I had lunch today with Tim Grey, friend, author of many great books on image editing, creator of wonderful instructional DVD’s, and the Ask Tim Grey newsletter. As always, it was great fun catching up and exchanging stories, but the crux of the conversation was this: How does a freelance photographer/writer/educator make their way in today’s economy? Most of the professionals I know have income streams in several areas. These almost always include workshops, lectures, and product sales, either of their own, or a percentage of sales with sponsors whose products they use. But our conversation kept drilling down to how best to allocate time. As a former owner of a business (over 100 employees) I confronted this issue daily. When we were terribly busy in the plant I would jump in to add my labor to make a deadline ~ but was it the best use of my time? Tim’s confronting the same issues….as am I now, as a photographer. Where is the balance between self promotion, shooting, teaching, keywording, stock submissions or making prints/books/dvds.
After thinking about the two photographers I know personally that are still thriving in this economy, I think the answer must be that more time is needed in self promotion. Alain Briot and Tony Sweet have maintained their workshops, their product sales, and private teaching in a continually contracting market. How did they do it? Continual self promotion and of course, huge amounts of hard work…..all geared to offering a product (their knowledge) that has real value. When I applied this thought to my own work as I am clearly not a photoshop Dream Team member (Tim) or a landscape photography master (Alain) or a Nikon Legend (Tony), I had to distill what it is that I know that may have value for someone else. So here’s my self promotion:
I know books. I know bookbinding, a fair amount about book design, I know about printing, both offset and fine art inkjet, and I know about publishing and distribution. All of this came from nearly 20 years in the printing and binding industries in the Mid-Atlantic states and with several years now of producing fine art prints and books for consulting clients and for myself. I have created a book in collaboration with Dominique Barbier of which I am very proud. It is titled MEDITATION FOR TWO and is available on Dominique’s website. From this book I have received several commissions for shoots and am anticipating that this market will grow as the book garners a wider distribution. But I have also received inquiries about helping people put together their own books and assisting them through the process from concept to distribution. I’m writing all this to illustrate how one endeavor can create avenues of work and further recognition. Next time, when you are thinking about a project, try to envision the other areas that it could impact your work and hopefully, your income stream. If the project is created from deep knowledge and love of your subject, coupled with a precise plan for getting the work seen, your likelihood of success is virtually assured.
Here’s an illustration of the front and back covers…and a few shots from inside.