PhotoExpo 2010

- - Events

I have a several interesting posts coming from the show floor, seminars I was involved in and the portfolio reviews. In the meantime there’s some good stuff up on Stella Kramer’s blog stellazine as she and several others were reporting live from the event.

I found this note posted by Allegra Wilde on her facebook page quite good as I’m sure it’s advice she was handing out at the portfolio reviews:

“Yeah, But I Have To Make Money….”

(And other ways to ignore the reason you became a professional photographer)

When you are in the business of selling something subjective like photography, there is no standard formula which will tell you who is going to connect with what you do, any more than it is possible to predict who is likely to fall in love with you.

Following what’s hot right now; doing what you have been seeing out there already – imitating the same content, styles, or processes as everybody else is going to be futile in the end.

If you make and show images with the intention of speaking the language of potential clients (and that is what most people do)…you will just end up looking like most people.  You will wind up moving away from yourself.

“Yeah but I have to make money”.

And you may, for a while. However, your career will ultimately suffer.

And so will your heart.

The answer: Make work that is made entirely of… You.

Your life, and your passions.

The things that no one else can appropriate.

If you do that, (and get past your fears about whether it will work), you will have less, or even no competition.  And that is always safer and more profitable than being part of the crowd.

The strongest part of you, is the honest you, and that remains true regardless of the economy, technology, or the weather report.

The connection between a photographer and a person who is in a position to hire them and collaborate with them, begins with chemistry.  And chemistry begins with honesty.

But that is not the whole story.

You will never have a career being the best-kept secret in photography.

The formula for success? It starts here:

Show yourself in your images, and stand by them no matter what. Show your work to people who can hire you.  All of them. EVERYWHERE. Mass market and send your photographs far and wide.

Those who see your pictures and are moved by them will understand you. Will want to be around you.  Work with you.

Isn’t that your ultimate goal?  Isn’t that why you chose this career in the first place?

Allegra Wilde
Portfolio Reviews, Marketing Consultation + Visual Strategies for Photographers, Agents, and the rest of the Professional Photography Community

There Are 18 Comments On This Article.

  1. So great to read this with my coffee after just getting back from NYC to the west coast. My book went through a big change this past year as I really focused on what I want to be doing in coming years and created images of how I see things. The challenge I see is how to keep that visual thread intact- what I love to do – and marketing it far and wide as you say while still keeping a market channel for the cash-flow gigs, the editorial portraiture, the local small shoots that pay the bills until a tipping point. Thanks Allegra. (and Rob for posting this here – great to see you btw)

  2. What a wonderful post, so glad you shared Allegra’s outlook and frame of mind with everyone. I know several people in a number of freelance industries who can benefit from having a more positive and long term outlook, like Allegra’s.

  3. Well said Allegra. It’s probably the most simple info out there but yet it’s the best advice around. Everyone knows this but it’s nice to be reminded once in a while to keep you focused. Thanks for posting this Rob.

  4. Allegra,
    Thank you and i’ m telling you this from a very different region of the world.
    i completely agree with you, GO TOWARDS THE ESSENTIAL.create your own system,and make the pictures that you want to do.
    ah and 2 years and more that i’ m following a photo editor,and this the first time that i comment. A big thank you to you too Rob, for all of your passion and work.
    Shezshe.

  5. Great post.

    It reminds me of Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet”

    Being able to bring forth your own vision and passion is the gift we give – it just takes the form of a photograph. People line up for the vision and passion, not the photograph.

  6. I think the toughest battle I have ever faced is just being who I am and allowing it to show in my work. I would encourage those who are young in the business to not sell out to popularity.

    Allegra is 100% correct that you will suffer in the long run, it is an experience I wish I didn’t have to experience. Be true to yourself in all things. It also pays to be unabashedly forward in promoting your work.

  7. I have to disagree 100% with Allegra on this. She is very wrong. In an ideal world photographers would be able to wake up each day and take photos ONLY of what they want to take photos of. But let’s face it, if we don’t make money from being a photographer how are we going to pay for our equipment, a place to live and food to eat. I think it’s great how the people that hire photographers or give photographers advice tell them to stop thinking about making money. I want to see a photo editor or an art buyer start their own magazine and publish only the photos they truly love. Let’s see how successful that is.

    • @Michael S.,

      I don’t think this means just putting whatever unmarketable work you want in your book. You can still show work that is true to your basic beliefs and creative instincts and make it marketable. I think that is what she is saying.