I was overwhelmed. Mrs. Vreeland kept calling me Aberdeen and asking me if a wedding dress didn’t make me want to cry. They’re all serious, hardworking people—they just speak a different language.
So I took my own models out to the beach. I photographed them barefoot, without gloves, running along the beach on stilts, playing leapfrog. When the pictures came in, Brodovitch laid them out on the table and the fashion editor said, ‘these can’t be published. These girls are barefoot.’ Brodovitch printed them. After that, I was launched very quickly. Those candid snapshots were in direct contrast to what was being done. I came in at a time when there weren’t any young photographers working in a free way. Everyone was tired, the war was over, Dior let the skirts down, and suddenly everything was fun. It was historically a marvelous moment for a fashion photographer to begin. I think if I were starting today, it would be much harder. – Richard Avedon – 1965
That is a quote from my favorite photographer, Richard Avedon. I find it quite interesting that even in 1965, he made an observation that it would have been much more difficult to start being a photographer at THAT TIME – Being a WORKING Fashion Photographer in 1965, would have been tough.
Now, in 2013, it is 2000% more difficult to be taken earnestly as a serious photographer, because anyone with a Smart Phone can take Pretty Damn Good Pictures (PDGP’s).
I know of many people (here at least) who don’t mind so much about photographic QUALITY, so they DON’T hire photographers to take photographs. They don’t hire Photographers for things they used to hire Photographers for – back in the day.
Today, many small businesses, such as, a restaurant, will NOT hire a Working Photographer to take photos of food for their menu, even though really good food photography can boost sales of these edible items. Why? Because skilled Food Photographers know how to make food pictures look scrumptious – like you want to eat the paper the food picture is printed on. GREAT FOOD Photos takes MUCH skill to execute! It is as much about preparation & presentation (FOOD Cooking & STYLING), as much as lighting, as much as accessories and props, AND, as much as it is about the choice of angle and lens. Great Food Photography takes the skill of a Food Photographer and his or her Styling Person, or team.
- HOWEVER, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, many people who have restaurants don’t really give a hoot about hiring Food Photographers. Why? Because, If they have a digital camera of their own, of any type – Then BLAMO! No need to hire anyone, they believe because they already have technology they can then take PDGP’s! IF the food shots look half-way decent, then good enough.
Today, the Photography Industry has been hi-jacked by the GOOD-ENOUGH Mentality (in many sectors, for many people). Of course, for CHANEL, DIOR, GUCCI, MERCEDES, BMW, JIMMY CHOO, GE, NIKE, or TISSOT Ads, where millions are spent for ad campaigns, then yes, people will hire top-tier photographers and pay them respectable fees! However, for the majority of shooters, who are really good shooters, the economy has changed a bit due to technology; and in addition, business decision-making attitudes towards hiring these professionals has changed. If a company is not doing a major ad campaign, and they just need basic good photographs, then maybe Bubba, the guy in the company with the decent DSLR, or iPhone, can just take the pictures. ~ You can blame me for this quote, because I said that! ~
TECHNOLOGY AND ITS IMPACT ON OTHER PROFESSIONAL OCCUPATIONS:
I’ve thought about Various sectors of technology and associated professions, and wish to point out a few items.
- Advanced improvements in microscope technology has NOT made Professional Biologists and Chemists obsolete and in less demand.
- Advanced improvements in binoculars has not made Ornithologists in less demand.
- Advanced improvements in scalpels has not made Surgeons in less demand.
- Advanced improvements in Medical Imaging Equipment (e.g., CT Scan, M.R.I., X-Ray and Ultra-Sound equipment) have not made Radiologists and Technicians in less demand.
- Advanced improvements in Computer Technology has not made Computer Programmers, and Analysts, in less demand.
- Advanced improvements in plumbing equipment has not made Plumbers in less demand.
- Advanced improvements in electrical equipment has not made Electricians in less demand.
- Advanced improvements in Anaerobic digester machines has not made Bio Engineers in less demand.
- Advanced improvements in Telescopes has not made Astronomers in less demand.
You see my point here, don’t you…?: All these professions too, like Photographers, are aided by improvements in technology that are geared toward their professions. Yet, there seems to be a disproportionate impact on Working Photographers due to technology compared to other professions. In fact, advancements in camera technology has made it so that these other professionals, NO LONGER need to hire professional photographers to come take photos for them – they can do it themselves! Wow!
Technology is awesome…ah, yeah, but not so much if you are a Photographer who intends to continue to get paid decently, or in proportion to the quality of work you do as any learned, hardworking, person would wish and strive for to make a living.
The small list of professionals listed above, I’m sure, also want to get paid for their hard work, isn’t it!
BATTLES IN THE UNIVERSE & THE DARK SIDE!
So…I slog away, forcing my mind to shift from the side of the center-line, which veers off into negative, doom, death, and destruction; and thus, I ATTEMPT to keep my mind focused on moving forward into the opposite side of the center-line, into the space where some HOPE lives: It’s a constant battle between good and bad; just and unjust; HOPE and despair; The Fellowship of the Ring and Saruman; and The Rebels against the Galactic Empire!
Life is, after all, what you make of it. You can live one year over 90 times (I’ve heard), or you can live 90 great years – there’s a big difference.
GOOD FOR THE GOOSE!
- Well, I’ve decided WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE IS GOOD FOR THE GANDER, Correct! So, today, here’s what I have planned. I’m a do-it-yourself kind of person…thus…
- First, since I have a NEW HIGH-TECH PLUMBING WRENCH, I’m NOT going to Hire a Plumber to fix my Toilet – I’ll do it myself.
- I have some cool Rapidograph Technical Pens, SO WHO NEEDS AN ARCHITECT! I’ll design my own house – screw’em!
- I just picked up a new ceramic scalpel – AND, thus, I plan on removing a few suspicious looking moles – HOME SURGERY! Screw the Doctors Too! Who needs to pay their outrageous fees! This scalpel is awesome and I have some alcohol to take care of any infections – no problem. I can even choose what color thread I want to use to sew up the incision…You see there are all sorts of benefits to minor home surgical procedures! 🙂
- A broken light switch in the wall – hell, who needs an Electrician – I have HARDWARE! I’ll do it myself – ALWAYS REMEMBER TO WEAR RUBBER SHOES JUST IN CASE! ;^)
- Who needs to hire a Biological Engineer! If you see tiny creatures moving around in the water – DON’T DRINK IT!
All I have to say to other professionals and business people who have stopped hiring photographers to work for them, is this: Fine, I don’t need you then, either…
I’m NOT afraid of a little HOME SURGERY!
So, stick that in your pipe and smoke it!
OK, here’s the deal: I can be a little bit sarcastic when I write, sometimes. At times, what seems sarcastic is not; and what seems logical, may be meant as sarcastic. I am highly misunderstood. Nevertheless…let me be frank and I’ll just point out a few very good pieces of advice, just in case you did actually “just skit to the ‘Literary Outro,’ and you came here expecting some good information…so, here is some information that may be useful if you are a photographer.
- Photograph what you are passionate about.
- Always keep an open mind to learning on your own and from others.
- Don’t carbon copy yourself from other people’s styles. You can use what other people do to set yourself on your own path with your own style.
- If stuff isn’t working, then do it some other way.
- If your photographs are not interesting enough, then put more interesting things in front of your camera! 🙂
- If your pictures are not good enough, then learn more, and then try it again.
- If the people you approach are not willing to pay you a fair compensation or fee for your products (your services and images), then FIND BETTER CLIENTS!!!
- If the first 50 people turn you down, try 51, 52, 53, 54, and on and on – YOU MUST BE PERSISTENT IN THIS AGE OF HIGH-COMPETENT-COMPETITION.
- In many cases, it isn’t the camera equipment that makes great images, it is the photographer and his or her skills. Thus, seek out to learn more skills. Try to achieve GREAT PHOTOGRAPHY with less technology, or older technology – that will really test your abilities.
- Hang around photographers and other creative people with skills and achievements MORE THAN your own! Learn from these people!
- Build your network.
- Use ALL SOCIAL INTERNET NETWORKING to get your work out there and get your name known.
- Be Honest!
- Be Persistent.
- Be Humble, yet Confident.
- Reciprocate! Help others also. Think of others and they will think of you!
- Surround yourself with a support network so when things seem really shitty, you will have some trusted people who can help you see things in a different light.
- Be Creative Everyday!
- Be Inspired by other Creative People!
- Learn about Business.
- Learn about the Business of Photography.
- Don’t trust everyone – there are people out there who make it a point to screw people in business!
- GET IT IN WRITING!
- DO NOT GIVE AWAY FULL-SIZED DIGITAL IMAGES! Look here: You charge clients for your time, correct! You also need to spell out what they will get for what price. You try to get the WIN-WIN FOR EVERYONE. But you don’t give away the farm in the process, OK! Clients Pay for your Creative Time, your Expenses, and any Printed Materials. IF THEY WANT MORE PRINTS, Then, they can come back to you to get more physical prints because YOU KEPT THE ORIGINAL DIGITAL IMAGES – YOU SEE – AFTER SALES ! If they want a photo book, then they also come back to you to purchase a photo book!
- Learn to Negotiate with Clients!
- Learn to read body language so you can kind of tell when someone is being dishonest or not telling the full story.
- Get a down payment to cover initial costs and make it clear in writing that if the client cancels, that the down payment is non-refundable. You are making a commitment of time on a particular date, so should they. If they have put up money they are more likely not to be wishy-washy about the photo-shoot.
- Have a Plan B, or even, Plan C, for any photo job. Things can and do go wrong.
- “The Psychology of Selling,” by Brian Tracy, is a good book. It’s a book that I need to re-read.
- I’ve said enough already – all the 29 Points above are things I need to work on too! So, let’s all work on these things to build up the Profession of Photography. The profession as a whole needs to get smarter for everyone concerned. We don’t have a World Photographers’ Union, so we don’t have a collective voice willing to fight for our business rights – thus, folks, it is up to us to be smarter, and more educated, and more skilled.
Okey Dokey – Enough of that – Good Luck! Kick Ass…Take Names…