On May 26, 2011, Vancouver CAPIC (The Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators) sponsored a presentation by Heather Morton on taking risks to adapt to the changing and competitive photography market. Heather also included video clips from Selina Maitreya, Heather Elder and Miki Johnson, further expanding on the theme of risk taking.
The presentation was followed by a panel Q&A with Eric Arnold of Dare Vancouver and Nora Ahern of Village and Co., both from advertising agencies in Vancouver.
As an emerging photographer, I was very interested in Heather’s talk! After 3 years of study, I recently completed the courses for the Photography Certificate at Langara College, and I’m now working on developing my style and vision. I’ve been shooting and getting as much experience as possible, developing my portfolio and embracing social media by blogging and using Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Flickr. Most of the Q&A panel discussion was on the use of social media, which is becoming a key part of photographers’ marketing efforts.
The Nine Areas of Risk
1. Be a visionary
Heather started with a quote from photographer Chase Jarvis: “Take the pictures that no one else can take.” The first step in successful marketing is to have a unique vision. A couple good examples of visionary photographers are Andrew B. Meyers and Chris Buck. According to Selina Maitreya in a video clip, the photography market is increasingly becoming divided into low-end and high-end markets, with the high-end being defined by photographers with a singular vision.
What does “vision” encompass and how does a photographer develop their vision? Heather’s advice is to tell the story of you as a photographer. Vision needs time to develop. Take the risk of following your vision rather than following the latest trends.
2. Always be promoting
E-mail blasts and print promos are hard to get through these days. The volumes are too high for busy creatives to spend time on, and company spam filters stop a lot of e-mail. Printed portfolios are rarely called in anymore. So what can a photographer do? Some are taking risks with promos that are highly targeted and creative. A great promo will get attention and may result in a tweet, blog post or shout out. Effective use of social media is an important part of the strategy. Promos should reinforce your vision about who you are as a photographer. Heather Elder said in a video clip that blogging and telling the story are very effective promotional tools. Also, face-to-face meetings with potential clients are still highly effective.
Miki Johnson explained via video clip the importance of a blog to give a personal face to your work.
3. Expand your horizons
Diversify yourself beyond your traditional offerings. Travel to new locations and open up to new opportunities such as social media and video. As Heather Elder said, photographers should see themselves as directors, content providers, application designers, and visual image makers. Some photographers are marketing to other photographers, for example David Hobby (Strobist) and David duChemin (Pixelated Image), who teach seminars, sell books and have popular blogs in addition to selling their photography.
4. Experiment & get smarter
Try new things, such as iPhoneography and video. Keep learning. Try different genres of photography. Experiment and practice until you have it down.
5. Get in over your head
Push yourself and don’t be afraid to go in new directions. Trust yourself and get out of your comfort zone. It helps if you can share the risk with the client! Selina Maitreya’s advice was not to work from fear. Stop chasing trends.
6. Reconsider money
Sometimes you may have a great creative opportunity that is worth doing for awards and recognition, not just the fee. Look at your quotes and see where you can trim excess to help meet the client’s budget.
If the job comes in, say yes and figure it out! Scout locations yourself, test out everything and get your hands on all aspects of the shoot.
Pool your resources and expertise with other photographers, videographers, animators and web developers. Collaborate with clients. Take a risk to be open and share your ideas, suggest treatments in your quotes. Overdeliver.
9. Shoot every day
Stay passionate about photography by shooting every day. Interact and engage the world with your camera. Be curious.
Q&A and Panel Discussion
The major theme of the Q&A session was about the increasing importance of social media. It takes a significant amount of time and the results may come slowly, but it is necessary to use the various social media sites as they are channels to promote your work and vision. Here is a summary of the Q&A session.
Here’s the liveblogged event by CAPIC Vancouver.
Daphne Chan Photography post about the event.
Recap and opinions by Kamil Bialous photography.