The budding professional photographer has a library of photography-related topics available in book form: technical (“Understanding Exposure”), business (“Best Business Practices for Photographers”), inspiration (name your favorite photographer coffee book), and now motivational (“Fast Track Photographer”).
Honestly, if you’ve ever been to a photography workshop or seminar, you soon find that they are more about motivation than they are about sustainable learning. The same applies to this book: Mr. Sanders’ book covers all the usual motivational subjects (be a brand, be unique, build your business from you and not a product like a photograph) and cheerleading without you needing to book a single hotel room at a workshop. In doing so, other topics such as inspiration and business lightly get glossed over as well. But that is also the problem – it’s a slim book and it’s mostly about using his evaluation test to determine how to develop the ‘you’ in the photographer. That means there is a lot of rhetoric and not as much meat. I don’t know how much is really relevant since the people he uses as inspiration examples all established themselves before the digital revolution took off in the last two years. Certainly, they did not have to compete in such a saturated market.
Those with a business or marketing degree will likely already understand and utilize the concepts. For everyone else, Sanders glosses over a few hard marketing and branding topics in a very easy and friendly manner without all the business double speak. Since so many are starting businesses without even a small fundamental understanding of sound marketing and business practices, there is a strong need for this book in those photographers’ libraries. It would be nice if more people realized that aping a professional will never yield the same results as developing their own innate talent.
Mr. Sanders says it early in the book: starting a business is easy and many are doing it; the only way to not have competition from them is to be completely separate and unique – to be a brand unto yourself. Of course, that doesn’t really help you get from starting point A of newbie photographer to ending point B of being a unique distinct desirable brand (nor how to get your brand out to potential clients). What I thought the book missed is that being your own brand (or the most amazing photographer ever) doesn’t translate into clients. So, you can follow the book and create a YOU brand, being personable and charming, but still be invisible to potential clients unless you do some hard connecting and marketing.
The thing I liked most about the book is that it will enlighten those who don’t realize they have no idea what they are doing and will be eaten alive by those who do. You can’t compete on price/product – you can only compete by being uniquely you. It is nearly impossible to sustain a business on selling photographs; what you have to learn to do is sell an experience by you.
I’m not sure where the ‘fast track’ comes in other than that he would like to encourage people not to make the common mistakes that prevent successful businesses. It’s going to be a long track either way.
Reviewed from an ARC.