That headline is not to shock, it is to make a point.
True story: a man I know who works at a very well known ad agency got a LinkedIn “Let’s connect” email from a photographer. The man doesn’t know the photographer from Adam and, like what I hear from most buyers and other creatives who may influence photo buying, finds such approaches on LinkedIn particularly icky. I’ve mentioned this before to you fine readers, and I mean it. It’s bad form and pisses people off.
Feeling more than a little frustrated with this sort of thing and rather than respond directly to the photographer, my friend tweets the following–tweets it, mind you, and never mentions anyone in particular:
Dear Photographers: If I don’t know you, I’m not going to connect with you on linkedin. Think it through next time.
Next thing he knows, he gets an email again from the original photographer. It reads:
You don’t have to be an [sic] prick about it. Think it through next time.
This photographer has just slit his professional throat.
I don’t care how bad your day is going, I don’t care if someone actually acts like a total asshat (and, btw, I don’t think my friend did anything out of line), you never, ever call someone who is/was a target a prick. Or anything else, for that matter. Why? Because like all people, people in advertising talk and your reputation is vital. Your work can be the hand of god photography, but if you are a jerk, you will not get the gig.
Today there is a fascinating post on DuetsBlog.com (“creativity & the law”). It explores the recent re-branding of JCPenney and the attempt to force them to drop Ellen DeGeneres. It teaches all of us a big lesson: your brand is not your logo, it is who you are in the world.
This is why you can’t bullshit your targets. You can’t pretend to be visionary or to care about art and design and creativity and the work you make. You had better eat, sleep, and breathe your passion for what you do, because your targets will suss out a fake faster than you can say Nikon.
Make your work.
Show your work.
Live your brand.
There are a gazillion sources for information about how to market your work today. I can’t possibly keep up with them all. One thing that rings true on every one of the best sites? Make your OWN work. Specialize–that is, have your own vision and make (and show) your own work.
I’ve been saying this for a while, but really, that is all you have left.
Technology? Hell, anyone can make a decent image these days. They can do it on their friggin’ iPhones. Work that would have been technically better than about half the photographers I knew back when I got into this industry can be done on an iPhone. Easily.
But that doesn’t mean you’re out of a job. Nope. instead you are now fully liberated to make your art and to make it by your art.
You bet your ass.
You can’t fake it any more. You had better be making something you are completely passionate about or your targets are going to know you are a fake in no time flat.
But when you make your own work and put that out to the world, passionately and with the full confidence of “this is mine–that I do–who I am creatively” then people are drawn to it.
Yes, you still have to do the work of targeting and making calls and schlepping your book (and yes, a print book is still best) and sending promos and all that jazz, but if you start with your own work, the rest comes much more easily.
I know, you’ve heard it before. You know how I know? because I’m blue in the face saying it, but it’s true.
Go. Shoot. Make your art. Get excited about it. And get it out there.
Oh, and register it too, will ya’?
We should go dark.
Every one of us who makes “creative content” should pick a day and go dark.
Every photographer, writer, illustrator, and related support companies like reps and stock agencies should go dark.
Take our sites down. Make our content unavailable on YouTube, etc. Stock galleries, everything.
Take away everything that is driving the ad-selling machines that promote “free culture.” “Free culture” is ruining all of us.
What we do is not free, it costs each of us our lives, our souls, our efforts, our sweat, not to mention cash outlays in the form of equipment, tools, and investments in education.
The world needs to see how much value we create.
We drive this bus! Yes us, every one of us who creates! Not the parasites who are riding on our backs, getting rich because of what we make.
What YOU make.
You can get a gazillion RTs or +1s or Likes, but they will not feed your family or keep a roof over your head. You don’t need appreciation like some high school prom queen candidate–you need money. We all need money.
How long are you willing to be Google’s bitch? Or the torrents’? Or Facebook’s? Or any of the gazillion blogs, etc., that exist solely to sell ad space? Who are you creating for? For them, so they can get rich?
Take back your power.
Let’s go dark.