Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Raw Talent and Dedication

Welcome to my blog, and thank you for taking the time to read this.
Well well well. Just watched the first in series 5 of Britain's Next Top Model and somehow Nell Nabarro got voted off. Incredible! I've had the joy of working with this girl and she is spectacular, in looks, attitude, dedication and abilities to take direction. How she got voted off I will never know.
I did a shoot with her last November (above), in freezing damp weather, in a ruined mansion, with no heating. Poor girl was so ill that she should have been in bed. Instead she chose to freeze her toes off to get these shots. That is rare dedication in an industry where models will fail to turn up if they have so much as spot on their nose. Nell, is a rarity. A dedicated model who can produce stunning results even when she's ill.
Lack of dedication is not just restricted to modelling of course, it pervades through many walks of life and professions, photography included. I have seen many dedicated "wannabe" assistants realise after days of hard work that it's not the life for them. Being able to make a living in this profession is far more about knowing how to be a business than your abilities as a photographer. Being able to take great shots, is a given, and without that ability you might as well pack up and go home. But, the same is also true if you can't run a business, and by that I mean be a "one man" corporation. You have to be your own accounts department, marketing department, PR department, admin department, web designer, IT department, HR department, and so on and so forth.
I occasionally get asked to lecture to sixth form photography students. Some study it just to collect the grade. Others are there because they enjoy it. These have ability, but again really, they just want the grade. There are also those few who actually want to be photographers and aim to study it at University. What I always say to them is that "if you're so bad at photography that you need to study it full time, don't do it." Of course none of them are bad. They're doing it because they enjoy it and they believe studying it will lead to a career in photography. It rarely does. (No one ever asks a professional photographer if they have a photographic degree.) The point is this. To succeed in photography, photography and business must come naturally to you. If you are a gifted photographer but lack good business acumen, you will be far better equipped to be a professional if you study marketing or business at university, and photography in your spare time. That way, you will have a way of earning a living in marketing, while at the same time seeing the industry from the inside and be in a position to develop your photographic skills and a client base. Why learn what you're good at? Rather train yourself up in those areas that you will need to succeed in, but don't come naturally to you.