Is professional photography dying out?

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Discussions thread
Photozopia
Senior MemberPosts: 1,302
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Re: Sustained effort and talent
In reply to deleted080512, Mar 28, 2013

It's been a fact of life that since cameras became commonplace, any real market for commercial photography has shrunk year upon year. With the recent introduction of the ubiquitous camera-phone everyone now thinks they are a photographer.

In the Victorian period, photographers were gods/magicians with a magic box ... customers saved hard and sought portraits shots of any important life event ... but then came Kodak.

In Marxist terms, Eastman Kodak 'gave away' the means of production to the masses .... and it's been a slippery slope ever since. Money making photography just became harder and harder ... and it was never easy in the first place. Most money is still in wedding packages (yes - people still get married - regularly) and in local events/school portrait photography.

Sadly - these are both overcrowded markets, with many experienced practitioners as competitors.

If you are really determined, forget the 'marketing' hype. I've never heard anyone say "Oooh, need a photographer - let's look on Facebook" nor rely upon Yellow Pages to find a sh*t-hot creative talent.

Many years ago, I ran a creative graphics company with a partner who - on my return from a client pitch - said he'd talked to a sales rep. offering great advertising rates if we took out 'X' deal in Yellow Pages ... I asked him how much of our work came from this avenue. Answer - NONE.

Our work came from direct personal referral, or enquiries about our published work ... we got a huge load of work directly from/via our printer, who passed on our details, in answer to questions like:

"Who did this project ... ?"

"Who does your pre-press graphics and photography work ... ?"

"Do you know anyone who could do a project like this .... ?"

And so on ...

You seem to be looking only for customers to commission work ... rather than putting your work (or yourself) out in the public arena to attract customers - particularly by word of mouth.

Ever done any of this stuff?

Attend an event - any event - organised by a society/club etc. and just taken good photos, print them up, and ask to display them (with business cards etc) and get orders from attendees.

Offered to cover the local team fixtures and again, print/display - again take orders.

Shoot the local school pantomime/nativity/yearly recital/sports day/graduation and ... as above.

Print suitable images big and quality mounted - exhibit in libraries, social centres, galleries/art centres, craft fairs or exhibitions, trade shows etc.

Do the same trick via the internet - target markets with taster images - that appeal to specific genres and link to images (and sales) within your own online gallery.

There is a certain vanity in someone wanting images (particularly one of themselves) that already exist. Easier than getting someone interested (speculatively) in the notion of one they commissioned and is 'delivered'.

I bet 99% of my new customers said much the same thing ... "I'd like some shots like the ones you did for ... (insert name here) ... i.e. the ones they'd already seen for someone else!

Show people images they will want to buy - not simply look for people you might be able to make pictures for.

Get KNOWN as a photographer - not simply advertise yourself as one.

It's how I started. But beware - no matter how good you are, you aint likely to get rich!

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