For the last year i have been teaching a class called ‘Final Crit’. This is a class geared towards freelancers and how to engage, find clients and generate business. The most important thing to communicate, and I try, is the importance of STRATEGY, that without strategy you can have the best portfolio on the planet and no one will know you exists. The work that you have spent days, months, years developing will live under your bed and no one will know your greatness.
Many of my students enter the job market with out a plan, with out an understanding of the game that they are about to play. So i have some advice.
1) This is a game (and you must play the game as if it is for keeps)
2) Understand the rules of the game
3) Master the rules of the game
4) Exploit the rules
5) Step and repeat
Game and Gamesmanship
Gamesmanship is the use of dubious (although not technically illegal) methods to win a game, such as golf or snooker. “Pushing the rules to the limit without getting caught, using whatever dubious methods possible to achieve the desired end.” … it may be inferred that the term derives from playing for the game (to win at any cost) as opposed to playing for sport. (Thanks Wikipedia)
Gamesmanship is that perfect intersection of strategy and game playing (recreation / hobby). In order to elevate your game to gamesmanship status you must committ yourself to mastery, which often means applying a level of commitment to your pursuit. I have taken dubious out of the conversation as it has a negative connotation. When a basketball player makes the comment that a particular person has “Game” they are refering to the fact that the person has mastered a complete set of skills. In a photographer’s case the complete skill set includes not just their ability to communicate an idea, or their technical competency but their implementation of strategy that will move their career forward.
Strategy includes knowing how to promote one’s self in the traditional sense but also being aware of the changing rules that govern the game. One has to remember that the game is organic, it lives, it breathes, it grows, and it morphs, and if one is not able to make the necessary adjustments one’s career is doomed.
These ideas and strategies for a sustainable career have always been present. The difference is that the rate at which this organic ecosystem changes has become faster and faster.
I was in a meeting today with another photographer who made a statement that I believe to be true but have no way of verifying. And that is, that if you compare the camera to computers cameras have seen far more real change then computers and in a shorter amount of time. According to Wikipedia computers using vacuum tubes were in use as early as 1946, in 1959 transistors came and from then on it was about the refinement of the transistor. (Excuse me if I am over simplifying this.) Photography’s switch from film to digital and now from digital still to motion has occurred in 25 years plus or minus. Rather than an evolution we are amidst a revolution.
This does not even speak to changes in the photographic business model. Assignment, assignment / stock, managed stock, royalty free stock, micro stock. All these variants have lived a useful life albeit short and sweet. Those who recognized the trends and were able to make adjustments have been able to survive, and will continue to survive because they have learned the game. They are the players with the most “game”……… GAMESMANSHIP