Last May, Amphoto Books released a provocative book entitled “The Fast Track Photographer: Leverage Your Unique Strengths for a More Successful Photography Business.” The author, photographer Dane Sanders, explains why building a successful photography career is far different than it was 20 to 30 years ago.
The key to success as a photographer in today’s hyper-competitive environment, says Sanders, is to: “Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and start focusing on your most powerful resource—you!” In today’s digi-flat world, creative professionals can carve out niches all their own. As Sanders puts it, “You need to design your sweet spot around the one thing that cannot be replicated: you!”
The book and its accompanying online self-assessment test can help you determine whether you would be happier trying to become an independent Signature-Brand Photographer or would be perfectly content as a Freelance Photographer who does fee-based assignments for employers. You can devise a solution that blends the two styles, but Sanders advises photographers to “Be clear about the choice you’re making, and do what’s required to see it through.”
Above all, Sanders encourages readers to avoid “The Grumpy Photographer Life Cycle (aka the Road to Hell).” This cycle starts when photographers get overloaded with debt early in their careers, fail to promote themselves as individuals, and take on as many jobs at market prices as possible. Then, they become burned out and bitter.
Sanders characterizes “Grumpy” photographers as self-centered, arrogant, “experts” who feel entitled to business and are stuck on old business models. In contrast, he describes fast-track photographers as client-centered, service-minded, and personable. They are adaptable to change, open to new technology and continuous learning, and able to delegate and outsource. They know who they are, and find clients who appreciate their unique set of skills.
“Rather than lapse into Grumpiness,” says Sanders. “I encourage you to see that in the digi-flat world, the spectrum of possibility has exploded.”
Dane Sanders succinctly articulates trends I’ve observed at photography conferences over the past few years. Some photographers are clearly much more upbeat, optimistic, and enthusiastic than others. Photographers who have worked for 25 to 30 years seem aggravated by how rapidly and radically technology has commoditized the conventional markets for photography.
Thus, Fast Track Photographer will not only be helpful to serious amateurs who are considering turning pro, but also to companies that use old-school, big-name photographers to help them sell products and services. People entering the photography business today must cope with marketplace realities that are fundamentally different from the business environment that existed when older-generation experts built their businesses.
“If you want to find your sweet spot in the photo world, resist the temptation to emulate heroes,” writes Sanders. “Unless you are just like them, the odds of succeeding by adopting their strategies is very low. Better to let them inspire you by how boldly they have pursued their own sweet spot in the business.”
“The old mode of learning from an expert and slogging away until you’ve earned the right to put your name out there is too slow for our fast-changing, digi-flat times,” writes Sanders. He notes that no one is an “expert” anymore because no one really knows what new developments will occur in the next 5 to 20 years and how these developments will interact dynamically to create whole new possibilities for photographers. He suggests that, “An attitude of staying creatively adaptable may be the single most important asset in extending your lifespan as a photographer indefinitely.”
As a writer, I was interested to learn that “Fast Track Photographer“ was originally self-published and geared only toward wedding photographers. Amphoto Books published a revised and expanded edition to help amateur and working photographers in all genres strengthen and develop their businesses.
Readers of The Fast Track Photographer might also be interested in The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan. This new book is designed to help you devise an overall business strategy to support your creative vision. It also contains techniques for running a creative business.
For more information, visit: www.fasttrackphotographer.com