativity to turn your passion into a profession.
Although it can be argued that “a creative eye” is something you are born with, the reality is that “a creative eye” is as much about education & repetition as it is about genetic coding.
Literally training your “eye” through formal photo education classes and continually experimenting by getting to know the world through your camera eye-piece will help translate your hereditary propensity toward the aesthetic into cold hard cash.
Yeah…I suppose you could interpret “heart” to mean deep-rooted passion for photography (which inherently pulls most of us toward the aesthetic side of the art-form), but what I’m really referring to is fortitude.
Undoubtedly, this goes for all walks of life in terms of enduring hardship to achieve your goals. But it’ll take an exponential amount of courage, patience and belief in yourself before you can start getting a consistent base of clients to believe in you.Truth is, you’ve got to be prepared to hear ‘NO’ more times than a potty-training puppy, but you’ve got to learn to be persistent and never take ‘no’ for an answer.
- …both sides of your brain…
Scientists continue to study the human thought process but have more-or-less determined that each hemisphere of our brain controls how information is processed differently. The left side is said to process info in a linear fashion — making the left brain our organizational ally. The right brain supposedly processes info holistically — more attributable to creativity.
Obviously I’m not a scientist in the true sense of the word (although photography is quite scientific in nature once you study theoretical principles of technique, image processing, etc.), but if you solely rely on your right brain, you’ll find yourself lost in an endless sea of left-brained administrative, marketing, networking and other core business-related responsibilities required for successful (and sustainable) photo business ownership.
You’ll have to learn to approach your assignments, contracts and projects as a right-brained artist when behind the lens, but tackle everything else that goes into actually securing assignments, projects and contracts — and getting paid fairly for it — as a left-brained business person.
- …and relentless energy.
If you think a cool website, snazzy blog and a million photos floating around online peer sharing sites is going to lead you to the promised land, good luck with that one. Without a doubt, modern photographer marketing strategies must include an appealing online presence, but if you haven’t noticed, life still exists away from cyber-space.
The majority of your success will come from the personal connections you make through relentless networking and self-promotional marketing activities, which includes the word-of-mouth referrals trickling down from clients and peers.
You’re definitely going to be rejected a few times, possibly laughed at, maybe dumped by boyfriends/girlfriends for being broke, surely patronized as a lost-soul without direction because you refuse to fit into the 9-5 grind, unquestionably ripped off at some point and above all else, you’ll likely struggle with bouts of self-doubt because it’s damn tough to make it as a photographer.
But if you bust your ass, believe in your dreams and balance creativity with business smarts, there’s no reason to believe you can’t be the one who’s booked two years in advance, has a house on the hill and can tell anyone unwilling to pay fair market value for your work ‘thanks but no thanks.’
- It’s all good.