Monday, August 1, 2011

The $4000 Necklace: What do YOU think?

We're going to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming this week to ask you what YOUR thoughts are on Shayne Gray Learns Photography:

Is it possible that the name dooms the product? In other words, in your opinion does "...Learns Photography" take away from the value of past, present and future work posted here no matter how good it might ever get?

So where is this question coming from? Well, it's been a great experience and I've connected with many people both in the virtual and physical world who have been very encouraging. That really helps us to keep going, of course.

But something interesting has happened that I've noticed. I've done a few projects where I've traded my services for something in return and have found that people don't always deliver once they have their photos.

The Psychological Factor

Trades might be a little more of a casual verbal contract than one that deals in cash. The implication of "...Learns Photography" might also lessen the importance of completing a transaction because it's not sold and packaged as "pro".

Also people (understandably) might not see a dollar value in something associated with "just learning".

But this creates the problem that has become a huge issue in the world of photography.

When is it time to sell yourself as a Pro?

Pro photography gear has become amazingly accessible. So what happens? Suddenly EVERYONE is a photographer. A guy walks into a photo shop and walks out with a new $4000 necklace (5D Mark II @ $2500 plus whatever fancy-pants lens on the end of it @ around $1500). On his iPhone on the way home he sets up a website and starts selling himself as a photographer almost immediately.

There's that other whole discussion about those guys selling cheap photography and undervaluing the market for all the others, but I'm not totally convinced about that - and that's a little bit of a side issue to this topic anyway....

The problem is that there's a ton of absolutely terrible photography out there and people are trying to sell themselves waaaaaaay too early.

And that's where Shayne Gray Learns Photography comes in. The idea was NOT to be one of those guys, but to be honest and take time in the learning process and be upfront about it. It was an attempt to continually experiment with different areas of photography and share findings with others perhaps at a similar stage of learning. And that works really well!'s possible that it has no other real value.

On the one hand it absolves me of responsibility if a project doesn't turn out (which has yet to happen). On the other hand, people don't want to invest in something with a disclaimer that it might not turn out because I'm just learning.

So what's the solution? Do I give myself more credibility and step away from Shayne Gray Learns Photography to start building a business? Has it been long enough yet?

It's been nice to see that more unsolicited paying gigs have started to come in and perhaps I need to direct my clientele to a more polished platform.

So what do YOU think¿?


Paul C said...

Hey Shayne. I can agree that the 'learns photography' can scare some people away, or tend to not treat you as seriously as they should. My own opinion though, is that you should keep running this blog as a sort of educational place, for others to learn along with you. There really is no end to learning in photography. I saw in the past you were picked up at a couple high traffic sites due to your levitation photography posts - cool stuff! So, I don't think the 'learns photography' takes away any value from past, present or future posts - the value I am thinking of is probably different from the value you are considering. Think along the general lines of Strobist - if you were to keep posting quality BTS posts as you do, it could likely be monetized through photography ads, if there is proven traffic (install google analytics on your blog if you don't have any tracking in place yet).

As far as paid gigs, I think you are at a level to pursue these. In my opinion (give little weight to my opinion), it would be great for you to start a new website/blog that relates to your fee for service work. I wouldn't link it to this blog or refer to either on either site/blog. Keep them 100% distinct from each other.

If you were doing something cool/and fun in the fee for service avenue, you could cross post a sort of bts here (if allowed). This blog could also allow you to pursue projects just for fun - no money exchanged - a collaboration between subject and photographer. They can't complain or nitpick the results then, and you are feeding the education blog with interesting posts, that bring in traffic, which proves to companies it is worth spending ad dollars here...

You take good photos, and deserve to be remunerated. There are just different forms of remuneration, is what I am trying to say.

Hopefully that made a shred of sense :)
Take care.

shayne gray learns photography %$#! said...

Hey Paul - I appreciate the thoughts and I was looking for exactly this kind of feedback, so thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I think that's a really good idea to maybe carry on but maybe run professional things parallel but not in direct connection.

It is a tough thing though and there's a big difference between those that do it really well and all of the others just starting out, but...still trying to make a buck off it. On the other hand, you could wait for ever until you feel like you're good enough without ever taking a real run at it at all....

Melodie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melodie said...

I think you are fantastic. Absolutely pursue paid gigs. I've worked with many photographers and your one of the few I actively send friends too. I see there coming a day when I'll have the influence to choose my own photographer for paid gigs and I'd feel honored for you to do it.

As as the learns photography thing, I feel like everyone is always making their craft better no matter what. There is 2 ways you can look at it.
"Learns photography because is a noob"
"Learns because learning is fun and improvement and growth is always the goal. Fantastic now and getting better and better"
Even more so than that sharing your journey with others is of massive value.

Taking it another step what I feel sets people in any trade apart is the joy they derive from their art. No matter how much skill someone has, if they hate their work, it will be second rate to someone who loves what they do with less skill. There is something magical about someone who truly enjoys what he does and moves towards being better and better at it all the time.

Much love, You rock

spiritsentient said...

IMPORTANT SUMMARY (this is all you really need to read): When you ask yourself a question like this... you ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER. Don't let me talk you out of what your heart is telling you. If it says "play it safe a bit longer" - trust it. If it says, "Jason is right, get to it." - Trust it.


Now to the 'advice':

1. Reach for the stars, and you will always, always end up waaaay ahead of those who play hyper-cautious.

Those who do not give themselves credit or value themselves remain for ages trapped in a slow, play-it-safe, no-responsibility, limbo as they watch the superstars and the dedicated push themselves daily, and skyrocket past them. Do you want to be an OK photographer at 60, or a genius badass photographer at 30? Pick your pace. One involves reaching for the stars, and taking on authority and responsibility, the other involves playing it safe and not wanting to 'give the wrong impression' or take risky jobs that you feel in your heart you can achieve.

2. Temper this 'star-reaching' with honesty and self-awareness.

Be aware of your own abilities. Be open to falling as you reach - it happens. Admit it and don't apologize. You reached. That`s what all geniuses, masters, dreamers, and visionaries do. Step up, be a pro, aim for it, take on advanced jobs that you feel you can do, and DO NOT APOLOGIZE if you `fail`- you were busy doing the work of pros and visionaries, pushing limits and growing.

It didn`t turn out perfect or exactly as planned? That's ok, focus on solutions and get the CLIENT to focus on solutions as well.

No human being ever truly suffers or hurts another from seeing, feeling, thinking, and considering themselves as valuable, exceptional, or out-standing. Even if the reality is that they truly suck. Their view, does NOT, hurt others. Others have a repsonsibility to be aware enough to know if another person's words match their true heart and resonate. If you have trouble discerning a true-genius from one who is currently fantasizing or all-talk, it's NOT the person who is Valuing Themselves who has the problem.

Claiming your own pro-status, may have you go through a few experiences where the reality doesn't match up, and people or clients judge you - yes, but if you examine all the world's successful, they are the one's who stepped up like a boss, jumped in with both feet, embraced failure and made it their bitch, and ultimately they SUCCEED in a big way, with failure no longer really an issue.

Follow the path of the successful, its a tried and true method, and personally, I've not seen too many other ways to go about it. The environment and contrast of failure breeds success.

Finally, for a best-of-both-worlds solution, I personally would name it: Shayne Gray Masters Photography or
Shayne Gray Elevates Photography

Both names have an element of 'learning' and 'growing' in them, and at the same time they both focus on the exceptional value of the photographer.

William Self said...

Hey Shayne,

I don't think I've ever seen a photography "newbie" progress as much as you have since I've been following your blog. I'd say you are quite a natural and you should be thinking about next steps.

Like everyone else as said, you will continue to learn as you move forward. Somebody else here said to focus on your strengths and I think that is sound advice.

Have confidence and take the plunge man.

- Bill

shayne gray learns photography %$#! said...

Hey Bill,

Thanks so much for the encouragement - that means a lot coming from you!

Things have been going pretty well lately and I think I'll continue on building slowly. There's just so much to do even aside from just taking and processing photographs! I'm working on a website and some new social media including a new blog! We'll see how it all turns out in the end....



Post a Comment