Now more than ever, earning a living in photography demands superb imaging and visual storytelling skills, business and marketing acumen, and awareness of the changing markets for top-quality imagery.
According to the organizers of the 2014 Photokina “World of Imaging” trade show, “There is scarcely another medium that is developing at such breakneck speed and so revolutionizing human communication as photography.” As the possible uses of photography have multiplied, it has influenced the way we live.
Here are just a few trends and resources that can help photographers understand what it will take to succeed in the years ahead. More ideas will be featured in the posts on this blog.
Digital and mobile photography have changed how consumers interact with images. The authors of “Future of Imaging” report commissioned by Nikon notes that “Imaging is evolving from simply a visual medium into a five-dimensional, multi-sensory experience.” Futurists are envisioning a time in which viewers of an image will be able to fully immerse themselves in the moment and emotion of the image.
Viewers will be able to hear what the subject of the image sounds like, feel the textures of the depicted objects, smell perfumes emitted from the device that displays the image, and receive tips for what to eat and drink to enrich the experience. In our increasingly disconnected world, people will seek escapist environments, including “visual stimuli that offer mindfulness, tranquility, and sanctuary.” More people will appreciate the health benefits of visual imagery in home and work envrionments.
The analysts at JWT Intelligence agree that immersive experiences are on the rise: The JWT Future 100 report notes that “Entertainment, narratives, and brand experiences will become more immersive and altogether more enveloping in a bid to capture consumers’ imagination and attention.”
Visual communications is supplanting the use of text. The author of the book “How to Thrive in the Digital Age,” Tom Chatfield says, “People are using the capture and sharing of images as an everyday langugage and becoming fluent in this new form of expression.” According to Yahoo!, more than 880 billion photographs were taken in 2014. More than 20 billion photos have been uploaded to Instagram.
Examples of the new “visual language” can be found on blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, and news sites. JWT Intelligence points to the dating app Tinder that uses photo collections instead of text profiles. In an article published by the Content Marketing Institute, photographer Thomas Hawk agrees: “Photography is becoming a language unto itself. People talk back and forth to each other with photos, even more than words.”
The Photokina organizers noted that while the early years of photography may have been focused on creating realistic representations, photography today is also about creating realistic-looking fantasy worlds that more fully convey what we can see in our mind’s eye.
Brands are spending money on content marketing. Companies are using tools such as online videos, motion graphics, custom publications, and events to gain greater control over how their brand message is communicated. Money that was formerly allocated to print advertising is being re-invested in other channels, many of which require attention-getting photographs and storytelling videos.
Thomas Hawk advises brand marketers that if they want to hire photographic artists to collaborate on content-creation projects, it’s important to understand what motivates the artist: He says purely promotional collaborations won’t interest established artists, but access to certain events or people might.
In a webinar about how to make B2B marketing memorable with visual story telling, author Ekaterina Walter emphasized that in a world in which attention is the new commodity, “Visual storytelling is the new currency.” She notes that the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and that viewers spend 100% more time on web pages that have videos.
Photography skills matter. The more photographs we all see every day, the better we are able to judge great photographs from lackluster images.To compete in the crowded photography market, your images must be fresh, original, and well crafted.
Professional photographers must be astute in business and marketing. In their “Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Photography Business,” the photo-business experts at PhotoShelter note that “From marketing to accounting to negotiating, there may be some days that you never touch a camera. It may seem like unfamiliar territory, but spending time honing your business skills will pay off in the long run.”
Photographers can sell innovative niche products and services. Paying close attention to the changing requirements of consumers and businesses can help you identify opportunities for innovation. For example, the growth of personal branding, online dating, and video resumes has opened opportunities for innovation in portrait photography. Aerial photography, time-lapse construction images, food photography, and 360-degree photography are other niches that part-timers or enthusiasts aren’t as likely to pursue.
According to data from the Content Marketing Institute, events continue to be one of the widely used forms of content marketing. Some event photography specialists not only take photos of the event itself, but also set up portrait studios at conference centers, so busy corporate executives can get updated head shots taken while attending trade shows or meetings.
While fewer people read printed newspapers and magazines, the demand for high-resolution advertising photographs may rise as marketers use attention-getting, image-rich outdoor, retail, and trade-show graphics to drive traffic to their mobile apps and websites. For example, photographer Kristen Scannell of the Inverse Media trade-show and event marketing firm shoots ultra-high-resolution photographs that can be licensed for backdrops for trade-show displays and corporate events.
Whether the images are needed for large-format printed graphics or high-resolution display screens, the quality of your photography really matters.
PhotoShelter Resource Library
PhotoShelter provides websites and online business tools for photographers around the world. Because more than 80,000 photographers, use PhotoShelter products, the company has a thorough understanding of the photography business as it exists today. To help their users become more successful, they have published a series of free busines guides on topics such as Creating a Successful Photography Portfolio, How to Sell Prints, How to Market Your Photography, and What Photo Buyers Want.
The American Society of Media Photographers promotes photographers’ rights, provides education in better business practices, producing business publications for photographers, and helps connect purchasers with professional photographers. ASMP has nearly 7,000 members and 39 chapters.
Through a magazine, website, DVDs, and webinars, Videomaker is helping people become more succesful in videography: “We picture a world where people use video cameras as regularly as they use ink pens, keyboards, cameras, email, texts, printers and blogs to communicate thoughts, ideas and concepts.” Their beginner’s guide page answers common questions about workflow, pre-production, post-production, equipment, and new ways to make money with videography (such as shooting family-history videos). Their free reports cover topics such as “Multi-Camera Shooting for Event Photography.”
Photo District News (PDN) has been covering the field of professional photography for over two decades. Every month, PDN delivers news and analysis, portfolios of photographic work, and information photographers need to survive in a competitive business—from marketing and business advice to legal issues, photographic techniques, and new technologies. The company that publishes PDN also produces PhotoPlus Conference and Expo as well as educational events for wedding and portrait photographers.
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