Look Beyond Photography: Episode 35 “It’s Just Not Fair”

Do you ever feel like all of your hard work goes unnoticed and that others seem to get by in photography so easily?

As modern day photographers, we’re part of an industry that’s been in a constant flux of change…and not always for the better.  One of the biggest concerns currently on most photographer’s minds is the sheer volume of competition that’s out there right now.  We’re in an environment where purchasing gear that’s capable of creating pro-level quality is not only easily accessible, but relatively affordable.  Because of this, there has been an explosion of “photographers”, all vying for the same markets.  …and while competition in many other markets tends to raise premiums and service quality, in our industry it’s proven to be quite the opposite.  The issue is that our market is super-saturated with “good” photos rolling through our social media feeds daily…and that a large number of photographers creating these photos see no value in their own work, as a result charging far too little for their time and skills.  Worse yet, many modern day photographers simply aren’t interested in charging premium prices at all…so how do we compete with that?

Now don’t get me wrong, there is a vast difference in quality and service when customers choose to hire a professionally trained and equipped photographer.  But for the most part, a large portion of our potential clients simply do not see or understand the value in going with a pro.  …and simply put, it’s just not fair.  However, as with most things in life, fairness just seems to have no relevance as to how events play out.  So what’s the solution?  Is there even an answer to how we combat these issues?  I say “yes”!

I’ve said it on the blog, I’ve said it in person, and I’ve said it over numerous emails and messages with other photographers…and I’ll continue to say it.  If your goal is to take good, well lit, nicely posed portraits…and you decide to compete in your business at this level, then I’m sorry to tell you that you’re one of a million others around the world doing the same thing daily and your business is likely going to fall by the wayside.  (and if you’re competing with others that can’t even create “good” photos, then that’s a whole other issue that needs addressed)  BUT, if your goal is to create photographic artwork, then hope is alive and well!

Here’s the thing, good photography can be duplicated and reproduced day in and day out.  Artwork, on the other hand, can only be reproduced by the artist.  This is because true art is born out of the vision and soul of the artist.  It’s unique to how and why they create.  …and the main thing we need to understand is that there are much fewer artists than photographers!  Understanding this is understanding where our value lies and how we can appeal to our potential customers and clients.  Not everyone that picks up a camera is an artist…that’s just the reality.  Real artists have the desire to create, and sometimes the camera is one of the tools they use to do so.  It’s in this truth that we can realize that we’re not trapped by the confines of today’s industry trends, but that we’re free to explore what makes us unique and how we can offer products and services that no one else can compete with.  Because there will always be those that love what YOU do, appreciate YOUR skills and abilities, and are abundantly happy to hire YOU to create for them!

"Alien" - Joshua Hanna Photography

“Alien” – Joshua Hanna Photography: This is one of the first images I remember creating for myself simply because it’s what I wanted to do and what I wanted it to be.

If you’re one of the many that’s out there right now, wringing your hands and struggling to find new ways to compete with the other photographers around you…then I encourage to breathe deeply, and pause to reflect instead on what you have to offer that is uniquely you.  It’s not so hard as you think.  Ask yourself this…”if I were to create for myself today, something that I thought was fun and exciting, without worrying about what other photographers or potential clients think…what would I create?”  If the answer is wildly different from what you’re currently doing, then look for opportunities to make changes that align with your vision.  God has created us all to be unique and sometimes we just need to give over to what we were created to do!  (…and as long as I continue to feel led to write this blog, I will continue to harp on allowing God to lead us into being the unique individual He has created us to be.)

Life is complex, and it’s messy, and many times it just isn’t “fair”.  If we concentrate on this, we’ll never be happy or successful.  So start looking at your situation differently today.  How can you take the issues your facing right now and flip them to make something unique out of it?  For me, it started a year ago when I decided after much prayer that I was going to take the issues I was dealing with, look for positive alternatives on how to view those situations, and then share them on a blog for others to read that may relate to what I go through.  …and even if it’s helped only one person to be more encouraged, then the effort has been worth it (even if that one person is simply me).