Saturday morning, January 5th after what has been a 2 week festive and new year holiday period.
Its been a slow start to my year as I trawl through my archive, weeding, checking and ensuring every image I have that is saleable is out there “working” for me. The photography market is so difficult now; yes commissions make up most of my income but library sales (of musicians, celebrities or just general stock) make up an important part also and with this side of the business now almost being a “numbers game”, it’s important to make sure all of my best work is out there, on sale.
I have tackled 2012, 2011 and 2010 and I am now into 2009 and at a point where my filing was not so good and therefore my progress has slowed. Going back has also enabled me to look at what I have shot, who I have worked with, what I enjoyed and think about why I do this thing called “photography”. A while back I posted this on my personal Facebook…
Yes, you have probably seen it but it has made me think more about what I do, what I photograph, why and finally what do I enjoy about it.
I can hear my dad now, “we all have to do what we don’t like” but combining these thoughts with going through my archive it is really clear that I produce my best work when I am enjoying it most. Obvious! you cry (yes I know it’s obvious) but without doubt many photographers spend much of their time shooting things they are not passionate about because “that is where the money is”or “”that is what I am paid to shoot”. Lets be honest about this, it’s shooting things that we don’t like shooting that pays for us to be able to shoot what we want (we can call them “personal projects” ).
So what have I discovered about myself and my work? (I have skipped the work I produced in The Congo for CARE International for obvious reasons. However it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life).
(Warning – this post now breaks all the rules and contains both colour and monochrome images. You have been warned!)
People: I love meeting new people, I love learning about them, understanding them and shooting them, trying to represent them in a single moment, a single frame. Particularly I love working with artistic/creative people and teams. Seeing creatives working together, recording it and then seeing the result can be the most rewarding experience.
This year I was lucky to work with so many, from fairly small teams such as Nice Media. (I meant to blog about my shoot with them earlier in the year but I just run out of time).
To the large team that is The London Symphony Orchestra.
In both cases I know I hit the brief spot on and produced sets of images for the clients that I am really proud of (and I feel represents them well).
Music: I blog often about shooting music. I’ll be quite honest and say I do not make enough profit from it. I do not market my images or work strongly enough (although I am regularly published).
I do it because I love it. I love it because of the music. I love it because of the lights. I love it because of the technical challenge and I love it because of the people (see above!) – every gig is emotional for those attending in some way or another and its great to be involved and try to record that.
News: I rarely cover “hard” news. I don’t cover wars or when protests get too violent. I don’t stand outside courts waiting for arrivals and departures. General protests, marches that matter to those attending, matter to society. Those I enjoy.
Celebrities: I guess this “category” means so many different things to different people. I do a few one-on-one shoots with those that might be classed as “celebrity” but I would include those shoots in the people category above. Here I am referring to the photo-calls and red-carpet events. These are are shoots that I personally gain the least from. They help with marketing and they fill in empty evenings but they are without doubt the least emotionally rewarding (although again, I am regularly published).
Personal Project: I mentioned this here. Today I made a suggestion to another photographer (a great landscape photographer) that he ought to have one of his favourite (self) works hanging where he relaxes. At home our lounge has only works by me hanging (both paintings and photos) and the thing is, they are all landscapes of one form or another. Landscapes are what relax me, where I find myself.
My conclusion from this process is I have to push hard and work harder to shoot more of the things I love; more people, more creatives, more meaning (emotion), more landscapes. This is difficult realisation. Changing from one genre to another is just like starting a completely new business; not impossible but difficult. My personal project has to become commercial, my land/town-scapes have to become desirable (something I think neither of those above are). I have to understand producing works not just for commercial clients but also art-buyers and the public. Oh and of course it has to stand out in an already crowded marketplace….
How will I do this? Well my next post will be my thoughts on the online showcases and technology. 2013 is going to be a tough but interesting and I hope fun and enjoyable (after all, is that not the aim here) year……