Wednesday, December 18, 2013

So you want to be a photographer

On a regular basis I am asked advice on how to become a photographer. I average doing this about three to four times a month.  I decided I needed to write a blog to help people with some of the advice that I provide everyone. Much of my comments come from my Christian perspective.

First I think I need to try and talk you out of being a photographer, but I wrote on this earlier HERE. Be sure and read it as well.

What do you like to photograph?

I am surprised how often when I ask this question people are pausing and having to think about this question. If you are unsure this is a great indication you love the process of photography and really have no clue that photography is about a subject, not the gear.

Subjects people like to photograph [there are more than here]
Still life

Who buys these kinds of photographs?

Again I am surprised that many folks do not know who buys photos. Photography is a business and it provides a service to some market. How will your photographs help this market place? Why do people need your photos?

What kind of lifestyle do you want?

You would be surprised as to how many people want to be a war photographer and also have a family. I think of my friend Tom Kennedy, former director of photography for National Geographic, who was constantly talking with his photographers as they went through divorces.

Even the Apostle Paul talked about lifestyle choices.

1 Corinthians 7:8 (NIV)
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.

Match your subject to your lifestyle choice

Take the time to explore all the kinds of photography you could do and then look for ways this can dovetail with your lifestyle desires. It is easier to have narrowed this to something realistic than to continue to dream without some reality.

Not always logical
2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV) That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
One would be surprised to hear that I suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome.  Asperger’s is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication. I bring this up because spending a lifetime struggling with Asperger’s syndrome has sensitized me and made me a better communicator. I had to really think about situations and try and understand them more than most just to communicate what I needed.

This weakness became my strength. People with Asperger syndrome often display intense interests like I have in photography.

I played to my strengths to help overcome many of my weaknesses. I learned quickly that I did something better than many others because of the way I am wired.

I believe every person has strengths and weaknesses. How this applies to your profession like photography is to really look at what it takes to be successful in that profession.

If you are like most folks you will notice you have some weaknesses that are required to be successful. You will also discover you have some natural talents that help you excel.  Learn to play to your strengths. Don’t ignore your weaknesses, rather acknowledge them and find people to help you.

Maybe you will outsource marketing to someone so you can concentrate on what you do best. To be successful, you still must market yourself. You just don’t have to do all this all yourself.  That is the key to success. Know your weaknesses and strengths. Know what you need to do in your chosen field to be successful and be sure you excel, even if that means getting some help.