The Photography Market

by Mark Bailey

I seldom find inspiration from the cover images of photography magazines or books, especially if they have a shot of just another not-so-famous model or insect or another landscape.

Usually the guides began from the technical part in terms of content, such as what shutter or f-stop you have to use instead of the choice of light or location and reason behind the image.

I guess that’s the reason why I don’t like studio work, because in the end it all comes down light ratios. In addition, in most of the cases the design isn’t appealing to women, because it has no vision for modern and clean layouts and has lot of background information.

With that being said, there’s certainly a change towards a more designer look which I am all up for it.

Usually, one thing that is missing in terms of technical information is the focal length that was used to capture an image. It’s not a mistake to say that the image was shot at f/2.8 on a 70-200mm lens, but it could be more helpful to say that it was taken at a 200mm focal length. In the final look of an image, it is essential to choose the right focal length and I have explained that to a lot of people.

These days it’s important to get an opinion about the survival in the photography market, because survival has become a crucial subject for all photographers.

I can only speak from the lifestyle and social aspect, but the thing you will never hear is that you are the weakest link in some cases and your biggest USP. I do see a cross section of the social market, because I train a lot of photographers.

I am frequently surprised that there are a lot of people with very few people/social skills who want to become social photographers. In spite of being technically brilliant in order to make it, you must have the ability and empathy to talk to anyone. I swear, that’s the harsh reality.

Social photography seems to ‘suit’ women and men don’t like that. Usually, women are more emphatic, are good listeners and they understand the concern of a woman regarding how she is portrayed, because we all want to look our best and people hire me because I can make that happen. I use posing or light in order to minimize back fat, bingo wings, etc.

I confess that I am not about truth and because of that I cannot describe myself as a purist photojournalist. I have huge respect for them, but it’s not something I can do, because I want my female clients to feel good about themselves.

Generally, women tend to learn by practice and visually, they like to work backwards once seeing a finished image so that the technical is no longer the reason for shooting, but the vehicle.

We want to capture a scene once we see it and exactly as we see it. Women are more suitable for social media platforms, such as blogging, Twitter or Facebook, because they tend to share more.

The internet is a very useful tool for asking questions and getting answers to these questions, such as “During the first dance with my Speedlight what shutter speed should I be using? Yes, we all want to have this questions answered.

We also like to hear opinions on why certain technique works or not. The male photographers’ snobby attitude is something which women do not like at all. Some of the might say that women should not be shooting weddings if they ask those kind of questions.

To some extent, they might be right, but the fault does not lie with the person who agreed to shoot the wedding and the industry’s lack of regulation is to blame. Moreover, on the internet there is no regulation either so technically poor photographers might give you the worst possible advice.

I really need to know what people want so that I can write a photography book which I really love.

Because I take the focus away from the technical, I tend to attract a more female audience. Of course, the technical aspect is important, but you also have to know how to brand and market yourself, how your clients are feeling and learn how to understand them.

You need to tick a lot of boxes before you can proudly say that you are a social photographer.

I only absorb the information I need and the other irrelevant stuff I tend to ignore. In my opinion, there is no such thing as “the right way to shoot”, because everyone has to find their own unique style of shooting.

I don’t think the learning curve is gender-specific and it’s different for everyone. For some it’s the interaction, for others it’s the technical knowledge. Others might find it difficult to deal with workflow and post-production. For me personally, the thing that I am missing is the technical knowledge, because I already have the business and social skills.

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