Everything changes. Technology advances at lightning speed changing the way we live and communicate. The art of photography has been irrevocably changed. There are the obvious changes in the way we capture and process images, and then there are the ways in which we view and share images.
When I was a darkroom photographer, I would dodge and burn and print. The only way that I could get my images seen was to hang them on the wall or get them published in magazines. It was really hard to get noticed, to get exposure. Now I have Flickr, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and my own photography blog and website. I can get my images viewed by thousands in a very short space of time. I also have some control over how my images are indexed by the search engines, driving traffic to each of these accounts.
Photographers who cling onto the past, expecting to be able to earn large sums of money for one negative or slide are sadly disengaged from today’s market. Documentary and press photographers have been hard hit. Papers today can get cheap, and even free images, from members of the public for most news worthy events. It is true that the quality of images often suffers as a consequence and that many talented photographers are finding it harder and harder to make a living.
Then there is the stock image industry. Millions of people are uploading billions of images down-loadable, sometimes, for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. Does this mean the death of the photographic industry, not at all; it means a transformation of the industry. People can speculate about whether it’s good or bad, but that is not going to help photographers get ahead. The first online digital image sharing services, introducing the concept of micro-pricing, were developed by entrepreneurs who recognised that the boundaries between creators and users have disappeared.
The stock image game is still there to be played but it is tougher than ever before. You need some dedication, persistence and hard work to make any money out of it and even then that is often not enough.
Successful photographers need to understand and use different tools and platforms for marketing, and either sell more images for less money, or be so good at photography, social marketing and search engine optimisation that both their images and their services as a photographer get noticed.
Whilst traditional photographers may get satisfaction playing the blame game, calling the stock image industry to task about their unscrupulous licensing model. They may heave and sigh that amateurs call themselves professionals because they have bought themselves a great piece of kit and can click a shutter, but all of this is a waste of time. To survive as a photographer now means refocusing on what works right now. To get noticed as a photographer you will still need to be great at what you do to make any money out of your art. However, being good is no longer enough; you will need to learn new marketing skills, social media marketing, SEO (search engine optimisation) and content marketing.
Over the next few weeks and months I’ll be writing a series of articles on the subject. Sharing what I have learned from over a decade of digital marketing for Silicon Beach Training in Brighton. So keep coming back and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn for more instalments.