I have a mobile telephone. It's one of them smartphones, actually. It's got a 5Mpix camera, a 3.2" touch screen, only weighs 135 grams (4.76 ounces, for those using the wrong measuring scale :P) , is white (most of the time), has a full featured web-browser, Wi-Fi connectivity, has GPS navigation - the whole shebang. And that's the problem. Yes, I like my phone and use it extensively... but the experience is never satisfying. The camera often fails to impress me, even in optimal conditions. The screen kills my eyes when I try to usefully browse the net for anything more than 30 minutes because it's too small. The GPS simply sucks each and every drop of juice from the battery and the Wi-Fi often has poor coverage. It's an all-in-one and none-really-good. Worst of all - it can't match my old mobile phone from seven years ago when it comes to durability and battery life.
The phone will not substitute my camera, even when it comes to snapshots. I'm not throwing away my dedicated navigation system anytime soon (although it's a bit dated) and I still do most of my browsing quickly, efficiently and on my computer's large screen.
See, I think many of us photographers have fallen in the same trap. We try to jiggle with a dozen of things which other people call professions and still want to be good photographers, while having absolutely no expertise in performing complex circus tricks. We want to be an all-in-one but if by any means possible - never experience the compromises an all-in-one brings along. It's a noble cause but it often doesn't work.
I've been reflecting a lot on the growth of some photographers and the stagnation of others lately. When I decide to spend some time reading photography blogs the same thing keeps coming up - How do the big(ger) guys do it? Followed by I keep trying and keep failing.
Then I went ahead and thought more about how the big guys actually do it... Lo and behold - they don't. It's the big guys and their teams who manage to make glorious shoots happen. Teams which often include a stylist, a bag of beefed-up I-carry-anything assistants, a post-processing specialist (the Photoshop dude), an accountant, perhaps even a secretary.
As sad as it is - one can only do so much. Even an all-in-one one. A lucky bunch of a few out there have succeeded to do more than us mortal humans can but that's most likely irrelevant to you and me. Back here in the real world, if we're to try and accomplish all these different tasks well enough to build up a decent photo shoot, then process the results and account to uncle Sam for the earnings it will probably mean we shouldn't sleep for months. And it still won't be as good as when specifically gifted people do their own little piece of the job.
In practice this all means that we need to re-group. Individually. Then go out and find some people to help us if we really want to grow past a certain point. It means that hiring a stylist for at least some of your bigger shoots isn't a waste of money. It also means that if you can get a trustworthy Photoshop guy you'll free up more time for shooting, resting, developing your creativity however it is that you do that. Is keywording an issue for you? Train your retired English-speaking family members into the art of keywording (or, actually - use Dreamstime's keywording service) and rid yourself of it.
All-in-ones are popular nowadays. Fast food restaurants were popular too... once. :)
Optimize the amount of work you can do - down to only the work you can do really well. Find others to do the rest. It doesn't mean immediately hiring a team of 5 people to process your "rose from the back garden" image. As your workload grows slowly, grow your crew slowly. It doesn't have to start on professional level either. The main objective is that you save time and maintain good results.
I've been thinking about this article for some time and two comments come to mind. The first, is a quote from Theodore Roosevelt ~ "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are". Something to think about....
The second thought I have is we all have to ask why we do this. Some do it as a hobby, others do it as fulltime photographers, and then there are those in between. What it boils down to is we are selling "stock". That is, a stock of images that are sitting on a hard drive. How we obtain those images - whether from a walk in the countryside, or leftovers from a commissioned shoot - determines our success or failure from a financial perspective.
Why not spend your client's money? If you're photographing for an advertisement, get a model/property release. Any unused images can be uploaded as stock. If you're photographing products for a catalog, then save those images and re-market them rather than disposing of them. A few photographers here have given classes - and...(More)
Well, I think my phone is fantastic. I travelled 200 miles via it's sat nav the other day receiving traffic updates while it also played the music for the trip. I no longer have to be stuck in the office as it provides me with my emails. I get satellite weather images which helps me with my aerial photography, it finds me Hotels and other stuff in the area. I browse the web no problem and keep up to date with ebay auctions, I can watch TV on it as well. It does so much, more than I ever thought possible. My daughter filmed a video on it which was part of a degree coarse work project and it was marked as a "First". My iPhone is just stunning. Now if I can perform half as well i'm onto a winner. Anyone shooting models in a studio needs to be on top of their game though, just think who you are competing against. Why would anyone buy a picture of your friend, who does her own makeup etc and you're not so expert retouching when the business is awash with quality models professionally made...(More)
I agree that hiring stylists, models, etc. makes the cost of being a microstock photographer prohibitive for most of us. However, I use family members as models and my husband as my assistant. Lately I have been experimenting with more unusual content in order to distinguish my portfolio from that of the 'big boys & girls'. None of these submitted yet, so I can't tell if my approach will be successful, but I'm having a lot of fun dreaming up ideas.
The world is changing! So is the way to earn money. Few years before for some there were no way to sell their work online. Now it is so cheap! And we can not STOP IT. All we can - is to adopt our ways to earn those damn money.
All so true and I didn't want to be the first to mention it, but there is a large elephant in the room ;-)
How are we supposed to pay for models, stylists, studio and photoshoppers from (mostly) 0.35 dollarcents per sale? Microstock has simply become unsustainable for this kind of financial effort.
Yes, this seems like something one would do if one had sufficient working capital to survive until the revenue from your increased productivity started to roll in. Expenses like paying staff and models costs you right now while revenue trickles in over time. I paid models in the past and have yet to make the money back. Considering 185 shots taken during an hour session got whittled down to 13 that were different enough not to be rejected as too similar and of those, 3 were rejected anyway. I'll have to keep being the jack of all trades for now, which includes working my own business fulltime. Respect us for getting any shots at all.
The flaw on this post is the little amount we get for each photograph. How many .36 cent downloads do you think it will take to pay for a model ( $ 175./hr. ), stylist ( $ 125./hr. ), assistant ( $ 250./day ), lunch for 4 ( $ 40. ) and maybe traveling ( .50 cent/mile ). That comes out to $ 600. for a one hour shoot. That comes out to selling that shot 1666 times at .36 cents. Good luck with that! Unless you've got an assembly line going or can sell your shots a few times to a ******** or Corbis for real money, this is not a good business model........Get some paid jobs, and if possible ( contract problems? ), put up the out-takes on RF stock. That model might work for a few......
This is a very interesting article. Once you understand and accept that you can only do so much, it is probably easier to be HAPPY with the things you DO achieve instead of being UNHAPPY with the things you DON'T achieve.
Interesting article. Thanks for your thoughts. I certainly think this is something to consider. I have also wondered before if it might be helpful to have more focus as far as subject matter. I tend to shoot all sorts of different subjects that appeal to me and I am adding new ones all the time. Where some people focus on a certain subject and mostly stick with it, so they become experts at that type of subject and get known for it. I just enjoy too many subjects to abandon any of them.
Interesting article. But, you also have the headache of unreliable people working with you. When you get a team of 5, then you are bound to have problems. So, some of that 'down' time will be spent on personnel issues.
My thoughts on this.... I think it makes perfect sense if you are a large volume photographer. You probably make enough money to be able to hire one or more persons to help with the jobs you don't want or don't have time for. It's been written about many times, how delegation of tasks frees you to focus on what you do best so that you can be more productive. I completely agree and acknowledge the value of doing business this way. But for us small time folks, I don't produce enough volume of images for me to hire someone. So, from my position, would you say that I should spend money to make money i.e. hire help so that I in turn could produce more images and optimize my work? Or, keep slogging away until I have more success and then try this path? I'm very interested to hear your opinion. :)
I heard they were going to construct mobile phone with built-in bar (whiskey, gin) which also can be helicopter.. That's great. But as for me, I prefer to have gin, whiskey, phone, camera and helicopter separately :)
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