I never bought into the idea that photography was an art form.
To me, it’s more a “craft” that has many artistic elements that can be molded into it.
But that’s another argument for another time.
Business, by nature, has more art and creativity. Good, bad and ugly.
I can feel the hate stares and emails already. Let me explain.
To me photography is business. It’s how I live my life, pay my bills, save for a rainy day and do cool things with my time.
I don’t care really how good my photography gets. The big question is, and always will be until I decide to get a real job: “How can I make money with this?”
(Please, don’t equate making money with all things evil. If you’ve been working for XYZ company, or your spouse has been, and you get to live in your place, drive your car, go to movies, eat at restaurants, on and on because of that job, well, the reason you’re doing it is, yes, for the money.)
So get off my back with the money is evil argument. Look in the mirror.
Onwards, to my main points.
Here’s what I’ve noticed….
Graphic design and photoshop skills
There’s a lot more graphic design going on with photography. And, a good many graphic designers have become successful, largely in part and influenced by their strong visual design skills, photoshop mastery and background.
We can and should all learn. Off the top of my head are photographers like Mike Long, Ben Shirk, Dan Frievalt, Andy Armstrong and many more who all have a strong graphic design background that they molded into their unique
Lighting…really, really good lighting
So essential. There is no excuse for not at least mastering the core basics of good lighting. Being able to see and visualize your end goal, your vision, by using lighting and knowing how to control your lighting is essential.*
(*Even while the bride’s mom is yelling, the brother-in-law in the family portrait session is being a douche, the two year old is having a melt down, everyone’s going crazy, everyone’s micro managing and trying to take over the session….you HAVE to at least maintain calm control over your lighting…and posing, of course.)
It’s very simple. But so is a few notes on the piano. Infinitely complex when used by the right ‘master’ to created something truly timeless and artistic.
Learning to master lighting to the point where we can create something truly masterful and artistic takes years of practice. Years. Just like learning to master the piano.
They always make it look easy.
You can create something truly artistic without the aforementioned graphic design skills. I’m not saying we have to use it all. I’m just noticing these ‘trends’ in the way photography is evolving.
When someone like Fuzzy Duenkel, an old-school on location portrait artist goes into a session and creates a near perfect blend of poses, clothing, location choices and of course, lighting, I see art in progress. Classic portrait photography really, really well done.
Photographers like the Simones are another great example of classic portrait photography brought to the highest artistic level.
There is an entire mid-section of photographers who lives somewhere in the dead zone, the middle of all this, not really creating anything magnificent, enduring or profitable.
Many of these are long gone. Their positions and efforts could not keep them afloat anymore. Do you see yourself that area? Or are you one of the designers or masters of light like Duenkel or Simone?
I am not an artist.
When I looked inwards, I’m good in these areas:
*Weddings…. I think I’ve developed a sixth sense….I got good at candids, journalism and capturing the “story” of the wedding. I struggle, to some degree, with creating anything largely artistic and award winning. But, in the end, I don’t care. Nor do my brides. They still hire me for my current skill set and they want someone who will get the job done, make it fun, and deliver the memories.
*Groups…...larger the better. My initial years as a school photographer helped me in this area. Shooting many, many families over several decades, big and small, corporate gigs, sports and more, all through my studio, only helped hone this skill set. Art? Moreso maybe with families. Not so much the rest, not for me. Pays the bills? Yes indeed.
*Kids. I get kids. I know them, and maybe because I’m a big kid, I’m pretty good at photographing them.
*Marketing. Whether reaching out in social media with specials like our fairy day, or working with the local symphony or theatre doing some affiliation marketing, all the steps involved creates, all total, momentum.I love marketing. And because of this love, and application, I benefited. Marketing isn’t the narrow slice that most think it is. It’s everything. If someone has a crappy product, they have a marketing problem. Go get good and create a sellable product.
Everything flows from and evolved from marketing.
Assuming you want to make money of course.
But these strengths of mine aren’t components of “art”, are they?
I’m ok in the art department. Far from stellar marquee celeb level good. Far.
But I don’t really care, since I have enough momentum, art and business going for me.
Where are you at? Is your photography strong enough that you could go into a busy mall, put on a multi image display, and get clients?
All the names I mentioned, they all could. Largely in part because their images resonates and oozes art.
I feel I could. I ain’t no Simone portrait artist. But my clients don’t care. To them, I am.
Where do you want to be at? One of the exciting things about this game we play is the never ending wheel of education.
Learning new stuff so you can create better products is a marketing thing.
Becoming a better person and improving yourself is also a marketing thing.
Marketing is my main game. And I play it shamelessly. There’s enough art in marketing and business that I get to create art in photography. And prosperity.
If you want to see everything I did to create my business, including a whole lot more, check out my coaching forum…the noBs Inner Circle Members forum:
I’ll help you create art in business and in photography.
yours in success and in photography,
If we all stand up for value, we can be the best profession in the world.