It’s a sad fact that companies look to work with photographers who have large numbers of followers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Heck, it’s how we grew Phoblographer.
If you’ve been in the portrait photography industry for a while, you most likely know who Hattie Watson is. But for the uninitiated, Hattie was (and is still) a beautiful model with lots of tattoos and a personality that works really well on camera. She’s taken the transition to being a photographer, but she explains that when she started out, no one really wanted to work with her.
This video is part of a larger upcoming interview from The Good Listener. And you should totally subscribe to see the full version when it finally releases.
Hattie relates that clients give more preference to the models with 100K followers. So she sat there confused and in shock the same way that many others do, wondering how she was going to get that many. “I don’t look like any of the girls on this site…” she says.
Sound familiar? You probably experience the same thing as a photographer.
What Hattie did is found ways to work with photographers with bigger followings so that she could gain from them. In fact, that’s exactly what I did to grow the Phoblographer except we worked with allied companies. I preached the word of a long term, symbiotic relationship and seven years later I’m still doing this job.
More importantly though, Hattie gets real and brings it back by wondering why someone wouldn’t just want to work with her for who she is. You know, the organic nature of photography and art that isn’t complete bullshit, lies, marketing, and misleading people, all in the efforts to get a sale then get the hell out of the industry as fast as you possibly can. You see, there are photographers that are good at marketing, and then there are marketers that happen to be good at photography; and that goes hand in hand with a lot of what’s going on in the industry right now.
I’ve never been a person that believed that “fake it till you make it” line, because eventually that’s going to catch up to you in an age where things like plagarism are outed immediately. If you’re honest, have good intentions, and build your brand one stone at a time, you’ll end up with something great in the long term.
This opens up an even bigger problem in my eye: working with photographers based solely off of followers. This is a result of more and more art buyers, marketers, social media managers, and others not having any idea of anything about the art world and instead making it into a numbers game vs actually about the art. And at least here in America, it stems I believe from what was years of arts education very much lacking. The Reagan administration severely cut arts education funding and it only semi-recently made a comeback. So when the writer’s strike happened here in America, we became all about rebooting the older things in the world because we were out of ideas. Hence the whole vintage idea and aesthetic that was born.
But these days, everyone thinks they’re a curator and a photographer. Many of them capture, but don’t create. Many of the curators simply just find cool stuff because they can’t create it. Lots of publications do that too in order to gain more followers on Instagram. But overall, it doesn’t do anything to push creativity.
What Hattie is saying isn’t whining, but instead it’s the absolute truth.