The business of photography is changing, and it’s changing rapidly. Blame it on the emergence of new technology, the availability of high end cameras, or the ease of submitting photos to magazines from your smart phone, but one thing is for sure; it’s no longer easy to make money with a career in photography.
We are in a bit of a strange gray area in photography business right now. There are a lot of photographers out there who shoot full time or part time who are trying to figure out where photography business is going. Some people see it as a huge wall blocking their chances to make a career out of what they love most. Sadly, those are the people who are going to fail.
The shift in photography culture is not a wall.
It’s not a death sentence.
It’s not the end of the world.
It’s an opportunity.
And those who see the shift in photography business as an opportunity instead of a burden are the ones who are going to succeed.
This isn’t your dad’s photography field anymore. Things have adapted, and successful photographers have to adapt with it. It’s becoming much less common to meet a photographer who makes serious cash submitting their work to magazines. Instead, there’s a huge shift to the education, inspiration, and cooperation side of the business spectrum.
It makes sense too. Think about how many people have DSLR cameras but don’t know how to use them. I would bet you that out of a standard neighborhood that 60% of the houses have a kit DSLR that parents use to photograph their kids. Not only that, but out of those 60% of homes with DSLR cameras, I would be willing to stand by the idea that maybe 5% of those cameras are in anything but the automatic setting.
People don’t know how to use their cameras. That’s a huge opportunity for photographers to teach.
When people scroll through their Instagram feed, they think, “Wow, I wish I could take photos like that.” Anytime someone says that, there is a business opportunity.
People also want to be inspired right now.
Life is hard, and we all want to see some good in the world, something that gives us the ability to dream.
The photographer that does this the best is Chris Burkard. He’s one of the most followed photographers on Instagram. While the majority of photographers on Instagram use 87 hashtags per post, he rarely uses one… and he gets about 42,000 likes per post. And he does all by inspiration and allowing people to dream of far away places. Take this post for example.
With one line, “The roar of the Atlantic. Can you hear it?” people are taken back to a vacation state of mind and instantly dream of standing on the same shoreline. No hashtags. Nearly 43,000 likes and over 200 comments. What?! I don’t think I need to convince you any longer that people want to be inspired. I’ll just drop the mic there and move on.
Inspiration posts might not make you any money initially, but they could lead to marketing deals and promotional shoots later, not to mention the acquisition of new followers!
Lastly, I think photography is on the verge of a boom in sponsorships. There are a lot of photography hobbyists out there who want to know about gear and gadgets they can use to improve their own photography. Photographers need to start taking the initiative to reach out to companies of products they use, or at least try to catch their attention by subtly including those products in promotional videos or photos. The companies will notice, and usually reward you.
So, now is the time to stop wallowing in the self pity that photography is changing and embrace the change as opportunity.