Ask yourself, “Why am I seeing and feeling this? How am I growing? What am I learning?” Remember: Every coincidence is potentially meaningful. How high your awareness level is determines how much meaning you get from your world. Photography can teach you to improve your awareness level. – Ansel Adams
My last post, I am a Photographer, seemed to really strike a chord with people. I truly appreciate all of the kind comments and thoughts around the subject.
Since I had that realization though, the logical next question was…now what?
The answer for you will likely be different than mine in some ways, similar in others. My focus is the fine art market, specifically gallery shows and (eventually) publishing a book. So I’ve been researching the heck out of that market, what it takes to break in, get known, and most importantly develop a body of work that will stand on its own.
That last part is what I’m continuing to realize is the most important and hardest part. They key is to just keep shooting, learning, experimenting and pushing myself to become better. But mostly just shooting. Then shooting some more. Then more.
I’ve had my photographs in a few shows now, and learn from each one. I’ve been published a few times and learned from each of those too.
Here are the questions to ask yourself:
- What makes you unique?
- How would you describe your style?
- What is your philosophy surrounding your work?
- How would you answer this request that an editor once asked of me: “Send me 10 photographs that show the depth and breadth of your work”. That was a tough one, as I’m super-critical of myself.
- Who do you want to see your photographs?
These aren’t just rhetorical questions – you will be asked them!
I know one thing is a certainty, no matter what type of photography you want to do: you need to continue to grow and push yourself.
One book I can highly recommend on the subject is Visionmongers by David duChemin. It’s an eye opening look at becoming a pro. But when you read it, please, I implore you, don’t get hung up on things like designing your business cards. Get your body of work ready first, and then you can think about the marketing side of things. If you start marketing before you have a solid body of work, you’ll end up hurting your “brand” even before you’ve begun.
I’m there with you. I have a body of work that I still need to grow. I need about 25 more images that I feel are slam dunks before I feel I’m ready for a gathering like Photolucida, where gallery owners and publishers make themselves available for portfolio reviews.
Until then, I’m just going to keep shooting.
P.S. David duChemin just released his new book: Vision & Voice: Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. If you’re like me and tend to get lost in some of the tech-speak that many Photoshop books have, this one should be a breath of fresh air. It’s written by a pro that’s results-driven, not one who enjoys sitting at a computer processing images for hours on end. Check it out.