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Standing Out

Wallace's hawk-eagle (Nisaetus nanus) close-up, perched on a tree branch in Borneo, Sepilok, Malaysia.

Wallace's hawk-eagle (Nisaetus nanus) close-up, perched on a tree branch in Borneo, Sepilok, Malaysia.

I recently listened to an excellent interview of Ramit Sethi by Mat D’Avella. During the interview Sethi spoke about wedding photographers and how, when he was looking for one for his own wedding, it was nearly impossible to find one that wasn’t the same as all the rest. He mentions how few people in the industry stand out, and we should be looking at those who do to see why.

It seems when people start a business (myself included), we look at the websites and social media of other photographers we know, popular or unknown, and copy some bits from this one and some from that one. Not sure how much to charge someone who wants to hang your fine art photo on the wall? Google “average price of fine art photo”. Then you can be average.

But we don’t want to be average. At least I don’t, and I can’t imagine you do either. I want to be extraordinary, a top performer, an industry leader. I want to be the Ferrari of wildlife photography and demand a price that matches my quality. But how do we do this?

The short answer is, I don’t know. A longer, more thoughtful answer would be to start looking at high-end photographers demanding seemingly outrageous prices, like Peter Lik. Except these prices are not outrageous, they are just high. Many people are willing to pay them. And if your work is good and you put a lot of time into your art, then you deserve that price.

This is what I am working on now, and I thought it might be helpful for you to work on it with me. I am looking at high-performing photographers and their websites, marketing, physical stores, etc. to see what makes them stand out. One thing I’m not looking at much is their photos. I don’t think it necessary to copy their art. If people pay a lot of money, it’s because what they are paying for is original, not the same as what they can get at the thrift store.

So get out there and start writing down things you notice and new ideas. Try them out and if they don’t work, scrap them and go back to the drawing board. I’m going to be working on it right along with you, and I’d love to hear any ideas you might have in the comments below.