Photography has changed, there’s no doubt about that. But why? Why have things evolved to quickly and so drastically? Photographers used to be famous by mailing printed images in a big manila envelope to magazine editors and crossing their fingers. Now, it takes 1,000 likes, 1,000 Instagram followers, and 200 retweets to even get noticed.
Photography is just like any art form. It’s constantly changing and adapting to the climate and environment of the times. There are tens of thousands of images we see everyday so naturally it would be more difficult to get your work out there, but what more can you do to help yourself get noticed?
Yes, you do need a big following, a giant portfolio, and a little luck to be in the right newsfeed at the right time to get yourself noticed but there are ways that you can help yourself. You have a story to tell just like your photos. Make sure that you are doing everything you can to tell that story through the image. Capture moments, memories, and magic instead of just images. There are three main things to focus on that will give your photo exemption to the three-second rule. The three-second rule is that if someone pauses for more than three seconds to look at your photo then you have captured something unlike anything else.
First is having great light. Find a way to make this work. Wake up at the crack of dawn for the sunrise, bring along a light with you to a family shoot, set up the lights in a strategic way in the studio, but use light to your advantage. There are obviously times when this is much easier said than done, but control what you can to give yourself a leg up on the competition.
Second is using great composition. Show artistry in your photo. Show drama, use emotion to get yourself noticed. Ask your customer to try something new with you and the risk might just be worth it. Try something new by adding props or a risky backdrop. Find ways to try new things and learn more about the composition of photography and how you can control those elements to make a statement with an image.
Third is a sense of moment. This does, indeed, take a little luck but if you are doing everything you can to tell a true story then you will give the viewer a sense of moment. Whether it’s the steaming bowl of noodles at the market stand on a busy street or the stork as it is silhouetted by the sunset, you are there in that moment and you are capturing the sense of that magic. You want to make the reader stop, pause, and think, “Wow, I wish I could have been there.”
Do Things the “Write” Way
A second way to help yourself in this world of unending competition that is now photography is making sure you aren’t just telling the story through the image. From the dawn of time, people have shared insights, histories, and tragedies through storytelling. Literally, word of mouth. Use this in your favor especially since you have numerous platforms to use. It will take a little extra time, but taking that time to type just a blurb about that moment will help the reader become involved in it and will transfer a sense of empathy. They want to share that moment with you even more after they hear you sat there for eight hours, or that you had to wait through a tornado, or that you went back to this tower 27 days in a row to capture that moment. People want to hear a story, so give it to them.
Try Something New
Times are still changing. They haven’t stopped and won’t be slowing down anytime soon. It’s time to try something new to really make an impression. If you are in a world of landscape images or wildlife shots then bust out of that box by sharing a video of a busy street corner. Shock your audience with a video of kids running through legs at a parade. Those are things that will make everyone else question what they are doing. Now, video is certainly not the only way to try new things, but you have to find ways to get ahead and do what others are too lazy, or too afraid to try. Take the risk yourself.
Open Your Eyes and Be Seen
Ready to take the next step? Make yourself stand out. Add a little more light here, plan for timing there, catch a moment here. Control all the elements that you can and then make them into art. Tell a story. Try something new. These are not the only ways to rise above the masses of photography but it’s a starting point that you can leap from. Getting that photo that will not be swiped by on social media is the first step in making a change and along the way, you may just become a jack of all trades.