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Quote: Some good ideas there
one mistake I made was to be "too general"
as in - everyone knew I was a photographer, but never really knew what I specialised in
that meant they could never really explain to their network what I did...
Now it's pretty specific and clear - and I make sure everyone knows what it is - it makes it a lot easier for people to refer me
sort of counter intuitive - in that, the more you offer, the less you get... the less you offer, the more you get
same with painting. When I first started I was chatting to a gallery owner who told me about some of 'his' artists. One was painting loads of bucolic scenes, always with ducks and geese. He did try other things, but his 'collectors' wanted bucolic scenes with ducks and geese so the gallery owner told him to stick to those as it would take a while to build up a clientele for the others..
Quote: That makes a lot of sense, actually.
I'd rather be a master of one trade, than a jack-of-all trades. Although being able to a bit of everything is useful, like you say - it doesn't really help you get known in a few select specialist areas.
I question it tbh. It's one of the reasons why the amateur can be more innovative in many spheres, well, art in particular - amateur means 'not doing it for money' rather than 'not being good'. Sure once you get above the making a living status and become a superstar or whatever then the audience follows, but I don't see it as a question of mastery but of marketing.....
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You still get variety - I shot some horses last month for a client, do the occasional wedding, shooting some Ukranian products this afternoon (VODKA!) - but what you advertise and put out to your contacts should be pretty clear...
If it's clear - then yer mate Joe can tell other people very easily
If it's not clear - then Joe probably won't even mention you...
Bucolic ducks sound ace!
Quote: I shot some horses last month for a client
Humanely I hope.
Quote: I'd rather be a master of one trade, than a jack-of-all trades. Although being able to a bit of everything is useful, like you say - it doesn't really help you get known in a few select specialist areas.
Nothing wrong in a photographer being able to cover more than one genre, especially when starting a business . It certainly worked for me and I called it "Jobbing Photography". I only mentioned it here for somebody wanting to specialise, as a means of making some hard cash whilst gaining experience in the chosen genre.
At least in describing it as a "Jack of All Trades" you thankfully did not add the general sentence end "but master of none", because any half decent photographer can make a living performing a high standard of work covering many areas of expertise including those that I mentioned. Like any other business a great deal of the success is in being able successfully to manage that business in terms of performance, accountancy, tax returns, invoicing and sending out detailed quotations, all that satisfy a customer. The running of a small business as a 'sole trader' demands all those aspects be covered although to be fair, once you keep your accounts in good shape it is always worthwhile employing a good accountant to finalise the accounts and to remit the self assessment documentation to HMCR at your year end.
Failing in your "day to day accounts" work, means high accountancy bills, so this aspect is very important. Spread-sheeting it is the answer - on a week by week basis.
Sorry Frank, it was a quick-fire thought of mine based on what Ade had said, rather than what you'd said.
I completely agree that there's nothing at all wrong in being able to cover more than one genre with photography when starting out. Getting yourself 'out there' in the first place is often the best thing to do, before specialising in a particular genre anway.
And I wouldn't have added the 'master of none' bit anyway, as I think that anyone who's got the balls to go out and try to make a living from photography, even if they don't specialise at first, is brave. I'm not sure it's something I'd want to do, but I admire those people who do get out there and put themselves on the line ... they're earning money for something they enjoy doing anyway - so hopefully it's a win/win situation all round
Okay, like you say, the paperwork side of things, the business accumen necessary, and the ability to take a business forward solidly is much of the hard work, but I would imagine that aspect of it is enormously satisfying, too.
Answering your interesting question is much like a spider inviting a fly into its web! I would choose motorsports but after spending a day at Brands Hatch with a media pass, the scale of energy and workload required of the professionals was an eye-opener. Prior knowledge of all drivers and teams: out on pit lane to take photo of each of the major contenders; to first track position and shoot same contenders; to second track position and shoot; return to podium and shoot; return to media centre; download, quick report; post to the editor and internet etc. Get ready for next race - and so on. Given that most professional photographers will work this hard whatever the chosen photographic discipline, I would decline the offer as I know I am not good enough - if I had been professional at Oulton Park last weekend I would most certainly been sacked; a complete disaster!
If I was younger and had the skill (and travel had yet to become a total chore) I would liked to have been a travel photographer. I hope I haven't ignored your question completely! Chris
It's not all hard work once you get some recognition;
I have a friend in Australia, who shoots products for advertizing, and his team does absolutely everything for him from setting up lighting, camera angle and position, through to tidying up, except he presses the shutter button.
He earns a ridiculous amount for doing that too
If I could choose any photographic profession, also being employed rather than worrying about self-employed, then I'd choose shooting for Rolling Stone or NME. Not just the gigs but portrait shots for editorials. I think I'd tire of most of the other stuff but not rock photography.
There'd have to be variety in it for me; I would shrivel up and blow away if I had to do the same thing every day. Working from 8-4 or 9-5 every day would drive me nuts, I'd vegetate. I did that for one and a half years of my life, and was desperate to get away from it, which I did. Every day I went to work was different, everything about it was different, and the last 15 years in my career I never worked more than 8-11 days per month, and seldom the same hours per day. I worked with different people almost every day also, and went to different places. To take a job that required I give up a life outside work would be intolerable. Is there any photography job that gives 21/2 months paid vacation per year and a 70% of your best 5 years pension? Maybe not. However, if I were to take up photography, it would be nature/wildlife, and in Canada, nowhere else; I have seen only a tiny fraction of my own country close up. I'd starve to death as a photographer, because I'd also want a life.
PS: I think Ade went into photography to get away from the 9-5 grind, if I'm not mistaken. It was a brave thing to do, and I'm sure he realised the uncertainty of the business before committing himself. It's hard to give up security. It happens to lots of people who finish their military career and return to the real world; I've known many who gave up very promising careers in civilian life and gone back in the military; they just didn't like the uncertainty. It's all human nature.
I did do some work for a large landscaping company several years ago. I happened to meet the owner, and got talking about photography with him. He said he needed someone to do some photography of places he was going to landscape so he could email them to his architect who was his brother, living a couple thousand miles away. He had tried to do it himself, but had little success. I said I would try one job, see how it went. He took me to a very expensive property and I spent the day there with the camera and tripod, taking photos from all angles. I emailed the lot to him, and he offered me a job, I said no, it was boring. He must have called a dozen times, and sent the same number of emails. Also, the owner of the property, a surgeon, called and asked me to do some photography of the place after it had been finished. I never went back; it was stuff anybody could do who knew how to attach a camera to a tripod. I never cashed the check he sent me, still have it to this day.
Quote: I never cashed the check he sent me, still have it to this day.
Really?! Although I can understand (and applaud) that on one level, you still did the work you got paid for, even if you hated it and decided never to do it again.
Mind you, it does also highlight the fact that ethics (or morals, or whatever you want to call them) do come into play in being a professional 'anything' ... Yes, making money is one thing, but would I want to make money out of something that went against the grain? No, I wouldn't - it just wouldn't sit right.
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