I’ve been a self-employed travel and landscape photographer for 21 years now. Plus 5 years of doing it part time. One day, with a change of circumstances, no real plan and a deep breath, I left my job in the motor industry to become a photographer.
The first chapter to be added to my ‘Personal Guide to Success’, apart from moving to medium format, to gain the advantage of the bigger image size, was discovered from doing an online course with the Bureau of Freelance Photography. Their advice was, if you want to get ahead you have be different from the rest and in my circumstance, add words to your pictures. So, this started with a few words, a couple of sentences to accompany my submitted images. Basically a bit of a back story to the image as to why and how it was shot. This idea progressed to over a thousand words with each submission to magazines to form a short article, along with a few more pics to complete the package. This gave me the edge over others, as the editor had both words and pics to put in the magazine.
Next came the workshops. I had been shooting professionally now for over ten years and digital had just kicked in. Suddenly there were more photographers, both wanting to learn and competing to have their work published. I dabbled in the landscape workshop myself here and there. A few in the Yorkshire Dales, along the Yorkshire Coast, Peak District, but only one day affairs, as I never fancied organising the multi-day holidays. But I got bored. There were too many others doing the same thing as well, so I referred back to my ‘Personal Guide to Success’ mantra. Be different.
So, I set up an online course, using my experience of writing photography articles, but kept it to a subject I had experience in too, landscapes. No one else had done this. I hoped it offered something different and original and it worked.
Three years ago, I more or less gave up the rural landscape-based workshop. With every Tom, Dick and Harry now doing these and some, rather worryingly, who were not only new to photography, but still attending workshops themselves! I needed to add another chapter to my ‘Personal Guide…’
And so I went urban. Nobody was doing urban workshops. Now, I knew urban landscapes weren’t as popular as rural landscapes, something I learnt from the articles I wrote, plus how many books on urban photography can you think of? Very few! (You should perhaps do one yourself then Craig. I have! eBook available from my website!) There was a gap in the market therefore and so I dived in with my City Photo Walks. Running these workshops was a progression from my online course. I wanted to be different.
I had started to sell my photography articles online from my website, including some unpublished ones (not every magazine was open to every idea I suggested!) and along with a few eBooks, this collection of ideas became e6, my subscription package for photographers. This soon became a more complete package as I added my current ‘…Guide to Success’ idea. Videos.
Having been elbowed and pushed into doing one of these for Lee Filters, I bit the bug and found I enjoyed or should I say, just about put up with myself, on the other side of the camera. So, videos were uploaded to YouTube, with some held exclusive for e6 subscribers. This is the future however and there are only a handful of photographers currently heading down this route. Therefore, again, it’s about being different.
Dare to be Different
The final chapter for my ‘Personal Guide to Success’ is, well, that is unwritten yet. I don’t know what my next move will be, but as always, I plan to make it different to what everyone else chooses. And if you want to take one thing away from this blog post, make it that. Dare to be different and enjoy your exclusivity whether it’s a big success or not.