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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Show a newbie the ropes.

This is Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. An amazing place at any time of the day, but to see it at its best you need to be there at the crack of dawn for the giant tuna auctions. Why this picture today?

It kind of ties in with my post on Monday about how to earn a fortune in travel photography. Up-and-coming photographers need to know this stuff. They need to know about proper business practices so they don't make all the same mistakes that we made.

My cousin lives in Tokyo and is a photographer. Not a professional one at this stage but he's working on it! Laurence was born in LA and his Mum is my wife's mum's sister. So he's half Japanese and technically my wife's cousin not mine. Neither here nor there. He's a great guy and a really keen photographer. You can see his website here. Anyway he sent me a long email the other day asking for some advice on how to move his career forward and I penned a big, long reply with a whole bunch of tips.

More importantly I put him in touch with a mate of mine who's a  well-established photojournalist there in Tokyo as well, somebody I know will give him some sage advice about working as a foreigner photographer in that amazing part of the world.

If you're already established as a professional it's really important to show a newbie the ropes if they come looking for answers. Showing them how to price themselves properly, license their images and keep their copyright, and why they need to do so to survive in the industry, will help them stop undercutting you. Look what happened with stock. Digital created a whole bunch of eager photographers who wanted to license their images the traditional way. The big agencies wouldn't let them in and Microstock was born - and look where that's got us!

It's not about price fixing. It's about giving people the knowledge to make good business decisions based on more than just the fact that they have a passion to take pictures. I'm about to head off to have coffee with a local real estate and architectural photographer who's graciously agreed to meet me to give me a few pointers. Hopefully I can give him a few on travel photography.

It's all about passing it forward and trying to make sure that we all end up competing on skill level and style, as opposed to the current method of seeing who can charge the least amount possible and still eat more than a single meal a day!

So if you're an established pro in any art form I would encourage you to reach out to aspiring professionals. Take them under your wing a bit and show them what a great, long-term career this can be if you play your business cards right.


nathanoj said...

Good points Paul. I have had the occasional enquiry from young photogs wanting to learn more about property photography, a field which is already saturated in my neighbourhood, and which must represent the bargain basement of commercial photography. But I digress ;-) I got over my initial suspicions that I'd be training up a potential competitor, and in the end my suspicions were not realised amd I enjoyed the experience.

nathanoj said...
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Paul Dymond said...

Thanks Jonathan, great to hear that you've had good experiences as well. I think if you can teach good business practices then you are creating photographers who may or may not compete with you, but at least they're more likely to do it based on their craft. Don't teach them anything and they're most likely just going to undercut you because they don't understand what you need to do to remain profitable. What is it they say? A rising tide floats all boats.