Tuesday, 25 October 2011

There is an elephant in the room… Lets discuss it?

I am sure this post is going to upset a few people. There have been some HEATED comments flying around the internet as of late. I have been reading a lot of posts on Twitter and on blogs from photographers expressing their opinions on whether pro photographers should post their images on photo sharing sites so others could learn. There have also been some discussions on whether photographers should give their images away for free to not for profit companies. I even read a heated debate or two between pro photographers about using your images as a marketing tool to create awareness of the photographers business. In addition to giving photographs away for free, there is also a constant discussion about photographers sharing their techniques to amateur photographers via tutorials or seminars.

So many points of view out there… it’s a rather interesting topic

I do not know where your opinion lies; I don’t know where you are in your photographic evolution. Where you are in your personal evolution probably will determine your Point of View “POV”.

I am not professing my opinion is necessarily the right point of view; there are merits to both sides of the argument. But I definitely tilt towards helping others. I strongly believe that “The more you give, the more you get”!

Let’s dig into the three main debates a bit deeper and let me offer my POV…

1) Should photographers create tutorials online for other photographers to learn from?
In My Opinion – where else are photographers going to learn at their own speed? Sure, there are college courses and many photographers run workshops, but these options can run you into the thousands of dollars. Both are viable options to become a better photographer, but people want to learn at their own speed. I am sure you will agree that professional photographers can intimidate the amateur photographer… I get wanting to learn at your own speed until you are confident. A lot of people want to be able to sit at home in front of their computer and read tutorials, try them on their own and get themselves to another level of photography aptitude.

I sort of understand the position from photographers that are already PRO photogs. They went to school, they paid their dues, and so should everyone else… but really, why, as an experienced photographer would you not want to share your knowledge and become a perceived expert to the less experienced? If you are a perceived expert I would suggest that amateur photographers will turn to you for advice or take one of your workshops when they become more confident in their own abilities.

2) Should photographers post their images on photo sharing websites?
In My Opinion – For the same reason as I gave above… become the perceived expert. Allow people into your images and show them what you take. Maybe give them some guidelines like camera settings… for example, “photo was taken at sunrise, f/11, 30 second exposure, ISO 100”.

Share and it will pay off down the road. I have seen it work. Andrew Collett is the perfect example. A fantastic landscape photographer and artist in his own right, he makes the photo club circuit and teaches photographers how he takes his images. My club has had him back three years in a row. His payoff; many of our members have attended his workshops because they are comfortable with him… because they have a personal connection and they identify with him!

3) Should photographers give images to companies for free to profit from or hang in their buildings?
In My Opinion – Why Not! If not for the reason they are a charity and they need to generate an income somehow, do it to increase your own exposure in your local area and help create awareness of your photographic abilities.

The more people that see your work while you are refining your craft, the more feedback you will receive, the more chances you will have to make money, the better you will become in the long run.

I cringe when I hear pro photographers say that people should not give their images away for free… It is old school thinking by people that do not perceive they will ever need anything from the less experienced photographer. Some may even call it Elitist. Hmmmm, maybe there is some merit why pro photographers may be considered snobish.

Go back 10 years; there were half the photographers out there that are out there now. If we want to turn this hobby into a money making venture we have to compete against a lot of people. We have to work harder as pro-sumers or amateurs today than the PROS today had to work 10 to 15 years ago.

Not only the increased local competition, but the internet has made this world a very small place. It is reasonable to have a person in Europe find a photographer in a small town in Ontario, Canada and want to buy an image from them. There must have been thousands of photographers local to the buyer they could have contacted… We now have to think globally as well as locally.

The reality is that only a very small percentage of us are going to become a nationally known photographer… a larger percentage will be locally known, and the vast majority of us will probably never consider ourselves a professional. Regardless of what your aspirations are or where you will end up… market yourself, build a brand, and just get your name out there.

If want to be a professional, in my opinion, being perceived as an expert that shares information to help others presents you with a much better chance of getting you to where you want to be than simply being a closed off island…

So, that’s my opinion as an aspiring photographer trying to turn this expensive hobby into a money making venture.

I would like to hear your opinion. Sound off and tell us what you think, either here or reply to my tweet on this subject on Oct 25, 2011.