Set apart

There’s no doubt about it, “right now is the most exciting time in the history of the world to be a photographer” –Chase Jarvis

That is a bold statement and I couldn’t agree with it more. That being said I will add to it that as exciting as it is, it is also one of the most difficult times to be a photographer as well. Not that the skill set has changed or that the access to quality education and equipment is limited, in fact it is quite the opposite. The market is full of quality educational material, people are sharing and teaching, mentoring, and last but not least gear. There is so much new gear on the market that on average camera bodies are becoming outdated within a year.

It seems as though for every 1 job the client has there is an abundance of photographers to weed through and choose. This leads to either hiring someone you know, or have had referred, or at worst picking someone based on their qualifications on paper. I say “at worst” because sadly there are a lot of frauds in the world and anyone can put anything on paper. Recently I saw this unfold on a website offering coupons. A “photographer” had listed a coupon for a huge discount on a portrait session and there was no limit to how many would be offered. As the count was increasing people began to wonder about it’s validity. It would be something of a miracle to do over a thousand portraits in a matter of a few weeks, let alone across a year.

So how do you get a job in an economy where money is tight and everyone and their neighbor has a dSLR camera? Do something different, be better, and do what they can’t do.

There are many things that go into being a photographer, it’s not just having a camera and being able to take pictures. I could talk all day about the various aspects that go into just one shoot let alone all the other things required for this. Some of the keys to communicate to your clients seemingly have nothing to do with the actual photographic process but rather in helping them have trust and confidence in you.

Flexibility, creativity, communication skills, knowledge of your subject and environment, and your time management will all affect the client’s opinion of you as a photographer.

Recently I was shooting some family portraits and the plan had changed three times before the shoot even happened. We had originally planned to be outside in a park with the beautiful leaves changing and the amazing colors of fall here in North Carolina, but then they asked if we could instead just do it in their back yard. I got some pictures of their back yard to begin planning for this shift. Just as I was getting my mind wrapped around this, a decision was made to change locations once again to inside the house. We have now moved from a foreign environment with a beautiful backdrop to inside a very familiar environment with limited backgrounds.

Although I am by no means a child photographer, I know that the more familiar they are with an environment the more difficult it will be to have them focused for a photography session. This was absolutely the case here. The kids wanted to run upstairs and get various toys, change clothes, and bring things to use a props. I’m pretty flexible so I went with it and made it work. It had it’s moments of frustration, not with the kids, but with the situation, it wasn’t what I had planned for.

The “this isn’t what I planned for” situation though is what gives you as a photographer the opportunity to stand out above the next guy. Your flexibility will set you apart and people will see that you can quickly adapt to whatever situation you are given. As much as I like controlled environments, I love the craziness and fast paced nature of the world. I am a photojournalist, so I work best in the realm of “I have to get the shot and tell the story”. The environment, lighting, and mood are all variables that you just have to work with and again, what sets you apart is being able to make them all come together for the shot.


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