The image above is birds feeding on a bait ball, several hundred hards off the Nokomis Beach shore last week. Whenever you see a cluster of birds on the ocean like this, it means there's a large school of small fish just below the surface and the birds are feeding. When you're scuba diving there are few things more fun than swimming through a bait ball, as your body parts a school of thousands of tiny fish like Charleton Heston parting the sea in The Ten Commandments.
Stay with me, because feeding on a bait ball has a great analogy for business! From my perspective this morning there are two main issues related to bait balls photographers get involved with.
First, the shot below is part of the crowd around Peter Hurley yesterday at IUSA, doing a program on the floor of the show. It was an educational feeding frenzy as several hundred photographers stopped to listen to his short presentation.
Now, here's the other side of chasing a bait ball - why get caught in the crowd? Peter's one of the industry's best educators. His book has been a best-seller in our industry for several years. He's a great presenter. I know the fun of watching one of your heroes speak at a convention, but it's so important to understand the message and the associated technique.
So many of the artists in the crowd above will never do anything with the educational content Peter shared yesterday. They won't take the next step to work on their skill set and appreciate the small slice of inspiration Peter provided. They'll return to their business at the end of the convention, procrastinate about changing their philosophy/style and complain about sales being off the mark six months down the road.
Last on the analogy list, is the feeding frenzy for new business and photographers forgetting they have to make themselves unique to stand out in the community. Like Peter's ability to create excitement over understanding how to capture the personalities of your subjects in a headshot, there's more to the process than just understanding exposure and when to click the shutter!
Here's my point - appreciate the bait ball, but look for ways to make yourself stand out from the crowd. It's fine to be caught in the frenzy of education to raise the bar on your business and skill set, but learn to make diversity and adaptation an ongoing part of your process.
And, like my grandmother used to say. and staying with a bird theme, be the first to launch new creative ideas and products making yourself a leader instead of a follower.
"The early bird gets the worm!"