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AndyHTu

Orange Sky Fitness Shoot

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Hi Guys,

I'm a long time user here, but I lost my account.  Formerly AndyWear, but I'm sure most of you guys probably don't know who I am anyways.

I started my first Sony Camera with Sony A7 and am still using it til this day. I obviously do heavy post process because I enjoy it more artistically.  I plan on getting an A7iii eventually but at the moment I've been busy upgrading lighting and more important stuff as I try to scale my business.  I remember being told on here by a few people that photography as a living is no longer viable and I am glad I didn't listen to those  whispers.  A few years later now, I can say that I've been really successful in my area as an artistic fitness photographer.   As time went by, I've learned new marketing strategies and new ways to work smarter and not harder using marketing techniques I've picked up from the guys at  Slanted Lens.  I charged more, and take less jobs, but to be honest it is not for everyone, and I don't think it is for me either in the long run.  I've learned that branding is such an important thing to establish!  I just wanted to say this to give some people confidence that it is still very doable and  very lucrative if you take the right steps.

Photo by Me

Athlete: Beatrice

 

Edited by AndyHTu

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Guest Jaf-Photo

I may have been one of those guys saying photography is becoming less viable as a way to make a living. That means the ability to earn a steady income over a whole working life and saving up for a pension.

Naturally, it is possible to do paid work for a period of time. But there are a lot of highly skilled photographers who find that work dries up and they're having to do things like real estate photography in their middle age just to pay the rent, earning just about minimum wage. I also know older photographers who had amazing careers who have no pension and are forced to sell their gear piece by piece just to buy food.

In the past, a typical career trajectory would be to do freelance work while you're young and single. As you settle down, get married and have kids many would take on work as a sraff photographers or maybe buy a photo studio. These are no longer viable options for everyone, as staffers have been let go and people rarely go to a photo studio any more.

So, my point was and still is, don't get seduced by the fact that it is still possible to do paid work for a period of time. Your feeling that it may not be for you forever is probably a good survival tactic.

Edited by Jaf-Photo

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I would agree with you to an extent that living as a Full Time Photographer isn't very viable over time.  At least not traditionally.  You have to see it as a brand and that the having someone hire you to do their photos as the extra income.  Photography itself counts you as a content creator and as long as you can keep producing work, it can produce you an income which is what I've been able to freely through sponsorships.  Right now I've been trying to build a brand and use it to promote a fitness clothing apparel that we're building, using the income I created to branch off.  

It is definately much harder to get noticed and get work constantly, but photography nowadays is 80 percent marketing and knowing when to do freework to promote either your brand or others.   If you can do that well, then you have created a passive income without having to worry about pensions.  There's no one way to live.  Most people probably didn't know they could get paid for traveling either.

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Guest Jaf-Photo

Small brands come and go all the time. People try it all the time but it's not really a brand unless it sticks for several generations.

I know three ex-photographers who were doing similar things to what you describe. Two of them have now taken up junior positions (assistants) in marketing firms and the third is a fitness instructor. One thing they have in common is no savings from their previous work and no pension plan in their current work.

I don't want to rubbish your plans but, you know, having a Plan B is always good.

 

 

 

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Andy, congratulations. I think you are right, traditional photography has lots its relevance to some degree, however there are many more new specialisations that have emerged from the digital transformation. Being a photographer is not really enough, everyone has a camera and can learn to use it with a little effort, so it come down to doing something that is worth paying more for.

Keep it up, perhaps you turn your brand into a franchise?

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1 hour ago, sixzeiss said:

Andy, congratulations. I think you are right, traditional photography has lots its relevance to some degree, however there are many more new specialisations that have emerged from the digital transformation. Being a photographer is not really enough, everyone has a camera and can learn to use it with a little effort, so it come down to doing something that is worth paying more for.

Keep it up, perhaps you turn your brand into a franchise?

Very true. You have to do something different to get noticed and find a niche.  Just having a good reason for people to come to you and support is very big in this industry. You just can't do it the traditional way anymore.    New ideas, new strategies differ every year and you just learn to adapt. The biggest thing I see is everyone follows the popular trend and some don't grow with the technology. Photography itself as a career in my opinion will never disappear but it will definitely get harder and you have to get smarter and create a relationship with your audience.  There's no definitive way to do this, so I'm just sharing my experience with this community that's helped me in the past. :)

Edited by AndyHTu

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Guest Jaf-Photo

The longer view you have the easier it is to see the whole picture. Brands is nothing new. Every successful photographer is their own brand.

Take a well-known photographer like Steve McCurry. Everyone in photography knows his name and almost everyone in the World knows his most iconic photos.

That's the thing about brands, first you have to establish and deliver substance. Whatever you call that substance is the brand name. In Steve McCurry's case the substance is 40 years' worth of quality photography. The same goes for Leibowitz, Corbijn and all the other household names.

For me it's very easy to see that Millenials suffer from a pipe dream that everyone can get their personal brand and then make money doing whatever they want. That is so not how it works.

Edited by Jaf-Photo

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20 minutes ago, Jaf-Photo said:

The longer view you have the easier it is to see the whole picture. Brands is nothing new. Every successful photographer is their own brand.

Take a well-known photographer like Steve McCurry. Everyone in photography knows his name and almost everyone in the World knows his most iconic photos.

That's the thing about brands, first you have to establish and deliver substance. Whatever you call that substance is the brand name. In Steve McCurry's case the substance is 40 years' worth of quality photography. The same goes for Leibowitz, Corbin and all the other household names.

For me it's very easy to see that Millenials suffer from a common pipe dream that everyone can get their personal brand and then make money doing whatever they want. That is so not how it works.

I'm using photography as a marketing tool more than a photography brand.  That's the thing I think you're confusing about with branding.  A photography brand is not really a brand but more of a company name.    Right now we are building a fitness brand apparel within an NPC Fitness niche, working with Influencers to market our products.  We are not an official brand yet, but there's a start to everything and if you already believe it won't be a brand then you are doomed from the start.   At the same time I am sponsored to do work in the industry for promotions, but this is a short term plan as I'm using it to build our own products also.  So I essentially I'm not marketing my photography, but using it for branding products we have in production.  We've been commissioned to do stuff I can't really talk about so I have a pretty long view of what I'm trying to do.  Photography as a tool is not my end game, but I can enjoy it still and get noticed while we branch.  It doesn't have to be an entitiy of its own.

I have multiple funnels of income coming in, setting aside funds for business growth and investments for the future.  It's hard work and dedication.  There are failures but not everyone fails.

Branding has never been something new, but there are failures and there are success stories as long as you're willing to commit and have a plan.  You can't live your entire life listening to all the negative things.  If you do, you already failed.    It is all about doing and taking risks, but at the same time you need steady revenue coming in from multiple sources to to help fund  your projects.  I myself believe it it is better to try and fail than not try at all and fail thinking you never tried.  

And what your'e saying to me is the traditional way of thinking things.  It's hard to live through those methods as it isn't as appreciated now as it was back then.  I'm well aware of the financial risks and possible short term gigs and I do have many back up plans.  Don't kill my vibe man lol.

Edited by AndyHTu

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Guest Jaf-Photo

The "vibe" is not entirely clear. You start talking about making a living as a photographer. What you describe is more akin to a salesman doing photography for free to promote products. 

You also talk about keeping up with the trends but I don't really see it. At least not in a visual sense. If you look at ad campaigns for the big sports brands, it's about conveying emotional and social context, not one buff person lying in the grass at sunset in a gym suit for no apparent reason. Is that what you went to art college for?

I know people in all sorts of businesses and creative careers. I know people who have started clothing brands; who work in advertising, fine art, publishing, whatever. If you go into it thinking that they are old and dumb and you are new and smart, well, I'll bet on the old hands.

Also, if the business depends on you both coming up with the business ideas and doing the creative side, you'll become a bottleneck as it grows.

Edited by Jaf-Photo

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