Every month I get hundreds of promos and emails from photographers who have this business nailed down tight. It used to be really easy to spot the bad photographers with their lame promos and weak portfolios filled with blah subjects horribly lit in god-awful locations. Now, I get slick vibrant promos, leather bound portfolios brimming with beautiful prints, websites loaded with perfectly lit photographs of interesting looking people (celebrities even) in fascinating locations. On top of that; the pleasant and personal follow-up phone calls, thank-you cards, Christmas cards, prompt returning of emails and phone calls and a smart peppy studio manager on call 24/7 to handle any request.
Problem is, I can’t recall a single one of them, they all look the same to me. Perfectly executed photographs that make me want to take a nap.
In the digital age where taking a picture requires very little effort and all the professional secrets are laid bare any advantage photographers had from marketing and execution is now evaporating before us.
Professionalism will get you far in this business and even quite profitable but talent always trumps everything. You’re either born with it or you work very hard for many years to develop it. There will never be a shortcut.
I still call the photographer who dropped a memory card off a cliff (only half the shoot) and the one who sent me receipts from Russia stuffed in an envelope with no explanation (it’s very difficult to tell a dinner receipt from a midnight massage) and the one who doesn’t have a website (to busy shooting conflict) and the one who doesn’t return my calls for weeks on end (don’t think he likes me or my magazine much) because when I send them out on assignment they bring back images I could never have imagined.
Sometimes photographers take an “I could have done that” attitude when it comes to talent in this industry, but honestly, you can’t.