Photography industry myths and the truth behind them

Written on May 13, 2011 by in Business savvy, For photographers only

I heard a lot of interesting assertions working as a professional photographer. Here are a few of my favorite myths and the real truth behind them.

Photographic inspiration by Dominic Alves

Myth: If I copy what [insert name of successful photographer here] does, I’ll be successful, too.

Successful photographers are generally true to themselves. You are not that person; therefore, doing what they have done will not make you successful, only a poor imitation of the original. Who wants to be that?

Myth: You can charge more if you call yourself a boutique.

What does this even mean?  I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean: Buying marketing templates and packaging to make yourself look like a boutique studio and then doing nothing else differently. Boutique studios are high-touch, high-service experiences on every level. If you’re unwilling to or unsure that you can provide that level of service, don’t bother calling yourself a boutique. Even if you do, no one will believe you.

Myth: You just need to raise your prices and everything will work out fine.

Does anyone else find this piece of advice a little strange? Sure, you need to charge enough to cover your expenses and make a profit, but raising your prices when you’re competing on price is going to make you the loser. Yeah yeah, you’re not supposed to be competing on price, but how can you help it if your work is indiscernible from everyone else’s? The fact is clients will choose on price if you look the same as your competition. The only way to charge more is to provide a unique offering that people can’t get anywhere else, and the only way to do that is to differentiate yourself and market your work effectively.

Myth: Getting a certification will set you apart, and is a good way to brand yourself.

In photography, the image is king. Clients don’t care about certifications unless you need one to do business, as in the financial planning or accounting professions. If your work is good, having a certification won’t matter. However, if you need to improve your work or want to learn more about your craft, go get a certification. Just don’t try to brand yourself based on your new credential afterward. It’s not enough.

Myth: Style is what you shoot.

Wrong! Style is not subject matter. When you have a clear style, you can apply it to any subject. Style is an outgrowth of you, your motivation, your vision and the tools you use to realize that vision. It is reflected in every decision you make from approach to equipment to composition to post-processing.

Myth: A new set of actions will help create your style.

Action sets can be valuable tools, but they can’t help you create your style. Why? Because they’re not yours, even when you buy them. They are someone else’s vision sprung to life.

Myth: Your brand is your logo, signature colors, typeface and tagline…

All of the above are just brand icons. Your brand is the exclusive message or value on which you and your company stand. A good brand is reflected in everything you show, do or say about yourself and your business, which should be a whole lot more than a pretty logo and website.

Are there any other myths that you’d like me to address? Let me know!


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  1. Rebecca Stees
    May 16, 2011

    Hi Kate,

    I love your thoughts on style and brand.
    Originality is queen!

    What is a new set of actions?
    Rebecca Stees recently posted..Emotions and Feelings – A List of Choices

    • Kate Watson
      May 16, 2011

      Hi Rebecca: Thanks for stopping by! Actions are a Photoshop tool used by many photographers to speed their workflow. An action is a series of recorded steps that you want performed on a photo, such as open, convert to grayscale, adjust curves, save to new folder as jpg, etc. Once recorded, you just push one button and the action does everything for you. In addition to making their own actions, many photographers also buy action sets from photographers whose work they admire. It’s great to have that option but it also increases uniformity in the industry, which is dangerous.

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