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Taking Risks in Your Photography: Talk by Heather Morton

May 27th, 2011 No comments

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.

7. D.I.Y.

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.

8. Collaborate

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.

Related Links

Here’s the liveblogged event by CAPIC Vancouver.

Daphne Chan Photography post about the event.

Recap and opinions by Kamil Bialous photography.

Book Review: The Linked Photographers’ Guide

March 24th, 2011 1 comment

The Linked Photographers’ Guide to Online Marketing and Social Media

Authors: Lindsay Adler and Rosh Sillars

Marketing for photographers has changed dramatically in the last few years. The changes are being driven by better and cheaper digital cameras leading to increased competition amongst photographers. In addition, traditional marketing and advertising is being replaced by the internet. The Linked Photographers’ Guide shows how to use online marketing and social media to find clients – of fundamental importance for a successful business!

The Linked Photographers’ Guide is a great reference for photographers who are looking to improve their Internet marketing. It covers the basics of personal branding, setting up a web site and blog, getting more traffic with search engine optimization, and monitoring the traffic using analytics. There’s also a chapter on how to use Google Adwords.

Each of the major social networking sites of importance for photographers are covered in separate chapters. These include Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. The book includes many case studies showing how some of today’s successful photographers use social media, with their individual tips and suggestions.

The final chapter covers many more tools and services available to help facilitate social networking, such as some of lesser know social networking sites, URL shorteners, RSS feed readers, social bookmarking sites and much more.

The book is ideal for photographers who are new to social media, but is full of tips and information that would be useful for the more experienced as well. As the authors remind us, some of the details will no doubt become out of date as the existing sites evolve and new ones gain popularity. However, the principles will remain sound and this book is a great way for photographers to get up to speed in the rapidly growing world of social media.

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