My line of work as a commercial photographer puts me up against a lot of other photographers as competitors. There are a great number of more individuals that photograph fashion.
Even more, individuals assert that they are fashion photographers. When it comes to my work, it feels like I’m competing against everyone and everything in the world. If you have ever wondered how you can defeat your competitors, I have a strategy for you that is guaranteed to succeed. Always and without going to extremes.
People that I train frequently complain about the excessive amount of competition in their field as well as the fact that virtually everyone else is continually taking their work. It appears to be a problem that is widespread throughout the business. There will always be someone else who is capable of performing the task at hand more effectively than you.
There is always going to be someone who shoots a better picture, who postures the subject better, who lights better, and who does everything better than anyone else. They are the cause of your lack of employment as a photographer, which is something you rightfully deserve. It is entirely due to their actions. This is a point of view that is very easy for me to comprehend. It is also one that is quite intriguing to consider.
If you view everyone as a potential obstacle to the success of your job, you will, in fact, use those obstacles as an excuse to avoid taking risks and producing more. This danger comes in the form of rivalry. I strongly recommend that you examine your work if you get the impression that you are competing with individuals who do the same thing that you do.
Because the reality, when it comes down to it, is quite different. What would happen if there was really no other option? What if you turned out to be your own worst enemy? First, let’s define what the competition isn’t before we get into what it is.
Papa John’s Versus Dominos
The traditional definition of a cooperative would be something along the lines of separate businesses that sell the same product in order to accomplish a common commercial goal. In terms of dining establishments, two possible candidates are Domino’s Pizza and Papa John’s Pizza. They both provide pizza for sale, and the pizzas they create are equally delicious in both of their establishments.
People often base their decision on a number of variables, including price, flavor, and a few more, and we won’t even get into pizzathematics here. However, the typical customer who desires pizza will probably place an order with either establishment without taking into account the specific qualities of each.
I’m not a fan of fast-food franchises, but every once in a while I’ll treat myself to a Big Mac. It is not about the burger or the “genuine McDonald’s experience,” but rather about the “body needs food, the body receives food.” Neither of these things are ever the focus. Whenever I’m in need of a quick calorie hit, I won’t turn down anything that’s offered to me.
The exact same thing is true with coffee. Simply due to the fact that it is the only kind of coffee that can be found in the studio, I drink Nespresso. If I had a Nespresso machine at home, I would definitely drink Nespresso. For me, they both serve the same function, which is to provide me with caffeine.
Canon Versus Nikon
Now that we’ve established what competition is, let’s look at how it relates to the realm of art, namely photography. Companies that manufacture cameras compete with one another to differentiate their products from one another by releasing upgrades and features that seem interesting and help them stand out. The unfortunate reality is that Canon has not produced a camera that is subpar since the launching of the 5D Mark II.
You may accomplish the task quite well with any DSLR or mirrorless camera that you purchase. When I look at a photograph, I am unable to determine the make or model of the camera that was used to capture it at this moment in time. This was also brought up in a recent piece that compared conventional cameras to the capabilities of iPhones.
The argument is that the rivalry is not between different types of cameras; rather, it is between the many brands of cameras, each of which promotes the concept that their product is superior for photographers. If it wasn’t for the technology, there is simply no other justification for purchasing a Leica.
If you just need a device to capture images, you won’t buy a Canon or Nikon just because the company has been there for more than half a century or because of some other marketing gimmick. You’ll buy a camera. You will purchase a Hasselblad camera if you are interested in purchasing a camera that was used on the moon since it is a one-of-a-kind and genuine product.
Having established what constitutes competition and what does not, let us now apply this knowledge to the realm of photography and investigate the areas in which photographers do and do not engage in competition.
Competitors in the Field of Photography
The demand for photos, on the one hand, and the need for genuine work, on the other, are the two primary considerations that go into hiring photographers.
The identity of the photographer is of little concern to the person who needs images taken. In most cases, the selection is made based on the cost, the number of available dates, and other variables. It is virtually never something about the individual’s style, personal traits, viewpoint, or anything else about them. It all comes down to the goal that a person strives to achieve, which is to acquire photographs.
The most efficient method for winning over a customer of this type is to provide lower prices than the competition does for comparable services. Although it may seem as though this is destroying the industry, in reality, it is not.
There is always going to be somebody who is willing to do it at a lower price. The second issue is that after a month or two of charging far less than they should be, the proprietor will come to the conclusion that in order to have a normal life, they will need to raise the rate in order to make ends meet. They are going to be succeeded by a different individual.
The “cheap” client won’t really be able to tell the difference between the two. They will keep looking until they locate someone who can do it for an amount that is even less. To cut a long tale short, these are the types of customers that we do not want to work with. These customers are known as “difficult” customers since they frequently cause disagreements and unneeded stress in exchange for no financial gain.
We are interested in working with clients that have a larger purchasing power; they are the customers who employ you because of your unique approach, opinion, or viewpoint on a given topic. These customers come in large numbers, and their spending capacity is far more than average. It is impossible for there to be any competition in this market given that these customers are hiring you and not “someone who takes lovely images.”
Nobody other could possibly achieve the same level of success that you have. You are a genuine human being who is entirely unique in comparison to everyone else in the world. You are your own entity, and you behave in a manner that is consistent with who you are. It doesn’t matter how much effort someone puts into imitating you, in the end, they just can’t be you.
Your life’s experiences, as well as the pleasures and pains you’ve been through, are what give your work its distinctive quality. Someone who had an easy life and never had to worry about their safety is not likely to comprehend someone who was forced to escape a war-torn nation in order to find peace. The work that these two persons produce will be entirely distinct from one another. You can’t possibly compete with the other photographers because of this same reason.
You are not even remotely competing with them in this race. They’re a dog if you’re a turtle and a cat if you are. Two distinct creatures, two unique entities, and two distinct species are compared here. You need to educate yourself on how to communicate effectively in the language of photography, speaking it with your own inflection and using terms that are unique to you.
A Few Parting Thoughts
In my opinion, competition is nothing more than a petty excuse to stop making progress and generating more. That presents absolutely no difficulty whatsoever. We beings are notoriously sluggish by nature. Find a reason to go out and create something for yourself, rather than wasting time looking for a trivial reason not to be creative. It takes a lot of work, and it takes a lot of time, but the end result is something quite special.
Something that possesses your heart and mind as well as your spirit. Something that reflects who you are as a person. Nobody will ever be able to produce a “better” representation of you than you are capable of doing on your own. Therefore, stop complaining, and don’t forget that the photographic industry is filled with competitors! That is the only way you will be able to get an advantage over your nonexistent competitors.