“Photography is DEAD!” was what my friend said to me recently as I recounted the latest challenges as Creative Director of my own Photography business. Usually I’d have found a comment like this almost ridiculously laughable, especially with so very many pictures floating around us through every social media platform on the planet and people everywhere aiming their cell phones at whatever moment-du-jour, capturing millions of photos each and every day to be instantly uploaded to Facebook™, Instagram™, Twitter™ and various other online sites. But as Sam [not his real name] spoke, I couldn't easily dismiss his statement. Sam is a Photo School faculty member and Instructor at a prestigious Creative College. As such, I have a lot of respect for him. “What do you mean exactly?” I countered, thinking he was just trying to be clever as I know he is prone to be with his students. But what he began to explain was insightful if not even a bit alarming to me. He said that with the advent of Digital Photography and the many advances it has made, it has completely turned the profession on its head. There’s a photographer on every corner, in every city, at every church, and even in the building where I live, I count at least 6 so called “Pro Photographers” all jockeying for the next lucrative gig. (If only there were a photographer to capture the reality-TV dagger stares I frequently get in the hallways when I'm geared up and running off to see a client!) But the business, the work, ..it’s just no longer there. Sure, there are weddings and a few shoots for THIS & THAT happening if you are truly plugged into a good network and are actively advertising in the right places, but the vast majority of photo-journalistic jobs and editorial content are as non-existent today as they were aplenty a few short years ago. Not something I really wanted to hear!...
I had noticed a gradual shift of sorts and it’s unarguably a very real truth I deal with daily as I find it notably harder to discover clients willing to engage my services as such. So, I knew what he was saying had some real merit. “What we all need to do is become visual communicators. That’s the biggest mistake most photographers make. They assume taking pretty pictures and owning a decent rig will simply suffice. Market yourself as a photographer at your peril! But, find an area that isn’t being served and learn to woo clients through taking them on a visual journey. One that fuels their business fire, and that attracts the interest of their customers—that’s where the opportunities in Photography lie these days”. Wow. I had just been served my walking papers. It’s clear why Sam is a well respected teacher and faculty member!
But I was smiling—at least a little. Some of my best customers have emerged through this very process. I may have lost a little focus—pardon the pun—as of late, but if I’ve learned anything from my years promoting Pixarola and trying to please my clients, it’s that they understand the value of what Sam was saying, more so than nearly all the girls & guys with a decent dSLR aiming to hit MY next bulls-eye. Budgets are tight let’s face it, and most companies are smart enough to know if they’re going to engage a photographer, it better be someone who can help them tell a VISUAL STORY better than they can do themselves, and better than JOE PHOTOGRAPHER whose list is broad and whose work while good, doesn’t encompass the essential elements that need to be met in today’s competitive marketplace. It’s not good enough to be good anymore. Or even to have a great portfolio! A photographer has to be industrious, innovative, and very resourceful AND has to seek out areas which are not being served by our community and go after them. It’s a challenge I face every day. I’m acutely aware of it as I stare at my computer and client list and wonder what else can I offer? And that’s just the place I need to start looking if I’m to remain passionate about photography and relevant to today’s customers.
Pixarola recently did a photo-shoot where I was working with a PR firm to come up with an idea to tell their story in a highly creative and unique way. They wanted me to capture a playful side of their company so they didn’t just look like the sea of similar companies out there in the world and on the web, being lost to visual banality. They ARE a different kind of company and they DESERVE to be given something that sets them completely apart from their competition. I’m pleased they are very happy with the resulting images and creative direction PIXAROLA provided. In their case, there clearly IS a visual story being told, and the result is their own clients and customers are very eager to do business with them again.
That’s WIN-WIN, and it’s a direct result of the awareness of what Sam was really saying and has been teaching his students so they too, can succeed under the new definition of “Photographer-for-hire”.
When was the last time you reviewed your Company’s VISUAL STORY?
A picture TELLS. A story SELLS. A VISUAL STORY captures the best of both worlds. What impression are you leaving your clients with?
Perhaps it’s time to explore some new possibilities so you can have an even greater impact with your marketing efforts using this formula and in turn, persuade your customers to pay you the attention you are working so hard to achieve.
What could Pixarola™ do for YOU? -Ty