Saturday, July 25, 2015

Shoot For the Masses, Not the Asses

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Years ago, someone gave me this advice regarding my photography:  "Shoot for the masses, not the asses."  It stuck with me.

More recently, I was reminded of another bit of not-so-Earth-shattering yet still an on-point morsel of commercial wisdom: "Always give the audience their money's worth."

So, what do those two gems, if gems they are, mean in more specific and useable terms?

1) If you're goals are to shoot for a living, even if it's just part of your living, your photography -- that is, your style, look, approach, etc. -- should appeal to a wider group of people rather than a narrower group. Your genre of pursuit doesn't really make much difference. It doesn't matter if you're shooting wedding and event photography, family, kid, and baby portraits, business portraiture, or glamour and tease. I'm not advocating abandoning your creative and artistic approaches. They might be terrific with lots of appeal. But the key words there are "lots of appeal" and "lots of appeal" means shooting for the masses.  If you want to achieve some measure of success shooting for pay, you're way more apt to achieve it by shooting for the masses rather than the asses. (Not that people who appreciate truly different and out of the ordinary stuff are necessarily asses but.... well, you know what I mean. Leastwise, I hope you do. If not, figure it out.)

2) Giving your audience their money's worth means shooting pics that are in line with what they expect; they being your primary audience, i.e., your clients and customers. No one, leastwise very few clients, are hiring you as an artist. They might see your work as art or artistic and they might refer to you as an artist but clients and customers are rarely actual art patrons whether they might think they are or not. (Actual art patrons go to galleries, for example, and view and sometimes buy art. Your wedding photography probably won't ever hang in a gallery.)

Instead, your customers are hiring you as a photographer. That's not to say they don't and won't appreciate artistic touches and flourishes in your work but, bottom line, they're consumers of photography and those consumers want what they want when hiring you and what they want is rarely, if ever, art. (In the traditional sense of what constitutes art.)

Even if they're not always able to accurately verbalize their expectations -- many of them have a "I'm not completely sure what I want but I have a rough idea and I'll know it when I see it," notion of what they're looking. That notion is rarely one that includes the photographer they're hiring going outside the commercial, wedding, baby pics box and producing "art," per se, on their, the client's, dime. P.S. While a big part of your audience might be your Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, or other social media followers, they're not your primary audience. If you want to impress them with your "art," shoot that art on your own time and your own dime. Know who your most important audience is!  That most important audience, if you need a bit of an explanation, is your paying customers and not your social media followers.

The high-key snapped pretty girl at the top is Kayla Jane Danger.  In the vernacular of Jersey Boys, Kayla is a pisser!  I'm a Jersey Boy, BTW. I was born and raised in North Jersey and proud of it! (That's New Jersey, USA for those of you who don't live in the USA and may not know what I'm referring to.)  A pisser, if you don't know, is a good thing. A pisser is someone who is funny, often outrageous (in good ways), and very entertaining. As an example of Kayla's status as a pisser, check out this very recent article and video on the Huffington Post. You'll see what I mean about Kayla being a pisser. Kayla-Jane Danger Builds Darth Vader Using Sex Toys

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