Saturday, May 8, 2010

CS5, Fear, Creativity and Success In Stock Photography

Now Everyone Can Do It....
A few nights ago I attended an Adobe presentation about Photoshop CS5. As I sat there watching them demonstrate new technologies that makes painstaking tasks into a snap I first felt a bit of despair that we are taking one more large stride towards making my hard-earned skills less unique. Each technological advance takes away the advantages that I have over newcomers and amateurs.  Each time the presenter showcased a new or improved tool the audience broke into applause, which I weakly joined, while inside I thought to my self  “Just great…now everyone can do it”. Luckily I managed to get out of that frame of mind before the evening was over.

New Technologies, A level Playing Field, and Fear
The technologies are indeed leveling the playing field of photography, particularly stock photography. They are making time-consuming and laborious tasks much faster and easier. And that really is a good thing.  I love that kind of progress when I am not caught up in fear…fear over increased competition and fear of change.  Getting into this place of fear is easy for most of us to do…and it is a deadly place. It leads us into inaction and a whole host of negative emotions. Negative emotions, among other things, are not particularly fun. I prefer to be an optimist because, if for no other reason, it is a lot more enjoyable! 

Shifted Thinking and Creativity
So rather than giving in to that fear the other night I made a conscious decision to shift my thinking.  I reminded myself that the ability to create images, that is, to do the technical work, has been decreasing in importance for years now as the technology takes over that burden. What is becoming ever more important is creativity. Creativity in everything from how we run our businesses to what ideas we come up with for our imaging projects.

The Importance of the Idea
A good sound grasp of the tools certainly is an advantage over a less disciplined approach, but isn’t the idea or concept that we are creating ultimately far more important? A great idea executed in a mediocre way is stronger than a mediocre idea executed with technical aplomb. At least I am proposing that that is the case in the world of stock photography.

Lost Momentum, Fun, and Productivity
If I get caught up in worrying about the competition I lose momentum, I have far less fun, and I am less productive. So I mentally shifted to thinking about all the cool things I can do with these new Photoshop improvements, how much easier my images will be to make. I reminded myself that the most important on-going project I have is to increase and hone my creativity.  I pictured some of the images I have on my to do list now…and how the new PS advancements will help me accomplish them.

Creatively Satisfying Images and Money
I left the presentation feeling excited and eager to dive into CS5, not because CS5 itself has been improved, but because it will help me create my images. I also left with a clear and strong mandate to work on becoming more creative and more imaginative. And I left with an understanding that more creativity and imagination will not only help my bottom line, but it will make the non-monetary rewards of my career that much more satisfying. I am not in stock photography just to make money, or to make more images like everyone else. Sure, those images will happen, and to some extent need to for cash flow reasons. However, one of the most important reasons I am a stock photographer is to be able to create images that are exciting and interesting for me . There is no doubt in my mind that if I can keep making images that are creatively satisfying for me, the money will take care of itself.

OK, off to install my new CS5 upgrade!


mj said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject, John! It would also be great to hear your opinion on new features of CS5 and how do they help such PS guru as yourself be more productive.


John Lund said...


Thanks for the suggestion. As soon as I get some time with CS5 under my belt I will do just that!


Jeff Colburn said...

I agree with you about the advancement of technology. I encountered a similar situation years ago when I made a very nice living off of Excel. I designed huge spreadsheets for companies, and solved spreadsheet problems by the score. Then Excel made advancements. Things that took me hours could now be done by anyone in a few minutes, and more college grads knew Excel. I went from turning down work to having no jobs for months.

I have 35 years of photography experience, but technology allows beginners to cut years off of the learning curve.

The only real advantage we have over others is our own unique slant on life, and how we apply our creativity to that. So stay true to yourself, and press on.

Have Fun,

John Lund said...


Well Put!