As a modern photographer it is more important than ever to cultivate multiple revenue streams. Factors for this include a massive influx of new talent due to the lower barriers for entry, the changing face of stock photography and the current evolutionary fits of the publishing industry, to name a few. Many of these factors lead to a commoditization of photography, which makes work harder to come by and can lessen the earning potential of the individual photographer.
Where stock photography and selling prints used to be the mainstay for photographers, the modern photographer has had to get a little more creative in creating additional revenue streams. I’ve seen photographers who have bundled their photography with design services and others who are selling products featuring their images.
Then there are those who teach. In photography, like any craft, the master takes on apprentices so teaching is not a stretch. Given the rate of new photographers, the demand for teachers has never been higher and has yet to reach “critical mass”. I don’t know the statistics but I often wonder when, or if, the demand for teachers will overtake the demand for photography itself. There may well be a photography teaching “bubble” in effect which could eventually collapse when a large portion of new photographers realize how difficult it is to make a decent living in this field. But that is another post altogether.
Almost as long as there has been photography, there have been photography books. A vast majority of these have been how-to manuals. The digital age has given an opportunity for a new wave of how-to books. But, beyond that, there is a growing realization that the digital age has leveled the playing field in a technical sense. It is not that difficult to take a photo that is properly exposed, in focus and color balanced with the modern digital camera. So now many writers are focusing on cultivating that which makes each photographer unique. David duChemen calls it “vision and voice” and has written several books on it. He is on track to be better known for his books than his photography.
Veteran photographer Scott Bourne has had a long career and now focuses most of his time on teaching. His main venue for this is the Photofocus and Going Pro podcasts and respective blogs. He does occasional workshops and speaking engagements but posts every day on the blogs and releases a new podcast every ten days.
In my mind, the photography workshop has the most notable growth in popularity. It stands to reason, all the new photographers are hungry to get some hands on experience with photographer they view as having “made it”. All kinds of people attend them from the career-minded to the hobbiest. I’ve even seen photographers tweet about their latest workshop they are teaching and then tweet about a workshop they are attending the next week. Maybe workshops are addictive.
David duChemen and Jeffery Chapman have teamed up to bring their combined experience as travel and humanitarian photographers in a series of workshops titled “Within the Frame”, named after duChemen’s first book. The have led workshops to Loas, India and Tibet to name a few with ones scheduled for Mexico and Ethiopia next on the list.
David “the Strobist” Hobby and Joe “Numnuts” McNally also teamed up and took it to the road. They visited 26 cities in 6 weeks on the Flash Bus Tour 2011 that just ended last week. Both are considered the authorities on small flash lighting. Each one has a different philosophy and style which was what made the traveling workshop so intriguing. I was actually in Phoenix the week they were there but didn’t realize it until after. I would have liked to attend.
Chase Jarvis has built his career on transparency. He has been sharing his process since before it was cool to share. As he built his photography business, he has also built his teaching business. CreativeLIVE is his teaching empire. Chase is on the cutting edge and has managed to bring small, intimate workshops to hundreds of online viewers. Always the facilitator, Chase not only shares his knowledge but also brings the best in the business to his studio for live-streamed workshops. He brings in such notable photographers as Jasmine Star, Vincent LaForet, Zack Arias and Jeremy Cowart for informative workshops that can be watched live for free. Yup, you read correctly, free. Fortunately, if you miss the live-stream, each workshop is available for download at a ridiculously low price, usually $99 for a 2-day and $149 for a 3-day workshop. So worth it.
This weekend Zack Arias returns for another workshop titled "Foundations of a Working Photographer" which sounds like a soup-to-nuts workshop. If you do nothing else, watch the video promo. It's hilarious. I'll be watching this workshop and probably buying it since I have to go into LA to look at apartments on Saturday.
I could list a hundred more but I think you get the point. So many have said it before: it is an exciting and very scary time to be a photographer. The technology, business and craft of photography are changing so fast it’s virtually impossible to keep up with, let alone predict where it’s going. Whatever it shapes up to be, you can rest assured that there will be someone there to teach. In this age, their business might depend on it.