“Man you are lucky you got into this field; we are stuck in 6×6 cabin job ya!”
“Even I love photography but only as a hobby. Can’t risk all for a hobby no!”
“Mom Dad won’t allow man.”
“How did you do this?”
“Must be fancy no?”
These are some of the common statements and questions almost every professional or an established freelance photographer comes across once in a while from people who observe an interest in this field but have not been able to gather enough courage to choose it as their profession due to their ‘circumstances.’
Let me begin by stating the one basic principle that I abide with in my life or follow as my major work ethic, that is, TAKE THE RISK. YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE RISK IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE SOMETHING. You must take the risk if you want to follow your passions. But are you ready to compromise your friends, weekend parties, vacations, Starbucks coffee and impulsive shopping habit in order to work on your passions?
If your answer to the above question is in positive, then stay tuned with me till the next 10–15 articles of this series.
If your answer is in negative, LEAVE!
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First question first,WHAT IS PHOTOGRAPHY? In layman terms, photography is the application, practice, or art of capturing images of objects by means of a device known as the camera. A photographer is a person who practices the art of photography. A person may be a freelance photographer or a professional one. An online educational website, MediaCollege.com has identified that the “photographic work can be divided into dozens of categories, many with lots of sub-categories,” for instance, animal, food, nature, commercial, artistic, adventure, documentary, forensic, modeling, sports, travel, and even paranormal.
Photography is practiced as a common hobby since it is highly economical; a person simply needs a camera to capture the various images. The advent of the era of smart phones, especially, has resulted in the increment of interest among people in this field as in evident from their profiles on social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in particular. Two out of five people on Social Media have ‘amateur photographer’ written in their bios, and travel, animal, and food pictures are commonly seen on their timelines. Various people around the world share their photography work in their online profiles that has resulted in the growth of interest among people in this profession. But even after spending bullocks to buy different camera lenses, this interest remains till Social Media as a hobby, and most of the people are not able to make a career out of it.
I will not delve into the history of photography- mentioning the Lumiere Brothers, talking about the historical facts related to this art and how it gradually grew up into the form available to us in the contemporary time as you can easily ‘google’ that information. What I am going to talk about is how you can make a successful career out of your passion for photography.
Photography is easily seen as a growing profession in India with many kids showing an acute interest in this art- all thanks to the Internet, and Bollywood movies like Wake up Sid, and 3 Idiots. But the problem is that the growth is happening at a snail’s pace. I personally left my hometown to study about the same around 8 years ago as in small cities, people are still afraid to step into this business, and are more inclined towards conforming to the mainstream professions like banking, medical, IT, and so on.
Moreover, I have noticed that a lot among the ones who followed their hearts and went into the business of photography failed miserably and had to return to their daily office job in order to compromise for the roof over their heads. Now, I am not judging people on the basis of their career choice and/or trying to demean the regular jobs- nothing is wrong in the regular office jobs. What I am trying to do is draw your attention towards the reasons that lead to the failure of most of the people in earning a name in the field of photography.
Some of the people failed due to their ego issues (read: mindset) while the others because their photographs sucked. Some others failed because they couldn’t ‘sell’ their art. I will cover all of these points and many more in detail in the upcoming articles. I will also discuss the importance of the ‘business aspect’ of the art of photography, and will share the tricks that guarantee economic success besides name and fame in the same.
It must be taken into account that even if your photography work is 10/10, you may still fail because business comes before art. I keep art after business because falling in love with art sounds good, but at the end of the day, one needs money in order to pay the bills. I believe that art should be for the sake of life and not for its own sake alone. Furthermore, no matter how good an artist you are, if you cannot sell your work, nobody will notice it and ultimately, it will perish. Basically, in the contemporary competitive world, if you don’t know how to sell your art, you are doomed.
Now, to sell your art is also an art. How to sell your art?
Your business is in front of you: Social Media.
Look at people around you on the Internet. The one and only thing they like is ‘attention.’ Here attention means:
– Engagements with friends and family.
As more and more people are getting addicted to social media attention, they obviously need good pictures of themselves and here comes your opportunity to grow your business.
In this series, I will be covering the following topics that will help you making a successful career out of your love for the art of photography:
1. Passion + Learning
2. Art + Polishing your art
4. Importance of Networking (SM, WoM, Advertising)
5. Significance of Professionalism
6. Money + Bills
7. Sustainability + Work Ethics
8. Major Threats and How to Overcome Them
9. Future of Photography
I promise you one thing that by the end of this series, your outlook towards your passion for photography, and towards your work will completely change. And you will become a different person altogether. Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, you can join my Facebook group, “Grow Your Art” which is a community (in the making) of photographers, cinematographers, other artists belonging to the similar stream. This community aims at developing a healthy environment for the collective growth of individuals in this business. The artists here actively participate in the discussions, and help and guide each other to grow in the Indian market.