This post is Day 4 of 30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography. This series seeks to provide you with practical steps to get you from wherever you are today, to exactly where you want to be – this year! If your goal has always been to take your photography to a whole new level, hang on and start enjoying a new lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.
Do you read a lot? I do. In fact if you came to my house, you would find a stack of books practically everywhere. I have books all over my desk, in my family room, and stacked by the side of my bed. I’m also starting to amass quite a collection on my iPad. While I do end up buying a lot of books, I also check out the majority of them from my local library. Then when I find really good one’s that I want to refer to again and again, I purchase them.
Over the holiday’s I reread my copy of Tim Ferriss’s The Four Hour Work Week, and I also picked up a copy of another book, Chris Guillebeau’s The Art Of Non-Conformity. I highly recommend both.
They aren’t photography related. And to a certain extent they aren’t business related. They are life related, and allow you to look at life through a different vision.
Have you ever thought about working only 4 hours a week? Do you even think that’s possible? What about traveling – do you think its possible to travel 12 months of the year without having a million dollars in the bank? If you read these two books, you’ll quickly see how all of this is possible, and even more.
What I enjoy about both of these writers is their viewpoint of the world. They don’t accept things as normal. When things appear “normal”, its time to escape and do something completely unexpected.
And that’s really where we are with the photography industry right now.
Photo History 101
Portrait photography began back in the mid to late 1800’s. In order to create a portrait, a photographer honed in on many skills, including lighting, posing, and learning about the camera itself. Because the results could not be viewed until the film was processed, a photographer would concentrate on getting the setup perfect before capturing the image. This process went unchanged for more than 100 years, and allowed a photographer to showcase his knowledge by the way he captured the image, and through his knowledge of darkroom production.
Then technology rolled around. Computers were born. Digital cameras became a common household item. And the industry changed. And photographers were left to wonder what to do and how to proceed.
The Only Sure Thing
Another great book to read is Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson. In this book you’ll quickly learn that the only sure thing in life is change. You can accept change and move forward. Or you can ignore change, and wait for things to return to normal, to what you’ve always had.
As you can imagine, the latter will never happen. No matter how long you wait, we’ll never return to the way things were. It will continue to move forward and change from now until the end of time. That’s just the way it is.
So the only way to deal with the new photographic industry is to accept that things have changed, and change with it.
“It isn’t enough to think outside the box. Thinking is passive. Get used to acting outside the box.” Tim Ferriss
Throughout this blog, I provide examples of people that are changing the status quo; they are moving forward into a wide open space, and becoming very successful with their photography. People like Mick Buston, Abby Harenberg, Christina Morassi, Lauren Victoria Burke, and Karma Hill.
Instead of doing what they’ve always done – do traditional portraits, present traditional portraits, lower the price to keep up with the new competition, and hand everything over in CD format because everyone does it – they are bucking the trends and trying things from a new approach.
They still photograph and make money at it. Their approach is different, and that makes all the difference in the world.
Let me give you another example. Ever heard of The Pioneer Woman? If not, you really have to check out her blog. She started the blog out of her love of writing. She was a city girl turned country, married a farm boy, and is home schooling her kids. And making a ton of money with her blog. She has turned it into a specialty site for people looking for insight on cooking, home schooling, photography, and the occasional escape from the every day. She’s done such a good job with it she’s written books and appeared on major television shows. She’s truly made a name for herself. And her photography is incredible. I’ve tried many of her recipes simply because the photography makes it look scrumptious!
Would you call her a photographer? I would – check out those images. There are very few blogs that can compete with her. And she’s using her photography to move outside of the traditional photography industry. She’s using new ideas, new technology, and her love and passion to create an exciting new business that is definitely a forced to be reckoned with. And one that will continue making money for her well into the future.
I Want To Be A Photographer, Now What?
So you really want to turn your love of photography into a full time career? Not sure what to do next? How about thinking outside the box.
If you want to jump into fine art photography, maybe traditional galleries aren’t your best bet. Maybe you need to create your own site, your own style, and take it all the way to the bank. I showcased Words From The Sea a few weeks back – they are a perfect example of how to create an out of the box fine art photography business.
The possibilities are endless. But you do need some guidelines to get started.
1. Time is a factor. While you don’t want to jump into anything, waiting for years can be a killer too. Give yourself six months and plan your source of action. Take your love, your passion, and turn it into something new and different.
2. Don’t do things the way everyone else does. If you can find five perfect examples of photographers you want to emulate, and they’ve been doing it this way for years, back up and try again. If it’s existed for years, there must be a better approach. Find a model that’s leading the way into the future, and is doing things in an entirely new approach – using today’s hottest tools.
3. Don’t buck the trends. You can’t go back to the way things used to be. How can you move forward with technology, and give them a new and fresh approach?
4. Educate. People expect things on CD because that’s what the industry has told them they need, not because that’s what they want. Educate them on why your way is better.
5. Try it, test it, turn it around. If you have an idea, run with it. Test it and see if others like it too. Ask them how they would change it, what they like about it, and what they dislike about it. They turn it around and try it some more. You’ll eventually hit on the perfect plan, and run it all the way to the top.