In today’s world of rapidly changing technology, there’s one big problem that you and every aspiring photographer must face; you are one among many. It no longer takes years of practice or even an expensive camera to make someone a talented, and in some cases professional, photographer. Whether you are an aspiring pro or just taking up photography as a hobby, here are five ways to challenge yourself and stand out as a photographer in today’s crowded market.
1. Keep evolving your craft
Let’s start with the good news; just because someone has a camera doesn’t mean they know how to take great photos. In fact, there are very few people who desire to shoot in anything other than the automatic program function of their cameras.
Dedicate yourself to mastering every aspect of photography. If you’re shooting in full auto, learn how to shoot in Aperture Priority, then Shutter Priority, and then finally Manual mode. If you’ve mastered natural lighting, move on to off-camera flash and other lighting techniques. Keep pushing forward and challenging yourself to master new aspects of photography, and you’ll always be a step ahead.
2. Focus on one area of expertise
Just as the photography market has become saturated, so has the industry for teaching photography skills. From websites like dPS to local workshops, there are many avenues to learn about every aspect of photography. In order to keep evolving your craft and not get overwhelmed by the plethora of information out there, focus your studies on one aspect of photography to start. Also, limit the resources you use for the sake of consistency.
This same strategy of limiting your areas of expertise is also true if you’re aiming to start a photography business. Narrowing your focus makes it much easier to grow your skills quickly, and also attract clients that you actually want to work with.
3. Only implement new technology if it’s working for you
No matter how many features are packed into a camera, your job is ultimately about producing a good photo. Sometimes, having the latest camera packed with tons of fancy new high-tech features can actually overcomplicate your work. I remember the first time I tried shooting tethered for a new corporate client. It was only my third time using that process, and I was so overwhelmed by other factors on set that my attempt at using technology just caused more frustration.
If you invest in new technology, be sure it is actually enhancing your workflow and not holding you back. Take the time to practice using it over and over until it feels like second nature. And always have a fallback plan, since technology notoriously fails at one point or another.
4. Work your people skills
Being a skilled photographer isn’t just about growing your technical abilities. You should also have excellent people skills. As a professional photographer, it’s not uncommon to be hired for a photo shoot or complemented on my work before my client even looks at my photos. I’ve come to realize it’s all about people skills and making people feel comfortable even before delivering a service.
Even if you don’t photograph people, you still interact with them to set up photo shoots and sell your services. Practice your people skills and get good at putting a smile on someone’s face even when they’re not in front of your camera.
5. Continue to network and put your work out there
Another positive aspect to a growing interest in photography is the huge uptick in communities for photographers. From Instagram and Facebook Groups to local Meetups, there are tons of places to meet fellow photography enthusiasts. Take part in communities such as the Digital Photography School Group. Check out the questions and conversations others are having. Put your work out there to get feedback from others and make improvements accordingly. Also, don’t be afraid to chime in and offer your own constructive criticism.
What are your thoughts on the role of evolving camera technology today? Do you have your own tips and strategies for standing out as a photographer in a saturated market? Let me know in the comments below!