Think of your favorite photographer. Can you describe his brand in 25 words or less?
If not, he’s got a problem.
Why It’s Important to Become a Brand
It’s no secret that many photographers start out with the goal to become published. This is best done through selling your photos.
So, you bought your first digital camera and struggled to learn an almost completely new way of taking pictures, editing, processing and sending them to friends and family – and, of course, potential buyers.
At the same time, you were competing with publishing houses that were also trying to learn the fast and furious changes in digital publishing. Now that the dust has settled and photobuyers have learned to welcome digital submissions, you are ready to start running down the road that takes you to buyers who want your photos.
This is where you must decide the type of photographs you want to be known for or, essentially, how you want to brand yourself. You can continue taking beautiful, award-winning photos that get displayed in exhibitions and satisfy your soul. Or, you can shift your emphasis to images that get printed in national publications
You do have the option, however, of taking beautiful pictures that satisfy your soul and shooting sellable pictures that satisfy your pocketbook. All it takes is a little branding.
The Secret to Getting Known
If you’re interested in making money from your photographic talent, you will want to follow the basic business concept of positioning.
If your collection of photos is strong in, say, education, position yourself so that you become a valuable resource to editors who are in continual need of education photos.
Over time, you’ll build relationships with photo buyers in that area, and they’ll come to recognize your brand of photography.
I know photographers who have positioned themselves so well in their specialty area that they get put on specific photobuyers’ available photographers lists.
These lists usually have photographers who “speak the language” of the special interest area the photobuyers need for their readers and advertisers. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you’re comfortably calling a photo buyer and letting him know you’ve found a new aspect to photograph in their field.
Nowadays, you don’t have to be a full-time pro to do this. The technology of cameras and the Internet will allow you to do this part-time and still keep your day-job.
When you position yourself to focus on a specific subject area, you lock yourself into publishing houses that produce visual materials relating to that one theme. They have, so-to-speak, stuck to the same brand.
To be a successful part-time stock photographer today, you can do the same if you brand yourself the way theme publishers do.
Think of a photography brand as similar to an artist’s style. When you think of van Gough, Matisse, Mondrian, Rockwell, or Picasso you think of different styles of art, right? In the same manner, your specialization area will be your brand.
Once you sell your first photo to a theme publisher, you will find it much easier to make subsequent sales. I have found that once a photographer establishes himself with a theme publisher, he can expect to stay with that publisher for an average of ten years, minimum.
The individual photo editors or graphic artists at such a publishing house might come and go, but the theme of the publishing house remains the same. This translates to as much as $20,000 to $50,000 in sales over a ten-year period.
That is the beauty of marketing your own photos. You can choose to stay with only one or two theme publishers or go big time and deal with multiple photobuyers who focus on that theme. Of course, you can repeat the process with two or three additional themes, depending on your time and desire to add to your brand.
Here’s wishing you smooth sailing!