Learning Curve

Beach Wedding by Holli Margell

Wedding Photography was easy. It was a way to use my love of Photography in a straight forward way as a service. You hired me, I did my job, and got paid. There was more to it than that, but that was the basic bones of it.

Now that I’m entering the art photography world, I’m learning as I go, without feeling confident that I know some formula for success. You get to watch my learning curve.

Art Photography – Essentially, I’m selling a product. Art in all mediums is a product. You either love it or you don’t. I think that is why it scared me to try. I know I love my photographs, because I take them and keep them because I believe they are beautiful. But, the big question I face is, “Will others love it?” And, can I sell it?  Some people don’t and hire great business managers. Others never try, and their art rests like skeletons in their closet. I’m working to figure it out for myself.

The business of art – I’ve been reading a lot about how to make money with my art photography. One of the key pieces I read by Gwenn Seemel lays things out simply, “Making a living is like making a painting.” She explains some of the tools she uses, and the fact that things take time to evolve.

Money and art – One of the joys about being a Seattlite is that there are a variety of opportunities to learn. Last month I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of Chase Jarvis’ LIVE interview of Ramit Sethi (author of “I Will Teach You To Be Rich”). You should invest the 1.5hrs to watch it here. Chase and Ramit share the ins and outs of pricing your work and finding your ideal clients in a passionate and conversational setting. I was not bored for a second, and even got to ask a question! Chase shares a lot of valuable information for photographers who want to make a living.

I priced my work at the show to the comfort of my stomach – knowing a coffee shop show wouldn’t bring in art collectors, but also that I wanted to make enough to donate to a good cause. I’m still looking at what sold, and who bought to understand who my audience is – who loves my work and who will likely buy it. They actually suggested this in the interview, and I’ve read about it before. Some even recommend offering the work for free to learn more about your target market. I did this slightly by giving away cards for food donations. It is fascinating to look at which cards people took when money wasn’t involved.

So, what I’ve learned so far is that women are the ones who purchase my photography art, and I’m not the only one who thinks the photographs are beautiful.

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