It seems we have finally arrived in 2012. Last year was a painfully long year for me. I was going to play catch up and post separate posts for all the months I missed. But in all honesty, I’m exhausted. I’ve been that way for a while. So I’m just going to tackle it little by little until everything is up to speed. If there’s one thing I’ve had to learn to deal with, it’s learning to take things on little by little. The progress I’ve made didn’t happen overnight, or in a week, or even a single month. These things take time. Since the workshops I attended in California over the summer, I have begun to successfully sell my fine art photography to individuals as well as businesses. I’ve also become more active in shoots.
I’ve also been spending countless hours self-training on new techniques. I’m putting a lot of myself into this. There are a few things I’ve felt I want to address.
1.) Photography to me is an art, not a quick buck. It is an industry that has become flooded however with people who buy a nice camera and instantly become “photographers” looking to make a quick buck. They sell themselves cheaply and others eat it up. They give all of the images they take away on disc, leading the general population to expect this as the norm while also lending to the idea that these images have no value. People begin to appreciate less the time involved in setting up and planning a shoot, getting the lighting and time of day for that light just right, the careful composition of the scenery or props involved. The effort in which you make to ensure your clients and models are comfortable, having fun, getting the shots they want and will love. All the time involved in post processing. All the thought and expense involved in backdrops, programs, template design, print and product quality, and of course your equipment.
A photograph is capturing a moment in time. It is a memory, not just paper and ink. A good photo will become an heirloom. It will have so much more value and will outlast most material things we buy and yet people get to a point where they don’t want to pay for photos. I have to believe a good portion of this is because they have a neighbor Sally who just got a camera for christmas and will give them 100 pictures on disc for next to nothing, or something similar. It’s not until later they’ll realize these aren’t the great photographs that become heirlooms but then little Timmy isn’t a baby anymore. As much as we’ve heard Cher sing about it, we can’t turn back time.
When I first started taking pictures, it was all on film. In those days, you had to compose a nice shot right then and there and be mindful of your 24-36 exposures. You’d never hand over all the negatives free of charge or even at all, or even be expected to. I never intended to go fully digital but as more and more labs closed and film became more sparse, it only made sense. Being able to process your photos immediately was also a huge perk. It just seems like we’ve lost so much since the film days. Technology has made it harder in so many ways and yet so easy.
Eventually, I feel like things will work out. All the Sallies will lose interest (I hope). I enjoyed photography before it was “cool” and I don’t think I’ll change my mind any time soon. For those whose hearts aren’t actually in it, I feel they’ll go on to the next big fad at some point. Until then, it’s competitive. Me vs. Sally, and Sally has a better deal because I cannot give myself away for free and I can’t keep devaluing what my time is worth to try to match a bargain.
Some great advice to someone wanting to start out: Don’t rush out and buy a new camera. Learn all you can with your existing camera first, (or better yet, start with an older film camera). Your creative eye is the most important tool you have. A better camera will not make you a better photographer. Learn to see first.
Stay tuned for the next post!