Lessons in the business of photography

Last Monday, November 9th, I gave a presentation in New York City at the Apple store in SoHo. It was titled “It’s the journey not the destination (but who does not like a good destination shoot?)” I was one of two photographers presenting that night. When I agreed to do this talk, months ago, I thought it might have made for a somewhat interesting evening. Little did I know, just how interesting that whole evening would actually be!

The presentation that I gave that night traced my own career path from aspiring photographer to working professional. It is derived from the talk that I turned into a pod-cast that can be seen at: http://thewellspoint.com/2009/01/28/one-photographers-career-path/ The presentation I gave last week was updated a bit from that pod-cast, going into greater detail about the many stops I made along the way on my career path. As I have written before, one of the best ways to figure out how to get wherever you want to go in the world of photography is to carefully study the career paths of successful photographers.

If you want to see what it looked like in the Apple store that night go to: http://360vr.com/2009/11/09-apa-event-apple-theate-dhwells/index.html There you will a 360 degree panoramic image of me presenting, by the photographer, Jook Leung. The image does a nice job of conveying the atmosphere of the place as I was presenting. One particularly nice moment in my presentation was when I showed my multi-media piece “An “Auto” view of India,” that takes the viewer on a journey through India while riding on an auto rickshaw. That pod-cast can be seen at: http://thewellspoint.com/2008/12/03/an-auto-view-of-india/

The digital projector and sound system at the Apple store were so amazing from where I was standing that it was quite clear that the audience really was momentarily “transported” to India.

The eighty-plus folks who crowded into the SoHo Apple Theater that night were a mix of aspiring and established photographers. After they traced my career path, they heard a presentation by a Philadelphia based photographer (and old friend) by the name of Bill Cramer. Bill wears has many roles in the world of photography. Bill specializes in environmental portraiture for editorial, advertising, corporate, and institutional clients. His work can be seen at: http://www.billcramer.com/series.html

He also founded and runs a company called Wonderful Machine, a boutique web-marketing portal for commercial photographers. You can see their site at: http://wonderfulmachine.com/

Bill gave a fascinating presentation called “An Obsessive-Compulsive’s Guide to Branding and Marketing.” It explored the interplay between promotion, branding and marketing. Bill worked hard to clarify the relationship between the three. Then he went on to offer a useful set of resources for anyone interested in ramping up their marketing. The best thing of all was that he made up a PDF of his talk, which can be found at: http://wonderfulmachine.com/apa.pdf There is also a detailed blog entry about that at: http://www.wonderfulmachine.com/blog/?p=1126

I was reminded how my career path was a series of accidental lessons in the business of photography. My talk about that dovetailed well with Bill’s talk on more intentional marketing strategies for photographers, especially since marketing is an ever-growing part of any photographer’s business.

I have written (and I often mention in my classes) how digital photography has seemingly eliminated the skill component in photography. With that in mind, the most successful photographers working today (and in the future) will be the ones who can differentiate themselves through their creativity and can break through the clutter to distinguish them selves through distinctive promotion.

So, if you are thinking of or are already trying to work somewhere in the universe of professional photography, take a link at Bill’s presentation in PDF form and the related blog posting. Together, they make up a great lesson in the business of photography.

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