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I'm from the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. I was a woodworker for about 12 years. Well, up until I had the rug pulled out from under my feet, and I was laid off. I got back into photography in 2008 and decided to give that a try professionally, but haven't made any money so far because rednecks, white trash, and hicks are cheap. So, I'm working in a local grocery store where some days I hear and see the craziest stuff. I tend to complain a lot about things, but I'm too poor to afford a good therapist. So, I decided to make a blog and complain online to all of you instead. But I digress. I really just wanted to do the blog to share ideas and stories with the interwebz. =D
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Monday, April 4, 2011

The Return to Plan A...

I used to have a plan. It was only a couple of years ago, but it seems like it was forever ago. Nonetheless, I had a plan.

In 2008, I had decided to try and make a photo book on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I'm not really much of a writer though, and I searched out someone that could help me with the project. About the time I met a couple of individuals that might be able to help, I lost my job. Part of the reason for me being chosen as one of the people to be let go was that "I had a budding photography career going for me." Whatever...

I decided to run with it. I had a plan to be a fine art photographer. I could easily ride around, shoot scenes, make prints of locally recognized places and things, and hopefully market them to locals at festivals and through consignment sales at area businesses. It wasn't much, but it was a plan. I might not have made bank on it, but again - it was a plan. It was actually something I could do on weekends or in my spare time, and with minimal investment. I didn't have to go get specific lenses, flashes, wireless triggers, modifiers, lightstands, scrims, and other junk.

Somewhere along the line, I got sucked into doing portraits. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind taking them for people, but it's the selling myself to try and get whatever business I can scrape up that I hate. As a fine art photographer, you take a photo, you offer up whatever photos you want to, and either they sell or they don't. If they don't you keep shooting and move on. With portraits, you have bend over backwards to sell yourself in order to even get in the door. If the client is lame, then you have to really work hard to get anything decent. Sometimes that's not even enough. Heck, even good clients aren't completely easy. More often than not, a good portrait is the result of lots of planning and work, along with good technique and a dash of good luck when it comes to the weather and the light.

Also, when you hire a photographer, you probably already have in your mind's eye an idea of what your photo should look like. If you have half a brain, you've done some research and hired a photographer whose style is close that what you already have in mind. I don't think that the average person from where I live is that way. They want something like they have seen from some other photographer, and they've called me because someone said I do good work - and that's it. Most of them have never even seen my work before, and even if they have, they typically ask for something that I'm in no way interested in shooting for them. I've been taught that I should educate a client on how trends like selective coloring or sepia toned portraits are just fads that will be silly to them in a few years time. (In reality, they're stupid looking now...) In the case of people from around here, they don't care. It's what they are hell bent on, and they aren't interested in anything that you have to explain to them about anything.

I'm tired of busting my butt to just scrape by. So, I put out a call on Facebook for one final week of free photos. I had three people e-mail me about it, and only two people actually took me up on the offer. Now, here's the real kicker - There will be a couple of morons that missed the call that will still expect me to shoot them for free later on. I mean, after all, it's just taking photos, right? Well, I'm finally just going to tell them "too bad."

Inspiration Arrived At My Doorstep Today

After seeing a couple of friends release photo books this past month, I've decided that I'm going back to plan A. Which is work a day job, let that be my primary way to make money, and shoot "stuff" on the side. I'm going to make a photo book, and I'm going to sell prints online on a Smugmug page, at local festivals, and at area shops on consignment. Sure, I'll take the occasional portrait job if it comes my way, but I'm not going to be pushing and trying to market myself  for it any longer. I'd rather be out shooting and having fun than making a "job" out of photography.



marcus said...

I have a lot of people telling me I need to get into portraits, but everything about trying to run a portrait photography business feels like work. When I shoot flowers, waterfalls, landscapes, etc. it's just fun. I don't want to lose that, so I'm with you. I'll keep my day job and shoot what I want for fun.

I still want to go out and shoot some old barns and churches with you sometime.

robert donovan said...

Right there with you man. These days I barely have time to even pick up the camera with the day job.I get shooting jobs here and there but just don't have the time to market myself worth a damn.

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