Staying Ahead in a Growing Market
This spring will mark 4 years ago that I picked up my first digital SLR camera. I was quite instantly hooked. I would spend countless hours out with my camera, taking photos of everything and anything. I am sure I annoyed everyone on my social media with a plethora of images and posts. I would stay up until wee hours of the morning reading photography articles and tutorials. I attended seminars, conferences, photowalks anything to try to learn. I did it all – landscapes, macro, flowers, fashion, weddings etc etc etc…..
After about a year I thought I was pretty good (little did I know how untrue that was) so I hung a shingle out on Facebook and started a website like so many other digital photographers. I thought to myself “hey people are willing to pay!” I quickly found myself bobbing up and down in a sea of mediocrity. I was unsure if how to set myself apart or what it was that made me any different than the thousands of other people just as passionate as myself about photography. So many of the successful photographers that I heard speak about making a viable business in photography talk about finding a niche.
“Find the thing you love to do, then find a way to make money at it”
About two years ago I took some random photos at a local dog park while walking my own dogs. BINGO. I found it! or rather it found me! Just like that! The reactions of my friends and fans was instantaneous – my pet photography was born.
Over the next few months I started from scratch – redesigned website, business cards, the whole shebang. I have not once looked back and I can honestly say that
I LOVE LOVE LOVE doing pet photography!!
It is my passion, my calling, maybe even my obsession. I would go as far as to say I am probably far too sensitive about my art.
The last year or so, pet photography has been gaining in popularity and it has become somewhat of a trendy thing for new photographers to get into. I now find a lot more ads and social media pages for local photographers trying to do pet photography. I am very much in favor of quality competition. Competition drives innovation and growth. It should also create market equality and stabilization. I found myself at a crossroads recently as one of the local photographers has actually gone out of their way to undermine my relationships with some local rescue groups that I had relationships with in the past.
So this brings me to the purpose of this long winded blog post (sorry!)
How do I set myself apart? What is it I do that is special??
First of all pet photography is NOT EASY. I think that some may see it as an easy dollar. That is not the case. If you are not prepared to get peed on, clean up poop, and sweep your studio daily it is not for you! Extreme patience is required with some animals. Sometimes it can take an hour just to get a couple good shots.
I am an animal person. When I say that – I do not just like animals – I relate to them, I probably prefer them to humans in many ways. I have a way with animals (dogs in particular) that I can not explain nor teach. I have always been able to connect with animals on some instinctual level. I believe this is what sets my work apart. One of the most frequent compliments that I hear when people talk to me about my art is the connection they feel when they look at my images. This is the single most thing that drive me to improve. I have a box of kleenex in my office because very often clients cry happy tears when they see the images of their fur babies.
I secretly love making my clients cry.
I am a print artist. What inspires me is putting large artwork in my clients’ homes. Images that will make them smile when they are having a bad day. Pieces that guests in their home will be inspired by. The look on my clients faces when they see their pet’s personality forever captured.
I feel forever connect to my clients in some way. Perhaps this is creepy, but it is part of who I am. I pour my soul into my work. When a client brings home a large canvas and sends me a photo of it hanging in their home, I can not help but feel immense pride.
The bottom line is I am going to focus less and less on what others are doing and just keep pushing myself to improve and do my thing.
In the two years my little home business has grown steadily and I am so very humbled and honored with each and every new milestone and I love my clients so much. I can now call myself a mediocre photographer aspiring to become excellent. I am so excited to see what comes next!
PS – I needed to get this out there, not only for people to understand me a little more, but as some sort of catharsis for myself. I have allowed the actions of others to dictate my emotions far too much in the past.It is my hope putting this out there in printed form is that beginning of change for me.