Photographer Knowledge Base

Photographers tend to bury their heads in the sand in regards to the photographer knowledge base that they don’t have. Do you know any photographers that make the, “I am an artist”, statement as justification for EVERYTHING that they don’t want to do? I know photographers who blatantly ignore the balances in their bank accounts. Until those accounts are too low. Many photographers know of Ansel Adams, but who else do you follow? I am not talking about following photographers on social media either. I am talking about photographer knowledge within the history of photography itself.

So as “artists” how can we personally change our photographer knowledge base for the better?

Photographer Knowledge – History

Let’s begin with the easiest of tasks. As a photographer, all you have to do is search the web or buy some books. You need to read. I know it probably isn’t your cup of tea. Few artists like to sit and read because that goes against their visual acuity. Photographers want to be free and run through poppy fields naked. A little bit of photo history can go a long way though.

Do you know of Richard Avedon? How about Henri Cartier-Bresson? Or even Robert Capa? Ever heard of an agency called Magnum? If Getty Images is considered to be a contemporary stock agency, then Magnum was their starting vernacular. How about Platon? If you begin to look at some of these photographers, you will quickly learn that their focus is more about society. This societal focus has made them famous.

You may think that I am crazy suggesting photographers that have little to do with the raw outdoors. This is directly related to creating an adventure portrait or beginning to see how to illustrate climate change. I take what I see with these ground breaking, historical photographers. I interpret what they have achieved into my own photographer knowledge base. They become avenues of inspiration. If you don’t know photographic history, you are literally shooting from the hip.

The Others

Your photographic competitors are not your enemies. Unless they are egotistical assholes. I digress. Know what type of work your competitors are producing. This isn’t to copy them or become jealous of their achievements. By building your photographer knowledge base from your competition, you again better your photography. If you can shoot what they are shooting, can you better their achievements?

Also pay attention to your competition’s client base. Can some of those clients use you? If so, how do you approach these potential clients on new and interesting level.

Remember not to obsess. If there is a photographer you particularly like and you see something they have done, compliment them. You would be amazed how many photographers thrive on those compliments. They may even become someone you can talk to and gain advice from when needed.

Social Media

Social media is becoming the new albatross. Yes, the early adopters of social media have been able to leverage this now payment-based marketing platform. You can spend weeks reading about how to grow your accounts. How to best advertise on those accounts. There is an entire business model on supporting the social media model. I am not saying that you shouldn’t be on social media. However, if you are, you have probably noticed that your accounts are stagnant these days.

This is because social media purveyors have all adjusted their algorithms to allow growth only when you pay. Is paying worth it? Well that is something you need to add to your photographer knowledge base for your business. Are your potential clients on social media? If they are, then paying to advertise on social media is beneficial. If not, you might as well light your money on fire.

What if your potential client base is not on social media? Then you need to figure out how to obtain those leads. You will also need to figure out how to market to those leads once you obtain them.

Your Website and SEO

Are you a photographer still using Adobe Flash for you website? You may actually have an unusable website if you don’t change something. Relationship break-ups are like tipping over a vending machine. Unless you are “The Rock”, you probably aren’t going to walk up to a vending machine and knock it right over. This is how Flash is getting sent packing from the web. Steve Jobs started the demise of Flash in 2011. While you will still discover some photographers’ websites built in Flash most have moved on.

A third of the web is now built on the WordPress platform. While the remainder of websites make up a variety of service-based platforms and management software based websites other than WordPress. They all have one thing in common. They are running in HTML. A very simple and effective coding language. This language allows websites to be searchable by search engine companies like Google and Bing.

As photographers we have one really huge problem on the web. Our photos are NOT natively searchable by search engines. This means that we need some photographer knowledge in the department of SEO. Knowing that Google searches content and this content has to be based on words, allows photographers to target their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) beyond just their photos.

SEO is becoming another business model that companies are focusing on just like advertising on social media. Again, you can get lost for hours, days and even weeks trying decipher what is valuable in regards to SEO. I personally follow and read what a company called Yoast publishes. I am even taking Yoast’s classes to get certified in optimizing websites for search engines.

New Gear

Many photographers have a superior knowledge base in the equipment that they own. While this knowledge is important, it is also extremely important to be able to diversify. Yes, camera gear is really expensive, so owning a ton of this equipment isn’t realistic for most of us. You can rent just about anything though. You can also download most software packages for a trial period as well.

This knowledge becomes marketable, but the diversification also makes you stronger. Athletes train their weaknesses. If you can pick up a Hasselblad and use it effectively, you can create outside of your Canon camera base. I know you may be disagreeing with me right now, but I had Sony come to me years ago when I lived in Washington. They wanted to pay me $3K for a single day to go out and shoot with a new camera they were about to release. I obviously took the job. I received the camera a few days prior to my shoot day and figured out its limitations. Then created a series of photos for Sony’s campaign, and the rest is history.

You need to learn to be flexible. The principles of creating a great photograph do not change because the gear does. If you are comfortable outside of the gear you own, you are more salable.

Understand Design Concepts

While I don’t expect you to go out an become a designer, you should now what the elements and principles of design are. Many photographers focus on the rule of thirds to compose. I personally focus on the principles and elements of design. Our planet is made up of elements that we can use in our photographs. Principles guide us as opposed to rules which create black and white statements.

There are many people who believe our world runs on black and white rules, reality dictates differently. Even the rule makers say that every rule is meant to be broken. So why be so hard edged in the first place.

When I realized the direct correlation between how I learned design in architecture school and creating a compelling photograph, my business began to thrive. Design is a philosophy. It allows you to grow as a photographic artist. The rule of thirds allows you to stand at the same overlook and create the same photograph that the unimaginative create.

Diversify Your Photographer Knowledge Base

By diversifying your photographer knowledge base, you inevitably diversify your success. You have undoubtedly heard the term, knowledge is power. This statement should be your mantra as a photographer. You need creative direction and knowledge based direction for justification in fact. When you have reasoning to back anything up, you travel in a different circle than most. You also think differently than most. Standing out on a different level is a major component to success. Give it a try, I know you won’t be disappointed.

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