Cameras. Photography. The Internet. Creativity. Work.
There is no question my perception of photography and my use of a camera have changed dramatically since I decided to invest full time in a photographic career. Even as an advanced enthusiast I was still buying gear as it came out, more or less. I had a good job, earning a large income and could afford it. I had the use of a studio through a co-op venture with several other photographers. Life was good. Then I quit my day job (thats the subjects of a much longer story) and since using a camera has always been in my DNA, it was what I turned to as a job. We all have to do something, right? So I took that gear I had accumulated, which is and was a lot and set to work. I felt that I still needed a place to work from, a studio. A studio can provide many things. Its a place to steal away to and think, its a place to work, and its nice to have enough space to USE those lights and modifiers I had packed away and stored between two garages and a first floor office. I did feel that I needed a few things so I invested in backgrounds, and autopoles to help hang them. I bought a few C-stands and a few more reflectors and yes, a few more modifiers. Right away I found that a good portion of the lenses and cameras I owned were never going to be used. I only needed a sprinkling of the camera equipment I had. Six months later I found I needed a new business plan, and I had decided to get rid of a lot of equipment but I did also decide to augment or replace what I sold with what I could really use. I now have the right tools for the way I work but the main thing to take away from this is that what I thought I would be doing, what I thought I would be working on, was not even remotely close to what I am working on and the direction my work is taking. The other thing to take away from this is that I'm a completely different shooter than I was. I had a simplistic almost myopic approach based on a very technical outlook and I morphed into a different sort where you have to see more, open the kimono, and show people what drives you. No hiding. Anything.
Getting creative is hard. My professional life up to last January, when I made my decision to work full time in photography, was highly technical. My work world revolved around Enterprise database access and applications, E-commerce Java based software, transactional software and embedded systems real time operating systems software and their corresponding applications. And a stint of managing up to 30+ people and some managers doing the same stuff for me. Along the way, I took to sales and managed large key accounts - yes, I was out of my mind but the money was good! Just thinking about it now gives me a headache. So with my day to day tasks always being of a technical nature, creativity as required for my new work wasn't even on my radar. Back then the most creative I got was finding a place for lunch. Or thinking of a new title for a business card. Thats another story there. Its taken me a good nine months and lots of good people from all walks to inspire me and get me to an entry point to creativity. I'm thinking that all we get is an entry point too. Creativity is a cusp. That actually works for me.
Creativity has to extend to the work space and by that I mean not just photography, but to the work of running a studio AND a photo business. They are different. I need creativity to work my Internet magic, what little I use, which gives me my website, my Facebook presence and my Twitter-dom. I'm still not fully versed in using hashtags and not sure I want to be. Instagram and Pinterest are pending. I am involved in a limited way with Google+ and am still thinking about that. All these things are time sucks. They steal time from my day and managing them is a full time job so when do I get to shoot? Well never if I don't have the Internet as my bitch, because if I don't have that Internet presence then how will people know me? See my work? You have to get creative and make the most of what you CAN do because so far, for me, I have yet to make one cent off my internet work. Sure, I'm told my website looks good (finally!) and I'm told people see me on Facebook but any work I have gotten to date has been by word of mouth and from people seeing my work through other people. Yeah, makes you think. Google Analytics says I'm getting a good number of website hits. My average bounce rate is cut in half, my number of pages seen per visit are up 300% and so by Internet standards I'm doing well but its not doing anything for my booking of more business. I did invest in a client delivery mechanism which above all else has probably been the most productive tool to date. I have delivered photos to people and they have paid for them and used them and its helped me in a number of ways. I'm working with folks, learning what they want, what they hope to see in a photograph. I'm suddenly thinking about projects, things I want to photograph. Things I can use to help further my creativity but also show through my portfolio. Which brings us to the one thing that matters most from the camera side. Portfolio. A photographer's portfolio gets peoples attention. The better its presented, the better you are perceived. But a portfolio, for me as I'm finding is many parts. Its not just a slideshow on a webpage. It is an entry of sorts to your world by your clients and it has to be creative. Portfolio=slideshow, video, prints, webpage and physical gallery. Its anything visual of yours. But that darned Internet is still out there and you know what? Its a technical place. It takes some technology to get that visual side noticed. At times I wonder if I left my old job. There are so many experts too that have the answer of how to use Internet/ social media to increase your business, so many articles in internet magazines spewing the same thing. I've listened and tried a few of the suggestions and so far, they haven't been all that good. As you can tell if you have read this far. Its a huge hole because I do want to increase my business, I want to SHOOT! Not slave over a computer and worry about hashtags and analytics. I think one other dimension is key though and thats Time. Taking time and using time. Which I am out of and which will have to be expanded on in my next post. Thanks if you have read this far! Feel free to comment. Take care.