I heard this quote at a conference I went to, and it stuck with me ever since. It’s such a true statement too. Obviously this conference was about photographer, but really this kind of mindset can work for any area of life. However, this is not a self-help blog, I’ll leave that to the professionals, but this is dealing with photography. So think about that, “The only constant is change.” We live in a world where materials, trends, fashion, everything is changing on the second and someone or something can become a dinosaur, or worse become extinct in the blink of an eye, especially in photography. Cameras, computers, editing programs seem to come out with the latest and greatest every week, weddings seem to become more and more unique, seniors want to feel like a superstar, families don’t want to look clean and done up (as one family said to me, “I don’t want people to say, ‘oh they clean up nicely.’ I want them to say, ‘yeah, that’s the so-and-so family.”), and because of this constant change as a photographer we must change with what people want, otherwise you are bound to fall off the radar.
To put things in perspective, you cannot be doing the same style of photography you were doing just last year, and in some cases just a few months ago. The world we live in today is all about being unique and different from another person. I know I sound like a broken record by repeating this all the time, but it’s so true. I look back at my freshman year yearbook and EVERY senior picture in that yearbook was done at a photographer’s studio. The cheesy smile, the looking away from the camera with the hand under the chin, or sitting backwards in the chair… you know the poses. Every picture. just three years later, my senior year, nearly every picture was done outdoor. This was a huge step for senior photography. Granted it was still the same cheesy poses and smiles, but they were done outdoors. Jump to today; seniors want something unique, they want us, the photographer, to push the limits of photography to get a shot like no other. Same goes for weddings. Look at wedding photography just 5-6 years ago. Digital photography was starting to become a more popular, more affordable way of doing things, but photographers were still doing the traditional style of wedding photography. That was just six years ago! In just six years we’ve gone from a photography maybe finishing with 50 pictures or so from a wedding, so now photographers providing a couple with 500, 1000, or even more pictures from their big day, and taking a heck of a lot more as well. On top of that, we have trash the dress sessions where a bride will jump in a lake or ocean, have paint splattered all over the dress, mud, go paint balling, etc. Six years ago that would have been unheard of! Lastly, look at the direction family photography has gone. From the entire family posing in the studio, everybody looks so clean and the smiles look so fake, the photographer waving a barney doll to get the kids attention. And now families will sit in a couch in middle of the road or out in a field, or have pictures of them playing a football game together, etc. Families want pictures that show them in their true form, and it makes it so much more enjoyable to look at these pictures and remember those times.
So what do we as photographers need to be doing? First and foremost, network with other photographers. I’m not saying you have to share ideas with photographers 2 miles down the road from you, no way. Go to some conferences or meets with photographers in other states. Share ideas with them, what you are seeing as far as trends and what the other is doing. This can only help the photography industry step it up a notch. Join organizations, whether it’s a local bridal association, PPA, WPPI, etc. Sign up for magazines, whether it’s a photography dedicated magazine or a bridal/fashion magazine. No one sets trends better than Hollywood and NYC, so by following what the latest is, you’ll be one step ahead. Find other photographers to get inspiration from, and by inspiration, I do not mean copy. What good does it do to copy a photographer’s work to the dot? The problem with that is the other photographer is constantly pushing themselves and raising the bar and you will always be one step behind. I’m saying gain inspiration from them and step that up. Think of the photography industry if each photographer is constantly raising the bar.
This is a huge subject that probably requires to be written as a book, but this is just a brief summary of constantly changing. Enjoy your friday everyone and stay cool! It’s hot out there. 🙂