Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Photographers cannot be artist...
I'm from Chicago, so, of course, needless to say, I'm a diehard Chicago sports fan. I remember celebrating the Bulls six championships, the Cubs many postseason defeats, the Blackhawks recent dominance, and so on.
One thing I remember vividly about those legendary Bulls teams of the 90's was the tension between the team and the front office. For those of you that aren't familiar, the front office felt as if they didn't get enough credit for building the amazing brand that was Chicago Bulls basketball, and felt a bit of envy towards Jordan, Pippen, Jackson, Rodman, and the rest. They felt eager to get rid of the whole team, and show to the world that they could do it again...with a whole new cast of players.
While I won't get into my personal feelings about Jerry Reinsdorf and Jerry Kraus(the heads at the front office) I remember it being said one day on television that the "Jerrys" weren't basketball men...they were businessmen. That stuck out to me. At first, it was an insult...basketball is their sport, right? But why were they successful? They understood the components over what it takes to create a serious winner. Ultimately, egos took over, and ruined the greatest team to ever play(don't you DARE argue with me on this one!)
In that same fashion, however, to be a successful photographer, you have to be a bit more businessperson than ever before. You have to understand your numbers. You have to understand business structure, contracts, client acquisition, client retention, etc.
Stay with me here. If you want to be a successful photographer...you cannot be an artist. First.
Sure...you have to be super creative, and continue to push the envelope as much as possible, but it is no longer enough to just be creative and have a nice portfolio. Let me ask you this. Ever spent the afternoon scouting other photographer's websites in your market, and thought to yourself..."why the hell is this photographer more successful, when their work is lackluster?"
This is your lightbulb moment.
It is important for us photographers to be expert businesspeople. When working among the business community, it is important to show first how you are a successful, serious business person.
Here's a couple of tips to improving your business accumen:
1. Network, Network, Network - People hire who they know. Get out there and meet people.
2. Know your numbers! - Your clients know their numbers. You should know yours.
3. Education - Take a business class. Not a "business for artist" type class. An actual business class...it will help.
4. Find a mentor - having someone who's brain you can pick about business issues is invaluable!
Yes, it is important to have artistic skill to be a photographer. We photographers are kind of a hybrid between artist and businessmen...we have to be skilled at both.