What it Takes to Survive
I've got, basically, I think it's 10 different things here talking about some of these aspects we've already talked about. So, you know, first we've already talk about is this, perfect your craft. One of the little things in here, you know, art buyers or photo editors will hire people they know and trust, and they've worked with in the past, and the reason is that every time an art buyer or a photo editor calls you up to give you an assignment, they're taking a risk with their job, like if you don't come through, that could mean their job is over. And you know, it's probably not just one time, it has to happen two or three times for them, but they're taking a risk on you. So, you've gotta have, you know, you've gotta be able to create amazing images in a wide variety of situations, not just like that epic, perfect light. You might get out there and it's horrible light, and it's raining sideways, but you still have to come back with something, so you've gotta have a bag of tricks that y...
ou can use, but you also have to have-- relate to the client, and convince them that you're gonna be the best for this job. So, that's also why I say to shoot things you're passionate about, because, you know, if you're one of the best climbing photographers on the plant, and somebody's trying to hire a climbing photographer, they're gonna come to you, they're not gonna go to the portrait person who's never hung off a cliff before. So if you have a specialty, that can help. It makes it easier to market yourself, as well. If you're, you know, and I'm not saying you have to be the world's best photographer right when you start your career, but you need to have skills, you need to be up to par, and if you're shooting in a certain genre, you need to look really hard at all the photographers, or a good chunk of photographers in that genre, and make sure your images are at least as good as what's being shot, better, or at least different. But they have to be on par, if you want to expect to make a living. And ways you can get better is take a workshop, you know, you can go there and you can sign up and have portfolio reviews, and you can meet with some of the top, you know, creatives in the field, in terms of art buyers and from (mumbles) and magazines, and show your portfolio, and they'll give you critique on your work, which is really hard to get that kind of stuff otherwise from editors. This is me hanging off a cliff this summer, which is not that big of a deal, for me, I mean, people see this picture like, "Whoa!" You know, that's like me walking down the street, it's no big deal, I do this all the time. So, you know, but sometimes the lengths you have to go to get an image, depending on your craft, like portrait photography, it could be extremely tough. Say you're a celebrity portrait photographer and you spend two days crafting your lighting for this portrait of whatever celebrity, they walk in, the PR person says you got five minutes. You've gotta make something, some magic happen in five minutes, one way or the other. So that's a whole different set of skills. For me, the sweat equity, how hard I work, is a big factor in how, the impact of those images. And as I've said multiple times, good photography is the result of hard work. I mean, that is what it comes down to. I don't care what genre you're in, it's how hard you work and how, you know, how far you're willing to push it. You have to work extremely hard to really get to those upper echelons of photography, and how hard you push is seen in the image, for sure. Especially in my world of adventurous sports, how hard I'm willing to physically push myself, you know, that comes down to those 15-hour days, where we're hiking in with 100-pound backpacks, down thousands of feet of really steep, exposed terrain, and then when you get there, you set up the three or four strobes, and then you hang off the cliff, and then you have the world-class athlete, like the kayaker in that last image, you know, who's doing something that's way out there physically as well. So that just is an example, that's not every genre that needs that, but, you know, and it's not necessarily how hard you push physically in terms of the craft and the art of photography, it's how much you push yourself to explore, like, your creativity, and how far, like, if you can do something super unique and super creative that sets you apart from the pack, and that's the A-number-one thing these days, that's gonna be seen. Photography is not necessarily a meritocracy, in that the best photographer makes the most money, by any means, a photographer who's maybe middle of the road but is an amazing marketer is gonna do way better than that world's best photographer who is not very good at marketing. So, just giving you the whole landscape here. We've already talked about some of this, it's, I feel, and this is my opinion, not necessarily fact, that it's the most competitive market we've ever had right now, but on the flip-side of that, there's more outlets for photography than ever in the history-- I mean, there's more photographs being taken every second of the day than there ever has been, so I think the efficiency part of this, you know, working extremely hard and efficient, learning from your mistakes, is a key part of this thing. You know, I learn way more from my mistakes than I do from my successes, and when I do make those mistakes and see what happens, I make sure I never repeat that mistake, and that is a really key thing, 'cause if you keep repeating the same mistakes, it's over. Sooner or later it's gonna be over. And whatever mistake that is.