Friday, May 13, 2011

Excellence: On The Road To Success In Photography

A picture of the road to success either coming or going through a storm, a rain squall, on the distant horizon.
The road to success is long and often beset by the storm clouds of change and adversity.

Raising The Bar In Photography
Is it just me or does the bar for photography keep getting raised? I feel like the bar isn’t just going up, it has already reached staggering heights! Glen Allison recently brought to my attention a photographer, Elena Vizerskaya, who contributes to iStockphoto and Getty (via the Vetta Collection). Her work can be seen here:  There is no doubt in my mind that Elena is well on the road to success, huge success, in photography (okay, maybe she is already there...but "being on the road" fits my headline better). The key to success in professional photography in the coming years requires excellence, and lots of it.

Excellence In Photography
Excellence doesn’t necessarily mean pushing the limits of one’s vision, though looking at Elena’s work certainly pushes me in that direction. That excellence can take many forms, not just in the photography itself. Excellence can be expressed in marketing, in production, and in finding and utilizing new venues for your work. Yuri Arcurs has mastered the production of quantity and quality images that are perfect for microstock, and has succeeded beyond the vast majority of even the best of established traditional stock shooters. Bill Bachman apparently succeeds utilizing those “traditional” channels. Lee Torrens is succeeding by reporting on microstock photography. Quang-Tuan Luong, and Rolf Hicker succeed with both quality work and effective Internet marketing. Ron Chapple has re-invented himself and is both succeeding and having a blast doing high-end aerial photography. A host of photographers appear to be succeeding by moving into teaching and or leading photo tours. Colin Anderson, Like Elena, succeeds by producing signature work.  Despite the crashing of the photography world for a huge number of shooters, there are still success stories all around us.

Seeking Excellence In What Works For You
I can’t speak for everyone, but the photographers I know who are successful put tremendous amounts of time and effort into their businesses. They give their all in there quest for excellence.  I believe the best approach is to nurture creativity, find the avenues that work for you, and pursue those avenues with dedication and passion. I am unwilling to do what Yuri Arcurs does, I don’t have Colin Anderson’s unique vision, nor Elena Vizerskaya’s either. I can’t compete with the nature photography of Quang-Tuan Luong or Rolf Hicker, so I have to seek excellence in what works for me, and I have to be open to the new realities.

Glen Alison, Fearlessly Re-Inventing Himself Again
By the way, Glen Allison, who brought this whole thought process up to me with a link to an article on Elena Vizerskaya, is busy fearlessly re-inventing himself yet again. Here is a photographer who is paying attention, open to the new realities, and constantly seeking excellence. He is now blogging about the combination of nude photography and travel…now who could resist that combination?

The Collapse of the Professional Photography World
Maybe this “collapse” of the professional photography world is a good thing in a way, because it means we can’t lolly-gag along doing what we have always done. We have to keep our eyes and ears open (not to mention our minds) as we never have before. We have to keep learning and keep growing. We have to be alive in every sense of the word...and that is a very good thing.