Playing with Fire on the Creative Edge

by | Nov 19, 2014 | Strictly Business Blog

Create personal work because it feeds both your creativity and your humanity. It’s a practice recommended for all photographers.

There’s also a strategic benefit for advertising and editorial photographers who regularly create personal work/self-assignments. You could end up becoming the next in-demand style leader/trendsetter. And, guess who gets to subsequently command higher fees when they create a new and marketable style that becomes hot?

Like most other reps I knew, I always loved representing the photographers who were always willing to create self-generated projects because we knew that eventually “creative lightning” would strike – something would come out of the photographer’s incubation that we would be able to market. It was exciting to see what they came up with and bring that work to the visionary art directors we knew who were ever-alert for a fresh photographic style to execute an ad concept. An award show or two later, and a whole trend would start.

Their careers would light on fire.

Two different photographers I repped (one, a still life shooter, the other, a lifestyle photographer) both came up with new photographic styles that hit the leading edge of a trend that lasted over two years. They both attracted national clients for their new styles; styles each had come up with through “fooling around” with lighting and processing. These new styles earned them the highest profile assignments and highest fees of their careers.

As always happens, soon the photographic landscape became glutted with imitators these hot, new styles. The supply exceeded the demand, fees receded, and, like a comet, the style faded out of fashion.

Meanwhile, the next big trend was already beginning to spark in the studios of those creative photographers who were never content to rest on their laurels. Those who were always willing to reinvent themselves. Those who made sure they booked time in their schedules to “fool around” with their imagery and processes and continually ask “what if…??”

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