We present a three part look at the current business of commercial and editorial photography through the ‘lens’ of Selina Maitreya, photographers coach and consultant. Selina’s 30+ years experience working with photographers all over the globe has given her a unique and deep understanding of what it takes to compete in a crowded market.
First things first: Selina’s website is 1PortAuthority.com, and it is there you can read about what she does for photographers. You can also download a free chapter of her amazing audio series “The View From Here” and purchase her newest book “How To Succeed In Commercial Photography: Insights From A Leading Consultant.” If you do purchase the audio series, be sure to enter the code FOSLE to get $100 off (50%) the purchase price.
Now on to the 4 ToDo’s for Photographers.
I asked Selina if she had only four things to tell photographers to do – now – what would they be?
1. Shoot Photographs that are compelling and represent your vision.
“It is interesting that photographers will sometimes go to market without understanding what buyers needs are or with a full product to sell..A product ready to sell is a defined vision that is showcased via a full, deep body of work.
Taking the time energy and effort to develop a visual product before going to market is key. Ask yourself what do I shoot and what is my visual approach to my subject?
Am I shooting architecture or portraiture? Do I have an affinity toward shooting people in environments or is the comfort of a studio where I will find my muse?
What are the components that make up my visual style?
How do I use light ? Composition? Angles? Where do subjects fit in? Are they props in my shots or is the connect through the camera important? How important is the location, and what part does it play? Is it informational, or an element of design? Is post a style element that ties your work together? Once you have that vision and style across the type of photography that you want to shoot…
2. Edit the images down to a set of photographs that create a Body Of Work that will b shown on both your website and in a print portfolio.
“With the vision and style and preferred subject matter decided, Look at the images you currently have in your portfolio and on your web site. In addition look at your files and see if any images there match your vision, and create a core body of work. Look at them all together as a whole group… do they say what you do? If you are an architecture photographer who likes shooting intimate spaces with natural light… does your portfolio represent that? Would someone looking at your book KNOW from looking at it that you are an intimate spaces architectural photographer who favors natural light? If so do you need any additional image s to complete the collection.
It is important that you know where your body of work is and that you finish the job of building your client offering before attempting to market or sell. Clients are not interested in a partial representation or being asked to know that if you can shoot his type of work of course you can shoot another type. They have many photographers offering them complete portfolios. And you need to make sure that yours is ready to go before you begin to sell.”
3. Determine who that work should be shown to… choose the markets that you would be consistent with.
“There are many different industries that may be interested in your work. Advertising Magazines, editorial, graphic designers, corporate, educational non-profit. Discover at least four or five markets for your work and begin to develop a data ba e of contacts.
Let’s say you are an architectural photographer. There are architectural magazines, architects, construction firms who build the architects vision, and interior designers that bring the building to life, product manufacturers (think flooring, windows, kitchen cabinetry, appliances )That’s five markets right there.
Find those markets, those industries that will be a possible client for your work. Get access to those people with lists. There are a lot of good database services out there who can help you define who to get your message in front of those buyers. Do your research and develop a list that makes sense for you. Unless you live in New York City, it will be necessary for you to market regionally and or nationally”
4. Get Your work in front of the people who will be interested in hiring you to make images for them.
“Make sure your message and vision is consistent across all of your sales and marketing materials. Your website, your direct mail pieces, visual email, postcards, blog, portals and print portfolio. Build your campaign with the list you have created. Of course budget must be considered, but that is really up to you. There are costs involved from emailing programs that will send your emails for you to postage for direct mail. These must be taken into account as you begin. Use sales visits, on line social networking visual email, direct mail, web portals, and your web site to deliver a constant and consistent message over time that will drive home your style, and help the clients to think of you when considering hiring a photographer.
The idea is to send the message to as many people as you can consistently throughout the year. Plan on committing to your plan ,observing short term results and making changes every 6 months as needed for 2-4 years before you will see your investments paying off handsomely. This timeline and the work involved may seem a bit daunting but taken step by step it is very doable and what is needed! If you were building a house and had to think of all the steps that you would need to put into place from establishing credit, to choosing land, to hiring an architect, to finding an builder, your head would spin.But when you take large projects one step at at ime each step reveals the next.
If you are ready to service clients thoroughly and completely, handling your process as a professional, take inventory. Where are you in the process I have outlined? Start at your beginning point and begin to build a business that will serve you and the needs of your clients!”
These are of course highlights and a very general overview, but there is a lot to take in here. (Again, I recommend the audio program that Selina has created… with the FOSLE code at checkout it is only $99… and with 12 hours of solid info, that is an amazing deal.)
As photographers we are daily being bombarded with new technology, new software and hardware to purchase, new markets replacing old markets… and a lot of young fresh faced competitors (many of which are reading these pages right now).
And we constantly hear about the challenges and the shooters who are closing studios and having a rough time. That saddens me. But there are also new shooters stepping up and there are stories of shooters having great years… great success. And the market be damned, there is good news out there in the world of commercial photography.
And the overwhelming consistent thing across all of the success is shooting a lot of images. Shooting a lot of images. And making those images striking, powerful and representative of your vision.
Have you checked out the Learn to Light site for information on my workshop coming to your town? We are heading out to Seattle in a few weeks, then San Diego. We have Houston on the schedule… New Orleans… how cool will that be? Santa Cruz is looking great!
See you next time with a kinda quirky little article… well, you’ll see.