What is there about putting writing and photography together that keeps drawing me back? If there is anything that gets my juices going it’s that.
In the beginning, it drove me into the field when I might rather not. Find something there to write about, I used to think, then take the pictures. Then it became just to take the pictures. That’s where I wanted to be. When we traveled, I took pictures. At home I would grab my camera as soon as that sweet light showed itself. Practice, I kept thinking. Try this, try that.
It all began when I learned about some testing at the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation -to find out about natural skills I might have – listening to a Denis Waitley motivational tap while on my way to a Real Estate seminar. “They test for natural aptitudes,” he said. “The things we’re born with.” A week later I was at the Tampa facility for my day and a half of testing.
“Photography might be a fit,” the test administrator said. “You have that patience for making that fine focusing,” she said. “And there is a high correlation between photography and music.” I had scored high on two of the three music aptitudes I tested for.
Back home I talked to many local high profile photographers. Seventy percent of them either wrote music, played instruments or conducted. That week, I bought my first camera. Three months later, my first work was published.
I had decided to work in the area of Stock Photography. That’s where one leases out the use of their images, for a fee based on time and distribution. Thanks to Rohn Engh, his pioneering work provided a road to follow. I began to build my files of marketable photos.
However, it wasn’t long before I discovered the top 100 Stock Photographers had already been identified and had huge files of images to draw upon. What to do? We’ll, I sought out workshops by noted Pros in the field to learn more.
Then, when Carol & I were in New Orleans, I called a Swamps Tour Company we had heard about. When I mentioned I wanted to do photography for possible publication they invited us to join their afternoon tour – at no charge. This might be an opportunity to write about the area, I thought, and propose that to magazines along with my photos. We bought a tape recorder and while I was shooting, Carol operated the recorder.
When we got home, Carol transcribed the tape & I edited the photography. Off it went to half-dozen publications. One responded positively. We sent off our first photo/text package. It was published and that format became my standard for seeing my work in print and getting paid for it. Now, all I had to do was find editors who needed something I could do and provide it.
Back to Rohn Engh’s book Sell and Resell Your Photos. I couldn’t get enough of it. He
outlined the kinds of subjects publications needed and how to develop a business in this area. It became the track to run on for my photo/text business as well as for photos only.
Editors told me they received good writing with no or poor photos or good photos with no writing. So, just as photography need to be developed, now I needed to learn more about writing effectively. And my business became suggesting story ideas to editors, and I would provide the images as well, giving me an edge in marketing.
Normally, a photographer would submit images when an art director put out a “call” for a certain subject. Often the art director received hundreds of images to fill the need of only one – a very competitive situation. My photo/text submissions gave me exclusive control of the images. And in certain occasions, I could even gather images from other sources to go with my stories, acting as a facilitator for an editors needs.
My business developed in proportion to the number of queries for story ideas I sent out.
When traveling, I think “story ideas,” and on occasion have even phoned an editor to determine interest level, then gather resource material while in the area. My business became one of problem solving rather than photo selling. My sense of purpose took on a new mantle, a process and satisfying approach to the old selling attitude.
I still think stories. On a recent walk around Lake Junaluska, I was thinking about images that could illustrate a workshop I’m doing… And a formula that Rohn Engh taught. Clean background, People or Critter (if nature), Symbol and Involvement.
Rohn Engh’s work lives on even thought I have just learned of his passing just a few days ago. I defiantly will do my part to keep his memory alive…
See more at bobgrytten.com or lensluggers.com