Imagine chatting to a photography friend who recently sold a print for £350. You congratulate her only to find our that it was the fourth print she has sold this month. Brilliant for your friend, but you ask yourself why she is having so much success when you take equally good photos and you’ve never sold a thing? It’s probably because you didn’t build your reputation as a photographer.
Have you ever wondered why some photographers get to spend the winter shooting fashion in Cape Town, while the majority stay at home battling the beast from the east?
Why does one artist’s un-made-up bed get valued at millions of pounds and shown in galleries around the world, when your un-made-up bed just gets you in trouble with your other half?
What happens to make the work of these people so much more valued than yours?
The quick answer is they build their reputation by achieving recognition for what they do and being held in high esteem by other people. Even if their work is only as good as yours.
Reputation is proof of your value to other people. A good reputation increases the value of your work. It makes people more interested in your photos and improves your chances of getting the types of photography commissions you want.
When people read about you right now, what do they learn? Do they discover that you picked up your first camera aged 5, learn that you have a great passion for photography and delight in the range of lenses that you own. Does any of that make you stand out from the crowd, and make people hold you in high regard?
A high standing reputation is not a mysterious aura that surrounds people and comes from the cosmos. Your reputation is a thing that can be built step by step with specific actions to enhance it.
If you have a good portfolio of photos, here are 5 steps to build your reputation as a photographer:
Get Your Photos Published
You discover that your friend who sold that print has been published in National Geographic and BBC Wildlife Magazine which she mentions in her biography. It adds instant kudos to her reputation and value to her prints.
Internationally renowned publications may be a tough call at this stage, but you can find niche magazines and websites to feature your work. In return you should get an image credit and link to your website, plus you’ll be able to say ‘published in’ which will build your reputation as a photographer.
To do this, research niche titles that are relevant to the subjects you shoot and find out how to submit your work. They may have a submissions procedure, a picture editor or a contact form. If you can find a submissions procedure follow it, if not ask about how to submit. You’ll have a better chance of success if the photo(s) you send are relevant, topical and timely. Not every submission will be successful, but persevere and it will pay off.
Have A Photography Exhibition
If you have interesting photos doing nothing on your hard drive with no-one ever seeing them it can be pretty disheartening. It does nothing to raise your profile. A few likes on Instagram is one thing, but it doesn’t quite build your reputation like getting your work out there in a photography exhibition.
The upside of adding ‘Exhibited At…” to your biography is huge. The downside is some cost and time. You can minimise the cost by working with people you know to create a group exhibition, or you if you feel ready you can create your own exhibition, full of your work. Galleries are available to hire all over the world, some will have submission criteria and other won’t. It’s simply a case of researching galleries and booking the space.
There is absolutely nothing holding you back from exhibiting your images. Even if you don’t want to pay for gallery space, you will find opportunities on the walls of venues in your area who will benefit from having your pictures on the wall. People will see your work, and you get to say you’ve had an exhibition.
Placing your photos in a gallery of international significance may not happen yet, but give it a couple of years….
Win A Photography Award
How does putting the words ‘Multi-Award Winning Photographer’ before your name look when you write it down? Pretty good. Would it build your reputation as a photographer? Yes.
There are so many photography competitions and awards out there it’s crazy not to give it a go. Every conceivable category of photography now has an award. All sorts of organisations run photography awards, and there will be at least one suited to your type of photography. Enter them, and keep entering until you win.
You’ll have a better chance of winning small, niche competitions that are a close match to what you do. It doesn’t actually matter that the award is not that well known, because you’ll still be an award winning photographer. When you win more than one you become a Multi-Award Winning Photographer. Your perceived value just went up by 200%.
Collect Glowing Reviews & Testimonials
The opinion of others matters to people when deciding how much trust to put in someone. If you can show that lots of other people love what you do it ups your profile because it is proof that you’re worth talking to.
Have you ever created photos for someone, even for free? Who do you know that loves your images? Every times you get good feedback ask that person if you can use that quote in you biography. Additionally, sites like Facebook and Google have spaces for reviews, so make sure to ask people to leave reviews there.
When you get someone well known within your industry to say something good about you it massively builds your reputation as a photographer. That carries extra prestige and should be highlighted in your profile.
Now you are a 5 star rated photographer, with quotes from esteemed people about their love for your work.
Use Client Relationships & Partnerships
If you were a bird photographer who works with the RSPB would that sound good? When a corporate portrait photographer says they have worked with many major banks, do they get additional kudos? Of course it does.
Adding gravitas to your reputation by listing who you have worked for builds trust in your ability because it makes your work seem valued by respected organisations.
Early in your journey to enhancing your photography reputation, you may not have any credible organisations to list. Make a list of who you would love to work for or be published by and think of ways to approach them. Charities in your chosen niche may be a good place to start because you’ll be doing good, while adding a valuable client to your profile.
If you can make all of these 5 things happen over the next 12 months, your brief bio could read:
Photos by multi-award winning photographer Colin Peachseed have been published in the Times, Gardens Illustrated and Modern Gardens. His last exhibition at the Riverside Gallery in Richmond was ‘outstanding’ according to Mavis Jones from the Royal Horticultural Society. When not shooting for the Garden Society he can be found tending his azaleas in Hampshire.
How does that sound? What’s stopping you?