Artist or Marketer – You decide

workshops_photographyThe portrait photography business is interesting in today’s world.  In comparison, 20 years ago, you were a custom photographer, an artist, and you produced one of a kind EXPENSIVE images.  There were very few of you, so your customers were coming to you for a special treat.  This was when custom photography was truly a luxury.  All other portrait needs were met by candid snapshots and chain studios (for the most part).

Nowadays, because everyone is a photographer and photography is now a commodity, there is a different element going on.  Many new photographers are coming in, and they want to be *big*… they want to have clients seeking them out.   This is good – some of these new photographers are amazing artists.

But there is a key to success that must be considered.

Marketing.

I will be honest, I am not a marketer.  I’m an artist and I feel that as an artist, my work will speak for itself.  If the public wants my work, they will contract me.  I have that luxury at this point in my life to not be “hungry” for work.  I’m pursuing another career – I’m an accountant by day as I finish my degrees – hoping to eventually become an actuary.  This allows me leverage to keep going as I go… I make the art that I’m paid to make when I’m contracted to make it.  I like being in that position.  That’s just to disclaimer my personal situation.

However, prior to getting myself into this position, I would have had to…..

Market.

underwater-photographyI never marketed.  I never needed to.  Up until the past few years, there was never a need… it became a need for everyone when the market became oversaturated.

I’ve watched many  photographers immediately lower their price when they aren’t getting enough clients when what they really should focus on is…

Marketing.

My advice?  Before you lower your prices, do a true marketing campaign.  This will require spending money and time (think at least 20 hours per week), marketing.  Be honest with yourself, are you REALLY marketing or are you just putting your pictures on social media and hoping for the best?

Have you ever noticed some of the photography rockstars have work that is “meh…”?  It’s because they are not artists, they are incredible marketers.  The ones who are truly making bank are the artists who are also brilliant marketers.

If you haven’t read the New York Times article on Peter Lik – check it out here, and consider what I am saying.  The man is a brilliant marketer.  He has used questionable….possibly dishonest…. techniques in order to over-inflate the value of his work.   You can learn a lot about how the commercialized world works if you dissect his tactics.

I’ve seen Lik’s work in person at one of my clients’ houses.  The images were nice, but they didn’t knock my socks off.  They were pretty pictures framed and displayed beautifully – great decorative focal pieces.  However, any decent photographer (yes, even you too, newbies – never put yourself beneath anyone – you need to place value on your talented selves!!!) can take great pictures of gorgeous natural settings (nature?  It’s a no-brainer – God – or whatever you believe – did the difficult work, you are just recording it), and combine loads of these images together to create a stunning gallery presentation that can wow the average person.  I can’t say his technique blows my mind, but his marketing skills do.

What is the key to success, my friends?

Marketing.