How Photographic Industry Trends affect you
Photography has never been as accessible as it is today. Some industry experts are even suggesting that photography is ‘the new form of mass communication’. And they may not be too far off the mark considering the fact that there are around 46,000 photographic images uploaded onto Instagram every second! While it’s great that people are more open today about sharing their life and the things they are passionate about in images, the mass accessibility of photography today brings new challenges to those of us who rely on our art to make a living. So the question today is, how do we as professional photographers monetise our art when it is accessible to anyone and everyone on a daily basis?
The answer lies in assessing what it really means to be a professional photographer. When you analyse what it is that we do, you will find it is so much more than just about taking great pictures. We are artists, storytellers and teachers. We see things others don’t necessarily see and know how to capture the essence of our subject in a way that tells the story behind the subject. It is these points of difference that we must learn to let shine.
As professional photographers, printers and framers, we engage on a daily basis with photographers from all walks of life, from world-renowned multi-award winners to passionate weekend photographers with a desire to take their hobby to the next level. The people that come into our gallery to buy our work don’t care what camera it’s shot on. They want the story. Of course the shot needs to be captured and presented well, but an emotional connection is paramount. They want to know who we are, how we capture our work and what and who inspires us. Too often we see business models that are unsustainable because they’re centred on making a quick dollar. Photography has always been about connection – connection between photographer and subject, photographer and audience and image and audience. Today’s accessibility to photography is drawing many away from that connection. So what can the industry do to help bring it back?
Many experts suggest that the governing bodies need to do more to educate up and coming photographers on all the elements that need to come together to run a successful business. Others suggest that the general public also needs to be shown how to spot a quality business from one that is out to make a quick dollar. Our view is that the governing bodies don’t do anywhere near enough on either level. So what’s the answer on a practical level? We believe as an industry we need to educate more. We constantly hear photographers complain that the Australian public doesn’t understand or appreciate the work that goes into capturing a quality image. This is not the case in Europe or the US where professional photography is appreciated as an art form due to the way it is presented. We are constantly in awe of Australian photographer Peter Lik who has managed to singlehandedly reshape the landscape photography market in the US by educating the public via his television show. And his galleries showcase his work better than any other photographer in the world. The reward for his efforts is sales believed to be in the vicinity of $200 million a year! So why are we as an industry not educating the buying public about what we do and how we do it?
At the end of the day, as individual professionals, we need to innovate and be ahead of the pack when it comes to selling and promoting our work. And as an industry we must work together to raise the profile of one of the greatest art forms ever created.