Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Going pro...

Definitely not something I really wanted to consider when I first started out on this project a little over two years ago. I'd done it before, though in vastly different realms of photography, and about the only thing it did was make it so I didn't pick up a camera for five years. There's a saying that was on the money in that case - the quickest way to ruin a hobby is to do it for a living. Well, that's exactly what happened then and it's what I DIDN'T want happening this time.

Plus, going into business means making it a business and all the non-photographic things that go along with it. As it is now I can shoot when I want, where I want, and with who I want. I can also take six months off and not have it affect my standard of living. All fun, no worry. I like no worry.

As some of you know that train of thought has slowly been changing. I'm becoming more confident that my work is of a high enough quality that it would get noticed. I've even sold a few prints along with way. There's some fear involved. Not so much that my work won't be appreciated or desired, either it will or it won't. But the marketing aspect that will become such a huge portion of running a business of this sort scares the shit out of me, and I'm obviously not afraid to admit it. I'm not a marketer or a salesman. It wouldn't be far from reality to say that I'm fairly clueless in those areas.

But I'm coming around to the idea that I'm ready to go out and make the effort, learn from the mistakes and failures without giving up, and learning along the way. The main thing is getting out of my comfort zone. My psyche just wants things to happen, I want to be "discovered" with the fame and applause (and wealth) that "should" be coming my way just because. Of course that isn't the way it works, at least not for me. It's going to take some work but I've read enough and talked to enough people to understand that's the way it is and for something I love as much as I do photography and creating images it's something I've come to give serious consideration.

There will be a bit of an investment and that is the aspect I'm exploring now. From everything I've learned about marketing the kind of work I do and want to market - Fine Art Photography - art fairs and the like are the best place to start. The costs involved there are purchasing the displays to hang the images, printing, matting, and framing the images, getting to the events, paying the fees, and other stuff. Then there's the actual costs of starting a business. Becoming an LLC, making sure all the tax implications are properly dealt with, marketing materials, business cards, and whatever else it will take to begin a legitimate business.

And then it's the actual work of marketing. Setting up a booth and displaying my work at a fair seems simple enough. Getting people to look at the art is a natural occurrence of such a venue. I can talk shop with folks - where was the image taken, all the technical things, and such. But closing the deal and getting people to part with their money and walk happily away with a work of art. It's definitely not an area where hard salesmanship is welcome. Or is it? I guess I'll find that out.

In the meantime I've been submitting work to various art dealers. I have no clue how effective that will be but I do know it will be completely ineffective if I don't submit anything.

What I'd really like to do is work first with another photographer. Unfortunately almost all such folks look for younger people to take on as apprentices. However, I've had the fortune and privilege connecting with some fantastic pros and top amateurs who's help as been immeasurable in my progress as a photographer.

In the absence of a formal apprenticeship, or whatever something like that may be called, I've joined  a few groups and clubs to not only get more experience and knowledge, but to also give back what I can, as people have done for me.

Anyway, just a few thoughts about what's going on with me and this project. A lot has changed in a little over two years. The bottom line is I'm certain I'm supposed to move in this direction because I'm moving in this direction. Makes it easier for me. I have no intention of quitting my current job as it's a steady income, I like benefits, and I love the people I work with. But if things take off it will definitely be something I will consider. That, however, is a long, long ways off. One step at a time.

If anyone reading this would like to offer some business tips in general, and photo biz advice in particular, I would gladly listen and appreciate your time.

Until next time...

2 comments:

  1. Hey Don your buddy Geoff is a master at sales and marketing and needs something to do - also he has been taking a few pics around here and could use some tips on the other side of the biz - give him a call

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    1. Thanks. I will definitely be calling this weekend!

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