(This originally appeared on the Buzzworthy Success Blog in October 2010)
At the risk of sounding like one of those old grumpy guys talking about the past; I remember when a photographer’s job was to create images. I remember when the number of sessions you had in a day was how you knew how much money you might make. I also remember that the photographers who knew how to sell their work, and by “sell” I mean help the client own the right size images to suit their needs, were the ones who lived a lifestyle of their choosing. I guess times have changed.
If Facebook and Twitter are any indication of what “real life” is like in our portrait and wedding industry today, here’s our new reality:
It’s more important to be Twitter passing along bits of re-hashed information and seeing how many “guest blogs” you can be on than actually creating images for clients.
Selling is only mentioned as a feature of that “cool new sales event” that 100 photographers are presenting next week. I wonder how many sales they are actually conducting to gain the vast expertise they seem to have!
Today’s photographers would rather talk about being a photographer than actually being a working photographer. It’s much easier being a superstar in the social media world than it is to be a superstar to your clients! Oh wait; you have to actually HAVE clients to be their superstar!
It seems like today’s photographers would rather have 4000 other photographers playing follow the leader with them on Facebook and Twitter than to have 4000 clients and prospects anywhere; including their data bases and social networks. I would love it if the majority of today’s “social media photography superstars” had more portrait and wedding clients following them than other photographers, but I would bet a TON of money that isn’t the case.
Today’s photographers do far more computer work, gossiping, teaching other photographers their self validated methods, forum surfing and attending each other’s meetings and gatherings than any other activity; INCLUDING CREATING IMAGES FROM SESSIONS!
MOST of today’s photographers are about as far from being actual photographers as I am from being a mixed martial arts fighter. Yes, I love the sport; I think about the sport; I talk about the sport; but I don’t DO the sport! REAL photographers need to create images and sell images; that’s the bottom line!
So, here’s my challenge to all of those “social media” photographers out there. Show me statistics that prove you make money with your social media. I’m not talking about the money you make from other photographers; I’m talking about “real” money that your clients pay you for images that you’ve created for them. In my 35 years in this industry, your number of “followers” doesn’t impress me. Your ability to create images for a steadily growing base of clients who will pay you for the memories you create for them DOES impress me.
Let’s go back to our title; what does a successful photographer do for a living? In my opinion; a successful photographer creates images and sells those images to their loyal clients on a regular basis. Those are the photographers I LOVE and those are the photographers I will bend over backwards to help live the life of their design!
What do you think? Share your thoughts and comments.