Photography at the Core

When I say that photography is my life, I mean that quite literally. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do, but it seriously takes up the majority of my time. Starting out (and standing out for that matter) in a market that is already filled to capacity with photographers of all skill levels takes a lot of time, networking, and unfortunately, working for free (however, in this industry, it’s normally called “TF” (trade for) or “pro bono.”) All of that is necessary to build your portfolio and get your name out there in hopes of one day being able to quit your day job, and making photography your full-time career, or getting signed by an agency (the latter of which I am trying to do right now.)

If you’re a new photographer, you may be asking, “What are ways of marketing yourself?” First of all, don’t just be a carbon copy of every other photographer in your area. In this industry, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery, but it is the quickest way to make a lot of enemies in a short amount of time. When you’re just starting out, you may need help with ideas, but add your own twist to them. I found my “niche” in photography by mixing fashion photography and conceptual photography by using it to address issues/topics in culture/the media. Now, that’s not all I do, but that’s what I’m now known for in my area.

Next, you must get out and meet people. Go out and photograph fashion shows, get an account on modelmayhem.com, and always bring your business cards with you! Yes, you will have to work free for a while until you have a “good-enough” portfolio, but soon enough, people will be coming to you asking you to shoot.

Now, this next step, I don’t necessarily recommend, but it’s worked incredibly well for me. Find a person on facebook who you know is very well-known in your area, go to their friends page, and add a ton of people. Then, for whoever accepts you, “suggest” your photography page to them. Yes, I have to admit, facebook doesn’t like this, and probably at one point or another, will block you from adding anyone for a certain period of time, but I’ve found this tactic to work amazingly. (I went from about 100 “likes” on my page to nearly 700 in a few months.) Another thing you can do on facebook is to create an ad. I did this for a while, and only paid $1 a day to advertise my business. I highly recommend this.

Once you’ve done this, start marketing yourself. Upload your photos, get feedback, ask for reviews on your page, but most of all, always be gracious and thankful to people. If you’re good, people will tell you so. There are enough egos in this industry already. To go along with that, and this should go without saying, but don’t talk badly about people! I don’t care what they’ve done or not done-it will get back around to them, and the last thing that you need is to have a bad reputation.

Like I said earlier, once you start getting yourself out there, people will start coming to you for shoots. Here’s the part that I’ve struggled with, and am just recently starting to do more. Respect yourself and your pricing. If you don’t, no one else will. Along with that, even after finally developing a great and diverse portfolio, learn who is still worth working with for TF. For example, the models that helped you start out, or models that would significantly improve your body of work. Along with this, learning to frequently follow up with prospective clients is crucial.

The last tip I can give is to keep shooting. I can not emphasize this enough. Experiment, find inspiration through other photographers, magazines, whatever. Don’t ever think that you are done learning.

It can be a tough business, but if you’re really passionate about what you’re doing, it’s well worth it.

Remembering How

There are many times that I realize that I need to “clear the fog” and focus. I think this is a component of aiming for excellence and making a competitive edge for yourself. In essence, to succeed, we have a few things that we always need to do and are key components of success. These eight ideas come from TED.com and have started to influence me on many levels.

In short, being a digital artist at this moment at Carney means I like making graphics and I needed a way to ‘refocus’ my thought process for success and did that by creating this computer screen background. And, I thought I would offer it out for anyone who wanted it. Hope you enjoy and that it helps you focus for success, a daily activity of clearing the fog.

Click Here to Download

The Hardest Part, Execution

As you watch companies like Facebook or its now underdog MySpace, there seems to be this ‘aw’ and ‘astonishment’ to these brilliant ideas that Mark Zuckenberg and others came up with. I don’t mean to be little their ideas but so often we see the outside finished product and just think that it took a brilliant person to come up with such a grand idea.

Well, I am here to switch that thinking. I am positive that Mark Zuckenberg wasn’t the first person to think of an idea like Facebook. The truth is, we should be truly astonished by the fact that Zuckenberg executed this idea and made it truly happen, even if he wasn’t the first.

In a slow process, I’ve started to learn that the process of coming up with ideas isn’t the only hard part of building a business. Executing these dreams take the time and effort. In essence my personal tag line says “creatively – executing – ideas.” The more I read this tag the more I realize the depth of it. It isn’t simply about ideas but also the execution and creative problem solving that makes a brilliant idea.

It seems that there are three things you have to do to get a brilliant idea into a company that grows and astonishes others. Those simple three steps I think will build companies that are grand in nature for us “internet entrepreneurs”. Simply put:

  1. Lay the Ideas Out
  2. Problem Solve Creatively
  3. Understand how to Execute

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn, all took time and accomplished this while continuing this mindset throughout the grand growth of their companies. They, in their own business mindsets, creatively executed ideas and brought up the social networking world in a whole new realm that was unreached till they took the time to execute their creative ideas.

Contemplation is Key

Often when it comes to brainstorming, I’ve realized that I don’t contemplate the ideas for a extensive period of time. Simple as that, I don’t sit down and think over a concept after it has come into existence. There are moments on a regular basis that need simple time and contemplation rather then quick decisions.

Normally, I live by a statue of hurry and wait but I am starting to think that in moments of brainstorming and problem solving it revolves around waiting a bit and fully contemplating each idea.

I know for a fact that this is the cause of my father, Dr. Elliott. He has always encouraged me to contemplate specifically my business ideas from Randomly Famous to Living Hope, and now Random Rental.

So to the painless point of this, take time to think and understand. We live rushed lives and yet thinking is the power we control that can be slowed down. And personally, I want to control what I have control over and slow it down to contemplate ideas fully and “creatively – execute – ideas.”

True Discipline

Often I’ve been realizing that the most successful people are those who are truly disciplined. And, after watching myself for the last few weeks and trying to find out more about myself, I found a sad realization… I need to be more disciplined.

It is a simple fact for me but one that so far I’ve taken light heartedly until this morning when I thought about my day thus far. I realized that I pushed the snooze button three times, ate my breakfast quickly, rushed out the door, didn’t accomplish what I had planned for the morning, and now will have to make it up during lunch.

First off, discipline has a few different meanings depending on how you are looking at the word. The three points that I pulled from my glorious Apple Dictionary are below:

  • the controlled behavior resulting from such training
  • activity or experience that provides mental or physical training
  • a system of rules of conduct

So why do I share? This is the question that usually comes up in all of my posts on this blog. To “creatively – execute – ideas” I need to have discipline, a system of rules of conduct for my daily life. And, after talking to a few people I assume that this is something many of us are in need of for the race to success.

I don’t know if there are “seven steps to discipline” or “a four hour discipline regiment” but if there is, I don’t want to read it, I want to hear about it. I want your input, your thoughts, and your area of expertise in this. Two things that I really believe will help me and everyone else perform in a way that “creatively – executes – ideas.”

Plus, lets be honest, if we were to find the key to being disciplined, we would of found the key to success and that is something I am wanting to learn all about.