Outdoor Photographers: Who They Are And How to Become One
Over the last few years, social media has risen as a major influence across all industries. Because of this, trends are changing faster than ever, making it hard for most to keep up. Of course, photography is not an exception. Polaroids, selfies, 360-degree compositions, minimalism, film grain… and now, outdoor photographers. Many photographers think that there are only two ways to act in front of a new trend: either you jump on it or you ignore it completely. But there is a third and much better option: take a closer look at what makes each trend so popular and use it in your favor. Implementing these characteristics into your work can help you grow your business and keep your photography website relevant.
You may feel like dedicating such an effort to learn about a trend that doesn’t affect your work is a waste of time. And while we wholeheartedly disagree, we understand that photographers running a business may already have too much on their plates to bear yet another challenge. This is why we have taken the time to break down this current trend and see what it is that makes it so unique. As a result, we created a list of the five key elements of the outdoor photographers trend that can help you grow your business:
What are outdoor photographers?
Essentially, outdoor photographers are the result of mixing travel and lifestyle photography with a sprinkle of social media magic. In other words, these photographers have turned traveling into their way of life by capturing their experiences through the special glass ball known as social media. That is, presenting every scene as an exceptional moment in a time where only the photographer and a beautiful model are present.
Even if you are not following any outdoor photographers’ channels, you have most certainly encountered their work at some point. Deserted landscapes, camping tents under the milky way, sunrises seen from the open door of a van… The kind of scenes that feeds the world’s wanderlust feelings. From airlines to energy bars, brands across all industries have understood the impact of this trend and are now hiring outdoor photographers to shoot their campaigns. And so the trend keeps growing as the influence of these photographers keeps expanding.
Now that we have established who’s behind this trend, let’s see what are the characteristics that make it special, too.
Become a storyteller
One of the main qualities of outdoor photographers is their ability to create a powerful narrative around just about any product. For example, if they are working with a car company the focus will be set on the road trip instead. The car will likely appear as a secondary character in the story, as a means to the end of the trip itself. The idea here is to understand that stories sell much better than products. Aiming for viewers’ emotions and showing them what they could achieve with a product is more effective than simply explaining what makes said product unique.
Knowing how to tell a story is highly valuable for any photographer. Whether it is on their photography services page or in their work itself. Wedding or newborn photographers, for example, should talk about the value of capturing these moments forever. Product and advertising photographers should use this point as a guide for their shootings – thinking about what the end-viewer can get from the product, rather than simply showing what can be easily seen. This skill is highly valuable if you're trying to learn how to reach out to brands.
Discover new horizons
It’s no wonder why outdoor photographers are also known as explorers and adventurers. “To boldly go where no man has gone before” is the mission of both the starship Enterprise and these shutterbugs. Their photos capture each scene as if they were the only person who has ever set a foot in it – even if there are hundreds of other people taking pictures around them. Trickery and illusion are not only used in cinema, they are also a key skillset for outdoor photographers.
Pretending that you’re the only person in a remote location might not be the best approach to grow your business, especially if you’re an event photographer. However, there is still something to learn from it. Your work should feel like a breath of fresh air. Avoid shooting the same kind of images everyone else is creating. Be bold when choosing your photography website template. Think outside the box, so that people will notice and remember you.
Develop your style
In a world where hundreds of thousands of people are taking the same type of photos you capture, giving your work a character of its own is the only way to stand out from the crowd. It’s easy to be tempted to copy what’s been successfully done. But what’s the point of seeing the world through someone else’s eyes? When looking at the work of outdoor photographers, it’s evident who are the ones bold enough to walk beyond the marked path. Their photos are rapidly associated with their names, rather than simply mingling with the rest of the trend-followers.
If you’re aiming to grow your business, developing your own photography style is an absolute must. By doing so, you’ll be able to distinguish yourself from other shutterbugs. And this will give you extra points in the eyes of potential customers.
Establish valuable connections
Whether they travel together or simply comment on each other’s social media posts, it seems that all popular outdoor photographers know each other. This is not an exclusive trait of this trend, as photographers tend to gravitate towards others in their field. Such connections are invaluable when it comes to growing your knowledge and expanding your skillset. Who can offer better advice than someone else that walked the same path and faced the same obstacles as you?
This is why you should dedicate time to networking with other professionals in your field and surround yourself with a group of people who can help you improve your work. Although, don’t try to become best friends with your competitor across the street – they’re probably the people least interested in helping you grow your business. Instead, focus on photographers in your field who work in different locations. Or talk to business in the area that could complement your work. The latter is actually a great photography marketing idea that can lead to countless business opportunities.
Make it a lifestyle
As we stated before, outdoor photographers see traveling and exploring as their way of life. This plays a major role in enveloping the trend with an air of wonder, and also teaches some precious lessons. The first and more clear decision is quite known, even if few are the ones who follow it: Do what you love. Passion is the fuel behind the most amazing photos. In fact, some challenges can only be overcome by those who truly believe in what they do.
The second one might be less obvious, but it is just as important: photography should be a key piece of your life. That does not mean you should spend all your free time snapping shots or babbling about the subject non-stop. Simply take advantage of every learning opportunity that comes your way. Browse online photography tools, read a magazine, attend a lecture, etc. Making the effort of constantly improving yourself as a photographer is the ultimate way to grow your business.
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By Judit Ruiz Ricart Photography Expert for the Wix Blog & Social Media Team