Starting a photography business is hard. Some think it’s a simple matter of taking good photos. My friends and family think my pictures are great; I bet I can sell them! But in actually going through the steps myself, I can tell you there’s a lot more to it. I’d like to share with you some insight into that world.
First and foremost, pictures can’t just be “good;” they have to be great – stop-you-in-your-tracks, wow! kind of great. Photography is a very saturated market. With increasingly good cameras on everyday cell phones, the distinction between amateur and pro to a buyer’s eye is becoming a fine line. The average Joe feels more confident that he can do it himself (and that’s wonderful! Come share this beautiful art form with me).
While this means paid photographers are having a harder time competing, it’s a challenge that we simply need to up our game. If I got away with everyone thinking my old pictures were superb, I never would have grown as much as I have. My pictures now are miles better than what they once were, but it’s humbling to know I still have a long way to go.
Which brings me to my next point. The only way to truly improve is to practice. And that takes time. Now, while I seldom dedicate real blocks of time to actual shooting – my photography is an integral part of my everyday life – I find I improve faster when I do. I spent an entire weekend in Yosemite, there specifically for the photography. And those landscapes are some of my favorites.
The part that isn’t so obvious is the time it also takes behind the scenes – editing, tagging, posting, writing, promoting…. I certainly spend far more time on these elements than I do actually shooting. And this is the business aspect of it. While I’d rather be out photographing my beautiful surroundings, I also want people to see my work. The internet is a vast place, so it takes a lot of effort to carve out that little corner of the web. Facebook and Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.. they’re each their own monster to be tamed, and they each take time.
Maintaining a blog is also essential for visibility, and it forces me to go through my latest photos. Besides, I enjoy sharing my stories with you. It, too, takes time, but at least it feels more creative than other tasks.
Above all else, I feel being successful in this field – or moving toward success – requires perseverance. All too often, I’ve doubted myself and my abilities. But just when I’d feel the most despondent, something would stick, and I’d get a minor boost toward that coveted echelon. I had one such break with my misty morning post being picked up by WordPress’s Discover blog, and it tides me over until my next breakthrough.
I’ve been working at this for two years. I’ve shot at least a hundred thousand photos, and I have a presence on most major social networks (come follow me there, too!). I’ll keep working to improve, and I won’t give up. It’s a very slow ascension, but I believe I’ll get there.
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