I’ve been busy…..but here is a must see video series with Selina Maitreya. If you need help defining your vision and applying it to your portfolio and website you need to view these videos over and over again. Selina is a tremendous talent and graciously agreed to the video series. Don’t let them go to waste.

Pursuing your own unique vision and style is hard. It’s really hard. It’s hard for these reasons:

You have to look deep within yourself
You have to figure out who you are, what you believe
You have to humble yourself
You have to figure out what you love about life
You have to work really really hard

It is so much easier to sit back and do what others are doing. To follow instead of lead.
It is essential to study photographers of the past and present. It’s integral that you know what’s been done and what is currently being done. But that should be the extent of it.

Todd Henry over at accidental creative says:
“Cover bands don’t change the world, you have to find your own unique voice.”

You should develop your own unique vision and style if you plan on surviving over the next 20 years. You should always be learning and your work will and should evolve over time. Developing a unique style is not an option any more, if you want to thrive it’s a must. I don’t care if you shoot weddings, editorial, fashion, advertising, documentary or fine art; it’s a must.

thoughts on stock

01.31.2008

There’s been a lot of concern lately regarding stock. It seems agencies and clients are using stock more and more. I’ve received emails and have had a few conversations about it.

Here are my thoughts-
Everything evolves; everything changes constantly. So should your work, your business plan and your marketing ideas. If you aren’t flexible you’ll be left behind. It’s a simple as that.

Who will be affected? All of the low-end photographers and mid range photographers. Why? Because these types of photographers are a commodity. They typically lack vision and style. For the most part, they are hired strictly to do what they’re told and to push the shutter. In essence, they’re custom stock photographers for hire (send the hate mail to ed at edshoots dot com).

High-end photographers, for the most part, will be safe. Sure, some will take hits here and there but overall there is and will continue to be regular high-end work. Why? Because these photographers are not just button pushers. They have a strong sense of vision and style. In addition they are hired for their ideas and creativity. They are an extremely valuable part of the project.

Ideas and creativity. These two words will set you apart from everyone else in the world. If your photography is truly based on your own ideas and creativity, no one else in the world will be doing what you’re doing. Sure there will be variations with post process and subject matter. But in the end your work will look like you and because of that there’s only one person in the world clients will call (assuming you’ve marketed yourself well).

In order to make it in the future you need to be doing your own thing. You need to be hired for your ideas and your creativity.

— Your work and your brand have to scream it. —

Lots of questions coming in from people about vision and style.

Very few photographers know where to start. Here’s the million dollar secret, are you ready? —-And it’s free—-

It all starts with your vision; your own unique way of seeing things. It takes a while to develop; it takes work, lots of it.

Where does your vision come from? It comes from your passion in life.
What do you love?
What do you like to do?
What type of people do you hang out with?

It all begins here.

After you figure out your passion you need to apply it to your personal vision. Your personal vision is your way of seeing things; type of subjects, camera position, lighting, post process and colors used. They all need to work together and flow from image to image.

Here are some photographers whose work I feel has a definitive vision and style:

Aaron Ruell
David Bowman
Julian Wolkenstein
Dana Neibert
William Huber
Henry Blackham
Edlo Kawa

A must read on this topic is Selina Maitreya’s book Portfolios That Sell. In the book she gives you tips and steps toward finding your own unique vision and style.

Better yet- Hire her. She’s a phenomenal talent and a wonderful person to work with. She’ll help get you to the level you want to be at.

A great quote I found over at AVS that kind of sums it up nicely:

“Here’s the dilemma and the strength of photography. It’s the easiest medium in which to be competent. But, it’s the hardest medium in which to have personal vision that is readily identifiable.” – Chuck Close

If you missed the first part you can read it here.

Marketing skills– Another must. You shouldn’t rely on others for your marketing. (although you should consult with others for ideas) It is your business your vision. Know the market, know what others are doing and do something different! Hint: You can learn more about marketing by reading books for free at Borders or Barnes & Noble. Take notes read as much as possible. Explore all ideas, because you never know when your stupid idea will have a big impact on your business.

Brand– Do you have an easily identifiable brand that compliments your work? Does your brand speak from the images? Your website, printed portfolio, business cards, letterhead etc should all work together to promote your vision. Are all of your touch points working together? If not, hire a professional designer. Talk to many, find the one with the right fit for you and your goals. They are not cheap. But well worth it as a long-term investment.

Sales– You have to sell your work. EVEN IF YOU HAVE A REP! Here’s the kicker:
The majority of photographers couldn’t sell a toothpick to a trucker in a roadside diner. Here’s your chance to really really stand out.

Approachability– People need to be comfortable talking to you, calling you up on the phone or sending an email. You need to be friendly, smile and be polite. Talk about them not about you. When they want to know about you they will ask. Have you ever met someone who is extremely approachable? How did you feel talking with them. Practice it, copy it, be it. You will be happier and handsomely rewarded.

So tell me this:
When are you going to start working on improving your whole package? (you can always improve)

It’s my experience that if you want to succeed in any type of business you need to be the whole package.  The business of photography is no different.  I’m not saying that you can’t succeed if you don’t have or offer the whole package; what I am saying is that your chances of succeeding are far greater if you do sport the whole package.  And in today’s market you need every little edge you can get.

So what should be in your package?

Talent– There’s no question you’ve got to show that you are talented.  You know your gear, you know lighting and composition like the back of your hand.  There is no questioning your skill level.

Passion
– In my opinion this is the most important thing in your package.  Clients can feel it.  If you don’t have it they won’t want to work with you.  Most clients would rather work with someone who has a driving passion over someone who doesn’t even if the person without passion has more talent.  It’s true.  If you’re not passionate about your work, find work that you are passionate about.

Vision–  How well do you articulate your talent and passion through your images. It has to be there.  Find it.  If you need help find a good consultant.

So tell me this:
What needs to be in your package?