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Is Photography a Dying Career?

Any form of art takes a major turn whenever there is a big innovation in technology. And if that art form itself is solely dependent on technology, then changes are bound to happen with each technological advancement.

Photography is one of the biggest evidences of how technology impacts art, because its very existence is at the brink of extinction due to the sudden shift in technology.

Let me tell you how.

Now that we have such amazing technology that is capable of producing laser sharp images with point and shoot cameras and even mobile phones, anybody can become a photographer. In fact, almost everybody has. This, my friends, is what’s causing the death of photography as an artistic career.

Since taking shots with a cellphone is so darn easy, people are doing it instinctively like it’s nothing.

They’re taking multiple shots of the same frame (because thanks to unlimited cloud storage, nobody runs out of memory space anymore). When the same shot is taken with the difference of a split second for a handful of times, some of them are bound to be good.

Is Photography a Dying Career

Why Photography Seems to be a Dying Career?

Gone are the days when your neighborhood Peter Parker could earn an extra few bucks by capturing something interesting, or whenever there was an important event just because he has a camera. A cellphone does the trick for most part these days. I daresay, does it pretty well.

But wait, there’s more. Even if someone is a complete noob at photography and does not have any clue about the complete basics of it, such as the rule of thirds, and aperture controls?

Even then, they can always post process them. Tweak and edit them to make them look aesthetically pleasing by applying a bunch of filters and effects.

People have stopped hiring photographers to cover events such as weddings and birthdays and other parties. Instead, they’re letting their friends become the photographer or videographer and show off their hidden talent.

This may sound very sweet and supportive, but it’s actually not a good thing to happen to someone whose profession is photography.

Not just people, even agencies are doing the same. News organizations are openly accepting photos or videos provided by complete amateurs just so that they could reduce their number of photojournalist staff to some proportion.

In fact, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, photojournalists are the hardest hit of newsroom staff reductions. To cope up with the ongoing competitions, some professional photographers had no other option left but to lower their charges to the point that they weren’t able to make a living out of photography anymore.

Due to all the reasons mentioned above, sadly but evidently, photography has become a dying art and career.

The Real Difference

If you’re thinking of taking photography as a profession, or have already chosen photography as a career path and are thinking whether you made the right choice, I’d say, “Don’t give up just yet.” You see, being talented and being professionally skilled are two different things.

Anyone can be talented, but it takes professional training to maintain that talent with consistency.  Not everyone knows how to do that.

Having been a professional photographer myself for years, and have had worked with some excellent ones in my career, I can testify for the fact that professional photographers do excel at some things that amateur wannabes can’t, due to the lack of technical knowledge.

They key differences that set photographers apart from enthusiasts are:

  • Photographers understand the important of stories. They know the significance of each shot. They attempt to tell stories through their photos rather than just make them look good.
  • They have a proper and thorough understanding of technical things like composition, angle, and distance. They know how to use these textbook concepts practically and make the best out of them.
  • They have an ‘eye’ for things like design, pattern, white balance, and all the other aesthetic elements that make a photo what it is; a work of art. They use these elements in their photos to express their thoughts and emotions.
  • Photographers truly understand color correction, light, and shadows and the proper application of these things.
  • Photographers, at least the truly professional ones, have the best knowledge of photo technology. They know how to use them, they know which technology to use when, and which to avoid. They also know to limit their usage of technology so that their works don’t lose their acoustic beauty and look too much manipulated.

Tips for People Who Want to Take Things Seriously

Regardless of what the naysayers say, professional photography is actually a pretty contracting career. The competition is high. And you never know which move will turn your life around. Here are some useful tips that you might want to follow if you really want to take your photographic career seriously.

Become A Brand

Become A Brand

If you want to make a mark with your identity, you really need to have a unique presence in the market. At first decide what message you want to give out to your potential clients about who you are and what you do. Your business cards, website, packaging, everything should be the embodiment of your brand.

The best way of doing this is by using catchy textual and visual content.

Tell Them About Value

Research and invest into value. Try to find out what they are looking for. Some of them will seek quality above all, while others will look for the best price first, because obviously everyone won’t understand the significance of brand value.  And this type of people is actually the majority.

They do not understand the value of paying more and hiring a professional when their neighborhood wannabe photographer could do the job. To them, a true professional’s work is no different from a selfie taken in a mall.

You must educate them about the true benefits of hiring a professional. You must tell them with practical evidence that a professional photoshoot will involve a lot of time, effort, and technical knowledge just to create that one unique shot.

It involves a lot of brainstorming and creative sense.

Furthermore, a professional generally has the eye for art and aesthetics that is only developed through a thorough study of the field and a good amount of practical experience in it as well.

It also includes careful and skilled hands of editing to give the photos that well finished look that their amateur enthusiast friend may not be able to provide.

Showcase Your Excellence

Photography collection on the wall

Always share your best works on your website. Start a blog and publish your photos there. Use all your social media channels because social media is one of the biggest platforms to make yourself heard, or in your case, seen these days.

Ask your friends, families, and satisfied clients to share their experience of your service with their kin. Visual always speak louder than words. Post your photo on every platform so that when people come across them, they stop scrolling and admire them. Beautiful things deserve to be shared.

Tell Stories

Miniature woman looks with the spyglass

They say, pictures say a thousand words. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop saying words just because you have pictures. Moreover, stories can add more dimensions to your photos and make them appear more appealing to the audiences.

If the photo you took has a story to tell, don’t hesitate to add that to the photo when you publish it on any platform.  If not stories, maybe an inspirational quote or a bit of poetry that the photo reminds you of? Anything that makes the work look closer to human emotions is acceptable. People like stories.

Once you’ve made a prominent digital presence, consider submitting your best works to foreign markets. This means now your website will need ‘localization’. Translations of your stories so that they appear to be more relatable to the foreign audience.

Try translating your stories, captions, and quotes into the targeted language to get more views.

There are a lot of translating services that will do the work for you at surprisingly cheap rates, while maintaining the top-notch quality. For example, in the U. S itself there is a huge Hispanic populace, and there is also a huge amount of Chinese people.

Try to design your website in such a way that it appeals to these groups as well. The more inclusive you become, the more audiences you’ll get.

Let’s Talk Business

Being a professional photographer is not only about taking great photos, even though it may be the most interesting and exciting part of it. You can’t possibly ignore the business side of your job no matter how creative and art-centric it is.

Luckily you’re operating in this era rather than 20 years ago. Because now you have business and financial tools to help you become the brand you always wanted to be. Your predecessors didn’t have so much help.

You can and should be using these tools to:

  • Create branded materials such as pens, writing pads, photo frames, that you can put inside an introductory folder and hand them out to potential clients during a consult. Your pricing basics, contracts, releases, etc. should be in that folder.
  • Get some good financial software that will do all your paperwork for you; from keeping track of your revenue and expenses, generate invoices, tracking your payments, to even creating your tax forms. This is the era of technology. Take the best advantage of it. Go digital.
  • By using these tools, you should also be saving a lot of money since you won’t need to hire an assistant or a financial advisor. Do everything on your own, with the help of modern technology.

Money Matters

Of course, running your business will cost you money, and a good amount of it. There’s always new equipment you need to buy and old ones that you should get replaced. Then there are also the costs of having your own studio and transport. Or hiring them.  This can be quite expensive especially if you live in a wide geographical area. But all these costs are simply necessary expenses.

So how do you keep all the costs under control? Well, that’s completely up to you. But you can consider using email for invoicing and following-up. You can also try tracking how effective your marketing and advertising is, and eliminate the activities that are not generating you any business value.

Specialize in One Sector

Food photography set up at home

You may be good at multiple types of photography, or may like to explore different styles of it, but it’s always a good idea to carve out a specialty area for yourself. It gives you a good place to start off with and create your own style, and it also gives the clients an idea about how you work and what to expect from you.

Specialties are often what set a photographer apart from their contemporaries. Some photographers specialize based on subjects, such as babies, pets, real estate, product, and food presentation, etc.  Pick the subject you’re the most comfortable working with, and turn that into your specialty.

The there are some who specialize by other means such as:

  • By creating your own branded editing finishes. Your photos will bear your signature mark in the editing finishes that you do. So that even if you don’t put a watermark on them, people would easily be able to tell that the photos were taken by you. Many photographers do this.
  • Get more creative with the props. Leave your mark in the photos through the props you choose to use. A creative choice of props will make your photos look unique and easily distinguishable from other photographers or amateurs.
  • If you can afford it, try to get a studio that is on one hand, well equipped with everything you need and set up, on the other hand, looks captivating. A good studio is often all it takes to create shots that will become your trademark.
  • Focus on the style you want to be recognized and valued for. Try to stick to that and get creative using it. Your style should speak for you.

Here are some things you need to keep in mind while exploring different specializations:

For pet photography: Always be ready. You don’t know what the pet is going to do next, so always keep your setup ready to capture them at any moment. Interact with them. Get closer to them and break the ice between you two. Make sure you capture their eyes sharp. Even pets can be very expressive at times, and it reflects in their eyes. Try to capture that.

For real estate photography: In real estate photography, staging is really important. Make sure to stage your photos so that they look more like homes people live in, not brand new ones that nobody’s ever set foot inside. This gives the photos a homely feeling and appeals the customers. Use professional models of you have to. Create a story with your photos.

For children’s photography: Children are difficult to photograph, because they never sit still. But you also don’t want them to sit still. Because that’d take the childhood out of them. You want them to be naturally mischievous, and still get caught on camera. So, it’s the photographer’s job to catch them off guard while they’re being their best selves.

Interested to learn more? Read my Tips on Kids’ Photography.

Get Some Passive Income as Well

Try selling reprints of your best works. Enthusiasts will buy it for the artistic value. You can sell them on your website, or galleries, or exhibitions. The more you do this, the more passive income you’ll be able to generate out of your photography.

Passive income is income that comes in multiple streams that does not require the production of new work, and is an important element to keep any business running. These activities not only get you a few extra bucks, but also help increase your visibility which is crucial for client hunting.

Even though it’s a contracting profession, it’ll always demand for personal, professional work. The idea is to make yourself unique in terms of specialization, style, and approach. Just so your clients themselves become your brand ambassadors, and keep you on top of the list.

In return, you can provide them value for their money, something that they’d always want.

Let’s Put the Discussion to Rest

The problem with photography gaining popularity as an art form is that now everyone is a photographer. And that’s the primary reason why photography as a career is dying out. But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying to do better in this field. 

In fact, that should be one of your driving forces that’d push you to get better at what you do.

So, don’t be disheartened by the fact that too many people are taking photos these days. Keep working on your strong points, and try to fix your weak areas as well. Photography as career may be dying, but it’s not dead yet. Don’t let it die.

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