“You either win or you learn. There is no lose.” – My Jiu-jitsu instructor
It’s Day 4 of our photo workshop in Palm Springs, and today was one of my favorite days.
A mix of folks from previous events came back to share their photography success stories. And some of them are really impressive!
What’s funny is… originally, they all came to the event thinking they’d do one specific kind of photography – sell their travel photos or take stock photos at home. But then each ended up following slightly different paths than they expected.
Cheryl Bigman was just looking for something fun and creative to do after her divorce. She attended one of our expeditions in Paris with a little point-and-shoot camera and was hooked.
She thought she wanted to take travel photographs, but instead fell in love with taking pictures of people. She was far too shy to ask permission, so she took mostly candids at first with people looking away from the camera.
As she continued, her skills improved… and suddenly people were asking her to shoot special events like high-school portraits and bar mitzvahs. Her confidence grew, and so did her love of documenting these special times in people’s lives. It’s a full-time business for her now and she absolutely loves it.
“It’s contagious,” she says. “When you spend your time doing what you love, it’s no longer work.” Get Cheryl’s presentation on making a full-time living shooting “people stories”, here when you pre-order before Monday.
Julie Diebolt-Price has an entirely different story.
Almost the opposite of Cheryl, Julie was already a full-time professional photographer but she was tired of shooting portraits. She wanted something else to try, so she attended our event last year to learn more about stock.
She’d tried to get accepted into stock agencies in the past and was often rejected so she came to find out why.
“Turns out,” she said, “they want an entirely different kind of image. It’s not the prettiest pictures that sell best. It’s these random, common things that sell, like this…”
She loves it and is continuously amazed at what sells in her stock portfolio.
Next up was Laura Lee. Laura spent many years working in the airline industry. She’s strong, feisty, and has a great creativity and sense of humour. Her motto is, “Make every day count.”
She’s a stay-at-home mom with a special needs child, so she needs a career that’s flexible. Her first photo sale was a picture of her son at a riding therapy class. Something she has access to things that others might not. She also shoots community gardens, raise-at-home chickens, and images that portray mental illness and depression because she understands these topics and feels like she has a good idea about the kinds of images photo-buyers likely want in these cases.
“If you have a camera,” she says, “you have enough to get started. Use what you have special access to or know well.”
And finally, last on the panel was Wayne Hoover. Wayne attended our Travel Writing Workshop in 2012 with the goal of becoming a travel writer. He added an optional Photography Workshop with Efrain Padro and immediately realized he had found his true calling. It was a life-changing day.
Today he sells his photos for hundreds, even thousands of dollars, as fine art prints. He doesn’t want to bother with small sales. He’d rather make a single $500 sale than five $100 sales.
And above all else he says: “Get your crayons back!”
“When you enter kindergarten they give you a box of crayons and some blank paper and tell you to go for it. So you do, and it’s fun, and it’s free, and it’s creative.”
“Then,” he continues in his booming Kentucky voice, “they give you an Algebra book and tell you to grow up, get a job, be responsible. And you lock all your creativity away.”
“It’s time to let it out, get back in touch with your inner child and the box of crayons.”
We’ve just one more day left together in Palm Springs. Among tomorrow’s presentations, we’re looking forward to Kyle Wagner walking us through how to sell photos to magazines.