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  1. #1
    Derek Lofgreen's Avatar
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    Establishing yourself...

    I know there are some here that have enjoyed some success with their photography. I was wondering if anyone would like to share how they established themselves.

    I would first assume that a photographer produce quality images. What about things like websites, other forums frequented, local participation with other photographers, art fairs or galleries. What seemed to help you become an established photographer in your area or focus?

    Thanks,

    D.

  2. #2
    blansky's Avatar
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    What kind of photography do you do. And who is your target market.

    When you figure out who you are marketing to, then it is easier to come up with a game plan.

    Michael
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  3. #3
    Derek Lofgreen's Avatar
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    I am not looking for any specific "how do I.." but more of an insight to how others established themselves. I know there are some successful large format shooters that sell their work and other 35mm portrait shooters that have become well known. Sometimes there are some key ideas that can be shared among all types.

    For example, in my other creative business I've learned that giving back to the community, relationships with others in the field, and corporate partnerships go along way in becoming "established". So I was wondering if there was anything people have done that they feel has helped them become an established photographer. Did they frequent other forums, give back to the community of photographers, organize a local group etc.

    Make sense?

    D.

  4. #4
    blansky's Avatar
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    All your examples are great if you wish to become "known".

    But if you wish to make money you still have to establish who you wish to sell to and target them. Joining clubs and organizations is a great idea in the abstract but it is not marketing. And the things you mentioned, seem to be all photography groups, but photography groups do not buy your photographs.

    In your first post you mentioned "success". Does that mean to you that other photographers know you or does it mean that you make good money at it?


    Michael
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  5. #5
    rbarker's Avatar
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    Some of the things you describe work in some market segments, Derek, but not others. As Michael suggested, each market segment has its own peculiarities, and those may even vary by geographic location or region. The question, as posed, may be too broad to get useful responses.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  6. #6
    Derek Lofgreen's Avatar
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    I guess what I am trying to ask is not how did you get established with your client base. What I was wondering was how do you get established within the photography community?

    There are two sides to the business it seems to me. Client establishment will bring you customers and has it's own marketing focuses. Then there is the photo community, with workshops, corporate endorsements, products etc. I was wondering about the latter.

    Does that narrow it down a little?

    D.

  7. #7
    bill schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Lofgreen
    ...I've learned that giving back to the community, relationships with others in the field, and corporate partnerships go along way in becoming "established".
    I think that can be said of any profession Derek. I also think a love of what you do coupled with quality, consistency of style and ...a whole lot of luck goes a long way in becoming "established". Don't confuse "established" with successful if you are considering wealth as success!

    As others have stated, it depends a lot on what you hope to achieve. An established "commercial photographer" is one thing. A photographic "artist" is another. And, if you want to be both, don't use your "commercial" credentials when trying to establish yourself as an "artist". Granted, many artists are also successful in the commercial world, but there are many galleries that won't even look at your work if you are a commercial photographer. Some try to pass off both in their portfolios and Websites, it rarely works. People looking for art don't want to see still lifes of glassware whereas people looking for a great still-life photographer doesn't want to see landscapes.

    As for giving back to the community, relationships, etc., it is my experience that photography in the art business can be a little more fickle. It is a dog eat dog world and people can be a little tight-lipped when it comes to business practice. I find this less with artists than with dealers, but it can still be the same. Try asking many "famous" photographers about their technique and materials and you may be surprised. There is one well-known photographer discussed much on this board that is outright offended at such questions. In all fairness, questions about what film, paper and developer you use can get pretty redundant, but alienating your followers wouldn't seem the way to go. I do have to say that since joining and using APUG that I am happy to find there are many who are quite open about their practice and I find that heartening.

    Hope this helps...

    Bill

  8. #8
    roteague's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billschwab
    As others have stated, it depends a lot on what you hope to achieve. An established "commercial photographer" is one thing. A photographic "artist" is another. And, if you want to be both, don't use your "commercial" credentials when trying to establish yourself as an "artist". Granted, many artists are also successful in the commercial world, but there are many galleries that won't even look at your work if you are a commercial photographer. Some try to pass off both in their portfolios and Websites, it rarely works. People looking for art don't want to see still lifes of glassware whereas people looking for a great still-life photographer doesn't want to see landscapes.
    Many good points.

    There are many different ways to be successful. There is one well known local photographer (who I won't name) who has sold dozens of books, calendars, post cards, etc. But, his work is really poor quality - depth of field, time of day, subject locations - but he is successful. You need to define what is success for you. Is it the quality of your work, how well known you are, or how much money you put in the bank? That decision is yours alone.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  9. #9
    bill schwab's Avatar
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    Sorry...I was writing my log winded response while you were posting.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Lofgreen
    What I was wondering was how do you get established within the photography community?
    Those photographers that I think of as "established" are that way more because of the work they produce than what they contribute or post. For me, it is that simple. I don't need any more than that. In fact, if I know, talk to them or read what they have written, it sometimes takes away from the work!

    Bill

  10. #10
    Derek Lofgreen's Avatar
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    Those are some very insightful thoughts Bill. I can see what you mean about an artist being sought after for there artistic abilities by both art collectors and commercial clients. And I have noticed that most photographers do act like you are asking them for some long hidden family recipe when you ask them "how do you do that". I always thought the individuals creative ability was the defining factor in ones work.

    Here is an example of what I was wondering. There is this photographer and he is a very good wedding shooter. His clients love his work and keep his schedule full. He also has a huge following of photographers that will buy his products, take his workshops, and camera manufacturers pay him to promote there gear.

    Another photographer is a travel and landscape shooter. He shoots medium format and prints these huge canvas prints and sells lot of them. His clients can't wait for more new ones and he just rakes in the cash. He also has a large following of photographers who will buy his products, workshops and is also indorsed by manufacturers.

    Okay, there are tons of great wedding shooters, and landscape shooters but how does someone begin to establish themselves like this? Is it simply a matter of marketing or is there more to it?

    D.

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