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If you’ve started, or are thinking of starting, a digital photography business, then you know it’s a highly competitive industry; but that’s true of every industry. You’re confident, however, that the skills and unique style you’ve developed and your depth of experience will allow you to compete, successfully. Without a doubt, these are the most important professional elements that will attract good customers, and help you sustain a business. There is another beneficial photography business tool that you’ve been developing your entire life, long before your interest in photography or making it your career, and that is your local knowledge.
This PhotographyTalk.com article presents a number of thoughts and tips about how you can turn your expertise of the local geography, culture, events, etc. into an income-producing opportunity.
Be a Local News Hound.
Photojournalism may not be the kind of photography you planned to be part of your business. It can be an exciting, fast-paced environment, and the experience will certainly improve your photography skills. As the media evolves, more large news and photography services are realizing that photographers who have immediate access to an important story in their community are valuable sources. Frankly, newspapers, as a printed medium, are dying, which has forced them to reduce their staff numbers, including photographers. Even local major metropolitan and community newspapers are not always able to cover every significant event.
Spending your time being what was traditionally called a “stringer,” and then trying to peddle the results to editors and news services, may seem like a diversion from the photography you expected to shoot. Every photographer has open time in his or her shooting schedule, especially what starting a business. Use that time to explore other opportunities, such as photojournalism. Spend the first part of that time doing some research and reading, so you understand how that niche of commercial photography works. Join an online forum to learn directly from those already making a living as photojournalists. Communicate with the companies and their people who would be buying your photos to understand exactly what they want.
Capture the Uniqueness.
Every place is unique, whether the elements are natural or human-made. You can build on what you already know about your location by becoming the photographic expert of your town, city or region. You probably have the greatest opportunity to turn your knowledge into income if you’ve lived your entire life where your photography business is located. For example, you may know of places that only children ever knew existed and they should be photographed if they are still there as you remember them.
The citizen’s of every area or region are proud of what makes it unique, attractive and an excellent place to live, work and play; and many of them would like to display photos of those unique qualities. Local businesses, especially those involved in the tourist trade, should want to decorate their walls with great photos (your great photos) of the highlights of the area. By creating a master portfolio with the most and finest selection of pictures of your location makes you a valuable resource. Many photographers have used such comprehensive portfolios to create books, calendars and guidebooks that no one else can offer.
Another opportunity is that your local knowledge and photographic record could generate location-scouting jobs from photographers, videographers, film companies, etc. that are planning a shoot in your area. They’ve likely pre-selected a local setting for their shoot, but they’ve never been there. You can save them valuable time by supplying information about the best angles, lighting conditions throughout the day, specific conflicts, etc. at a particular location (for a fee, of course).
Know the Local Scene.
The third opportunity of your local knowledge is an extension of #2 above. The landscape, architecture, events, etc. are certainly important parts of your local-knowledge data bank and photography portfolio, but you must also understand and capture the local lifestyles, cultures and tastes of the people who live there. These images also define the uniqueness of your location, but they are also very marketable at local art fairs, galleries, etc. Local people want photos that reflect their values and remind them of why they live there.
Your camera may be the most tangible and important moneymaking tool of your photography business, but what you know and understand about your location is also a very valuable asset. Don’t let it just sit in the vault of your mind. Put it to work and you just might create a new revenue stream.