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Author Topic: Changing career focus  (Read 2857 times)
cmcnitt
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« on: May 24, 2006, 12:46:21 PM »
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I've been a commercial product photographer in Minnesota for over 12 years.  I'd like to change my focus to be more of a landscape/flower photographer(where my interest lies), but I don't have the faintest idea as to where to start or how most landscape/flower photographers make their money.  Or even if there is money to be made.  I'd like to here from some of you with your experience or ideas. Thanks in advance.
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Hank
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2006, 07:54:35 PM »
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Alain Briot's series of articles provides valuable answers to your questions and more.  Folks are making it work for them, but only those that are very good at business as well as photography.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2006, 07:55:09 PM by Hank » Logged
enlightphoto
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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2006, 02:18:35 AM »
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Quote
I don't have the faintest idea as to where to start or how most landscape/flower photographers make their money.  Or even if there is money to be made.  I'd like to here from some of you with your experience or ideas. Thanks in advance.
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I don't want to ruffle any feathers here, this being my first post and all, but with all due respect given, I don't think the one article linked to in the previous reply was much more than a monolouge story about one persons journey and choices. (albeit an entertaining story) However, I didn't see where it would offer a direct insight relevant to the posters question.

The market is KILLER tough. You have hordes of amatuers and semi-pros racing around producing hordes of good, publishable market-quality work. Many are happy as clams to sell through microstocks, taking pennies per sale and letting client have all the use they want for a couple bucks. Some don't care if they make anymore than is needed to buy a new lens, and have no regard for what "business" is about. Some know and make the choice willingly, and others just don't know better. Some play the market as a mere numbers game of X images makes Y dollars per year per image, and that applies as much to the traditional RM and 'Traditional' RF markets. Add to that all the established professionals trying to compete in that same market where photographers will give away images just for the glory of being published. But this is life in many photo arenas, not just Landscape and Flowers.

How do you make yourself successful? Produce superior work. Value your work. Think like a Buyer. Be 100% professional in all of your communucations and marketing materials. Be unique. Find a Niche that matches your personal passions. If you're not producing the superior type of images you'd like to be making, invest in a few workshops rather than a new lens. But to be totally honest, there was a survey not long ago that said the average 'professional' nature photographer would make about $5,000 / yr. For some, that seems like a lot of money - unless you care about being and staying in business.

Finally, I tell people; "If you don't value your own work, why should anybody else?" In otherwords, If you aim for the top rung of the ladder right from the start, you'll spend a lot less time on the bottom rung.

Best of Luck!

PS: You've got a great portfolio, so my reply is a bit more slanted for general readers, as you already seem to understand the Professional part of the business.
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Gary Crabbe
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Hank
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« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2006, 11:47:52 AM »
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Excellent addition Gary.  To your points I'll add that it's important to keep an open mind about what constitutes a "market."  

Too many nature and outdoor photographers think only in terms of print and stock agency markets.  In fact they're a very small part of the total market.  Lots of other clients need photos, and over time you can develop your own client list without conceding half your income to the agencies and galleries.  

It may also take a broadening of your specific interests, especially into areas not dominated by folks giving away their work.  I'm not familiar with the wildflower market Cmcnitt, but in landscapes we find that including people in photos dramatically extends their marketability.  The travel industry, for example, eats up landscapes featuring people, but buys only a tiny fraction of photos without people.  Skim any local or regional visitors guide for examples.  We shoot the landscapes we love, but also get shots of the same scene with people enjoying themselves.  The latter sell 10:1 better than plain landscapes in our markets.  Call it "multi-tasking," but getting both varieties of photos from the same scene can add dramatically to your business opportunities with very little extra effort on our parts.  While we started out 20 years ago with a business model featuring stock agencies and prints, only a small portion our income is derived there today.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2006, 11:49:23 AM by Hank » Logged
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