Sunday, June 3, 2012

Five Ways To Succeed In Photography

A high-flying woman soars above the clouds with a red rocket strapped to her back in a stock photo about success and achievement. 
Reaching the heights of success in the photography world can be achieved in a number of ways. Simply strap a large rocket to your back....
Be The First
Way back in 1990 I was one of the very first photographers to truly and wholeheartedly embrace Photoshop. It paid off for me in a big way and all these years later is still paying off. Being the first to do something, whether it is in the adoption of new techniques and tools or styles or markets is quite often a key to tremendous success. Vincent La Foret ( is a great example. He was one of the first, if not the first, to jump into DSLR motion and it has served him very well. But it is important to remember that being the first alone is not enough…it requires tremendous effort, follow-through, and persistence. I suppose a little talent helps as well!  One of the great things about all the change that is happening in our industry right now is that the opportunity to be among the first seems to be ever expanding.

Be different
In a world that is drowning in images, and in photographers, doing more of what is already out there is a self-defeating effort. Shoot what others aren’t shooting, shoot in a way that others aren’t. If you can do that while still creating images that effectively communicate then there is ample opportunity to reach the top.

Be the best
Of course, this kind of goes with out saying, and yet there are many ways to be the best, and if you can nail one of them then success is waiting for you. The best might mean having the best client service, or the flawless execution of a given style, or even running your photography business in a truly business like fashion. A photographer I know is not particularly creative. His imagery is fine…just not cutting edge or, at least in my opinion, inspired. But he runs his business like a business with good customer service, a thorough understanding of what his clients want, and a dedication to giving it to them. This photographer knows how much he has to earn each month and what he has to do to reach his goals. He does quite well.

Be yourself
The only way, IMO, one can succeed in the viciously competitive world of photography is to harness a true passion for the business.  Most of us cannot sustain passion for something when we are trying to be something we are not. That isn’t the same as becoming something different…which is very difficult but certainly achievable. Success as a photographer requires a truly long-term commitment and copious amounts time and effort…a combination that can only be sustained through passion…or I suppose…desperation. That last motivating factor, I have to admit, has propelled me forward a time or two (and was a big part of what got me into Photoshop in the first place)!

Be Noticed   
This may be last on this little list, but is certainly not least because it is important to all of the above. If you are the best and nobody knows about you…oh well. However, even if you are decidedly mediocre but you are well known, you will benefit from that “notoriety”. As they say,  “Just spell my name right baby!” Just as getting noticed is important to the success of all the above approaches, being first, being different, being the best and being yourself are all important to be noticed.

Not Rocket Science 
Okay, none of this is rocket science. But it is good to remind ourselves of these things from time to time. Just writing this blog has helped to both reminded me, and motivated me, to revisit my own business plan, to update it and review it with the above points in mind.  Hmmm, when was the last time you reviewed your business plan?


Anonymous said...

it also helps to have a contract with Getty Images or Corbis to market/sell your images...

dougarmandphotography said...

Doesn't help as much as you think :^)

Anonymous said...

try selling stock images on your own (through your own website). you'll see what i mean....

dougarmandphotography said...

why doesn't anyone ever take notice of the tongue in cheek smiley?


Also if you post annonymously you cannot expect others to take your words seriously >>>> :^)

John Lund said...

Okay, enough of this bickering!

On a serious note, I agree that, for me at least, a contract with Getty is an essential part of my income stream. But Getty only represents about 25% of my stock photo income....

After three intense years of trying to build my web traffic to increase my stock traffic it is still nowhere near the point supplanting agencies....

Thanks for your comments!