PART 1: Need to Know “Two roads diverged in a wood” and I have yet to figure out which road I should take. My freshman year in yearbook peaked my interest in photography, I learned how to handle a camera and what made a photo. I quickly grew to be passionate about photography, then came sophomore year where I had my first photoshoot assigned to me, and only me. I was to go by myself and photograph FCA’s morning prayer circle on our football field. I had just bought my new camera the summer before and this was my first opportunity to bring in my new bag with my camera and lenses to school, I truly felt like the school reporter and it was exciting. Of course I was nervous though, I walked slowly to the field that morning while I checked and double checked that my settings were all correct and then I walked on the field and inched closer and closer to the circle of students. I clicked away but found myself in my own world where it didn’t bother me to be the one outlier from the circle, honestly it felt like I belonged on the outside. This was my turning point in yearbook, I my confidence grew from this event and I truly think this started my leadership mentality in the staff. Ever since that day I have found comfort in standing out from the crowd and capturing the moment rather than being apart of the mass and this same year it dawned on me that this skill could lead me through the rest of my life; photography was absolutely a career and I chose it. I have photography chosen as my career but it has dawned on me that photography is a huge umbrella with lots of different career pathways under it. Of course there’s the option to own and operate my own business where I could take weddings, senior portraits, etc… but I already know that with this job comes a lot of risks. There has to be a lot of marketing yourself and pushing for new customers and I’ll admit I am a little scared because there is a big opportunity to fail, this very thought brought me to start thinking about other options and over time I began to take interest in marketing. My yearbook advisor and I had many discussion throughout my sophomore year about opportunities and a lot of our discussions would come back to marketing and advertising. Therefore I decided my junior year that I would join a marketing class at school, and I’m so glad I did. I have learned all the basics in marketing and I have even joined DECA and competed and made it to International Competition this year but even with the criteria I have learned, I still don’t know that much about the photographic side of marketing. Also as I take interest in this side, my mentorship with a local photographer has showed me the day in and day out of having your own business centered around photography and I have grown to love what he does and even reconsider the risk of this career and whether it truly is worth it. So my question comes into play, “How does a freelance photographer become successful and what characteristics of the job should I be mindful of so that I can choose what direction to go in when choosing my career in photography?”
PART 2: What do I Know or Assume I have learned the daily routine of what a freelance photographer does and I’ve learned it takes a lot of self organization and motivation. My mentor does a lot of senior portraits as well as sports photographs for a few schools. Between all of this, he always has something to work on or do. So I have taken away from this mentorship the knowledge of the characteristics that a photographer needs to have to allow them to be successful. Also my mentor has a great level of motivation and I’ve found that that’s a necessity as he couldn’t do as much business as he does if he wasn’t willing to go out to the community to market what he does. He also works with 2 high school’s football and baseball program and at the end of their seasons, both school’s ask him to create collages for seniors. Jim. my mentor, wouldn’t be able to make the amazing collages he does if he didn’t plan ahead and make a point to go to the amount of game he does go to. It would be easy to procrastinate and wait till the last few games to photograph but he knows the dangers of that and starts from the beginning of the season. On the opposite side though, I don’t know much about what it’s like to be a photographer who is marketing a company or designing advertisements. Would I work under a company that markets several brands or businesses? Or would I be working under the specific company/ brand that my photographs and creations are marketing? I have several concerns as well, like would I get to use my creative ideas or preferences when I get assigned a task. I do know that compared to a freelance photographer, marketing careers hire people that have some schooling about business and marketing in general. I would benefit greatly to go to college and major, along with that I know that there is a level of strategy that this career requires. I would have to consider what draws the target market into an ad rather than taking a picture for my own creative view. But even a free lance photographer could benefit from learning about marketing because that do just that for themselves.
PART 3: The Search For my research I read several articles written by people on both ends of my essential question. I read one article from a student who graduated with a marketing and advertising degree and I learned of the environment a job within marketing would be like. The author explained that this career is always changing and so to be successful you need to be a person open to new and different things. Also she states that there is a lot of teamwork involved and strategic guidelines to follow. On the other end of the spectrum, I read about the many different options a freelance photographer has but also the risks that this job opportunity comes with. If I choose to start my own business, I would have to market myself and really appeal to my audience.This article was really helpful as it discussed many different types of photography that you could offer such as wedding, portrait, sports, etc… Reading each of these articles gave me some things to think about and they have helped me see a little more clearly what each option offers and the average schedule of working in the field. Even though both of these articles I discussed are very opinionated and how great each photography field is, it showed me a perspective about the career that was clear. I knew what was being said in the passages were truthful as the authors showed genuine interest and passion while writing them. Along with learning from writings of passionate people in these fields, I talked to my Marketing teacher and my mentor Jim Haynes about their careers and how they got started. It was even more helpful to listen to a person face to face talk about their stories and beginnings because I could ask questions. Also it was more personal and I received more information as these people know me and feel comfortable talking to me about their career.
PART 4: Research Before I started the research on how marketing careers differ from freelance careers, I was very worried about how much risk it would be to start my own photography business. As adventurous and creative as it would be to have my own business, I like to have comfort in knowing that I would have a steady job or income. I thought that choosing a job as a marketer or advertiser that I would be better off. I researched not only want kind of characteristics it takes to be successful in these careers but also the downfalls that each career holds. I read articles written by people who work in these two fields and I gained knowledge about how marketers have to have background knowledge about what appeals to customers and they don’t always have creative freedom. A lot of times if you are creating an ad you are working on a project that is heavily directioned by the customer. Photographers, on the other hand, have unlimited freedom but the downside is that they need to be able to bring new customers in. They have to keep marketing themselves and making a name for themselves especially because their audience is always changing. Every year there is a new group of seniors, there’s always new marriages to photograph and newborns needing their pictures made so as a freelance photographer you have to be out in the community and always meeting new people. You make your business successful so the more you try hopefully the more customers you gain.