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Why Good Photographers Fail
  • Oct 3, 2021
  • 4 minutes

Why Good Photographers Fail

While it could be said that in todayʼs world, photographers are a dime-a-dozen.  Really good photographers, however, aren't so easy to find - and there is your challenge.  Your challenge to become one of the rare really good photographers out there.  And might I add - be so good that no one can ignore you.

With millions of people out there taking photographs (mostly with their mobile phones), it seems that the art is becoming lost in a sea of different and muddled voices.  Despite this fact, professional photographers stand tall as true artists because they take their craft seriously and know how to capture emotion through light.  Professionals know instinctively how to capture great images.

With such an oversaturated market for photography on the internet today where even your little brother can call him self a photographer thanks to Instagram filters, only those who are truly talented will be able provide something meaningful with their work and get noticed.

Why, then, do we see so many snapshot artists selling photos and so many of those talented photographers frustrated with lack of sales or flat-out giving up?  It comes down to one simple fact.

Photography is like any other business in one very basic way: it doesn't matter how good you are if people don't know about what you do. Many amazing photographers fail because they never promote themselves and their work to the public. Marketing, self-promotion, these two things can make or break a photographer's career.

The irony is that the same technology that has changed photography for photographers, like me, in such a positive way can also frustrate us even more. Sure I could set up an online portfolio quickly and easily with minutes; connect it to any number of sales platforms; heck many of these platforms will print my photos or frames them too.  But thereʼs no guarantee of sales or paying jobs by merely having an online presence.  Without promotion you can forget about your business taking off or succeeding.  Without promotion your work will be hidden under piles of other people's work who actually got lucky enough to get attention first.

Social media advertising isnʼt as easy as many newcomers think, either. Your personal Facebook and Twitter accounts have a limited reach and it takes something really spectacular to extend beyond that reach. So, if you're thinking all you have to do is have an active social media account, think again.

If youʼve looked into the effort and possible costs associated with Facebook business page or an Instagram business page, then you know that youʼve got to convert posts into sales in order for this method of promotion to work.  And how do you make social media work to promote yourself and convert your posts to sales?  Buy ads.  This is what social media companies want from you - your money.  What's more is if you don't purchase ads over a long period of time and consistently, then your efforts are wasted.  You won't accomplish what you want.

Social media can be powerful if done correctly but only after learning how to use these tools correctly and efficiently.

That said, would I consider buying an ad on social media?  There are a variety of reasons for my answer and my answer is NO.

By now, youʼre probably wondering if Iʼm sharing this information just to help you decide to give up.  I assure you, that isnʼt the case.  Iʼm simply pointing out that the traditional process of promoting yourself as a photographer is still a considerable amount of work, even with all the awesome new tools available.  I call it old fashioned marketing and itʼs the old fashioned marketing that you must do to get noticed.

Donʼt get me wrong, all that traditional stuff is still important.  You need an online portfolio. You need to put yourself and your photography out into the world.  You need to blog about your work.  Any testimonials you can get from clients are a great help. Everything you think you should be doing to promote yourself online, you should be doing.  Business cards are a must.  The real difference, though, is to find the things that work for you, instead of making more work for yourself.  You know, itʼs that whole “work smarter, not harder” thing.

A little bit of research will show you lots of other ways to take some of the promotional work off your shoulders.  For instance, some of the sites that host images for your online portfolio or sales will automatically post to your Facebook page, Flickr page or Twitter account every time you upload or update an image.  That should be one of the criteria you look for when you decide what services to sign up for.

Thereʼs no escaping the fact that without promotion, your photography business isnʼt going to succeed.  Thereʼs also no getting around the fact that promotion is a lot of work.  And one of the keys to good promotion is consistency.  You must show up and promote yourself and your photography almost on a daily basis.

If photography is your passion; if photography is the way you want to earn a living or even earn extra money, then you must learn and practice good marketing and self-promotion skills.  There is no way around the fact and there is no shortcut.  And, this is reality.

Just remember - you can be the best photographer since Ansel Adams or Henri Cartier Bresson with the most drop dead gorgeous photographs anyone has ever seen but if you donʼt market and promote yourself and your photography, no one will ever know.

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