As a student, I was granted free entry to The Photography Show at the NEC in Birmingham on Tuesday 24th March. I consider myself a Fine Artist working with photography and moving image so I don’t tend to share the same enthusiasm and knowledge of camera’s and their equipment as those who consider themselves solely as a photographer. I guess it’s important that I at least attempt to gain more technical understanding before I start classing myself as a photographer.
One of the main attractions to the show was the number of discussions that were held by professionals in the field of photography. I attended a talk by Catherine Connor, founder of Aspire photography training titled Why Marketing Matters? This talk has now been published on Aspire’s blog online (see direct link below).
Catherine Connor held her discussion on two vital components that are critical to the success of your photography career; profile and profit. The entirety of the talk was focused on specific things that have a great influence on your business, including:
My instant attitude towards the talk was slightly negative due to the focus on expanding your business. Maybe I am wrong in doing so, but I don’t think of my art practice as a business or profit driven. However, I am dedicated to having and containing a strong profile. I have already started to develop an online profile within my final year degree as we have been required to create a website, CV, an artist statement and various social media platforms.
There was a reiteration on the importance of social media platforms during Connor’s discussion. A main point she rose was the possible implications or impact that specific language can have on your business, or your practice. This point held great resonance with me as the combination of visual information and language is significant to my art practice. I understand that each tweet, Facebook post, blog post or even the information on my website creates an specific impression of myself and my artwork to my viewer. The second point that seemed relevant to myself, was the importance of your online portfolio and what it can add to your career. Catherine Connors three key aspects were the look, feel and writing surrounding your photography.
Although the talk did reinforce aspects of my online material, it did also leave me feeling disappointed, disagreeing with parts of the talk. For example, Connor’s mentioned a quote that she abides by and uses when advising photographers requiring guidance.
“Market like Elvis, write like Jane Austen”
She asked questions such as “what would Elvis do?” and “what would Jane Austen have to write about it?”. In relation to Elvis, Catherine went on to say;
‘This is an intriguing quote and my motive within this quote is to remind all they have to be a showman or show-women. Our business is visual; it shows business of a gentle nature. You cannot afford to be shy in business, to hide or to wait for clients to come to you. Your purpose in the marketing camp is to take your business straight to the tribe, in a visual, attention seeking and attractive manner’.
Her point is that it’s about being confident or a ‘showman or show-women’ and her point about Jane Austen being that she tells a story well through consideration of tone and language.
‘All businesses need a voice, think Jane Austen, an amazing storyteller, who is timeless and appealed to a broad sector. Your business should too; your business voice, tone and language have a big role to play. Invest time and creativity into the development of your businesses voice, tone and language use. Remember to inspire your tribe; you are creating a magnetised business.’
Without being too blunt, I’m not sure that they would be the first people I would consider when questioning certain aspects of my business. Though I recognise their talents and perhaps even consider them role models, I wouldn’t necessarily consider them as role models for a topic so creative and art specific as photography, especially within a contemporary setting. Maybe this is something to do with my generation?
After reflecting on the talk, I am now starting to really question my role as a photographer and artist. There are many financial worries for creative people – the ‘poor artist’ is still very much a reality. I knew these realities before continuing my art education, but with confidence I was optimistic that I could break away from these expectations. However, creativity for me is not about profit and big business. I don’t feel it should be the core of why I’m creating.