What They Don’t Teach You in Photography School
What they DON”T teach you in photography school is how to become a successful photographer. Technique is only a small percentage of what it takes to succeed today. A book I read a few years ago and about 12 times since, “The Magic of Thinking Big” said that “Success is 2% mechanics and 98% attitude.
As an Ohio sports photographer who has been having good success in the Cincinnati Photographers market, I get asked quite a bit by the guys at the local camera store where I do business, “How do you keep getting so many cool jobs?”
First of all, let me say, that with the exception of sports photography, that I know that there are better photographers than me.There are better much, much better Photoshop specialists than me and there are also those who have more expensive gear, fancy studios, slick websites and even those that belong to “professional membership, dues paying clubs”
However, with all of that said, there are not a lot of photographers getting paid or at least paid what they’re worth.
Part of that is naturally due to the supply and demand of today.
Demand is down because of the economy.
Supply is off the charts because everyone that has a digital camera now is a “photographer”. You also have the large number of people that give away everything and collectively drive the market down.
I know of one such company that will shoot an entire year of high school football action and sell a DVD of a gazillion images, 20% of which are quality action shots and 80% garbage pics lumped in together, for $40.00. In a desire to be “liked” in their community they not only devalue the quality of service of a professional photographer, but in the long run, devalue themselves.
In today’s world, marketing and networking is everything. A young photographer has to know how to self promote, network and make connections, along with providing outstanding customer service that goes above and beyond a 10% discount.
I recommend every photographer pick up a copy of Jeffery Gitomer’s book, “Customer Satisfaction is WORTHLESS, Customer Loyalty is Priceless.
It seems to me that the one thing that many aspiring young photographers lack is self promoting skills, people skills, self image and confidence and the ability to create a brand.
Another pet peeve of mine is appearance. If you’re on the sidelines and you look like a bum or if you show up to a consultation looking like a slob, you don’t inspire confidence. You should treat every interaction like a professional job interview, because as a photographer, every job is an audition…for your next one.
Most of the photographers (Not all of course) in Cincinnati, that I meet, are either social wall flowers, arrogant and lacking people skills and have no real world business sales experience.
When young or struggling photographers ask me for advice, I recommend books such as , “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, “Think and Grow Rich”, any Jeffery Gitomer book and a series of other sales experts.
At the end of the day, no matter how good you are with PS5 or HDR techniques, it all comes down to personal marketing and personal branding.
When I began shooting sports photography a few years ago, I’ll admit, I gave away a lot of 4 x 6 glossy action photos, to get my name out and introduce my brand to people.
The second year, I set up a site through SmugMug and started selling the pictures at the minimum prices to continue to establish my brand.
The 3rd year, I doubled the price of everything and the 4th year I doubled again.
Now that my brand and style are established, and making decent money and getting a lot of calls for family photos, senior portraits and team photos.
I have also read a half a dozen books on social media marketing, SEO, Search Engine Optimization and hundreds of books on sales and business leadership skills.
It’s not enough to have a nice camera a couple of lenses and friends and family telling you that you are great. You have to earn the respect of your profession with diligence, ethics and talent along with dynamic people skills.
On a closing note for all young photographers coming out of school and hitting the streets; Your generation, while the most technically connected generation in history, is the most socially disconnected generation in history as well. If you want to succeed in any business, there is a wide open market for the young professionals that master the art of interpersonal interaction. You know, weird stuff, like eye contact, hand shakes, verbal communication and the art of making people feel better after they leave you than they did before they got with you.
The average social weakling believes that they will be able to Twitter, Facebook, Text and email their way to success. That mentality is creating a void in our society, that if you learn how to differentiate yourselves in this new so called “connected” world you will raise your value in it as well…and that when you start getting PAID!
In sports photography, people pay me what they pay me, because I can do what other cant, in a way that other don’t. And for now that remains my secret.
Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography, Monroe Ohio.
Posted by Monroe Ohio photographer Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography and Dayton Sports Photography of Monroe Ohio. Vince Rush can be contacted by phone at (877) 858-6295 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://CincinnatiSportsPhotography.com