Today, more than ever, everyone is a photographer. From your pocket phone to your full frames, cameras are so accessible and everyone is using them. For many, it is just to document their life and then share it with friends and family. However, there is a large group of people, all around the world, that are wanting to monetise their art. In order to do this, they must exceed the competition, which is an extremely difficult thing to do as there is such a high standard in the field. With this in mind, having a strong portfolio more often than not isn’t enough to set you apart from the rest of the pack. In this post, we will explore how you can use your personality to help reach your goals and get to the standard you are working hard towards.
Not another marketing post
Before we get started, this is not another one of those “how to get good at marketing” posts. Absolutely, there is a value to those posts, especially for those who want to succeed, however this is about who you are as a person rather than telling you how to smash your SEO out the park.
The reason that your personality is so important, in anything you do, is because it really is what makes you different to the person next to you. The truth is, many people can take great portraits, shoot thought provoking documentary or eye catching street work. I spend a lot of time researching the work of others, and whilst there are certain photographers that blow my mind purely for their work alone, most of the content I see is pretty much on a level playing field - at least when you get to the stronger content.
Finding your personality
I am not going to risk patronising you, I am aware pretty much all of you reading this are of an age where you know who you are as a person. You know if you are shy, outspoken, funny, serious, intelligent or - all of the above. However, when finding out how you will present yourself in a creative manner, it can be useful to sit down and write down the traits of your personality. Once you have it down on paper, ask yourself “How do I want people to view my work”. For example, do you want to make people laugh when you interact with them? Do you want to come across as someone who can offer a deeper sense of meaning from an artistic perspective? These are the questions you should ask yourself as you begin to mould yourself, not only as person but as a brand.
Putting it into practice
So you have put your pen to paper, done a nice little spider diagram of your traits and zoned in on who you want to be and how you want people to perceive you - now what? How do you use this to your advantage?
The easiest way to do this is to start blogging. Put your voice into words on paper (or screen) and start letting people know who you are and what you do. The next option is to vlog. Video cameras are easier to buy nowadays without having to break the bank. Vlogging is a more productive way of getting your personality across as people can see your body language, your tones, alongside the words that you say. Communication specialists have often suggested that 55% of what we say is communicated through our body language, with 38% made up of our tone and only 7% from the actual words we are saying (As I write this I am asking myself - why the hell do I not have a YouTube channel!?).
Podcasts are another great platform to show the world who you are. I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to speak on several shows, and I have used these opportunities to not only talk about my work, but as a way to practise and exercise my ability to speak confidently and deliver a message through my personality. You can have a listen to the kind of personality I am displaying via this podcast I did with Street Photography Magazine - Dan Ginn discusses the art of photo blogging.
Good content will never stop being important
To be clear, whilst I am asking you to develop a sense of self image, that is not to say that it does not matter about the quality of your content. You need to be practising your craft daily if you are going to compete with those who are at the top. You need to be out almost everyday (ideally, but I know life gets in the way) to ensure you improve your skill and continue to make quality photographs. However I do feel combining your skill with who you are as a person is what will take you to the next level.
There are plenty of examples of people who are not the best photographers, but their personality has brought them success. The reoccurring example, at least from a Street Photography perspective, is Eric Kim. He is an extremely good photographer, but by no means is he the best. However he knows his stuff, how to communicate it effectively and how to gain the trust of people through his personality. It is the latter that has allowed him to make a successful business out of his art - credit to him! I feel he is someone we can all take inspiration from.
Take your steps forward now
It can be very daunting putting yourself out there due to the fear that people will reject you. Thankfully it won’t be all people, or even the majority of people (unless you are rude and arrogant). So with this in mind you really do not have anything to worry about. It will take time to develop yourself, particularly in the way that you communicate. I am learning more and more every time I write or speak. Sometimes I am failing, but take comfort in the knowledge that I am discovering new ways to get to be the person I want to be. Always remember, that you are stronger than your strongest barriers. With that in mind, knock them down and show the world what a great artist you truly are.
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