Five Random Things I’ve Learned

1. Magcloud doesn’t count, as in, the value of a magcloud tearsheet is essentially the value of posting your work on facebook.  And even though many print publications are going all digital, there’s a huge difference between Newsweek and something that’s selfpublished via a site called “magcloud” that doesn’t pay it’s contributors and charges $40 an issue.  And having said all that, I’ll still occasionally submit to something if they have a big following and put out a call for work that I actually have and have no other purpose for, but no one should bend over backwards for this kind of stuff.  Leading to…

2. Content has value.  If you’re a creator of any kind, your content has dollars and cents value.  Meaning it’s a huge disservice to yourself to post all your work on the internet, or do trade projects that are other people’s ideas, or undervalue your talent because you think the only way you’ll get hired for some job is to charge something really low.

As far as posting things all over the place- tumblr, facebook, model mayhem, etc… the number of “likes” or “reblogs” rarely translates into anything in the real world, unless there’s something behind it, in the way a band releases a single to promote an album that promotes a tour where they make money from t-shirts and programs.

3. Always shoot in RAW mode and don’t delete those files ever, even if you’ve made finalized jpgs.  For some reason I always assume this is common sense but someone yesterday in one of my classes said the opposite.

4. There’s more than one way to earn money as an artist/ photographer.  You could be paid to shoot or draw something specific.  You can also sell personal work, like an art fair, online print store, etsy, self-published book, pdf book, any other kinds of products.  You can also sell content to publications.  Some people are probably successful at Zivity sets but certainly no one I know.  Book covers, stock, contests, there’s a lot of places that need photos and will pay for them outside of the obvious publications.

You can sell, repair and trade gear.  Or you own gear, or software, and you can do side jobs, like scanning someone’s family photos for a fee.  I often get asked to do random side jobs like design a tattoo or cartoon for a bicycle shop.

You can also get paid to teach your knowledge- sometimes we forget we have skills that not everyone knows about, and would pay money to learn about.  And if you don’t think you can pull together a workshop and get attendance to make it worthwhile, you can still teach classes at the art stores, or in my case, several of the local city recreation programs.  You can craigslist yourself out to do home photoshop or photo editing lessons.

Write a tutorial on your photoshop technique or interview other photographers and write articles for magazines and blogs.

Get a bit of name for yourself and you can be a representative for a company, like Nik Software or Lensbaby.  Go to stores, do speaking engagements to photo clubs or associations like Arizona APPA or SPE.

The key is offering content that people want and would part money for.  For example, you could sell prints through an online store, but there’s little difference between downloading an image and having it as a piece of print paper.  But to get a lovingly packaged set of images on fine art paper, or as a big canvas, something that makes it special, people will start to care.

Another key?  Doing a lot of different things, being a multitasking freak.  Even movie stars do car ads for Japan, voice overs for GPS devices, guest appearances, speaking engagements, radio shows, their own line of cosmetics, comedy club appearances, tours, you name it.  I know this summer, Phoenix will completely die as far as shooting goes, but I’ll have a lot of teaching work at the various city recreation programs because school is out for the kids.

5. Make the lifestyle changes to accomodate a working artist/ photographer.  Instead of spending $30 at the movie theater, or $5 on at Starbucks, do a Redbox for $1.25 or watch stuff for free on youtube or whatever, and get the Circle K coffee for $1.  Don’t be out drinking or partying and then wonder why no money or jobs or gigs magically fell out of the sky to support a lifestyle of cigarettes and Starbucks.

I have a sister who is an expert at coupons and “rewards points.”  She goes to CVS every week with her rewards and coupons and walks out with $90 worth of food, batteries, and grooming supplies, and still gets rewards points for her next visit, all for essentially free because she can play the game so well.

Living a healthy lifestyle will make you a better artist in the end.  Excercise, proper sleep, fun things with the family, eating healthy food, hiking or whatever, these are the things that allow me to stay enthusiastic while slogging through photo editing.  Most of them cost nothing.


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I'm a multimedia artist in Phoenix, AZ. Main Site - Instagram @primordialcreative + twitter @dbmillerphoto

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