The more I think about it, the less I think things have really changed that much. Yes, technology, the Internet, social media have changed the way we market ourselves. New gear, pushing us to expand our skill set, is coming out all the time. Panasonic, with the LUMIX system, is a prime example, as hybrid technology becomes a skill every photographer needs to understand.
A new photographer starting out today has the same challenges as if they started twenty years ago. The questions are the same...How do I close the sale? Should I advertise my prices? How do I get people to know I'm here? Then there are questions on insurance, promotions and the importance of never compromising on quality.
- You still need to produce a quality product! While there are those who will argue most consumers don't know and don't care, I'm convinced that's a cop out. Every time I hear a photographer say that, I can trace back his/her actions to missing something in customer service in their own business. Consumers do want quality and when you take the time to show them the difference the majority of the time they understand. It's all in your presentation.
- You still have to provide a respectable level of Customer Service!
- You have to anticipate your customer's needs.
- You have to listen to your clients. Most important of all, you need to meet their mindset and exceed expectations.
- You still have to provide a pleasing representation of the client, the products, whatever it is you've been hired to photograph.
- You still have to market yourself to get through the noise. I'll admit it's harder than ever to build brand awareness, but the necessity to do it is still there.
I don't care what the method of capture is on, be it film, digital or with a Crayola - you're still being hired as an artist. Unfortunately, there are too many photographers who forget they're an artist and feel threatened by "Uncle Harry". It's not the gear that makes the photographer!
As a professional you still have an incredible network of support companies - from labs to albums to marketing partners to frames and online hosting. In the history of photography there have never been more tools at your disposal! But you have to take advantage of what these companies offer.
Your work still requires a passionate eye, a great heart and a quest to always look for that decisive moment.
Ansel Adams once said,
"Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter."
And that's one more thing that hasn't changed - as a professional photographer you're still part of an incredible legacy of creative spirits like Ansel, Avedon, Scavullo, Karsh, Eddie Adams, Arnold Newman, Dean Collins, Don Blair and Monte Zucker, just to name a few. They gave us a foundation and a legacy that belongs to every professional photographer. While it might sometimes be challenged by technology and the economy, it remains a powerful tribute to pride, quality, creativity and art.
So, that old quote still applies...as much as things change, some things never change.
Illustration Credit: © alphaspirit - Fotolia.com